AboutNate Smith is an improvisational comedian, a husband, and a father. He's not sure which is hardest. Learn more about Nate Smith at bestnatesmithever.com
Unofficially Sponsored By
Ever since Chandler was old enough to talk, his name for me has been “E”. As far as we could ever tell the name was derived from “DaddEEE.” I’ve always really liked it. It’s feels cool to have a special name. It gives the name more meaning.
Just the other day we noticed that Chandler wasn’t calling me E anymore. This is most likely because he is talking more and more clearly and “daddy” isn’t as hard to say anymore. When this realization set in I was pretty sad. No more cool nickname.
The truth is, his new version of “Daddy” is so cute, I don’t really mind not being called E anymore. I especially like his “NO Daddy!” which is usually caused by me tackling him or tickling him. Chandler is in that stage where “No” is his go to answer. This would be more annoying if it wasn’t so cute.
So anyway, my days of being E are over. But I’m hoping to transition into being called Batman. Fingers crossed.
If you’re a long time follower of Improvising Fatherhood, you’ll recognize these giraffes. The giraffe on the left has been Chandler’s favorite stuffed animal all his life. And as you can see, when compared to the brand new one on the right, his giraffe has been well loved and taken everywhere.
Ashley has wanted to swap out the original giraffe for the new one for quite some time now. I have been against this idea from the start. If you ask me, that giraffe isn’t dirty. It’s experienced. It’s not covered in filth. It’s covered in memories.
Nevertheless, I supported my wife’s decision. Also, Chandler threw up on the giraffe today. We asked Chandler if he’d like it if giraffe took a bath and came back all clean. Chandler said yes and giraffe was whisked away. Moments later a sparkling clean giraffe returned.
Chandler’s expression was very telling.
Mom - “Chandler, aren’t you happy to see YOUR giraffe all clean now?”
Chandler - “Leon’s giraffe.”
Leon is Chandler’s friend who has the exact same giraffe, except his never leaves the room and looks brand new.
Mom - “No, this is Chandler’s giraffe. I gave him a bath and he’s all clean now!”
Chandler - “Nope.”
Later, as Ashley was putting Chandler to bed, he began throwing the giraffe across the room.
Ashley - “Chandler, do you want dirty giraffe back?”
Chandler - “Yes, ask daddy.”
He then went to the top of the stairs and called out to me, “DADDY! Dirty giraffe back!”
And so, Chandler is now peacefully cuddling up to his experience-riddled giraffe covered in his own memories.
One of the great things Improvising Fatherhood has done for me is given my father and I a lot to talk about. My parents live in the Midwest and I live on the West coast, and IF helps them stay connected to their grandson as he grows up. But IF is also keeping me more connected to my father, which is a really nice bonus.
Here is what my dad had to say about a recent post. I’ve added a few notes to give context to his comments:
Thanks for the kind words. I truly hope that you have a decisive moment with Chandler, like the one I had with you, when you were about 7, at the McDonald’s in Laurence, Kansas, standing in line with 10 other boys from Grand Slam Camp (a baseball camp run by my father’s indoor batting cage business) who were twice your age, and who had recently had their tails kicked by you in Eliminator (a ground ball fielding contest).
“Dad (in a whispered tone), what should I order?”
“Same as always. Jimmy, don’t touch him there.” (apparently Jimmy, one of the other kids, was touchy)
“But Dad, what should I get? “
“WHAT! Just order a Happy M….(suddenly realizing your predicament), Okay, when it’s your turn to order (now I’m whispering) get 2 cheeseburgers, french fries, and a coke.”
It was your first regular meal at McDonald’s, and given the group you were with, it was obviously your only choice. Say goodbye to the Hamburgler toy inside the Happy Meal and hello to saving face with the big boys. And I thank God that I finally understood the REAL meaning of, “Dad, what should I order?”
I remember this moment very well. I don’t remember Jimmy touching the other kids, but I remember getting out of the van and walking in with all the big kids. I had ALWAYS had Happy Meals. But I couldn’t get a Happy Meal today. That would make me look like a baby. And, as my Dad pointed out, I had just whooped all these older boys in a baseball competition. I had earned their respect. A Happy Meal would just have taken me back to square one.
I remember being very grateful for my Dad’s understanding in this situation. And I remember being pissed because the Happy Meal toy was REALLY cool that day.
In martial arts you learn to move without intent and to be connected to everything while being attached to nothing. You learn to hit without hitting.
Using no way as way, having no limitation as limitation. - Bruce Lee
(this photo was taken a year ago…I would like the record to show my son is still very much alive)
These same ideas can be applied to parenting. Some parents (usually of the mom variety) will say this is just a lazy attempt to avoid planning. To that I will very maturely say, “I know you are but what am I?”
Tonight I was presented with a moment that demonstrated how powerful this concept of going with the flow can be. About a year ago the fam was at our favorite BBQ restaurant (we actually had them cater at our wedding….insert Father of the Bride quote here) when Chandler was tempted by the allure of the coin operated turd machines. You know, the machines with the 4 slots (only two of which you are supposed to actually use) that you stick the quarters in, then you push the handle in, pull it back out, and out comes a cardboard sleeve with some sort of sticker type item that isn’t worth fifty cents let alone a turd? Yeah, one of those machines.
Chandler LOVES putting coins into slots. It doesn’t really matter if he gets a prize for it. The sheer joy of sticking the coin into the slot and watching it disappear is reward enough for him. He saw the coin operated turd machines and went absolutely bonkers. At first I was like, “Ugh, this going to be something horrible.” Then I saw that one of the turd machines had Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fake tattoos. That’s when I went absolutely bonkers.
We got two. Fun times were had by all.
