Tag Archives: parenting

It’s No Longer Gay Marriage, Just Marriage

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Will is 7 and Sam is almost 2. Some day, down the road a bit, they’ll read something in the paper or see something on TV about “gay marriage,” and they’ll be confused.

“Dad, what do they mean by ‘gay’ marriage? It’s just marriage, right?”

And I’ll have to remind them gay people weren’t always allowed the same rights as the rest of us. I’ll have to remind them it wasn’t until the year 2015 and by securing the narrowest margin of victory by the Supreme Court of the United States, that gay people in America were treated equally when it came to being able to marry who you love.

They’ll stare at me with raised eyebrows and incredulous expressions, because they won’t be able to fathom how stupid that sounds. It will be utterly incomprehensible to them that so many people in this country treated gay people as second class citizens for so long.

It’ll be just how I looked at my parents when they told me interracial marriage used to be outlawed, or black people and women couldn’t always vote.

I don’t go full ‘MURICA!!! too often, but I’m proud of my country today. It took longer than it should have, but ultimately we did the right thing. We haven’t solved homophobia and we can’t stop fighting for LGBTQIA (for any other letters I may be missing, my apologies) rights, but this is cause to celebrate.

Everyone can marry whoever they want in all 50 states. Victory.

Of course, not everyone sees it that way. Check out these erudite ladies and gentlemen:

Yes, these ridiculous clowns are an affront to decency, common sense, and proper grammar/spelling. And honestly, they do upset me and get under my skin at times. However, I’ve come to realize something very important. Something worth noting and remembering in these modern times.

The world is a better place than ever before. And that’s largely because people of the world are more tolerant than ever before.

The old, white, conservative, religious guard isn’t what it used to be, and for the first time they find themselves losing power, influence, and the numbers game. Seeking to deny gay people equality while rejecting proven science regarding climate change and defending the Confederate flag just isn’t going to fly anymore. They’ve lost the middle ground and they don’t seem to know how to adapt.

But when a caged animal is cornered, it gets desperate.

That’s why you’re seeing tweets like these and outrageous public statements regarding current events. It’s fear. People who have held the power for a long time never want to give it up willingly, so the final holdouts will be louder than ever to compensate for fewer people in their ranks. Basically, we’re seeing the death throes of idiocy. And not a moment too soon.

So congratulations to all the gay people out there who can now enjoy marriage equality. Congratulations to the five US Supreme Court justices who had the wisdom and fortitude to make history today. And congratulations to America, a country that has proven today it still holds dear the idea of freedom on which it was founded.

We have put another shameful period of our history in the rear view mirror. Let us keep it in sight to remember how far we’ve come, while always looking to improve our future.

And let’s make sure love always wins in the end.

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Why I Hate Running (Yet Do It Anyway)

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I fucking hate running.

Some people love running and happily devote hordes of time to it. These crazy bastards on endorphin highs can’t wait to get out on roads and trails to chase their personal bests and FEEL THE BURN. Honestly, good for them. I’m happy for them (even though their speed and relentless enthusiasm makes me stabby at times).

But not me. I’m a big guy, always have been. Even when I lose a bunch of weight I’m still big. Having run four half marathons in my life, I’m prepared to stand out like a sore thumb in a crowd of waifish and highly athletic stick figures that invariably populate these races. Basically, in a sea of gazelles I’m a lumbering water buffalo.

The picture at the top of this post was taken near the halfway mark (about 6.2 miles in), and the photographer managed to capture my facial expression at the EXACT moment I realized I still had nearly 7 more miles to go before finishing. I was tired, sore, my foot hurt, and at the risk of telling you way more than you want to know, the inside of my thighs looked like something out of a B horror movie.

So the million dollar question becomes, why run 13.1 miles if I hate running.

There are a few reasons. First of all, I enjoy doing things I’m not expected to do. Look at me. I’m 5’10”, 255 lbs. Even the kid who handed me my bib number assumed I was picking it up for a friend, and stuttered his way to an embarrassed apology when I said I was running. But I also do it specifically because it’s hard and doesn’t come naturally to me. The mind fuck and head games involved in distance running simultaneously intimidates and intrigues me, and there’s something to be said for overcoming self-imposed limitations and proving yourself.

And yeah, I also do it because I hate going to the gym even more than running, and if I didn’t run I’d weigh 400 lbs. My desk job is very sedentary, my eating habits are mostly terrible, and I’m not one to join CrossFit or some other similar group, so running is really the only healthy thing I do.

But mainly, I do it because Will tells all his friends his daddy runs half marathons.

Is that vain? Yeah, probably. But it’s also the truth. He’s 7 so right now he thinks 13.1 miles is roughly the distance to the moon and back. His eyes go wide when I show him the courses I run, and he thinks it’s the most amazing thing ever. I heard him talking to some friends in school when I was volunteering in his class, telling them his dad runs races and goes really far.

And it made me feel good. I was proud that he was proud of his old man. That means everything to me, and it’s enough to propel my fat ass off the couch and onto the course for a distance I don’t really like driving, nevermind running.

