What Got Into Him?

Warren Dunes
It's a big dune. And it was too hot to scale it on this particular day.

Colin cracks me up something fierce.

Today, we went to Warren Dunes in Michigan, and the entire way there he was going on and on about how he refused to go in the water. If anyone mentioned water or swimming or waves or Lake Michigan or dihydrogen monoxide, he would yell out, “I’m not going in the water!” Heather suggested he might change his mind. Colin insisted, “I don’t want to change my mind!”

We got it, Colin. You’re not going in the water. I thought Heather might snap because he wouldn’t. Stop. Saying it.

So the first thing he did upon arrival at the beach? He ran away from us, straight into the water, where he stayed for about an hour. Raising this kid is going to be fun. Well, it already is.

When we left the beach and headed to the parking lot, Colin (and Addison) insisted on something else, though this was of the wantingto actually do something variety. Colin couldn’t wait to go on

The Hippo waterslide
Estimated height: 6 billion feet

the big bouncy thing. Only the big bouncy thing wasn’t for bouncing, it was a gigantic water slide. A gigantic, inflatable water slide. In the past, Colin has tended to share my abject fear of heights, so when he came upon the apparently wobbly plastic steps leading up the mountainous chute of watery doom fun, I figured he would turn away shivering and refusing to set foot on even the lowest step.

And then he climbed it. The guy manning the stairs had to hold him back until it was his turn. Colin climbed the stairs so fast (and pushed past the slowpokes waiting at the top) that by the time I got to the other side to take his picture, I heard someone say, “Ha, look at this kid!” as a squealing blond-headed ball of glee whizzed by.

We let him and Addison go again and he cut in line again so quickly I missed the photo op then, too. Now, I wasn’t surprised that Addison was willing to do this. He would jump out of a plane onto this slide without being asked twice. I did get some video of Addison’s second turn down the Hippo. Well, it was about the second half of his second trip down. It’s not really worth the upload, but trust me . . . they both had lots of fun. And the slide really was 6 billion feet tall. Give or take a few billion feet.

The point is this: something about the call of the water turned my three-, wait, no, four-year-old son into a fearless bundle of derring-do. So now I’m officially the chicken of the family. I guess I’m cool with that. I just wish this whole kids-growing-up thing would slow down a bit.

 

Addison at the Bat

The scene was slightly sullen for the Cheesetown Six that day.
Just half the roster found the time to lace ’em up and play.
For May was full of rainout dates, and June was soggy, too,
But after this rescheduled game, their season would be through.

The score? It was ignored in this, the littlest of the leagues.
Wins and runs meant nothing to the boys in blue fatigues.
Just three outs separated these delinquents from their summers.
They’d find new noncommittal games, march to beats of different drummers.

But one young man in royal blue had outcomes on his mind.
This last at-bat would bring rewards of the most glorious kind.
He competed not for trophies gold, he played not for a ring.
He swung not for the fences, no; he yearned for Burger King.

The deal he’d struck that morning with the Devil . . . well, his dad,
Required he get a hit that day, and the boy already had.
That knock was on the infield, though, and the contract specified
His hit must reach the outfield to warrant burgers broiled (not fried).

But after two trips to the plate, young Addison was miffed.
Against one kid and then a coach, the fledgling slugger whiffed.
So if he failed in his last chance to torch the outfield grass,
His royal BK dining opportunity would pass.

“You can do it!” yelled the baseball moms to Addison, “You can!”
And to acknowledge he’d heard their cries, he gestured with his hand.
He strolled with nonchalance to his place beside the dish.
His carefree stance belying the stark fierceness of his wish.

He gripped the bat with fingers strong as tree roots just the same,
But he tapped the plate politely (when pounding is his claim to fame).
He barely glanced as toward the catcher’s mitt the baseball soared.
And when the umpire yelled, “Strike one!” mighty Addison looked bored.

“That was low!” his father may have shouted with shock both loud and vehement.
And Addison, mighty Addison, may have nodded in agreement.
But the protest didn’t faze him. He just turned with cool resolve.
He knew that after four balls sailed, pitching duties would revolve.

There are no walks in this league, see. Wildness has no reproach.
The eight year olds, after hurling four strays, give way to the coach.
So despite his father’s urging, “Swing if it looks good to you!”
Addison just struck a patient pose as the umpire called, “Strike two!”

Reality took over. Burger King hung in the balance.
Addison assumed a piercing glare worthy of the late Jack Palance.
No tapping this time: POUND, POUND, POUND, his bat attacked the plate.
He’d seize the moment now and ditch his customary wait.

“You can hit this kid, I know it!” yelled the deal-making dad.
The pitch zipped down the middle. Our hero swung with all he had.
His bat ripped through the atmosphere; it could have leveled trees.
The fielders’ hats flew off their heads from the manufactured breeze.

A roar, a gasp, a popping glove, then dust and hopes did fall.
The crowd sat shocked that his ferocious swing had missed the ball.
But just a fraction of a second after sullen silence fell,
The quiet shock was shattered by a most triumphant yell.

“THAT,” his father shouted, “WAS A SWING WORTH BURGER KING!”
And his son’s soul went soaring like an eagle on the wing.
Though that dad wished his son had hit the ball, he’d never tell.
For Addison didn’t just strike out . . . he struck out really well.

Mighty Addison, King of Burgers
Mighty Addison struck out. And was rewarded with Burger King.

Role Model

It’s funny, Addison’s going on a field trip today. And it’s not the type where they go across town and look at flowers or pumpkins or Christmas trees. It’s the kind where he’s got to ride in a bus for an hour. A lot of parents (and maybe one of the ones in this house) are pretty nervous about sending their kids so far away, but I’m not at all. Should I be? Eh, he’s fine. The truly frightening moments for me come when he’s with me.

One of the scariest realizations I’ve ever come to as a father was when I saw how determined Addison was to imitate me. I would make him laugh, he’d try to make other people laugh. I like the Cubs, he’d say he liked the Cubs. He’d wake me in the morning to see I slept without a shirt, off went his shirt. I’d lose my temper, he’d do the same. It’s not always cute.

By the time Colin came around, I knew the drill. I had to stay on my best behavior at all times. (Right. That happens.) But I knew that there was a strong possibility there would be two mini-me’s running around. Only I was dead wrong. Colin doesn’t imitate me (not nearly as much as I expected). No, Colin . . . imitates Addison. Addison likes Transformers, Colin loves Transformers. Addison sleeps with his sleeping bag on his bed, Colin does the same. Addison plays games on the Wii, Colin watches intently. (Sometimes this flattery annoys the living crap out of Addison, but that’s another story.)

Basically, seeing someone who patterns himself after me develop a behavior clone of his own reminds me of this development from the movie Multiplicity, in which Michael Keaton’s character, Doug, discovers that one of his clones has cloned a clone.

I don’t mean Colin puts pizza in his wallet. It’s just that now I’m realizing that any personality defects I may have passed on to Addison are only going to multiply as Colin learns to imitate them. This probably means I’m going to have to actively involve myself in my sons’ lives to try to help them develop normally or something. I should get on that.

Super Dooper Uper Shmooper Great

Best compliment ever? (Also, I like this picture because it’s not black & white, it just looks that way.)

Last Friday I had the chance to read to Addison’s class. I read a few poems from Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends and one from Runny Babbit (the flime really tew). It’s a ridiculous amount of fun to go into his classroom and to have kids remember who I am (and to see Addison readily admit that I’m his father). They hang on every word, their eyes light up like bulbs, and they laugh at every funny voice and poetic punch line. They are wonderful children. I could totally be a teacher for 15 minutes every day.

But maybe the best part about it is the thank-you notes they send home with Addison after the day is through. In the past, all the kids have signed a couple of cards, but this time they each wrote individual notes and drew pictures. It did my heart good to read them. One in particular made me smile a little extra wide. I’m sure by now you’ve seen what it said.

The girl who wrote it (I’ll call her C to protect her anonymity) is a twin. The C could easily stand for Cute. Super dooper uper shmooper cute. She always makes a point to thank me for coming and say something adorable. One time it was, “You’re a very nice person.” This time she added, “I really enjoyed it. Please come again!” But the note was the best. I don’t know how kids can form such a glowing perception of someone in such a short amount of time, but it makes me want to live up to it.

I doubt it’s possible, but I’ll try.

Look, Your Worshipfulness . . .

This girl knew how to wear her some shoes.
There was a princess party at our house on Saturday. Rapunzel’s a princess, right? Our niece Rosalie turned 5. Hooray for 5. Hooray for Rosalie. Hooray for princesses.
Hooray for dancing.
She whips her hair back and forth.
The dancing was probably the most fun part. That and reclaiming my testosterone-infused lair from the Land of Pink.
Colin: Big fan of dancing.
Addison, too. Dancing, swords, and major air, make a surprisingly good combination.

Two Things

1. Not one, not two, but . . . okay, yeah, two new American Idol Hollywood Week recaps are up at Beth’s place (I Should Be Folding Laundry). I really do mean to brag. They’re both awesome: Wednesday | Thursday.

2. I recently asked Addison what he and I had in common. He said that we both liked to play Wii. Okay. Then he added the best part. “It’s not something we have in common, but it kind of is. We like the colors red and green.” You should know that by this he meant that my favorite color is red while his favorite is green. So you get the part about that being something we don’t have in common. So why is it kind of a commonality? He explained by making a laser sound effect and gesturing with his fingers to air-draw two lightsabers crossing.

Photo by Dori. Awesome by Addison.

Maybe we will rule the galaxy as father and son.

Seriously, I want to see the world through this kid’s eyes. (Who am I kidding? I so do.)

