Today I returned home to my lovely wife Jana and my mostly lovely daughter Molly (I mean, let's be honest - when she's screaming sometimes it ain't always pleasant), but before I boarded the plane, I took one look back through the jetway and knew that I had changed, for I had learned something of incredible value: Sam is the new Greg.
Like Jasmine in Alladin, a whole new world opens up for you when you have a baby. It's like all of a sudden you find yourself really excited to share with anyone you meet that your baby finally had a dirty diaper after a couple days of anxious waiting and that everyone back home is really relieved. It's weird in a lot of ways, but not unpleasant, and I've secretly enjoyed my induction into this secret brotherhood (or fatherhood, as it were) of the baby subculture. I believe that children are our future, and seeing as Molly will soon be doing things like eating solid food and sending text messages, I thought I'd take the opportunity to hang out with Craig's two children a bit, you know, to put my finger on the pulse of the gymboree and see what's the word with the younger set.
And what I learned is that Sam is the new Greg. Greg, as you may or may not know, is a member of one of the highest grossing musical acts in the world ($37 million or so). That's right, folks, he's one of the Wiggles. Well, apparently, he has a terrible condition that has forced him into retirement from the road, but as little Nolan said gravely as he looked me very seriously in the eye, "It's okay....I think Sam can drive the Big Red Car." So don't worry out there, the Wiggles are going to be okay because Nolan said so and Nolan has faith that things like that will work out.
I miss that about childhood - the simple faith that things will just work. As previously stated, I have to forcefully convince myself moments before takeoff that the wings will in fact remain on the plane in the air rather than just trusting that the pilot knows how to fly and the mechanics know how to check the plane for problems. A few years ago, I tutored a young fourth-grade Korean lad (yep, I said "lad") named Ben for a year. Each day, I would go to his home after school, eat some weird food provided from his very non-English speaking grandmother, and I would attempt to teach math, science, and reading to a child who didn't understand a ton of what I was saying. Needless to say, some of our interactions were pretty amazing. And by "amazing", I mean "awkward". Like the time Ben's grandmother didn't know how to ask me what I wanted to drink and decided just to pour me a glass of every liquid in their refrigerator.
Often, Ben would want to openly debate proven facts, mostly because he liked to irritate me, I think. For example, at Ben's school there was a female teacher who was extraordinarily tall for a woman - like 6' 2" or something. Well, Ben would look at me and say things like, "What if she's eighteen feet tall?" to which I would always reply, "But she's not." Unfazed, he would always just lean over a little bit and smile impishly and say, "but what if she is?" And that argument would go back and forth for half an hour or so until it was time for me to take him to tae kwon do practice.
You know, it just now occurred to me that maybe he did that on purpose just to get out of doing the rest of his work. Touche, Ben, wherever you are. Touche.
My point is, with children it seems a line of questioning always works itself towards the inevitable existential statement, "It just is." Will things work out? Of course. How? They just will. Now do you want to go see if any frogs got caught in the pool filter? Kids; you've got to love them.
My time with like-minded folks in Grand Rapids has been refreshing. In our own ways, we'd all like to contribute something to the world that's bigger than ourselves. Something more than just getting all we can for ourselves before we kick the bucket. But despite the years of work some of us have already put in, we still have no better idea of whether this stuff will work or whether it will matter. Ultimately, we're still just kids sitting around telling each other "It just will." I hope so.
I believe in you, Sam. Greg's shoes are going to be hard to fill - it's unprecedented, really - but Nolan believes in you. And frankly, so do I. Plus, Nolan really wanted me to take Molly one of his Wiggles DVDs, which I graciously accepted.