Tag Archives: Fatherhood Friday


I was looking at a friend’s Facebook page yesterday. She joked about losing her cell phone and feeling helpless because she doesn’t have a land line to fall back on. I don’t know why, but the fact that most people I know don’t have land lines anymore really made me think.

Everyone had a land line just a few short years ago. Not having a phone in your house was just inconceivable. But with the advent of cell phones and reasonable calling plans, you just don’t need one anymore. So naturally I started thinking about all the other technology and commonplace items of my youth which had gone, or are going, the way of the Dodo.

Then I imagined myself talking to Will 10 years from now. Maybe we’re cleaning out the attic one day and stumble upon a box of antiquated items. What would that conversation be like?

WILL: “Hey dad, what’s this thing?”

ME: “Oh cool, my old Walkman!”

WILL: “Huh? It doesn’t look like a man and I don’t think it walks.”

ME: “No no no, this played music. You put your headphones on, slap a cassette tape in there and you could listen to music on the go.”

WILL: “So it’s like a really ugly iPod. But what’s a tape?”

ME: “It’s what they stored music on before CDs.”

WILL: “What’s a CD?”

ME: “Oh sweet God.”

WILL: “Dad, what the heck is this thing?”

ME: “No way!! Buddy that’s a rotary phone!!”

WILL: “That thing is a phone?? But it’s bigger than my head!”

ME: “Yeah. You used to have to put your finger in the slot and turn it all the way to the right one number at a time. Calling someone used to take hours. You knew it was important if someone with a rotary phone was calling you just because of the time commitment it involved to place one call. And God forbid you screwed up the number halfway through.”

WILL: “That sounds awful.”

ME: “Well it was better than having to use a pay phone.”

WILL: “Everyone still has to pay for their phone.”

ME: “No. A pay phone was a public phone located outside on street corners. You used to go into the booth, put quarters in the phone and then you could make a call. But it only lasted a couple of minutes and then you had to put more money in.”

WILL: “You guys should’ve just signed up for unlimited minutes. But dad, I still don’t understand this rotary phone. If this is a phone why does it have a cord? And where’s the LCD screen for videos or the speakers for music? Heck, how did you even know who was calling you?”

ME: “There was no caller ID back then son. You had no idea who was calling. It was an adventure every time you picked up the phone because you had no clue who was on the other end. Like you were tempting fate. It was kind of a thrill.”

WILL: “So I would’ve had no way to ignore all the calls from you and mom back then?”

ME: “Frightening isn’t it?”

WILL: “Hey what’s this thing? Is that like the first iPad ever made?”

ME: “No, that’s a pocket calculator. Your mom used to use that to tally up all of our bills and do the finances. You set it next to you and do all your math.”

WILL: “You guys didn’t have calculators on your phones and laptops?”

ME: “Rotary phone, remember pal?”

WILL: “That’s just sad.”

ME: “Hey buddy, grab those phone books so we can throw them out OK?”

WILL: “A book of phones? What are you talking about?”

ME: “Those huge books over there. They have everyone’s phone number listed in them so if you needed to look someone up you just flipped through the phone book, found their number and dialed. They also doubled as booster seats for young kids who couldn’t reach the table, and sometimes your Uncle Nate and I used them as weapons.”

WILL: “What about these books with all the pictures and stuff in them?”

ME: “Oh wow. Our Encyclopedia Britannica collection. I used to use these for book reports and research projects when I was growing up. They have all the information you’ll ever need on everything.”

WILL: “Isn’t it all on Wikipedia? And isn’t the Internet better than having all these huge books in the house?”

ME: “Well wise ass, before the Internet you either could use these in your house or you had to go to the library.”

WILL: “What’s a library?”

ME: “I’m gonna have a heart attack.”

WILL: “If you were having a heart attack and I had to use this rotary phone to call for help, you’d be dead before I could dial 911.”

ME: “Very funny. Now come over here and help me bring these things downstairs. If this VCR still works we can watch home movies of when me and Uncle Nate were just little kids.”

WILL: “I don’t get it. These tapes are like plastic bricks. How do they play movies? Does this VCR thing hook up to YouTube somehow?”

ME: “No it doesn’t connect to YouTube. In the old days you had a video camera and you taped people. Then you put the tape in the VCR to watch it. Soon you had a whole collection of tapes and you had to label them to make sure you knew what’s on which tape. And I think this is the video of when we went to the Grand Canyon. Do you know where that is? Here, I’ll show it to you on this Atlas.”

WILL: “OK. Let me get this straight. You had gigantic phones that took forever to dial and had no way to see who was calling you. And if you didn’t have a phone, you went out and kept putting quarters into a slot in a phone out on the street. If you wanted to call someone you had to look their number up in a huge book. If you wanted information on anything else, you needed to sort through a series of other gigundo books. And if you didn’t have those, you needed to go to this library place that did nothing but store other huge books. You did your math on huge ugly calculators. You stored your memories on massive tapes which, judging by the look of them, you forgot to label so you have to sort through each one manually to find what you’re looking for?”

ME: “Yeah. Those were the good old days.”

WILL: My phone makes calls quickly. I can ignore calls quickly too because it tells me who’s calling. And I don’t need to continuously carry quarters around to keep my phone working. It also plays music. I can take a video of you right now, upload it to Twitter and store it on YouTube so everyone in the world can see it in a matter of seconds. If I need a phone number I can look it up on the Internet. Which, coincidentally, I can also use to find out any information I need to know much quicker than breaking my back with this thick encyclopedia. In fact dad, I didn’t want to bum you out but I haven’t read an actual book since I was a little kid. All my reading is done on my Kindle now. Which, if I’m not mistaken, is where people read all of your news stories right? And FYI, the Grand Canyon is in Arizona. Wanna know how I know that? Because it took me 3 seconds to Google Map Grand Canyon which gave me precise GPS coordinates. All before you even found Arizona in that huge Atlas book. So tell me, how can you possibly consider those the ‘good old days?'”

ME: “You damn kids these days…”


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What If?

Turns out I may have been prematurely optimistic in writing my last post about getting past the threat of a miscarriage and being able to enjoy this pregnancy.

Less than 24 hours after I wrote about how happy I was, everything came crashing down all at once. First of all, Will got kicked out of daycare. I won’t go into detail too much right now because that’s going to be a separate post all its own. But the bottom line is its for bullshit reasons and now we have to scramble to find a suitable/affordable daycare for Will in the next few days. No easy task and very stressful. It also doesn’t help that I’m sick as a dog right now.

But adding to that stress is we got a call from the diagnostic company that did MJ’s ultrasound on Wednesday. The doctor wants us back in this morning because he’s worried about a potential problem with the baby’s legs. Specifically they didn’t separate the entire time we were having the ultrasound done.

Look, I know what you’re going to say and I know you’re right. It’s probably nothing. Moms everywhere have told me they were dragged back to hospitals 2, 3 and even 4 times for possible problems and genetic defects from ultrasounds which turned out to be nothing. And later on this morning, I fully expect to be breathing a huge sigh of relief when we find out everything is OK.

But in the meantime, I’m human. And I can’t help but wonder, what if?

What if there’s something very wrong with this baby? Down’s Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Cystic Fibrosis, or Sirenomelia (aka Mermaid Syndrome) where a newborn’s legs are fused together. Can you tell I took straight to Google after the doctor’s call? And yes, I’m jumping the gun here. But that’s not the point.

Every expectant parents has, at some point, wondered what would happen if their kid was born with some kind of defect. Hypothetically, let’s say we find out something is seriously wrong with this baby. And whatever it is he/she will be special needs. That baby will require a lifetime of special attention. Doctors visits, expensive medical procedures, specialized daycares and special schools. I’ve seen the amount of dedication, love and effort the parents of special needs kids put forth and it is EXTRAORDINARY. It’s also tough. Dealing with bureaucrats at all levels of government, advocating for your kid at every turn and being a professional squeaky wheel. If you need evidence of how unbelievable these parents are, just click on over to Tanis at the Redneck Mommy who is an absolutely amazing example of this.

But I’m not sure I’m that good of a person.

Seriously. The thought of having a special needs child terrifies me. In part because I can’t imagine what that child will go through over the years, but also because I can’t imagine that kind of lifelong struggle as a parent. I don’t think I’m emotionally prepared for that, and I’m definitely not financially ready for that kind of undertaking. So if something was really, really wrong, what would happen? Obviously MJ and I would need to talk, but terminating the pregnancy would be an option on the table. Which is terrifying in and of itself.

But then I think back to an event I covered last week at a school devoted to helping students with disabilities of all kinds. As a reporter I blended into the background and did my job, which is to observe. I saw these kids, happy as can be, in caps and gowns ready to earn diplomas. Some of them graduating from the modified high school, others from a program that gets older kids ready to lead a semi-independent life in the outside world. And then I saw their parents. Specifically I focused on one family gathered near the aisle preparing to watch their son walk to the graduation stage. They were obviously divorced because the mom had a guy and the dad had a woman. They were both welling up with tears. And then the dad glanced at his ex-wife with tears and a smile. He walked over to her and gave her this HUGE hug. She hugged him back and looked at him. They never said a word. They didn’t have to. I could see how long and hard a road it was to this day. Who knows, it may have even played into their divorce. But regardless, the pride and utter joy they were feeling at that particular moment was transcendent. Pure. And tangible. A mega payoff at the end of a seemingly endless journey.

