In this unofficial post (I’ve already published my maximum of 25 posts this month), I am taking a moment amidst the hustle and bustle of Halloween to remember what all has gone on as Jack has turned eleven months old.
1. Our move back into our townhouse was delayed by nearly three weeks, as we discovered the ceiling of our living room had nearly caved in due to a water leak upstairs in the bathroom.
Let me take you back to my senior year of college. I was working an afternoon shift at Liberty University’s brand-new student center with my culturally aware, straight-talking friend, Anna.
“You totally look like a soccer dad right now,” she said.
At the time, I didn’t realize that was a bad thing, with my faded polo shirt tucked into my khaki cargo pants, paired with tennis shoes and a flat hairstyle that resembled Mike Brady on the first season of The Brady Bunch.
Over time, especially since getting married, I have learned how to dress as a culturally relevant man, not Nick Burns, your company’s computer guy.
So for any dads out there who are wanting to step up their game, I’m here to sincerely help. The truth is, Nick Burns (a Saturday Night Live character played by Jimmy Fallon) is a good place to start; regarding who not to look like.
1. If you are a white man under the age of 40, nix the mustache. It makes you look a pervert. No one takes a young mustached Caucasian man seriously- hence the term, “ironic mustache.”
2. Lose the cell phone belt clip. Just place your phone in your pocket and leave it on vibrate. That way, no one has to hear “Sweet Home Alabama” every time someone calls you.
3. No white socks. Unless you’re playing sports or you’re Michael Jackson in 1985, white socks are nerdy.
4. Give away your pleated pants. Pleats went out with Sears catalogs and Zack Morris cell phones.
5. When it comes to your hairstyle, the key is not to look like a weatherman, who I feel are notorious for having a definite “side part” like the previously mentioned Season One Mike Brady. The truth is, the clean-cut, yet semi-messy “Ryan Seacrest” is the safest way to go right now.
6. Go black, or go brown; but don’t go both. If you are wearing a brown belt, don’t wear black pants or black shoes too; and vice versa.
7. When it comes to jeans, light and baggy says “Hey man, Creed’s coming into town and I’ve got front row tickets!”. Also, do not purchase jean shorts. Like the white man’s mustache, they have become a fashion joke, now referred to as “jorts.”
8. Unless you’re actively on duty in the military, there is no reason for your pants to have cargo pockets. Cargo pants equal “sloppy” except they are part of your required uniform.
9. When wearing a neck tie, which you sporadically should, only wear it with a long-sleeved, collared shirt. I’m sure you don’t want to look like Dwight Schrute.
10. Fact: There is a reason no one ever asks anymore; “boxers or briefs?” That’s because it goes without saying. Boxers.
Passing the Mic:
Can you think of anything to add to my list? Maybe you’ll give me enough material here to write “10 More Ways Not to Look Like a Soccer Dad.”
Last week on Facebook I kept seeing daily updates from an expecting first-time mom who mentioned how excited she was to finally meet her son.
It took me back to a year ago here on The Dadabase (I’ve been daddy blogging since April 2010, six months before he was born) when I was the one anxiously wondering what my son would end up looking like and acting like.
Like popping a quarter into the machine of Made in China toys and waiting for a fun surprise, so I waited for who I thought would be a little dark complected boy.
Now here I am a year later, with a blonde son who is experimenting with the idea of standing and walking on his own, literally applauding himself every time he makes it a few steps.
We live in a world where surprises are often hard to come by. If I want to know the population of Chandler, Arizona, it takes less than 7 seconds to find out on Wikipedia. No anticipation. Instead, instant gratification.
But having a kid is an exception to that rule. Parenting is a moving target and kids are constantly growing up and changing. Therefore, my son is a daily surprise to me. I never know what new thing he may do to catch me off guard- and I mean that mainly in good ways.
Will he finally begin walking today?
Will he discover a new body part today? (Yes, that is how I mean it.)
Will he fight back the boy who hit him by elbowing him nice and hard? (He did last week. I’m so proud of my boy for sticking up for himself.)
How will he make me laugh today? What random household item will become his newest toy?
I’ve been a lot of things since my son arrived, but one thing I’ve yet to be is bored.
Do you think it may be perceived as pretentious that you are interviewing yourself, since you yourself are the creator and author of The Dadabase?
“I do, actually. But I also believe that every time I publish a new Dadabase post, I am essentially interviewing myself; only in a different kind of format. See, I’m planning on starting a new blog series here where I interview non-famous people; since I don’t know any famous people who are willing to let me question them for free. To get in some good practice, I just figured interviewing myself is the best place to start.”
What has been your biggest challenge so far as a dad?
“My son Jack can get pretty clingy with my wife, so trying to distract him with something else can sometimes take a lot of energy and creativity. Leaving the room with him often is the best remedy. But part of the challenge for me is psychologically accepting the double standard of how he treats us both, regarding his clingyness. I can pick him up; he cries. She picks him up; he’s happy. That’s annoying.”
What is the weirdest thing about your parenting style?
“Man, I feel everything I do as a dad is weird. I get it that ‘there is no normal’ when it comes to figuring this thing out. But if anything, maybe the weirdest thing about my parenting style is that I am so normal as a dad. Being a parent is the most normal thing about me!
The paradox is that you end up having to do strange stuff when you become a dad- like make up off-the-wall songs on the spot to pacify your infant’s attention and speak to them in strange Muppet voices. That’s not normal- but in parenting, it is. For once, in this one huge aspect of my life, I’m normal; and that’s pretty weird.”
What is your favorite quirk about your child’s personality so far?
“I just think that in general, he’s a cool baby. It’s not that he wants to be cool or tries to be cool- he just simply is. Like right now, he does this thing where he sticks his fist up in the air when he sees me. So I am trying to teach him to do the “exploding fist bump.” His attempt at making the explosion sound is hilarious! Instead of ‘pa-khooch-shh!’ like I do it, he does ‘rhhrr-ugghh-ahh.’
“The fact that it’s important to him to learn to do the exploding first pump is just adorably awesome. I really like that kid. I really do.”
Exactly five years ago this very moment, on October 5th, 2006, I met my wife. And that’s exactly what I intended to write about today. I was going to explore how differently our lives would be today if that fateful night at a taping of a CMT show never brought us together and ultimately, how Jack would not be here today as the star of The Dadabase.
But instead, I’m psychologically processing the fact that this is a picture of our recently water damaged living room in our townhouse which we are supposed to be moving back into this weekend. God bless this mess:
And this is actually one of the tamest pictures. The rest are saved on a friend’s digital camera to send to our insurance company, State Farm. But I don’t have the right cord to upload them to my laptop tonight.
Truly, I am the kind of person who avoids drama at all costs. Some people are wired for it, like the people on Facebook who seem to constantly attract romantic partners who are destined to cheat on them. But not me. I duck out every chance I get when it comes to the mindset “why does it always rain on me?”.
Is it “the blogger’s curse” that I am experiencing?
In a cosmic effort to make sure I always have something interesting and relevant to say, must I feel compelled to move back to my hometown in Alabama only to move back so that I can learn to manage my finances better, then literally on the move back to Nashville have one of our cars break down so that we have to buy a new car, only to find that a few days after our renters moved out of our townhouse, that there was a loose washer on the upstairs toilet, causing my thousands of dollars worth of water damage?
Thank God our insurance policy was written up right before this happened and that our deductible is only $500. That goes well with the unexpected $250 I had to pay for two new tires on my car last week because I evidently ran over two nails in the road and the day of work missed last week when my wife was sick.
I get it that that trying times like these only mold us into more mature versions of ourselves. And I totally I am obsessed now with budgeting and saving as much money as I possibly can in every way. So really, I’m over this whole “life lessons” thing for a while. I would love a mental break.
We (jokingly?) said to each other if only pot were legal, tonight would be the night to try it. But then again, we’ve said that inside joke to each other more times than we can remember, throughout all the other challenges we have faced during these past few months.
In this moment, I am not seeking life lessons of self improvement and maturity. I’ll settle for mediocre and immature. Maybe I should start watching reruns of Two and a Half Men.
We are strong and we will soldier on. We may be lost and holding hands, but we’ll find out way out of this mess. It helps that Tom Petty’s song “I Won’t Back Down” has been playing on repeat in my head all day. (“You can stand me up at the gates of Hell but I won’t back down.”) My wife is taking this so much better than she should and I think she’s dealing with it slightly better than me. I am so blessed to have her and our son.
Our house will be repaired with enough (insurance) money; hopefully. But my wife and son are beyond priceless. Thank God for them.
*Editor’s note: I am letting my wife sleep instead of making her correct today’s Dadabase post; considering the circumstances. So do me a favor, leave me a comment for any typos or punctuation errors that you find and I’ll take care of them. Thanks!