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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Age Discrimination Does Not Apply to Heros

A new friend of mine who recently found out I have four sons and one big kid in a husband's body asked me if I was going to the comic book and entertainment expo in Chicago.   I hadn't planned on it because I didn't know about it.

Politicians have been using this tactic for years.  They don't want to know information because once they know it, it is harder to lie about knowing certain information.

But since I knew about it, I felt obligated to share it with the boys and Don over dinner.  Parker exclaimed "What!?" and the excitement snowballed down to Oscar who was screaming but didn't even know why. We decided to go on Sunday since it was kids day and tickets were $5.

I don't dislike comic books or fictional super heros.  I dislike conventions.  Which is ironic because my dad built his design business around conventions and trade shows.  I just don't like the red carpet, the people, the booths the lanyards.   Then you add a comic theme to the mix and you have people in costumes.

When we were walking in I didn't know if we were at a Furry convention or a Comic convention.   We were greeted with a huge sign that read COSTUMES DO NOT MEAN CONSENT, KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF. Seriously? I understand a kid wanting to touch a costume, but most kids who can't even read yet know better. This sign was for adults.

Once I got in, I understood why people might be tempted to want to touch something that they shouldn't.  There was a Princess Leia doing circa de sole.  Numerous people wearing underwear as outerwear.   A woman holding a log like a baby. Despite all of this, we allowed Finegan and Parker to venture off together after I wrote my phone number on their arms. I know they know it, but if for some reason they are unable to speak I wanted someone to be able to get a hold of me in case they confronted with kryptonite.  Even though the two younger ones were with Don and me, we wrote my phone number on their arms as well.  It  was legal to tattoo it I would, and never change my number until the day I die. It sounds crazy, but if you have ever lost a child in a crowd it is terrifying. I can't even imagine losing a child in a crowd of villains.

Within 30 minutes Oscar was overwhelmed and underfed and ready to go home.  I had surprised Jack with the promise of meeting his favorite superhero, Stan Lee.  Jack has loved Stan Lee since he was 5. He knows everything about him.  His birthday: Dec. 28, 1922.  His wife and daughter's names.   What he eats for breakfast every day.  When I found out Stan Lee was going to be there, I knew that Jack would love to meet him.

Jack has always been interested in the back story. His favorite website is IMDB.  After he sees a movie, he looks up the actors, director and producers and finds out what year they were born.  After he saw The Wizard of Oz he was shocked to learn that Judy Garland was born the same year as Stan Lee and wondered if they knew each other.

Jack loves the process of pretending.  Stan Lee represents everything he likes.  A creator in the true sense of the word.   So I purchased the opportunity for Jack to get a picture with him.  At age 92,  I wasn't sure how many more opportunities we would have.

We stood in line for 35 minutes even though we had a reservation.  Behind us was a tool shed who kept burping and singing Jimmy Buffet songs trying to impress his girlfriend. I wanted to turn around and tell her to run as far away from him as she possibly could, but I decided to focus on Jack.  In front of us was a family of four who were nervous to meet Stan Lee and rehearsed what they were going to say.  I was drinking a green smoothie out of a mason jar so I'm sure if those people have blogs I'm mentioned as the weird lady drinking her vegetables in line.  Jack was patiently sandwiched between all of us and probably the most normal thing about the entire convention.

When we made our way to the front of the line a woman gave us specific instructions.   No touching, No hand shaking and No conversation.  The family before us must have been disappointed.
As we rounded the corner something amazing happened.  Jack lit up and slowly walked over to Stan Lee.  Stan Lee got up and gave Jack a hug, put his arm around him and asked his name.  Jack told him and they took a great picture, Stan shook his hand and told him to have a fun day.  The only thing Jack said was "Hi!" and "Okay!"  We were then escorted to yet another line to wait for our picture.

As we were waiting Jack got a little teary and said "He remembered me."  I know that sounds lofty, progressive, new age, whatever you call it.  Maybe Jack had a dream that they had met. Or maybe he was thinking that Stan could see him through his computer.  I don't know.  Or maybe at that moment the two of them found a common ground despite the 85 year age difference.

I couldn't help but think of a three-year-old Jack talking to me shortly after Oscar was born.  He asked where Oscar was before he was in my arms.  I told him that the baby was in my tummy.  He then told me that before he was born he was a happy old man, and has always said that even to this day.  The funny thing is, I believe him.  He has an old soul.

I got a little emotional just seeing how happy Jack was and thankful that I was able to give him this experience.   When we were given the picture he put it in his tote and went about his day.  I was wrong about Stan. I don't think he is going anywhere any time soon. This man has more life in him than people half of half his age.

We finally all gathered in our meeting place next to the giant  poster of characters I wasn't familiar with and decided we had had enough.  Oscar was now moving at a snails pace and repeating "Stan Lee" at a escalating pace.  Even though he had no interest in meeting him when we arrived.

We stopped for ice cream on the way home and for a suspended moment, all was well in our galaxy.  I'm glad to have been able to share this experience with the boys even though I did not want to even tell them about it in the first place.

Sometimes it is cool to be adventurous. Try something new and to not act your age, whether you are 7 or 92.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


This morning I passed through the kitchen in the normal rush that fills our house on a school day.  For some reason I heard an inner whisper which told me to stop and take a look.   When I turned around I saw this.

It looks pretty ordinary. But today it felt extraordinary.  This average Wednesday morning in April feels like a gift.   They are sitting quietly eating yogurt and fruit.  Neutral emotions. Not asleep, but not yet awake.   

There are moments that they will remember, such as birthday celebrations, Christmas or family trips, but the simple things when you are idling in neutral  while eating breakfast on a school day will be forgotten. Possibly by tomorrow.  I don't remember having breakfast as a kid. I mean, I know we did, my mom certainly didn't send us to school hungry but I never had a picture of it.  Sometimes I wish I did.

Things change so fast.   In just 15 years these boys will be men, either in college or recently graduated, maybe even married.  Scenes like this won't happen very often, if ever.  It will be different, and great in it's own way but it won't be like this.  Getting together with your siblings when you are older is complicated and impossible and truthfully, unlikely to happen.  

I grabbed my phone and took this picture but more than that, I stood and watched them for a minute.   I hit a personal pause button and took it all in. In that single moment there was no other place in the world I would rather be.  So I captured it. 

Within seconds we were back in motion.  Even fast motion. Rushing to get dressed, pack backpacks, brush teeth and get to school on time. Back to the typical roar of the morning. 

I don't know where the notion to stop came from and it doesn't matter. What does matter is that I listened to it and I am grateful for that.

Today, just take an ordinary moment and hit the pause button, celebrate it with a picture.  The image may not take it's place in a frame on the mantel, but hopeuflly it will take a place in your heart.