I promise I won't say anything about Steve Perry in this post. This isn't about classic 80's rock at it's finest.
This is about suddenly feeling like I'm wading ankle deep in unfamiliar waters just off foreign shores. How did I get here? I don't remember being on a boat or falling out of a plane, yet here I am nonetheless.
Almost everything about the familiar terra-firma of parenting Joe-Henry has suddenly changed. The texture, the sound, everything. Except for the food. Chicken nuggets are served and eaten here too, it appears. It's like the first time Charley and I went to Paris, and we had planned it and for the first couple days I had relished and celebrated: you know, vive la différence, and all that. But I remember how grateful I felt, after two long days of trying to communicate in a language not my own - where asking something as simple as "where is the bathroom" made me feel deep fatigue - spotting the Golden Arches on the Champs Elysee. I don't go to McDonald's here as a rule, but seeing it there? Felt like someone had thrown me a life vest to keep me afloat long enough to catch my breath.
So, yeah. Thank goodness there is still something I know about my son. Chicken nuggets.
It's not just the football either, although that does have a language all it's own. A language, I might add, that flows trippingly off his tongue. It's as though someone has implanted a chip during the night and suddenly he knows football stats and people and plays and stadiums and particular games, and.... Part of it is the Madden '09 game he got for the Wii, but some of it I swear he just absorbs out of the ether. And it's not as easily understood as Star Wars, either. At least with Star Wars there's some kind of mythical narrative that I respond to. With football, he might as well be speaking Farsi.
I just. don't. get it.
But it's like they say: a smile is the same in any language. The thing that does translate for me is this. He's enthusiastic. He's excited. I recognize those qualities. I don't recognize the testosterone-fueled screaming that seems to be part of this time. The sudden onslaught of spitting and using words like "freakin'": as in "that was freakin' AWESOME" (screamed, natch; and by the way, forbidden in our house - not just because it's a barely concealed substitute for a grown-up cussword, but because it's lazy)? These things leave me scratching my head and looking for my map.