The first year we attended Justin’s school fundraiser, GWE noticed that one of the items up for bid was the opportunity for Justin to host the school’s morning news broadcast. Typically, this was a honor reserved for the 4th and 5th graders. However, thanks to GWE’s ability to outbid and (quite frankly) intimidate anyone who came within 5 feet of the bid sheet, Justin got an early start in the morning news business – Kindergarten! Each and every year since he began attending this school, Justin has appeared on the Woodcrest Morning News.
You may also notice that Garrett makes an appearance as well. He started out as a background prop and worked his way up to co-host of the show with his big brother. And now, thanks to the editing skills of GWE, you can fully enjoy “The Justin-Reads-The-News Montage Show!”
It started with an ant. To be more precise, it started with an Aunt.
Several months ago, I sent my sister (Auntie Shayna) an aquarium for her birthday because she was thinking of getting a goldfish for my niece. Once she received it, she had some difficulties managing the aquarium because she did not follow my explicit instructions on aquarium maintenance. Apparently, my sister was talked out of getting the goldfish (I told her to get) and she ended up with a Beta Fish – thanks to the pimply-faced, know-nothing clerk who worked at the pet store.
After a few weeks of torture and the eventual homicide of the Beta, it was determined that somehow I was to blame. The punishment was a Hanukah gift in the form of an Ant Farm from my sister to my sons. Nothing says “I love you” like a package of 25 ants that comes with a warning: “DO NOT TOUCH. ANTS WILL BITE.”
The gauntlet of war had been thrown. I could not let this act of hostility go unanswered. And, thanks to a fortunately timed visit to Costco, I knew I had found my revenge: Hugfun!
Hugfun is a 93″ teddy bear. Here is a video demonstrating the sheer size of Hugfun:
10 days before my niece’s second birthday, I placed the order. The only two people who knew what was about to happen were GWE and my mother. It was supposed to arrive without warning – that was the intended surprise. What actually happened was FAR funnier!
One morning, my sister called me in a panic. “Did you send me something?” (She had called our mother first, but mom denied sending anything….although she did elude to knowing what was coming.)
“Maybe, why?” I replied casually.
“A freight delivery service just called and notified me that I have to be home to sign for a delivery!! What did you send???” She demanded to know what was going on. There was a pause. “They said it’s 44 lbs. WHAT DID YOU SEND ME??” I erupted into laughter.
Shayna’s 10 day torture/meltdown had begun.
“Is it alive??? Did you send something that’s alive???” She was convinced that I was sending her a baby pig. For days, I kept texting her pictures of animals that could potentially be 44 lbs. Pigs, lambs, lobsters, etc.
Four days before delivery, Shayna called the freight company and asked what was being delivered. The man she spoke with gave answers that were better than I could have ever dreamed of. He responded, “Ma’am. If you don’t know what’s coming, I can’t tell you.” Shayna continued, “Do I need to have food ready for it?” He replied, “It couldn’t hurt.” Shayna’s tailspin of anxiety was now off the charts. (I don’t know who this man was, but I owe him a bottle of wine!)
And then, the delivery date arrived. What added to the anticipation of Hugfun’s arrival was that he did not arrive at the time specified. He was running late. But, when he did finally arrived, it was well-worth it!
Shayna called me from the garage while Hugfun was still in the box. “I’m going to kill you,” she said calmly.
“Well, you’ve got to get it in the house first? C’mon! He’s only 44lbs. Put your back into it!!” I said in between my hysterical fits of laughter. With FaceTime on, I stared at her ceiling all the while listening to the sounds of my sister’s grunting as she battled to get the bear into the house.
Once it was in the house, she propped it against the wall. It towered over her. As she struggled to put the bear into a manageable position, she kept telling me about all the ways she was going to kill me and then get revenge. As she swore like a sailor, the bear looked down at her sweetly.
I know she wanted to hate it, but she was playing with it after just a few minutes.
