Avoiding Generation Meh

I was listening to the radio the other morning, as I do most mornings at work. I tend to listen to sports-talk radio while I sit at my desk and slag away at my mindless job. Like many people here in the DC area, I am a transplant from another (and frankly more awesome) part of the country. I hail from the heaven on Earth known as San Diego, CA, but that’s not really part of the story, I just like saying it.
I listen to a show in the mornings called the Sports Junkies. While the show is obviously geared around sports, the four guys who host the show bring a lot of pop culture and other aspects of life into the format to help reach a broader range of listeners. All four hosts are also married and have kids, which anyone knows about radio shtick, helps tremendously with anecdotes and jokes.
The majority of the jokes and humor are obviously geared towards the main demographic of the show (which I fall into), the male 18-45 range we hear so much about in entertainment. I just realized as I typed that how much closer I am to one side of that demo than the other; yikes, lol. And while I normally laugh along and write off most of the jokes about their wives and kids and normal shtick, one topic that was discussed on a recent show kind of grabbed me, and hasn’t let go.
On a recent show the men were joking and wondering if their kids (all who have grown up in what some would call a fairly cushy life due to their father’s decent fame in the radio industry, and thus sizable paychecks) did really possess the necessary life skills to “make it” if they were gone. One of the foursome joked/lamented that his son lays around all day on weekends and complains about being bored, all the while having all the trappings of iPads and iPhones, video games and every other piece of media entertainment readily at his fingertips. Another talked about how his kids don’t know what it feels like to sit in regular seats at sporting event as they have grown up around the free box seats and hook-ups their dads get via their local celebrity status. And finally all the men joked (or as it is in the DC slang “jonin”) on another member of the show because he discourages his son to wash his own car, and instead take it to a car wash to have someone else do it.
Again, all the comments were made in jest; however, there was a very real common thread in the jokes, and that was that their kids have all grown up soft, and have no life skills. Now, it wasn’t necessarily the fact that their kids were being depicted as lazy that stuck with me, or the fact that this can be said for a lot of kids these days; as technology advances we as a society creep closer to the couch; soon we’re all going to look like the people on Wall-E. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, look it up.
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What got me was a comment made by one of the hosts. He claimed that while he hated to see his son lay around all day and complain to be bored, and even doubts his kid knows how to make a sandwich (SAY WHAT?!?), he didn’t really hold it against him because he himself is not a “manly-man” and didn’t really know, or even want to teach his son how to be a man.
OK, I’m going to leave the “how to be a man” comment for another time, because that phrase, #1 – pisses me off, and #2 – is probably a series of posts within itself. However; what I will talk about is how we, as fathers, or even mothers, let our kids just float along in life because we may not feel ourselves that we are “manly enough” to teach them life skills. I mean, isn’t that the definition of parenting; to teach our children to eventually be functioning adults some day? Isn’t that what you signed up for when you decided to procreate?
Look, I kind of get where that thought process can come from, as I was raised in a one parent household. And it’s not like my mom was a loving/nurturing/supportive person either. My mother’s parenting technique would make growing up with the Lannister’s like a cake-walk.
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If you don’t know who the Lannister’s are; I mean what are you doing with your life?
But despite my upbringing, I still learned to survive. Granted, I don’t really know how to sew, or even really change the oil on my car, but I do know basic life skills like cooking, cleaning, mowing the lawn, and even changing a flat tire; all skills that each member of the show joked/lamented that their kids knew nothing about.
Why is this funny? Why is it funny to watch the generations that we are responsible for raising and teaching, flounder and struggle with the life’s most basic skills?
Look, I by no means see myself as a manly-man. Or at least not how manly-men have been depicted in the media for many, many years. But, I am someone’s dad, and I am someone’s husband, and that, in and of itself is enough of a driving force for me to want to know things; to gain knowledge on how to survive and provide, and furthermore to pass along that knowledge to my son.
I refuse to accept that my son, and any future children, should be allowed to lay around all day and do nothing with themselves. I pray for my son’s sake that he never says the phrase, “I’m bored” to me while growing up because I will simply explain to him how stupid that sounds. I saw comedian Louis CK on some late night talk show some time back, and explained what he said to his daughters when they said they are bored to him. He said, “’I’m bored’ is a useless thing to say. I mean, you live in a great, big, vast world that you’ve seen none percent of. Even the inside of your own mind is endless; it goes on forever, inwardly, do you understand? The fact that you’re alive is amazing, so you don’t get to say ‘I’m bored.’”
Like I said, I know most of what the guys on the Sports Junkies were saying was meant to be light-hearted and semi-self-deprecating, but it’s at times like that, when people least expect they’re being vulnerable, that truth leaks out. I would venture to guess that many parents feel the exact same way about their kids as the guys were joking about. And instead of going on and correcting that by gaining knowledge themselves to pass on to their kids, they just sit back and watch a whole generation begin to fade away into the vast nothingness that is technology.

