On September 16, minutes before the Detroit Tigers, the current American League Central division champions, took the field against the Seattle Mariners, I found myself standing on the deep outfield grass of Comerica Park, waiting for my almost-seven-year-old daughter to throw me her best approximation of a fastball.
It was a heady, surreal moment, a moment where – thanks to my surroundings, my daughter’s determined scowl, and the scuffed Major League baseball in her tiny hands – all I could think about was how wonderful it was to be a father.
I know you’re only four, and I know that you can’t read. I know that I haven’t let you on my computer much, and I’m sorry. Because what I’m about to tell you is of utmost importance: it’s high time you learned Microsoft Excel.
A lot of people think that Excel is simply a tool for boring suits to map out data. Well, son, that’s partially true. But Excel is exciting and Excel can be pretty rock and roll if you trust Excel.
I’ve got a book on pivot tables that we can start reading together before bed. It’s not exactly Shel Silversteen, but I do consider it no coincidence that both the cover of The Giving Tree and the Microsoft Excel icon are both resplendently green.
Back in January, 2011, we put up a video of podcaster djWHEAT teaching his then-five year old son how to play StarCraft II.
Just yesterday, djWHEAT put up the “full episode” of his son (aptly named miniWHEAT) playing CS:GO, the latest in the Counter-Strike series. And if it doesn’t make you want to get your lil’un on an FPS, I don’t know what will.
But more than just make me think “man I can’t wait to do that with my son,” it made me mentally retread the ‘ol video games and violence conversation.
My interest might be waning in Jay-Z, but I’m still a big Shawn Carter fan.
With today’s release of Jay-Z’s new album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, some critics were hoping to hear the now-43 year old rapper and new father move his music from the streets to the stroller, so to speak.
With Jay-Z (real name Shawn Carter) spending a lot of time in the last year talking about fatherhood in the media, Magna Carta Holy Grail falls short of the expectation that instead of hearing an album about Jay-Z brushing dirt off his shoulder, we’d be hearing about him wiping off baby spit-up.
Nevertheless, since Jay-Z has been very prominent around the media discussing fatherhood, I’m happy enough knowing the topic’s on his mind.
This time of the year, my wife perks her ears up and starts thinking about what gift I might want for Father’s Day. My four year old son doesn’t, bless him. I never want anything, but this year I’d like something very specific for Father’s Day: fewer dads.
Sure, there’s tons of stuff I could conjure up on a selfish little Father’s Day wishlist. I could – much to the chagrin of ad wizards and marketers everywhere – use a new tie. Or, if my son can muster up enough gusto to crank out “DAD” in crayon on a piece of construction paper, it’d be great. But I’m a simple man; I just want guys to stop having kids if they’re not fully committed to the idea of fatherhood.
When my son is pretending to be a superhero, or playing with superhero action figures, his imagination is at its best. And when he’s engaging in superhero play around his friends, or even just a washed-up old dog like me, creativities collide and create something even better.
Let’s get this out of the way; a couple of weeks ago, Hasbro sent me some Iron Man 3 toys to play with: a bigger, motion-activated, talking Arc Strike Iron Man figure, and a couple of Iron Man Assemblers – little action figures whose arms and legs come off so you can mix-and-match them. Also, an Arc FX Gauntlet, which shoots foam discs and will leave a welt at point blank range.
So one day, my son came home from preschool and handed me his Iron Man action figure that he’d brought in for share time. As he handed it over, he told me plainly that there’s no “Iron Man stuff allowed at school.” There had to be a story behind it, I thought. The statement evolved into a shrug and “no superhero stuff,” but we didn’t have much else to go by.
With one hand, my son is smacking the kid next to him on the top of the head, and with the other hand, he’s forking salad off of my wife’s plate.
Before I can say “stop” for the sixty-third time today, I look over at the boy’s father and he gives me the universal sign for “don’t worry about it,” and says “he eats salad, that’s great!”
The other mother is talking to my wife. Other Mom says “you guys are lucky. If it’s anything healthy, Joey won’t eat it.”
Other Dad mouths “watch this” and turns to Joey. “I’ll give you a dollar if you eat that watermelon.”
My son is eating their other son’s watermelon right from under his nose. Joey’s negotiating fractions of a slice to cents on the dollar.
I don’t know how we went four years without having to sit at a family table at an event. I suppose we’d just left our son home with a babysitter for the weddings, baptisms and other shirt-and-tie stuff we’d been to since he was born. This Saturday event, a baptism brunch at a country club, was the first time we had an assigned table and had our son with us. Even at my sister-in-law’s wedding, there was a kid’s only table in another room. So this was new to us.
When my wife texted me a photo of the box I’d received from Hasbro, I was hardly able to make it through my work day. I knew it had G.I. Joe toys in it, so I knew I’d be reliving my childhood that night alongside my son.
These G.I. Joe toys were sent to me by Hasbro because of the new G.I. Joe Retaliation movie that I’m honestly not at all interested in. But toys and nostalgia do it for me. After ripping open the cardboard box, I found a press release and all I read was “blah blah blah G.I. Joe blah blah blah.” And of course, as I skimmed the press materials, I sing-songed “G.I. JOEEEEEEEEEEEEE” a quarter million times, which annoyed my wife and thrilled my son.
What I love about playing with my son the most is that although I often act like a kid myself, I now lack the simple sensibilities that my son has. I get bent out of shape about adult things, like using toys “correctly” or risking breaking something. My son constantly reminds me how to play, and these G.I. Joe toys have helped me get back to my toy-playing roots.