There are some awesome children’s toys from the Eighties that just never really went away… fortunately.
Like Tranformers, Care Bears, and Smurfs.
But the ones that you are most excited about right now are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!
Nonna and Papa got you a nearly life-size Donatello for Christmas and he has become like My Buddy, an Eighties toy that didn’t survive, to you.
I haven’t asked my parents why they chose Donatello for you; after all, I was never too crazy about him when I was a boy.
Michaelango was the obnoxious one. Donatello was the forgettable one. Raphael was the emotional one. And Leonardo was the leader. That’s how I always perceived them, at least.
But when I really thought about it, Donatello is perfect for you! Because if you were a Ninja Turtle, that’s exactly who you’d be:
As the original theme song simpy explains, “Donatello does machines.”
You have the technical mind that I don’t. While I can easily take something apart, you’re going to be the kind of guy who can not only take them apart, but also put them back together.
Where as I definitely fall short in having the handy man mindset, you’ve always showed me signs of it. Plus, you are smart. As for me, I tend to just “fake it ’til I make it.” I graduated with a degree in English simply because I wasn’t good enough or focused enough on anything else.
A lot of people think I’m smart, but I’m not. I’m just clever and determined; and there’s definitely a difference!
The reason Donatello was “the forgettable one” for me while growing up was because he was the one I least related to.
My favorite Ninja Turtle was always Leonardo, the reluctant leader, like Jack Shephard on Lost.
“You’re aggressive, but not in an overbearing manner. You’re known for being very organized and helpful. You’re very practical and there as a friend, while being relatively low maintenance and asking for little in return. People see you as a leader. Unfortunately, you weren’t elected to that position, and some resent you for being kind of a control freak.”
Meanwhile, here’s what the quiz said about Donatello, who I think you are:
“You’re very meticulous and scientifically minded. You excelled at academics and that’s transferred into your current career. You’re very loyal, inoffensive, and reliable. However, you can also be aloof and so wrapped up in what you’re doing that you neglect your social and familial obligations.”
Going back to my own “Leonardo personality,” earlier this week I happened to read part of a book called Eat Right 4 Your Type.
It explained that people who are have Type A blood (like me) actually make for the best vegans (interesting!) and it also said Type A blooded people also tend to have the “Reluctant Leader” complex; naming former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon as examples.
(I’m guessing this applies to several classic Bible heroes, too; like Noah, Moses, and David.)
The findings of both the Ninja Turtle quiz and the Blood Type quiz simply confirm what every other personality quiz I’ve taken has always said: I am your reluctant leader.
My whole life, I have had to be a leader in some compacity. I always find myself becoming the leader of the group, by default, never by choice. It happened every single time in school where I was part of a group project, in every place I’ve ever worked at, and with family dynamics, as well.
Even now, I never intended to make this such a teachable moment. I meant to just write about your new favorite Ninja Turtle doll.
Get used to it, I guess. After all, I am Leonardo and you are Donatello.
On Christmas Eve, shortly after “the nice man” drove to Nonna and Papa’s house to bring me the 2014 Lexus LS 460 to review, you and your cousin Calla both crashed for a much needed nap.
Under the care of your grandparents, that meant that Mommy and I, along with Auntie Dana (my sister) and Uncle Andrew, could do whatever in the world we wanted to on that cold yet sunny December afternoon.
Given that there was a brand new Lexus LS 460 sitting in the driveway, we hit the road!
At this point in the letter, I need you to start the soundtack, which is a song called “Flowers In Your Hair,” by The Lumineers:
It’s just that the pictures you’re about to see and the randomness of what you’re about to read is best complimented by such an appropriate song.
We decided to hit the mountaintop freeway, aimlessly headed towards Little River Canyon, where we took you in the 2014 Toyota Tundra we borrowed for your 3rd birthday.
I suggested we hang a left turn onto a barely visible side road next to an old fishing tackle shop.
Fate would have it, the four of us would happen upon a perfectly Americana-style, old abandoned church.
So we checked it out, as any young Generation Y parents would do.
The doors and windows were all gone. A “no trespassing” sign was nowhere to be found.
As we entered the church, it felt like a mix between Jacob’s cabin in the woods on Lost and being in a music video for The Lumineers.
All that we could find in the church was what was left of an antique piano and a once comfy chair.
I liked how the ceiling was painted a dull teal color, for no apparent reason.
How in the world has this place been left in tact all this time? No punk teenagers or meth heads have taken advantage of the situation.
Not even a killer brown bear.
Just an old abandoned church that surprisingly wasn’t creepy.
While I was exploring the place, I thought about all the people, who have all surely passed on from this life by now, but who knew that church as a major part of life.
They learned about God and the teachings of Jesus and the journey to Heaven. Those people made their way out in the ice and snow and sun to see their friends and fellow believers each Sunday morning. There is even a river behind the church where they surely baptized those who were lost but had been found.
That church was a big deal to them. I didn’t take it lightly to be standing on what, especially at one time, was holy ground.
So there you have it. That’s the kind of thing your parents do when you’re asleep and your grandparents are there to watch you.
Isn’t it weird to think that, in theory, I have a life separate from you? To think that I seek entertainment and nostalgia and new memories too…
You get that from me, you know.
Disclaimer: The vehicle mentioned in this story was provided at the expense of Lexus, for the purpose of reviewing.
