Anything But Sexting

No, she's not donating to Haiti relief.They other day my daughter and I toured around the preschool we hope to place in next December.  By then, she’ll be 3 and undoubtedly have changed dramatically from the kid she is now.  I had an informal discussion with the kindly director of the school who was very cool and eager to hear about my parenting and “staying at home”. For some reason, I gave a 2 minute diatribe on how I didn’t want my daughter to burn out by the time she was 18.  I didn’t want her trying to get into a status college, always reaching for the next supposed “expected achievement”, but rather, to simply have the tools and resources to do whatever she wants in life to be happy.  Go to college, travel the world, vote Republican, whatever.

The director seemed delighted I wasn’t some pushy parent intent on ripping up her poor teachers the second they didn’t properly prep my daughter for her Mandarin tutor at age 3.   I finally told her I just wanted her to be ready to go to school, have fun and mostly just play.   Right answer.  She told me she looked forward to seeing us in the fall and that we should continue just doing what we’re doing.

But it got me thinking again on a nagging  question: what kind of child do I want to raise and how are my actions and behaviors an influence?  My biggest fear is that I somehow over-influence her, my behavior is so boorish and pedestrian that she picks up those bad habits.   Do I want a girl who listens to metal and drinks beer out of a can? Think about that one.

Maybe here are three things I would most want for my daughter:

1. To not be afraid to fail, make mistakes but to always try to learn from them.  Make mistakes and move on to something else.  A mistake or failure doesn’t make you an asshole, but you can become one if you don’t approach it right. Being perfect requires too much work and living with self-disappointment and regret is a heavy load — a much heavier load than getting a C.

2. Having an enough emotional intelligence to know the difference between right and wrong, good people and bad people (and who to hang with) and what kind of mistakes can be made without severe recriminations (see 1).  A girl who sends  sex messages to her 15-year-old boyfriend because everyone else is doing it does not qualify in this category — but the tidal wave of people who are doing it represent how tough it is to parent this situation.

3. To be curious about people, places and things. Wonder how something works, how people think, live and love and to be able to put yourself in their shoes.

As someone who made it through the terrible two’s, the teens and college, I can look back and see the things that were really important.   I understand that teen love is intense and that being accepted is important, but I know drunk driving or sending images of yourself nude around on the internet are the types of things you have to work hard to recover from.  I’d rather have a mathalete/choir geek daughter who is shunned than someone who has sex too early or thinks the type of car you own makes you important.

But those  wishes too are arrogant.  I guess I just have to equip her with the tools to find out who she is  (hopefully a mathalete).

In the movies, they sometimes have the hero or heroine face a terrible parent who beat them or abandoned them or was just generally shitty.  In every moment, that parent always says, “I did the best I could”.  It seems like a cliché but really, what else can you do? All you can do is what you can do.

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The Decline of the Parental Blog

My blog is a touching tribute to parenting through product reviews and MommyMonday Giveaways!

Every time I try to think of a new blog entry concerning being a stay at home dad, I come up empty.  What is so difficult about being at home all day with a two year old? Nothing. It’s pretty easy actually and I’m loathe to really find anything to gripe about or something interesting to say.  So I clean diapers, vacuum, do the dishes and cook.  So what?  People all over the planet have 1/100 of the income, property and opportunity I have and they never complain.  Or worse, they have no voice to be heard in their society.   It’s not tough and not  interesting — even as the stay at home dad craze reaches new and huge heights.   I should be really torching up this blog and jumping on the Stay At Home Dad bandwagon right?  Reader, I must tell you that I just feel like a real misanthrope blogger, a grump and a generally sour blogger.  I go to other blogs for inspiration, but something has changed since I started PunditDad, the gritty blogs seem to have given way to a bunch of Oprah-esque lifestyle/Home Shopping Network shills.   There is no two ways about it, there has been a real decline in the parental blog.
The blogging craze seems to have really settled out but one thing seems clear: blogs concering mommies and daddies have jumped the shark.  They are solely focused on products, product reviews, unique visitors, BlogHer network conventions, online cliques of Mommy’s and Daddy’s who dropped out of the working  “Game” only to find another “game” to play while Junior is napping, or at daycare or with the  nanny.   What happened to the actual PARENTING in the parenting blog?

