I’ve decided I want to be a pirate.
Not the kind of pirate that sits in the first row of the latest blockbuster movie and films it with a video camera before selling copies at the local flea market.
A real pirate. The swashbuckling type, with a big pirate ship and a parakeet (I know, it should be a parrot. Don’t start.) on the shoulder. Just without a lot of the swashbuckling. Or a boat, for that matter. I do, however have the parakeet. Two of them to be exact, but they’ll just be staying in their cage instead of sitting on my shoulders. I’m just a bit allergic.
I’ll get an eye patch from the local pharmacy and go weeks without shaving (I’m pretty good at that anyway). I’ll talk in a gruff voice and say stuff like “ahoy” and “argh” and put a “me” in front of stuff that I say …
“Argh. Ahoy, me kiddies, get yer grubby hands off me smoothie!”
Now, just why do you want to be a pirate, Tom? You might be inclined to ask.
Well, my seven year old, Tommy really likes pirates, that’s why.
He’s got pirate posters in his room, has all sorts of shirts with the pirate skull and crossbones, he’s even just now starting to get into those movies with Johnny Depp (I’m a guy, but I gotta admit, that dude is just dreamy!). The kid loves pirates.
I figure if I transform myself into Pirate Tom, he might start liking me more. You see, he and I were always best buddies. He’s the Rusty to my Clark (whoever gets that is AWESOME!). Every time I need help with something, I go to him. He’s old enough that we talk about guy stuff…well, some guy stuff, but he’s little enough that I still tuck him in every night and kiss him goodbye every morning before school. Lately though, I noticed he’s a little different. He doesn’t hold on as long during hugs, he doesn’t always laugh at my stupid jokes, he actually said he wants to be called Tom now instead of Tommy, and most devastating to me was when I picked him up from school the other day, it seemed like he got embarrassed when I gave him a smooch on the cheek.
I know he’s not gonna stay little forever, but geez, he’s only seven! That’s why I’ve decided to become a pirate. He may be growing up, but he’s still into those guys.
First thing I do to become Pirate Tom, is head out to the local (you guessed it!) Mart store and look around for an appropriate pirate outfit. I have no problem finding an eye patch (who knew those things were so popular!), but needless to say, I have a rough time finding actual pirate clothing. It’s not Halloween and the store doesn’t have a Frilly Men’s Shirt Section, so I do the next best thing. I ask one of the sales associates working nearby if they have anything that resembles something a pirate would wear. The associate kind of looks at me, blinking a couple times before walking away. I wait a couple minutes to see if he comes back, which he doesn’t so I move on. Determined to wear a pirate outfit, (notice I’m saying outfit and not costume…that’s the difference when you decide to become a real pirate.) I wind up buying a long sleeve, white shirt that’s about 17 sizes too big, and a pair of too tight, black pants. This way I can tuck the oversized shirt into the too tight pants and have it all billowed out, so it looks like a poofy pirate shirt. I didn’t see any cool pirate boots, so I wound up buying a pair of extra large women’s black fuzzy, bootie type slippers (I have small feet for a guy) to finish off my pirate outfit. I don’t normally make a habit out of buying fuzzy women’s boots, but these were the only thing in the black boot family that I could find at short notice.
I get home from the store and tell my wife, Donna, that I’d pick up Tommy…er, Tom from school, and I hurry and change before I have to go get him.
Normally, Donna would not have let me out of the house looking like I did, but I managed to swashbuckle right out the door, while she wasn’t looking.
So, I get to the school, wait in the car line, and when it’s finally my chance to get my kid, shout “Argh, me sonny boy! Pirate Daddy’s here to pick ye up! Now getcher boney arse in the car!” At the exact moment when the teacher lady opens the door for Tommy to get in.
They both kind of stare at me, before I’m like “just get in the damn car, we’re holding up the line.”
Tommy doesn’t say much on the ride home because his face is buried in his book bag, but I finally get him to talk, asking him what’s wrong, and that I thought he liked pirates.
“Dad, you’re not a pirate.”
“Yes, I am! Dontcha see my new pirate clothes…and the eye patch!? I’m wearing a friggin eye patch here!”
“Dad, really, you’re not a pirate, you’re Dad” At this point, he starts to giggle just a little. Then it’s full blown belly laughing as he sits there looking at me. Not exactly the reaction, we pirates hope for.
We get back to the house and I go sulking past Donna, who’s looking at me with a look between “This guys an idiot” and “Are those my boots?”. I get to the bedroom and I’m ready to change when Tommy, crap, Tom comes in and asks me why I dressed up like a Pirate.
“Well, buddy” I say, figuring honesty is the best policy, “you’re Mother told me to*…”
“Why would Mom tell you to pick me up dressed like a pirate?”
“Uh, she said that you’ve been acting a little weird lately, and not as close to her as you usually are. She figured you’d like the pirate thing.”
He shakes his head and says, “Mom’s weird sometimes. I wish she’d be more cool like you.”
“Plus, she knows pirates aren’t that cool anymore. I like vikings now.”
“Vikings? Gotcha. Yeah, me too…pirates suck. Listen, you just gotta realize that the older you get, I…I mean, Mom, sometimes has a hard time understanding that you’re getting older and you’re not just a little guy anymore. Sometimes, she misses that little guy.”
“But Dad, Raylan’s enough of a little baby for everyone.”
I pat him on the head and send him off to do his homework, thinking to myself that all kids go through those phases where us parents aren’t their besties anymore. It’s nothing against us. All kids go through this. It’s not that they don’t love us or need us, it’s just that they’re growing up and trying to become a bit independent…even at the rough old age of seven. I realize that I need to spend more time focusing on guiding him as he grows, instead of desperately trying gimmicks to keep him “that little kid”.
Plus, I have absolutely zero idea where I can get a friggin viking costume.
* Yes, I know I flat out lied to the kid and didn’t admit it was me who was upset. And I know that lying is bad, and I usually don’t…usually. And I know I probably should have discussed my feelings with the boy, but hey, I’m not perfect. Never claimed to be. There is no absolute, definitive guide to being a Dad, we just have to love our kids, want the best for them, and do the best we can. There is absolutely nothing wrong with showing your feelings to your kids, in fact I encourage it. Just not when you’re dressed up like a dime store pirate in women’s fuzzy boots.