Tag Archives: birthday

The Year of Sam

sam_standingwill_sam.jpgA moment and an eternity.

That’s what it’s felt like, Sam, since you entered our lives exactly one year ago. One year. That amount of time has never seemed so brief and simultaneously endless. Fleeting yet perpetual. And if we’re being honest, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

I endured your first year just as much as I enjoyed it. I’m not particularly proud of that, but it’s the truth.

You had colic and didn’t sleep well. You scared the shit out of us with a stint in the hospital. And frankly, I failed to bond with you like I did with Will. But someday, when you read this, I want you to know that’s on me and not you. And don’t think for a second we ever regretted having you, because you are amazing. It just took me a while to see how lucky I was and get over my selfishness.

Will was easy. But you, my little Sammy, are not. Where Will is hesitant and bashful, you are bold and fearless. Where he is slightly timid, you are a tornado and no matter where we set you loose, you wreak havoc. But one is not better than the other. In fact, I’m finding out the challenges you present make overcoming them that much sweeter because you make me actively work to be a better dad way. You make me a better person.

The good news is where I have failed, your mother has come through like a champ.

She suffered from postpartum depression with your brother, but this time around she has been Queen Mom. I’ve never been more proud of her, watching her shine and excel in her new role as stay-at-home mom. And you are so lucky to have her. So am I, for that matter.

But where you’re luckiest, Sam, is how fortunate you are in the big brother department.

It has been the honor of my life watching you and Will together. Nothing makes my heart swell more than the sight of you two together, laughing and smiling at things only the two of you understand. Will has taken to his role like a duck to water. He’s so patient and careful with you, and you love him so much. I couldn’t be happier watching you two play together, and although you’ll fight in the future I also think you’ll be the best of friends.

As for me, I want to apologize and thank you Sam. I’m sorry for the struggle this past year. I wasn’t a bad dad, but I wasn’t a great one either. And you deserve my best. But the good news is I’m going to work to be better and improve. Because we waited so long for you and now that you’re here, there’s no way I’m going to drop the ball again.

I love the little guy you’ve become. It’s so much fun to make you smile and see your toothy grin. I like the game we play in which we scream at each other and laughingly match pitch. I yell “gorilla baby!” and you beat your chest, which is fundamentally awesome. Watching you walk around and get stronger with each step does my heart good, and I’m so proud of you.

And the best part is, better days are ahead. But for now, happy birthday my beautiful baby boy. You completed our family in a way I only ever imagined. I love you.



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A Disgusting Trend Among Boys

It happened last weekend at my son’s 6th birthday party. Frankly, I’m still not over it.

While we were waiting for the Capron Park zookeeper to start the festivities, all the kids were able to run around in the field next to the administration building. There I was, admiring the ability of children to spontaneously erupt in unstructured play, when I noticed something over by the lemurs. A group of boys. In a circle. Quietly huddled together and looking at…something.

Any parent knows quiet groups of 6-year-olds likely means some kind of mischief.

I quickly walked over and tried to see what I was dealing with here. Granted, I have a weak stomach and this caught me off guard, but I was really taken aback by what I saw. And thoroughly disgusted as well.

There they were, a group of eight or so boys in kindergarten, all huddled together and — well, there’s no easy way to say it — they were playing with themselves. With a certain body part all boys have. Apparently one of them was curious about it and showed his, at which point the other boys just had to display theirs for comparison’s sake.

They were right there in public, wiggling them around out in the open. As if that wasn’t bad enough, a couple of them started touching other boys and wiggling THEIRS as well. It was right at that point I got there and put an immediate end to the whole thing, trying to choke back my revulsion and giving the speech about everyone keeping their hands to themselves.

Hey, I’m a guy. I get it. And as a dad, I knew this day would come. I guess I just thought I had more time. But last weekend proved beyond a shadow of a doubt I’m not ready for this stuff yet, and I’m still pretty grossed out by it all.

