This is the third letter in a row I’ve written you that simply tells about some of the accidentally hilarious things you have said here recently.
It’s easy material for me, I have to be honest. I’m not making this stuff up… you are.
I mean, you’re asking good questions. In fact, I probably asked my dad similar questions when I was three.
At some point, someone had to set me straight on these facts. For you, this is beginning to be that point.
A few days ago on the drive home from school, you asked, “Daddy, does my name have a ’5′ in it?”
I explained to you that our names have letters in them, but not numbers.
So you immediately followed up with, “Daddy, what about ’1′? Does my name have a ’1″ in it?”
The first thing that came to mind was Star Wars characters, like C-3PO and R2-D2.
It wasn’t until this morning when you and I were playing in your bedroom with trains that I discovered what might have led to your confusion about numbers in our names.
You pressed the button on top of your talking Gordon train:
“I’m Gordon… I’m the Number 4 blue engine!”
Got it. Makes sense now.
Still though, I think you’re secretly hoping that you’re going to meet somone with a number in their name. I’m not saying it’s completely impossible.
Between some of the off-the-wall names I’ve been hearing parents name their kids (I won’t use examples, as to not come across as judgmental) and Russians (who use what looks like a 3 and a 4 as letters in their alphabet), you may one day meet someone with a number in their name.
For now, we can pretend your name has a number in it, if you want to.
Introduced to most of us thanks to it being the game that came packaged with the Gameboy in 1989, the Russian-invented Tetris was the Angry Birds of my childhood.
I never owned a Gameboy, but by 1991, all my friends did. Because of enough spend-the-night’s at my friends’ houses in the midst of watching the Ninja Turtles movie for the 27th time on VHS and drinking Sharkleberry Fin Kool-Aid, I was able to be just as good at playing it as the next kid wearing a neon green slap bracelet over-using the phrase “Cowabunga, dudes!”
Over two decades later, as a 30 year-old dad, I realize that this seemingly-non-fun yet highly addictive game symbolizes my life as father in five particular ways:
1. There is always one more logistical problem to solve. Just like the need to manage and maneuver the constantly dropping blocks on Tetris, so it is in the life of a dad. Driving somewhere today with your kid today? Better hope you packed everything, including a camera to take pictures to share on Facebook. Fingers crossed that your child will actually fall asleep on the car ride there.
2. You must maintain solid ground by eliminating inconsistencies. In Tetris, the more gaps left in each row, the harder it becomes to pass the level. Obviously, we as dads have to be clear on the boundaries we set for our children and consistent on following through with discipline. Otherwise, the whole thing sort of becomes a frustrating mess.
3. Being passive doesn’t really work. Just like in the game, the sky is always falling so there’s no time to just sit back and watch things work themselves out on their own. As I’ve published more Dadvice articles, a common theme I’m seeing is the importance of the dad being proactive.
4. It takes looking at each challenge from several perspectives. You can turn each block around from each angle to see which will be the best fit before it hits the ground. Similarly, if you’re trying to figure out whether or not you should let your baby “cry it out” to learn to sleep through the night, you have to consider it from several perspectives: yours, your wife’s, your child’s, and common sense.
5. The experience is nearly universally known. While many versions of Tetris have been released over the years, the one on Gameboy is the Tetris most of us remember. Not every man has ever played Tetris at some point in his life nor does every man eventually become a dad. But as for the rest of us, we share the same frustrations and joys by default.
Tetris and fatherhood are important rites of passage for a man. At least for those of us who were still kids when The Simpsons was a just brand-new show which our parents were reluctant to let us watch and Jaleel White was on TV because he was playing Steve Urkel, as opposed to being a dancing game show contestant.
Do the Urkel. Or the Bartman.
Interesting trivia: “Do The Bartman” was written by Michael Jackson; though he was never credited for it because of contract obligations with another record label.