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Monday, June 16th, 2014
3 years, 6 months.
It was 15 years ago that I graduated high school. This past Saturday, the day before Father’s Day, I had the privilege of going to my class reunion.
I say “privilege” because Mommy nor your Auntie Dana (my sister) even had a 10 year class reunion. As for my class, we’ve had one every 5 five years; and I have full confidence we’ll continue to have one every 5 years, thanks to the thoughtful dedication of one of our class officers, Tabatha Thomas Greenwood.
(As if you needed me to tell you, that’s me in the white shoes. I say that, because what other guy would be wearing white shoes?)
Obviously, I had a great time, being the nostalgic guy that I am. But it sure helps that in my graduating class of 183 students, they all happen to be cool people I actually want to see and catch up with.
I feel that the people I grew up with since 1986 (the year we started Kindergarten) really do have this special connection with each other. It’s this common interest that we make it a priority to see each other every half a decade. Everybody truly wants to be there; I can tell.
What really stood out to me the most this time, as compared to our last class reunion 5 years ago, was how proud we were of our kids.
Five years ago, you weren’t living on this planet yet. Mommy and I hadn’t even been married a year back in 2009.
But this time, I was able to share in the glory of fellow dads my age who enjoyed talking about our kids more than anything.
It just goes to show you how much becoming a parent really is a blessing in life.
Which, speaking of, the funny thing is you and Mommy were in California this past weekend. I wondered if I needed to write an explanation on a name tag; something like this:
“Hi, I’m Nick Shell. Yes, I promise I have a wife and a son, but they are currently in Sacramento catching up with my wife’s side of the family, who we only see once a year. You see, my wife had more vacation days at work than I did, so she and our son got a head start on our annual family vacation. I’ll be joining them in a few days, though.”
Turns out, no one seemed to think it was that weird of a situation. Granted, there’s definitely some irony in the fact that the very next day was Father’s Day and it would still be days later before I would see you again in Lake Tahoe.
So despite not actually seeing my wife and son on Father’s Day, I still had a great weekend. I missed you and Mommy a lot, though!
Hopefully in 2019, for our 20 year class reunion, you and Mommy will be able to make it.
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Monday, February 4th, 2013
2 years, 2 months.
This past Saturday morning as I laid down on the floor in a haze, having woken up at 5:40 AM with you, I watched you carry around one of Mommy’s old purses, which for some reason you called your “wallet like Daddy’s.”
You then took out an old expired debit card and slid it across your high chair:
“I buy groceries with my money.”
The fact you have quietly observed Mommy and I scan our debit card enough times to associate that action with the word “money” is interesting to me.
You do understand the concept of coins being money because you have a piggy bank.
However, I’m pretty sure you have no idea what cash is. I just don’t know that you’ve ever seen Mommy or I use it.
By the time I graduated high school in 1999, I had never even heard of a debit card. All I ever used to buy anything was the green stuff, not a card.
You will graduate high school exactly 30 years after Mommy and I did. It will be the year 2029.
I’m wondering by the time you’re 18, if using cash to buy something will be as obsolete as land line phones, video rental stores, or writing checks.
To you, money may simply be a debit card. (We are Dave Ramsey followers so the thought of a credit card is taboo in our family.)
As for me, I grew up seeing how much each individual bill was worth. I knew that I preferred a $10 bill over a $1 bill. The numbers meant something more… certainly quantifiable.
For you, though, the concept of money will be much different if you grow up using a debit card instead of cash. When you look down at a debit card, you won’t literally see a sign noting $20.
Therefore, it becomes your parents’ responsibility to teach you the importance of budgeting. We must incorporate in your mind that a debit card does not symbolize simply the total amount of money in the account, but more importantly, it symbolizes the key to accessing the specific amount set aside for that exact purchase that particular day.
Mommy and I have definitely had to learn the hard way when it comes to money. But this week, we are paying off our other car.
Then, we’ll just have the rest of my student loans before we’re debt-free.
I think it’s cool to see you scan your debit card like Mommy and Daddy. I really look forward to teaching you how money works; even if it’s without getting our hands on cold, hard cash.
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Thursday, August 11th, 2011
There have been more than a few people who were surprised when they learned that I am not married to a girl in her early 20′s; instead I am only three months older than she is. Today, my wife Jill turns 30 years old.
We were both born in 1981, graduated high school in 1999, and had our first child in 2010. Not only is my wife my best friend, but we have experienced the same amount of living. In 2007 when we started dating, our timelines became one as we have shared our lives together ever since.
For our first dance at our wedding reception in 2008, we actually had two songs played back to back: “Everything” by Michael Buble was a more natural, understandable selection, which represented our “normal” sides. But we felt the need to also include a song that represented our mutual quirkiness, too. So we chose the weirdly beautiful, “The Luckiest” by Ben Folds.
