Happy Birthday Lukas: Eight “Proud Dad” Moments!

When I was younger I always questioned when baseball players would say that the best day of their life was when their kids were born. I thought they were taking the easy way out. How could the best day of your life be something so chaotic, messy, stressful? Doesn’t make sense.

Well, eight years ago today, was one of the best days of my life (yes, the other best days were when my other kids were born).

On Sunday, October 17, 2004 my first-born was born. It was chaotic, messy and stressful. But it was also amazing! You can read about that day in my entry from September 28, 2006 titled “Ten Days I’ll Never Forget“, but this photo captures perhaps the best moment of my life. Walking my newly born son back to the hospital room to introduce him to his Grandparents and Uncles.

Eight years later he’s a sensitive, whiny, smart-aleck, second grader who loves Star Wars, superheroes, Legos, books and annoying his sister. But you know what? I’m sensitive, whiny and a smart-aleck who loves Star Wars, superheroes, Legos, books and annoying his wife. I guess you can say he’s his father’s son.

I tried to think of something fun to write about Lukas. Now that he’s the oldest and doesn’t demand as much attention as his toddler brother or attention-grabbing sister, he sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. Thus the life of an oldest child. I’m over here Mom! Me, the oldest child! The one without the fur and tail. Thanks!

The life of the oldest child is fun, but different. You’re usually harder on them. We read books and listen to so-called “experts”. We make sure they know what’s right and wrong and punish them for things we wouldn’t even think about punishing Child No. 3 for. You want them to be perfect. You want to think you’re doing everything perfectly. In actuality, we really don’t know what we’re doing. We’re first-time parents. There is no perfect way of raising a child. You take what you learned from your parents. You mix that in with your own value system. You learn by your mistakes. And after all that you hope and pray that the kid turns out … perfect!

BUTT-KISSING NOTE: I thank God every day for the wife He has given me! Lis and I are – at least – third generation kids of families that believe in family. In our mind there is no other way. We’re also what some may consider “old-fashioned” when it comes to raising our kids. We’re not afraid to say “No!” or let them know that we control the house. She was raised that way. I was raised that way. I’m so thankful that we can come to agreement on 95-percent of how we think we should raise our kids.

But again, nobody is perfect. We don’t know what we’re doing. She’s not a pro (though she plays like one) and I’m definitely not a pro. We’ve had slip-ups, especially with Lukas. I was so hard on him that when I look back at his early years it pains me.

OK … I’ve kind of gone away from what I wanted to do.

Since he’s 8-years old I thought I would do “Eight Proud Dad Moments”. Not in any order.

They don’t include learning to talk, first time he lost a tooth, the first time he made a poopy in the potty, the first time he slept through the night, the fact that he can speak two languages fluently, when he learned how to swim (though that was pretty sweet), his love of Star Wars (sweeter) and the fact he prefers the original trilogy over the new ones (sweetest), or any of those other moments that were bound to happen.

These are just random moments that popped into my head last night as I watched him read and thought, “I’m pretty proud of him. Hmm…what would be my proudest Dad moments? Hmm…what if I blogged about it for his birthday?”

So in no particular order …

Lukas McQueen

An excerpt from my April 28, 2010 entry:

I had one of my proudest days as a parent Wednesday night when Lukas took home not one but two trophies at the Awana Grand Prix.

Lukas won all four of his heats outlasting 16 other kids and winning his first trophy, the Grand Prix Division 1 speed trophy. He posted times of 2.78 (second best of the night), 2.82, 2.79 and 2.80. In the finale he raced 2.83 defeating three other kids (two from Division II and one from Division I) earning the Grand Champion trophy.

My Dad yelped like a girl. I gave a quick shout of joy and everyone else stood around wondering who had won. The three other kids looked around before someone said “Lukas!”, who was standing there raising his hand.

He was proud, I was proud, Lis was proud and his Grandparents were proud. Lia – well she was busy fussing about going “Nigh Night!”

Two kids came up to him, one saying that Lukas had an awesome car and that he never imagined a Cubbie (youngest group) winning the Grand Prix. Another kid asked if I was Lukas’s dad and wanted to congratulate him on his two trophies.

Afterwards I took Lukas to McDonald’s for some congratulatory celebratory ice cream.

The whole night left me in amazement. I was quite surprised considering we started working on the car Sunday afternoon and because Lukas just wanted to play with the car. We didn’t come in expecting anything and he ended up winning all five of his races.

On Sunday Lis, Lukas and I designed the car before giving it to Papi for him to saw and sand. Papi continued to ask Lukas about what he wanted the car to look like and when Lukas was fine with the final project we took it home for him to paint.

On Tuesday afternoon he painted Bumblebee (yellow with black stripes) and Lis added the final touches (tail lights, gloss).

I left work early on Wednesday so I can be there to watch the time trials. When we arrived we weighed the car and it chimed in at 3.8 ounces. The car can weigh as much as 5.0. We let it race down the track and it flew. When I went to turn it in the Awana dude suggested I add some weight. I wasn’t sure about it but we added two smaller weights and the car flew faster.

