An Introduction To How We Roll At The Movies

Dear Blue,

Now that we’re nearing the third trimester, your mother and I are taking time to empty out our baby bucket list. Or is it fill the bucket? I don’t understand this metaphor. Screw it. Plainly speaking, we are doing things now that we won’t be able to do once you’re born.

From all the intel we can gather, when you’re born, for about three to four months, your mother and I cease to be human beings and become robots watching over a crying, ravenous poop factory. New parents don’t have much of a life for a while, so we’re taking time now to revel in the last vestiges of life B.B (Before Blue).

Last night, we saw a movie. Gravity. It’s spectacular. A shoe-in for a Best Picture nomination. It’s about an astronaut who becomes stranded in space, and for 90 minutes does everything she can to survive while the universe tries to murder her. It looks stunning, and pulls the rare trick of matching its incredible cinematography with an equally riveting story.

Your mother and I are going to miss movies. A lot of memories are tied up there, all the way back to our first kiss. When I missed your mother’s mouth after feverishly diving in for a quick peck after seeing Twilight. That’s probably a whole other story in itself, but for now, just know we’re going to miss movies. At least until you’re old enough to go with us. To help me through, what I keep reminding myself is that in 2015, right when you’re about two years old, Star Wars: Episode VII comes out. I’m thinking this will be your baptism into the wonderful world of cinema. You’re so lucky. I really can’t wait to introduce you.

They make incredible movies now. Superman destroyed most of New York this summer and for the most part, America yawned. Adults are simply too spoiled by how amazing modern movies have become, but you, Blue, you are not yet spoiled. Appreciate that.

You are in for a treat even if you’re not impressed by movies, Blue. Seriously. If you ever go to a movie, and somehow get bored with the actual movie, just watch your mother…watching the movie. Her facial expressions, and her tendency to be an “outward thinker”, make for entertaining evenings at the box office. I hope you have her wonder in you.

And if you don’t, well, at least be economical like your gonggong (grandfather). He likes movies, too. In fact, he likes them so much that he typically strolls in for a Saturday matinee, sees one movie, strolls out of the theater, and then casually walks into another movie while the workers are distracted, busily selling their popcorn. Two for the price of one.

Even though it’s wrong, I have to admit…it’s fun. Your gonggong gets a thrill out of it, so when he asks you to go see a movie, expect to see two. Don’t worry, Blue. I know the score.

Your gonggong’s mischievousness was passed on to his daughter. Your mother doesn’t theater hop. Instead, she gets her kicks smuggling food into the theater. When we saw Gravity, she snuck in a bag of cheese cuffs and a bag of peanut butter pretzels, neatly tucked away underneath napkins and away from the prying eyes of ticket takers. When we saw Elysium this summer, she managed to fit two philly cheesesteak sandwiches in the bottom of her bowling bag purse. But the best was The Hobbit. Last winter, when we saw it, she very deliberately cooked dumplings at the house. Then she packed them away in a Tupperware container. We sat there in the theater, with 3d glasses on and metal forks clinking, watching the movie in our brand new living room. For a few hours, we weren’t just watching hobbits. We WERE hobbits.

So be prepared, Blue. This is our new family tradition. Forget popcorn and nachos. When we see Star Wars, we’re bringing in steak and mashed potatoes.



Flowers Versus Safaris

Dear Blue,

Burlington Coat Factory, on the corner of Baldwin and Duarte, does a neat little trick. A regular sized department store from the outside, it plays a trick on physics and opens up into a three-story emporium on the inside. It’s like Hermione’s purse in Harry Potter. It was the third floor we wanted, the aptly named “Baby Depot.” Nestled within the armada of strollers, forests of onesies and walls festooned with pacifiers, a crib mattress was our target.

We ended up mulling over buying a dinosaur quilt for a half hour before ultimately leaving the store with just a beanie in hand. While there was the occasional robot, car or construction motif sprinkled in the spread of blankets before us, the overwhelming majority of sets either featured butterflies and flowers, or jungle animals.

I guess jungle animals are the “in” thing for baby boys right now. I’m not sure why jungle animals are so tied in with nursery themes. As cute as monkeys and lions and and hippos may be on a quilt, in real life, it would be nothing but nomnomnom… Aaaannd Goodbye Blue. Don’t believe me? Check out this, and then try to tell me (like some of the commenters) that the lion was trying to “play” with the little guy. Jungle animals are carnivores. You are carne. That’s a bad combination, Blue.

Disregarding that obvious fact, it’s clear why jungle animals are associated with boys. You share wildness, and parents, no matter how much they complain of this essential nature, know that in its mature form, wildness evolves into some positive things. Pride. Boldness. Tenacity. Courage. Just to name a few. Every parent wants this for their baby boy. Hence, jungle animals for boys.

