Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Once a baby starts to show any inclination towards speech, we parents hover over them and repeat "dada" or "mama" in a completely non-embarrassing attempt to influence the baby's first word. I honestly can't remember...

Kate (spinning): Daddy, look at me!
Me: Wow, Kate, that's great. Now, can you play quietly by yourself? Daddy's trying to write something.

Anyway, I honestly can't remember what Clara or Kate's first words were, but I'm willing to bet they were either "dada" or "mama."

Kate: Daddy...

A few weeks ago, Cecilia started to play with sounds. After several days of having "dada" and "mama" repeated at her, Megan won out when Cecilia clearly said, "Mamamamama."

Kate: Daddy!

Since then, Cecilia has been playing with her voice, alternating between "mamama," "dadadada," "lalalala," "babababa," and other similar combinations.

Kate: Daddy!!!
Me: What?!? I'm trying to do something.
Kate: I have my shoe on my ear!
Me: Lovely.

So anyway, Cecilia had yet to assign regular words to anything, and certainly wouldn't repeat words on command. This morning Cecilia was quiet in the back of the car as I drove to an ATM. I didn't want her to fall asleep and mess up her nap, so I started calling her name. Quietly from the back seat came a sweet, "dada."

Kate: Daddy, you know what I want to be for Halloween?
Me: A Butterfly?
Kate: No, a spider!
Me: Kate, can you go play with your toys on the third floor?
Kate: I don't want to.

Needless to say, I was very proud that Cecilia heard my voice, recognized me as her daddy, and verbalized it in such a sweet way. It made me look forward to all the things she's going to say one day.

Kate (evidently thinking about The Incredibles): The mean guy is really, really angry. But not the little guy. He's fast. His name is Dash. I don't like the mean guy. Can we watch The Incredibles? Please? My baby wants to watch it, too.
Me: Kate, can you just stop talking? Just for a few minutes.
Clara: No.

I guess I should be careful what I wish for.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Suburban Journal Article

A big thank you to the St. Louis Suburban Journal, which highlighted stay-at-home dads this week. Not only did Suburban Journal writer Shawn Clubb come over for an interview, he included sections of this blog in the piece. The girls were on their best behavior during the interview - I acted like it is always that way.

You can read the article here: Daddy's home -- all the time

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

"I'll save these for my wedding"

Newsflash: Little girls obsess. It's part of the spice of my day that I don't know what they're going to obsess over. Sometimes they obsess over a movie they've seen, as when after watching one of the Shrek movies Kate walked around yelling, "Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your golden extensions!" Lately both girls are obsessing over who they are going to marry. It seems a bit early for this obsession, but what can a father do?

A recent conversation in the car:

Clara: Daddy, I'm going to marry Nathan.

Me: You think so?

Clara: Can I marry him?

Me: Nathan is a nice boy but you have many many years until you get married. Best to keep your options open.

Clara: Maybe I'll marry Miles.

Me: Maybe.

Kate: Daddy, can I marry a girl?

Uh oh. How to handle this? I want her to be open and accepting, but I don't want her to obsess over it, telling all her friends and teachers that she's going to marry a girl.

Me: Usually a girl marries a boy, but every once in a while a girl decides to marry a girl, and that's OK.

Kate: Then I'm going to marry Lucy.

Me: She'd be lucky to have you.

On a related note, the other evening Kate was picking out what big girl underwear she was going to wear to sleep in and held up her ruffled fancy pants.

Kate: Can I wear these?

Megan: Those are too fancy to wear for night time.

Kate (putting them back in her dresser): OK, I'll save these for my wedding.

Lucky Lucy.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

The SAHD Truth: The Man Date

If you're going to be a stay-at-home dad, one thing I have to prepare you for is the man date. Not long into your tenure as a SAHD, your wife, sister, mother, and female friends will start to set you up with other stay-at-home dads. Needless to say, you will not be comfortable with this. But the women in your life will imagine you sitting at home in your pajamas all day without anyone to talk to, and will seek to set you up with other stay-at-home dads for play-dates. The men in your life will do no such thing because one, they will agree with you that it sounds a little weird, and two, they think that sitting at home all day in your pajamas sounds great.

There are a few ways to delay the man date set-ups, but make no mistake, they are an inevitability. If the girls think you are starting to lose your mind, be prepared for the set-up. And no, they won't set you up with stay-at-home moms - they will think that's as weird as what your guy friends think about setting you up with men. Here are some ways to delay them:

  • Change out of your pajamas and wear big boy clothes. Every day. You never know when someone is going to stop by.
  • Don't sing, hum, or whistle the theme song to Olivia around other people.
  • If you get suspended from XBox Live for smack talking and berating a nine-year-old, don't tell anyone.
  • Don't take pictures of your child and add silly captions before uploading them onto the internet, like this:
  • Don't dress your child as a punk rocker, a pirate, a super hero, a ninja, bat-mite, or any character from cartoons you loved growing up. No one will think it's as cool as you do. Except for the ninja. That's pretty cool.
  • Don't start paying attention to the decor in your house. If you start having a real opinion on color schemes and whatnot, your wife will freak out.
  • Actually fix things that are broken in your house. This might make your wife more comfortable with your staying at home, though I've yet to try this technique.
  • Don't bring your angry dad voice into the real world, like when you ask for paper bags and the guy pulls out plastic: "I SAID PAPER! Look at me! Paper bags. 1... 2... Good job."

As you can imagine, there are plenty of ways to convince others that you're not losing your mind from staying at home with your children. Unfortunately, the time will come when the requests for man-dates start pouring in. You can probably stall your way out of most of them with promises to call or email them, but eventually you will be at a picnic or school function where someone who has "just been dying to introduce you to Steve" thanks her lucky stars that you and Steve are finally in the same place at the same time. Your wife will, for the first time you can remember, volunteer to watch all the kids so that you and Steve can get to know one another. Steve, you notice, is going through the same kind of discomfort you are.

Start by making sure you both have a beer, and then get to the important stuff, like how the local sports team is doing and whether that trade was a good idea. Let that conversation move into where you two grew up and went to school, how you know your mutual friend, and how things have been staying at home. Pretty smooth so far, but don't be too quick to start talking about video games, even though all you'd really need a friend for these days is for someone to play hockey against on your vintage Sega Genesis. It'll come, my friend. It'll come.

In developing our small group of close friends, we men have had a lifetime of meeting guys that we just don't like very much, or not enough to count them as close friends. And we assume that all the guys we haven't met yet fall into the don't like category, simply because we have pretty high standards of what a close friend is. It's a long way from "I think you'll like Steve, he's a really nice guy" to knowing you'd put your life on the line for Steve if it came to that, and that he'd do the same for you. The women in your life won't understand this. They think they're just finding you someone you can chat with at the playground.