Tag Archives: birthday

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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Will 2.0

Two years ago, if you asked me to describe myself, I would’ve said I was a husband. That I was a writer. A loyal friend. Not to mention a really, really, ridiculously good looking militant Boston sports fan.

With the exception of the Derek Zoolander quote, I’m still all those things. But on April 3, 2008, I gained a new and more important identity: Dad.

We didn’t know if you were going to be a boy or a girl when you were born. Well, scratch that. MJ didn’t let the ultrasound technician or the doctors tell us the sex, so technically we didn’t know. But I knew. I knew I was having a son. I was on record from the very start that I’d have a boy and I never wavered. But because we suffered through two miscarriages, I didn’t really care what you were as long as you were healthy. And a boy. So when MJ delivered, I honestly forgot to check whether you were a boy or a girl. I just stared slack-jawed at the doctor holding you, desperately trying to process what had just occurred, while simultaneously being extremely thankful there was a guardrail on MJ’s bed because that was the only thing holding me up after my knees went weak.

The doctor’s voice was the only thing that snapped me out of my trance as he said “Congratulations, dad. It’s a boy.”

Dad? Dad. Whoa…that’s me.

Time passes strangely in a house with a baby. Sleep comes in two-hour intervals. Parents walk around like the  Thorazine-riddled patients in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. It’s a confusing time when everything is in flux. So despite not knowing what the hell I was supposed to do with you, I did the only thing that came naturally. I loved you. Deeply. Like crazy. Sure I made some mistakes, but I dove into fatherhood head first and I never looked back. Because the feeling that swept over me when I watched you sleep or played with your little hands and feet, was something otherworldly.

As you grew, so did I. Six months brought crawling, mimicking and general joyousness. In my brief stint as a dad I gained confidence and skills. I could change diapers like a NASCAR pit crew. I could dress you with ease, although matching your outfits was a different story. I had no problem taking you in the car or out in public, just the two of us. Looking back I realize what a great age that was, because you could only crawl a little and there was no walking. No opening doors. No climbing things. But despite being limited physically, you were gearing up toward your first word and discovering new things about yourself everyday. And getting a front row seat was the most entertaining thing on the planet.

When you turned 1, your accomplishments were coming fast and furious. You had already been walking for three months. You were talking and signing up a storm. And you were frickin’ fearless. Seriously kid, nothing scared you. You may look like me, but I was petrified of everything when I was your age. If something was difficult or scary, I would run away or return to something familiar. But not you. You have your mother’s tenacity and determination. Sure you get frustrated when faced with a difficult problem, but you stare it down and concentrate until you solve it. I admire that and it makes me so proud I could burst.

No longer a baby, but a certified little man. Talking in short sentences, gaining dexterity and hand-eye coordination and grasping concepts left and right. You became decidedly more difficult to contain as you raced to explore the world around you, but I relished the fact that you did it with reckless abandon and without an ounce of hesitation. Not to mention you were the cutest goddamn monkey on the planet for Halloween.

On Saturday you turn 2. Two years old. In some ways it doesn’t seem possible that that much time has gone by. A tick of the clock ago you were a fragile newborn who threw my entire life into upheaval. But in other ways, it feels like you’ve been around forever. Because I truly can’t remember what life was like before you, nor can I possibly picture it without you. When I started dating your mom I fell in love with her instantly. I asked her to marry me because she was the only woman I ever met who made me feel like she had been there all along, and without whom I would cease to exist.

That’s what both you and your mom — who I’m also wishing a happy birthday to on April 4 — are to me. You’re air. You’re food and water. And while it’s not all flowers and pie, being a dad has been the experience of my life so far. Both the good and the bad. But there’s been so much more good. And the gifts you give back to me only increase as you get older. The smiles, the laughter, the “Hi Dadda” comments and the random hugs and “Love yous” are what keeps me going on a daily basis.

I know it’s corny but you’ve made me a better man. And while I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, you make me want to be the best dad possible. You bring joy to everyone you meet. Even strangers. You’re only 2, but I’m so proud of you. I’m in awe of you everyday. And I love you with a depth I didn’t know was possible. And even though I don’t deserve you or your mother,  it is a privilege to be your father.

Happy birthday buddy (and MJ). You’re the best.


