How Are Parents Voting for Donald Trump?


“I don’t like him. He’s STUPID!”

My oldest son, 7, was having some problems getting along with another kid at camp. Frustrated by the inability and unwillingness of the other boy to agree on the rules for a new game they had created, Will waited until camp was over and we were in the car to lash out and vent his anger which had been building all week.

My son is a good kid. A very good kid, actually. But he has very specific and strong opinions as to how things should work, and when someone opposes those beliefs he gets instantly frazzled. As soon as he called the other boy stupid in front of me, he knew he was a goner. And so was the beloved iPad, taken away for two days. Because in our house, frustration with someone does not give you the right to call them names and belittle them. There are better and more productive ways to deal with a problem than throwing a tantrum and calling everyone who disagrees with you stupid. Because manners are important, as is treating other people with respect.

This lesson, which most people begin learning as toddlers, has apparently escaped the current Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump.

Trump has surged ahead in polls recently despite a string of incendiary comments and verbal gaffes that would sink most candidates in a heartbeat. “They’re rapists,” is what he said about illegal immigrants from Mexico. “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured,” were the words he had for Sen. John McCain, who was held prisoner and tortured for five years during Vietnam. He also wants to do away with the 14th amendment of the US Constitution, which grants birthright citizenship to those born on US soil.

And when asked about his history of making misogynistic comments during a recent presidential debate, Trump joked that he only referred to actress Rosie O’Donnell in that manner. I repeat, the leading Republican candidate for this country’s highest elected office called a woman (who wasn’t at the debate or part of it in any way) a fat, disgusting, slob on national television. But that wasn’t even the most horrifying part of the night. Do you know what was?

The applause following his comment.

Trump called Rosie O’Donnell a fat, disgusting animal and hundreds of people in attendance began cheering for him. Cheering, hooting, and hollering for a man publicly making misogynistic comments and fat-shaming a woman who wasn’t even there to defend herself.

Surely some of those people celebrating Trump’s misogyny are parents themselves. Hell, I know Trump supporters in real life who are parents. I know for a fact they would NEVER let their kids get away with calling someone a “fat pig” in public, and there would be swift consequences if it were to happen.

And yet they’re voting for someone who does this kind of thing routinely. It’s fundamentally baffling.

My son made a disparaging comment about someone in the privacy of our car where no one else could hear, and he still got in trouble. Yet Donald Trump engages in despicable personal attacks on the grandest of stages, and gets a bump in the polls following each disgusting display? Something isn’t right.

I hear so many people talk about kids today and how they have no respect. No manners. No discipline. And sure, some don’t. But some of these same people are voting for Trump, who sees respect for others and decency in general as a weakness. They like him because he’s “un-PC” and “says what’s on his mind.” Except they’re forgetting a few things.

Saying everything that’s on your mind at any given time is not a sign of strength, it’s a sign you lack self-discipline, social awareness, diplomacy, and manners. And calling Rosie O’Donnell a fat pig or all illegal Mexican immigrants rapists isn’t a case of being courageously politically incorrect — it’s just being mean-spirited, cruel, and wrong.

If Donald Trump can’t be better than this, then we as Americans have to be better.  I understand people are fed up and scared and frustrated, but that’s no reason to condone a candidate who uses that fear and frustration to incite hate and bigotry. Who preys on the voters’ existing anger and seeks to make it OK to voice insults and engage in name-calling without forethought or remorse. Who inspires two brothers to beat a homeless man while he sleeps simply because “he looks like an illegal.” Who is supported by people like this:

“Hopefully, he’s going to sit there and say, ‘When I become elected president, what we’re going to do is we’re going to make the border a vacation spot, it’s going to cost you $25 for a permit, and then you get $50 for every confirmed kill,’” Jim Sherrota said. “That’d be one nice thing.”

Donald Trump is a walking, talking temper tantrum who screams first and thinks — well, seemingly never. If my kids acted like this they’d be living their lives in time out, which is precisely where we should put the Trump presidential candidacy. Presidential candidates don’t have to be perfect, but they should at least be civil and able to conduct themselves with basic human decency, especially if they’re going to be participating in tense, diplomatic negotiations.

Strength and unchecked aggression are two very different things, and strong leaders don’t have to resort to bullying tactics and name-calling to make their points and exert influence. Unfortunately, too many people are confusing the former with the latter.

That’s why I don’t understand parents voting for Trump. If we won’t put up with this behavior from our children, let’s not make it acceptable for presidential candidates either.

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Dinotrux Roars onto Netflix

As part of the Netflix StreamTeam, the company paid for my travel & hotel accommodations to visit DreamWorks Animation in June. But as always all opinions are my own.


