Archive for the ‘ Story Bucket ’ Category

A Southern Fried, Sunday Afternoon Play Date

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

2 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack,

After testing out the adventure of taking you to the races at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway with us, we decided to invite your best friend Sophie and her parents along for the next race.

It was interesting because I could tell Sophie enjoyed watching the races just as much as you did, but in a slightly different way:

She is a highly verbal extrovert. You are a highly verbal introvert.

Sophie wanted to talk to you and share snacks.

You wanted to eat your own snacks and watch the race; as the “grumpy old man” look on your face in this picture clearly demonstrates.

I was actually surprised you let Sophie wear your skull and crossbones sunglasses… or as you call them, your robot glasses.

Basically, if it meant she didn’t get to eat your food, you were willing to sacrifice the shades.

It was funny when I asked Sophie’s mommy how she liked the races as we were leaving, because her response perfectly reflected my own: “That was different… but I had a good time.”

I must say that being at the races this weekend reminded me how truly Southern living in Nashville can be sometimes… or at least I should say, in some places in Nashville.

The races began with a prayer, which is fine by me. However, the prayer devolved quickly:

“Dear Lord, we thank you that we can all be here at the races today. We just ask that you will keep all these drivers safe today…”

So far so good. But then…

“And Lord, we pray that you will help these cars go faster than they ever have before, so that all the fans here today will be entertained like they never have before…”

{Insert record scratching sound effect here to imply a surprise in the story flow, like they do in cliche movie trailers.}

“And I just pray, oh Lord, that for all the people who decided to stay home today instead of coming out here to the races, that the next time they decide to not come to the races, you would make them feel bad and realize just what they’re missing by not being here with us today.”

That was the point where I stopped taking the prayer seriously, and started looking around, catching eye contact with Sophie’s parents, as to say, “This must be a joke, right?”

Nonetheless, the man ended his “prayer” like this, I kid you not:

“And I pray all this in Jesus’ name, boogity-boogity… AMEN!”

I felt like I needed to ask God for forgiveness simply just for being present for that.

(It actually reminded me of one of my favorite bands, Cake, with their 1998 song, “Satan Is My Motor”; which I interpret as a song about the dichotomy of impure motives versus good intentions.)

Perhaps the most confusing part of the opening prayer was the fact he prayed that the next time people decided to stay home, that God would essentially curse them, but not this time.

Sophie and her parents stayed about an hour after we left, which was at the end of the third race. I learned from Sophie’s mommy, that in the fourth race, two of the cars bumped into each other and the drivers got out of their cars to start fighting each other.

Fortunately, the drivers’ pit crews held them back from actually hitting each other in the face.

I think next time, the opening prayer needs to cover that too.

 

Love,

Daddy

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Way Too Excited To Go Back To School, From Vacation

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

2 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack,

Halfway through our vacation last week, you asked me, “I go back to school tomorrow?”

I could tell, you weren’t asking me if you had to go to school the next day- you were asking if you could go to school the next day.

What’s not to love about spending 10 days in northern California with all your cousins, getting to play all day and have your parents turn a blind eye to you drinking juice?

(Sure enough, your eczema reappeared by the 2nd day, which is why we typically don’t let you drink juice.)

I say it all comes down to routine. You’re like me- you thrive in the routine.

Being on vacation is so… open-ended, and even… intimidating to the psyche. The part about not knowing what to expect the day is hard for you (and me) to process.

So I totally get why half-way through our vacation, you asked about going home.

Of course, you totally had a blast the rest of the week, and I still have a story or two to tell about that soon!

But I will say, now that we’re back in Tennessee, you completely appreciate the comfort of the familiar routine.

You were way too excited to hop in the Honda Element for the ride to school yesterday, which was your first time back to school in close to two weeks.

Very joyfully, you kicked your legs along with the bathroom echo rock music of The Shins as we hardly spoke any words on the 45 minute drive to school. You were just so excited to know you were about to enter back into your life of structure. I love it when you are that content and at peace with me, giddy and smiling the whole time.

Even though you showed some unusual hesitation when I dropped you off, I knew you wouldn’t have much trouble readjusting.

I was right.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

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Risk Management: Being My Kid’s Bodyguard

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

20 months.

Anytime I’ve ever heard another parent say “I just let him out of my sight for one second…” it never turns out to be a delightful story.

So as to prevent myself from ever saying that phrase, it’s simple:

I never let my son out of my sight for one second.

Obviously, he goes to daycare during the day and he sleeps in his own bedroom at night.

But what I mean is that as long as he and I are in the same room or as long as he’s with me out in public, I am the kid’s bodyguard.

I believe that all of us as human beings were born with a nature that causes us to want to, by default, make destructive decisions.

No parent ever has to teach their child to lie or to be disobedient.

While we also have a nature that causes us to want to be good and help others, we still are often driven towards destruction in our thoughts which lead to actions.

Likewise, I know my son will run straight for the cars in the street or into the crowd at the store unless I physically restrain him from doing so.

My verbal warnings aren’t yet enough for my toddler son.

He is all but handcuffed to me because at this point, I can’t trust him to keep himself from hurting himself.

Not to mention that as a father of a son, I’m acutely aware of the fact that a boy’s chance of surviving to adulthood is a lot less than a girl’s.

Mark J. Penn, in his book, Microtrends, explains it this way, in regards to statistics done here in America:

“There are about 90,000 more boys born every year than girls, setting up a favorable dating ratio. But by the time those kids turn 18, the sex ratio has shifted a full point the other way to 51 to 49, because more boys die in puberty than girls. Researchers call it a “testosterone storm,” which causes more deaths among boys from car accidents, homicides, suicides, and drownings.”

