Monday, July 11 2022

rodneys birthday

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Dear Journal,

ROAR. ROOOOAAAAAR. ROOOAAAAAAARRRRRRRRR. I know Rodney is awake because that's the sound coming out of his room right now, filling the whole bedroom hallway. I can also hear his remote controlled dinosaur's tiny nails scrape across the floor and Miles giggle from around the corner. I can't fault Rodney for making so much noise this morning. He barely had any time to play with his dinosaur last night after we popped a pair of fresh AA batteries into the remote. He got about five minutes of robot dinosaur bliss before I made him crawl into bed for the night. But I heard a few more growls after I turned the lights off.

ROAR. That's an exuberant battle cry for this dry, cloudy Monday morning, isn't it?

Sip. It's good to be here today. I took a bit of a break from writing so I could get in the zone for Rodney's big birthday weekend, which officially started on Thursday night. We bought two tickets to see the Dude Perfect live show in Chicago. Sitting in my office chair for the last few hours of the work day, I felt a little like Rodney. I wanted to get the boring part over with. I wanted to skip ahead to the moment where Garret, Cory, Coby, Cody, and Ty jumped onto the stage.

Donning our matching purple hoser t-shirts, we were ready.


Two Dudes ready for Dude Perfect

Rodney brought his Dude Perfect book in the car. By now, thanks to a little of Minnie and a little of Miles, the book is missing the front cover and a few pages in between.

"I'm going to say, 'hey dudes, my baby brother broke my dude perfect book, can I have another?'" said Rodney. Competing with about ten thousand other kids, there was little chance Rodney would get any face time with the YouTube superstars, but a kid can hope, right?

Rodney and I climbed in the car. We picked up a bag of Portillo's. I ate a loaded jumbo hot dog in three traffic lights before getting on the highway, and we inched through traffic all the way downtown. At last, we arrived, and it was time to take in some silly, live action YouTube fun.

The guy at the metal detector pulled me aside just as I was collecting my phone and keys from the tray. "What... what are these guys, some kind of magic show?" he asked.

"No no, it's a YouTube thing," I explained.

Back at home, Marissa tried to keep Miles content in the yard while she completed her mission - assembling Rodney's big surprise swing set. She borrowed the kids' wagon to shuttle the pieces from the giant box in the garage to their final resting place in the yard. "The moment I saw all the pieces together, I wanted to give up and just go buy him a Nintendo Switch," she said.


I arrived home again with a sleepy, sugar-dazed Rodney a few hours later. After putting in a whole evening shift, Marissa wasn't even close to done with the swingset. I put Rodney in bed, grabbed a beer, and joined her on the assembly floor. "She just needs a little organization," I thought. "I'm going to turn this pile of wood slats into an organized, grouped inventory of pieces to speed up the process." But I couldn't even do that. There was hate and malice incorporated into every step of this swingset assembly, starting with the fact that almost every single piece of wood was different from the others. On top of that, they were all identified by similar looking four digit codes stamped into the ends with faded black ink.


We joked that assembling this swingset was the most trying event in our entire marriage. After five more hours, I'm not sure we were even joking about that anymore. We worked in a quiet rage. One of us would lash out and hit a breaking point, then we'd apologize and joke about it. And we did this until three thirty in the morning - kicking bugs off our ankles, tapping rivets into place, trying to decipher the most half-assed instruction book ever written in the dead of night with a single flashlight.


I talked Marissa into giving up for the night. She didn't get her big reveal on Rodney's birthday morning like she had hoped, but the boys were just as happy to watch us finish the job. We raised the final beam into place. "Just so you know, it took us another three hours to finish it," I laughed. "It would have been an all-nighter."


We took Rodney to his favorite chicken finger place. They brought him a brownie and icecream drizzled in fancy chocolate.


Uncle Jeremy and Auntie Kelly arrived, and cousins and dogs spilled out of the minivan. Later Grandma Jane and Grandpa Dirk, then Uncle Philip and Auntie Sarah, and soon our neighbors would wander into our backyard too. It was an awesome party.


Thanks for stopping by. Have a good week, everyone.