So This is Fatherhood


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Sticks and Stones and Bro’s

There was an evening recently where, for a moment, my daughter was upset.

She has bypassed the Terrible Two’s and is smack dab in the middle of the Terrible Three’s, crying when she doesn’t get her way, talking back, ignoring some of our words – in general acting like a miniature teenager. Therefore her being upset didn’t really cause a ruffle in either of her parents’ lives.

Plus, she’s stopped taking naps at daycare, so she has been overly cranky and tired in the afternoon and evenings. Which fits perfectly in our family dynamic because now all three of us have the same general feeling.

This minor meltdown and teary-eyed response, though, was different.

She was telling my wife that some girls at her school were calling her names. She’s three years old. This shouldn’t happen.

My heart immediately went into my stomach. How could toddlers insult each other? This sort of crap wasn’t supposed to be something that we dealt with as parents until she was seven or eight – at the earliest. I thought we were still in the coloring, playground, puzzle stages.

What in the world could kids be calling each other these days?

They called me “a bro” she spit out.

As ridiculous as name-calling can be, especially something as innocuous as that, I wanted to cry.

No parent wants their kid to be upset. And you feel helpless on something like this, even though it doesn’t even compare to the names she will probably be called by other girls as she gets older. In the grand scheme of things “a bro” is eons better than B or C or W or whatever other insults girls hurl at each other.

My wife handled this first foray into insults very adeptly, telling our daughter to just ask these girls very nicely not to call her that anymore. For now, that approach will work. We’ll definitely have to call an audible on that in about 10 years.

51Y-Q1Gg4BL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_When I checked in with the kiddo a few days later, apparently these girls have moved on from “a bro” to calling my kid “too serious.”

How can a three-year-old be serious? I wondered, thinking of this child who begs for me to “act silly” with her.

This episode came as I was finishing my good friend Josh Suchon’s book, “Murder in Pleasanton,” which details a 14-year-old girl’s murder in 1984. On the day she died, Tina Faelz was harassed and called names. One of the girls who harassed her was quoted in the book, 30 years after the death feeling tremendous amounts of guilt every day and making this girl’s final day of her life miserable. It was something that haunted her.

We never think of these things in the moment. I was no saint as a child and upon reflection, probably owe some kids an apology. Not to the extend Adam Sandler does with Steve Buschemi in Billy Madison, but I definitely ruffled some feathers. (Note: except you, Ashley Levine. You deserved everything that came your way. I maintain that forever.)

As I’ve gotten older and smarter and more accepting, I hope to instill this ideal in my kid – that it’s actually not that hard to be nice to people.

The way we pay our rent for taking up space on this earth is by serving others.

So whether my kid ends up being a too serious bro or develops into a goofy girly I hope that the lessons I’ve learned will find their way into her ethos and she’ll incorporate them in her life’s path.

I tell my daughter every day to be a leader. It’s a hard thing to do, to put your arm around a kid who’s being made fun of and show solidarity with the outcast, but that’s what leaders do. And I hope that if someone in my daughter’s life is being teased she will throw an arm around that child and protect them the same way I do to her.


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Proud Papa

Being a dad is something that I am proud of. Specifically, though, it’s the things my daughter does that makes me proud.

I am excited that I get to guide her, and hopefully, she becomes a strong, professional woman that can be a role model. At least to some.

I am also proud, right now, of my friend Lindsay Jones.

Lindsay is a friend of this blog and her husband is one of my closest friends. During Peyton Manning’s farewell news conference, Lindsay was the only – or at least, the first – reporter to ask Peyton Manning to address the sexual assault allegations that have recently come back up in the news.

NFL: Denver Broncos-Peyton Manning Press Conference

#Manning Face (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

Unfortunately, in this day and age, Lindsay got hammered on social media. She got roasted for doing her job.

A lot of the people who trolled Lindsay online called her “classless,” claimed she had no knowledge of “time and place” and that she ruined a celebratory moment.

As a former journalist, I know that if you have your subject in front of you, you have got to have the gumption to be able to ask the tough questions. Or else the industry will wash you out. Or you’ll have a mega career at ESPN. One or the other.

