Dad’s Eye View

I guess that’s how it is when you grow up and have children. The world is in a constant state of change, but so am I. The view through the window is never the same twice, and neither is the view from the eye’s of a dad.

When I was the same age as my little ones, it always seemed that all the world was a stage and that life was a movie starring myself. Outside of my agenda, nothing else really seemed to matter. I could never see the dangers that lie ahead in life. The let downs and the downsides that I would later experience.

There was change happening all around, but I couldn’t see it, couldn’t understand it. I wasn’t able to recognize that the world was in constant motion, and that life would not stay the same way forever. The time was magical. It was full on wonderment and excitement.

Now I have two little ones of my own, and the view of the world has changed so much. Through a new set of eyes, a dad’s eyes, the world is a much different place. Activities that, as a child, seemed so harmless, I now look at with fear while watching my children. All the cool games we played, all of the cool things we got into, they no longer seem so cool. They seem dangerous, and sometimes, even dumb.

I remember all of the fun things we used to say in elementary school because we thought we were cool, or just because we weren’t near our parents. Those phrases, words, and jokes are now the very things that my ears dread hearing from my own kiddos. They are the very things that I feel like I have to say “no” to a thousand times a minute.

But that is life, right?

I guess that’s how it is when you grow up and have children. The world is in a constant state of change, but so am I. The view through the window is never the same twice, and neither is the view from the eye’s of a dad. I want the best for my children, for them to be happy, healthy and safe. I don’t see the world as I once did. I know about the dangers, the unfairness, the let downs my children will face. I don’t see the unending canvas of endless possibilities of fun and excitement. But I do remember what it was like, and I promote and applaud my children for that same view.

My eyes see the world in a different light now. That’s part of the job and part of growing up. I see the world as a dad would see it. A scary place to set your kids into, a place of uncertainty and excitement. A challenge to show the world who I am as a dad as it reflects through my children. A challenge against the visions of manhood we see displayed all around us, and a fight against the way the world depicts me as being a dad. I see it as a place that needs a lot more change before my kids become full fledged members of society.

Maybe I’m just rambling, and perhaps the words will get lost with the past views that have passed in front of my window. Perhaps it’s not the world that has changed, just me

My Son Likes Pink, My Daughter Likes Blue

As modern day dads, we have been working to smash the mold cast by media, pop culture, and generalizations based on the past. For our children, we must also work just as hard to smash the molds of stereotypes that are put in front of them everyday. We can be advocates not just for our children, but for ALL children. Join me in the commitment of raising understanding and inclusive children. For their sake, and for a better future for them all.

Throughout our lives we are force fed stereotypical junk food about genders. Boys in blue, girls in pink. Boys should play superhero and war, girls should play princess and dress up. I don’t know how this came about, or why it still continues. One thing I do know is this: In my house, my children will be raised to look beyond such crap and see people for who they are as people. Does it really matter that there be such a distinction of gender character other than what anatomy has already done for us?

I have to admit, I never really thought about it until I had kids. We were also the parents that found out our first born would be a boy and immediately started shopping blue. Same thing when we find out the second child would be a girl. Pink shopping all the way. Now that they have grown older and really started to come into their own, I realize that it was nothing more than a crock of bird cakes.

My children are now four and two and very much becoming their own little people. All of the colors we spent so much time focusing on are meaningless. My son likes to wear Little Girl’s pink and purple sandals, and she likes to wear Little Man’s backwards hats and blue plaid house shoes. They run around like that without giving a care to what colors surround them. For the kids, it is just fun times. Why can’t the rest of us see this?

I have become committed in my mind that as they grow older, I will do everything in my power to NOT promote these stereotypes. I know that in the future they may encounter people who tease them or bully them. It happened to me in high school as I used to wear 5 strategically placed ponytails in my hair. Yeah, I was one of those kids. I learned both the right and wrong ways of dealing with it, which is experience I can share with my kids should the need arise.

Dads, let me encourage you today to think on this. Think about the importance of nurturing a child’s imagination and creativity. Think about the social importance of raising children who see past the color barrier on so many levels. Think about the important role you play on instilling these values to your children and how you can do so.
As modern day dads, we have been working to smash the mold cast by media, pop culture, and generalizations based on the past. For our children, we must also work just as hard to smash the molds of stereotypes that are put in front of them everyday. We can be advocates not just for our children, but for ALL children. Join me in the commitment of raising understanding and inclusive children. For their sake, and for a better future for them all.

Safety First: Fears and Best Laid Plans

You want to be there to protect them at all times, but we all know we can’t be. We can however be teachers and guides to our children. We can teach them to trust in us and in what we say and that we want what is best for them. In the long run, they will appreciate and honor what you have done for them. That is a reward that I will cherish forever.

The idea for this post came to me after a comment I received on my blog from a close friend of mine, The Bolt. After reading his comment and talking with him during that day, I started thinking more about safety and what part we as dads play in the safety of our children. It comes as no surprise that one of the primary fears for me as a dad is the fear for my children’s safety. I think that is probably a primary fear for most dads. We all want or children to grow up happy and healthy. We want them to be prosperous and to have fullfilling lives. We also want to be there to protect them when we can.

