While many people somewhat recognize half-birthdays and ages, they certainly don’t acknowledge thirds of birthdays and ages. But if they did, I would bring to your attention that today is your 2.333rd birthday; if I’m even saying that right.
Also, it was a year ago today that you had your febrile seizure. You haven’t had another one since; in fact, the last time you were even sick at all was last July.
As your dad, I am so grateful and thankful for your health, safety, and general well-being.
I don’t worry about you, but I am constantly aware of what precious cargo you are and how I responsible I need to be for you.
This morning I woke up from a nightmare that you got lost at a public swimming pool, though I was there with you. I think that was my subconscious reinforcing my constant awareness of keeping you safe and healthy.
Today while Mommy went “vegan shopping” at Whole Foods Market, I hung out with you at your favorite indoor playground nearby. While we were there, I eventually had to use the restroom.
I realize it probably would have been fine to have a fellow parent (yet complete stranger) watch you for those two minutes, but it’s just not something I think I could ever bring myself to do.
So I brought you into the bathroom with me, basically forcing you to watch. You were happy because I let you flush.
Speaking of your 2.333rd birthday, it was about 3 years ago that Mommy and I found out we were having you. We thought we were going to have a little girl…
Now 3 years later, we are so proud to have a noise with dirt on it… that is, a little boy named Jack who is currently obsessed with monster trucks and The Beatles.
Because I’m usually the one to put you to bed at night, as well as for your daytime naps on the weekends, I become responsible for knowing the lyrics to lullabies.
Unfortunately, I don’t know any.
So you’re pretty much stuck with hearing me sing parts of the very few songs I actually know the words to…
“Jingle Bells,” “Away In A Manger,” “How Bad Can I Be? (from The Lorax soundtrack),” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Then, out of desperation for new songs last week, I started singing “Let It Be” by The Beatles. After all, it’s pretty easy to remember the words when most of them are “let it be, let it be…”.
You now ask me to sing it to you every night. So I had an idea… why don’t I let you hear The Beatles’ version of it?
On the way to daycare Monday, I played “Let It Be” for you over the stereo speakers thanks to my old-school iPod with an extremely cracked screen.
Your response: “That’s a man?”
I then explained to you that yes, Paul McCartney is a man.
From there, I introduced you to “Yellow Submarine,” “Octopus’s Garden,” “Come Together,” Here Comes The Sun,” “All You Need Is Love,” “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” “I Am The Walrus,” “With A Little Help From My Friends,” and “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.” Then I made you a playlist of those 10 songs called “Beatles For Jack.”
By Thursday, you told me that The Beatles are your favorite band and that your favorite song is “Yellow Submarine.”
It turns out, The Beatles made some pretty good songs for a 2 year-old. The songs that ended up on your playlist are filled with bizarre nouns that you recognize like “walrus,” “egg man”, “octopus,” and “submarine.”
Plus, several of those songs include random sound effects, like the interlude in “Yellow Submarine” or the chorus/title of “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.”
Speaking of, you love it in “Come Together” when John Lennon says “shoot me” throughout the song. You think he’s just saying “shoop,” or making some weird animal sound, so I’ll just let you believe that until you’re a teenager who appreciates irony.
You have a dad who is obsessed with good music. I have over 800 albums on my iPad, but The Beatles are definitely my favorite band ever.
I think it’s so cool that you like them too. When you get a little older, I’ll tell you all about the “Paul is Dead” theory, based on their album covers like Abbey Road.
This makes me happy. I just didn’t realize we would get to start bonding so early over good music. I thought you’d be at least able to ride a bike first. I’m starting you young, kid.
