Monthly Archives: April 2012

Star Wars, My Son & The Force

There are two things I hate telling people because copping to either one seems to elicit scorn, distrust and general angst:

  1. I don’t drink coffee yet I’m a total morning person
  2. I’ve never seen Star Wars

The latter is especially egregious because I’m a guy. And in case you haven’t heard, guys love Star Wars. A lot. And not just the sci-fi geeks either. Hell, even if I find someone who doesn’t like Star Wars, at least they’ve seen it. But not me.

I don’t really have a good reason, other than my parents weren’t sci-fi people so I never got into the genre growing up. At first I wanted to see it to fit in, but I started REALLY resenting that look on peoples’ faces when they found out I haven’t seen it, along with the all-too-common “What?? You HAVE to see it NOW!” So because I’m just a little bit of contrarian by nature, I made a vow to never see Star Wars just out of spite.

I won’t lie, it was difficult. Star Wars is so ingrained in today’s culture, and there are references to it everywhere. And I do mean everywhere. I’ve heard so much about “the Force,” Luke, Leia, wookies, the Death Star, Vader, Jabba, the Dark Side, Sand People, Jedis, the Empire and why it’s VITAL to remember that Han shot first in the original movie, that I felt like I had already watched the damn thing without ever having laid eyes on it. Plus I’m a Kevin Smith fan and you can’t swing a dead hooker in his movies without knocking into a Star Wars related diatribe.

But it was really put over the top when I started my job last year, and found myself surrounded by some of the nerdiest sci-fi nerds ever to inhabit Nerdville. And, of course, they were all appalled when they found out I’ve never seen the movies. But more than that, they were HORRIFIED I had no plans to show Will the holiest of holy sci-fi films.

But a few weeks ago, Will was playing with a friend who had a lightsaber. He had never seen one, so he asked his buddy what it was. And his friend proceeded to tell him every last little detail about the movies. So of course, Will ran to me and asked me first for a lightsaber, and then wanted to know when we could watch all the movies.

Yikes. The moment I was dreading. But, since I’ve never seen it myself and I didn’t want to seem close-minded, I consented.

As soon as I mentioned this at work, my boss Wendy immediately brought me the first three movies, as well as the Clone Wars cartoon for Will. He devoured them all this weekend. Seriously. This is the kid who can’t sit still for 4 seconds, yet he watched the trilogy in the span of 48 hours. He loves it. Star Wars instantly leapfrogged Spiderman, Batman, Power Rangers and everything else to claim the #1 spot in his entertainment world.

To be honest, I don’t personally think the movies are that great. They’re mildly entertaining and I’m sure 35 years ago they were absolutely astounding. But it doesn’t matter because Will loves it. So because he loves it, I love it.

But I love the cuteness it’s inspired even more. Case in point:

While making Will’s lunch, I noticed I couldn’t hear him playing in the living room. Slightly worried, I walked over to check on him. And that’s when I saw him standing next to the dog — perfectly still concentrating all of his energy — with his outstretched hand pointed at our golden retriever palm down. His face was scrunched up tight with squinted eyes, and it looked like he was muttering something.

I said nothing, I just watched in silence waiting to see what would happen next. Suddenly our dog saw me looking at her and instantly started wagging her tail with the giddy anticipation of an ear-scratch. Will stepped back, smiled, looked at me and said “Dada, I used The Force to make Haley’s tail wag. I’m a Jedi!”

OK…so maybe I like Star Wars a little bit.

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A ConTEXTual Misunderstanding

My wife and I are different in almost every single way.

Seriously. I’m not just blowing smoke or trotting out tired cliches for the hell of it. We’re polar opposites. I’m a hard news guy, she gets her news from Inside Edition and Entertainment Tonight. I like country music and Irish tunes, she’d rather listen to Nickelback and Creed. We take separate vacations because she needs to go someplace sunny, warm and near the ocean, but I melt and become miserable after 5 minutes on the sand.

But the biggest difference between us is the general, fundamental way our minds operate. In short, I’m a sane person with a logical thought process while I can only imagine MJ’s head contains juggling bears on unicycles with circus music blaring.

Which brings us to the latest drama in the Daddy Files household. I was having a shitty day and MJ and I were trading texts. Well, instead of influencing your opinion one way or the other, I’ll let you see the texts for yourself and then you can pick a side.

 

OK, there it is. Exactly as it happened. One minute we’re talking about having a bad day, and the next thing you know I have a completely random text that says “We have another one coming.” Now I ask you, ladies and gentlemen of the blogosphere, if you were me and had received that text, what would you think that meant?

I thought we were having another baby!!!!

I called MJ up all excited — albeit slightly annoyed she chose to tell me such monumental news via text message — and ready to celebrate as this is something we’ve been trying for for a long time. So imagine my surprise when MJ seemed not to have any idea what the hell I was talking about. Incredulous, I read her back the text she had sent to me. And that’s when she uttered the most nonsensical thing I’ve ever heard.

