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2014-12-03

Explanation of Complaints / Bibi Got Into the Chocolate / Man Gauge

In my writings here, I don't want to seem ungrateful, or that I'm complaining. But looking over my last entry, something occurs to me. My tendency is to write about the (more or less) bad stuff, the stuff to overcome, the tests parenting tosses to you. When everything's going fine, I never get around to writing about it, because I don't know. Everything's cool, I guess.

Maybe I feel that when I've climbed a hill and achieved something, like not being a total dick to my undeserving-yet-fighting-me kids, that it's worth writing about, maybe so other parents in my situation will have something relatable to read. Because people don't air this kind of stuff out, usually. I worry that my writing feels like bickering as a result, and to the disciplined, it may. But to fellow parents of children, I hope this blog is a source of comfort and understanding. I hope it helps, someone, somehow—to know that, even when you're going crazy, you're not alone; it's normal.
≤≥÷≤≥
Today saw another instance of Bibi being naughty—she got into mama's chocolate. Oh, that girl. I recount this only because it's funny. It's certainly not headline news.

She had climbed onto the counter with her step-stool, got into a high-up cupboard, and snagged her prize. When I found her, she was standing on the floor all casual, chewing something.

Looking guilty.

I smiled and said hi. She smiled big and closed-mouthed back at me. I asked her what she was eating, as I noticed brown smudges on her face. There was an open bag of cashews I had left on the counter from Lucy and I making her school lunch this morning. "Cashews?"

She shook her head. I notice something in her balled-up hand. It's a handful of chocolate. Nice. Brittle-infused chocolate too, that mama had bought for herself, but had been nice enough to share the night before.

But I stayed calm! I never went near the edge. I told her in a nice, even, crushingly explanatory tone that that was naughty behavior, that we don't eat chocolate for breakfast, and that chocolate isn't a healthy, nourishing food (a term we picked up from The Barenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food).

She cried, of course. Her current strategy is 'Cry About Everything.' Readers, I experience a 3-year-old crying about 15 times every day. Can you envision what that does to your psyche? At this point I'm like the parents of the Boy Who Cried Wolf.

Just now as I was typing, she was sitting in her toy car, and let out a few sobs. She wasn't hurt, so it must have been purely emotional. I didn't get up. No need.

Now listen, I'm a patient boy. "I wait, I wait, I wait, I wait."



But I was just thinking today, that with one child in kindergarten and the other two years behind, I'm sort of left just waiting for my 3-year-old to grow up and stop being a baby about everything. Because she's really going through this rebellious spurt lately and I'm having to really alter my mental makeup just to not react like the boy I used to be.

You're in your twenties, right, and you're asking yourself, "Am I really a man now? Am I someone who might be called 'Sir?'" Naaah.

Then you have kids. You still feel like a kid yourself. Not man time yet.

Then you've got 2 kids. One is in school. You've got responsibilities up the yin-yang and there's no time to do the stuff you enjoy. Then—then you know. It's undeniably clear, because you don't want it to be true. You don't want that responsibility. You don't want to be that old.

You're a man now.

2014-11-27

A Thanksgiving Family Drama

I yelled at Bibi today. Twice.

She's been such a 3-year-old lately by getting into naughty business, and I'm kind of at my bullshit limit from her. It takes great effort to exercise patience with a repeat offender, you know what I mean?

Knocking over my dresser, coloring on the bathroom wall with purple lip balm, going outside without telling anybody, eating chocolate chips this morning because the bag was left out last night, sticking my stamps on a letter that already had a stamp on it, kicking my bed blankets onto the floor, and that's just off the top of my head right now.

It's Thanksgiving today. The cooking and the chores really ramp up and can get stressful. In trying to get us all ready for the one night Megan and I could get off together, so we could hit the road as soon as she got home from work (yes she had to work today), I gave the both of the kids a bath this morning. It had been a couple days and their vaginas were all red because they don't yet realize the connection between wiping thoroughly and rash accumulation.

Dad life. At least I'm not changing diapers anymore.

And Bibi in the bath today was squirming and crying about water getting in her ear and I yelled at her to keep her head still. Pretty loud. I was pretty maximally annoyed.

So that was yelling #1.

A few hours later, everything's cool, and I'm running around doing chores and getting the house ready to be empty for 1 blessed day, and I find a stamp on an envelope that already had one on it. So I yelled again about how I have to baby-proof my entire house and I can't turn my back on her for five minutes before she's getting into my stuff I've told her to leave well enough alone. Plus I found stickers all over the dining room table, that she of course stuck there, and I'm finding all this at the same time I'm serving her food and a drink.

Christmas, I was mad. I found myself walking around the house, choring it up, thinking, "How is she supposed to know any better? She's only 3. She has no experience. Can I really honestly get this mad about this little-kid business? Isn't this what I signed on for?"

No effect, still mad. But I got over it.

Bibi didn't want the food I gave her, she went into the living room and laid on the couch with her toy sword and a blanket over her. I came over after a minute and said that it was wrong that I yelled at her, I didn't need to yell, and I was sorry. And she got a touch teary-eyed, but wiped it away and started opening up again and talking to me.

Lucy comes over and says, "Dad, are you apologizing to Bibi about yelling at her in the bathtub?"

Christmas. "Oh yeah. Bibi, I'm also sorry that I yelled at you in the bathtub."

Bibi nods and says, "Yeah."

And Lucy says, "It's okay, dad. She's alright!"

That was a huge statement for me. It was my own daughter validating me for wrongdoings against her. It meant I'm not a bad guy altogether, and that I was doing the right thing by apologizing and trying to make her sister feel better.

It meant that Lucy's getting older, that school's really opening up her horizons and having wonderful effects on her, and that she can now blow my mind with some of the things she says. I mean, she really cut through to me there, in a beautiful, human way.

Score! Not fucking up my kids! Whooo!

Then we took a bunch of webcam pictures, here's some of them.

Happy holidays today people. May you be able to get together with your family today or around today by a few days. We're a happy one here, way out in the Pacific Northwest.













disapproving dad face



the kids are in control









2014-11-10

The A.V. Club educates with article on Sesame Street and talking to children

Not usually do A.V. Club articles make me tear up, but this one just hit me in exactly the right place.

Go and read “We all feel sad, Big Bird”: When Sesame Street confronted death: As it mourned Mr. Hooper, the show found strength in honesty.

Reading the piece, I gained insight into how children interpret their very worlds, and how as a parent I can accurately, simply, and sensitively explain the nature of something as difficult as death.

Writer Molly Eichel put her research in about Sesame Street's own intensive research, the findings of which informed the scriptwriting. They looked at not only the ways children process death, but the entire worldview of a child. What does death looks like through the lens of that overview? It was all deftly incorporated in their depiction of conceptually-6-years-old Big Bird.

Further, the way the Sesame Street adult actors explained the permanence of death to Big Bird was perfect—simple, and patient—with the added incredible weight of the entire conversation revolving around a recently-deceased Sesame Street mainstay, Mr. Hooper.

The episode is a weighty and special part of the Sesame Street canon. Eichel nailed it with her description of the episode's tone, in that it eschews patronizing for honesty, even in the face of a difficult topic. In doing so she encapsulates what Sesame Street does so well and so successfully, and it all revolves around honesty.

Image via The A.V. Club
Watching the sketch made me quite emotional. It's embedded within the text of the piece. Big Bird's talking to everyone around the table, showing his drawings. Besides reminding me of my own childhood, and of people in my life who have died, it reinforced this notion that I had been wrongly approaching an issue we're currently having with Lucy in our house.

She keeps mentioning Claudia. Claudia died, and she was our friend. She was on a scooter in Los Angeles, and got hit by a car. It made Lucy's mom, a former co-worker of Claudia's, really sad. The sizable Seattle community who knew her reacted the same.

