This is a picture of you on your very first hayride, at least that I’m aware of.
(You were obviously happy about it.)
The way I see it, going on a hayride is one of the most American things you can do in Autumn.
It starts getting too cold to enjoy being outside in October, so you show up to a farm (more marketably called a “pumpkin patch”) where enough other people want to have fun, despite it being too cold to be outside for an hour and a half compared to if they were simply in their own yard.
How it seems to go for most new experiences in your life, like the train ride at the zoo last weekend, you typically are quiet as you process what’s going on- to figure out whether or not you like it.
Typically, it’s not until at least the next day that you refer to the experience as a positive event.
But with the hayride, it was barely finished before you announced to Mommy and me, “I liked the hayride.”
After all, we got pulled by a tractor! That’s not something we get to do everyday.
Soon after, we made our way to the play area, where you had no trouble finding a toy tractor to reenact our adventure.
I was uncertain how you’d react to the Halloween decorations that were placed all along the ride, but you actually thought they were pretty cool- like the giant spider made out of hay.
So what are our plans for next weekend?
You guessed it. We’re headed back to the pumpkin patch to go on the hayride again.
I’m becoming more aware of the fact that I really get to have more fun with you these days. I’m especially looking forward to the holidays coming up for the rest of the year.
Now you are really starting to remember the activities and adventures we do together as a family.
That’s not to say you’re ready for Disney World, but I’d say you’re definitely approved for that 2nd visit to the pumpkin patch next weekend.
There is obvious humor in the fact my wife and I look normal and happy, as our son is reaching away from us and clearly wants out of the frame.
(Also, take notice of the couple in the upper right hand corner apparently embracing while they wait in line for a port-a-potty. Awkward…)
While dozens of people “liked” the picture on Facebook, no one specifically pointed out why they connected with it.
But I think I know why.
It’s because it serves as a somewhat subtle, visual reminder to fellow parents out there:
This is normal. This is good. Enjoy it for all it’s worth.
I think one of the biggest cliches in the world of parenting is this:
“Being a parent is the toughest job in the world, but it’s also the most rewarding.”
Well, I don’t buy that. Two reasons:
First, it seems pretty obvious to me that some of the toughest jobs in the world would include prostitution, coal mining, and truck driving. I mean… right?
Second, being a parent isn’t a job. It’s simply a necessary part of life.
Life itself is tough. I know, personally, I would love have access to my own free psychiatrist just to sort it all out.
But I don’t get that.
For me, I put parenting in a category like marriage. Attempting to be a good husband is not a job. In fact, it’s so much more than that.
Now that I think about it, how insulting it is to consider being married as a job. Instead, it’s a privilege with built-in responsibility and accountability so big that it can’t just be dumbed down to “a job.”
Being a parent is so huge that many moms and dads actually stay home while their spouse goes out to work in the “professional” work force. Because being a parent is that big of a deal.
It’s that time-consuming, that stressful, and that hard to put a salary amount on.
The value of a parent is essentially priceless.
So, no, I don’t think being a parent is the hardest job in the world. If nothing else, because I’m sticking with my weird prostitution answer.
As if Halloween wasn’t already a cool enough “holiday,” with all the free candy and the part about getting to dress up as whatever you want and get away with it, there is yet another really good reason to love Halloween:
You don’t have to feel guilty for not celebrating it for the “right reasons!”
It’s not like with Christmas, where people preach to each other about the cliche of “getting so caught up in the hustle and bustle of Christmas that you forget the real meaning of it all.”
And while I would love to enjoy my Peeps with a clear mind, I admit how easy it is to get distracted by the delicious pastel commercialism of Easter; instead of being reminded of how and why Jesus Christ was raised from the dead for the sake of mankind.
Heck, I can’t even have a guilt-free conscious on Columbus Day, because it’s basically just celebrating when a Spanish-sponsored Italian explorer “discovered” a continent of natives who would ultimately be conquered by Europeans for their land. I guess that’s how the history of the world goes- dividing and defeating; not that I’m okay with that.
But with Halloween, all you have to really do is just have a good time. It gives parents a reason to have just as much fun as their kids.
Now, I guess technically, Halloween is based on a pagan holiday where people celebrate their dead ancestors coming back to life or something like that. I don’t really care.
Because Halloween has become so commercialized in modern day America that all it’s about is pretending to be someone you’re not and getting free candy for it. I won’t argue with that.
To help celebrate the upcoming sugar rush, I personally invite you to download Parents magazine’s free Carve-a-Pumpkinapp:
Carve-a-Pumpkin from Parents® magazine is the easiest — and safest (no knives involved!) — way to make jack-o-lanterns with your family this Halloween.
Choose from five different pumpkin styles, then either “carve” a design of your own, or pick from our library of wacky eyes, noses, and mouths.
Add a message and you’re ready to share your creation with all your friends! This easy-to-navigate, take-anywhere tool is perfect for families on the go. Products from Parents magazine help moms and dads celebrate the joys of parenthood and raise kids in a healthy, safe, and loving environment.
It’s a proud moment in a dad’s life to learn that while under the care of another adult, your son elbow jabbed another kid who was hitting him on the head. And that is exactly what happened. My eleven month old son defended himself against a bully’s repeated attacks. Interestingly enough, he and “the bully” are now friends.
My son taught the bully to respect him by putting him in his place. That’s my boy.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month. What better way for me to celebrate as a dad than to know my daily wrestling routines with my son have paid off? I play the big scary monster who hides behind the couch and charges towards him to give him a big “daddy hug.” It’s a way for him to test his strength against mine, as he knows I’m no real danger to him. I’m simply his training coach.
Why do men love sports? Playing sports is like “playing war.”
At the end of the day, no one really gets hurt too badly but the players get to engage their masculine strength (and strategies) against other “warriors.” Another thing it reminds me of is the way that dogs “play fight.” It’s their natural way of preparing for an attack by a larger dog or some kind of other serious physical threat.
So why should things be any different with my (not-so) little man? It’s simply an instinct for me to want to wrestle him and that, accordingly, he enjoys the challenge. I’m preparing for him to defend himself from another kid trying to pick on him. What I am not doing is simply teaching him violence for the sake of violence.
Preventing bullying means a lot of things. But ultimately, I’ve yet to talk to one father out there who is okay with his son not defending himself against being physically attacked by a peer.
Bullies attack those who they perceive as weak because they themselves are weak in some way; also because they have a lack of respect for others. I vow to teach my son that he is strong, both in spirit and in body. That may mean that he has to teach the bully to respect him by fighting back.
Sometimes words (and corporate policies) prevent bullying. Other times, a good ole fashioned elbow jab does the trick.
Passing the Mic:
Do you encourage your son to fight the bully in the name of self-defense? Or is my approach a perfect example of “bad parenting?”
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.