It’s hard to believe a week ago I was in New Orleans beginning an intensive three days of networking with other dads, talking about the role of dads, learning how to be a better dad and getting some face time with my online dad pals. But now I’m back to life, back to reality. And putting all these things that I learned into practice. The hard part.
Not so hard? Having breakfast the first morning back with my reason for being a dad. Sitting there listening to him, watching him, just enjoying the moment and basking in his early morning scruffiness. Some face time, if you will. If anything, my weekend away taught me anew how to be present with my son.
Yes, I realize for “just being present” I sure took a lot of photos; but as you can see, he didn’t really notice until several shots in.
I woke up earlier than usual this morning, but as usual reached for my phone to check the weather, the day’s calendar, if anyone had hearted one of my Instagram pics. But like everyone else I was greeted with news of the massacre at the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. I let out an “Oh my God!” loud enough my husband stepped out of the bathroom to see if everything was alright. It wasn’t. Over a dozen people had lost their lives in a terrifying and gruesome way.
But it also struck me that this happened outside Denver, where I had been just a week earlier. I had listened to the Denver Gay Men’s Chorus sing beautifully, made several new friends and reconnected with high school and college friends who’d relocated to the Denver area — so I wondered if they were all safe.
And the fact that it happened in a Batman movie was particularly disheartening. I realize the modern iterations of Batman are universally dark, but comic book characters — be they super, wonderful, or bat-like — are at their root childhood heroes. Not only does this tragedy make me hesitant to see the film in the theater anytime soon, but it tarnishes the joy and innocence of the superhero experience that I’ve spent so much time passing on to my son.
So throughout the day I followed the news and Twitter and articles people were posting, trying to pinpoint how I’d word this post, what angle I would take or what issues I would raise. But the words and angles and issues have all been put out there already, particularly regarding who’s to blame.
Yet I’m brought back to only a few minutes later this morning when I went downstairs to get JJ out of bed. Seeing him in his Batman pajamas, eager to stick on his velcro cape and greet the day, I wondered how I could ever protect him from something like that – a real life super villain. And for the first time as an adult, it made me wish Batman was real, too.
Superheroes have been an important part of my life for as long as I remember. When most kids were outside playing in the sunshine and generally being healthy, normal children, I was holed up inside watching or drawing the Super Friends. And each night I’d ask my little brother what he was going to dream about, but I really didn’t care… it was just an excuse to spin elaborate tales of how I was going to dream about flying with Superman, swimming with Aquaman, or riding in Wonder Woman’s invisible jet. Even the first drawing contest I ever won was for a self-portrait wearing my Superman t-shirt.
Fast-forward a whole lot of years, wherein superhero cartoons begat comics collecting which begat a love of pop art which begat becoming a graphic designer. All these years later I’m still obsessed with bright colors, bold graphics, and lots of dots. In my office hangs a poster of Warhol’s Superman, an original Aquaman animation cell from the 60’s, and several shelves of vintage (and some not-so-vintage) comic-related books, action figures and other tchotchkes.
About three years ago, my love of comics even played a part in us becoming parents. As part of the adoption process, we created a Family Album from which potential birth parents would choose us. The album contained photos of us, our house, friends and family, as well as letters of introduction, places we’d traveled, things we liked to do. The birth parents that ended up choosing us were drawn to, among other things, the fact that I was a fellow comic book fan.
Fast-forward a couple more years, and you can imagine how proud I was the first time I heard JJ sing himself to sleep with the Batman theme song, how excited I was when he learned to pronounce “Aquaman,” and how tickled I am to watch him bound around the house in his Superman pajamas.
Yet sometimes I feel I’ve created a monster. Every ride in my now car requires multiple spins of both the Spider-Man and Batman TV themes, as does each visit to the internet and most times the TV is turned on. (Keep in mind it’s just the theme songs he wants to hear — not entire episodes.) While Spider-Man’s theme song is cheesy and dated, at least there are some fun lyrics (“Is he strong? Listen bud, he’s got radioactive blood!”) But Holy Chinese torture, Batman! — that show’s titular tune has only one word in it! What’s more, JJ recently started insisting on being called Robin. Thus I’m Batman, Papa is Aquaman, and Cordi (the dog) is Wonder Woman. It was cute at first, but it can be hard to get your son’s attention (or get him to take you seriously) if he’s decided to answer to a different name.
Then just a few days ago, something happened to put JJ’s super-obsessions in perspective. As he and Papa headed out the door for daycare, for the first time I had to coerce a goodbye hug and kiss. Normally these are given with much exuberance, so I’ll admit it was a little heartbreaking. It reminded me that — if he’s anything like most kids — there might be days (or years) where my son may not be affectionate with or even speak to me. Everything is a phase, both the good and the bad. So while I enjoy the cuddly moments and hero worship, I can also endure the unending “Na na na na na na na na”s that are also a part of JJ’s current stage of development. I need to revel in my current identity of SuperDaddy, provider of all things cool and doer of no wrong — realizing that before I know it I’ll just be mild-mannered Dad.
Just wanted to share a couple of pics of JJ sporting his new cow footy pajamas (made by Sozo, picked out by Papa). He would make the cutest darn Chik-fil-A spokesmodel! If only the company were a little more family-friendly… to families like ours. Their loss!
Maybe Big Gay Ice Cream Truck will book him instead…
Since Designer Daddy has only been in existence a couple of months, this inaugural Top 10 list will be a compilation of favorite things of both mine and JJ’s. Maybe next year I’ll create separate lists. But for now enjoy figuring out which favorites belong to whom… READ FULL ARTICLE >>
JJ is modeling the funnest, funkiest pajamas ever to cover a baby’s bottom! Luckily I had the foresight to take photos, but the jammers themselves have since been carted off to our local consignment shop. So I can’t say for certain what brand they are, but after a little poking around the interwebs, I think they might be from Sweden-based Polarn O. Pyret. There are some colors and patterns on some of their current line reminiscent of these super stylin’ PJs. And even if it’s not the exact brand, I’m excited about the new find and will be checking it out, as JJ’s about to grow out of his 12-monthers. And winter’s a comin’.
Update: after contacting Polarn O. Pyret (and finding out it was not their product), I poked around some more, found an old image file, checked the date in my surfing history, and voilá! The “Aldo Trophy Romper” is from Me Too. It looks like it has been discontinued at most e-stores that carry the brand, but I did find it here. Good sleuthing, if I do say so myself.