Tag Archives: MJ

11 Things Dads Should NEVER Say in the Delivery Room

mjdeliveryroom

The delivery room is a strange, scary, and spectacular place. There are mystical wonders to behold, a multitude of wires attached to your loved one getting ready to deliver, and a cacophony of beeping coming from unfamiliar machines that leave you unable to decipher good from bad. It is where miracles happen, memories are made, and life is brought forth into the world.

Unless she kills you right there in the birthing suite because you’re one of the brainless jackasses who says something irreversibly stupid at the worst possible moment.

Having talked to L&D nurses, read humorous (yet cringe-inducing) accounts of ridiculous things said inside the delivery room, and having written about a semi-related topic in the past, I thought it best to get specific. In my ongoing quest to help fathers (not just fathers but anyone who plans on being in the delivery room) improve, I think this list is important simply to keep people alive.

Everyone processes emotions differently in stressful situations, and many people (myself included) resort to attempts at humor as a defense mechanism. However, your latest pun might not be well accepted as the mother of your child is attempting to pass something the size of a watermelon through a hole the size of a lemon.

I thought long and hard, consulted a few mothers in my life, and came up with this list. And I added animated GIFs so hopefully the women reading this will laugh instead of instantly try to murder their partners who undoubtedly said one or more things listed below.

Continue reading 11 Things Dads Should NEVER Say in the Delivery Room

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The Importance of Grandparents

grandparents

“If you guys moved a few hours away you could afford a really nice house.”

I’ve been told this by many of my friends, and it’s 100% true. As MJ and I prepare to buy a house in the next 18-24 months, we cringe at the soaring real estate prices of greater Boston. And that cringe turns into a full-fledged scowl when we look at the much more affordable housing prices should we decide to move to another part of the country.

For what we’ll eventually pay to buy a 3BR, 2BA, 1,800-square foot house in southeastern Massachusetts, we could get a house elsewhere that’s 5BR, 3BA, and 3,500 square feet. Hell, even if we moved to the Berkshires (western Massachusetts, 3 hours away) we’d be getting WAY more bang for our buck. And as someone who doesn’t want to be house poor, it’s pretty damn tempting at times.

But we won’t do that. Why? Because grandparents.

Will and Sam (and Baby #3) currently have all three sets of grandparents within a 20-minute ride. Specifically, my parents live 2.5 miles away and MJ’s mom now lives just 6 miles away. We see Grandpa, Grandma, Nana, Papa, and Grammy Donna (and Grandpa B, before he died) all the time, and all of them want the kids as often as possible.

Hell, right this moment Will is in New Hampshire on his yearly trip to StoryLand with my parents. They’ve taken him for four days in the White Mountains of New Hampshire since he was 3 years old, and next year Sam will join in the fun.

Which is why we won’t pick up and move. You can’t put a price tag on having family around, and you can’t underestimate the value of having kids spend a ton of time with their grandparents.

I spent nearly every weekend with my Grandma “Goo-Goo.” We watched movies, played Nintendo (she was a Zelda fanatic), hated on the LA Lakers, and ate ice cream sundaes the size of small mountains. And my Grandma “Ga-Ga” (my parents are sadistic for creating these nicknames) taught us how to play piano and sing. She lived on the town’s reservoir and we spent much of our time outside catching frogs and throwing rocks into the water.

Don’t get me wrong, my parents were great. But grandparents? They’re the ones who spoil you unconditionally. Who take you on special outings. Who do the stuff they were told not to do but they’re going to do it anyway because that’s what grandparents do. Grandparents are completely special, and every kid should know that love.

I want that for my kids. It’s vital they spend time with all of their grandparents, especially since we’re lucky enough to have them so involved.

And yes, I know EXACTLY how lucky we are to have them. Some grandparents died either before kids were born or when they were very little, and others are separated by great distances. Also, I’ve heard horror stories of absentee grandparents who have only seen their grandkids a handful of times and make absolutely no effort.  Whichever camp you fall in, that’s truly unfortunate and MJ and I know we’re privileged to have so many grandparents here for us.

So when we have something come up, we make one or two phone calls and boom — a grandparent appears out of the ether to take the kids. Or if we really want a date night, someone is always all too willing to take the kids off our hands.

Papa and Grammy Donna play video games with the boys and Papa puts Will to work so he stays grounded and learns how to do more chores. Nana will sit and cuddle with Sam for hours on end, play with them at the beach, and then take Will to the fireworks show at night. And my parents practically pry the kids out of our hands to take them on overnights and spoil the ever loving crap out of them in every way possible. It’s to the point our kids cry when they come home to us because they don’t want to leave their grandparents.

Sure, we’re going to pay through the nose for a smaller house that needs repairs. But we can’t put a price on having family nearby, nor can we ever again take advantage of the opportunity to let the kids bond with their grandparents as they grow up. This is a one-shot deal and we can never get this time back, so we’re taking full advantage of it.

