We have been pumping you up for weeks now about Shipwrecked, an indoor playhouse in the Nashville area.
You indeed had plenty of fun- you are already asking when you can go back:
“I go Shipwrecked again? I drive the car? It’s mine?”
However, judging by the look on your face in this picture, the word “fun” wouldn’t necessarily be the first adjective to come to mind.
How about crotchety? Irritable? Cranky?
Despite a big pirate ship playground, train tables, dress up rooms, and toys all over the place, you spent about 97% of your time on the Fred Flintstone-style Lightning McQueen car, which you were nearly too big for.
If this picture of you depicts a 2 year-old boy who claimed ownership over one of the playground’s community cars, then used it to plow through the toys and other kids, causing Daddy to serve as some sort of safety watchman as I followed you back and forth across the place, then I would say the picture above serves the event justice.
If by chance the picture depicts a 2 year-old boy who drove like a mean old-man on his way to beat the lunch crowd at Shoney’s, then this picture captured the moment accurately.
So why were you only in the car for 97% percent of the time? That’s because you spent the other 3% of the time in the playhouse’s two ball pits.
But each time you slipped out of the car, it was a paranoia-laced situation.
You had to carefully shut the car door, discouraging any other kid from stealing your ride.
You always parked two steps away from the ball pit, then leaped overboard, like in every movie I’ve never seen about international spies.
Fortunately, for my sake, I didn’t have to break up any toddler fist fights. That’s because no other kid dared get near “your” car.
When our family is travelling anywhere, whether it’s a 20 minute drive into the next neighborhood of Nashville or a 2 hour drive across the Tennessee state line, I know my role: I am the civilized chauffeur.
You and Mommy, on the other hand, well, that’s a whole different story.
While I’m in my own peaceful world in the driver’s seat, semi-sedated in a serene trance thanks to the likes of Fountain of Wayne’s Hackensack, there’s a party going on in the back.
There you are, with your black sunglasses with skulls, in the midst of doing a photo shoot for the linear notes of your next rock album.
As for Mommy, she’s only encouraging the total Gangnam style, complete with good times and tomfoolery.
I learn so much of what really goes on in our family by looking through the pictures on the camera, days after the pictures are taken.
It’s rare that Mommy drives while I’m in the backseat with you; the main reason being I want to give Mommy a chance to have fun with you and not worry about having to concentrate on something serious.
Obviously, it works- as you can see in this picture which she is not aware I am making public.
I’ve never thought about it until now, but it’s usually the other way around.
Usually it’s me chasing you around the house like I’m a rabies-infected jaguar while Mommy is busy doing the important stuff, like cooking dinner.
But when it comes to the family drive, I’m the serious one and Mommy is the one who gets to tickle and tease you.
I suppose, by default, Mommy and I have learned to take turns when it comes to who is playing the business role and who is hosting the party with you.
Seldom are the times where we all three get to all be loud goofballs together, or just as important, when we all three get to chill out on the couch watching Mater’s Tall Tales; which is your new favorite obsession on Netflix.
Just like the importance of budgeting our money, it’s very important that we budget quality time together as a family.
Mommy and I value our time with you: We are aware of all the cliches that “they grow up too fast.”
With that in my mind, we as your 31 year-old parents regularly remind ourselves the importance of not acting like grown-ups with you, all the time.
We like pretending to be a kid, like you. It’s a good perspective.
If it has wheels, Jack has to get his hands on it. And when he does, he always imitates a motor sound: “Vvvrroooo…”. Not to mention the sounds of screeching tires every couple of seconds.
But where did he learn this? Not from me.
The first time he picked up a toy with wheels and rolled it across the floor, he knew to make motor sounds. It was as if that knowledge were incepted into his brain.
Sure, it’s very possible he learned to do this at daycare.
However, my wife has talked to other fellow moms whose sons don’t attend daycare and still made “car sounds” the moment they started playing with their first toy car.
So I wonder: Do all little boys naturally know to make car sounds?
