It’s true. I’m now embarrassed by some of the things I’ve written to you over the years- and I wish I could say I’ll never say something stupid again.
But if I said that, I would be conceited, which would contradict the part about maturing as a parent.
One of the most relevant lessons I’ve been teaching myself is “how not to say things that will end up making me sound judgmental of other parents or to be offensive to them.”
And I tell you- that’s a very tricky lesson to learn.
Ultimately, it’s dang near impossible not to step on someone’s toes.
I’ve discovered that even by talking about the possibility of you being an only child can offend other parents who are unable to have another child.
If I talk about our family’s plant-based lifestyle, it can be perceived that I am trying to convert other people to “unhealthy eating habits which keeps your family from getting the nutrients they need.”
I do try to be as respectful as I can in my interactions with people in real life and social media; the latter of which is much more difficult.
In fact, trying to regularly participate in social media while talking about parenting topics especially can be harder than attempting to get through a Chips Ahoy cookie without eating a chocolate chip.
Therefore, there is now a very relevant Internet meme which features Michael Jackson eating popcorn, stating: “I Just Came Here To Read The Comments.”
It tends to show up in the comments section of controversial blog posts.
Navigating the comments on social media has become almost ridiculous by now. I noticed last week at the bottom of a parenting article on MSN, they now have to offer up a list of “reportable” tags for comments:
There’s now a category for spam, exploitation, profanity/vulgarity/obscenity, copyright infringement, harassment or threat, and even threats of suicide.
With that being said, I try not to offend those in the world of parenting… but these days, it’s not always easy to know who the actual Internet trolls really are.
I just have to tiptoe and tap-dance while being ready to duck and dodge potential tomatoes being hurled my way.
I don’t know the answer, so I’m sorry if my blog is now the #1 site that pops up when you Google that question. But it is, however, the question I am trying to answer right now.
Yes, that’s right. My 16 month-old son is teaching himself to moonwalk. Like Michael Jackson singing “Billie Jean” in 1983.
Over Easter weekend while we were in Alabama with my family, we visited my grandmother in the nursing home. I was standing next to her bed as she asked me if I’d ever seen that “Charlie bit me” video; evidently Fox News recently featured the clip for those who have never experienced the Internet.
My wife Jill called me from the doorway of the room, where she was supervising Jack burn off some energy in the hall:
“Nick, he’s walking backwards… have you ever seen him do that before?”
I hadn’t. In fact, I never heard of any toddler A) trying to walk backwards and B) actually succeeding.
But my son Jack was doing it. To watch your toddler son walk backwards is a fascinating thing, but even more curious was the fact he was moonwalking.
He actually was picking up his heals, then sliding his toes backwards in a reversed walking motion.
So when I ask the question “is it normal for my son to moonwalk?” I guess what I’m getting at is this:
Is he some kind of child prodigy or something? Instead of Doogie Howser the doctor, have I fathered the next Justin Bieber?
Introduced to most of us thanks to it being the game that came packaged with the Gameboy in 1989, the Russian-invented Tetris was the Angry Birds of my childhood.
I never owned a Gameboy, but by 1991, all my friends did. Because of enough spend-the-night’s at my friends’ houses in the midst of watching the Ninja Turtles movie for the 27th time on VHS and drinking Sharkleberry Fin Kool-Aid, I was able to be just as good at playing it as the next kid wearing a neon green slap bracelet over-using the phrase “Cowabunga, dudes!”
Over two decades later, as a 30 year-old dad, I realize that this seemingly-non-fun yet highly addictive game symbolizes my life as father in five particular ways:
1. There is always one more logistical problem to solve. Just like the need to manage and maneuver the constantly dropping blocks on Tetris, so it is in the life of a dad. Driving somewhere today with your kid today? Better hope you packed everything, including a camera to take pictures to share on Facebook. Fingers crossed that your child will actually fall asleep on the car ride there.
2. You must maintain solid ground by eliminating inconsistencies. In Tetris, the more gaps left in each row, the harder it becomes to pass the level. Obviously, we as dads have to be clear on the boundaries we set for our children and consistent on following through with discipline. Otherwise, the whole thing sort of becomes a frustrating mess.
3. Being passive doesn’t really work. Just like in the game, the sky is always falling so there’s no time to just sit back and watch things work themselves out on their own. As I’ve published more Dadvice articles, a common theme I’m seeing is the importance of the dad being proactive.
4. It takes looking at each challenge from several perspectives. You can turn each block around from each angle to see which will be the best fit before it hits the ground. Similarly, if you’re trying to figure out whether or not you should let your baby “cry it out” to learn to sleep through the night, you have to consider it from several perspectives: yours, your wife’s, your child’s, and common sense.
5. The experience is nearly universally known. While many versions of Tetris have been released over the years, the one on Gameboy is the Tetris most of us remember. Not every man has ever played Tetris at some point in his life nor does every man eventually become a dad. But as for the rest of us, we share the same frustrations and joys by default.
Tetris and fatherhood are important rites of passage for a man. At least for those of us who were still kids when The Simpsons was a just brand-new show which our parents were reluctant to let us watch and Jaleel White was on TV because he was playing Steve Urkel, as opposed to being a dancing game show contestant.
