Monday, February 27, 2012

Taking the Low Road

Beer Stein

A mother in Cincinnati pulled her 4-year-old boy from preschool after he was given a small beer stein as part of a "Countries Around the World" lesson.

Now, this post is not about the merits of her argument. It's not about coddling . It's not about whether or not she went too far. It's not about whether or not the best way to describe German culture is by showing beer. This post is about what happened once her story made the Cincinnati Enquirer.

The mother's feeling and intuition about what was best for her son meant she could not keep him in school anymore, especially after a loud argument with the principal. She's not an evil person. Some may consider her over-protective, but when you look at the list of problems facing society, over-protection is not really a big deal, is it? An over-protected kid may grow up with some insecurities that he may have to overcome, but that's pretty much where it ends. This is not an abused kid and not a neglected one. What we have here is a good mother who made a choice many wouldn't have made. The End.

But then came the comments.

The Low Road
(Click to Enlarge, or Read Below)
I am absolutely amazed that anyone could make such a big deal out of such a trivial matter! Only in America!
"I cannot be the only one who thinks this is wrong." Yes, Elyse, you can.
Where is this Child's Helmet? He is Sitting on his Mothers lap, He could fall off and injure Himself, Also He needs goggles over his eyes for protection since his Mother is wearing Glasses with sharp corners that may harm Him accidentally. Or maybe Mom could just start filling up that Beer Stein and Relax a Little.
She'd never use goggles...they might be beer goggles ;-)
Somebody had on beer goggles - only way she'd have gotten pregnant!
Its the parent's that protect their kids from EVERYTHING and think everything is SO wrong like this lady that wind up having the BAD kids when they are older because they were so dang sheltered all their lives, they finally get old enough and get some freedom and TOTALLY overdo it!!
Waa waa waaaaa. Don't people have more important things to complain about? When I was in grade school, we went on a field trip to the Hudepohl brewery, and nobody raised a peep about that.
And there are many more, all pretty much saying the same thing. Later, when one person dares to suggest the mother's sensitivities should have been addressed, whether or not they were justified, he immediately gets this response (and a dozen similar ones):

The Low Road all walk amongst us...scary...
Then humanity got even worse, when the story reached the anonymous hive-mind of Reddit. There, submitted in the Parenting section, it was titled, "Parents: Don't be like this. This insufferable idiot makes us all look bad."

After looking at hundreds of comments on Reddit, where people call the mother "white trash" and make fun of her and her kid's names, I think it's safe to say the mother is not the one making parents look bad.

The kid may or may not grow up with the burden of being over-protected, but that's only a problem because these name callers and grown-up bullies, to borrow a phrase, "walk amongst us."

Thursday, February 23, 2012

It's Different For Girls

I recently read a couple of posts about raising girls. The first was from Adeline's Daddy, talking about secretly hoping his first child was going to be a girl. The other post on Stay At Home Dad PDX, discussed the unfortunate low bar set for dads, when all it takes is for Dad to fix his daughter's hair, and people feel compelled to comment about what a great dad he is.

My comment to both blogs was a little similar, so I thought I'd write about it here.

Of course now I'm an expert. Even Klout says so. But before my first child was born, I had no idea what I was doing. I had never held a baby before, never babysat, never changed a diaper, never even came near these small creatures, because I just knew I was going to break the first one I held. And THEN what...? But we made a baby, and after the nurse ordered me to hold him and to change his diapers, she left us alone with him. My wife was still sleepy, a little out-of-it, recovering from the C-section, which meant I was suddenly in charge of life.

Well, somehow we've all made it, but for a long time I felt that although I'd always been a step behind on where a knowledgeable parent should have been, AT LEAST I was able to use my intuition, because I had a boy. If I had a girl, I felt, we wouldn't have made it.

It's probably wrong. After all, it was all a learning curve, no matter what I was dealing with. Still, I have to admit that like Adeline's Dad, the reason I was hoping for a boy was that a boy made sense to me. Dealing with a mini-me seemed easier than dealing with a mini-my-wife.

Like Adeline's Dad, if I did have a girl as a first-born, I would have been just as happy, and in the end, the challenges and the rewards would have probably been the same as what I got from my boy, but I also don't think we should be embarrassed about wishing that with all the chaos of moving from a couple to a family, from taking care of yourself to taking care of a little creature, things make sense as much as possible...

I agreed with Stay At Home Dad PDX that the "great parent" bar is too low for dads, but I have to say that as far as I'm concerned, a dad who fixes his daughter's hair is at a whole other level, because personally, well... I've never put my 2-year-old girl in a dress. I know she has tights in the drawer, but I wouldn't know what to do with them. The only reason I'm not panicking so much about putting her hair in a pony-tail is that I had one when I was a teenager (sorry), so I kind of know what I'm doing. But no pig-tails or braids. Or any sort of pins in the hair. My life is complicated enough...

I know if I absolutely have to put a dress on her, it will happen. But as long as no one is forcing me to do that, I will continue dressing her in jeans and in her brother's old shirts, and maybe I'll put her hair in a pony tail, because I don't know what else to do with it. One day, if I have to, I'll step up. Until then, I'll keep lowering the bar by making my life easier and by making sure as much as possible makes sense.

