education

The ABCs of Trump: Words My Kid Has Learned Since 45 Took Office

August 31, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, POP CULTURE

The other day my 7-year-old was chatting away about some odd thing or another — a not infrequent occurrence. But this time instead of pretending to understand words like Zombie Pigmen or Squirtle, I heard a word I recognized: egomaniac. I didn’t catch the context, but knew immediately why this had entered my son’s lexicon: Trump. This got me wondering… What other words has my kid learned since DJT became president?

As a candidate and up through his first 222 days in office (but who’s counting?), 45 has introduced the American people to new levels of divisiveness, self-involvement, and volatility. He’s also introduced Americans — and our children — to a whole lot of new words.

Some of these are words adults don’t typically teach to kids due to them being entirely inappropriate. Many are words whose definitions have been tainted by POTUS-association. And quite a few are completely made up — maniacally spewed from Cheeto-In-Chief’s raging maw.

So as it’s a brand new school year, I’ve compiled a vocabulary list — an ABCs of the unfortunate, vulgar, disturbing words my child and others have learned these recent dark months.

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THE ABCs of TRUMP

WARNING: As with everything Trump-related, some language may not be suitable for children. Or anyone, for that matter.

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A is for ARMAGEDDON

Armageddon was one of those films I look forward to watching with my son in a few years. Perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon, devouring popcorn and laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. Now the actuality looms on the horizon, thanks to our posturing POTUS. Where’s a squad of slow-motion-walking misfits you need them?  Additional As: arrogant; alternative facts; alt-right
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ABCs of Trump
B is for BIGLY

His ego knows no bounds — so it made sense Trump would make up a word to exaggerate his exaggerations. But it turned out that a) he was maybe saying big league instead; and b) bigly is an actual word, though categorized by Dictionary.com as archaic (meaning nobody uses it anymore, so you’re weird if you do). Either way, Merriam-Webster honored bigly as one of the most-searched words in 2016. And what was the top Word of the Year for 2016? Surreal. Bonus Bs: buffoon; Breitbart; blowhard; bigot

(Aren’t you proud I made it through that without a single joke about Trump’s decidedly non-bigly hands?)
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READ FULL ARTICLE >>

5 Things I Won’t Tell My Kid About Sex

June 9, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF

5 Things I Won't Tell My Kid About Sex

Not nearly long enough ago, our 7-year-old shared a conversation he’d had with a friend… about sex. It was retold with a mixture of curiosity, amazement, and giggling. And was alarmingly detailed.

I have to admit it took me off guard. I thought we had a little longer before all this! I’d done my duty as a progressive, gay dad to teach my son to be proud of his “different” family, not to tease or exclude anyone for how they look or who they were, and that Donald Trump is a horrible example of humanity.

But now it was time to step up and have “The Talk.” Or more accurately, “The Ongoing Conversation.” We’ve had lots of practice sharing the important stuff at the appropriate age regarding Jon’s adoption, so this should be easy, right?

RIGHT?!?

READ FULL ARTICLE >>

5 Ways Same-Sex Parents Can Prepare Their Kids for School

August 29, 2016 | By Brent Almond | LGBT STUFF

Preparing kids of same-sex parents for school

Back-to-school time can be chaotic and stressful; and families with same-sex parents have even more issues to anticipate. Kids with two moms or dads may face situations with potential to both alienate or confuse them, whether it’s a child’s first time attending school or just the next grade up,

To supplement my own (limited) wisdom and experience, I enlisted the help of 10 teachers. While not all have taught kids of same-sex parents, they were all generous and thoughtful in their responses. Here are 5 of the issues same-sex parented families often encounter, along with input from my awesome panel of educators.
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1. FAMILY MATTERS: Talking About Parents in Class

In many schools, the younger grades have discussions and activities related to family. Students are often asked to create a family tree or a collage showing the members of their family. For many kids of same-sex parents, this is when their family’s differences become most apparent. If not handled sensitively, it can amplify feelings of “otherness” and isolation, potentially affecting a child’s social development and ability to learn.