Nobody has heard from Peyton Manning since the Super Bowl ended. Nobody knew when Peyton would be in front of a reporter again, as he was announcing his retirement.

This was, indeed, the time and place to ask him to address these allegations that have resurfaced. It was not classless. Lindsay was doing her job.

Should hundreds of people attack you on Twitter if you do your job, but it just happens to interfere with other people’s personal pleasures?

Lindsay should be an example of what it’s like for women working in a male-dominated environment. She is treated unfairly, like it or not. And, like it or not, she is a role model. Maybe not for everyone, but for the young girls who aspire to work in sports, one way or another.

I want my daughter to grow up like that.

Unfortunately, we live in this age of sensationalism where someone like Kim Kardashian, who has done nothing tangible which would translate to her level of fame, is able to cause a brief firestorm on Twitter by showing off a year-old nude pic. Talk about classless.

Yet somehow, there are more young girls who look up to Kim Kardashian than true professionals. Like my wife. Like my colleagues. Like Lindsay.

All parents should point their children in the right direction. That’s especially more true for fathers of daughters.

There are too many influences working against young girls (like this blog I wrote about Curt Schilling defending his daughter publicly). Too many magazines and TV shows telling them how they need to look, how they need to dress, how they need to act.

What we need is to point them in the right direction and highlight when someone like Lindsay Jones is able to do the right thing and do her job rather than try and tear her down while at the same time celebrating someone like a Kardashian.

We need more fathers to hug their girls, tell them they’re proud of them. I hope that Lindsay’s dad did that. Having met him, I’m sure he did – or he owes her one the next time they get together.

I am trying to do everything I can to point my daughter in the right direction and celebrate her minor victories as she traverses this life. There are many moments of someone’s life when you can be proud of them. I am constantly amazed at myself for how proud I feel as a dad.

So I can only imagine that if my daughter grows up and performs her job well – and does her job to a high degree – that I will be proud of her.

There will always be naysayers. You’ve just got to hope that, as a father, you’ve pushed your children to be above that, to know right from wrong, when to ask the tough questions, and not be afraid to do so.

 

 


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My Brand is Crisis

Over the last two weeks I have had to lead a crisis training for some of my company’s leadership teams.

It’s a lot of work and a lot of focus … and, unfortunately, really makes you think of the worst when we get into the “What if …” scenarios.

Our_Brand_Is_Crisis_(2015_film)_POSTER

Never saw it. Just lived it.

The training is an obvious necessity to help guide thinking if we did face a recall or an active shooter or something of the same grisly natures. It helps promote a quick-thinking mentality.

Kind of like parenting.

Because these crisis trainings are in a controlled environment and with leading questions it helps make each situation flow. However, if we were faced with an actual crisis then some of this goes out the window the moment adrenaline kicks in.

Whether it’s working on what to do, or oftentimes, what to say … living out an actual crisis is much different.

Just like dealing with a child.

I don’t think I’ve recalled one iota of information from the baby books we read pre-birth. I certainly haven’t read many helpful guides since.

My training, so to speak, has been of the in-the-moment, all-hands-on-deck variety. You go with your gut and hope that whatever moral compass you have points your decisions in the right direction.

Similar to a work scenario. You can go through all the materials, all the scenarios, but it will never mirror what actually happens, step-by-step. After the first wave, you can pause and lean on some of those sessions, but there is always the immediate “Oh shit!” moment when you’re in the trenches.

If I had a dime for each “Oh shit!” moment I’ve had as a father, I wouldn’t be writing this from my third bedroom. I’d be writing it from my third yacht.

They come and go, obviously, and you just hope your reputation isn’t tarnished. Speaking as a father now, not as a company – although both are true. You don’t want to be known as the hard-ass father who only gets angry and uses the F word as an adjective and a verb (I’m very proud of this as a fact of myself … but I have not ventured into this sort of syntax as a dad).

We opened a nice bottle of Pinot the other night and for whatever reason my three-year-old walked by the glasses on the table and stuck out her left elbow – almost as if she meant to knock the glass off the table.

She immediately started crying. Because in the past I have gotten angry. And I was again. Hell, you would be too as you watched delicious adult grape juice splash on your living room rug and floor.

In the heat of the moment you may put your foot in your mouth. Speaking as a company now, not as a father – although both are true.