Different for Girls

Saturday, February 18, 2012

10 Fatherhood Influences

Fatherhood Lessons

On his blog, Business, Bee Keepers and Pork Bellies, J. Stewart III (!) recently wrote about some of the things he felt he needed to pass on to his son--the things he was here for, basically. We change diapers, we feed our babies, we even cut their hair every once in a while. Actually. But what else are we here for? What can we teach our kids to make their lives fuller and to get to watch them grow up to be amazing people? When they make it, what will justify the mansion they give us, in other words?

I actually loved Stewart's list, and even if it is just his own personal list, I feel I can steal some of what he calls "Fatherhood Influencers To Pass Down." Here are some of the ones I happily stole:

1. Legos

I love Legos. You can use your imagination while you play this, which is a pretty rare thing with toys. With most toys, you press a button and something happens. The box tells you it teaches your kids the beauty of cause-and-effect. Great, but how about a more open-ended approach? You put this piece above this one and you get a house. You add this piece in the back and now it's a train! Add a couple of small pieces and you have a dog!

2. A Dog

We now have a fifteen-year-old Pit Bull in the house. It would be nice if I knew they'd grow up remembering the old lady (or even her older brother who recently died), but the most important thing is that they'll grow up loving dogs, unlike their father who couldn't be in the same room with dogs until he was forced to live with a roommate who had two. Now that I've turned into a dog-lover, it's sad for me to think about running away from them all these years, and I hope my kids turn out differently because they got to know Buddy and Gingee.

3. Books

On the one hand, I understand Kindle. It's a changing world, after all. I've moved from vinyl to CDs, and now I'm moving all my music, along with my documents, my pictures, and my Internet bookmarks all the way up to The Cloud. So why should I keep books like some kind of hoarder? Kindle makes sense. It's light, and it has page-turning graphics, and you can take a library with you when you travel... I know. But books are real. Books have different sizes and different colors. They have a scent. They turn brown when they're old. Friends borrow them and sometimes bring them back. They're a part of your house, not just a way to pass the time. Sure, if you can't see well and you need big fonts, or if you live in a tiny New York apartment with no room for books, I'll look the other way. Otherwise, teach your kids there's magical stuff under the cloud.

4. Learning Multiple Languages

I speak Hebrew to my kids. I don't know if they'll ever get to use it, but at least they grow up with a global perspective and the understanding that English is not the only language in the world, because the US is not the only country in the world, and American culture is not the only culture worth knowing in the world.

5. Appreciation of Music

My kids are growing up Hipster, I'm afraid. I don't play kids' music in the house, because I prefer adult music. I also don't listen to adult music that would offend my inner child, so my kids should be fine. And after all, is there better kids' music than The Flaming Lips?

Then there are some Fatherhood Influences I can add:

6. Be Cool!

Like all kids, mine go through extremes. I try to use every opportunity to remind them whatever they're crying about is not a big deal. At the same time I pretend I never get stressed out... Hopefully, stress in our family will be like the family nose. My grandfather had a full potato. My father had more of a red potato. I have a round nose, but not that potato-ish. My kids, if everything goes according to plan, will retain nothing of the potato family legacy: neither potato-nose nor debilitating stress.

7. Dance When You Want to Dance

There are people who never dance in public. There are people who dance in public because they want the world to see them as the kind of people who dance in public. Both groups look at others for confirmation and acceptance. I want my kids to dance when they want to dance, to sing when they want to sing, and to sit and do nothing when they want nothing more than to sit and do nothing. I want to teach my kids that happiness and acceptance can only come from within.

8. Question Everything

My father and I can't agree on anything when it comes to politics, but I'll always be grateful for the many times he reminded me to question the motives of my political heroes and to see a bigger, more objective picture. Even if he's wrong on every single issue. I hope I can teach my kids to grow up able to acknowledge their own subjective prejudices as well as the non-existence of absolute truth.

9. Compassion

Kids can be cruel and kids can be great. Most kids are both at different times to some extent. But if in the end my kids are mean to other kids, if they're cruel, if they make others cry and ashamed of themselves, then I have failed as a parent.

10. Be Honest

I've recently turned my Facebook profile public, realizing that as long as my online privacy depended on others, nothing was ever truly private. Knowing I have no privacy is actually a very liberating feeling, because now I don't feel I have to hide behind an anonymous persona, and I learn to express my true self in an honest way. My kids will grow up with endless opportunities for "identity management." It's my job to teach them no persona is as fun and rewarding as their real ones.

I'll be happy to see more fatherhood or parenting influences and lessons. And also read Stewart's original post for more examples.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Tommy Jordan

As a blogging dad, I know that although I can take a day or week or month off blogging, I'm contractually obligated to have very strong opinions about certain topical subjects, or be escorted out of the prestigious Blogging Dads Club. In order to avoid having to blog about other topics, such as Existentialism in Nicki Minaj's Performances, I must come out with a blog post telling the world what I think about Tommy Jordan.

