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Monday, June 11th, 2012
A year and a half.
It’s like I’m Geppetto and my son is Pinocchio. No, my son isn’t a wooden puppet; he’s an 18 month-old toddler. But he wants to be a real boy.
Yeah, he knows that technically he’s still considered a baby. But the way he aims to please his adult parents, the way he’s eager to mimic every random thing we do, the way he laughs when we laugh though he has no idea why it’s supposed to be funny…
He wants to be a real boy.
As I look through the dozens of photos I take of him each weekend, I can’t help but notice in certain ones, he looks so much older than he actually is.
But I say it’s no coincidence that those occasional “big boy pictures” serve as an appropriate representation of the percentage of him that is not simply a toddler, but a little boy.
Because that real boy is starting to show.
For the past couple of months I have heard my wife tell our son, “Make the face, Jack. Make the face.”
Evidently one day out of nowhere he started making his signature “surprised face” whenever I wasn’t in the room. Then when I finally did catch him doing it, I was never lucky enough to capture it on camera.
Until this past weekend.
These two rare pictures you see today are of “the face.”
Even though Jack never makes the face when he is actually surprised, he likes to do this new magic trick to entertain his parents; if for no other reason.
Even now, as I look at these pictures, it’s so obvious to me that this does not look like my toddler son from even just a month ago.
There must be something about crossing that 18 month mark that shows up in a child’s physical characteristics.
On Sunday we were at a friend’s birthday party and someone commented, “Wow, look at Jack’s hair. He has ‘little boy hair’ now!”
And I instantly knew what she meant.
I feel like, psychically, he’s grown up more in the past few weeks than any other time in his life so far. I know in reality that’s not the case, since they grow much quicker after they are first born. (Right?)
So enjoy these rare pictures of Jack truly looking like a real boy while moments like these are still rare. Because soon, he really will be a little boy full-time; not just part-time.
Categories: Deep Thoughts, Growing Up, Health, Home Life, Must Read, Story Bucket, Storytelling, The Dadabase | Tags: growing up, little boy, Nostalgia, Pinocchio, son, toddler
Friday, July 22nd, 2011
It’s one of the most masculine yet sensitive songs I can think of.
One of my hopes as a dad blogger is that parents will be able to identify with what is going through my head when they read my Dadabase posts; to make readers say, “That’s exactly how I feel! It’s like you’re reading my mind!” I am a guy who loves to inspire others as much as I love to be inspired; I am always ready for that next awesome quote or motivational true story.
As a guy who loves music (I own over 700 CD’s,) I am regularly a-ha’d (to be made to say “a-ha!”) by song lyrics. In fact, I think songwriting is one of the most vulnerable forms of communication and/or art that exists. I can easily write a new 400+ word entry for the Dadabase every day and never feel as exposed as I would compared to if I was writing and performing a song instead.
It was the 1995 movie Mr. Holland’s Opus that truly first exposed me to John Lennon. At the end of the movie, Mr. Holland (played by Richard Dreyfus) sings and signs the song “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” by John Lennon. I am not the kind of guy that will cry when I see a sad movie. But… I will confidently admit to letting my eyes get a little bit watery when I see something truly moving- like the last five minutes of the final episode of Lost or the ending of half of the Rocky movies or heck… even Marley and Me.
Needless to say, since the first time I saw it, that scene in Mr. Holland’s Opus has always found a way to connect to the “truly moved” part of my brain. It’s not just the imperfectness and realness of how Richard Dreyfus sings the song but also because the genius of the way John Lennon’s lyrics are so cleverly played out as a disconnected father reaches out to his son.
And I know that the word “genius” is thrown around pretty loosely in the entertainment world, especially when it comes to legendary Italian-American movie directors like Quentin Tarantino, Francis Ford Coppola, and Martin Scorcese whose films are known for being “groundbreaking” as well as extremely violent. But sometimes, an artist actually is genius, despite the cliché factor of the word. And since John Lennon pulled it off perfectly in “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy),” I feel compelled to expose the magic behind his wonderful creation.
As a father, John Lennon touched on several major elements of the father-son connection in the 114 words of the song. The first verse addresses his fatherly role of protector:
“Close your eyes,
Have no fear,
The monsters gone,
He’s on the run and your daddy’s here.”
I think there’s something immeasurably powerful in the phrase, “your daddy’s here.” Because no matter what our own relationship with our father was like growing up, every kid wants to know the presence of a positive, protective father. “Daddy” does have the power to scare the monster away.
