Saturday, February 19, 2011

My Odd Hope for You

Dear Ian,
This is going to sound a little funny:

I want you to have a weird childhood.

There, now it's out there, and now I have to explain myself. I had a weird childhood growing up, but I think it has made me the person I am today, and not trying to sound snooty or braggy or anything, I think I turned out pretty dang well-rounded.

By weird childhood I mean the fact that I did things, heard things and played differently than other kids I knew. I grew up on one of the last plantations in Tallahassee. Your Papa Davis managed the plantation, and since he needed to be "on call" so to speak, we got to live on the farm. That piece of property was 1100 acres, and way out Merdian Road. We didn't have neighbors, and this was when playdates weren't really in vogue. I really learned a lot from this; my only playmate was your Uncle Brian (until Uncle Gary came along), and we figured out pretty quick to play nice together, because if we ticked each other off, we were stuck playing by ourselves. Not much fun. So, I learned to be resourceful and have GI Joe attend Barbie's birthday party, and Uncle Brian learned how to dress a doll. Perfect training for compromise and other grown up life lessons.

And since we grew up on such a big piece of land (Allenwood on Merdian first, and then on Baum, where Grandma and Papa are now), we had tons of outside space in which to play. But here again, our childhood was somewhat different when we were ushered outside to amuse ourselves. "Go play outside," Grandma Davis would dictate, "but watch for snakes." I seriously doubt I will ever have to utter this phrase to you when sending you out into the yard. (At Grandma and Papa's, you better bet your hiney that I will say it, and often) Outside we learned from Papa about the woods around us; I can recognize different kinds of pine trees (loblolly or longleaf), I know what a fire lane is for, and I can fill a quail feeder. I can also be infinitely patient in the freezing cold in a tree stand because I know it will mean meat for dinner. Oh, and yes, I know how to skin a deer. See... odd.

Technology was not something that was part of our growing up. We did have a Colecovision video game console with a couple of games when I was about nine, but I don't remember us playing with it much. We got three main channels on our television (four if it was raining really good), and our sound system was this rocking tape deck with a turntable. Grandma and Papa still have it, and every Sunday morning, they would play records: Chuck Mangione, Frank Sinatra... Great memories. Now we are surrounded by tech stuff, and since your Daddy's job is a tecnological one, you will be more exposed (and already are) than I ever was as a kid. I remember I was 23 when your grands got Direct TV, an answering machine and a computer all within the same month. I was afraid the house was going to burn down. I want you to be at least 7 before you become computer-proficient, but this is something that Daddy and I will talk about and compromise on, like the GI Joe and Barbie thing...

I want you to learn how to build intricate mazes with pinestraw by scooching it with your feet (one day I will demonstrate. For now I just sound nuts), and learn how to entertain and occupy yourself with just the world around you. I want you to be able to walk through the woods with your Grandparents and point out deer prints, or Heaven forbid, make noise while they squirrel hunt. (This is a rare form of torture. But a fun memory) In other words, I hope that one day you can look back on all of the weird and random stuff that you did as a kid and notice how much it has shaped you into the man you have become.

Holy Moly. One day you will be a man. I better get to work on those memories now.
Lots of Love,

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