NQOxtJXWWe’ve all seen poorly handled crisis press conferences. Our work trainings include tips on how to avoid them.

We’ve all poorly handled our personal crises at home. I know I have … thus, the immediate wine spill reaction. She was ready for the red-faced, red-assed father.

It never came.

I got down and mopped up the spill. I explained to her that shit happens (in so many words) and to just be careful. Not everything is a crisis despite our initial reaction.

It’s something I never learned in a book but just by living out my life now with a small human being constantly – truly, constantly! – around, it’s now a learned behavior.

I never want to be in a work situation where a crisis is more of a shoulder shrug reaction therefore the trainings and the preparedness must continue.

But sometimes we all must realize that life goes on. Shit happens. And all in all, we must keep calm and carry on.


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The Rules, part 6

More Fatherhood Rules to live by … To see all of the rules, click here.

No. 94 – Always close the bathroom door. And lock it. 

No. 117 – 1990s rap is great for a family dance party. Until your child learns the words. 

No. 209 – A child will always have sand in their shoes. Even if they only play on cement. There is a magical ability to do this. 

No. 2 – Stop and smell the flowers when your child does. 

No. 69 – It’s OK to laugh when your child utters their first bad word when trying to mimic you. Just don’t let them see you laughing. 


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Mr. Irrelevant in My Own Home

We’re all in a state of purgatorial flux right now. Well, not all of us. Fans of the Broncos and Panthers have a particular interest in what happens on Sunday in sports’ biggest event.

For the rest of us, we’re forced to choose a side. It’s not a choice we like, since our favorite team isn’t one of these two teams, but it’s a choice we have made – either consciously or subconsciously – to give us something, or someone, to cheer for this weekend.

My daughter has made it clear that her favorite team is alive and well no matter what season it is. Her favorite team is Mom.

nfl_a_mr-irrelevant_mb_6001I am more like Mr. Irrelevant, the cutesy nickname given to the last pick in the NFL Draft; the last guy who hears his name called and hopes for nothing more than a spot on the practice squad.

Not only is my wife known as the favorite team, but she could also be considered Peyton Manning since she is the No. 1 pick (or Cam Newton, also a No. 1 pick). Oftentimes I feel a distant second to my wife within our house. This is not new information to anyone who has spent more than 30 minutes with us. So how does one choose?

Is it because my wife is a light sleeper and I am not, therefore any peep coming from our child’s room is immediately met by my wife? Is it because I travel for work and therefore I am not always around, relying on FaceTime to connect for a few moments, rather than face-to-face for entire evenings?

Is it because she is a female and has a stronger connection to my wife?

I don’t know. Maybe my 40-yard dash time is considerably slower and I dropped to the sixth round..

Or, maybe it’s just like choosing whoever is around you and going with the best choice.

It’s what is facing football fans of all the other teams right now.

Do you really want to root for the Broncos and an iconic quarterback’s last shot at glory? Or the best team in football in 2015 and a flashy quarterback who, at times, is so good it’s like he’s in a video game?(Quick tangent: Cam Newton is being portrayed as the NFL’s version of LeBron James, who for some reason is the most polarizing figure in sports. Seriously, we should celebrate LeBron … he could be the greatest athlete of the past 50 years. I don’t get how people are upset with Cam. Don’t be a hater.)

Similar to what my daughter has to choose from. It may not be ideal since we can’t be Kanye and Kim as parents and she is born into immediate wealth and fame and we would just buy her an island for her upcoming third birthday, but between my wife and I, it’s the field she has.

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#ManningFace

It’s not like there is a clear-cut team to choose heading into the Super Bowl. No favorite or “America’s Team” that the networks circle the wagons behind. In fact, this Super Bowl doesn’t seem to be about either team – but about the two quarterbacks.

Do you choose the legend? Or the next legend? Going out on top? Or passing the torch?

Other than gambling, how do we maintain attention as the biggest sporting event of the year draws near? About a decade ago, as a Los Angeles resident, I chose a team to root for and that has not turned out very well.

Thanks a lot, Bengals, for making my fall and winter Sundays miserable.

So, even when you do get a chance to choose, it’s not always the best choice. Do I regret my choice? No. The same way my daughter doesn’t regret choosing mom over me.

I’m not a crappy father – I know this. In fact, I’m actually a really good father. And as much as I think I have control over her (I could definitely beat her in an arm wrestling contest) it’s not really up to me.

In fact, she’s the one in control. She’s the one who decides who she wants to spend time with. Laugh with. Cry with. Sing to. Play with.

I’m usually the one who just sits and is halfway available. Wishing I was always tapped to read the book or paint. Yet secretly happy I am able to cruise Instagram a few extra meaningless minutes per day … because, honestly, that’s what makes life worth living, when you go from all of the names of people who like your photos to an actual number!

So how do we choose?

Actually, we don’t. We get chosen.

Someone touched Peyton Manning when he was born and said they had big things in mind for him. Someone put together the right amount of DNA to make my daughter who she is. Certain things clicked into place along the way and the choice is no longer a choice anymore, it’s a way of living.

We don’t get to choose.

These two teams in the Super Bowl are decided and we don’t get to choose. We don’t even get to choose the winner. All we have control over is which team we want to win. Same way I want my daughter to always choose me. In reality, we can want all kinds of things and just have to be satisfied with what we get – and most often it’s not what we want.

Paraphrasing the classic movie, “Bull Durham,” Susan Sarandon said, “nobody on this planet ever really chooses … it’s all a question of … timing.”

And here is the timing. It is my wife waking at 2:30 in the morning to cover a sniffling child. It’s the timing of a business trip. It’s the time when fans of 30 other teams morph into half-fans just to remain interested and have water cooler chatter. It’s the timing of a child entering your world and the timing of what you’re able to engage in.

So, how do we choose?

Essentially, we don’t. We are given limited options and decide the path of least resistance.

Which, in this case, is sleeping as much as possible. And the Broncos.


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Love & Basketball

Growing up loving sports, and then eventually working in sports, there was never any thought I had of leaving a game early. Especially because I paid to be there throughout and then, I was paid to be there throughout.

Sure, sometimes it’s a sweltering day at the ballpark and the score is 14-0 and I can understand departing soon in a scenario like that. It makes sense.

But, I’ve never been a fan of fans who don’t stay until the final out, final buzzer, the clock hits 0:00, et cetera.

You never know … things could end up like this and you’d miss it:

On Thursday night Mrs. So This is Fatherhood and I took our daughter to a college basketball game. It wasn’t her first sporting event, but it was one of the first that she “got.”

Sports are almost ubiquitous in our house. There is usually some game on TV and she knows the difference between the sports that come on. So, she already has some interest in athletics. (By the way, thank God. What if she didn’t? I don’t think I could stand trying to have a conversation with her about, say, computer programming one day. Kill me.)

On this particular night she was even more excited because we were going to see UC Santa Barbara play, the alma mater of mine and my wife’s. The kiddo was in her pink UCSB sweatshirt, was a hit at the pregame party and was excited to yell “Go Gauchos!” at the game, eat popcorn and clap her hands.

As the Gauchos took a 15-point lead in the second half and our watch hit 9 o’clock, my wife suggested we leave. It was an hour past our daughter’s bedtime, it was Thursday night, and besides, the game was on TV so we could go home and finish watching it.

All in all … not a bad idea. For the record, not one I supported, but still, one I understood.

When there was a media timeout on the floor with under 12 minutes to go we told our daughter we had to leave.

Tears. Lots of them.

UCSB-Gauchos-dress-in-blue-and-gold-to-support-their-school.

Pretty sure I’m in that crowd somewhere when I was a student. I know my old friend Constantine is. I can see him. RIP buddy.

She didn’t want to leave. She wanted to keep cheering for the Gauchos. She wanted more popcorn. She wanted “the black team” to keep making baskets and dunking (FYI, the Gauchos’ road uniforms that night were black).

Talk about a #proudfather moment.

We went home, just a few minutes away, and the kid went to bed pretty easily. She was definitely tired.

But in that time our Gauchos had Gau-choked and the double-digit lead was now a one-point deficit. Eventually, it turned into an overtime loss.

In life, I am not superstitious. But playing sports, watching sports, I am. Which is admittedly stupid. I have no control over what happens depending on where I sit, or what I’m wearing.

