Anything & everything parenting-related. Or gay parenting-related. Or specifically dad-related.
Sometimes I forget how lucky I am. For example, how many parents can say their kids are excited to go back to school? Okay, so I loved going back to school as a kid — but all my favorite activities involved air conditioning. My kid LIVES for summer, but he’s hyped for back-to-school as well.
Maybe he’s excited because he’s an only child and misses being around other kids. Or perhaps it’s that his classroom is in a newly-built wing. Or he’s just pumped to use his new Black Panther backpack.
It’s likely all those things. But it’s also a genuine love of learning. And as a parent, I can’t imagine how I could be more lucky.
A couple of weeks ago, Jon initiated this conversation.
“Daddy, this year at school I have some goals,” he began.
“Oh yeah? Like what?” I asked.
He begins to list them. “I want to be a better listener in class. I want to not talk in class unless I raise my hand or it’s my turn. I want to be a better helper. I want to stand up to bullies…”
What did you do on your summer vacation? Before we’re all too entrenched in the new school year, allow me to regale you with a harrowing tale. A tale of childhood. A tale of fun. A tale of absentmindedness and excuses and going commando. And a tale of a very, very frustrated dad.
Last summer my son attended a daytime summer camp and had an amazing time. I’ve never been much of a summer (or any type of) camper. I was/am too uptight to deal with nature or filth or a lack of personal space for long periods of time. But my kid is almost exactly the opposite. Which meant he squeezed the fun out of every moment of camp, but tended to not sweat many any of the details. Which also meant day-after-day-after-day of his shit being left behind at camp.
It boggled my mind, pushed all my Angry Dad buttons, and eventually became comically surreal. Nearly every parent I told said their kid was exactly the same, so I swore that the next summer I would document it somehow. There was some cathartic, empathetic humor to be mined.
Yet as this past school year wound down and quickly burst into summer, I found myself rushing around preparing for camp and completely forgot about my idea. It wasn’t until the first afternoon of pick-up that I remembered; when I opened my son’s backpack to put away his wet clothes and found none. On. Day. One.
It was one week, more than three years in the making. At long last, Camp Kesem at the University of Maryland was a reality.
The campsite was set on a tiny peninsula in southern Maryland, where the Potomac feeds into the Chesapeake. It looked like any other summer camp — bunk houses surrounded picnic tables beneath a giant oak; paddles and canoes stacked alongside a murky, green river; a swimming pool, a mess hall, a fire pit. But this camp was unique. It had a history; a tragic yet inspiring origin story. Created by the literal blood, sweat, and tears of a family, a community, and a university.
To tell the full tale would require more words than a single blog post warrants. However, if you’ve known me or this site for any length of time, you’re probably familiar. All you really need to know is that a loving father named Oren lost his life to cancer; this inspired 12 other fathers to hike across Northern England to raise money for a camp in his honor. This is that camp.
As with every Kesem chapter, the campers are kids whose parents have been touched by cancer — whether a survivor, in treatment, or victim. Yet much more than “cancer camp,” I’ve attempted to do it justice with a few pictures and a smattering of words.
CAMP KESEM, IN PICTURES
The day before camp, I attended the staff’s final training session to share about Oren, Dads4Kesem, and the ways this camp is special to so many. They cheered when I told them Oren’s children would be attending.
Our family is featured in a new spot for the ACLU! We were excited and honored to share our story with an organization we’ve long admired for their commitment to social justice. Along with Jon, Papa and I, the two-minute ACLU Voter video highlights several other families … and several examples of why it’s more important than ever to make our voices heard through voting.
Check it out…
Racial justice, travel bans, disability rights, reproductive freedom, immigration, LGBTQ rights — all of these issues have been through an upheaval under the Trump administration. And as mid-term elections loom across the country, they are in further danger .
I sat on the floor of my son’s room amidst a sea of books, surveying those he’d carefully selected yanked off the shelf for inclusion in a yard sale. Memories from the last eight years of nightly bedtime stories flooded my thoughts (and my eyes a little, too).
