- How to Lose With Lost Kids
- Dad’s Log: Summer 2013, Days 4-6 Weekend Roundup
- Father’s Day was so Fresh and so Clean
- Summer 2013: The Birthday (Day 2)
- Modern Love: Dad Version
- Summer 2013: Day 1
- A Story in Every Load
- Jim Gaffigan: The Interview
- The Tide is High
- The Springtimes of Our Youth
_We teach kids to look for a mommy._ I can't recall the exact wording, hence the lack of quotes, but that is the gist of what I was told while sitting in a beautiful courtyard on a bright clear morning. All I could smell was juniper and ocean. I was seated at a table layered in fresh, white linen and even fresher coffee stains with two other men that blog in the parenting space. We were attending an exceptional conference aimed at women in that very same online community, and we had been welcomed by everyone with open arms and mini-bar jokes. Everyone, apparently, except the woman that sat down and asked if we were vendors. It was an honest mistake and I chalked up her assumption to our snappy dress and boyish good looks. Surely dad bloggers couldn't look this good. She introduced herself and we followed suit. It turns out that she owns a company you have probably heard of, and they make a product you probably enjoy. She then, for lack of a better segue, started talking about lost kids and how the philosophy of her company is to tell kids to look for a mommy. "So a lost child in a park should walk right past all of the dads in order to find someone they _think_ to be a mommy?" I asked. "Yes," she said, and then she started listing all of the reasons that men should not be trusted. She talked about the crimes men commit. The history of violence against children and women. She gave the facts as casually as if she were asking one of us to pass the butter, and we just looked at her with open mouths and disbelief. One of the men pointed out that women have committed more than their fair share of crimes against children—in fact, the news is currently full of such sad stories. She balked at the notion. I explained that the problem with teaching children that men are bad is that some of them might actually believe it—children that have fathers and brothers or those that will someday be men themselves. It was a terrible and ignorant weight to put on a child. She nodded for a moment and then continued to make her point. "That's bullshit," I said. Loudly. The shock was palatable. "You can't prolong a potentially dangerous situation for a lost child by filling their heads with paranoid profiling." "We," and I indicated the men at the table, "have been working far too hard for that kind of nonsense. My kids know to look for an adult should they get lost, and an obvious dad is as good as an obvious mom when it comes to the welfare and safety of my children." She said something else after that, but I was too angry to hear her. I just watched her lips move, and behind her the waves as they crashed upon the sunlit sand and rolled back into the ocean, somewhat saltier and slightly more broken.
Day 4: Went to bed late following the birthday party, which was a rousing success. Woke up early smelling like sweat and chocolate. We attended a morning screening of Pixar's _Monsters University_ and it was good fun. Then the boys did something while Tricia entertained company and I napped for three hours. It's been a long week. Day 5: Father's Day started with fresh laundry (see sponsored post below), and had many stops along the way before settling down on the couch for the third and fourth installments in the Harry Potter movie series. We hope to get the rest in next weekend. The boys, having recently been on the Harry Potter ride at Universal Orlando, now know what fear is, so they should be okay. Day 6: It is 9:21 in the a.m., and so far no sign of the children. I heard a toilet flush about an hour ago. My coffee is fantastic. UPDATED: 9:29 a.m., I heard a door open. Breakfast forthcoming. _Please note, despite the use of the word "Roundup" in the title I do not endorse Monsanto or what they are doing to the health of everything._
