Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Road Trip Begins

La familia Haggis is on vacation. Which means that blog posts will occur when and as access to the intertubes becomes available. Having said that, you can be certain I will be online for the last debate on Wednesday night.

We're road tripping since I'm still not allowed on airplanes, flying germ incubators that they are. So it's all the open road, baby! We started out yesterday in Rhode Island for the Dan Zanes and Friends show. You'll recall that DZ is Bambina's hero, second only to his former musical partner Barbara. Well, I must make it official: Dan Zanes is the Bruce Springsteen of kids shows. This man performed HARD for 90 minutes. No intermission, only fun and participatory chatting, and always serious rocking. I know Bruce does 4 hours, but think about a 4 year-old's attention span; 90 minutes is taking them to their absolute limit, even for something they are loving. And loving it they were. We had front-row seats and, like that needlepoint cushion advises, we danced and sang like nobody was looking. I may--possibly--have been having more fun than Bambina, but that may only be because I know air guitar and she doesn't. ;)

Bambina is so funny at these shows. The first 15 minutes she just sits there. The other kids are up and dancing, but she is in rapt attention looking at the stage, watching Elena play the violin, Dan play the guitar, mandolin, ukulele, banjo. She couldn't take her eyes off them. Finally I said, "Okay, I'm getting up and dancing!" She rolled her eyes at me, and finally consented to having the BBDD hold her while he was dancing. From there it was Game On, and she completely got into the singing and dancing. It's almost like she thinks it's disrespectful to sing along, to mar in any way Dan's delivery of his music. Then when I told her that she could shout the lyrics as loud as she wanted to, she completely got into it. They also, as if by magic, played all three of her favorite songs, so she was out of her little tree with glee.

Now, I tell you the story of me getting up and dancing without her permission because I see that it will mirror our mother-daughter relationship for the rest of our lives. On the way there I said, "I am so totally getting up and dancing; I can't wait!" Bambina said very earnestly, "Mama. ONLY if Dan says it's okay. Okay?" I assured her that I would wait for the good word and added, "Don't worry, my love, Mama won't embarrass you." {Foreshadowing....} It was very clear for the first 15 minutes of the show that she was just waiting for me to completely embarrass her. So when I jumped up and danced (Dan DID say, "I hope everybody is on their feet!"), her suspicions were confirmed. Eye rolling ensued. Then, happily, she got into it and forgot about me being a complete embarrassment to her sense of decorum at only the most important show of her young life. As she napped (or more accurately, collapsed) in the car after the show I laughed with the BBDD that I had just fired the shot across the bow of what our relationship was going to be. She was going to beg me to not wear that, say that, do that; and I was going to resist, honor her wishes, give it my best, but then I'd just get too exuberant and do it anyway.

My Dad always embarrassed me. He would wear ridiculous outfits that I was sure would lose me every friend I had. He would say ludicrous things, tell lame jokes, and generally just not be in keeping with the image I was trying to project as a young adult. At the time I was mortified by him, almost 24/7, made marginally better only by the fact that my friends seemed to find him charming and hilarious. But still! Why that shirt, for god's sake. Mom? Why did he wear that?! OMG!

Looking back, I realize the value in having a parent embarrass you in all the right ways. He forced me to be more authentically myself than I was trying to be, because how can you pretend you're A if you're clearly a product of B (and more B than A yourself)? (And, the corollary: how do you learn that your parents are not you, and you are not them? That another person's actions don't necessarily reflect on you)? How can you be successful in life if you are constantly trying to be someone you are not? How do you develop the character to see people for more than their clothes and their jokes? How do you learn that the world ain't gonna fall in line and blow sunshine at you just because you demand it? And, most importantly, how do you develop the character to love and value your family no matter what anyone else thinks? Yes, I felt embarrassed by his exuberance. But I survived and thrived as a direct result of that embarrassing exuberance, surrounded by friends whose parents went along with whatever they demanded. My Dad was right: He always answered my "embarrassment" charge with, "Hey, if I'm not embarrassing you I'm not doing my job."

So yesterday marked the first day of our Road Trip, and the first day I took up the mantle of being the "embarrassing parent." It's a job I take seriously, a job I will undertake with devotion, and a job--if I do it correctly--I hope Bambina will one day inherit herself.


Anonymous said...

And you said "I will NEVER do that to my kids". LOL funny isn't it:)


Utah Savage said...

I love your life. Glad you guys are having a vacation.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I love you stories about your dad...they remind me of my dad, who died 7 years ago. One of my fondest (not at the time!) childhood memories is of him holding up a big sign with my name on it while I was marching with the Girl Scouts in our town's Christmas Parade when I was in the 4th grade. I was SOO mad at the time-but now, to think that he loved me that much to be so goofy, well-I want my kids to know how much I love them just like that!