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16 Month Check-In

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What’s New With You:
It’s been kind of a slow month by your standards buddy. But there has still been plenty to celebrate. While you’ve never been the prototypical baby when it comes to teething (i.e. crying out of control), you still don’t do discomfort real well. Over this last weekend you were SUPER-cranky for Mom and Dad. We were pretty dumb-founded by this because you’ve been in a pretty awesome mood lately. Mommy later spied another molar pushing its way through your little gums. I’d be pissed too.

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Mom and Dad have been pushing hard to get out of all the boxes still sitting around the house, and you love to dig through them and toss their contents all over the place….so, thanks for that

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You love to explore your new house.

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You’ve become quite the big helper when Dad is building something or fixing something around the house.
Learning, learning, learning:

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You’re really getting this whole walking thing buddy. Once you started moving; you haven’t stopped. You still love to climb the stairs, and in fact you still keep Mom and Dad on their toes when you sprint for the stairs and get half way up before we can reach you. You’re starting to show signs of wanting to pull yourself up on furniture, but thank goodness our couches are still a bit too high for you because I don’t think I’m quite ready for all that yet. Your speech patterns are starting to develop too. You’ve learned a couple of words to date. You’ve saying “Uh Oh” for a few months now, but your new favorite word is “NO,” and boy do you love to say it to Mom and Dad a lot….wonder where you learned that from. You’ve also started experimenting with a few other words like “Door, Sock….and Mine.” The last one we’re not super hip on because you are well aware of what “Mine” means.
These are the moments to remember:

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The last two Mother’s Days you’ve shown a habit of debuting some new/sweet skill that just makes Mommy’s day. Trust me kiddo, keep that going in the coming years; it will only help you in the long run. Last year it was the genuine laugh that pushed Mommy to tears of joy; this year’s trick; giving Mommy a kiss upon request. Mommy was simply over the moon when she asked you for a kiss and you ran up and gave her a big kiss on the cheek.

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Oh, and you know exactly the kind of gifts Mommy loves. Way to One-Up your Dad bro, lol

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Unfortunately buddy this month had some bummer moments too. You got really sick with a double ear infection and strep throat. Daddy especially loved it when the doctor told him kids can’t get strep throat, right as your results came back as not only positive for strep, but over the top positive. You slept a lot; so much that Mommy and Daddy were really scared. But, once you got your meds, you felt so much better.
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What’s on the menu:

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We’ve found out that you love chicken noodle soup…and that’s pretty much all you want to eat. This has proven to be both awesome and trying for Mom and Dad.
Likes:

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You’re likes are pretty much the same. Walking is your #1 favorite thing to do. But most of all you want to go outside all the time. Mom loves this about you. She loves to be outside.

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You love to connect with your peeps via social networking. Or maybe you’re the E-Trade baby and we didn’t know it. Can you give Mom and Dad some stock tips?
Dislikes:
You clearly do not like to be told what to do. Certainly you don’t like being to you can’t do something, and you are pretty good at expressing your displeasure about it.
Adventures:
While it might have been a “slow” month, we got in some awesome quality time together. Your buddy FG came to see your new digs and Mom and Dad got to have some “adult conversation” with her Mommies; we needed that. On Mother’s Day you, me and Mommy went over to the garden park by our house for a little afternoon fun. You had a great time playing with all the rocks and branches laying around. You also got your second haircut (ALREADY!!). You have the same hair as Daddy; it grows quickly. You look like such a big boy now. Last weekend we all went to a fun BBQ. It was a friend’s house from church. Mommy and Daddy got to relax and talk with friends, and you had a great time playing with your buddies that were born around the same time you were. All in all, great month Big Guy!

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Ferris is California Dreaming

I simply cannot wait for Ferris to get old enough so I can explain to him how lucky he is in his roots.  The boy has no idea right now, but he has the best of both worlds in his blood…thanks to his awesome parents (shameless parent-plug, lol).
 
The Wife is from, and grew up in the New England area (Boston).  I have had the opportunity to visit the area many times, and to tell you the truth, I love the area.  New England is so beautiful, and it is all around a stark contrast to where I grew up (we’ll get there in a min).

New England has all 4 seasons every year; some longer than others.  It is so nice in the Spring (all 3 weeks of it, lol), but the Fall is probably my favorite.  The foliage is nice, and the weather is just starting to get a bit cooler than usual, or as the Wife calls it, “Puffy Vest weather.”  The woman loves her puffy vests, I swear.
 
Of course the summers are overly warm, but it is far more tolerable than the ungodly heat and humidity we suffer through every year in D.C.  So for all this niceness there is still a steep price to pay; and in New England that price is known as Winter.  The winters seriously suck a-hole in New England.  Hell, it is so damn cold if you go outside during the winter in New England your a-hole will pucker up so fast to try and not lose any of the remaining body heat you have, that you may not see it for a few months.  Again, in stark contrast to where I am from.
 

butt-clenching cold…that’s what it is

So where is Ferris’ Dad from you might be thinking?  Heaven; that’s where…also known as San Diego, CA.  The reason I said the seasons of New England are in stark contrast to where I am from is because we only have one season in San Diego, and that’s the season of Awesome.  I bet you didn’t know Awesome was an actual season, but it is.  Go visit San Diego and you’ll see what I’m talking about.  It’s like a secret season, much like our beloved In-N-Out Burger on the West Coast has a secret menu.
 
That’s it people! That’s all you need in a menu. You don’t have to complicate awesomeness…..just let it happen. Greatest burgers IN THE WORLD!!

I’m dead-serious people; the weather in San Diego is nothing short of perfect.  You may pine for the changes in season, but all I have to say about that is celebrating Christmas in shorts and flip-flops is pretty cool.  And don’t even try and drop that “Dreaming of a White Christmas” stuff, because to that I must remind of the origins of that song…it was written by Irving Berlin while he was kicking in L.A. on a beautiful, sunny, December day.  That’s why the song says “dreaming” and not “experiencing,” lol.
 
All day, every day

Anyway, I am digressing like crazy over here.  The reason why I’m babbling on about this is because the Wife and I recently took Ferris on his first trip.  For some reason we had the insane  notion that at barely 5 months Ferris was more than ready for his first plane ride, and what better destination to test this theory than a trip to San Diego, CA.  That’s right, we decided to take a 5 month old who can barely muster up enough happiness to not fuss for about 2 hours a day, on a non-stop 6 hour flight across country.  What could go wrong, right?
 
To be fair, the trip wasn’t actually born out of a masochistic idea to cause ourselves utter grief, but actually because my bro was getting married, and I was in the wedding party.  So, I “had” to be there, and the Wife wanted to come along too, and since we heard that people kind of frown upon leaving your kid locked in a kennel for a week, we decided to bring the almost 18 lbs ball of fury with us.  So just to clarify on kennels; dogs yes, kids no…trust me, we checked.
 
The Boy has no idea how close this almost became a reality….damn child-endangerment laws
I believe it is fair to say the days leading up to the trip the Wife and I started getting less and less sleep as our attitudes changed from, “This is going to be fun, taking Ferris to San Diego.  We can show him all around where we first met, and where his Dad grew up.  And, we can introduce him to all his Aunts and Uncles in CA,” to something more along the lines of, “WHAT THE HELL WERE WE THINKING!?!?!?  He’s going to be a monster on the plane.  People are going to try and throw us off the plane because he won’t stop crying.  How are we going to adjust his sleep schedule???”
 
I’m guessing at this point you probably think I am being completely irrational in my way of thinking.  Probably something like, “Goodness this guy complains a lot.  How difficult could this kid actually be?”  To that I say come on over sometime, the Wife and I could use a break to step out, but then I’m afraid the experience may permanently cause you to forsake the idea of having children, lol.
 
I know I make it sound like dealing with Ferris is nothing short of soul shattering pain, but please know 90% of this is said in jest….but he can be a very difficult baby at times, especially when he goes through one of his fussy-phases (which he is in right now).  The Wife and I drove ourselves crazy reading all kinds of horror stories about babies whose sleep is all thrown off by cross-country travel, and seeing how he is already a spotty sleeper, it scared us to death.  But, then the boy goes and does something that just catches you off guard and surprises you.
 
