Here’s the most flattering picture I’ve ever taken of you. (Sarcasm.)
There you are in the back seat on Saturday afternoon, indulging in a vegan chocolate cookie from Whole Foods Market.
You didn’t seem to notice there were no eggs or dairy in your cookie. All you knew is that for some reason, I was letting you pig out on a treat which you didn’t have to earn by going potty at the house.
As for the reason the cookie was vegan, that would be because, well… this is me officially coming out of the vegan closet.
I have suffered from severe allergies and sinus problems since 1992, when I was only 11; I’ll be 32 next month. But a week ago I decided to see what would happen if I stopped drinking milk with my coffee.
About two days into using coconut and rice milk instead, I noticed that my constant sinus pressure cleared up.
Then I became addicted to that version of life. It’s been 21 years since I’ve breathed so easily and have been able to think so clearly. The fog in my brain has lifted, in more ways than one.
I decided that if it meant going vegan (no dairy or eggs, in addition to no meat) to continue my heightened state of well-being, I would be willing to make the appropriate lifestyle change. Watching the documentary Vegucated on Netflix solidified my decision.
Granted, our family has been vegetarians for 15 months now. So I’ve been living an alternative lifestyle this whole time anyway. Here it is; the last picture of us together before I became a vegan. The following day I would become even weirder.
Just to be clear, the vegan thing is just for me; not for you or Mommy.
You don’t like eggs. You don’t like milk. But you’ll eat cheese and yogurt so I want you to keep enjoying them.
Or at least I should say, enjoy them while you can.
I’ve already learned that you and I have basically the same medical issues. The only reason you and I don’t currently still have eczema is because A) I make sure that none of your soaps or lotions contain sodium lauryl sulfate or artificial dyes and B) other than special occasions, I deprive you of processed sugar; even 100% fruit juice.
So don’t be surprised in about 9 years when you turn 11, that you’ll suddenly get this sinus pressure that gets worse at night and any time the weather changes. It will feel like you desperately need to blow your nose, but there’s nothing there when you try.
Son, I hope the best for you. I hope you haven’t inherited my severe allergies and sinus problems, but if you have… at least you’ll have a vegan dad to help teach you have to live the peculiar life of no eggs or dairy, in addition to no meat.
It’s that time of year again, when I as a your parent have this constant worry in the back of my mind that your daycare is about to call me to say I need to come pick you up because you have a fever.
Mommy and I both save our own sick days from work for the days you will have a fever and one of us will need to stay home with you.
On top of wanting to know I can help restore you back to health, I also want to be able to have confidence that the medicine I give you is as natural and healthy as possible.
You know how passionate I am about our family not consuming products that contain red food dye. I’ve mentioned several times now that the popular food dye Red 40 is made from petroleum while Crimson Lake is derived from the powdered and boiled bodies of insects including the cochineal scale and the Polish cochineal.
As a parent blogger, I have a solid track record of denouncing illegitimate food and medicine ingredients in my writings. One of my goals is to actually help make it taboo for any food or medicine companies to have Red Lake or Red 40 as one of their ingredients.
I want every parent to understand where those dyes come from; they’re simply not fit for human consumption.
Companies can legally be vague when it comes to listing their ingredients. That’s why, and I’ve said this before, if I see “artificial flavor” or “natural flavor” on the ingredients list, I won’t buy it; because any ingredients generically listed as “artificial” or “natural” could be… anything.
Because after all, anything is definitely “natural” and/or “artificial.” That’s always a red flag for me. (Pun intended.)
In addition to my skepticism of artificial colors and flavors in regards to what I allow you to consume, I have to be honest, my conscience isn’t clear when it comes to giving you medicine with alcohol, either.
It goes without saying that as your parent, I have incredibly high standards when it comes to what food and medicine I let you consume. I wish I could say there are several brands of medicine that gain my approval, and therefore, that I have actually given you. Unfortunately, there are very few.
As far as a brand that is very forth-coming about being both dye-free and alcohol-free for all their products, Little Remedies is the only one I’ve come across so far.
Mommy and I actually used their Gripe Water (to relieve discomfort from hiccups and gas) when you were an infant. Sure enough, it was the very first medicine we ever gave you.
Even if as an “extreme ingredients-aware parent,” I only represent a minority of the market, I’m just glad to know there are options I can give you.
I will never stop being mindful of the ingredients that go into your medicine, because medicine that has unnatural and questionable ingredients in it isn’t really medicine, if you ask me.
P.S. I invite any other readers of this letter to share your additional pointers, personal stories and struggles regarding the avoidance of artificial colors, artificial flavors, and alcohol in children’s medicine; feel free to leave a comment.
This post is sponsored by Little Remedies— makers of children’s medication without artificial colors, artificial flavors, or alcohol.
As I made it clear in my review of the Robitussin commercial “Coughequence #8 Waking The Baby,” dads are trivialized in media, especially in commercials targeted towards women. One of the worst parts about dads being reduced to just standing there and/or making a mess is that this familiar and toxic concept is so easily received by audiences.
If the roles were reversed in that commercial, and it was the mom who coughed and woke the baby, leaving the husband to put the baby to bed alone, it would probably come across as bizarre to viewers.
But since it was the token unshaven dad, it goes unnoticed.
I think it’s weird in the commercial how the mom and dad are putting their baby to bed together, anyway. Why are they doing that? In my version of reality as a dad, Mommy and I took turns back when you were that little.
The only reason the dad was even there was to wake up the baby, creating a plot device in which Robitussin saves the day. So actually, the commercial would have been better had the dad not been there to begin with.
And so the subliminal message continues: Dads just get in the way when they do show up.
Fortunately, The Today Show‘s Matt Lauer evidently disagrees with that marketing approach. He believes that dads are very important, especially to their kids.
It’s the 30 second ad at the top of this page, by the way.
I liked it so much that I checked out the feature The Today Show did on it:
In this clip, Matt Lauer asks Eric Snow, Executive Director of Watch D.O.G.S., to explain just why dads are so important. His reply is fascinating:
“Study after study demonstrates that a child with a positive adult male role model actively engaged in his or her life is twice as likely to graduate high school as a child who doesn’t and is going to develop more socially, mentally, physically and academically… Dads make a huge difference.”
I get it that not every child has easy access to a positive adult male role model who is willing to be actively engaged in his or her life. That’s why I’m a sponsor for Men Of Valor, a mentoring program for children whose dads aren’t in the picture.
Every other Thursday night, you see me leaving right after dinner and you ask, “Daddy going to see his friend?” I mentor a 17 year-old boy.
I do this because I know the difference I can make by helping him develop more socially, mentally, physically, and academic, just by my presence and engagement as a positive adult male role model.
I missed the Dad 2.0 Summit this year; which is basically the official annual conference for daddy bloggers.
Conveniently, The New York Timespublished an article on their website a few days ago, which does a great job of filling me in on the conversations that took place there without me.
While I wish I would have known about Dad 2.0 Summit beforehand, because I totally would have flown out to Houston to been a part of it as I am now marking my calendar for next year, at the same time it sort of sounds like the main takeaway from Dad 2.0 is the same point I have been writing about for years now on The Dadabase:
Dads don’t want to be seen as idiots who make messes and who are sub-par parents.
It’s subtle, yet very present in media. I feel that there are still too many companies getting it wrong. Allow me to critique the Robitussin commercial featured at the top of this post, for example.
Of this 17 second commercial, the first 2 seconds are done right.
We are introduced to a mom and dad who are together putting their baby to sleep. They lovingly look at each other as if to mutually say, “I love you and our new addition to our family.”
But then, from 0:03 to 0:06, the dad coughs, waking the baby and earning a frustrated and disapproving look from his wife. By 0:07, we see the dad give his wife a pat on the back right before he walks away to go grab some Robitussin for his cough, seen from 0:10 to 0:12.
There is some resolve by 0:13, when the dad returns, this time not coughing, as the mom is able to lay down the now sleeping baby in the crib.
Okay, so that commercial wasn’t horrible, but it needs some revisions to earn the respect of dads like me.
If they had to make it to where the dad coughs and wakes up the baby, he could have appeared to be less of a [jerk] if, when he came back from taking the Robitussin, he took the baby from his wife, allowing her to go back to bed, then putting the baby to sleep himself.
When you really consider the role of the dad in this commercial, all he really did besides just stand there, was that he made life harder for his wife.
And seriously, pause this commercial on 0:05. Check out the look on the wife’s face…
No husband ever wants to receive that look from his wife.
But when I see a commercial like this, I am not offended, but I do think, “There’s just another dad-bashing commercial feeding into concept that the housewife desperately needs another product because of the mess her husband made.”
Part of my passion as a daddy blogger is attempting to make it taboo for dads to be portrayed as the classic idiot in ads. I’m not even asking to be seen as the hero. I’ll take neutral at this point.
Since The Lorax appeared on Netflix Instant last month, our family has watched it enough times that you now request Mommy and I to sing the Thneedville song as your nightly lullaby.
Needless to say, it is currently our family’s favorite movie!
Granted, The Lorax movie is based on the 1971 Dr. Seuss book.
You should note that when talking about a movie based on a book, the cliche response you’re supposed to give is, “The book was so much better than the movie!”
To be honest, I’m a visual person, so I pretty much always prefer the movie over the book.
Unsurprisingly, I prefer the 2012 movie version of The Lorax over the 1971 book version it is based on. However, my reason isn’t simply because of the impressive 3-D animation. A lot of it is just that I prefer comedy over tragedy…
I had an art professor in college who explained the difference between tragedy and comedy this way:
In a tragedy, the beloved main character is removed or rejected from his society. In a comedy, an outcast is accepted by his society and becomes the beloved main character.
By that definition, the book version of The Lorax by Dr. Seuss is a tragedy.
The story ends with the Lorax literally kicking himself out of the city, after the Once-ler and his family cut down all the Truffula trees and all the sick and dying animals are forced to migrate elsewhere.
But in the movie version, the Lorax returns because the Once-ler shares the last Truffula seed with a boy named Ted, who decides to plant it in the middle of the city. Therefore, the movie is a comedy.
If the exact story line of the book version were simply stretched out into a 90 minute format, that would be one dark and depressing kids’ movie.
So instead, the movie version of The Lorax basically serves as the sequel to the book, with the original story line intertwined as a sort of dual plot.
The movie begins a couple of generations after where the book leaves off, with this hilarious over-the-top musical intro; which again, is the lullaby you request each night:
It’s interesting to me that the people of Thneedville are very happy to live in their plastic version of reality, where there are no living trees or plants. The city is essentially owned by a zillionaire named Aloysius O’Hare, who sells them fresh air; which they seem to be grateful for.
Whereas the book was a warning against the depletion of natural resources and the pollution of our environment, the movie focuses more on the bizarre aftermath, which is consumerism based on convenience over what is natural and healthy.
Though it’s probably easily overlooked, I think this is one of the most interesting and subtle lines of the Thneedville song:
“We thank the Lord for all we’ve got, including this brand-new parking lot!”
The people of Thneedville are dependent on resources which are manufactured and processed, while they seem oblivious to and far-removed from the natural resources that God provided for them in the first place… which are actually located outside of their city, like plants that produce fresh air.
That’s not to say parking lots are evil, but the movie is clearly a parable of modern day America; especially in regards to not questioning where our products come from.
To think, there are now clever mainstream food brands like Chobani and Annie’s Homegrown which are making it clear to the consumer on their labeling that their products contain only natural ingredients; no artificial colors or flavors derived from animal bi-products or petroleum. Little Remedies is the same way with their children’s medicine.
It’s a mix between sad and funny that it’s so normal for me to expect products to be fake now, unless otherwise labeled so.
I feel that ultimately, The Lorax movie challenges viewers to decide for themselves if and how they are being represented as residents of Thneedville.
The movie is not simply about “going green” or saving trees. Its message is focused on returning to a version of life that is based on what is real, natural, and non-toxic.
Thneedville’s citizens had to decide whether to allow the last Truffula seed to be planted or to keep depending on having to buy fresh air.
Turns out, that’s a decision we have to make for ourselves everyday, in some form or another.