There are times though that we may not be able to be there. One of my biggest fears for my children is something happening when I can’t be there to help protect them. What do we do? How will our children know what to do if something bad happens? As a dad it is not only our desire to protect our children, but it is our job to help raise their awareness and prepare them for whatever may come their way. We are (or should be) our children’s first source of knowledge between good and bad and right and wrong. We should be who they turn to when they want or need to know what to do. A few things that us as dads can do to help prepare our children for the unpredictable:

Fire Safety – Remember the commercials back in the early 90’s that were PSA’s aimed at getting families to make a plan in case of a fire? Sure they look corny to watch now, but don’t rule out the effectiveness. The Bolt suggested we bring it back for all the new parents out there, and it’s not such a bad idea. Teach your children about the dangers of fire. Have a plan in case of an emergency. Run drills (which can be fun if you get them excited about it). Teach them again and again and they will listen. They will also know that dad cares and wants to do his best to help protect them. They will appreciate it.

Stranger Danger – This one always seems a little tricky to me. You don’t want them to be scared of everyone in the world, but you don’t want them to be too trusting and get into danger either. Teach them about saying no to people they don’t know. Not only just to say it, but to know when to say it. Teach them to respect everyone, but when to say no and walk away. Teach them that yelling for help is a good thing. They should always try to alert someone when they think they are in trouble.

Kitchen Hazards – “Don’t touch that it’s hot!” … we have all yelled this line at one point or another. Accidents in the kitchen can happen quickly and unexpectedly even when you are around. I have worked in restaraunts for many years now. Even as an experienced cook, I know that accidents happen even to the best of us. Always make sure your children know their boundaries in the kitchen. My two kiddos know that the knives are sharp and the oven is hot. They also know that they are never to try to touch the two. Repeatedly letting them now where the limit is and what the dangers are is the best defense against the unsepakable dangers of the kitchen.

The Unthinkable – There are many more ways children can be put in danger in the home. Open electrical sockets, broken glass, open windows and doors. You are fully aware of them at all times (it’s dad nature) though your children may not have a clue. You don’t want to push them to be fearful of everything, but you do want to teach them to be prepared. Always take new opportunities to teach your children good and bad, and when to be afraid and ask for help.

You want to be there to protect them at all times, but we all know we can’t be. We can however be teachers and guides to our children. We can teach them to trust in us and in what we say and that we want what is best for them. In the long run, they will appreciate and honor what you have done for them. That is a reward that I will cherish forever.

Taking a Step Back: The Beauty of Simply Watching

They were quietly playing separately, back to back, and both smiling away. It was such beauty, such magic in catching that moment in my eyes. A memory forever to be engraved in my mind as an image of innocence.

Today? Yes, today was one of those days. We have all had them. Nothing seems to go right, you can’t seem to get motivated, and all you want to do is go home to your family. That was my day today. I’m not going to go any further on that note. Let’s skip to the fun stuff!

I finally got home to the family, and I was ready to unwind. The wife had some things to do, I had to wake Caleb up from his nap (a task for only a strong man), and I really couldn’t wait to have them both downstairs so we could play and get our sillies out. I have found that it is always good to just get down on their level, and get your sillies out. If you haven’t tried it, then do it! You won’t be sorry.

After getting Caleb up and bringing him downstairs came the game of quickly entertaining before the grouchies set in. Nobody likes a three year old with the grouchies. Calm comes across the living room finally, and it’s time to get geared up for serious play time. Only thing is, I am tired, I am drained, and I can barely stay sitting up on the couch. Then I caught a glimpse of what my kids were up to in the short time that I was tweeting about my laziness. They were quietly playing separately, back to back, and both smiling away. It was such beauty, such magic in catching that moment in my eyes. A memory forever to be engraved in my mind as an image of innocence.

As always, I take a moment to think about what I just witnessed, and reflect on the beauty of childhood. I know we all want to be engaged with our children, we want to be involved. There is definitely nothing wrong with it. Sometimes though, it is good to just step back and watch. At a time when my body was wearing out and when I was feeling my roughest, I just stepped back, and watched. Seeing that moment, my two little kiddos, my world and my heart, made all my pain go away. My mind was full of thoughts of them, my heart beat strong with love for them. I smiled, I think I even laughed out loud. A simple time when the role was reversed and I wasn’t the one trying to bring a smile to their face. They didn’t have to try, and I will be smiling for days

The simple things can be the biggest memories. Little things we may miss if we don’t take the time to just step back every now and then. You can be the dad your children need you to be and you can be the dad you want to be. Your children will be grateful for your efforts, I can assure you. Just remember though, your children are their own. They are little individuals, with separate feelings, separate likes and dislikes. Sometimes just letting them be them, they become the children we hope they will be, and much, much more. They become heroes of our days, with just a simple smile.