Shimy armor cowboy

I was pumped today. Excited even. See Toby has been playing with these two Superman action figures for about two weeks now. It’s his newest fixation. In to the bathtub they go. Going to the store? They are coming too! How about bed? Can’t sleep without then. I was excited because I showed him an old Superman cartoon and he watched the whole thing. I was tempted to download all the Superman movies.

The reason why I was so excited is because I was going to surprise Toby. I stopped at Walmart on the way home and bought him a Superman costume to wear tomorrow. Sure it is prolly a size too big, but hey I can work around that. I also bought him a pair of Superman light up shoes too!

I put the bag in my trunk so he wouldn’t see it when I picked him from daycare. We got home and I got him settled in. I went to the car and got the bag. I told him I had a surprise for him. He got so excited. I pulled out the costume and… He cried. He didn’t want to be Superman. Didn’t even want to try the costume on. I tried all my negotiation tactics. Nothing. The FBI’s top negotiator couldn’t convince this kid.

I was devastated. Then I realized something. I wanted him to be Superman, he never wanted to be Superman, so why did I think he would put on a costume? I think sometimes as parents we forget that out kids or grand kids or whomever you watch, have a mind of their own. Here I was trying to impose what I wanted and never really considering what he wanted. As parents we just get use to imposing our will on them when they are babies, then they begin to grow and get ideas of their own. It’s easy to forget that this little person has preferences.

It’s obvious now. He plays with the Superman action figures. Ignores the boxes, baskets, and piles of other toys. Of all the toys he wants to take with him on a simple 2 minute car ride to the store? The Supermen. The kid has mind of his own. He didn’t want to be Superman. I wanted him to be. What does Toby want to be? And I quote “Shimy armor cowboy”. Which translates into “Shiny armor cowboy”, which really means a knight chest plate, shield, cowboy hat, a home made horse, light up cowboy boots and a pirate sword. This is what he wants to be for Halloween. Of all the things in the world. This is what he wants. Not what I want, but what he wants. So tomorrow, I’ll dress him up as a “shimy armor cowboy” and drop him off at school, wearing what he wants.

Christmas Trees and Halloween

It’s that time of year. Houses are decorated with corn husks, orange and black light, and fake tombstones in the front yard. You have little Spider-Man, zombies, princesses and fairies running around. Yeah, it’s Halloween.

I find it sarcastically amusing that I bought more candy to give out than my son brought home. Essentially, trick or treat has turned into a huge candy swap. The spoils go to the middle schoolers who can go for the whole two hours and walk the entire town to get as much as they can. Losers… Well parents like me that spend an hour trying to find a costume, getting the kid dressed, spend $10 on a bag of candy, just so your three yr old tuckers out after a half hour and only gets about $5 worth of candy. The real shame comes later when you begin sneaking candy bars from your kids’ basket and later telling them they have to eat their dinner before they can even have a candy corn. By the way, candy corn… NO ONE likes candy corn, at least no one that’s under the age of 50.

One of my favorite Halloween memories involves a Christmas tree. See what happen was I forgot to tell my mom that the Halloween parade at school was coming up on a certain day. I think I just forgot entirely. As a kid I had a bad habit of not telling my mom important dates that were coming up, like when huge projects were due. I did develop a good habit of mentioning things…. The night before.

So I went to school without a costume and like any 3rd grader I was upset that I didn’t have a costume. Pretty sure I cried. Well my teacher realized my mom was at work and really couldn’t do anything about it. That’s when my 3rd grade teacher Mrs. Kosick came to my rescues and prolly became my first crush. She whirled around the school trying to find an extra costume. At some point a light bulb went off in her head and she grabbed some old foam that was huge, cut it into the shape of a Christmas tree, painted it green, staples two pieces together, cut out a hole for my face, broke into a supply close and found Christmas decorations and decorated me. I ended up having the coolest costume, at least all my 3rd grade friends thought so.

This event sparked some creative costumes in my life time. Later I would be a huge football. My dad took over as the creator of my costumes. He found burlap sacks, painted them brown, stitched them together to fit my body, stuffed me with balled up newspapers and TA-DA! Instant football. At some point I was a Colgate bottle of toothpaste. Why? Cuz I dragged my feet once again and couldn’t decide what I wanted to be. Leave it to my dad to cut up some poster board, slap some creative color markers on it and give me a crazy hat they looked like a lid and I was minty clean.

So of course, now that I have my own son, he has to keep things going. He wanted to be a cowboy. What’s a cowboy without his horse? So I made him a horse. Using a old Aldi box, pizza box, tape, old shoe lace and spray paint. Toby ended up with a horse. The fact is that the thing looks more like a fox than a horse, but as long as he believes he it’s a horse … That’s the only thing that matters… Right?

Good news is I have a few more years to hone my craft. I already have ideas and plans forming in my head that involves a pirate ship and his red wagon. Thanks to Mrs. K and my dad, Halloween isn’t just about ghosts and goblins, a Christmas tree can get candy too.

Ben and Pearl Jam

“Hey you can sit here if you want” a kid called to me as I searched for a seat on the bus.

The past few weeks have kinda sucked. Early in the summer I moved. I went from a neighborhood where all my friends lived on the same street. I could ride my bike to their house. They could walk down and play on my porch.

Now, I live in the middle of no where. In a small house that has barely enough room for my mom, step dad and my two brothers and I. My step dad is fixing up this bigger house that my great uncle started to build but never finished because he got MS.