_This post is clearly sponsored by P&G, makers of Tide and Downy._ Father's Day started like they all do, me sleeping in upstairs and the house below a shouted whisper. Then there were some cards made at school which were freshly dug from the pits of disregarded backpacks. We followed with brunch, a bit of shopping, and then the four of us hit the couch for a movie marathon and some treats, because what is Father's Day, or a movie marathon for that matter, without treats? The boys didn't "get" me anything—meaning all those lists that come around with the latest gadgets for dad never made it in front of their target audience, mostly because their target audience isn't allowed to surf the Internet without my supervision, and I am okay with that. All I wanted was time together, and we made the most of that. My wife, however, did do something for me. She did the laundry, and that was as good as any coffee cup wrist massaging app. You see, I usually do the laundry. Granted, the boys like to help, where like to help means that there are a number of stores next to the laundromat that they like to frequent. The laundry is my job, and my tools are Tide, Downy, and as many quarters as I can carry. Also, coffee. The first thing I thought of on Father's Day was that all of my shorts were dirty, and I had a hunch about my underpants, too. I wasn't looking forward to spending two hours of my Sunday morning loading, washing, drying, and folding. Or doing laundry. That's when I saw it. The basket of laundry by the dresser was clean, and there was light shining down upon it. The stains were gone, so Tide was in on it. The clothes were soft, do Downy had been there, too. Together with my wife and a bunch of quarters they had given me a wonderful Father's Day gift. They got something similar for the boys. We all got dressed in our Sunday best shorts and flip-flops, put on our sunglasses, and hit the day smelling of a soft ocean mist. That was Tide and Downy again. They're givers. I already know what I'm getting my wife next Mother's Day. This coming weekend Tide and Downy are making it possible for my family and a group of friends to have some messy fun in the sun. We are going to have a Tide Party, because, duh, Tide. Yes, I'm that clever. We have some incredible tide pools by our house and we are going to spend an afternoon playing in them. There will be sandcastles, exploring, a picnic, some laughter, and a lot of cleaning up to do. I'll handle that, and Tide and Downy will help (literally, I expect some pretty muddy clothes by the time our day it done). It promises to be an awesome time. Just because Father's Day is over doesn't mean P&G are forgetting about dads until next June. Dads are active all year, and their stories need to be told! Help Tide and Downy celebrate your dad’s way of parenting by telling a story about dad on Twitter using the hashtag #DadsWay. Whether dad showed strength like Tide or gentleness like Downy their story is worth sharing. Added bonus for strength _and_ gentleness, like Tide with Downy! And that's not all! For every tweet sent using the hashtag #DadsWay through June 23, Tide and Downy will donate $1 to the National Fatherhood Initiative. There will also be a Dad's Way (#dadsway) Twitter Party Thursday, June 20, at 8 p.m. EDT. I'll be there, and I will smell fantastic.
Ten packed a wallop of melancholy. It turns out that Atticus was as sad about taking one more step into the big unknown as we were watching him go. All we wanted was for things to stay small and huggable. Is that too much to ask? Apparently so, and with that we have accepted our fates and looked into the big, bright future. There is adventure there, and it is his for the taking. Happy birthday, Atticus. Make all the wishes you can carry.
