Rubber Chicken Scratchings: Thoughts on a Kaylee Matuszak birthdayThis week’s column is a birthday present to my daughter, Kaylee, which beats having to walk into Vanity or Hot Topic at the mall and plunk down money on a gift card.
By: Brian Matuszak, Budgeteer News
This week’s column is a birthday present to my daughter, Kaylee, which beats having to walk into Vanity or Hot Topic at the mall and plunk down money on a gift card. Since it’s her 12th birthday, those are the presents of choice: gift cards and cash.
I gotta tell you, it was much more fun for her earlier birthdays, when my wife, Sue, and I got to look for cool stuff like Sesame Street books starring Cookie Monster and Grover, games like Candy Land or How Many Bugs in a Box? and dozens of Scooby-Doo videos. (Why in the heck were Scooby and Shaggy scared to death at the start of every mystery, by the way?
They never, ever met a real monster; you would think they would be jaded by the sixth or seventh time the mask was pulled off to reveal Old Man Jenkins. But no, instead the two of them always end up screaming and running in place right before Scooby dresses up like an old woman.)
But this year, Kaylee’s gifts of choice are boring old gift cards and cash.
I suppose we should be grateful that the gifts and the parties are getting easier as the child gets older, but it’s hard because we also know they may be coming to an end. By birthday No. 13, her “life switch” is probably going to be flicked from the “happy tween” position to “surly teen,” and she’ll be eating, drinking, dressing and living up at Miller Hill Mall with her friends.
We’ll be lucky to get a “happy birth—” uttered in her general direction before she’s out the door that morning. This year, though, she still seems to like us, so I better take advantage of it and do my best to really embarrass her while I can still get some satisfaction out of it.
It’s getting harder to do, though, to be honest.
She is this close to being able to beat me at a round of golf. The kid is getting better every time we’re out on the course, sinking putts from the edge of the green and even landing on the green on some of her drives. And when we play ping-pong, my super spin moves are being returned with increasing accuracy — coupled with “de-spin” moves that I have to lurch to return myself.
On one hand, it makes me proud to see her skills and her physical ability develop and progress on a daily basis. But, on the other hand, it kinda makes me sad.
Not only will I soon no longer be the victor around here, but it also means she is growing up much too fast. (As a swimmer, she can kick my butt, but I don’t let her know that. My excuse has always been that Dad can’t get in the water due to an abdominal surgery scar that went horribly wrong and freakishly healed into a bad swear word on my belly. This excuse has kept me out of the water for 12 years, but it has also forced me to wear the same shirt, which now kind of smells funky. But I can’t take it off; I have too much invested in the lie.)
It’s hard to believe it’s already been 12 years since Sue woke up at 4 a.m. to inform me that this was the day we would be meeting the baby. We rushed into the hospital and were met by a doctor who, after a brief examination, told us all was going well and that we’d be out of there by noon. That doctor turned out to be a fantastic deliverer of babies but not such a great estimator of time. It wasn’t until 7:47 p.m. that Kaylee showed up, marking the first time (of many to follow) that she would put her mother through a tremendous workout while her father just dozed off to the side.
Our first night home, the cats didn’t know what to think. At first, there was the general disdain that you always get from a cat when something alters his or her daily routine.
“Umm … hold on, bub. When you left, there were two of you, and now there’s two and a half? I can’t do math, but even I know something’s screwy there. Plus, this thing you dragged back with you really smells bad. Do something about that, will ya?”
But the cats eventually learned to tolerate her, as long as her presence didn’t mess with their food delivery system. Cats are cute that way.
My wife and I spent that first night running into her room every time we heard the slightest cough or sigh, but she was always OK. We were lucky enough to have her sleep through the entire night that first night and, actually, every night thereafter. When we smugly told our friends who were also parents about Kaylee’s first great talent, they retorted that we would just pay for it later on in her life, but we still haven’t. (Although, she does become a teenager next year….)
Sue and I watch Kaylee grow every day, and it is amazing. She has gone from baby to child to tween in just a whisper of time. I mean, we’ve had only 11 happy birthday wishes prior to this.
So, here’s No. 12: Happy Birthday, Kaylee. Your mom and I couldn’t be happier with our child who showed up at 7:47 p.m. that hot August day in 1998. Funny, that was the exact time my life switch was flicked, moving from “adult” to “Dad.” And I am proud to say it’s going to stay locked in that position forever.
Brian Matuszak has been difficult and demanding since February of 2008. He is the co-founder of Renegade Comedy Theatre and founder of Rubber Chicken Theater and he is going to take the money he just saved on a birthday present and go buy a new Cookie Monster book.