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My name is Bob Land. I am a full-time freelance editor, indexer, and proofreader. This blog is my website.

You'll find my rate sheet and client list here, as well as musings on the life of a freelancer; editing, proofreading, and indexing concerns and issues; my ongoing battles with books and production; and the occasional personal revelation.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Great Moments in Parenthood


I have two sons. One just sat in his last college class today; he graduates in a few weeks. He has something like 198 credit hours, having needed 128 or so to graduate. The extra credits came from AP courses and the requirements of his chosen areas of study; he had to stay in school for four years to complete all the courses for his majors (and minor). So, one about to graduate college. Very proud parents.

Second son is a college freshman. Financial aid deadlines are nigh, and I required access to his student/institutional account. His log-in information, which I can never remember and always neglect to write down somewhere sensible, is a random jumble of letters and punctuation.

Flashback to 1989 and 1992, respectively. Both my sons were delivered via Cesarean section: scooped out of the czarina’s swollen belly, cleaned up, and delivered to the czar’s expectant arms.

Both sons were hyperalert upon arrival. Heads up, eyes focused, looking around, taking it in. I can brag a little; both these kids were smart newborns. Nothing got past them. In the case of one of them, I think more than a little knowledge came from somewhere else.

Immediately in their father’s cradle, both boys began to hear the murmur of one of their dad’s favorite pieces of writing, T. S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” Too many great lines to mention. But upon leaving the womb, the first words they heard other than from medical professionals were as follows:

Let us go then, you and I, 
When the evening is spread out against the sky 
Like a patient etherized upon a table; 
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets, 
The muttering retreats 
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels 
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells: 
Streets that follow like a tedious argument 
Of insidious intent 
To lead you to an overwhelming question . . .  
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”  
Let us go and make our visit. 
I ask my son today for his login information so I can access the financial aid application. 

He writes, “An easy way to remember it: the first letters of Let us go then, you and I. 

I suppose theres something to be said for being in on the ground floor.

This, folks, is the fun of parenthood—not the inevitably negative and crazy-making buttons that all parents put on their children. Neuroses, personality quirks . . . all that stuff comes with the territory, even if they manifest in entirely different ways than in the parents’ generation.

But my son’s explanation retrospectively gave a day of thinking about financial aid and taxes a glow, and that happens—well—never.

I love my children. Very proud of both of them. I’m way behind in work and dealing with long-forestalled issues, but what fine moments and ultimately a red-letter day.

How often do you read that on this blog?

23 comments:

moi said...

Aw, that made me tear right up. Congrats, proud pop!

czar said...

The glow came off a little today after opening yesterday's mail, which included a final few hundred bucks owed to the graduating school. But I think it's an independent study surcharge of some kind; at least it's not parking tickets and library book fines.

But I'm sure I still have to pay it now for the young man to walk across that stage. Why is spring always filled with such clouds?

Rather, today had the usual springtime image of our feline Elvis -- no mouser, he -- carrying a small rabbit or chipmunk off to engage in some weird maternal fantasies or, more likely, just to extend the circle of death. I mean, rabbits breed like rabbits, and Elvis is just culling the herd of the weakest. I shouldn't be concerned, should I? Isn't that what evolution is all about?

The czarina, however, always responds to such scenes with shrieking and screaming and waving of arms in an attempt to make Elvis drop his cute little prey.

That ain't gonna happen.

moi said...

Children cost and cats kill. The glow dims. Circle of life, and all that.

Aunty Belle said...

Kudos to you an' Czarina! Thas' a heap to be proud about, Dad.

The story charms me--an' them boys will be fine men-fellows, I reckon.

Made mah day to read this.

czar said...

Moi and Aunty:

Thanks very much. The glow crept back yesterday, when we found that our older son just landed a nine-month acting gig with a well-respected professional repertory theatre. Down in Aunty country . . . well, a bit southwest of there, but in the same state.

We're ecstatic.

Skippy said...

Great story, Czar. I'm going to send a link to my eldest and his English teacher, since they studied Prufrock this year (which I also love, by the way, and I don't care that much for poetry for the most part).

Anonymous said...

Prufrock often rears his head, grown slghtly bald. A poem for the ages, right Tom D?

czar said...

Skippy and Anon: Thanks for dropping by. I'm with Skippy. Much poetry leaves me cold, at least. "Prufrock," though, is a whole different story.

Grumpy Granny said...

Poetry and parenthood, sometimes neither can be understood, only experienced. What a lovely post. Skimming through your blog, I had an odd sense of deja vu--I, too, once ushered at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, early 1980's. It's entirely possible we might have met, or at least nearly missed. I'm hearing Twilight Zone music...

GG

czar said...

Grumpy Granny: Ah, the brushes with fame. I forget they're even there.

