I remember the day they were born. No, I’m not talking about my kids, although I remember the days they were born too. I’m talking about three people who, if we’re being honest here, aren’t even really people.
My daughter was just over two when it all started. Three days a week, she was in daycare. She took to it immediately and was making friends right away. One night, after a long day of Lego and leapfrog, Olivia was having a snack at the dining room table. I started asking about her day and all the familiar names of friends that I knew. I can still hear her high-pitched voice in my head.
How was daycare? You have a good day? How were your friends? Madison?
Her ridiculously curly hair bounced with every syllable and her headband took up half her skull. She looked just like she does today at twelve, if someone put her on a piece of Silly Putty and squashed it.
I kept going. Max. Kaitlyn. Sam. Before long, I had named everyone that I could think of in her playgroup. So, on the spot, I thought up some new ones.
She didn’t really react. She was eating Pirate Booty and appeasing me. Chomping away, she must have figured I was just a dumb adult.
I kept going.
These names weren’t preplanned or carefully constructed. They were random nonsense locked away in my brain that just came hurling from my mouth. While these first two might be rare, they are genuine names that some people use. Up until that point, she figured I was just unaware of who her friends were. The third one gave it away.
Captain Crazy Pants?
That caused a chuckle as she laughed out:
No Captain Crazy Pants!
What my toddler didn’t realize then was that the one tiny giggle was all I needed to keep these three alive for over a decade and counting.
As the years went on, Archibald, Reginald, and Captain Crazy Pants became my go-to names for anything she was a part of. They were the trio I always asked about after school. I requested that we add them to birthday party invites. I pretended to be on the phone with them when she came into the room. I claimed to have seen them at the supermarket.
My humor hasn’t changed much since that bowl of Booty ten years ago, aside from throwing “Alvin” in there occasionally. The only thing that has evolved is Olivia’s replies. As the years went on, a simple two-word “No Archibald” had become an exhausted, “Daddy, there is no Archibald.” After a few years of that, it became an annoyed eyeroll. The joke had worn off…for her.
Me? I never give up. Whether it’s the library that I make talk to her when we drive by or way I antagonize her during Facetime calls with her friends, Olivia knows that her dad is kind of whacked in the head and accepts it. What else can she do? She can’t do much about it because she lives in my house. So, yeah. I win. Score one for the grown-ups.
Because of that, Archibald, Reginald, and Captain Crazy Pants are immortal. It’s become a part of life and, because of that, she doesn’t protest like she used to, argue against their existence, or even roll her eyes. Today, there’s little-to-no reaction at all. It’s like hearing me breathe. It has become the white noise of a nutcase.
What Olivia still doesn’t realize is that these three are part of our lives for the long-haul. I am going to demand they are added to the guest list at her wedding and ask my potential grandchildren if they know them from their own school. If she ever wins the Nobel Prize for astrophysics, I will inquire as to whether or not they were on her research team. Doctors Archibald, Reginald, and Captain Crazy Pants are here forever.
Last night, as she was swiping away on her iPad, I told her that I was going to be making this blog post. I said, “Guess what I’m calling the blog tomorrow?”
Ten years removed from the giant headbands and pirate booty, my nearly-teenage toddler kept her gaze fixed on the screen before her.
Archibald, Reginald, and Captain Crazy Pants.
Her expression changed to an exacerbated smirk. She warned me.
Don’t. No one is going to read it.
Oh yeah? We’ll see. I’ll tell you who reads it tomorrow.
Oh, and I will. The humor of it all is that she hasn’t figured out where I am going with this yet, but you probably have. When I let her know how huge of a hit this article was, I will even be able to tell her how it was seen by some very important people. When she asks who, I have three names all lined up to tell her.