One of my greatest fears is passing down my laundry list of insecurities to my children.
Will, who turns 6 next week and is in the throes of kindergarten, loves music and loves to dance. Well, he used to love to dance. I’m still not sure what happened, but at some point in the not-too-distant past, he became extremely self-conscious about it. Now he’s convinced he’s a terrible dancer and — even though he admits he loves it — thinks any attempt to dance will just end with him embarrassing himself.
I was heartbroken. And just like that, I was transported back to the panicked fragility that constituted my youth.
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’ve been blogging for nearly four years. In that time there has been good and bad, but some of my favorite posts have been about the unexpected and wonderful things Will has done. I’ve chronicled his smiles, his first words, his crawling and his first steps. The pages of this blog are his history. Our history. A virtual flip book that shows us all growing—in so many ways.
It goes without saying if I was making a Top 10 List of Kodak Moments I’d have limitless options. There are stories, videos and pictures of meaningful occurrences involving Will. A cornucopia of beautiful snapshots and instances of self-discovery that have forever changed my life. That have made me alternately swell with pride and tear up with joy. Memories I will always have in my heart that will make me smile whenever I think of them.
As parents we never want to see our children frightened. But every morning after Will wakes up and every night before he goes to bed, he lives out a nightmare that torments him on a daily basis. And there’s nothing I can do about it.
It starts shortly after he awakens from blissful slumber. Knowing the chaos headed our way, we try to soften the blow by giving him some milk and letting him sleep in our bed for a half hour or so. But eventually it’s time to wake up and start the day. And for Will, that means facing a terrifying proposition that ends with him being enveloped in darkness and temporarily cut off from the rest of the world. He tries his hardest to avoid it—and we’d like nothing more to protect him from it—but it’s an inevitable part of his life that he, and we, will have to simply come to grips with.
After all, he can’t go to school naked.
Yup. Will is PETRIFIED when it comes to getting dressed. Specifically, putting his shirt on. The .000004 seconds the shirt goes over his head and temporarily leaves him in the dark bring on an anxiety attack that makes Woody Allen seem downright calm. Mel Gibson would have an easier time peacefully sitting in at temple during Yom Kippur. Charlie Sheen stands a better chance at embracing sanity and actually being funny than the likelihood of Will angelically standing pat while we pull his shirt over his head in the morning and again after bath time.
No matter how many times we try to show Will how painless the process will be, he still freaks the fuck out.
I stretch the head-hole for him. I try to reason with him. I’ve eliminated all “tight head” shirts from his wardrobe. But it doesn’t matter. I tried to put his Celtics tank-top on and he still pitched a fit. A tank-top people!!
Every morning I have to literally wrestle with him. Arms flailing, legs kicking…sometimes MJ has to pin him down like a mental patient or I need to leg-lock him while I force the shirt over his head. It’s gotten to the point I flat out lie to him now. I put all of his other clothes on first and I hide the shirt. When he’s convinced he’s safe and turns his attention to the TV, that’s when I pounce. I launch my sneak attack with deft dad stealth and wrangle the shirt over his head while holding his arms down with my elbows.
Sure he cries and accuses me of lying. And that’s fair because, well, I did lie. But I’m OK with that. The kid has to wear a shirt and I’m not some hippie parent who’s going to sit around and discuss the benefits and necessity of clothes until he gets dressed of his own free will. Screw that noise.
The way I figure it, he’ll get so sick of me badgering him every day that he’ll eventually just start picking the lesser of two evils and begin to put on his shirt himself just so he won’t have to deal with me. Seriously. I can be pretty obnoxious and persistent. That’s how I wore MJ down and got her to marry me.
My “Confronting Life” article went viral over at the Good Men Project on Oct. 23, 2010. It currently has 775 comments and 678 people “liked” it on Facebook. It’s the most widely read piece they’ve had on the site and even today—four months exactly after it was first posted—it’s third on the “most popular articles today” list. It was featured over at Salon where it garnered more than 200 comments and 11,000 Facebook likes. And finally on YouTube, the video of me engaging the anti-choice protesters currently has 791,053 views with over 8,000 comments.
