Though Jack has been attending day care for a couple of weeks now, I still have been wondering what it would be like when he would be exposed to another little boy about his age and size, in a different environment. I had these preconceived ideas that it might be difficult for them to get along, fighting over toys. I envisioned myself cringing, just waiting for the moment when one of them would smack the other in the forehead with a wooden block or a Matchbox car.
I guess I forgot that infant boys don’t have that much testosterone, yet. Fortunately, Jack’s first encounter with a buddy wasn’t at all as I bleakly imagined it. While in Sacramento last week, we visited Jill’s childhood friend, Paula; she and her husband had their first child just a few months before Jack was born.
It was funny to observe Jack and Evan (Paula’s son) playing next to each other from the same toy box. Several times they reached for the same toy, then they would both simultaneously back off from it, as if to say, “No, it’s cool. You go ahead. You saw it first.”
If only we lived in a world with “baby subtitles,” where we adults could translate what our children are saying to us and each other.
For most of the visit, I imagined in my head what their conversations were like as they were playmates:
“So, you’re Evan? Yeah, my mom has talked a lot about you. Actually, I’ve seen a lot of your pictures on Facebook. There’s this one where you’re wearing one of those taxi cab driver hats. My mom got me one of those but I kept taking it off because I can’t stand having stuff on my head. It makes me itch.”
“Yep, I’ve heard of you too. I wonder why our moms are laughing at us right now. I’m hungry. Let’s eat. Wahhhhh!!! Waahhhh! Ehhhhh…”.
Being that Jill and Paula grew up together and remain friends despite the long distance and that they still see each other at least once a year when we fly out to California in the summer, I think it’s safe to say that Jack and Evan will grow up knowing each other too. Even if that means just one actual play date a year and in the meantime their Mommies pointing to a Facebook picture, saying, “Look, here’s your buddy.”
We all want our kids to be unique, right? But that’s easier said than done in an age where being unique is so darn trendy.
It was my mom who brought it to the attention of my wife and me: Jack typically reaches for things with his left hand; seldom his right. In the process of deciding which pictures to use for my Dadabase posts in the past couple of weeks, I realized it was true. In most pictures where Jack is holding a toy or reaching for one, it’s his left hand that’s in the action.
Left-handed peoplerepresent only 10% of the world’s population. No one I know of on my side of the family is left-handed. However, my wife is 9 of 10 kids in her family; and she does have one brother and one sister who are left-handed. So if left-handedness is indeed related to genetics, then at least it is there somewhere in the gene pool.
So Jack is probably left-handed. And of course, I’m not the least bit surprised. I mean, he managed to utilize the rarest genes my wife and I had. He’s a blond-haired, blue-eyed, fair complected, big-boned baby from a family of dark-haired, dark-eyed, olive-complected skin where most men are slender and never grow taller than 5’ 11”.
I’m convinced that one of Jack’s many purposes in this life is to preserve the endangered traits of mankind. Of course, this doesn’t just go for physical traits.
His name was deliberately chosen to preserve a seemingly dwindling tradition: giving your son a simple, easy to spell, familiar, strong, masculine, classic American name that a girl could not be named. I noticed that so many modern baby boy names are now sounding more like Irish last names. And that’s fine- it’s just not my preference. With all the unique names out there these days, I figured the way my son’s name could actually be the most unique was to give him one of the most universally recognizable names in American history.
And I guess that brings me to today’s dose of irony. It seems that most of us parents find value in knowing our child is unique. After all, my wife and I grew up in the 80’s and were told on a regular basis by our teachers and cartoon shows that we were special and there is no one else in the world quite like us. Of course, it is indeed true that we are all special.
But I think we like to reinforce that fact in raising our kids. I named my son Jack in an effort for him to be unique. Meanwhile, a good number of other parents have named their son a form of “Brady” or “Collin” or “Quinn” or “Aiden” with the same inspiration. I guess it’s safe to say that none of these names (whether classic or trendy) truly accomplishes the goal, because ultimately a name is either really familiar or it’s so unique that it’s not really that unique, because being “unique” is currently trendy. And being trendy is not being unique.
I’m not convinced that a name itself can actually make a kid that unique anymore. Unless he’s named something gnarly like Mayor McCheese or Grimace- and then he’d be branded as the weird kind of unique. And that’s not what any parent wants for their kid.
So instead, I’m looking elsewhere for my son’s own uniqueness. Because he’s got plenty of it. And so does your kid. No matter what his name is, whether he’s left or right-handed, or whether or not he is an identical twin.
When my son laughs at my every attempt to scare him by making my “evil hissing cobra face” at him. When he gets so thrilled and excited he starts coughing as a result of me pretending like I’m going to step on him as he lies belly up on the rug. When Jack gets completely quiet as I take him on a walk at 6:00 AM to help my wife catch up on sleep lost during the night while I slept soundly. That’s unique enough for me.
Sure, “Jack” was the 6thmost popular boy name last year; so my Jack is one of a million. But… my Jack is also one in a million.
I often forget just how many references can be made to the name “Jack”. When I refer to my wife and son in conversation and say “Jack and Jill…”, it’s simply me talking about my family. But I have to remind myself that the first thing most people will think of when they hear “Jack and Jill” is the nursery rhyme. So this week when I posted two videos of Jack’s first car, a Huggies box, and titled them “Baby Box” and “Baby Box 2″, I suppose it was a bit ironic. Because the obvious phrase to include in the name of the videos should have been “Jack in the Box”. I overlooked the most obvious reference.