I’ll admit, it moved me. And I thought about my unborn baby and what would happen if I was in a similar boat. And this made me think maybe I could do it.

Until I saw that tuition for this school is $68,000 a year.

Again, I know we’re not there yet and probably won’t be. But something like this makes you think and I barely slept last night. MJ is a wreck too. I’m just hoping as hard as possible that nothing is wrong, because while I don’t think I’m strong enough to be the parent of a special needs child, I may not be capable of making the other almost unthinkable decision either.

In the meantime I’m letting MJ drink some caffeine this morning so hopefully we can jolt the kid into moving around and get those legs separated. Now is no time to be proper kiddo.


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Father’s Day: Celebrate the Misery

As I sit here alone on my couch mourning the loss of the Boston Celtics to the fucking hated Los Angeles Lakers, I am sad. Nay, I am downtrodden. I’m pissed off, I’m frustrated and I’m downright melancholy. So why is it, while I’m furiously stewing in my own misery, that I can’t help but think fondly of my father?

I know I’m part of a “new” crop of dads and we’re all about positivity and bucking stereotypes, but as Father’s Day approaches I personally find it fitting to focus on the misery my father and I share. Specifically where sports are concerned.

You all know I’m a sports nut. And most of you know I came to be that way mainly because of my father. Generations of my family have grown up living near Boston, and that means we all inherited the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins. And when I say inherit, I mean it. You don’t choose who you root for, it just happens. Love for Boston sports is no more an option than your eye color and the inability to avoid the word “wicked.”

Now those of you only partially attuned to the sports universe probably think it’s great to be a Boston fan because recently the Patriots won three Super Bowls, the Red Sox claimed two World Series trophies and the Celtics won the NBA Finals in 2008. I won’t lie, it has been great. Otherworldly even. But prior to the Patriots first SB win during the 2001 season, this was not the case at all.

The Patriots were the laughingstock of the NFL for years. The Celtics were once great, but hadn’t won a title since 1986. And the Red Sox, well, the Red Sox were a fucking Greek tragedy. A lack of space prevents me from detailing the epic failures of the pre-2004 Boston Red Sox, but all you need to know is the Red Sox didn’t just lose games. They tore your heart out. They actually discovered new ways to lose which, if forced on terrorists, would be more effective than anything Jack Bauer could dream up.

During Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, the Red Sox were two runs ahead of the Mets going into the bottom of the 10th inning. They retired the first two batters. That means they were one out — just one out — away from winning. But the Mets got a hit. And then another. And then another. And the tying run scored on a wild pitch of all things. During that stretch, the Red Sox were one strike away from winning the series a half dozen times. I kid you not. But the game was still tied and the Sox still had life. Mookie Wilson hit about as routine of a ground ball as you get toward the first baseman, Bill Buckner, who then let the ball roll through his legs to lose the game. It was a notorious moment, and one that still brings a grimace (and possibly a punch to the face) from Red Sox fans when you bring it up.

And the black cloud hanging over everything was that they hadn’t won a World Series since 1918. That’s 86 years.

That may have been the pinnacle of disappointment for Boston fans, but it is one instance in a long line of examples that bonded us together. Because it used to take a special kind of person to be a Boston sports fan. To come so close, so many times, and always come up short? It created a brotherhood of tortured souls. A bevy of pessimists who knew disappointment was bearing down on them like a freight train, yet always stood directly on the tracks with the misguided hope that maybe it would stop this time. And no matter how bad it got, or how horribly they toyed with us, we always came back to them with renewed hope and optimism. Year after year, season after season.

The men in my family care about sports. Probably a little too much. But the point is, we really do care. We’re passionate to a fault. We don’t watch big games so much as live out every single moment. When Pedro pitched for the Red Sox we’d line up shoes in front of the TV for every strikeout. When they played the Yankees we’d put a Yankees mug in the toilet for the duration of the game. We pass around lucky bats and balls. We wear specific shirts for good luck and we’re not against watching games from outside the house if we think it’s lucky. We once locked my mom out of the house during the 2004 ALCS against the Angels because Vlad Guerrero hit a grand slam as soon as she came inside.

Some people think I’m totally fucked because of this. To devote this much time and attach this much meaning to a game. But you know what? I like the way I am. And I like the way my dad is. He’s 54 years old but when he’s watching a big game he’s like a teenager. He’s pacing, yelling, screaming and cheering because he’s devoted. Loyal. You root for one team and you stick with them, even when they suck. Yes you’re allowed to mock them and say awful things about them, but that’s OK because you’re stuck with them and you’ll be there for them regardless. Kind of like family.

When they win and actually reward your fanaticism it’s fantastic. This video is proof of that:

But when they lose and crush your spirit, somehow that bonds becomes even deeper and more pronounced. That which doesn’t kill you makes you more pissed off or something like that.

For instance, the late 80s and early 90s were not a good time for the New England Patriots. My dad had season tickets, and we watched our 1-15 Pats get creamed every Sunday while sitting on uncomfortable aluminum benches with no backs in a shoddy stadium while the December rain, snow and sleet pounded us during a meaningless loss. Sounds miserable right? In a way it was, but those games also gave me some of my most cherished memories with my dad. Father and son, braving the elements, loyal to a team most others had abandoned long ago. True fans. Diehards. The ones who never gave up hope and came back year after year. Battle-tested.

Will just turned 2 in April. He’s already been to a Red Sox game and a Celtics game. The first of many. I will teach him loyalty. Passion. Resiliency. I will show him how to be a good fan, and remind him that fan is short for fanatic. Because it’s OK to be a sports nutcase. And he will know he’s with kindred spirits of like-minded crazies. It’s something we’ll always be able to talk about, even when he’s an obnoxious teenager. It will be a lifelong bond between the two of us that will last as long as I’m breathing.

And I know this because my dad has shown me the blueprint. Happy Father’s Day to all!

When you’re done here check out Dad-Blogs and Fatherhood Friday, where I wish all the dads a great Father’s Day. Except the LA Lakers fans. They can suck my ass. today.

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Pregnant = Scary

It’s only been a  little more than two years since I’ve dealt with “Knocked Up MJ.” But even though only a couple of years have passed, I seem to have forgotten one very important fact:

Pregnant women are crazy. Seriously fucking nuts.

I swear to all things holy that the following conversation happened this morning verbatim, while I was in the shower and MJ was getting ready for work.

ME: “Hey baby, you look really nice today.”

MJ: “You are such an asshole.”

I swear to you, that’s exactly how it went down. Word for word. She was mad because she thought I was making fun of her and her protruding belly. Even though I’m on the record as saying pregnant women are ridiculously hot and my wife is Queen of the preggo hotness, she thought I was somehow being derogatory. It took me a good five minutes to convince her that all I was doing was telling her she looked really great. And that’s because she’s crazy. Totally batshit crazy.

I completely forgot how mental pregnant women are. Especially during the first trimester.

First of all they can’t stop eating. They must feed. Constantly. And if you don’t feed them or if you stand between them and a meal, they will end your life and eat your soul. NEVER mess with a pregnant chick’s food. But the ironic thing is most of them are also experiencing morning sickness. So on one hand they can’t stop eating, but they also can’t stop throwing up. It’s quite the dichotomy.

Then there’s the phenomenon known as “Pregnancy Brain.”

I’m not making that up, that shit is real. Symptoms include but are not limited to forgetting everything, dropping shit everywhere, mood swings and ALWAYS being tired. Now keep in mind, MJ was already a consummate professional when it comes to losing things like her car keys or debit card. But now that she’s pregnant, I’m going to have to staple the goddamn thing to her forehead. Not to mention she trips over nothing. Honestly. She’ll be walking around the condo and she’ll stumble, but there is no kid’s toy or bunched up carpet in sight. It’s like invisible gnomes are laying trip wire around the house.

But the main thing is that every single emotion MJ is feeling gets ratcheted up to insane proportions. The littlest things become big deals and the big deals become massive, life-ending crises. If you I say something that I think is innocuous but pisses her off, it’s all over. And, if you haven’t learned by now, I say dumb shit all the time that gets me in trouble.

Not to mention pregnant women in their first trimester aren’t known for their raging libidos. We haven’t gotten our freak on since “Bandit” (that’s our official nickname for Baby #2 due to the raccoon incident) was conceived. Which makes me a sexual sniper of sorts. A lonely, frustrated sexual sniper. I finally got up the nerve to proposition MJ for a little lovin’ and she nearly threw up at the thought of it.

Nice to know I still have a way with the ladies.


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My Son, The Devil

My son may or not be demon spawn.