P.S. Here’s a collection of my Toyota family reviews so far; just click on title to read the full story:
I should start off this letter to you with what I have as my current status on Facebook:
“In the past 5 years, I have completely and successfully given up pork, shellfish, processed sugars, then meat altogether, then dairy, eggs, and honey; more recently, all alcohol and carbonated drinks (which I only had in moderation anyway)… and all of that, was NOTHING… compared to my newest current challenge: Caffeine (and therefore, coffee). I have officially survived Day #1. I heard the first 5 are the worst. This is misery; suffering both physically and psychologically. Caffeine is a highly addictive, easily accessible, completely legal and unregulated drug that has got me in a powerful state of withdrawal right now. I shall overcome…”.
Yeah, that about covers it.
Our family drove home from buying groceries at Whole Foods today and all I could do was collapse on the floor once I walked in the door. You started to run over to me as if to tackle me. I had to say, “I’m sorry, Son. I can’t wrestle with you tonight. Daddy isn’t feeling well.”
You kept asking me why I wasn’t feeling well. How do I explain to a nearly 3 year-old that, without realizing it, Daddy has been addicted to coffee (in the form of one to two cups a day at work, then at least one Starbucks over the weekend)?
The story included this pictogram which pretty much clears it up for me.
Part of the difficulty that comes with removing certain food and drink staples from my life, being that I could now be labelled as a caffeine-free, alcohol-free, soda-free, kosher vegan, is the nostalgia I have to let go of. And that definitely is the case here with caffeine.
After all, the friendship between Mommy and me, that eventually led to us dating, was first nourished in a weekly Sunday night meet at Starbucks; which didn’t simply include coffee, but more importantly, caffeine.
I’m not banning Starbucks as a company or a brand. I admire their cleverness. They have found a way to capitalize on one of the most addictive and unregulated drugs in the world and get people to pay at least 4 dollars a pop for it. I respect that, as a Libertarian capitalist.
But as for me, I plan for that half a cup of coffee I drank at work Friday morning to be my last ounce of caffeine for the rest of my life.
I just hate the thought of being at the mercy of a food, drink, and/or drug. Instead, I’d rather discipline my body and bring it into subjection (Biblical reference); especially knowing that the process of detoxing from caffeine makes me feel like a drug addict.
That is how I feel, by the way. I am a drug addict going through a baptism-by-fire withdrawal period. It is brutal.
I can feel my nervous system under attack right now. I’m a little freaked out by it, to be honest.
While I am so happy to have you and Mommy here with me now, I have to admit it feels like the Smoke Monster from Lost is trying to win this battle with me this weekend. That is how I am portraying my withdrawals from caffeine addiction.
I wish I could be fully present with you this weekend in mind, body, and spirit, but I know I’m not me right now.
From what I learned thanks to the girl in the tea aisle at Whole Foods today, who is now caffeine-free, having been through this herself, it takes a solid 10 days to recover from a caffeine addiction, but the first 5 are the worst.
This week after uploading the most recent content from my digital camera to my flash drive, then editing those files, then deleting all those pictures and videos on the camera immediately afterwards, I experienced a dose of panic and anxiety I haven’t known since maybe 7th grade.
I could not find the video of you riding your fire truck you made of pillows!
Mommy and I were so proud of your performance, yet it was nowhere to be found.
How would I tell Mommy what I did? Should I just not bring it up until she asked about it?
I always feared this happening; deleting one of your pictures or videos before actually saving it.
After searching for 20 minutes in a state of constricted breathing and a gnarly adrenaline rush, I realized that the thumbnail for the video was not the one I was looking for.
I don’t know, maybe that video clip isn’t really all that funny or cute to the whole world, but to Mommy and me, it’s priceless.
To think had I actually deleted that file, the very best thing I could have done was try to get you to re-create what you did in the video that day, but I could never actually access the original again.
Subconsciously, my mind started to process the thought of actually losing you; not simply just that video of you.
My subconscious, I’m convinced, is much more aware of deep emotional hurt and sadness than the conscious part of my brain. The door of that room inside my head was unlocked and I began to catch a glimpse of hell.
I began feeling this heaviness and emptiness that I couldn’t even begin to understand.
In that moment, I felt so alone and lost and exiled.
However, at the very last minute right before I published the letter, Mommy and I decided that broadcasting to the social media world whether or not we have a gun in the house is not a wise decision.
I think that to announce either way is to raise a red flag.
So in the likeness of the vague closure in the final episode of Lost, I ended the letter by simply saying, “My research is complete and my decision is now made.”
The way I see it, whether or not I own a gun is not really the issue; for me, anyway. The real issue for me was sorting out whether or not I am really capable, willing, and ready at all times to take the life of another human being who threatens the safety of my family.
That was what was important to me; taking the time to truly process that all the way through.
Like planning out a fire drill, in my head I have now mapped out an official “intruder drill.” Now I know the quickest and most efficient strategy for obtaining the [deadly weapons] on both floors of our house; in addition to immediately grabbing the cell phone to call 911.
It sounds so morbid, to say that I’m now ready to take the life of another human being, if necessary. And to be ready to do that at any given minute of the day.
But like Sayid on Lost, you want to have somebody on your island who is willing to be your bodyguard; someone who is always ready to fight and kill for you.
You want someone who is dangerous enough to keep you safe.