I had hung out with Claudia at the Scarlet Tree, shooting the breeze over a beer, shortly before she left town. I remember her demeanor, a really calm lesbian chick, just starting to grow her hair out after shaving it for several years. Good listener, good instincts. A friend to anyone who approached her.

Off she moves to Los Angeles and her life ends. It was one year and a few days ago today.

A good number of people mourned and gathered to remember her, and a few tried really hard to keep her memory alive. It was a tumultuous time, and Lucy heard about Claudia frequently.

The issue with Lucy, 5, is that she mentions Claudia in the middle of conversations completely unrelated to Claudia, and only with Megan. She doesn't realize the darkness she casts when mentioning the dead, and she'll do it when her mom is laughing and having a good time.

Maybe she feels safer mentioning it during those happy times, like she's less likely to get the negative reaction she usually gets when mentioning Claudia. Maybe she just really wants to understand death, and needs her parents to explain it to her. Maybe she gets that death is something we react strongly to and she wants to wrap her head around it. Maybe she's annoyed when her mom is happy and wants to spread her annoyance back to mom by talking about mom's dead friend, not seeing how deep it cuts mom, or maybe seeing it clearly.

I know my Lucy's smart, but it's hard how smart. Maybe I give her too much credit, maybe not. I'm that close to her and I just don't know.

I can hear Lucy's voice in my head now, and see Megan and her talking. Megan says something and laughs, and Lucy, as a non-sequitur, replies, "Oh, like Claudia?"

I get really hot under the collar when it happens. I feel like she tries to ruin positive vibes, which are hard to come by. Mama and I are pretty good at leading by example, but it's tough to keep up a great attitude when the day is so full of work, outside the house and in.

And you remember being a kid, right? Do you remember your parents being all happy and loud and forgetting their usual restraints and just letting go? It's different, and it can be annoying. You find yourself wishing they would go back to normal. Lucy seems to know just how to interrupt that. Maybe she just wants to talk about death and that's how she brings it up. I don't know why she does it. And it happens more than I see, according to Megan.

Once, thinking it was not the best approach but going ahead with it anyway, I went into the room and lifted her chin, raising her face to look at me, and I said, "I don't want you talking about Claudia anymore. Do you understand? Don't talk about Claudia."

Confusion filled her frowning face. She did not like this direct, prolonged eye contact with mad dad. It was immediately apparent that she was baffled and did not know how to respond.

My approach was heavy handed. I wanted to nip the problem in the bud, but my angle was to throw up a brick wall of "No." That doesn't work with kids, you feel me, fellow kid-deal-with-ers?

And where I fail is where Megan excels—finding different angles, alternative ways to explain things to Lucy. I lose patience and have to tamper anger trying to chest-burst from my mouth. In these moments I feel unable to do much but say the same things over and over again, and I get frustrated when it doesn't work. I have a hard time working my way around a problem sometimes.

Here's an example:
A few weeks ago, I was helping Lucy with her homework. She had to write the word 'him' 6 times and then write a short sentence containing the word 'sit.' She had written 'him' very well, having learned much since the beginning of school a few months ago about how to write words on the 3-line thing, you know what I'm talking about. The top of the hoop of the lower-case 'h' comes up to the dotted middle line, yeah? Solid lines on the top and bottom.

So she's right at the end, and I'm trying to get her to spell and say the words in the sentence she has to copy right below, without telling her what they are. Megan had had much success with this the night before, so I gave it a go.

'Sit' was the second or third word in. I can't recall the exact wording, but I remember 'sit' wasn't pluralized, so it was a straight 3 letter word.

She would say, "Uuummm," and then she would make the sounds of the individual letters, first slowly and with spaces between, then removing the spaces and doing it just a hair less smoothly than actually saying the word 'sit.'

And I would say, keeping my tone at a level I thought low and friendly, "Now does that sound like a word you know? What word it that? What word sounds like that, like 's,' 'i,' and 't?'

The more Lucy didn't get it, or some combination of that and fear of an angry dad reaction—the more she looks at me like a deer in headlights and waits for me to give her the answer—the more frustrated I get.

You know, I can remember my dad being the same way with me and math homework, way back when. One thing he said to me helped, though: think about the numbers in groups. I still remember that, what it looked like, everything. Maybe something I say to Lucy will be an epiphany like that sometime soon; maybe it's good to think of creative advice for kids; stuff that works for you personally, if not for the kid to outright copy, than to see that finding one's own way of doing things is okay and even really positive if it helps one do said thing.

So back to me a few weeks ago doing homework with Lucy. I found myself repeating myself: 'Look at the word; look at the letters; say the sounds they make; good, now say them more smoothly, try to say them without spaces between the sounds (here came me trying to describe what I meant by the word 'space'); now what word does that sound like? Is there some kind of word that sounds like that? Hmm, now let's think.'

It wasn't working. We'd hit a wall.

Megan probably heard most of this, we've got hard wood floors and an echoey apartment. She walks over. Sees the picture on the paper we're poring over. The picture's been there the whole time, northeast of the sentence. It's a hand drawing of two students sitting next to one another at a table.

I can't believe this never occurred to me.

Megan says, "Lucy, what are these two doing in this picture?"

"Coloring?"

"Yes! What else?"

"They're at their desks."

"Yeah, and what else are they doing?"

This went on for minute.

"Sitting!"

Megan saw that Lucy and I were having trouble, came right over, and smoothed things out.

It's really good to have a mama around to show hard ass dad the softer side of things. She's even thinking of writing for this very blog, something I want very much. It would add such a great dimension to this blog, the very-needed other side of the coin. We've only got one computer in the house, so it's hard. Someone want to donate a sweet-or-used computer on which we might process words? It would encourage my wife to write. Just sayin.'

Damn, a coin would be cool. One side my face, other side Megan's. Smith/English family currency.

Anyway! Eichel's article on Sesame Street, combined with Sesame Street itself, in all its greatness, got me thinking about how children process death, and gave me a few great ideas on how I can parent more effectively. So thank you, Eichel.

It all lead pretty smoothly into this Lucy-Claudia issue, and I think the answer is to do what Megan did. Talk about it. Be real.

Megan's already way ahead of the ball on this one already. Now I await the next time Lucy and do homework, and the next time I happen to be around when she mentions Claudia. I'll react perfectly, I assure you.

2014-10-25

Metal Dad Used to Swear a Lot

My girls can have all sorts of exposure to my old metal CDs with their scary cover art, and still have an unwavering love of My Little Pony. They don't give a crap about my music, just like I didn't about my parents' when I was a kid. Now that I'm older, I can appreciate Steely Dan, and maybe when my kids are older they'll appreciate Sepultura.

Our parents used to freak out when we listened to songs with bad lyrics, right? I blame it on two factors:

Censorship rules regarding television and movies went super lax in the Eighties, and music started following suit. You ever notice all the unnecessary swearing in stuff like action films and Pantera albums from the Eighties and Nineties? People were super jazzed about being able to legally express, broadcast and publish profanity, and they overdid it.

That, and the PMRC and the "Washington Wives" in on it were filling the nation with notions that the lyrics in songs like Ozzy's "Suicide Solution," Prince's "Darling Nikki," and other obscenity-containing songs were responsible for bad behavior of the youth of the day. It has since been found, through research, that exposure to television violence in kids has little to no effect on their propensity towards violent behavior. Violent kids, it was found, came from broken or abusive homes.

So yeah, our parents had media overdoing it with the language, and probably more boobs and cleavage and sluttiness than were necessary, plus Tipper Gore overdoing it in response.

It all culminated into my mom being butthurt about me listening to Pantera, White Zombie and Marilyn Manson when I was a kid. I still like the first two bands. Manson's sort of become a joke, a mockery of himself, but his first three albums were really good.

That was the Nineties, when The Great Speed Metal Slowdown occurred. There was still really awesome metal coming out in that decade, but it was pushed to the sidelines. The raw, dripping blood death metal was too much for polished-album-loving mainstream fans. Megadeth and Metallica were building their empires, on a fast track to where they are now, and by the heavens were they good.

But yeah, Manson and Pantera and White Zombie, they really overdid it with the swearing. They'd drop F-bombs in almost every song. It's silly to me now, but back then I was a teenager, with a mother desperately trying to keep me on the good side of the tracks while I veered vehemently toward the other. 

My propensity for swearing was big then. It was cool to swear. It had been since 3rd grade. I still remember my friend's face when I dropped an emphasized "shit" into a sentence, it was a literal jaw-drop mixed with smile. It was freeing, being able to say these dirty words, in privacy, feel no afterburn, no punishment, and go on with our lives. Swearing was our secret playground release.

Then I became a teenager and all this angry music started becoming popular. Metallica from the Eighties had nothing on Marilyn Manson from the Nineties. He took shock rock to new angles. So it was exciting to me and mortifying to everyone else. It's like Manson deliberately tried to draw a line in the sand between nations of kids at his concerts, and all types of authority figures. Which, I mean, is pretty cool, right?

I've got my own kids now. I'm a metalhead. But by no means am I the guy blaring metal around my kids. They'e got their own tastes. For example, we've been playing "Meet the Beatles" on vinyl almost every day lately. We've all got those songs on our brains, and I've been singing "Hold Me Tight" and "All My Lovin" at work pretty constantly. My kids have all the songs memorized, as well as everything on "Sgt. Pepper" and "Magical Mystery Tour." They draw pictures and watch "My Little Pony." They see my metal albums and have no interest.

Well, except Bibi. See, I got out a bunch of metal CDs from my box of CDs cause we don't have a CD player in the consarn house, to rip them onto my PS3 and then to my MP3 player, so I can blare metal at whoever comes into the prep room. And at the top of the stack was Sepultura's "Roots," and Bibi picked it up, looked at it, asked me about it and when I asked her if she'd like to hear the music on it she said "Yes." That may happen later today.

They also hear my loud-ass band practices once a week downstairs, with just me on guitar with a drummer, and it's definitely all metal. Metal is what I play on Spotify when I'm alone in the kitchen doing dishes. Although, when any of my three women are in the same room, I switch to something more group-friendly.

Because if I've done anything as a metalhead in my years of being a metalhead, it's turn people off with my music. And I'm sick of doing that.

I try not to swear anymore either.

Got an interview for a social media intern position on Monday. Well, I'm coming in to meet their team. Nobody's mentioned the word 'interview' yet. We had a formal phone interview last week, a manager from LA, one from Seattle, and I. They even asked if they could contact people I have worked with, and I said yeah and then gave them some references. I wonder who they talked to. So I got an email in the next few days asking me if I'd like to come in and meet the team and inside I was like "EFF YEAH!" and outside I was like, 'Ahem straighten my tie mr. professional monday biz talk thanx!' 

Last night I volunteered at my girl's school's Fall Harvest Festival, manning the Eyeball Bounce. It was all set up in the gymnasium, and a whole bunch of kids were there with their parents. Mine were among the youngest, uninterested in most things and too young to understand what was going on. Lucy was pretty interested in the craft table, made some paper bags with pastel chalk colors and glued-on colorful letters. Then we were done and the kids got cotton candy and I got a hot dog with catsup.

Lucy's been begging me to be done working so I can feed and play school with her. She's going to be the teacher and I'm going to be the student.

2014-09-25

Little Wonders of Mindfulness

This started out as a Facebook post. I just banged it out, and it was too good not to put on here, and also too long for most of my #Facebookfriends' attention spans (rib rib, jab jab, ha ha).

You guys, I feel like I had such a crazy past couple months, what with my older daughter entering school and all that entails, but now I think I can finally, truly, breathe, breathe in the air, don't be afraid to care.



Life, though different, seems to be returning to a more familiar place. This is all in my head, of course, but I feel I have a renewed mentality today, and it really helps me access my happy place, ya know? I feel good today.

Got a bulletin from the school recently, containing some tips on how to help your child transition into the new routine after a few weeks, when it starts to sink in that summer is really over. Cuddle more, that was a good one. Don't rush them into feeling better when they're anxious, but be a good listener and empathize with them, make them feel heard. That was tip #1, a classic.

My personal favorite was this one tucked way at the bottom of the list, almost as an afterthought, about mindfulness. The example given was when a dad and daughter were sitting in their house on a windy day, with the windows open, and a leaf blows in. Then they watch it, talk about it, take it in, describe details, feel the flow of life in a way, and reach relaxation—thereby practicing mindfulness.

Teaching a kid to access relaxation in times of anxiousness is apparently really helpful, and does it not make sense? I thought that analogy was really beautiful. We're all leaves floating in the wind. We all need help sometimes.

So that was all good advice. It was a part of the bulletin called Counselor's Corner, written by the school counselor. Quite knowledgable, she is.

In other news, that PR job I mentioned in my last post fizzled out. After two hours she cut me loose, and it was a little depressing. Megan goes, "I mean, I was disappointed about it. I can't imagine how you must have felt." She was right, she can read me like a book. It's so good to have her around.



The sunny side of it is that I have real PR experience. Sort of like an infinitesimally small internship.

Onward and upward, my friends! One would be a fool to think I didn't have many more irons in the fire. The thing that leaving depression behind opens me up toward is a renewed interest in maintaining relationships with other people.

2014-09-12

First Day of School

And Ensuing Weeks

9.09.14

Here I am, clicking my teeth back and forth, making myself a second cup of coffee. It's 8:21 and my day is underway.

It's been a long few weeks. Time to recap.

This morning was a good, smooth morning. Lucy got right up out of bed, came into the kitchen and ate a little food while I got her lunch ready.

9.10.14

No time to finish writing yesterday. Today was a little less smooth, but successful nonetheless. Even got her hair and teeth brushed before school today, which is more than I can say for yesterday.

Just uploaded pictures of that first day of school. My camera's battery-holder-inner-latch was crumbling to pieces, cracked parts choosing the worst time to break off. The thing would shut down when I wouldn't squeeze it closed to keep the batteries connected.

Crumbling camera aside, I did manage to take a few pictures of Lucy. Here are a few of them:






Then the bus came. I couldn't get the camera to stay on. The thing was empty except for the driver. 

I forgot to give her a hug. It all happened so fast. She ran right up and got on the bus, and I walked up and talked to the driver a bit. Then they were off, and I watched the bus drive up the block and turn off to the right.

Then she was on her own, and I was very, very alone. I couldn't help her anymore. I had been waiting for that day for so long, and when it came I felt emptied, like something intrinsic to me had been removed.

I walked the distance of three houses back to our house, in a worried sort of daze. I took off my shoes and coat and went to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee, my mind on nothing I was doing. My eyes began to well up with tears, and I came to the living room to be with Megan. I continued to cry for a few minutes. Calmed down, went to the bathroom. Continued crying in the bathroom.

This is crazy, I told myself. I didn't know if I'd be able to hold it together for my interview later that day in Bellevue (which still hasn't happened to this day, by the way, as it was postponed for the second time just yesterday), which somehow made me cry even harder.

I went back into the kitchen and retrieved my now-drinkable coffee, determined to hold it together. Then, the rest of my day was fine, but tense. The tension was worst in the hour before Lucy arrived home.

So that was a Wednesday, one week ago today. Today is her sixth day of school, and hump day of her first full week. Now I'll begin that recap.

The first two days of school mama had off of work, and she took the initiative to get Lucy ready. It was rough for Lu, the whole deal—getting up, having to eat fairly quickly, get dressed, teeth brushed, bathroom, backpack, coat and shoes on, out the door to the bus stop, and get on the bus.

Then the school part! Pure insanity!

She had had no prior experience with daycare or anything like a weekly routine besides getting up and watching TV with her sister. So it was rough at first.

That first week, she didn't get up out of bed when we'd first wake her. The first few days mama got her up by saying she wouldn't have chocolate milk in her lunchbox if she didn't get out of bed, a tactic which worked for me that third day of school, a Friday, my first day of getting her ready on my own, what with mama at work by her usual early morning hour.

9.12.14

Finishing this post has been square on my mind these past few days. Yesterday I wanted to sit down and write, but the child care and needing to breathe once in a while kept me from writing. That's the way it is with parenting. All the stuff you'd do to further yourself is instead spent furthering someone else, namely by giving them the good life they deserve. It includes exercise (a tough word to spell and to get enough of), meals, a clean home, and a modicum of entertainment.

So yeah, not blogging means I'm doing things with my family, or my band, or just life outside of me recounting life, as you read it here first, folks.

Just got off the phone with a person who offered me ... I can't type it. I've been waiting so long for this type of thing, too, and it's too good. I can't believe I achieved it today. I wanna milk it for just one more sentence ....

I got my first PR job offer. I got an offer to do work, in public relations, for which I will be paid money. Money! For PR! I'm over the moon here.

I've still got to go over some pretty introductory stuff, but this coming within the same week I was turned down for another internship at Edelman / Assembly with their Xbox team, is really well-timed. It's a 5- to 10-hr/wk "project assistance," and it really lights my fire.

So of course I said yes, if I didn't mention that yet. I must email and thank Kathleen, who referred me to the opportunity. She's a U. of Washington PR teacher who comes into Sundance, where I cook, to see movies. We talk and she's fighting in my corner. She's been my single biggest asset in Seattle as far as the job search has been concerned, which is a pretty big part of one's life, isn't it?

And, it now hits me, it's also good news because I had a really hard few weeks what with Lucy starting school and I needed a push upwards. And now that I think about it more, the few months prior to Lucy starting school were also quite stressful. Is that just the type of person I am or is every parent this way?

Guys. I just entered into my life as a PR practitioner. First day elation, guys. The feels. So strong. It hurts.

Oh, and now about Lucy more.

She's totally fine with school now. So totally into it. Like, Megan and I only had to wake her up twice this week, and she gets out of bed really quickly. She's totally okay with this and strong enough to have it be normal and okay.

It's been really mind-blowing, not only to see her change, but for me to have to get a kid up and ready for school. It really feels like adulthood, like I've crossed a bridge. Cause I gotta tell ya guys, I was still a dumbass as a new dad. There were so many lessons I had to learn. I mean, I still have a lifetime to go, but I have definitely come a long way from that 20-year-old I was.

Not trying to say I have it all together now either, but today I feel good.

Lucy just came home from her first full week of school, and she's good, and BB's good, and mama's good, and I'm good. We're great, in fact. We're great.

School has turned out to be a thing that spawned a turning point in all our lives.

2014-08-31

Cooking with Steve Whippo

Last night I was working with a fellow cook who's having his 60th birthday party later this month, a co-party with three other guys who are having birthdays around the same time.

"So, you're hitting the big 60 soon, huh?"

"Yeah! Yeah. Yeah I am."

"How do you feel about that?"

"It feels weird, man. It sounds old! Sixty sounds so old! There are times when I still feel like, well not only a 20-year-old, but a 32-year-old, and a middle-aged guy ... you know."

We talk a little more about it. The whole time I'm chopping tomatoes on one side of the room, and he's on the other, prepping piatas de carne and cutting beef on the slicer.

I'd like to interject here that Beatrix just brought me Little Red Riding Hood, recently acquired from the library, so I'm going to read it to her now and get back to you people later.
***
That was fun. Lucy joined in and it was good family story time. I'm a good character actor. The Wolf is fun to voice.

So Steve, my lead cook, he and I are prepping for the next day, and talking, right? He's a great conversationalist. We had 70s radio going on Spotify, and were both singing along to "The Sounds of Silence" and other standards. He's also a great singer, and comes up with ideas for my band all the time.

He wants my band to play his birthday party. He thinks it would be hilarious. I think he wants us to do covers. I think he wants to get up there and sing one or two, too. Hm. Maybe I should do a solo show? Bring my electric and acoustic guitars and bass and play along to some easy drum lines? Hmmm ....

I just texted my drummer friend. Hee hee. Gonna take him out for drinks and see if he wants to do it. A one-off covers show. Maybe get his band to be my backing band...

Alright, Steve and I are cooking last night, and here's the crux of my story right here:

I got a blister on my right index finger from where it rubs against the top of the knife blade from chopping so much. It still hurts. Lots of chopping yesterday—celery, cilantro, and buttloads of tomatoes. I like to do it by hand, too, instead of using the large slicer–I have more control over where the seeds and stem ends go and can keep a cleaner station. Although they do stain my white cutting boards red.

So here's the real crux of the issue, and how this long meandering rambling story belongs on a dad blog written by a daddy blogger:

Oh, look, a butterfly.

Okay, here it is.

Mm, sip of coffee.

So after Steve and I are done talking about ages and how old he is and his friends and our families are, we sing along to a few more songs on the radio.

I say to him, "So Lucy's going into kindergarten this Wednesday. I'm nervous, man. Nothing in my life, in many years has made me this nervous."

I told him about the two stress dreams I had this past few months, where I dreamed that Lucy was going into school tomorrow and I was completely unprepared.

Then Steve said something that is still sticking with me right now. It really stood out. It was the total golden nugget of wisdom from our conversation.

He said, "Well, you know, Glenn," taking on the mock voice of a guidance counselor or a father figure, "this isn't all about you."

It isn't about how I feel. Fuck me. It's about Lucy and how she feels.

"I mean, if you're really worried about it, you could tail her behind the school bus or something."

He's also good at deadpan.

2014-08-17

Lucy's Going Into Kindergarten

I've got two kids, 5 and 3. The older one is going into kindergarten in two weeks, and it's almost all I can think about lately.

Late last month, I had a stress dream that she was going to be starting school in a week and that I was totally unprepared. I lay awake for a few hours as I realized September was over a month away. Maybe I'm a jumble of nerves? My kids mean a lot to me, I've worked long and hard to guide their growth.

I'm nervous, but trying not to be. Lucy has never had the structure of anything resembling school, not even day care. Megan and I have always been too broke to afford it. So I hope it's not too hard for her to get settled in.

Then again, I can imagine that some part of Lucy is anxious to get out of the house and experience more than what her immediate family, the surrounding neighborhood, and our homely (and deeply ingrained) routines offer her. She needs more of life than I've been able to provide, and that's why I'm very excited for kindergarten to start.


One thing I'm learning is that there's only so much you do to prepare someone for large, imminent life events and game-changing routine shifts. An adult equivalent would be starting a new job, I suppose. Going back to college as an adult doesn't last nearly as long as kindergarten and elementary school for a kid.

Routines for Bibi and myself will also change. It may well be a difficult transition for the younger sister. She'll be watching big sister get on the bus every morning, walking back home with me, and realizing the emptiness (not necessarily a bad thing) that comes when a standard member of the household is no longer there all the time.

I know it was hard for my family when I left at 18 years old for the east coast and stage production life. The experiences I had were life changing and they helped me grow up so fast, but part of me will always regret putting that distance between my family and I.

But as I try to remember back even earlier, when I was getting walked to the bus stop by my mom in first grade, it was ok. Everything always worked out fine. I remember her encouraging me to make the trek alone, and me being all scared and asking her to come with me, and she did, for a few weeks or so. It was snowy and cold and dark in the mornings during those northwestern Michigan falls and winters. Once my dog Bro followed me onto the bus, and it was a topic of great conversation in my house for a long time afterwards. He was so excited, the young puppy suddenly in the cramped aisle of a school bus, surrounded by all these squealing kids. I was really happy to be able to share my dog with everyone else.

Snowy, sleepy old Eastlake. What a great place that was to grow up. I miss it. The forests that used to surround the place mostly still stand, but the ones in which I used to ride my bike are mostly gone. My parents still live in that house, across the street from the post office, Manistee Lake past it, down the street, through the small field, down the hill to the train tracks, and beyond them, through the marsh. I'd play there almost every day as a kid during the warmer months.

Remembering further back, in kindergarten, my family had just moved to Michigan from California. It was a rental house in Onekema. It was huge compared to our previous apartment, and right on Portage Lake. You heard me, we lived in a lake house, in the middle of a bunch of woods, with a great, quiet, cozy neighborhood around us. It was so beautiful, and as a young city boy it was strange and wonderful. I learned to ride a bike there, to sled, to have houses with other kids to go to, to explore by myself. To feel my first real independence.

I'm sure my mom was glad to be able to let me out of the house to go play wherever I wanted without supervising me. The San Jose neighborhood we were in before was definitely not conducive for that, as isn't the Seattle neighborhood my family lives in now.

Onekema was sort of perfect for me. I started kindergarten there. But when I'd get on the bus, it wasn't a bus. It was a dark blue van. It would stop right in front of my house. My mom probably didn't even have to wake up my younger brother Ian to help me get on.

I remember my first day of school. I remember it quite well. Being nervous, but not scared, and surprised at that. Everything was new, and it was hard to fall in line, but I tried. By God I tried. My mom crying as we stood inside the living room, the blue van outside our house, waiting for me to get inside. I remember I didn't cry myself. I saw my mom doing it and it just looked kinda weird. The way the blue van looked inside, with six or so other kids seat belted next to one another, not knowing each other at all, knowing vaguely where we were going, but not the route there. Getting off the bus, being distracted by the actual big school busses and tons of other kids, that weird small hill which is an image still implanted in my mind, and a woman's voice saying something like, "Oh! No honey, over here!" and turning me around and corralling me with the other kids.

The classroom. The playground outside. The huge hill out front. Once I fell off a slide and was knocked fairly unconscious, or something. I remember sitting on top of the slide, and then I remember being walked inside the school hallway by a very nervous office worker. I was fine.

Once I was out playing on the playground, with the tether ball, and I remember hearing the bell ring but not paying attention. Then all the other kids were gone from the playground, and I was all alone out there. It was an oh-shit moment: 'I need to get back inside!'

Kindergarten was great. Onekema was great. I had a great year there. I realize that now, since I'm accessing and assessing all these memories. I was a five- and six-year-old kid without a care in the world. I remember making lots of drawings inside our living room. The nasty taste of the well water from the tap. The way it all looked, felt and smelled. My room, the storage room at the end of the upstairs hall, my parents' room, the bathrooms. Watching Transformers and Airwolf. My Aunt Joy teaching me about silent e's when spelling the word "maze" as I stared at the word on the crayon I was holding. My uncle Brad helping us all dig a woman's car out of the snow in front of our house. Walking with my dad and brother on the frozen lake in front of the house. Making huge snow forts. The song La Bamba—some neighbor kid was obsessed with it, it must have just come out. Exploring the swampy woods way out behind the house. My friends Angie and Allie's house—they had an Atari or Nintendo or something—those were the first video games I ever played. Sitting on the floor of their yellow room, three of us. I was playing with girls, and it was pretty cool.

First grade was a bit harder. We moved to Eastlake the summer previous, where I'd stay till the end of senior year. I remember recess was tough. As the new kid, I had no friends, so I'd walk around the playground slowly, not talking to anyone, waiting for the bell to ring. These were the same classmates I'd have until graduation. Some of them I still talk to on Facebook, but most of them I would rather forget.

It was hard for me to make friends in 1st and 2nd grade, but I did eventually do it. I remember having some size 4 shoes that were enormous on my feet, but I loved wearing them cause they made my feet look bigger. In 3rd and 4th grades I gained some good, steady friends. Justin Marquardt. He was a good guy, until 5th and 6th grades when he changed alliances.

In 5th grade David Eddy was my main bro, big tall lanky joker that he is. We got in trouble once going into the woods behind the school. He started playing basketball with the other boys and we drifted apart. Adam Rybicki was ok, but mostly a dick, always wrestling me and making fun of me in front of the other kids.

In 5th and 6th grades Brad Wilburg was my other homie. We'd lean on the fence at Kennedy Elementary, and across the way, Angela Onstott and Karen Revolt would lean on the brick wall of the school. We'd just look at each other. I had such big crushes on both of them. Summer Rapphun, too, and I think that last name spelling is wrong, but she's not on any social media. I liked her more than any other girl back then. I haven't heard hide nor hair from her since she moved away around 6th grade.

I was really into Megadeth and Metallica back then and the other guys respected that about me. I was probably the most rock-and-roll-type kid in the school. I'd have my Walkman and tapes all the time. Big, clunky headphones.

I met Josh Simmons in 6th grade, he was a new kid in my class with Mr. Petersen. After he'd been there for a while, we started to hang out. In 7th thru 9th grades we were inseparable. Josh and I grew apart when I turned into a stoner and he started dating Jessica Hewer. It was a bizarre love triangle then. Everyone loved Jessica, and for good reason. She's one of the most beautiful people I've ever met. I drew a Radiohead logo on her notebook in 7th grade chemistry, Mr. Northrup's class.

Matt Perski was a dick and a terror back then. People called him Dirty. He bullied Josh and I for years.

Stephen O'Sicky. That beautiful motherfucker. I'm so glad I met him. Big, gumpy, and a great drummer, we hung out a lot and played lots of music together. Then we moved to Hatboro, PA together after high school was over. We always had our differences, but we're still good long-distance friends to this day.

Jessica Hojnowski. I'll never stop loving you. What more can I say. It was long and convoluted, and full of drama and so many emotions, and it never would have worked long-term, but you taught me a lot, and I'm glad you did. So did your mom and dad. I'd like to see them again soon. Tell John the Firefighter and Barb that I love them, too. You and your family were anchors for me in those days.

Lucy, my daughter, is going to have all of this. I've given her life. She will have her own experiences learning, making friends, falling in love. Now I'm crying. It was all so real for me, and I'll never have it back again, but I shouldn't, nor do I need to. Lucy will have all of this, a wealth of experiences, a richness that comes over years of development. The beauty of a full life, lived with gusto, learning every day.

It makes me happier to be alive today. I realize I have a lot to yet teach my daughters. Though I haven't reached my full personal potential, my goals, I'm still a person. And my daughters and wife are people. We all have lives just as rich and full as my own. I was never wealthy, but it never mattered. My life is as perfect shining crystal, and everyone else's are exactly the same.

Kindergarten. It's essential.

I have to remember: perspective. The perspective of my five-year-old is so far removed from my own. I must remember what it was like for me as a kid her age, and she's got my hard wiring, so it's gonna be similar. I must remember to empathize with her as I do the five-year-old in myself.

School—how do you prepare for it? It's impossible, and useless to stress about. You just have to do it. Parents must let their kids do it. There are people working for the school who are paid to wrangle the children, make sure they don't get lost, and keep them entertained, exercised and educated. It's gonna be totally fine, and maybe someday Lucy will get in trouble. It happens to the best of us. I will love this girl till the end of time.


