Tag Archives: Father’s Day

The #PowerofDad is a Lasting Legacy

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Even though I’ve been a dad for six years, I’m not sure Father’s Day will ever truly feel like it’s for me. Because it’s for my dad.

When I talk about the #PowerofDad, I’m talking about the impact dads truly have on kids. Despite grounding me and harping on me at every turn for my entire life, my dad is and will continue to be one of my best friends. My mentor. My guide through uncertainty. He’s the first one I want to call with good news and he’s the one whose advice I seek when things go awry.

In short, the #PowerofDad is the ability to raise a strong, confident, compassionate kid who, in turn, passes his power down to the next generation like I’m doing with my kids. As a tribute this Father’s Day, here are some things my dad taught me that had a powerful impact on my life.

LOYALTY AT ALL COSTS
Sports is VERY important in our house. Boston sports. Namely the Red Sox and Patriots. My dad is a lifelong Sox fan and has had Patriots season tickets for more than 40 years. I grew up with tortured stories about failed Red Sox teams and Game 6 of the ’86 World Series was the first time I ever saw my dad cry. But whether the ball rolls through Buckner’s legs or you freeze your ass off on aluminum benches in a freezing blizzard, my dad taught me the importance of showing up. Rooting on your team. And NEVER leaving before the final whistle.

MAKE IT ABOUT MORE THAN JUST YOU
My dad helps run a local business, but his contributions don’t stop there. He has twice served as a selectman in our small New England town, which means he’s part of a board that sets policy and makes important decisions that impact the town. He has also served on the Finance Committee (appointed at 18 while still in high school), is the current Town Moderator, writes a local politics column in the daily newspaper, and even had a cable access TV show. It meant spending less time at home, but it also meant taking an active role in making sure my hometown remained a nice place to live. Too few people give of themselves, and my dad taught me to think about others in addition to my own.

SPEAK UP FOR WHAT’S RIGHT
I think this one might be genetic, as most of you know I don’t have a problem speaking up when I feel passionately about something. The right thing is seldom easy, and my dad never lets the wind of popular opinion blow him off course. When the local police department wanted to limit its search for a new chief only to candidates in town, he told them it makes more sense to search everywhere instead of just in your backyard. Pissing off the police is never fun. And let’s just say standing up for things like gay marriage wasn’t always chic, but my dad did. And each time he publicly expressed an unpopular opinion, we’d have a busted mailbox and sometimes even death threats to show for it. But right is right, and I carry that with me.

ALWAYS BE PASSIONATE
Come over to our house to watch a sporting event. I dare you. My dad is a nervous wreck. He paces, he yells, he runs around the house, and he has an array of lucky objects that he swears bring our teams luck. But whether it’s an epic meltdown or a wild celebration, people come over just to see what will happen next when we watch a game. And when we attend in person, we leave our hearts in the stands. My dad takes that approach to sports and applies it to writing, family, and everything else he does. So while I might get a little heated sometimes, I’d rather be filled with passion than a bump on a log.

NEVER STOP COMMUNICATING
Family dinners are debates. Picnics turn into philosophical discussions. And the wit is as acerbic as it is quick. But we talk — we always talk. MJ and I never go to bed angry because we resolve our issues. Will is excelling at writing because we stress the importance of communication at every turn. And my father has been chosen to deliver more than two dozen eulogies, which seems macabre at first until you realize what a huge honor it is to deliver someone’s final public sendoff. It’s difficult and unpleasant, but hugely important and a great privilege.

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Sam at the grave of my father-in-law George — whose eulogy I delivered last year.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the lessons my dad has taught me, but I’m incredibly appreciative to have had such a great example of how to raise my boys. And if you’re looking for another great example of fatherhood done right, check this out:

Yup, that’s right. Oral-B just nailed fatherhood. I know you wouldn’t think a company best known for toothbrushes would be on the leading edge of involved fatherhood, yet here we are. And to top it off, they don’t stop with that kick-ass video.

Although it goes against my aforementioned sports loyalty, I’d be remiss if I didn’t credit Oral-B for enlisting the help of — oh man, this is harder than I thought — New York Giants Quarterback Eli Manning. Ugh…I feel dirty just writing that name. But he and Oral-B are teaming up with the March of Dimes at an event devoted to supporting the small yet important photographic moments between fathers and their kids.

And speaking of support, I was lucky enough to receive an Oral-B Black 7000 Electric Toothbrush. It’s actually half robot half toothbrush. Seriously, this thing is the Rolls Royce of toothbrushes. It’s got multiple brushes and six different modes — including tongue cleaning. There is also pressure sensor technology that lets you know if you’re applying too much pressure. I’m not making this up.

And when you turn it on, it syncs up to a digital timer that lets you know the optimal time to brush, and even gives you a smiley face afterward. It sounds excessive, but my 6-year-old is freaking pumped on a daily basis to visit with his sentient robot toothbrush pal for brushing, a game of chess, and planning world domination. Or at least brushing.

If you want in on this ridiculously advanced technological toothbrushing movement, you’re in luck. Here’s an exclusive $7 off coupon.

So keep your robot toothbrush close and your dads even closer this Father’s Day, as we look past the Hallmark cheesiness and remember to celebrate the #PowerofDad

***I partnered with Oral-B and Life of Dad, LLC for the #PowerofDad Father’s Day promotion and was compensated for my involvement.

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8 Stupid Things You Should Stop Saying to Dads

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As Father’s Day approaches, dads all over the country are being asked what we want as a gift. Most of us say something along the lines of “I don’t need anything because I’ve got you and the kids and that’s all I need.”

Screw that.

I’m asking for something this year. Something specific. And I’m not just requesting this gift for myself, but on behalf of involved dads everywhere. Basically, I want you to stop making us insane by saying (mostly unintentionally) stupid, thoughtless, and insulting crap that makes us crazy.

Please read this list and take it to heart, because sometimes it’s the people we’re closest to who are the biggest offenders. The best part is this gift is free, it’ll lower our blood pressure, and it’ll stop us from secretly hating you every time you open your mouth.

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8. “You’re SUCH a good dad.”
Wait…what? Is he really complaining about people COMPLIMENTING dads? Yes, he is. And I’ll tell you why. When I’ve received this compliment, I’ve never been doing anything extraordinary. I didn’t just save my boys from oncoming traffic or rescue them by fending off a rampaging grizzly. I was just out and about with them being a dad. Sometimes I wasn’t even alone, my wife was right with me. And therein lies the rub — no one would ever give that compliment to a mom. As a dad seeking to be an equal partner in parenting, that means no special treatment. If you wouldn’t compliment a mom just for doing her job as a parent, don’t do it for dads either. We shouldn’t get praise simply for doing what we’re supposed to do.

7. “Looks like dad dressed the baby.”
I’ll admit, I don’t have what most people would call “fashion sense.” I think purple and orange are complimentary colors, stripes and plaids go together just fine, and “dressing up” means the jeans with no holes. So when it’s my turn to get the baby dressed, I’m much more concerned about simply dressing for the weather than the runway in Milan. It doesn’t freaking matter that the kid’s pants don’t go with the onesie, and matching socks on a baby are a moot point since they take them off anyway. Is the baby warm enough if it’s cold? Cool enough if it’s hot? Are all the parts that are supposed to be covered, covered? Then mission accomplished. Besides, what kind of weirdo is judging a little kid on his/her fashion sense?

6. “What do you do all day?”
I’m not a stay-at-home dad, but this one is for all the guys who have made the fundamentally awesome decision to raise their kids full time. The people who ask this question offer it up not out of an insatiable curiosity to gain insight, but rather to passive-aggressively render judgment. And the answer, according to most of the SAHDs I know, is “more than you think and more than you do” most of the time. Full-time dads are every bit the parents full-time moms are. That means they’re cooking meals, changing diapers, doing the laundry, and running around with the kids all day. Modern masculinity is changing, so I suggest you start adapting too.