We weighed it again and it came in at 4.2. We added three more and it topped out at 4.9 oz.

As I mentioned I’m a very proud Dad so I had to immediately go home and make a video about it. The rest of the night I beamed thinking about Lukas’s face and how proud he was after the race.

In 1986 I took second place in my Cub Scouts Pinewood Derby. He topped that at age 5. And in one night he had cut my trophy case in half. I have won four legitimate trophies. The aforementioned second place trophy, an MVP award for my 1990 Little League season, a Gold Glove award in that same 1990 season and the plaque that Team Force has won the last three years. It was really special seeing him get these trophies…and not just any trophy, he actually earned these which made it more special.

Correction: I took third place in my 1986 Pinewood Derby race.

Mat Hoffman Watch Out!

OK, so I just finished watching ESPN’s 30-for-30 documentary titled “The Birth of Big Air” about Mat Hoffman and how he took the BMX world by storm in the mid-80’s. Lukas will not be the next Mat Hoffman. Which I think is OK since the dude has had over 100-plus concussions.

I am proud to say that Lukas finally learned how to ride his bike about a month back and he hasn’t stopped since.

This was an issue for a while – especially for his bike riding loving Mom. He didn’t want to remove the training wheels. We finally removed one. He didn’t want to remove the other one. He was constantly leaning towards one side and wondering why he felt like falling. This went on for about 3-4 years. After following me around for a couple of weekends on a trailer bike for kids (and maybe because his buddy at school was riding all by himself) Lukas decided to try it. Like I said, he hasn’t gotten off since.

Sure he’s had his share of spills, especially one where his bike clipped a fence causing him to lay out like Superman and fly forward a foot or two from where his bike landed. He was cool and collected and got back up and kept riding. Funny how a balloon popping will make him sob but a bike crash will cause him to dust off his limbs and continue on.

Lip Syncing Lukas!

We needed a fourth member and we were out of ideas. We could go with just three of us, but that wouldn’t be as cool. What about Lukas I suggested? The others weren’t convinced, but after a night of practice we decided to roll with it. Nothing was on the line. It was only an encore performance.

That’s how Lukas became the A in our “Y-M-C-A” performance at the Evergreen State Fair. Check out the video yourself:

Reading is Fun!

Like talking, this is something kids will eventually learn. Still I remember reading to him when he was little and wondering, how will he learn to read? It sounds simple because we all pretty much know how to do it, however, how do we do it? As he went through Kindergarten and First Grade he continued to progress, now I can sit down with him at night and have him read to me. He loves reading and is excited to spend 40 minutes a night reading. Yikes! Let’s check back on this in 10 years. As a Dad I’m kind of bummed because I no longer can have him sit on my lap and to my rendition of “Are You My Mother?” to all the kids. But I can introduce him to my favorite book when I was a kid, “Stuart Little“, which I gave to him for his birthday today. Can’t wait to reminisce!

GOL! GOL!

I don’t know what I was more proud of, the fact he scored two goals or the fact he stood up for a teammate.

This is from my October 6, 2008 entry:

The weather played havoc for a bit, lots of rain, lots of wind and a bunch of wet 3- and 4-year-olds. The field was muddy, I was dreading the game when midway through the first half Lukas showed me that he truly is half-Brazilian by getting the ball midfield then dribbling up an open field and shooting the ball into the net for his first real goal of his career. I say real because he scored one in the first game but it was kind of an ‘oops the ball is at the end of my foot and right in front of the net so I guess I’ll punch it in’ type of goal.

Saturday’s goal was nothing of the sort. It was a ‘run after the ball, get the ball in the open field continue dribbling it then shooting it hard into the netting’ type of goal. One that makes his coach and Dad very proud! He stepped up as not just his parents were watching. No! Both of his uncles (and their women), his Grandparents (the first time Papi had been to a game) and his great-uncle were all watching!

The goal also boosted his confidence as Lukas, usually one to want to take a break, fussed when he actually was told to take a break. He’d comeback later in the half by getting a pass from a teammate, which is a rarity at this age but will be noted at practice, and taking another solid shot at the goal. Again, his coach/Dad and family was proud.

It got better later in the game when Lukas, who was being pushed down and bullied constantly by another kid, did not back down, protecting his female teammate, who was pushed down by said-opponent, by pushing the bully down after his teammate had fallen. The two went toe-to-toe later in the game and I had to break it up, though it was kind of a funny confrontation. I was again proud that Lukas was not afraid of this bigger kid.

A year later we had a different type of soccer experience:

Lukas at the Bat

I love baseball. I love watching my kid play baseball, so yah … this made the cut.

One of my top 5 moments of 2011.

The outlook was brilliant for the River Bandits that day;
The score wasn’t even being counted, but the kids were ready to play;
And when the coach had put together his outfield and it wasn’t the same;
A sickly silence fell upon the parents at the game.

There was ease in Lukas’s manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Lukas’s bearing for the coach had put him at third base;
And when responding to the coach, “Lukas focus! Put on your hat!”
Lukas smiled, put his head up and looked at the kid that was at bat.