What does that all mean? It means for the last four months not a single day has passed when I haven’t gotten a comment or e-mail about what happened.
And for the most part, that’s been a good thing.
I’ve gotten hundreds—possibly thousands—of uplifting and supportive comments and e-mails from people all over the world. The ones I treasure most are the extraordinarily personal e-mails from women who said they were in similar situations and needed an abortion, but no one was there with them when protesters tore their world apart. They described how they wished they had the strength to say something at the time, and how grateful they were that someone finally did. I kept every one of those e-mails and I read them from time to time to remind myself that what I did was worth it.
I’d say 95% of the responses I’ve received have been positive, which is an overwhelming number for which I’m eternally appreciative. But I have to admit, that 5% has really pissed me off.
I knew this would garner a lot of attention, both positive and negative. So I knew I had to prepare myself to let the ignorant comments from fundamentalist Christians and pro-life zealots roll off my back. But for someone as opinionated as myself, that’s not easy. And when they’re attacking me personally, as well as my family, it gets even more difficult.
For the most part I ignored them, but sometimes they just got me so worked up I jumped back into the fray. I regretted it immediately and I know that’s exactly what they want, but these people are just so nuts. And so wrong. Here are a few examples of what I’ve been dealing with.
You didn’t HAVE to abort your dying infant. You CHOSE to. You could have tried with all of your heart to save the baby, you could have at least given it a chance. Most fathers would do anything to save their child from disaster or disease, but you and your wife decided to murder your baby without even giving it a chance at life. So what if the baby was dying, there was still some chance that it would have lived. Maybe it would have have been disabled, but it would have lived.
Even though your baby was most likely going to die you should not kill it..let life run its natural causre. And maybe with some faith and prayer your child might survive. And you wouldn’t regret later killing your child. And what those women were doing was just telling the truth..its not their fault that your baby has that disease dont yell at them.
Forget the fact that renowned doctors gave Alex a ZERO PERCENT chance at life. That she had no kidneys, no bladder and no anus. We weren’t worried about our baby being disabled, we were devastated she would not survive. People like this would have us pray for a miracle that somehow medical science will find a way to spontaneously grow vital organs for a still-developing fetus within five months. Their advice is don’t listen to the doctors, but instead I should talk to the an invisible deity in the sky and ask him for help. Riiiight. But here on Planet Earth, MJ and I knew there was no point in her carrying around a dead baby for five more months just to avoid the stigma of having an abortion. And anyone who can’t see that is dumber than rocks.
Speaking of dumber than rocks:
I don’t doubt that you and your wife had a very hard decision. But you wimped out. That child was living and didn’t deserve to die regardless of your religious beliefs, regardless of your lack of heroic virtue in caring for those who needed it most. If a thug attacked your wife and the baby miscarried due to the attack, you would have had every right to prosecute him for attacking both your wife and your unborn. It’s a double standard that you refuse to acknowledge. And you should have looked beyond the faults of local protestors to see that you and your wife compromised your values and deprived your unborn the right to exist. I find this whole charade deplorably lacking and see you as someone who is not manly enough to shoulder heroic responsibilities.
Really? You’re comparing this to a mugger attacking my wife? You’re comparing my sick child with no chance of surviving outside the womb, to someone who mugs a living person on the street? Just checking. And the part about MJ and I “compromising our values” is hysterical. Unlike most “pro-life” people, I actually do value life. But I can’t turn a blind eye to the fact that Alex had a condition incompatible with life. So instead of making the baby suffer along with my wife, we simply decided to speed up the inevitable. If anything, I look at it as an act of kindness. Was it difficult? Hell yes. But making the right choice can be hard.
This guy is not a hero, nor a winner. He’s a malicious big mouth loser.