One of my favorite parts of ushering at the Fox was not the shows themselves but just being able to wander quietly and more or less alone through that theater before they opened the doors. What a great place.

Two interesting notes: The Fox included an apartment that some gentleman lived in until rather recently. Very interesting stories in the AJC about the apartment itself, how he stayed there, and the inevitable efforts to roust him out.

Second, the actor Bob Balaban (whom I mostly know through Best in Show) . . . his parents were largely responsible for building many of those art deco theaters around the country.

Small world, indeed. I'll bet we saw each other. I would have been in my early to mid-20s . . . and petrified of talking to any of my fellow ushers. These days, you probably couldn't shut me up.

Please come back again.

moi said...

I'm with you on not liking poetry all that much. Rather, there are certain individual poems that have stuck with me through the years (I'll be sure to dig up my copy of Prufrock and revisit, though) and, of course, many many many rock and roll lyrics--the best vehicle I know of for brilliantly nut-shelling the human condition in all its aspects.

czar said...

Moi: I'll throw all my literary, literate, English-major cred to the curb and say that I don't even know if "Prufrock" is a great poem. I presume it is; everyone says so. (Then again, I've been reading brilliant theologians' work for years without swallowing the underlying conceit.) Same goes for Eliot's Four Quartets, which I also love. The thing about Eliot is that he can get off so many great lines in a short space.

"I should have been a pair of ragged claws, scuttling across the floors of silent seas."

"In a minute there is time for decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse."

I could go on.

I love some of his quotable lines, and "Prufrock" has a ton of them for me.

But let's not forget that T. S. Eliot was also responsible for Cats, and for that he should be pilloried.

czar said...

PS: Going back to Grumpy Granny and the Brushes with Fame . . .

I sent an email to Dad Czar yesterday, the first I've done since on gmail. My email's signature line includes this blog's URL. Dad Czar was curious enough to click.

Comment 1:

"I didn't know you did so much or knew so much."

Comment 2:

"What do you think of Jane Fonda these days?"

Ah, Dad Czar. I think the only Democrat he has ever voted for was George Wallace.

Grumpy Granny said...

Czar, I adored the Fox when I lived in Atlanta. Was SO happy when the populace had enough sense to save it when they built that huge inverted pencil-in-the ground corporate tower behind it. The Fox and the Varsity are two of my fondest memories of coming of age in Hot-lanta. And my college years at Agnes Scott (where I was also exposed to Eliot/Prufrock). Now, you couldn't pry me out of Colorado, but I still long to sit under the Moorish tent of the Fox ceiling. I do remember the article about that apartment, too. Maybe if I could have lived there, I'd still be in the South.

Cheers,
GG

czar said...

GG:

Agnes Scott, huh? I used to live in Avondale and Lake Claire (and Peachtree Hills and near Emory), and I came to know a bunch of folks at Columbia Presbyterian (church and seminary). I suspect it would take us all of about five minutes to find a half-dozen folks we know in common. I tell people that back in the late 1970s-early 1980s, NE Atlanta was like a small town, sorta. You'd drive around and see people you knew and wave.

Agnes Scott is responsible for my all-time favorite bumper sticker: "Not a girls' college without men, but a women's college without boys." Genius!

Grumpy Granny said...

I have that T-shirt! My all time fave, for sure. Yeah, the ATL used to have a small town feel to it. Now when I go back, I have to gird my loins and return to the "Death Race 3000" style of driving, or just be prepared to sit in side-road traffic, inching along. I still remember all my back roads, though. I lived in East Point and could get pretty much anywhere in town without ever getting on the highway. Still have siblings still there, but don't see them much. What a small world.

czar said...

GG: I used to think I remembered ATL's back roads, until a two-lane I used to take off of 75/285N put me onto a 12-lane cloverleaf and I ended up in Vinings.

Grumpy Granny said...

Have you read "A Man in Full" by Tom Wolfe? There's a description of the "back road" from the Gov. mansion on West Paces Ferry to the south side that is the exact route I used to use to get home from Buckhead every day. Brilliant.

czar said...

Oh, Grumpy Granny: You probably won't have to read too far in this blog to learn the painful truth: If there wasn't a paycheck on the last page made out to me, I probably haven't read it.

moi said...

@GG: A Man in Full is GREAT! As is Wolfe, in general, for that matter.

@Czar: I forgot about "Cats." Nevermind (I feel stupid, and contagious.)

Skippy said...

I really don't think you can blame Eliot for what Andrew Lloyd Webber did for some poems that Eliot wrote for his God-children.

Skippy said...

I mean "did to some of his poems"

czar said...

Skippy:

No Eliot, no Cats.

I mean, if people had let the Bible just sit there . . .