October 20, 2011

Brady and the Excellent, Awesome, Super Great, Very Cool Day

Brady is the kind of kid who really thrives on one-on-one attention. Almost anytime we're hanging out at home, he'll usually ask, "Daddy do you want to play with me?" The answer, of course, is "Yes!", but with two other kids and various other responsibilities, "can" and "want to" don't always coincide, so he just has to entertain himself a good deal of the time. As my old buddy Frankie Sinatra used to say, that's life.

So it was with great anticipation that Brady woke up yesterday morning, an epic day of father-son fun ahead of him. My wife is a teacher and had to be at work all day, and the younger kids were at day care, but Brady didn't have school, so I took a day off  to spend with him. In the days leading up to it, he asked me at least a dozen times what we were going to do on our "special day". I kept some of it a secret, but gave him just enough for him to get really pumped. And boy, was he pumped.

We started the day by hitting McDonald's for some breakfast burritos, which are in Brady's top five list of things that are truly awesome. He told me he would have three but that I could only have one. I told him I would get pretty hungry with only one of those little things, but he said I could have a banana if I was still hungry. I'm glad to see our attempts at getting him to eat healthier food are rubbing off.

Fortified with bananas and burritos, we set sail for Fleet Farm, which I affectionately call the Man Mall. I got my hunting license and some other things we needed for the house, and we picked up a new winter jacket for Brady since he grows like a weed and the one we had seems to have shrunk three sizes since last winter. Fleet Farm has an awesome toy department during the holiday season which is conveniently located in the exact center of the store, so you can't go shopping without walking through it or taking a three mile detour to go around it. It's huge, sparkly, and has a siren song that calls to any kid who walks through the doors. Brady heard that song loud and clear, and I didn't mind because I love cool toys as much as the next guy. Finally, I tore myself...er, Brady away from the toy guns by telling him that Christmas is coming soon and that he could add the things he wants to his Christmas list. He got a smug look on his face, probably thinking about Santa huffing and puffing from trying to lug around such a full sack of toys. Life is so simple when you're five.

With a last wistful look at the tool set I want, we hit the checkout line and our day began in earnest. On the way to the museum of natural history in Minneapolis, we talked about convertibles and socks. We saw a convertible which, like all convertibles, looked a little funny with its top up, and once Brady learned what it was, he pretended that we were in a convertible and kept telling me how cold he was with the top down. Regarding the socks, he recently learned that he wears a size M for medium. He told me that I wear size E for enormous and that when he grows up, he will wear size H for huge. Hard to argue with that. He's a big boy.

Naturally, the museum turned out to be paradise for taxidermists and curious five-year-olds. Imagine being three and a half feet tall and looking up at a bull moose that weighed over half a ton back when he was still grazing on real grass and has a shoulder height about as tall as your daddy. Brady was in awe. He did a little bird-watching, and the birds sat perfectly still.

Hi favorite part of the museum, of course, was the touch and see room, where you can play with antlers, snakes, and dinosaur bones. He thought this was pretty funny:

Then he stuck his head into a cool little biosphere. When he got out, I told that he'd probably have corn growing out of his ears pretty soon, which got me a "You're crazy, dad." look.

Then, after listening to the ocean in some seashells for a while, he decided he was now an expert on everything he'd seen and that he was ready to go. On the way out, he took a brief ride on the back of a wolf that was stalking a moose. He told me I should get up on the moose's back, but that looked painful from where I was standing, so we headed for the car.

He was pretty quiet on the ride back. I commented that it was kind of a gray day, and he said, "Yeah, it's a down in the blues kind of day." Then Maroon 5 came on the radio with "Moves Like Jagger" and he sang right along, only in his version, the chorus goes "...I got to mooove my jacket, I got to mooove my jacket, I got to moo-oo-oo-oo-oove my jacket." I like a good mondegreen (Google it), and his was the best one I'd heard in a while. He laughed at the song's funny lyrics. No down in the blues for that guy.

We also talked about dreams. His dreams right now are to go deer hunting with a Tommy gun (I didn't have the heart to tell him that isn't exactly legal) and to work where I work when he grows up. "Right next to you, daddy.", he said. I love that kid.

With our bananas and burritos wearing off, we decided to demolish the lunch buffet at a pizza place. And demolish it we did. When I returned from a trip to the buffet for a pizza refill, a glass of Sprite had appeared on our table. "I ordered it for you!", he said, before drinking half of it himself. We were headed for a movie next, so I told him that if he drank too much, he would have to go potty right in the middle of the movie. He just waved me off.

Finally, we went to see The Lion King in 3D, which was super cool. But before the movie, we played Mario Kart in the arcade. This game is not about winning the race, it's about knocking your opponent silly with turtle shells.

Brady has a habit of using his outside voice to ask questions about movies. It's loud in those theaters, so naturally, he has to make himself heard. We got a crusty look from a mom who was there with her three perfectly-behaved kids, and I smiled back, secure in the knowledge that my kid was WAY more fun than her three put together. And sure enough, just as the sun was rising over the Savannah and the chorus of voices began to swell to start the opening sequence of The Lion King, Brady had to go potty. We missed Simba being born, which prompted more questions later.

What a day. We ate junk food, shopped for manly things and toys, checked out a bunch of dead animals, ate more junk food, played video games, and got to wear really cool glasses to a movie. For a day, we were in a constant state of hakuna matata.

And we talked. We were just together, and when the day was over, he was tired but very pleased with our adventures. I told him that I love to hang out with him and he just gave me a big hug. Time spent is what makes Brady's heart thrive, and I could tell he was flying high. I remember the times when my dad spent a morning's worth of father-son time with just me when I was Brady's age, and how important I felt, how cool it was to eat doughnuts for breakfast, to listen to him give me advice and teach me things about the world, or just talk about nothing in particular. I want to carry on the tradition with my kids, to show them how precious they are to me.

This is the junk food version of the Circle of Life. And it is good.

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