I don’t mean to be morbid or grandiose, but I think about that. I should.

Whenever I’m with my son, even in a seemingly safe environment, in my head I have to constantly be thinking, “What’s the worst that could happen right now?

Simple risk management.

Because sure enough, the moment I don’t ask myself that would be the day I would find out.

I’m not sure if I really am an overprotective dad or not.

After seeing these pictures of how I let my son play with big wooden stick, I bet some readers out there are actually thinking the opposite about me.

But that’s part of the paradox:

I’m his dad. I’m supposed to encourage his adventurous spirit. And I really like that part of my job as a dad.

Hey, I want to have fun too.

As long as it’s not too much fun.

(Kids, don’t try this at home. Unless your dad is there watching you through the camera as he encourages your adventurous spirit.)

 

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My Son Likes The Color Pink But Not Fairies

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

20 months.

Today a fellow coworker announced to our office, “Who wants a new coloring book?”

“I’ll take it,” I instantly replied. Evidently it was a gag gift, having been cleared out from the desk of a recently fired employee.

What made this the ultimate goofy prize is that it was a pony fairy coloring book. For little girls.

But I figured, what’s the difference? I would just hand it to Jack when I picked him up from daycare and he would think I was some hero for getting him a new coloring book for no reason.

It’s not like he would care that the thing featured dozens of girly, winged ponies.

And I was right. But how exactly did he entertain himself with this princess pony coloring book in the back seat of my car?

By ferociously grabbing the pages and ripping them out like a T-Rex to his prey.

Jack does not like fairies.

Similarly, as Sesame Street plays in the background at our house during playtime on the weekends, Jack will stop what he’s doing and say, “Elmo? Elmo!”

That means the “Abby’s Flying Fairy School” segment is on. We have to fast forward to the next part of the episode that features Elmo, or at least a more traditional Muppet.

Again, Jack does not like fairies.

Well, except for that ball he has. On one of their more recent trips here to Nashville, my parents treated Jack to a trip to Target. He found this little dark green ball, about the size of a racquetball. So they bought it for him.

After getting back to our house, they took a closer look at this ball they perceived as a toy for little boys: “Disney Fairies.” Yep, there was Tinkerbell doing her fairy thing.

And speaking of less than masculine toy balls, there’s the fact that last week when Jack and Jill were visiting family up in Pennsylvania, Jill wanted to buy Jack a soccer ball. So she let him pick one out.

Which one did he chose? A pink miniature Nike soccer ball designed for little girls.

Jill swapped it for the red, white, and blue version.

So Jack likes to play with sports balls; even if they’re pink. He doesn’t discriminate. And you may be able to get away with sneaking  Tinkerbell on the ball as long as the rest of the ball looks masculine enough.

But fairies in a coloring book or hogging up Sesame Street air time? That’s crossing the line.

For me, it’s interesting to sort of stand back and watch him on his own discern what is too feminine for his liking.

At 20 months old, his instincts are already guiding him as he figures out which toys are for boys, which are for girls, and which can be for both.

But this he knows: Fairies in plain sight are always for girls.

 

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Using Subliminal Messages On My Toddler Son

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

20 months.

I lied.

A few days ago I said I wouldn’t be eating at Chick-fil-A because I’m a vegetarian. But after the past week of seeing a sporadic flow of sarcastic eCards dissing “waffle fries cooked in hate and bigotry” there was a particular part of that phrase that just got stuck in my head:

Waffle fries.

So yesterday I totally went to Chick-fil-A and got some large waffle fries. When I was there I saw a poster advertising their new peach milkshake and now I can’t stop thinking about that.

Yeah, I know today is the official “Chick-fil-A Appreciate Day” (AKA “Support Free Speech Day”) endorsed by Mike Huckabee. I’m not going there today because of the political movement that is happening.

I am going there because I want a peach milkshake. I want the milkshake because of the sarcastic eCards about waffle fries that made me start thinking about waffle fries.

In other words, despite certain Facebook friends’ efforts to get me to think that Chick-fil-A supports hate groups, I have now not only found myself not caring what the CEO of their company said (or didn’t say) but even more ironic, buying Chick-fil-A when normally, I would have never thought to go there.

(When you’re a vegetarian, going to a fast food joint is basically pointless. Until you start thinking about waffle fries and peach milkshakes.)

I have been intrigued by the concept of subliminal messages ever since I saw that episode of Saved By The Bell where Zack Morris gets all the girls in his school, as well as A.C. Slater, to fall in love with him after playing a subliminal message-laced song over the school’s PA system.

As much time as my wife and I spend deliberately teaching our son to do certain things, I give little thought to the lessons we teach him by accident.

The boy loves to vacuum.

Sure, he’s using the extension nozzle and it’s not actually attached to the vacuum cleaner. But hey, it’s no different than how musicians in music videos play their electric guitars which are not plugged in to an amp.

He also enjoys helping Mommy make dinner. Yes, he thinks it’s fun to mix the ingredients together.

But I also do my part to intentionally plant subliminal messages in his head. Last night we were trying to introduce him to some organic, blueberry-flavored applesauce. I could tell he was weirded out by it being a different color than normal.

“More? More?” I said into his ear as my wife drove the spoon to this mouth.

Yes, I gave him the idea that he would want more of it before he even tried it. And it worked.

But now he’s learning to use subliminal messages in his favor, too. He has picked up on the fact that when I ask him if he wants to do something, like read a book, and he says yes, I immediately respond with “okay.”

Here recently, he will ask me for something, like to have a snack right before dinner.

“Snack? Tay.” He asks for a before-dinner snack, then immediately attempts to say “okay” which comes out as “tay.”

Yes, he is pre-approving the question for me. How thoughtful of him.

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