The phrase, “when I was your age,” is usually completed by a parent or grandparent telling a child how hard life was back in the day, when they had to walk 10 miles to school… in the snow.
But see, I was born in April 1981. That means my toddler and Elementary school years took place in the overly-synthesized, fantasy decade we now refer to as The Eighties.
We didn’t have the Internet or cellphones or iTunes, but that was okay. Because we had Saturday morning cartoons, Big Wheels, and “regular” Nintendo. We drank red Kool-Aid and watched the Smurfs. And life was good.
So now I think about my son and how his toddler and Elementary school years will take place almost exactly 30 years after mine. (I was 29 and a half when Jack was born.)
To be honest, I fear that his young years won’t be as cool as mine were.
Because when I was exactly his age now, it was November 1982 and Michael Jackson had just released Thriller, the biggest selling album of all time; while E.T. was the movie on everyone’s mind, having been released just a few months before.
Maybe it’s inspired by me currently watching the final season of Lost again right now, but I am very focused on the “flash-sideways.”
In other words, I’m constantly comparing the happenings and culture of how things were when I was my son’s age.
Something you will be seeing more of here on The Dadabase are articles were I feature two similar pictures: One of my son in modern day, followed by me at the same age, doing something likewise.
(I recently scanned like 64 pictures of my childhood from November 1982 to January 1984; which I will be sporadically using from here on out, as related to Jack’s age.)
So I trust you will enjoy the time-traveling that is headed your way. We are on our way to my favorite year ever, 1983.
I’m assuming most Dadabase readers also were young kids in The Eighties. Let me ask you:
Am I being overly nostalgic, or did we really grow up in the best decade ever for being a kid?
Never in my life have I ever watched a full episode of the classic TV sitcom, Cheers. Until about 20 minutes ago.
I just finished the first episode on Netflix. It was simple and warm and charming. I loved time-traveling back to 1982; interestingly, I myself was a year and a half when the show first premiered.
But despite just now actually watching Cheers, I have been a huge fan of the theme song for my entire life.
The way I see it, this “average Joe anthem” written by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo is only 2nd to “In My Life” by The Beatles, as far as The Best Song Ever Written.
The intertwining music and lyrics are perfectly melancholy yet hopeful; yearning yet found. What human being can’t relate to this?
“Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.
Wouldn’t you like to get away? Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see, our troubles are all the same.
You wanna be where everybody knows your name.”
Life is hard. Financial insecurities? I got ‘em. Uncertainty on how my life is supposed to play out? Yep.
Especially today in particular.
But I am blessed enough to come home to a beautiful wife and a magnificent son who take me just as I am. Actually, they take me for more than I am.
As we all sat on the kitchen floor tonight for some unrehearsed family time, Jack unfolded his scrappy coloring book and pulled out his pathetically worn-out crayons.
He likes to assign crayons to Jill and I as he colors the destined-to-be-a-scribbled-mess pages.
“Dada?” He held up the yellow crayon like a good friend offering a premium beer.
For times like these when my life feels like a clusterfog, I especially want to go where everybody knows my name, where they’re always glad I came, and where I can see troubles are all the same.
Where, as a family, we know whatever happens, we’re in this thing together.
I don’t think it’s just in my head. My son Jack and I really are on the same wavelength.
If I’m not relaxed, neither is he. If I’m too hot or too cold, so is he. We have always enjoyed the same types of music and the same kinds of food. We are amused by the same random things in life.
Today both he and I, but not my wife, fought off a “24 hour stomach bug.” We both started out the day by vomiting, then felt kind of funky for most of the day, but by evening, were pretty much back at 100%.
Our father-son connection actually reminds me most of E.T. and Elliot’s relationship. In case I needed to point it out, Jack is E.T. and I’m Elliott. (This June will mark the 30th anniversary of the classic movie, E.T.)
While I’m the human, Jack is the waddling alien who mimics my everyday behaviors. Recently during playtime with him I was pretending to fall asleep on his blanket on the floor. I acted like I was snoring, making the classic cartoon sound as it is universally recognized: “Hah, shuuu… hah, shuuu…”.
Tonight he was showing off all his cool tricks for my parents who were briefly in town from Alabama. Sure enough, he dragged his blanket into the middle of the living room floor, laid down on top of it, and made his impression of the sound: “Eh, sssssshhh… eh, sssssshhh…”.
Jack wants to be human. It’s largely up to me to show him how. So much for him actually learning to be normal!