Sunday, July 24, 2011

Living the Dream

It’s been a while since I’ve sat down to write a Blog – so hopefully I remember how this works.

When I last wrote, I lamented that I was desperately searching for something worthwhile to write about - something important enough for me to sit down and spend a few hours each week thinking about and dissecting. Foolishly, I was looking for this in the world of television – assuming that only a TV show could provide me with enough source material to spend hours thinking about something, over-analyzing something, and eventually putting those thoughts down as words for the world to see.

I was wrong.

At some point in history, people decided that there were three critical components to fulfillment in life – three things that equate to “living the American dream”. In order, they are getting married, buying a house, and having kids. Since this Blog started, I knocked out the first two. Now it’s time to work on the third. That’s right Internet friends… Kate and I are expecting a baby!

When people find out, their first question is always something along the lines of “are you excited?” and they sit anxiously awaiting for you to start gushing about how this is the greatest thing to ever happen to you, that you are counting down the seconds until your little bundle of joy enters the world. Then I always disappoint them by answering: “probably equal parts excited and absolutely terrified.”

Then they get out their pitch forks and torches.

Don’t get me wrong, that’s not to say that I’m not pumped by the prospect of raising a little person in my self-image. There are definitely some things that I cannot wait to impart upon my offspring:

  1. Teaching my child the meaning of unconditional love. How? By teaching him/her to follow the same sports teams I follow. The Cincinnati Bengals. Notre Dame Football. Dayton Flyers Basketball. Pretty much every sports team I like inevitably breaks my heart on an annual basis – yet I still keep coming back for more each year. Talk all you want about people learning about unconditional love of a spouse or friend. If your friend punched you in the face every year for the past 30 years, you wouldn’t keep coming back. (PS – stay tuned for a future Blog post about some heavy soul searching on if I can, in good conscience, raise my child to be a Bengals fan.)
  2. Teaching my child the importance of listening to CDs from start to finish (not just the hits). Sure, there’s nothing wrong with rocking out to the current Top 40 hits – but if you really want to get to know an artist (and not get totally burnt out on them), it’s pretty critical to enjoy their entire catalogue. Plus, then you can be the annoying guy who is too cool for an artist’s popular hits. And don’t even get me started on the importance of listening to and understanding the lyrics of songs – it’s pretty much what takes a song from being good to being “life changing”.
  3. Teaching my child how all important life lessons can be learned from TV shows and movies. Two events stick out in my mind that really drove this point home. One, in high school when I summarized up the book “The Great Gatsby” by comparing it to a single episode of “Dawson’s Creek” (which I thought actually drove home the point better) – plus Katie Holmes was pretty hot back in those days. Two, my Lost Blog – which taught me to question such heavy topics as “Faith vs. Science”, “Fate vs. Destiny”, and “Kate vs. Shannon”. It got me learning about ancient hieroglyphics, learning about dead philosophers, and decoding cryptic messages that basically required a PHD in advanced mathematics. Don’t get me wrong – I learned a lot of stuff in school as well, but having the ability to continue to learn from modern media means that I am still learning every day.
  4. Finally justifying why I own so many Disney movies. I’ve taken some crap for this over the years. Is it weird that I have all the songs from Aladdin and Lion King memorized? Maybe. Is it weird that I cried during not one – but TWO Pixar movies in the past five years, but at no other point in my life? Maybe. But once I have a kid, it’s perfectly normal to have all these movies sitting on my DVD shelf. Much like marrying Kate gave me justification to finally own “Mean Girls”, having a kid finally gives me justification for owning the Toy Story collection. I can’t wait.

Having said all that, if any male tells you that they are not scared about having kids, they are either an idiot or lying through their teeth. Let’s get back to the American Dream – the trifecta of spouse-wife-kids.

Getting married? Right on. It’s awesome. I have someone in my life that is basically on my side for everything. She is legally required to support me in everything I do and like me better than anyone else in the world. Also, it’s someone to help split up the chores and duties of day-to-day life, provide you with someone to share all the great moments in life, and is forced to like you even when you sick or have a busted nose due to a pool injury. Love it.

Home ownership? It’s for suckers. I don’t know who started us down this path, but they should be in jail. Listen, I understand how some people feel that “pride of home ownership” when they look at their house and it looks great with a well-kept yard, freshly painted walls, and an interior free of any clutter or dust. But do you know how you get to that? With a ton of hard work. Here’s what it boils down to – I work somewhere in the neighborhood of 8-12 hours a day Monday through Friday at my job. I’m pretty good at it (any coworkers reading this Blog would debate this point) because I spend a lot of time doing it. Why would I want to come home and work more – at something I’m not good at, and will never get good at unless I spend a ton of my spare time doing it? Aren’t I supposed to be resting when I’m not at work so that I’m ready to tackle the next day? In my mind, America would be a happier place if everyone left work and just relaxed at home on the weekends. Drink some beers, eat some food, hang out with friends. Don’t spend your weekends cleaning gutters or remodeling kitchens – it just makes people stressed and angry.

Which brings us to baby-making. It’s really the tie-breaker in the “American Dream” equation. Is it going to be something fantastic like marriage, where once you have it you never know how you lived without it? Or is going to be something like home ownership, where everyone tells you that you should do it but it turns out to be a ton of work without a corresponding level of payout? Of course, if you ask anyone that has kids, they’re going to tell you that it’s the best thing in the world. They’re legally required to say that or else the government will come and take their kids away from them. But what’s the truth?

I’m about to find out.