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Monday, March 11, 2013

Raising Dad

As I look at Parker Pearson and prepare for the (approximately) 5000th thing I would have considered lame before she entered my life I realize more and more just how lame I was until she came along. Exactly four years ago today I began the process of getting a clue.

Our first father-daughter activity was pretty one-sided. As my wife needed to get some treatment after giving birth I had about four hours of wondering, "What exactly do I do with this five and a half pound thing that the nurse handed me?"  Of course, I did what I would be doing anyway.

I watched "Cash Cab", with my newborn daughter.

It is hard to sum up exactly how she has changed how I look at things. An example is happening right now. As I type this, she is asking me if she can press buttons on the computer and now is actually reaching and trying to type the letter "P" because P is for Parker. If anyone else did that I would think, "What a jerk!" (Or some slightly rougher language.)

With Parker, it simply means I will take about five minutes and let her type for a minute and then get back to it. Oddly, I will remember the five minutes of teaching her how to find the letters more than I will remember writing this.

Now, I know that every Dad thinks his kid is different than every other kid in the world. As I would hear people tell stories about how advanced Little Billy and Brilliant Belinda are I would roll my eyes. Now, I just want to try and tell the story of why she is different and is the ultimate Life Force in our world.

The fact that my wife Amy and I read her the same two stories before bed every night may not be totally different. Parker usually changes this up after a month. For instance, I read "Officer Buckle and Gloria" throughout February before Parker transitioned me into reading "It's Silly Time" for the next few weeks. Amy has moved on from a month of "Elmo's Book of Colors" (or something along those lines) to "Who Hid Inside a Horse".

We then sing a duet of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and "Ten in the Bed" and give hugs. None of this sounds out of the ordinary but that is just the beginning of the 'Nigh-Nigh' Process.

She hugs us and says Good Night and then the magic begins.

When the door closes, she tells us each Good Night again at least six times and then gives us our instructions for the morning.

Please remember that this comes through the door and all in one breath:  "I'm not gonna cry tonight Mommy. Mommy? You stay in your bed and rest and Daddy you get me my chocalate surprise, no wait, we are all out of chocalate surprises so you get me a different surprise and then my Smoothie!' That is followed by several more Good Nights and I Love Yous and notification that this last one will indeed be her last Good Night of the night.

The Rolling Stones do not leave the stage with this much fanfare.

There is back story to all of these things but I do not think it would make any more sense if I included it.

Summing up what she has done in four years is impossible. She has taken this guy who had made a nice enough life out of perkiness and sarcasm into this lump of emotion that will sprint up the stairs because she wakes up and looks into the camera on the monitor in her room and sings, " can come in and get me."

Here are other reasons I marvel at this kid:

When she needs you to get her something, Parker says, "May you please..." as in "May you please bring me more grapes for my cereal?"

The fact that she calls raisins 'grapes'.

She realized that the 'Gummy Treats' we have been giving her were actually vitamins and she said, "I think you two are trying to pull something."

Parker has named our cars "Werder" and "Wico". No reason except, "Well, that's their names."

On the day I was let go from my last job, Amy had her practicing a heartwarming sentence to greet me when I got home. What came out was, "I have something to tell you." She leaned into my ear and said, "You are really proud of me!"

I was so nothing else mattered.

She has filled the glass door at the back of our house (at least the bottom three feet of it) with a combination of stickers and Band-aids with cartoon characters.

She will tell a complete stranger at McDonald's, "We are on the way to see my Mimi and Papa. But first we need to stop at a hotel and maybe swim in the pool but then we will go see Mimi and Papa and I will hug them."

If someone else sneaks into the bathroom to watch me shower or do the other thing that room is designed for, I would clock them. The fact that she does seems strange but also, since it is her, it just seems like one of life's little quirks.

It is fairly normal that she would pretend that she is imagining that she is playing with Mickey & Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Pluto. It is just a part of Life with Parker that she also pretends that she is playing with Wyatt, who was a side character on one episode of "Special Agent Oso".

If she was a computer, her default setting would be "I love you." Parker can be sitting and doing a puzzle or playing a xylophone and be unable to continue unless she says, "I love you." You had no idea how much you needed to hear that until she said it."

I would write more but I would start to cramp up in my fingers.  Also, thinking about what this kid has done for me is producing this salty discharge from my eyes that won't let me read what I am writing.