In “The Luckiest,” Ben Folds explores the idea of the importance of a shared timeline, answering the idea of what life would be like had the love of his life not been born in the right year:
“What if I’d been born fifty years before you
In a house on a street where you lived?
Maybe I’d be outside as you passed on your bike
Would I know?”
I imagine the statistical chances of the two of us being born in the same basic era of time, as opposed to decades or centuries apart. Instead, we were born in the same year and did find each other.
Jill and I have this plan to die naturally in our sleep while holding hands when we are 80 years old. Sure, we realize we have zero control over the previous sentence ever becoming true, but it’s how we’d like to think our shared love comes to an earthly end.
Speaking of, “The Luckiest” also addresses this issue:
“Next door there’s an old man who lived to his nineties
And one day passed away in his sleep.
And his wife; she stayed for a couple of days
And passed away.
I’m sorry, I know that’s a strange way to tell you that I know we belong.”
The two of us are normal enough to play Michael Buble at our wedding reception for our first dance, but we’re also off-beat enough to play a Ben Folds song that talks about the “luckiness” of being born in the same time era, as well as, dying near the same time in old age.
I’m aware of my natural ability to be weird and abstract. But somehow that worked for me and my wife chose to spend her life with me. To quote Ben Folds one last time:
“I love you more than I have ever found a way to say to you… I am the luckiest.”
Happy Birthday Jill!
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1981, 1999, 30 years old, 30th birthday, Ben Folds, daddy blog, marriage, Michael Buble, The Luckiest, wife | Categories:
Growing Up, Nostalgia, People, Storytelling
Thursday, December 30th, 2010
Maybe somewhat surprisingly, I am a proud Country music fan- though I’m ultimately a Dave Matthews Band/Guster/John Mayer/Bruce Springsteen/Tom Petty kind of guy.
In the past few weeks, in the midst of leaving our lives behind in Nashville and entering uncertainty and a current status of “in between jobs” in Alabama, not having much to do but constantly search for jobs and take care of our baby, the lyrics to a Country song by Andy Griggs from 1999 keep coming to my mind: “I promise you now, you won’t ever be lonely.”
Though the song is obviously written from the perspective of a man in love with a woman, looking forward to spending the rest of his life with her, the lyrics now speak to me in a different way:
“You’re safe from the world wrapped in my arms and I’ll never let go. Baby, here’s where it starts and I promise you now you won’t ever be lonely. Here’s a shoulder you can cry on and a love you can rely on. For as long as I live
there will always be a place you belong.”
But while the words to this song obviously make perfect sense in the perspective of me speaking to my child, they actually are more relevant to me in this mindset: I won’t ever be lonely. Not just him. But I won’t ever be lonely.
I am better able to understand now why there are so many pregnant teenagers and why MTV’s 16 and Pregnant is such a popular show- because so many kids today are lonely.
(I am under the crazy notion that a good number of pregnant teens and extremely young parents are not getting pregnant simply because of the careless lack of birth control, but instead because they subconsciously want to be have a baby in a attempt to be loved by someone.)
So many daughters have never been told by their fathers that they are beautiful. So many sons have never heard their father tell them “I’m proud of you”. Having a baby definitely changes the lonely factor in many ways. Even if the 19 year-old father who works for minimum wage at the oil change place bales on her soon after the baby is born- at least that young mother will always have someone depending on her.
Granted, I haven’t been lonely in a long time. But I can easily remember it. It can be painful; literally. Last week I watched a National Geographic documentary on solitary confinement where I learned that loneliness is processed in the same part of the brain as pain. I can easily remember being 20 years old, feeling lost, out of place, an unmatched. I wondered for the next five years if I would be like the actor who played Mr. Belvedere, who never married or had children his whole life. But at age 25, my wife and I met each other and those heavy and desperate thoughts of loneliness haven’t entered my mind in over four years.
Now at age 29, I am the opposite of lonely. I have a wonderful wife and a beautiful and hilarious baby son that I will always matter to. And I have a feeling that the older our son Jack gets, the more attention and energy of mine that he will require. At least until he reaches 7th grade and gets too cool for me.
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16 and Pregnant, 1999, Andy Griggs, baby, baby blog, Country music, dad blog, dad from day one, Dave Matthews Band, father, Guster, John Mayer, loneliness, lonely, love, mother, Mr. Belvedere, Nashville, pain, parenting, pregnancy, solitary confinement, teen pregnancy, unemployed, unplanned pregnancy | Categories:
Nostalgia, People, Spirituality, Storytelling, The Dadabase