Over the weekend I took Jack and Adam to the first of literally 1,000 birthday parties Jack will be attending over the next 30 days. Thankfully we added the Extended Birthday Party Insurance to our homeowner’s coverage last year to protect against this type of invitational landslide. Granted you have to purchase gifts exclusively from in-network toy stores and sure the list of available items bears an unsettling resemblance to the list of Fisher Price toys recalled earlier this year for high lead paint levels, but with only a $250 deductible and a cost-effective $10 per present average the coverage basically pays for itself after first couple dozen parties.
A few minutes before we arrived fashionably, I mean embarrassingly, late to the party I glanced in the rearview mirror into the backseat and saw that Adam had dozed off. Unfortunately, the only way to keep Adam napping after he falls asleep in the car is either the kid-tested mother-approved chloroform binky technique or to accelerate the car’s speed to over 50 mph and then wait for Keanu Reeves to arrive. Knowing full well that I would never be able to execute the triple reverse inverted car seat to stroller transfer maneuver that carries with it a 9.3 degree of difficulty I mumbled my typical response to situations like this, “Damn, we’re in a tight spot.”
From the backseat I heard Jack laugh then say, “Damn, we’re in a tight spot.” Normally he’ll clean it up by saying “Darn, we’re in a tight spot” so even though I was a little surprised that he chose to say it the way he did I laughed too and chose not to draw attention to his word choice.
After a moment he asked me, “Daddy, is damn a bad word?”
“Well, it’s not the best word in the world Jack” I told him.
“What is the best word in the world Daddy?”
The best word in the world? This honestly wasn’t a follow-up question I had prepared for, but you know, that old Grinch is so smart and so slick he thought up an answer, and he thought it up quick! “There are actually TWO best words in the world.” I said as I set myself up to deliver the perfect answer that would solidify my place in the Pantheon of Fatherhood as the Greatest Dad who has ever lived.
From this moment forward any time I saw another father wearing a “Greatest Dad in the World” shirt I would be justified in ripping it off his back. From this moment forward any time I saw another father drinking from a “Number #1 Dad” coffee mug I would be warranted in smacking it out of his hand. From this moment forward any time I saw another father sporting a “Father of the Year” baseball cap it would acceptable for me to knock it off his head.
I took a deep breath a readied myself to completely blow Jack’s mind by saying, “There are actually TWO best words in the world and they are Jack and Adam.” But before I could say a word he questioned nonchalantly, “Are they Please and Thank You?”
My sons please and thank you
I was speechless. It wasn’t just that his answer was better than mine even though I was the one who had framed the question, it was that he might actually be right. How much better a place would the world be if more people said Please and Thank You; if people were just polite and appreciative to one another? “You’re right Jack. Please and Thank you ARE the two best words in the world.” I confirmed as we pulled up to his friend’s house where the party was already in full swing.
Excitedly, Jack unbuckled his seatbelt and waited for me to open the door for him. “Please don’t wake your brother up.” I whispered back to him as I stepped from the car. As I opened his door he looked up me, “Thank you for bringing me to Timmy’s party Daddy.” And with that he jumped from the car and joined his friends in the streamer-draped backyard.
I watched him for a minute then took the stroller from the trunk and walked around to Adam’s side of the car. While attempting the car seat to stroller transfer maneuver I thought as I always do, “Please don’t wake up. Please don’t wake up. Please don’t wake up. Please don’t wake up. Please don’t wake up. Please don’t wake up” and this time when I placed him gently in the stroller he miraculously remained asleep.
Raising my eyes skyward I whispered, “Thank you.”