#ISleepTo Simply Keep Up With My Kid: Beautyrest Sponsored Post

You know how parents love to tell their kids how they should love sleep more, and how much they’re going to miss it when they’re older? I have always been that person; from day 1, I have always loved sleep.

I was never a super active kid growing up, unless you count my imagination. That thing was on overdrive during my entire youth. I wasn’t the kid that was into sports, or running around all day long climbing trees and getting into mischief. I was pretty content just hanging out, and as I got older, more sedentary things, like video games became my go-to activities. What can I say, I love to be lazy.

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Parenting In Front of the Camera: Internet Fame at a Cost?

It seems these days that internet fame is literally a heartbeat away. One shared status on Facebook, one massive tweet on Twitter, one amazing picture on Instagram, or the granddaddy of them all, viral video on YouTube. We’re all just a press of the button away from the whole world sharing our story, our joke, or our snapshot inside our life. And as a society, we’re starting to crave that attention. We want to be the next one to be seen, to be talked about, to be admired; so much so that as we get deeper and deeper into the age of the internet, people are looking for new and creative ways to get that fame…even parents.

I know right off the bat it sounds like I’m being judgmental. Maybe I am a little, but trust me when I tell you I also understand, because I crave that attention too, but there are some lines I just won’t cross in the search of attention
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Dear Son, Don’t Ever Change

Well my boy, we’ve made it another trip around the sun – you’re fifth now. Wow, 5 years old…where has the time gone? I know, it’s not like you’re graduating from high school or anything, and are heading off to college, but I can’t help but look at you, in this moment, and feel a profound sense of emotion.

I know that’s not a big surprise with your dad; I’m all the emotions, all the time. But recently your mother and I have both found ourselves marveling how much you’ve grown; not just physically, but in every other sense of the word…and clearly how much we’ve grown because of you.
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Papa Does Preach 2015: A Year in Review

2015 happy new year design art

Well, we’ve come to the end of another year. And boy was 2015 a doozy for your old pal Papa. I would love to do a top 10 or even 15 posts of 2015, but I clearly don’t blog enough for all that. So, instead, I give you my top 5 favorite things from 2015.

I can honestly say that over this last year, blogging consumed my life. You wouldn’t know it with how little I write, but each day of 2015 was filled with something that had to do with the PDP brand (i.e. blog post or social media update)…well, minus those 3 days over July 4th weekend when the Wife convinced me to go to some remote cabin out in West Virginia where there was no WiFi…and NO CELL SERVICE!! I was convinced for a moment she was going to kill me and leave my body out there, but then I remembered she refuses to be left alone with Ferris.
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I Don’t Get Paid Enough For This Shit!

I love my son – really I do. I feel like I needed to say that, as much of the content on my Facebook page, and some of the stories I’ve told here might suggest otherwise. Being a parent has it’s cool moments (or so I’m told), but it also can easily rival the worst jobs I’ve ever had. Ok, not all of it, but right now driving my kid around has become the bane of my existence. Not only does he complain the whole time until he gets to listen to the music only he wants to listen to, but he’s become the mother of all backseat drivers – constantly questioning where we’re going, what direction I’m going, and why I ran the yellow light. Come to think of it, he’s become his mother.

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Papa Does Preach Year in Review: 2014

2014

We’ve reached the end of another year my friends. It’s said, “Another year older is another year wiser.” Well, I’m not sure I’m any wiser than I was last year, but I definitely feel considerably older; a side effect of having a 35 pound ball of terror that is the Boy.

But, you know, for all the crap I give the Boy about how he’s clearly trying to ruin my life, I have to give him at least a small amount of credit, even if it kills me. Without his daily douche-baggery, there wouldn’t be any of the funniness I bring you on a regular basis. So, thanks….I guess.

I wasn’t planning on doing one of these Year in Review posts, but after talking with fellow writer friend a couple of weeks ago I had a change of heart. We were talking about where we would like to take our writing in 2015 and we could break away from the same ole same ole. I had a rare moment of being in the present and reminded that while we’re looking ahead, we shouldn’t look over or disregard all the awesome stuff that has happened this year, and take a moment to be proud of what we had accomplished in such a short time.

Then we sat there in silence for what felt like eternity because we both felt like we were in bizarro-world after my little nugget of positivity; I felt gross.