Early in the year, inform the teacher of any family details that fall outside the mother-father-bio child “norm.” In addition to having two moms or two dads, this could include adoption and birth parents, foster experiences, surrogates, siblings, multiracial/multiethnic families, etc. Particularly if it’s something you’ve already discussed with your child. If your kid knows about it, it’s likely to come up.

READ FULL ARTICLE >>

The In-Between Boy

September 17, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

In-between boy

Last night I sat and watched as my son played out an allegory for his life at this moment in time. Having eaten his dinner, my five-and-three-quarters-year-old requested ice cream. I got one of his “baby bowls” from the cabinet, after a second or two of consideration as I skimmed through the options in my well-oiled (though oft -addled) dad-brain:

“Though he does fine with the plates, his clumsiness rules out a ceramic bowl. The plastic ones Papa and I use for ice cream are rather deep — he’s still a bit short to reach inside… Plus a smaller bowl would do better for a smaller portion. Baby bowl it is.”

I placed the ice cream in front of him at the table, then ever-so-carefully scattered out sprinkles until he’d declared there were enough. He then jumped up, scrambled to the cutlery drawer, and came back wielding a large, red-handled spoon. He explained he needed a grown-up spoon because “my mouth is so big.” Truer words.

As I finished my salad, we talked about school and who his new friends were and the song about elephants he learned in music class that day. And he ate his ice cream. Vanilla with rainbow sprinkles, in a too-small baby bowl, with a spoon too big for his talkative mouth. He would pick off the tiniest of bites with his giant spoon, careful to get a couple of sprinkles in each nibble, placing some atop the ice cream if the spoon failed to snatch some. Perhaps his micro-bites were an attempt to avoid brain freeze or him wanting it to last longer or trying to avoid catapulting the entire scoop out of his bowl.

Whatever the reason, I continued to soak in the image of my newly-minted kindergartner with his tiny bowl and huge spoon, reflecting on recent weeks and the growing pains it had brought us. His final morning with preschool classmates and teachers closely preceding the afternoon he met his kindergarten teacher; his first day of class a mere two days later. I worried it was too quick; too abrupt a transition, but he took it in stride. No tears, only excitement tinged with nervousness.

On that transition day, after seeing his classroom and chatting with his Mrs. Kelly, we roamed the halls of the new school as a family, dodging teachers and parents, kids of various sizes and speeds, exploring the cafeteria, the library, the gym. As we maneuvered these large, crowded, foreign halls, my in-between boy would absentmindedly reach up for my hand, feel it was there, then drop his back to his side. Never looking up, never taking hold, always moving forward. My hope, that it was with the knowledge I was by his side, had his back, and was ready to take hold when he needed it. And to let go when he needed that, too.

It was a bittersweet moment, and a portend of the weeks ahead, between then and the ice cream. Weeks that have seen a straining to grow more, to catch up, to chase after the big kids, to be his own person. And the fall-out from falling short or trying to go too far, too soon. Meltdowns and tantrums. Defiance and anger. But with moments of joy and triumph, laughter and maturity in-between.

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8 Ways to Prepare Your Child for Kindergarten

August 10, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

It’s T-Minus three weeks until my son starts kindergarten, but I’m not stressed at all. I know there are a lot of other parents out there just like me, who will be sending their baby out into the big, bad world of crafts-making and rule-following and bells ringing…and them being away from you all day, and you not knowing what the hell is going on and why can’t I give him a cell phone so he can text me if he needs me but his spelling is still pretty terrible…oh no he’s already behind and it’s my fault plus he’d only use a phone to play Minecraft and won’t learn anything and flunk out of school on his first day thus ruining his chance of any happiness in life!!!

Nope, not stressed one bit.

Preparing your kid (and by “your kid,” I mean you) for their first day of REAL SCHOOL is easier than you think. Just follow these few simple suggestions and everything will be absolutely, positively, one hundred percent perfect.
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1. GET THE LAY OF THE LAND

Obtain schematics for the school, including drop off/pick up spots, location of the nurse’s office, routes to bathrooms, and all fire exits. Make a recording describing these layouts in detail, then play them while your child sleeps so they’re subliminally committed to his or her memory. Conducting middle-of-the-night fire/disaster/poop drills are also beneficial. Air horns recommended.
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2. KEEP YOUR FRIENDS CLOSE…

Do background checks on all the kids in your child’s classroom, as well as their parents. Find out which have a record of pulling hair, spitting or biting (applies to kids or parents), and make flash cards so your child can familiarize him or herself with this “Bad Seed” list.

Additionally, hack the school’s computer and maneuver your child so he’s seated next to that super genius musical prodigy with the millionaire parents.

8 Ways to Prepare Your Child for Kindergarten

READ FULL ARTICLE >>

Testicular Cancer and Embracing Your Nuts

October 6, 2013 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

embracing your nuts

When your last name is “Almond,” you learn at a young age to live with the “nut” jokes. From the constant jingle-singing* (“Almond Joy’s got nuts…”) to the crazy/nuts remarks, the cracks start early and get old fast. And ’round about puberty, anything and everything testicle-related gets thrown at you. But I got used to it, eventually able to celebrate my surname’s uniqueness. I even named my graphic design company Design Nut. You could say that I’ve come to embrace my nuts.

TCF-ParentBlogger-badge-SQUARE-150px150px2SO LET’S TALK ABOUT YOU EMBRACING YOUR NUTS.

I’m proud to be a member of the Testicular Cancer Foundation’s MAN UP MONDAY Blogging Team. I’m doing my part talking about nuts to spread the all-important message of Testicular Cancer self-examination and early detection.

I still remember the video we watched in Junior High health class of the guy feeling himself up in the shower. For a young gay kid, this was ALL KINDS OF AWKWARD. But it left an impression, and I checked myself regularly throughout my youth. I never had any cancer symptoms, but it made me more aware of my body and some of the risks I faced. And it’s not like it hurt or anything.

YOU’D BE NUTS NOT TO KNOW THESE FACTS:

Testicular Cancer is the #1 cancer in young men ages 15 to 35.
 Testicular Cancer is highly survivable if detected early.
Young men should be doing a monthly self-exam. (Which is a no-brainer, since they’re going to be down there anyway…)

WHAT CAN YOU LEARN TO EMBRACE YOUR NUTS?

Stop by the Testicular Cancer Foundation website for more information on Testicular Cancer.
Request a FREE shower card with self-exam instructions – it just might save a young man in your life!
If you’re feeling a little awkward about this conversation, check out this nutty little video from some parents who feel the same way…
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PARENTS, YOU’D BE NUTS TO SEND THIS TO YOUR SONS.

Since we’re being honest, I’m pretty sure most teenage boys would think you’re off your nutter if you showed them this aticle. But you know what? They already think that about you, so what have you got to lose? NOTHING. What have they got to lose if you don’t? EVERYTHING. So nut up and text them this post during gym class. Play the video before family movie night. Sneak a shower card and an Almond Joy into their lunch. Get creative. Get silly. But get them the info. You’d be nuts not to.

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SEMI-RELEVANT EPILOGUE: Think your toddler is too young to talk testicles? The other day JJ and Papa were talking skeletons, as we’re getting close to Halloween. My son was sitting in the tub, pointing to different parts of his body (arm, hand, head) and asking “is there a bone in here?” Inevitably, he pointed to his wee bits. Papa let out long laugh, told him “No, but…” then decided that conversation could wait and splashed around to change the subject. All that to say, A) my son is awesome cute, and B) yup, he’s already talking testicles.

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*At least my last name wasn’t “Mounds”

Would You Protest A Transgender Student Using the Girls’ Bathroom?

