Tomorrow, F’s placement in the 1st grade place where he’s been student teaching ends. It’s only a half-day, anyway, and lots of the kids will have already left for wherever their families go for Christmas. So today was the year end/holiday/goodbye party. All the parents came in, there were lots of goodies, presents exchanged, etc.

Last night, F was packing and prepping his own gifts for the class. He bought them a stereo, since their current stereo is old and decrepit, and interferes with the weekly dance time. (That’s when the teacher says, “You know what we haven’t done in a while, friends? Dance!” and turns on the stereo and everyone goes to the mat and expresses themselves enthusiastically but within the classroom groundrules of personal space and mutual respect.) He also baked them (lactos- and nut-free) chocolate chip cookies, and wrote them a card.

While all this prep work was going on, I was doing just about the only thing I ever do at home: lying on my belly in a quiet room reading a book. F usually leaves me alone, but last night he came over me and handed me the card he’d written. Dear first graders, it said, Thank you so much for letting me teach you and be part of your lives…

“I’m sad,” he said, and burst into tears. He sobbed into my neck for about ten minutes.

My heart kind of turned over there. At different points during the last few years, as he’s worked toward switching careers (mechanic to teacher – big switch), I’ve secretly questioned whether it’s the right path for him. Last night, I realized I shouldn’t question anymore, because his heart is definitely in the right place. Despite all the hardships of this placement, it makes him cry like a baby to have to leave his kids. THAT’S the right motivation.

I also remembered that I love him more because he’s the kind of guy who’ll cry when he wants to. He’s very sentimental – a Big Softie, as I believe they’re known. I love that he’s not afraid of what he’s feeling, or of sharing it with others.

This morning I told my mother about this, since I report most things to my mother. “Poor guy,” I said. “I really feel for him. He’s so sentimental.”

“The best ones are, though,” she said. “That’s what we do in our family.”

“We who?”

“We women. We pick out sentimental men. We’re never like that. We’re always hard and tough. So we need men who can balance us out.”

That’s when she reminded me that today is the one-year anniversary of her father’s death. My grandpa was the Biggest of the Big Softies. He was a gentle guy, whose hobbies included cooking and gardening. I saw him just about every weekend growing up, and he would cry on both ends of the visit, when I’d kiss him hello, and then several hours later when he’s wave goodbye at his screen door while our car pulled away. He gave me a violin when I was 8, and although I never learned to play it particularly well he cried every time I played it for him. My cousins and I remember him standing in front of his mini kitchen in his basement, where he liked to spend Sunday afternoons making meatballs and pasta, holding up a finger and saying, “Waitta minoot,” then trotting off to the wine cellar to retrieve us a ginger ale.

My dad is a lot like his late father-in-law in many ways. To be honest, I’ve never seen my father cry, but I know his ways of being sentimental. I guess it’s not a surprise that this is the kind of guy I’ve ended up with.

I know some women can’t stand to see a man cry, that they aren’t interested in sentimental men, but every time I hear that I feel a little sad. I think they’re missing out on a lot of the best guys I know.

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10 Responses to softies

  1. jalluisi says:

    Awwww. What a sweetie. And I think your mom’s right about needing some balance – I cry at the drop of a hat. I teared up just now reading this post, and I don’t know you from Adam and don’t know your honey either. I have gotten sympathy tears watching a woman I don’t know start crying in the grocery store parking lot for a reason unknown to me. My husband calls me (very affectionately) a Weeple, because I seriously cry over everything. A few tears slid down my face over an episode of The Simpsons a few weeks ago. I KNOW, RIGHT? The Simpsons! Anyway, my love is the opposite in that I’ve never seen him cry ever over anything, and we’ve been together nearly 9 years in total now. He’s not unloving or unsympathetic; he’s just quietly demonstrative of those things and not a cryer – which is probably good for me, because otherwise we’d both be big weepy messes all the time. Yeah, balance. It’s a good thing sometimes.

    • Oh, I’m TOTALLY like that, too. I’m not the hardened knot women are supposed to be in my family, alas. I have cried at everything from vacuum cleaner commercials (“I just believe things should work properly” – what’s emotional about a guy saying that about his vacuum?!) to the Britney Spears video for “Lucky” (VERY UPSETTING!).

  2. Simon Hay says:

    I like men who express emotion. I guess balance is a good thing in relationships. I’ve not had much luck in long term relationships so I’m not sure this works for me. The older I get the more I cry. It has something to do with being an empath ad my healing work, but I look at my son and watch him suck back the tears and I remember that I was like him when I was a kid. It’s cool that F cried and is so passionate about teaching. Mechanic to teacher, that’s pretty cool.My dad was a builder and then became a teacher after an injury. He’s semi retired now and has lost the passion to teach. The politics and do-gooder rules got to him. Everyone lost respect.

    Thanks for sharing with us. Happy holidays to you, F, and family. With love 🙂

  3. Karissa says:

    Aww. I love F too! He’s totally going for the right path 🙂

    I’m way way way too sentimental to ever date anyone anywhere near as sentimental as me. Alas, this is probably why I always end up with hardened unemotional men. That or just men who are straightup emotionally challenged.

    Merry Christmas to you and F!

    hahahaha dancing kiddies hahahahaha

  4. LindaSW says:

    I think men like F are the best. If they can cry, we can be tough; we need each other to be as fully human as God or Goddess or genetics intends.

    I don’t know F, but I like him. And I don’t really know you either, but I like you. You are both good human beans. I’m thinking F is the yin to your yang. Peace…

  5. Aww that is so sweet. I love that F cried and that he very generously gave the class a stereo (your description of the dancing, by the way, made me laugh out loud in the bookstore). This post doesn’t have a holiday theme but it did make me feel all warm and fuzzy.

    Suggestion: a separate post devoted to all the weird things that make you cry. I suspect it would be truly hilarious.

    I cry at commercials way too often.

    • JES says:

      Jennifer, that is a *fabulous* idea for a post — the things that make her cry. You’re right, it would probably be laugh-out-loud funny. 🙂

      A few weeks ago, we finally got around to watching Toy Story 3. The geography of the living-room seating grew in importance as the end of the film approached: The Missus was seated behind me and to my left, in the big chair; I was on the floor, by the coffee table, with The Pooch. This meant that I didn’t have to explain how wet my face was.

      (In the first Toy Story, Woody — frustrated by Buzz’s insistence that he’s really an outer-space adventurer — screams at him, “You, are, a, TOOOOYYY!” Watching installment #3, I could have been teased by an unemotional observer: “This, is, a, CARTOOOOOOON!” With about as much success, I might add.)

      And then on Christmas Eve we watched It’s a Wonderful Life for the first time in years. Cue tape loop of observers.

      F is a class act. (Which says much about the woman he’s with.)

    • Oh man. Hahaha. Best or worst idea ever.

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