Papa Ono

My dad, or “Papa” to my kids, has a new name around here.

I’ll get to that in a second.

Papa will be the first to tell you that little kids aren’t really his thing.

Give him a surly adolescent any day of the week over a pre-verbal baby.

What’s particularly touching to me is the way my dad has taken on my oldest son, Ian.

Ian’s not usually my easiest kid.

He’s a good kid.  He’s a thoughtful kid.  He’s a sweet kid.

Most of the time.

He’s just not easy.

Ian’s special needs include, but are not limited to:

  • expressive language disorder
  • receptive language disorder
  • insisting that tied shoelaces are overrated
  • giving, as Greg says, “his very best 70%”
  • yelling “my mom sucks!” (Where’s that expressive language disorder when I need it??)

Yeah, “normal” kids have some of these special needs, too.  I still say my list counts.

Anyway, Ian’s not the easiest kid.  Did I mention that already?

So when people say, “Hey, I’d like to spend some time with Ian,”

I say, “What?  Oh.  I mean.  Yes!  Of course you do!  Is now good?”

And then they say, “How about next week sometime?”

And I feel like a 4-year-old who doesn’t have a good grasp of time and has to count down 100 sleeps until Christmas.  It’s better to just not tell me it’s coming.  Honestly.

Several months ago, my parents had Ian over to watch Karate Kid.  He was thrilled.  I was thrilled.  Win/win.

Then Ian wanted to learn martial arts.

Well, ya tell a kid you want him to pick a sport.  And then he does.  So you pretty much have to let him do it.

Enter my father, who has taken on Ian and martial arts.

Papa takes Ian to class twice a week, and he even comes over to help Ian train for his kata.

A kata is a choreographed exercise of Karate techniques.  Remember “wax on, wax off?”  Yes.  Exactly.

The part of Karate that Ian didn’t take into full consideration is that it’s a lot of hard work.

And the part of “Papa’s Help” that Ian didn’t understand is that Papa is a former Marine.  With an excellent work ethic.  And a high demand for proper performance.

Fast forward four months… and whenever Ian sees his Papa coming, he starts yelling, “Papaono!  Papaono!”  Which means, “Papa’s coming.  Oh, no!”

Hehehe.

Papa Ono.

Man, if only I’d thought of that when I was an adolescent!  I’ll tell you what; my child is speakin’ my teenage language.  Couldn’t’ve said it better myself.  Papa Ono, indeed.

It’s hilarious.  Especially when I insist to my “Papaono!” shrieking child that we actually let Papa through the door, and then Ian looks like this:

And instructional time with Papa Ono looks like this:

Hey, Ian.  Growing up with Papa Ono made me have crazy eyes, too.  Especially when he enunciated at me like that, in his Marine drill sergeant way.  You’ll get through it.  I’m almost positive.

Here’s Ian, resigned to “quality instructional time” with Papa Ono:

I should rent Ian out to our local college’s psych classes.  They can study his body language.  Gee, I wonder what he’s trying to communicate?

And finally practicing his kata:

You know what I like best about Papa’s new name?

I like that it means Greg and I aren’t alone.

We’re not the only ones who are giving our very best (probably more than 90%!) to our kids and being occasionally, utterly resented for it.

Papa Ono makes me smile.  A lot.

Papa Ono, my hat is off to you.  This fist-pump’s for you.

And, just in case we think it’s all for naught or start feeling too sorry for Mr. Ian, this is my happy kid… happy because he did remember that dang kata after all the drilling, and he did get his first stripe on his belt:

Thanks, Papa Ono!

Don’t tell teenage me, ’cause she’ll never believe it, but you’re a rock star.

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
9 comments
  1. Hey, some of the pics are broken…

    it’s 3am here… i should be asleep. but your writing is captivating. you seem like an amazing mum (person!).

  2. […] player.  And I’m proud of you when you buckle down and practice your kata, even without your Papa Ono, because he called to tell you that Nana was sick and you have to do your pre-yellow-belt rehearsal […]

  3. Thanks, y’all.

    Papa Ono… feel free to take Ian with you for the haircut. 🙂

    Leslie… black humor is what gets us through the special needs day. Yes? Oh, yes.

  4. Small wonder the boy is looking askance at the old man. That Marine *seriously* needs a haircut.

  5. These pictures are wonderful/hilarious/revealing/etc.! I am in awe of Papaono and his relationship with Ian. Bravo for both boys.

  6. The pictures are totally awesome ~ I laughed and cried! ‘Papa Ono’–I love it. 🙂
    We must get together again, I so enjoy our shared perspective on life and our propensity for black humor…(I’m smiling right now.)

  7. Awww…I loved this post!

  8. seriously, every kid should have a ‘papaono’! so here’s a wave for your dad 🙂
    (and here I was, before I read the whole thing, thinking your dad was somehow related to Yoko… which made my mind wander to The Beatles, which made me think of a yellow… exactly! ha, see how that works? 6 degrees of separation and all that 😉 )

  9. Gee, thanks. Now I have to go fix my eye makeup.

    Hmmmm… Maybe I don’t even have it on yet. That would be convenient, wouldn’t it?

    (Ian’s a very lucky grandson!)

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