I can say she gave me my corniest thought of all time. The first time I made Parker Pearson laugh I thought to myself, "That is my new favorite song." It replaced "One" by U2.

Parker will not know or understand what she has done for me for a long time but at least I want to make sure that I put it out there so somebody understands.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

You Are Not His Friend. Deal With It!

The longer you are a sportscaster the more you find out disappointing facts about your place in this world:

1. Whatever fame you gain comes from showing other people accomplishing things.

2. As crazy as the people you are about sports, there truly are people who simply do not care.

3. You are not the first person to use song lyrics to describe a play.

However, the disease that truly seems to run through the hearts of sportscasters from the very top to the smallest television markets.

This is what I call "Berman-Wingo Syndrome".

It is named after ESPN broadcasters Chris Berman and Trey Wingo. Something courses through these two that overwhelms any appearance they make on television. There is that need to somehow get the message to the home viewer that the guy in the suit is friends with the super cool athletes they cover.

Their belief is that if they call the player by his first name in a borderline loving way, we will sit at home and think, "Did you hear that? He called him 'Ben'. They MUST be friends!"

Most people with a brain should realize that a guy who sits in New York or Connecticut throughout the year probably is not really friends with Mr. Manning or the other Mr. Manning (or 'Peyton' or 'Eli' as they call them.)

Honestly, it is kind of like back in high school the dweebie guy would maneuver his way into being a partner in Biology class with the cheerleader and believing that everyone would really believe they were going out. It turns out the only one the kid got to hang out with after the project was a sliced-up frog.

Now, for the most part this seems harmless. Pathetic, but harmless. However Berman-Wingo is at its most dangerous not because the sportscaster seems like an "Entertainment Tonight" anchor swimming in Matt Damon's wake and believing "Well, I am a star, too," but because of what happens when something scandalous happens to the athlete.

As sportscasters coast-to-coast did everything but climb into Lance Armstrong's bike shorts (and, in some cases, while he was wearing them), how do they now look as Lance (whoops, I just did it!) has been exposed as what appears to be quite the fraud?

The ultimate is in the way Berman-Wingo sufferers bowed at the altar of Brett Favre for the first fifteen to eighteen years of his career. Sportscasters thought they were putting themselves into the cool clique by saying, "Brett the Gunslinger", "As only Brett can do", and "This is why we all love Brett!"

That is all great until scandal strikes. When your identity is based in part on desperately trying to convince people you are friends and then people sour on him, what do you do? Wisconsin sportscasters had to deal with people remembering that they worshiped the guy under center for more than a decade. So, now you look bad when their hero retires and unretires and then eventually winds up with the hated rival.

That was a blip compared to the danger of begging people to associate you with someone by kissing his feet and then having a picture of that someone's feet, along with at least one other body part turn the hero into a national joke. You just look like a moron.

Berman-Wingo Syndrome also hit with sportscasters when Mr. Bryant, 'Kobe' to his close sportscasting friends, Mr. Roethlisberger, 'Ben' to his BFFs on the anchor desk and, historically, Mr. Simpson, 'O.J.', or "Juice" became pariahs, whether temporarily or permanently.

There is even the danger of doing the "buddy-buddy" thing such as when a very well-known sportscaster had great radio exchanges with athletes Jason Giambi and Jayson Williams and put the "bro-mance" out there for everyone to hear.  Then, he had to walk it WAY back when Giambi was caught up in talk of Performance Enhancing Drugs and Williams was involved in a shooting death.

I say these things as a sportscaster who did get the lesson several times that you are not really tight with these guys because, while you are performing for the cameras, so are they. It does benefit them to give you the impression you are tight so they will let you think you have "a moment" as you stood and talked while you were waiting for him to get his microphone on. The lesson will come when you see them out away from the field and you, at most, get a head nod before he talks to the four women he is hanging out with.

Sadly, even then, the sportscaster will try to use that as proof "'See, we're friends. No, really!"

Luckily, Berman-Wingo is not fatal. Usually, what a "talking head" says is so inane and we are so interchangeable that people probably have forgotten us by the end of the show anyway.

Researchers are still trying to come up with a name for the very sad condition that causes sportscasters to think they sound hip and happening by saying "R-G-Three" at least twenty times each time they do Redskins highlights.