I can’t wait until Will’s loose teeth finally come out!


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My Son, the 5-Year-Old

will_5yrsFive years.

Tomorrow morning you’ll wake up like usual, creep around the corner, and whisper “Dada, can I come lay down with you?” You’ll climb over me — somehow finding a way to knee me in the balls no matter how I defend against it — and snuggle next to me. You’ll sleep with your knees pulled up to your chest and your feet perpetually kicking me. And I won’t move or complain, because I only have about five minutes before I need to get up for work — and these are the best five minutes of my day.

As fast as those five minutes go by, the last five years have rocketed past us at a special brand of warp speed familiar only to parents. In some ways it was only yesterday we were wondering whether you were a boy or a girl at the hospital, and in other ways it feels like you’ve been around forever and we can’t clearly recall our lives before you.

Today, on your 5th birthday, I need you to know a few things. Things I tell you all the time, but that need to be recorded for your teenage years when we’re at each other’s throats and I need a reminder of what a good kid you are.

Because you’re a great kid. Honestly, you’re spectacular. Sure you misbehave and get mouthy and disrespectful sometimes, but that’s part of being five. All in all, I marvel at how well-behaved, polite and thoughtful you are on a daily basis. It’s like someone magically took all the best parts of your mom (she has an abundance) and me (of which there are regrettably few), and injected them into you. Case in point:

— You are unfailingly polite. Everything is “please” and “thank you” without us having to constantly remind you. You also hold open doors for everyone and always let ladies go first.

— You’re a natural storyteller. You have my flair for the dramatic and ability to command a room and everyone’s attention. It’s no surprise since the day you were born consisted of a traffic jam, road closures, dead bodies, and the State Police. And to top it off, when you tell said tall tales you do so by gesturing wildly with your hands to make your point — exactly like your mother.

— Your empathy knows no bounds. When someone you love is sick you ask how you can help make them better. When Mom falls asleep on the couch you sneak over quietly and give her the lightest kiss on the forehead. When you saw a cat with no collar you begged us to take her home so we could care for her. Even when you play with your friends it’s not destructive and you seldom try to kill or blow things up. You’re a fixer and you want to make things better. I love that about you.

— You are a total people pleaser. When mom and I are disagreeing you NEVER take a side. And on the rare occasion we argue in front of you, you always intercede and try to get us to stop without ever assigning blame. Some would say you’re a born politician with how you walk the tightrope, but that’s not the case. You just want everyone to be happy and you’ll go to the ends of the Earth to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.

I could go on forever but the point is, you are an absolute joy Will. I love you so much for so many reasons. Did you know you are the main reason mom and I kept trying to have another baby? It’s true. I mean of course we wanted another baby, but you made the decision that much easier because of your personality. You’re loving, patient, kind, and always ready and willing to help. You have every quality a big brother should have and it would’ve been a travesty to deny you a role for which you are perfectly suited.

You’ll get lots of presents for your birthday and you deserve them all. But I’m just not sure there is anything I can give you that is greater than what you give to me on a daily basis. When you tell me you want to work with me when you grow up so we can always be together. When you catch me staring at you in amazement and give me a smirk before throwing your arms around my neck. When we sing Share the Darkness or the Rattlin’ Bog together at night before bed.

You’ve gone from an adorable baby to a cute toddler to a perfect little boy. It’s the greatest honor of my life to be your dad, kiddo. I’m not the best father in the world, but no one is prouder of a kid than I am of you. Happy birthday pal.


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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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A Peek Behind the Curtain

It was MJ’s birthday yesterday, so on Saturday night she took a well deserved night for herself.

She went out with two of her friends to this fantastic restaurant called the Brazilian Grill. They serve Churrasco a Rodizio which means Rotisserie Barbecue, and basically that translates into an endless supply of every kind of mouth-watering meat imaginable. Not to mention MJ and the girls also savor the Brazilian hunks of man meat serving them the food as well.

