As of today, I have been doing this for exactly 4 years. That’s right- I’ve been writing to you, or at least about you, since April 13, 2010; which was 7 months before you were even born.
Here’s an explanation as featured in the About Me section:
“Back in April 2010, I decided I wanted to set a world record for the longest-running daddy blog in the world, beginning with the day the parents-to-be went public with the news they were expecting a baby. Nearly a thousand blog posts later, I write a new one nearly every day.”
Sure, it takes discipline and creativity to write a fatherly post 25 times each month (this is my 955th over all), but it’s one of the things in this life I do best.
Even then, my best isn’t always great. In the past 4 years, I have definitely written things I would later, and still do, regret. At the same time, those “regretful” moments also have served as important milestones in my maturity as your daddy, as well as a writer.
On the other extreme, I think it’s interesting to see what the most interesting things I’ve written to you are about. While my Top 10 Dadabase posts are definitely not my personal Top 10 favorites, the free market has decided otherwise, and I absolutely appreciate their opinion and input.
Just for the record, I have still yet to officially “break the 4th wall” and admit to you that these letters are seen by anyone other than you and me; today is as close as it gets for now. (It’s sort of like how on the TV show, The Office, they never really acknowledged the camera crew or the fact there were making a documentary until the final season.)
So to celebrate 4 years and running, 3 of them being on Parents.com, I now take a look at how my fatherly perspective most resonates with the general public:
To my surprise, my review of the recipe for “No-Bake Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls” is by far the most popular thing I’ve ever written. I only wrote it 2 months ago, yet it has now nearly doubled the number of views of the #2 most popular most, which was published nearly 3 years ago.
So I guess I need to review more vegan recipes?
Over all, just glancing at which ones made the Top 10 list, it appears I am most interesting and relevant when I am talking about our vegan (“plant-based”) lifestyle, morality issues, identifying as Generation Y parents, questioning the traditional norms of child discipline, being “cheap” parents, poking fun at the realities of trying to sleep as a parent, planning a child’s birthday party, and spotlighting cool news stories about parenting.
(Plus, putting numbers in the title, like “The Top 10 Dadabase Posts Of All Time: 4 Years And Counting”, seems to help too.)
I’ll try to keep these things in mind as I continue writing my thoughts as a dad in these “private” daily letters to you.
This weekend, since Frozen was sold-out, we decided to have a movie night at the house instead: We rented Monsters University. (Which we loved, by the way!)
There is a scene where the monsters are in a training course, in which they have to avoid being seen by teenagers, who are most easily identified by their cliché phrases, like “nobody understands me” and “whatever.”
It reminded me: You’re going to be a teenager in about 10 years. I guess that means you’re going to feel misunderstood; even by me, a person who is very passionate about understanding you.
That sounds challenging. I guess I’ll figure it out as I go, like I’ve been doing since you’ve been born.
I can tell you this much, music will play a big part in your life at that time. What I wonder is, what kind of music will you be into during that phase of your life?
By the time I was in junior high, the 1993-1994 school year, it became evident to me that “all the cool boys” were listening to rap music, specifically, Snoop Dogg.
As we made our way through high school, rap music still seemed to be the preferred choice of music for guys who I would consider the most popular, and therefore, conspicuously trendy.
(Meanwhile, I was listening to Weezer, Green Day, Smashing Pumpkins, and Third Eye Blind, instead.)
And that’s an interesting point, I think. Here’s my theory: From the early 1950’s until the early 1990’s, for about 4 decades, rock music was considered rebellious by both parents and teenagers.
It used to be that it was in rock music where it was easiest to find edgier subject matter matched with “vocals lower in the mix,” meaning the instruments were turned up proportionally louder than in most other music; therefore, it made it more difficult for parents to understand the lyrics of the songs.
But by the time Generation Y (born since circa 1981) entered adolescence (circa 1993), rap music had taken over the title of “most rebellious genre of music.”
After hearing some of the rap lyrics my friends would repeat, back in junior high, I realized that even the “most vulgar” rock songs I had ever heard, or heard of, didn’t compete with the subject matter I heard in the Snoop Dogg songs.
The way I see it, rock music is no longer considered rebellious by teens or parents. In fact, a lot of pop music is much cruder than rock music; especially when infused with rap.
My observation is that the “explicit lyrics” sticker is more likely to show up on rap albums, or rap-infused pop albums, than it is rock albums.
It seems that teen boys are naturally drawn to the type of music which is perceived (by both the parent and the teen) as the most rebellious.
Seriously, when’s the last time I heard anybody complain about a raunchy, irreverent, or vulgar rock song?
I just don’t see how rock music is rebellious anymore. When I think of a really good rock group out right now, I think of Imagine Dragons. (They are one of my favorites! I would love to see them when they come to Nashville!)
But even then, the band’s Mormon roots show up. Not a curse word in the entire album; instead it contains several subtle spiritual references throughout, but not rebellious ones.
Because rock music is no longer rebellious.
As for now, I am ten years away from finding out what “rebellious music” you will choose.
While we were in Alabama last weekend celebrating your Auntie Dana’s 30th birthday, I heard her say something clever.
It was an interesting, parenting-related spin on a very popular catch-phrase of 2013: “YOLO,” which stands for “you only live once.”
In reference to raising your 2 and a half year-old cousin, Calla, your Auntie Dana’s motto is “you’re only little once.”
As a parent, this new twist on “YOLO” is a simple phrase to remind me that however enjoyable, or frustrating, a particular moment in parenting may be, it’s a fleeting event to be appreciated either way.
One of my favorite TV shows ever, The Office, ended last May. In the final episode, Andy Bernard had one of the best lines in the entire series, in my opinion:
“I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”
I have always been a very nostalgic guy; yearning for the past.
Nineteen eighty-something and Nineteen ninety-something are definitely warmer, safer, easier places for me to escape to, in my mind.
I graduated high school in 1999, nearly 15 years ago. So for me, anything that has happened in the year 2000 or beyond has taken place in my adult life.
My childhood (1981-1999) ended right before the 2000s began, which is why I am the very oldest of Generation Y. (We Millennials began adulthood once the Nineties were over.)
But as for you, from 2010 to 2028 is the span of years designated for your childhood; your warmest, safest, easiest place to be alive.
For you, it’s not a collection of old memories. Instead, you’re living it right now.
And I feel like I’m your host.
I feel like the Ryan Seacrest of your childhood.
You’re only little once. You’re only this young once- when things are still so obviously magical and mysterious.
When animals can talk. When getting a new Hot Wheel car is a big deal. When just running around the room in your pajamas in front of Mommy and Daddy is the highlight of your day.
These are the good ole days. You’re far from leaving them.
Is your little guy’s growth on track? Download Parents growth chart to track his development.
On Christmas Eve, shortly after “the nice man” drove to Nonna and Papa’s house to bring me the 2014 Lexus LS 460 to review, you and your cousin Calla both crashed for a much needed nap.
Under the care of your grandparents, that meant that Mommy and I, along with Auntie Dana (my sister) and Uncle Andrew, could do whatever in the world we wanted to on that cold yet sunny December afternoon.
Given that there was a brand new Lexus LS 460 sitting in the driveway, we hit the road!
At this point in the letter, I need you to start the soundtack, which is a song called “Flowers In Your Hair,” by The Lumineers:
It’s just that the pictures you’re about to see and the randomness of what you’re about to read is best complimented by such an appropriate song.
We decided to hit the mountaintop freeway, aimlessly headed towards Little River Canyon, where we took you in the 2014 Toyota Tundra we borrowed for your 3rd birthday.
I suggested we hang a left turn onto a barely visible side road next to an old fishing tackle shop.
Fate would have it, the four of us would happen upon a perfectly Americana-style, old abandoned church.
So we checked it out, as any young Generation Y parents would do.
The doors and windows were all gone. A “no trespassing” sign was nowhere to be found.
As we entered the church, it felt like a mix between Jacob’s cabin in the woods on Lost and being in a music video for The Lumineers.
All that we could find in the church was what was left of an antique piano and a once comfy chair.
I liked how the ceiling was painted a dull teal color, for no apparent reason.
How in the world has this place been left in tact all this time? No punk teenagers or meth heads have taken advantage of the situation.
Not even a killer brown bear.
Just an old abandoned church that surprisingly wasn’t creepy.
While I was exploring the place, I thought about all the people, who have all surely passed on from this life by now, but who knew that church as a major part of life.
They learned about God and the teachings of Jesus and the journey to Heaven. Those people made their way out in the ice and snow and sun to see their friends and fellow believers each Sunday morning. There is even a river behind the church where they surely baptized those who were lost but had been found.
That church was a big deal to them. I didn’t take it lightly to be standing on what, especially at one time, was holy ground.
So there you have it. That’s the kind of thing your parents do when you’re asleep and your grandparents are there to watch you.
Isn’t it weird to think that, in theory, I have a life separate from you? To think that I seek entertainment and nostalgia and new memories too…
You get that from me, you know.
Disclaimer: The vehicle mentioned in this story was provided at the expense of Lexus, for the purpose of reviewing.
P.S. Here’s a collection of my Toyota family reviews so far; just click on title to read the full story:
(Here’s a chance to, if you haven’t. Go ahead, please. I’ll wait.)
As you just watched, the boy in the green shirt puts his arm around the boy in the striped shirt while he was holding the ball, dusts him off when they fall down, compliments him on his throw, lifts him up to the bar he can’t reach, pretends like he’s about to push him into the water, patiently looks over his shoulder as he plays his video game, recognizes the boy’s crush and encourages him to talk to her and insists she likes him too, takes the “fatal hit” while using sticks to play sword fight, serves him juice, stays awake after he falls asleep watching T.V, takes his shoes off for him, carries him upstairs and lays a blanket over him.
They’re clearly friends, right?
The ad closes with the boy in the striped shirt saying, “Good night, Dad.” Then the dad tells his son good night too.
In those 60 seconds, through play, encouragement, and affection, the dad serves the son.
“It probably comes down to this anyway: The most important things I do in life, and that I am best at doing, are the things for which I’m not regularly thanked. Serving is loving and leading. I get that now… no thank you’s required.”
In a history of commercials making the dad out to be an idiot, finally, somebody really (!) gets it right.
“So, in review, a stubborn, penny pinching, Dave Ramsey following, Generation Y dad like me will magically buy a product for his son if he believes that… the product will reinforce the traditional ideas and principles that remind him of his own 1987 version of childhood and/or… the company makes it clear that dads are helpful and important, not idiots.”
A+, Robinsons “Pals.” You are the official dad ad to beat.
Here’s a secret, Son. A dad can never hear enough, from anyone, that he is a good dad.
To outsiders it may appear to be a sensitive male ego thing, but as a dad, I can confirm that routine, positive affirmation is one of the most effective ways to reach and connect with a dad.
So now, I need to go wipe my nose. I could blame it on the Maple trees blooming here in Nashville, triggering my allergies.
Instead, I’ll just admit it. After watching this ad a few times, I’m pretty tore up, in a good way.