September 30, 2013 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

trans-bathroom

For the last few weeks I’ve been lending my Dad-wisdom (limited as it is) to The Madness of Mommyhood Facebook page. Wednesdays are “Dear Dad Day” where readers from among the page’s 55k followers ask questions of myself and the other sage dad bloggers in our group. On occasion I’ll be posting my Q&A’s here. This first one’s a doozy, and garnered quite a few comments – not all of them supportive.

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Dear Dad,

There is a male-to-female transgender kid in the high school where I live, who is allowed to use the female restroom for safety. Some fathers are outraged that a boy is allowed in the girls restroom. There are NO complaints on him, for harassment, sexual advances or anything like that. In fact the girls don’t seem to mind. I’ve read in a parenting group that some fathers are prepared to “beat his ass straight.”

My question for you is: Would you be so offended that you would demand this kid be thrown out of school or demand him not be allowed to use the girls’ restroom? Once again, I stress that he hasn’t hurt anyone, he hasn’t peeked over stalls to look at them, he hasn’t asked for or offered sexual favors. He urinates and goes on with his day. I’m so deeply saddened over the treatment of this kid.

– A Concerned Mom

 

Dear Concerned Mom:

I’m pretty sure I can speak for all of us in the Dads Day crew that we would NOT be offended by this student using the girls’ restroom. We would, however, be happy to talk with any of these ignorant d-bags you encountered online. Or “beat their asses smart,” if necessary. These stupid, scared men have nothing to fear — not for their daughters, their sons, or themselves. I imagine this kid is trying to just survive high school — or at the very least, do her “business” like everyone else, and get to class. And if he’s truly identifying as a female, then she’s sitting down to use the bathroom, so no peeking, and nothing to peek at.

So to answer your question, no, I would not be offended or concerned over this, other than for the student’s continued safety. Yet I AM concerned for what harm these dads may be doing to their own kids, passing down such dumbfuckery.

But I’ve got a couple of questions for you. This parenting group where you read the violent comments — is it officially associated with the school? If so, this kind of hate speech should be monitored and dealt with immediately.

Does the school have an anti-bullying policy, and counselors and/or administrators trained to deal with issues relating to gender identity? Letting her use the correct restroom is a good start, but there’s more to it than that.

My advice to YOU is to keep being open-minded and concerned. Share these views with your kids and their friends. Be as vocal (or more so) than the ones spreading the lies and stupidity.

Keep fighting the good fight! We in the LGBT community need and appreciate each and every one of you, our awesome straight allies!

– Designer Daddy

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Come check out Designer Daddy on Facebook, for lots more style, sass & sentiment. And funny pictures.

(Way) Back to School

August 21, 2013 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

So I have a kid in school now. Whoever thought I’d be saying (or writing) those words? I guess up until now I’d never thought much about it. With the exception of a few months my sophomore year, I loved school, and my early school memories are full of color and letters and art and really nice, really tall teachers. But leading up to JJ starting preschool, I hadn’t had time to think about those memories. All my time and energy was spent worrying about how and where to find the right school. Private, public, magnet, charter. The only ones we could definitively rule out were of the conservative religious variety. So when we finally found one, the frenzy then migrated to figuring out work schedules, pick up/drop off coordination, and a mortgage-sized stack of paperwork. And the getting of all the stuff: new shoes, backpack, lunch bag, little Tupperware containers. Not that I didn’t love it. Because A) Daddy loves to shop, and B) kids have the coolest stuff.

But in between the searching and the deciding, we visited the school that would eventually be The One. As Papa, JJ and I walked into the brick building, down the hall covered in bulletin boards, and into what would be JJ’s classroom, all those early school memories came flooding back. So much color, so many letters, artwork everywhere; bins and jars and shelves overflowing with untold treasures.

