Dads of Future Past

Dad's First Picture with Me

Today is what would have been my dad’s 74th birthday. He passed away only a day before his 70th. Because his health steadily declined, we had many opportunities to say our goodbyes, but we never did. He taught me a lot of things: how to hit a golf ball, how to change the oil on my car, how to stay “stupid” in spanish (that’s a whole story in itself), and how to swear at broken plumbing. However, we never talked about emotions or how we felt about things. I didn’t realize that I needed those discussions until he was gone. I think we both wanted to hear an “I love you” from one another, but our quiet understanding would have to suffice – such an asian thing. His “thank you” after every hospital visit strangely sustained me only because it was one of those rare sincere moments of connection that we had.

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Growing Up with Your Kid

Every parent has experienced this—a spontaneous decision to go out for dinner with the young one turns into regret and a pledge to order in next time. When Dylan was merely a non-walking, non-talking, non-solid food eating blob, he was the best meal partner because he just wasn’t at that level of awareness yet. He had no yearning for what we were eating because he had never experienced it before. He had no desire to grab every condiment bottle and utensil at the table because he had not yet felt the liberation of being able to feed himself with a baby spork. He would just contently stare into the oblivion of whatever babies think about.

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Cheerios Are a Part of My Life Now

So small. So ubiquitous.
So small. So ubiquitous.

My relationship with Cheerios in 2010:

  • Ate them in a bowl with milk for breakfast.

My relationship with Cheerios in 2014:

  • Find them randomly on the floor of any room in the house, including the bathroom.
  • Sit on the floor and accidentally crush one into Cheerio powder (a.k.a. baby angel dust).
  • Find some in my pocket because I had found them on the floor earlier and just put them there because I wasn’t close enough to a trash can.
  • Eat one I found on the floor because I wasn’t close enough to a trash can and my shorts don’t have pockets and I know Dylan just dropped it less than five minutes ago don’t judge me.
  • Leave a restaurant with at least ten of them scattered around the floor by our table like the calling card of a serial litterer.
  • Can hear the sound of one falling on carpet from at least 20 feet away. And yes, if a Cheerio falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, it still makes a sound, which is the sound of my knees creaking as I bend down to pick up the Cheerio.
  • Know that snack catchers are no match for a baby without the fine motor skills to grab just a couple out the snack catcher. Dylan has perfected the art of grabbing a handful of Cheerios, yanking them out of the snack catcher, and letting them fly like rice at a wedding (Chong Li cheater dust if you prefer).
  • Know the typical ratio of Cheerios grabbed to Cheerios actually eaten for a 1-year old, also known as the Cheeratio.
  • Know that babies never tire of them. Ever.

If you have any special relationship with Cheerios (related to kids) that I haven’t covered, feel free to add to this list.

On Eating

Eating used to be so awesome. I mean, it still is, but I prefer to eat without a shot clock which is what my wife and I must do now with Dylan. One of my pet peeves is to be rushed through whatever meal I’m having. Even if you see me powering through some Chipotle, at least I am the decider of my destiny, dammit! So many good things can come from a meal – stimulating conversation, laughs, new ideas. To me, being rushed through a meal is like reading the cliffs notes – no, the Wikipedia article of a great novel.

How eating was before kids
Eating before small babies

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Just One More Hill…

Every year at my company, we drive up to Mammoth for four days for a company retreat. There is usually a combination of team building sessions, outdoor activities, and eating copious amounts of bacon and/or M&Ms. 

During my first retreat, we went on an afternoon hike up Lembert Dome to work off said bacon and/or M&Ms. Although the hike was supposed to be leisurely, I struggled because of the altitude (i.e. out of shape). As we approached the top, dirt, snow, and trees gave way to rock, so I knew we were getting close to the peak. “One more hill!” someone would shout, so I was pretty motivated to make it to that one hill. When we finally got to that point, I found out that indeed there was one more hill.

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That Time I Watched Star Trek Into Darkness by Myself

One thing you absolutely need to stay sane as a parent is some time to yourself. I am not talking about the time after you’ve put the kiddies to bed and the house is quiet. I am talking about being physically somewhere else such that your mind knows you are physically somewhere else. I am also not talking about girls’ night out or guys’ night out. I’m talking about being physically somewhere else and also being alone. It’s important to be by yourself occasionally so you can maintain some perspective about who you are and appreciate the times you are around friends and loved ones. Some people might call it mediation. Others might call it going to a theater to watch Star Trek Into Darkness by yourself. I call it the latter.

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Wait, What?

The year is 2013. Humans are used to having every nugget of knowledge at our fingertips within seconds and we don’t even think twice about it.

“My kitchen sink is broken!” -Google it.
“Remember that one theme song from that 80s sitcom we always used to watch?” -YouTube it.
“Who was that one actor in that one movie who’s in that new TV show now?” -IMDB it.
“I have this weird rash on my arm!” -WebMD Symptom Checker…it.

There is no excuse to not know something anymore. We might not be able to download knowledge and expertise straight into our brains a la The Matrix, but we are getting there.

Yet despite thousands of years of collective human experience, there is no way to truly prepare for being a parent. No website can replicate the experience of waking up at 2 A.M. night after night for months. No YouTube video can recreate the overwhelming emotions stirred up by witnessing the birth of your child (although it CAN recreate the whole “things that cannot be unseen” aspect of it). No words of wisdom from your recently anointed parent friends nor your parents can save you when your child is screaming for no apparent reason.

Ten and a half months into this parenting gig, here are some things I’ve learned:

  • If you don’t truly know thyself, you will get to know thyself REAL quick when you discover that your baby, like Honey Badger, don’t care.
  • Even if you are listening to your favorite song ever, if your baby is crying, it automatically becomes the worst song ever.
  • The amount of time your baby sleeps is inversely proportional to how fatigued you are.
  • All babies have within them a wormhole from which all bodily fluids materialize. How else can such a tiny being produce so much poop, pee, and spit up? Science, yo.
  • The only toys that your baby will really enjoy are things that are not toys – real cellphones instead of the toy version, the box the toy came instead of the toy. Why don’t they just make the toys look and feel like the real thing? Also, there’s no BSing your child about this. I noticed that my son was really into the tags on things, so I got this blanket for him thinking he’d be into it because it had tags on tags. He totally didn’t fall for it. Babies know.
  • Like prison inmates, all babies have is time. No matter what obstacle you put in in front of them, they will find a way.

There are 20 more points I could list here, but each of them probably deserves their own post.