Right now, I think your athletic abilities might be slightly greater than mine. Hopefully, it won’t always be that way. I do plan to catch up, though.
Granted, I won’t always literally be twice your height like I am currently, so I will eventually lose that one advantage over you.
When I was growing up, I wasn’t passionate about kicking and throwing a ball around, like the way you are now.
For your 2nd birthday back in November, you screamed with excitement as you opened your gift from Nonna and Papa:
“A basketball goal!”
It’s still weird to me that A) you knew what it was called and B) you were able to pronounce it clearly enough for everyone to understand you.
Every Sunday morning as Mommy and I walk you past the kids’ basketball court at our church, you ask us, “I play for a few minutes?”
We’re always a solid 10 minutes late for the service now, but I never regret it, as I pick you up high in an attempt for you to slam dunk the ball through the hoop.
It’s not just basketball you have taken an interest in. After dinner now, Mommy and I play our own version of “Monkey in the Middle” with you, in the hallway of our townhouse.
I stand at the entrance of the living room and Mommy stands at the entrance of the dining room. We kick your miniature soccer ball to each other, with the room behind each other serving as the goal.
Meanwhile, you entertain yourself as you kick your orange volleyball in between Mommy and I in our line our fire, giggling yourself silly as you dodge the soccer ball that we kick inches away from you.
I guess you could call it “Dodge-Soccer Volley Monkey-in-the-Middle…”.
You just love the action, as random and technically dangerous as it definitely is.
As you get a little bit older, I”ll get to throw a football back and forth with you in the backyard, as the sun sets and we talk about your day. That’s a very important image in my head.
Playing both real and made-up ball games with you is lot of fun, but more importantly, it gives me a chance to engage you and get to know you better. The older you get, the more it will matter to both of us.
For now, the best benefit about playing “Dodge-Soccer Volley Monkey-in-the-Middle” is that it’s the perfect way to wear you out right before bedtime.
You go down so easily now. Of course, you sleep with your soccer ball in your bed every night. Sometimes, it’s the orange volleyball too.
Last week I experienced a huge milestone moment in fatherhood: My son got his first ball!
Well, almost. It was actually his stuffed giraffe toy; but either way, I threw it to him, and he caught it.
This is something I have been practicing with him for months now. Whether it’s a miniature football, soccer ball, tennis ball, or just a cheap inflatable made-in-China ball from the $1.08 bin at Wal-Mart, I throw it to Jack every time we play.
Usually, he just gets hit in the head, or face, or chest, then laughs.
But after throwing all his toy balls at him one right after another, I reached for his toy giraffe, which was the closest toy in reach, and threw it to him like a ball.
And Jack caught it!
I was, and still am, so proud of him. I’m not over it yet. It was as magical as the first time he said “Bye bye Dada.”
Being his athletic mentor is something I’m very excited about.
This past weekend we spent some time in one of the little fenced-in basketball practice courts at our church.
Jack already knew he was supposed to throw the basketball in the hoop as soon as I handed him a ball.
He would run up and stand underneath the net, look up at it, calculate his throw, then throw the ball up at the net.
Granted, the ball only went up in the air about 2 inches each time, but Jack kept trying every time to throw that ball in the hoop.
I admired his heart. It was charming to see.
With all this being said, my family is not actually big into watching sports. However, we know who our team is:
The University of Alabama. Yes, the Crimson Tide.
Sure, I was born and raised in Alabama. Yes, from infancy, my uncle made sure I always had Roll Tide clothing to wear; as he now does with Jack.
But it’s not just because Alabama is my home state or because I was born into a Roll Tide family.
It’s because Alabama is clearly the best college football team.
Sometimes it’s cool to root for the underdog, but when it comes to college football, I’d rather just be a fan of the obvious legendary, champion team instead.
I like how in Jack’s day care center, he and his pal Sophie are the only Alabama fans. (Jack has an Alabama jersey and Sophie has an Alabama cheerleading uniform.
His teachers have (jokingly?) made me aware that they don’t like to see him bring his red cup with the Alabama mascot on it.
They have threatened to replace it with a University of Tennessee one instead.
Until this year, I never realized how close the first day of Autumn (September 23rd) and the first day of the Jewish New Year (sunset of September 28th) are to each other on our calendar. While the greenness of Spring symbolizes a new beginning for many, it is the Fall season that has always best represented newness of life to me.
Yes, there are the more obvious images of Autumn that make us feel good: the scorching heat of Summer finally dies, Starbucks brings back their pumpkin flavored drinks, our favorite TV shows premiere their new seasons, and the glory of American football becomes inescapable. Sure, we have to suffer the upcoming time change, but there’s a certain calmness and quietness to the Fall season that charms me every year.
This Autumn is especially like a new year for me. After nearly a year without it, my family is officially back on insurance again through Vanderbilt University- that gives me such a necessary peace of mind!
And within the next week or so, we will be moving back into our townhouse. (We’ve been staying with good and gracious friends since we moved back to Nashville in July.)
My son will turn a year old in November; so the Fall season will transform my infant into a toddler. And a few weeks before his birthday, we will finally get to see him in his awesome Halloween costume… a sea otter! (Random enough?)
As if it wasn’t obvious, Autumn is (and always has been) my favorite season. So as Nick Drakes plays on my iPod in the background, I proudly sound my imaginary shofar in celebration of a particular new year.
*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: