Buffet Thanksgiving at the Saluxshop cottage
Don’t know how I missed it, but the How To Be A Dad guys published my debut post for them here on the Tumblrs in its entirety a few days ago.
(Bonus: That pic is me and our little dudes back when I was a work-at-home dad. Look how small they were!)
Not all dads fall in love with their baby right away. There, I said it.
Now, I can see that you’re reaching for your pitchforks and torches. Before you light that Zippo, hear me out.
Dad blogs are full of images of new fathers cooing over their babies and expressing tearful joy over their new paternal role. And while that immediate, Hallmark-style love may be felt by a great number of new dads, it failed to appear in me right away. And I know I’m not that unique, despite what my grandmother once told me.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved my boys from the second I saw their little fingers on the ultrasound monitor. But, my love initially manifested in a sort of hunter-gatherer thing. I had babies to care for, so my mind and heart snapped to behavior that left me fighting the urge to spear the neighbor’s Welsh corgi for an evening feast cooked over an open fire at the mouth of our cave. And that cave was a lower unit in a duplex, so I’m sure the landlord would’ve taken issue.
That version of love—my version—appeared nowhere online. In my world, those tears of fatherly joy would get you singled out for dinner by a damn saber-toothed tiger. Besides, I had no time for joy. There were pelts to clean, yurts to build.
My love felt honest and powerful, but not warm and enriching as it seemed for all other new dads. This meant, to me, that I was doomed to live as a terrible and emotionally distant father. It took a visit from a friend to realize my reaction was more common than parenting sites had me believe. He described his love for his newborn daughter in dispassionate terms of protecting her, fighting for her. Caveman love. I saw I was not special and that my grandmother was, as I stated, a boldfaced liar.
Dads who experience what I did likely feel the same shame and fear while scanning the online community of parenting blogs. They see the beaming dads, they read the stories of unbridled joy, but don’t identify.
But, can you imagine the reaction if any of them presented things as they actually were? If you’re having trouble, just scan the comments section below this post.
Just as Facebook users statistically tend to present the best version of themselves, dad bloggers tend to present the best version of their fatherly experience. And though some may be honest about the challenges they face, none would dare admit their love for their newborn was anything but cinematic. And this polished claim causes harm by perpetuating an unrealistic standard, the same way porn made me think Pizza Delivery Man was the best job in the world.
The initial shock of suddenly being a dad wore off for me, eventually. As it did, I was able to connect with my deeply emotional love and, yes, tearful joy. Still, because of the false perfection presented by most parenting sites, I vowed to remain as honest as possible on my site about the unflattering emotions (or lack of emotions or seemingly wrong emotions) that can accompany fatherhood.
I also offer a recipe for a nice slow-roasted Welsh corgi.
The father of twin boys, David Vienna is a screenwriter, playwright, former journalist, and spent a few years writing for reality television. He covers parenting issues at TheDaddyComplex.com and The Huffington Post.
It’s Stocking Stuffer time!
These are incredible wash cloths. They exfoliate well, great back scrubbers and they’re the gift that keeps on giving.
Click on the pic to go to their site. Beware of the counterfeits being sold on amazon and ebay.
(Photo via @KRON4MPelton)
This #SFBatKid thing restores my faith in humanity.
Miles has acute lymphoblastic leukemia. His one wish was to be Batman, so the Make a Wish Foundation and pretty much all of the residents of San Francisco turned the city into Gotham for a day. And BatKid is saving people from villains (the image above shows him getting a hug from a woman he just rescued from the Riddler) and riding around in a Batmobile.
Halloween 2013: The Grand Unveiling.
The boys landed on characters from the Star Wars universe—a Jedi (Obi-Wan) and a “soldier” (Clone Trooper).
…and so it begins.
This is how we dress to run errands.
I was on a parenting bulletin board recently and read a post by a mother who was worried that her 4 1/2 year old did not know enough. “What should a 4 year old know?” she asked.
