While my flat tire was being replaced at WalMart on Thursday morning, I decided to let you pick out a toy car. I was willing to spend some of my blow money (that’s Dave Ramsey lingo) on you; as much as $10.
You had been saying for the past month, “I want a purple monster truck.” So I figured you’d finally get it.
As soon as we stepped up to the toy car aisle, we stood before a wall of cool Monster Jam monster trucks, with a tough-looking purple one right there in our sight. You grabbed it.
Unlike U2 in 1987, you had actually found what you were looking for.
I thought, “Well, that was easy. How do we kill another 45 minutes?”
Then you saw a black monster truck… then a red one… and a green one…
Whichever new truck you discovered every 18 seconds, it automatically became superior to the previous one.
The original purple monster truck was 4 bucks, but now you were dipping into basic 97 cent Hot Wheels. I actually wanted to spend more money on you, distracting you with “Rasta Carian” from Mater’s Tall Tales, a $9 item.
You weren’t impressed with the dreadlocked Jamaican monster truck. (Really?!)
“Okay Jack, it’s getting about time for them to call my name over the speaker and tell me my car is ready. Go ahead and decide which one you want to take home,” I explained.
My own expectations had now been properly lowered. I guess I was just confused that you didn’t want me to buy what clearly you had been talking about for weeks.
And there it was, a purple… 1983 Chevy Silverado lowrider with white and lime green flames.
That’s the one you just couldn’t let go of. So I spent 97 cents on you and you were completely happy.
I like spending money on you by buying you special gifts, but you don’t care how much money I spend on them. I mean, hey, I’m not complaining.
You just seem to like the adventure of obtaining and opening a new gift. Then you always trace that gift back to the event in which you got it.
Back then, you were a 3 month-old fetus who I best understood through a black-and-white sonogram. You’ve come a long way, kid.
But so have I. I learned how to become a dad.
Like Elvis Costello in 1983, everyday I write the book. We figure this out together, in real time.
Along the way, there have been things I’ve said on The Dadabase, that looking back now, I wouldn’t say; nor are they still accurate depictions of how I see things.
There were times I was so zealous about representing myself as a confident dad with a consistent parenting plan, that it probably came across as bravado, not confidence.
And I do regret my former tone in regards to controversial topics like abortion, circumcision, the cry-it-out method, and even politics in general. I see now how I was only adding to the noise of two extremely polarized camps preaching to their own choirs.
That’s not me anymore. Everyday, I’m becoming more like Jack Johnson. And everyday, you’re becoming more like Jack the boy… not the baby.
Had you been born a girl, I know I would have loved you just as much. But instead, you’re a rough-housing, toy train-holding, spiky-haired little boy.
And I really like all that about you.
I daydream a lot about our future together and what all adventures we can tear into.
There’s a monster truck rally coming to town in a couple of weeks that I’d love to take you to…
Unfortunately, it doesn’t start until after your bedtime and I already know there’s no way that would go well.
But as soon as you’re old enough, I can’t wait to see your eyes light up in excitement as an unnecessarily large truck runs over 1980s Buicks. As for now, you like to watch clips of monster trucks on YouTube with me.
You also love to watch donkeys, buses, and “French trains.” I’m not sure why it’s important to you that the trains are French, but I type it in and clips pop up, so we watch them together.
On the day this picture was taken, I taught you to throw sticks in the water. You were obsessed with the new skill. The truth is, you were actually really good at it.
Just wait a few years and then I’ll teach you the impressive ability to skip rocks across the water.
See, I’m not sure those are the kinds of things girls really care about. But you, you get me.
At only 2 years old, you understand where I’m coming from. I really appreciate the fact that you’re okay with listening to Weezer on the 45 minute drive home from daycare as the two of us silently contemplate life.
We can be in our own little weird worlds, together. It’s like we’re trapped in some parallel universe, you and I, for the rest of our lives. Though we live among the rest of the world, even Mommy, we still speak a strange exclusive language between the two of us..
If only you knew how much I look forward to the two of us building f0rts, having snowball fights, practicing sports, having afternoon-long video game battles, and just simply going on long walks in different neighborhoods as we explore a new mediocre environment. Man, all those things are so important and crucial in understanding what life is really about.
The way you get me, I have a feeling I’ll get you too. I’m going to instantly understand you when others don’t even come close.
I’ve been where you are now. Granted, it was 1983. But hey, Smurfs are still cool, right?
Just know this: The way you think, the way you feel, the things you think are fun, chances are that I did and still do feel the same.
Maybe even now, I’m standing with one foot in 1983 and the other in present day. I’m transcending time and universes just to be close to you.
There’s a decent chance you will begin actually remembering certain events now. I say that because my own 2nd birthday party in April 1983 is the very first memory of my own life.
I remember my Italian grandfather holding me in his lap as everyone around the table sang “Happy Birthday” to me. It was somehow overwhelmingly sad, so I cried until it was time to open presents.
It is from that experience that I planned your 2nd birthday party. I wanted to make sure that you would have a fun, memorable party for you, your friends, and our family.
So I implemented 3 simple rules for planning your 2nd birthday party:
1. Find the right-sized location for the amount of people invited.
We invited about 30 people and they all showed up. (Yes, Jack, you’re that cool of a kid!)
Fortunately, our church had a mini basketball court for you and your friends to chase each other around in. My top priority was making sure you didn’t get antsy.
I also wanted to make sure you didn’t get overwhelmed by the amount of people there. With a location that open, you never felt closed in or crowded. That kept you happy.
2. Downplay the eating and singing part.
I think the real reason I got scared and starting crying at my own 2nd birthday party was because I couldn’t understand why so many people surrounded me and were singing a song I didn’t know. It freaked me out.
So as non-traditional as it was, I made sure we purposely didn’t sing “Happy Birthday” once it was cake time.
We didn’t even have you blow out candles in front of everyone. We just let you enjoy your cake while we served the guests.
Actually, you were more excited about sampling the Teddy Grahams, Animal Crackers, and Angry Birds crackers.
You were actually quite proud of them; as you see in this picture I took of you.
3. Speed up the gift-opening.
When it came time for you to open your gifts, your Mommy was equipped to jot down who gave you what. Then as I quickly read the cards to everyone, you opened your gifts.
I wanted to prevent stop-and-go action, ensuring a continuous flow instead.
That gave your guests time to see you actually react to and play with your new gifts beyond your initial reaction of opening them, because you didn’t necessarily know what everything was at first.
So that’s it. I’m not sure you actually will remember any of it, but in an attempt to help jog your memory, I conveniently saved the pictures from your 2nd birthday party for you on this link to The Dadabase Facebook page.
You didn’t cry at your 2nd birthday party like I did 29 years ago. Good job, son.