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Tuesday, May 29th, 2012
A year and a half.
Whenever I say or type the phrase “thank you,” I instantly assume I actually just said “f— you.”
To me, the words sound so similar.
It’s not that I’m a vulgar person. In fact, my constant suspicion of my subconscious has much more to do my preoccupation of not being vulgar.
My habit of questioning my automatic actions bleeds into my parenting abilities.
Each time after having just strapped my son into his car seat and starting the ignition, I run the following questions through my head before looking over my shoulder at him:
“Did I actually strap him in all the way? Is he crawling around right now on the floor of my car? Is he outside, behind the car? Will I back over him?”
I just don’t want to commit some huge crime on account of running on autopilot. It’s not that I question my abilities as a dad.
Instead, I question my most unguarded moments in the midst of my daily dad duties. One little slip-up can instantly morph into an avalanche; in regards to protecting the life of my child.
I don’t fear being a bad dad. I fear being a good dad who in one careless moment throws it all away.
What if I somehow accidently cause my son to lose an eye or allow him to choke to death on a piece of bread? What if he suffocates during the night, trapped under his blanket and I’m not there to stop it?
It’s not that I’m overcome by the fear of “what if’s?” but instead, like a good Boy Scout, I always want to be prepared to keep these things from happening.
I want to prevent these catastrophes like Desmond repeatedly saved the life of Charlie on Lost in season 3.
Taking this “2nd guessing concept” a step further in parenting, there are so many controversial topics when it comes to deciding what is right in raising a child.
Are you wrong or right for letting your child “cry it out?” Should you regret letting your child receive immunizations? Why are some parents against letting their toddlers drink juice?
After having made a decision for your child, do you second-guess it or are you proud to have done what is right for you as a parent?
There will always be something to question yourself on as a mom or dad. But it’s my goal to make the best-researched and most-educated decisions and then follow them through.
If I’m wrong for letting my son cry it out, we’ll find out eventually. As for now, I’m confident in how wrong or right I am in my decision.
I just don’t have the mental capacity to honestly worry about that, in particular. I’m too busy trying to make sure I only just said “thank you” and not its evil counterpart.
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danger, dark, gloomy, LOST, morbid, parenting, second guessing, violent | Categories:
Deep Thoughts, Health, Must Read, Nostalgia, People, Story Bucket, Storytelling, The Dadabase
Monday, May 14th, 2012
Earlier last week I heard Jaci Valasquez say on her morning radio show on The Fish that what she wished for most on Mother’s Day was to take it easy while she and her husband watched their kids play.
I figured that sounded like a pretty good idea. So sure enough, I made sure we had the laziest Mother’s Day ever at our house.
There’s something anyway about waking up wearing a Smurfs t-shirt that says “Spaced Out” on it that leads to not taking to a shower, which somehow leads to us not leaving for church on time.
We were so slothful we not only were too late for the 9:30 and 11:00 services, but we barely made it on time for the 11:11 service.
It’s evidently designed for anyone who is just late enough that they need to watch the 11:00 service on an 11 minute delay on a giant movie screen in the big slacker room down the hall while coffee is being served.
That would be us: the slackers.
Not normally, though. Usually we’re okay to confirm to the strict and necessary weekend schedule it takes to socialize, buy groceries and run errands, go to church, and still clean the house, all with a toddler in tow, while living in a big enough town like Nashville.
But not this Mother’s Day. We chose to be as deliberately unmotivated as we could: Starbucks Frappucinos for brunch (where we pushed Jack around in one of their R2D2-looking kid stroller seats) and then had leftover pasta back at the house for a 3:00 lunch.
Jack took a 2 hour grace nap which led to us catching up on some Netlix. (We’re too cheap to ever pay for cable or satellite.)
“Hey, they have the show I Shouldn’t Be Alive now on the instant streaming…”.
Forty-three minutes later:
“That episode reminded me a lot of Lost. Umm… you want to watch Lost now?”
It was pushing Jack’s dinner time and we still had the house to clean.
In the likeness of one of those fast-forward montages in an Eighties sitcom where the characters clean up the mess real quick thanks to speed-dubbing, while zany music plays, Jill managed to get our place feng shui enough to feel comfortable while I entertained/annoyed Jack. (Pictured right.)
I took all the pillows from our couch and made a giant mountain that kept enclosing Jack as soon as he climbed to the top of it. Next I let him continually walk across our unnecessarily long couch until he got beyond giddy and delirious.
Then he discovered some forgotten (and dreadfully stale) fruit snacks in a travel-size container in the closet. I liked them better than he did.
At some point, Jack and I gave Jill her Mother’s Day care package which consisted of a card from Jack, a box of black licorice that were shaped like little hearts, and a gift certificate for a pedicure.
For us, it was a very lazy Sunday and what I have written is all I remember of it. But I already know Jill will look back on it as a good Mother’s Day; one worth repeating.
The moral of this story is to be lazy and then good things will happen.
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I Shouldn't Be Alive, LOST, Mother's Day, Netflix, parenting, Smurfs, toddler | Categories:
Home Life, Nostalgia, People, Story Bucket, Storytelling, The Dadabase
Monday, April 23rd, 2012
Jack’s blue “snowman blanket” from Target has been his main blanket since he was born, but now it has earned a regular spot in his daily toy rotation.
It’s not so much of a security blanket, since we won’t let him leave the house with it unless he’s sleeping somewhere else that night.
Instead, it appears to be a fun toy that doubles as a sleeping aid. As a toy, Jack can carry it around for the purpose of being able to play Peek-a-Boo with us at any given moment… repeatedly.
And should he wear himself out in the process, which tends to eventually happen around nap time, he likes to abruptly fall down on the blanket and pretend to sleep.
Granted, Jack won’t actually fall asleep on it. He is simply communicating to me that he is ready for me to take him upstairs to put him in his crib. That leads to a 10 minute “cry it out” session before he’s out cold for a predictable 40 minutes.
It’s a curious thing that he sleeps a solid two hours each weekday at daycare, but how we’re lucky to get two 40 minute naps out of him during the daytime on weekends.
Yesterday was the exception. He slept for 2 hours and 49 minutes; for no particular reason.
We thought we were being sneaky trying to get away with watching an episode of Lost while he napped (it was the one where Hurley finds the VW bus).
But we made it all the way through it, then started the next one, then my wife fell asleep for an hour while I started watching a documentary on Netflix about the life of people who have made a living by being extras in movies, called Strictly Background.
Nearly three hours. I called it a “grace nap.”
It’s a gesture of grace for us the parents; giving us an unexpected break from the typical routine of his. It’s our son giving us the opportunity to be bored; a rare privilege for parents of a young child.
Start noticing on Facebook, about once a week, a status update from a fellow parent joyously proclaiming that their kid slept for a period of time longer than expected. The grace nap is pretty much a big deal.
At least for me, the fact that my son carries around his blanket like Linus from Peanuts is more than just cute; it’s a beacon of hope.
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Thursday, January 5th, 2012
For the past couple of years now, I have consistently published my own recaps of The Bachelor, drawing in tens of thousands of views on my personal blog site, NickShell.com.
It made me laugh that I could make 300 people a day stumble upon my site when they Googled “Is Ali Fedotowsky Jewish?” Not only blogging about the show, but watching it every Monday night with my wife, had become a fun tradition.
This week, the new Bachelor season premiered featuring Ben Flajnik, the Slovak-Italian-German-English (but not Jewish) winemaker from California.
But the magic just wasn’t there for me anymore. Unlike previous seasons, it felt like the main focus was just on how ridiculous (and pathetic) the contestants could appear to be. It was like the show had merged with its sleazy cousin, Bachelor Pad, and all those trashy reality dating shows on VH1.
I guess I’m becoming more morally convicted about contributing to the exploitation of other people; even if they don’t realize or don’t care that the world is laughing at them, not with them.
A switch has flipped in my head. Is it because The Bachelor has (just now?) finally jumped the shark?
Not actually. My sudden disgust in The Bachelor got me thinking deeper. I realized that the underlying issue here is that I’m starved for redeeming value, not only in entertainment, but in real life.
I started thinking about the TV shows my wife and I have plowed through this past year on Netlflix. (We don’t have cable. We watched this week’s Bachelor episode online.)
They included Big Love, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad. In my opinion, all three are very well-written, well-directed, fresh, original, and premium quality entertainment. But just yesterday I realized something they all three have in common:
The protagonist cheats on his wife, she cheats on him, or they cheat on each other.
It made me start thinking about all the good songs we love to sing along to which are about someone getting cheated on. Yeah, good songs like “White Liar” by Miranda Lambert or “You Lie” by The Band Perry. In every genre of music, it’s common for enjoyable songs to be about infidelity.
I may sound like a Republican grandma from the Eighties, but I’m really tired of all this negativity in pop culture; especially when it comes to the way marriage is portrayed.
The truth is, I’m struggling right now to think of a good modern TV series that features a happily married couple who aren’t constantly (even though comically) cutting each other down. I miss Jason and Maggie Seaver from Growing Pains.
Here on The Dadabase, I have written several times about how dads are negatively portrayed on TV. But I failed to focus also on how negatively marriage is portrayed, as well. That’s just as big of a deal.
I miss the cheesy “musical moral moments” at the end of Miller-Boyett sitcoms like Full House, Family Matters, Step By Step, and Perfect Strangers where I was always fed a bite-size life lesson, teaching me to care more about others than myself.
Starting now, I am going to be deliberately seeking out entertainment (and real-life ventures) that have a high redeeming quality.
As part of her Christmas present to me, my wife agreed to watch the first season of Lost with me. She’s never seen it, but I’ve seen every episode.
Lost is the kind of thing I mean when I say “redeeming quality.” I love to see the moral struggles of the characters as they try to forgive others and themselves for the wrongs they have committed in their lives. I love that they ultimately become accountable for their actions.
I love to see a story actually go somewhere. I love to see people redeemed, not exploited.
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Big Love, Breaking Bad, Full House, Jewish, LOST, Mad Men, redeeming value, sitcoms, The Bachelor | Categories:
Deep Thoughts, Nostalgia, The Dadabase
Tuesday, September 20th, 2011
“Purgatory is the condition or process of purification or temporary punishment in which, it is believed, the souls of those who die in a state of grace are made ready for Heaven.” -Wikipedia’s definition of “purgatory”
I’ve never actually met anyone who truly believes in purgatory, yet I feel that the general population is familiar with the idea of it.
On the final episode of Lost, the people from the Island who had ultimately lived their lives for the goodwill of others instead of greed and selfishness, reunited and reminisced in purgatory before entering Heaven together.
For those who are not Lost fanatics but like the band Coldplay, in their song “42,” some of the most memorable lyrics include the refrain, “You thought you might be a ghost; you didn’t get to Heaven but you made it close.”
Most of us don’t believe in the actual place, but for me at least, there is something pretty fascinating about the concept. I think it’s so easy in this life, in this culture, in this country, to feel like we are lost, or at least that we don’t belong wherever “here” is. We want to think that we deserve to transcend this lowly and boring situation, asking the question:
“What am I supposed to learn from this? Why am I here?”
My life has been filled with stretches like that. Even right now, my wife and I are having to adjust back to the busyness of our full-time jobs in Nashville, this time with a kid; which is a completely new balancing act for us. We are having to figure out and work out our new lifestyles and schedules, making time not only for the three of us, but for the two of us, as well.
It’s a purification process that is not easy; but it is necessary. We can see how natural it can be to let your kid consume your leftover energy and thoughts, slacking on making conscious efforts to keep the marriage relationship fresh and engaging. But we don’t want our lives to end up like Everybody Loves Raymond.
Ultimately, we are being forced to mature our marriage relationship. This “forced maturity” is sort of the whole point of purgatory. You suffer until you overcome.
Not that I am constantly immature or naive, or maybe I am (?), but I am always needing to grow in a way that I never could have without entering my newest purgatory.
But really, the more I think of the literary device we know as purgatory, the more it just seems like a straight forward yet abstract way to describe life itself; the condition or process of purification or temporary punishment in which, we are made ready for Heaven, at best.
We may figuratively compare our lives to hell at times, but really, hell is an eternal end; it’s never-ending loneliness and destruction. Purgatory is temporary.
I don’t mind viewing life as purgatory. Until I pass on in to the afterlife, I will always have much more growing up to do, more necessary suffering, and one more level of maturity to reach- even if I live to be 80.
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afterlife, Coldplay, culture, eternity, finance, God, Heaven, hell, LOST, meaning of life, purgatory, religion | Categories:
Deep Thoughts, Must Read, Nostalgia, Spirituality