The good news is that UCSB plays locally again tonight. The kid is amped up all over again. She woke up from her afternoon nap and said “Is it time to go to the basketball game yet?”

Another #proudfather moment.

This time – and hopefully as she grows older, every other time we go to a game – we’ll remain in our seats for the entirety.


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Direct Messaging

If I am being honest, I’m not the most diplomatic person you know. I fall more into the “tell it like it is” category that a lot of people claim they want … until they receive those types of comments. And then come the “you should try to be more tactful in your approach.”

Good grief.

151006_natalieramo_illustration-childargument-crop-promo-xlarge22It’s one thing to just deliver the cold, hard truth all the time. That, I assure you, I don’t do. It’s a direct style that I have, but I also understand at this stage in my life you can’t always be honest to all of the people all of the time.

So, there is some dexterity involved in delivering any sort of info. I just don’t want people to be confused by what I’m trying to say.

My child, on the other hand, hasn’t learned how to be cagey just yet. She is just direct. All areas, all the time.

Which is nice because I finally can be fully direct to someone and not worry about mincing words.

I can ask her a question – “Ella, can you please pick up your toys?” – and she may retort with “I don’t want to.”

That doesn’t really go over well, however I do admire her straight talk.

She operates in a black and white world littered with “yes” and “no” where a maybe doesn’t have any meaning just yet and there is little room to work in the grey areas.

This nearly three-year-old operates in one shade of black and one shade of white. The rest of us are trying to work through 50 Shades of Grey. (Not literally, although it did take some work to make it through that movie … and, I suppose, literally if you have a dungeon in your house with whips and whatnot … I digress.)

It’s quite charming, actually, to know you’re getting full authenticity at all times from this miniature human. Her happiness is as transparent as any sadness. And they are so simple – sadness can come from me telling her “no” and happiness from a “yes.” It’s that level of direct communication that I aim for with everyone and really receive it back at 100% from this child.

dm_180956119672_640x360_111607372289_640x360As Twitter, or other social media platforms have “direct messaging” there is no better direct messaging than talking to a child. That’s as direct as it gets. I’d like to see the next app call direct messaging something like “Toddler Talk” or something. Only a certain subset of people – and mostly those not using new social media apps – would get. And this is why I haven’t struck it rich with an app.

Sure, it can be taxing to get told “No, Daddy” when a simple request to finish dinner is not met. But that’s more for nutrition and food waste – way out of her realm of thinking if we can’t even deliver a maybe at this stage – than her responses.

 

A child’s world is not comfortable for a 6-foot-1 man; the chairs are painfully small, the toys are impossibly tiny to play with, not much allows an adult to really get that full interaction. And, yet, during some conversations, I really enjoy entering that child’s world.

It’s real, authentic and it’s something we should all revel in, if only for a moment.


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Artsy Fartsy

I saw this quote the other day and it struck a chord with me. It was attributed to Vonnegut and I couldn’t get it out of my head.

Go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.

I loved it. I’m not a big quote guy – I don’t need motivational posters with high-flying eagles and majestic mountains in the background. Although I have been told I am quite quotable (a person wants me to trademark: “Seek out mountains to climb; otherwise you are just taking up space.”) quotes haven’t really resonated with me.

But this one did.

kurt_vonnegut1-1024x933And I think it’s because my almost three-year-old daughter is very artsy. She is smart, speaks in full sentences, doesn’t babble, sings songs, colors, paints, and is super creative. She plays guitar – rather, with a guitar – and only wanted “hearts and paint” for Christmas from Santa.

If asking for hearts for Christmas doesn’t prove she has an enormous one, I don’t know what else could. It’s that creativity and sensitivity that I feel artsy people have. Even the ones who only view art as misery still have a large heart – it’s what they are expressing that has the heart. It may not be vibrant, but it’s far better than creating spreadsheets. It’s still art, even if it’s far more modern than romantic.

When my child was born, like any parent, I envisioned a great life ahead for her. My sister is a professional bean counter and makes terrific money, lives in San Francisco, eats at snobby restaurants and drives a BMW. It’s that kind of lifestyle I wanted my child to enjoy.

