Friday, May 28, 2010

Fatherhood Friday: A big kid at heart, but a senior citizen in body

We run into one of my former students and her two children at a local park on a fairly regular basis. Her boy is 3 and is very verbal compared to our Eli who is still in the grunt and point stage. One afternoon Eli, Anna and myself were climbing all over one of the play structures and Gabriel, the son of my student, walked by, waved, and said, “Hi little girl! Hi little kid! Hi big kid!” to Anna, Eli and myself as he passed each of us on his way down.

It cracked me up that this boy would consider me a kid and not a parent since I was up playing with my kids and not sitting on the bench passively watching and checking messages on my phone. I shared this with the class the next day and told my student that her 4.0 was in the bag. Yes, I am a big kid. I admit it. I love cartoons, I love to go and explore and play, and up until a wedding a few years back, I didn’t own a suit until I was over 40.

My ultimate play area is Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. It is truly an amazing place with something for everyone. A lot of amusement parks are for the coaster/thrill junkies and leave the kids and wusses out in the cold, but not CP. It rocks, and my inner kid comes out every time I catch a glimpse of the coasters on the horizon as we head over the causeway into the park. A group of us tagged along with a school field trip to the park yesterday and had a blast. There’s nothing like riding in a comfy air-conditioned coach there and back, it’s heaven. I remember bleary-eyed, caffeine fueled drives there and back in my car when I lived in Toledo when I was much younger, and it’s nice to NOT have to do that.

So we packed up Anna and some of her peeps and had a blast. Anna is a few inches short of being tall enough for the big rides, but there is plenty to keep a junior coaster/thrill junkie happy. Taking a Grandparent along is a GREAT idea, as two of us who were big enough to ride the big ones ditched the kids with the grandparent and made tracks for the coasters. The Camp Snoopy area is wonderfully themed and if the kid is big enough, they can run from ride to ride and not have to have a parent with them. Since there are rides like the Tilt-a-Whirl and other twirl and puke rides, the kids can scramble their brains and I don’t have to risk public humiliation by tossing my lunch after the 5th ride.

So yes, I am a big kid, but as I type this, the reality of yesterday is squaring up with my 45 year old body. I am doing my best to remain awake and get into work later to catch up, but the coffee isn’t doing it. Getting home at 11:30 pm after a day at the park has taken its toll. I picked up my inhaler this morning as I was getting ready and sprayed it in my underarms thinking it was deodorant. I am just glad it wasn’t the other way around. I will do my best to retain this Peter Pan mentality as my kids grow, as I truly believe it’s what will keep me young, but right now, Peter Pan is glad that Tinkerbell is at daycare, ‘cause Peter needs a nap.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fatherhood Friday: KISS Army

This past Christmas, I gave my niece Olivia a KISS t-shirt for a present, as my brother is a life-long member of the KISS Army. Hell, I would be too, if they allowed Gays in the KISS Army. I mean really, what’s not Gay about KISS? Makeup, theatrics, THE HAIR…

But I digress, in possible retribution for this gift; Eli was given a Queen t-shirt from my parents (at my brother’s urging perhaps?) for a recent gift giving event at our home. I love it, and I love Queen. They’re just like KISS but with more theatrics and less makeup. It still amazes me that people were surprised to find out that Freddie Mercury was Gay.


I suppose these were the same people who were shocked to find out Rob Halford (Judas Priest), Elton John, and the guy who played Jack on “Will and Grace” were all Gay as well. I remember at a very early age loving Elton John and his music, and before anyone panics, I have known I was Gay since I was in about 4th grade, well before any of this vinyl crossed my path. I came home from 6th Grade camp and my parents had bought Queen’s “A Night at the Opera” and the music blew me away. I pored over the artwork and songs in “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and marveled at the wonders therein. A friend at art summer school had a copy in his locker and we would sit in the hallway at Whittier Junior High and wonder what it was all about. Music has been an important part of my life ever since I can remember, and I am working on instilling that with Anna and Eli. It doesn’t matter who made the music, or what their sexuality is, what matters is that it is GOOD music. So, with heads held high, Eli will proudly wear his Queen shirt, critics and homophobes be damned. The boy knows how to rock out, and has been known to don a fuzzy DJ Lance rave hat and Anna’s pink plastic Barbie shoes while raising the roof to a Romantics tune on the stereo.

My Dad told me about an article in the Toledo Free Press Magazine and wondered if we had had any problems with Eli wearing his shirt around town. Ironically, the first day he wore it to daycare, the daycare lady’s grandson (who is also Eli’s bestest buddy) was wearing the same exact shirt. Was I horrified? Hell yes, I pride myself on my children’s diverse, eclectic, and (thanks to Tod’s brother and sister in law in London) international wardrobe. The fact that another toddler was honing in on Eli’s hipster quotient was unforgiveable. We promptly de-friended Colton on Facebook and vowed to shop even harder for ironic/iconic hiptastic toddler wear.

