Posts Tagged ‘ Storytelling ’

Daddy, Did You Run Over That Squirrel?

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

3 years, 6 months.

Dear Jack,

While sitting in the back seat, sometimes you are able to see squirrels dart out in front of our car as they attempt to frantically cross the street.

Each time that happens, you always ask me, “Daddy, did you run over that squirrel?”

Fortunately, so far, each time, I’ve been able to explain to you that the squirrel crossed the street in time.

Though I’m sure from your perspective in the back seat, it probably appears that I indeed am running over the squirrel.

I’ve yet to hit an animal with you in the car.

In fact, in the past month, I have actually saved the lives of two creatures: a baby bird and a baby turtle.

While mountain biking during my lunch break, I have come across animals that would be destined to become roadkill, or at least “sidewalk kill” if I didn’t intervene.

I just stopped on the sidewalk, picked up the animal, and helped it across to the other side.

So as your Daddy, that’s one of the things you know me for: saving animals.

Even bugs- I try not to kill a bug if I can just throw it outside in the grass. The way I see it, I’m contributing to the circle of life. That bug is some other creature’s dinner. Why should I interfere by killing it and throwing it in the toilet?

You would almost think that as much as I apparently care about animals, being a vegan and all, that we would have a family pet.

But we don’t. You have plenty of stuffed animals who you pretend are not only real but that they  are also able to speak to you.

If we’re lucky, I won’t have to “run over” any squirrels on our drives to and from school. But thank you for always asking. You’re just as concerned as I am.

Sure, roadkill contributes to the circle of life by giving possums and vultures their dinner…

But still, I’d rather that happen more naturally than a vehicle with us inside to be the cause of it.

 

Love,

Daddy 

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That Annoying Learning Curve Of Love

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

2 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack,

It was seven years ago today that Mommy and I stopped simply being friends, when I basically tricked her into going on a date with me to that fateful John Mayer concert.

Since February 5, 2007, we have been together; that day was such a defining moment in my life.

That was seven years ago! We have been married five and a half years; and you’ve been around for the past 3 years and 2 months.

In this moment, as I step back and think about it, I am so not the same person I was seven years ago when Mommy and I went on our first date.

I may have been more optimistic back then, but I definitely was much less experienced in life- therefore, I was much more naïve, by default.

Not only have I changed, but so has Mommy. The two of us have become improved versions of ourselves throughout the character-building exercises of marriage and parenthood.

We are different people than we were on February 5, 2007. The challenging part is always making sure we continue to grow up together, not apart. That’s what real love is about; it doesn’t always come easy or automatic.

Real love has required me to be more sensitive to her needs and less sensitive to mine.

A few weeks ago, I mentioned how I took that Ninja Turtle quiz on Spike.com which proved to me what I had already predicted about my personality: I am Leonardo, the aggressive, yet reluctant leader.

But I am confident that, had I taken that quiz seven, or even 5, or 3 years ago, I would have been a Raphael:

“Charming, charismatic, and very good with people… Unfortunately, you’re driven almost primarily by emotion, often to your detriment… It puts you on the defensive a lot.”

My goal these days is to be the calm-assertive leader; to not react so emotionally to emotional situations and to not take things personally… even if that’s how they were meant.

I am learning to be a stronger man. I am learning what empathy means.

If only I knew all this stuff back when I was only 26… man, I could have been so much better of a husband and dad from the beginning, had I only had this mindset since 2007.

But that’s not how it works. Instead, it’s that annoying learning curve of love.

What I am learning is that family is about growing together, which means learning the hard way together about how to become wiser, more improved, and more humbled versions of ourselves; and to earn a better understanding of what love really is:

Being more giving and sharing of myself and being less expecting of those things from others.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

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Hey! Scout, Want To Come To My House Today and Play?

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

2 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack,

On the drive to school Friday morning, I heard you turn on your LeapFrog cell phone and start talking to My Pal Scout:

“Hey! Scout, want to come to my house today and play?”

After the call ended, you explained to me, “Daddy, Scout’s coming over for dinner and he’s sleeping in my bed tonight!”

I wanted to make sure it actually happened, even if you forgot about it later on in the day.

As soon as we got home, I reminded you about Scout coming over.

You can see here in this picture, you gave Scout a reminder call about the plans for the evening.

Minutes later, the doorbell rang.

“Jack! Come answer the door! It’s for you!” I yelled out from the other room.

You screamed with amazement.

There he was… Scout was waiting for you near the doorstep!

(And he happened to be sitting on a paper towel, for some reason.)

As I opened the door for you and Scout, I could see how surprised you were that Scout actually showed up after you called him on the phone!

By the time you made your way to the living room to play with him, though, you asked me with a confused look on your face, “I have two Scouts? Daddy, will you go get my other Scout upstairs?”

Oops. Busted.

So I did my best to explain that was the same Scout.

For me, the whole thing was an experiment to see how much of the story you’d go along with.

I wanted to know if you knew the whole thing was pretend, tracing all the way back to when you called Scout that morning.

Even now, I’m not totally sure. I mean, I’m pretty sure you know that I was just perpetuating your story line.

Either way, I was committed to make your make-believe story come true.

You said Scout was eating dinner with us and sleeping in the bed with you. So I had to make sure Scout “followed” you around, from playtime…

…to dinner…

  …to bedtime. 

You and Scout had a fun sleepover Friday night and it’s all because you called him and invited him over!

Plus, I might have had a thing or two to do with it.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

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Boys Don’t Cry… To Get What They Want From Daddy

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

2 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack,

I mentioned yesterday how logic is beginning to play a more important role in your life. This doesn’t just apply to how you play with your toys.

It also has to do with learning which strategies work to get what you want from me.

Whether it’s a certain snack, or toy, or route home from school, you are learning that shouting and crying no longer work on me.

I have learned that you understand me when I tell you there’s a better (and easier) way to get what you want.

There’s no getting away with pretending you don’t speak the language. You totally understand what I’m saying now. And if you didn’t, you would make it clear to me.

Yesterday on the way home, you screamed, “Bridge! I want to go over the bridge! Turn right! Bridge.

I spelled it out for you:

“Jack, if you want something from Daddy, you’ll need to ask please first, and not be crying when you ask for it. You’ll need to stop crying right now before it’s too late for me to cross the bridge. Otherwise, I’m going to turn left because it’s the quicker way home.”

You only hesitated for a second, as you realized your way wasn’t going to get you the results you were hoping for.

Like magic, the crying stopped and you asked please. We crossed the bridge, both literally and metaphorically.

(It’s funny how it’s sort of hard to use the word “please” when you’re screaming at someone, anyway.)

You knew from past experiences (and experiments) with me that when I say I’m going to do something, or not do it, I’m holding true to my word.

Had you not stopped crying, and not asked please, I wouldn’t have driven home the way you wanted. Perhaps that would have meant you would have cried and been upset the whole hour drive home.

Lucky for both of us, you learned the importance of how Daddy operates. With Daddy, there’s always a formula.

Get what you want by following the formula.

I’m about as stubborn as a computer, which doesn’t cave based on emotional responses. And I imagine, you will learn to become just as stubborn as I am, like that.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

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I Am The Childless Creepy Guy In The Men’s Restroom

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

2 years, 6 months.

Dear Jack,

Over the weekend Mommy and I took you to the pool, just in time for the weather to turn overcast, therefore demotivating us from our desire earlier that morning to want to go swimming in the first place.

Being a guy who drinks a minimum of 3 liters of water a day, I naturally had to disappear for a minute or so, soon after we arrived,  as Mommy helped you get your feet acquainted with the cold water in the kiddie pool.

As I made my way to the men’s restroom, I saw a woman standing in the doorway.

Actually, “standing” is not a good word to use. “Anxiously pacing, rocking back and forth, biting her fingernails” would be the way I would like to describe it; because that’s clearly how I remember her.

Turns out I was only steps behind the woman’s 11 year-old son as he walked into the restroom. I’ve been in a similar situation before, so I braced myself for the 90 seconds of awkwardness that was about to unfold.

Right in the middle of the boy trying to do his thing, in the stall next to me, I heard the mom yell (and I mean yell) into the restroom:

“Ethan? Ethan! Are you okay in there? Ethan?”

 Of course, in his embarrassment, he delayed answering right away.

So again, his mother screamed, “Ethan? How is everything? Are you okay in there?”

This time he managed to murmur a “yeah” just loud enough for her to hear.

The boy and I were in perfect syncopation. As we washed our hands side by side at the sinks, I wanted to say, “Hey man, sorry about what’s going on right now. I know you feel embarrassed by what’s going on. Plus, I know you know I’m just a regular guy, not a creep. In fact, I have a wife and a 2 and a half-year old son just down the hall. I want out of this situation just as much as you do.”

But I didn’t say a word or even look at him.

It was a long 90 seconds, but it finally came to an end as both the boy and I left the restroom at the same time, with the boy’s mother waiting for us there at the door with a very worried look on her face.

This story isn’t about the mom who I am making out to be a wee bit overprotective, or the 11 year-old son who I am making out the be the embarrassed victim of that wee overprotective mom.

Instead, this story is about me; the random guy who just happened to walk into the restroom the same exact time as that boy.

The way I see it, there’s nothing I could have done or said differently to the boy or his mom to help the situation; that would have only made it worse.

So I guess what I am saying is, sometimes as a grown-man entering a public restroom without his own son in tow, I just have to  be okay with certain assumptions being made about me.

In other words, sometimes I just have to let 90 seconds of awkwardness happen, like they did just a few weeks ago at the city park.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

Photo: Men’s Restroom Sign on Black, via Shutterstock.

 

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