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Tuesday, November 27th, 2012
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.
Pretty cosmic bond we have, huh?
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Tuesday, November 20th, 2012
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.
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Sunday, July 1st, 2012
(July 2012/November 1982.)
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?
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Thursday, April 12th, 2012
Rubik’s Cube? Check. Retro Pink Panther bendable toy? Check. Ability to walk backwards? Check. Vegetarian? Of course.
On the drive back to Nashville on Easter Day, we made our one pit stop at the Starbucks in Manchester, Tennessee. We had to change Jack’s diaper in the front seat of the car.
To distract him, my wife reached up and grabbed my Rubik’s Cube and retro Pink Panther bendable toy I have kept in my Honda Element since before Jack was even born.
(I own every episode of The Pink Panther cartoon series on DVD.)
Just as we finished changing him, a guy in a tie-dye shirt pulled up next to us and got out of his car with his family, spouting out loud to us his immediate thoughts:
“That must be a pretty smart kid you’ve got there. He knows how to solve a Rubik’s Cube and he hangs out with the ever-classy Pink Panther. Nice.”
Was it really necessary to tell the guy that it was actually my Rubik’s Cube (my best time to solve it is 2 minutes and 20 seconds) and my Pink Panther bendable toy even though I’m 30 years-old?
Nah. I would prefer for an observational random stranger to believe my toddler is truly a hipster:
Yes, that my 16 month-old son chooses to listen to vinyl records over an iPod.
That he will only wear t-shirts if A) they came from a thrift store and B) they have the year 1983 on the front; along with unnecessarily thick nerd-core glasses.
That he would grow an ironic mustache if he could.
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Monday, March 19th, 2012
Though the Eighties made it okay for boys to play with dolls, the same decade also provided these same young men, who are now today’s dads, with the perfect models of manliness: action figures.
After all, males are designed to be creatures of action. Virtually from infancy, we leave playing house and having tea parties to the girls. Boys are the explorers, the daredevils, and the protectors.
Why does a diaper ad that may or not insinuate that dads are 2nd rate parents get so many men upset? Since 33% of stay-at-home parents are now men, it mens that we can’t be the sole bread winners that dads evidently were back in the 1950′s.
So if our job is to work by raising our kids more actively than prior generations, then don’t diss our ability to work and to take action. I’ll say it until it’s a cliche, but today’s dads don’t babysit; they simply are being active dads.
(Maybe packs of diapers should come with a free “active dad” action figure?)
Reading too much into it, as I love to do, I have realized that each action figure on my Top 5 list represents an important aspect of fatherhood. It’s as if these toys subconsciously taught us what we would eventually need to teach and lead our children:
Masculinity, self-respect and self-defense, the initiative to implement change as necessary, adventure, and spiritual leadership.
After much discussion on Twitter, Facebook, and in real life, I have gathered my version of the Top 5 Most Butt-Kicking Action Figures of the 1980′s:
1. He-Man (1982). It can’t get much manlier when your name is “He-Man” and you ride a green tiger. Granted, he looked a lot like a pro-wrestler, with the velvet underwear and whatnot. Either way, dads are the ultimate examples of masculinity for their children. We are He-Men for our kids.
2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1988.) Martial arts were a pretty big deal back in the Eighties. From The Karate Kid to Bloodsport, it was ingrained into our brains that we must able to defend ourselves against ninjas. Or in this case, to be ninjas ourselves. Dads must teach their kids self-respect and self-defense. We are Master Splinters for our kids.
3. Transformers (1984.) Everything had to transform in the Eighties. Like Mogwai transformed into Gremlins, so did robots transform into vehicles. I’ve said it plenty before, but today’s dad is constantly having to transform the traditional father’s role from what used to left more to the mom. In theory, we must become more feminine to be masculine. Dads must lead by example and know when to implement change. We are Optimus Primes for our kids.
4. G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (1982.) It’s funny how I never really remember any of the characters actually getting shot. A bloodshed-free military? Sounds pretty nice, actually. Dads motivate and inspire their children to be adventurous and to be all they can be. We are G.I. Joes for our kids.
5. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983.) This classic sci-fi series came to a chronological end in the Eighties, reinforcing the existence of good and evil and the need to choose the right side. But it takes “the Force” to get the job done. Dads are the spiritual leaders for their family. We are the Jedi for our kids.
Now you know my list of the Top 5 Most Butt-Kicking Action Figures of the 1980′s. And knowing is half the battle.
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