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Tuesday, November 26th, 2013
Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” He talks about the highs and unsettling lows of parenthood while always being entertaining and engaging in the process. Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is working on a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be emailed at email@example.com or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.
Potentially the toughest overall challenge of parenthood, at least for me, has been devoting the appropriate amount of hours to my job and to my children. Frankly, I’ve been considering writing about this for months, my hesitation stemming from the fact that I could be interpreted as a not-so-dedicated worker, if any of my colleagues were to read this. But alas, it’s a discussion that needs to be had.
I’m a disaster in the morning. Meaning, I have no patience, I fly off the handle if the littlest thing doesn’t go smoothly. And this is especially problematic when you have two uncooperative children to get fed, dressed, and out the door in time for school. And that’s not even taking into account the time it actually takes to wake them up and get them into the kitchen. I’ve gotten passive aggressive emails from their school, more than once. They remind me that school starts promptly at 8:30, that bringing them in later than that sends the wrong message to the children. Well, I encourage them to spend just one morning with mine, forcing a flailing leg into a pair of pants, trying to determine if he’s having a tantrum because he’s sick and tired or because he’s just being a jerk. When I had only myself to dress and feed in the morning, I could wake up late, shove a granola bar into my mouth and bring a thermos of coffee for my commute. Done deal. But now, the very real possibility that my kids will wake up before I do, in inconsolable moods happens more often than I’d like to admit. And when this does happen, I have a decision to make. How much am I willing to allow my children to affect my reputation at work?
This past Halloween, I found myself in a situation at work where I was torn between the responsibilities of my job and those of parenthood. In the office, there was a project going on that required me to be there till about 1:00 p.m. My 4-year-old son, Antonio’s Halloween parade at school was happening at 1:30. I work about 30 minutes from his school. So even the slightest of delays would mean me missing the parade, which I adamantly did NOT want to miss. Not only do I adore Halloween, but I want my kids to look back at moments like that and remember me being there. You can probably guess that the work project wound up getting delayed. And I was left with a choice. Leave the office and risk looking like I abandoned an important project or stay at work and disappoint my son. I opted to split the difference. I stayed an extra 20 minutes at work, tying up loose ends and ensuring the project would get done (mainly by colleagues I was leaving behind) and then literally raced to my son’s school to catch as much of the parade as I could. I ended up catching the last 1/3 of the parade/concert, feeling partly like I’d let both my boss and son down at the same time. My boss, to his credit, encouraged me to be with my family that day. At the same time, I also know that staying instead of leaving would’ve had a more positive impact on my overall career. But at the cost of my absence at a significant moment in my son’s life? I made the decision to say no, regardless of consequence. And I’d do it again.
Don’t get me wrong. I work my ass off. Anybody who’s seen me on the job knows this. But that struggle of balance will always be there, no matter my efforts. And as any parent knows, once you’re done with the middle-of-the-night feedings and tantrums, impossibly frustrating mornings at the breakfast table, the last thing you want to do is push yourself even further. But we do. We all do. If you’re anything like me, you constantly feel pulled in at least 25 different directions, your career, parenthood, household duties, and even hobbies relentlessly (and hopelessly) vying for your brain’s undivided attention at all times. However, at the end of each day, I’m far more proud of the accomplishments I’ve made as a parent than as an office worker. I’ll never be a CEO, I’ll never own a house you could get lost in. But my sons will remember me for (hopefully) being a mainstay in every aspect of their lives. That, to me, is exponentially more important. To read more about someone who feels very much like I do (albeit in a much higher rank), read about this CEO who quit his job to be a more present father and grandfather. Granted, he’s actually at retirement age anyway, but it’s still an admirable stance worth reading about.
Follow me on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.
*Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com
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Friday, October 25th, 2013
Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” He talks about the highs and unsettling lows of parenthood while always being entertaining and engaging in the process. Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.
Growing up, I wasn’t a very popular kid. And like any prepubescent boy, that stuck in my craw. Looking back, it seems absurd. Why would I long to be idolized by people who willingly wore Z. Cavaricci pants and gained God-like status merely for having rich parents? But anyway, it was due in large part to my lack of rank and general absence of confidence that I anticipated one holiday a year more than any other- Halloween. It was the one day out of 365 that allowed me the luxury of being somebody else for 24 hours.
I know it sounds like a bad thing, but trust me, it wasn’t. Halloween served as a reprieve from an adolescence marked by mediocre grades, a modest group of friends, and an astonishingly dreadful track record with the ladies. None of that mattered on October 31st.
I took Halloween seriously, and still do to this day. I always scoffed at classmates who’d show up at my door wearing a football jersey, or worse, no costume at all. In my mind, Halloween wasn’t just a suggestion to embrace the mysterious creep within, it was an obligation to. I always took this time of year as a chance to allow myself to be scared, made to feel a little uncomfortable even. But most of all, have the time of my life doing it. And believe it or not, I think instilling the same tradition in my children will actually benefit them as they grow up.