And then, our parents arrived. They also played with Hugfun!
And then, my Brother-In-Law (Sadie’s daddy) arrived home. He, too, played with it!
And finally, the birthday girl got a change to see it the following morning – after all the adults had played with it!!
I think the lesson here is – don’t mess with GenXDaddy! You may end up with a 93-inch, 44 lbs, cuddly, soft Teddy Bear as revenge!!
While running errands with Garrett, we decided to stop at our local Starbucks for a snack. Garrett chose an apple juice with a fruit box and I ordered a Purple Drink. (Look it up! It’s pretty good!) As we waited for my drink, Garrett asked if he could go and find a seat. I told him that would be fine. But, he needed to make sure that he chose a table that no one was sitting at AND it had to be within view of where I was standing. Garrett took his snacks, wandered the restaurant, and then chose an empty table for two….right next to a cute college-age girl. I saw her look up, acknowledge him, smile, and then go back to what she was working on.
I sat down across from Garrett and we began to have our snacks and chat about our day. I knew I didn’t have Garrett’s full attention because he kept looking over at the woman sitting next to me – the same one he chatted with when he sat down. Garrett leaned over and whispered, “What’s she doing?” I looked at him and said, “Why don’t you ask her?”
“Excuse me. What are you doing?” Garrett inquired.
The young woman sitting next two me stopped what she was doing, looked up, smiled (again) and replied, “I’m painting a birthday card for a friend.” She opened the plastic case of water colored paints and showed him.
“Can I try?” he asked.
“Of course,” she responded. She handed him the paints, the paint brushes in a cup of clear water, and a piece of paper. Carefully, she explained how the paints worked.
For the next 10 minutes, Garrett and his new friend were on an “Art Date.” I quietly sat there (like a third wheel) as they painted together and talked about their friends and common interests. He told her a joke that he got wrong, but she laughed anyway. She told him about a bigger art piece she was working on! I sat there in amazement watching my 5 year old son pick up a 20-something year old woman without him even realizing it. When he was done with his painting, he put everything back together and then offered her his finished art piece. She told him she loved it. If he was 13 years older, he would have gotten her number right then and there. At 5, Garrett is more of a ladies’ man than I am at 41!
Ultimately, he decided to bring the art piece home to GWE instead. Right now, Mommy is still the only woman he cares about.
Sometimes, it’s not what happens to us that compels us to make a change, but it’s the things that we witness happening to other people that make us reassess our own choices in life. Case in point: Garrett recently experienced something, but it had a bigger impact on Justin.
While on a routine dental visit, the dentist discovered that Garrett had a small cavity. Even though the cavity was tiny, we knew that the task of getting it fixed was going to be monumental. Garrett is not a good patient. He does not like having dental equipment in his mouth, does not like the sounds that the equipment makes, and he has zero patience for sitting in a dental chair. GWE and I knew that he certainly wasn’t going to tolerate getting a shot of Novocain AND having his tooth drilled. I spoke with the dentist and he agreed that Garrett was a “hostile patient.” We decided that the only course of action would be to use nitrous oxide to keep him calm.
As the day of his cavity removal approached, GWE and I kept telling him (excitedly) about the “Firefighter’s Mask” the dentist was going to put on him on his next visit. Garrett was intrigued by the prospect of wearing a mask meant for firefighters in a dental office. As soon as he arrived at the dentist’s office, he asked to see the mask. He looked at it quizzically. It wasn’t like the ones he had seen at the fire station Skeptically, he got into the chair and put the mask on. Slowly, the dentist began to administer the gas. After a few minutes, Garrett was supposed to begin feeling the effects, so the dentist administered a shot of Novocain. Garrett felt it, realized what was going on, and began to fight back. Clearly, the gas had no effect on him.