So I guess I’m going to get all positive again in this post and talk about my wins in 2014. Sorry, I know I promised you last time I wouldn’t do this again. So here is a list of my top moments (as a writer that is, because clearly my parenting list would consist of “I suck”) of 2014:

Papa Does Preach is born:

After hemming and hawing (or whining if you asked the Wife) about taking my writing more seriously for a while I decided to focus my ramblings on how awesome fatherhood can be. I was so excited to talk about how awesome my son is, and how there is nothing better than being a parent….but then I remembered my son is a toddler, and therefore is more d-bag than awesome, and as far as there being nothing better than being a parent; something about having bamboo shoots stuck under my fingernails comes to mind.  But at least I found the direction I wanted my writing to go, so that’s a win.

The Papa Gets Schooled:

In June I went to my first ever blog conference. It was a conference called BlogU in Baltimore, MD.  Seeing how that was pretty much right in my backyard, I decided that becoming murder victim #4 on The Wire was worth the risk and headed off to Maryland.

I’m really glad I went; If for no other reason I got a weekend away from having a toddler all in my face. The conference was an awesome wealth of information. I met so many talented writers, including some top-level bloggers that I have been reading and following for years. The best part of the conference was that I really was able to come out of my shell and get to know people; it didn’t hurt that I was the only guy among easily 175 women who all wanted to talk to the one dad blogger who came to the conference. My outfit for the conference prom was a hit too.

tux

The Papa Gets Published and Gets Some Air Time:

After the great experience of BlogU I set a goal to get published on the Huffington Post.  Two of the main editors spoke at BlogU and said they were excited to have so many voices in the blogosphere and were looking forward to publishing new writers. I wrote and wrote,but nothing was getting picked up.  I watched as so many of my BlogU friends were getting picked up left and right. I began to get discouraged, but I kept plugging away.  When the Ray Rice domestic abuse incident, and the victim blaming that followed, I wrote a piece confronting this kind of abuse and questioning how blaming the victims will affect our future sons and husbands. That was the piece that finally broke through. I was over the moon excited when I finally got the call that Huffington Post Parents wanted to publish my work.  The Ray Rice piece along with another blog I wrote discussing my views on spanking, also picked up by Huffington Post, led to an invitation to be an on-air guest for HuffPost Live to discuss similar topics.

The Papa Stands Up for Dads and Pisses People Off in the Process:

After being published on the Huffington Post as well as a couple of other minor publications, I started receiving a little bit of attention, and while it felt great to have my writing being read and appreciated, it did nothing to prepare me for what was about to come my way.

In Mid-October I read a blog post on ScaryMommy.com that completely degraded men/dads by portraying them as mindless/useless imbeciles when it came to the labor process of their children.  Of course they tried to hide behind the fake vail of satire.  To say I was offended would be putting it mildly.  I tried to reach out to them (one writer to another) and explain these kind of mean-spirited jokes at the expense of fathers was harmful, but I was rebuffed and pretty much told dads should get over it. So instead of just getting over it I decided the best way answer such an insult would be to write about it and share it with my small, but growing, audience.

The post I wrote answering ScaryMommy’s insults towards dads caught fire like I never expected. I received a ton of feedback on the post, some negative, but the majority of the comments were overwhelmingly positive, and mainly coming from moms saying they were tired of husbands/fathers portrayed in negative ways.  The post was shared by so many other bloggers and received so much attention my blog numbers shot through the roof.  The post continued to thrive throughout the month being republished on many other sites like Huffington Post and BLUNTmoms just to name a few, but when I received word that The Good Men Project wanted run my piece I was truly speechless. Being on The Good Men Project had been a major goal of mine when I started taking my writing more seriously prior to the BlogU conference.  I was also included in an article written by one of the editors sharing positive birth stories from dads.

The Papa Finds A Lot of Love on the Internet:

And lastly, but certainly the most important part of my 2014 is all of you. I started PapaDoesPreach.com, along with the Facebook fan page and Twitter account back in May of 2014 (just 8 short months ago) and they have all steadily grown every month.  In the early months I was so obsessed with numbers and worried constantly about competing with other pages and their number of “likes” and followers, but now I realize having a few very dedicated fans who interact and share my work is way more valuable than having large numbers and little interaction.  That’s not to say I don’t want to grow people, so keep sharing me with your friends!

A Few Quick Shout Outs:

I’ve made some really cool connections over the past few months, and many have turned into real friends.  Friends that understand my humor, my art, my need to express myself, and most of all we all share in the same struggle to get our work seen. Everyone has been super supportive and encouraging, and I suggest you read and follow all the people I’m about to list:

Jessica over at Welcome to the Bundle –  has been a huge supporter of mine from the start. For some odd reason this talented/kick-ass writer enjoys my drivel and continues to sing my praises and share my writings with her audience. And I didn’t even pay her to do it either. Trust me when I tell you, she’s so funny and talented, Tina Fey better watch out.

Ashley from Big Top Family – what’s not to love about Ashley? She’s hilarious, a talented writer, and easily one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.  She even invited me to her big 40th birthday bash over back in October. This Dorito loving lady has shared my posts with her audience on multiple occasions and has been a supportive advocate of the last year. I’m so grateful to know her. If I keep working hard maybe one day I can make her list of Blogs the Ringleader Loves (wink wink).

Teri from Snarkfest – Teri is one of the funniest I’ve ever met.  When I tried to sneak into BlogU unnoticed by any of the ladies (because that was totally possible with being the only dude there) Teri spotted me and said out loud, “HEY!!  You’re the dude! You look just like your profile picture.” I owe a good deal of thanks for many of my awesome FB followers to Teri. It seems our sense humors are very compatible. Plus, look at the awesome prom photo we took together at BlogU; how could we not be besties after this?!?

tacky

 

Vicky from The Pursuit of Normal – Vicky (like me) is a native San Diegan. We met with literally only a few minutes left at BlogU. While everyone was nursing different levels of hangovers from the party the night before, and lamenting our rapidly ending kidless statuses, we shared good conversation over coffee. Vicky was the first blogger to share me with her audience and has been a huge supporter of mine.

The Dad from Dad and Buried – last but not least, this guy. Long before I decided to even start talking about my a-hole kid, I found this guy’s blog.  His rants about his son, other parents, and self-deprecating jokes helped me get through the first year with my son, which was super rough (no joke). I’ve gotten to know DaB via back and forth over social media. I’ve reached out to him with questions from time to time, or when looking for advice.  With his knowledge and experience he’s become like the blog version of Mr. Miyagi to my young Daniel, which brings me to two conclusions; #1, I watch way too many movies, and #2, I seriously need to aim higher the next time I go looking for a mentor, lol j/k. But in all seriousness, DaB has been a huge help pointing me in the right direction when navigating the crowded waters of dad blogging.

Well, this certainly turned into a much longer post than I intended. Thank you all for the awesome 2014; I’m super excited for what’s to come in 2015, and beyond.

Rediscovering Santa Claus

One of my writer-friends posed a question to me the other day asking if I was going to write a post about Christmas this year. I laughed it off saying it wasn’t really my style, plus I couldn’t really think of anything snarky to say about my son pertaining to Christmas. That of course doesn’t count the numerous jabs I’ve been taking at him in 140 characters or Treeless on Twitter and the numerous statuses on Facebook detailing his buffoonery. But other than that, I got nothing.

Then a funny thing happened last weekend. As I watched the Wife and the Boy hang decorations on our mini table-top tree, I started getting a little mushy. Seeing him so excited to hang little ornament after little ornament, it got me thinking about the holidays and all the traditions and symbols that surround the Christmas season.

I was talking with a coworker just a few days later, when the topic of Santa Claus came up. They asked me if I had taken my son to get his picture taken with the jolly fat man in the red suit, to which I replied, “Actually no. He’s almost 3 and we haven’t even tried once yet.” To be honest the Boy has just started recognizing who Santa is, but he certainly doesn’t know, or care for that matter what Santa is all about.

My coworker went on to say, “Oh, you don’t know how lucky you are. At least you won’t have to lie to him that long, plus it will make it easier when you tell him Santa’s not real.” This got me thinking; why should I feel lucky? I’m actually kind of bummed we haven’t been able to do the whole mall-picture-5th-ring-of-hell experience; I mean it’s kind of a rite of passage for parents, and a tradition. Hell, I’m more upset about the missed opportunity to appear on awkwardfamilyphotos.com someday.

santa 3

Because who doesn’t need some of this in their life, right?

