Turds of Endearment
You run into some of the most lovely parents in mall play areas, don’t you?*
I recall one particularly memorable dad and his toddler daughter from a few years ago, more for his words than his actions. To cut to the chase, on several occasions I heard him call his little girl a turd. Affectionately. As in “Oh, just look at you running around and playing you little turd.”
It’s the kind of thing you witness in simple disbelief. How can a parent think it’s right, okay, normal, or even funny to call his kid a name that, in a nutshell, means “s***?” To me that’s just telling your daughter “you know what, I really just wanted a son, so I’m going to start degrading you as a human being right now.”
With that kind of start, things can only possibly go one way… downhill:
“You graduated college, way to go you moronic half-wit!”
“You’re engaged? What’s the piece of crap’s name?!?”
“I love you so much, stupid!”
“I’m so happy to have you as my daughter, you %#^~¥@%# %#^£€%%#*£ing %##?!¥.”
It’s time to really start thinking about the language we are using towards our children and realizing that we’re messing with their lives, their selves and their futures. And this message isn’t just for the dad with the incredibly poor choice of verbiage when it comes to the “terms of endearment” he chooses for his child. All of us parents need to remember that our children are human beings and deserve to be treated as such. Not one of us is infallible, and every one of us has room to improve the way we treat and talk to our kids.
There is little doubt in my mind that turd-dad was once called degrading things by his own mother and/or father, and he has only learned to pass this on to his own child. Ignorance begets ignorance. Take a deep, self-reflective look at your own parenting style. What legacy are you passing on to your children?
No You Can’t Marry Daddy
Dads (and Moms too): Isn’t it cute when your little boy or girl looks up at you and let’s you know that when they’re all grown up they want to get married… …to you?
Yes, that’s right. That’s not cute, that’s creepy. And weird.
But what do children know about life, anyway? If they knew everything, they wouldn’t need us, would they? After all, it only gets weirder. You see, the daughter of the artist of this fine website has a play-date-friend who she stated that she would like to marry someday… a play-date-friend who also happens to be another girl.
So what do you say when your 3yo daughter tells you she wants to marry her 3yo female compadre when she grows up? A woman marrying *gasp* another woman??
Sorry, but this situation isn’t creepy anymore, and it’s not really weird, either… unless you happen to live in a cave.
…now you have to explain it to a small kid, who really isn’t ready for absolutely every detail about the things that grown-ups do in this world…
…do you tell her that some day she might marry her tiny BFF? How about that they can get married but if they want kids they might need a little (*ahem*) help. Or you can just go straight-up with the whole “marriage is for a mommy and a daddy” line.
Sure you can roll with that last one, but beware that by the time your kid is all grown up she’ll know a few truths about existence.* I’m sticking with the one answer that I know how to give:
“When you’re old enough to get married, you’ll know who you want to marry.
“…and I can guarantee it won’t be Daddy.”**
* Unless, of course, you brainwash her just right
** (or Mommy)
Dad Vs. Dad
I always thought that parental blogging wars were best left to the bloggerhood of moms. Fights like Bottle Vs. Breast, Spanking Vs. Timeouts, and Drunk Mom Vs. Sober Mom and more rage throughout the maternal side of the internet on a daily and nightly basis. I thought that Dad bloggers, at least this one in particular, were immune.
Begun the Dad War has.
It started recently as a variation of one of the more popular internet mother battles – the Working Mom Vs. Stay At Home Mom*. This inevitable dogfight is that of the SAHD Vs. The Working Dad, and neither side is giving up his foothold. Both think they are doing their job, and each side feels like their territory is being infringed upon by the other.
The SAHD cares for his kids by being a modern day multi-tastic parental whirlwind of caregiving power. He overcomes male stereotypes, has a great sense of how to raise his kids his way, and knows what to do in order to keep his parental working counterpart on top of the game as well. Cooking? Cake. Cleaning? Easy. Diapers? No problemo. The SAHD does it all and a little bit more, and is on call 24/7 for his family. That’s always.
Working Dad, on the other hand, is the epitome of what a Dad was made to do. He brings home the bacon, wins the bread and wears the pants. His adoring family is waiting for him when he walks in the door at the end of a hard day so he can put his feet up, eat his homecooked meal, spend some time with his wife and kids, and hit the hay. Why does his his family treat him right? Because he works hard for the money. Honey.
It was only a matter of time before these two dads began to butt heads in an all out brawl for the battle of who is a better father. Which one am I? Right now, I am Working Dad.
What about SAHD? Now there’s a name I haven’t heard in a long, long time. And no, he’s not dead. He’s me.
Here’s the deal. I spent a good portion of my time as an at-home-dad, and now that I’ve got some time in as a working parent, I’ve found that I still get to do all the things I used to do for my family. It’s certainly not easy, but such are the choices we make. I choose to do as much as I can to try to be the most I can for my family.
But that’s just me, people. The most important thing for other familes is that they choose the roles that fit them best. Silly little battles of my personal choice versus your personal choice are just that – silly. What’s the point of fighting, even, when there are other families who are in their situation without the luxury of choice? This applies to all the “battles” of parenting: moms who can’t breast feed for medical reasons; dads and moms who lost their jobs and don’t have a choice of who is staying at home; widowed single parents.
The list of situations that aren’t you are endless. Stop fighting them and start winning your own battles. My own rages on, but I’ll keep fighting until I can just be “Dad.”
* More popularly known as SAHMs which is so much cooler sounding than SAHD or “Sad.”
[Note: While Phil begins his journey down Working Dad Road, John is continuing the path of SAHD/at-home-part-time-working dad. One of the reasons we started this blog to begin with was that we both simply wanted to be better dads. I can't speak for John, but I'm pretty sure we've achieved that, although many challenges await both of us, as well as all parents. Let's fight together! And we'll never forget our awesome, hardworking wives, either, without whom the fight would be unimaginably more difficult. _Phil]
Fear and Coasting
Is that not one of the best exclamations you can make as a parent?
My younger of two had a fantastic breakthrough at the State Fair last weekend. She decided to man up and stop being afraid of riding some of the “bigger” children’s rides. Prior to that event, she wouldn’t go on Ferris wheels, roller coasters, and some of the faster spinny rides. I would ask her when her big sister would go on them if she wanted to as well, and her answer was always no, and I’d leave it at that.
The last “issue” we had with her riding rides was two years ago at the same event. She wanted to go on one of the innocuous slow-spinning rides, but once the ride started the tears started flowing while I helplessly pleaded with her from outside of the fence to “oh please please just don’t try to get out please please…” until it stopped.* I felt bad, but at least I didn’t force her to go on it. Not my policy. For the next two years, she and I both knew her boundaries of what she was afraid to go on and what she was not.**
Then this year’s breakthrough happened. She bravely told me that this year she was ready for the “big kid” rides. When I watched her on the kid’s coaster I could see fear in her eyes, but it was quickly taken over by the look of a child who had conquered her fears, followed finally by exuberant excitement. My kids proceeded to wear me out the rest of the day, going on anything and everything that their respective heights allowed.
I was even invited to go on the kiddie coaster where I watched my 6yo with her hands in the air in front of us and got to put my arm proudly around my 4yo who smiled one of those biggest and beamiest kinds of grins in my direction.
What a proud moment for a dad. She conquered her own fears on her own terms. Now she got to ride the wave.
* Obviously I got my photos and video of this while it was transpiring; that’s my job.
** Yes, pretty much only merry-go-rounds with me holding on to her shirt.