In the aftermath of four baby showers, it’s easy for me to see that Jack has been well cared for by friends and family. One of my favorite items of his is his pair of “vitamin socks” (featured above). Maybe they’re supposed to look like little capsules from Dr. Mario; I don’t know. But the fact that they have the word “vitamins” on the bottom of them makes them so classically random that I wouldn’t be surprised if they were designed in Taiwan. My favorite part of his vitamin socks is that we have no idea where they came from. We pull just pulled them out of his drawer one day and had them on Jack’s feet before we realized how hilarious and mysterious they are.
My parents recently bought Jack a swing, which is best for helping in to take long afternoon naps. It has these three bears that fly around in circles over him. Sometimes I feel that the things that work best for making him happy are the ones that make him feel like he’s tripping through the outer space of an alternate baby universe. It doesn’t help that as he is swinging back & forth and up & down that “Sun King” from The Beatles’ Abbey Road album is playing in the background as I speak to him in a low voice right into his ear, “Jaaaack… I am your fah-ther…” And when he’s not in his swing, it’s still so natural just to pick him up and fly him through the air like he’s Superbaby.
With some of his toys, I have been surprised at how they actually do what they are supposed to do. We regularly use a Sleep Sheep that along with music and rain sounds, also has a “whale button”. The harmonious conversations of actual whales at sea do indeed soothe Jack, even if they sort of freak me out. There’s also this star we received that displays ocean scenes on the ceiling while playing our choice of either lullabye music or makes water sounds. I never would have thought it to be the kind of toy we would actually use every single day, but it is: It works. When it’s time for him to settle down for the night, we turn on the star and Jack becomes both mesmerized and hypnotized.
Being a baby must really be a trip… I mean, what would you think if everyone talked to you in a high-pitched, slow motion voice and when you looked down at your feet, you realized they had turned into puppy dog heads?
It took me 12 straight days to teach myself to solve the Rubik’s Cube; it was during this time that my wife and I found out we were going to have a baby. Of course, we didn’t tell anyone until over a month later, but during my “learn to solve a Rubik’s Cube” phase, I had several people crack themselves up with this joke: “If you’ve got the time and patience to solve that thing, it’s time for you to have a kid!” And they were right. My instincts were making it obvious that like so many actors, the time eventually arrives when it’s time to dabble with directing.
(Cue the song “In My Life” by The Beatles as the proper soundtrack as you read the rest of this post. It’s officially my favorite song ever.)
I can look back on my life with satisfaction, knowing that my accomplishments have outweighed my failures and regrets. I have met all kinds of interesting people from all over the world (most of whom are facebook friends). I understand the meaning of life. I am solid in my beliefs on the afterlife. I have married the woman I am meant to be with. I can now solve the Rubik’s Cube in two minutes and twenty-five seconds. And though this paragraph may resemble a goodbye letter to the world as I prepare for my life to come to an end like I’m 90 years old, I recognize that in some ways life as I know it will end, as it transforms into a new one. A more meaningful one. From “me” to “dad”.
On top of all this, I’m about a half a year away from turning 30, so yeah, I’d say it’s time for things to stop being about me so much and more about someone else. I have been the protagonist, but soon I will become a full-time director. All of life has prepared me to this new role. The cynic could see it as circular reasoning- that you spend your youth learning how to become a responsible adult, and then once you do, you just do it all over again with modified little reruns of yourself running around.
But I would say the cynic is still under the assumption that life is all about him- that life either simply ends when he dies or that hopefully when he dies, he’s been “good enough to get to Heaven” or that at least Hell won’t be that bad, but instead just a big party where the temperature is slightly hotter than desired while Jimmy Buffett plays an eternal concert and the margaritas are never-ending.
If anything, I could see how raising a kid will be a redeeming and cleansing process, helping me to see how little I truly know, helping me to appreciate my family and childhood teachers more, helping me to straighten out my priorities even more, helping me to ultimately give more than I take. I could see how this baby will ironically make me a better adult. And how the humility of changing diapers is only a small part of this evolution of my life.
And yes, Baby Jack will probably already know how to solve a Rubik’s Cube before he gets to Kindergarten.
All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography: