Last week I wrote the first of two stories that were inspired by me playing with my daughter and one of her educational toys intended to teach her about animals and the sounds they make. I didn’t have room for both stories in one article, so as promised, this week I’ll tell you the other one. Then next week, I’ll get back to regaling you with stories of debauchery from my past. So don’t think that I’ve gone completely soft.
First however, I’d be remiss not to wish a belated happy Mother’s Day to all those whom it applies. Of all the plethora of holidays that are thrown our way, this is one of the few that I actually celebrate, enjoy, and think is completely necessary and deserved. I think that no one more than our mom’s are more worthy of a designated day to be recognized, celebrated, and appreciated. Being a mom is probably the most important, difficult, and thankless job that exists. But in many ways, it’s also the most rewarding. I’ve made it abundantly clear in previous articles that the two people I’ve admired most in my life are my own mother (whom I miss terribly each and every day), and the mother of my children. With that said, I won’t go into another long-winded dissertation about my two heroes. I just wanted to lead with a well-deserved shout out of thanks to all the moms out there. Hope you all enjoyed your day.
And now, here’s the second story inspired by a child’s toy that reminded me of something from my past. A simple toy meant to educate the baby about animals triggered a couple of fond memories for me. This is part two, so I won’t belabor the intro, but with just a few clicks, you can read last week’s story and be brought up to speed.
This is about my oldest child’s first trip to the movie theatre. He’s nearly 21 years old now so the fact that I remember this day with such graphic detail should imply how much it meant to me. And yes, if you’ve been following along, we are expecting another sibling for him in about six weeks. Hence, I’ll have sired miniature people in three different decades. I’m sort of like Tony Randall, only I can remember all of their names and I’m not doing it just to prove to the world that I’m straight.
It was a rainy Sunday afternoon in the spring of 1993. I felt that my soon-to-be two-year-old son and I needed a father/son outing. The weather limited our options though, so I decided to take him to his first movie. That movie was The Lion King. As we entered the theatre, my little boy’s excitement grew. The second the first previews appeared on that massive screen he was completely enamored. Moments later, the movie started and his eyes were as big as saucers.
Being as young as he was, he had a limited vocabulary. But one of the things he had been learning recently with the help of a simple educational toy was how to identify animals. He was beginning to firmly grasp the names of each animal, what they looked like, and what sounds they made. He was very proud of his newly obtained knowledge and wanted to share it with all who would listen. So each and every new character that appeared on the giant screen, throughout this cinematic tour of the animal kingdom, my son would shout out what kind of animal it was, and wherever possible, follow with the sound made by that creature.
“Daddy, a giraffe!” “Daddy, a lion!” “Daddy, a monkey!”
His angelic exuberance grew with each new character. He was having the time of his life.
Everyone in the theater thought this was absolutely adorable. For the first five minutes that is. Very soon though, the chorus of “awwws”, and muffled giggling quickly gave way to irritated sighs of anguish and animosity. I, being only in my early twenties at the time, began to feel very nervous and a bit guilty. Being as young and naïve as I was then, I still cared what other people thought of me, even total strangers. If you’ve ever read anything I’ve written, you know that I’m completely over that now. If you don’t live under my roof, or share my bloodline, your opinions of me are inconsequential to my existence.
I now found myself faced with quite a conundrum. I had a choice to make that may seem so trivial to most but in the eyes of a child could prove to be monumental. Do I succumb to the peer pressure being audibly exerted upon me in a less than subtle fashion by nearly all of my fellow moviegoers? If I do this, I’ll please thirty or forty complete strangers at the expense of an innocent little boy who happens to be my entire world. This would entail me picking up my son and removing him from the venue where he was completely enthralled by what he was seeing and having a more enjoyable time than I’d ever seen another human being have. A move that I’m certain would have induced a barrage of tears that would last the entire ride home. All his little mind would be able to grasp is that he was being punished and he didn’t even know what he had done wrong. His memories of his first trip to the movies with Daddy would be painful ones potentially forever etched in his mind. I don’t think that I could live with that.
My decision had been made. Even if you’ve never read anything else that I’ve written, I’m reasonably certain that you have correctly surmised which direction I went. Unfortunately for them, three dozen or so people whom I’d never seen before or since, would essentially have to proverbially kiss my ass for the next eighty-three minutes. Once my decision was firm, I came to grips with the ever growing disdain and loathing these people had for me and my boy. I no longer tried to shush him after each outburst. I simply smiled at him and said,
“That’s right buddy,” and put my approving arm even more firmly around him.
He announced each and every animal throughout the entire movie—with the singular exception of Timon. None of the early learning developmental toys or flash cards had touched on meerkat yet. Truth be told, I didn’t know what the hell he was either. I was a bit perplexed by what a sewer rat was doing in that part of the world.
We had a blast! To this day, I still watch that movie relatively often either with my younger children or alone, and I remember one of the greatest days of my adult life. If anyone reading this happened to be sitting in a movie theater back in the early 90’s on a Sunday afternoon trying to peacefully view The Lion King and had their day ruined by some crappy dad and his annoying child, than send an e-mail to the magazine. I’ll cut you a check for $4.50 to reimburse you for the price of your movie ticket. But if you’re waiting for an apology, don’t hold your breath. I won’t ever say I’m sorry for one of the greatest father and son bonding days ever. My only hope is that if my son remembers that day at all, that he looks back on it with the same fondness that I do. It was then, and still remains one of the best days of my life.
Well, that’s going to do it for this week. Thanks for indulging me. Next week, as I often do, I’ll revert back from Daddy to deviant. I’m completely aware of the fact that the ‘proud parent blog’ is a totally saturated market. Sometimes though a story needs to be told while it’s still fresh in my vessel of rapidly depleting brain cells. Thanks for playing along.
Until next week,