As I try to pinpoint what I'm stressed about, I come up with nothing. Why worry? It's cumbersome to all involved. I think it can be pinpointed as the animal instinct of keeping them safe, in case some larger animal tries to eat them. Are the chances of that high? What do I do, chaperone her at school? No, I trust other people to take care of her, and I trust her to be responsible. I let it go. I can finally let it go. It's been five and a half years.

This song just came up on my Spotify queue. Destroyer, School, and the Girls Who Go There. Beautiful medlies, nice relaxed vocals. And a gr8 flute line.

2014-07-25

Humans are shaped in such a way that a they need a separate covering for their arms and chests and their legs

I've been watching a lot of Rick and Morty. The play there is extra-dimensions. Infinite #s of dimensions with all sorts of kooky playouts.

Last night, I woke up. Shit, it's August 21, or 23. Lucy's gonna start school in 2 WEEKS! I was up for another hour, all stressed out. I think I realized what I most fear in her going to school—her safety.

Her intellect is off the charts, man. She is a smart, funny, creative, social little girl, and she really takes after her old man. She's gonna take off in school in a way I never did, cause she's a girl, man. She's a girl. She's gonna be better than me. At life.

Just sent a sloppy cover letter to a PR firm looking for people, on the hope that hey, maybe it will make me stand out. I don't know. WHo knows with these things.

You know what to do if you're awake at night with stressful things swirling in your brain and you can't get them out and you just don't know wha 2 dew?

Look at some articles online that are totally unrelated and read them. Distract your mind. I recommend hitting up Reddit. There's a Subreddit out there for you somewhere, trust me.




2014-06-26

Beatrix and the Social Lesson & Me and My Dad and the Report Card



My BB fell down today. She is so precious. Just so flipping cute. Her curly blonde hair, the way she can't yet pronounce her Rs or Ls yet, the way she still cries about everything, the growth spurts, the way she's calm, the way she always wants to spell words and memorize letters and their patterns. Everything about her.

Even when she gives mom extra shit just for being alive it's still kind of like, 'Well, you're still a kid. Some part of this is endearing, somewhere.'


So she first fell down crossing a street to go to the park. I wasn't looking at her, scanning all four directions for cars. Had Lucy's hand in my left, BB's in my right. All of a sudden BB's hand jerks down, and I look down and she's on her face, arms raised above her head. Just laying there.

I knelt and picked her up. Put her back on the sidewalk. Lucy was kind of scared I'd be mad, but felt better once I hugged BB and said, "You fell down, huh?" BB just had this crying face on, silent but ultimately expressive, mouth wide open. She's done this since she was an infant, a face Megan and I used to call the "Nothing is OK BB Face." The one she makes now is a trifle more mature.

I said told her she can't fall in the street, that if she does, a car might not see her, run her over, and she'd die. Thinking I was gonna write that and not gloss over any details, I pictured it sounding dickish, like the thing to do there was not to scold her but to just show compassion for the way she still can't seem to get her body to work with her. But it is the reason she cannot fall in the street, right?


She's 3 and she's still growing, learning. Her older sister, at 5, kind of gets it now. She's been thru 4, even. We met a 4-year-old at the park today, a girl with curly hair in a ponytail and a grey dress with a sparse, red pattern of birdprint-ish shapes, and a red bow in her hair, who BB ended up being friends with later. Her name is ... can't remember exactly, starts with A.

So A, before her or my kids had exchanged any words, picks up this long, green, plastic, smiling spoon that BB brought with her from home. She was sitting on the swing, her spoon on the ground beside her where I told her to put it, as she's fallen off that swing several times, and I keep reminding her to hand on with both hands.

Jesus, I even got mad at her when she didn't put her shoes on today after I asked her four times. Sometimes I get mad at some dumbass shit. No wonder my kids get worried that I'm gonna snap at them. I was so mad I couldn't even articulate that I wanted her to just put something on her feet, but didn't want to confuse her because she was putting on boots and I said to put shoes on. My 'shoes' term was just ambiguous.

I even said, and this is classic, "How many times do I have to tell you?" Ah, hilarious. Kids really do make parents into monsters. It's not the kids' fault, it's not the parents' fault. We're all just kids raising kids. Thank God the scientists keep figuring stuff out, because if it were all just parents spending their formative years procreating, we'd never evolve.


Once in high school my dad kept repeating to me to bring home my report card. I didn't do it because he was there almost every day working as a counselor and psychologist, and figured he could pick it up. My grades were bad, though, and I knew it. I didn't want to face his reaction. But not doing it, not bringing home that report card, for like two weeks got under his skin something fierce, until one day at dinner when mom wasn't home, he asked me if I'd brought it home, I said no, and I remember him sitting there, at the same seat he sat at every night at dinner and any time of day when he sat at the table, and he just kind of sputters, "No!"

He yelled it, and he didn't know where it came from, but he was running with it. He told me this afterward in apology. Because after that, he got up and walked over to me. I can't remember if I was already standing, or if I had gotten up to walk away from him. I was 16 and getting really rebellious. Starting to really not care, you know? Thinking I could do this on my own and fuck my parents. So I start to walk away and he gets up and grabs my arm.

I wrestle it out of his grasp and he fucking grabs it again. And that was as physical as it got, my dad is not a fighter, though he was when he was a kid, and it still shows sometimes. He talks about times at school when he had no choice but to fight, and how he also wrestled on his school's team. Anyway, we just stared at each other at that point, for a few long seconds. I didn't try to wrestle my arm away any more, not wanting to provoke anything either. My dad and I are alike in this way. We both believe in pacifism, and that fighting, though fun if you've got the balls and the willingness to bleed, is counter-productive.

So this girl, A, takes away BB's spoon. Just runs up and grabs it and runs away, quick as day, and BB watches her. Now, mom of A has a little 1yo baby in her arms, and is saying her name over and over again, asking where she got the spoon. BB doesn't initially appear phased until I say, "She took your spoon," in a conversational tone, like, Wow, look at that thing that happened, instead of, Wow that was not cool she sux.

But BB slowly gets that Not OK face on as she gets off the swing and walks over to me. See, I was sitting on the other big kid swing next to her, tired from swinging her. I saw it all go down. By the time she gets to me she's got full crying face on, and she's whimpering a little bit. This was a really not-good surprise for her. She's not in daycare so she only has her sister to contend with, and this, I could tell, was an important social lesson. The lesson being that kids do this. Finding a way to deal with it comes later.


So mom asks me, "Is that your spoon?" I nod. She gets a glimpse of BB's face and how she's coming to me in her silent grief. "Oh, no," she says. Goes over and makes A. come back to us and give BB back her spoon. This girl was on the entire other side of the park with that spoon in no time, so it was a long, slow walk back as the girl kind of soaked up and realized what she did, and also probably had to contend with the fact that she really didn't want to give it back, it was a cool shovel.

So she gives it back. BB's better.

BB fell a second time today off the swing, a while later in the park trip. The mom and I had met before, and after the spoon business was over, we started talking and figured out who our mutual friends are. So this was about an hour or so later. We had a good 2-hr trip at the park today, our usual stay. BB must have been tired today. Probably going thru a spurt. Body getting all awkward and moving funny on her.

So I'm pushing her pretty high, right? She's loving it, but then as soon as I give her a really good one and get her going fast, she fucking loses her grip and falls, scraping her back on the new, undulled wood chips lining the park floor. Man, that must have sucked. I walk over to her and she's got that face on again, but isn't making any sound. She did whimper a few times and I tried my best to console her, but I didn't hug her because she had wood chips all stuck to her clothes and in her long, snarly curly blonde hair. That hair is a bitch to brush, by the way, and she cries every time. Gotta get it cut. Megan's worried it will lose all its beautiful curl.


