Typical boy. All boy. Boys will be boys. I cringe every time I hear those phrases — whether used to praise, admonish, excuse, or label a boy; especially when it’s my boy. And especially when it’s me saying it about my boy.
Stereotypes are convenient, yet entirely dismissive of a child’s ability (and need) to experience beyond what society expects of them. As his father, I strive to fill my son’s eyes, ears, and mind with all the richness and diversity the world has to offer. And as he’s got two dads, making sure he’s surrounded by strong females is at the top of that list.
In addition to the real women in our lives, superheroes have been a way to introduce Girl Power to my son. From the books we read, to the notes I put in his lunch, and of course the TV shows and movies we watch — he’s never lacking for examples of strong, wondrous women.
Below are 10 of the best examples of Girl Power shows for boys* currently on Netflix, all “Boy Approved” by my “all boy” boy.
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Powerful Girl: STEALTH ELF
Show: Skylanders Academy
So I did some work with Marvel Comics (I ❤️️ typing that!), where I talked about everyday heroes. I nominated my friends the Scheers for Marvel’s #WhoIsYourHero campaign. If you haven’t read it yet, go do that.
As part of the gig, Marvel sent me some cool superhero merch so our family could play dress up, mug for the camera, and display the true essence of our own superheroics. Not content to just pose and shoot, I called upon my mutant design powers (and my family’s patience) and spent some time tinkering in Photoshop and Procreate.
Presenting, my family — as our Marvel Superhero selves.
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Adventurous & headstrong; loves to make a racket and swing hammers around the house. 🔨 JON is… THE MIGHTY THOR!
Lately I’ve been eyeing 50 as the age when I for sure have to start acting like an adult. And as graphic design and parent blogging are mostly a young person’s game, I dread my half-century birthday (which is still a couple years away, thank you) on multiple levels.
My husband, however, has never looked or felt better in this, his 50th year. He’s kicking ass at work, lost a bunch of weight, and has some great friends he gets to watch Caps games with. I couldn’t be happier for or prouder of him… while also grumbling jealously at his non-thinning hair and endless energy. 😠
We celebrated Nick’s 50th birthday recently, with a big shindig at our new digs, complete with catered BBQ, tons of booze, and a wonderful representation of friends and colleagues from across his five decades. And as this was a big milestone, I pulled out all the creative husband stops. First, with a custom coaster I designed, playing off his love of bourbon:
I’ve written about Super Heroes on this site a lot. Like, a lot a lot. Spandexed super beings have been part of my life for as long as I can remember; and becoming a father only deepened my fandom as I passed down all this adoration, excitement, and knowledge to my son. Yet while I ensure that Jon is up on his origin stories and rogues lists, I want him to know heroes exist in real life, too.
A Family of Super Heroes
We’ve been lucky enough to know such a team of heroes, in the form of The Scheer Family — who I’m nominating as part of Marvel’s Heroes Come In All Sizes campaign!
I’ve written about the Scheers before, too, but am always thrilled to share their heroic story.
On Valentine’s Day, I shared my not-so-scientific gay/straight Relationship Comparison Study. It illustrated some of the ways gay and straight parents differ, many of the funny ways we’re alike, and how all our relationships need a little help sometimes — the message behind Plum Organics’ fun Do Your Part(ner) campaign
I also mentioned that my husband and I took Plum’s Do Your Part(ner) Pledge, making a commitment to try some new ways to rekindle and reconnect. I’m here to report back on our successes and failures, as well as to give away a bunch of nifty Do Your Part(ner) kits from Plum I’ve unofficially named BOX OF BOW-CHICKA-BOW-WOW.
Nick (AKA Papa) and I will have been together 20 years this October. We became parents when we were 42 and 40, and Jon is now seven (you do the math, we’re old and tired). As with any parents — gay or straight — we have to work to find time to be intimate, whether it’s in the bedroom or sitting down to snuggle or just finding out how the other is doing.
Luckily, Plum Organics is here to help. They sent us this nifty (and sexy) kit to spark some ideas on how we can reconnect both physically and emotionally.