Look, I’m a die hard Boston sports fan. And even though that means I’m wicked fucking awesome, it also means that I overreact. A lot. To everything. When things are going well I gloat and talk like there will never be another bump in the road. Everything is perfect, and will remain so for all of eternity. But when things go south (which can happen even in the same day on special occasions), I go way too far in the other direction. I curse my team, all the players, question my own existence and wonder how the hell I will ever watch sports again.

My behavior as a parent has not been unlike my sports fan tendencies.

I picked Will up on Wednesday and was concerned to see my daycare provider in tears. She’s been having a lot of personal issues lately so I thought something was wrong in that department. But oh no, it had nothing to do with her. Instead, I learned it was Will causing all of her woes.

In short, apparently he’s a little asshole.

Yeah, yeah. I know. I called my kid an asshole. Get over it. I’m not one of these parents who pretends their offspring can do no wrong. And in this case, it’s true. Because Will hates other kids. Hates them. This goes well beyond Will not sharing (which he doesn’t) or not playing well with others (which he hates). This is about Will not even being able to be in the same room with the other daycare kids. She says they try to engage him in conversation and play with him, but as soon as they get in the same room with him he throws a goddamn fit.

I guess he’s only happy when he’s left to play all by himself. Most kids, when they see a group of other kids all having fun together, immediately run over to play with them and be included. Not Will. He truly doesn’t give a shit.

And because of that, apparently he’s making our daycare provider and all the other kids miserable. She said his behavior has negatively impacted everyone else to the point that he’s unapproachable and the other kids cry at the mere sight of him. And that has led our provider — who loves us and loves Will — to a spot between a rock and a hard place. She wants him to stay and that’s why she’s put up with this for a month now. But she can’t keep him there at the expense of all the other kids’ happiness.

While she was relaying all of this to me, I had conflicting emotions. First of all, I wanted to punish Will. I wanted to ring his neck and punish him for acting like a miserable sociopath. But then my provider started asking me all these questions about how we deal with Will at home. What he plays with, if he watches too much TV, if we spoil him, if we work on sharing, etc. And suddenly I had a whole new range of emotions.

First of all I automatically went on the defensive. I was thinking “My fault?? You think this is my fault? You think I did something? Bullshit. I did nothing wrong. I’m a great parent!!!”

Then, searching for someone else to blame, I thought maybe it has something to do with how every single one of his six grandparents spoils him rotten on a consistent basis. Yeah…that must be it. With the blame off my shoulders, I began to feel better immediately. Until I got home and realized that’s all bullshit, because as parents we accept all the praise for the good things our kids do which means we need to step up and take responsibility for the bad.

Instead of trying to blame other people, I sucked it up and took a long, hard look at how we raise Will. And I realized we need to do more. For starters, there aren’t a lot of other kids around here so he doesn’t get much exposure. But I need to find more time to take him out socially and play with people. Even if he doesn’t like it. Second, just because he doesn’t have any other kids to share with doesn’t mean we can’t practice sharing. So now we make sure we share toys every 30 minutes or so, and he doesn’t get them back until he stops crying and asks to share.

Lastly, I implemented a new program for Will. I call it “Big Boy Points” and basically Will gets a Big Boy Point (BBP) every time he does something positive. Whether that’s sharing, saying please and thank you, helping mom and dad, sitting in his booster seat when he wants milk or sleeping successfully in his big boy bed (sorry, forgot to mention we transitioned to from the crib to a twin mattress), he gets a point. In the future, a point will be a sticker or a star on a whiteboard. And he needs to earn stars in order to play with toys, go play outside, etc. When he gets a certain amount of points, he gets a new Thomas toy.

I’m kind of making it up as I go along, but so far it’s working. He had a better day at daycare today, and he’s starting to share more. But I wish I hadn’t been so delinquent in addressing this and letting it get this far. For the first time I really feel like I’ve failed as a dad. And I know this is probably just a phase and most kids go through it and blah blah blah. I know this. But I don’t care. Because I overreact like an idiot and right now I feel like I’ve been derelict in my dad duties.

I just hope he doesn’t get thrown out of daycare. I’m sure that goes on his permanent record and the he’ll never get into a good facility. With that black cloud following him around I highly doubt any school — even a public one — will take him. He’s going to be a kindergarten dropout who doesn’t even know his ABCs, and while that still qualifies him to work at most fast food restaurants or in government, his options will be severely limited. He and his stuffed monkey will end up living on the streets, and it’ll all be my fault.

Either that or he’ll soon grow out of the Terrible Two phase and everything will be fine. At which point I will surely blog about his unbelievable intelligence level and how he is bound for greatness.


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