Grandparents aren’t around forever, but the memories they create are timeless. I’m just so thankful our kids will have them. Thanks, guys. You mean the world to us.

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What Movies Will You Pass Down to Your Kids?

netflix_tbt_fathersdayA belief in everlasting love and a healthy thirst for adventure.

If I had to pick the two things I want to teach my kids, those traits sit right at the top of the list. Deep down I’m a hopeless romantic, who genuinely believes two people can be together until the end of time and still be madly in love. It’s how I feel about my wife and it’s how I want my kids to feel about whoever they end up marrying.

And while I hope my kids aren’t adrenaline junkies, I do want to instill in them a sense of adventure and whimsy. An unexplainable urge to explore and learn and try new things. I should’ve done more of that when I was younger and I don’t want my kids having that regret as well.

There are two movies from my youth that exemplify those two traits. Two movies that have stuck with me through all the years and continue to make an impact on me. Two movies I will absolutely pass down to my kids as family heirlooms.

The Princess Bride and The Goonies.

Movies are important to me. The great ones not only entertain, they teach. They enrich. They resonate for the rest of your life and they weave generations together to form a carpet of common ground. My parents were never Saturday morning cartoon people, and so I wasn’t either. But man did we watch movies. So too will my boys.

Sharing Princess Bride and Goonies with Will was just incredible — for completely different yet awesome reasons.

“As you wish.”
“Anybody want a peanut?”
“Mawedge is what bwings us together, today.”
“Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while.”
“Inconceivable!”

When it comes to Princess Bride, pick a quote. Any quote. Even though it’s almost 30 years old (holy crap, really???), this is still one of the most quoted movies ever. It’s got giants, epic sword fights, witty banter, shrieking eels, and MLTs — mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwiches, where the mutton is nice and lean and the tomato is ripe. They’re so perky. I love that.

But most of all, it’s got true love between Westley and Buttercup. Love that begins from a spark of familiarity but grows into an inferno. Love that has to overcome slight obstacles such as pirate abduction, the Fire Swamp and, you know, death.

I need my boys to realize when you find true love, you never give up on it and you never let it go. You fight for it, just like MJ and I do for one another. Always and with all the passion in the world.

And when it comes to The Goonies, I don’t think there’s another movie I’ve watched more often. Seriously, we wore out the VHS tape. Despite including a murderous family of gangsters who shoot a federal agent in the head and keep a developmentally disabled person chained up in the basement, The Goonies is adventure personified.

What kid doesn’t want to find a treasure map and go hunt for pirate booty with his best friends? And, oh yeah, save mom and dad’s house, kiss a beautiful girl, and stop the country club yuppies from taking over in the process.

Mikey didn’t know for sure if One-Eyed Willy’s treasure was real, but he trusted his gut. He had friends who trusted in him. And he maintained the determination and perseverance to see it through to the end. Unfortunately, I probably would’ve been the kid talking Mikey out of seeking the treasure because my sense of adventure didn’t flare up until very recently. But I want better for my boys. I want them to seek out new challenges and take (reasonable) leaps of faith in trying new things.

And I still want to try that waterslide through the caves that lead to the pirate ship. Even now.

I know they’re just movies, but they’re also shared experiences with Will (and eventually Sam and Baby #3). They’re a throwback to my youth, and I feel like the movies are a way for my former kid self to geek out with my kids and bond. They won’t even grasp all of it until they’re much older, but the seeds are planted now as we both enjoy movies and discuss them afterward.

So when he asks to stay up a little late to watch one of our favorite movies, you know what my answer is more often than not.

“As you wish.”

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StreamTeamBadge I was compensated by Netflix for writing this post. Although I did not receive monetary compensation, 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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Why I’m an Unapologetic Manners Nazi

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“Manners are the basic building blocks of civil society.”
– Alexander McCall Smith

My kids are exceedingly polite and well-mannered. I don’t say that to boast or exaggerate, I say it as simple fact. It’s not luck of the draw or accidental, either. They got that way because my wife and I relentlessly hammer home manners and follow through on punishments should they forget their manners or act rudely in public.

Simply put, MJ and I are “Manner Nazis” when it comes to our kids. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’m not sure how or why stressing good manners is controversial, but it is. Television star Mayim Bialik says she doesn’t force manners on her kids or correct them when they forget. Bloggers like this one feel forcing your kids to say “I’m sorry” is bad, because it’s not authentic. Even some of my fellow friends and dad bloggers have disagreed with me on this, saying it’s pointless to force kids to say “please,” “thank you,” and “I’m sorry” at a young age because they’re too immature to know the meaning of those terms.

That last part is true, they are too young to completely understand the concept. But guess what? That doesn’t matter.