I remember the exact moment from my childhood that I first heard someone say Santa wasn’t real. I was 8 years old, and the daughters of the lady who watched me after school were making fun of their little brother (probably 4 or 5) for still believing in jolly old Saint Nick. They proceeded to ridicule and tease him telling them it was mom and dad who did all the Santa-related things on Christmas Eve. I was instantly crushed, and paralyzed by disbelief. The entire time they were picking on their little brother, they had no idea the kid standing next to them was having his heart broken from the news. As their little brother cried and refused to believe what they were saying, out of nowhere all the attention turned to me. The girls said, “If you don’t believe us, just ask Mike.” Their little brother, with tears in his eyes, looked to me for some sort of back up. Hoping and praying I would scream out, “DON’T LISTEN TO THEM!! SANTA IS REAL!!”, but out of nowhere the words just came out, “Oh yeah, I totally knew that already.”

It’s that memory that left me pondering; why do I ever need to tell my son Santa isn’t real? Who am I to make that decision for him? And further more; what if I’m wrong?

Look, I know I’m a snarky dude, and I like to shoot it straight, but if there is one time I’m going to admit this, it’s now; the Boy is my ultimate weakness. I’m never going tell him Santa isn’t real. Why would I do that? Why would I want to take that from him? Much like any part of life that has to do with belief or faith, shouldn’t this be a journey for him and him alone? Isn’t it ultimately up to him if he continues to believe in the man from the North Pole?

The really cool thing about having kids (and I’m serious; this is the only time of year you’re going to catch me saying shit like this) is that you get to rediscover everything in life all over again. I know what’s it’s like to be an adult, and it ain’t that fun. But everything he’s experiencing right now is off the wall awesome. Every time he finds a pine cone on the ground when we’re out for a walk and acts like he just found the fucking Holy Grail, it’s awesome, and I can’t help but get caught up in his excitement too. Whenever he sees a fire truck roll by and he gets so happy I literally think he’s going to lose his water in his pants, it’s amazing. So when I hear him get super excited when he sees a picture of Santa in a bedtime story we’re reading, and I see his beautiful little face light up I think, “You hold on to that buddy; don’t ever stop believing because the world needs more of that joy.”
It’s funny that it’s taken almost 40 years to learn that Santa is more than just the story of some fat dude in a suit who somehow squeezes his rotund self down each and every chimney, for every boy and girl, to bring them presents on Christmas Eve (not to mention somehow fitting in all the apartments and houses without fireplaces). Santa is a tradition; a symbol of all that is awesome about the holiday season. So what if someone tells you Santa isn’t real, I say keep on keeping on with believing. Would this world really be such a worse-off place if millions of people held on to the belief that probably the nicest person they have ever heard of exists, as opposed to being resigned to knowing their exhausted and cranky parents were the ones behind all the Christmas magic? I know one person is who definitely trying to keep that magic alive.

Cara Day, the founder of Daychild (daychild.org), is that person. Daychild is an educational online resource to assist parents in offering the very best options with trying to connect with their children in positive ways, especially for the busy parent (i.e. pretty much all of us these days). Mrs. Day is an educational therapist, life coach, and mother of 4, not to mention a fellow San Diego, CA native.

Cara reached out to me last week and presented me with her latest video on how to keep kids believing in Santa Claus for as long as possible, and I think it’s a pretty cool idea.

For even more videos from daychild.org check out their YouTube channel

So I say – why not keep the idea of Santa alive for as long as possible? After watching Mrs. Day’s video, along with seeing my son’s excitement over the past 2 weeks, I really feel like I’m rediscovering the excitement for Santa all over again, and I can’t wait to cultivate that excitement in my son.

To all my awesome Preachys out there, thank you so much for reading all my stuff this year. You have made this past year an unbelievably exciting time. And don’t worry; I’ll be back in 2015 with my same old snarky stuff. Besides, the Boy is turning 3 soon after Christmas, to which the Wife and I will be entering a new ring of hell. But for now, have a Happy Holiday and a very Merry Christmas from the Preach family.

Potty Training: The Real Game of Thrones

It must be noted that this post was written a few months ago for a anthology submission. It was not accepted (clearly) so I am sharing it with you. We were in the throws of potty training at the time, and it was not going well. Let’s just say it was crap. Luckily I can report things are better; not much, but at least a little. Enjoy.
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I sit here, staring at you, while you stare right back at me. This is a dance we’ve done many times, and that defiant look in your eyes lets me know we will do this many more times to come.

