A quick plug:
A couple weeks ago, I got an email asking if I was interested in reviewing men’s products on my blog, and a few days later, sample products arrived at my front door.
I felt like I was getting the VIP treatment or, more likely, I’m still a newbie when it comes to online shopping–although I read the books the Wife buys on Amazon faster than she does.
Considering that I’ve used soap as shaving cream for years, I figured this was chance to step up my personal grooming in exchange for giving my honest opinion.
The picture at the top of the post is the result of my last shave—notice the gash on the right side of my chin–prior to using MenEssential LEA classic shaving cream.
Needless to say, LEA Classic shaving cream has provided a cleaner, cut-free shave with the added bonus on a tingly sensation and minty smell.
It is much better than my liquid soap shaves and I actually now look forward to shaving in the morning.
I also have been using Elvado after shave balm which has a soothing lotion texture and minty smell.
The last time I used after shave was as a teenager, and it wasn’t a good experience on my sensitive skin.
So I will soon be reordering with MenEssential and look forward to receiving their product at my door step.
Check out their wide range of men’s grooming products on their website and don’t leave your house to shop.
The most fun game of soccer I’ve ever played in my life came after I gave a suggestion to one of D’s soccer teachers.
D goes to “Break it Down” Total Sport every Saturday morning where he’s learned how to play basketball, baseball and now soccer.
My suggestion was about how to spread out the players on the field to prevent kids from clumping together in one big mass or chasing one kid kicking the ball.
You know what I am saying. Really, though, I was lobbying, for a parent vs. kids game. That’s how D’s teacher interpreted my comment.
I advocated for a parent vs. kids game at the end of the baseball class, and it was absolutely wonderful playing against the kids.
D’s teacher suggested I form the parents together into a team for a scrimmage. Eleven parents took to the field and two moms said they’d never played soccer.
“Doesn’t matter,” I said. “Just kick the ball when it comes to you.”
Perfect. That’s how it felt it felt on the field with the kids and parents who, moments earlier, had been sitting mostly separately in lawn chairs.
When I kicked the ball back to our goalie (as I’d seen U.S. women’s soccer players do in the World Cup), the ball rolled to a stop right in front of her feet and she yelled out, “What do I do with the ball?”
“We need a parenting class,” I heard one of the teachers say.
I was running all over the field to model enthusiasm, so I told myself. Really I was having fun, and that’s what I hope I was showing D: sports is fun.
The Wife will say the class is about D learning how to play soccer. Not me becoming the center of attention by running all over the field.
I felt the kids’ effort level picked up substantially playing against the parents. This was evident in four kids and me chasing the ball way beyond the goal.
D ran up to me in the middle of the scrimmage and grabbed onto my t-shirt. We embraced in a hug for a few seconds before I chased after the ball.
But I will remember this moment. I was upset at first that he wasn’t focused more on the game. Then I realized he was simply expressing joy and love.
“We’re still going to be friends,” a girl said to her mom after the kids won the game.
That was a perfect ending to the most fun soccer game I’ve ever played.
But as we drove home I couldn’t quite figure out exactly what was missing. It wasn’t that the raft wasn’t drifting down the Mississippi river like Huck Finn.
That’s what the Wife thought. And this was partially true since floating in a muddy pond lacked the drama of helping a slave escape.
But it was something else. Part of it lay in the fact that D was more excited singing a Minion song on the way home. I admit that bothered me a bit.
Later that night, while I was tucking D into his bed and snuggling with him, I asked if he’d been afraid going down the Mud Slide.
It took two trips for him to get the courage to go down and the second time he inched his way down without putting his legs out in from of him.
I thought he’d been afraid of sliding fast down the tarp into the water. But it wasn’t the steep slide. “I didn’t want to get my butt wet,” he told me.
This is what was missing…me understanding my son. D has always been an adrenaline junkie, but is timed when it comes to water (and still doesn’t know how to swim at seven).
Probably due to a comment I made (“If you want to be in the Little Rascal’s club, you have to get muddy”), D felt there was something missing too.
“I was upset that the Little Rascals were not at the clubhouse,” he said. “I thought they would be there.”
I laughed and he is right.
The Little Rascals can be more exciting than real life. Hammering three nails into a board without it being suddenly turned into a clubhouse is real life.
The Little Rascals is shot and edited to dramatize the funniest moments of a gang of mischievous boys, and part of their allure is his mom won’t let him watch it.
So I told him a story in bed about Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, and Becky Watson. It was faithful to the story and part tall tale told in a dramatic voice.
And I also resolved to sign him up for an acting class tomorrow since pretending can often be more exciting than real life.
This was the calm before the proverbial storm. D and I went for lunch and an ice-cream came with his meal.
I knew he gluten-free and dairy-free, and I’d agreed not to buy him Chocolate Lava Cake or an Ice Cream Sundae.
I knew the Wife would get very upset if she found out.
And yet I let him have the ice-cream, and he devoured it, getting chocolate stains in his t-shirt…
D and I were taking a hike at Wilderness Park when he stunned me with a existential question.
“Dad, when I am an adult, will you be in heaven?”
Now, when I was a kid, I don’t think I asked questions like these. Maybe, if I was lucky, one or two in all eighteen years of my childhood.
I was a simple kid. I just assumed my mom and dad would be around as adults. And Heaven was like a planet in the solar system.
Over the course of the next few days, I considered how there were several ways (a few, actually) that I could have answered his question.
The truth is, only God knows the beginning and end of every person’s life. He has an appointed time, I believe, for every person’s birth and death.
There’s a scripture to support this…Psalm 139.
All the days ordained for me
Were written in your book
Before one of them came to be.
When I told the Wife about D’s question, she thought I should have gone with this route, that only God knows when a person goes to Heaven.
However, I think D was looking for something other than a theologically correct response. That wasn’t why he asked the question.
So my immediate response was “yes, I will be here when you’re an adult” as if it were guaranteed, like a warranty for a product.
I could sense that he wanted emotional assurance…that I would be part of his adult life…and this was his reason for his question.
I want him to feel secure about the future, and as a seven-year-old, I don’t want him worrying about his life as an adult.
Perhaps unrelated, or not…D has been listening Pixar’s “Lava” Song every day on You Tube. It’s from a short film at the beginning of “Inside Out.”
Strangely, I think the film inspired his question. In the film, a man volcano sings a love song, hoping to find his true love.
The man volcano becomes shriveled up and grey, and as he is about to go under the water, his desire for love is unfulfilled…
When a lady volcano, who has been listening to his song for years, explodes up from the ocean right in front of him…
And then he goes under water and hears her sing his song and shoots back up next to her, finding his true love.
I think the chorus in particular relates to D’s question:
I have a dream
I hope it will come true
You are here with me.
And I am here with you.
I wish that earth, sea, and sky up above
Will send me someone to lava.
And the bridge too:
I have a dream I hope it would come true
That you will grow old with me, an I grow old with you.
I could be wrong. But I think this song (since he listens to it repeatedly) got him thinking about my mortality.
I know he wants me to be there…just like the volcanos sang.
This is one of those activities D and I hurried to complete before his mom came home.
It’s not that she would have objected to D and I making Chocolate Chip Cookies (as long as they were gluten-free).
Rather, she would have asked a zillion questions.
“Do you know what your doing?”
“Do you have all the ingredients?”
“What bowl are you going to use?”
And made a zillion comments.
So we did it my way. Forget about the vanilla extract, cracking the egg, mashing the butter and dough, that was the same as his mom’s way.
The fun came with the dough. It was dry and stirring was ineffective. I began mixing it with my hands (which, in case the Wife is reading this, were washed) and licking my fingers.
D noticed me sticking my hands into the dough and licking my fingers. So he followed my example and pulled out a big ball of dough.
“Hey, that’s too much–just a little.”
I could hear the Wife’s voice in my head.
So I made sure (as I would have anyways) he ate teaspoon-size scoops.
My only regret is, when the cookies cooled down, I cleaned the Fridge instead of eating cookies with D.
Maybe it didn’t matter to him, or maybe it did…but I wish I would have eaten cookies with my son.
The Fridge was a mess, but it could wait.
The Wife didn’t make any comments when she returned. She didn’t object and asked only a few questions.
The only thing she really wanted to know was, “Did the box say gluten-free?”
I thought she would check the box trash can. But, as far as I know, she didn’t.
Tomorrow, it’s gluten-free brownies.
You have to see an amusement park through a kid’s eyes.
You just have to.
It’s the only way to do it.
No adding up the cost of the day.
No thinking about $4.99 for a small bag of chocolate golden coins.
Yummies, he called them.
$14.99 for cheeseburger, fries, and coke.
No calculating the number of rides you’ve been on in the first hour.
This was my desire–I wanted to see Knott’s Berry Farm through a kid’s eyes–but I mostly failed miserably. However, there were moments when I succeeded.
For example, the Calico Mine Ride.
“Hey, this is like the tunnel in Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland,” I tell D as we careen through a dark mining tunnel.
“Where are the fireflies?” he asks.
His eyes grew big at the sight of mummy miners. They show fear at the spooky music. And mine did, too. From reflecting his eyes.
But, rather than see Knott’s through a kid’s eyes, I mostly felt preoccupied by constantly monitoring D’s behavior the rest of the day.
Our goal was for D to stay in a calm, regulated state. Sure, we wanted D to enjoy Knott’s and have fun, but by keeping his body regulated.
That was the Wife’s primary objective, and if we were all to have fun, it had to be mine too. So it was.
The Wife frantically asked me three times at lunch, “What are we going to do if D has a meltdown? What…ARE.. WE… GOING …TO … DO?”
She felt like the panicky character from Sesame Street named Telly. Needless to say, my approach would have been more relaxed and carefree
Yes, our son needs order and structure, just with some freedom mixed too. He also needs to feel his parents enjoy being with him.
Nevertheless, our first trip here, despite the distractions of candy stores and temptations to run, was an unquestioned success.
D was compliant and regulated. The Wife was firm but flexible, even loosening up on the holding a parent’s hand rule.
Ok. The Wife will say I got huffy a few times (and she’s right) and held my hand up (a few times) when she told me something.
But that was only because I wanted to enjoy the park without thinking about D’s behavior every five seconds or so. I know, she will say, I am a parent.
I was on the verge of letting go of my beef when D and I were suspended atop the Ferris Wheel.
They were loading new riders one bucket at a time and D and we were stationed in the top position.
D and I were screaming, pretending to be freaked out when I got a text from the Wife: “His feet should not be dangling over the side.”
But I know the day wasn’t about me. It us about the Wife and I being united and having fun together as a family.
On these criteria, I know our trip was a success. The Wife and I even discussed getting season passes.
D stood at the mic to deliver his big line.
He bucked his leg once like a horse in a rodeo so excited was he standing behind a girl and waiting for her to say her line.
He was that excited.
His grandmother missed his leg kick once up in the air, but his mom confirmed that yes he chomping at the bit.
In a novel, they call this part of the story the climax, the part when something must die so that something new can be born.
When it was his turn, he touched the mic with his hand, head slightly bowed. A sea of faces was staring back at him.
Then he said: “What are you looking for Sweet Thing?”
The audience and I erupted in laughter, my head jolted backwards, and D had made his stage debut in “Kids in Candyland.”
It was the end of his two weeks at Camp Curtain Call, and he’d done what protagonists should do, to accept the call of action.
He’d sang and danced, following the sequences of dance movements, performing with a huge smile during the entire performance.
There was fear in the beginning. He stood frozen as everyone else danced. Perhaps feeling embarrassed by the audience.
He may have had difficulty dancing while scanning the audience for his parents. But he didn’t miss a beat from there.
I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. He was beaming and full of joy, and so was I in the back row of the theatre.
He’d talked about wanting to take an acting class, and after much improvising in the living room, he was now on stage performing.
I will always remember his look of joy. He knew. He knew he’d accomplished something big. He was living his dream.
It wasn’t easy–he rehearsed probably too many times to count. But he’d done it.
He was part of an ensemble of sixty kids and fifteen kids the Jolly Rancher group. Dancing and singing and beaming and radiating joy.
I was so proud.