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Tuesday, February 28th, 2012
Today’s dads often have to assume the role of a woman in order to get the job done; not to mention, many of us use vegetables as weapons… I’ll explain how in a minute.
Where did we originally learn those lessons? Super Mario Bros. 2; my favorite video game of all time.
I recently shared 5 ways the 1st Super Mario Bros. game symbolizes fatherhood and after seeing that several random strangers shared it on their Facebook walls, I felt it was vital to explain why the game’s 1988 sequel is even more relevant to fatherhood:
1. We start out helpless and clueless. Super Mario Bros. 2 begins with a door opening in the empty black sky and then you just start falling. How is not that a perfect description of what it’s like when your first kid is born?
2. We have to, at times, assume the role of a woman to get the job done. Yes, this was the Mario game where you could be the Princess and float in the air.
Sure enough, it’s no secret that as dads, we often have to force ourselves to take on roles that traditionally have been assigned to the mother; from simply diaper duty to being a full-time stay-at-home parent . Yeah, we’re still Mario most of the time, but there is no shame in playing as the Princess when we need to.
3. We are constantly going back and forth between two worlds. By using the potion bottle, you could enter a reversed, night time version of the world where you could collect coins to earn extra lives.
Many of us dads feel like we are living in two different worlds: There’s the real world where we actually get to spend time with our families and enjoy the adventures of life. Then there’s the other world where we have to actually work to afford the real world.
4. We are fighting the “dinosaurs” of outdated stereotypes of what all dads are like. In order to complete most levels, you had to defeat an egg-spitting dinosaur named Birdo. Similarly, I feel like I’m still having to put to death the “bumbling idiot” caricatures of TV dads from the Eighties and Nineties who were lazy, clumsy, and sex-crazed/deprived.
5. We use vegetables and fruits as weapons. Okay, so we don’t literally pick up giant (assumed organic) carrots from the ground and hurl them at our enemies like we could do in the game. Nor do we become invincible when we eat enough fresh cherries.
But there’s no denying the “whole grains, plant based diet” movement that we as parents are starting to pay attention to. It’s relevant in our modern parenting society.
We are incorporating more vegetables and fruits, and less processed foods, in order to fight the enemies of cancer and disease; not only for our own health, but for our kids’ well-being also.
It’s no coincidence that the the final bad guy in the game was a giant frog who wearing a crown. The only way to defeat him and beat the game was to throw enough veggies and fruit into his mouth.
This symbolizes the way that as modern dads, we are taking a stand against the “kings” of processed foods (like Monsanto).
Super Mario Bros. 2 was more than just a trippy, off-beat video game sequel. Instead, it subconsciously taught us cryptic symbolic messages back in the Eighties when we were kids, so that we could apply that vital knowledge now in the 2010′s as dads. Pretty rad, huh?
Okay, I’ll admit- once you beat the game you realize it was all just a dream. I’ll let you decide how that symbolizes fatherhood. I’m stumped on that one.
Friday, July 1st, 2011
It’s a big, dangerous world out there and it’s my job to keep this little bambino safe. But I must channel my fears into positive, rational energy.
There is plenty of truth in the stereotype that parents are over-protective with their first child. I know, because I’m living it right now. Subconsciously, I preview every potentially dangerous situation for Jack; no matter how improbable.
I am Jack’s protector- I can not let anything bad happen to him. Like Bruce Banner (the Incredible Hulk), I can instantly turn into the biggest beast of a monster in an effort to protect him. So while I am an average-looking, mild-mannered man, all it takes is Jack being in potential danger for me to transform into a potential killing machine.
But what is most relevant is that I prepare for Jack’s safety in every situation. So that I never have to rescue or save him. Being over-protective means preventing dangerous situations; not just worrying about them happening all the time.
For my 10th birthday on April 20th, 1991, my parents bought me exactly what I wanted the most: Bible Adventures, the Nintendo game. (Yes, it actually existed!) The game was modeled after my favorite video game ever, Super Mario Bros. 2, in that you could carry items above your head and throw them at enemies.
The most interesting (and disturbing!) thing in Bible Adventures was that if you played as Moses’ sister Miriam, you held baby Moses over your head and for some unexplainable reason, if you pressed the B button, you would throw the infant Moses onto the ground…
Miraculously, he would never be injured; whether you tossed him onto the hard concrete sidewalk, on top of a giant mutant spider, directly into a guard throwing spears, or into the river. But I was a 10 year-old boy, so I didn’t let the physical practicality or the Biblical incorrectness of the game bother me too much. But I did have a lot of fun repeatedly throwing baby Moses onto the sidewalk and watching him bounce, cry for a second, then instantly start smiling again. Needless to say, Bible Adventures did not receive the Nintendo Seal of Approval.
Since the day Jack was born, I have always been fearful that I will drop him; knowing that unlike the invincible Nintendo version of baby Moses, my son would not simply bounce and smile afterwards. So now that he is beginning to crawl, it means I carry him around less. Which means I worry less about dropping him, and more about him getting into all kinds of other troubles.
With good reason, I worry about him drowning, being run over by a car, getting electrocuted, choking, falling, getting attacked by a dog, or maybe even getting swooped up by a long-lost pterodactyl. It even scares me to type my fears aloud, even if the last one was a joke.
I am the Papa Bear. I will do whatever it takes to protect Mama Bear and Baby Bear. Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.
Categories: Deep Thoughts, Home Life, Spirituality, The Dadabase | Tags: 1991, Bible Adventures, dad blog, daddy, fatherhood, fear, Moses, Nintendo, Old Testament, overprotective, papa, parenting, positive energy, Super Mario Bros. 2, The Incredible Hulk
Monday, June 27th, 2011
I believe everyone has multiple personalities and different versions of themselves that they reveal based on their environment. But these multiplicities of ourselves ultimately are still built on top of one default personality. My default personality is amazingly similar to the character of Peter Klaven (portrayed by Paul Rudd) in my favorite movie ever, I Love You Man.
The movie focuses on Peter’s lack of ability to make and keep strong male friendships and the difficulty that means for him in trying to find groomsmen and most importantly, a best man, for his upcoming wedding.
Most of my guy friends are scattered across the country; instantly available via text message, but not for hanging out with on a regular basis. And I’m completely okay and comfortable with that. And interestingly enough, whether it was my female-orientated major in college (English), or every work environment I’ve been in since then, I’ve constantly been surrounded by women instead of men. And again, I’m completely okay and comfortable with that fact.
Even here on Parents.com, I’m the only male parent blogger. It is simply my life’s destiny to be a guy who relates to women almost as well as I relate to men. Need I remind you, it’s mainly women reading The Dadabase.
(Granted, my wife edits out anything too masculine or overly male-driven. Recently, she had me delete several paragraphs which went on way too long about the details of a Nintendo game.)
But now I have a son. A baby boy who will eventually grow into a big boy who will eventually grow into a teenage boy and eventually a man. This means that I will ultimately have a buddy.
I will always have a reason to get to do what I want to do with my free time, as long as Jack is with me. Because I will be spending quality time with him while I do what I enjoy anyway (or at least enjoyed in my youth).
Already, I’m mentally working on a list of things I will enjoy doing that also will serve as good male-bonding, quality time with my son over the next 2 to 20 years:
1) Watch the entire series of the following movies and TV series: Rocky, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Band of Brothers, and Lost.
2) Go hiking and exploring in the woods on the weekend.
3) Build awesome Lego sets.
4) Take our bikes for a long ride in a new neighborhood.
5) Have old school Nintendo game marathons.
6) Blow stuff up with fireworks.
7) If ever can ever afford it, take him on a trip to Thailand.
Of course, this is only the beginning of my list. But I really look forward to the underlying male friendship in my father-son relationship with him.
I am adamant on being Jack’s father, not his friend. However, just like how I mentioned in the beginning that we all have different personalities, I know that a father is not simply the paternal figure of his son’s life. Being a good dad means being someone to relate to and it involves a lot of mentoring. It requires good communication and quality time.
