If you’re a parent of a younger child, by now you’ve probably seen “Finding Dory.” I actually pre-purchased our tickets and we saw it on opening day, with much anticipation. My son and I have always bonded over “Finding Nemo” because, well, it’s a story about a dad finding his son – it hits close to home. I frequently have told Briggs that he’s my ‘little Nemo.’ So there we were on opening day in the theater, and as I’m watching Ellen at her finest (in my opinion), I had some very profound thoughts hit me: our memories are the most valuable things we possess. In fact, our whole life is just a series of memories. The “present” only lasts for a millisecond. For example – your reading of my first sentence to this article is now a memory.
As a dad, I overthink about the quality of life I want my kid to have. I reflect back on my own childhood, and am constantly finding ways to improve it for him. I have two memories with each of my parents that dramatically stand out to me, and I think I know why. When I was 6, I was obsessed with the Atlas. I have no idea what possessed me, but I had to know every capital of every country in the world, and would actually fall asleep reading it every night (I know, nerd alert – I own that). So for my 7th birthday, my mom had a custom cake made featuring the 50 states. This is way before there were cake kits, so she had to find a cake designer to create this thing, and the end result was flawless. I remember how much pride she had in coming up with the idea and then presenting the cake. It showed, and it’s permanently stained in my brain.
My dad is wonderful and always has been. He really nurtured my educational interests, and so that meant exposing me to things like space and dinosaurs. My fondest memory with him was when I was about 5, and he took me to a local museum that had dinosaur displays. I was awestruck and scared, and went home with a stegosaurus sticker that is also forever on my mental hard drive. But why were these two the memories that lasted? We did tons of things over the years, but those two instances feel like yesterday. My best guess is because it was when my parents showed an interest in my interests. Meaning, they did things for me that were clearly just for me.
With that in mind, I am constantly trying to do that for my son. Sometimes he’s a cryptic little bugger, and I can’t decipher his mood, or even what he is currently into. It changes from week to week – he goes through phases. Instead of trying to play catch up and cater to a specific franchise he likes, I try to explore it deeper. For instance – he loves Legos and he loves Star Wars, so I buy him Lego Star Wars sets. They blow his mind. Then they fall apart when he plays with them so we have to build them all over. And speaking of Star Wars, I gave him yet another memory that he will never forget.
A few weeks ago, I had to get my car serviced. I arranged for a loaner ahead of time, because time is money. I inquired about the available cars, and to my delight, they had one convertible. I didn’t even hesitate, and with the perfect Spring weather I was driving, top down in minutes. Briggs was ecstatic when I picked him up from school. He actually laughed the entire way home, so we did a few laps until the novelty wore off. Then, I got my crazy dad idea. Knowing that we had to drive almost an hour (yes, an hour) to get our haircuts the next day, I asked him if he wanted to do something a little silly. One of his favorite toys is the now famous talking Chewbacca mask, and he is extremely skilled with it. I was like “Hey buddy, do you want to make a lot of people’s day, and put your mask on with the top down tomorrow?” At first he was unsure……”Daddy, I don’t know about all of that.” Then I encouraged him to just try it and see what he thought.
Eighteen hours later, we were on the road and then became stuck in ridiculous traffic. It was perfect. Everyone around us was laughing and Briggs was hysterical. He actually got mad when the traffic starting moving (you can imagine how he felt when I had to return the convertible). He didn’t want to take the mask off. It was just a silly idea I came up with, but we turned it into something special, and more important, memorable. “Finding Dory” reminded me how precious our memories are, but even more precious are our children’s memories. As a parent, I want my kid to remember nothing but having the best time with me, as that is my greatest gift to him.