A couple of weekends ago, we were at Walmart (which for us, is extremely rare and random) and Jack started running toward a toy display. Without hesitation, he picked up a black and burgundy street racer; the kind of car you’d see featured on The Fast And The Furious 7 or whatever sequel they’re up to now.
“You want that car, Jack? That’s a cool-looking one.” I looked at the “roll back” price of 88 cents. “Yeah son, we’ll get you that car.”
Jill and I both seemed to have this fun parenting moment as we headed over to the check-out counter and realized, “Hey, our boy likes cars now. We’re officially at that stage.”
As you can see in the picture below, he’s really proud of his very first Hot Wheels car.
He dines with it: One hand holds the spoon while the other holds the toy car. He takes it with him whenever we leave the house. He even sleeps with it; clenched tightly in his hand, next to Elmo.
It’s amazing how many “battle scars” that car already has on it. You would think he ran it through gravels, the way the paint is already etching off.
If I’m lucky, by Christmas he’ll be ready for one of those awesome Hot Wheels racing tracks where we can find out which of his cars are really the fastest and the most furious.
Naturally, car sounds will be made by both father and son.
*Did you hear about this blog from American Baby magazine? If so, click here to get to the main page (table of contents) for “dad from day one”. There’s a whole lot more where this come from…
During the closing credits of my favorite movie of all time, I Love You, Man, Barry (Jon Favreau) finds out his wife Denise (Jamie Pressly) is pregnant after she vomits on him at the wedding reception. With puke on his shirt, he says to her, “Please, try to make it a boy.” Barry is a Type A jerk, inhabiting every memory and idea of a typical beer-guzzling frat boy. So of course, having a boy (instead of a girl) would be very important to him.
Being that I’m nothing like that character in the movie, instead being much more like the main character, Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd), I had just always assumed I would have all daughters. Here’s the picture I had in my head of my future family: Me, wifey, three daughters, and two Cockapoos (or Labradoodles).
It just makes more sense that a guy who has no interest (or talent whatsoever) in sports or hunting (or anything proving I’m man enough by showing my “game face”), but instead has always been enthralled in everything artistic (drawing, entertaining, acting, singing, songwriting, writing) would somehow automatically make a better father to daughters instead of sons. So that’s part of the reason I was so authentically surprised to learn that our baby is a boy. Like somehow I deserved a son less because I’m not a certain macho stereotype I’ve memorized from three decades of watching sitcoms and movies.
And now, I have to admit, there’s a part of me that can’t help but laugh that without any preconceived hopes or crossed fingers, I get what every man secretly hopes for- a son. There’s an unspoken concept (at least in my mind) that raising a son is a rite of passage for a man. A coveted elective course, a special honorary badge, an engraved trophy so easily received- to be a father to a son. A chance not so much to relive my own life, but to enhance another future man with all the life experience and knowledge I’ve learned the hard way.
The movie I Love You, Man is built around the fact that male friendships and bonds don’t often come so easily. By a man having a son, he is automatically given that opportunity- to nurture a male the way every boy and man craves to be taught and directed. What I lack in knowledge of fixing cars and football statistics and home repairs, I can make up for in teaching healthy communication skills and anything that falls under that categories of “literary”, “artistic”, “psychological”, and “entertainment”.
In other words, I have a feeling I will be raising the likeness of a future Jewish comedic actor, maybe the next Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the next Shia LaBeouf, the next James Franco…
A well-rounded people-person who is confident in who he is, that’s who I predict he will become. Who knows? Maybe he’ll be a quiet, mild-mannered, studious, future accountant. But with a dad as quirky and Hawaiian-shirt-wearing as me, I just don’t think he has a chance of being anything like Clark Kent.
Baby Jack's body is the length of a cantaloupe this week.
Here’s what The Bump says about Week 20:
Baby’s digestive system is busy creating meconium (a tarry black substance made of swallowed amniotic fluid, digestive secretion and dead cells), which will fill the first diaper after birth. And, speaking of the diaper situation… baby’s genitals are now fully formed!
To return to the “dad from day one” main page, click here.
All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography: