Archive for the 'Parenting 101 duh' Category

12
Dec
13

Keep Calm and Nerd On

keep calm and geek onThe way I got here was so circuitous (as it is with most ‘places’ I arrive at) I won’t confuse you with it, but I found myself back reading a Tumblr post I had come across months ago by artist Joel Watson of the webcomic Hijinks Ensue.

The story Watson shares is a sweet one, about an interaction between a father and a son at this year’s San Diego Comicon.

It’s about acceptance and taking a few moments to enjoy time with the people you care about.

It struck home with me for a couple of reasons but the biggest one was the part about acceptance.

Of course, as a self-proclaimed nerd, geek or whatever the whole “acceptance” thing is important. I certainly have felt alone or different most of my life.  I’m willing to bet most of us have whether we admit it or not.

It took a long time to feel comfortable in my own skin—and I readily admit there are days I still don’t. Which is amazing because the more I work in media and the more people I meet, the more I find they hold very similar interests to my own.

So the post hits home because one of the things I really want to do with the boys is to empower them to love what they love and not worry about what others think of it.

Not long ago Alpha Tween (who recently I considered re-naming Sullen Tween because hormones) relayed a story to me about something that happened at school.

image via 4kids Entertainment

Despite being 12, Alpha is still a fan of Pokemon. I’ve never totally understood the fascination (though I am a fan of Psiduck) but hey, whatever floats your boat, right?

And he definitely has friends who still enjoy looking at and playing with the cards and video games.

He was with his friends at lunch and two of his friends were doing something with Pokemon cards. Alpha was watching, not playing but hanging out when he ended up in a conversation with two 6th graders.

The younger kids asked him if his friends were really playing Pokemon. Alpha responded, yes they were.

They then asked him if he liked Pokemon too. Alpha said he did.

The two kids then proceeded to make fun of all three kids, laughing as they walked away.

I asked him how he felt about it and he shrugged.

“What do I care what they think? I like what I like.”

I’d like to think he learned this from my wife and I. That when his younger brother was running around in pretty princess dresses and we didn’t bat an eye, he learned it’s OK to be different.

That no matter what others think, who you are is fine.

That’s going to be a fight, especially for the tween/teen years which are all about standing out by fitting in. But we’re well on our way.

I think, ultimately, this is why geek culture has become such a “thing” over the last decade. It’s about acceptance. It’s filled with people who “didn’t fit in” to what the norm was, who learned to embrace differences in others because they had their own rejected and in some cases belittled.

Sure, there is infighting because every group on earth has jackholes in it (I believe that’s a law) but by and large it’s an accepting bunch.

Everyone wants to be accepted and liked—even the people who try hard to make you think they don’t. On some level, they absolutely do.

Hopefully my wife and I can put together a pair of kids who will help them feel that way and who will always feel that way themselves.

Hey, are you following Dad Moon Rising on Twitter or Facebook? Why the hell not?

24
Jul
13

I Love Everything The Kids Do, Even Pokemon (Usually)

When I was typing up the first post of the day—the You’ve Got Nothing to Prove (no you really don’t) post—it made me think back to a conversation I had with my wife.

No, not the one about the coffee ice cubes which, I don’t care what anyone says, will make us rich!

This one was much longer ago, back before The Professor was born.

Use your TARDIS to travel back in time with me…… copyright probably BBC, it wasn’t marked. Possibly copyright, Gallifrey

Actually, when my wife was still pregnant with the little rugrat but before we knew “he” was a “he” or a “she.” My wife was watching me play with Alpha-Toddler (you know him as the Tween)—I don’t recall what we were doing but it probably involved him attacking me.

When the Alpha-Toddler had alpha-toddled off to do something else, my wife asked me whether I would treat a daughter the same way as I did our son.

Not sure what she meant, I asked her to clarify.

Her response was that she was wondering if I would do the same things—in general—with a daughter that I did with my son. Would I watch football with her? Would I wrestle and play tag with her? Would I share the things I loved with her, even if they weren’t “traditionally girl things?”

I put that last part in quotes not because I am quoting The Wife, but because what the hell is a “traditional girl thing” anyway?

Anyway, I thought about it for a minute or two and said that I hoped I would.

Me, most Sundays the last few years. (copyright CBS & 3dfpsmocksession.com)

That I would hope that she would sit with me while I watch the Jets lose again, that she would dry my tears the same way our son did. That if she wanted to read comics with me or play a video game, I’d be happy to.

That if she liked to play soccer or football, to pretend to be a knight slaying a dragon or whatever made her happy, I’d be right there just like I was for our son.

But that until I had a daughter, I really didn’t know. Frankly, at the time I was more concerned that if she didn’t want to do any of those things that I wouldn’t know what to do with her.

Now, since we ended up with a boy, I didn’t exactly have that to deal with any of that.

However, the Professor definitely has his own interests, his own likes and dislikes. Some of those match up with my own, others don’t. He tolerates football because he likes to hang out with me, but he’d rather play Pokemon and that’s fine (although I haven’t a clue what he or his brother are talking about). He used to dress up in princess dresses (not my speed but he did make an adorable princess). He likes sports, but mostly individual ones like gymnastics or tennis.

While I didn’t get that daughter, it turns out that I still had to deal with almost the same question.

In the end, I did have to deal with having a child who wasn’t exactly like me. Two actually, because Alpha Tween is definitely his own person as well.

The answer to my wife’s question from eight years ago is—in my mind—emphatically yes. Because boy or girl, the goal is the same.

copyright via Simon & Schuster

To treat them with respect for the things they like, even if they don’t mirror my own likes.

Even if it’s that they like the prequel Star Wars movies over the original one, don’t think Han Shot first and find the Lord of the Rings not all that interesting.

So far none of that has happened because I’m a damned good parent who teaches his kids the proper way of things, but the point is it’s OK with me if their interests diverge. And it should be for you as well.

When one of the kids wants to do something with me that they love, I love it too, even if it’s just for the hour we’re hanging out. I love it, because they love it.

And that respect for the different likes, dislikes and interests of others will hopefully be something they take with them for the rest of their lives.

Hey, are you following Dad Moon Rising on Twitter or Facebook? Why the hell not?

15
Jul
13

Kids – Not as Fragile as we Think

So I was watching Aliens the other day (live tweeting it too – next time it’ll be on the Dad Moon Rising feed as it confused my football followers) and there is a scene where Ellen Ripley is talking with Newt, the young girl Ripley and the Space Marines (sounds like a band) found hiding in the wreckage of the colony they are here to rescue.

I was struck by the conversation between the two during a scene where Ripley is trying to soothe Newt so the girl can get some sleep (how many of us have been there).

So here are the quotes and the thoughts around them. It’s a bit scattered but hopefully you’ll get my point(s).

Newt: My mommy always said there were no monsters. No real ones. But there are.

Ripley: Yes, there are, aren’t there?

Newt: Why do they tell little kids that?

Ripley: Most of the time it’s true.

We all lie to our kids. All of us in some way, shape or form.

We choose what we tell our kids and what we hide from them. Take a sad event from the news on any day – I’d name some but really just click on CNN or pick up your local paper – and sometimes we tell our kids about them and sometimes we don’t.

We lie to our kids because we want to protect them. We want them to remain children for a little while longer and not have to deal with the world we see on the news or on the streets or in the papers for just a little longer.

There are topics and realities we aren’t ready to present to our kids – some of them not even the horrors of violence or war or <insert your issue here>, but things that are just not true.

Hell, some of us lie about Santa Claus.

Why?

I think ultimately, we want to believe that monsters don’t exist, magic does and that the world doesn’t suck as much as it tends to.

But for every monster which exists, there’s someone whose job it is to help us. For every piece of magic that doesn’t exist in the literal sense (Harry Dresden where are you?), there’s the sight of your kid opening Christmas presents. For every moment which makes your heart ache, there is one which brings you joy.

Our job is the shield our children for a while. Then it becomes our job to point out that yeah, life sucks sometimes – but it’s also fucking awesome. It’s filled with mistakes, sure, and sadness but it’s also filled with great stuff and experiences.

It’s a tough line because, while our kids are children and aren’t ready to deal with everything in the world, they know what’s what.

Ripley (re: daughter): She’s Gone.

Newt: You mean dead.

Have you had that conversation yet? Death is one of those things we hate to talk to the kids about, but – and you may vehemently disagree – I think that’s more about our own coping then theirs. I think much of the time we don’t want to have to console our kids because it’s hard to deal with death ourselves.

So we say things like “she’s gone” just like Ripley does in Aliens. And Newt, being a wiser kid than Ripley gives her credit for considering what she’s been through, calls her on the bullshit.

I’m not saying that your three year old needs to know about death or war or child abductions. But I’m willing to bet that he or she isn’t as fragile as you think.

Sure there might be fear and tears but that’s fine – that’s really why we’re there, to help them deal with that.

Ripley: I bet Casey doesn’t have scary dreams. Let’s take a look.

Ripley looks into the doll’s head.

Ripley: Nope, nothing bad in there.

Shows Newt the empty head of the doll.

Ripley: See? maybe you can just try to be like her, hm?

Newt: Ripley. She doesn’t have bad dreams because she’s just a piece of plastic.

When we try to pull the wool over our kid’s eyes too often, they know. Especially when they ask us a straight question. They deserve a straight answer, even if it’s just “now’s not the time to talk about it.”

It’s hard for me to talk to the boys about being safe walking or biking. That they have to be careful of people who might hurt them. That not all people are good, that some will judge them by their looks or likes. That some will flat out hate them for reasons they cannot fathom and maybe never will. To, in the face of all that remain a kind and thoughtful person.

It was damned hard when I had to talk to them about my grandfather dying last year, or their great grandmother before that.

But what happened when I was honest with them was healing – both for me and them.

I’m not always ready for the truth myself. I’m not ready to let go of Santa Claus for Omega Child. I’m not ready to give up on the Tooth Fairy, though the bitch is breaking my piggy bank.

Some of the best conversations I’ve had around the dinner table lately are about subjects that on the surface I’d rather not talk to the kids about.

But they knew about them to begin with and were completely capable of having an intelligent conversation about it.

It’s different for each kid and it’ll be different for your kid.

But maybe they aren’t quite as fragile as we think.

Hey, are you following Dad Moon Rising on Twitter or Facebook? Why the hell not?

10
Jul
13

His Priorities Are Fine, Until They Aren’t Mine

operationheadphoneAlpha Tween has a dream.

Well, probably many, but the one I am thinking about involves saving enough money for a pair of Beats by Dre.

For those of you who are not “hip” those are really, REALLY nice headphones. I have a pair and they are fantastic.

They are also not cheap.

So when AT said that not only did he want them, but that he wanted to buy them with money he earned we knew it was a tall order but also thought it was a great idea.

It’s been a long haul so far, but he’s learning about saving money (we also make him save 5-10% of what he earns through chores and projects to go in the bank), setting goals, how to achieve them and how to long you have to work to do so.

He’s also learning about priorities. One of his other goals was the buy the game Minecraft for the laptop the kids have.

That cost about $27. He chose a while back to buy the game, which decimated his pile of Beats money, probably taking it down by 50-75%.

I talked to him about it, made sure he knew that it would set him back in reaching his first goal and then let him buy the game.

So here we are now, mid-summer, and now he’s considering buying a new 3DS (that’s a hand held game system for you non-hip folks again) as his current DS is dying a tragic and lingering death.

Money-in-the-AirAs a new 3DS is going to cost him as much—if not more—than the Beats were going to, I was talking to him again about how significantly that choice would set him back.

And as we were talking, I was concerned and I couldn’t figure out why.

Why do I care what he’s spending his money on? It’s his money, he earned it and ultimately unless he wants to spend it on something harmful to himself or others (an AK-47 or rail gun for instance) he should be able to spend it on what he wants.