I am already a nervous flyer…hell, let’s be honest, I’m nervous in general.  I’m the guy who gets super antsy in crowds of any kind.  To quote one of my favorite movies, Clerks, “You hate crowds!  I know, but I love gatherings; isn’t it ironic.” So basically the airport is one of my most loved and loathed locations of all time.  The obsessive people-watcher in me is in heaven whenever I am there, but the nervous/agitated person is going crazy, and the latter is usually the one that wins.  So to have the boy and the threat of a baby-meltdown with us was putting me on major tilt.  And that in turn put the Wife on edge because she could see the ticking time bomb that is her husband.
 
You know this kid did at the airport?  Nothing, that’s what; he just chilled.  It was completely unlike him.  I think we completely underestimated his fascination with “new things” that we were in awe as he did not fuss once during the whole process.  He usually does not tolerate being strapped to either one of our chests for very long, but this kid just hung out for like 2 hours while we did everything from checking in at the ticket counter, to going through security and eventually waiting at the gate.  Security was another example of bizarre-world; everyone there was so helpful.  Security is usually one of my most feared areas in the airport as they are usually super-rude – but not this time.
 
And it didn’t stop there either.  Ferris was super well-behaved on the entire flight out to San Diego; he even slept for a good chunk, which we were convinced was not going to happen.  The kid was having such a good time being “well-behaved” that he just kept the whole thing going all the way up to arriving at the house we were staying at in San Diego.  Even after we landed in SD, it was a miracle he remained calm through getting our bags, getting the rental car, and then driving to our lodgings.  But the cherry on top of this entire trip was that Ferris’ sleep schedule never got messed up once.  The boy adjusted coming and going beautifully.
 
Honestly, I believe somewhere in his newly developing mind there is a far better understanding for what’s “actually” going on than we give him credit for.  I’m willing to bet he took one look at us in our nervous state of panic and said to himself, “This might be the thing that makes my parents jump off a cliff.  So, since I’m pretty fond of them, I’m going to play it cool and give these poor saps a break for once.  But, when we get back from this trip…it’s on like Donkey Kong.”
 
I guess I should talk about our time in San Diego, even if just for a little bit.  The trip was a lot of fun, and well-needed for me and the Wife.  It felt so good to visit home and see my friends.  It also felt pretty cool to introduce our son to our friends and family who are still out there.  Ferris was obviously the star attraction.  When I wasn’t tied down with wedding activities the Wife and I tried to take Ferris to some of our favorite spots in San Diego; none more important (at least to the Wife, that is) than the beach.  Ironically, the Wife isn’t even from San Diego (as I am) and she LOVES the beach.  I’m kind of indifferent to it…crowds and all.  Anyway, Ferris looked awesome in his beach gear.  The next trip out there will be even better as Ferris will be quite a bit older and we won’t be so beholden to being somewhere where he can nap so frequently.
 
Ferris will be taking another trip come September when we head to the Wife’s home of Boston.  This is one lucky boy, having parents from 2 really awesome cities.  We can’t wait to show him around Boston too.
 
Ferris was such a champ the entire trip, which was a load off for his Mother and Father.   Looks like it’s never too early to feel the effects the laid back life-style of good ole San Diego.  The boy was born in Virginia, but he’s clearly a California boy.
No matter where I go, this where my roots will always be

Late is the New On-Time


Earlier this year I had a grand idea of starting a Dad Blog.  This idea is nothing new to the blog universe, but it was for me.  You see, my Wife was pregnant with our son, Ferris; the first child for both of us.  Now, I must admit our son’s name is not actually Ferris, but for the purposes of this blog it will be, plus it gives me a chance to pay homage to one of my all time favorite comedies, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, because honestly I think that is exactly how the Nug is going to be when he becomes a teenager, but more on that in later posts.
I mentioned I had this idea of the blog earlier this year to emphasize how long it has taken me to get around to starting it.  Ferris was born in mid-January, and we are now in late March, and I am just now typing my first words on this topic.  To be completely honest, I can be a bit lazy, but not this bad.  It has really has taken me 10 weeks to finally muster up the energy, motivation, and just sheer focus needed to start something that doesn’t completely revolve around the 12 pound monster that lives in our apartment now, and has utterly absorbed our lives.
Trust me, that is not in the least bit an over exaggeration.  The Wife puts it perfectly when she says to Ferris, “Where has the day gone?  Oh yeah, that’s right, you have sucked it away.”  Well, she’s also referring to something else, but you get my point.  I’ve come to realize that during the pregnancy I never gave the amount of time and attention this kid would require on a daily its full respect, but I believe no new parent ever really does.   One positive note out of all the time sucked away during the past 10 weeks is that it has also given me time to experience things; get really immersed in being a dad.  Plus, it’s given me a lot of material to write about.
So, here we are 10 weeks late, but here is my letter to our newborn son:

WELCOME TO THE WORLD BUDDY!!!  Your mother and I are so happy to finally meet you.  There are so many things we can’t wait to teach you. 

