“Dad, do you love your dad?”
Happy thoughts of Big Tom filled my soul. It’s been over 10 years since he passed away. He’s dearly missed.
“Yes,” I said. “Lots and lots.”
Aidan didn’t hesitate with his response to me.
“I love you lots and lots.”
We’re 1,500 miles away from each other, but I’m thinking of the “lots and lots” of love I have for Aidan. Today is his fifth birthday. Even after I sang to him on the phone at 8 a.m. this morning, he reminded me of that, excitedly saying, “I’m the birthday boy!” A cartoon was on in the background, so he kept this particular phone call short. Priorities, right?
I shared the sweet, sentimental car conversation because I’m in that kind of a mood. This happens when you travel a lot and can’t be with your loved ones on their big days.
I felt bad that I was in Atlanta when my oldest son, Ethan, lost his first tooth in Utah. I was in Oklahoma City last fall when my daughter turned seven, at EnergySolutions Arena for a Jazz home game during her first dance recital. I got schmaltzy in November when my baby boy had his first birthday while I was in Chicago. Aidan once called me crying while I was about to fly to Florida and, with his voice breaking, softly said, “I was going to ask you to come back home.”
That won’t happen for another week. The Jazz are in their longest road trip in 11 years, with stops in Cleveland, Indianapolis (where I am now), Milwaukee, Washington D.C., New York City and Philadelphia. Hi, Polar Vortex, my name is Jody.
My wife and I are hoping to pull off a birthday video chat later today, which will be fun. In the meantime, while I’m in reminiscing mode, I wanted to share a few classic Aidan quotes that give a glimpse into why this hilarious kid with a wit as wild as his long, curly blonde hair keeps our family laughing.
• Speaking of hair, Aidan looks like he could be a snowboarder. Or a homeless vagabond. He’s wanted to keep it long — and, honestly, his curly mop is all sorts of awesome — but he also feels a bit self-conscious about the color being different than the rest of the family’s hair.
Two weeks ago, he was a bit flummoxed by his hair situation. This was evident when he rattled off these questions in one breath:
“Dad, can you buy me a hair wig like your hair?”
“Is my hair my brain?”
“Why did you pick my hair color? I want your hair color.”
Little does Aider Tater know, but as the years pass, my dark hair will continue to lighten (in color and thickness) and his will keep getting darker. And one day, I might be asking him to help me get a hair wig.
• If you’ve been within three time zones of Aidan, you realize this spunky firecracker has two volumes: LOUDER and LOUDEST!!! I’m pretty sure he gave himself a raspy voice for life by the screaming he did as an infant. Or maybe it was his two-packs-a-day habit. Anyway, he recently cracked me up when he yelled (or was he whispering?): “DAAAAD!!! My throat hurts from all of the screaming.”
• Aidan is a handsome devil, of course. Don’t tell him, though. He wants to be known as “Awesome, not handsome.” And don’t even try to call him cute, which reminds me of how he was getting ready for church one Sunday morning and looked sharp in a hand-me-down suit and tie, which, of course, he absolutely hated.
“I want you to cover my monkey suit,” he said while trying to put on clothes on top of his great-looking outfit. “I don’t want anyone to see it.”
Then again: “All I want is to be naked with underwear.”
I hear ya kid.
• Not sure whether it’s because his older sister banned boys (except for me and Baby Jack) from her room, but Aidan went through a phase as a 4-year-old when he didn’t like people of the female persuasion. He doesn’t get this from his dad.
To wit, Aidan once looked at a cute picture of 7-year-old Sydney and groaned, “I HATE that picture!” And I really felt bad for Heather (my wife/his mom) because he had a tendency to be mean and disrespectful. Why? Well, she’s not a guy. Even worse: She’s not me, who is a man, by the way.
That led to this short conversation a couple months ago:
Me: “Can you be nice to Mommy?”
Aidan: “I just hate girls.” (Imagine him pronouncing girls “guh-ulls” and it’s even funnier.)
“But she’s a special girl.”
“She’s an old girl.”
I robbed the cradle — and certainly know better — so I’m not about to call his Mom an old girl. On a recent road trip, a breakthrough happened in the Gender War. I was getting ready to watch a Jazz game in Portland when Heather sent me this text:
“Aidan just told me he changed his mind and he doesn’t hate me anymore. And his bad thoughts went away.”
I wrote back that it made me really happy. Heather admitted she got “a little teary.” Of course she did! If there’s one thing I’ve learned through the years it’s that old girls love it when boys say nice things to them.
For a while, Aidan would actually get mad when we laughed at his jokes. He’d be the grumpiest stand-up comedian ever. He’s funny, so the audience would be rolling in the aisle and then he’d throw a fit (a funny fit accidentally) because the audience was laughing, which would cause an endless cycle of hilarity between Aidan and the audience.
That said, here are some more Aidanisms that are worth repeating:
• We once drove past someone cooking something on their backyard grill. As we passed through the heavenly smell, 3-year-old Aidan, our backseat BBQ connoisseur, sounded like he’d been on a long juice fast: “IIIIII. SMELLL. MEAT! I. WANNNT. MEEEEEAT!!!” (Truth be told, I was the one who really wanted meat because I’d just started a juice fast.)
• Around Halloween, I jokingly called our baby “Jack O’Lantern.” To which Aidan responed, “We should take him and carve him.” (For the record, we didn’t.)
• Apologies for getting this song stuck in your head again (assuming it ever left), but last fall I was being silly and asked our 1-year-old, “Jack, what does a fox say?”
Aidan chimed in. “Foxes don’t say anything. They just stay quiet.” Jacha-chacha-chacha-chow that!
• Our kids accidentally set off the emergency exit alarm at IKEA during that disaster of a shopping excursion. While the children covered their ears — and Dad distanced himself from this rowdy crew — Aidan yelled out: “Somebody cover my eyes!”
• Heather and I were doing something that rarely happens a few months ago. Yes, we were going on a date. This was quite disturbing to Aidan.
“I don’t want you to go on a date!” he bellowed.
He then started crying.
“Do you know what a date is?” I asked him.
His mom feels his pain.
Aidan also gets upset when I go to work. Almost every time I’m getting ready to leave for a Jazz practice or game, he’ll groan, slump his shoulders, sigh and exclaim, “AGAIN!?! Why do you have to work?” (Mostly because jodygenessy.com hasn’t taken off yet.)
• And how about this “Like father, like son” statement he made not too long ago?
“I need to eat all of the food in the world,” Aidan said. “Then I’ll be an adult.”
• Finally, it’s been a thrill and honor to watch this bright kid grow up and learn new things. He recently made a startling discovery worthy of documentation.
“They’re called Fruit Loops!? I thought they were called Fruit Lips!”
Ha! Love that kid.
Lots and lots.
So much, in fact, that I didn’t get mad — or flush — when this happened: