Thursday night, I was working my restaurant job and my son called me on my cell phone. He called to ask me to pick him up early when I picked him up the next day. I told him I would and I asked to borrow back my copy of Ramonesmania, the Ramones best-of cd I'd lent him. I needed to reload it onto my itunes.
I was able to get out of work a little early, and was consequently even earlier than I'd planned, which was good, because I had a surprise for him. Before we went to our traditional Chinese buffet, we stopped at Target so that I could get him a late birthday present, a new bicycle. Since there had been snow and ice on the ground on his birthday earlier this month, I thought I'd wait a couple of weeks and get it when he could actually use it.
He was pretty excited-- he hopped on the bike and rode it ahead of me to my truck, riding it around as I opened the back of my Blazer up.
We ran over to Devon and McCormack to the Hong Kong Buffet, his favorite. When we were done, we went over to the Border's on the other side of the mall so I could get him one more birthday present-- a book he'd wanted to buy with his birthday gift cards, but had deferred in order to get some books on architecture, his current big interest (along with aviation). The book was "Investing For Dummies."
As we awaited Letterman's show last night, he sat crunching numbers, after skimming the book, to see how much I need to put away in order to retire comfortably. As he laid out some of my options, pointing out that it would have been better to have started a retirement account when I was younger (tell me about it), he finished up with "That's all right, Dad. You'll be all right."
He's got his finances all figured out-- how much he's going to put away, what kind of account (a Roth IRA), and all that.
May I remind you that he's 13.
Since he was little, everybody's called him "The Little Man." He's the one who will corner someone at a party and discuss architecture, global warming, politics, airplanes, investment or the Chicago Cubs.
When I taught my step-daughter to ride a bike last spring, in the same alley behind our home I'd taught my son six or seven years ago, I commented to her that she was the fourth kid I'd taught to ride (five, if you include myself-- I'd had to teach myself on my childhood best friend Richie Gustek's bike). As she finally got up and rode her bike without help, I realized, with a little sadness, that she was going to be the last kid I taught to ride until I had grandchildren. I thought about that day as I listened to my son discuss his life plan for finances.
Tonight, Deadspot and his son Lex, who's also 13 and good friends with my son, are coming up from downstate to stay the night at the Yen household. Mrs. Yen will get to meet one of my oldest and best friends. We'll grill up some chow. The grown-ups will retire to the back porch for libations, and the boys will get lost in Playstation-Land. Later on, Deadspot and I will walk over to my current favorite tavern, Feed The Beast, a couple of blocks away, and have a couple of cocktails.
It's hard to believe that we met in college more than 20 years ago, a couple of screwballs hanging around, listening to punk rock music, putting out underground newspapers, hating Reagan.
We still listen to punk rock music. We don't put out underground newspapers, but we blog. We still hate Reagan, but Reagan's dead. We have a new idiot President to hate, a guy who, to our astonishment, is even worse than Reagan.
We've got teenaged children, and graying hair. His oldest will be starting college in a couple of years.
All I've got to say is they'd better have some Ramones playing at the bar, or they'll have a couple of cranky middle-aged punks on their hands.