One of the joys of parenthood is the whole learning experience. You find out a lot about yourself when you become a parent and some of things you see yourself do or hear yourself say are things you never, ever expected in a million years. But it’s not just the experience of parenthood in and of itself that you learn from. Sometimes the child teaches you more than just tolerance for temper tantrums and adjusting to an entirely new lifestyle.
Yeah, this part of parenthood? Not so fun…
I was on the floor with Ana a while ago and we were playing with her train and school bus. She was making all kinds of sounds and laughing like a little ball of crazy and at one point she stopped everything and turned to look me and asked, “Doah?” Now, mind you, I don’t know what in the name of Elvis “doah” means, so I just said, “Uh, sure. Yeah, honey, doah.” And she looked at me some more and smiled a bit and just slightly nodded her head and reaffirmed, “Doah,” and went back to the toys.
And I got to thinking as I picked myself up and sat back on the couch. Look at this kid, not a care in the world, playing with these toys and loving every second of it, happy as can be. Why is it that we can’t still do the same? Why have we allowed society to dictate that to be a “grown up,” we can’t have some fun when all the bills are paid, the baby’s in bed, and work is done for the day and break out a few toys of our own?
And, no, I don’t mean the “toys” that we’ve come to use to replace our old Barbies and GI Joes like the fancy new sports cars or the iPhones or whatevers. I’m talking about exactly those old Barbies and GI Joes. I’m talking about going down to Toys R’ Us, buying a few Star Wars figures and settling who the ruler of the galaxy is once and for all. I’m talking about drawing up battle plans for GI Joe’s raid on Cobra Island, and then heading down to Barbie’s Malibu Dream House for a little R&R, and maybe hitting up the Play Doh Fun Factory for some burgers along the way.
Watching my daughter made me remember the countless hours I spent in my room, dreaming up adventures with my action figures, having dog fights with my Micro Machines military planes, building secret bases and traps of danger and doom with Construx.
What happened? When the hell did I get so old and jaded that I forgot that it was ok to be a kid sometimes? Sure, we have more responsibilities as adults, especially as we have kids of our own, but did being an adult mean I could never again play like it was 1989? Where was it established that you couldn’t be a successful adult and have Batman clobber the Joker every once in a while? Who decided that? Who came up with the idea that once we hit a certain age, a GI Joe with Kung Fu grip and a gun the size of a Buick was no longer acceptable? And, by the Power of Greyskull, why the hell did we listen to that guy?
Let’s be honest, even for the best of us, the world tends to suck a lot of the time. Look at the stuff that’s going on and tell me you don’t sometimes want to retreat, just for an hour or two, to a time when things were a little simpler, to a place where magic was real as could be, and the only limits on you were imagination and a bedtime curfew.
People have asked me why I still collect comics at age 31. It’s because I need them to escape, to shut out the world, to just go somewhere for the 15 minutes or so it takes to read one and not have to worry about bills, or being sick, or work, or traffic, or terrorism, or any of that stuff. In real life, the good guys don’t always win, and things don’t always have a happy ending. But in comic books, anything can happen and you know that even if Superman gets rocked in this issue, next month he’s going to put it to Lex Luthor something fierce.
That new sports car is cool and all, but you know what? When you’re sick and stuck inside, you can’t drive it. That iPhone? If the reception is poor, or you didn’t charge it, you can’t use it. But a comic book? You can take one of those bad boys anywhere and enjoy the mystery. Skipper’s Corvette? That baby can drive all over the bed if it needs to, rain or shine.
And so I looked again at the box Ana’s train came in. It said, “Recommended for Ages 1 & Up.” And you know what? I realized that I was still in that “up” group. And so I went back to the floor, took the tiger off the train and made it roar at Ana, and we laughed and played, not only as father and daughter, but as two kids, remembering to savor the fun in this life.
D’oh? You’re damn right.