I need my kids to know they have a shot at doing and becoming anything. If they don’t believe that as they grow up, they’ll lose confidence, determination, and hope. And I feel personally showing them it’s possible to reach a pie in the sky goal goes a long way toward bolstering their optimism.

But almost the entire back half of my most recent half-marathon was uphill, and let me tell you, I wanted to quit so badly. I almost did a few times. Right around Mile 8, I realized I was passing a friend’s house. And they were home, so they could’ve given me a ride. I even crossed the street fully prepared to run up to their front door, ask for a Gatorade, and ride back to the starting line in the air-conditioned car.

However, they were out on their porch and they saw me. Mary waved excitedly and Jim shouted his encouragement too. And, much to my dismay at the time, I was guilted into continuing. It’s a good thing, too. Otherwise I never would’ve had this moment at the finish line.

MJ caught the moment I crossed the finish line on video with Will. I won’t lie, it’s a little dusty in here when I watch it.

Posted by The Daddy Files on Sunday, June 14, 2015

Even the best dads only get to feel like true superheroes for a few fleeting moments in life, and running gave me my cape — if only for a few minutes. But it was enough to make all the hills over the course of 13.1 grueling miles completely worth it.

As an added bonus, Will wants to start running with me. We’re going to start with a 5k and go from there. So now I have another reason to keep running — making sure he doesn’t beat me in a race for as long as humanly possible.

And to create more moments like this one.

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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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Son, Please Wait Up From Time to Time

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I don’t want my kids to stop growing up so fast. I just hope they wait up every now and then so I can catch up and enjoy them.

I’ll never forget the week before I left for college. I had just turned 18 and was desperate to leave home and start a new chapter of my life, as most recent high school graduates are. My dad took me out to eat as a goodbye, and to have a heart-to-heart. Man to man. I was slightly annoyed because I had to cancel plans with friends, but I relented. I’m glad I did.

My dad didn’t just work full time when I was growing up, he worked MASSIVE amounts of time. He was busy helping to build a business from scratch, and I’d routinely go entire days without seeing him. In a moment of candor, he told me that was a huge regret and he would always be worried about the time he missed as we grew up. Then, with tears in eyes, he joked that just as I was getting interesting I was leaving, and he made one request.

“I know you’ll be busy, but I just really hope you’ll want to hang out every now and then. Because I really like spending time with you.”

As an 18-year-old I just thought it was sweet but kind of sappy. But nearly 20 years later as a parent of two (soon to be three), I know exactly what he means. And I feel precisely the same way.

Doesn’t it seem like the older our kids get the faster they get away from us? Not only that, they’re constantly aided by evolution and technology to hasten their escape.

Think about it. First they crawl, then they walk, and then they run. Next comes the first tricycle, then the first bike, and finally a car. And I’m not even counting TV, cell phones, and tablets, which doesn’t transport them physically but certainly are an escape of sorts.

Will turned 7 in April. I’ve enjoyed watching him grow, even as that growth firms up his independence and makes me that much more unnecessary. I could keep pace with his crawling, walking, and running. And even when he’s riding his bike, he still can’t completely outrun me.

But now he can leave me in the dust.

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This amazing scooter from Razor arrived at our house last week, and it is just awesome. You should’ve seen his face when he walked into the house and saw it — pure bliss. After all, what 7-year-old (technically it’s for kids 8+ but Will is very tall and responsible) wouldn’t love an electric scooter with twist-grip acceleration that tops out at 10 mph?

After a safety lesson and securing his helmet, we took it to a nearby bike path — and in an instant he was gone.

I was pushing Sam in his stroller and suddenly I felt the familiar pull of ecstasy and trepidation. I love watching the pride he takes in learning something new, but watching him literally zip away from me at high speeds stung a bit.

So I did what most dads would do — I got behind the stroller and began running as hard and fast as I could.

I’m a big guy and that scooter goes 10 mph with ease. I yelled up to Will, who had stopped along the path, that I was coming for him as Sam squealed in (nearly) 2-year-old delight at the wind hitting his face as I built up steam. Faster and faster, until my legs burned and I pulled even with him in a fit of huffing and puffing non-glory.

In the battle of man vs machine, this man proved woefully inadequate. I began to slow as my legs got heavy and the pace became unsustainable. With the little breath I had left, I shouted “Go buddy, go!” and prepared for him to officially leave me in the dust. Because if you do your job right, that’s what kids should do. Onward and upward.

But suddenly — 18 years after my father’s honest talk with me — it was my turn to have tears in my eyes. Not because Will was zipping ahead, but because he was waiting up for me.

The motor grew softer and his speed decreased. He came to a stop, flipped up the kick stand, turned to me and yelled “You comin’, dad?”

I’m coming. As long as he’ll wait up for me from time to time, I’ll be there. And I’ll be grateful.

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I received no monetary compensation for this post, but I did receive the Razor E100 electric scooter. But as always, all opinions are my own. Razor is a great company with terrific products, and you should check out its website, Facebook, and Instagram.

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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:

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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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