I also think there’s a great deal that our children can learn from Halloween. Here are just a few of the learning points:
Of all days, Halloween is a day that rewards creative thinking. Since I was so into Halloween as a kid, my parents hosted parties at the house. One year, we even held a costume contest. Try as I might to remember what everybody wore that night, I only remember one costume. Jessica Dickson dressed as a giant Oreo cookie. She took home a prize. I was always partial to spooky costumes, but that one still sticks with me. Years later, I see people dressed in innovative, mind-blowing costumes like this and I’d bet good money that, as kids they were encouraged to put thought into their costume. Fuel a creative mind and you’re more likely to raise an inventive adult that harnesses individuality.
Know How to Have Fun
It sounds simple, but there are plenty of people who need to be taught how to enjoy themselves. Halloween practically forces you to have fun. And you’ll find that the majority of people who claim to “hate” Halloween aren’t people you’d want at your party anyway. Nothing makes me happier than seeing my son lick his proverbial chops in eager anticipation of All Hallow’s Eve. I intend to stoke that fire.
Go All the Way
Halloween not only gives children a public stage to show off their creativity, but it also tests their ability to follow through on something that isn’t an ice cream cone. So if your kid is attempting to put together a homemade Jack Sparrow costume but gives up halfway through, offer some encouragement to get back on the horse. It’s a fantastic opportunity to teach our children determination, while showing them the tangible fruits of their labor at the same time.
Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously
This might be the greatest lesson that Halloween teaches our kids (and adults too, quite frankly). It reminds us that, at the end of the day, we’re all kids yearning to play dress-up, if even for one day a year. However, those of you with daughters dressing like sexy devils or kittens likely don’t embrace this whole dress-up concept. Can’t blame you.
So, next Thursday, when you’re trying to keep up with your proud son rocking the homemade Jack Sparrow costume, know that by embracing Halloween, you’re enabling their individuality, and that’s the best treat of all.
My son, Antonio, at age 2 1/2, standing in front of the first door at which he “trick-or-treated” on his own
What are your memories of Halloween, as a kid or an adult? Join the conversation by adding a comment below!
Not sure what you’ll be yet? Use our Halloween Costume Finder, and then buy your favorite Halloween costumes at Shop Parents.
* Halloween photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com
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Friday, November 9th, 2012
Just a fun, light post of our Halloween here in LA.
We had friends who came in from Brooklyn for the Wreck-It Ralph premiere and got stuck because of Hurricane Sandy. More kids=more pumpkins to carve!
Yup. That’s Fia’s Dad (below). My husband. Looking, well, very Jack White.
Our friends who actually loaned us our costumes! John, Henrik and Jenny Strauss.
Fia at her preschool Halloween party with friend Cece…and her little brother Emmett the cutest pumpkin of all!
She was a butterfly….
With best friend Teddy comparing candy bags…
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Wednesday, October 31st, 2012
Cynthia Roelle, mom to a 2-year-old daughter and award-winning photographer, shares her stories on how to entertain her baby and shows us through pictures how fun it can be!
Sometime in early October my husband and I started talking up Halloween. We were hoping to get our daughter excited about knocking on strangers’ doors and soliciting candy. She’ll do just about anything for M&Ms so it wasn’t that hard of a sell. At least in concept (the concept being chocolate, not ghosts and goblins).
However, getting her to say “Halloween” is a different story. It has taken considerable effort. It’s not that she can’t pronounce it–she can. But for weeks she insisted on calling it McQueen. As in, Lightning McQueen, which is funny because she has never even seen Cars. She has just heard her 3-year-old twin cousins jabber incessantly about McQueen and Mader. They’re as infatuated with those little guys as our daughter is with Elmo. But I digress…
We spent Monday and Tuesday trapped inside by the rain from Hurricane Sandy. Our pumpkins sat inside the foyer, brought in from the porch where high winds threatened to launch them into orbit. They practically begged us to give them faces. And so began our daughter’s introduction to the fine Halloween tradition of carving the jack-o’-lantern. In the midst of the biggest storm the Atlantic Ocean has ever seen.
As we soon found out, there’s not a whole lot a 2-year-old can do to actively participate in the pumpkin carving process. I mean, it’s not like you can arm her with a knife. Or even a sharpie for that matter. She may have been able to scoop out the seeds except she refused to stick her hands in the pumpkin. However she had no qualms about sticking her entire head inside the pumpkin. I guess the best view is from the inside out.
When it was all said and done she seemed pretty pleased with our newly carved jack-o’-lantern. She planted a big kiss on his cheek and declared: That’s a pumpkin! Who can argue?
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Tuesday, November 1st, 2011
Okay, technically her first Halloween was last year, but this is the first time she trick or treated. We went to this great street nearby in Silver Lake, where they close off traffic and the homeowners go all out with decorations, themes, etc.
Fia was Abby, from Sesame Street. But to be diplomatic, she carried an Elmo basket.
She didn’t understand that once you put the candy in your basket, you get to keep it. So at every house, she tried to give her candy back. Was really sweet actually.
We managed to do the whole block and get back home in less than 45 minutes, which was perfect for bedtime. And, it was a beautiful night. What a treat for us. We barely dodged that winter storm in New York. I hear some places in New Jersey had to cancel Halloween. Boo—Hoo.
Show me your pictures everyone. Want to see!
With Daddy and Grandma
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Elmo Halloween Basket Or Babushka?