Michael Miller, the author of the article my Dad shared with me had this to say:

To this point, we have not spent any time worrying about our sons and gender roles. For starters, we are firmly in the category of those who believe orientation is decided at the DNA level; it’s not a choice we are going to influence through exposing the boys to Metallica, rare steak and Robert Mitchum’s “Night of the Hunter.”

We have let them play and explore with death-dealing robots, super heroes, dragons, and princesses, mermaids and Julie Andrews’ “Sound of Music” as they want to.

There are so many child-raising factors to deal with — health, education, socialization, potty training and 1,000 other challenges — that devoting energy to being concerned about an orientation we can’t control does not make any sense. I do not believe letting Evan wear a Queen T-shirt with lyrics to a song he has never even heard the complete version of is going to determine the gravity of his future loafers. Frankly, it’s icky to even be on that path of speculation.

I couldn’t agree more, and hope that more people adopt this kind of attitude towards their kids and their futures. Let the kids love what they chose to love music-wise (even if it is vomit-inducing Justin Bieber or Mylie Cyruss) and let them embrace their inner Lady Gaga if they want, there are worse things they could do. And when they bring that special someone home, know that their music choices early on had NOTHING to do with it. Although, as a caveat, boys who like show tunes are usually Gay, just sayin’.

There are no guarantees in life, and I would hesitate to even think about demanding a perfect child. Just imagine if Freddie’s Mom or Dad had tried to change him, the world would be a less fabulous place and “Wayne’s World” (The movie) would simply suck.

You can read Miller’s entire article here:

I thank him for letting me share his work with my readers.

Monday, May 17, 2010

It has begun

Our friend Tom loves kids, it’s just the parents he can do without. He remarked to us one day that regardless of the sexuality, gender, or marital status of the parents, when two or more are gathered, poop happens. No, we’re not talking about scat or two parents one cup here, we’re talking about talking about poop. It’s inevitable, there’s no getting around it, and it’s as regular as, well, defecation.

Honestly, we can’t help it. The endless hours of watching SpongeBob and the Wiggles have left very little space in our sleep deprived brains for anything but talk of what goes on in and off the potty. It unites us, it’s like we’ve seen battle or done time, sure there may be differences in our experiences, but in the end, it’s all shit.

When I begin my Art History class, we start at the Renaissance, the “rebirth” of the world and the beginning of art for many Westerners. As we zoom through 500 years of art covered in the text, we come to what is going on now and I share with them modern/conceptual art, some of which is good, and some of which, is shit, literally. It amazes me that after 500 years of human achievement and luscious artwork we end up talking about Belgian artist Wim Delvoye and his amazing poop-machine Cloaca. And who can forget Piero Manzoni’s “Artist’s Shit” a collection of cans holding the artist’s shit, to be sold for the going price of gold.

For real.

To my delight and disgust, some of these cans in collections around the world have actually exploded. It makes me wonder if I am teaching the course backwards and should actually start with this shit and end with the good stuff.

And with that said, we’re starting to potty train Eli, or rather, he’s training us. He will actually say “Dee!” which I believe is short for pot-dee and point to the nearest can. Right now, the novelty of it is keeping him involved and eager to try this new-fangled thing in his life. He goes in, drops trou, and rips off his diaper like a Chippendale Dancer ripping off their stripper pants on stage. It’s all drama, but part of the process.

There will be bumps, there will be accidents. There will be tears and there will be much more discussion on this topic for sure.

For more on Wim and his machine, check out his great website:

Real Mens Project

The Real Men’s Photo Project:
As mentioned a few posts back, I entered a photo of Anna and me wearing our Chuck Taylor’s to this contest. While I didn’t win, I did get picked to be in the show. More on the contest :

Born in 2003, in Jackson, Michigan, the Real MEN's Project is a public awareness initiative focused on getting men involved in ending domestic and sexual violence. After successive Fathers Day campaigns focusing on teaching our sons that real men don't hit and real men don't rape, this year the RMP partnered with Allegiance Health and did a statewide photo contest featuring children and their fathers who take a pledge to take a stand against domestic violence and sexual assault. This video features the jury-selected 31 images that will be installed at Allegiance Health by Fathers Day 2010 and on display for the rest of 2010. The slide show also features every other photographer who submitted photo(s) for the contest. Thanks to every one of them!

Please check out the link to Youtube to see the winning images.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Preschool is going well

It's amazing the words they learn once they hit the public schools. Or maybe it was daycare. Regardless, someone needs a talkin' to. : )

P.S. Never fret my dear followers, I am done with winter semester and all those posts I have been wanting to do will show up soon.

Thank you for your patience and support.