Sunday, March 4th, 2012
Get used to seeing my son Jack in this suave, retro blazer, paired with a pumpkin-accented plaid shirt because as his dad, I’m going to get as many miles out of this outfit as I can while it still fits him.
This weekend we decided to dress him in my old jacket and shirt from when I was literally his age.
From a walk in the park to lunch at Kalamata’s Greek restaurant to a quick visit to the pet store, Jack was rockin’ the jazzy new-wave wardrobe.
Like most parents of toddlers, I am not willing to spend much money on clothes that my kid will grow out of in a few months from now.
But being that Jack’s jacket and shirt were free, because they were a gift for me three decades ago, he gets to be a baby fashion model for the time being.
In the Spring of 1981, right before I was born, my Italian great-aunt Margaret Metallo in Kenosha, Wisconsin sent my mom a yellow blazer with a “matching” shirt from Sears as a gift for her soon-to-be born bambino, Mario Eugene Shell.
Yeah, uh… that’s me. However, after I was born, my parents recognized that despite my mother being half Italian and half Mexican, I looked ”too white” to have such an ethnic name as Mario.
So nearly 2 hours after I was born, my parents officially gave me my name: Nicholas Shane Shell.
By the time I reached adulthood, my features got darker and I finally looked more like a Mario. Though honestly, I probably look more Jewish than anything.
And now I’ve got a son who’s even whiter than I ever was: Yellow hair to match the jacket and marble blue eyes to compliment it. Honestly, Jack pulls off the yellow blazer better than I ever could.
I think it’s safe to say that jacket came before it’s time: Ultimately, it would be another 30 years for the perfect little bambino to come along to legitimately model it for the world.
You’re welcome, Sears.
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Growing Up, Nostalgia, Storytelling
Sunday, June 12th, 2011
Do you raise a boy baby differently because he is a boy instead of a girl? Should you treat him any differently because of his gender? The obvious, implied, correct answer is “yes.”
As if this wasn’t already established, I’ll just go ahead and put this out there: I can be a bit funny about stuff sometimes. And I don’t mean “ha ha” funny. I mean “peculiar.” I’m just set in my quirky ways, leaving others to deal with the flashes of absurdity.
That being said, I’m realizing already how particular I am with how I raise Jack. I know he’s only 6 months old and it’s basically irrelevant now to even think about these things, but it’s important to me that he is seen as a boy, not simply a baby. For example, Jack doesn’t use a “passy”; he uses a pacifier. “Passy” sounds way to much like “prissy.”
And when he gets a little older, he won’t be drinking from a “sippy cup,” which to me sounds like “sissy cup.” Instead, he will be drinking from what I cleverly named his “bambino cup.” (“Bambino” is Italian for “little boy.”)
I don’t like words that sound like they should be referring to what a cute little girl would say. Yes, Jack is a baby, and he’s not yet a little boy- but he is a boy baby. It matters to me that he is treated appropriately masculine even in his first several months of life.
That being said, I should go ahead and point out some irony. With a new cousin on the way (my sister is pregnant with a little girl, due July 2nd), when we take Jack to my sister and her husband’s house, he gets to try out some of his cousin’s toys before she gets here. I have no problem whatsoever with Jack playing on an all pink play pad with a pink bird that plays a sort of girly song when he pulls it. Why not? Because it’s so obvious that he’s “messing around” with a girl’s toy. It’s funny and ironic and something to joke about.
I carry Jack around with necessary caution, but I’m not too delicate with him. He is an adventurous boy. Sometimes as he’s rolling around on the floor he slightly bumps the back of his head down on the carpet rug, loud enough to make a [thud!] sound. When he even notices that he’s “supposed” to be hurt, he gets over it in about two seconds. Especially when he checks our facial expressions to get confirmation that he really he is okay. Then it’s back to rolling around.
Jack will have manners when he gets older; he will say “yes ma’am” and “no ma’am.” He will be respectful and well-behaved to both adults and his peers. I will make sure of it. He will be a Southern gentleman. And even so, he will get into some (innocent) trouble.
He will break a window with a baseball. He will stay out too long playing out in the woods and worry me that he’s not home yet. He will step out to the line of danger but will be smart enough not to cross it.
There’s nothing wrong with letting a boy be a boy. And that’s coming from a former little boy who broke a window and stayed out past dinner time because I was having fun playing in the woods. But I also knew how to behave in public. So if there’s anything delicate about being a boy, it’s the crucial balance of being “rough and tumble” along with knowing when to say “please”and “thank you.”
Granted, it’s all about raising a well-balanced son. Being involved in music and art are just as important as being a boy scout and playing sports. Any of those activities he wants to do and he enjoys, I will encourage him- whether he’s artistic, athletic, or equally both. As for me, I was never an athlete (or a good one, at least) and it ultimately led me to have an interest in writing- which is why you are reading this today.
All this testosterone in the air is causing me to consider renaming my blog. I could just see it now…
Artwork courtesy of Jeremy Schultz.
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Home Life, Nostalgia, Story Bucket, Storytelling, The Dadabase