He Starts Talking And Never Stops
This is going to start with his first words but is going to be one of the posts where I group a lot of memories of my son together. There are going to be a couple of conversations I save for their own post but if I separated every memory of Brad talking this list would become twenty conversations with Brad. I could easily fill another blog titled Shit Brad Says and it would probably be more popular than this one. Just last night we talked on the phone for forty minutes about Zelda and other video games and how Krystal's doesn't compare to White Castle and pro wrestling and my bearded hero Daniel Bryan and how Brad says the new Superman movie feels like it was directed by two different people and more Zelda. Like I said, Brad talks a lot to everyone he knows and to strangers too. He gets this from his mother and my father. The two families' gab genes combined to create a perfect conversation machine in Brad.
I remember his first word very clearly. He had been making the baby gibberish noises almost since he came out of the womb and him and I had several long conversations where I would pretend googoo and gahgah were legitimate responses to whatever I said. Then one day while doing this he said, "Dada." Sherri said, "Did he just?" and I answered, "Yep," without even letting her finish her question. My shit eating grin of fatherhood appeared again.
Of course, I was curious if this was just an accident or if he knew what he was saying so I looked at him and said, "BradBrad." He looked back up at me, touched my cheek, and said, "Dada," again. That was all the proof I needed. From then on the "Dada" "BradBrad" refrain became a major part of our conversations. Very quickly after that he learned other words. He added ball and dog before he added mama to the consternation of his mother. That started a tradition of pissing off his mother that I think he delights in to this day. I have no idea where he got that from.
Soon sentences came together and then before he could even walk you could sit down and have an actual conversation with him. I've seen a lot of children whose parents had to force them to say what they wanted to eat so that they would learn to use their words but we never had to make Brad talk. Often we were just trying to figure out how to make him shut up. He was never shy about telling us what he wanted especially when it came to food. "Dad, I want a drink." "Mom, I'm hungry." "Say please Brad." "Okay, please." These were the normal noises of our household before he was even sixteen months old. He was a talking prodigy.
I make jokes about shutting him up but truly I love talking to my little boy. I stopped playing the radio whenever I was in the car with him so we could talk. He would ask me math problems at three years old and I would make him figure the simpler ones out on his own. He would comment on signs and colors. He would shout "McDonald's" anytime he saw those damn golden arches and expect us to stop each time and get mad when we didn't. Even on long car rides we would talk for hours about things only little boys cared about like bugs and mud. It really annoyed his mom. Sometimes, it really annoyed me but I would do it anyway.
Listening to him talk to other kids on car rides can be great entertainment in it's own right. His grandma likes to say that "if one of them didn't know it the other one did" when talking about driving him and his cousins somewhere. "They never shut up" is a common complaint I hear when he rides places with other children. When I talk about our trip to Florida I'll talk more about how Brad and my friend that road back with us talked for almost twelve hours straight. My friend is in his fifties but since him and my child talked mostly about Family Guy and the Simpsons I think I can call him a child in that situation. Not that I wasn't right there with them but they even talked me out and that's hard to do to a Murray. I think only another Murray can really do it.
Brad and his mom liked to listen to the radio and sing in the car. Unfortunately for Brad, he has his father's singing voice and not his mother's but that hasn't stopped him. Their habit of singing songs embarrassed both his mother and I greatly once. For a while his absolute favorite song was People Are Crazy. When he was five, I think, he played soccer in a church league. Halfway through practice they would sit down and have a devotional lesson. Brad was always an active participant in these sometimes running his mouth when he shouldn't have been. During one the coach said, "God is great," and my five year old son just couldn't help but add, "Beer is good and people are crazy."
He will talk to anyone at anytime. When he was little shopping trips were sure to be memorable or nerve racking. When he was two on a shopping trip with his mom during the holidays he made sure to tell everyone he passed "Merry Christmas" which is as cute as it sounds but then when she had to go to the bathroom he crawled out of her stall to say "hi" to the lady in the next stall. When he was three shopping with me he ran off from me while I was standing in the checkout line. I didn't worry because I could still see him but I didn't notice the aisle he ran down. He came running back with a box of Maxipads and said, "Daddy, daddy, mommy uses these."
The funniest, so far, of Brad's embarrassing utterances in public happened when he was four and we were eating out. Eating out with him is both an enjoyable and maddening experience. It's enjoyable because when food is put in front of him he's all business and there is a rare quiet until he's done eating. It's maddening because while waiting for the food he seems to think he has to make up for that time he's going to be silent by talking even more than normal. That evening he was so excited about whatever he was talking about that he was standing on his seat when he looked out the window and got quiet for a second. Then he tugged on my shirt and said, "Daddy, that woman has even bigger boobs than Mommy." Of course, I looked and, of course, I got smacked for looking. That kid knows how to get his father in trouble.
Conversation with him isn't always funny stuff. He's a deeper thinker than any child his age has a right to be and he's always been that way. I can remember vividly when he was in preschool we went to visit his namesake's parents. My friends' mom Linda was a schoolteacher and I think her teaching instinct kicked in and she wanted to make sure he was where he should be especially in speech development which was her speciality. So she started quizzing him and talking to him and he would carefully consider her questions and answer them as completely and clearly as he could. Soon they were just having a normal adult conversation. The look on her face as all this transpired is what really sticks with me. The schoolteacher in her was amazed and proud of the way Brad could talk to her but it was bittersweet for the mother in her. Brad made her happy but Brad made her miss her Brad.
He's an incredibly thoughtful boy. You can tell when he thinks he's having a serious conversation because he'll pause and think about his replies before speaking. We have very philosophical conversations all the time. There are conversations about the differences between day and night and about homosexuality and it's religious implications that I'm saving for their own posts in this series. I've always tried to talk to Brad like a small adult rather than a little kid and it has paid off.
After my wife and I separated we were in family counseling mostly to make sure we would still get along for Brad's sake and we took him to a session with us to make sure he was going to be okay. The counselor asked him if he was mad at us for separating and he said, "Yeah but I know there isn't anything they can do about it." The counselor asked us if Brad was seven or twenty-one. I don't know why we were worried about how he'd handle the separation and subsequent divorce. He's done better with it than either one of us has. Before he left for his mom's for the summer I told him I was going to miss him and that I didn't like the idea of him being gone from me that long. He said, "Yeah but dad you see me a lot and Mom doesn't so don't you think it's fair that she has me during the summer?" I went from a little sad that my buddy was leaving to proud of the thoughtful and good man he's already becoming in an instant. I should be used to it but he's never lost the ability to surprise me, shock me, make me laugh, make me smile, and make me think when talking to him and I hope he never does.