Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Me on DadCentric: Swim Lessons



Two weeks ago today, I dragged my ass out of bed at 5:30 to crank up the old laptop and log onto a website that seemed to have been built in the same era as the timeworn public pool where I was trying to get my twin girls into swim lessons.  With the right combination of clicking "refresh", logging out and logging back in again, and muttering swear words, I successfully secured two of the six available spots within minutes of registration opening.
Since the girls recently turned three, I enrolled them in the Tiny Tots class, which requires parents to stay the hell out of the pool, and, in fact, behind a chain-link fence in an observation area where they can't interfere with the lessons.

On Day One, my kids made it clear that this arrangement was unacceptable, and clung to my legs so that I had to stagger into the no-parents zone in order to get them near the water.  The staff made an exception for us, which was a little embarrassing, but not as bad as a full-blown meltdown and abject swim lesson failure.

Despite my kids being the scaredy-cats of the group (give them a break: they are the youngest and most coddled smallest), the first class went way better than I  had dared to hope.  Twin A (aka Cobra), the one who regularly leaps into the pool without any warning at our friends' house and doesn't panic when we take a few seconds to fish her out, sat on the pool steps with the four other little ones and allowed herself to be pulled around and floated on her back by her teacher, a big Polynesian-looking dude with dreads, gauges in his ears, and a scraggly goatee.  This wasn't very surprising, given her enthusiasm for splashing around in the pool.  But she's usually pretty suspicious of strangers, so it could have gone either way.

It was Twin B (Butterbean) I was worried about.  She loves playing in our friends' pool too; but whereas her sister will launch herself in my general direction regardless of the distance between us, Butterbean demands with more than a tinge of desperation in her voice, "Don't be far away!" when I try to get her to swim to me, and refuses to let go of the edge unless I'm touching her hands.

Oh my gosh!  What happens next?  Click here to read the rest on DadCentric!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Douchebloggery, and Worse: Overwrought Confessions of a Hypocrite Dad Blogger

I finished writing a column for my local parenting magazine at about midnight on Sunday.  I could have gone to bed at a decent(ish) hour for a change.

But there had been a blogging controversy heating up for a couple weeks--one that I was involved in pretty deeply.  I figured I had better weigh in while there was still interest in the story.

I wasn't particularly fired up.  I could have gone to bed and it wouldn't have bothered me that I didn't get my two cents in.  But I had an idea: just a simple question, really, and I suspected that it would generate some discussion.  It wasn't lost on me that some of the bloggers who had been following the kerfuffle would read and share the post.  It would be easy to write, and it could get me some attention and pageviews.

The controversy I felt obliged to comment on was about a fellow dad blogger who, with the help of my mudslinging, had become something of a pariah in the community because of his pathological pursuit of attention and pageviews.

So I wrote the post.  It wasn't complicated or anything; but I kept getting distracted, and I ended up not getting to bed until after 4:00 a.m.

A few hours later, I zombie-shuffled through the morning routine of breakfast and preparations for getting the hell out of the house so we didn't all drive each other crazy.

We could have done any number of fun activities involving just the kids and me.  That's how we usually roll, because making arrangements and trying to stick to those arrangements is difficult with two willful, capricious kids and a scatterbrained dad.

But that morning, we were meeting up with some of the guys from my stay-at-home dad group.  We don't meet  up all that often, and I have rarely been the one to suggest activities (although after the meetups, I'm always glad I went).  This day's activity was my idea though.  Nothing special--just a bunch of guys hanging out with their kids at the playground.

The girls were fussing over everything, and soon it was past the time we were supposed to have been there.  They kept saying that they wanted to stay home.  I could have bailed (it happens in the playdating world), but instead we persevered.  It was very important that we show up.  Because I needed footage of the Dad Group and kids frolicking about for a "Day in the Life of a Stay-At-Home Dad" video that may or may not be my ticket to an appearance on a national TV show.

I would somewhat sheepishly explain to the guys what the deal was with the show, and what kind of footage I was hoping to get.  They would make fun of me a little, but play along, passing the camera around so I could collect clips of us being zany-but-involved dads from different angles.  But first I had to be an asshole to my kid.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Calling Bullshit

I swear that, after this one self-indulgent bit of navel-gazing metablognition, I'll return to posting cute pictures of Wasian kids and tales of their antics.  Swear.  On a stack of Norton Anthologies.

But it seems like now is a good time to bring up something that I've been thinking about a lot lately, in light of recent kerfuffles.   

What recent kerfuffle could Beta Dad possibly be referring to, you probably do not ask yourself right now; because you assume that if it's a kerfuffle and Beta Dad is interested there's a good chance it's got something to do with Single Dad Laughing.  And you assume correctly.

If you're not familiar with the saga of Beta Dad vs. Single Dad Laughing, I would advise you to either abandon this post altogether, or refer to this link as a primer.  If you're not interested in blogger drama or online discourse, I won't blame you at all if you come back when the regularly scheduled programming returns.

What I want to do here, as several others have done more effectively than I will be able to, is to use this specific controversy to discuss a couple of very general ideas.

But first, the briefest groundwork I can possibly provide about my perspective on the history of the troubles and how I figure into them:

  • 2010: A guy named Andy starts a blog called Beta Dad, interacts in the parent blogging community, writes a lot, comments on other blogs a lot; and after a few months over a hundred people are reading his stuff on the reg.  He is SO effing stoked. 
  • A guy named Dan starts a blog called Single Dad Laughing a few months later.  He doesn't really show up much in the dad blogging community.  Andy reads a few of Dan's posts and thinks they're okay, but a little corny.  Pretty soon tens of thousands of people are reading Single Dad Laughing, according to Dan.  
  • Andy notices that Dan's most popular posts are very schlocky and trite, and wonders why so many people love them.  Andy is very bummed that people love bad writing.
  • Andy drinks most of a bottle of wine and writes a blog post expressing the above.
  • A lot of people agree with Andy's drunken rant, and they provide many comforting theories about how Dan is lying and cheating, and how not as many people love his schmaltz as he claims.  Andy is comforted.
  • Dan's blog seems to continue growing more popular.  Lots of bloggers get angry and/or make fun of him in emails and on facebook, and even publish critical posts when Dan's shenanigans get especially outrageous; but lots of regular people post links to his stuff with no sense of irony.  Andy tries to shut up and go about his business.
  • 2012: Andy can no longer shut up and go about his business, and he writes another post, this time mostly while sober, focusing on one of Dan's most popular, and least convincing, deeply moving stories about how one person (Dan) can change entire communities, even ones that are steeped in bigotry.  
  • More people agree with Andy.  Hardly anyone defends Dan or chastises Andy for being a busybody and a jellus hater.
  • Dan's blog continues to seem very popular, but not so much with his fellow bloggers.  He passes out on a mountain and has to go home in a helicopter.  Afterwards, he issues a press release about the event, complete with photos, videos, and much 3rd person fawning over Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing.  The fawning, of course, has been composed by Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing.
  • DRAMAZ!  Parent bloggers come out of the woodwork to express outrage, disbelief, disapproval, mild amusement, etc. that anyone would pull such a cheesy and self-important stunt. 
  • Many blog posts are written, and although Andy gets involved in the various conversations, he is proud to say that he resists posting anything about it on his blog. 
Yes, you read that correctly.  This is not a post about Single Dad Laughing.

It's a post about calling bullshit.

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