Growing up, my father used to routinely beat me and my brother with spoons.
It started while we were on vacation in Gettysburg, PA. After driving from Massachusetts and spending three days crowded into the minivan visiting battlefields and taking in the oh-so-electrifying excitement of Amish country, we had all reached our breaking points. My brother and I were at that point in our relationship in which we couldn’t breathe the same air without fighting, which was making my parents crazy. Now picture all that built up angst, tension, and bad blood squeezed into the tiniest Amish buggy you can imagine.
After that we went to a restaurant to have some lunch. Still sniping at one another even as the waitress was trying to take our order, my brother and I were building up to an inevitable slugfest (which was really just a glorified slapfight because of our mutually agreed upon decision not to hit each other in the face), until my father took action.
He grabbed a spoon, held it under the table, and smacked me with it. And then he hit my brother. We were stunned.
“Did you just…did you just hit us with a spoon?” I asked.
“Yes,” said my father in a matter-of-fact tone. “Every time you guys argue, I’m going to flick you with a spoon.”
We were so stunned at the absurdity of it all, we stopped fighting and immediately started cracking up laughing. And from that point on, whenever anyone in our family was being a dick, they got whacked with a spoon under the table — an unlikely family tradition if ever there was one.
Recently, I’ve started a new family tradition all my own with my oldest son.
I can write until the cows come home about my kids. I can poetically describe my thoughts regarding family, my two boys, and their early foray into brotherhood. Some of it might even be pretty good.
Or, I could just wait for my wife to capture a picture that encapsulates what it means to be brothers far better than my mere words ever could.
Shortly after I left for work this morning, my wife had to go to the bathroom. So she asked Will, our oldest, to watch Sam and make sure he didn’t tip over. This was what she saw when she came back into the room.
Feel free to caption this in the comments section.
I’ve never served in combat and I’ve never had to literally fight for my life, so perhaps I have no right to talk about fear as if I’m truly acquainted with it. But for a split second yesterday, I know I felt it. And it was profound.
All correspondence from Will’s elementary school is done by e-mail. Usually it’s bake sales, special events, and to tell us buses are running early or late. But yesterday, as I sat 40 miles away at work, I received a school e-mail with a one-word subject heading that paralyzed me with a kind of fear I never want to feel again.
I remember being a normal person.
Well, not totally normal. I’ve always been a freak show. But at the very least I used to carry on halfway normal conversations with people. They’d say something, I’d respond, they’d come back with something else, and on and on it would go. Naturally. The way conversations are supposed to happen.
Unfortunately I’ve recently realized having kids turns you into someone completely incapable of having a normal conversation. Tell me if the following sounds familiar.
Why is this narrative coming to you in the first person if I’m dead? C’mon now, a former journalist turned narcissistic dad blogger would NEVER leave his eulogy up to someone else to deliver. Which means even though I’ve shuffled off this mortal coil, you’ve still got to listen to me at least one more time. Thanks Internet.
Who was Aaron Gouveia? Truthfully, I was kind of a dick. Especially during my capricious youth. Someone once swore they’d deliver my eulogy with the opening line of “He’s a son of a bitch and I’m glad he’s dead.” But my mom was always kind of an asshole anyway. Seriously though, I did a lot of things years ago I’m not very proud of and if I could do it all again — well, I wouldn’t actually change anything because it truly was a blast and I had a helluva time. But I swear I’d feel bad about it. Kind of.
Things changed later in life for the same reason most men finally grow up — a good woman.