Saturday, June 14, 2014

Dad: Best Name Ever

     I've been called a lot of things, especially growing up with the last name "Couch." Shane Sofa, Shane Loveseat, Armchair, Hide-a-bed... I've heard them all. And "Shane" rhymes with approximately five thousand, four hundred and seventy three other words in the English language. Someone from my childhood used to chant, "Shane McBain, sleeps in the rain, and is a pain, and has no brain." Yeah, real mature, Gramma. Yet, the best way I've ever been addressed is "Dad."
     I've always wanted to be a father. I became an uncle at the age of 7 so I pretty much grew up with nieces and nephews coming into my life ever since then. I loved being an uncle, so I knew I would love being a dad when my time came. I was right.
     When my kids were little, it was a gift to me to walk in the door after being at the office and hearing their little voices cry out with genuine excitement, "Daddy!"as they rushed me for hugs.
     One thing I always looked forward to after becoming a parent was having a conversation with my kids. I wanted to be able to banter with them. I loved the baby years, but I longed for somewhat intelligent discussions. Some of my favorite times were spent walking my firstborn to kindergarten and chatting with her along the way, then picking her up from school and hearing about her day. On one walk home, Julia said, "Dad..." (there's that name), "... I'm writing a story in class. Do you know what the title is?" My guess was, "'My Dad's the Greatest Dad in the Whole World'?" "'The Mermaid With Magical Powers.'" "Oh." (I was close).
     I still can't believe I've been blessed with three exceptional children. Sometimes they call for me and say, "Dad?" In that moment, silently and to myself, I relish the fact that I am their dad, that my name is "Dad."
     All that being said, Father's Day is my favorite date on the calendar, not necessarily for the gifts and the attention, though that is enjoyed and greatly appreciated. I love the day simply because I have been lucky enough to be a dad. It has been my privilege and honor to change messy diapers, feed, burp, and receive spit up, sit up late at night during sickness, rush to the emergency room, walk to school, go on field trips, attend talent shows, cheer at ball games, pray with and teach Scriptures to, worry about, yell at, cry over, laugh with, miss intensely during travel, apologize to, help with homework and projects, volunteer in classrooms, and all because I have the name of "Dad." For all that, I bless the day that Julia, my "Baby Girl," Ella, my "Sister," and Max, my "Buddy Boy," came into my life and turned my world upside down in the best possible way.
     So this Father's Day, I am going to revel in my moniker... "Dad," because I got to be one. Lucky and blessed me.
     (For another time, a post about growing up with the first name "Tracy.")


Monday, June 2, 2014

Not a Sunshine Day

     Someone I grew up with passed away today. She has always been there as long as I can remember. I'd come home after school and spend an hour with her each weekday. She was a big part of my childhood. Her name was Ann, but most people knew her as "Alice." Alice Nelson, live-in housekeeper, girlfriend to Sam, surrogate parent to the Brady 6, friend to all.
     I truly was sad to learn that Ann B. Davis had died. The Brady Bunch was a show that helped me escape the chaotic and tumultuous 70's, and I'm not just talking about the era. The decade was bad enough culturally speaking, the fashion, the music... Come on, "A Horse With No Name"? I fail to see the brilliance of that two-note versed song. And "Afternoon Delight"? Wait, I kind of like that one, but for the harmonies only. More specifically, I look back on that time span while I lived on Reimche (Rem-key) Drive and peeking through the windows of my mind... let's just say it wasn't very Brady-like.
     So, those opening notes to that classic theme song would take me away to a two-storied house with an astroturf lawn, and let me forget for a while that there was unscripted reality swirling around me. The nine people living in that home without a toilet genuinely cared for each other (though I've noticed over my 40 years of watching reruns and dvd's that no one on that show ever uttered the words "I love you" to another family member, so I guess they're not perfect). They pulled together when bullies would tease little girls with lisps. They tried to solve each other's problems like performing on an amateur hour on TV to pay for an over-priced anniversary present (those kids always ended up on TV somehow!). They covered for each other by hiding goats in the attic. Squabbles over missing Kitty Carry-All dolls always turned into understanding. Accidents that caused orange hair were eventually forgiven. They took in wayward cousins even at the expense of killing their show.
     It's a show, I know. With writers and actors and sets. None of it was real. But for this elementary aged kid, it was a great place to imagine living. And what's wrong with a little escapism?  And what's wrong with still watching episodes 40 years later? It is not that I need to escape to Clinton Way with a dropped "y"at this stage in life, but it helps to know that I had the Brady's to tune in to when memories of childhood can be a little sad.
     So, so long Ann B.. You were a part of something meaningful though it may have seemed mundane at the time. Thank you for being America's housekeeper. Nobody makes pork chops and applesauce like you.