The plan was a good one because the restaurant is less than a half mile from the newspaper’s main office, and I work until 11 p.m. on Saturday nights. So we had our cousin babysit Will, and I told her to let loose and drink as much as she wants because I’d just meet her after my shift ended and be her designated driver.

Bad idea.

You see, I wasn’t thinking clearly. Because if I was paying attention, I would’ve remembered there is nothing more dangerous and intimidating than being the stone cold sober husband walking into a group of girls who are loaded and have been sharing stories with each other for hours.

They weren’t quite done with their night when I met up with them at a local bar, so I volunteered to hang out until they wanted to go home. Big mistake. I knew I was in trouble right away because after I finished saying hello to everyone, they immediately went right back to the conversation that was in progress before my arrival. So for the next five minutes, I tried to contain my shock when they talked intimately about g-spots. Where they’re located, how guys have trouble finding them and a detailed recounting of their best g-spot related encounters.

But what was really shocking for me was listening to a conversation between MJ’s friends about how their husbands expected them to be home already. One was supposed to bring her husband dinner, but decided to stay out late with MJ instead. The other was in the same boat. Then, one of them said something I will never forget.

“Yeah, he’s pissed at me tonight. I’m gonna have to perform for him tonight to make up for it,” she said.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Back up the bus. I asked her if I heard her right and if she meant what I thought she meant by that. She nodded and said of course. That when she’s in hot water, she uses her sexual persuasions as currency. Her other friend concurred and said it’s common practice and the easiest way to get out of trouble immediately.

My head snapped around to MJ, who was giving the other two women the stink-eye and shouting “SHUT UP, SHUT UP!” with her eyes. Could this be true? Is it possible? Was I not aware of the unwritten rule that when the wife screws up, I’m supposed to reap the sexual benefits? I cocked my head to one side and raised an eyebrow, and gave MJ an inquisitive glance.

“Sssshhhhhh,” she told her friends. “He doesn’t know these things. Don’t put ideas in his head. Honey, forget you ever heard that.”

I was flabbergasted. Floored. Bamboozled even. All those times when MJ was legitimately in the dog house, it appears I was missing out on a husband’s God given right to make up lovin’! MJ told me to forget I ever heard the conversation, but that’s never gonna happen. This kind of life-altering accidental discovery is right up there with Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming, who accidentally discovered Penicillin because he was sloppy in his lab work and accidentally left a sample of Staphylococcus out in his work area. Asking me to forget that conversation is like telling the caveman who first saw fire to just put it out of his mind.

I feel like Jim Carrey in the movie “The Truman Show.” I’ve been kept in a protective bubble and only fed information others felt was necessary for me to have. I think I should be able to take this to a marital court of law and sue my wife. But instead of trying to get financial reparations, I’m seeking sexual backcharges. A judge or jury would sentence MJ to so many hours of sexual community service, only I’m the community.

As if MJ could sense every single thing I was thinking, she simply looked at me and said “Nope, don’t even think about it.”

The point is, nothing good comes out of being a guy and gaining a peek behind the curtain to see the great and powerful Oz. And on an unrelated note, it seems nothing positive comes out of being at a certain Hyannis bar around midnight on a Saturday night. A decent band was playing, but a 60-year-old woman who was flashing everyone in the bar tried to pull me out on the dance floor and would not let me go. Even when I was ridiculously insulting to her, she never relented. She asked why I wouldn’t dance with her and I told her I was far too sober for such an undertaking. Then she said it was for a bet, so I told her I’m a journalist and I’m not allowed to partake in illegal gambling, especially when the payoff is likely herpes. Eventually I simply hid behind MJ and shouted “HELP ME!”

So even though I’m not entitled to the same rights as other husbands out there, I want to say happy birthday to my lovely wife. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to Google “g-spot” to see what all this fuss is about.

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