Luc, you can call me Daddy all you wantTim Whyte · September 21, 1997
"Get up, Daddy."
You said it with authority, kid. Sort of like that guy who played the son in the John Wayne movie, who derisively called The Duke "Daddy" in the middle of a father-son fistfight. I think the movie was Big Jake. A friend of mine once said The Duke -- at least in his movies -- never touched another man unless it was to hit him. He wasn't much of a hugger.
In Big Jake, neither was the son. When he goaded "Jake" by calling him "Daddy," The Duke, as only he could do, swaggered through one of those lines you never forget:
"Ya' call me 'Daddy' on more time, and I'll finish this fight."
Nobody, not even his kid, could call The Duke "Daddy."
But we weren't fighting, Luc. We were playing football on the living room floor. There was a game on TV, and you had grabbed your Nerf. As the Cowboys and the Cardinals lined up on opposite sides of the ball, you crouched like they did, listening to the snap count. When the ball was snapped, you barreled into me, and I, giving in to the massive power of your running stride, fell to the floor.
"Get up, Daddy!"
You insisted. You were ready for the next play, and I was lazing around on the floor. I guess you never heard that old story about how Jim Brown would get up slowly after every tackle, just so the opposition could never tell when he was hurt.
When you said it, it sounded more like, "Dit tup, Daddy." But you very clearly thought I was a wuss for spending so much time on the gray plush turf of our living room floor.
You're 2 years old this week, son. Happy birthday! On future birthdays, I'll write columns for you that cover the vital things a guy should know, like why you should always wear a seat belt, or how to make one of those water balloon launchers, or why I'll miss you when you go to college, or why, no matter what you do, you will never, ever, ever understand women.
But for now, we're still dealing with things like trying to get you to go night-night at a reasonable time. (And years from now, won't your mother enjoy showing your girlfriends this birthday greeting so they can read that, at this important juncture in your life, Moo-Moo Cow was your favorite sleepy time toy?)
You've already been through a lot. There was the hernia. And the broken arm, plus all the usual runny noses and diaper rash episodes every little guy goes through. But even when your "boo boos" were bothering you, and the hot June days made your cast sweaty and itchy, you were always a trouper. You kept that wicked sense of humor, and even learned how to shoot baskets and take slap shots while one arm was out of commission.
That all seems like ancient history.
You were jumping up and down now, sounding more urgent than before.
"Dit tup Daddy! Dit tup Daddy!"
"What do you say?"
Of course, you weren't asking for vegetables. In Lucspeak, "peas" means "please" and "djoo joo" means "thank you."
So I got up. And we played football for a while longer, until a commercial, at which time you picked up a hockey stick.
"Hockey time, Daddy."
I was on the floor, still reeling from that last flying tackle you threw on me.
"Dit tup, Daddy. Hockey time."
I got up.
"Heeere Daddy. Heeeere Daddy. Hockey dick."
That, of course, can only mean one thing, and no, it wasn't an insult. It means, "Here Daddy, have a hockey stick." You handed me one and got into your stance for the face-off, which a puck -- a real one -- on the carpet between us.
I see broken furniture in our future together, kid. There will come a time, much too soon, when I will stop letting you win, and you'll start to figure that, given your overwhelming physical advantages, maybe you ought to take it easy on the old man.
I can wait for that, frankly. Right now, you're turning 2 and I already wish I could turn back the clock. You aren't even in preschool yet, but you're already growing up too fast. This fact is evidenced, if nothing else, by your success in getting waitresses to stop and say hi.
"Djoot, score," you said, sweeping the puck into the net that has taken up permanent residence in what was once a very chic living room. The hockey net is now surrounded by a stuffed Lion King rocking chair, a big overstuffed toy box, a basketball hoop, a lawn mower that blows bubbles, your toddler bicycle and no fewer than a dozen assorted balls and hockey pucks. We don't entertain much anymore, but that's OK.
You scored, and we both raised our hands and sticks over our heads in celebration. You ran and jumped into my arms, sort of like the NHL guys do when they celebrate a goal on TV. We tumbled to the floor, but not for long. After a brief moment of rejoicing in this, one of the most important successes of your just-getting-started life, you sprang back to your feet. And you said it again:
"Dit tup, Daddy."
You're getting to be too cool pretty fast, Luc. Too independent, too. Your favorite phrase lately is, "Me do it." I suspect that the time will come -- too soon for me -- when celebrating a goal or a touchdown will be the only occasion upon which hugging your dad will be cool enough for you. But I'll take the hugs where I can get 'em.
Heck, a dog pile after a touchdown is more affection than Big Jake's kid ever showed for him.
And you can call me Daddy all you want.
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Tim Whyte is the magaging editor of The Signal. His commentary appears on Sundays.
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