For almost three years, I have had a standing date night with my daughter, “Pit Stop Fridays.” We kick our weekends off at a nearby eatery in Merrick called The Pit Stop, order the same food, go home, and watch Netflix until we pass out. It is a rare occasion for one of us to skip our routine. When I do, I have hell to pay and have to make it up to Cydney. On the other hand, I have also given my daughter shit for the times I ordered and picked up the food, and waited in my room with Netflix on pause, because she got a little too wrapped up into Roblox on her tablet.
This past Friday, I came home from the Pit Stop, and waited around a little for Cydney to finish her conversation with her good friend, whom she has not seen in months because her friend has opted for remote learning this schoolyear. We were unable to watch Netflix because my mother and nephew were active on the app.
“I know what we’re going to watch!” I said to my daughter. I opened YouTube on my television and turned on my favorite show to watch when she was much younger: Yo Gabba Gabba!
Cydney pretended she was not enthused by my choice. She is almost ten years old and thinks she is too cool for such a kiddie show. I looked at my child and said “You can say what you want, you used to love this show. If I needed to get something done, this was the show to watch.”
“This show is stupid!” Cydney exclaimed. I explained to her “This show is for little children, who are sponges. While they pay attention to the bright, flashing colors, a catchy song, explaining an abstract and complex concept just seeps into their mind, so it makes sense when they’re much older. And it’s done in a way in which parents like the show, too. It’s actually very brilliant and well executed.”
“Every adult my age, who had to watch this show with their kid, loves this show!” I told Cydney. As soon as I said those words, my mind went into a pastel-colored time warp. My first recollection were the many afternoons in 2012 and 2013, where my mother worked all day, and my nephew was in school. I was home and convened between our kitchen and living room, as I attempted to put words-to-page for this very site and keep an eye on my toddler, who wanted to get into any and everything. Yo Gabba Gabba! was as much a part of our routine as Pit Stop Fridays; it often meant Cydney would tire herself out and nap.
My second and most prevalent memories revolved around the brief period I coparented. As my daughter used wry sarcasm to display interest in what was on television, I remembered the very tired 25-year-old who held his daughter in his arms, walked and rocked her back and forth until she fell asleep, while her mother and I conversed with Yo Gabba Gabba! in the background.
Timile Brown and I loved Yo Gabba Gabba! because we were high as kites when it was on…
For $13 an hour, I facilitated the short sale process on distressed mortgages right outside Buffalo’s city limits. I came home to my family and it was time for dinner. Due to Timile’s esophageal cancer, chemo treatments, and pain medicine regimen (alternate days of methadone and dilaudid in which we had huge bottles of both), to find food she could eat and keep down was an expensive and difficult task.
Every night, Timile and I would leave Cydney with Timile’s great aunt, Erlene, whom we lived with, and attempted to figure out what she may be able to keep down that evening. I would roll up some weed I bought from my coworker, Geno (who recently succumbed to his own fight with cancer), and we would smoke. As we drove around Buffalo, we would listen to the Beatles or Parliament and converse; it was our quality time and gave us a semblance of the life we once shared together in Atlanta a year earlier. Now that I think about it, Holy fuck life changed drastically within a year.
In Atlanta, we did not smoke on a regular basis; we had our periods in which we would every day for a week and would not partake for a couple months. However, at this point in our lives, weed was a necessity. It helped Timile feel hungry, eat as much as she could, and kept food down as it suppressed the nausea which accompanied the process. Also, there was nothing anyone could or would say to us about smoking and smelling like weed: we were doing what we had to do in order to get Timile to eat.
Almost every night, I bought food from four locations in hopes Timile could eat one. Because I did not want to waste money, I ate the other three full meals she could not. Many days, she could not eat any of the four. I ballooned to a size 40 waist and weighed 255lbs in 2011; it was a minor price to pay for the bigger picture.
As our infant daughter laughed and giggled in one of our arms or seated in her own chair, Timile and I laughed and giggled at Yo Gabba Gabba!, as well. The show was trippy by design and all its silliness kept the two of us glued to it, the same way Cydney was.
For this brief amount of time, we forgot about all of our troubles and the harsh hand we were dealt. Despite how our circumstances aged us way past our peers, for a couple of hours, we were a couple, in our mid-twenties who enjoyed our child, and were good company to one another.
We laughed about how we both kinda knew the night Cydney was conceived; but never talked about it until one night. Timile made fun of me for my insistence Cydney’s name began with an S because it would be difficult to find her name on keychains at Six Flags; but because it was my first child, she said Cydney with a C. The two of us never talked about cancer, medicine, sickness, or any of that shit. Money was funny and life was hard; but amid it all, we were happy.
I learned a valuable lesson in this period; Timile and I made happiness a choice. From the day we began to date, Timile suffered from severe depression and anxiety. Almost five years later, we were in a city without any of our friends and intimate support groups; we were all we had. However, somehow and some way, we made a concerted effort to carve out a little of our old normal. I guess we made happiness a part of our routine.
We also argued and fought (I’ll never forget one September exchange where the two of us yelled at each other on the front lawn one night…that shit was nuts). But even then, most of our disagreements were the times our frustrations from all we were trying to figure out in real time bubbled up the surface and had to come out. But even after these moments, we went right back to Yo Gabba Gabba! or one of the handful of other shows we watched once Cydney fell asleep and proceeded to enjoy each other’s company.
Today is December 7, two days from when our trio became two in an earthly essence. Nine years later, I can still share a laugh with good company, the little girl who giggled through a show she did not understand. Time flies when you’re having fun.
Our Friday night dates are more than uninterrupted quality time between father and child. In real time, it is a lesson in what to look for when she-and I- choose a mate. As I have said before on this site and to my daughter, when it’s all said and done, in a life partner, you’re looking for someone who is good company; good company you’d want to learn something new about every day; and what you are willing to do to keep whomever happy and continuing to be good company.
Yo Gabba Gabba! never made that song…