2 years, 2 months.
When I saw this picture I took of you this morning, I thought, “Here’s proof my son actually looks like me!”
The plan for Sunday afternoon was that Mommy would do the grocery shopping while I took you to get a haircut.
But once we checked in at the economy-priced place we usually go to, we were #13 on the queue, with a 45 minute wait; not to mention, you were crying because you knew why we were there.
So I made you a deal:
“Okay, Jack… listen. Would you rather Daddy give you a haircut when we get home instead of those people inside that store?”
You instantly felt relieved; I could see it:
“Yeah… Daddy, you give me haircut?”
Once we got home, you didn’t put up a fight at all. You stood on the back patio stairs as I buzzed your hair with a half-inch guard all over.
“You cut it all off, Daddy?”
I explained, “No son, you’ll still have hair, but this haircut will keep you cool in the warm weather.”
Mommy instantly fell in love with your new look. I thought she might simply be partial.
However, I learned that would not be the case.
All your teachers and friends at school said the same thing: You look really handsome with your new haircut.
As your dad, I have to take that as a double compliment.
One, you’re my son and someone is complimenting how sharp you look.
Second, it proves I have respectable skills with a set of hair clippers.
Not to mention, Mommy and I will now be saving about 13 bucks a month by not having to pay for your haircuts.
I was thinking: Maybe the more comfortable that you and I become with my barbering abilities, perhaps I could start learning how to fade your hair to where it’s a little longer on top.
But hey, if the buzz cut works for you and Mommy, and it saves us $13 a month, I don’t want to complicate things.
By default, I am now your favorite barber.
2 years, 6 months.
This morning we drove the first half of the way to school in the rain, but the skies began to clear by the second half.
As they did, I announced, “Jack! Look, in the sky! It’s a rainbow! Do you see it?”
You looked through the windshield, asking, “Where? Where?” but not understanding what you were actually looking for.
Finally, you looked above the green I-65 South sign and finally saw what I did.
“I see yellow choo-choo, Daddy!”
That sounds pretty random when I tell it, but I have to consider: You’ve never seen a rainbow until today.
To you, it was a yellow train chugging across the sky.
Despite my 29 and a half year head start into life, I still am fascinated by rainbows; as you obviously are too.
Actually, it’s pretty hard to look up in the sky and see a rainbow and not at least think, “Cool, a rainbow.”
A rainbow is a universal sign of hope, I assume.
I have to assume that as hard as life can be, a person has to see a rainbow and consider that there is hope beyond what we see. For you, I would have to think that life is already more like that already.
You haven’t failed in life, yet.
You haven’t been legitimately disappointed about anything.
You haven’t regretted anything in your past.
You haven’t only wished you would have known sooner.
Hopefully, that’s where I come in. I want you to learn from my mistakes. Sure, you’ll make plenty of your own mistakes; that’s part of life.
But I want to help fast forward you through the learning curve of life.
It isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, but there are clues of hope embedded into everyday life, if we know what to look for.
2 years, 6 months.
On Mother’s Day, Mommy and I took you to your very first baseball game. Coincidentally, the Nashville Sounds (our family’s home team) was playing the Sacramento River Cats (Mommy’s hometown team).
I almost have to use the word “miraculous” here to describe how long you lasted: You watched the game for 30 whole minutes!
Mommy and I were so impressed that as a 2 and a half year-old, you were able to pay attention to the game without wanting to get out of your seat for that long.
Seriously, you watched the game for 30 straight minutes!
Though, I should admit, you were due for a nap. So your drowsiness was countered by the fact that a real baseball game was going on right in front of you.
Not to mention, Ozzy, the mascot for the Nashville Sounds, came by to visit all the kids in the bleachers.
I’m pretty sure I actually convinced you that we had just visited him in the zoo the day before.
You didn’t really question why a giant cat who was creeping along the ground one day at the zoo, would be so friendly, walking upright and in uniform, and so happy to meet you the very next day.
But you rolled with it.
Then, you realized there was a whole stadium to explore. You were mesmerized (!) by the “tractors” (glorified golf carts) you found.
Mommy and I literally had to snap you out of your gaze on them:
“Jack? Jack! Let’s go…”.
And so you did. You discovered that the ramp of the deck served as a great “hill” for your red Hot Wheels car to race down.
Interestingly, that was the first toy car we ever bought you, exactly a year ago.
Now you have like 53 of them; many of which currently serve as the crushable cars for your monster trucks.
Mommy and I secured both ends of the ramp to make sure you didn’t escape us in all your excitement.
As for your “sock giraffe” that I bought Mommy on our honeymoon in New Hampshire nearly five years ago, you felt it was necessary he shared every adventure of the baseball game with you.
Along the way, you caught the attention of a sweet older man who was running the ticket gate:
“Hang on, little guy. I think I have something for you in the back.”