Papa was busy asking the administrator all sorts of responsible, adult questions about money and hours of operation, while I kept an eye on JJ, who was keeping an eye on the class on the other side of the room having story time. I then watched as he walked over to a munchkin-sized table and started taking apart and putting together a group of puzzles that had been laid out, around six or so. As he was finishing the last one, I bent down to watch him more closely. It was wooden, painted in bright colors, and had ten pieces consisting of numbers zero through nine. It didn’t play a song or light up or have any buttons to push, and it didn’t teach any lessons about sharing or the environment or how to speak Chinese. Wood, paint and numbers — that was it. While the numbers weren’t perfectly formed, they also weren’t done in an annoying “child’s handwriting” font. Someone’s hands had obviously been involved at some point in the creation of this.

puzzle1

JJ made quick work of it and moved back to the first puzzle to re-start his process while Papa continued to gather vital information about our son’s education. I leaned in closer to the numbers puzzle and saw this in the bottom right corner:

puzzledetail

Wait… what? 1975?!? If I hadn’t already been awash in nostalgia I might have been concerned this school had such outdated toys for my son to play with. Back to school? More like WAY back to school. We’re talking decades… DECADES of germs. And not to mention such an antiquated teaching approach. There weren’t even any robots or multiracial children or Disney properties on it!

Yet deep in remembrance as I was, what immediately came to mind was that I could have played with this very puzzle at JJ’s age. Granted, I  would have been six, and a little old to be learning to count. But it was definitely of my era. It gave comfort to this old dad. As a father that’s grayer than most toddler dads, it’s something that weighs on me from time-to-time, both physically and emotionally. So to see something from my early school days making its way into my son’s made me feel connected to him on his new adventure. And it was reassuring — a sign, if you will — that we’d found the right place for him to embark.

The simplest tools — paint, wood, numbers, letters, paper, glue, paint, water, music, glitter, hand-raising, story time, lining up, recess, tiny tables and really nice, really tall teachers. These are what stand the test of time and truly leave their mark on young minds.

DDQ&A: Evan Spiridellis

July 10, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, THINGS DAD DIGS

Like most of the world, I was first introduced to the work of Evan Spiridellis (the designer half of the humor site, JibJab) through the still-hilarious lampoon of the 2004 presidential election, “This Land.” In 2011, he and brother Gregg launched StoryBots, an awesome online land of apps, videos, books and activities for kids (and parents). As a longtime fan, I was downright giddy Evan agreed to a DDQ&A!

Q&A with designer dad Evan Spiridellis
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LOGOS

Tell me briefly about your design/illustration career.
My brother and I started JibJab back in 1999. Early on we supported the studio by doing service work for clients like Disney, Scholastic, Kraft and Sony — but the goal was always to build a new kind of entertainment company. So we would take on enough client work to pay the rent and our team, then we would turn down commercial projects until the coffers ran dangerously low. Nowadays, JibJab supports itself by selling our products directly to our audience without commercial interference. We much prefer this approach 🙂 READ FULL ARTICLE >>

My Baby’s First…

May 5, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED, THINGS MY KID DIGS

If you’re a normal parent (or just otherwise normal) you probably finished this post’s title with the word “word.” Or if you’re the motivated type, the word “step.” Perhaps “tooth,” for the orally fixated. But it takes a special breed of parent to remember their child’s first logo.

I’ve met a lot of other dads in recent months, thanks largely in part to a Facebook group of Dad Bloggers. Among them are several sports nuts, a battalion of Star Wars fanatics, a few Lego freaks — all of which are hoping to pass their passions on to their offspring. While there’s definitely some overlap with many of the other dads, my love and appreciation of design — and where it mashes up with marketing and pop culture — is tops on my list.

From the onset of JJ’s visual development, I’ve kept a mental list (oh alright, an actual list) of the logos and brands he’s recognized on his own. Had he the memory capacity or verbal skills at the time, he might recall differently… but I’m pretty sure THIS is the first brand my kiddo knew:
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starbucks-coffee-logo

If I have to explain the significance of the above logo and the role it’s played in my life these last three or so years, you’ve clearly never been or met a new parent.

READ FULL ARTICLE >>

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