It’s Father’s Day, so naturally I’m 3500 KMs away from my kids – who seem to have forgotten how to use a phone. Sniff. Regardless, I’m not a fan of days like this. I don’t need a day to celebrate … Continue reading
Self portrait: Frida Pentland.
The thing about writing a parenting blog about having a new baby at 45 – now 46 – is that you have no time to write a parenting blog at all. Kids take up pretty much all of your time. Especially if they can’t do literally anything for themselves.
Sure, she has a mother who deals with almost everything, but I would feel guilty if I just sat around all day blogging about parenting, when I haven’t been doing a whole lot of the actual parenting. So by not blogging about parenting, I’m actually being a better parent.
And let’s not forget there are still the other two kids, who I deal with half the week. The rest of the week they’re with their mother. So I deal with them half of the week, or half of the time of half of the week, as their step-mother (the mother of the baby) tends to “step” in when things get too much for me with the bigger two. Which is often. So I’ll round down to parenting them half the time of half the time of half the week that we have them.
Regardless, I like blogging, and need to do more of it. I used to do it every day, but I was paid for that. This? Not so much. Ergo, not so much blogging. Still, there’s no point in having a parenting blog if you don’t blog on it…at least twice a year.
Baby Frida is almost 12 months now. She’s mobile and vocal. That’s not to suggest she knows where she’s going, or what the noises she’s making mean. Actually, to be fair, she does know where the dog’s water bowl is, and how to crawl there as quickly as possible from wherever she is, at any time, to douse her clothes in whatever dregs of saliva and food particles the dog has left for her.
She and the dog have developed a symbiotic relationship. Meaning that we feed the baby food, which she in turn feeds to the dog. At first we weren’t aware of this arrangement, until we realized that Frida’s fingers were always weirdly clean, no matter how sticky or messy the food we served her. Also, the dog has become fat.
She also announces everyone’s entrance into a room with a loud, excited blast of recognition – although I tend to receive a somewhat subdued “it’s just him again” grunt.
Frida’s 1st birthday is days away. She just missed sharing it with Jesus, except he was most likely actually born in September, like me. I’m not making comparisons to myself and Jesus, but this blog could use some traction, especially with the lack of posts. So, in closing, Jesus and I are almost the same person.
(Note: No word of a lie, the second I finished writing that, Frida conked me on the head with a bottle of paediatric Motrin. And here we thought she wasn’t religious.)
(Also: Turns out this was my 7th post this year. Here’s to 7 more next year!)
What you’re peeping at here is a Samurai (Red) Burger from Burger King Japan. It features (as you can see) blood red cheese and buns, and red ANGRY sauce. Yum?
This follows last year’s Kuro (Black) Burger, which was all…black.
Why? I’m not sure, but I have had the McTeriyaki Burger from McDonald’s Japan and it was delish, although not a weird colour.
Needless to say, no thank you, Burger King. Well, maybe just one…
Wow! Have I been so lazy that I haven’t written anything in almost 5 months?! To be fair, I have been working a little here and there, playing some shows, finishing up producing an EP for friends, and writing a bit over at TheLoop.ca. Oh, and raising a (now almost) 6-month-old baby.
Yep, 6 months. It flashes by, and then one day you remember you started a blog to chronicle it all, and were too busy to actually write anything. Well, busy is stretching it. There’s a lot of napping (mainly me), walking, carrying, and shushing. Plus there are two other kids to contend with, and as they get older, they need just as much attention.
One thing that we managed to pull off was travelling to California to play the Coachella festival. The older kids stayed in Toronto with their mother, but Laurel and I took little Frida with us, and stayed in a lovely gated community in Indian Wells. It was amazing, although I missed my other kids. Nevertheless, Frida was very well suited to California, and hopefully there will be more of that in the future.
As the summer gradually comes to a boil, I’ll have more to write about, as 6-month-olds are a lot more fun than baby lumps of pee and screaming. For now, here’s a piece I wrote a while ago that I didn’t publish anywhere:
9 THINGS MY KIDS DO THAT DRIVE ME CRAZY
-note: that is not a picture of any of my kids, they’re too angelic-
Unlike most people, I love my kids. That’s just who I am. They are the apple of my eye, the sunshine of my life, and yet often the bane of my existence. Sometimes the apple of my eye is actual apple juice in my eye, and no one really likes direct sunshine, it causes wrinkles from squinting, and eventually melanoma.
Raising children is not an exact science, especially since they seem to effortlessly throw curve ball after curve ball at you, completely oblivious to your scrambling to keep up. Here are 9 things that my kids do that drive me crazy.
1. Talking – Remember your kid’s first word? Me neither. Whether it’s talking too loud, or using an annoying fake voice, they don’t stop talking now. Try having a conversation with anyone about anything. My kids are all over it, often with no idea what the subject is, and therefore needing everything explained, despite the fact that what ever you’re talking to the other adult about is way over my kids’ heads, and of no interest to them. It’s either that, or they just erupt into conversation right through what you are already talking about.
2. Forgetting – Want to know what your kids did in school today? Well, you’re out of luck, because they don’t remember. After all, it was almost a half-an-hour ago. “How was school?” I ask. “Good,” is the usual answer. “What did you do today?” “I don’t remember.” It’s a mystery.
3. Remembering – Like forgetting, except the opposite, my kids always seem to remember things at the very last minute that they should have mentioned hours or even days before. They are parented over two households, so it’s an even bigger problem, because you assume that the other parent or step-parent is on top of things. Often none of us are, and you’re at the mercy of an 8-year-old’s memory, which seems to flash on and off like a faulty engine light. Is there a problem? Maybe, but because the light just flashes every so often, you don’t bother to look into it until it’s too late. Ergo the mad dash to get said kid to school as her fellow students are boarding the bus for that class trip she just mentioned a minute ago. And that includes running to an ATM to get the required fee that was due two weeks prior.
4. Clothing – Who looks great in sweat pants? Apparently every child, according to my 11-year-old son. That’s why he will never, ever wear anything else from the waist down. It’s a bigger struggle to get him to tie his shoes, because it adds “hours” of extra time to his day, such is the complexity of the double knot. And that winter jacket that he had to have because it was going to be soooo cold this winter, and this particular brand could survive sub-arctic temperatures with ease? Well, despite a polar vortex, now it’s way too hot. Hot enough, apparently, that my son is actually, physically “boiling” when he has to wear it zipped up. His words.
5. Sleeping – Or lack thereof. You know the phrase “early to bed, early to rise?” Well how about “late to bed, late to rise, unless it’s the weekend, then way too early to rise?” Every single night it’s a struggle to get both my kids into bed. It’s not like they’re forced to go to sleep before the sun is down. Bedtime is 8:30, which usually means 9, and we try to keep to that. But between wanting that one extra page of a story, to needing fresh water…which leads to needing to pee again, to the “I hate school…” meltdown just as I’m reaching for the light switch, they must think I’m desperate for them to leave me alone. And I kind of am. Of course, the next morning is a hassle trying to get them out of bed. Unless it’s the weekend, in which case they’re up and watching TV before the sun rises, gradually making more and more noise, until you finally have to drag yourself out of bed and tell them to keep it down, which means you’re now up, and annoyed already.
6. Suffering – If your child has a fever, they stay home from school. That’s a no-brainer. But what about those illnesses that don’t have any real symptoms: the sore tummy, or the headache? It would be so much easier if whatever body part was actually irritated would glow red. But they don’t, and so you have to take your kids’ word for it some times, and hope that keeping them home is the right thing to do. After all, you wouldn’t want to be the parent who sends their child to school, only to have them rushed to the hospital with a ruptured appendix. At the same time, it seems the moment the bell has rung all those blocks away at school, the tummy or headache are suddenly replaced by an overwhelming need to watch television and get the dog all worked up.
7. Needing – How many handheld gaming devices does one 11-year-old boy need? All of them. As soon as they are on the shelves, forever. The fact that he rarely gets any of these devices only seems to stoke the neediness all the brighter. Of course sometimes the whining pays off. Sometimes you give in. Usually around a birthday or Christmas, but then it’s too late. Another device has been updated, or introduced, and the campaign starts all over again. You can substitute anything for a gaming device, and the older they get, the higher the price tag will be.
8. Fighting – They’re either fighting with you or with each other, but make no mistake: not a day will go by without some sort of explosion. The older they get, the more vicious the arguing gets, as if they secretly research words and phrases that sting all the more when uttered in a calm, even tone. While my kids rarely lash out physically, the odd kick or punch has connected, and landed one or both of them in deep poop. But it’s the insults that hurt more, and trying to get them to think about being on the receiving end of these attacks is one of the toughest, yet important jobs of a parent.
9. Eating – You have to do it to survive, but if it were up to my kids, the world would subsist of BBQ chips and Coca Cola. Not that they get much of either of these as it is. Healthy eating is only on the table because they’re vegetarians, and so most fast food isn’t an option. But that doesn’t diminish the need for candy and other treats that rot teeth and spike blood sugar. And when they actually have proper food, they are always mysteriously full within the first few bites. Then, minutes after they’ve been discharged from the dinner table, they’re starving again. It’s the endless circle of life, played out to the beat of a soft drink commercial.
Two of my three children were born left-handed – we don’t know what hand their baby sister will favour. What this means is that they tend to prefer doing most manual tasks with their left hand, more so than their right. They write, for instance, with their left hand, drink with their left hand, play sports favouring their left hand and foot, and punch much much harder with their left hand.
About 10% of the world is left-handed, although many can do a lot with both hands. This number is said to be increasing, and lefties as a group historically have produced an above-average number of high achievers. Many scientists agree, however, that there is little evidence that there is a difference in intelligence between right and left-handed people in general.
I’m teaching my left-handed kids to play right-handed guitar. In fact, you could say I’m flat out forcing them to play right-handed guitar. Why? Economics, for the most part.
Being a professional (right-handed) guitarist in the band Sloan, I have amassed a collection (12-14) of guitars. So I have enough, and don’t see the point in starting a whole new collection of left-handed guitars, which are generally harder to find and more expensive.
Now, before you go pointing fingers calling me a me “sidist,” consider that guitars are one of the only instruments made specifically for either lefties or righties. Nearly every other instrument is made in one style, and not necessarily because 90% of the world is right-handed. For instance, it is possible to buy a left-handed piano, but I’ve never seen one.
The guitar was historically made with the neck pointing to the left because the guitar was picked by the fingers on the right hand, and fretted by the fingers on the left. Much like a piano, both hands were put to work almost equally. By the 20th century, strumming had become popular, so the dominant rhythmic hand was the one strumming. That meant that, if you were right-handed, you would strum with your right hand.
Jimi Hendrix is perhaps the most famous left-handed guitarist, taking a regular right-handed guitar and simply turning it upside down and restringing it to suit. Other notable left-handed players are Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi, Paul McCartney, Iggy Pop, and Justin Bieber.
You might think that I have left off (get it?) one of the most famous left-handed guitarists, Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain. Cobain was an interesting player because he was actually right-handed, but played left-handed guitar. When he was growing up, the only guitar in his home was left-handed, and so that’s what he learned on. He wrote and played drums with his right hand. In fact Hendrix was also right-handed, and could actually play both right and left, but playing lefty certainly helped him to stand out.
To back me up I compiled a list for my kids of lefties who play right-handed: B.B. King, David Bowie, Noel Gallagher, Joan Jett, Joe Perry, Paul Simon, Billy Corgan, and Mark Knopfler. They claim to have never heard of any of them.
So, for the most part, I’m being frugal, more than cruel. I have some pretty nice guitars, and although my kids aren’t allowed to touch any of those, I also have some work-horse guitars that I don’t mind getting a few greasy chip finger prints on every now and again. They mix well with the beer stains and cigarette burns (not from me – I quit that habit many years ago).
I have even bought them a “short-scale” Squire stratocaster, which is basically a smaller version of a regular electric guitar, and fully functional. It sounds great, especially through my Marshall micro-stack, which is – you guessed it – a small version of a regular Marshall stack. It’s all kid-sized, and conducive to small hands (8 and 11-years-old respectively) making big noises.
So far, protests have been minimal, although constantly showing them how to hold, strum, fret, and pick the damn thing has been a challenge. As for their “playing,” that has been limited to wildly strumming all the strings at the same time, with very little attention played to melody. Or neighbours.
A few months ago I posted about how my kids weren’t into punk rock, despite my attempts to show them how that music had influenced me for the better.
I received comments on various social media platforms ranging from “I know what you mean,” to “I worry about the music my kids listen to.” The latter sentiment basically boiling down to, “I don’t like the music my kids listen to, and I want to guide them to music of ‘substance,’ or ‘quality.’” Meaning: “my kids listen to Katy Perry, but they should be listening to the Beatles.”
Of course they shouldn’t…or at least not if they don’t want to.
This isn’t to suggest that the music of Katy Perry is somehow more valuable than that of the Beatles, or the Kinks, or Randy Newman, or Led Zeppelin, or whatever the hell else you want to throw in there. It’s just that kids need to be kids, and find their own way to music they appreciate. If the Kinks are good, chances are they’ll find them.
When I was a kid it was “Disco sucks!” Not really. Most of it might have, but that was down to the individual. Then it was “Rap is crap!” Never mind that the morons making this proclamation were unknowingly rapping as they said it. Heavy metal was demonic, with bands ingeniously writing lyrics that somehow said “let’s party!” when played forwards, and “kill everyone in Satan’s name!” when played backwards. Didn’t happen. Grunge got a pass because somehow all that flannel and ripped denim reminded people of Neil Young, and for whatever reason that was a good thing.
There are all sorts of socio-political and cultural reasons why people argue about the value of one form of music over another. Race can play a part in it; rap music, like jazz, heralded an age where a spotlight was focussed on the social plight of black North Americans in a way that some deemed dangerous. Public Enemy using the silhouette of a black man in the crosshairs of a rifle scope as their logo was a powerful image set to a funky beat that damned The Man, despite the fact that increasingly The Man’s kids were the ones buying their albums and rapping along.
Likewise, country music reinvented itself as it absorbed and white-washed pop, becaming “New Country,” modernizing a genre often associated with the quaint and the traditional. To believe the critics, it was like a folksy wood cabin morphed into a Walmart, from gingham and dungarees to star-spangled everything through a straightening iron.
Punk was the subversive underdog, until it started filling arenas at $100 a ticket. And Lenny Kravitz got 40 seconds during the Super Bowl half time show to air-band the intro to – you guessed it – a Katy Perry song.
We often associate the quality of music with historical context. Whether a song evokes memories of a time in history or a time in your life, what that time means to you can have a bearing on how you judge the song. Unfortunately most people remember their high school years as the best of their lives. I often talk to Sloan fans about what their favourite album of ours is, and more often than not I can already tell judging by their age. Older fans will pretty much always name one of our first records, and younger fans will be less familiar with those older albums. We see it when we play shows. If we play a club, it’s usually a younger crowd and they will react strongly to newer material, stuff that has been played on the radio in recent years. When we play seated theatres, it’s usually older fans, and they will react to the older songs more strongly. There’s no reason for older fans not to know the newer stuff, and they might, but they have a fondness for the older songs, even if the band cringe at the immaturity of the writing from that time.
All music is at once worthless and vital. Songs are just chords and lyrics, generally repeating the same traditional sentiments, re-interpretted by often over-hyped, over-paid, and manufactured stars all around the world. Yet they can have an immeasurable impact on any and everyone at some point in their lives, no matter what the songs are. So it is entirely possible that a Katy Perry song can have as much resonance on a soul as a Lennon and McCartney song.
For me, despite the fact that – or maybe because – I make music for a living, I have a different relationship with it than most. “What are you listening to these days?” is something I’m asked almost every time I do an interview, and usually the answer is “Nothing really.” And it’s often true. I don’t listen to the type of music that I play and write, for the most part, in the same way that an accountant doesn’t rush home to use his calculator at the end of the day. I have spent my time learning the craft of songwriting, and found my niche, but that doesn’t mean that I am jaded, or over music. It’s just that I often want to listen to stuff that I wouldn’t make, in the same way that the accountant wants to listen to music as opposed to…people counting. That doesn’t mean that I’m a classical buff, or a fan of New Country. It just means that I see music as something of a tool, and so I don’t value it in the same way that someone who doesn’t understand the nuts and bolts of how it’s created, yet it envelops them.
Because of this relationship with music, I can see the value of even the most inane, even vilified songs. As I stated above, most pop music, when broken down, is just a basic chord structure, melody line, and lyrics. It is what the artists and producers skin it with that makes it unique, for better or worse. We see this, for instance, when a pop star covers a song deemed a classic, and the world screeches “sacrilege!”
Britney Spears covering the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction” is an example. It’s the same lyrics, chords, and melody as the original, but it does not evoke the same reaction. It is how Spears and her producers present the song that makes it horrible. Mind you, the original isn’t that great either, but you get the idea. So to criticize one artist over another, while being perfectly understandable, is generally all about personal taste. And personal taste, while perhaps pliable, is something that your kids should be allowed to develop for themselves. Exposing them to music you like is fine, but restricting or discouraging them from listening to what they like doesn’t steer them towards anything but resentment, and ultimately to second guess things that they enjoy.
So when my kids ask me to turn on one of the many radio stations that I can’t stand, I don’t worry about what it is that they are listening to, I’m just glad that they want to listen at all. They will decide what they like or don’t like as they grow, as I did, as everyone does.
January 28 is Bell’s Let’s Talk day, where the company will donate 5¢ to mental health initiatives for every text, phone call, tweet containing #BellLetsTalk, or a share of the image on Facebook. I wrote entertainment, parenting, and opinion pieces for various Bell Media online sites for several years, and took the opportunity and position to write about my own struggles with anxiety several times. Each piece I wrote received an overwhelming response from Sloan fans and readers in general, so I am reposting one that originally appeared on February 11, 2013.
LET’S TALK…ABOUT MY ANXIETY ISSUES
I play guitar and sing in the band Sloan. We have been making music and touring for 22 years. That means that I have been getting on stages around the world for my entire adult life. You would think it would be old hat by now, but in the last few years I have had a recurrence of panic attacks, like stage fright, where I have had to deal with an uneasiness, or fear, before going on stage.
I can’t explain why it started happening. One show, several years ago, triggered this fear of being in front of people, and I haven’t been able to shake it since. It’s not every show, and often it dissipates after a few songs, but it’s there almost every day. Even when I’m not playing shows. At almost any event where I feel I actually have to be there, or leaving would let someone down, I get anxious, dizzy, slightly disoriented. It’s a fear of not being able to control what I’m doing, or where I am, that somehow has become this big, mental deal for me.
And it’s not like anyone is forcing me to do anything. I get all the support one could hope to have from my bandmates and loved ones. No one would begrudge me leaving the stage, or just not going on. It has been made clear to me many times that, should I need to walk off stage, the rest of Sloan have it covered. Of course, I don’t ever want to do that. Inside, it would feel like I had walked out of my own life, that leaving the stage would mean that the fear had won. But I’ve come close many times.
If you have seen Sloan during the last year or so, you may have noticed a chair in front of my amps. That is one of my “touch stones” that I have to have to feel better. I rarely use the chair, but it’s there in case I get dizzy or feel like I’m going to pass out. There is often a garbage can behind my amps, should my nausea and gagging get the best of me. So far I’ve never had to use it. I also have a fan beside my mic stand. If I don’t have the fan blowing at me from a certain angle, it feels like I might fall over. It’s like the fan, with it’s weak flow of air, is holding me up.
As a rational human being I know this sounds completely stupid, but as an anxiety sufferer, it makes all the sense in the world. Likewise, I need to be able to see an “Exit” sign at the back of the room, behind the crowd. For some reason those calm me. I’m not sure if it’s a symbolic representation of being able to leave an uncomfortable situation, or just that a glowing red thing is comforting, but I search for them as soon as we hit the first chord.
I enjoy what I do for a living, both playing music and writing about music. It sucks to have to deal with this problem; it taints what I love doing. I have suffered from this in the past, and it has suddenly just gone away. I don’t know why it comes or why it goes.
These days I have had to endeavour to take steps to fight it more forcefully. Eating properly and getting rest seem to be the key. But it’s hard to do either when you are on tour and out of your home environment.
February 12 is “Bell Let’s Talk” day, when Canadians are encouraged to discuss issues concerning mental health in this country. All too often people are afraid to talk about how they are feeling, what deeper issues are affecting their lives. There has been a stigma when it comes to mental health, where even the term itself has a weight some people find too heavy to bear publicly.
Thousands of Canadians live with some form of mental stress every day. Whether it’s something as debilitating as anxiety and panic attacks, or just the feeling that life is getting too complicated to deal with, it can be a slippery slope. Feelings of inadequacy, or fear of failing those around you, can fold over onto themselves, creating an even bigger problem.
All I can do is try to make sure that anxiety doesn’t rule my life. It is a struggle at times, but I have to make sure that, as much as I can help it, I continue to push through it, and do what it is I have always wanted to do. Hopefully some day the panic attacks will cease again. Until then, I’ll be the one on stage right, fan blowing, chair awaiting, scanning for the exit signs.
My daughter, Vera Frida M. Pentland, was born on December 27, 2014. She goes by Frida, as far as we can tell. She barely responds when we say her name, preferring instead to either sleep or eat, basically ignoring everything else. If you threw in an Xbox and a bag of chips, she’s pretty much just like her older siblings.
Her mother took her sweet old time having her too, clocking in at 56 hours of labour, including making me drive her all over town at all hours, from home, to birth centre, to a hospital. Needless to say, things didn’t go according to our birth plan, but everything worked out in the end, and one month later baby and mom are doing great.
So now I officially have three kids. It’s been almost 8 years since the last one was born, and while some things are coming back to me (the quick-change diaper maneuver, opening a bottle of wine with one hand while rocking a baby with the other), some things have definitely changed. For instance, it seems that strollers are actually made to be harder to open as time goes on. When I was a baby, they didn’t fold up at all. When my son was born 11 years ago, it was a flip and a slip and a bang and you were on your way. Now I seem to have missed the classes needed to operate the damn thing at all, and practice does not make perfect in this case. The brake seems to always be on, and the beer holder attachment barely fits a take-out coffee cup.
Not only is the stroller a puzzle to fold and unfold, but it comes with a bassinet that somehow attaches to it, and that my daughter hates, if her screeching is anything to go by. In fact, she doesn’t seem to like travelling at all, unless it’s in my arms and my back is about to give out. With my other two kids, the only time they would nap was if I was driving them around, usually on the highway, at great financial cost given the price of gas at those times. Now gas is crazy cheap, and this one hates being in the car.
My older kids have been great with the new addition, and are constantly eager to hold her. Neither of them are eager to change her, however, just as they both physically gag if I ask them to take the dog out in case she poops and they have to pick it up. I’ve even said they could use a plastic bag on their hands, but still it’s a no-go in both cases.
Nevertheless, the three of them are getting along – or at least the two older kids are getting along with the new one. They are definitely not getting along with each other, but that is a given, and something that we have been trying to figure out. With a new addition comes new rules, or new ways of handling things. Trying to get the older sibs to pitch in a little bit more, but not making it seem like their lives have become so much worse with a new sister, is the goal. It could be very easy for them to see the baby getting all the attention, and their stepmother and I have been trying to make sure that they are involved in things, despite the fact that “things” right now involve a lot of poop and spit-up – from the baby, let’s be clear. For the record, I take care of my own poop and spit-up.
We have allotted them some new chores, simple tasks like making their beds in the morning and picking out clothes the night before. This was met with the expected outrage and venom, as if asking an 11-year-old to feed a dog every morning is tantamount to making him rebuild a car engine blindfolded. Hopefully this new world order will stick. I’ll let you know how it goes.
What is up with dads referring to their daughters as princesses? Unless they are, in fact, the fathers of actual princesses. Those guys get a pass, but what about all the hundreds of thousands of other dads who are not royalty, yet use the term? Is this even legal?
I get that your daughter is super-special, someone you feel is precious and are loyal to. I also have a daughter (with another one on the way). I understand that feeling of protection and affection. I also feel it for my son. Yet I have never found the need to use royal terminology to describe either of them.
My daughter’s aesthetic is not very “girly.” She doesn’t like pink, or frilly. Nor is she prone to donning tiaras or succumbing to bouts of the vapours when flustered. This is not to suggest that she is a “tomboy,” because that term is misleading and sexist. I’m also not suggesting that there would be anything wrong if she was “girly” either. She’s just not.
She likes to wear her older brother’s hand-me-downs, and while this has not been actively encouraged, it is economically pleasing to me. But that’s about it. I don’t really care how she dresses, except that, like anyone, I can tell that she is conscious of the image she puts forth. I know that she feels uncomfortable wearing dresses, for instance, because she will never wear one. This doesn’t disappoint me, because I don’t care. But I feel I might be in the minority when it comes to these things, at least if the mass media is the yardstick by which I should be measuring all things in my life.
For instance, when my daughter gets married (if she even does, or if there is marriage at all in the future…on the space station EARTH 2.0), what is up with me “giving” her away? Sure, legally I own her, but only half. Her mother has dibs on the other half, and I’m not sure who ended up with which end. But traditionally the dad gives away the bride in a wedding scenario, and I don’t know how I feel about that. I never want to actually give her away because I always want her to be in my life. And while I recognize that kids grow up and leave the nest, it’s not likely that she would be climbing into her covered wagon and setting out to discover the Wild West. Even if she did, I’m fairly certain they have wifi out there now, or at least spotty cell reception.
