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Rich In Thought - Turn Around…

POSTED July 20, 2011 2:50 a.m.

With all respect to my colleague, Teresa, this month’s column could be easily titled “Daddy Musings.”

My youngest child, Tony, will be getting married in two weeks. His wedding will mark the third time since 2008 that I have been involved in such a ceremony with my family.

In ’08, I walked my daughter Nichole down the aisle and in ’09, since my father had passed away; I escorted my 29-year-old sister down the aisle. This year, as FOG, or father-of-the-groom, I play a less involved part during the nuptials.

Over the last weekend, the bride-to-be, Kirstin, and my wife, Robin, were going through the family pictures for a photomontage to be shown during the reception. While I was with them looking at pictures of Tony throughout the years, I was reminded of the song, “Turn Around,” a tune that was recorded by several artists in the late ‘60s including Perry Como, Dick & Dee Dee, and Harry Belafonte.

“Where are you going, my little one, little one? Where are you going my baby, my own? Turn around and you’re two, turn around and you’re four, turn around and you’re a young girl/man going out of the door.”

The ballad is about a father who sings about his daughter – or in my case a son – and how fast they have grown as he remembers the years. I admit that when hearing it my eyes become blurry with an unexpected tear. Actually, you’d have to be as cold-blooded as a dead penguin on a block of ice or as heartless as a statue to not feel a pang of emotion.

Just call me a sentimental softie – I’ve been called worst.

Turn around and you’re two…
Tony always had a fascination with mechanical and electronic items and I should have taken that interest as a premonition of his life to come. His first word was “light” and he could be comforted by the turning on and off of a hallway light when crying. As a toddler he would forever gaze at the rotation of a fan, staring off endlessly, making me wonder what was going on in that tiny head of his.

That cute little guy with chubby cheeks would stand motionless in wonder when putting on headphones from the stereo, watching as the LED lights of the sound meter would jump with the various bass and treble levels of a song.

On his third birthday he got a battery powered truck he could ride that quickly became one his favored toys. Being a young child, Tony had an issue with some of his pronunciations and would say his “tr” sound more like a “fr,” which would force my wife and me to be very careful when discussing the topic of his truck with him when out in public.

Turn around and you’re four…
For most children this age, the Sears or Toys'R'Us Christmas catalog is the wish book for the season. Not for Tony. His was the Radio Shack catalog, and I’m not talking about the radio controlled cars or other games featured. Nope, he wanted decibel meters, electronic tape measures, or digital barometer-thermometers; anything that had lights, numbers, dials, or gauges.

Electric trains, science kits, and Erector Sets scattered our family room floor during his younger years. When we got our first PC computer in the ‘90s, Tony was locked in, not fearing anything about the contraption, typing away at the keyboard and exploring the virtual world it offered.

Being as passionate about baseball as I am, I tried to get him involved in the pastime also. I will forever have engrained in my mind him wearing Giants jersey number ‘1’ taking the field for his little league team.

His interest for the game really took off when I taught him about scoring the game. Of course it would; there were numbers and statistics. He was the only 6-year-old around that could compute an ERA let alone explain the formula for determining it.

Tony’s computer interest continued throughout school. In fact, the only time I got called to his high school for him getting in trouble over something was related to a computer. Bored in his “basic” computer class, he and a classmate decided to get into the school’s mainframe, create password protected files, and have some of his “favorite” teachers’ monitor’s images reversed. He was in trouble, but I was sort of impressed.

His older sister – the cheerleader – would laugh at him and his computer nerd friends he’d have over for their LAN parties when he was a teen. These were gatherings where he and his friends would fill our downstairs with their computers for a multi-server video game fest. (Mind you, this was prior to laptops being so popular, so each kid was lugging over a full monitor, tower, and keyboard.)

In his senior year, several packages were showing up at the house for him via UPS. I came to learn he had located a “cheat” for a popular computer game and had sold the points he had accumulated online to the game enthusiasts over the Internet. Apparently he made close to $1,700 in a 10-day period before the server blocked him. Again, what could I do other than be impressed?

There were times when the front doorbell would ring and I’d half expect a couple of guys with bad suits wearing Ray-Bans and wingtips representing one of the alphabet soup federal agencies that were going to want to talk to my “innocent little boy.”

I’m sure his computer endeavors – even the bad ones – were keys to him getting an early admission to Cal-Poly in San Luis Obispo and later a degree in Computer Science. He was recruited by Microsoft and moved to Redmond, Washington right out of college where he’s been the last two years.

At 24 years old, he recently bought a nice spacious house in the Seattle area, just accepted a job offer by a major video game producer, and now is getting married.

Turn around and you’re a young man going out of the door.
A new house, new job, new wife; where did all those years go?

Richard Paloma is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. He may be reached at 847-3021.

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