Monday, September 15, 2014

Firsts, Ever-Full Diaper Genies, and Coming Full Circle. Again.

As a parent there are a lot of Firsts. Actually, when you're a new parent, life is really all about your child’s Firsts and not much else. There are first words babbled, first steps wobbled and first teeth toothed. First trips on the big yellow bus to school only happen once, as does the first trip to the emergency room for stitches. (Which was really not my fault, despite what Nurse Ratched obviously thought when she checked us in.)*

There is another side of early parenthood as well though: the Mostly Unacknowledged World of Mind-Numbing Monotony. Which is world that includes all the drudgier bits of parental obligation that includes, but is not limited to, the seemingly infinite number of diapers changed. Or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches made. Or runny noses wiped. Or loads of laundry washed. Or, or, or.

Jeez, now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure I’m having a mild PTSD-like reaction to this little flood of memories. Suddenly I can't stop think about our Magically-Ever-Full Diaper Genie. The Diaper Genie that I was always quite sure I emptied mere moments before. Or was it the Tuesday before? Either way, it was somehow always full. Ugh. There was just never any way to be sure. Sleep deprivation will do that to you.

But luckily enough, the magical Haze of Times Past smooths over most of these of indignities that parenthood requires of us. And before you know it the tots have grown like proverbial weeds and they’re ready for launch. Which brings me full circle to the Full Circle portion of the Dad’s Off the Couch blog. The boys are indeed mostly grown and the end-game is in sight. So, here we go.

* Fun fact! The ER at one of our local hospitals has a big spiral-bound notebook crammed with what looks like year’s worth of informal, handwritten notes on kids admitted with questionable looking injuries. This is a book that Nurse Ratched will pull out from waaaay under the counter and consult surreptitiously while glancing back at the possible offender and victim. So, if nothing seems to match up: its’ your lucky day! If there is a match, well, I suppose there may be Questions. I’m just thrilled that I never found out for sure.

PS- And first teeth! I knew I missed a big one!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams. As real as it's going to be.

Look, over the next week or two there will be hundreds of thousands of words written about Robin Williams. There will be remembrances of all kinds. There will be mindless segments on every TV show that has an intern willing to write some copy. There will be countless think-pieces published about him. Robin Williams will be on magazine covers that will subtly evoke a sad clown.

And, most of the pieces written about him will focus on the deep and all too common connection between creativity and an inner life out of balance. There will also be some hand wringing and rhetorical questions about drugs, whiskey, heart attacks and the friends Williams kept in the early days.

Which is all well and good, but there’s so much more to him than all that. Really. Go to the source: the man speaking about himself. No, not clips of him putting on a dog and pony show for civilians like Barbara Walters… instead listen to the man having a real conversation. A conversation with the prickly, brilliant, and sometimes maddening Marc Maron.

Maron is a skilled interviewer and he’s no civilian. The hour he spends with Robin Williams is raw, contradictory and heart-breaking. If you’re actually curious about what was going on in there, this episode of WTF is a good place to start.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Coming Full Circle, part II, in which a Stay-at-Home-Dad grows up with his kids

It was a busy Saturday in May. First there was a trip to the community center where the younger boy had SAT prep. There was some question about how he was going to get back afterwards, but as always the specter of a long walk home ensured that he would work it out somehow.

Once this was done though, the main event was on: a road trip to the North Country of New York and the bustling metropolis that is Potsdam. A trip to retrieve our older boy from college. Our boy who, while he still holds the title of First Born, now also holds the title of College Student. Yow.

And how did this happen? How is it possible that our boy is in college when it seems like only five minutes ago that he was dragging a wet diaper around the house while in pursuit of Scrunchy the Shih Tzu, a dog that was not only faster than the boy, but quite a bit more clever?  How is it possible that our boy is in college when both his mother and I feel no older or wiser than the day we got married?

Or, more to the point, how is it possible that his mother and I have been taken by surprise by events we saw speeding down the track as quickly and inevitably as trainload of tired metaphors about life? Well I’ll tell you. Because I’m coming full circle.

Full circle means a lot of things. For the younger boy it means car trips to SAT prep instead of playdates. For the older boy it means trips to college instead of SAT prep. It means watching the boys climb into a tuxedo for prom instead of for ring-bearing duties at a wedding. It means talking about  why Stravinsky was a badass KGB-baiting composer instead of why the Under the Sea song is the best song ever.

Mostly though, coming full circle means that not only are both the boys living the lives of near-independence, but that those lives mirror what my own life used to be like. Thier lives are full of girls and parties and road trips and all the things that make being an adult great.

So, going forward I’m obviously going to have to start preparing to be a different kind of father. The kind of father who’s not constantly surprised to find that my boys are nearly grown. The kind of stay-at-home-dad who’s coming full circle.