The Sullivan Family at dinner.

With younger kids, sometimes the silly can stick. You should hope it sticks. What can seem trivial to the outside world is the stuff older folks are talking about when they tell you to cherish every moment. A couple months shy of Elliott’s 2nd birthday he noted that while he knew me as Daddy, the cousins we were visiting at the time all seemed to think my name was Timmy. So, on what was probably his 300th question of the day, Elliott began by furrowing up his little brow and said, “Daddy? I mean Timmy? I mean Timmydaddy?”

Everyone had a good laugh and that blog I was thinking about undertaking to memorialize these moments found a name. Somehow that blog turned into a column and thanks to all the good folks here at Atlanta Intown, that column with a silly name ran for a decade. True story. I can’t believe I got away with that!

I was able to share nuggets like when Margo protested getting out of bed for Pre-K on the Monday after daylight savings: “Daddy, it’s bitch black outside!” Or when Elliott crossed out the word “Best” on his Kindergarten Father’s Day artwork and changed it to “The wurest dad” after a particularly spirited bath time meltdown. For the most part, the funny stuff wrote itself and I hope those little stories were ones that people could relate to. I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am to all of you who read along.

My kids are getting a little older now though and I guess I should be pleased that they both speak quite clearly these days. We are in a different phase of life so (however cute), so the Timmydaddy name seemed a bit outdated. My editor, Collin, suggested I think of a more professional sounding name, and I agreed.

The idea was it should be something along the lines of Melody Harclerode’s excellent Perspectives in Architecture column or Sally Bethea’s important writing about environmental concerns in Above the Waterline.

My brain kept going to Perspectives in Waterlines because as nonsensical as it is, it almost sounds like something about something. And honestly, I just can’t help myself. Like many middle-aged dads, relatively unfunny word play is an affliction I suffer from.

Often the themes I cover in the column are shaped in some way through our dinner table conversations, so I decided to bounce it around the family brain trust. But when Elliott and Margo are no longer interested in the meal or the conversation it’s a short trip to, “May I be excused?” And wait a second – is that it or what?

When spoken it sounds a lot more like ‘maybescused’. It’s not so much a question as it is speedy, rote recitation. It is simultaneously an impolite stab at table manners and the proverbial teen/tween eject button. So, thank you, children, for remaining a fount of unintentional input. You’ve captured this stage in our lives succinctly and you’ve renamed my column.

There is plenty that I’d enjoy being excused from myself. Like when a client recently launched into a frantic sermon on what we NEED to be doing RIGHT NOW to ensure my 9th grader gets into a top-notch university. May I be excused from the requisite college application freakout? For a couple years at least?

With my 50th birthday on the horizon. do I accept the financial anxiety of splurging on an expensive trip to celebrate? Or do I host a party where everyone can size me up and down and debate whether I look 50? May I be excused from that, too? My guess is no, I won’t be excused from any of it. But even as we all get older, there’s still a bit of funny and a bit of meaning in life’s little anecdotes. So, notes will be taken.

Tim Sullivan

Tim Sullivan is an award-winning columnist who writes about family life and thinks everything is at least a little funny.