Next, John Lennon touched on the importance of encouragement:
“Before you go to sleep,
Say a little prayer,
Everyday in every way,
It’s getting better and better.”
This verse is a reminder for me to pray for my son when I am inclined to worry for him instead. Additionally, John Lennon paints a positive future for his son as he focuses on things getting better as they move forward, not dwelling on past mistakes and decisions.
My favorite part of the song is the bridge, which paints not only the masculine element of adventure but also the excitement of the father looking forward to his son growing up and becoming a man with him:
“Out on the ocean sailing away,
I can hardly wait,
To see you to come of age,
But I guess we’ll both,
Just have to be patient,
Yes it’s a long way to go,
But in the meantime.”
The lyrics of the song come to a close with the final chorus refrain of “beautiful, beautiful, beautiful… beautiful boy.” And then finally John Lennon calls his son by name: “Darling Sean.” I think for the past several decades, the idea of a father kissing his son on the cheek or forehead or calling his son “beautiful” has become pretty foreign. In fact, those outward expressions of a father’s love do indeed make me think of old Italian culture I’ve seen in movies throughout my life. Blame it on the ¼ Italian blood running through my veins, but I admire those ideas enough to want to replicate them in my relationship with my own son.
The last verse contains one of John Lennon’s most famous quotes:
Before you cross the street,
Take my hand,
“Life is what happens to you,
While your busy making other plans.”
I of all people know what’s like to carefully plan every year of my life, only to see a completely different reality come to fruition. (Are you like so tempted right now to copy and paste “Life is what happens to you while your busy making other plans” as your Facebook status update and/or Twitter?)
“Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy),” which was released as a single on November 17, 1980, just a few weeks before John Lennon was killed and a few months before I was born, obviously speaks to me as a father. Looking back on past Dadabase entries, I have specifically written about the same exact aspects of the father-son relationship as John Lennon wrote about in the song:
Strength, guidance, courage, adventure, direction, and the appreciation of beauty.
The song’s subtle magic exists in these properties of manhood that we men already identify with, even if we don’t realize it. And that’s why it’s dang near impossible for a father not to relate to and love this song.
Categories: Deep Thoughts, Growing Up, Home Life, Spirituality | Tags: 1995, baby boy, Beautiful Boy, daddy blog, fatherhood, Italian, John Lennon, masculine, music, son, song lyrics
Thursday, August 5th, 2010
It’s not so much that I will relive vicariously through him as it will be that I will raise him according to what I know boyhood to be; therefore, Jack’s youth will in certain ways resemble mine. And not only will I influence him regarding what it means to be a boy, but also by what it means to have a dad, based on how my own dad influenced my life. Looking back, I can see that my dad was extremely patient with me and willing to spend his free time with me doing whatever goofy thing it was that I was into.
Whether it was helping me make the perfect Pine Wood Derby car for Cub Scouts, going exploring out in the woods, playing “Ninja Turtles” with me (I still have an impressive collection of those action figures at my parents’ house), or playing Nintendo for hours at a time.
Being a dad to a son also means confronting potentially dangerous situations and keeping him safe through it; whether because he has to, or for fun. And in the process, the son learns to trust his dad to take care of him, knowing his dad wouldn’t allow him to get hurt.
Like when he was leading our family in a 5 mile hike in Mentone, AL and he encountered a Copperhead snake- he killed it by throwing a huge rock on it. Then when we got back home he skinned it and displayed it for all of us Cub Scouts.
And like when I was really young, my dad would put me in a pillow case, hold on to the open end, and sling me around the living room. And because I was a boy, I loved it.
I also would sit up on his shoulders while he stood under the ceiling fan, in front of the mirror, so I could see that my head was just inches away from the spinning blades. He called the event “The Head Chopper-Offer”. And because I was a boy, I loved it.
And I always liked to wrestle my dad. Obviously, it was impossible to beat him. He was way too strong and way too big for me; not to mention he had a black belt in karate. And because I was a boy, I loved it.
It was about testing those limits of danger with someone whose job it was to keep me safe. Ironic, yet necessary. My dad and I wrestling on the brown shag carpet represents what being a dad to a boy is all about. The typical “play fighting” allows a boy to test his own strength and power against his own protector and guardian. And it’s a very natural way for a father and son to be physically close- without even realizing it.
Dads and sons are close in their own unspoken ways. And as a dad, part of my job will be to initiate some of these weird ancient rituals. Even if it means confronting danger- it’s part of the journey of becoming a man. And these types of adventures are a rite of passage meant to be passed down from father to son.