Have you ever seen certain people and judged them immediately without ever having so much as a conversation with them? Have you ever been completely wrong in your assumption?

Welcome to the premise of Dinotrux — a fantastic new show from DreamWorks airing on Netflix August 14. Two months ago I was lucky enough to fly out to DreamWorks in California, where I was able to get a behind the scenes peek at how Dinotrux was made, do an actual voiceover, meet some show executives, and take in the first two episodes.

And let me tell you, young kids (and their parents) will love it.

What Is Dinotrux About?

Do you have kids who like dinosaurs? How about construction vehicles? Well, welcome to a TV show that hits the kid sweet spot — dinosaurs combined with construction vehicles. Yes, it’s as cool as it sounds and yes your kids will want one immediately.

Ty is a hybrid tyrannosaurus rex and megaton excavator, whose species is the biggest and baddest in the Mechazoic era. But when his village is destroyed and he is injured by a volcano, he wanders the prehistoric landscape to find a new home in a crater teeming with other creatures with plenty of Ty’s favorite food: ore.  But the problem is T-truxes are universally feared by other creatures, meaning no one will talk to Ty.

No one except Revvit.

Revvit is a Reptool (lizard + rotary drill) who goes against millions of years of prevailing wisdom to courageously talk to Ty. The entire village is amazed by the dinotrux-reptool partnership, and soon a few more eager recruits join the cause.

Skya is a sassy Craneosaur (brachiosaurus + construction crane); Ton-Ton is a fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants daredevil Ankylodump (ankylosaurus + dump truck); and Dozer is a curmudgeonly but kind Dozeratops (triceratops + bulldozer). They soon find themselves on a series of adventures against their nemesis, another T-trux name D-Structs, who hates to share and wants Ty out of the village.


Why Your Kid Will Like Dinotrux

A good show hits on universal themes, and executive producers Ron Burch and David Kidd pull this off in masterful style with Dinotrux.

Each episode has an adventure and provides a lesson in friendship, teamwork, and problem-solving. When one of the gang gets stuck in a tar pit, it takes quick thinking and action from all the other friends to come to the rescue. And when Scraptors and Scraptadactyls — predators who will literally pick about dinotrux and reptools to feast on them — kidnap some Reptools and take them to a nest, the dinotrux team has to create a distraction and build a ladder to get them down safely.

After talking with Ron and David, I also liked how the writers and animators stuck to the laws of physics to create a more realistic prehistoric universe. That’s right. Even though the premise is clearly made up, they made sure all the creatures adhere to the laws of physics. So if a reptool has the body of a pipe wrench, it’s not going to bend or wrap around a tree. The show has a mechanical feel to it and the writers and producers didn’t want to detract from that.


The Coolest Part of My Dinotrux Adventure

Have you ever loved a cartoon so much you wished you were a part of it? I absolutely have, and thanks to Netflix and DreamWorks I’ve also experienced being a part of it.

I was downright giddy when they told me we’d be headed into the recording studio to do some voice over work. And lest you think voice actors have it made and it’s all a piece of cake, allow me to disabuse you of that notion immediately. It’s pretty difficult to get the timing down and voice a character that is multifaceted with lots of emotional complexity. And yes, even fictional Reptools have layers. Also, the room full of bloggers will tell you it takes more than a few takes to get something even remotely usable. Here’s my attempt:

It took me almost 10 minutes to do this one line. Now imagine the editing and production that goes into producing the full 10-show season that’s about to drop on Netflix this Friday. And that’s in addition to creating the characters and imagining the unprecedented world in which these characters live.

I have a newfound appreciation for the work these guys do and the blood, sweat, and tears they pour into these shows. I can’t wait for Sam to take this in and even though Will is on the older end of the demographic spectrum, he’ll probably like it too.

Give Dinotrux a shot on Aug. 14 and let me know how you like it.


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Should We Tell Kids They’re Special?

photo credit: I am Special via photopin (license)
photo credit: I am Special via photopin (license)

“Dad, am I special?”

What seems at first glance to be a question with an easy, straightforward answer from a parent (“Yes son, of course you’re the most specialiest specialty in the history of special!”), suddenly wasn’t so simple. If you think about it, that question is fraught with unexpected complications and potential repercussions depending on your answer. As a result I had to think long and hard about how I responded.

Some parents are recoiling in horror at this very moment because I didn’t automatically and exuberantly tell my son how special he is. I get it. However, what message are we really sending to our kids when we resort to that?

They say all kids are special. Well, if that’s true, then doesn’t “special” lose meaning? If every single child is special, does ordinary become extinct or nonexistent? Don’t we lose the perspective necessary to make special a distinction if everyone falls into that category?

But more important than that, aren’t we creating dangerous levels of entitlement? Hey, there’s nothing wrong with positive reinforcement for hard work or a job well done. But I’m sorry, you can’t convince me that constantly telling children they are special at every turn doesn’t create a the potential for an unbelievably entitled generation of kids.

Unfortunately, I only need to look at my oldest son for a real-life example.

A few years ago, I played a trick on him and convinced him I ate all of his Halloween candy. Well, the Jimmy Kimmel Show saw it, liked it, and used it. Suddenly Will was watching himself broadcast to millions of people. They even used his image as the thumbnail on the YouTube video, which has been seen by nearly 40 million people.

I was really excited and I went on and on about how special this was, and how special he was to appear on television and be seen by millions of people. Then the local media found out, and we were featured in newspapers and even had a segment on the local TV news. Soon Will was telling his friends, other parents, teachers, and everyone he could that he was a TV star. I just thought it was really cute and I encouraged it, because damn — it’s JIMMY FREAKING KIMMEL!

About a week after all the hoopla, I took Will on the train into Boston for an event. When we walked on board the crowded car, he was smiling and looking around at everyone. I just thought it was because he loved trains, but after a few minutes his smile faded and he started to get grumpy. I asked him what was wrong and his answer hit me like a brick.

“Why aren’t these people saying hi to me, dad? Don’t they know I’m special because I’m famous from the TV?”

Oh. Shit.

It took quite a bit of doing to walk that one back. I just didn’t realize what was happening, but what did I expect? I spent a solid week telling him how special he is, so how could I be surprised when he believed every single word of it and expected other people to treat him that way too?

I spent a lot of time after that talking less about being special, and more about being privileged. As a writer and blogger, I get some nice perks and things sent to me by companies. But now, when that happens, we spend a ton of time letting our kids know we’re lucky to be getting these things, and it’s not the norm. That they’re not getting them because they’re special, but because companies are advertising. I tell Will he’s no better or worse than any other kid in any other part of the world. However, he’s luckier than most and he needs to try to understand and appreciate that privilege without thinking he’s better than anyone else because of it.

I’m not supporting the degradation of kids or calling for the total elimination of positive reinforcement. Sometimes it takes a teacher/parent/friend showing a special interest in kids to make them feel worthy and propel them to success. However, I don’t want my son thinking he’s special just because he’s been told that all his life. Because make no mistake, far too many children fall into that category. Just ask this guy.

I will tell my sons they were born into a certain amount of privilege that will aid their ability to be great, should they concentrate their efforts and abilities. I will tell them I believe in them and support them wholeheartedly. I will tell them they have great potential that can only come to fruition with hard work and perseverance.

But that doesn’t make them special. It makes them like millions of other kids all over the world. It shouldn’t be a bad thing to tell kids that, either.

So how do I answer the question with which I began this piece? I tell my son he’s special to me and always will be. But other than that, no. He’s no inherently better, worse, or more special than any other kid.

If I do my job right, that message won’t destroy his fragile self-esteem — it’ll push him to work harder and be less self-absorbed.


Like what you see? Feel free to follow me on Facebook and Twitter for more. Hated everything about what I wrote but love pictures of cute kids and fishing? Follow me on Instagram. And as always, feel free to use the social buttons below to share this on social media.

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When Our Dragons Leave the Nest


It took me a bit to figure out why I was having such a visceral reaction to the Netflix Originals series Dragons: Race to the Edge. But when I finally figured it out, it made perfect sense.

This DreamWorks animated show is related to the feature films, but takes place between the first and second movies. Whereas the first How to Train Your Dragon was Hiccup finding himself discovering how to interact with people in his world, the show takes place a few years later. Hiccup and the dragon riders are older — well into their teenage years — and teeming with youthful pride, arrogance, and that unavoidable yearning for independence.

As you can see from the map above (taken at DreamWorks during an event last month), the center is their home island of Berk. When the first movie started, that hunk of rock was all Hiccup knew. It was his world and his entire universe. But after befriending dragons and using them as a means to explore, their world got a lot bigger.

That’s great for my 7-year-old, who binge-watched this as his summer vacation started and marveled at all the new adventures the characters were having and all the fresh discoveries of new lands and types of dragons. He wants to be Hiccup and Astrid and Fishlegs, out there in the brave new world making important and exciting discoveries. And who can blame him?

As for me, I found myself commiserating with Stoic, Hiccup’s dad. Why? Because he was struggling with conflicting emotions regarding his son going off into the world. He’s a protector, and that protection has always come by gathering everyone together on the island of Berk to keep everyone safe. Safe at home. Safe from harm.