Few moments in parenting are as special as those spent reading with your kids. Yet it can be a challenge finding quality children’s books that include a positive — or any — portrayal of fathers.
Some progress has been made, but society still often works overtime against dads making emotional, creative or educational connections with their kids. Books that feature fathers can play an important part in bridging that divide. They help lay an early foundation for equally involved parents, regardless of gender. And for two dad families like mine, representation is crucial to helping our kids feel nurtured, included, and seen.
As I proceeded to cull, it came as no surprise that the “dad” books were making the “keep” pile rather tall. So as we near Father’s Day, I thought I’d share my favorite “keepers” — my favorite children’s books about dads. Each of these father-centric books carries the official Designer Daddy (and son) seal of approval, and is guaranteed to keep dad(s) showing up for story time.
Having taught my son about superheroes since birth, it’s no surprise that he values a warrior’s strength and power. Whether it’s an over-the-top wrestler, nonsensical ball-encased creature, transforming car/alien/robot thing — or hammer-wielding demigod — nothing gets my kiddo more pumped than good triumphing over evil.
While my 8-year-old’s heroic ambitions are clearly evident in how much time he spends leaping from and jumping on our living room furniture, he also embodies the warrior spirit in other ways. Pardon me while I brag.
These recaps centered around my son’s lunch notes have been evolving, hence the new title, “Life & Lunch Notes.” Lately I tend to freeze up or get busy or easily distracted, and end up not writing about a lot of the things happening in life or bouncing around in my head. Yet they often find their way here, attached to a note.
So I hope someone is finding these posts. And not only enjoying the silly pictures, but the small snapshots of life between lunches.
Welcome, 2018! January SuperLunchNotes, unpacked…
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For anyone who wasn’t a straight, white, Christian man, 2017 was a hell of a year. Yes, our Reality Star-in-Chief made a couple of appearances on the blog — how could he not? The year also saw struggles for the trans community, convos with my kid about sex, and family game night made more tolerable by booze. It wasn’t an easy year, but it certainly was eventful. These are my 10 favorite blog posts of 2017.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.
During the coldest, darkest part of winter, is there anything more satisfying than cuddling up with your youngster for a bedtime book? Regardless of the season, story time has always been one of my favorite parts of parenting… and of childhood. From Dr. Seuss to The Chronicles of Narnia and everything in between, the books I grew up on helped shape who I am. Similarly, I hope the books I read to my son will fill his childhood with happy memories and fill his mind with hopes, dreams, and maybe even a little wisdom.
I want to share my love of reading with you and your kids, so I’m giving away a bunch of new children’s books! Two winners will win three books each (see below for more details), all of which are sure to become classics in their own right!
HOW TO WIN:
Just leave a comment naming your favorite children’s book of all time. It can be your own favorite or that of your child. One entry per person, please.
BONUS WAYS TO WIN:
Visit SuperLunchNotes on Instagram. I’ll be featuring a different character from children’s books every day this week. You can leave a comment each and every day for additional chances to win. Tag a friend in your comment to receive an additional entry!
Contest ends Friday, Jan 19 at midnight. Two (2) winners will be chosen at random and notified by email.
For a long time, I prided myself on being a good dad when it came to teaching my son about race. But I’ve fallen short; and in all likelihood, so have most white parents.
I think back to when Jon was little, and how we didn’t use the words “Black” or “white” when referring to race; instead using “brown” and “peach” to indicate skin color. And whenever he would tell me about a new friend or teacher, I’d do this uptight, liberal, word-twist thing where I’d ask him to describe the person using everything but their skin color. And I’ll admit to still feeling a bit of pride every time my eight-year-old makes a non-white friend.
All of these may seem good-hearted or complimentary, but all they accomplish is centering me and my white child; not really teaching either of us anything about racism. I thought that if I avoided the terms “Black” and “white,” I’d somehow avoid exposing my child to the scariness of racism. Yet all I’ve done is dilute its true impact on people of color.