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Archive for September, 2012

Guys with Kids – on NBC

September 27, 2012 6 comments

So of course as a fatherhood blogger, I felt an obligation to watch and write about this show.  I don’t typically watch sitcoms these days, so the first notable moments of this show to me were that it has Vanessa from the Cosby Show (Tempest Bledsoe), and Anthony Anderson, the guy who played Teddy on some Saturday morning basketball-themed show with Reggie Theus whose name escapes me right now.  So far there was the pilot and the first episode. Both shows can be watched online by clicking the links provided.

The pilot was more along the lines of what I was expecting – within the first couple of minutes, one of the characters runs into a big dilemma because his baby drinks whole milk and the bar they are hanging out at only has two percent and he doesn’t know what to do.  Mixed into this “crisis” is the idea that his ex-wife and child’s mother would be upset if he tried to give the kid two percent milk.  The rest of the episode is about his date with someone he meets at the bar and how to juggle the babysitting issue, and we learn about the three dads/moms and their parenting and family situations.  We also see them as dads and how they are with their kids.  There’s also weird cameo by Kareem Abdul Jabbar that doesn’t really make sense to me.

The first actual episode which aired last night was less about the guys as fathers and more about each of their relationships.  I had figured that the show would be mostly like the pilot and was surprised that the “dad” aspect was downplayed in this episode.  The father-related shenanigans that were in the pilot were not as present in this episode.  As my wife explained to me, this show’s target audience is women, so they need to play up the relationship aspect of the three guys to have storylines to build off of.

One of the things I planned to touch on is the portrayal of the fathers.  Early into watching the pilot, I realized that this show is a sitcom and kind of silly, so we can’t expect anything too realistic and nor should we.  I don’t really have as much to say about it as I assumed I would when I first found out about this series.  I may watch another episode or two of the show but after seeing the pilot and first episode, I don’t think that this is a show that I will catch onto watching in the long run.

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Paying homage to the Bus…

September 21, 2012 6 comments

I wrote in a prior post about my son’s fascination with things that go. While the truck, train, motorcycle, fire engine, and airplane have all been featured guests in this fascination, the mainstay is the bus. I have no idea why.

We have this book by Richard Scarry in which each page is dedicated to a different setting or concept and there are pictures and words common to the setting. It’s a large book with 50+ pages, but we typically only focus on two. One page is a city scene that includes a bus, and another page is dedicated to various vehicles and has a school bus on it. On a typical night at bedtime we flip back and fourth between these two pages only, focusing on the buses each time.

For the fourth of July we went to the celebration at the next town over from us. They had a festival with live music, games, a BMX bike show, and plenty of other things leading up to a fireworks display. My son loves live music and that held his attention for a while…until we found the bus. There was a bus company that was trying to promote the rental of their luxury buses, and they had one that they were letting people come aboard and tour. My son saw the bus and ran over to it. We went aboard and he found a seat right in the front and sat…and sat…and sat. Still and content as I’ve ever seen him, calmly saying the word “bus” to himself every now and then. He didn’t even care to go check out the cool stuff in the back of the bus, like the TV, kitchenette, bedroom area, etc. He just wanted to sit on the bus. So while all the other people at the park were enjoying picnic dinners, live music, games, etc, my son and I were sitting on a bus going nowhere.

Whenever we are in the car, the quality of the ride is determined by how many buses we see. Sometimes we don’t see any, and he complains to me, as if I have the magic ability to make one appear for him. The best time ever was on Monday when I picked him up from day care and we saw three buses go by before we even left the parking lot.

Then of course there is his favorite song, “the wheels on the bus”. He loves to sing this while playing with his toy school bus, or on a car ride after seeing a bus out the window. Thanks to the era we live in, there are also multiple versions of the song on animated youtube videos that can be played on my iphone at any time. I have several versions saved on my duckytube app, usually differentiated by what color the bus is. There are several versions with yellow and red buses, and this snazzy little number with a blue bus, where the baby on the bus doesn’t just go “wah wah wah” but also flails himself all over the middle of the aisle. However, the leader in the clubhouse is the one with the green bus, which is not just a song but also a love story in which the bus ends up falling for a hot little red sportscar at the end. I’m sure they lived happily ever after.

Categories: fatherhood

Parenting and education

September 17, 2012 8 comments

One thing the Chicago teachers strike has brought to the forefront of the nation is the issue of public education in general. In my own professional life I’ve seen some of the best public educational settings and some of the most challenging also. Some of the demands on teachers are the same and some are different, but there are demands in any environment nonetheless. This is why I’ll support teachers and their quest for better working conditions in pretty much all cases.

So what does any of this have to do with fatherhood? As fathers and parents we are ultimately responsible for our child(ren)’s education. We have a choice – we can support the teachers and the educational environment or we can blindly put all of the the responsibility and pressure for it on them. Teachers generally mean well, but they aren’t meant to be in it all by themselves. Too many that I talk to cite lack of parental involvement/cooperation as one of their main challenges. It’s pretty obvious fact that kids pick up on what we as parents place importance on, so it’s important for us to show interest be involved. A lot of times it’s the mothers who do the “heavy lifting” of school involvement but as dads we need to be involved too.

This may sound like me on a soapbox, but I’m writing it to focus on my own accountability with this. I still need to remember this and do better myself. My son goes to a small preschool where community and parent involvement are emphasized. My wife has gotten very involved, and at times I’ve either balked or figured that if she was there it would be enough. Most recently there was a PTA meeting that started at 5, the same time I get off work. I couldn’t leave early to get there right at 5 but it was possible for me to get there for the second half. Part of me thought it was okay to just skip it entirely, but I ended up coming when I could and am glad I did so. If for no other reason, my son saw that both of us were there when the meeting was over and it was time to pick him up from his classroom. There were plenty of other dads there too, something that was encouraging to me.

“Not the mama!”

September 14, 2012 4 comments

Folks around my age might remember the TV show “Dinosaurs” and the baby’s famous “Not the Mama” thing. Over the past (almost) two years, that’s sometimes how it’s been being a father. Obviously in utero and infancy, the mother is a child’s first interpersonal relationship and the source of nourishment via nursing, so she naturally becomes the primary attachment figure to the baby.

As my son has gotten older, it seems he has learned to appreciate both my wife and I for who we are, and I know I’ve developed a special relationship with him as his dada.

However, there’s still times when only mama will satisfy a need or desire.

For example, my son doesn’t quite make it sleeping through the night yet. When he wakes up crying (usually around 3am or so), I am the one who usually goes upstairs to get him. The first thing he does is point toward the door and says “mama”, meaning “bring me to her.” My presence as the first responder is okay enough for him to stop crying, but ultimately I’m just the delivery guy.

On weekends, when he wakes up at 6:something in the morning, my wife and I sometimes take turns getting up early with him and letting the other get another hour or so of sleep. On days when I get up early with him, it’s hard for him to let my wife sleep in. He will go up to the door of the bedroom and call for her. If she had gone to the supermarket or something, he’d be fine; it’s more about the idea that mama is in the house but not fulfilling her usual role with him.

At these times my wife and I have a “grass is greener” thing going. She wonders why it always has to be her when our son is in mama mode, gladly willing to pass the baton to me if he would let her, and I would gladly take it. But ultimately we both need to recognize we both have a special role and be thankful.

Categories: fatherhood

Funny stuff I can’t laugh at

September 10, 2012 2 comments

We are a month away from my son being two, and we have already started to see some of that “terrible two’s” behavior. Only thing is, instead of finding it terrible, some of it I find hilarious instead. The problem with laughing is that I don’t want to reinforce these behaviors, and laughter does that. But sometimes I just can’t help it.

Usually, he does a good job following what we want him to do, but sometimes when we ask him to do something he doesn’t want to, he tries to avoid it by running around the whole house. I can see why some parents would find this annoying, especially if there is a time constraint involved, but to me it’s just really funny.

Same with the “no”s. One day I was trying to redirect him from something and was giving him other choices of things to do instead. After every suggestion was a “no”. . So I then tried to outsmart him and said “so are you just going to sit around and say no all day?”. Little dude thought for a minute and said an emphatic “Yes” with the head-nod to go with it. I had just been outsmarted and talked back to by my 23 month old, and all I could do was try to suppress laughter.

One thing we’ve really had to get a handle on is him throwing his toys around. We’ve narrowed it down to only balls being allowed to be thrown in the house. Yet the other day when he went into the tub of mega blocks and started to throw them everywhere, I couldn’t help but (try my hardest not to) laugh.

Then there was the time the other night when he shoved more than half a piece of bread in his mouth all at once. As crust pieces broke off, he showed great determination to grab them before they fell and include them in the mouthful. Unlike my WTHDHGTF? post, I think I can safely attribute this to me, as I’m not one to take bird bites at the dinner table either. He had so much food in his mouth that he couldn’t even completely close his lips…to some that might be gross but to me it was hilarious.

Like I said, laughter reinforces the behavior.  I try to do the “fake like you’re coughing” thing, but I’m pretty sure my son sees right through it.  That being said, I’ll take this over getting overly upset and annoyed anyday.

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Doggie!!! I did it!!! I gentle!!!

September 3, 2012 Leave a comment

Honest confession… I am uneasy around afraid of dogs. It’s always been this way, even as a young child. My mother used to tell me stories that when we went to visit my grandparents, my grandmother had to put the dog away, much to the dismay of my cousins who loved that dog. I also have memories of being chased by a dog at summer camp, freaked out, while all the counselors stood around laughing at me. Before I had my son, I was a somewhat avid runner and when training for a half marathon some lady had her dog off a leash and the same thing happened to me as an adult, minus the laughing.

My wife grew up around dogs. When we were first dating, she had one in Boston that I slowly was able to tolerate. Currently, tolerate describes how I can be around most dogs. I still don’t think I’m the type who will ever own one. That being said I don’t want my son to be afraid of them.

Yesterday we were at a barbecue and there were three dogs. Without getting too close, from what I can tell they ranged in how up front they were with you, with the two more up front ones needing to be put in the bedroom. The one that was left was an old shaggy white dog that wasn’t too imposing. Even I could deal with it. For the first few times he came around my son, he freaked out and ran to either me or my wife, wanting us to pick him up immediately. As time went on, my son became cautiously curious…going near it but then running away when the dog made a move. As even more time went on, he became a little more able to be around the dog and my wife started to check in with him about petting the dog. This is when I came in…if dada could pet the dog, maybe my son would. My wife sat down with my son near the dog (who was lying still) and I went over to pet it. Then it was my son’s turn. He started to pat a little too roughly so we had to remind him to use his gentle hands. He then pet the dog gently and was very proud of himself.

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