I remember my parents sitting down and asking me if I wanted to move. Try a new school out, live out in the “country”. It all sounded so grand at the time. What I didn’t realize that I would move right after 7th grade ended. That meant an entire summer of not knowing anyone. Of just playing with my brothers. Of not meeting anyone new.

School finally started. Were you ever a new kid in school? Trust me, it isn’t fun. Not to mention a sea of white faces and you just moved from a neighborhood that was at least 60% black. Oh and toss in there you’re Asian. Yeah, just try to not stick out.

The kid slides over and tosses his book bag on the floor. I sit next to him. With a big smile he introduces himself “I’m Ben”

“Nate”

“So where did you move from?”

“Sharon”

“Oh I’ve heard of that”

“…”

“So do you like music?”

“Um I dunno, my mom listens to Boys to Men, that’s all I really know”

“Oh man, my favorite band is Pearl Jam, ever heard of them?”
——————————————
That moment. That moment right there on the bus. That’s the moment I went back to on Friday night. I went back to that moment as I listened to Eddie Vedder sing “Pendulum” live at a record crowd in Pittsburgh.

Ben and I became really good friends from that point on. Later he invited me to his house and let me listen to his copy of “Ten”. I was hooked. In any mood or any place I can put on Pearl Jam. It’s to the point now that I’m pretty sure I could pick out Eddie Vedder’s voice out of a crowd of thousands.

Ben and Pearl Jam came around at a critical time in my life. Things were a bit crazy. My mom had remarried and they had adopted a new baby brother, we moved from my old neighborhood to out in the country. Ben became the first friend I made when I moved. Honestly, I don’t know how long I would have gone not really talking to anyone at the new school. He helped meet new friends in his neighborhood. That transition from being the awkward new kid at school to having friends was made smoother by Ben and Pearl Jam.

Ben moved a few years later. I think his parents got a divorce and he moved with his dad. We lost touch. Pearl Jam however, stuck. I was never a concert person but I always wanted to go to a Pearl Jam concert. It got to the point where I ended up being a “bucket list” type thing. So when Spotify told me that Pearl Jam was coming to town, I had to go.

As Eddie’s voice rang out with “Nothing Man” and continued on through the night to a cover of “Rockin in the free world” over two and half hours later, I flashed back to that moment on the bus and remembered that not only did Ben give me Pearl Jam but he also gave me friendship.

Thanks Ben.

Quite normal

One of the joys of fatherhood is hearing how great your kid is when he goes to preschool. You hear all the wonderful games they play, songs they learn, see the drawings, put them on the fridge. The flip side is that you also hear the “bad” things your kid does. Things like head butting the teacher, doesn’t share well, still in pull-ups, when angry doesn’t talk, not that I’m talking from experience or anything. The hardest thing to do is to not overreact when you hear the bad stuff. To not let your mind wonder… Have thoughts like “dear God, I’ve created a monster!” Or “great, destined to be THAT kid”.

The hardest part is deciding and deciphering what’s “normal” and what’s not. As parents we don’t want to interfere with the growing and learning process. That an only child who is 3yrs old… Guess what… It’s normal that he doesn’t share well. Or that when he gets mad he doesn’t verbalize it. Hell, I know at least a dozen adults who don’t verbalize when they are mad. Stuff like this is normal. Toby broke the head off of a action figure the other night. I thought to myself “great… Serial killer”. Then he was ok with it because he made the action figure into a zombie. The action figure is now called “farmer zombie”. He loves the thing.

I’ve had a ton of discussions with friends over the past week or so about what’s normal. I have friends that are going through break ups. Anger, frustration, sadness. All normal. I have friends that are realizing their childhood, may have messed them up a little bit. That they feel insecure, regret, tentative, sad. Still normal. I think too often as humans we think we are “special”. Not in a “aww you’re special” like your mom use to say. But special in the fact that we think we are the only ones that feel this way or that way. We’re the only ones who are insecure. Depressed. Sad. Angry. Honestly, in today’s day in age if you don’t have these type of feelings or thoughts, I would call you abnormal.

Here’s another trap, we look at others and think “man they got it together, they seem so happy”. Bullshit. There is a lady that I know that comes off so happy that honestly is down right annoying at times. The thing is, in an honest moment I bet she would tell you that she struggles with the same type of thoughts and feelings. Just like when we hear bad news about our kid, the hardest thing to do is to not overreact. To recognize that much of what’s going on is normal. That you aren’t alone.

One of the things I’ve appreciated about blogging is that others read and comment. You get to explore other blogs. The best part of blogs is anonymity, this allows people to a chance to really express themselves. You get to see that the stuff you think about and feel, others do as well. That it’s not just you that struggles with this or that, in fact it’s actually quite normal.

Abstract

I started this post and restarted this post and then restarted it again a few times in my mind. Hell, chances are I’ll delete this and redo this part. Seems like my head is full of things and then nothing at all. Full of partial thoughts. Partial opinions but never really settling on a side. Focused on something then suddenly distracted by a fleeting thought that barely registers. Trying to force myself to think and write has simply caused me to jumble the mess in my head even more.

Ever have one of this days where you have things to do but you don’t HAVE anything to do? Feels like that in my mind. I have various thoughts, worries, ideas, day dreams, and objectives but they seem to just crash into each other. I picked up Toby from daycare and they gave me some of his “art” work. I chuckled because it looks like how my mind feels. Lines drawn, not finished yet nothing more to do, abstract but suppose to be something.