Being a father is like being a friend, but it’s so much more than that. Yet it’s paradoxically both more casual and more demanding of respect than simply being a friend. But even though I won’t refer to my son as my friend, I will gladly call him my buddy.
Man, now I’ve got the jingle to the 80’s toy, My Buddy, stuck in my head:
“Wherever I go, he goes… My buddy, my buddy, my buddy and me!”
All pictures taken courtesy of Dave Stanley at Little River Falls in Fort Payne, Alabama.
Categories: Growing Up, Home Life, Must Read, Story Bucket, Storytelling | Tags: 1980's, Alabama, baby blog, dad, father and son, fatherhood, fireworks, Fort Payne, Fort Payne AL, friend, Harry Potter, I Love You Man, Lego, male bonding, multiple personalities, My Buddy, Nintendo, parenting, Paul Rudd, Peter Klaven, state parks, Thailand
Thursday, August 5th, 2010
It’s not so much that I will relive vicariously through him as it will be that I will raise him according to what I know boyhood to be; therefore, Jack’s youth will in certain ways resemble mine. And not only will I influence him regarding what it means to be a boy, but also by what it means to have a dad, based on how my own dad influenced my life. Looking back, I can see that my dad was extremely patient with me and willing to spend his free time with me doing whatever goofy thing it was that I was into.
Whether it was helping me make the perfect Pine Wood Derby car for Cub Scouts, going exploring out in the woods, playing “Ninja Turtles” with me (I still have an impressive collection of those action figures at my parents’ house), or playing Nintendo for hours at a time.
Being a dad to a son also means confronting potentially dangerous situations and keeping him safe through it; whether because he has to, or for fun. And in the process, the son learns to trust his dad to take care of him, knowing his dad wouldn’t allow him to get hurt.
Like when he was leading our family in a 5 mile hike in Mentone, AL and he encountered a Copperhead snake- he killed it by throwing a huge rock on it. Then when we got back home he skinned it and displayed it for all of us Cub Scouts.
And like when I was really young, my dad would put me in a pillow case, hold on to the open end, and sling me around the living room. And because I was a boy, I loved it.
I also would sit up on his shoulders while he stood under the ceiling fan, in front of the mirror, so I could see that my head was just inches away from the spinning blades. He called the event “The Head Chopper-Offer”. And because I was a boy, I loved it.
And I always liked to wrestle my dad. Obviously, it was impossible to beat him. He was way too strong and way too big for me; not to mention he had a black belt in karate. And because I was a boy, I loved it.
It was about testing those limits of danger with someone whose job it was to keep me safe. Ironic, yet necessary. My dad and I wrestling on the brown shag carpet represents what being a dad to a boy is all about. The typical “play fighting” allows a boy to test his own strength and power against his own protector and guardian. And it’s a very natural way for a father and son to be physically close- without even realizing it.
Dads and sons are close in their own unspoken ways. And as a dad, part of my job will be to initiate some of these weird ancient rituals. Even if it means confronting danger- it’s part of the journey of becoming a man. And these types of adventures are a rite of passage meant to be passed down from father to son.
Baby Jack is the size of an eggplant.
Here’s what The Bump says about Week 26:
Let your spouse put an ear to your belly — he might be able to pick up baby’s heartbeat (no stethoscope required). Inside the womb, the formation of tiny capillaries is giving baby a healthy pink glow. Baby’s also soaking up your antibodies, getting the immune system ready for life outside the womb. Eyes are forming, and baby will soon perfect the blink — perfect for batting those freshly grown lashes.
All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:
Categories: Nostalgia, People, Storytelling, The Dadabase | Tags: adventure, baby, blog, blogs, boyhood, Cub Scouts, dad, dad from day one, danger, eggplant, Mentone, Nintendo, parenting, pregnancy, protect, ritual, safe, snake, sock monkeys, son, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, weird, wrestling