5. “Don’t worry sweetie, mommy will be back soon.”
When I’m out with the kids alone and Will starts whining while Sam throws a fit, it can get ugly. But what makes it even uglier are the people (yes, this has happened multiple times) who come up with a condescending smile and say to my kids “Ohhhhh, don’t worry. Mommy will be back soon.” Huh? Are you kidding me?? First of all, kids have tantrums no matter which parent is there. Second, don’t tell my kids mommy will be back when she’s not there. Hell, mommy might not even be in the picture. Maybe I’m a single parent. Maybe I’m gay. The point is, you have no idea what my situation is and when you put your foot in your mouth like that you’re more apt to choke on it.

4. “You’re doing it wrong. Here’s how I did it…”
This one stings because a lot of the times we hear it from our spouses. And sure, sometimes we do the wrong thing. Who hasn’t put a diaper or onesie on backward? But other times — like with how we’re holding the baby or how we choose to discipline — it seems like the “wrong way” really means not doing it “your way.” And that’s not cool. Parenting is trial by fire and eventually we’ll figure out what works — just like you did. But we need that opportunity and we don’t need to be told we’re doing it wrong just because we’re not doing it like you do. Let go of the reins a little and you might find dads come up with an even better method or idea.

3. “Oh my. You’re brave.”
Again, this is said to me simply because I’m a dad out with my two kids. And to be fair, it’s usually uttered by someone older who is part of a different generation. But still, it’s not like I’m not fighting in a battle or traversing a field of landmines with my kids. I’m just out at Target. Are moms “brave” for taking their kids on errands? Of course not. You expect that from moms. So if you’re not willing to pin a medal of honor on her simply for being a parent and going grocery shopping, don’t bother with one for dads either.

2. “Oh look at you playing Mr. Mom today.”
Calling dads “Mr. Mom” is a cardinal sin in the dad world, and when you say it to an involved father you’re taking a metaphorical dump all over them. Fatherhood isn’t a version of motherhood, and dads aren’t playing the part of a mom. That implies parenting is some sort of womens’ work and we’re not having that. In fact, the number of stay-at-home dads has doubled in the past 25 years and even working dads are focusing more on work/life balance because there’s a renewed focus on shared parenting and being present. That’s why, as articles like this one point out, it’s time to retire an antiquated term that is harmful to both dads and moms.

1. “Dad must be babysitting today, huh?”
If you follow even one of these pieces of advice, make it this one. Please, for the love of all things holy, stop referring to fathers as babysitters. YOU CAN’T BABYSIT YOUR OWN KIDS!!! We’re fathers, not paid caretakers. People would never look at a mom with her kids and ask if she was babysitting. Yet when a dad is out with his kids, so many people automatically and without thinking about it call it babysitting. Hell, even some dads refer to it that way because it’s so accepted. So just remember — dads don’t babysit. Ever.

Did I miss any?

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Sears is the Destination for Dads This Father’s Day

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What’s the first place you think of when you think about a dream vacation? Maybe it’s the Hawaiian islands, Mediterranean beaches, the Caribbean, or some place in Europe. And if I told you you could choose the perfect vacation spot and leave immediately, you know exactly where you’d go, right? Me too.

Sears, of course.

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Fatherhood is Unscripted

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When I was 14 years old, I got in big trouble at school and received a one-day indoor suspension. The punishment from the school was bad, but what I was REALLY dreading was the reaction from my parents. Especially my dad.

As expected, he FLIPPED when he heard I had been suspended. Naturally, he wanted to know why, and he automatically assumed the worst. He demanded I tell him the nature of my wrongdoing, stat!

“Dad, I was doing a science project outside of school with (my best friend) and while we were joking around I mooned the camera. Well, that slide got developed and he threatened to put the slide in his presentation and I told him he didn’t have the guts and…well, he did have the guts. So I got suspended because a picture of my bare butt was shown to the science class.”

I’ll never forget the look on his face. Anger, confusion, bewilderment and…wait, is that — amusement? Did a flicker of a smile just cross his face?

“Are you telling me you’re suspended because your bare ass was on a screen in freshman science?” he said.

There was a long pause before I confirmed that yes, that was indeed the case.

