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Wednesday, November 21st, 2012
2 years old.
There’s this cliche about dads trying to live their lives vicariously through their sons.
As the dad thinks back on his own life, regarding things he wishes he could have done differently, he attempts to rewrite history by making sure his son does those things he was never able or willing to.
Well, that’s what I’m doing with you.
But not in the token way where I force you to play sports or try to make you become a doctor or lawyer.
The way I am doing it is much more simple, yet epic.
What I am attempting to do is to make you a braver and more daring little boy than I was.
I remember crying a lot as a little boy because I was afraid to try or do anything new.
Back in Halloween 1986, there was this church party where one of the dads put together this 12 foot long tunnel cave out of refrigerator boxes.
I only made it through about four feet of that tunnel before I turned around. That decision symbolized a lot of the remainder of my childhood.
It was probably 4th grade before I began developing a true sense of confidence in who I was, and therefore, my ability to overcome my fears of taking on scary challenges.
However, I don’t think you’ll be the timid little boy I remember being. With just a little prodding, I am able to get you to choose to overcome your anxieties.
Fast forward from Halloween 1986 to Halloween 2012. A few weeks ago, when we were in Sacramento visiting Mommy’s side of the family, your cousin Savannah wanted to play with you in the “jumpy house.”
You had always been afraid of jumpy houses. I basically forced you into the jumpy house, then Savannah took over from there.
The truth is, you barely hesitated once you got inside. Then you you couldn’t get enough.
I was only able to eventually pry you away because it was time to eat cake.
Sure, I sort of forced you to overcome your fear. But ultimately, it was your decision. Had you cried and thrown a tantrum, I would have given up.
Instead, you gave it a shot.
You’re a brave little boy.
I never made it through that refrigerator box tunnel in the church basement. It still bothers me to this day.
Son, I admire your will and your courage at such a young age.
So while I may live vicariously through you sometimes as I try to get you to do things I would have been too afraid to when I was your age, you don’t really need my influence too much.
Sure, my gentle push helps. But you’re brave and curious enough on your own.
Wednesday, June 27th, 2012
This past weekend my uncle Al bought Jack a toy Spiderman (hockey?) mask. While it was a bit too big for my son, it was still large enough to fit me.
So needless to say, I became Spiderman. But not the friendly neighborhood Spiderman who we all know and love.
No, instead, I was a creepy, henchman-style Spiderman who liked to slowly sneak up on my son from the other side of the room while he watched me lurk toward him the whole time.
Imagine being a 19 month-old toddler and seeing your dad wearing a Spiderman mask while saying your name through his teeth as he eventually grabs your leg and pretends to eat it.
Just for the record, Jack wasn’t terrified. He won’t need counseling for this. (At least, I don’t think so… yet.)
I could tell it was a thrill for him. He did like it, though he definitely had to remind himself that it wasn’t actually a crossbreed between Jason Voorhees and Spiderman.
Jack has always been a very mellow kid and sometimes I enjoy the challenge of finding new ways to get him to laugh through my idiotic behavior.
In case I’m managing to make myself seem psychologically unstable, allow me to make it worse by elaborating.
It’s not just my own kid I like to scare, it’s all kids.
When I walk into Jack’s daycare, I become “Mr. Teeth” to Jack’s friends. It’s the character who has no lips but who just chatters his teeth and waves.
After a couple of months of meeting Mr. Teeth, some of Jack’s friends have finally started doing it back when I walk in now.
To my one year-old niece, Calla, I am known as Uncle Possum. I make the most hideous face I can, and trust me, it’s unsightly, and I get right in her face to see if I can get a reaction.
What I love is she just stares right back at me as if to say, “You’re no big deal. I’m not afraid of you.”
To toddlers and babies, I am the equivalent to those monsters in the book Where The Wild Things Are. Friendly and harmless, yet still technically a monster.
Kids like to be surprised. So with my mildly scaring them, I help them test their limits and at the same time entertain them in a fresh new way.
So far, I have only made one kid cry because of my antics. And he cried for like 20 minutes… after I left the room and got out of sight.
It was bad.
Categories: Deep Thoughts, Home Life, Must Read, Nostalgia, Story Bucket, Storytelling, The Dadabase | Tags: funny, kids, scary, Spiderman, toddlers, uncle
Thursday, December 30th, 2010
It’s a sort of eery feeling getting up at 1:30 AM, 3:30 AM, and/or 5:30 AM every morning to feed and change Jack. While it’s still dark and quiet, while I’m only “awake” enough to put the word in quotation marks, and while my memory barely records the routine actions taking place during the twilight, I’m sure I’m subconsciously looking for something out of the ordinary. As I hold Jack in one arm and his bottle in the other, the dimly lit room casts a strange shadow on his face. Sometimes when I look at him during this time I get a little creeped out. In this situation he reminds me of a baby version of the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz (played by the Jewish actor Bert Lahr); that movie and the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, though they are both wonderful classic movies, have always freaked me out a bit. On a similar note, it also seems like I’m taking care of a little old man, with his receding hairstyle (Jack Nicholson style), his chubby cheeks, and his baby-version-of-cussing-somebody-out cries when he’s really hungry and his diaper is wet.
To make matters more theatrical, there are times when I am taking care of him during the middle of the night when it’s like he peeks around my shoulder and sees something and gets this calm yet curious look on his face. Does he see something? A guardian angel? Jesus? Maybe the ghost of Bert Lahr?
I wouldn’t be surprised if babies can see into the spiritual realm. It could make sense in a way; babies are completely innocent. They are unaware of damning traps like pride and greed. I could see how a baby is naturally closer to Heaven than we adults are. Sometimes I envy the things my baby may be seeing. But then again, it would be just another thing to spook me in the middle of the night. It seems every account I can immediately think of in the Bible where an angelic being spoke to a human, the angel always had to start the conversation out with “Do not be afraid…” But Jack isn’t scared by whatever he is seeing around me that I am less aware; if he’s actually seeing anything supernatural at all.
Bert Lahr as The Cowardly Lion:
Categories: Nostalgia, People, Spirituality, Storytelling, The Dadabase | Tags: afraid, baby, baby crying, Bert Lahr, Bible, changing diapers, Cowardly Lion, creepy, dad blog, dad from day one, dark, fear, feeding, ghost, guardian angel, innocence, Jesus, old man, parenting, scary, spiritual, spooky, supernatural, The Wizard of Oz, twilight