On my ten-year Dadiversary

I don’t have specific memories of many of my birthdays, at least not without sitting down and thinking hard about it. My 21st, which probably wasn’t as exciting as you think it was. My 22nd, which happened while I was in Israel. My 16th, where my family managed to arrange a surprise pool party for me. And my 10th, where I remember being very unhappy for at least part of it, and very upset that whatever was upsetting me had dared to intrude on my “double digit day.”

Do I remember what I was upset about? Not a bit. I don’t have even the vaguest idea, and I’ve been kind of racking my brain about it for the last few days. It could have been my fault; perhaps I was being a shithead that day, and pissed my parents off. Something may have had to be cancelled, or maybe I didn’t get something I really wanted. No idea at all. And I’m pretty sure my Dad will see this, and I’ll be surprised if he remembers either– if he does, I’ll let y’all know. I just remember being upset.

My son turns 10 tomorrow. The three of us went out and went shopping today and blew all of his birthday money– close to a couple hundred dollars, when you roll in everybody who sent him something– and we came home with a pretty respectable haul, for a 10-year-old: a couple of Lego sets, a couple of Switch games, five or six books (he is my kid, after all) and a ridiculous new Nerf gun with a bloody ammo drum attached to it that I’m terrified he’s going to turn on me the next time I walk into the same room with him. Plus $25 in Roblox money that he can spend on nonsense digital stuff. Surprisingly, he did not want to go to the comic shop and buy a bunch of blind boxes.

Weird, to think we’ve been parents for ten years. Weirder, to think that his last couple of birthdays have been fucked up by Covid. He wanted to have a birthday party at a local trampoline park this year; we had to tell him no. He didn’t even ask last year. I think we’ll try and get some of his friends over next weekend to frolic in the pool for a few hours, though, if the weather cooperates.

I don’t know that I have any more complicated observations than that; I think so far his 10th birthday is going better than mine did, even if I don’t remember why, and I’m feeling a deep melancholy at the idea that my little boy is growing up.

(And just to keep this post from being completely sappy, in the process of getting his gift card transferred to his Roblox account, I discovered that the young master appears to have figured out how to delete his YouTube history. I will wait until after his birthday to perform the necessary interrogations about that, however.)

EDITED TO ADD: My father suspects that the USS FLAGG, or rather my lack of same, may have been the culprit. I looked and discovered that yes, in fact, the Flagg was available in 1985-86, which means it was out there for buying on my 10th birthday. I can only say that as the goddamned thing was seven and a half feet long and something north of $200 in 2020-equivalent funds, I’d have let my kid sit on the couch and cry too. That said, if anyone wants to buy me one to make up for my childhood trauma, I am an adult now who lives in a house, and I will make room for the motherfucker.

Thirty years ago today

I was in fourth grade.  This morning is one of my first real memories, and the prologue to Skylights is pure autobiography.


Rest in Peace: Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Greg Jarvis, Judy Resnick, Mike Smith, Cmdr. Dick Scobee, and Ron McNair.

#Fridayfictioneers: Memories


“It was right here, I’m telling you.”

“I can’t believe we’re doing this, we’re gonna get in trouble–”

“Shut up,” she said tenderly, and drew him in for a kiss.  “The school closed two decades ago.  Nobody’s watching.  We had a way bigger chance of getting caught the first time.”

“The first time the punishment wouldn’t have been jail,” he said.  “Or, like, our kids finding out.”

“They’ll think it’s cool,” she said.  “I remember you talking me into this last time.  Now c’mere.  Remind me why it worked.”

They embraced, the leaves skittering on the stairs the only sound.

Word Count: 100

Friday Fictioneers is a weekly blog hop hosted by Rochelle. She posts a photo prompt then challenges readers to write a 100 word story inspired by the prompt. It’s a fun challenge. Give it a try! Check here for the info then write your story and post it, link up and enjoy the other stories!

In which I am renewed

I’ve had two run-ins with former students recently, both while attempting to buy food from fast-food joints.  On the first I was in between errands and needed to grab something before my DC parent meeting; the second was simply an issue of my wife and I not feeling like making real dinner.  In both cases, the kids recognized me right before I figured out who they were, and in both cases I remembered the kids, although the first one looked different enough that I had to have her remind me of her last name.

The second kid… man, it was surprisingly nice to see him.  In his case I was actually in the restaurant as opposed to going through a drive-thru so we had a chance to talk for a minute.  He’s a senior, graduating in a couple of months (which, God, does that make me feel old) and going directly into the Army after graduation.  Which… whoa.

A moment after he asked me if I was Mr. Siler, and I blinked at him a couple of times and called him by name, one of the other customers in line looked at me and said “Is he worth remembering?”  Yeah, he certainly is; he was one of the good ones.  He’s apparently working two different jobs right now in addition to school.  His younger brother, who I remember being considerably more troubled than he was (and who he cracked “wasn’t nearly as worth remembering” when I asked about him) is also doing well in school and working more than one job, a fact that warms the heart fairly considerably.

I shook the kid’s hand and told him I was proud of him.  And I am.  It was nice to see him.

Fun story about this kid:  there was a brief period of time where I was both a computer teacher for fifth and sixth graders and teaching a single, multi-grade writing class, and he was in that class.  I was able to basically hand-pick those kids and both he and his brother were in the room.  There was a day when I’d had a sub because I had to go to a meeting, and so I had a couple of minutes to talk to the sub about what to expect with my students in the room.  “This class isn’t going to give you any trouble at all,” I said, looking around at my chosen group of perfect angels…

…and this kid has his pants off in the back of the room.  Well okay, mild exaggeration; they were down to his knees.  And, in his defense, he had basketball shorts on underneath them.  Which had apparently bound up on him, requiring a brief uniform adjustment.  Which he had just gone right ahead and done right in front of Jesus and errybody in the back of the room.

At which point I had to, for the first time in my teaching career (but, sadly, not the last,) use the phrase could you maybe put your pants back on please in class.  In front of a sub, who I had just told to expect a perfectly easy first hour class.

Yeah, that one was worth remembering.  🙂

In which I have no original ideas

…so I’m doing the Post of the Day again:

What are the three most memorable moments — good or bad, happy or sad — in your life? Go!

I actually don’t have a terribly entertaining answer for this, unless it’s possible that it entertains you that it took ten minutes of thinking about it before the birth of my son entered my mind as a possibility.  Maybe the fact that I’m the worst dad in all of human history is funny to people; I dunno.

Other possibilities (screw “three”) in no particular order.  Well, except the first one:

  • Proposing to, and actually marrying, my wife.  Also in the category of “wife” memories: our first kiss, which is a story I ain’t tellin’ here.
  • Finding out, over the phone with my landlord, who I’d given written permission to go through my mail, from three hundred miles away, that I’d gotten into Harvard.
  • Giving the eulogy at my grandfather’s funeral.
  • My first meeting with students as a classroom teacher, which… didn’t go terribly well.
  • My first look at my students on the first day at Hell School in Chicago.
  • Being lifted off the ground and tossed into a blackboard by one of those same students a few months later.
  • Various “first girlfriend” stories that are probably perfectly predictable and I don’t plan to share.
  • Weirdly missing: memories of graduations.  I remember very little of any of the four.
  • Going into Jerusalem by myself while on a post-college dig in Israel, a story that I actually have told here.  Also: spending an evening lying on a beach in Tiberias during that same trip.

I am trying to come up with some that don’t feel like cheating or stereotypes.  May add more to this later.

More answers to this question after the jump.

Continue reading “In which I have no original ideas”