Getting back to the princess thing, I suppose you can call your kid whatever you want, really. Words and labels have power, and the idea of a princess can be different things to different people. Some think of someone special and irreplaceable. Others think of the damsel in distress, waiting for a brave knight to save her. And others think of a feisty, no nonsense, get the job done lady with bagels on either side of her head. Who am I to judge? I just don’t feel comfortable with the connotation that my daughter is anything other than who she is. Sure, she’s as valuable to me as I can imagine, but she’s her; she’s her own person, and I want to encourage that. I’ll always be there for her, but part of watching your kids grow up is watching them become independent, and using nicknames like “princess” or “not you, the other one” can help or hinder that sense of identity and independence. She’s already well on her way at 7, and I’m pretty sure she’ll be running the whole show around here by 17.
It goes without saying, however, that if she (or her soon-to-be-born sister) does some day become an actual, for-real princess, I’m fine with just a little castle somewhere over on the edge of whichever kingdom she marries into. Maybe I’d take a dragon to get around on, and some cool looking armour (think Stormtrooper – Star Wars, not Nazi – but maybe shinier).
As I have stated in the past, I am approaching fatherhood for the third time, and I’m 45. My currently-existing, already-born kids are only 7 and 10, but given that another one is on the way, I’m basically treating them like they are already grown and out the door.
It’s not like I’m eager to get rid of them at all (and legally I can’t), it’s just that kids cost money, as unromantic as that sounds, but so do babies. Big time. And this is something that I hadn’t really been thinking about when I “agreed” to have another one. Well, I might have mentioned the astronomical cost of raising a child once or twice or every time the subject came up, but that was always shut down by a random combination of facial expressions, emotional cues, or verbal persuasions, sometimes accompanied by minutely implied physical threats.
I’m not suggesting that my (much younger and stronger) wife blackmailed me into having a baby in my almost-twilight years. It’s just that she let it be known that this could, in fact, be my twilight year if I didn’t get with the program.
So, with the cost of camps, and tutors, and clothes, and various candied confections, I am adding cribs, and strollers, and nursing pillows to the list of expenses that no one celebrates in pre-natal classes when they tell you all about the miracle of child birth.
Of course, you don’t need any of these things. Millions of years have passed without the need for a nursing pillow, although the fact that there is almost no evidence of dinosaurs using them, and there are basically no dinosaurs left, could be used in a pro-pillow argument.
The same goes for strollers. I could argue, for instance, that babies don’t really need to be mobile until you salute them as they march out the door to kindergarten. I mean, isn’t that what we have dogs for? I’m already dropping some $150 a month on organic, grain-fed, non-GMO food for a beast that I then shell out some $1000 a year on medication because it can’t stop eating sticks and rotting carcasses every time I’m not looking. Just strap the baby to that thing and make it work for its penicillin.
Ok, maybe a stroller can come in handy. I suppose we need something filling up the trunk so groceries have to be squeezed in the back seat between the two bigger kids and the car seat ($$) for the new one. Which means a bigger car ($$$). Practicality dictates a minivan. My wife dictates “no way.” Of course.
Am I the only one who thinks that babies should be wrapped in paper for the first year of their lives? What’s the point in buying clothes made of actual cloth? They grow constantly, from what I remember. You burn through onesies almost as fast as diapers…which, I’m being told, will be cloth as well. Which means I’m expected to master the twists and turns of the cloth diaper, and the accompanying diaper cover, or whatever it’s called. I’ve been through this before, and needless to say, when I’m on duty (not going for the pun) I’ll be sneaking disposables (non-chlorinated) under the diaper cover. “I seriously have no idea how that got on there…I’m pretty sure the dog might have done it.”
I may be exaggerating a tad with all of this. It’s natural, at least for me, to expect the worst, or bemoan the inevitable. The world is against me, and only I can carry its burden. The truth, of course, is that none of this really matters next to a healthy, happy wife. And baby.
Of course, you can substitute the word “wife” with any number of terms, depending on your situation. No matter what type of partnership, sexual background, race, creed, or age you are, we all want the same thing: a happy, quiet baby that won’t bug us. If that means doling out thousands of dollars, and going without yet another new Xbox, or making do with the last, stupid version of the iPhone, so be it.