Do the Urkel. Or the Bartman.
Interesting trivia: “Do The Bartman” was written by Michael Jackson; though he was never credited for it because of contract obligations with another record label.
Jack has a universal nickname, by default. Both my side of the family, my wife’s side of the family, his instructors at KinderCare, and basically anyone who meets him for the 2nd time, proclaims, “It’s Jack-Man!”. This isn’t a name I go around saying; everyone seems to come up with it on their own. Why?
Maybe because Jack-Man rhymes with Pac-Man. Or because they subconsciously think the actor Hugh Jackman’s name. Maybe it’s because Jack really is like a little man with a super hero alter-ego, in the likeness of another similar name: Batman.
Naturally, “Jack-Man” just simply fits him. He has always had this confident, yet illegitimate, sense that everyone he sees already knows who he is- like’s he’s a baby celebrity from a reality show on TLC. Especially here lately, if I’m walking around holding him, he will put his arms out to be held by whoever is standing across from him.
The best way I can describe it is with this picture from the 1980′s of Michael Jackson holding Emmanuel Lewis, star of the sitcom, Webster.
Needless to say, Jack has always had a very outgoing personality and loves meeting new people. I didn’t realize that a baby less than a year old could be this much fun to be around. The party doesn’t start until Jack enters the room.
I was actually a decently shy kid back in my early years; not able to enjoy my surroundings unless a family member or close friend of the family was there. Not Jack.
He’s kind of like that friend you have, whenever you’re out in public with them, they just seem to know everyone; having to take a minute to walk over and say hey to someone who is totally excited to see them- and with this friend, this happens like every five minutes.
Well, with Jack, it’s kind of that way. Even if the complete stranger doesn’t know who he is, A) he thinks they do and B) they soon will, because he will introduce himself.
Sex sells; so does the idea of empowerment to women.
As the author of The Dadabase, I have made it clear that my mission is to positively re-brand fatherhood. In part, what that means is that I am attempting to undo the negative imaging of dads due to both A) lousy, absent, abusive dads throughout history and B) idiotic bozo examples of fathers in sitcoms and other media particularly during the 1980′s and 1990′s. It means I focus on the good dads out there and that I choose not to paint men in a negative light.
I am equally passionate about women not being degraded in society, as well. Admittedly, that’s a harder subject to address, for the fact I am a guy writing a blog that is primarily read by women- I have to be careful not to be seen as a bigot or a sexist.
The way I am wired causes me to see the world differently than women and I’ve been noticing something I just have to point out. Sure, I am putting myself in a vulnerable situation today, but I am choosing to be brave enough to acknowledge the irony in what is often viewed as empowerment to women.
Therefore, the best and most popular example I can think of is the beautiful, talented, and very intelligent artist, Beyonce. I invite you to watch her latest hit video on YouTube by clicking the pink link below; you may remember this video from when it premiered world-wide on the most recent season of American Idol:
From a man’s perspective, here’s how I interpret the meaning of the video:
Beyonce and a bunch of her scantily clad friends are in a battle with a group of dudes armed in riot gear. In the style of classic Michael Jackson, Beyonce and her crew stun and defeat the men simply because of their hip dance moves, plus a whole lot of sexual imagery. In the end, Beyonce removes the badge from the leader of the dudes, signifying that the girls beat the boys in the battle.
So ultimately, in my skewed perspective, the lesson learned from the video is that women can be more powerful than men by influencing them through sexuality; in particular, by wearing little clothing and doing plenty of body thrusts. (Cleavage shaking is a must!) As for women using their intellect, well, it’s not really about that. It’s actually about overpowering violent, sexually frustrated men by seducing them with the female body.
Challenge my analysis, please. Show me how this sort of imagery is empowering to women. Because in my testosterone triggered perception, this attempt of empowerment to women is actually degrading to women instead.
The way a woman dresses obviously sends a message to a man. I invite you to go to Google Images and type in “Beyonce 4″ and try to imagine what message is received by men when they see the album cover of her newest release, which contains “Run the World (Girls).”
I’ll give you a hint: It’s not, “Wow, I have a new respect for women now, but not at all in a sexual way. Women are strong, intelligent, and deserve the respect of men.”
So why am I singling out Beyonce, arguably America’s most influential pop star among young women right now? Why not point out the obvious “sex sells” marketing strategies of Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, or Ke$ha?
Because people actually take Beyonce seriously. By far, Beyonce truly influences people beyond her music. She herself encompasses the idea of empowerment to women.
Notice I used the phrase “the idea of.”
For me, this is the wrong kind of feminism; it’s ineffective and damaging. Using sexuality to promote the independence of women is simply self-defeating.
Believe it or not, I am a huge supporter of empowerment to women. Knowing that across the world, there are girls and women who are sold into the sex trade, forced into abusive marriages, and deprived of education, I simply see that as hell on earth. Meanwhile in America, young girls are being taught through example by their pop star role models that flaunting sexuality is the key to having power in this world.
Call me a sexist, but I say that true empowerment to women has nothing to do with enticing men through sexuality. In fact, I say that’s the greatest threat.