Everyone is familiar with the idea of a young child being more excited about the box that a gift came in than the gift itself. Jack’s diaper box is no different. If it were up to him, he would just go around naked all the time. And if it weren’t for that whole “not potty trained yet” thing, I’d be okay with it. Earlier this week I saw him eyeing the empty Huggies box, ready for garbage take-out. So I dropped him it, turned on the engine, and as expected, he loved his new ride.
When it comes to an actual Jack in the Box, though, he’s not excited in any way. Because when the clown (in our case, it’s a sock monkey) pops out of the box, it doesn’t scare or surprise him. Instead, the look on Jack’s face is more like “What, am I supposed to be impressed”? He’d rather have a Huggies box.
Today was my wife’s last doctor’s appointment before the due date (November 11th), which it just one week from today. She is dilated one centimeter and effaced 50 percent. However, the nurse told us today that it is common for first time moms to go a week past their due date. But still, it could happen at any time.
For the past week now, I’ve noticed that I have been completely spaced out. My mind is obviously preoccupied with knowing that our “Jack-in-the-box” could spring out any moment. People have asked me if I’m getting nervous- to my surprise, the answer is yes. I thought I was over that stage. But the first time I got nervous, around a month ago, it was because of the realization I don’t really know what to do with a newborn baby. Now that we’ve finished our Lamaze course, I’m much more confident on the basics of how to help care for Baby Jack. The thing that makes me nervous now is knowing that I have to see my wife in pain and discomfort, for hours. No matter how easy it could end up happening, it will still be difficult.
People have asked me if I think I will pass out during the delivery. The answer: a simple “no”. Blood and guts don’t bother me. Besides, unlike the reality TV star of the moment Kody Brown (Sister Wives), I will not be on the “receiving end” while my wife is giving birth. I don’t need to see his head coming out. Instead, I will be holding my wife’s hand, or at least beside her, as he’s being born.
Speaking of blood and guts, my wife and I have come up with some exciting plans for the weekend- that way, even if our baby isn’t born in the next few days, at least we can be busy and entertained otherwise. And we don’t have to just sit around getting anxious. So either way, we win: Saturday morning we have brunch plans with some friends- I’m very excited about the meatloaf and mashed potatoes at the place we’re going. Then Saturday afternoon, my wife and her mom (who is in town for the next couple of weeks) will be getting a facial. (I guess I’ll read a book during that time.) Next, we will go to the matinee: I will see Saw 3D (finally explaining the “blood and guts” reference), while my wife and her mom see something a little more light-hearted, yet appropriate for the upcoming event: Life as We Know It.
That’s right- my mother-in-law got into town Sunday night and plans to be here through the end of the month. If the audience of dad from day one was male, I would have to take a page to humorously explain that though my mother-in-law is living with us, it’s not a wacky, cliché sitcom sort of deal. I can’t complain. When I come home from work, dinner is already ready- as my wife has had help preparing it. As well as the fact that her mom immediately takes care of the dishes afterwards.
People have asked me if I’m planning on taking off a while from work once the baby is born. At this moment, I’m thinking I’ll take off just a couple of days. Because fortunately, I won’t be leaving my wife alone- she will have her mom there with her until I get home. We are very blessed that my mother-in-law has chosen to stay with us.
Those are my final thoughts as a man who has yet to see his son. Everything is about to change. Unless Baby Jack stays in past his due date, the next dad from day one will be “Baby Jack is Here!” Pictures of him will be included, of course.
All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:
“Sadie, Chloe, Sammy, or Max, chillin’ in a baby sack. Tristan, Evan, Lily, Zoey, or Jack…” -Candy Butchers, “Let’s Have a Baby”
After my grandmother’s dream and my wife’s co-worker’s psychic’s prediction of it being a girl, it was pretty obvious to us what the gender of our baby would be. I drove down to the appointment yesterday full of excitement, knowing that I could finally tell everyone that our intuition was correct once I would get the official confirmation.
Several anxious moments passed as the nurse showed us pictures our our baby, then finally she asked us, “Do you want to know what it is?”
Laughing, full of confidence, we told her that we were quite sure already, but yes, tell us for sure.
“You’re having a boy.”
I wish I had a YouTube clip of our reaction. “WHAT?! NO WAY! ARE YOU SERIOUS?!” Etc., etc. All exclaimed while hysterically laughing.
Not that it mattered either way to us. I just don’t think I’ve ever been more surprised in my life. I wish there was a way to type in a “laughing font” to better show my tone here. I’m so happy! We’re having a boy!
This is an "under the scrotum" shot.
Of course now it’s time to answer the other question: What are you naming him?
First name: Jack
Middle name: William
Last name: Shell
Here’s how we came up with the name:
He will go by “Jack”, which is my dad’s name.
Which is an alternate version of John, which is Hebrew (Jewish) for “God’s grace”. Which just sounds like a cool name. It’s simple, not too popular, and easy to spell and say. And Jack also happens to be the name of the lead character of the best show ever made, LOST (played by Matthew Fox, who is also part Italian.)
Jack is the size of a mango.
Plus, my wife’s name is Jill… so it’ll be “Jack and Jill”.
His middle name, William, (my wife’s dad’s name) is German and loosely translates as “protector”.
His last name, Shell, (originally spelled “Schel” at some point in American history) is German and loosely translates to “loud and noisy”.
That being said, Jack William Shell is a Jewish-German-German name which fully translates as “God’s gracious gift of loud and noisy protection.” I’m already picturing a little boy wearing a pot on top of his head, running around the house, banging a pan with a wooden spoon, being “loud and noisy”.
Most importantly, Baby Jack is healthy, thank God!
Jack, the boy. Who knew?
All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography: