Who is the man, who shoots the webs right out of his hands?

When I was a kid, maybe 13 or 14, my dad got it in his head that he wanted me and my brother to see Shaft. No, you would not normally confuse my dad with being a fan of Blaxploitation flix. Nor was he particularly keen to let us kids watch the entire movie.

But he was giddy to share with us one of the prime musical pleasures from his early adulthood, the still-amazing theme song and score by Isaac Hayes. So my dad went to Randall’s, rented the movie  (remember VHS?), and let us watch the opening credits. Then he shut it off, figuring correctly that was as much as young teenagers probably needed to see.

Like pay phones and stamped letters, the idea of renting a video cassette just to see a movie clip seems archaic. If YouTube had been around, my dad could have saved $2 and just posted the video to my Facebook. Like so:

Can you dig it?

I thought about this the other day, when I introduced the wonders of YouTube to my own young son. Patrick LOVES the Spider-Man shirt I bought at Old Navy. He saw it in the closet the other day, and I started singing to him the old 60s theme song. But only the part I could remember from the Simpson’s movie.

So together, we both sat down in front of the computer and looked up the “spiderman theme song”.

First hit was a bingo:

This video has been watched 16 million times. Patrick is now personally responsible for 1 million of those views.

Now when I saw the Shaft clip, I was confused, “I guess that was okay.” Only later in life did I realize how awesome Isaac Hayes could be, and it took a bunch of Quentin Tarantino and South Park to get me there.

Patrick has no such ambivalence about Spider-man. And he doesn’t need a cultural introduction to appreciate a costumed dude who swings around the city fighting crime. He’s in love. Every time we watch it, he simply asks, “Again?” So we watch it four or five times at a sitting. I’ve tried to get him into other YouTube videos, including the campy credits for Batman. But he’s not interested in watching other shows or cartoons or animal videos. He just wants Spider-man.

And since rewinding is painless and instant and free, I don’t mind indulging his newest first love.

Computer Love

Patrick loves my computer.

He takes every opportunity to climb up on my chair and bash away at the keyboard.

This morning he even brought his own “starter laptop” out, and placed it on my desk in front of my somewhat more realistic PC.

It was pretty cute.

IMG_0424

You might also guess that Patrick’s at the adorable age where he’s talking and learning new words about every 90 minutes. This is an exciting and head-scratching time for us. Because as wonderful as it is, we can’t always understand what he’s trying to say.

Or worse. We know perfectly well what he’s saying, but he’s trying to say something completely different. Witness his struggles with the word “computer.”

Darnedest things, etc.

This happened a few days ago. Fortunately for me, Jordan has (correctly) assumed that this is an adorable mispronunciation.

Vintage, huh?

Recently, I got a bunch of old photos scanned. Mostly old, yellowing color photos of me and my younger brother taken in the late 1970s. I plan a full blog post of some of the best ones, but for now, I offer this sample:

Slide

That’s me at the top of a brand new Creative Playthings slide.

Today, courtesy of the Daddytypes blog, I came across a web site hawking a vintage 1950s model (not a replica). The price? $1700.

Adorable Modernist "Creative Playthings" Childrens Slide/Fort

Not sure what my parents spent on ours, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t $1700. Even adjusting for inflation, that would have been pretty steep. I’m thinking somewhere between $30 and $50 bucks. This page from the 1979 Sears Wishbook backs me up with a similar model priced at $29.95.

SearsWishbook.1979C.P578

Ah, nostalgia.

I can only afford the pictures.

Some insight into Chinese motherhood…

CAU cover

…And why so many Asian-American kids succeed so spectacularly relative to their western peers. The reason according to Amy Chua (a Yale law professor and certified Chinese mom) is a fundamental schism in how parents approach their kids’ self esteem:

What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you’re good at it. To get good at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences. This often requires fortitude on the part of the parents because the child will resist; things are always hardest at the beginning, which is where Western parents tend to give up. But if done properly, the Chinese strategy produces a virtuous circle. Tenacious practice, practice, practice is crucial for excellence; rote repetition is underrated in America. Once a child starts to excel at something—whether it’s math, piano, pitching or ballet—he or she gets praise, admiration and satisfaction. This builds confidence and makes the once not-fun activity fun. This in turn makes it easier for the parent to get the child to work even more.

But this, as Chua makes clear, isn’t something you can bottle and sell to American parents, because you’d have to overcome two competing paradigms:

  1. Parents are wary of overly criticizing their kids or working them to death. American parents want well-rounded kids who “do their best.”
  2. Not only does Chua’s “Chinese” method require their kids to work hard; the parents have to work hard, too. Because forcing your kid to study hard and practice piano is an exhausting commitment most parents aren’t willing to make.

There’s a caveat to that last bit that Chua elides. Many American parents are willing to drive their kids hard on one hobby or one goal. But it’s usually sports.

Unlike Chua, I’m not going to suggest her method of parenting is superior. But if you’ve ever wanted your kid to be the valedictorian, and a piano prodigy, and a law professor, you probably should read this article and take it to heart.  Even if you’re planning on coaching your kid to baseball or volleyball excess/success, it’s a good read for a different take on parenting.

Happy Birthday Patrick (and Jordan)

It was one year ago today that Patrick was born. He’s not a baby anymore. He’s a little dude. A toddler. He’s kicking a ball. Learning how to walk the stairs at school. Singing along with daddy’s new record. Sweeping the floor with various brooms.

I can’t even tell you how we got from this…

…to this.

pizza (3)

Or from brown to blond.

Or from tiny to tall.

But I can show you.

If you’re reading this, please know how thankful we are that you’re a part of our lives and part of Patrick’s.

To our friends, thanks for excusing our endless fascination with, and our blabbering on about, our awesome kid. For you pals who have recently had your own kids, we’re pleased that you’re just as excited and insufferable as we are.

To our family, who are new grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, and uncles, you have been instrumental in making year one a pretty incredible experience. A lot of times, and especially at 3 in the morning, we’ve wished you were here to share this magic with us.  As it is, you’ve given us all kinds of support, with your time, your money, your hugs, your being there. We’ll take you any time of day or year, when you can spare a moment and  hang out with this kid.

He’s sleeping through the night now. He’s dancing to the Stones. He can’t get enough of hanging upside down. His hair is getting HUGE. Patrick is starting to happen.

Splash Down

We took Patrick to the Splash Park earlier today. Patrick goes there all the time with his daycare (it’s on the same campus). Last Saturday was the first time we’d taken him ourselves. But we forgot our camera last weekend. This time, Jordan remembered.

As always, the full set is available on Flickr.

We took Patrick to the JCC splash park. He's been there before many times, but this time we brought our camera.

We took Patrick to the JCC splash park. He's been there before many times, but this time we brought our camera.

We took Patrick to the JCC splash park. He's been there before many times, but this time we brought our camera.

We took Patrick to the JCC splash park. He's been there before many times, but this time we brought our camera.

Patrick at Nine Months

Patrick turned three-quarters of a year this week, so we figured it was time for an update. First, I’ll share some stats: Patrick is officially 31.5” long, which is really tall. Both Jordan and our doctor suspect he’s actually a little shorter than that. Either way, he’s north of the 95% range for height. He’s not getting huge, though. He’s 21.2 lbs, which places him squarely in the 50-75% range. Still very healthy, but his growth has slowed a bit. We’ve received instructions to fatten him up a bit.

Second, we’re proud to note that Patrick is now walking! He still can’t stand up without using a wall or a chair or a dog, but once he’s up he can walk all over the place. Here are a few videos that show of his skills. We took these a week or so ago. He’s improved even more since then.

Yes, this is quite on the early side. But we know better than to get too excited about our little genius.