_This post is sponsored by Procter & Gamble._ Procter & Gamble have long been known as the Proud Sponsor of Moms, and that is great. Moms definitely deserve the thanks and recognition. But what about the dads? Dads do stuff. Never fear, it turns out P&G are also recognizing and celebrating everything dads do for their families, which is nice. As societal gender roles continue to be redefined, fathers are playing an equally integral role in parenting their children, and not just to score an awesome tie for Father's Day! In fact, through a recent parenting survey of 2,000 parents (half mothers, half fathers) P&G discovered some fascinating insights on what it means to be a modern dad. First, what is a modern dad? MODERN |ˈmädərn| adjective of or relating to the present or recent times as opposed to the remote past: _the pace of modern life_ | _modern U.S. history._ • characterized by or using the most up-to-date techniques, ideas, or equipment: _they do not have modern weapons._ • [ attrib. ] denoting the form of a language that is currently used, as opposed to any earlier form: _modern German._ • [ attrib. ] denoting a current or recent style or trend in art, architecture, or other cultural activity marked by a significant departure from traditional styles and values: _Matisse's contribution to modern art._ DAD |dad| noun informal one's father: _his dad was with him_ | _what are you making, Dad?_ I know that the idea of an active and present dad, a man that lives in the now and uses up-to-date ideas in terms of how he relates to his family and the world is pretty much the norm for most of us, but there is still a lot of work to be done before the media starts portraying fathers more like the guys we all know and less like the guy we all laugh at. P&G wants to be a part of that change, and that is a message that I am proud to support by living it every day. Also, writing this post. As for the recent survey by P&G, here are their findings in infographic form: I think the survey results speak for themselves, but I speak for me and… yeah, I pretty much fall into line with the majority of those surveyed. We split the chores—for instance I do most of the laundry and my wife washes most of the dishes. However, the kids do most of the vacuuming, which apparently wasn't an option. We monitor the online presence of our children. We struggle, daily, with our work/life balance. We like green cake. And that's not all! Now the modern dad in your life can be immortalized in an illustration. FOREVER! P&G’s Thank you, Mom campaign is celebrating dads and everything they do for their families! Check out their Facebook and Twitter pages. It's happening! Thank you, Mom wants you to fill in the blank and share what makes the dad in your life (No shame in nominating yourself—your kid isn't allowed on social media yet, remember?) the #WorldsGreatest ____________________. It's like Mad Libs, but for Mad Skills. P&G will be select some of their favorite responses and create custom illustrations to help honor Dads. Share them with your social network, i.e., friends! Here are a couple of examples: There are a lot more on their Pinterest page! Check them out and help P&G say _Thank you, Dad!_ _- THIS MONTH, TIDE AND DOWNY ARE CELEBRATING THE UNIQUE WAY THAT EACH DAD DOES THINGS_ _- EVERYONE HAS A STORY ABOUT WHAT MAKES THEIR DAD UNIQUELY HIM. TELL US YOUR STORY USING THE HASHTAG #DADSWAY ON TWITTER_ _- FOR EVERY TWEET SENT OUT WITH #DADSWAY, TIDE AND DOWNY WILL DONATE $1 TO THE NATIONAL FATHERHOOD INITIATIVE_
The entire school year was one giant morning of reluctance. The boys were gently coaxed, bribed, hugged, and threatened to get their sleep-filled bodies out of bed. Sometimes there was singing. It seldom came easy. They resisted daily, and resistance was futile. Summer began, officially, the moment we walked off of campus, but that was just half a day still tinged with classroom hues and boy's room smells. The real kickoff started this morning, and it started early. My name, or what passes for it, echoed through the open window, blended with the jazz that caught it, and landed somewhere between my coffee and the keyboard. "Daddy," he said again. I walked to the deck and looked down upon adventure. It was still socked in by gentle hills stretching with the morning, rolling their coat of marine layer forever from the sea. In the midst stood a boy, and he was ready for anything. "Good morning, Daddy," he said. "Do you want to play with me?"
