Memory #957: The Thin Line Between G And K

Dear Blue,

You like to talk. This is not a surprise since you’re a toddler and you try on words like they’re clothes at a thrift store. And you don’t let insignificant annoyances like pronunciation hinder you from trying to communicate to anyone and everything. It’s admirable. If we somehow manage to get you through this stage and you still attack the English language with no shame to your game, we’ve won. We have won.

Right now, we’re in the game, and that means helping you figure out how to get your tongue and your brain on the same linguistic page.

For instance, you have trouble pronouncing FR. It comes out like FUH. Also, you usually pronounce G as K.

This led to a situation  at the zoo. We were heading down the hill to your favorite exhibit, LAIR. Like most boys, you like your animals creepy, crawly and slimy. I mean, you really like them.

As soon as we entered, you ripped your hand out of mine and went catapulting across the room towards a glass window and behind it, a mossy log. As you went, you started yelling “F@*K! F@*K! F@*K!”as you pointed emphatically at the glass. Parents gasped. Kids gave ground. Who was this little kid who spoke so foully? Where did he learn such filth? And where were his parents?

Right here, prudes. And no, we’re not going to correct him.

He really like his FROGS.

You’re my boy, Blue.



Memory #854: Hi Mommy

Dear Blue and Wheels,

The other day at the playground, you wanted to ride the tire swing, Blue. The tire swing is a popular apparatus, and normally it’s off limits because the older kids like to hang around on it.

But on this day, it was free, and you rushed over to it, converging on the swing at the same time as another kid. You both climbed in, and as per tire swing etiquette, I was offered the pushing duties since you were smaller.

I don’t know if you like the tire swing, Blue. My suspicion is you get on it just to prove to yourself that you can, but it’s clear every time you go on you are not enjoying yourself as much as you are when you’re climbing up the slide backwards.

You grabbed the chain with both hands, white knuckles just above the links. You didn’t smile. Didn’t laugh. All that you did was mumble “Hi mommy” over and over again.

“Hi mommy” has become your most recent self soothing mantra. It’s something you do when you get really nervous. For a while, it was spinning in a circle. Before that, it was making raspberries. These sorts of things come and go, so I try to get them on video in case they disappear and are never seen again.

So you kept saying “Hi mommy”, even though it was daddy that was pushing you and mommy was across the playground. The kid across the tire swing from you, whose knees you were touching, looked at you, confused.

“I’m not your mommy,” he told you.

There wasn’t much more to say, as you two strangers shared the inside of a tire, swinging dizzily in a slow circle while touching knees.

Wheels, you can now kick mommy so hard we can see your footprint now. Impressive.







Lesson #98: ‘Remember when’ is always worth the price


Dear Blue and Wheels,

This past week we took a family trip to Joshua Tree National Park.

It’s a hidden gem of Southern California. A little more than two hours east of LA, and perched on a plateau above Palm Springs, it’s the overlooked cousin to the more glamorous parks like Yosemite and Sequoia up north.

We love it there. The rock outcroppings make it feel like you’re walking on Mars, and at night, the sky is so clear you can actually see Mars. There are all kinds of trails, but there are also plenty of stop off points for just playing around on rocks.

Which is exactly what we did after almost three hours of driving in the car. Wheels, you were great. You traveled well. Blue, you were fascinated by the “choo choo” we saw along the 10 freeway, and could not stop talking about it for the rest of the trip.

A quick rule of thumb for traveling with children, guys: be prepared to spend twice as long getting there, and half as long staying before you come back.

We had planned to stay there through the late morning and into the early evening before heading home. Instead, this is what happened. We arrived at Joshua Tree around 11:30, bought a pass, and then drove into the park. We drove for about ten miles and then parked near a huge outcropping called “Hemingway.” People like to climb it, which we proceeded to do as well. Blue, you had a great time exploring a boulder and attempting to illegal pick federally protected wildflowers.

After about a half hour of exploring, we all piled back into the car.

Mom says, “I’m sore. I don’t think I can walk anymore.”

Blue, you take one look at her, yawn, and then promptly crash in your car seat from exhaustion.

Just like that, our foray into Joshua Tree National Park is over. Good thing I scored plenty of good shots at the first stop.

In my younger years, I might have been a little frustrated. And by a little, I mean very. We just spent 3 hours and $20 in gas to get here. We did not get our money’s worth. As I’ve aged and hopefully matured, however, I realize that you can’t measure the value of trips by how much something costs versus how much time you spent doing it. Instead, the value of any experience should be measured by the quality of the experience itself, and what I find to be true is that the quality of experiences is rarely connected to how much time was spent on it or how much it cost. What it is connected to is the people you spend that time with, and even the most fleeting of experiences can be incredibly valuable if it stays with you.

The power of “Remember when…” is all that should be measured on any trip. If you have at least one of those, then you have had a good trip.

So, remember when we drove 2 and a half hours to spend a half hour climbing rocks before you fell asleep and we came back home?

Of course you don’t. But we do. And it was worth it.