After I cleaned her off, she says, "Let's do it again," and walks over to the swing. What a fucking trooper. DAMN she's awesome. So I swung her again.

Going home, Lucy wanted to go down to the pond, but I had to refuse, as we had been there two hours, and also I had to get to work. I said to her, "I know you want to, but it doesn't matter. I just don't have the time. I want to go down there too, but we can't right now." Then I threw in something thing about how wanting something doesn't mean you're going to get it.

I remember being a kid myself, in rural Michigan, and people saying simple shit to me, and thinking they were dumb, but really it was me who was dumb, and they probably felt dumb having to dumb their thoughts down to tell my dumbass what time it is.

I brought my report card home for my dad. He looked at it, sighed, and said, "OK. Thank you for bringing this home." He understood.



2014-06-15

Job Opportunity-not for me, for you!

Hi everybody. Is it Father's Day today? Huh, that's nice. Is everyone having a good Sunday? Sitting around, drinking coffee like me? I hope so.

My kids are both still sleeping at 9:25 a.m. Time to blog it up. Got a job opportunity to broadcast.

I just turned down a position with Arbonne as a consultant. It would be up my alley as far as my skill set goes, but I feel like I'm too close to a job in social media, PR, or writing to give up my search now.

If any of you readers think you'd be good at setting up parties (call them 'classes' or 'meetings' if you want) with people (it's going to be vastly ladies), talking to them about skin care, makeup, health and wellness products, helping them find a product or two that would be right for them, and not have to sell or deliver anything yourself, you might be a great consultant.

You can work as much or as little as you want, and the only time you'd have to leave your home would be to attend the parties you'd set up.

My friend Jennifer is putting together a team of 4 or 5 people right now, and she and I went out for coffee a few days ago to talk about it. She's really nice and down-to-earth. Hit me up and I'll put you two in touch.

I met Jennifer for the first time at the Northgate Target here in Seattle. It was Lucy's birthday and I was shopping for girl clothes, as was Jennifer. It took me a good half hour at least, cause I was picking out several outfits, and I had never done that before for a little girl. Jennifer and I passed by each other several times, and I think I mentioned that I was gonna buy jeans for my Lucy, and she remarked that she can't get her daughter to wear denim.

So we keep shopping and talk a little bit more, no introduction or anything, just two strangers passing by within life's whirlwind. Fast-forward to last week, when my whole family went to Lucy's new kindergarten orientation & ice cream social. I saw Jennifer over there by the signup table, and I said to her, "So I was shopping at Target a while ago, and we were both shopping for clothes for our kids ... " and she immediately recognized me. She surprised me with the questions she asked, totally like a journalist, or someone for whom networking is their bread and butter.

Sounds familiar. This is probably why we get along so well. She told me she's a consultant, and I asked her a little about it, and then told her I'm on the job hunt. She proposed a coffee date to talk about it, to which I readily agreed, and last Friday we met at Forza by Green Lake.

She's a really nice person, church-going and a choir director. I've never heard her sing, but I bet she's a master. Her husband is a school music teacher, so they're a musical family with their three kids.

She started with Arbonne eight years ago and now she's done dabbling, as she told me.

So there you go. I was almost sold on it, but going home afterwards, talking with Megan, and then sitting on it for a day, I had to decline, but I did offer to help her find other people who want a change in employment and would be good at this.

Found my first referral this morning. Yes! I love spreading the goodness around. Job hunting is hard work, and it involves a lot of hurt feelings which one has to learn to take in stride. Especially since I'm trying to break into an industry in which I have no experience.

Next blog, I swear I'll talk about my kids more, I swear it! I had to get this notice out first.

2014-05-24

The Working Stay-at-Home Dad

Fudge man, working till 11 p.m., having to get up at around 8 to look after the kids (not a terrible time to have to wake up, granted), and then going back in at 2 the next day,

...

Let me just say this: I want a 9 to 5. A steady schedule. I mean, I've got a steady schedule now, meaning it's the same from week to week because my boss has been cool like that, but with the kids every day, and the trying to find a job related to my communication degree, and doing this social media volunteer gig, it's tough.

2014-05-10

Looking Back, A Critique of Self

The very title of this blog describes holding onto something that might naturally die: my ‘metalhood.’

Shame and a sort of mild disgust fill me when I look back on my posts. Though specific examples momentarily elude me, it’s happened too many times to be trifling. My reactions to my past RMTD writings can be boiled down to this: the attitude was too negative.

What is it I’m trying to retain, my overrated youth, my immaturity, my foolish anger, my weaker moments, my failures? Metal music is about raging against the system, and being a good parent requires going along with the system—that of tried and true parenting practices, evolutionarily honed and scientifically learned.

The writing was all wrong, and the concept of metal parenting is antithetical. Metal music is mostly obnoxious. I want to turn it all around. Somehow. I have some options, including changing this blog’s name, or starting over with a new one.

Let’s look at how it all started, this Retaining Metalhood Through Dadhood blog.

The year was 2009, and I had just had my first kid. She was amazing, a quite medium-mannered baby, with no health problems. Now me, I am usually a medium-mannered person, albeit a bit animated at times, but I admit now I was a quite a protective dad, treating my new child at times like a very breakable porcelain doll than the strong little skinny human she is (anyone who saw me toss her in the air to her delight may disagree). I would have dreams where I tossed her up and didn’t catch her, of her hitting the ground after a hard fall, and I’d wake up in a panic, instantly sitting up in bed. I’d constantly be worried about her hurting herself irreparably if she was out of my sight for a single minute. Maybe that was part of why it took her three years to start playing in her room by herself?

She would cry every time I went to the bathroom until she was around five months old. My choices, in my mind, were to either hurry thru it as best I could, or take her in there with me. What I did not realize is that a little infant baby can indeed be left alone for bits of time, say for parental bathroom breaks, and will learn not to cry so much eventually, and that, most importantly, I needed not stress about it as I did.

Around seven months of age, Megan and I were still getting up to get her out of the crib every time she cried at night, which was happening more and more often, which we were invariably conditioning her to think was acceptable. When we read that after six months of age a baby is capable of understanding that if the parents don’t come every time she cries it won’t erode her trust in us, we changed our behavior and within a few days she started sleeping the whole night through.

What I did not realize was how much the parents shape the child. Children learn by example. It’s really up to the parents to model behaviors they want their children to adopt. Also, I was 27 years old. I had no idea about anything, other than that you have to work to survive. Career-wise, a bachelor’s degree seemed more and more like a distant, unreachable goal the closer I got. When Megan and I conceived, I was on my third college with lots of momentum, in Bellingham, while she lived in Seattle. Naturally I quit school to raise my kid and be with my woman after quite an emotionally difficult year apart.

When Lucy was born, Megan and I lived in a one-bedroom apartment on the third floor of an old, slightly smelly apartment building in Seattle, with a living room window facing Roosevelt, a bus stop bringing buses to a noisy stop just below during the day. The black roof of the short building just outside the adjacent window reflected heat back at us during the summer months. Megan stayed home for three months, healing from her cesarean section, while I worked part-time. Then she started working again, and I was on my own with a baby forty hours per week.

Though we were poor, stressed, and had no social lives, things were happening at home, little things. When kids grow up they go through milestones and if you miss them, they’re irretrievable. I wanted a writing outlet to have these memories recorded, and also to keep my writing practice up. Hence, the idea of creating a blog seemed the way to go. At the time, I was going through a metal resurgence, playing a lot of it on guitar and writing songs in that style, inspired by early Metallica and Megadeth, my personal favorites. And I had this notion that having kids makes people lose their edge, that cool parents abandon cool stuff and start enjoying Michael Bolton, Coldplay and U2.