In the meantime, GWE and Justin were in the waiting area and they could clearly hear what was going on. Garrett was screaming, shoving the dentist and hygienist away, and trying to escape while the we tried to keep him calm. I looked over to the lobby and saw GWE cringing. Justin appeared calm, yet slightly panicked as the blood drained from his face. After 30 minutes, I told the dentist that this wasn’t working and that we’d have to try again at a later date.
Knowing that his defiance had been successful, Garrett angrily hopped out of the chair and was at the front door in less than a minute. When we got in the car, Garrett was back to normal. What we didn’t know was that Justin was the one who was affected the most!
Later that afternoon, we had a normal lunch. Afterwards, Justin excused himself from the table and went to brush his teeth.
After dinner, Justin excused himself from the table and went to brush his teeth.
After breakfast the following morning, Justin excused himself from the table and went to brush his teeth…again.
That night, after dinner, Justin excused himself from the table and went to brush his teeth…again.
The following morning, we ended up running 15 minutes late. Everyone was in the car, except for Justin….who was still brushing his teeth…again!
Thanks to Garrett’s “Cavity Calamity,” Justin has brushed his teeth more times over the past 6 weeks than he has in his entire life!
There is a Japanese proverb that says we all have Three Faces:
The first face, you show to the world.
The second face, you show to your close friends, and your family.
The third face, you never show anyone.
It is the truest reflection of who you are.
In this social media world filled with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, we are a society that works very hard to cultivate public personas that (we think) match who we think we are…or are trying to be. And, no matter how hard we try to project one type of image, we can’t escape how others really see us.
I believe that younger children see us the clearest. They see the good, bad, and everything in between and process it without judgement or ego. That is why I decided to ask my kids the following questions. Some of the answers I expected. Some, I didn’t!
Garrett’s Questions and Answers:
1. What is something I say a lot? Bad words
2. What makes me happy? When I’m playing with you.
3. What makes me sad? When I’m not listening.
4. How tall am I? So big, very big
5. How old am I? 12
6. What’s my favorite thing to do? Golf
7. What makes me proud of you? When I listen
8. What is my favorite food? Broccoli
9. Do I have a favorite child? Yes, me!
10. If I could go anywhere, where would I go? To the golf range
11. Do you think you could live without me? Yes.
12. What’s my favorite song? Ghostbusters
13. How do you annoy me? Bothering you when you’re working
14. What is my favorite movie? I don’t know
15. Who do I have a crush on? Me
16. Where was I born? Atlanta
17. What’s my favorite show to watch? Doctor Who
18. Who’s my best friend? Aldis
19. What scares me? I don’t know.
20. How do you describe me to your friends? By showing you to my friends.
Justin’s Questions and Answers:
1. What is something I say a lot? “Have a good day at school”
2. What makes me happy? Me getting good grades
3. What makes me sad? Me getting in trouble
4. How tall am I? I don’t know
5. How old am I? 45 (I’m 41)
6. What’s my favorite thing to do? Play golf, watch Doctor Who
7. What makes me proud of you? Beating you in golf
8. What is my favorite food? Pie (Didn’t specify Apple or Pizza)
9. Do I have a favorite child? Yes, me!
10. If I could go anywhere, where would I go? You would go somewhere to golf with me
11. Do you think you could live without me? NO!
12. What’s my favorite song? The “Hot Day” song (Uptown Funk)
13. How do you annoy me? A lot of things. Saying “daddy, can I please have this? daddy, can I please have this? daddy, can I please have this?”
14. What is my favorite movie? You like tons of movies. You like “Back to the Future.”
15. Who do I have a crush on? Mommy
16. Where was I born? Atlanta, GA
17. What’s my favorite show to watch? Doctor Who
18. Who’s my best friend? Your clients
19. What scares me? Me getting bad grades
20. How do you describe me to your friends? The best dad in the world. The best dad no one can have. But that he yells at me a lot.
So……is it weird to find a video on my own phone of me sleeping? Based on the height at which the video as taken, I can only assume GARRETT grabbed my phone in the middle of the night and took a video. Honestly, I’m a little unsettled by this.