“My dad says you’re an Asshole!!” Yup, I said it, but I didn’t think anyone was listening, or that anyone would repeat it. But that’s what happened the day of my son’s kindergarten graduation.
There was a kid in school that my son desperately wanted to be friends with. He would have done almost anything to make that happen. But instead the kid played my son like a bi-polar accordionist. At times the music was a sweet serenade you might hear at a French or Italian restaurant. Other times the it was dissonant carnival songs, egging on the circus clowns and burlesque stooges to get their revenge.
He 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, because I knew he'd never get it. And it killed me to watch his heart get broken every other day.
My son and I pedaled down to the beach one day. Having him strapped in front of me was so much cooler than having him sit in a seat behind me. I could just lean over, and we could talk and sing and laugh together. From behind me, all he would be able to see is the crack of my ass hanging out of my pants.
The friendship between my son and this kid became less like the sweet serenades, and more like the twisted evil circus music. It was there on that bike that those fateful words fell from my lips in nothing louder than a whisper.
I walked my son into school the day of his graduation and the place was packed. He pulled me over toward the kid. He looked at me and said, “Tell him dad, tell him.” 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, “My dad says you’re an Asshole!!”
I don’t remember much after that other than pulling my son out of his class by his collar, 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.
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.