I actually agree with some of what this person is saying. No one won in our ordeal, so I’m certainly not a winner. And I’m also not a hero. Not by any stretch. I even went out of my way to avoid the use of that word and corrected anyone who labeled me as such. And yes, I have a big mouth. But one needs that in order to properly battle back against even larger malicious losers such as yourself.
Perhaps the most vociferous commenter has been trolling my YouTube account for four solid months. He is relentlessly pro-life and unabashedly Catholic. Which is fine. I don’t agree, but to each his own. But the problem arose recently when he suddenly stopped arguing about abortion and the video, and then stated that I faked the whole incident and that I beat my wife.
These women, when confronted with an angry guy who obviously beats women but runs away when men appear, were more non-plussed than anything. They have no idea who Angry McScreamy is, doubtless because they’ve never seen him before, because he made the whole story up.
I wrote earlier that he scrams at, and beats his wife, on a regular basis, for no reason at all. I’d like to apologize for that. What I should have written was that he screams at and beats his wife on a regular basis, but when and only when she deserves it. I regret the error.
That’s when I fed the troll.
You can say a lot of bad things about me. That’s fine. But to claim I beat my wife is ridiculous. Not to mention libel, since it is totally untrue. Had those protesters been men, I would’ve confronted them the same way. Nothing would’ve changed. I never swore at those women. I kept my distance from them so they wouldn’t feel threatened. I engaged them on a public sidewalk in a nonviolent manner. But because these people have no valid argument for the despicable behavior of the protesters, they need to try to invent some kind of wrongdoing on my part to shift attention from the real issue. But it won’t work.
And as for the domestic violence allegations, all I can say to the person who made that comment is you better hope you get me in a fight and not my wife. Because you might be able to take me, but MJ will destroy your ignorant ass.
Lastly, speaking of fighting, I got this e-mail a couple of days ago from a truly idiotic man who highlights the level of moronic thought from the opposing side.
So, I saw the video where you act like a real man an attack a couple of older women protesting. Do not even ATTEMPT to claim it was out of an emotional response since you a)filmed it and b) put it on the internet. Where do you get off screaming like a lunatic at a few protesters at an abortion clinic? What did you expect at an instituion where the chief motive is to kill babies? And yes, I said babies, and if you ever saw the silent scream you would agree. I’m sorry for your loss; I couldn’t imagine how it would feel to lose a child. However, the fact that you ripped into those women and put it online makes me want to fight you, like any man walking by should have. So my proposal is a one on one, no weapons or anything dirty, me vs. you. Just squaring up and proving to you that a loud voice does not make you a man.
Where to begin with this lunatic jackass?
By his rationale, no men should ever be able to publicly challenge older females. Even though said women are standing in a public place screaming across a crowded city street. Even though they’re holding asinine signs and drawing attention to themselves. By his deluded rationale, these women should be allowed to say whatever they want without consequences, simply because of their gender and age.
Furthermore, any man who does challenge them in a nonviolent way should be pummeled by any other “good” men who might be in the area. Because violence is always the best answer.
But I agree that having a loud voice does not make one a man. Similarly, winning a fistfight doesn’t make one a man either you pathetic excuse for a human being. These women verbally accosted my wife and made her hysterical before surgery, on one of the most difficult days of our lives.
So, Mr. Tough Guy, let me ask you this: What’s more manly than standing up for your wife and defending her against the people who hurt her? Because that’s what I did. And I did it on video to show people how hurtful these protesters are, and how much damage they cause. If you want to fight me for that, well…that’s your issue. I’m not that tough, maybe you’ll even win. But that’s not going to stop me from doing the exact same thing if I’m ever in a similar situation in the future. Because I did the right thing. The necessary thing.
And none of your threats or piddly little e-mails are ever going to change that. And in the meantime, I smile as I watch the YouTube hits climb higher and higher, because it means more people are getting a first-hand glimpse at how cruel and ridiculous the people who sent these e-mails really are.