6 Things My Son Has Taught Me

Dear Kohl,

Well Happy 6th Birthday, fuck head.

Rather than spend every second of quality time I can with you before you pass out for the night, I have chosen to tuck myself away in the other room and write to you on the internet. I even made my letter a cheesy, numerical list that seems to be the rage these days.

But even though I tell you I love you and that I’m proud of you every night as I place you in bed, it’s important for me to occasionally step back and really dig into what you mean to me.

It is no secret that when we drafted you onto our team with our first round pick six years ago, the manner in which you arrived was, to say the least, a shock which would shake us to our core and would set our lives on a path we would never have imagined.

Yeah, I know it’s a lame cliche, but even though, as your parents, we are supposed to be teaching you shit, you have taught us so much more.

So as we celebrate your sixth year today, here are six things you have taught me (yeah I know, I should take a knee and punch myself in the face):

1. Power of music

Even though you have learned how to nod your head in response to questions, and you can say words like “yeah” or “no” and your own version of “daddy,” we are obviously a little limited in what we can communicate with each other using words.

But music is its own language and if one’s taste is akin to one’s proficiency, then I would say you’re fluent as fuuuuuuuuck.

Now I will admit – I was not completely heartbroken when you got over your infatuation with Floyd the Frog whose one hit wonder “Singing in the Rain” could be heard in the corridors of Chateau du Chrestman upwards of 6,000 times per day.

Likewise, I was a bit relieved that you have broadened your horizons from Spoon’s “Inside Out” which used to be the only thing that would calm you down when you acted like a dick. It’s a great song, but “too much of a good thing” is real.

But your varied, diverse and consistently good taste in music (with a bias towards the 90s grunge scene) never ceases to amaze me. One need look no further than this photo to notice your discerning musical palate:

I will never stop being fascinated with how much you love music, and I appreciate your being my lone fan here when I have my unsolicited jam sessions on guitar or drums. The way you are moved by music moves me and sometimes even brings a tear to my eye.

As our good friends at Drew Tunes say: “When there are no words, music speaks.”

2. Empathy

Ok I admit. Having empathy for someone else’s life experience comes much more naturally to your mom than for me. Not to get all Freudian and shit but I think it has to do with the fact that she is the oldest child and I was the youngest. But as I look back on my life before you arrived, I was self-centered on an almost comical level.

You are a genuinely happy little guy for many reasons which brings me endless joy. You know no other life than the one you have. While this brings me comfort, it also causes me some anguish that you are deprived of so many experiences that most kids get.

You have not gotten to play catch with me. You don’t get to chase other kids around on the playground. I don’t get to hear you tell me in words how your day was.

You are also a member of group of society that has been shat on, forgotten about or marginalized for centuries.

But the silver lining, aside from the fact that this doesn’t phase you even a little bit, is that it has made me more empathetic. It has made me less selfish. It has not only made me an enthusiastic if involuntary member of the “special needs” community, it has made me more sensitive and understanding of those who come from segments of the population that have not had the luxury and privilege I have enjoyed.

So, I guess what I am saying is that knowing you has made me a less terrible human. So thanks.

3. Taking nothing for granted

I suppose another silver lining of the profoundly shitty hand you have been dealt is the fact that it is hard to take things for granted.

You grow and learn in your own way and at your own pace. And that’s ok. It has and will continue to be hard for me to accept at times, but it is more than okay. Your smile and laugh are enough to melt the toughest of exteriors. And when you say “daddy” in your own little way, holy shit, son. Gimme some goddamned tissues.

And even though we all call your little sister a dick and make fun of her resting bitch faces …

… we all know we love her, and raising you, I think, has helped me raise her better. It has deepened my appreciation for the unique ways each of you develops.

4. Value of hardship

Before you were here, the things I can remember worrying about were absolutely laughable. While you are the opposite of a “hardship,” your shocking arrival here was not easy. And you know, what does not kill you will only make you less of a pussy.

