When I was growing up my favourite TV dad was Kevin Arnold's from The Wonder Years. Jack Arnold* was surly and gruff, but when he had a heart to heart moment with Norma, Dwayne, Karen or Kevin it always seemed genuine. Everything on that show somehow seemed more real to me. One of my favourite scenes is the one where his parents have a fight over Pepsi**. In real life that's how things erupt, the devil was in the details and small moments as opposed to the "big issues" that were commonly tackled by shows in the 1980's and 1990s. TV dads cut from the Danny Tanner/Mr. Seaver cloth seemed syrupy sweet in a way that always left a bad taste in my mouth. My dad is far too eccentric and paternal in a Eugene Levy/American Pie kind of way for my affinity to Jack Arnold to in any way relate to my own relationship with my father.
Molly is a very affectionate child. She demands hug and kisses constantly. She declares her love to everyone around her like she's running her own personal election campaign. Her brother does not subscribe to her tactics.
Jack is a very selective fellow. He saves most of his hugs, cuddles and affection for those he deems worthy, if he feels like it (usually the grandfathers and a few select friends). Chris and I both race to daycare every night because we know that the first one of us Jack spots will get a highly coveted run and hug from our son. These are only available in limited supply. Chris and I brag to each other when we are the lucky recipients of a kiss from Jack. In his 32 months of existence I believe I have earned about 20 kisses from my son. He's told me that he loves me, maybe 10 times, a number that Molly covers over the course of most days. Jack will only sit in your lap for story time when he wants to: there is nothing disingenuous about earning his affection.
We thought we had Jack figured out. We need to earn these gifts from our son, and much like an affectionate hair tousle from Jack Arnold we know when we get them, that they mean so much.
Jack likes ping pong balls, a lot. The other morning he decided that he wanted to take one with him for the car ride into daycare. When we arrived I asked him to leave his ping pong ball in the car, as I'm fairly certain that it is something that could become a choking hazard to younger children at the centre. He set his ping pong ball into his car seat and called out, "Bye, Bye ping pong! I'll miss you! I love you! I love you ping pong, I love you!" as we walked up the path and into the centre.
I've tallied the score so far: Ping Pong Ball 3, Mom 10.
Game, set, match.
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*Are you asking yourself, is my son named after Jack Arnold?
**Other best scenes: Kevin Amold ID bracelet and the Becky Slater break-up scene when he tells her that he wants to be friends. I also loved the tree house episode.