Archive | June, 2011

The road goes ever on and on…

30 Jun

Addendum to today’s earlier post:

Tonight at dinner my daughter asked “Where did Gollum get the ring?” I tried to water down the answer but she was having none of “He found it in a river.” With absolutely no prompting from me (besides my Dork-tastic storytelling skills) she made me take it all the way back to Sauron and Isildur, and all the way forward to when The Fellowship set out to destroy the ring (told in appropriate detail for a 5-year-old)

Of course I was thrilled she was showing so much interest, and no doubt that showed through in my storytelling. But this was totally self-motivated on her part. “Why didn’t the ring turn Bilbo evil? Who got the ring after Bilbo? What did Frodo do with the ring? Did Smeagul know Bilbo when he was a Hobbit?”

I finally had to put my foot down and stop telling the story for fear of ruining it for the day we read it for real. “PLEASE tell me the rest of the story Daddy!” she begged. I promised her I would when she was in 4th grade and I read “The Lord Of The Rings” to her.

I’m struck by how powerful those stories are, even to a little mind. But snuggling here after we just finished watching Bilbo come to grips with entering Smaug’s lair despite his fears, I’m also struck by how powerful these moments are lying next to my daughter as she drifts off into dreams.

-Dork Dad


Riddles In The Dark

30 Jun

Speaking of rituals, my daughter and I also have a daily (nightly) ritual.

After baths, and tooth brushing, and book reading my wife and I split up the kids for ni-night time (this is a destinct advantage to man-on-man defense, as opposed to my cousin who has four kids. He and his wife have a strictly “zone” strategy). My wife takes the boy to his room for song, snuggles, etc. and I get the girl. She snuggles under the covers, I tuck her in and then if it isn’t too late, and if she’s been good that day, I lay down next to her and we watch a quick 10 minute YouTube clip on my iPhone. Although I certainly wouldn’t reccomend this technique to anyone else (The addictive nature of videos is beyond dispute and getting to bed/sleep without the video is more challenging than it sould be — but the genie is already out of that bottle) it does provide a good opportunity to calm down and get in a little daddy/daughter one-on-one snuggle time. Additionally, it’s also proved an invaluable method of exposing my little girl to some of the cooler (dorkier) things that she wouldn’t normally be exposed to. Naturally we’ve made our way through most of the Disney movies, but we’ve also managed to watch together (in 10 minute incriments) amongst other things “Charlotte’s Web”, “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” (Gene Wilder, not Johnny Depp), 1983’s “Annie”, “The Muppet Movie” various episodes of “The Superfriends” “Scooby Doo” and “The Smurfs” and we are currently working our way for the 2nd or 3rd time (at her request) through the 1977 Rankin/Bass animated version of “The Hobbit”.

I credit this version of “The Hobbit” with sparking my interest in Tolkien. The animation itself is rather clunky, but the production value is through the roof. When I was very young my parents bought me the vinyl record recording of the movie that came with an illustrated picture book. I played that record over and over. There was just something about the voice acting, and the illustrations (taken from the movie) and the music (especially the music) that resonated with me.

Daddy's looking a little too much like Bilbo these days.

I am not exagerating when I say that did a book report, in one form or another, on Tolkien every single year from 5th grade until I graduated college. I went out of my way to find the companion illustrated full-text printing of “The Hobbit” on Ebay so that when I do eventually read the full book to my kids, they can associate the same images with the story that I do. 

Last night we came to the part in the story where Bilbo first finds The Ring, and first meets Gollum. They engage in a battle of literary wits, dueling with riddles in a scene that many literary critics have made much fuss over. It’s interesting to watch my daughter’s progression as a consumer of stories. This go around she took particular exception to the fact that so many “goodguys” in the movie were smoking (atta girl). When we came to the riddle scene with Gollum last night she was totally engaged. “Why does Gollum want to eat him?” “Does he know Bilbo has his ring?” “Why does he keep saying ‘my precious’?” “Who he talking to?” (Gollum talks to himself and/or his ring quite often). Then there were the riddles themselves. Usually our 10 minute YouTube time calms her down before sleep. But the exchange between Bilbo and Gollum (and Gollum and himself) got her little wheels turning. It was no easy task getting her to sleep after that.


My little girl may not be the only kid entering kindergarten in the fall who’s heard of “Gollum” or “The Hobbit”. But I’ll wager she’ll be the only kid who knows the answer to the riddle “A box without hinges, key or a lid. Yet golden treasure inside is hid”.

The answer is “an egg” by the way.

-Dork Dad

It’s my own fault.

29 Jun

We have a ritual around this house. It started when my son was very young. It was cute then. It’s a little… much, now.

When he was just a little pip-squeek waking up from his nap I used to slowly push open his bedroom door and hide around the corner so he couldn’t see anyone in the doorframe. I’d crank up the volume on my iPhone (as much as possible) and play John Williams’s “Superman” theme. Just at the right moment in the music (bum ba daaaaaa, ba-dum ba-da baaaaa!) I’d jump into the doorframe with my best Superman pose. As the music swelled I’d pick up the teeny little guy and “fly him” through the house – holding him out in the air in the best Christopher Reeve pose we could muster, running from room to room as the iPhone in my pocket played the soundtrack to our geek-dom.

All I can say is, be careful the seeds you plant.

It started with a Superman onesie I got him as an infant. Then there were a couple Superman shirts even my wife had to admit were cute. Later we found some Superman pajamas. And most recently, in a moment of weakness I picked up a Superman Halloween costumes at one of those cheesy seasonal Halloween costume outlets.