And flowers for girls. To be honest, Blue, I’m glad you’re a boy.

If the essential nature of wildness is what parents want to encourage in boys, then beauty is what they hope to inspire in their little girls. At their core, the female portion of our species is just better at being human, Blue. Just know it now. Some day, we hope to mold you into a man full of empathy, compassion and kindness towards others, but you probably won’t get there until you’re pushing thirty. Even then, on a relational scale you’d be the equivalent of a five year old girl. They’re just…better people.

It’s not your fault, Blue. Boys and girls, men and women, are just different. Even though we occupy the same planet, we come from different worlds. The best way to illustrate is through example.

Take your cousins Annabelle and Jacob. One day, your mother and I go over to their house to hang out. While we’re playing, we start to dance around. Your cousin Annabelle loves to dance, and as she starts to twirl around, showcasing her latest ballet moves, she becomes so overwhelmed with excitement and glee that she rushes over to your mother and hugs her leg tightly. She’s happy, and being a girl, she understands intuitively how to convey her emotion in a way that immediately relates her to others.

Your cousin Jacob, on the other hand, is a proper barbarian. After dancing with Annabelle, we started to chant his name. It’s a ritual we have. Caught up in the fervor of the chant, Jacob started to pump his arms up and down while stomping his feet. He squealed with delight as the chant heightened, and at its apex, overcome with excitement and with no other available outlet, he searched around frantically, locked in my thigh, and rushed in to bite it while I held him at bay. He just had to do SOMETHING, and his essential wildness did the rest.

See the difference? One of them gives hugs. The other draws blood. Sounds like one is definitely better, but here’s the rub. On both fronts, it takes a lot of good parenting. Boys, by the nature we’ve established thus far, are wild and destructive. It takes a lot of wisdom, effort, perseverance and patience in order to turn that tornado of energy into something that’s productive, not destructive, to society. But it’s a straightforward path.

Girls require good parenting, too. The approach is much less straightforward, far more nuanced. Girls don’t need to contained. They need to be nurtured, to be taught how to properly channel all of that raw emotion they feel into something that’s healthy. There are so very many ways that can go wrong, Blue, and the way is long and winding.

Honestly…raising a lion sounds way easier than growing a rose.


Blood, Sweat and Cribs

Dear Blue,

We built your crib this weekend. Every time I pulled out a new plank of wood from the box, there were these weird red stains. stupid brain thought. Those strange patches of wood finish sure look like blood. Huh, what do you know! It was! I must have cut my hand on the scissors or the box. I don’t know. Never will. I removed all the evidence of the accident, except for one dried and bloody thumbprint hidden underneath the mattress board. You know, in case anyone ever tries to switch cribs on us.

It took us awhile to find the right crib. A lot goes in to deciding which one will make the best safety prison for your child. When we finally did, we ordered the crib online and shipped it to the closest Wal-Mart. One problem. When I went to pick it up, the box was clearly too big for my car. So I went back to the house to get your mother’s car, and based on vague measurements with a rain stick, it was too small as well. So we had to get your uncle David to help us with his cavernous SUV.

Then we had to build the thing. I dreaded this step. Of all the things I try to emulate from Jesus, carpentry is probably the one that needs the most work. For example, when your mother and I moved in to the apartment, we bought four things from IKEA: two bookshelves, a dresser, and a tv cabinet. Four items took SEVEN days, and a sprained toe, to assemble. Probably would have been six if I didn’t have to redo the tv cabinet after putting on a shelf backwards.

The crib took approximately two hours to assemble. Once again, your uncle David had to help in order to prevent any further injuries.

There a few key lessons to learn from this, Blue.

1. Never shop at IKEA. It’s terrible. Most everything there is nothing but overpriced, high end cardboard. To make matters worse, you don’t save any money by buying their cardboard and you have to assemble everything yourself. It’d be like a t-shirt company selling you yarn. Sounds terrible right? Apparently not, because every weekend the place is complete chaos, one precarious Swedish meatball shortage away from becoming the grocery store scene in World War Z. (Hope that reference still makes sense. Zombies were cool when you were born, Blue.)


2. Mark everything you own in blood. Don’t trust technology. Bury gold in your backyard, etc.

3. Some rules might be made to be broken. Instructions to assemble furniture are not some of these rules. Seriously, Blue. Know the size of boxes before you try to fit them in your car. Know that cardboard can cut you. Know your nuts. Know your bolts. Know that the headboard (A) has wood screw holes on the right side of the board while the footboard (B) has them on the left. This is all really important. That’s why I left the bloody thumbprint. To remind you that there is wisdom in knowing what rules can be broken, which can be bent, and which have to be followed to the strictest letter of the law.