Ten eyes were on him as he began to play with the dirt;
Five tongues shouted back at him, “Wipe it off on your shirt!”
With runners at first and second there was only one spot to get him out;
So when the ball was hit to Lukas, everyone began to shout.

“Touch third Lukas!” came the roar from the air;
And Lukas touched the base and three outs was there.

OK … I really didn’t want that to go on for that long and the original “Casey at the Bat” was much longer so I don’t think I’ll rewrite the entire poem inserting Lukas and his T-ball skills so …

Lukas played T-ball for Little League and did a nice job hitting and fielding the ball. We just have some work to do with helping him catch it, but his baseball career looks promising.

One of the highlights from this season was watching him record three straight outs while playing third base (what I was trying to accomplish with the above poem). It boosted his confidence, boosted his coaches’ confidence in Lukas and lit up Lukas’s face.

When the team had its final two games batting from the pitching machine I watched as five of the first six batters were able to get a hit off the machine. As a Dad I didn’t want my son to be that kid that wasn’t able to get his bat off his shoulder. Instead, on his second swing he made contact for a solid hit, a total confidence booster for all parties involved.

Unfortunately 2012 was a different type of season for him. Not sure what his final stats were but let’s just say he was in a season long slump, possibly going 3-for-too many. But when he finally broke that 20-something at-bat hitless streak he danced and jumped all over first base so excited that he had made contact. He came around to score and it felt so good to him, and to me!

My favorite moment of the 2012 season was when he threw out a kid from centerfield to second base. He had played outfield before and he dreaded it. There was no action. I kept telling him that outfielders are important and that if the ball were to get out there he needs to make sure he got it in fast. Well he did and he nailed the kid from second base. What would’ve been the tying run. He wasn’t acknowledged much for it, mostly because his teammate caught the final out at shortstop, but I was pretty darn proud that he had the sense to scoop it up and get it in ASAP.

I also loved watching him play catcher. I played catcher a couple of seasons in Little League, so it was fun watching him behind the plate. He loved it and as we worked in the backyard he began to understand what his job was behind there. He even jumped on a ball in front of the plate stopping a run from scoring from third. He was 7, this is a big deal.

 

Lukas – Bully or Caregiver?

As mentioned earlier, it’s not easy being the oldest. You get blamed for everything!

Kid gets pegged with a rock, Lukas told them to throw it. Kid trips and falls while in Lukas’s vicinity, Lukas tripped them. Kids are running rampant around Grandma’s house, Lukas probably instigated it.

He’s been called a bully, a term I think we like to throw around loosely and often these days and often doesn’t resemble the bullies I remember in school. You know, the bullies that chased me around the playground before attempting to dispense of me in the trash receptacle.

We received a phone call last year with an emotional Lukas on the other line. He got sent to the “Paws Room” a place where kids need to go because they got in trouble on the playground. Turns out he head butted his buddy in the nose over a soccer ball dispute. Why did he headbutt the kid? Well, the kid taunted him and taunted him and … it’s just a quick resolution to the problem.

No, I don’t condone shutting a kid up with a headbutt, though my single buddy mentioned that head-butting is a lost art. This incident also brought back memories of when Uncle Erik head butted a neighbor kid. So I went to my brother and asked him why he did that. Erik’s answer, “He kept taunting me right in front of my face. That was the quick way to end the problem.” Hmm … I guess it could be hereditary.

It was a tough situation for Lis and myself. You want them to defend themselves and stick up for themselves but you also don’t want them to do things that are wrong.

Lukas was labeled as a Stage 1 Bully on the form that went home. NOTE: I don’t think that’s exactly what it said but it did sound like he was diagnosed with a pre-bully condition, and we don’t want that on his record.

Bully? I’m not convinced. Especially since my grandma recently said that Lukas holds a special place in her heart because he helped her through the toughest time in her life – when my uncle passed away in 2006. I didn’t know that. It was very nice to hear and made me think …

Lukas also helped Lis, myself and my family through the toughest time in our early life together – her fight against cancer. His smiles were there to comfort us while Lis went through treatment.

Lukas was labeled the “Prince of 7A” because not only did he bring joy to our family but he brought smiles to the face of the nurses that dealt with dying cancer patients on a daily basis.

Not only did he bring smiles to the faces of the nurses but also to those, often elderly, dying cancer patients who could lay in bed and watch this 5-month old attempt to walk across the seventh floor, or wave at this smiling baby as he strolled towards the elevator.

That baby is now 8-years old and knows more about what cancer does, how to fight cancer, and how to support those that are fighting cancer than most adults do. That makes this cancer-fighting Dad and his cancer-surviving Mom mighty proud.

Luke

Finally, I’m proud that Lukas knows who God is. That he’s interested in the Bible.  We didn’t mean to name him after one of the Gospels. I’m proud that he’s interested in praying, not only for the wonderful birthday gifts he received but about friends and family in need. He surprises me sometimes when we’re at the dinner table and we start digging in and he’s like, “We gonna pray?” or when he tells me that he prayed for so-and-so last night in bed. Shoot! I didn’t even think about doing that when I was 8-years old.

Happy Birthday Lukas!

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