Getting kids into good habits, even when they don’t fully understand them yet, is a positive thing. Both Will and Sam learned how to sign please and thank you around their first birthdays. Did they know exactly what the term meant? Of course not. But they knew they had to say it first to get what they wanted, and they learned they had to sign “thank you” afterward to show appreciation. Now, at 22 months, Sam says please routinely when he needs something, and thank you (really it’s more like “Chinch Choo”) after he receives it.

Will, who is 7, also has impeccable manners because we’ve made it a priority.

When he enters a conversation, it’s always with an “excuse me.” If he’s done something wrong, he apologizes. When he was younger, it started with a simple “I’m sorry.” But as he got older and could comprehend more, we’d always have a conversation about what went wrong and we’d explore the reason he’s sorry. Now when he’s done something to offend, he not only apologizes but he tells you why he’s sorry and what he could have done differently.

Unfortunately, parents making it a priority to raise well-mannered kids are in the minority these days.

I know I’m going to sound like the old guy complaining about the damn kids on his lawn, but take a trip out to a store or restaurant and you’ll see what I mean. Kids standing on the seats and even the tables. Older kids throwing food and not picking it up. Children shouting their orders at the waiter instead of asking nicely, with no correction from mom or dad. And then, not surprisingly, I watch mom and dad treat the waitstaff with the same dismissive contempt. Go figure.

Meanwhile, if our kids do make a mess while out to eat, we make them pick it up. If it’s Sam, who is still very young, then either MJ or I gets down on the floor and collects all the food he dropped. One time, a nearby restaurant patron said “Why are you doing that? They’re paid to do it.” I responded with a very simple “Because I’m not a jerk.”

Instilling good manners and politeness in your kids has very little to do with being seen as a good parent, or having your kids reflect well upon you. It’s about much more than that.

Unfortunately, good manners are so rare they are now the exception. That means Will is routinely praised by everyone from his bus driver to random strangers in restaurants who are impressed with how he handles himself. If he keeps this up, that ability to impress will extend to his future teachers, bosses, clients, and even his romantic partners.

It’s learning how to behave and thrive in mixed company, and how to make everyone feel welcome. It’s learning to treat people with respect. It’s knowing if you’re seen as someone who respects others, everything you say will carry that much more weight and value. If he’s up against an equally qualified candidate during a job interview or going for a promotion, perhaps it’ll be his “soft skills” and how he conducts himself that gives him the extra edge.

My main job as a parent is to love and raise quality human beings who contribute something positive to society. As far as I’m concerned, that starts with teaching them good manners.

It starts by parents modeling good manners at home and out in public, and stressing them at every turn. Are my kids perfect? No. Do they occasionally forget their manners? Absolutely. Mistakes happen, and if they’re contrite then no harm no foul. But if they keep being punks after they’ve been warned, then there are consequences.

It sucks to punish your kids, but we do it because otherwise they don’t learn anything. So an “I want ice cream!” one time earns a warning, but a second offense immediately after that means he’s going home with no dessert. Otherwise, if we give in to demands instead of making polite requests the norm, I truly believe we’re contributing to an entitlement problem that already plagues too high a percentage of this generation of kids.

Some will dismiss this entire piece as just another crotchety, holier-than-thou parent humble-bragging about how his kids are flippin’ wonderful. And others will continue to tell MJ and me we’re too strict with the boys when it comes to manners, and we need to relax. At least that’s what I think they said. Truthfully, it was hard to hear them over their kids running around being brats.

But the bottom line is manners matter. It’s not only good for society as a whole, but it’ll benefit your children as they grow up as well. Raising polite human beings is important, and the world desperately needs more of them.

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6 Things to Think About When Choosing Baby Names

photo credit: Deciding Which Door to Choose 2 via photopin (license)
photo credit: Deciding Which Door to Choose 2 via photopin (license)

Choosing baby names sucks. Trying to agree on a potential boy’s name when you already have two boys? That’s a special kind of hell.

As most parents will tell you, picking out a name is a tall task fraught with difficulties. And if you have a couple with two strong personalities and no shortage of opinions, that difficulty increases exponentially. Which means after you’ve exhausted family names, checked the Social Security baby name database, gone over the Game of Thrones list of names, and had your partner strike down all of your sports-related name ideas, it’s suddenly 3 a.m. and you’ve developed a hatred for the person you’re supposed to love because you can’t understand WHY THE HELL HE/SHE HATES ALL THE AWESOME SUGGESTIONS YOU’VE MADE!

Sorry. Again, things have been tense around the Daddy Files household.

You see, with the Patriots winning the Super Bowl in miraculous fashion courtesy of a game-winning interception (and boy do I post that link every chance I get), I immediately decreed our baby’s name (if it’s a boy) will be Malcolm Butler Gouveia. This was not a joke. I’m deadly serious, much to my wife’s chagrin. But she nixed it out of hand and wouldn’t even entertain a discussion.

