Not to be outdone by his little brother’s hospital stay earlier this month, Will decided it was time for him to spike a fever and give us a scare. But I quickly learned there is one thing more daunting than a 104.3-degree fever — entertaining a 5-year-old who is bored and trapped inside the house.
This is tricky business. You can’t go anywhere because he’s sick and you have to limit contact with other people. You can’t take him outside because it’s New England in winter and it’s FREEZING. It also doesn’t help that Will was so tired and his energy so depleted by this 4-day fever, that he really couldn’t be on his feet for very long before he’d start fading. Yet when he sat back on the couch he’d utter the all too familiar hue and cry of kids the world over — “DAAAAAAD, I’M BORED!”
So what do you do? If you’re me, you sit that kid in front of the TV all day!
The one thing that is crystal clear to me in the wake of this whole Duck Dynasty flap (flap…ducks…get it??) is some people in this country have a completely misguided view of the First Amendment.
If you haven’t heard yet, Phil Robertson – patriarch of A&E’s Duck Dynasty show – was quoted in GQ saying some not-so-flattering things about homosexuality. That Robertson feels this way is unsurprising, given that he’s a 67-year-old camo-clad uber Christian from the backwaters of Louisiana. He called being gay an illogical sin — a sentiment I completely disagree with but frankly, I’ve heard far worse.
But he wasn’t content to just stop there. When asked what, specifically, he considers sinful, Robertson said:
“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
Got that? According to Robertson, if you start with a gay person the next logical step in the sin spiral is fornicating with an animal. Because those two things obviously go hand in hand and certainly should be mentioned in the same breath as one another.
Also, just for good measure, Robertson implies that African-Americans living in 1960s Louisiana were happier before all that pesky Civil Rights nonsense brought them legal rights and basic equality.
“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field…. They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”
Oh boy. Yikes.
The backlash from GLAAD was swift and justifiably upset. Then, as expected, came the corresponding backlash from the backlash courtesy of the Tea Party conservative Christian right, who hailed Robertson as a folk hero being criticized simply for spreading God’s message.
Honestly, I thought it would be a non-issue for A&E simply because Duck Dynasty draws 14 million viewers and is a cash cow to the network. I figured it would be a slap on the wrist for Robertson and then back to business. But late last night, A&E issued a statement condemning the star’s remarks and suspending him indefinitely from the show.
That’s why, as parents, we work so hard to take care of them. We nurture them as babies, providing sustenance, food and shelter. We shower them with unrelenting love and guide them as they utter their first words and take their initial wobbly steps into the world. We wrap them in a blanket of love and security as they grow, because it’s important as parents that we always make them feel safe and protected. That bond between parent and child leads to a solid foundation of trust that should never be violated.
Unless, of course, you can leverage all that trust to trick your kid on video and put him on national television.
That’s right. Will was recently featured on the late night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live. It was a bit Kimmel does in which he tells parents to tell their kids they ate all the Halloween candy on video, and put the reactions on YouTube. Now I know what you’re thinking — “That’s SO mean.” Well, the counter argument is it’s also hilarious. Don’t believe me? Check out the video. Will is at 2:52.
As you can see, the reactions varied. Wildly. And since we pull no punches around here, we can just say what everyone else is thinking: some of those kids are HUGE brats! Now you could argue they’re acting out because they’re being tricked by their parents. However, I say it’s moot. If your kid starts throwing water bottles and haymakers at you simply because his candy is gone, something is rotten in the state of parental Denmark. And the whining from some of the older kids? Yikes.
And even though this is a little underhanded for parents to do, I think it’s a nice test of how your kid reacts to and handles bad news.
Now to be fair, Will did cry. But even though he was sad, he still had the wherewithal to say “I’m not mad” and keep things in perspective. But what I’m really proud of him for wasn’t shown in the Kimmel video, but in the uncut version that I put up on YouTube. Take a peek.
The part I love is towards the end. He already thinks I’ve stolen his Halloween candy, and then I ask him if I can have his future candy that he hasn’t even collected yet. I thought for sure he’d tell me to take a hike, but instead he said “A little bit, sure.”
And that, my friends, is proof that my wife is raising this kid right!
Also, check out this video from a Plainville boy who was also on the show. He’s a really sweet kid and obviously being raised right. Must be a southeastern Massachusetts thing!
I know TV is a four-letter word for some parents and you’re not supposed to have one in the house or let them watch it until they’re 30, because some mom blogger somewhere read half of an article on the Internet that said someone somewhere had a toddler that watched TV once and automatically had his IQ drop 50 points and he just slumped over and started drooling on himself like Jeff the narcoleptic from The Wiggles. Because we all know Jake & the NeverLand Pirates collaborate with Phineas & Ferb to poison the minds of young kids everywhere.
Needless to say, despite “experts” telling me I’m putting Will in great peril by exposing him to the idiot box, I was raised with the TV on at all times and he’s going to be raised the same way. After all, I turned out fine right? RIGHT??
So yeah, we watch some TV. Movies too. And one of Will’s favorites just happens to be one of my own. So we watch it together occasionally. And by occasionally I mean a shitload. To the point he has started to memorize some of the lines and he and I can recite them together by heart. See if you can guess which movie we’re talking about.
Take careful notice of the umbrella at the end complete with stabbing motions while shouting “DIE! DIE! DIE!” Yup, that’s my boy and that’s some good parenting.