Baby Jack is the size of an eggplant.
Here’s what The Bump says about Week 26:
Let your spouse put an ear to your belly — he might be able to pick up baby’s heartbeat (no stethoscope required). Inside the womb, the formation of tiny capillaries is giving baby a healthy pink glow. Baby’s also soaking up your antibodies, getting the immune system ready for life outside the womb. Eyes are forming, and baby will soon perfect the blink — perfect for batting those freshly grown lashes.
All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:
Categories: Nostalgia, People, Storytelling, The Dadabase | Tags: adventure, baby, blog, blogs, boyhood, Cub Scouts, dad, dad from day one, danger, eggplant, Mentone, Nintendo, parenting, pregnancy, protect, ritual, safe, snake, sock monkeys, son, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, weird, wrestling
Thursday, June 24th, 2010
*Did you hear about this blog from American Baby magazine? If so, click here to get to the main page (table of contents) for “dad from day one”. There’s a whole lot more where this come from…
During the closing credits of my favorite movie of all time, I Love You, Man, Barry (Jon Favreau) finds out his wife Denise (Jamie Pressly) is pregnant after she vomits on him at the wedding reception. With puke on his shirt, he says to her, “Please, try to make it a boy.” Barry is a Type A jerk, inhabiting every memory and idea of a typical beer-guzzling frat boy. So of course, having a boy (instead of a girl) would be very important to him.
Being that I’m nothing like that character in the movie, instead being much more like the main character, Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd), I had just always assumed I would have all daughters. Here’s the picture I had in my head of my future family: Me, wifey, three daughters, and two Cockapoos (or Labradoodles).
It just makes more sense that a guy who has no interest (or talent whatsoever) in sports or hunting (or anything proving I’m man enough by showing my “game face”), but instead has always been enthralled in everything artistic (drawing, entertaining, acting, singing, songwriting, writing) would somehow automatically make a better father to daughters instead of sons. So that’s part of the reason I was so authentically surprised to learn that our baby is a boy. Like somehow I deserved a son less because I’m not a certain macho stereotype I’ve memorized from three decades of watching sitcoms and movies.
And now, I have to admit, there’s a part of me that can’t help but laugh that without any preconceived hopes or crossed fingers, I get what every man secretly hopes for- a son. There’s an unspoken concept (at least in my mind) that raising a son is a rite of passage for a man. A coveted elective course, a special honorary badge, an engraved trophy so easily received- to be a father to a son. A chance not so much to relive my own life, but to enhance another future man with all the life experience and knowledge I’ve learned the hard way.
The movie I Love You, Man is built around the fact that male friendships and bonds don’t often come so easily. By a man having a son, he is automatically given that opportunity- to nurture a male the way every boy and man craves to be taught and directed. What I lack in knowledge of fixing cars and football statistics and home repairs, I can make up for in teaching healthy communication skills and anything that falls under that categories of “literary”, “artistic”, “psychological”, and “entertainment”.
In other words, I have a feeling I will be raising the likeness of a future Jewish comedic actor, maybe the next Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the next Shia LaBeouf, the next James Franco…
A well-rounded people-person who is confident in who he is, that’s who I predict he will become. Who knows? Maybe he’ll be a quiet, mild-mannered, studious, future accountant. But with a dad as quirky and Hawaiian-shirt-wearing as me, I just don’t think he has a chance of being anything like Clark Kent.
Baby Jack's body is the length of a cantaloupe this week.
Here’s what The Bump says about Week 20:
Baby’s digestive system is busy creating meconium (a tarry black substance made of swallowed amniotic fluid, digestive secretion and dead cells), which will fill the first diaper after birth. And, speaking of the diaper situation… baby’s genitals are now fully formed!
To return to the “dad from day one” main page, click here.
All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:
Categories: Health, Nostalgia, People, Recaps, Spirituality, Storytelling, The Dadabase, Writing | Tags: 20 weeks, 500 Days of Summer, acting, art, artistic, baby, beer, boy, cantaloupe, cars, character, Clark Kent, Cockapoo, dad, dad from day one, drawing, entertainment, family, father, football, friendship, future, game face, Hawaiiian, hunting, I Love You Man, important, Jaime Pressly, James Franco, jerk, Jewish, Jon Favreau, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Labradoodle, literary, memory, movie, papa, parenting, Paul Rudd, pregnancy, pregnant, psychological, Shia LaBeouf, singing, sitcom, son, songwriting, sports, The Bump, trophy, wedding, wedding reception