Mainly it’s because I’ve had to eke my way through life. Writers don’t make a lot of money. That’s how my career began. It has evolved and I am perfectly happy with my job and the career I have now – as well as what’s in front of me. Sure, I don’t drive a beamer and some of the snobbiest restaurants I enjoy usually have paper napkins.

My sister got the professional smarts. I got the professional heart.

So I only wished my kiddo would want the latest Texas Instruments calculator rather than a paint set. That she’d prefer working on her child iPad than her easel; or imagining what to make in her mini kitchen.

Those are the kinds of things I enjoy – but in real life. I love expressing my feelings, having robust conversations, reading, cooking, listening to music and just wanting color of all kinds to surround me.

This is how my daughter is growing up.

Of course, she’s three. I know things may change. She will probably play sports like I did and maybe she’ll find a career there. Or, perhaps she’ll really learn to play guitar and take up a life in music; which is totally artsy.

Something where you can show parts of your soul in your work.

But what I like most about that Vonnegut quote is how it ends: You’ll have created something.

In a sense, having her as a creation is my artwork. And she is beautiful.

Watching her paint, and seeing her color and grow and enjoy the world is art spoken through life. It has opened my eyes.

I ask my wife to save every activity that my daughter comes home from daycare with. Over 95 percent of it is pure crap. But there is something about it that I don’t want to throw away. Whether it was the day they painted with forks, or rolled marbles through paint, or put cotton balls on a paper to make a snowman – I don’t want to lose any of it.

Recently I was delivered a box that my mom had hung on to for years. It contained years of junk from my childhood – papers I had written in third grade, artwork from Kindergarten, report cards, pictures I drew (apparently in fourth grade I was really into guns) and I knew where I got it from.

My mother had held on to years of crumbling construction paper and sifting through that box brought back memories I didn’t know I had. It was my artwork. It was things I had created.

Now I really wanted to save handfuls of these things my daughter creates so that if she follows an artsy path, she may have memories of using only silver glitter paint to color Goofy with.

So, I sought out that Vonnegut quote again.

Vonnegut_ManWithoutACountryAnd I found that it came from a book, “A Man Without a County.”

What I read, in fact, wasn’t the whole quote at all.

The reference begins: “If you want to really hurt your parents, and you don’t have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts.”

While the rest was the same, I hated how the piece got bastardized and took out the humor he wrote about being gay.

That’s when I realized that I didn’t care what my daughter did – so long as she was happy. You can still create something and make a living, unlike what Vonnegut believes. Hell, if you make a lot of money, you can build something. That’s creating something.

You think Donald Trump doesn’t think he’s an artist? His name is on massive buildings, golf courses, whatever. He has created something: wealth.

Now, what I really want is for my kid to find the truth. Seek out the whole quote. It may in fact change what you’re really looking for.

 

 


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Through a Child’s Eyes

At what stage do we, as humans, begin to see the world differently?

Not in the sense of right vs. wrong or good vs. evil. But just what it is and what it offers.

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Perhaps every new-ish parent sees this for a time – their child experiencing the world in a way you completely forgot. And not simplistically like how blue the sky is, or how loud a dog barks.

It’s more of a black and white.

Our lives are filled with gray. Fifty shades, if you will.

Other than knowing what is completely right (example: not murdering) and completely wrong (example: murdering) there is a lot of gray that surrounds us. Yet, even the black and white gets blurred at times. Ever seen the final episode of Breaking Bad? Somehow you convinced yourself it was OK that all of it went down. And there was some murdering happening.

(Sorry for any spoiler alert there, but if you haven’t seen Breaking Bad by now then we cannot be friends.)

To a toddler, though, there is just … the world.

They haven’t developed black and white yet. Let alone gray.

Their world is as it is now and somehow, as adults, we aren’t really allowed to re-introduce ourselves back into that.

Ever seen Elf? How innocent Buddy is? That’s how naive we’d have to be living in real life. Stuff wouldn’t get done! We’d be congratulating Denny’s for the World’s Best Cup of Coffee daily.

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I wish days could be measured in greatness by how many dogs we saw.

How long does that feeling last? That’s what I want to know.