To be fair, TV taught me a lot. Sure I read a lot of books and those helped too, but TV did a lot for me. Mainly it turned me into a bar trivia wiz and exponentially increased my pop culture IQ. Who needs classic literature when you can name every character in Seinfeld and can quote 75% of the lines to each and every Family Guy episode? And yes, Will loves Family Guy. Mainly because that theme song at the beginning of each show is like kiddie crack. They love it.
But just to show you I’m not all about the boob tube, here’s a cute video of Will apple picking last weekend. Sure he was supposed to be putting them in the bag instead of eating them, but we had a good time nonetheless. Enjoy.
In a nutshell, it’s about a regular guy named Walter White who finds himself in an extraordinary situation. He’s 50 with a wife and 16-year-old son who has cerebral palsy, and his 40-year-old wife is pregnant. He’s a brilliant chemist who did groundbreaking research years ago, but was screwed over by his partners. Now he’s living in New Mexico and working as the most overqualified high school chemistry teacher on the planet. And because teachers make dick, he also works a second job at a car wash where he suffers daily indignities.
But everything changes when Walt finds out he has terminal lung cancer. Already behind in bills and now facing the proposition of chemo and other expensive medical treatments not covered by insurance, Walt is petrified not about dying, but of leaving his family in a pile of debt.
One day he does a ride-along with his brother-in-law, a DEA agent. While the cops are busting a meth lab, Walt sees one of his fuck-up former students escaping. But instead of telling the police, Walt blackmails this kid Jesse go into going into business together. With Walt’s chemistry background he’s able to cook up the purest methamphetamine around. And eventually the most unlikely of drug kingpins is born.
But as you might imagine, balancing life as the Southwest’s top crystal meth dealer with that of husband and father is challenging to say the least. And indeed, much of the show centers around that dichotomy. But the crux of the whole thing, the main question at the center of everything, is simple.
What are you willing to do to provide for your family?
As any regular reader of these pages knows, that is a question near and dear to my heart recently. But moreover, it’s something I think a lot of dads (and moms too) are struggling with. As the economy continues to sink while foreclosures and bankruptcies spike, many families are in dire straits. So what do you do?
As fathers, we’re programmed to provide at all costs. Or at least that’s how it was with me. So if your family is in trouble, I always thought we should spring into action. If you’re not working then get a job. If you’re working full-time, get a second job. Or a third one if necessary. Work 90 hours a week if you have to. Whatever it takes and whatever you have to do to ensure your family’s well being, you do it. Because you’re a man and that’s what men do.
That’s what Walt did. He even resorted to illegal means to make it happen. He made millions and millions of dollars and made sure that his family would never want for anything. Mortgage payments, medical bills and college tuition for two kids. He flat out provided.
But he also lost his family in the process. He was working so much and for so long he grew estranged from them. Eventually he came to a crossroads where he could either stop making all that money and go back to life as he once knew it, or continue on his path. He chose to keep bringing in the dough, even though he knew his wife wouldn’t take him back because of it. Even though he knew it would harm his relationship with his son and newborn daughter. For Walt, providing for his family was paramount. And he did it even though his family didn’t love him anymore, because “that’s what men do.”
I won’t lie, a part of me really respects Walt. What I wouldn’t give to plop down a duffel bag full of money on the kitchen table and tell my MJ “don’t worry about anything anymore because I’ve got this.” To feel like a “real man.” While I wouldn’t do anything illegal to earn money, I could get a second or third job in addition to the newspaper and my freelance gigs. I could work 90 hours a week like a dog to pay off our bills for a few years. It makes sense.
Except for a few things.
Time spent at these hypothetical jobs is time I don’t get to spend with my wife and child. I work 40+ hours a week as it is. My wife’s hours are even worse. Will is already in daycare full-time. Any further absence on my part or MJ’s would mean either increased time at daycare or with other babysitters. And I have to tell you, I’m not sure I’m willing to do that.
Will amazes me every single day. His progress at this age is so rapid and intriguing, I literally shake my head every day in wonder and amusement. He sings songs, he talks in complete sentences. He’s grasping jokes and humor. I worked Saturday and Sunday this weekend, and as a result I barely saw him at all. And I miss him something fierce. I just can’t imagine that feeling of missing him on an ongoing basis.
Providing for one’s family is a good and noble thing. Kids need food, clothes and shelter. And it takes money to do that. But there are more ways to provide than simply earning a paycheck. Will needs two parents who are there as much as possible.
I have great memories of my father, but most of them are from when I was pre-teen and older. And that’s because he was building a business from scratch. My memories from early childhood are almost exclusively of my mother. I’m not bitter or angry about that. I understand why it was that way. And because of my dad’s hard work we moved into a nice house, had decent cars and my brother and I could play sports. I’m incredibly appreciative.
But at the same time, my dad has told me one of his biggest regrets is not being around as much when we were young. And I think that’s why he’s constantly foaming at the mouth to get Will, because he’s making up for lost time. And doing a helluva job I might add.
The point is I don’t think I’m willing to work 90 hours a week if it means missing out on Will’s childhood. That probably means I’m not a real man to a lot of people. Hell, I have a hard time swallowing it myself to an extent. But do these people realize that part of being a real man is spending time with your kids? Being there for them. Guiding them and helping them at every turn. All the money in the world isn’t going to help when you find yourself a stranger to your own kids.