While all these additions to my son’s wardrobe were being made I got in the habit of playing on my iPhone (how did we live without those things) while the kids were in the bath every night. If you devote any significant time to Pandora you know that the music played on any given channel can get a little repetative. In the space of a year both my children can now identify the theme music to “Superman” “Star Wars” “Star Trek” “Batman” “Pirates of the Carribean” and a few others.

Kids are smart. It didn’t take long for my son to connect the dots.

Now, whenever he hears the Superman music, my son expects me to “fly” him. That is to say, he expects me to pick him up in my hands, hold him out in front of me and run him around the house until the music is over. What’s more, now he expects the music and the costume to go together. If he hears the music he has to run to his room to put his costume on. Woe to us if the costume happens to be in the wash, or if the music should run out before the costume gets on. Either that, or whenever the mood suits him and he wants to put the costume on, he expects me to put the music on right away also. “Fly me, Daddy!” is the familiar mantra. Woe to us if my iPhone is out of sight, or if Pandora happens to be rotating through another track at that instant.

So we “fly”. We “fly” often. Sometimes we zoom through the house. Sometimes we zoom into the backyard, sometimes into the front yard. But what I can tell you is this: my arms get frickin’ tired.

"Fly me Daddy!"


This kid is 10 lbs. heavier and a lot more sophisticated than he was as an infant when we started doing this. The fantasy gets more elaborate every time. Lately just “flying” isn’t good enough. He wants augmentations to pitch, roll AND yaw. It’s more exciting that way. And if I’m not running fast enough to make his cape flutter then I’m just not doing it right.

The music finally ends. I put my boy down wherever we happen to be. Inevitably my lungs are burning, I’m huffing and puffing like an out-of-shape middle-aged dad (who me?) and my arms are limp at my sides screaming from the lactic acid buildup. And what do I get for my effort? “Can you please fly me again Daddy?”

This is our ritual.

Of course I love it… the first three times I do it right after I get home from work. Today was no different. Pandora was on. The Superman theme played. My boy ran into his room and almost had a fit ’cause we weren’t getting his costume on fast enough, and I “flew” him for the remainder of the music. Only this time there was a new wrinkle. This time when I put him down we happened to be in close proximity to his older sister. As the blood rushed back into my arms, between my ghasps for breath I heard him say to his sister, “I love you Lois Lane”.

…she was so excited she had to go into his room and put on one of his Batman shirts.

I have super kids


-Dork Dad

“Everything is proceeding as I have forseen”

28 Jun

I have identified the first three phases in indoctrinating your kids into all things Star Wars.

Phase 1: By exposing them to images and music, make them aware that there is something called “Star Wars” — and that it is cool.

Phase 2: Start teaching them names and relationships between various characters in Star Wars. My son knew what an “AT-AT” and a Stormtrooper were before he was 2 years old from a couple of t-shirts I have.

Phase 3: Slowly give them some toys of their own so that they can get excited about their own collection and begin fantasy play, even if they haven’t seen the movies.

Recently my son got a big addition to his (small but growing) Star Wars collection that he was very excited about. I took this cheezy picture for a Facebook post and captioned it “Operation: Indoctrination (phase 3) – complete.”

his small (but growing) collection. After all, I can’t dump EVERYTHING I’ve saved over the years on him all at once. The poor kid isn’t even 3 yet.

In relation to that picture, last night I had a rather profound Dork-Dad moment. I spent the entire frusterating evening at the car dealership trying to pick up our recent acquisition from a week ago — and was utterly defeated. Since the dealership was 40 miles away I missed dinner, bathtime and ni-nights (bad Daddy). I finally made it home to a wonderful surprise; one I’m sure I will come home to countless times over the years. The toys you see so neatly posed together in that photo were strewn EVERYWHERE throughout the house. Clearly they had been played with to the max that day. When I saw my wife and asked how the kids went down she said, “The boy didn’t want to go to sleep. He was too busy playing Star Wars.”

Operation “Indoctrination” (phase 3) complete indeed.
It was at this point that a bad dork would quote The Emperor from ROTJ to his wife and say “Everything is proceeding as I have forseen”. A good dork just keeps that thought to himself…
…or puts it in a blog post.
-Dork Dad officially launches

27 Jun

Here’s to the grand experiment.

I’m a dork. I admit it. My wife HAPPILY admits it. But I’m a well adjusted dork.

I was an athlete in high-school. I had girlfriends in college. I’ve got a great job, a wife who’s WAY above my station, and two absolutely amazing, (seemingly) well adjusted kids — and to my thinking that’s the TRUE measure of a well adjusted dork dad. Yes, I kept all of my Star Wars action figures (both the original line from the 70’s and 80’s AND the POTF2 stuff I collected after college) through the years. Yes, I look forward to Comicon every year. Yes, I will wait in line on opening night for a bloated, over-produced, under-acted and written Hollywood Summer blockbuster. But there is a line. Crossing that line means moving from good dork, to bad dork. We all have to decide where that line is for ourselves.

Nowhere is that destinction more important than in raising our kids.

I want my kids to be “normal”. But I also want them to be “exceptional”. To me, that means educating them in all the fantastic “dorky” stuff my wife rolls her eyes at. To do that without damaging them is the real trick. I’ll be the first guy to dress up in a fairy princess outfit for my daughter’s princess-themed 5th birthday party. But I damn well am also going to teach her how to throw overhand and hit a softball.

If you are a Dork Dad and you find your way to this blog please, chime in.

You’re not alone.

-Dork Dad

I think the tutu really made the outfit

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