My son’s transition to kindergarten has been more difficult than I’d anticipated. He finished preschool a confident, friendly, and bright young boy. I figured he’d just stroll into kinder (as the cool kids call it), turn on the charm, and settle right in.
Yet the first couple of months have been a roller coaster of emotions, for both of us. There are certainly plenty of good days, but also more bad than I’d hoped. The days — both good and bad — are long, a strain on his young mind and body.
My first inclination at pickup is to ask about his day…and if I sense something is amiss, to dig deeper, set it right, and dole out a life lesson on the spot. But often these attempts are met with blank stares from the weary 5-year-old in my back seat.
So when — and how — do I do my digging, setting, and doling? How do I discover what’s going on inside his scruffy little head, so I can then fill it back up with all the good stuff I want to share with him?
Whenever I hear about a new show or film combining one thing with another (killer robot monkeys, alien zombie bunnies, Sharknado), I automatically think of the scene in the movie Big where Tom Hanks (possessed by his younger self) sits in on a pitch meeting at a toy company. After examining a proposed toy, created entirely from market research, younger self Tom offers this critique:
“It turns from a building into a robot, right?
Well, what’s fun about that?”
You can’t just rip off a good idea, tweak it slightly, and automatically expect it to work. It’s obvious when “grownups” are just trying to capitalize on a trend, and when a kid (or a kid at heart) creates something truly inventive — their passion and inspiration clearly shines through.
Such is the case with Dinotrux, a new series on Netflix that successfully re-imagines the “mash-up” genre into something fun and exciting for kids and families. Based on Chris Gall’s series of children’s books, Dinotrux smooshes together dinosaurs and construction vehicles, as well as several Reptools (reptiles + tools). It’s kind of hard to believe no one had done this before!
Designer Daddy and Lunchbox Dad are here to get you in the back-to-school spirit with a lunchbox full of movie fun!
Remember how awesome summer was? Trips to the beach? Staying up late? ALL THE AWESOME MOVIES?!? Yet if you’re like me, your family is already in full-on back-to-school mode — neck deep in homework, after school activities, PTA meetings, etc. I’m stressing myself out just writing that!
As part of what is often labeled a “non-traditional family,” (or NTF*) I strive to fill our son’s life with people, experiences, and stories that reinforce that there’s a place in the world for everyone, regardless of their age, gender, skin color, or how their family is made — including an adopted boy with two gay dads.
While our family may be atypical in it’s makeup, we are extremely typical (boringly so) in that we have the same worries as so many other parents.
“How will our son do well in school?” “Will he ever eat his vegetables?” “Who will his friends be?”
Yet add to that list “Will he be treated differently for having two dads and being adopted?” and we’re back in non-traditional territory. And as any NTF parent can attest, finding books, toys, TV shows, and movies that represent your family can be challenging.
One great resource I’ve found is something we already had — our Netflix subscription. As a long-time Netflixer (?), I consider myself an expert at finding the perfect show to appease or distract my energetic 5-year-old – or even provide some occasional downtime for his two dads.
Below is a list of nine great Netflix titles that provide just the right mix of entertainment, encouragement and empowerment for our little NTF.
You’re the parent of a young child, nearing the end of another grueling day. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s…what? A pint (or two) of Ben & Jerry’s? Some TV that doesn’t star singing animals? An adult beverage (or two)? Collapsing into bed and/or your Ben & Jerry’s?
You’ve fed, bathed, pajama’ed and toothbrushed your cherubs. You’re so close to freedom you can taste it. All that remains is story time — then you can enjoy a few precious childless minutes before you pass out and things start all over again the next day. Just. One. Book… You can do this!
But then your little one pulls their selection from the bookshelf, shuffles over and plops it in your lap. That book you hate. The one you thought you’d hidden, or donated to the school, or accidentally tossed in a dumpster. Or you’d meant to the last time it was up from rotation — but of course you were so exhausted and relieved when it was finished that it slipped your beleaguered mind. That book you hate because it’s horrible and you’re weary – and now the final few moments until sweet relief will be sheer torture.
These are those books. Read them and weep.
As I mentioned in my first installment, Jon’s list of things he wants when he turns five is exhaustive and exhausting. In addition to things he wants to be (taller) and have (all manner of toys), there are things he wants to experience. Things that are well above what’s appropriate for his age. He claims he’s not afraid of anything (except for getting shots, going into a darkened room alone, biting spiders and vegetables) — and I’m proud when he’s my brave, little toaster. But I’m not ready for him to be 100% fearless yet. He’s got stuff to learn, limits to experience, dangers to fully comprehend. Like cyborg assassins from the future.
SPOILER ALERT! THIS IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. Stay tuned for more sequels to “When I’m five years old…”
On your way out of the theater, leave a comment telling us what movies well above their age range your little ones are clamoring to see. Or ones you saw long before you were ready.
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For more family-friendly(ish) fun… stampede, swim or crawl (because the lower half of your cybernetic body has been severed) over to Facebook and like the Designer Daddy page. I’ll bring the popcorn!
It’s late February, and once again there’s ice and snow on the ground. And once again I’m hauling my kid to the mall to burn off energy (and preserve my sanity) in that germ-infested swarm known as the Play Area. As soon as we step off the bottom step to the mall’s lower level, JJ immediately charges in the direction of the indoor plastic playground. Out of instinct—and fear of him running headfirst into an adult crotch—I start the awkward walk-jog of an exhausted, out-of-shape dad in hopes of snatching him from the jaws of danger or a lawsuit. I haven’t shaved or bathed (it’s Sunday – when cleanliness is far from godliness), and I’m wearing a slight variation of the clothes I’d worn the previous day. I’m blending in quite nicely with the other beleaguered parents, walk-jogging through the mall like suburban zombies.