Yesterday Mommy and I took you to your first Easter egg hunt of the year. You insisted on wearing a hat you outgrew several months ago: We let you win that battle.
During the drive there, I prepped you:
“Listen son, when the egg hunt begins, you need to pick up as many eggs as you can and drop them in your basket. Don’t stop to take the time to open the eggs to see what’s inside- there will be time for that later. Just find an area where no other kids are looking and search there for the eggs.”
The whistle blew and you were confused at first by the hysteria; you had the extra challenge of competing with 3 year-olds because we couldn’t find the 2 year-olds’ section.
But then, it was if you immediately remembered what I told you.
I saw this clever smile appear on your face… then you ran to a section in the grass where no one else considered going.
You meant business. Sure, it was fun for you, but you knew that when it was all over, each one of those eggs symbolized a chocolate treat which we normally wouldn’t let you eat.
After all the eggs were found, I couldn’t help but privately compare the number of eggs you had in your basket to the other kids’ baskets.
Son, you smoked ‘em. You did exactly as I instructed you in the car ride there.
You seized the opportunity, capitalizing in the free market of the egg hunt.
Granted, Mommy and I aren’t letting you keep all the candy you found. We sorted through what we would let you keep and we’re actually giving 75% of it away to your friends at daycare.
As your Libertarian dad, I am proud of you for learning a real-life lesson yesterday; in regards to being a responsible and proactive participant in the free market.
You worked hard and reaped the fruits of labor, but you’re also giving back to the community of toddlers who weren’t as fortunate to find as many eggs as you did.
In this very moment, here is exactly what’s going through my mind:
You really do have a weird man for a dad.
I realize that’s nothing I need to apologize for. After all, my quirkiness and passionate beliefs are what attracted Mommy to me in the first place.
So ultimately, you are here today because I’m not so normal of an American man.
We’ll make this thing work, though. You’ll turn out fine.
It’s just that I have a feeling as you get older, your friends will all be aware that your dad is… a bit on the eccentric side.
You’ll be the kid with the dad who doesn’t eat meat, doesn’t use any products that contain sodium laurel sulphate, doesn’t use microwaves, doesn’t pay for cable or smart phones, and doesn’t believe in using credit cards.
I’ll be that Libertarian, yet law-abiding; conservative, yet open-minded; Generation Y father who happens to live on the outside of what is often mainstream.
To be honest, I only recently realized how off-beat a demographic I am a part of. As I look back through the letters I’ve written you, I see that often my worldview does not necessarily reflect that of the majority.
So the question is, how will that affect you?
Am I brainwashing you? Probably a little bit. However, I don’t see how I’m brainwashing you any more than any other parent out there.
That’s one of the scary parts about being a parent. As your dad, I greatly influence your worldview, whether I mean to or not.
You can’t choose your parents. I’m the one you ended up with, though.
Whether it’s for better or for worse, I take pride in showing you my version of how the world works and/or how it should work.
Ultimately, what I want for you isn’t any different than what I assume any parent wants for their child:
I want you to know you are loved, you are special, and you are wanted. I want you to be confident in yourself, strong in your beliefs, and caring to others.
In fact, as a health nut and vegetarian, if I had to choose between smoking a half a pack of cigarettes a day versus drinking a 16 ounce soda, I would have a very difficult time in deciding which way to wreck my health.
Drinking “sugary drinks” like soda, chocolate milk, sweet tea, and even fruit juice, as compared to actually eating the fruit itself, is not good.
However, regularly drinking sugary drinks and soda is definitely more socially accepted than smoking cigarettes. (That makes it okay, right?)
We’re so culturally aware of the long-term health risks of tobacco use, but when it comes to junk food and processed foods, sometimes we need a reminder that it’s more than just that those things “make us get fat.”
Either way, I want to live in country where people have the freedom to make those bad decisions for themselves. Not just in New York City, but in every city.
It shouldn’t be the government’s job to “ban” junk food.
That’s my job:
I choose to ban “sugary drinks” in my own life, and just as important, in my young son’s life as well. I take responsibility for myself and my family.
Sure, I agree that America is experiencing an obesity epidemic and we need to do something about it.
But the “we” I’m referring to is not the government. The “we” is us.
For more intriguing pictures showing how much sugar is in drinks and food, go the awesome website they came from:
For the most part, reality TV shows sort of disgust me. I think it’s fair to say that many of them position the viewer to make a judgment call on the show’s participants, dubbing the cast of characters as a collection of village idiots.
In TLC’s Sister Wives, a fundamentalist Mormon, Kody Brown, along with his 4 wives and 17 children, attempt to show the world that despite their untraditional (and unpopular) choice of lifestyle, they’re really not that different after all.
That sounds like the perfect formula for a reality TV show where we “normal people” again get to enjoy the guilty pleasure of gawking at the far less ordinary.
But the truth is, Sister Wives is actually a very redeeming TV show, if I do say so myself. I don’t look down on the Brown family at all. In fact, in many ways, I admire them.
It’s difficult not to have compassion for a man who works very hard to support his wife and kids, multiplied times 4, and makes great efforts to show all of them through his actions and words that he loves them.
I also can’t help but notice that the children actually seem to like each other. The bond between them and the way they care for each other is something I find refreshing on a TV show featuring a family.
Perhaps the best part of Sister Wives is its subtle Libertarian message. Much of the show’s 2nd season is based around the fact that the city of Lehi, and eventually the state of Utah, begin flexing their muscles and baring their teeth at the Brown family; intimidating them from a legal standpoint.
As Kody Brown explains, throughout American history it has not been uncommon for the children of polygamist families to be split up and displaced, while their parents are incarcerated. After all, polygamy (plural marriage) is illegal in our country.
So the family moves to Las Vegas, where their lifestyle is much more accepted and much less of a legal threat as it is in the rest of America.
I’m assuming that most of us don’t morally endorse polygamy. But that’s far from the point.
After making it through the first two seasons of Sister Wives, you can’t help but ask yourself:
Which is worse: For a hard-working man to legally marry his first wife, then “illegally” marry 3 more, or for the state to split up this family over their consensual civil unions?
Either way, why is it our government’s job to get in the middle of that? (Remember the plot of Braveheart? I bet the first time I watched that movie is when the seed was planted in my brain to eventually become a Ron Paul supporter.)
In the case of the Brown family, their fundamentalist Mormon beliefs teach them they are pleasing God by their lifestyle. I’m having trouble seeing how their polygamist lifestyle is actually hurting anyone else.
(Obviously, we as America don’t seem to be too much against Sister Wives because we keep making it a popular show on TLC.)
Why can’t the Brown family be allowed to practice their religion, and therefore their lifestyle, without the hassle of government intervention?
Is it because kids are involved? Are we fearful that the Brown kids are being brainwashed and won’t be able to make their own decisions as adults on whether or not to continue being polygamists? Should that itself be a crime?
I say what matters more is not that a child has one dad and one mom.
What matters is that a child is raised knowing they are loved and believed in by those who raise them.
And for the record, my favorite sister wife on the show is Christine.
As far as my son Jack knows right now, I am running for Vice President of The United States of America.
Last Saturday while I was turning on the TV to set up Sesame Street for him, a few seconds of the news was on, featuring coverage of the 2012 Presidential race.
Onto the stage walked Paul Ryan, who is Mitt Romney’s running mate.
It was a statement; not a question.
There was no hesitation in my son’s voice as he looked up at the screen and proclaimed that I was both sitting in the room with him and on the TV at the same time.
Turns out, I am not Paul Ryan and I’m not running for office.
But my son, in all certainty, believes Paul Ryan and I are the same person.
Similarly, Jack thinks that every man with a grayish white beard and hair is my dad, who he calls “Papa.”
From the Gorton’s fish sticks guy to Santa Claus, if my son sees a picture that resembles any likeness to my dad, he dubs that man as Papa.
What’s really interesting concerning my son’s perception of people is the way he sees himself.
I can be pushing him in the jogging stroller around the neighborhood and every time we see another kid around his age, he says, “Baby.”
Other toddlers are “babies” to Jack.
At least he’s consistent. Recently I showed him a picture I had just taken of himself; one where he didn’t realize he was the one in the picture.
His response: “Baby.”
So I guess Jack understands that he is a baby. He is self-aware like that.
Meanwhile, I am Paul Ryan and my dad is the fish sticks guy on the yellow box.
(It is possible to assume I am attempting to subliminally convince you to vote for Mitt Romney and to make Gorton’s fish sticks for dinner tonight. Just keep in mind: I am both a Libertarian and a vegetarian. But man, I do sort of miss fish tacos.)