Tommy Jordan, in case you missed it, got angry at his 15-year-old daughter after she secretly wrote mean things about him on Facebook, so he put out a YouTube where he shot her laptop. If you haven't seen the video yet, here it is:

Good. Now you're part pf the 25 million people who have seen this video, and hopefully, like your fellow 25 millions, you either think this guy is a hero or you think he's a terrible dad. Because that's the nature of the Internet.

Well, two cents coming:

I'm not a fan of guns. I also don't have a 15-year-old daughter. Now, this guy is not a hero. He's also not the worst dad or the worst person in the world. Frankly, there are so many assholes in the world, that calling a normal guy who simply struggles with parenting a horrible person is as misguided as calling him a hero. We're all struggling here. The End.

I do want to add a couple of related points, though.

First, this hasn't gotten a lot of publicity, but the funniest thing about it all is that he didn't catch his daughter because he was an IT expert, but because his dog has a Facebook account:

HOW SHE GOT CAUGHT: The Dog Did It.. no, really.

I finally came out and told her this today, partly because it was too funny NOT to share.

When my daughter made her post, she used Facebook's privacy settings to block "Family" and "Church" friend's lists. All her other friends could see it. We, of course could not.

One of our dogs is always getting in photos and therefore has her own Facebook page. It's just a cute dumb thing we did for fun. Well, the dog's profile is rarely used except when funny pictures of her are posted. Since that's not too often, and she has very few friends on Facebook, her wall is kind of bare, with relatively few posts showing up on it.

The other night we gave the dog a bath and there was a funny photo we uploaded to Facebook and tagged her in. I logged in as the dog the next morning to comment on the photo. However when I logged into the dog's profile, my daughter had forgotten to add her to the "family" list.... so our family dog's profile showed her post right there on the front page.

It wasn't any parent-hacking, computer spying, or monitoring of any kind.. the dog actually ratted her out completely by accident. She hasn't petted that dog all day today...

And finally, here's the hilarious response/homage video made by Beta Dad. So far, 3,000 people saw this video. Maybe if you share it on your Twitters and your Facebooks and your Pinterests (but not really), we can get Beta Dad the 25 million views he deserves.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Matt's blog is the one I will have when I grow up. While it's organized and includes a posting schedule, it also remains a free-flowing, honest and funny look at the life of a stay-at-home-dad.

Matt writes about the insane TV shows that will be probably used as an excuse by our kids when they grow up with strange quirks ("Of course I scream in my sleep. I've watched Sid the Science Kid when I was a kid"). He also writes about his attempts to find the relation to fatherhood in everyday life. And he writes about his daughter, who seems to be the same age as my own girl. She's almost two, which is of course the best age. Now her vocabulary is growing and her personality is being defined, and to top it all, every day that passes with a 2-year-old girl, it's great to feel like those dreaded "Terrible Twos" haven't been that bad.

Of course, this will all change in 12-18 months, when the vocabulary is large enough for her to say, "I DON'T LOVE YOU!" and the personality is defined to the point of doors slammed in Dad's face... But for now, Matt seems to be having a great time staying home with the girl, which is an inspiration to all stay-at-home-parents.

OK... Actually, it's not that bad. Like it was in every developmental stage from the day he was born, things got more difficult when my boy left the Not-So-Terrible-Twos and entered the Daddy-Needs-His-Tums-Or-He-Gets-A-Heart-Attack-Threes, but somehow things got more rewarding as well. Even watching my boy getting angry at his parents is rewarding. I've created this strong-willed kid who's not afraid to stand his ground. I'm proud, even if I'm often the one he practices his defiance on...

Matt also links to his cooking blog, which of course make me feel even more inadequate as a stay-at-home-dad with my limited cooking skills.

Hope you get a chance to head over to the blog. Subscribe to the blog feed on your reader or by email, follow on Twitter, Like on Facebook, and most importantly, leave comments on his blog.

Real Matt Daddy

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Earning Our Stickers

Last month I read a post about a dad who earned his stickers by standing by his suffering kid's ER bed. Today that was me, so I had to go and read it again.

You live your life and realize each setback prepares you for a future success, and you learn to take things easy. After all, if you fall, you get back up. You get injured? You go to the doctor. Nothing is a big deal anymore.

Then you have a kid, and one day she falls. A silly little fall, but she's limping. So you go to the doctor and after a day of "monitoring," she sends your girl to get an x-ray. And you see your tiny little girl, who can barely say ten words but one of them is "Hurt," lying down on this huge bed, and you realize nothing has prepared you for that.

She's fine. The worst case would have been a fracture, which in the end isn't a big deal, at least not when compared to some of the stories I read on Twitter and on blogs from other parents. How do these people do it... How do they sit by and watch their little kids on these big beds?

I've earned my stickers today. Didn't cry once. Neither did she.

One hurdle passed, another one coming soon. Our boy will go into surgery later this month. Again, nothing complicated, the doctor says. "30 years, I've never lost a patient."

Lost a patient.

Just let this month be over.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

This Week, We've Been Mostly Watching Elmo

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Lego Story

He's putting Legos down his poor little sister's shirt, saying, "I'm going to make you look like Superman!" Then he realizes I'm in the room, so he says, "Sometimes Superman has Legos in his shirt."



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