Through nearly every phase of my life, comic books and superheroes have been a source of entertainment, enlightenment, and inspiration. Yet there’s a real-life superhero that has had my back through it all — one that has gone heretofore unrecognized. Whether venturing out on my own, finding my soulmate, or settling into domesticated dad bliss, this unsung hero has never failed to protect, comfort, and heal. All while swathed in soothing shades of pink.
I’m of course talking about Pepto-Bismol.
Or as I like to call it…
It’s been a banner year for same-sex parents. Marriage equality finally became the law of the land; and as marriages increased, so have the number of LGBT parents. Gay dads and lesbian moms appeared in national ads for soup, shampoo, pain reliever, and formula. And as is becoming a yearly occurrence, NPH and his family slayed with their Halloween costumes on social media.
Yet with all of this increased exposure and acceptance comes increased expectations; expectations to have THE MOST FABULOUS WEDDING, THE MOST PERFECT HOUSE, and of course THE MOST ADORABLE, WELL-BEHAVED CHILDREN. On top of that, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told how “lucky” or “blessed” our son is to have my husband and I as his dads. That’s nice and all, but that’s a lot of pressure. And I’m pretty sure he’d beg to differ sometimes. (See #2 below)
I’ve heard it said that parenting is the great equalizer. Stop by our house sometime, and we’ll be happy to demolish every stereotype you’ve ever heard about gay men being tidy… or put together… or having the energy to stay up past 9:00 pm.
So in lieu of THE MOST LEGENDARY HOLIDAY NEWSLETTER, I’m opting for something a little more honest. Unfiltered, even. Please enjoy a glimpse into our family’s 2015 — along with a few holiday “traditions” — in this (very loose) version of The Twelve Days of Christmas.
As a lifelong fan of Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the gang, I’m more than a little excited about The Peanuts Movie. However, other than the holiday specials, the 65-year-old brainchildren of Charles Schulz have lost a lot of their cultural impact. My 5-year-old knows who Snoopy and Charlie Brown are, but just barely. I can’t wait to fully introduce him to these beloved characters in their big screen debut.
And yet, I can’t help but worry that some of the depth and nuance — the humanity — of the Peanuts gang will be lost in this glossy, animated translation. The comic strips always had a subtle, adult sensibility to their humor that I fear may get dumbed-down by Hollywood. I could be wrong, but just in case…
…how AWESOME would it be if there was a version starring real, live, adult actors? I’m sure the kids doing the voice acting in the film will do a swell job, but having adult embodiments of the characters would definitely make them more interesting for this older-than-G-Rated-fan.
With that in mind, below is my fantasy cast. I doctored the actors’ headshots a bit to help sell the match-ups… in case that wasn’t clear. (Warning: not all links are family friendly or SFW.)
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THE REAL PEANUTS MOVIE
LOUIS C.K. as CHARLIE BROWN
Who better to portray the film’s loser of a leading man than comedian Louis C.K.? A master of self-deprecation — and similarly doughy and balding — C.K. is the perfect grown-up (and slightly more bitter) C.B.
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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.
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.
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.
By now you’ve no doubt heard the term “Dad Bod,” and have subsequently seen a marked increase in the number of paunchy, fuzzy man-tummies in your strolls through the Internet.
The term was coined by a college student to describe her ideal guy: a less-ripped/more average fellow who she could cuddle up to and ultimately settle down with. This phenomenon has had beer-bellied men rejoicing, some women crying foul, and me wondering why this is news.
Dad Bods aren’t a new trend, at least not with the always-ahead-of-the-curve Gays. Gay men have been celebrating their stout brethren for decades, declaring definitively that Fat + Hairy ≠ Undateable. They’re called Bears, and as a card-carrying member of this cuddliest of gay subcultures, I want to officially welcome you to the party!
While not without their flaws and stereotypes, Bears pride themselves in being more accepting of the average-to-overweight man. Bears are the “real man’s” alternative to the cliché of a smooth, sculpted Adonis. And as a gay bear and a dad, I am undoubtedly the ultimate expert on what constitutes a “Dad Bod” …and how to make the most of it.
So to my hefty, hetero brothers, let me offer you some of my unsolicited expertise.
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.
They don’t call this the dead of winter for nothing. Bitter cold. No sunshine. Cooped-up kids tearing the house apart as you slowly tear out your hair. No new episodes of The Walking Dead for nearly a month.
And the sickness – the never ending cycle of sickness.
Mid-winter is always rough for families with kids, and this year has been particularly infectious. Aside from getting a flu shot, the most effective way to prevent illness is to wash your hands. Every doctor, childcare professional, teacher, parent, and educational Muppet has been drilling this into your kids’ heads since birth. And yet, based on personal experience of how regularly my child practices responsible (unassisted) hygiene, it’s a wonder we’re not in the midst of a full-blown toddler zombie apocalypse. Here are five reasons why…
A lot of people seem to be glad 2014 is behind us — in a hurry to forget all about it. Certainly it had its share of frustration, failure and loss. But there was also plenty of good I want to remember. I interviewed an author I’d grown up reading, wrote some movie-related stuff, shilled for the enemy, won Halloween, defended manliness (for mature audiences only), reviewed some children’s books, gave advice to parents of gay kids, added a buttload of magnets to my fridge, attended a couple of conferences, and helped raise over $35,000 for a dear friend in need.
And somewhere in there, I found time to write other things. Personal, soapboxy, silly and celebratory things. These are my 14 favorite blog posts of 2014, in chronological order.
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.
It was 8:49 p.m. on a Monday.
Jon had already been put back in bed 4 times.
The following is taken directly from Twitter, on a recent evening when I attempted to apply a technique discussed in the Parenting Preschoolers class I’ve been taking. The process (dubbed “Cold Turkey” by my instructor) involves calmly and silently leading your child back to bed, without making eye contact or conveying any emotion or negative body language whatsoever. Repeat as necessary until stationery toddler is achieved. The point is to communicate that the appropriate behavior is to stay in bed, without giving the attention (negative or positive) they are trying to weasel out of you.
I decided to tweet my ordeal. Partly to entertain myself, and partly to hold myself accountable. If I knew people were “watching” I’d be less likely to lose my mind cool. Because it’s a lot f’ing harder than it sounds.
@DesignerDaddy (all tweets are by me, unless otherwise identified)
@PEPParent (organization teaching the class and the putting-to-bed technique being applied)
@BloggerFather (fellow dad blogger, who makes a cameo appearance)
Papa (silent, supporting — but essential — role)
Jon (the star of this saga)