You mother and I have tried everything to convince you of the benefits of not only using the potty, but of not urinating on or soiling yourself, yet somehow our days still end with a debate of whether we can salvage your undies or we should throw them out. You continue to refuse to use the potty; instead you seem to almost enjoy the feeling of the grotesque warmth of your bowl movements against your skin.

This time spent together has really helped me come to some valuable realizations; most importantly is that you are truly your father’s son. By that I mean you are a creature of not only habit but of comfort as well; and you see no reason to change.
This would explain why you still routinely run behind the chair in the living room to handle your business. Your mother and I, hearing the tell-tale strains and grunts of someone struggling with their daily download, call out to you and ask if you are indeed pooping and would like to try the potty, only to be met with, “OH NO, poopies!” Oh no indeed my friend.

It would also explain why you seem to only feel the need to poop when either we are just about to leave the house, or your mother and I personal favorite, right as we are putting food in our mouths. Because nothing caps off a hearty breakfast like your son grunting like a frat boy recovering from a bender the night before, and the wafting smell of last night’s dinner that would make a stranger think we feed you dead rats. How does a smell like THAT come from something as small as you?

And finally, now I understand why you only want to poop at home. Hey, this one I’m not too upset about. It definitely has made life easier on me and your mother. In your short three years we have happily never experienced a blowout while in public, and rarely have we ever had to struggle to find a bathroom with a changing table. My only request here would be that maybe you work in a dump or two a week at daycare. I mean really, we pay them enough to take care of you all week, let them handle some of the literal shit-work once in a while.

On occasion you toy with us by asking to sit on the potty, giving us just enough hope so when you predictably crush it, we won’t hurtle ourselves out of a third-story window. In a weird stroke of irony your favorite book to read right now is Everyone Poops; and you love reading it ass-naked while sitting on the potty, but you know what you’re not doing; pooping, so that book is a liar!
ede5w
All your defiance and insistence on not using the potty has given me great pause how you might handle difficult situations later in life; more specifically once you have left the comfort of the only home you’ve ever known and are on your own.
You see son, there’s a saying I’m sure you will hear many times in your life which is, “Either shit, or get off the pot.” This saying is designed to help someone make difficult decisions. To give them that boost when they are stuck, sitting there, much you like you are now. It’s meant to help that person accomplish what they once set out to do, once and for all.
You have two sides to this equation. On one side you have the choice to get off the pot, but getting off the pot is tantamount to quitting, to giving up, to not accomplishing what you came to do. Where on the other side of the equation you have….well, shit. Hold on, hear me out. Shitting equals success! That’s right, shitting on the pot is a positive thing, and is probably the only time in your life when shitting on something will be literally viewed as a good thing.

If I could impart any wisdom to you, not only as your father, but as someone who has experienced life a little bit longer than you have, and has had my fair share of shit or get off the pot moments, it is this:

Shit on the pot, Son!

In your still infantile stage of life you have certainly mastered the art of getting off the pot. I would not encourage you to make this your modus operandi when faced with difficult decisions as an adult.

Your mother and I will not always be there to help you. Sure, for the next 18 years while you still live at home we will be your biggest cheerleaders, as well as your biggest kick in the pants to get you moving. But the reality is, we’re not always going to be around to nudge you to make the right choice, nor should we be depended upon to make decisions for you.

Life is going to present you with ample opportunities to get off the pot; to play it safe; to not take the risk. I say, shit on that pot, Son; take a chance; jump off that cliff (NOT LITERALLY, that’s dangerous!).

I tell you this because while you have spent many of your early days (and I hope many more as you get older) looking up to me, seeing me in almost super-hero-like status, I would ask that you not be like me.

I spent much of my youth scared to take risks. I frequently played it safe, and rarely put myself out there. This led to taking jobs I did not like, simply to pay the bills, and not taking the time to really foster my passions in life. Of course meeting your mother and having you has helped to change that, but I certainly regret the time missed and the risks not taken.
Of course, not every shit is going to turn into a great opportunity, and yes your time on the pot will have been nothing better than a waste, but with every time you stay on that pot instead of getting up and giving up, you will gain valuable life lessons and experiences that you can never put a price on, and you’ll avoid a lot of stomach pains from gas and back up.

I know none of this will make any sense to you right now; I just hope one day when we do have this conversation, or more likely when you read all that I have written about you over the years, you understand that as your father, I just want to see you be the best shitter you can be.

But for now, please…just shit on the pot, Son….diapers are expensive.