“I’m not pregnant. I was talking about Will’s birthday party. Another one of his friends RSVPed and we have one more coming.”

I love MJ. To death. But HOW THE HELL WOULD ANY SANE PERSON FIGURE THAT OUT?!?! My wife doesn’t seem to comprehend the fact that thinking something in her own head does not give others the ability to telepathically see what she’s thinking. So when she up and changes the subject in mid-conversation (thanks ADD!), she believes that everyone else has jumped ship with her. I, on the other hand, engage in normal, human conversations that proceed logically from one point to the next.

Needless to say, our marital conversations are a real treat for anyone witnessing them.

Later that night I learned this phenomenon isn’t just relegated to me and MJ. I related the story to my parents expecting both of them to understand and commiserate with me. So I told the story, but when I got to the “We have one more coming” comment, something interesting happened.

My father’s eyes immediately went wide and he said “ARE YOU PREGNANT???” But that was followed by my mother who inexplicably said “No you idiot, obviously she meant someone else is coming to Will’s birthday party!”

My dad and I looked at our wives, bewildered. Despite the fact that MJ’s text to me contained no context clues at all, they both believe it was perfectly clear what she was talking about. My dad and I went point by logical point through the argument of why nothing they were saying made a bit of sense, but it didn’t matter. Apparently women speak a dialect of crazy in which men like myself will never be fluent.

Which is probably a good thing, because if I ever operated on that plane of illogical lunacy, my head would explode.

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“Dad, I Know You’re Just Pretending”

I am Dad.

The purveyor of piggybacks, the high septon of shoulder rides and the sultan of all things sports-related. I am a giver of bear hugs and my stubble makes you playfully squirm away from my kisses. I am the fetcher of your morning milk, the go-to guy for backyard baseball and your secret high-five partner when we both see hot chicks on TV (and mom isn’t looking). I’m a lot of things, as a dad (and all parents) should be. But above all, I consider myself Protector of the Realm (can you tell I’ve been watching too much Game of Thrones) and I consider it my sworn oath to guard you against any and all danger and/or harm.

But as we celebrated your 4th name day (OK, OK, that’s the last Game of Thrones reference, I promise) this week, it saddened me to know you don’t need my services like you used to.

After your presents were opened and your cake eaten, it was time for bed. As is our custom, I read two stories and then hugged you tight and gave you a kiss goodnight. But as I went to leave you stopped me. This is not at all uncommon since you stall like a madman to eek out every last second before you go to bed, but this time the conversation had long-lasting effects.

“Dada, I think there are monsters under my bed.”

I smiled to myself as we’ve been down this road more times than I can count. For a long time now, I’ve combated this particular problem by resorting to a little wizardry. I keep an invisible jar of “Monster Dust” up above his bed for just such an occasion. I open the jar, gather up some Monster Dust and then I tell him to close his eyes as I sprinkle it all over him and around his bed.

As the years progress, I’ve also had to stock up on “Rat Dust,” “Gmork Dust,” “Snake Dust” and “Shark Dust” to name a few. And after I administered each dose, Will would fall asleep almost immediately. Because Dada protected him and told him nothing could hurt him.

So I imagine how I felt when I went to get more Monster Dust and Will stopped me.

“You don’t have to do that Dada.”

“Why buddy? Don’t you want me to protect you from the monsters?”

“Monsters and Monster Dust are just pretend Dad.”

I’ll be the first to admit I’ve always been one to look to the future. I’m on record saying I can’t wait for Will to get older so we can do more things and activities. And I’ve openly mocked the overly clingy parents who dig their talons into their kids’ youth and refuse to let go without a fight.

But in that moment, I felt like a monster was ripping my guts out.

Which makes no sense when you think about it. I’ll always be a newspaper reporter at heart, and so I teach Will to get to the facts and analyze what’s in front of him. He clearly sees monsters are not real, and therefore Monster Dust is also imaginary. He’s using logic to solve problems and figure things out to get to the truth of the matter. The journalist in me is thrilled to see that.

But my inner journalist is dwarfed and outgunned by the Dada in me, and all I felt were pangs for the past. First of all because my little boy is now 4, and apparently old enough to see through tall tales. When the hell did that happen? And if Monster Dust is gone today, what’s going the way of the Dodo tomorrow??

But more than that, I was hurt because it means I now have one less dad responsibility. I was the Dispenser of Monster Dust. Dad — the hero Will needed to keep the evil monsters at bay. No one else could sprinkle Monster Dust. It was my job to protect him. But now he doesn’t need me for that. He still jumps at some shadows, but he’s got the self-confidence to deal with them without calling for Dad’s help.

The only problem is Dad wants back in the game, to chase those monsters to the end of the Earth if need be. Because Dad knows age brings independence, and the domino effect has already begun. In a heartbeat he’ll be a teenager who rolls his eyes at me and would rather chop off a limb than be seen with me. And suddenly it was me sitting up in bed, filled with fear and an impending sense of parental foreboding.

I am still Dad, just slightly less important. But I’ll always keep the Monster Dust handy.

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