Monday, March 31, 2008

El Destructo

Kids have unique personalities. I, for instance, was ridiculously afraid to talk to strangers. At 10 years old, if I went into a 7-11 to buy a $.10 candy and the clerk didn't give me change from my dollar, I would have walked away without saying a word. I would have preferred to be out the $.90 than have to create any form of confrontation with the clerk. That's changed a bit in my older age, but I am still definitely a "white" personality. I avoid conflict, often at my own expense, and depend on peace. It is a necessity that all things are functioning and happy. I can't get into an argument and let it remain unresolved. I have to have closure and know that the universe is once again working as intended. I should have been an educator or a social worker. But nooo, I had to choose sales. A world of never-ending confrontation. That largely goes unresolved.

It makes me wonder what other people were like as children. Did Ted Kaczynski tinker with broken radio parts? Did Michael Jordan play with balls? Did Bill Clinton chase skirt? I'm hoping not. Because I don't wish my youngest son to grow up a human demolition ball.

Eric has earned a number of nicknames at his young age and they get progressively more violent. His first nickname was "Rico" and sometimes "Coco." Talmage somehow invented the nickname "DayDay" which stuck for a while but has become a distant memory. Some of his nicknames come off the cuff and border on ridiculous, i.e. "Schmokaka." Of course Talmage, poor soul, has grown up as "Sausage" so Eric can't have MUCH to complain about. Recently Ashley has started calling him "Eric the Red" for he is as the vikings of olde. He pillages and plunders. He walks into a McDonalds playground and completely owns the place. His goal is, for example, the ball pit. If there are other children between him and his ball pit then those children are obstacles keeping him from his prize. They are expendable. Just like a viking feels entitled to his loot, Eric the Red feels entitled to his...erm...balls. And anything in his way shall fall.

He has also earned the nickname "El Destructo" from grandpa. Eric Derall = E.D. E.D. = El Destructo. I think this name fits best of all because he seems to feed off of destruction. Like when Dahmer would eat his victims to permanently absorb their life-force, Eric gains power and energy when he breaks things. Or at least disturbs them. For instance, if I were to build a house of cards on the kitchen table then call for Eric to come upstairs from the basement, there is a 95% statistical probability that he would unceremoniously destroy the card house as he walked by. If there is a stuffed-animal dog lying on the floor, Eric will kick it. If grandpa Pearson has neatly groomed his flower beds, El Destructo will kick dirt out of them into the sidewalk. He sees cleanliness and harmony and looks to add dirt and discord.

Naturally he does all of this in a cute way. He is a sweet kid. He just has far too much viking testosterone in that little body. I am going to share a few stories about Eric.

When Eric was a small toddler he had some problems with constipation. We would regularly include a laxative called "Miralax" to his bottles or juice and sometimes it would do the trick. Other times it wouldn't. In those particularly rough times we were forced to go to the dreaded enema. Now for those that are unfamiliar with an infant enema they have a clear plastic bulb filled with the slippery juice and the tube is protected by an orange plastic cover. It looks like an orange stick with a ball of water on the end of it. After administering this hateful thing to my child Sherri asked me to throw it in the trash. So naturally I left it on the floor. That following morning I was doing some work on the computer while Eric and Talmage were bumping around the house. Eric had his binkie like always. Just sucking away. After about a half hour of him bouncing around sucking on his binkie I looked up at his face. There was the orange butt-stick hanging out of his mouth while he sucked away at the plastic ball that was shaped almost EXACTLY like his binkie. Half of me laughed, part of me was horrified, and the rest of me was grateful that my child was being pacified, regardless of how. Butt-stick? Fine. Just don't cry.

El Destructo's nursery leaders love him. He really is a very fun kid and is HIGHLY entertaining. They shared a story with me last week on Sunday. Some time ago they were delivering a spiritual message about the birth of Christ. They held up a picture of the three wise men and asked, "Eric, do you know who these men are?" "Yes", he replied, "that's He-Man, Skeletor, and Power Ranger." Can you imagine the gifts those three would have brought? A furry loin-cloth from He-Man, red spandex from the Power Ranger, and from Skeletor a maniacal need to rule Eternia...?

