The end is in sight! We’ve nearly made it out the other side of the pandemic. Yet I sometimes miss those early months of quarantine where the focus was pure survival. Spirits were low, but so were expectations. Teachers and parents were more lenient as we all navigated unknown, unpredictable waters. Now that things are slowly getting back to normal, the pressure to be a Parent MVP is creeping back in. The urge to compare gets stronger every day, as does my old pal, anxiety.
As is often the case in parenting, my son taught me a lesson about comparison, expectations, and what kind of dad I should strive to be: Most Improved.
As Hispanic Heritage Month comes to a close, I wanted to celebrate the Latino superheroes I’ve had the privilege of introducing to my son via lunch notes over the years. While this list could be longer, I’m including just the heroes I’ve created notes for. As I doodle more, I’ll add them periodically.
Throughout the year (not just designated months or days) I strive to teach my son to be curious about and appreciative of cultures and ethnicities different from his own. Often in the process, I discover new things myself. While researching for this article, I (finally) learned the significance of the September 15 start date of Hispanic Heritage Month, as well as the interwoven identity of Asian and Hispanic culture in the Filipino community. There were also a few characters that I didn’t realize were Latino until writing this post.
As with other minority representation in American pop culture, the inclusion of Latino/Latina/Latinx superheroes in comics, TV, and film is often a slow progression. Changing the ethnicity of existing caucasian superheroes (or just introducing new non-white characters) is still met with pushback from narrow-minded fans. Yet my hope is that as my son’s generation grows up with this more colorful and diverse universe, it will be reflected in the real world they create.
As America gears up for another Super Bowl — its most testosterone-fueled holiday — shaving giant Gillette has cut deep into the ironically sensitive soul of the American Man. A full three weeks ahead of time, Gillette released an extended version of their ad to be featured during the February 3rd broadcast. Since being published on YouTube three days ago, the spot has nearly 15 million views and more than 200,000 comments. If the goal was to create buzz, Mission More Than Accomplished. Or is it?
For the most part, being a gay dad is like any other parenting experience. The everyday is filled with a mixture of failure and success; laughter and tears; mealtimes, play times, poop times. And then there are those moments when I marvel at the hilarious dichotomy my life has become.
Case in point… While no one is 100% true to stereotype, our family was staying in our appointed lanes on a recent Friday night. Papa and I were catching up on RuPaul’s Drag Race as our 8-year-old basked in the glorious mayhem of a WWE match.
Jon watched on his tablet with headphones so the noise wouldn’t bother us (and so he wouldn’t hear the more adult drag queen vernacular.) This proved moot, however, as our son began announcing the play-by-play. As he called out the names of the wrestlers, two thoughts struck me:
“How many other families are simultaneously watching RuPaul and WWE?” and
“Wow, professional wrestlers and drag queens are a lot alike.”
I’m often told that I’m difficult to shop for. Always on the lookout for just the right watch/shirt/shoes/socks/gadget/doodad/etc., I usually end up just buying things for myself. My assumption being that my long-suffering loved ones won’t find this special snowflake of a thing on their own. Luckily, my long-suffering husband has figured out a few places to successfully shop for me.
One of those places is UncommonGoods. Papa and I have been satisfied customers for over 10 years, and whether we’re shopping for family, friends, or coworkers, they never fail to surprise with their clever, well-designed, eco-friendly gifts.
For this year’s Holiday Gift Guide, I’ve searched UncommonGoods and put together a list of some of my favorites from their collections of gifts for men and dads (check out those full collections here and here). HINT: If you’re shopping for me, this would be a good place to start…
Sometimes the big picture of parenting can be overwhelming. Taking the time to enjoy and celebrate individual moments is so important — a lesson I continually learn from my always in-the-moment son.
This past spring, Jon played on his first baseball team. We were excited to have found a county league that emphasized fun and learning, with each practice ending in an unofficial “game” that only loosely adhered to big league rules.
While never much of a jock myself, I have fantasized about being a Cool Sports Dad. The emphasis on “Cool” — not the hot-headed kind of dad that screams obscenities at umpires and such. There are plenty of other things to hound my kid about (flushing, for example), so Papa and I were looking forward to his first team sports experience being on the low-pressure end.
The season had lots of stops-and-starts, with several rain delays and a week skipped for holidays, but the last game day finally arrived. Not unexpectedly, there was a much higher percentage of parents in attendance — and I imagine expectations (real or imagined) weighed heavier upon the players’ sweaty heads. I hung back for most of the game, only walking up to the fence to encourage and cheer when Jon was up to bat. The innings consisted of each child getting to bat once, with unlimited strikes until they got a hit.
As the game wrapped up, it became apparent that Jon would be the final player at bat. Even with the loosey-goosey rules, my heart quickened a bit — nervous for him, excited for me (or probably the opposite).
Though I don’t dump much of it here, a lot of what I feel and think about my parenting lately tends to be whiny, worrisome and negative. In an effort to counteract that — both in myself and in my attitudes toward my son — I’m making a concerted effort to focus on the positive, particularly what makes me proud.
My inaugural Dad Brag is about Jon’s adventures in Taekwondo. About a year ago we attended a classmate’s birthday party at a local martial arts studio, and it should have come as no surprise that our energetic then 4-year-old took to it like a duck to Kung Fu.
We enrolled him in the Tiny Tigers class a few months later, and have since watched him flourish under the unimaginably patient tutelage of the instructors. You can feel the energy pouring off of him as he runs laps at the start of class, a telltale sparkle in his eye. And nothing warms my heart more than him completing a task successfully, turning back towards me and giving me a thumbs up, awaiting my reciprocation.
I take him on Thursday nights, Papa takes him on Saturday mornings, and at the end of January he graduated to Little Dragons — now sporting a cool cammo-patterned white belt as he learns alongside a group mostly older than him. And yet he already longs to advance further, admiring the older kids’ skills as he waits for his class to begin.
One Saturday morning, the mom of the other “John” in the class asked Papa if our Jon had older brothers. Answering no, Papa asked why. She replied that he looks like he’s having so much fun all the time — that surely he must have a houseful of older brothers where there is never a dull moment. Papa told her that what he did have was two fathers, to which she smiled and responded, “Well that must be why!”
I don’t know that Jon’s oftentimes tired, old dads can take much credit for his boundless enthusiasm, but in the right setting and mixed with some focus and padded floors, it’s a sight to behold.
Feel free to brag about your own kids (or yourself) in the comments!
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