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alex is not the only one wrapping up certain experiences (end of soccer). we just went to anthony's last elementary concert. i gotta say, even if it is not the focus of this story, i'm very impressed how well i am handling all of these last-milestones with my children. it's no secret that i'm the only one anyone in my house ever worried about gracefully surviving these moments. but somewhere along the journey, it seems i found myself a pair of big-boy pants and have been reliably pulling them on for these moments, numerous as they are becoming, we all thought would send me into mini-depressions. not the case. thankfully.

i have two favorite moments from anthony's last concert and curiously neither of them have to do with the actual concert (or perhaps not so curiously for those who have been to such affairs). the first is that the concert conflicted with something the boys and i had planned and were very much looking forward to--playing dungeon and dragons at a local game shop. this would be the first time the boys would play a proper campaign. anthony and i stumbled upon this weekly game and had gotten ourselves invited to their next meeting. then we learned of the concert. i told anthony that we should stop by the game before the concert to explain to the host we could not attend and ask if we could come the following week. as we approached the young man (i'd put him at about sixteen) i thought i would have to do the talking for my mostly introverted eleven-year-old. but before i could open my mouth, anthony, age 11, began:

ANTHONY
hi josh. my dad and i came by to tell you we can't come tonight because i have a concert.

JOSH
oh. i see. we're sorry to miss you but those things certainly happen.

ANTHONY
we were hoping we could come next week.

JOSH
of course. that will be fine. and what concert are you going to see?

ANTHONY
oh mine. it is at my school.

JOSH
oh. wow. are you in the concert?

ANTHONY (with a tinge of pride in his voice)
yes i am.

JOSH
and what do you do?

ANTHONY (more pride)
i sing and play the xylophone.

JOSH
the xylophone! how cool is that? i don't think i would know the first thing about playing a xylophone. that's impressive.

i stood silent, stealing sideways glances at my boy, stunned at his mature and poised handling of this moment. i was also struck at the pride and confidence he had about his concert and xylophone work (i had no idea). and most importantly, his winsome charm won us an invite to next week's game. all good all around. discoveries like this, i theorize, are why i'm ok leaving the childrens' milestones behind us, because in each and every case they are replaced with newer and neater things to enjoy. marty always understood how that math worked. i did not. but, there hasn't been a day of my life that i haven't sucked at math.

my other favorite concert memory happened after the show. as usual, the families milled about talking to friends you tend to only see at hurried morning drop-offs or events like these. as the room started clearing, we began heading out. by the doors of the gym was an orange pylon which i guess may have been used by the school coach in some way. anthony ran forward, yelling for us to watch. he turned the pylon upside down and sat on it. it predictably crumpled beneath his weight. he brightly said, "i guess i ate too many dildos." the head of a father walking by snapped alert and he looked at anthony and then us. while he was looking anthony corrected himself saying, "i mean, i ate too many ding dongs."

marty and i smiled at the man as he continued on. we mostly wordlessly left the building. once outside anthony ran to his climbing tree and began scaling its heights, something he does every time he passes it. marty and i discussed the gaffe back in the gym while pretending to watch his ascent. we wondered where he heard the term and if he knew what it was. we guessed he heard it on youtube or the like but didn't know what it was, especially given how casually he played it off in the moment. when he came down and we resumed our walk to the car, we asked:

TROY
anthony. that word you said back in the gym.

ANTHONY
dildos?

TROY
yes. that. dildos.

ANTHONY
i meant to say ding dongs but got confused.

MARTY
yes. that seemed to be what happened. we were wondering if you knew what that was. a dildo.

ANTHONY
a plastic penis.

MARTY
oh. ok. can we ask how you know what a dildo is?

ANTHONY
alex told me.

i'll give you one guess what the first word we yelled after walking through our home's doorway was. if you need a hint, it wasn't 'dildos'.

and how is that in six seasons of leave it to beaver, ward and june never had to sit the beav down to talk about not saying 'dildos' in public or ground wally for teaching such a word to his brother?

OCT2017

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