LEAVE NO MAN BEHIND

LEAVE NO MAN BEHIND

Hello and welcome to a strange new world. You have traveled far through the desert, only to be met time and again by one empty oasis after another. You are lost and alone, wandering, wondering if someone, anyone, knows how you feel. And just when you think you can't go on, and no one could possibly understand your struggle, a hand reaches out to you, lifts you to your feet, and carries you to the promised land. He feeds you knowledge, shelters you from the self-righteous (and the ridiculous), and provides you with the tools you need to survive in this brave new world. You are a stranger in a strange land, but you are not alone. Let him be your guide. Follow closely as you travel together on this adventure of a lifetime. For now, you are a foreigner to "Fatherhood" but soon YOU will be the master of this realm.

"No Man is Expendable!"

This is Fodder 4 Fathers...

"F--- YOU JOBU, I DO IT MYSELF": WHY YOU DON'T NEED VALENTINE'S DAY TO CELEBRATE THE ONES YOU LOVE


As Valentine's Day 2012 quickly approaches and the price of long-stemmed roses begins to skyrocket, commercials for candy and diamond enchantment rings begin to take over the airwaves, and men, everywhere, scramble frantically to make their wives those spa day appointments they've been promising for years, I'm reminded of two things: 1) I suck at buying other people (namely my wife) gifts, and 2) you don't need a holiday to tell you when to celebrate the people that you love.

F4F FEATURED REVIEWS: OFF THE CHARTS- A GREAT WAY TO BOND WITH YOUR BABY!


It's not every day a company asks a relatively new dad blogger, especially one with my rather unique approach, to review one of their products. Usually that honor would go to the moms. But for some reason The Victoria Chart Company saw something in the ramblings of a new dad just trying to figure out this thing called fatherhood, and thought this might be the guy to put their product to the test.

THE ROAD TO SELF-RELIANT DADS: FEELING THE FEAR AND DOING IT ANYWAY

Scene from "Meatballs" (1979)
Sometimes, I wonder how I got here (new dad advocate, blogger, pain in the ass of parenting magazines everywhere), and then I remember the story my mom likes to tell about my first experience at summer camp when I was 7. And when I say “tell,” I mean to EVERYBODY…

It was the early 80’s. I was young, I was a handful, and, well, since the rest of my siblings were going off to camp for the summer, my stepfather saw sending me along as his best opportunity to have my mom to himself for a few months. So he packed my bags, personally saw me to the bus and bid me adieu with a heartfelt handshake (my mom cried tears of joy from the car). Six kids off to camp for two whole months- every parents dream and a 7-year-old’s nightmare.
Looking back, even my Mom will agree, it's probably not the best idea to send a kid with a big mouth, a need for negative attention, and a lot of practice at annoying his older siblings to a place where there is little to no supervision. But, even though she feared the worst, she always said she knew my older siblings would look out for me- she was wrong.

Photo from "Canteen Boy" Sketch, SNL

Now, if you think 7 is too young to send a child to camp, consider this: I was the youngest kid in the entire camp, by 3 years. And if you think my older brother enjoyed having me for a   cabin mate- he did not. So what’s a kid with no family support (my other siblings were all off doing their own thing), limited adult supervision, and a penchant for getting in to trouble to do? Have fun, of course, the only way I knew how. 


I guess I have a little Marty McFly in me because I’ve never been one to back down from a fight. I’m not talking physical battles, more warfare of the mind. I’ve been known to wear down an opponent or two in my life time. I like Davey and Goliath moments and I’ve never been a fan of the small being threatened by the strong. But I am what I am, and it only took me a week to find myself in a heap of trouble. I guess I shouldn't have said what I said to that older (7 years older), stronger punk who thought he could push me around on the basketball court,  but I was just standing up for myself. Is it my fault he couldn't take a joke…about his mother?


I'm sure if I went back in time, I might have held my tongue, as when he named the time and the place where he promised to quote “rearrange my molecules” I probably should have had the presence of mind to call home and be airlifted out of there, but I didn’t. Instead, I waited in my cabin counting down the hour, hoping he’d forget about me. He didn’t. 

"Hey, Kid? You insulted my Mama!"

Instead, he showed up at my door, not a minute later than he said, asking for the little fat kid that insulted his mama’s virtue. I assumed he meant me, but wasn’t quite sure until he described me and what he wanted to do to me in great detail. He was asked to wait at the door by my cabin mate, hoping to give me a moment to escape. But, my time had come. My moment of reckoning had arrived. I accepted my fate. But something came over me as I walked toward that door, like a lightning bolt that ran up my back and directly into my brain.
I arrived at the door with a smile on my face, knowing exactly what to do. 


“Hi!” I said. “Do I know you?”
“You better.” He said. “I’m the guy who’s going to end your life.”
“Oh…” I said, “You’re here for my brother- my TWIN brother.”
“Twin?” He said, confused. “I’ve seen you around. You don’t have a twin?”
“Sure I do,” I said. “He’s the one you’re here to beat up. Hold on, I’ll get him.”


I closed the door in his face, the adrenaline coursing through my body as I rushed back to my bunk and changed in to another shirt and pants; my bunk mates not quite sure what I was up to. I went back to the door. 


“My brother said you’re here to beat me up?” I said.
“Wait, you’re the same kid?” He questioned. “This is weird.”
“Well, I’m ready for you to beat me up now… where do you want to do it?”
“Forget it kid. I don’t beat up on (expletive deleted). Just go back inside.”
“Are you sure?” I said. “I’m ready to be “pummeled.””


He started backing away. 
“Maybe some other time, kid. I’m going to give you a warning for now.”
And he was gone. 


Now, I don’t want to brag or anything, but I quickly became the talk of the camp. No one would mess with me. I scared the crap out of that kid, but not without scarring some other people as well. So much so that my counsellor pulled my mother aside and asked her if I had been “evaluated” by a professional. "You know..." he said, “for his Psychophrenia?”

"Why do all my kids have morons for counselors?" 


My mother just had to know.
“What did you do now?” She said, taking me aside. 


So, I told her. And, when she finished laughing (and laughing), she simply gave me a big kiss and said: “well, self-reliance is born out of self-preservation I guess.” So, in essence,  I’m a self-taught survivor. 

And, that's exactly how I feel about fatherhood. The truth is sooner or later every new dad has to face the unknown. Someone won't always be there to have your back (your wife, your mom, a nurse, a doula, etc.) so it’s better to just open that door and face your fears. You'll figure it out. And, with a little ingenuity, and a second persona to have your back (that of a strong, stoic, all-knowing “dad”)  who knows, you might even impress those who didn't think you could handle it


Disclaimer: The author of this post took some dramatic licence with this post, because, let's face it, most people can't remember 30 years ago in the past that clearly unless they're a member of Mensa, which clearly he is not. 

GIVE THAT KID SOME HAIR!: A DAD'S PETITION TO COIFFE "CALLIOU," THE BALDEST KID IN CHILREN'S TELEVISION

CALLIOU
Any involved parent of a toddler will tell you, watching cartoons all day isn't all it's cracked up to be. Sure, you want to be there to monitor your child's viewing habits, but watching the same thing, over and over again, just can't be good for the adult mind (unless it's re-runs of Seinfeld, Friends, or possibly Night Court). So you develop ways to pass the time...

FODDER OF THE WEEK: THE BIRTH OF A FATHER- THE MOMENT YOU REALIZE YOU'RE TRULY A "DAD"

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY DADDY!"
Every once in a while, my wife, the more sentimental of the two of us, will look at my daughter, sigh, and say: "Can you believe we created that?" And, of course the short answer is "yes," but, oddly, that never seems to satisfy my wife's wonderment.

"No. Really? Can you believe we created THAT?" She will say. And, I'll say, "Yeah, I can believe it. I was in the room when she was conceived. I was the one going out at god awful hours of the night for nine months trying to find you odd food combinations. I was the one who cut the cord 5 seconds after she made her first appearance...."

"And?..." my wife will say.

"And..." I reply, "she's awesome. She's perfect. She's my little girl."
"But when did you know you were her Daddy?" My wife will ask.

And that's the more difficult question to answer, isn’t it?

You see, every dad is different. There are those who know from a very young age that they want to be a father, and to these men, fatherhood starts the second they find out their wives are pregnant. They read to their babies in the womb. They play music for their unborn child. They cup their hands around their wives' navels and scream "Hello there" and wait for a response (in kick form). Then there are other dads, men less prepared for their foray into fatherhood, who will forego all this, choosing instead to wait and see their child in the flesh before making funny faces and fools of themselves as they start speaking in a kind of baby-ease that makes the rest of us cringe. And, then there’s a third group- men who have no clue what to think. Should they hold the baby? Should they sit back and give it another day to see how they feel? Should they wait until the baby's asleep to make their first approach? These guys don't know what to feel.

Me, I fall in the middle. I always wanted to be a dad, but I held off as long as I could, mostly because I wasn't sure if I would be able to handle the responsibility. But, I guess you don't know the measure of a man, or what he's truly capable of, until he's faced with that which he fears the most. And, me, I feared fatherhood.

"BOO!!!"

It's not that I didn't think I could change a diaper, or hold a baby (two things I had never done before having a child of my own), it's that I thought I could never be the father I wanted to have when I was a kid- an emotionally present one. Let's face it, I'm not sentimental; I'm not touchy/feely; I'm not warm and fuzzy- I'm pretty much emotionally shut off to the world except for a few select people that know me well enough to help me to drop my guard. In essence, I'm way more Mr. Spock than I am Captain Kirk, and who wants that for a father? But, I guess I don't know myself as well as I think I do?

The truth is, every new dad finds himself at a cross roads; that place where he decides who he wants to be- the man he portrays to the world, or a more exact version of who he truly wants to be. Me, I wanted to be a dad my child could count on- both physically and emotionally. I wanted to be my daughter's hero. I wanted to be her first love. I wanted to be her comfort, and her joy, and her protector. And there was this moment when I held her in my hands for the very first time, when I thought to myself, “this is it; it's put up or shut up time.” I didn't want to be MY own dad, and I certainly didn't want to be anyone else's except for possibly this little girl's that literally fit like a football across the length of my forearm. It was my moment of truth- did I really want to be a father?


And then it happened. That self-affirming aforementioned millisecond when my entire world changed for the better. That moment when all my fears of fatherhood fell by the wayside and calm came over me; a calm like I had never felt before. It was a giggle, or a cooing sound, or maybe it was gas? Who knows? But, MY child spoke to me in a way no one had ever spoken to me before. And she made more sense than anyone I had ever known. In those glassy little eyes, I found purpose. I found strength. I found... a lot of goo. But, I saw the world through them; a new world where I could be anything I wanted to be. And, I wanted to be her dad. And, right then and there, I was.


She gave me a whole new outlook, a whole new purpose, and all she wanted in return was the father she deserved; the father every child deserves…and I'll be damned if she doesn't get it.

I don’t make promises I can’t keep.

"POP" CULTURE: TOP FIVE TYPE "A" DADS YOU DON'T WANT TO F@#% WITH

"Wait? He said WHAT to his teacher???"

I guess you could call me an expert on dads? Yes, in my day, I've known my fair share of father types- from my own dad, to my two step fathers, to all my adoptive dads (friend's fathers that fed me breakfast and gave me advice more times than I can recall), the hockey dads that tied my skates and did up my goalie pads for me (my mom didn’t have a clue), My Two Dads (a bad TV show in the eighties), and the list goes on.

I know dads! I’ve known good ones and bad ones, and scary ones and stoic ones- hell I’ve even known a few deadbeat ones- and if you ask me, it’s not easy being a father. But some guys just have it; whatever it is, they got it. And if you could bottle it, I’d buy it… but not from these five guys.

Here are the top five father types you wouldn’t want to f@#% with. They’re old school, but as they say, “you can’t know your future unless you know your past.” Consider this a history lesson in fathers gone by, and try to forgive them- they didn’t know any better.

CHILDREN'S TELEVISION PROGRAMING: PARENTAL CONTROL OR SELF CONTROL (BEFORE YOU BLOW UP THE SCREEN) - CHOOSE YOUR WEAPON WISELY


When I was a kid they didn't make cartoons for children, they made them for adults; they made them for teen aged boys. Looney Tunes (the original, uncut, racist ones), Spider Man, Rocket Robin Hood, Fritz the Cat (I just threw that one in there), these were written for adults, and, well, comic book nerds...

PUT UP, OR SHUT UP: WHY A GOOD OFFENCE IS BETTER THAN A GOOD DEFENCE WHEN DEFENDING YOUR PARENTING CHOICES

Recently, I made some disparaging remarks about a guest blog post I read from a fellow dad blogger. Now, I'm not saying I'm perfect, and I'm certainly not saying I shouldn't think before I speak (even though I've always believed it is better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission), but I am who I am and sometimes I speak my mind without thinking about who it might hurt. But, I guess there are a lot of people like me, because let's face it, people say rude shit to their fellow parents all the time. Which is funny, because this was the exact topic I was arguing about?

You see, I'm don't like to mince words. I follow my gut. If something bothers me, I speak my mind. Right or wrong, rude or self-righteous, I'm just being true to my feelings. So, when I read this post about how to turn people who hate your birth choices in to supporters, I couldn't stop myself. To put it lightly, I just couldn't get behind it.


I mean, what would I have against this? Sure, it’s a little pretentious for my taste in its wording (e.g. “We, the pioneers of the empowered, gentle birth movement, are helping to influence the world by coming into alignment with our intuition and redefining what it means to have a healthy and safe birth”). But, I can overlook that. Yes, it makes statements that make me cringe like “When you describe the meaning the empowered birth holds for you, others will find it difficult to argue with you,” because, well, that’s just a pipe dream. And, okay, it suggests that people who are against empowered birth are probably illogical, but “not bad” people- which is certain to get others to rush to their cause- but this isn’t what bothers me, either.

What bothers me is the fact that it never once suggests to tell the f@#%ing “Naysayers” who are against this practice to just f---ing accept that this is their way of life, and if you don’t like it, who the f@#% cares.  


Look, I get it. It sucks to have other people constantly questioning your parenting decisions, from Breastfeeding, to Bottle feeding, to Co-Sleeping, to Natural Birth, but who cares. Why do you need to explain yourself to other people? You’re entitled to your choices, and their entitled to their opinions. Just because we can’t all agree on how to parent our kids, doesn’t mean you have to get so defensive about it. Some people are just plain rude, and single-minded and/or too close-minded to ever see things your way, so maybe you’re just wasting your breath with your calm, collected 5 step-program of converting others to YOUR way of thinking, and what you should be doing instead is just going about your life and doing what you feel is justified for your family? You say “educate them” so they can see the beauty of your parenting choices. I say f@#% ‘em if they can’t just accept that you think differently than they do. 

Yes. Defending my parenting choices isn’t a huge part of my day. But we (my wife and I) bottle fed our daughter, I used the Baby Bjorn, we decided to let our daughter sleep in a crib as opposed to our bed, but I don’t feel the need to justify those choices to other people. I made an informed choice. I stuck to it. I don’t find myself caring how other people raise their kids, as long as those kids are happy and not being abused, so, honestly, if you don’t question my way of life, I wouldn’t even think of questioning yours. But if you feel the need to tell me how your choices are better than mine, I only have one answer- go away. And if you can’t because of some misguided idea in your head that you’re going to get me to your way of thinking if you just keep indoctrinating me with it, then I’m just going to tell you to “f@#% off.”


I’m sensitive to those who take the path less travelled. I know it’s not an easy road to take. But if you’re going to get defensive about it all the time because the rest of the world doesn’t share your views, maybe it wasn’t the right choice for you? Hey, I’ve had girlfriend’s everyone hated. But, at the time, my choices made sense to me, so I just put it on the table: if you love and/or respect me, you will respect my choices; if you don’t, I’ll see you when I see you. I’m just not a defend my position kind of guy when it comes to the choices I make. I make my bed, I sleep in it, and I live my life on my own terms. Look, you can be the 35-year-old that still hides the fact that she smokes from her parents, wondering how to defend it if they ever find out, or you can just come out and tell them and get it over with. Life is just more freeing when you don’t give a sh@# what other people think. 

Now, again, my way isn’t for everyone. Many people do care what other people think; many people do feel the need to defend their choices, often using the same tactics that the Naysayers might use on them. But it’s my opinion that this just creates a vicious cycle with no end. You defend your position. I defend mine. You try to educate me in your way of thinking. I try to educate you in mine. You get frustrated. I get frustrated, and finally we find ourselves at an impasse because no one really cares to see it from the other side, they just want to make their point known. Yes, I know it quite well, because this was the kind of relationship I had with my father. And you don’t know strength until you tell your own father not to come to your wedding because of a difference in “philosophies” on life. To quote the movie, War Games, “sometimes the only way to win is not to play the game.”

But, I’m a father now, and more important to me than what other people think is how I am viewed by my child, and the lessons I can teach her. So while I may not agree with the methods suggested in the above article- the Kung-Fu crane to my Kung-Fu tiger- I’m sure they may work for some, so I will merely say I disagree and leave it at that. I however, choose to go a different way, as this is how I choose to live my life, and the kind of life lesson I would like to teach my little girl. But, hey, you’re free to debate the point with me. I’m just not sure how far you’re going to get. But I will always try my best to be nice... until it's time to not be nice. 






 

GET YOUR OWN BED: CO-SLEEPING WITH YOUR BABY- WHY IT'S NOT FOR EVERYONE


Recently, on a dark and dreary night when no one seemed to be able to fall asleep as my 23-month-old daughter hacked up a lung due to a nasty cough that just wouldn't go away, my wife and I decided to bring her to bed. Now, this was not the first time our daughter had been in bed with us, as we like to watch Saturday morning cartoons in bed as a family, but it was the first time, since the age of three months, that our daughter had seen the inside of our room after 7:30 in the evening. And no, this isn't because we're against Co-sleeping, it's just that we never found the practice necessary or preferable to having our daughter sleep in her own room.

FODDER OF THE WEEK: THE FODDER 4 FATHER'S STORY (IN 1000 WORDS OR LESS)

"GULP!"

How does a guy raised on and off by a single mother with no relationship to speak of with his own father find himself writing a blog for new dads? Well, it's a long story, full of interesting life lessons that most people should be lucky enough to never have to learn. And I won't bore you with the details, except to say I know well enough to know if not for my upbringing I wouldn't be the man I am today: a husband, a father, a guy who likes nothing better than talking about his awesome little girl.

MY MOMMY TOLD ME NOT TO SWEAR (YET SHE AND EVERYBODY ELSE HAS NO PROBLEM DOING IT IN FRONT OF MY F@#KING KID): WHY I HATE A POTTY MOUTH

"What a cute motherf@#king baby you have."
  
WARNING FOUL LANGUAGE!!!!


You try to raise your kids right. You teach them how to be polite; you keep them away from violence on TV; you shelter them from things that they just don't need to know- things that aren't age appropriate- but somehow, through your best efforts, they still end up learning things that they shouldn't. And it's not because you're a bad parent, or a poor guardian, or even an insufficient caregiver- it's because you are surrounded by morons.

YOU'RE SO VAIN (IN YOUR BELIEFS) I HOPE YOU THINK THIS POST IS ABOUT YOU: WHEN HUMAN NATURE AND PARENTING COLLIDE

"No, He Didn't...?"

I don't get human nature sometimes. Why do people always feel like they have to draw a line in the sand when it comes to their beliefs? Does it really make sense to alienate your fellow man just because they don't share your particular views? Do you really need to attack others just to feel better about yourself? I mean, for all our differences, at the end of the day, shouldn't our similarities be more important? I guess what I'm really wondering is, and forgive me for borrowing from Paul McCartney here, but "when you were young, and your heart was an open book, you used to say live and let live," so at what point in your inability to be open to other parenting styles did you adopt a "live and let die" philosophy? When did you become so holier than thou that your empathy went out the window and it became your way or the highway when it comes to raising the children of the world?