Twenty years ago in 1993, as a 12 year-old boy, I got to see Jurassic Park in the movie theater with my dad. It was the most life-like experience I’ve ever had in regards to believing I was actually seeing real dinosaurs.
As for you, your version of that happened last weekend when Mommy and I took you to the Nashville Zoo. You finally got to meet a real “dinosaur,” as promised. (An iguana, to be exact.)
Though you enjoyed finally getting to see one, as promised and hyped up, you told me your favorite animal was actually, of all exotic things, the turtle.
(Maybe it’s because our last name is Shell and turtles have a shell?)
You brought a red lowrider truck with you as your companion.
Somehow, from the beginning of our zoo visit, you assumed that in order for the thing to be legitimate or official, you were obligated for each zoo animal to see your truck.
It was like getting your passport stamped. You had to have each new animal hear your offer to play with them.
Impressively, we ended up seeing every animal in the entire zoo in an hour and 25 minutes. Your concept of going to the zoo is like mine of going shopping: Get in, get it, get out!
But of course, along the way, you did have time to unintentionally (?) heckle the zoo animals:
“Hey Tiger! I ride you?”
“Hey Meerkat! Wanna play with my red truck?”
Fortunately, you never seemed too bummed out when the animals stared in the other direction while you sincerely tried to befriend them.
Oh well, we ended up buying a family season pass to the zoo, so this wasn’t your only chance to befriend the (hopefully) enchanted creatures of the forest.
Most importantly, you still believe that dinosaurs are alive and well.
I care less about you losing faith in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.
Or even Mickey Mouse.
But if you still believe that dinosaurs exist, I believe I can assist in keeping your childhood wonder alive even longer.
You have officially learned to spit. That’s both a good and a dangerous thing.
It’s good because it’s an important part of brushing your teeth. It’s a dangerous thing because I have to trust that you’re not going to spit at an inappropriate time or place.
I guess I make it more alluring for you to want to spit because over the past couple of months, I have taken up the Indian folk remedy of “oil pulling.”
Yes, I know it sounds weird. But two or three times a week on the drive to school, I swish coconut oil around my mouth for 20 minutes (it helps serve as a natural mouthwash and preventative of headaches for me) and then at the Nippers Corner crossing, I spit the coconut oil out my car window.
I always feel bad for whoever’s in the car behind me, especially if it’s a woman. I’m sure they assume I just got sick.
Each morning as you and I are getting ready to leave the house, you always ask me, “You gonna put that stuff in yo’ mouth?”
Watching me do my oil pulling is normal to you by now. However, I don’t think you’re totally clear on when it’s okay to spit.
With that being said, this past weekend on Mother’s Day, when Mommy told you that you couldn’t have a 2nd granola bar, but instead that you’d have to eat more of the main lunch she prepared for you, you acted like you were about to spit at her.
After I put you in a time-out session providing me with enough time for finish my own lunch, I had you apologize to Mommy:
“I sorry, Mommy.”
You saw how important it was for you to apologize, so then about 10 minutes later, you apologized to Mommy again.
Within the hour, you had begun using “I sorry, Mommy” as a new way to ask for things.
“I play with Play-Doh? I sorry, Mommy.”
I guess it’s an interesting spin on the saying, “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.”
(Here’s a chance to, if you haven’t. Go ahead, please. I’ll wait.)
As you just watched, the boy in the green shirt puts his arm around the boy in the striped shirt while he was holding the ball, dusts him off when they fall down, compliments him on his throw, lifts him up to the bar he can’t reach, pretends like he’s about to push him into the water, patiently looks over his shoulder as he plays his video game, recognizes the boy’s crush and encourages him to talk to her and insists she likes him too, takes the “fatal hit” while using sticks to play sword fight, serves him juice, stays awake after he falls asleep watching T.V, takes his shoes off for him, carries him upstairs and lays a blanket over him.
They’re clearly friends, right?
The ad closes with the boy in the striped shirt saying, “Good night, Dad.” Then the dad tells his son good night too.
In those 60 seconds, through play, encouragement, and affection, the dad serves the son.
“It probably comes down to this anyway: The most important things I do in life, and that I am best at doing, are the things for which I’m not regularly thanked. Serving is loving and leading. I get that now… no thank you’s required.”
In a history of commercials making the dad out to be an idiot, finally, somebody really (!) gets it right.
“So, in review, a stubborn, penny pinching, Dave Ramsey following, Generation Y dad like me will magically buy a product for his son if he believes that… the product will reinforce the traditional ideas and principles that remind him of his own 1987 version of childhood and/or… the company makes it clear that dads are helpful and important, not idiots.”
A+, Robinsons “Pals.” You are the official dad ad to beat.
Here’s a secret, Son. A dad can never hear enough, from anyone, that he is a good dad.
To outsiders it may appear to be a sensitive male ego thing, but as a dad, I can confirm that routine, positive affirmation is one of the most effective ways to reach and connect with a dad.
So now, I need to go wipe my nose. I could blame it on the Maple trees blooming here in Nashville, triggering my allergies.
Instead, I’ll just admit it. After watching this ad a few times, I’m pretty tore up, in a good way.
These days, as I go through the dozens of pictures I take of you in a week’s time, it’s getting pretty difficult to find ones of you without your black monster truck.
It must have been fate that you received a duplicate Christmas gift, prompting Mommy and me to take you to the toy store and let you exchange it for whatever your heart desired.
At the very sophisticated Brilliant Sky toy store, which I jokingly refer to as a toy store for “gifted” kids, you appropriately chose… a black monster truck.
Tonight after dinner we let you indulge a little bit in some of your hard-earned Easter candy, which included some of Annie’s Bunny Fruit Snacks.
After enjoying some for yourself, you placed 3 of them in the cab of your monster truck and let them drive around 5 others in the bed of the truck.
Your relationship with your monster truck is starting to seem a little bromantic, even.
If you enjoy a snack or a treat, so does your monster truck. Not only do you eat with it, you sleep with it.
All of your favorite shirts have a monster truck on them.
As we drive together to school and work every morning, you fantasize about every “monster truck” (F-150′s with big tires) you see.
“That’s a monster truck! I drive it!”
Needless to say, we see a lot of “monster trucks” as we drive a total of an hour a day through the very manly city of Nashville, Tennessee.
Yesterday you saw a pick-up on truck on the side of the road. Your response:
“Oh no! His wheel fall off? He fix it?”
Because of the fact that part of your morning routine is to watch clips of monster trucks on YouTube, and sometimes when they flip over, one of their wheels flies off, you therefore assume that any time that any truck is pulled off to the side of the road, that guarantees that one of the truck’s wheels fell off.
Every morning as I unbuckle you from your car seat, you reluctantly let go of your monster truck and set it down on the empty seat next to you. “I play with my truck when you get back?”
Because of that, I try to make a habit of when I pick you up in the afternoon from daycare, to have the truck in my hand as soon as you see me.
There’s just somethin’ ’bout a truck and a 2 year-old boy.