On May 5, 2021

Breaking the reins

By Dom Cioffi

There was a paradigm shift at my house this past weekend that forced me to realize how quickly my son is becoming an adult.

It all started on Friday afternoon when I picked him up after school. Normally, I pepper him with questions about his day and then have to pull answers out of him, but on this occasion, he was the one who was especially chatty.

He led with a jovial, “How was your day, Dad?” as soon as he jumped in my truck. This put me on high alert, knowing that my son is only this affable when he’s either in trouble or got something in the works. I turned and stared at him with a quizzical grin.

“What?” he replied, with a wide smile stretching across his face.

“Cut to the chase, dude,” I countered. “Obviously, you’ve got something on your mind.”

Over the course of the next two minutes, my son outlined his entire weekend. By the time he was finished talking, my head was spinning, not only because of the number of activities he was prepared to engage in, but also because my son has never been one to plan anything.

Here is a pretty good synopsis of what he outlined:

“So as soon as we get home, I’m going to grab my gear and you’re going to drive me to band practice. When I’m done, we’re going to order a pizza and go home so I can clean my room, which will earn me Xbox time until midnight.

“Then, on Saturday morning, you’re going to drive me to work. When I’m done my shift, William is going to pick me up and we’re going to the park to play basketball. After that, we’ll grab dinner at Taco Bell and then we’re going to meet a bunch of other kids at the mall.

“Then William, Matt, Ben and I will come back to the house because they’re all sleeping over.

“When we wake up on Sunday morning, we’re going to grab breakfast at McDonald’s and then play some more hoop. Then a whole group of us are going to shoot airsoft guns. I’ll probably come home after that to chill. Tell Mom she can make me dinner.”

I waited a moment before replying, and then said, “Is that it?”

After we stopped laughing, I got a little more serious.

“Another Round”

“Ok,” I stated. “That sounds like an awesome weekend, and I’m ok with the sleepover and various activities as long as you stay in touch like we agreed.”

Ever since his friend got a driver’s license and they’ve gotten into the habit of running off, I’ve made him promise to keep me alerted to where he is. And so far, he’s done a good job (of course, I’ve got tracking on his phone, so I know where he is regardless). 

I distinctly remember the thrill of running off when my friend first got his license. It was freedom on a level I had never experienced, and the feeling was exhilarating. The only thing that topped it was when I got my own license and was able to officially escape the confines of childhood.

Of course, with great power comes great responsibility and I’ve conveyed that point to my son. I’m okay with his excursions as long as things don’t get too far out of control. So far, the experiment is working, but I fully expect some bumps in the road.

It won’t be long before my son takes his driver’s test and starts looking for his first vehicle. He talks about it incessantly. He’s convinced he’s going to be driving around in a souped-up sports car with bright colors, fancy rims, and a spoiler. However, I’m more inclined to make him suffer through a beat-up minivan so he’ll truly appreciate his first “nice” car. Not to mention, I’m confident he’s going to beat the crap out of the first vehicle he owns given how well he takes care of his other personal items.

But more than anything, I worry about all the things teenaged boys are inclined to do when they are left wholly unsupervised. I lived through it so I’m well aware of the possibilities. Drinking alcohol is an obvious concern, and while he seems wholly unimpressed with the activity thus far, I’m smart enough to know that can change in a weekend.

This week’s film, “Another Round,” the 2021 Oscar winner for Best Foreign film, happens to be about the excesses of drinking and how the activity can both inspire and destroy the lives of those who engage.

This is a beautiful little comedy-drama from Denmark that follows four middle-aged men who are having a group existential crisis. Their solution is to follow the advice of a little-known psychiatrist named Finn Skårderud, who theorized that being slightly inebriated throughout the day would make an individual more creative and relaxed.

There’s a reason this film just won an Academy Award. It’s endearing, cutting, and poignant all in one movie. Give this one a shot if you love quality acting combined with a moving storyline (and don’t mind subtitles).

A well-oiled “B+” for “Another Round,” available for streaming on Hulu.

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at moviediary@att.net.

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