Hell, if he wants to buy $200 worth of candy, that’s his money. He’ll have to learn to live with the consequences, just as he will if he spends the money elsewhere.

Isn’t that the point my wife and I are making? That you can choose to do what you will with your money but you’re the one who deals with the consequences?

Which is when it hit me—this isn’t as much about me worrying about him as it is me not being to understand his choices.

I mean, I have no real interest in a DS, right? If it were me, I’d buy the headphones and call it good.

Which is probably what The Wife said when I—er Santa—gave us a Playstation for Christmas.

I’m sure she couldn’t quite grasp why we didn’t just get something else she might think is more important.

So when the kid comes home this evening, we’ll sit down and talk. Because as important as learning responsibility and hard work is, he also needs to learn that just because someone else wouldn’t do what he’s doing doesn’t mean you should do something different.

And just because someone spends their money in a way you wouldn’t, doesn’t mean they’re wrong or you’re wrong.

It’s so easy to let others influence your choices, especially when you’re a kid. It’s difficult to do something the crowd might disapprove of. And it can be really hard for a boy to do something his father tells him isn’t a good idea, even if he disagrees.

While listening to the opinions of others can be important, just because they disagree doesn’t mean you have to do what they would.

Apparently that’s still something I’m working on and something I’ll have to consider when speaking to my kids about the choices they make.

I’ll have to always make sure to tread lightly.

Hey, are you following Dad Moon Rising on Twitter or Facebook? Why the hell not?

20
Jun
13

Metal kids are effing metal no matter what you think

If you don’t read Gawker, you should click this link and head on over this morning.

The particular post which caught my eye (thanks to my friend Don Povia of Blogs With Balls and Carrot Creative) this morning was about two African-American boys in NYC who are metal-heads and getting some flack for it.

These two kids, according to the article (which sources a site called the Avant/Garde Diaries), have been in a band together since they were five and – I gotta tell you, watch the video below because these two fucking rock.

Sorry for the curse there but honestly, if you’ve ever been a fan of metal, that’s pretty much how you have to put it, along with one of these:

\m/

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/68177758″>Unlocking The Truth – Malcolm Brickhouse & Jarad Dawkins</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/avantgardediaries”>The Avant/Garde Diaries</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

The problem is, because they don’t “follow the crowd” they catch flack for it. They say in the video it’s not bullying but when you make fun of someone for what they like and because they’re different – well, what else is the definition of bullying?

But – and this is why I am blogging about this today – these two kids don’t care. They like what they like and they aren’t worried about it being different. One of them even says “I don’t like to do what everyone else is doing.”

As a dad, I am constantly concerned about my kids being accepted for who they are. I hope that if they aren’t they have the strength to stand up and be themselves anyway.

Omega Child used to dress up in princess dresses. He has a huge affinity for “being fancy” and owns several bow ties. Alpha loves Pokemon and reads voraciously. He’s starting to get interested in tabletop gaming.

Those things don’t always fit in with the norm, but the Wife and I have always encouraged them to be themselves. I’m always happy when they are because school – especially Middle School for Mr Tween-in-the-making – isn’t all that accepting sometimes.

It’s not easy and it makes me so happy to hear about these two friends and their pursuit of their dreams and interests – and that they are doing it on their own terms.

And bravo to the parents (one of which appears in the video a few times in the background) for standing with their “off-kilter” kids.

The two boys (and their friend the bassist who – as is always the case with bassists – seems to have avoided the camera) are very clearly loved and supported. As parents – as dads – isn’t that all we can really do as the kids get older?

I’ll leave you tho think about that while I try to figure out where I can buy Unlocking the Truth’s album.

(head over to their website as well to learn more about them)

*update*

From their website –

Unlocking the Truth’s goal is to become one of the world’s best heavy metal bands, and with their music, they want to encourage their fans to just be themselves and not be intimidated by what people say.

I’d say that they’re off to a great start.




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What I’m Into:

Reading: Dead Beat by Jim Butcher Listening to: The Heist, Macklemore Watching: Damages