That’s why the name Retaining Metalhood Through Dadhood seemed right for me. I was still a metal guy, but I wasn’t angry. I just like really loud, distorted, fast guitar lines that are rhythmically complex. It’s exciting to me. Perhaps a name change is not the way to go for this blog. Perhaps it can be saved. It’s all in what you put into it, right? A person is a collection of their experiences, and a blog is a collection of writings, nothing more. Perhaps the answer is to fix it by making future writings more positive, to update more often with good posts that will eventually overshadow the rest.

It is not surprising to me that my parenting skills were at zero those five years ago, but when I look back on it, I always think I could have made better choices. But then I think of how my kids don’t have wherewithal now, that humans grow on a continuum, and that there is never a light switch flicked that signals a skip from one age to another, further down the road. There is no way to learn quickly, or to fold space and skip the embarrassing moments. Life seems to occur one lesson at a time. So can I blame myself for my less-favored choices, for my parenting failures? Were they indeed failures if they amounted to a learning experience for me? My daughter has always been stronger than I realize, and she’s okay now, as far as I know, despite my perceived missteps along the way.

As a 32-year-old father of two, I’m more experienced and mellow—not perfect, but better. I trust my children and myself more. We have daily arguments, and sometimes I think I’m a dick tater, but then I tell myself that I’m here every day with them, I make money for them, clean up their messes, and still find time to entertain them. I use positive reinforcement, and I encourage intelligence and talents over beauty. With all that in mind, my kids can stay under my yoke and do everything I tell them. It’s a pretty sweet deal, really.

I’ve decided. I’ll keep the blog. Metal rules. Parenting rules. The two concepts don’t have to be antithetical together; they can be what I make them.

2014-03-02

It's Tough Being 2 and Having to Pee at Night

I just had the cutest experience.

So I'm sitting here on the couch watching Breaking Bad. Fourth episode from the end of the series. Stuff's getting intense, right?

It's 12:40 a.m. Dark out. I'm home from a later-than-usual night at work.

Marie looks in the trash can, sees the meat, Hank calls her and she asks, "Why is there what looks like brains in the trash can?"

I hear noises from somewhere in the direction of the kitchen. Someone opening a door and shuffling around. The girls' room connects there, as does the back door, so my first thought is, 'Someone's breaking in and is in here right now.'

I pause Breaking Bad and walk over to the wall and look around into the kitchen. It's Beatrix. I've never seen her get up in the middle of the night before. Luckily it's the one night this week I'm up late. Usually I'm in bed by this time.

Why? She had to pee! She was super scared, though. Tears in her eyes. Poor thing. Turning her eyes away from light sources, all tired, probably confused.

I went in the bathroom with her and helped her pee in the little toilet on the floor, and I think she was really glad I was there to help. She might not have gone to wake either mama or I up. It looked like she was headed right for the bathroom.

Maybe she was tearing up because she was psyching herself up for a scary lone jaunt through the darkness just so she could relieve bladder tension and sleep again. Or maybe she thought she'd make one of us mad by waking us up. Hm, that makes me afraid of my own temper.

On the walk back to her room she broke into a light jog. I cuddled in bed with her for a minute, but I think it annoyed her, so I got up and left the room, dad duty accomplished. Maybe it didn't annoy her. Sometimes she moves suddenly.

Perhaps tomorrow we can talk about it and make a plan of action for future night bathroom excursions. That would be the good dad thing to do, wouldn't it? That and do the dishes.

2014-02-13

Stills, porch: 14.02.13

As my keyboard on my laptop is sticking nd not functioning properly, it's difficult to type too much.

So tody I'll just stick to pictures.


Birthday season is upon us.
My 32nd: 2.27. Lucy's 5th: 3.11. Megan's: 4.28. BB's 3rd: 5.23.


Job news: I hve interviews with two internship coordintors (one lined up, the other lining up) with two different pR firms. Exciting times!\

I think I hve applecarae still... maybe they'll fix my dkeyborad 4 free?

2014-01-08

Man's Next Lesson, a take on #TeamGrownAssMan

The underlying theme of #TeamGrownAssMan is not that this guy is a particularly spectacular dad, but that more guys need to cop to his level. The chauvinism of humanity's entire past lingers in men, and conversely its acceptance lingers in the women who partner with them.

Evidence of this are the headlines that appear from a search for #teamgrownassman. News outlets are trying to stay editorially unsided on the issue, while simultaneously involving themselves with the issue. They focus on the reaction the story got via internet comment forums, which, as we all know, are often where the apes hang out.

What I'd rather focus on is the big picture. I'd rather take more of a side on the issue. Why is it acceptable that dads wouldn't have to share dad duties at least 50/50 with their women?

Take a look at lions.


Ew.

Now take apes. They came a little farther by learning to avoid in-breeding.

Now take man. We know how to wash our hands often and take our shoes off inside the house; we've mastered the basics! Tools to ensure our cleanliness, health and survival, in our homes and ourselves, are available in stores in every town.

Now, we're onto larger, social issues. With technology constantly advancing and replacing superstition, we can afford to see how many previously-acceptable negatives in human life and society are to be avoided, and that to ensure our long-term survival, with so many fucking people on the planet, we're all going to have to start getting along!

We've learned that slavery is wrong. Rape is wrong. Violence is wrong. War has been made economically unfeasible for those who would wage it. Guns and their glamorization are helping to make murderers out of the mentally disabled.

Man's next lesson has got to be more down-home. It goes hand-in-hand with accepting gays and their right to be married, and with marijuana being de-stigmatized.

Man's next lesson is to accept females as equal to males. This will play out in the world as fathers start jumping in and take care of more dad duties in their homes. Change has to start at home.

SWITCHING GEARS
¯˘˘¯
This is what Animaniacs just gave me, just now:
"[Narrator, smoky female voice] And now ... Dot's Poetry Corner.
[Dot] (clears throat) Requiem ... for a Lamb: Mary had a little lamb ... with mint jelly. Thank you.
[Narrator] This has been Dot's Poetry Corner."

This show is amazing. My kids are obsessed with it. The writing, the voice acting, the music, the animation—it's all top-notch.

Okay, you get my point from all that shit above, right? Humanity exists on a continuum, from where I'm positioned. It's slowly getting better, at least in the United States. The reaction to #TGAM by internet commenters is a microcosm of how the world still works, in large pockets that don't really appear in the news, because they're depressing. Or people are scared to admit it. Or they're evolutionarily disinclined to admit it. Admit what? Admit when they sit on their ass or go out to bars when their women stay home to put the kids to bed, change diapers, and basically live other lives in addition to their own. It's a tough job, and women shouldn't have to do it on their own. Parenting can feel like never being able to leave work; it makes you hate everything your kids do, and then hate yourself. It can start to suck really hard if you don't have any help, even if your partner makes the bacon all day but doesn't help with the kids and chores when they come home.

I don't care how hard their job is. You get breaks at a job. You get adult conversations. You're not arguing with people who don't understand you at all, all day long. Work with adults is a whole different thing than staying at home with kids. You feel like a goddam housecleaner sometimes, unappreciated and unnoticed. Women go thru this all the time, dudes.

So when a story like #TGAM comes out, I really gravitate to it and want to talk about it, bring it out in the open, shine the light of day on it.

Agh, I'm done now, really dun.

BB is potty-training now, going in the small toilet on the floor. She'll graduate to the big toilet soon. The point is that I'm not changing diapers anymore, which is fucking amazing. Once I started to push it, the change came in a matter of days. It's great. I probably handled it a lot better this time than with Lucy. She was my practice run. It's sad, but true: the first kid gets all your stress, and the second kid always gets off easier.


LOVE YOU GUYS