Dear Jack: The Return of Popples, for the Children of the 80s’ Children

4 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack: The Return of Popples, for the Children of Eighties’ Children

Dear Jack,

Last Friday night during dinner, you initiated a conversation with Mommy and me:

“There’s these animals called ‘Pop Balls’, I think… but maybe they don’t make them anymore.”

It took me about two seconds to figure out what was going on. My assumptions were right:

Your teacher, Ms. Aimee, who is also an Eighties Child, like Mommy and me, had told you and your friends about Popples.

I shared the good news with you:

“Jack, I got a Popple when I was about your age. I got it for the Christmas after I turned 5. I’ll text Nonna and see if see if she can find it for you by the time we get to their house tonight.”

Without surprise, when we arrived later that night in Alabama, Nonna had my old purple Popple there waiting for you. (Thanks to Google, I just learned her name is Pretty Bit.)

She has quickly become one of your favorite stuffed animals; as she was mine. There’s definitely a Transformer type of element involved, despite it looking so cute and cuddly.

You can now very easily transform your/my Popple back and forth from its ball-like state; something I struggled with when I was your age.

I was also quite impressed with your drawing you came home with on Tuesday of her. You are obviously very proud to own such a rare relic of American pop culture.

In what is a complete coincidence, because Ms. Aimee didn’t know this when she told you about Popples, but next Friday, Netflix is releasing their new original reboot of Popples.

There is a saying: History repeats itself.

That definitely is the case with Popples. And that’s not only because Popples are making a comeback for “the children of the Eighties’ children”. It’s specifically because you now own one of the original Popples; from 1986, nearly 30 years ago.



Summertime Means My Son Sleeps In Longer

June 20, 2012 at 10:54 pm , by 

19 months.

Yeah, I know.

Today is the first day of summer and I’m supposed to be all happy and nostalgic about it, saying, “Ah, summer… takes me back to when I was a kid, enjoying Otter Pops and Sharkleberry Fin in the hot sun, and watching Hey Dude and Inspector Gadget on Nickelodeon. And now I get to see my own son enjoy summertime!”

Well, that’s not at all what’s really going through my head.

Instead, what I’m actually thinking is, “Okay, if today is the longest day of the year, then that means starting tomorrow, the days will be getting shorter, meaning there will be less sunlight, meaning Jack will start sleeping in longer!”

Sorry to be so goth about it, but that, my friends, is what summer is really about for me.

It’s about me gradually getting more sleep because less sunlight shining through the window will help my son sleep longer.

Yeah, we hung up thick brown curtains over the window blinds in his room but they only help so much.

Several weeks ago, Jack started waking up at 5:30 AM, as opposed to 6:15 which I am accustomed to. I know a lot of parents have it worse; they have kids who don’t sleep through the night like I taught mine to.

But for the sake of the ultimate balance in the universe, my son sleeps from 7:00 PM until the rooster crows each morning because I become a monster without a solid night of sleep.

I go from mild-mannered, Members Only jacket-wearing Bill Bixby to painted green with a bad wig Lou Ferrigno. It’s not good.

Jack and I have had this understanding that he doesn’t wake up his mother and me in the middle of the night. But too much sunlight has compromised that.

With Jack waking up 45 minutes early, it not only means I’m grumpy, but it means he’s even grumpier; as seen in the top picture of him in his Radio Flyer wagon.

Not to mention, his daytime naps have often been non-existent; here lately.

But I can’t blame Jack that he thinks that during these longest days of the year he’s been living in Nightmute, Alaska; where it’s hard to distinguish night from day.

All I know is, things are looking up for this grouchy hibernation-deprived dad.

For Father’s Day, I was able to cash in my “1 Hour Uninterrupted Nap” Daddy Coupon. Plus I received my first official Father’s Day necktie, hand-crafted by my son.

Come, winter. Come quickly.


What Percentage of Your Day is Spent on Entertainment?

It’s not as simple as logging your TV and movie time: Entertainment is much more complicated, subtle, and encompassing than that.

When my sister was born in January of 1984 (I was about 2 ½) she gave me a Garfield stuffed animal as present.  I realize that the idea of a newborn baby giving her older brother a gift the day she is born may seem illogical, but my parents’ idea to keep me feeling special that day worked.  Because I didn’t question the rationale of my sister’s gift until high school.  That Garfield doll ended up being one of my favorite childhood toys.  I dressed him up in my dad’s whitey-tighties; they were Garfield’s diaper.

A major part of being a kid is being strung along by your parents.  It’s a constant, endless series of countless waiting rooms, strange places, and unfamiliar people.  But all I could really think of was eating, drinking, and peeing.  And when I checked all those activities off the list, that meant I must be bored.

So I needed something to entertain myself.  During the younger years, Garfield in my dad’s underwear did the trick.  I eventually graduated from the stuffed animal circuit to video games and action figures.  Then to playing guitar by the time I started junior high.  Evidently the worst thing in the world was to be bored.  So I always had someway to entertain myself.

*This explains the psychology behind Swiss Army SUV (Nick Shell’s Turtle Shell). Click that title to read more about it.

But I have to imagine that most people, like me, carry this idea of constantly entertaining themselves into adulthood, for the rest of their lives.  And as Ive learned by now, a tangible object isn’t necessary for entertainment- though something as subtle as checking for new text messages 33 times a day is a popular form of fighting subconscious boredom.

I learned as a child to use my imagination to daydream; while I still do that on an hourly basis, I’ve also made a habit of planning my future and coming up with ideas for my life.  And I figure I’m not the only one.  I figure that most people find some way to entertain themselves throughout the day, despite the busyness of life.  In between the busyness of life.  And during the busyness of life.  Even if it’s just while waiting in line, sitting at a red light, or zoning out at work (and often even not realizing we’re doing it).

Heckler-reader yells out: “Bahahaha…You just wait ‘til you have a baby, that’ll all change!”

Yes, life will change and my time will be spent in different ways and I will be functioning on less sleep.  But no matter how preoccupied I am with life and all its responsibilities and distractions, there are still moments throughout any day, even if it’s while I’m falling asleep, that I fill in those moments of fading consciousness with random thoughts like, “What was Grimace supposed to be, anyway?”

So how what percentage of my day is spent on entertainment?  It’s pretty much a trick question.  Because at least for me, my mind is constantly in entertainment mode.  Even when I’m asleep, dreaming.

dad from day one: What Does a Real Baby Do?

Fifteen weeks.

My expectations of what it will be like for my wife and I to have a real baby are pretty limited.  When I try to imagine it, I can only think about a few things: the baby crying, the baby being hungry, feeding the baby, the baby wanting to be held, holding the baby, the baby pooping, changing the baby’s diapers, the baby sleeping, us wishing we could sleep.

And aside from the 80’s sitcom stereotypes, I of course am well aware, thanks to everyone who has ever been a parent and given me any advice: There’s nothing in the world more rewarding than being a parent.

In November I will begin to feel like a real parent (once the kid is born).  Until then I won’t really truly be able to understand or fathom this most rewarding thing in the world.

It’s funny to think that eventually we won’t be comparing our baby to the size of a certain fruit.  (This week our baby is the size of a naval orange.) Eventually, our baby will be the size of a baby.  Interesting thought.

Excerpt from “the”, regarding week 15:

“Continuing the march towards normal proportions, baby’s legs now outmeasure the arms. And, finally, all four limbs have functional joints. Your fetus is squirming and wiggling like crazy down in the womb, though you probably still can’t feel the movements.”

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography: