Archive | January, 2012

Don’t Follow Your Dreams

30 Jan

 generally try to keep things light and fluffy on this blog – nothing too heavy, nothing too serious, nothing too controvercial. Just the happy, funny stuff thank you very much. But of course parenting is serious business, and heavy stuff comes up all the time. I’m going to apologize in advance, because this post deviates from the light and fluffy and ventures into the heavy and serious. I wrote it a few weeks ago, knowing full well that it didn’t really fit with the general tone around DorkDaddy.com. So I shopped it around to other websites to see if anyone wanted to publish it as a guest-article. No luck (special thanks though to Ron Mattocks for actually reading it and helping me find a home for it). Then I tripped across this article titled “Not All College Majors Are Created Equal” on The Washington Post’s website, coincidentally published just about the same time I wrote my piece, and I knew I couldn’t leave it un-published. So here it is, a heavier, more serious DorkDad-ism. I promise it’ll be all light and fluffy stuff for a good while after.

I wonder what majors they offer here.
 
 
Our Advice To Our Kids: Don’t Follow Your Dreams
 

Kids dream big. That’s what they’re supposed to do. This is an account of the lessons I’ve learned about dreaming big, and the advice I will give my kids as their dreams take shape.

***

The night before my wedding, between all the hoopla, my best man and I managed to slip away and share a quiet, introspective moment. Jeff and I were best friends since pre-school. His mother was my kindergarten teacher, and then later my 2nd grade teacher. From the age of 4 to 18 his life and mine moved in lock step with one another. Everyone should be so lucky to have a Jeff in their lives. After 10 years of adulthood though, we were in different places. Nobody is really where they want to be in their late 20’s. It’s that awkward place between college and your *real* adult life. But at that moment, we were both there for each other, for my wedding. Jeff and I sat there quietly together, ruminating no doubt on just that sort of thing, framed in the context of the gravity of the event. Out of the silence Jeff suddenly stared at me through squinted eyes, and with a deep, confounded breath said to me, “How did you do it?”

“Do what?” I returned, confused.

“You own your own house. You’re in dental school. You’re marrying the perfect woman tomorrow, and you’re not even 30. How did you do it?”

We’d had too much wine to come up with a coherent answer that night, but the question stuck with me.  Later I was able to answer it, at least for myself. My entire life I have always known what I wanted to be as an adult. That is to say, I wanted to be a husband and a father in the manner my own father was. I knew that I wanted to be able to support my family alone (if possible) so that my wife could stay home (if she wanted), and I knew that I wanted to pour as much love into the lives of my kids as possible. That presented some pretty cold, hard realities I’d have to deal with, including income level, time off work, total education and so forth. That meant eliminating some decisions that did NOT ultimately point in the direction I wanted to go.

From hindsight, I can say that I “did it” because I always knew where I ultimately wanted to be, and when life presented choices to me, step by step, decision by decision, I inched closer and closer to the ultimate goal. I didn’t go off and follow my heart by majoring in screenwriting (OK, I may have done that. But only for a semester) or trekking off to Europe for two years to find myself. If I’d gone “with my heart” I would be a Muppetteer right now (I know, random right?), or struggling in Los Angeles trying to be a filmscore composer. The chances of reaching the level of success in those careers necessary to support a family on my own were pretty slim. Even today I would drop my current gig in a heartbeat if I could support my family by going back to teach Jr. High science. Instead I settled on a career that I like, maybe even love, definitely don’t hate, even if it wasn’t my first choice. It’s not my dream job, but it enables a different dream that is even more important to me. The fact that I have realized that dream, I count as a success.

Looking at things from the perspective of an adult, what seemed totally normal to me as a teenager  turns out really wasn’t all that normal. Most people don’t have the benefit of knowing where they want to go from an early age. I was very lucky in that regard. I credit my luck to the fact that I’ve always been a very introspective person. I’ve always liked to spend my quiet time thinking deep thoughts. In this way I got to know myself pretty well very early on, so instead of spending my 20’s figuring my sh*t out, I spent that time working towards the ultimate goal. And here I sit. I did it.

Now that we are parents, my wife and I are tasked with guiding our children as best we can in accordance with our personal values and the wisdom that comes with the lessons life has taught us along the way. She and I both came up in a world that told you to go to college, major in what your passion is which will ultimately yield a job in that field, and you’ll have a wonderful life. “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life” and all that. Flash out of that fantasy dream world into the Great Recession. Daily we hear about college educated people who simply can’t find work, because the jobs just aren’t out there. The ones who do find jobs don’t make enough money to pay off the student loans they accumulated in order to get those jobs. People who once thought they were secure working for big, well-established firms suddenly find themselves without a job and competing for scraps with the young, hungry college graduates who will accept a lot less. People are definitely not in control of their own destiny these days. They say generations are defined by the major events of their times. For my parents it was the free-love 60’s. For my grandparents it was the Great Depression. For today’s parents it’s the Great Recession. My wife and I have to prepare our kids for this world. Bathed in that light, suddenly the advice we give them takes on a whole new flavor.

As crazy as it sounds, we will not be telling our children to follow their dreams.

Take a moment to let that sink in. Believe me, I know how crazy that sounds. There goes our “Parents of the Year” award. My ears want to spit the words out every time I say them.

We will be telling our children to know themselves, to know what sort of life they want as adults, to figure out what sacrifices are necessary to make to achieve that life, and step by step, crossroad by crossroad, make the decisions that will slowly take them to that end goal. We will point to my sister, who we love and respect so much. She followed her heart and got a teaching credential, and then got a masters degree from a top-tier (private, and therefore expensive) east coast graduate program in deaf education, with an emphasis in special-ed. She went into it all starry-eyed, thinking about what a difference she was going to make in the world. If you know anything about the California economy you know what a sorry state the teaching profession is in here. The best my sister could do was a job teaching kindergarten at a private school (which means 2/3 the pay… the school, incidentally just filed chapter 11, for the 3rd time). Since she has special-ed credentials she is saddled with all the behavior problems (who’s only special needs are their actual parents). She’s awash in so much debt from her graduate work that she can hardly make ends meet. Something as trivial as a flat tire totally throws off the precarious balance of her monthly finances – and forget saving for retirement (no fancy pensions at a private school either). If you asked her, she’d tell you she has days (more these days than in the past) when she genuinely wonders if going into that profession, and getting all that education just wasn’t worth it.

My wife and I both graduated from the Liberal Arts departments of our respective universities. We both have a thirst for the intellectual and the creative. We are both drawn to the liberal and fine arts, but we have found security in science and business. Neither of us use our liberal arts degrees now (unless you count blogging). Every indication is that both our children will have similar interests and aptitudes. When our kids go to college (and they WILL go to college), the advice they will get from us is not to major in what they love. Sad as it is, we will encourage them to adjust their college experience to the life they want to lead after college, not the other way around. The lessons of the Great Recession are job security, proper debt leveraging and to the extent possible, controlling your own destiny. If our children are anything like us, their hearts may want to major in theater set-design, screen writing, music theory, history, English-lit or 19th century European female impressionist painting. Those are the disciplines that enrich the soul and grow the mind. They are crucial for furthering the human condition, but in today’s world, with very rare exceptions, they are the antithesis to a secure, sustainable lifestyle. If our children are anything like us they will be drawn to those departments, to those dreams.

If job security and a financially sustainable, middle-class lifestyle is a priority for them, we will have to advise them not to follow those dreams; or rather, like we did, to set those dreams aside for more important ones. If they know the realities going into those disciplines, and choose those paths anyway, then god speed.
 
-Dork Dad
(we now return you to your regularly scheduled dork-ness)

Daddy Issues

28 Jan

Have a good weekend everyone.

-Dork Dad

20120128-120409.jpg

Why change your ways after becoming a dad?

24 Jan

dorkdad:

To read the full article, click here…

This is why fathers need to talk to their sons about the role we play in the way our daughters and sisters develop. When you realize that that girl in the strip club is somebody’s daughter, that the girl in that magazine is somebody’s sister, suddenly those things take on a very different light. You can’t objectify women when you are responsible for raising one. That goes for fathers *and* brothers. It’s the biggest part of being a responsible man in this world.

Originally posted on Daddy-Daughter Date:

So I saw this article last week and I’ve been dying to comment every since.  But, I had to wait for my Monday slot, so I spared you all my comments.  Lucky you.

Why is NOW the moment that rapper Jay-Z vow to stop rapping about women in a derogatory way?  Why is it, that when he finally has a DAUGHTER, he decides that using words in such a way is no longer acceptable?  It’s seems all too simple, really.  He finally has a daughter and he sees the error of his ways.  His words that he once used to define women in his music were now barbaric, crude, and ignorant?  What a big change 9 months can make.

Let’s look back.  Jay Z has been on the hip-hop scene since 1996.  He’s been a part of 15 albums.  He’s won multiple Grammy awards as well as BET awards. …

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The Cookie Push

23 Jan

‘m probably going to be branded a Fascist for admitting this, but in my day I never really enjoyed Cub/Boy Scouts. Don’t get me wrong, I see a lot of social value in the lessons they teach… honesty, bravery, disaster preparedness, walking old ladies across the street; and I certainly loved the time spent with my dad while I was doing it. There was always something that just didn’t sit quite right with me about the whole experience. There were quasi-military uniforms, secret handshakes, swearing oaths (to uphold values you weren’t possibly old enough to understand)… I remember looking around at all the other guys, fingers firmly-

I'm just not a scout. But I'm not a Facist either.

raised solemnly swearing to do their duty, and it all felt a little too cult-ish for my comfort. It seemed very suspicious to me. So when I finished Cub Scouts I decided that I would not be moving on to Boy Scouts. Now I certainly appreciate what an achievement reaching Eagle Scout is. I won’t detract from anyone who’s earned those stripes (wings?), and goodness knows I loved getting out the tools and designing my pinewood derby car with my dad. But on the whole, Cub/Boy Scouts and I just weren’t a good match for one another.

I would like to take this opportunity though to thank Mrs. Moncrief (our den leader) for custom-making me a badge when I earned “Bobcat” before I was actually old enough to get it. I was just a little squirt then, and when she presented the home-made badge to me at the awards ceremony I didn’t accept it as graciously as I should have. There. Good to get that off my chest. It’s bothered me my whole life.

In any case, my daughter has recently started Daisies, the precursor to Brownies, which is the precursor to full-on Girl Scouts. It’s fun for her. It’s fun for my wife. It’s a social event as much as anything else, with some fun activities thrown in here and there. But 30+ years later, watching my daughter getting started in the scouting organization, all those things that chafed me when I was a scout have come back to haunt me through my daughter. I fully recognize that my aversions to some of the unavoidable parts of scouting-culture are my own personality quirks, and are well outside mainstream thinking. I also firmly believe that the benefits of scouting on net outweigh the things that I am averse to. On the “pick your battles” front, this one ain’t worth it. I’m the guy with the problem, so I’m the guy that just needs to deal with it.

I mean *REALLY*, is there anything more American than this?

Recently I had the opportunity to watch my daughter do her thing at a Daisies meeting. Those girls were so cute, and the moms who were running the meeting are all superhuman. “Uh oh, girls” our good friend Karen said as she opened up her front door to let me in the house. “There’s a dad here”. The chorus of 5-year-old girl giggles was sweet enough to induce diabetic shock. Watching the meeting reaffirmed in my mind all the good things scouting gives kids. Sitting there I was glad my girl was having those experiences. But the ghosts of my scouting experience were there in full force. Two words kept swirling around my mind: “indoctrination” and “cookies”.

One of the activities they did was a memory game, where a few dozen cards are spread out on the floor upside down, and each girl takes turns turning over two cards. If they get a match they get to take the pair and go again. If not the cards are turned back over and the next girl gets a shot at it. But these were not the Mattel “Memory” cards you remember from your childhood. These cards were Girl Scout *COOKIE* cards. “Bummer. Samoa and Tagalong aren’t a match. OK, who’s next?”

Now I’ve got no moral high ground to stand on when it comes to the issue of indoctrinating your kids, but I do call it what it is. From a cynical adult perspective, watching those girls try to match Thin Mint cards, it was obvious that the Girl Scout propaganda machine was in full-effect. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing. But at the moment the 100 lb. gorilla in the room with the entire Girl Scout experience is the cookie-push. “Sell those cookies girls! Who can sell the most cookies?! How many cookies did you sell since the last meeting?” This is the season where corporate scouting seems to overshadow the sweet character building stuff that’s actually fun. Moms are hocking cookies to their facebook friends, dads are bringing their doe-eyed daughters to work because who can really say “no” to a 5-year-old in a Scout uniform. It’s certainly amusing to watch, if you ignore the ugly capitalism of it all. (Another Daisy Dad and I recently joked about bringing the order forms to work for those times when vendors come around to sell us something. “Oh, you’d like me to spend a bazillion dollars on your new wigit? Did I mention that my daughter is selling Girl Scout cookies? How many boxes should I put you down for?”)

In their defense, the proceeds go to paying for more character-building stuff, a group outdoor camping trip at the end of the season which should be absolutely Dork-TASTIC. But let’s get real. Sure, selling Girl Scout cookies outside the grocery store has its character building qualities too. But these are 5-year-old girls we’re talking about. They have no idea why they’re selling cookies, other than because their parents tell them to. For Pete’s sake, at this age they have absolutely no concept of the value of a dollar. My daughter still thinks a nickel is more valuable than a dime because it’s bigger. I’m not going to walk my daughter around the neighborhood or park her in front of a grocery store when to tell people “we’re raising money for a camping trip” when she has no idea what the connection is between the money raised and the trip itself. When she’s older? Sure. Now? No.

Still, there is money that needs to be raised, cookies that need to be sold. When other girls are reporting 100+ boxes sold, ain’t no way I’m gonna let my girl say “I only sold 12 boxes”. What’s a DorkDad to do?

Crack.

I’ll tell you this: if the vendors don’t pay a visit to my office and come through real quick, my itemized deductions for 2012 are going to show a rather large donation to the Girl Scouts of America.

Anyone want to buy some cookies?

$4.00 a box.

-Dork Dad

Episode IV Comes First (it’s just good parenting)

21 Jan

few weeks ago my son and I had some dude-time. My wife and daughter had a weekend chalk-full of girl stuff… dance class, swim lessons, two birthday parties, I don’t remember what else. But the salient point is that my son and I had two entire afternoons to ourselves in the same weekend. On day one we did our typical father/son thing… comic book shop, root beer floats, gummy dinosaurs and “the snake park”. But faced with girl-less day #2 I found my usual bag of son-entertaining tricks expired and needing to be recharged. The weather wasn’t good enough to be excited about hitting the beach, and it wasn’t bad enough to justify staying indoors all day. It was time to get creative.

It should be said that my wife and I have discussed what the appropriate age is for exposing our children to certain movies. She/we agreed that there really wasn’t a compelling reason to expose them to adult imagery like pilots blowing up in a fiery death, gun-fighting, burning carcasses, political executions, chopping off limbs, oppressive governments… and whether or not Han shot first, until they were about 6 years old. But that afternoon I looked into the eyes of my little 3-year-old Jedi, after a full morning of lightsaber fighting, and an idea popped into my head.

I did some quick arithmetic. It turns out that that particular week my son was precisely 3 years, 5 months old – the same age I was when “Star Wars: A New Hope” first premiered at Grauman’s Chinese theater on Hollywood Blvd on Wednesday, My 25th 1977. I looked down at my little Jedi, who personally faced down Darth Maul (part 1 and part2) just a few months earlier, who had plenty of Star Wars toys in his bedroom, who knew the music and the names of all the characters despite never having seen the movies… I looked down at my little Jedi and made an executive decision: today was the day. It flew in the face of the agreement I made with my wife, but I was feeling a little defiant and in all honesty I believed in my heart that my son was ready. (It should also be noted that to this day my wife has no knowledge that this happened. My son is not the squealer that his sister is. With the publication of this post I have effective outed myself. If I don’t blog for a while after this at least you’ll know why. It was one of my worst husbanding moments. I deserve what ever is coming to me. I’m coping to it now to admit my guilt and come clean.) So I finally took the shrink-wrap off of the Star Wars Blu-Ray set I got for Christmas and my boy and I settled down under a blanket with our lightsabers and a big tub of microwave popcorn for his very first time watching “Star Wars: Episode IV, A New Hope” from beginning to end. (For anyone considering the same, know this: Episode IV comes first. It’s just good parenting)

It took me 8 months to buy and watch this after its release

For what it’s worth, the experience was awesome. For my part, the Blu-Ray experience was great (I’ve seen the movie so many millions of times I actually noticed the difference on Blu-Ray) For his part, he absolutely loved it. He had to run to his bedroom to pull out all his Star Wars toys to sit on the coffee table and watch the movie with us. And to my immeasurable delight, he made it through the entire movie – spellbound. It was a seminal moment in the relationship between a boy and his Dork Daddy. This was his first REAL Star Wars viewing. “I LOVED it Daddy! Can we watch it again?!” Success.

On some level I have always imagined sharing those movies with my kids, and it seemed to me that watching it all the way through for the very first time with my son required something special to commemorate the occasion. “You did, did you?” I said with a smile.

“Yeah!” he replied. As I watched him zooming around the living room, pretending to be an X-wing fighter on the trench-run it suddenly became very clear to me that now was the time for another seminal, special once-in-a-lifetime moment between father and son.

“Buddy, you wait right here. I need to go into the attic and get something”. My son is no stranger to the attic. He knows that’s where Daddy keeps all the *REALLY* cool stuff that Mommy won’t let him bring in the house. Last year when he got an AT-AT for successfully potty training, his Dork Daddy brought down from the attic HIS OWN AT-AT and an entire afternoon of awesomeness ensued. At the mention of the word “attic” my son’s eyes grew wide with anticipation. The possibilities were endless.

I returned from the attic with my hands behind my back. “Now son, I need to tell you something. These were mine when I was a little boy. I’ve kept them safe all these years, and now I want you to have them”. From behind my back I produced the very same Kenner X-wing fighter and TIE fighter I played with when I was collecting Star Wars action figures as a boy. They were profoundly loved in their day, so they were in no way mint-condition. The accessories were long gone. The decals were half-missing. The electronic sounds no longer worked. But that didn’t matter to my son. His eyes nearly bugged out of his head, his mouth opened silent, not knowing what to say. He was dumfounded (or at least the 3-year-old equivalent).

After a beat he finally managed “For me?”

“For you buddy.”

From father to son, to commemorate a special occasion.

The rest of the afternoon was spent zooming around the backyard, X-wing vs. TIE fighter, him and me, making all the wooshing, zapping and exploding sound effects ourselves. For the next 48 hours he didn’t let that X-wing out of his sight. He slept with it. He brought it with him when we went to pick up Chinese food (and showed it to all the patrons inside the restaurant). When he went to bed that night he looked at his 30+ year old plastic toy, neatly tucked under the blankets with him and said to me “Daddy, this is the greatest present I ever got in my entire life”.

I saved those toys for 30+ years. It took 3+ years of waiting before he was ready to sit through the movie (and 3 days before he broke the 30+ year old toy). It’ll take 3 hours for my wife to notice this post, read it, try and convict me, and carry out my sentence. But I tell you this: seeing the look on his face when I gave those toys to my boy, and playing non-stop with him and them for the next 48 hours, it was totally worth it.

-Dork Dad
(anyone got a couch I can crash on?)

The Nightmare Before Breakfast

20 Jan

h the games we play to get our kids to eat dinner. For my son it usually involves some sort of a performance on my part. Typically I have to pretend I’m the narrator from “Walking With Dinosaurs” go get him to actually think about eating at the dinner table. “Observe the terrifying spinosaurus,” (said in a British or Australian accent for maximum effect) “as he devours the green be… er, um… velociraptor eggs. Nothing escapes those powerful jaws!”

Last night, for whatever reason, he wanted me to be Jack Skellington. Who knows where he got that or why he decided to fixate on that particular character, but the fact was if we wanted him to eat I was going to have to be Jack. I must say I was rather impressed with myself. I think I did a rather serviceable Jack, right up there with my uncanny Kermit The Frog impression. In any case my Jack rendition was well received and the encours lasted through the entire evening, all the way up to bedtime.

This picture was actually taken on Thanksgiving... not Halloween.

 

Fast-forward to a quarter ’till the buttcrack of dawn this morning. Through the haze of sleep my wife and I heard our son calling out… something, we couldn’t tell what. His usual wake-up call is “Mooooommy!” This was something different. 

“What is he saying?” unDorkMommy said to me, more asleep than awake. I wrested myself from what was left of the dream I was having to listen. There it was again.

“Oh my gosh,” I said. “It’s ‘Jack Skellington’. He wants me to go in there and be Jack Skellington”.

Bleary-eyed and more than half asleep at six o’something in the morning (on my day off) I stumbled out of bed and felt my way through the dark to my bedroom door, on my way to placate my demanding 3-year-old son before his calls for Jack Skellington woke his moody sister too early. As I grumbled something to myself on my way out the bedroom door my wife said smugly, “It’s your fault for being the fun Daddy”.

I paused in the doorframe trying to come up with a pithy response through the cobwebs. I had nothing. Her logic was rock-solid.

Dammit.

 

-Dork Dad

Revenge of the Decorative Towels

19 Jan

he first word to come to mind when describing my wife would be anything but “dork”. She’s come a long, long way since we came into each other’s lives, but she was raised in the superficiality capitol of the world, Southern California. Girls in her high school were more worried about who did their nose-jobs, whether or not they had “back fat”, and the finer points of hue, color and chroma variations between spray-on tan and traditional sun tanning. Growing up in that environment I can’t blame my wife for being un-dorky. For her, being un-dorky is a survival instinct. Worrying about what other people will think is hard-written into her DNA. Obviously I have the opposite problem.

On the front door.

Though the dork gene is obviously missing from her genetic code she’s got millions of other genes that she can’t easily scrub away. Before children my wife was a Mozart-caliber 2nd grade teacher. She was the one all the 1st grade parents fought over, and pitched a fit if they wound up with another teacher. The genotype resulting in the uber-teacher phenotype, just like the un-dork survival instinct, is inextricable from my wife’s genetic identity. You can take the girl out of teaching, but you can’t take the teacher out of the girl. My wife would slave for HOURS well into the night decorating her classroom (and I, as the dutiful boyfriend trying to impress her would do the same). Hers was always the best classroom in the school, brilliantly decorated for every season with almost OCD precision. She has brought that with her from her classroom into our home… and it’s starting to rub off on my daughter.

Dont... touch... the towels!

As regular as clockwork the decorations around our house come down at the end of a season, and the next season’s chatchkies go up. Door wreaths, floor mats, candy bowls, decorative towels – holy crap the decorative towels!

***

Side note:

What the hell is it with ladies and decorative towels? Why on earth would you put out a towel in the first place that you CAN’T USE?!?!! Inevitably I’ll be doing the dishes or wiping down the counters after dinner and my hands are all wet. The last dish towel was used to wipe up chicken and rice my son skillfully dispersed across the entire kitchen and there are no paper towels on the roll. But there are two perfectly good, never before used decorative towels just *BEGGING* to be used. Ladies, want to drive your man insane? Fill your house with decorative towels.

Enough of that. Back on topic.

***

Can you wipe your feet on a "decorative floormat"?

Just as days get longer in the Summer and birds migrate for the winter, there are certain rhythms to nature. So it is with my wife’s decorations, and my daughter has noticed. She gets all excited when it’s time to take down the Halloween stuff and put up the Thangsgiving stuff (yes, we have separate rubber-made bins in the attic, each meticulously labeled by my wife via label-maker and color coordinated for the appropriate holiday, orange bin for thanksgiving, black for Halloween, green for Xmas etc…). Yesterday marked the very end of the Xmas decoration season when we pulled down the last few straggling chatchkies from the shelves and pulled out the Valentine’s day stuff from the atic (red bin, thank you very much). Again, my daughter was thrilled to be part of the ritual. Up went the door wreath. Out came the heart-shaped candy bowls. Down went the heart floor mat. Out came the decorative towels (AARGH!!). Satisfied, my wife and I went about the rest of our day.

Bowls. Yes, bowls.

An hour or so later, almost simultaneously, my wife and I both looked up from what we were doing and locked eyes. Whenever it gets quiet in the house a little internal timer starts in the back of every parent’s mind. The timer resets every time someone screams, or something breaks, or somebody announces to everyone in the neighborhood that they have to go to the bathroom. If nothing resets the timer and it is allowed to run down to zero, an alarm bell goes off in that parent’s head. Somebody’s up to something. It was too quiet for too long. Un-dorkMommy and I went to investigate.

"love" is right.

What we found gave me a snicker while simultaneously putting a bur in the saddle of the mildly OCD 2nd grade teacher DNA buried deep in the nucleus of every single cell of my wife’s body. After my wife laid out all the decorations *just so*, my almost 6-year-old daughter had dragged a chair around the house and made her own home-made contributions/augmentations to this season’s chatchkies. It was really quite sweet – little hand written signs that said “love” and hearts everywhere, lovingly taped with way too much scotch tape to every surface she could reach.

I *heart* those books too.

It’s moments like these when we really notice our kids keying in on gender roles and behavior. My son is starting to talk about things like “a boy’s job is to take care of the girls in the house and make them feel good”, and my daughter has obviously concluded that girls (at least in our house) do the seasonal decorating.

Who doesn't *heart* those kids?

Both my kids are well on their way to becoming (the good kind of) dorks. My son especially has imprinted on the things that I think are cool – superheroes, video games, anything Star Wars, baseball in the backyard, etc. If my son is well on his way to be a card-carrying, spandex-wearing, comic con-going, Star Wars-loving dork, my daughter is well on her way to becoming…

I *heart* reading these too.

…well, whatever it is you would describe my wife as.

Considering how much I think of my wife, I couldn’t be more thrilled.

 

 

-Dork Dad

Breastfeeding lessons from a 5-year-old

16 Jan

s the arrival of Superkid #3 rapidly approaches, and with the birth of my unDorkSister’s first child this week, the conversations around the DorkDaddy household have taken an interesting turn. Last night we were sitting around the dinner table and I innocently asked my kids where the new baby was going to sit after he was born. Instinctively, naturally, my kids suggested that the baby sit next to unDorkMommy, because Mommy is the one who feeds the baby.

To my wife’s eternal consternation I am always happy to play devil’s advocate, sometimes just for the sake of intillectual exercise. So I asked my kids why the baby couldn’t sit next to Daddy where Daddy could feed him. My 5-year-old daughter is a born scientist. She loves to understand things, and she loves to share her understanding.

I imagine this bra could hold just about anything.

“Silly Daddy. Daddy’s can’t feed babies” she said.

The conversation progressed very organically, completely directed by her, into a lesson on breastfeeding; how mammals drink milk from a mother’s chest.

“But I have a chest” I replied. “Why can’t the baby drink from my chest?”

“Because your chest is different!”

“How?”

“Mommy’s chest is different. She has nickles” (That’s right. She said “nickles”)

“I have nipples. Won’t my nipples work?” I responded.

“No. Mommy’s chest is different. It’s just different”.

Let’s avoid all jokes about man-breasts for a moment because believe me, they’re all on the tip of my tongue too.

 

 

At this point I was just enjoying watching the wheels turn in my daughter’s head. This went on for a while, but it’s a balancing act, playing games like this without making her frusterated. She knew exactly what she meant, but was having a hard time finding the words. I was ready to drop the subject when, right there at the dinner table she said, “Mommy, take off your shirt and show Daddy what I mean”.

“No!” replied my horrified, wide-eyed, very conservative wife. She just about did a spit-take right there and then. “I’m not going to do that”.

“Please, Mommy! Show Daddy your chest.”

“No!” replied unDorkMommy, unable to decide if she was genuinely horrified at what was playing out, or if she was going to crack up and spew brown rice across the table.

“Please, Mommy! Just real quick. Take off your shirt and show Daddy your chest. Why not?”

“Yeah” I chimed in. “Why not. Show me your chest”.

The look I got from unDorkMommy was more than enough to signal that with those words, the conversation was dead as Michelle Bachman’s presidential campaign.

My daughter and I both finished dinner, unsatisfied.

-Dork Dad

Jedi have feelings too.

11 Jan

hen I was getting in my car this morning to head out to work, my cel phone jingled in my pocket. The beautiful picture on the screen of unDorkMommy hugging my two kids told me it was my wife calling from inside the house.

“Hello, I love you” I said, quickly running down the checklist in my mind to try to figure out what she was about to tell me I forgot to do.

“You’d better come back in here” she said. “Someone needs to tell you something”.

Back into the house I went and there, waiting for me in bare feet, camouflage dinosaur pajamas, halloween costume shark head, red lightsaber in one hand and blue in the other, and giant crocodile tear on his cheek was my son. Apparantly he heard me shuffling around as I was leaving, quickly got out of bed, got his lightsaber dueling gear (red saber for me, blue saber and shark head for him) and sprang out of his room ready for an epic duel with his Dork Dad… who walked out the front door to head to work without noticing.

Now my son is not a drama queen like his sister. When there’s a tear on his cheek, it’s a real tear. I saw my little jedi there, eyes welling up, the quivvering lip and the sad little-boy-look on his face that would make Darth Vader go all soft. He knows that when I have to go to work, I have to go to work. He was defeated. He knew there was no hope for a lightsaber duel this morning, and he was trying really hard to hold back more crocodile tears.

“Daddy, I just wanted to hug you. I love you” he said, disapointment in his eyes.

If Darth Vader had had this little boy for a son, he would have come back to the good side way before any of that other business ever happened.

What? A Jedi-shark? It could happen.

 
-Dork Dad
 
 

Risky, Dorky Business

10 Jan

 came home last night to find two little kids who had discovered the magic when clean socks and hardwood floors come together. They were gleefully running back and forth across the livingroom floor  slip sliding with reckless abandon.

“C’mon, Daddy! You can do it with us. It’s fun!”

So I kicked off my shoes and got ready for the DorkDaddy freestyle livingroom ice-capades.

“No, Daddy! You have to do it in your undies!”

Well naturally. They were both clad only in their t-shirts, skivvies and socks. It made sense to me. Off came my trowsers and in short order I was “ice skating” with the kids in my “Risky Business” uniform (boxers though. I gave up tighty-wighties a long time ago). We screamed and hollared “Yahoooo!” loud enough for the neighbors to hear. In fact, had you been standing on the street at that moment and looked through the big bay window directly into my livingroom, you may have seen more of this DorkDaddy than you ever cared to see. My wife made no attempt to hide the head shaking as she prepared dinner. “You too, Mommy! Take off your pants and come ice skating with us!” I was all for the idea, but at 7.5 months pregnant I can’t fault her for declining.

“You realize my mother will be over any minute for dinner” said un-dorkMommy. It was a statement, not a question.

My daughter quickly and excitedly responded, “Maybe Dabba will ice skate in her undies with us too!”

Hah! That would be the day.

 

 

-Dork Dad

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