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Monday Morning Musings

From time to time I like to empty my brain of all the little odds and ends floating around in there. Separately they don’t constitute a post, but together…well, it’s probably still not a great post but they can’t all be winners you know. Here’s what’s been kicking around in my head lately:

–> I don’t think I’ve ever been excited about anything in my life as much as Will nowadays when Mickey Mouse Clubhouse comes on TV. As soon as he sees Mickey he lets out a ridiculously high-pitched scream, then runs in circles for 10-15 seconds around the room with a huge smile on his face. This morning he got so excited he ran into the wall.

–> A friend of mine from high school is a TV reporter at Fox news in Boston, and he and I were working on the same story Saturday night about a shoplifting ring run by a mother and daughter. My buddy told me when he tried to talk to the daughter, her boyfriend told him to get the hell out of there and then yelled “Suck my left nut!” Which begs the question, why, when people say that, is it always the left nut they want you to suck? Why not the right one? And for that matter, how is that an insult? You’re a heterosexual who’s mad at another man, so you tell the person at whom you’re angry to put one of your testicles in his mouth? Something is very off there.

–> I know I was a little hard on MJ last week with the whole farting thing, but yesterday I was reminded why she is the coolest chick on the planet. She told me how appreciative she was that I’ve picked up the majority of household chores and the responsibility of caring for Will almost by myself everyday, so she surprised me by signing us up for the HBO and Starz channel. Hello True Blood, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Big Love, and movies with swears and no commercials!!! For a couch potato like myself, it’s a dream come true.

–> Even though Will’s birthday isn’t for another week, we had a family party yesterday. It was great and once again, friends and family were way too generous with the gifts. And they also paid no mind to me and MJ when we said go easy on the gifts and avoid the big ones that make a lot of noise. EVERYTHING he received is loud. A remote controlled forklift that plays rock n roll music? A Chuck the Truck that responds to voice commands and also talks? Books that speak to you and make weird sounds? I swear to God, I’m pretty sure even the clothes he received have buttons that make noise. This is Karma’s way of getting even for all those years I was such a prick.

–> Went to a Boston Celtics game last night, and watched as the 20-something guy in front of me nearly got in a fist fight with an old guy there with his 3 kids. The father was mad because the younger guy swore at Rasheed Wallace for being lazy. So the dad, still in front of his kids, turns around and yells “If you don’t stop swearing I’m gonna turn around and punch you in the fucking face!” Hello pot, this is the kettle calling…

–> My son looks like me, but he’s got MJ’s personality. When he plays with his trucks, they all need to be lined up neatly in a row. When he eats, all of his food needs to remain separate on his plate. God help us all if the food touches. I, on the other hand, would be perfectly content eating my mashed potatoes, turkey, stuffing, corn and gravy all mixed together in one delicious lump, and my play time is decidedly more unorganized. Living with these OCD nutballs is going to be interesting.

–> What’s up with cell phones these days? If someone calls me and I don’t get it right away, my phone alerts me. Perhaps too much. First of all it flashes. Then when I get to it there are a plethora of icons to deal with. One shows me that I have a missed call. The other tells me what number it was that called. Then there’s an icon to let me know I have a voicemail. My only real incentive to answer my phone is so I don’t have to spend 10 minutes making sure all the annoying icons aren’t cluttering up my screen afterward.

–> I always hear people say they don’t trust the media, and some even accusers reporters of making things up. Yet I fielded a half dozen angry calls from readers this week concerning a picture we took of a memorial at a crash site set up by teenagers because one of their friends died. And included in the memorial was a full can of Budweiser. The angry callers wanted us to either Photoshop the beer can out, not include it in the picture or not run the picture at all. I repeat, they wanted me or the photographer to alter reality by taking it upon ourselves to change the scene. Do these people really want their local news media screwing around and doctoring photos?? Yet they accused me and the paper of promoting underage drinking and I was lambasted for days. Yet if someone found out we interfered, we’d be accused of doctoring the news. We can’t win.

–> And finally, my son reached a milestone of which I’m very proud. If you ask him about the New York Yankees, know what he says? “BOOOOOO Yankees!” I admit, I shed a tear when he mastered that phrase. He is now part of a family history that goes back many decades and generations, and from this point on he will proudly wear the badge of being a pinstriped Yankees hater.

Happy Monday guys, and remember it’s only six days to Opening Day at Fenway!

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