Tonawanda News

March 24, 2014

Training for the future, either way

The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — On those days I pick Rigby up from school, he and I have a bit of a routine we fall into.

I ask him how his day was. He tells me “good,” and then he retorts with “I don’t wanna tell you” when I follow up by asking what he did.

So his variation from the script one recent afternoon was surprising enough simply for the fact he altered it. But how he changed things was more baffling than a R.A. Dickey knuckleball on a 3-2 count.

“Daddy,” he hit me with first thing after coming out, his tone and facial expression portending the sort of contemplative concept one ponders for days prior to sharing, “I need to start training.”

“OK,” I replied, expecting him to be concerned about tee ball season. “What for?”

“To be Batman when I grow up.”

I kinda wanted to laugh, but I couldn’t. First, he clearly wasn’t joking. Second, he followed up with plans to build a Batcave, buy a Batmobile, put together a Batbelt and other details that honestly convinced me for a second he really could be Batman.

So I was in no position to quell the mirth of my little 5-year-old. And 10 minutes later, after we picked up Penny, she exemplified the huge gap that seemingly should not be possible between two children who are only 18 months apart.

“Daddy?” she asked after we got into the car. “How much money do you need for the rest of your life?”

“Not sure exactly what you mean, babe.”

“Well, Daddy, you go to work to make money. And Grandpa doesn’t work any more. So how much money do you need so you can stay home the rest of your life? Then you won’t have to go to work in the middle of the night and can take us to school.”

I’m not exactly sure whether she was more concerned about me holding up through the overnight shift or the fact I let her pick what we listen to on car rides. but either way, she showed some concern about me, which is appreciated. And she has the capacity, at 6 years old, to think in terms of retirement and long-term planning.

Very impressive, indeed.

That is a microcosm of the chasm that is the mindset of my two babies. Both are thinking about the future, mind you.

But their takes are just a tad different, at least in terms of their perspective on crime-fighting.

Their closeness in age can’t help make me wonder whether their differing thought processes are due, at least in part, to gender rather than age. I can’t speak much to being a young girl — except maybe for those instances during which my sister made me play dress-up. But when I was around Rigby’s age, I can remember wanting to be He-Man ... only I put no more thought into the concept than to get a stick out of the back yard to use as my sword to summon the power of Grayskull.

I certainly did not put much thought into my parents’ well-being. Which is why, now that I think about it 30 years later, my dad was always so annoyed when we woke him up for a ride after we slept too late for the school bus. (Hey, not our fault he worked until the middle of the night and was going on a couple hours’ sleep.) So that’s what makes thoughts such as Penny’s so impressive to me.

But I also can appreciate the innocence and sincerity of ideas like Rigby’s. The Rigger Man really, truly wants to become Batman. I know he can’t. But he doesn’t. So, as long as it’s not hurting anyone, I can simply let him train (it’s encouraging him to eat right, so it’s actually helping in ways he doesn’t even realize) and figure out at his own pace what can happen and what can’t.

Who knows? He might even prove me wrong. I don’t doubt his will or that of his sister for a second.

Because, for all of their differences — whether attributable to gender, age or anything else — they’re similar in spirit and heart. And, whether their dreams carry them to Dark Knighthood or my early retirement, I know they’ll only reach for the best. And I hope (especially in the case of that retirement thing) they can attain those things — or at least never stop pursuing them.

They’re great both in how they’re alike and how they’re different. And I wouldn’t change a thing about them. Even if it means I’ll be searching for a suitable Batarang for the next six months.

Contact Paul Lane at Also be sure to follow Daddy’s Crib Notes on Facebook.