My Dad Says You’re an Asshole!
by Alex Goetchius
“My dad says you’re an asshole!” Yup, I did say that, but I didn’t think anyone was listening. I certainly didn’t think anyone would repeat it. But that’s what happened the day of my son’s kindergarten graduation.
First off let me just say something about kindergarten graduations. I know it’s in vogue to trash ceremonies that celebrate mediocrity and striving for less. In essence, kindergarten graduation is nothing more than a celebration of moving past the second lowest rung on the education ladder. That said, my son’s kindergarten experience was at times a war filled with angst, alienation and heartbreak. So to me, his survival was worthy of the finest of celebrations.
I’ve long ago realized anything more than a healthy dose of cynicism will turn your body’s water molecules into sludge. So rather than question the validity of celebrating yet another over rated pop singer’s Grammy, or a football team I have no connection to winning the Super Bowl, I just sit back and crack open a cold one. Life is too short not to celebrate all it has to offer.
One battle my son waged all year was a friend who played him like a bi-polar accordionist. At times the music was sweet, like the kind you might be serenaded with at a French or Italian restaurant. At other times the music was dissonant carnival music, egging on the circus clowns and burlesque stooges to finally get their revenge.
All that my son wanted was this kid to like him and he would have done almost anything to make that happen. And this asshole of a friend knew it, and made my son do parlor tricks for his friendship. “If you don’t do this, I won’t be your friend anymore” he used to tell my son. “If you do that, I’ll be your best friend” he’d tease him with.
It killed me to watch my son work so hard for this kid’s approval, when I knew he’d never be my son’s best friend. After watching my son’s heart get broken every other day, I finally told that to him, along with the now infamous “that kid’s and asshole.”
We were on my bike pedaling into town and then down to the beach. My son was sitting in a bike seat mounted to the handle bars of my bicycle. Having him in front of me and just under my chin was so much cooler than having him sit in a seat behind me. For one thing we could talk and sing and brainstorm together. And for another, from back there all he would be able to see is the crack of my ass hanging out of my pants, and all the really cool action after it’s passed us by.
We’d talk about how our days went on those bike rides. We laughed about the fart that slipped out in his math class or the one that slipped out in one of my meetings at work. We vented about the thorns that that each of us experienced and we celebrated the roses each of us stopped long enough to smell.
More and more his stories revolved around this kid at school that were less like the sweet serenades and more like the twisted evil circus music. That’s when I finally let those words slip from my lips. They came only a in a whisper, through a deep frustrated exhale. But my son’s radar for expletives kicked in and he silently absorbed what I had to say.
I walked my son into school the day of his graduation while parents, grandparents and older siblings were congregated around the perimeter of the classroom and waiting for the ceremonies to commence. He pulled me over to his on again, off again best friend and mortal enemy. He looked into my eyes and said, “Tell him dad, tell him.” Then before I could ask what it was he wanted me to say, my son looked at this kid with wild eyes and pointed back at me and said for all to hear, “My dad says you’re an asshole!”
I don’t remember much after that other than pulling my son out of his class by the scruff of his neck, tossing him in the car, and peeling out of the parking lot, kicking up gravel and dust. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. We celebrated my son’s graduation without his grandparents who were pissed off at having to come all that way for nothing, and without his pretend friend for once, not having the last say.
It’s only now that we can laugh about my infamous remark, and my son has gotten over his long lost pretend friend. Through the course of all of that I learned two valuable lessons. The first is that every heart break is a lesson well learned. The lessons that we feel the most are the ones we remember best. And second, if you’re going to whisper something on your bike that you don’t want your kid to hear, make sure he’s riding behind you, staring at the crack of your ass.
“I never wanted kids. I liked my life just fine without them. I knew
once kids came into the picture, my life would change forever, and I
couldn’t take a chance that the change might be for the better. But a
funny thing happened on the way to being a dad; I fell in love with my
kids. And so now I spend my waking hours trying my very best not to
fuck them up.”