Only an Open Book Gets Read


“We convince by our presence.” – Walt Whitman

I think if there is one thing I have learned about being a dad that has proven especially helpful to me as my daughters get older, it is this:  open up the book of your life and get to know each other.

Last week, I came home from work and the girls were so excited to meet me at the door because they each had a big surprise in store.  They had been shopping at their favorite antique stores for the day and had me close my eyes as they presented me with two gifts – a Hot Wheels car from 1976 and a coffee-table size book entitled Star Wars:  Where Science Meets Imagination (2005, National Geographic Society) with a cool introduction written by Anthony Daniels, also known as C-3PO.  My wife received a Shaun Cassidy album, the very one that she had cherished as a middle schooler and about which she had always told them stories.  She was so surprised to receive such a personal gift – and they have been listening to it all weekend!

We like that our kids know us and know our memories and know our likes and loves and dislikes, the things that make us laugh and the things that make us cry.  They know when we are happy and when we are frustrated.  We have been getting to know each other since their birth, and we have all been taking notes.

Toys have been a fun and interesting thing for us to have in common.  Today, they play with all kinds of things including some of the very same toys I played with as a little boy.One day, I came home from work to find that the girls had pulled out their box of Barbies AND my box of old Hot Wheels and combined them into a huge and very colorful car dealership.  I don’t think the toy purists would ever allow such things to be mixed, but it was sure funny to watch these very tall Barbie people sell these very little cars to each other.

And my buddies who are dads… these men are opening the book and stepping up to the plate to hit home-runs with their sons and daughters.  I’m lucky to know each one of them and learn from each one of them.  Here are just a few:  my friend Rob takes his little girl bow hunting with him now that she is a little older and his pictures of her excitement over just getting to hang out with her dad in a world of things that he loves are priceless; Andrew and his son referee high school volleyball games; Michael coaches his son in soccer and plays barbies with his daughter or takes all three fishing at a nearby lake; Dustin takes his 11-month old son strolling through the zoo; Jared and his boys love motorcycles and superheroes; Chris does his morning exercise routine with his kids, including his 3-year old daughter, who sits on his back while he does push-ups!  Some like to share the latest video games (Minecraft, Madden Football, Harry Potter Lego) or arcade favorites from their childhood (Dig-Dug, Pac-Man, Q-Bert, Chopper Command, Moon Patrol, Frogger); and others enjoy sports or music or running or walking or sledding or building snowmen and on and on and on.  They all have one thing in common – working on living their lives like an open book before their children.

And it all makes me think, open books are the best (and only) kind of books to read.

Thursday Stories with Baby Frederico “Bad Dreams”

*Every Thursday we introduce you to another quick bedtime story about our family’s favorite resident reptile – Baby Frederico.  The backstory can be found here.  Enjoy!

Baby Frederico loves his Momma Mia and Papá Frita, his buddy Grenelda the Grasshopper, blue crayons, popcorn and astronauts; but he does not like bad dreams. Here is his story:

BF Bad Dream

Baby Frederico woke with a start from another bad dream. His bedroom, though perfectly quiet, seemed to make more noise in the silence of nighttime than it ever did in the light of day. He felt under the pillow for his tiger flashlight that roared into the darkness every time he turned it on, then quickly remembered that the batteries were dead. It always seemed to work in the daytime when he was at his bravest, but in the middle of the night…nothing. Now all he knew to do was wriggle down beneath his favorite Star Wars sheets and hope for morning.

As he lay there in his bed, Baby Frederico wondered about all of this trouble. Bad dreams just seemed to come out of nowhere, with no warning, no help, and no emergency telephone call to alert the family that this would be the night for a bad dream so, “Get your flashlights working and have your bravest stuffed animals standing by.” If only he could plan for it.

Now if there is one good thing about night time that Baby Frederico liked, it had to be that it was the perfect time to think and wonder. And wonder he did…

Then, out of the blue, it hit him! Since there was no real way to know when a bad dream would strike, he would keep something nearby to remind him to not be afraid when he woke up. But what should that something be? Suddenly, he knew just what to do. He couldn’t wait to tell his family about his plan and soon drifted back to sleep.

The sun winked through the curtains of his room as Baby Frederico awoke to the sweet smell of Momma’s famous Italian sausage cooking in the kitchen. When the Frederico family had finally gathered around the table for breakfast, Baby Frederico told them about the bad dream and his big idea. They said, “You are such a good wonderer Baby Frederico! We like the way you think!”

After breakfast, Baby Frederico found an extra large shoebox that once housed his Papá’s old hiking boots – it would be the perfect “Bad Dream Box.” He carefully decorated it with pictures of light sabers, fireworks, the Great Wall of China, bowling balls, Saturn, and monster trucks.  On either end of the box, he drew two longhorn steers he once remembered seeing at a nearby farm and carefully scribbled his favorite word “THINK” along its top. Inside the box, he placed two packs of batteries, three flashlights, his Han Solo figure (“Empire Strikes Back” version of course), and an Incredible Hulk keychain. It was the toughest looking box, inside and out, that he had ever seen.

That night, long after Papá had read him a bedtime story, Momma had given him the last snuggle of the day and Baby Frederico had drifted off into the sleepy night…he woke with a start from another bad dream, grabbed his box and exclaimed, “Bad dreams beware!”  And they did…