When we got home I was desperate to plaster a TMNTattoo on my 1-year-old and then post photos of that all over the internet(s). Chandler had other ideas. By other ideas I mean “NO”, “NO, PLEASE”, and “Aw HELL no, daddy!”
Not wanting to traumatize my son, and more importantly not wanting to waste a perfectly good Leonardo fake tattoo, I decided not to push it. The Fattoos were safely stored in a desk drawer, to patiently await their moment.
Fast forward to today. The fam is once again at our favorite BBQ joint. Chandler is on his way to stick some coins in his favorite candy dispensing slots, when suddenly he is caught by the siren songs of the COTMs. I had to very craftily steer him away from the tramp stamps and back towards the cutesy animal tattoos.
Fifty cents later we walked away with some cute little froggies which I was certain would never feel the soft touch of my son’s skin (is that sentence okay to print?).
When we got home we asked Chandler if he wanted to put the tattoos on. He said, “no, please,” but something in his eyes said yes. We decided it’d be a good idea if I put one on myself first. Ashley applied it to my belly while Chandler helped hold me down. I’d post a picture of it, but no one wants to see that. (But if you follow me on twitter, I’ll tweet it to you).
Chandler enjoyed this, but still wasn’t sold on the idea. So we decided to give Mommy the second tattoo. Now we have matching frog tattoos on our tummies (I’m not allowed to refer to Ashley’s stomach as a belly…again).
Now we were out of tattoos…until I remembered the Ninja Turtle tattoos sitting in my desk! I asked Chandler if he wanted a ninja tattoo that had a turtle holding swords. These were buzz words that were sure to reel him in. And they almost did, but the line was not strong enough to hold this big fish.
I backed off and we headed upstairs for bed time. While going through his usual stall tactics, Chandler had an epiphany. He suddenly requested a tattoo. Brilliant. This was going to buy him so much time. I quickly ran downstairs to get the tattoo. I came back up and Chandler was ready to go. We asked him if he wanted it to put it on his tummy like we did. He shook his head and said, “Arm.” It was like he had been planning this all along.
In the end, it was because I initially let go of my intention of tattooing my son that I was eventually able to successfully do it. Because I was able to stay unattached to my foolish desires, my son now has Leonardo attached to his arm.
So, dear internet reader, if you’ve stuck with this story this long, here is where you will be rewarded. I will now show you awesome photos of my son rocking a Ninja Turtle Tattoo. Enjoy.
Chandler: (talking about the mini basketballs he was holding) Bofe balls.
Me: Yeah, that’s right. You have both balls. That’s more than Lance Armstrong can say.
Yesterday we took Chandler to the park for a “relaxing” afternoon of fun and frolic. I put “relaxing” in quotes because spending any amount of time with Chandler in an open space is anything but relaxing. Maybe if we could tie him to a tree….
This week’s trip to the park featured a new element we hadn’t seen before. HIGH SCHOOL MAKE OUT SESSION!
About 100 yards away from us were two very squirrelly teenage love birds sucking each other’s faces off. You know how they have “Shakespeare in the Park”? Well this was like that MTV show “Skins” in the Park.
Normally this wouldn’t really be all that blogworthy, but when they finally got up to leave (and I assume go home to ask mom to fix them a snack of Graham Crackers and Sunny D) they did something we weren’t expecting. They gave each other a big high five.
This really made me think. I can’t remember the last time I’ve given my wife a high five after a make out session. And I think that’s what will bring the spark back.
All of this reminded me that some day I will have to give Chandler the sex talk. A small panic attack came over me. What would I say? How weird will that be? Then I realized all I have to do is make Chandler watch a marathon of MTV’s “Teen Mom”.
….I need to stop writing these posts while my wife is watching TV in the background.
Yesterday we took Chandler to his first movie, Winnie the Pooh. I was pretty excited for Chandler to see his first movie and was happy for it to be something that was a big part of my childhood.
This is a picture of my childhood Winnie the Pooh and Chandler’s Winnie the Pooh.
Going to the movie, I expected Chandler would be pretty reserved. At home when he watches his favorite shows (Bob the Builder, Barney, and Dexter) he sits planted in the couch with his eyes glued to the screen. And anytime he is out in public around a group of strangers, he becomes pretty quiet as he observes the behavior of everyone around him. So I thought for sure, a situation that involved a Winnie the Pooh movie on a gigantic TV in a room full of strangers would certainly quiet Chandler down.
Sometimes I think Chandler can read my mind and then purposely does the opposite of what I’m expecting.
Chandler had a BLAST during the movie. He was climbing in and out of his seat. He was hanging from the railing. He was yelling out Eeyore’s name throughout the movie. He was stealing my drink. All of it was acceptable behavior except for that last one. He’s just like his mother. I’ll ask, “Honey, do you want a drink?” And she says, “No thanks, I don’t need one.” She didn’t say she’s not thirsty, she said she doesn’t need one because she’s going to drink mine. And now that’s what he’s doing. SO ANNOYING.
Sorry, I got sidetracked a bit. It’s just that she’s been doing that since we started dating….
Okay, back on track. The movie. To be honest I missed a lot of Chandler’s cute reactions because I was too busy watching the movie. Ashley kept nudging me to get me to watch him but I was trying to ignore her because I thought she was asking me for my drink.
Wow…I really can’t get over this movie drink issue. We might need marriage counseling.
Chandler has no idea, but this is what we do after we put him to bed. Poor kid.
Just all those words next to each other is making me smile. Tonight I did something that has changed my life forever.
Tonight I made and consumed a S’more made of Krispy Kremes (instead of Graham Crackers), Resse’s Peanut Butter Cups (instead of a Hershey Bar), and a marshmallow (instead of a marshmallow).
Here is what they looked like coming out of the toaster.
And here is what they looked like going into our mouths.
Greatest moment of my life.