“Wow,” he exclaimed while shaking his head and barely concealing his smirk. “I was ready for drugs, drinking, fighting and all the normal stuff. I have to admit, there’s no chapter in the parenting handbook for how to deal with a science class mooning.”

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It’s Not the End of the World, Just the Galaxy

water_phoneMy wife got me the brand new Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone for Father’s Day. I immediately fell deeply in love with it. Like, scarily obsessed. If we’re being totally honest, I sleep with it next to my pillow lest I get lonely at night, OK?? And of its plethora of wonderful features, the 13-megapixel camera is by far my favorite thing about Galaxia (yeah, I named my phone. So what? Wanna fight about it?), because it allows me to capture some truly beautiful moments such as my son’s preschool graduation, family members who are no longer with us, and even a shot of him catching his first fish.

In fact, fishing has become somewhat of an obsession for the boy. So despite being under the weather, I told Will I’d take him fishing again on Father’s Day.

The place we like to fish is difficult because it’s gated. That means we have to park and walk a half-mile each way to the lake, which is not an easy feat for a 5-year-old on a hot day. After lecturing Will about the importance of not forgetting anything because we wouldn’t be able to run back to the car for it, we make the trek from our car to “our spot” — and that’s when I realized I forgot the tackle box. That meant we had just one hook and one bobber. If the line was cut for any reason, we were all done for the day.

I baited the hook and Will cast out into the pond. Wouldn’t you know it, he gets a fish on the line almost immediately. I watched and smiled a fatherly smile as he struggled with the “huge Great White shark” that was surely on the end of his line, as I like to let him do things himself. But then the fish started to take his line into the weeds and the overgrown brush on the side of the lake. Realizing we were in trouble, I grabbed the pole and tried to jerk it towards the middle but it was too late. The line was stuck.

But the fish was still hooked and it was flopping around.

“DADA, DADA! WE CAN’T LOSE THE SHARK FISH, GET IT QUICK. PLEEEEEEAAAAASE!!”

He didn’t have to ask. I was already pumped up and feeling oh-so-manly on a Father’s Day father-son fishing trip with the boy. That fish was ours and there was no way I was letting it get away. The only problem is the steep dropoff this kettle lake had, which meant I had to wade in chest deep just to go around the brush and get to the fish. But I did it, and after a few minutes I had secured the fish and untangled the line. Success!

Or so I thought.

It was then that Will asked me to take a picture of his fish and put it on Facebook so mom could see it. And that’s when — sopping wet — I reached in my left pocket to get…MY PHONE!!

First I felt a wave of terror that coursed through my body and zapped me right in the pit of the stomach. My fingertips worked their way past the entrance to my doused khaki shorts and touched Galaxia. Almost too afraid to look, I grabbed her and held her up to the sunlight for an inspection — but it was more like a postmortem. Galaxia, who was only with me for a few shorts weeks, was gone. Drowned at such a young age.

I’d like to say my behavior over the next few moments was something befitting a 33-year-old adult and father. But that would be a lie. I sank to my knees and yelled “NNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!” like an absolute lunatic. But then my next thought sent me back into a panic, because I thought of MJ and what she was going to do to me for losing a brand new phone she had saved up hundreds of dollars for to get me as a gift. Especially since this is not the first time I’ve lost an important and costly object to the gods of the Lake.

But as I was pathetically sitting there on my knees bemoaning my technological loss, Will brought me back down to Earth.

“Dada, I’m sorry about your phone but guess what? You saved my fish and we can still go fishing together, and that’s all that matters!”

I’m not exaggerating either, that’s actually how he talks. And you know what, he speaks the truth. Yes I am an idiot for not emptying my pockets and ruining a really expensive piece of technology. But you know what? I did it because I didn’t think twice about jumping into a lake to make sure my son was happy. The phone was ruined, but the experience wasn’t. And if that’s not the epitome of what Father’s Day is supposed to be about, then I don’t know what is.

Thankfully MJ agreed, and also had the presence of mind to buy insurance on the phone because she knows me so well. Thanks to Will, this might be the only time I’ve pissed away hundreds of dollars and walked away smiling.

And for the record, the fish was totally as big as a Great White.

 

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