But even in fictional worlds set in a time long since gone, parents still struggle with letting go.

I realized I was relating to this show because the kids (and the dragons) are literally leaving the nest. Stoic is watching his son leave home and establish his own identity with equal parts pride and worry. For parents, the toughest part of kids growing up is letting them stand on their own two feet and losing the ability to protect them at all times.

So as Hiccup and gang explore dangerous new places, deal with conflict both internally as well as taking on enemies, and learn to survive on their own, I just keep looking at Will and wondering how I’ll cope.

Right now his map is our small New England town. But as he gets his proverbial dragon wings, that circle will grow. Breakneck bog will be the next town over when he can ride his bike on his own. His driver’s license will take him to SnowWraith Island with friends. And it’ll be the far-flung Eret’s Island if he decides to go far away for college and life afterward.

Will watches Dragons with wide-eyed enthusiasm and longing for adventure. I watch it through Stoic’s eyes. The eyes of a parent. Eyes that get occasionally moist with a mix of pride and worry at the thought of my son striking out on his own, outside of my direct protection.

I’d feel a lot better if he could take Toothless to college.

Toothless!!! #dreamworksdragons

A video posted by Aaron Gouveia (@daddyfiles) on



I was compensated by Netflix for writing this post in the form of an all-expense paid trip to DreamWorks Animation in California. Also, as part of the StreamTeam, I received free Netflix for a year and an iPad Mini. However, as always, my opinions are 100% my own. Check out Netflix on Facebook.

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I Thought My Son Was Never Going to Talk


Seven months ago, I was petrified Sam was never going to talk.

We were at his 15-month check-up and the doctor asked how many words Sam had in his repertoire. She didn’t ask IF he could speak, mind you, but how many words he could say. I immediately looked down at the floor in shame, because Sam didn’t have any words. Not a one. Zero.

And despite her assurances that he was just a little bit behind, I was POSITIVE something was cataclysmically wrong with him.

Less than a week later, we had Early Intervention come in and evaluate him. I had heart palpitations with each test he wasn’t passing. Failure to turn the jack-in-box crank? He’ll never graduate high school. Couldn’t say “mama” or “dada?” There goes college. By the end of it all, I was in a full-blown panic as I envisioned Sam at 30, living in our basement and still unable to utter basic syllables.

When the EI folks finished, they said Sam was slightly speech-delayed, but not so much that he qualified for Early Intervention. But I only heard those two words: speech delayed. And I was crushed at having somehow failed my son.

Yes, I realize how crazy I was being. Now. But then, in that moment, it was very real and very overwhelming.

We have certain standards kids are supposed to meet at certain times, and they’re hard for me to ignore. I know I’m not alone. These concrete milestones our children are supposed to meet are set in a sea of fluidity, and don’t seem to take into account the individual nature of children. We know enough to tell ourselves “everyone goes at his/her own pace” and “they all get there eventually,” but if your child is on the slower side then those markers are always there, blinking in the background, taunting you mercilessly.

It’s problematic if you’re someone who did everything early and generally had things come easy to him. It’s even worse if your firstborn was the same way — walking, talking, and putting sentences together well ahead of the curve. In that instance, you love milestones. Because who doesn’t enjoy looking at an achievement in the rear view mirror?

So you start wondering what’s wrong with this one. Why isn’t this one early, or at least on time? Did I leave the TV on too long and damage his brain? I didn’t read to him enough, did I? Why can’t he be more like his brother??

And suddenly you realize what an utter and unreasonable asshole you’re being.


Seven months later and 8 days shy of his second birthday, I look back at myself and shake my head. Especially as this plays out in the car on a daily basis.

“Hi dada!”
“Dada, wheels on bus!”
“Dada, you see choo-choo?”
“Dad, what’s that?”
“Thank you, dada.”

Words. So many words. So many new words every day. I come home from work and discover he’s added two or three more to his expanding vocabulary. They didn’t arrive on the generally accepted timetable, but they came nonetheless. They came when Sam was ready. They came exactly when they were supposed to.

I know I worry because I care. Because these kids are the most important thing in the world to me. I’m sure that’s true of most neurotic parents who unnecessarily sweat the small stuff. I’m also a firm believer that if you don’t feel like a complete fool at least a couple of times a month, you’re probably not a parent.

Kids are not identical assembly line automatons. They are not here to validate us by meeting arbitrary deadlines that serve as parental bragging rights on social media. I know this. Most parents know this. We just need to keep it at the forefront of our mind more often, and not fall victim to unnecessary worrying about things that almost always work themselves out.

Seven months ago I thought my son was never going to talk. Now? I’m worried he’ll never stop.

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