From Bears to Tears (try not to let that rhyme)

The risk of building anything is the fear that it will fall.

On Sunday, Addison cried. Three times. Three. Separate. Times.

No, seriously, this was about 10 seconds later. Addison totally saw it coming.

The first time was immediately after the Bears lost to the Packers in the NFC Championship Game. Through the entire second half he had been begging to play Wii, but when the game was over he disappeared. I figured he had given up. A few minutes later, I heard the whimpering.

He had buried his head in the pillows of the guest room bed. He was sobbing. I asked if he was okay. He was not.

“I wanted the Bears to win!” He was as angry as he ever has been when denied Wii time, which is pretty much the zenith of his anger.

“I know. Me too.” Pause. Realization. Peace. “But they lost. I’m sad, too.” It felt good for me to say that. Any angst I had over the loss (and their was plenty) had dissipated at just admitting the fact and trying to help him do the same.’

“I hate the Packers. They’re stupid.” Here’s where it was my job to tell him we don’t use words like hate and stupid and that we have to learn to lose graciously.

“Yeah, they are. But they won.”


“I wish Sam Shields [who caught the game-clinching interception] wasn’t even on the field. And B. J. Raji is a big, fat stupid-head.” Heather would later inform Addison that it isn’t polite to call people fat, but I stood with Addison in this case; not because it’s polite, but come on, the guy weighs 350 pounds, and that’s part of his job. Let’s just face fats. Not a typo.


“I know. But we have to lose with grace and dignity, Addison. They won, and it’s not like a video game where we can retry until we get it right. It’s over, and we have to accept it.” Again, this felt good to say, and I was really hoping it was a lesson he could learn with some completeness much earlier than I did (seeing as though I was essentially just reaching that awareness myself).

It looked like it hit him, like something profound had dawned. And he asked me the question of timeless importance: “Can I play Wii?”

I’ll accept that as moving on.

The second bout of tears was a direct result of Colin running off with Addison’s glasses. Addison needs his glasses. For seeing. Normally it doesn’t produce tears (although the retaliation often does). I figured he was just a little raw. Poor kid. I don’t like seeing him cry, but I did remind him that sometimes it’s good to cry just to express the sadness and acknowledge its significance. Back to Wii.

The third time, though, was the most troubling. Heather was still helping clean up after a party we had long since departed (around halftime of the aforementioned football disaster). The boys and I were eating dinner. Mid-bite, Addison broke out into sobs again. I figured it was the Bears grief resurfacing. Nope.

“I miss Mommy!”

“Me too, buddy, but she’ll be back soon.”

“I hope she makes it.”

I assured him that she would. I also told him that I have thoughts like that, too, sometimes. I didn’t go into detail beyond that, but I do get afraid of car accidents and sickness and miscellaneous acts of God. I convince myself it’s just foolish imagination, but whenever Heather and the boys return from any absence whatsoever, they bring a rush of convincing relief along with them. Prior to that rush, though, Addison needed more reassuring.

So we talked about what we love about Mommy. That she’s so full of love we can’t take it. That she has a heart so big and strong and generous that we always feel like we’re the most important thing in the whole world. That her hugs are magical. It helped. We were happy. But we were very, very happy when she got home.

We all (and if you don’t, please nod along as if you totally do) fear missing out on what we wish for and losing what we have. Even seven-year-old boys. And thirty-five-year-old boys. I was glad to be reminded that it’s okay to cry about it and just as important (but not necessarily more so) to move on.

And this morning, I was pleased to see how Addison had chosen to move on. Three days later. Last night when I checked on him, he had put his glasses back on. That usually means he’s been reading. This morning, Heather found a copy of I Love You Forever under his pillow. You know the one. It’s about holding on to who you love, not to stop them from moving on, but because you’ll never really let go.

Of football games, yes. Of Mommy, no way. Regardless of what it is we might lose, though, that’s no excuse not to keep dreaming, keep loving, and keep ready for the tears that are all too certain. It’s cool, though, they’re worth it.

Idol Eyes Migraine Substitute

I can’t do an Idol recap this week, at least not tonight. Computer screens + my eyes is a five-minutes at a time deal right now before it triggers a migraine and I get nauseous. If I’m watching Tim Urban sing while that happens, so help me, I will yak all over this keyboard.

In lieu of that, I’ll give you this little episode from the Kellogg house tonight. Addison has been quoting Shel Silverstein poems lately; he just loves them. So tonight before bed he treated me to a recital of “Ridiculous Rose.” Here goes:

RIDICULOUS ROSE
Her mama said, “Don’t eat with your fingers!”
“Okay,” said Ridiculous Rose.
So she ate with her toes.
And then he added, “What if her name was Ridiculous Rutt?” Peals. Of. Laughter. Mostly his, but I’m not made of steel, what am I supposed to say? That’s not funny?