I think you only need spend a few seconds at http://www.5minutesformom.com/ and you see where I’m going. This cottage industry doesn’t have much to do with finding a preschool, teaching potty training, or the fear a new parent finds deep within themselves.  It’s more about giveaways.  A lot of giveaways.   And book sales through websites. The other thing lacking is the bare honesty that used to be the hallmark of a good parental blog.  I still find some fine blogs, don’t get me wrong, but the move to “commercialize” the parental blog creates and artifice of less quality.

Isn’t there enough about parenting/parenting life to mock, criticize, laugh at, cry about that makes a product review of a Mommy or Daddy massager or office organizer unnecessary?   I’m not saying people aren’t welcome to make a buck or hawk their products, but the insipid artificial networks that have been created so that everyone can get a “piece of the action” rather than learn to speak from the heart is disturbing.   The shock of how children change, their amazing honesty, the huge responsibility of teaching life skills seems like a huge opportunity that is commonly being missed.  All of these things have been ever so slightly pushed to the side.  In the end, is everyone just reading everyone else’s blog to so they themselves can get recognition?

Below is a list of the most common blog topics that I see on parental blogs:

1.  I’m sooooooo BUSY!!! How can I continue being so BUSSSYYY!???

2. Kids say the funniest things.

3.   Enter my Giveaways!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yah, I know. I’m a complainer and I like taking digs at other people’s expense.  But I’m going to make a real attempt to approach some difficult subjects about parenting that I think people should be talking about, maybe things you have thought about or had questions?  There is a lot to choose from and I’m going to make a promise here to not just complain, kvetch and moan but really hit it dead on.  Life is more than just giveaways?  Right?

Who the F**ck Reads Cathy?

As a loyal newspaper reader for many years, I also indulge in the comic page. I don’t read every one, or the horoscopes or do Bridge or the Word Jumble, but I like to read a couple of comics to add a bit of frivolity to my day. Who can blame me? I’m inside with a toddler most days so it’s amazing I’m not doing crystal meth and shooting my tv.   Anyway, the other day the Chicago Tribune an0unced on the Comics Page that some new changes were coming to said section.  They are downsizing the paper to save money and a few comics were going to be affected. Some would go, but some were increasing in size.  Curiouser and curiouser I thought. Little did I know the horror.

Now, Punditdad tends towards the newer comics, Brewster Rockit: Space Guy, Dilbert and such.  I don’t have time for Broomhilda or the intricacies of Dick Tracy. Who follows a serial comic in 2010 I ask you? Really.  My take is that most comic pages in America reflect the tastes of people over the age of 50 and are much the worse for it.  Point of fact, they are not funny.

Now, enter the changes to the Tribune. They intend to eliminate Lio (demonic hell-child tortures his father), Sylvia (insane cats use telepathy on sarcastic cat owner) and Get Fuzzy (neurotic cat and dog abuse slack-jawed 30-something owner).  Now, all of these comics aren’t the best, but occasionally get a chuckle out of me.  They delay the impact of the total terror and disappointment that is modern news. Let’s face it, if you’re paying attention the world is in pretty bad shape.  Comics are a good escape.  But the lose of those comics aren’t the horrors. The horrors are that Cathy, the most gratuitously inane comic this  side of The Family Circus is getting 25% bigger! It’s not alone, Blondie, Hagar, Shoe and For Better or for Worse are all increasing in size so the geriatric set can read them.   Seriously, who the fuck reads Cathy?

Cathy was funny in the 1980’s when the idea of an overworked single woman with neuroses about her weight, her fashion sense and the cleanliness of her house was hysterical.  Nowadays it’s as funny as TV’s Full House, overdone, myopic and seriously un-funny.  Cathy has never had the self-deprecating humor that even Hagar or Shoe have, the lonely “life is shit and then you die” attitude that strikes at the heart of modern living, at the ennui that we feel knowing life is one big Pink Floyd lyric without the laser show.  No, Cathy is much like the Family Circus, the worst comic on the world without disagreement, because it’s not aware of itself. It simply moves on and on like a zombie, continuing it’s mindless rampage of bourgeois triteness.  If I controlled the world, Cathy would be the first comic to be banned from all newspapers and it’s archives burned to keep peasants warm in arctic Russian winters.

Thank god the Tribune sees fit to also increase the size of the Hall of Famers like Doonesbury and Peanuts.  I read Peanuts even today and constantly smile at the 4 panel genius that was Charles Schultz.  Many people say, “To each their own”. But I say to hell with Cathy.