Meanwhile she’s throwing around names like David, James, and Benjamin — all fine names, don’t get me wrong. But we already have very traditional names in William and Samuel, and if the third one is a boy I’m hoping for something a little more outside the box.

But how far outside is too far? And what else do you have to consider when thinking of names? Well, don’t worry because I’ve got you covered in thinking through all the potential pitfalls and mandatory considerations when naming another human being.

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6. Initials
My brother is named Nathan. His middle name starts with an A. His initials spell NAG — something I’ve reminded him of his entire life. As a rule, try to avoid picking names that spell something, because someone somewhere at some time will use it against your child. For instance, if we had a girl the first time around we were briefly considering Victoria for the first name. That’s all well and good, but I naively thought of an A-name for a middle name. In case you’re a little slow on the uptake, that would’ve given my daughter initials of VAG. Rookie mistake.

5. Nicknames
Maybe you like the full name you’ve chosen, but what about nicknames? For instance, do you like Jameson but not James? We briefly liked Atticus (To Kill a Mockingbird is our favorite book and Atticus Finch my favorite literary character), but what would the nickname be? Atty? ‘Cuss? And even though it sounds ridiculous, you need to consider the fact that kids are little assholes and a bad nickname can haunt your child for years. Julian is a fine name, but some little shit is going to call him Jules or Julie and tease him mercilessly. Benjamin is popular, but I worry he’d be in for a lifetime of “Ben-d over” jokes. Also, parents passing on certain last names must remain cognizant of the first/last combo unintentionally creating chaos. Case in point from one of my readers:

jackhoff

 

4. Family Matters
Want to see a family rift the size of the San Andreas fault occur in no time? Start talking about naming kids after family members. So you choose to name the kid after your father? Great. But guess what? Now your partner’s family is pissed and wondering why you’re not taking their names — Mordecai and Bertha — into consideration. There’s a reason Will’s full name is William George Thomas Gouveia — William (my dad), George (MJ’s step-dad), Thomas (MJ’s biological dad). And if you’re passing down a name, just know that he/she could be saddled with “junior” for life. Is that OK? Are you inadvertently taking away his own identity and saddling him with unrealistic expectations? This gets extra messy when siblings in the same family are pregnant at the same time and competing for the use of the same names. I swear, naming children has probably caused more wars than religion.

3. Past Flames & Assholes
My wife suggested the name Ryan. And surprisingly, I kind of liked it — until I remembered that’s the name of her ex-boyfriend. I’m sure he’s a very nice person and nothing personal, but screw that. Likewise, a lot of perfectly good names are ruined by assholes. I kind of liked the name Mason until my wife told me it has ties to the Kardashians. Instant elimination. Plus there are just certain memories associated with the names of people you hated from your youth that you just can’t get over no matter how hard you try. And trust me, don’t try. Just move on. There’s nothing worse than saying your new baby’s name and having to make a concerted effort to choke down the vomit rising in your throat.

2. Too Trendy/Popular
Yes, I love Khaleesi too. But as much as I adore the Mother of Dragons, Game of Thrones is a trend. Ten years from now no one is going to know what or who the hell Khaleesi is. They’re just going to think you’re a weirdo who named your kid a weirdo name. Same with uber popular names. It seems like every boy in the world the last five years has been Aiden, Jaden, Jayden, or Braden, while all the girls are Emma, Olivia, Sophia, and Isabella. And those names are fine, it’s just, well — I want something a little different. I don’t want teachers saying a name in class and suddenly 10 kids raise their hands. Obviously there are more important ways to stand out and be an individual than your name, but I want to start out on the right foot.

1. Too Obscure
Apple? Sage Moonblood? Kal-El? North West? Celebrities are the kings and queens of wacky ass baby names. And while I don’t want my kids blending into a sea of similarly named kids, I also don’t want to put them out on the fringe with a name that inspires nothing but raised eyebrows and a chorus of “Ummmm…what’d you say your name is??” comments for the rest of their lives. Middle ground is our friend in this department. And I’m throwing alternatively spelled names in here too, because those DRIVE ME CRAZY! No Jaykob, Bryleigh, Alexzander, Ashlee, Whiteney, Alyce over here, thank you. That is a freaking nightmare, and I would spend my life looking at that name and not resisting the urge to hit it with my red editor’s pen!

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In the end, we go into the delivery room with 2-3 top choices. Then, when our baby is born, we look at him/her and decide what the final verdict is. Case in point, when Sam was born MJ and I were 90% sure he’d be Atticus. But then he arrived and we looked at him, and we turned to each other and said “He’s a Sam!” at the exact same time.

It’s not easy and there are a lot of considerations, but it’s pretty cool when you get the end result. Unless you go with Adolf. Please don’t do that.

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