He handed you an official baseball that the Nashville Sounds had used for their practice.
As seen in the picture of you holding the ball, you were a bit confused on why you were getting a free gift that didn’t come wrapped in plastic or that didn’t require a trip to Target.
Or involve you earning it by going potty.
But again, you rolled with it.
I was thinking today about this. Something I really miss, as a 32 year-old man, is experiencing a version of life where everything is new and exciting and mysterious.
As for you, the kid, the boy wonder, you get to wake up to new adventures every day.
Dinosaurs are real.
A big cat lives in the zoo but serves as a baseball team’s mascot on the side.
Your imagination has no limits because the universe is truly magical.
I miss that.
It’s funny how these thoughts can stem from a baseball game.
I suppose that’s part of the reason that baseball games are so intertwined with American tradition and nostalgia.
Watching a baseball game at a stadium is like being taken through a portal where life seems both completely familiar yet completely brand new.
Maybe some would say it’s just a baseball game.
I have a feeling you understand where I’m coming from on this one.
Oh, and needless to say, you slept the whole way home… next to your baseball, of course.
2 years, 6 months.
Twenty years ago in 1993, as a 12 year-old boy, I got to see Jurassic Park in the movie theater with my dad. It was the most life-like experience I’ve ever had in regards to believing I was actually seeing real dinosaurs.
As for you, your version of that happened last weekend when Mommy and I took you to the Nashville Zoo. You finally got to meet a real “dinosaur,” as promised. (An iguana, to be exact.)
Though you enjoyed finally getting to see one, as promised and hyped up, you told me your favorite animal was actually, of all exotic things, the turtle.
(Maybe it’s because our last name is Shell and turtles have a shell?)
You brought a red lowrider truck with you as your companion.
Somehow, from the beginning of our zoo visit, you assumed that in order for the thing to be legitimate or official, you were obligated for each zoo animal to see your truck.
It was like getting your passport stamped. You had to have each new animal hear your offer to play with them.
Impressively, we ended up seeing every animal in the entire zoo in an hour and 25 minutes. Your concept of going to the zoo is like mine of going shopping: Get in, get it, get out!
But of course, along the way, you did have time to unintentionally (?) heckle the zoo animals:
“Hey Tiger! I ride you?”
“Hey Meerkat! Wanna play with my red truck?”
Fortunately, you never seemed too bummed out when the animals stared in the other direction while you sincerely tried to befriend them.
Oh well, we ended up buying a family season pass to the zoo, so this wasn’t your only chance to befriend the (hopefully) enchanted creatures of the forest.
Most importantly, you still believe that dinosaurs are alive and well.
I care less about you losing faith in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.
Or even Mickey Mouse.
But if you still believe that dinosaurs exist, I believe I can assist in keeping your childhood wonder alive even longer.
Randomly enough, the zoo helps with that.
2 years, 6 month.
Last night Mommy and I watched a total chick flick, What To Expect When You’re Expecting.
As far as the main takeaway for me, as a dad, the movie served as a visual reminder of what it’s like for the dad as the mom is giving birth.
In particular, I’m referring to the ridiculous and easily mockable theatrics that an empathetic and supportive father engages himself during labor:
“Hee-hee-hoo! Hee-hee-hoo! You’re doing great! I’m so proud of you! Hee-hee-hoo!”
Those words of encouragement are of course accompanied by the dad making constant, unflattering, John-Mayer-singing faces.
At least no one other than Mommy or the doctors saw my 12 hour goofball performance while Mommy was giving birth to you.
I know this has to sound petty, but when I think of Mommy and I having another baby (not necessarily any time soon, by the way) the first thing that enters my mind is, “Ah man, I have to be that dramatic character again.”
That’s one reason I wouldn’t mind Mommy getting the epidural right away if we have another baby.
Unlike the extremely pro-Business Of Being Born dad I was back in 2010, I’ve sort of went the other way on that one. I just want to be able to fast-forward through the whole labor process, as awkward and exhausting as it was for me, and I assume, Mommy.
While there’s this traditional concept of “there’s nothing like holding your own child for this first time,” it took months for me to feel that way. I’ve said multiple times that being a dad actually wasn’t something awesome for me until you were 15 months, because that’s the age you starting acknowledging my presence.
That was the age where I felt psychologically needed by you, not just physically.
That was the age where I stopped subconsciously thinking, “I have to do this,” and started thinking, “I want to do this.”
What I’m not sure of is whether it sounds selfish of me to say that out loud. Maybe I’m the only dad who feels this way, so I can’t speak for anyone other than myself.
If nothing else, the simple thought is this:
I feel awkward enough in life on a daily basis. I have a very unsuccessful high five record with other guys. I never know if there’s going to be a snap or a half-hug involved.
So the thought of going through the labor process again, not to mention, the first 15 months, again… well, I can handle it, but it is a little intimidating.
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