Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Moms vs. Dads - Aren't They Both Just Parents?

I'm not usually one to say "poor me."

I am part of a couple "privileged" classes: I am white and a male.  I am part of a few minorities too: I am a vegetarian and I am left-handed which are relatively minor in the grand scheme of minorities.  I put up with little inconveniences because of those two statuses like going to steak houses for a friend's birthday and having to order the salad or being forced to play field hockey in my high school gym class which ONLY has right handed sticks.  I am also gay and Jewish.  Being a part of these minority groups make for slightly aggravating situations like some nasty jokes and not having some rights (which is changing ever so quickly!).  For the most part, however, I don't feel like I'm oppressed and I don't have a big need to complain.  I have a pretty good life and I'm treated well in this world.


The one minority that is most frustrating to me now is being a stay-at-home-dad.  When my kids were first born I found some interesting articles about dads being ignored on the playground and not being invited to lunch dates with stay-at-home-moms.  I didn't think much of it.  As my boys grow older and we join more classes and play in the park more I have started to think of it more and more.  Dads as caretakers really are not as welcomed or celebrated as I had hoped.  The thing that is really making me write this entry was this video that is making it's way around the internet.

24 Applicants Were Terrified To This Job. Then They Found Out Why Billions Already Do It.

If you haven't seen it, it basically shows people applying for the toughest job in the world that includes working 20 hours a day, standing almost the entire time, no vacation time, working harder on holidays, requiring degrees in medicine, nutrition and finance, and getting paid $0 in salary.  At the end of the video the interviewer says the job title is "Mom" and people cry and profess their love for their mothers.

Well, what about us fathers?  Don't we do a lot of the same work?  Couldn't we have said the job title is a "Parent"?  Why are moms revered and dads always a distant second?

My mom was a stay-at-home mother with me for many years.  My dad went out to work.  Although my dad was out 40ish hours a week he still found time to teach me to throw a ball, parallel park, ride a bike, read Hebrew, help with my math homework, take care of me when I was sick, mow the lawn, assemble my toys, and attend every single one of my concerts and plays.

If I were in that video I probably would have bawled like a baby saying how much I love my mom.  I hope, though, that I would have remembered to mention my dad as well.

Twenty years from now, if this my sons are in an interview like this, I hope that the job position will be for a parent or caregiver.  Mothers are wonderful, but we need to teach that fathers are wonderful too and can do everything a mom can do.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Thomas The Freakin' Tank Engine Can Cure Insomnia

How did this happen?  Seriously....HOW???  I have no idea how my boys got into Thomas the Train.  I know that we have a couple Thomas books and they liked him on and off for a while.  I know that TV started to enter their lives about 4-6 months ago and sometimes we'd let them watch 15 minutes here and there.  I tried to get them to watch Barney or Sesame Street.  I'm not quite sure how Thomas became the big obsession, but it has.  We now have Thomas pajamas, DVDs, baskets, trains, phones, train tracks, Tivo recordings, paper plates, napkins, etc. and I'm sure that's just the beginning.  I know it'll get worse before it gets better.

I recently posted elsewhere online how much I didn't like Thomas and got a bunch of comments to links about how Thomas is part of a dystopian society.  All very interesting/funny and it made me realize I wasn't alone.  Other parents are just as bored out of their minds watching this drivel as I am.

Over the last month or two I have given up trying to be the perfect parent and learned that Pinterest-inspired arts and crafts twice a day just ain't gonna happen in my home.  The American Academy of Pediatrics believes that children should have no screen time at all until they are two years old.  I firmly believe that the AAP committee who came up with this recommendation are either A) insane, B) not parents, C) insane because they are parents D) financial backers of Pinterest, or E) live in a cabin in the woods and survive on a diet of berries and twigs.

I tried.  I mean I really tried to not give them TV and computer time.  There comes a time in our lives, though, that we just need 20 minutes to boil water to make mac 'n cheese (it's organic, I swear) and microwave some green beans (organic too).

The thing is, though, that I have learned that watching 30 minutes of TV a day isn't going to hurt my kids.  I watched TV when I was young and I think I turned out OK.  I have also learned that Thomas is definitely the best way to get 20 minutes of sleep in the afternoon.  I've started to notice that I put in the DVD and I make it through the first ten minutes sitting upright on the couch.  Next, I start to feel sleepy.  Before I know it one of my boys has hopped off the couch and is pushing the "OFF" button on the TV (which they have learned to do somehow without me teaching them) because the video is done.  I head to the pantry, shove some chocolate chips in my mouth and feel refreshed after my 20 minute power nap.

Here's the thing, though: I'm not sleepy when I put the DVD in.  I don't lay down on the couch.  I watch the first few minutes of the DVD and discuss what's going on with my kids.  I really stay active, but somehow Thomas makes my brain shut down and shut down hard.  Maybe it's my aversion to anything that calls a character a "Fat Controller" which I find offensive.  Maybe it's because I think the trains with moving eyes are a little creepy.  Maybe it's because I feel like these engines really aren't useful considering all they do is cause problems.  Who knows.  All I know is that if I buy some DVDs online for cheap I can sell them for $49.95 plus shipping and handling as a cure for insomnia on QVC at 3:00 a.m.  ;-)

And while we're talking about playing and toys, I thought this would be fun to add just for a laugh...