_This post is sponsored by Procter & Gamble, makers of such fine products as Tide and Downy. All opinions and stories are my own. _ They are usually the last one out, as if the thought of leaving would never have occurred to them had not everyone else left just moments before. The time was good—good, clean fun, and they never considered it ending until the moment that it did. The stoppage was fairly sudden, but the warnings were there for those that cared to notice. For example, somebody turned the water off. Also, the bubbles had popped from every corner of the sky. Then the lights were on, and they didn't have to go home, but they couldn't stay here. I had only paid for one cycle, and I was running out of quarters. As it is, they hid as long as they could, beneath the threads and folds of fabric, and had they hung on they would have never been found, at least not until a small hand fell to its old ways, but they lacked the strength to do so—they let go, one by one, and the hem was pulled away. These are the stowaways among us, and the din of their fall against empty, cold metal betrays them every single time. "Look," I say to the boy nearest me. They are interchangeable in this respect. Both are equally guilty at all times, and neither tries to deny it. Rather they look as instructed and their eyes light up when I pull their toy from the bottom of the washer—a thing so loved it was kept tight in tiny pockets and forgotten to the hamper as little boys fell asleep and the garments of their companionship became the fortress of their solitude. When the toys wake-up the world is spinning, and the tide rises on scents of clean breeze and ocean mist. This is the ride we opened with. This is the good, clean fun. They might be a building brick or a stuffed, green frog, but that is not what defines them. The toys find their meaning in the love of a little boy, and frankly, they needed the bath. The moments like this are fairly common. I do most of the laundry in our family and the boys cause most of the messes. Together we have spent hours in the laundromat whistling away grass stains and folding up memories. Then we rinse. Then we repeat. The occasional toy making its way into the wash creates such a reaction of joy that I have considered planting them there myself; however, I have come to realize that a reunion is just a fresh layer on existing happiness, and the story of the stain is in the making of it. The toy has been found, the clothes are clean and wet, and the boys are loads of laughter. The dryer isn't going anywhere. ********** - This month, Tide and Downy are celebrating the unique way that each dad does things - Everyone has a story about what makes their dad uniquely him. Tell us your story using the hashtag #DadsWay on Twitter - For every tweet sent out with #DadsWay, Tide and Downy will donate $1 to the National Fatherhood Initiative
Jim Gaffigan signs a hundred books, takes off his coat, and then signs a hundred more—his smile as sincere for the next fan as it was for the first. There is conversation. There are pictures. People walk away smiling, a moment of bliss just before it is tweeted. It is a weeknight in Santa Monica and the serpentine line of polite book buyers moves in an orderly fashion. They are still laughing about the question and answer portion of the evening. They are clutching their copies, waiting for Gaffigan to sign it with genuine appreciation. The night has been more comedy act than book reading, and the intimate setting of a Barnes and Noble conference room lends itself to their comfort. We are all friends here. The book is called _Dad is Fat_, which makes me suck my stomach in a bit when I have my photo taken with the author (above). Jim Gaffigan is not, despite a line of food-based humor that might suggest otherwise, fat. His kids, however, beg to differ—hence the title. I suspect that Gaffigan has been working out. Kids are all about the tough love. Prior to the book signing we had a chance to sit and talk about it. WHIT HONEA: _You wrote a book on fatherhood. Is that because you see everything now through the dad lens?