< record scratch noise >
Waitaminnit… why is a baby food company sending out sexy-time kits?
The “straight” answer is that sexy-time leads to babies, which leads to potential new customers. But the real story is that Plum is a brand by parents, for parents that believes in honest (and sometimes messy) conversations; they’ve been at it for years with their #ParentingUnfiltered campaign.
So back to the kit. It’s part of Plum’s Do Your Part(ner) campaign, which involves taking a pledge to make your relationship a priority, with the end goal of making the entire family happier and healthier. Plus it’s also a lot of fun.
You guys. YOU GUYS! Check it out — my son’s first ever lunch note! < beams with fatherly pride >
A little context
I’m writing this on a plane to San Diego for the Dad 2.0 Summit, where I’ll be for the next four days. I left at the butt crack of dawn, so didn’t have time to do a proper lunch note. “Proper” meaning the notes I make for my 7-year-old on the daily since he first set foot in school; meaning the Red Turbo Power Ranger he had requested I make for his best friend.
As Donald Trump takes office, I’m struck by many things: fear, anger, frustration, waves of nausea. I’m also reminded (almost daily for the past year) just how childlike America’s new leader is. Not in a wide-eyed, full-of-wonder kind of way, but more of a throwing-himself-on-the-ground-and-holding-his-breath-till-he-gets-his-way kind of way.
One of Trump’s most infantile characteristics is his apparent inability to accept advice. Not from former presidents or members of his own political party. Not from career military generals or the entire intelligence community.
Since there’s little hope for our new president behaving like a rational adult (much less, presidentially) I thought I’d appeal to Trump’s childishness with some fatherly wisdom.
So I went through all the lunch notes I’ve made for my son, and pulled together a few I thought might help Donald in his new job. Keep in mind these were originally created for a little boy between the ages of 4 and 6. Also keep in mind how scarily appropriate they are for the new Leader of the Free World.
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1. WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY.
What it doesn’t come with is the right to be mean to someone because of their gender, race, orientation, religion, or disability. Or any reason, really.
For seven days in July, I and eleven other dads hiked 90+ miles along England’s historic Hadrian’s Wall. We walked to fund a camp for kids whose parents had been touched by cancer. We walked to honor our friend Oren Miller, who had died of cancer the year prior – and for whom the camp would be named. We walked for those in our own lives impacted by the disease, including several in our group. But we also walked for ourselves.
The experience was exhilarating and exhausting, thrilling and tedious; breathtaking — both literally and figuratively. It was the undisputed apex of my year, and near the top of any other.
Until now, I’d only shared about the walk on social media. Life and all its complications — and my perfectionist tendencies — kept me from documenting it properly here.
But in light of the announcement that the University of Maryland Camp Kesem will officially come to be this fall, I thought it high time I collected my thoughts, memories, and images from that life-changing week in a more permanent fashion.
I still haven’t decided if this can be done in one post or seven (or something in between), so bear with me as I return to the rolling hills of Northern England and allow this epic outing to re-unfold.
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As with many of my ideas, this one started bright but with very little planning — certainly not enough to allow for the predictable unpredictableness of the holidays.
“I SHOULD DO A ’12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS’ SUPERLUNCHNOTES! I’M SO NIFTY & CREATIVE! AND I’M SURE I CAN THINK OF ALL TWELVE, SO THERE’S NO NEED TO PLAN THIS OUT VERY FAR IN ADVANCE!”
I was zipping along doing a note a day to culminate on Christmas Eve. But then my 7 year-old got sick. Then some work crises sprung up. Then I traveled to Texas for a friend’s funeral. Mix in all the seasonal insanity of shopping, decorating, planning — and for the first time in our new house — hosting, and that puts me here, on January 2nd, posting about Christmas. Right on schedule.
In my defense, my (after-the-fact) research shows that “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is in fact about the days following December 25th, not those preceding it. Ergo, this post is actually a little ahead of schedule. Gold star for me. ⭐
Blah, blah, blah — here are the notes, along with a few notes on the notes.