Yesterday the news cycle was peppered with the anecdotal silliness of a petition started to let Bert and Ernie get married. Today’s response is brought to you by the letters A through C.
A: I of course wholeheartedly agree with the idea of having LGBT characters / same-sex couples represented on Sesame Street. I’ve been watching children’s television pretty much daily for the last year, and I’ve only seen one fleeting reference to two dad or two mom families anywhere. (The video below runs occasionally on Nick Jr. The family in question shows up at the 1:11 mark.)
The thing is, non-platonic relationships are extremely rare among Sesame Street’s furry folk. True, Kermit has had a decades-long tumultuous affair with Miss Piggy, but that’s only been in the context of The Muppet Show. The characters on Sesame Street, other than (kind of) having a gender, don’t even really have specific ethnicity. Except for The Count, who I guess is Transylvanian.
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Last December I was searching for papa-centric gifts to get JJ’s Papa for Christmas, and let me tell you, it was slim pickings. This is unfortunate as a lot of two dad families go by the “daddy/papa” monikers. In addition to the papa stuff being few and far between, lots of it was for grandfathers. And while we may not be spring chickens, we ain’t visiting Grandpa Land anytime soon. However, I did manage to find a few fun things, including a charming book about animal babies and their fathers called “Papa Papa”, as well as this sassy “Who’s Your Papa?” tee shirt…
But the best by far was the book “Daddy, Papa, and Me” which has since become one of our favorite books to read to JJ. It’s a very straightforward, no-nonsense, non-preachy, day-in-the-life story of a child (cleverly illustrated so as not to be gender-specific) and his/her two fathers. It starts off with the child asking “Who wants to play with me today?,” followed with spread after spread depicting things Daddy and Papa does with the realistically energetic toddler. Our favorite is this one, that most accurately portrays our family’s greatest strengths, with Daddy helping to “paint the sky” and Papa helping to bake a pie (our Papa is Italian, and a cook among cooks).
After a slew of other activities (throwing a ball, having a tea party, etc.) the book ends with a sentiment any parent of a toddler can relate to, regardless of the family’s makeup…
What appeals most to me about the book is that it doesn’t try to make a case for this family, or celebrate that it’s “different.” There are plenty of other books for that. What it does celebrate is the joy of a child spending time with his parents — learning, playing, and experiencing life.
For you two mother families, “Mommy, Mama, and Me” is also available from the same author.
I met Armin Vit at Design Ranch, the awesomely hands-on creativity conference I attended earlier this year. Armin and his wife, Bryony Gomez-Palacio, led one of my favorite workshops, “Posters from the Ground Up.” Also in attendance were Armin and Bryony’s two adorable kids, who got crafty right alongside us and even strolled around the room, critiquing our work. In addition to being a designer dad, Armin (with Bryony) runs UnderConsideration, where they not only design, but tirelessly blog via sites like BrandNew and FPO. Originally from Mexico City, Armin and family now live in Austin.
Q&A with designer dad Armin Vit
Tell me briefly about your design business and what kinds of clients you have/what kinds of work you specialize in.
We’ve been in formal business since 2007, when my wife (and fellow designer and business partner) and I established UnderConsideration as an LLC and left our respective jobs. BUT, the core of our business — blogging — had been in place since 2002, but that’s part of a bigger story. In our first two years we did a lot of client work. Websites and identities for a good balance of for-profit clients and non-profits. In 2009 we sort of lost all our clients (thanks, economy!) and we were forced to figure out how to make money on our own, and we have transitioned into a strange “publisher” where we generate content online through our blogs. We’ve self-published one book and are in the process of another; we run one conference right now and are planning to run two next year; and we’ve established a couple of design awards that have attracted some really fantastic work.
How long have you been a dad? How many kids? Ages?
I’ve been a dad for four years. Two daughters — the oldest one just turned 4, and youngest one is 13 months.
At long, long, LONG last, here are my top pics for each photo from Captionpalooza 2011. Thanks again to all who participated — I’m honored to have such creative (and sarcastic) readers!
Photo 1 winner: Ryan W
On a recent cross-country-in-a-plane family trip (what were we thinking?) — after having our flights delayed multiple times, two trips to the airport, an inordinate amount of airport/airplane food, we finally arrived at our destination to discover our luggage had (shocker!) not made it. We had to wait a full 24 hours for it to be delivered, somewhat safe and sound. The one bright light in all this (aside from our gracious hosts and an impromptu shopping trip to Target) was the fun toothbrush said gracious hosts gave JJ to use.
