Every day, as I prepare a meal for my one year old, I think of my dad. Especially when I’m cutting his sandwiches into perfect little squares so his squishy fingers can shove bite-sized pieces into his mouth. It reminds me of the meals my dad used to make me. Peanut butter and jelly was my fav. Four perfect squares, hold the crust. Cheese toast was second best. These bits were even smaller. Tiny individual toasts with melted cheddar. Another frequent request was “pink pink”, my word for scrambled eggs. Dad isn’t quite sure where that came from, but we think I called it that because the eggs came in a pink carton. I didn’t call scrambled eggs anything, but “pink pink” until I was embarrassingly old. When I am cutting Jack’s sandwiches up for him, I think of my dad and all the fun we had growing up. All the weird and unique things I did with just my dad and no one else. Here are just a few of the things that I flashback to while cutting sandwiches:
Pencil Butt-Dad would help me remember important things for school by creating some pretty elaborate stories. My favorite was in 5th grade when we were studying the periodic table. I didn’t like my teacher, although in hindsight I think she was probably a very nice lady. Pb was a hard one. It stood for lead and I couldn’t wrap my head around it. Dad told me to picture my teacher sitting on a lead pencil and imagine the entire class laughed at her and called her “Pencil Butt”. Get it? Pb? Pencil butt? I remember smiling when I wrote Pb on that test. Mean ol’ pencil butt.
The Cooking Show- “It’s the cooking show! I’m Bill Boys and this is my assistant, Beccccaaaaaaa Boooyyyyssssss!” This is when I would dash into the kitchen and explain to our imaginary audience what we would be cooking tonight. It was an amazing way for Dad to keep me entertained and teach me to cook at the same time. I know how to cook all of his meals because of my experience on our incredible show. We were number one in the ratings.
Adventures- Growing up in a small town, with no interest in fishing, hunting, or four-wheeling, there really wasn’t much to do. Some days, Dad and I would go on “an adventure”. He would drive and I would tell him where to turn and we would just end up somewhere. Once, we drove to Rebecca because it was named Rebecca. There wasn’t much there, but I had been to myself, and that was amazing. It’s funny thinking back to how exciting it was to go on an “adventure”. We never found much, but dad was so good at making anything seem fascinating.
Sock-This one makes us sound really dumb, or really creative, or really poor. It was a game. We named it “sock”. The object of the game was to get the sock. Who ever had the sock protected it, while the other one tried to get it away from them. This game got intense. I’m talking jump off the bed and dive for this sock like it was the Hope diamond intense. I am shocked that no serious injuries were incurred.
The Meteor Shower-Dad woke me up in the middle of the night to drive out to the country with blankets and lie down in a field to count shooting stars. I’m not sure which event this was, but Dad had heard that it would be incredible. We lied down with the tops of our heads against one another and started counting. We divided the sky into my half and his half and started counting our halves aloud. We quickly got to fifty and decided we would count to one hundred and go home. We got to one hundred so fast that we decided to count to 500. At this point, we were so amazed that we started yelling the numbers at each other. We were so excited to make it that far that we stayed until we reached 1000 meteors. We left feeling like we had accomplished something huge. One thousand shooting stars. It was like they were only there for us to count.
The Time I Tried To Play Hooky-I have always been a person who doesn’t want to “try” something until I know I’ll do it correctly. It’s a serious flaw. In 4th grade, my teacher had let us know that the next day we would be learning how to divide. I panicked. I told my parents that I didn’t want to go to school that day. I don’t remember the excuse I used, but it worked long enough for me to miss our carpool to my school which was twenty miles away. Dad had to drive me to school. He knew something was up. “What’s wrong, babe?”, he asked. “We are learning how to divide today.” I cried quietly. “Okay? So….?”, he seemed confused. The cries turned to sobs, “I. DON’T. KNOW. HOW. TO DIVVIIIIDDDEEEEE!!!!!” Dad didn’t laugh at me like my adult self totally would have. Instead, he sat there, in the Westfield School parking lot, and taught me how to divide.
Story Time-Dad always read me a book before bed. He didn’t just read. He performed. He had voices for each character. I can still hear his Little Bear voice. Little Bear always sounded a little slow, but in an endearing way. He also read me “big people books” like The Hobbit. I always pictured Bilbo Baggins as being a very short version of dad, because his name is also Bill. Once, mom and dad were watching something on T.V. so when it was time for bed, he didn’t tuck me in OR read me a book. I was so mad that I decided I wouldn’t get under the covers until he tucked me in. He didn’t show up. I had decided the best way to make him feel terribly guilty for not tucking me in was to fall out of the bed. Everyone would rush in and feel awful that they had not secured me firmly in my bed. As I was attempting to roll over and fake a fall out, I actually did fall and bust my chin open. Totally. Worth it. #sickkidsyndrome
There are so many other things that remind me of my incredible childhood, but I’ve been told that a good blogger keeps their pieces under three pages. I didn’t include all the times he would sing me to sleep, and how I thought that all the Beatles songs he sang to me were Bill Boys originals. I didn’t include that he called me baby skunk and pebbles on a regular basis. I didn’t include how he told me almost every day as I was growing up (and still does) that he only wanted me to be happy or how he would let me get whatever special treat I wanted from the grocery store. There are too many happy stories to share. Whether playing a game of Ketchup (where dad guesses what color ketchup I’m thinking of) or playing Star (where dad guesses what type of star I’m thinking of. Clever, right?), my childhood with my dad was imaginative and fun. He usually let me lead and was almost always willing to play pretend. As an only child, I needed a playmate and he certainly fit the “Bill”. So, as I cut my baby’s sandwiches or say, “Hey!” when he walks near me and “Bye!” as he laughs and waddles away, I can only hope that my son’s childhood will be as magical as my father made mine.