5. Importance of laughter

Let’s be honest here. I have always been hilarious. I mean, I wasn’t voted 1998’s “wittiest” senior for nothing. And your mom, while falling well short of my comedic genius, is pretty damned funny in her own right.

And whether telling people that your latest surgery was a “penile reduction” or pissing your mom off with yard inflatables…


6. How to love

Let’s just put it like this. You have upgraded me in so many ways, but none more important than teaching me how to truly love. How to be with you in each moment and just take you in. There is no more important moment than now. Thanks for continuing to teach me this and so much more.

I love you, my little buddy.

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Hops for Hope 17: Final Wrap Up

Even though Hops for Hope 17 ended over three weeks ago, life has been even more chaotic than normal. Whereas our baseline of disorganized chaos is about a category three, the last 21 days or so have been a category five.

The mundane weekly tasks, such as lawn maintenance, have been sorely neglected which my mom is often wont to remind me of at every turn, including in the middle of a text message discussion about what to name my sister’s fish:

Unfortunately, tallying the totals from Hops for Hope 17 was yet another task left undone… until now. 

I am pleased to report that this year we raised … drum roll … $16,915.  That is about $3,000 more than we raised last year, so while I must confess I was a little disappointed in this year’s grand total, we are trending upward. 

And most importantly, we were able to do this while being – I didn’t think this was possible – even more unorganized and fucked up than we were last year.

But we were on the receiving end of a great deal of generosity from many people who volunteered to help us and un-fuck our utter lack of planning and organizarion and even more people who made the time to donate and show up.

Seeing how good people can be is probably my favorite part of putting on this event. And this thing has legs. Hops for Hope 18: watch the fuck out.

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Cougar in Heaven

Dear Allison,

Today you would have been 45 years young. Were you still with us, I would have likely gifted you a cheetah-skinned mini skirt and given you other such cougar-themed paraphernalia. I know I started making those jokes back when you turned 40, about three years before you left us. My apologies but, as you know, being the son of Reuben genetically predisposes me to repeat the same jokes ad nauseum.

Things here in our Earthly realm are crazy as always. When people lose loved ones, it’s popular to say things like “not a day goes by where I don’t think about you,” or something else to that effect.  

My thoughts are all over the place: The latest dick joke… Imagining in vivid detail taking away the oxygen of the latest fat, fucking, lazy, need-to-exit-the-gene-pool sack of shit that parks in the handicapped spot at Kohl’s school… giggling while deciding who will be the lucky next recipient of my “solar eclipse” dick pic …. experiencing truly numbing anxiety worrying about the prospect of horrible things befalling my children and other loved ones.

All this is to say that sometimes I am a fucking mess. And I would be lying if I said that not a day goes by where I don’t think of you. Because, as you can see, I think of really stupid shit a lot. But that doesn’t mean I don’t miss you terribly. 

And I do think about you a lot. We all toasted you at the beach a few weeks ago after we stole a bottle of your favorite red wine from mom and dad who have stockpiled 1,439 cases of it. 

I of course think about you every time I interact with your kids. Ellie is so mature and talented, and she continues to amaze me. (She just got her fucking drivers license by the way!) Last time I saw Tripp, I had kind of an “oh shit” moment after I had an adult conversation with him, at least to the extent that I am capable of having an adult conversation.  They are also both kind souls which, despite their many other notable accomplishments, I know you would be most proud of.

I think about how proud you would be of Amelia and Kohl. Amelia, her resting bitch faces aside, is a truly intelligent, sweet bringer of pure joy.  I am having the time of my life watching her grow up. Kohl continues to grow in his own, miraculous way.  Today, he swatted away a golden retriever that was kissing his face which he has never done before and said “hi” to Sarah more clearly than he ever has. I love those two fuckers on a level I never thought possible.

But I think you know all of these things. 

I have never been religious but my biggest hope is that you now exist on a plane in which you not only know all these things but you know what is in our minds and hearts.

So the next time I feel down, the next time I lay in bed at 4 a.m. with no desire to face the day, I am going to think of you and lean on you. Lift me up as you so often did when you were here.

I love you Eye-shy.  Happy 45th.

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