_ JIM GAFFIGAN: I think, for me, when I had two kids I could compartmentalize my life where I was the dad, I was the comedian. And then when we had three, and four, and five, out of necessity the title of "Dad" came first, and I am grateful for that… the weight of the responsibility and the benefits just outweigh any other title or identity. WH: _It's always there._ JG: Totally. It's great. I mean, in the end, I love that I have this constant reminder that this is what I know, myself, personally, that I am going to evaluate my existence on… I'm trying to hold on to that, keeping in touch with the whole dad identity, and believe me, I'm not that good at it, but having that dad identity is pretty important. WH: _I think saying you're not good at it while being present like that means that you are good at it. You're there, and so many kids don't have that._ _It's funny, having these conversations I always feel like people expect me to be some champion of dad know-how—that just because I write about parenting I should have all the answers. Then I'm sitting at home in my boxers typing away and ignoring my kids for large chunks of the day._ JG: That's what I thought was ironic about writing this book. I feel like every three months I am recalibrating how my life is run so that I can be a decent parent, and obviously a good partner to my wife, but doing this book really made me a bad parent because writing is a solitary… you know, with stand-up I can have a short attention span, but with writing an essay you have to do justice to it and there's this stationary time. It's not like I missed dance recitals, but I missed pick-ups that I probably could have done. When my wife asks me if I can take our daughter to the orthodontist, and I'm like, _can I do it? Yes!_ I prefer being in the mode that I almost have an annoyance with it. The fact that I'm _yes!_ about taking her to the doctor makes me feel icky. Does that make sense? WH: _As far as that's the quality of time that you're getting?_ JG: Because I'm trying to steal away these moments. You know as a kid, they're not going to remember things like when you took them out for ice cream, but _was my dad there when I was uncomfortable getting my braces tightened?_ WH: _That's it. I always feel like my kids get a quantity of my time, not quality. Speaking of time with the kids, you wrote about doing "once in a lifetime things, again" and I thought that was great. It really hit home. I know the first time around, with my first son, I felt that there were these big things that I absolutely needed to be a part of, stuff that we had never experienced before, and it felt like that was the only chance to do it. And then all of a sudden we're doing it again, and it loses some of the hype. At the same time, the second kid, and subsequent kids, you feel like you're shortchanging them if you don't give them that same level of awesomeness._ JG: Of course. I think there's something strange about the once in a lifetime things occurring again, and children exposing you to things. It melts cynicism. It's like even though you think that getting a Christmas tree is silly you're going to do it and you're going to squash your cynicism, and through their eyes you are going to have a positive perspective on it. But there is also something… I love how my children have opened me to things. Things I never thought I'd be open to, like musicals. Look, I'm a Midwestern guy. I was not into musical theater. I didn't understand it. I was reluctant. It was all _Cats_ to me. Now, being inundated by the _Sound of Music_ and Disney Princess songs, I understand that. I mean, I don't know the value of it, but I think the larger value is the exposure to things. It just makes you more open. You have the openness of a child. I don't know, it sounds so esoteric. To someone that doesn't have kids it sounds… WH: _You're exposing them to different cultures outside of their own comfort zone._ JG: Yeah, and you, inadvertently, are being exposed to these things, and it's pretty amazing, right? WH: _I grew up in Arizona, man, and we didn't have a vast array of cultural influences… we had what was prevalent there, and that was it. It wasn't until I moved away after college, back and forth between L.A. and Seattle, that I saw things in the world—that I was exposed to other things, and I was like, holy cow! I don't want my kids to have to learn this. I want them to grow up with it. That's something we want to foster in them early on. It's not that I wasn't an accepting person in terms of other cultures and lifestyles, I just never had exposure to much of it._ JG: Right. That what I love about New York City. I mean, I love Indiana, but I like the fact that when we leave our building there's this store that essentially caters to drag queens. When my kids see a drag queen they aren't thrown by it, and you know what, they shouldn't be thrown by it. That's not to say I don't want them to have their own values, but I'm a different person. You know, I'm a comedian and I don't want someone to judge me in a certain way just because I'm a comedian, and I think that openness is something I really like about New York. It's socioeconomic, cultural, all together. It's not perfect, but I like that they have that exposure because I don't want my kids to bristle in any situation. ********** And then it was time for Jim Gaffigan to sign some books. He didn't bristle once.
_Dad is Fat_ is available now, and it makes a great Father's Day gift for anyone. Read my review of _Dad is Fat_ on Babble.
