Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Unreachable Star

When I was a boy I dreamed the magnificent stupid dreams of a boy. I dreamt about the next series of GI Joe action figures, I dreamt of getting ninja climbing claws, I dreamt of being in New Kids on the Block.

I’m man enough to admit that now.

But dreams, like boy bands, are fleeting things. Dreams of action figures give way to dreams of video games, then dreams of having social skills, then back to action figures (except now it’s about having the ones you used to have still in their original packaging). And then the 2nd decade hits and all our fantasies coagulate into dreams of money and having control over our circumstances.

Dreams are different things for a parent. Instead of dreaming of the exceptional, you dream of the adequate. You dream of ‘enough.’ You dream about having enough money for his education, you dream about him being straight-laced enough to stay out of prison. You dream about having enough diapers in the bag to last you till 5pm.

We’ve always been a mobile group, my little family unit. In the absence of any real day-care routine we usually strike forth from home up to 3 times a day on various adventures. When he was just a peanut we’d go for long long walks in the moby wrap, now we visit the library, the museum, anywhere we won’t be judged and don’t have to pay to be there.

There was a time about a year ago when the little man was old enough to enjoy the park, but not under his own power. When everything was just too tall for him, too steep for him, and too enticing for him to resist. And I’d dream of some day, off in the future, when we could come to the park and I could do that thing you see parents do. Where the kid is playing, and instead of stumbling around after them, the parent is, like, sitting.

I dreamt of sitting. Don Quixote, eat your heart out.

And though my attitude towards the empire of Walt “Mouschwitz” Disney is summed up nicely with a phrase that begins with “S,” ends with “T” and rhymes with “Suck it.” I must admit that they’re right on one point.

Dreams can come true.

We did it. We sat, we aunts, uncles, grandparents, as Little Man and his cousin bumbled and climbed and dashed around the park. And then, and then – get this – we went back home, and had lunch. The adults all sitting around the table and talking while the kids ran around and played. And I feel like pouring a 40 over Norman Rockwell’s grave.

As their development brings new challenges and worries, so does it bring new victories. Yes, they will sleep. Yes, they will eat solid foods. Yes, my sleepy brothers, yes, you can sit.

Yes, you can sit.




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Serenity Now

It’s all about Desire.

We achieve happiness by the satisfaction of our desires and when our desires are frustrated, we experience suffering. Which, if you’re a Buddhist or a Red Sox fan, is the nature of existence

I just made a sport ball joke. Now maybe the jocks won’t break my glasses.

If you don’t read Ask Your Dad Blog, I can’t say you’re a failure as a parent, but you may, in fact, be a communist. If you do read it, you’ll know that in his last post he talks about Mother’s Day, and having to learn the same lesson over and over again (as long as you’re there, this post is another of my all-time favorites) And while it’s by no means particular to it, the idea of re-learning the same thing multiple times is as much a part of fatherhood as coffee and gravity.

-3 days of a certain behavior does not mean it’s here to stay.

-“Baby Proof” is a loose term, and too often misapplied.

-He will pee on you.

These are all lessons I’ve received repeated instruction on from my chubby little professor. Every time I think I’ve passed the class, I find myself held back once again.

Getting out the door, for example. We’re going outside. He likes running around outside. He likes going to the playroom at the gym, which is what we’re doing. We tell him the plan. He’s into it. We move to get him dressed. He fusses and runs away. We give him a count down. He agrees to be helpful. Countdown runs out, he fusses and runs away. We detail the toys in the playroom. He’s excited! We move to put a diaper on and away he goes.

It’s like negotiating with North Korea over here.

I could fill more pages with the tactics we used just this morning than a fantasy writer on quaaludes. Needless to say, this makes for a difficult morning for everyone involved.

Which brings me back to desire. (Like that? How I came full circle? That’s a rhetorical device that I don’t know the name of) The path to happiness is through satisfaction of desire, so you can either work really hard and spend a lot of energy and time trying to satisfy all your desires, or you can try to eliminate your desires, thus making happiness easier to attain.

This is another lesson I’m trying to apply, except for “desire,” read “expectation.” Rather than have my expectations frustrated, and thus experience suffering, I try to eliminate them.

If I don’t expect a little dude to let us put clothes on him after he agrees to do so on 3 separate occasions, then I can’t really get upset while I’m wrestling a wailing bundle of socks and recalcitrance. And I’ll find myself in that situation regardless of desire, negotiation, or spiritual predisposition, so I might as well be at peace with it. Relatively speaking.

Welcome to fatherhood: finding new ways to not be angry about shit.


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Just A Link In A Chain

Enlightenment, they say, is not a gradual thing. You can prepare for it, but you cannot learn it. It is sudden; an instantaneous and complete understanding, like getting the punch line of a joke.

I had a such a moment the other day as I carried the diaper bag and our coats, chasing Mama and the Little Man around the library. I had a flash of how many fathers have done this very thing.

That’s the thing about fatherhood, it’s been around a while.

Ever since that first lonely nematode thought it might be more fun with a partner, dudes have been changing diapers. And it’s not just us homo sapiens, either – primates and marsupials have long been pioneers in attachment parenting and baby wearing.

This is one of the things that stuck with me as a new father; you are instantly and tangibly connected to hundreds of thousands of years of biology. It’s difficult to understand until you’ve experienced it, but each mama mood swing, every unfocused infant stare, every chubby fist in every drooling mouth has happened millions upon millions of times since the onset of begatting.

And it all has a purpose, some evolutionary significance that, at some point, between primordial ooze and the new season of Downton Abbey, slightly increased the life expectancy of that particular mutation.

And you can feel it, that’s the crazy thing. It may, of course, be delusions brought upon by sleep deprivation, but you get the tingle down in your brainstem as you fail to stop him from eating something off the floor, you get existential root sense that this path you tread is very, very old.

I’m not sure exactly how my carrying the bags increases the little man’s eventual chances of reproduction, but it can’t hurt, right?

And so I trudge on through the library with pride and humility and extra pants and a snack. Understanding my place in the great sequence that has led to his existence and the existence of that train video he likes to watch and the 4 minutes it buys me to brush my teeth. I will be grateful for this new perspective, and carry the bags, like my fathers before me.


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The Man in the Beige Windbreaker from DadCentric

Today the Minnesota State House of Representatives passed a bill that would legalize marriage equality.

I’ve been following a blogger called the Didactic Pirate (at least as regularly as my toddler lets me have my laptop) and he wrote a piece for DadCentric earlier this year that really spoke to me. I’ve wanted to share this post, and given the recent developments at the capitol, I thought this would be a good time.

I’ll be back with an original in a couple days or so.

The Man in the Beige Windbreaker | DadCentric.

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