The GUM Crayola Timer Light Toothbrush has been around for several years it seems, but as I keep saying — none of this stuff was on my radar before, so indulge me. And not only is it a hoot to use, but it achieves what it promises! Kids (at least ours) will brush longer as they are entranced by the flashing crayon protruding from their maw. For older kids (it’s officially for ages 4-11) the light serves as a timer to let them know to brush until the flashing stops (60 seconds). For my little rug rat, it’s just plain entertainment.
Plus, it’s got a suction-cup base, which is great since no toothbrush that’s been sold since 1970 (or that costs more than 50 cents) fits in a standard toothbrush holder. (And yes, it sticks up horizontally, too…)
One question I have though… does this not inhibit kids from kicking actual crayon eating?
Here I am – heart in hand (or morphing into a bird, rather) – once again apologizing for a long span of blog silence. But I’ve been busier than I have since… well, I can’t remember since when. And with the economy still recovering and so many friends looking for work, I am extremely grateful. Especially since I know a dry spell is always just around the corner. Such is the life of the self-employed.
But another reason I’m enjoying this giant mountain of work I’ve been buried under is that most of it is good stuff. And for a designer (well, for me at least) good stuff = 1 of 3 things:
1. Creative Freedom
2. Decent Budget
3. Likeable Clients
And in several cases, I’m even into my #4: Projects/Clients I Genuinely Support and/or Am Excited About. So yeah, I’m savoring this, counting my lucky stars, rubbing the Buddha, etc.
more here >>
Kevin McFadin is the husband of a former co-worker of mine. He and his wife Dawn are both incredible illustrators/designers and together own and operate Fan Works Design in Richmond, VA. He also wears a few other hats, which I’ll let him tell you about…
Q&A with designer dad Kevin McFadin
Tell me briefly about your design business and what kinds of clients you have.
I’ve been running the shop with Dawn since 2002. Before that I was an AD in Alexandria [VA] and up until then I was the staff illustrator at a couple of newspapers. I still pursue illustration, inside and outside of the shop.
Getting up and running out of the DC Metro area many clients are, of course, associations and non-profits. We’ve worked with organizations based out of Richmond, such as Southern States and Child Fund, and helped some start-ups here in town when we were starting up ourselves.
I also volunteer/DJ at WRIR 97.3 FM, the independent radio station here (the largest LP station in the country) and volunteer on the Marketing Committee. So I offer up what I can when they need it: posters, logos, CD packaging, ads, etc. It’s an amazing place, amazing people and a real oasis.
How long have you been a dad? How many kids? Ages?
Renny turned 9 in June. She’s it… she sets the bar pretty high.
I’m on the last leg of my trip, so here it is folks — the final photo! This action shot was taken on Father’s Day on our visit to a friend’s decidedly toddler-nonfriendly apartment. JJ managed to entertain himself in a number of ways, including lodging himself in the cat’s jungle gym. You gotta’ admire his determination.
Thanks for playing along everyone! And as promised, I’ll post my faves upon my return to “normal” life. Because I have, you know, all that extra time on my hands.
This is actually a still from a video I shot of JJ luxuriating in his kick-ass new pool (Yup, it’s got a whale’s tail for shade, and you can attach a hose to squirt water through a blowhole). I tried to capture his peak moment of glee, which was difficult since he was in a constant sate of giddiness. He was non-stop for about an hour, climbing in and out of the pool, splashing in it, squealing, and throwing random items from the yard into it. So much fun to watch…
…The only downside to JJ overdosing on inflatable elation was that he got extremely wound up and didn’t crash until 5pm. And it was not a pretty landing.
Life can be hard for a little boy in summertime.
Sorry to get all Perez on this photo, but I wanted to make sure you could see JJ’s foot in the midst of our first attempt at a fort. When my brother and I were young, one of our favorite pastimes was to build forts or other milieu using every pillow, quilt and sheet in the house. One particularly popular scenario involved being chased – and subsequently eaten – by a dinosaur. We then proceeded to climb all throughout its body until we were pooped out, and then started the process all over again. This game I ingeniously dubbed “Dinosaur Poop.” Yes, I’ve been this creative my whole life.