Your mom is a very smart lady, and your dad….well, he’s pretty swell.  To be completely honest upfront, you will most likely get 95% of your intellectual knowledge from your mom.  But that last 5%, well that’s where I come in.  The knowledge I bring, while small in comparison to your mom, is in my opinion some of the most valuable knowledge a boy needs to become a well-rounded man.

While I may not be as book-smart as your mom, your dad excels in some very, let’s say, very specialized areas.  Here’s a list:

#1 Sports – As your dad I am charged with teaching you any and everything about sports. I’m going to teach you how the Slider revolutionized the game of baseball; how to throw a tight spiral, and how to properly wrap-up and tackle; how to drain a 3-ball on that sucker playing loose and not respecting your perimeter game, or how to drive it to the hole and dunk on that same joker in the paint; you’re gonna learn the beauty of the triple deke and slapping a one-timer into a goalie’s 5-hole; I will even teach you how to lace in that nice corner kick on a lazy goalie in the net.

#2 Movies – Your dad is a movie fanatic.  You dad will introduce you to the best that cinema has to offer.  You will learn what it means to make someone an offer they can’t refuse.  You will also learn such other valuable things like how one ring can rule them all, as well as how you’re so money and you don’t even know it.  But most importantly, and I stress MOST, you will know of the way of the Force….and the Shwartz, lol.

With that comes the art of quoting movies.  Learning to quote movies at the right time and the right place is an art form my friend.  Trust me when I tell you this, there is ALWAYS a movie to quote in any situation, and don’t let anyone (your mother included) tell you different.

#3 Manners – Boy, if I can stress anything to you it’s this, your dad is a stickler for manners.  Nothing irks me more than a kid that acts unruly in public, and even worse the parents that just act like they don’t see it.  You will not be allowed to act up in public, throw fits in the store, scream “NO” when your mother or I request (that’s putting it nicely) you do something.  Just so we’re clear, if you ever hear us “ask” you to do something, know that there really is no choice; do it, or pay later. The same applies when we are at the dinner table; manners are non-negotiable.

 Now, your mother might try and chime in on this and say that your father’s table manners are less than stellar, but trust me, everything I do is well within the bounds of acceptable behavior…..when you’re older that is.

#4 The Art of Telling a Joke – Your dad does not “toot his own horn” very much, but one thing that I know for sure, I’m pretty damn funny.  Your pop can spin a good tale or two.  It’s all about timing my boy.  Whether it telling a simple joke, jones-ing on your friends, or telling a story, it’s all about timing kiddo.  Eventually, when you have mastered the art of timing, I will teach you the single greatest line you can use in any occasion…“That’s what she said!”  Ahh hell, who am I kidding?  I’m going to teach you that from Day 1, lol.

#5 The Bro Code – This is for you and me alone to speak of.  If nothing else, you will learn of the Bro Code. You will learn the hallowed code of all men that is passed down from father to son, from generation to generation.  This is not optional son.  I urge you, never break the code.  The consequences could indeed be dire.

Well buddy, that’s about it.  Oh wait one more thing.  In all seriousness, your mom and I will give you the greatest gift of all, and that is the knowledge that family, and the love of family is always first.  Will we always agree? No.  Will we always get along and like one another? Certainly not. But we will always love each other, and be there for each other in times of good and bad.  And kiddo, you have no idea how much family you have waiting for you to love you to pieces. 

So yeah, that’s the letter to my boy.  Is it as cool as the dad on the Google commercial that sends his daughter emails from the time she was born; no.  But you know what; this is me, and I’m cool with that.
Our Ferris is a pretty lucky kid.  He doesn’t appreciate it yet; hell, he doesn’t appreciate much right now.  All he knows is breastfeeding, poopy diapers, and crying like nobody’s business.  Like I tell him, he’s so damn lucky he pretty cute.
Until next time.