This isn’t about definitive life moments like recess turning into study break, or sleepovers turning into sneaking out and partying.

This is more like the black and white lines of childhood turning into the gray that the rest of us operate in.

Why can’t we just go to the bathroom on the side of the road and be proud of ourselves versus being embarrassed? My daughter is still very happy with herself for having us pull into the dirt on a five-hour drive to Mammoth so she could unload.

In fact, on a recent Christmas lights-looking neighborhood walk my child wanted to “number two” it on a lawn because she had done that before “in the dirt to Mammoth” and she had to go.

This is wholly unacceptable to us as adults.

But to a child that doesn’t know better … it’s acceptable.

We shouldn’t use that example as the definitive reason in this whole essay, but it provides an insight you may not have thought about.

At what point do we see things differently?

My child loves every single kid in her classroom. She doesn’t see the differences I do.

That some kids come from different backgrounds, or of a different ethnicity or divided socio-economic paths.

I recognize that in my parental counterparts. She only sees the love she receives back. Hugs everyone equally. Yells goodbye to everyone the same when we depart. Wants to play with each kid the same way and with the same games. Worries about inviting every child to her birthday party … even though it’s two months from now.

She treats inanimate objects with respect.

After running into the coffee table: I’m sorry table. Are you OK? OK? Good. That’s OK, you’re a good table.

Who does that?!

So when does it stop? When do we notice these differences? And when do we distance ourselves from each other?

Because that’s the age I want to skip.

If we could all just see the world through a toddler’s eyes we could be honest with each other and accept everything that comes to us.

Sure, we may cry a bit. And we may fuss about it. And we may not fully get what older people are telling us.

But we’d always be happy.

And we’d get naps.


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Stage Fright

I don’t know if I’m weird or in a regular percentage that nobody talks about, but it’s never been easy for me to pee around other people.

Maybe dads teach their sons how to pee next to other people and it just becomes a normalcy for most – like a camping experience and all you do is pee everywhere like a dog marking your territory. Growing up in a house with a mom and sister, it wasn’t like they were going to take me outside to pee all over lampposts and on car tires.  

Why is this considered normal? Am I weird?

Normally this whole pee-inadequacy isn’t a problem, but at sporting events or large gatherings I usually wait to seek out a bathroom stall. Which is awesome if you’re into overflowed, wet, stinky, shit-infested areas with unflushed toilets.

Despite being married for eight years now, my wife and I respect the whole bathroom etiquette of each other and really don’t do our duty (doodie?) in front of the other. I am definitely no prude, but it’s kind of gross if you watch another adult take a growler – no matter if you have seen them push an eight pound baby out of their vagina.

All of this started to shift though as my daughter moved from infant to toddler.

The few times I have been alone with her – rising early on weekends, or the Mrs. is away at the gym or getting her hair did – I’ve had to keep an open door policy mainly because I don’t want my kid sticking her finger into an electrical socket when I’m liking photos on Instagram. (Yes, if I’ve liked your photo there is a very high chance it came while taking a deuce. Deal with it.)

Well, this has only encouraged my child to come find me. And there is nothing more touching than unleashing a steady pee stream while looking your toddler in the eyes. It’s really a bonding moment. Why didn’t any of those damn baby books cover crap like this?

See? Girls do it too!

 The thing is, I think my daughter kind of enjoys being in there. Maybe she has separation issues. I’ve got to be honest here: it is somewhat rewarding to have my kid say things like Wow Daddy, that’s A LOT of pee pee! or Whoa that’s a BIG poop Daddy!

As she’s been potty training, she’s become even more interested in my bathroom habits. She’ll stick her head into the bowl like a drunk chick puking or sit on the toilet singing songs and wasting time. Kind of like me checking out Instagram.

Once, while I was peeing, she stuck her hand into the stream and sprayed it everywhere. That was fun.

The thing is, this whole stage fright thing has started to dissipate. At least around her. There hasn’t been a single moment where I’ve frozen up while she’s been in the bathroom with me.

I have yet to test this newfound freedom out in public but I guess the next time I’m at a urinal trough next to other guys who think it’s normal to talk while standing next to you with their dong out, I’ll think of my kid’s smiling face and her words of recognition.

Wow that’s a good one Daddy!