Every night before we put you to bed, you know you have to kiss Mommy and me goodnight.
Right now, we’re helping you figure out how to do it just right.
“No tongue, Jack!”
That’s what Mommy has to remind you because you have this habit; instead of kissing us, you lick us, like you’re a puppy.
The goal is for us to kiss each other on the cheek, not the lips.
But several times now, you have leaned in to me with your mouth open like you’re about to take a big bite out of an ice cream cone.
Please know how hard it is for me not to laugh when you do that, but I know I can’t afford to as I’m trying to get you into sleep mode.
There’s this concept in my head of you and I kissing each other on the cheek as we say hello and goodbye, even as we get older.
I know that may sound a little bizarre at first; mainly because it is. Because we’re Americans living in America.
If we were in Italy or France, it probably wouldn’t be that weird.
Just picture us, 20 years from now, wearing cabbie hats as we greet each other with open arms and a classic European father-son kiss on the cheek.
(Just saying that out loud seems so un-American; like the kind of thing that Paul Rudd would do unsuccessfully in a Judd Apatow movie.)
But that’s how I imagine us; being totally comfortable with being physically affectionate.
Granted, it’s to be done with discretion; not the kind of thing to be executed in front of your friends when you’re in the 6th grade. After all, I’m no helicopter parent nor do I want to be associated with the term “attachment parenting.’
Aside from what I see as unfavorable extremes, I just want it to be normal for a dad to kiss his son hello, goodbye, and goodnight; even if it comes across as European.
There’s that token “I’m holding my kid for the first time” picture on Facebook that automatically gets like 53 comments and “likes.” I know, because here’s my version of that picture posted 20 months ago.
Months later arrives the anger resulting after someone pulls you aside and tells you that it’s normal for an infant to start sleeping through the night at 3 months old and that “crying it out” is just a natural part of it.
“You mean all three of us could have been getting sleep this whole time?!”
I add him to my current list of man crushes: Ron Paul, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Bruce Springsteen.
What really propelled me into this state of fatherhood nirvana was probably this past weekend.
There was nothing monumental about it: We took Jack to swim lessons, and on a wagon ride, and just hung out a lot with him.
But the whole time, he was cool. Not high maintenance, not needy in an annoying way, just chillaxed like Jack Johnson.
Sure, it’s easier to feel good about myself as a dad when my kid behaves well the entire weekend. But his 48 hours of perfect behavior which allowed our family to have fun and stay in good moods was largely a result of my diligence with him.
I love to see those moments of “it paid off!” in parenting.
What topped off this perfect weekend was when my wife handed him over to me to put him to bed for the night. He ran right up to my face as if he was going to awkwardly kiss me like Paul Rudd or something.
Instead, he gave me an “Eskimo kiss.” (My wife has been working on teaching him to do that.)
I can’t explain it. But that somehow melted my heart… but in the most manliest of ways, of course.
The Eighties made it okay for boys to play with dolls. Yes- soft, plush toys. We didn’t care; we were simply blinded by all that masculinity.
It was all for the best, though. As adults, we are now the first generation of dads who change their kids’ diapers un-ironically and actually take offense that anyone would say we are simply babysitting when we take care of our kids in public sans the wifey.
Maybe subconsciously we learned, as boys of the 80′s, that we could participate in social activities traditionally reserved for females, given some minor adjustments. Well, here we are as dads in our late 20′s and early 30′s and guess what?
We still have balls. Madballs, that is. (Featured above.)
According to my version of childhood, here are the top 5 most bromantic boys’ dolls of the 1980′s:
1. My Buddy (1985). Nothing says bromance like this assumed inspiration for the movie Child’s Play. It’s not surprising that I never heard of any of my friends being teased for carrying My Buddy around. After all, he did have a pretty cool theme song. Wherever I go, he goes…
2. Teddy Ruxpin (1985). Rockin’ khaki vest over a burgundy undergarment? Check. Built-in cassette player? Check. Motorized mouth so you can stick your finger in and let him “bite” you? Check! Show-N-Tell during the Eighties meant that half the class brought in the same talking bear. Today, my son plays with the modern version: My Pal Scout by Leapfrog.
3. My Pet Monster (1986). Here is the epitome of “boys’ doll no one can tease you about.” Just look at this fella: Horns, purple hair, gangly teeth, and hands bound in chains. This was one toy you didn’t have to worry about your little sister trying to take when you weren’t looking.
4. Care Bears (1983). Nothing says “I love you, man” like a bear who wears his feelings on his sleeve… or tummy. Sure, the Care Bear I owned was orange and had flowers on his stomach, but just watch out for the Care Bear Stare! Plus, there’s something something pretty tough about having a heart tattoo on your butt.
5. Popples (1986). These furry, friendly, little marsupials (?) gained man points with their ability to morph; which was evidently important to us boys of the Eighties. Popples were evidently what happened when Transformers mated with Care Bears. To add to the testosterone factor, there were certain ones that turned into your favorite sports ball. Tennis, anyone?
Today, it’s basically ironic to think of Valentine’s Day as anything other than a romantic celebration. But for the majority of its existence, the holiday was intended to honor men who died for the sake of their faith in Christ.
So now I wonder: Can Valentine’s Day be used to celebrate love for all people, in brotherly and sisterly ways? I say it should. Because simply, loving God means loving others.
As a follower of Christ, I am fascinated with the way Jesus answered this question:
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a]38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” -Matthew 22:36-40
I acknowledge the Bible is full of things I have a hard time understanding or accepting, yet I continue to believe despite my lack of competence. But seriously, the thought of truly loving my neighbors (everyone else beside me) as much as myself may be the most difficult part to grasp.
Is it even possible? And yet, Christ said that is the 2nd greatest commandment.
Man, that’s tough. It’s definitely easier said than done for a guy like me who has enough issues battling selfishness when it comes to my own flesh and blood: my beautiful son.
If I can’t get over myself enough to love my son like I should, how am I ever going to love those who annoy me as much as I love myself?
Being romantic for Valentine’s Day is the easy part. If only that’s all there was to it.