Most of the answers left me not only saddened but pretty soundly annoyed. One mom posted a laundry list of all of the things her son knew. Counting to 100, planets, how to write his first and last name, and on and on. Others chimed in with how much more their children already knew, some who were only 3. A few posted URL’s to lists of what each age should know. The fewest yet said that each child develops at his own pace and not to worry.
It bothered me greatly to see these mothers responding to a worried mom by adding to her concern, with lists of all the things their children could do that hers couldn’t. We are such a competitive culture that even our preschoolers have become trophies and bragging rights. Childhood shouldn’t be a race.
So here, I offer my list of what a 4 year old should know.
- She should know that she is loved wholly and unconditionally, all of the time.
- He should know that he is safe and he should know how to keep himself safe in public, with others, and in varied situations. He should know that he can trust his instincts about people and that he never has to do something that doesn’t feel right, no matter who is asking. He should know his personal rights and that his family will back them up.
- She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use her imagination. She should know that it is always okay to paint the sky orange and give cats 6 legs.
- He should know his own interests and be encouraged to follow them. If he could care less about learning his numbers, his parents should realize he’ll learn them accidentally soon enough and let him immerse himself instead in rocket ships, drawing, dinosaurs or playing in the mud.
- She should know that the world is magical and that so is she. She should know that she’s wonderful, brilliant, creative, compassionate and marvelous. She should know that it’s just as worthy to spend the day outside making daisy chains, mud pies and fairy houses as it is to practice phonics. Scratch that— way more worthy.
But more important, here’s what parents need to know.
- That every child learns to walk, talk, read and do algebra at his own pace and that it will have no bearing on how well he walks, talks, reads or does algebra.
- That the single biggest predictor of high academic achievement and high ACT scores is reading to children. Not flash cards, not workbooks, not fancy preschools, not blinking toys or computers, but mom or dad taking the time every day or night (or both!) to sit and read them wonderful books.
- That being the smartest or most accomplished kid in class has never had any bearing on being the happiest. We are so caught up in trying to give our children “advantages” that we’re giving them lives as multi-tasked and stressful as ours. One of the biggest advantages we can give our children is a simple, carefree childhood.
- That our children deserve to be surrounded by books, nature, art supplies and the freedom to explore them. Most of us could get rid of 90% of our children’s toys and they wouldn’t be missed, but some things are important— building toys like legos and blocks, creative toys like all types of art materials (good stuff), musical instruments (real ones and multicultural ones), dress up clothes and books, books, books. (Incidentally, much of this can be picked up quite cheaply at thrift shops.) They need to have the freedom to explore with these things too— to play with scoops of dried beans in the high chair (supervised, of course), to knead bread and make messes, to use paint and play dough and glitter at the kitchen table while we make supper even though it gets everywhere, to have a spot in the yard where it’s absolutely fine to dig up all the grass and make a mud pit.
- That our children need more of us. We have become so good at saying that we need to take care of ourselves that some of us have used it as an excuse to have the rest of the world take care of our kids. Yes, we all need undisturbed baths, time with friends, sanity breaks and an occasional life outside of parenthood. But we live in a time when parenting magazines recommend trying to commit to 10 minutes a day with each child and scheduling one Saturday a month as family day. That’s not okay! Our children don’t need Nintendos, computers, after school activities, ballet lessons, play groups and soccer practice nearly as much as they need US.
So, I was going to make a coy comment about this, but rather than do that, I’ll just plainly tell you what happened.
This post from Lean In, inspired me to search to see if the above scene from A League of Their Own had been turned into a gif set. Lo and behold, it has. And that’s cool because that woman next to the instructor taking notes on the clipboard is my wife. (Strange the gif creator didn’t include her line that sets up the joke at the end, but whatevs.)
Honey, I’m sorry to tell you this, but you’ve been giffed.
We spent most of Sunday afternoon painting… Well, the boys painted. I mostly just marveled at how beautiful they are.