El Destructo and Talmage typically play well together. Although anytime the play gets physical, Eric pretty much manhandles his older brother. For instance, yesterday they were playing light sabers. Talmage is huge into Star Wars right now, and if you recall the movies, The Jedi have a power called a "force push." The jedi simply raises his hand, palm facing out, and the enemies are blown back. So Talmage carefully instructed his brother, "ok Eric, when I hold out my hand you need to grab your neck and fall to the ground, ok?" "Ok." They thrust and parry a few times then Talmage brings up his hand. Eric summarily whacks Talmage's outstretched hand with his lightsaber. And I swear there's a little orange fire in his eyes when he does it. Talmage cries, recovers, instructs Eric that he was SUPPOSED to grab his throat and fall. "This time do it Eric, ok?" "Ok." Thrust, parry, thrust-thrust, parry, force push, WHACK! Fingers crushed by the hard plastic of Eric's light saber. And this time he's smirking. And those eyes burn hotter.

I can only imagine what kind of teenager and man Eric will be. If he can manage to route his energy and determination positively then I'm confident he will be an amazing and successful man. If not...lock your doors and tune in to America's Most Wanted.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

My Hero Retires

The sky darkens, the sun disappears, and the earth stops spinning for 4 long minutes.

Brett Favre has thought about, and even announced, retirement before. In fact it's kind of a guaranteed winter event. Will he or won't he? However this time I feel it's real. While I truly believe the man has at least two more solid years of good football left in him, I believe he is legitimately retiring this year. And even though it hurts my heart and pains my soul to see him go, I'm happy for him and I believe he is making the right choice. He'll be going out on top.

Favre is a legend. He is a true warrior. An iron man. Favre holds many records, having broken several this past season. But none speaks more highly of the warrior than his consecutive starts record. Favre has not missed an NFL start since September 27, 1992. That is 275 football games. 16 years. He has been battered, bruised, and bloodied and continually comes back for more. I remember watching games where he'd get hit and injured and think, "well that's it for Brett." But he'd get up, wince twice, and go back to business. I distinctly remember watching a game where he hit a player's helmet with the thumb of his throwing-arm hand on the followthrough of a particularly nasty pass. Favre was notorious for throwing the ball HARD. The camera panned to his thumb shortly after the injury and it looked like a gourd on a stick. It was swollen to about 3x its normal size and was bright red/purple. He went back into the game and played like a warrior. That injury bothered him the entire season but he sacked up and got it done.

I'll also never forget the game he played the morning after his father, Big Irv, passed away. I believe it was the greatest single performance by a professional athlete ever. Certainly a defining moment for Favre. He threw for four touchdowns in the first half and 399 total passing yards. There were specific plays that seemed to be divinely guided. Now I'm not silly enough to think that God has any interest in football, although he'd be a Packer fan if he had, and I don't think Big Irv was an "angel on the football field" throwing blocks and steadying the ball in flight. I do, however, believe that humans are capable of great things when inspired by an emotional event. The camera occasionally picked up Favre's tear-streaked face through his facemask. He finished the game, winning 41-7, and then went to his dad's funeral. Why did he play? Because Big Irv loved football, loved his son, and would have wanted him there. And I believe Brett felt his dad there with him in spirit. This video clip highlights that performance:

Today's NFL is full of a-holes. Players that do celebratory dances after making routine plays. Quarterbacks that kill dogs for fun. I am terrified that before long we will have exhausted our stock of true heroes. Role models for our children. When my sons are old enough to appreciate football I can only hope they can find someone that is hard-working and classy to idolize. Someone that plays the game because they just love it. And if that day comes, and our NFL is devoid of such character, I'll be able to tell my boys about #4. The one and only Brett Favre.