Posts Tagged ‘ 1983 ’

My “Only Child” And His “Pretend Friends”

Monday, April 14th, 2014

3 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack,

Something I’ve heard grown “only children” tell me about their own childhood is that they always had “pretend friends”. I am seeing that concept in action every day with you.

At the grocery store, in the car, at school, at church..

You have three favorites: “Ellie” the purple elephant, featured in The Nose Book, from the $5 section at Kohl’s; “Cheetie” the blue cheetah from the discount rack at Kroger; and “Panda” the red panda you created at Build-A-Bear for your 3rd birthday.

This past week the three of them were anointed as VIPs when you provided them their own t-shirts, to make them more like real friends.

I should point out that two of those shirts are actually mine from circa 1983, but hey, I don’t mind.

One of my favorite parts about your pretend friends is how you call out to them throughout the day, not speaking to them further until they answer you.

And by “they,” I mean Mommy or myself.

By default, I have learned that I provide the voice for Panda and Cheetie, because apparently they’re boys, while Mommy is the voice for Ellie because she’s a girl.

However, you call out to Ellie (the girl) far more than you do Panda and Cheetie (the boys).

What’s funny is that the voices Mommy provides for the female friends are in falsetto, so you have difficulty figuring out whether it’s really Mommy responding… because at least half the time it’s actually me, trying to trick you.

“Hey Ellie?” you call out to the next room.

Yes?” I reply, in a falsetto that sounds pretty much identical to Mommy’s.

“No, Daddy! You’re not a girl!” you always explain.

Yet, sometimes, even when Mommy answers you in her “Ellie” voice, you still wait for me to try to “trick” you just so you can reprimand me.

Your three friends have been so good to you, that Mommy recently had to run them through the washing machine, then set them out in the sun to dry.

(Mommy and I explained that your friends have to take baths just like you do.)

I think it’s fun that you have three pretend friends that wear my old t-shirts from when I was your age.

At least I can see your friends… so much better than imaginary friends.

We keep asking you if you want a brother or sister, but you insist on a  real dog instead.

Eh… I think we’re better off with a purple elephant, a blue cheetah, and a red panda… all of which wear t-shirts. Plus, I don’t have to feed these animals like I would a real dog.





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What’s Mine (From The ’80s) Is (Now) Yours

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

2 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack,

Every time we visit my parents’ house, you take back with you a few souvenirs.

Typically, they are my old Hot Wheels from when I was about your age in the mid 1980s.

You now have so many toy cars that you regularly ask me:

“Daddy, where’d I get this one? It was yours when you was a boy?”

I’ll look over and see an orange paint-chipped Gremlin or Snoopy driving a tow truck (that was before Mater was cool) and reply, “That’s right: Nana and Papa got me that one when I was a boy, like you.”

You are lucky that my parents didn’t give away any of my childhood toys. So each time you visit their house, you can try out and even walk away with anything on display in the 1980s museum I grew up in.

“Hey, that’s a Smurf car!” you so excitedly announced, holding a red car being driven by Smurfette.

I guess you didn’t realize that Smurfs are in their offical comeback phase- that at one time, they were 20 times cooler than they are right now.

You like to take my ’80s cars into school each morning, only to store them in your cubby all day. I take it as a compliment. It’s your way of taking a piece of me with you each day when I can’t be with you.

Sure, it’s been a few decades since I’ve been a boy, but I can totally relate to your excitement about toys- especially ones from the ’80s.

It also subconsciously points to something we share in common: boyhood.

You recognize that I’m an adult, but you understand the concept that I was once a boy who was a lot like you:

I was a boy with an orange Gremlin and a Snoopy tow truck.






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I’m 32, The Age I’m Supposed To Turn Into My Parents

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

2 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack,

A concept that is going viral right now is that at age 32, according to a poll on, we “turn into our parents.”

The Netmums News Team explains it like this:

“It is at this age when we are most likely to find ourselves echoing our own parents’ phrases or mannerisms…

The grown-up responsibilities of having children, owning a house and having a busy career all contributed to the feeling of becoming more and more like your own parents.”

Fate would have it that I just so happen to be a 32 year-old daddy blogger at the exact moment in history when this concept has gone viral. That’s pretty cool, huh?

So, have I become my parents? Do I echo their phrases and mannerisms? Do I feel more like my own parents because I have a child and own a house and have a busy career, too?

Yes and no.

No, because I feel like they made this parenting thing, as well as the busy career and owning a house thing, seem so worry-free and easy.

In that way, I feel like I haven’t turned into them, though I want to.

Maybe I’m realizing that I am giving myself an extra challenge as a parent because I want this all to seem as easy as I thought it was for my own parents.

As far as how I have definitely turned into my parents, I do admit to using my hands a lot when I talk- which tends to happen when your mother is half Italian.

Basically, my personality comes from my mom. I’ve never really thought about that before… interesting.

And it’s pretty evident to me that I am ultimately a vegan (I mean, I’m living a plant-based lifestyle; which is the more marketable, less offensive term) because it seems like my dad was always teaching me as a kid to question where our food comes from and to relate eating processed foods to getting cancer and diseases.

So it should be no surprise that, as a 32 year-old adult, I now associate Monsanto with the devil and I see GMO foods as the mark of the beast. (That’s a slight exaggeration. Not really.)

I felt so deprived because it seemed I was the only kid I knew who wasn’t allowed to eat white bread or drink soda at his own house except for on very special occasions. (I thank my dad for that now!)

He seemed to always have a distrust of medicine and the FDA, instead teaching me to rely on what was already available in nature to prevent and cure health problems. (Which is exactly what I successfully did with my eczema, severe allergies, and sinus problems!)

Plus, he was always open-minded to the unpopular theories that mainstream society and popular culture often ridiculed or ignored, which I think was fundamental in me becoming a Libertarian, in regards to my political stances.

So yes, at age 32, I’m pretty much a mix of my parents the way I remember them while growing up; which again, wasn’t at all a negative thing.

The question is, will you become me in about 30 years? If so, you’ll basically become your grandparents.





P.S. The pictures of me with my parents, featured above, are from around Christmas 1983, nearly 30 years ago, which is when I was about your age now.


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To Be More Like Clark Griswold On Our Family Vacations

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

2 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack,

Last week when I wrote “My Kid Doesn’t Easily Sleep In The Same Room As Me,” in reference to our recent family vacation, I ended by saying, “I just had to ask myself, ‘What would Clark Griswold do?’”

I think that’s a point worth elaborating on.

There is a lot of behavior of the fictional character, first introduced in the 1983 movie National Lampoon’s Vacation, that I do not wish to replicate.

However, he does possess a quality I very much admire. It’s the fact that, with pride as a husband and father, he ultimately remains optimistic and adventurous on family vacations.

Yeah, that’s not necessarily me right now… but I’m working on it.

I’ve said it before, it’s hard for me to not be in control. It’s how I’m wired.

But on a family vacation, so little is in my control, especially when it comes to your sleeping arrangements. And if you don’t sleep well, I don’t sleep well. Then we’re both really grouchy the next day!

This may sound “out there,” but I have recently started practicing the art of meditation. It’s actually been very helpful to me.

I’ve learned to focus on what I can control versus what I can’t.

Turns out, my attitude and my perception of reality are what I can control the most.

And now, I’m applying my meditation principles in everyday life; not just on family vacations.

I find a quiet moment and place at some point each day and “focus on nothing,” clearing my head of un-dealt with concerns.

Then I pray for wisdom, humility, and grace.

In the process, I realize so much of what I let bother me is actually rooted in fear. It’s ultimately fear that I won’t get to relax and have a peace of mind. It’s fear that I won’t get my way or be happy… or get a break.

But if I accept that a family vacation is not a true vacation, but instead, a concentrated effort to spend time with family without the distraction of work and school, then it’s easier for me to have the right mindset.

It’s not about me. It’s not about me. It’s not about me.

Honestly, this mantra has efficiently helped my attitude as a parent.

I also try to remember this quote attributed to Jim Henson:

“The attitude you have as a parent is what your kids will learn from more than what you tell them. They don’t remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.”

This reminds me of an article I read recently about Shawn Achor, known as “Dolphin Dad,” who promotes the idea that kids learn to focus and react the way their parents teach them; including the frequency of laughter and smiling that takes place in a household, as modeled by the parents.

He believes the attributes of successful parenting are demonstrated in dolphins; because they are playful, social, and intelligent. In essence, happier parents make happier kids.

For me, at least, I can’t be happy, especially on a family vacation, if I’m focused on what will make me happy.

I have to think the opposite: What will make everyone else happy? What will it take to lose my ego and therefore lose what limits me? How can I sacrifice to make this trip memorable for everyone, instead of one we will all later wish we could forget?

Plus, I have to remind myself of the words of Clark Griswold: “This is no longer a vacation. It’s a quest. It’s a quest for fun. You’re gonna have fun, and I’m gonna have fun.”

We’ll be taking a mini family vacation in October. I think I’m actually ready for the challenge now…





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Posting Retro Pictures Of Dad For Father’s Day

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

2 years, 7 months.

Dear Jack,

While the writers of 20/20 are still patting themselves on the back for Friday night’s segment, “D Is For Dad And Dumb,” in which the advice for dads for Father’s Day was “don’t be an idiot,” I have meanwhile witnessed a different version of reality.

For this Father’s Day weekend, I have seen Facebook flooded with pictures of my friends’ dads. Despite being on Facebook since 2005, I never remember a Father’s Day so obviously consumed with people celebrating their dads.

In the midst of the “dad traffic” today, I also saw this really cool quote by Reverend Billy Graham:

“A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.”


Perfectly stated.

Despite the reinforced stereotype in media that dads are as about as respectable as Homer Simpson, most people in my version of the real world identify the concept of dad as an honorable thing.

Not to mention, the dads I know in real life have better things to do than to spend much time or energy worrying about how people outside of their nuclear family view them. (As a daddy blogger, I might personally be an exception?)


The dads I know put their family before their own needs and wants, on a daily basis. And that’s normal. It’s not something they talk about. They just do it.

Whether 20/20 ever gets the courage and/or integrity to address the quiet and sophisticated strength of dads in the real world, I don’t know.

It’s funny. I honestly can’t think of one time growing up that my dad ever did or said anything selfish. He only gave and sacrificed for our family the whole time.

That’s the way I have always thought of him and always will.




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