Greek Independence Day:
Today was our Greek Independence Day program. The boys and girls wear traditional Greek costumes. The kids are given poems to memorize and perform, along with Greek dancing. As a parent and Grandparent this is one of the proudest moments, to see your child/grandchild celebrating your culture, your country, your history with pride.
This year, my dad is not here to witness his granddaughters reciting their poems and dancing. When they danced around the tables they went by my mom and noticed that she was crying. I later told my mom, “Tessie saw you crying. Are you OK?”
She responded, “Your dad loved this day! He loved videoing the kids and watching them dance days later.”
Saturdays = Greek School Days
Every Saturday growing up my sisters and I went to Greek School from 12:00 – 4:00 pm. We never missed a Saturday unless we were sick (and only the person sick stayed home). We HATED it.
Fast forward to 2008. I sign up both of my boys to Greek School.
THEY HATE IT. They hate getting up early on a Saturday. They hate that they have homework. They hate that they can’t hang out with their friends.
THEY DON’T MIND IT! They don’t mind going once they are in the car. They don’t mind when their homework is done before Friday night. They don’t mind when they get to hang out with all of their cousins (they all go to the same Greek School). They don’t mind going to yiayia and pappou’s house (my parents) to hang out afterward.
Many parents my age didn’t take their kids to Greek School or took them for a few years and then stopped because the kids hated it so much. “I hated going too, so why should I put my kids through it? Just because I suffered doesn’t mean my kids should.”
My kids were always quick to point out “Greek School Dropouts”. “See! Peter doesn’t go to school anymore. He stopped at 4th grade. Mia didn’t even finish 3rd grade. Anna never even went.”
I looked at my kids and told them with a stern voice so they knew not to EVER ask me again to quit Greek School, “Look, I am not trying to make the 8, 10, or 12 year old you happy. I am making the 40 year old you happy.”
2019. The boys completed through 6th grade. Tessie is finishing her 5th grade year in June. From Day 1 of Greek School I would drop the kids off at 10:15/10:30/10:45 (you know, Greek Time) and my phone would ring. ‘Love Cell’ would light up my screen. “Hi Dad.”
“Did you bring the kids to Greek School or you to lazy?”
“No dad. I brought them.”
“OK. Let’s go for breakfast.” OR “OK. Come to the house and we will figure out where we want to go.” OR “OK. I already ate breakfast. Come here and you can go get lunch later.”
I spent almost every Saturday with my dad hanging out. When I had to leave to get the kids at 2:00, I would lean over kiss him and say, “OK. I will try to stop by during the week. If not, next Saturday.”
He would look at me and say, “No. Bring the kids here after Greek School. I haven’t seen them. So I would. I would plan on leaving by 5, but my mom would beg us to stay for dinner so we could order pizza or else she would have to cook.
But now, he is gone. My Saturdays are lonely. I look at my phone, but ‘Love Cell’ doesn’t show up on the screen. I have talked to my sister about not bringing Tessie next year (of course I have not told HER yet) because it is so annoying being gone from the house Saturday when I am already gone all week with work. But I hear my dad’s voice, “Did you bring the kids to Greek School or you to lazy?”
And the 46 year old kid in me still wants to make my dad proud! So Tessie will go and graduate from Greek School next year, when she completes her 6th grade year.