_This post is sponsored by Procter & Gamble, and it is fantastic. All opinions, specifically those that suggest anything on this site is "fantastic" belong to me. _ The last few days of the school year are spent upon the necessities of social contracts. For instance, each yearbook requires a binding signature wherein the student hereby promises to maintain who they are, i.e., to "stay cool," for the duration of time agreed upon by the school board and, to a lesser extent, the solstice. Also, ice cream socials. The time unfolds quickly. Summer is just days away and the plans to seize it are upon us. Our contracts stipulate much in the way of it being awesome. This is the now and we are living in it. Shoes will officially become optional, and the house will smell of sunscreen. The wardrobe of summer is fun and comfortable. It is in constant need of washing. I have two young sons and they are as different as both kinds of music. One is meticulous in his hygiene (this, unfortunately, does not carry over into his bedroom), and the other not so much. My theory on this is that the former is prone to assessing situations, whereas the latter is more apt to dive right in. Diving in, as you may have guessed, can get kind of messy (possible exceptions include swimming pools and freshly sanitized ball pits). Needless to say, the laundry basket is weighted heavily in one direction and it grows more lopsided by the hour. Sometimes you just have to lean in to keep life from tipping over. Sometimes you let it make its mess and then clean it up accordingly. We keep an ample supply of hugs around in the event of an emergency (like a sudden need for hugs). My summer is anchored in the same port as the rest of my year. Only now my days are hotter, and there is a better chance of the sun still being up when I walk away from my desk. My feet are always bare. The boys will float around me, sometimes speeding by on sudden swells, and others only treading water. All waves lead to the sand, and they will ebb and flow with each breath of the tide. When the day is done it will be hard to tell the sweat from the sea. It is all a lingering lick of salt, and the sun has a schedule to keep. The sun does not know from summer. We know. We have been expecting it. ______________________ Procter & Gamble, the parent company of Tide and Downy, has provided me the opportunity to share my spin on the "dad's way" of parenting, and you're reading it. My dad's way of parenting is well-documented in these pages, and it consists mainly of working hard and playing harder. I do a lot of laundry. The thing is, a lot of dads do their share of cleaning up, and that isn't always reflected in ad campaigns. Procter & Gamble think it is time for that to change, and I couldn't agree more.
Hits home, right?
_- This month, Tide and Downy are celebrating the unique way that each dad does things_
_- Everyone has a story about what makes their dad uniquely him. Tell us your story using the hashtag #DadsWay on Twitter_
_- For every tweet sent out with #DadsWay, Tide and Downy will donate $1 to the National Fatherhood Initiative_
Comments are nice, too.
According to the birds in the pink-covered trees, spring has sprung. But they're just dumb birds, what the hell do they know? I wore a sweater this morning. Seriously, I'm writing about the weather. It has come to that. Also, I'm writing about birds and how they aren't nearly as smart as they think they are. At the end of the day they all taste like chicken. The thing about spring that makes it worth mentioning is that a young man's heart turns to baseball. However, my heart is old. It pumps coffee and bourbon and stops on a dime at least twice during every greasy dinner. My boys' hearts have turned to other flights of fancy, and our family schedule has filled with stress accordingly. The fun kind. Every week we have multiple sessions of gymnastics, swimming, Spanish, soccer, and piano. Plus school, homework, and random PTA crap. Frankly, it's time-consuming. I'm going to need a bigger DVR. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to have the boys involved in any number of activities. When I was a kid such options weren't readily available to me. Sure, there was baseball, 4-H, and Cub Scouts, and I know that each took a commitment of time and money from my parents, but I didn't know it then so I didn't appreciate it. I make sure my kids know. They are living in the now. For the most part my sunny days (and there were a lot of them growing up in Arizona) were filled with the same activity: Outside. We had adventures in the desert and the dry riverbed. We rode in huge tractors and jumped for hours in the itchy awesomeness of raw, freshly-picked cotton. Our playground stretched, literally, for miles. We traveled by bike and horseback. We packed heat (BB guns) and strapped knives on our belts (official Rambo survival edition with matches in the handle). There was always a pack of neighborhood dogs panting loudly at our side. I look back fondly and I can't help but wonder, _what the hell were our parents thinking_? Then I remember they didn't have _NCIS_ and _CSI:Wherever_ back then. They were ignorant of the dangers that we surely faced. It is spring. My boys and their time are both accounted for. Their schedule is full and tiring. On the weekends they put on their coats and their gloves, strap sticks to their sides and face the well-known. Sometimes we walk to the edge of the neighborhood where the forest waits, and with it the lure of danger and adventure. The woods stretch, literally, for miles. The boys run around bends and down paths forgetting that we are, relatively, far behind them. They are alone and they are free. Their dogs pant loudly at their side. There are echoes and there is laughter. It is the song of spring, and the sound of moments to remember. The birds pale by comparison. _A version of this post first appeared in 2011 on DadCentric_