Tag Archives: dads

Why Are Summers So Short Now? (via On Parenting from the Washington Post)

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On Parenting from the Washington Post —  Are summer breaks shorter these days? Or have they always been this short? Is my memory of summer — days that ramble and roll with no particular end in sight — a revisionist lie, a trick of my aging and nostalgia-craved brain? Because that memory is a languid stream of pleasant boredom, a near-cliche mix of comic book hoarding, lunchtime wake-ups, improvised baseball games and the semi-regular side hustle mowing lawns for Camelot Music money. And in the memory, summer feels bottomless.

In the present, summer lasts nine criminally abrupt weeks, many of which feel spent before they’ve begun. It’s mid-July and we’re talking to fence-neighbors about teacher preferences and bus schedules, all of us feeling the end closing in. With just a little effort, you can almost see the gathering of autumn clouds. Somebody changed summer.

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Play Like a Dad: 20 Father’s Day Activity Ideas (via Parents / Family Fun)

photo / Robyn Breen Shinn

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Parents / Family Fun — In her job as a physician’s assistant, my wife has been required to work in the E.R., get ready for 6 a.m. surgeries, and be on call—all things that have led to a rewarding career but nothing close to what our parents called a “normal work schedule.” As such, it’s often just our two sons and me, the three Vrabel men, waking up to a day full of endless possibility and promise. And these days tend to begin the same way: with me making breakfast and asking, “So what’s on the agenda today?” and the boys responding with…well, abject silence, since they’re upstairs furiously Minecraftingwhile I talk to a stack of speedily cooling Belgian waffles.

Given the opportunity, my sons would be pretty well satisfied devoting one to 48 hours of their day to Minecraft, Roblox, and some curious digital pastime known to me only as “Goat Simulator.” (I once asked the 6-year-old how to play it, and he responded by tilting his head, looking at me as though I’d just sprouted a second head, and saying, “Uh, you simulate goats.” I’d never been so shut down by such a weird sentence.)

Every dad wants to fill his children’s hours with activities that will empower and enrich them; every parent has stared at a wall repeating, “Yeah, I have no idea what that is.” To that end—and to celebrate Father’s Day—here’s an incomplete list of DAD THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR KIDS, as written by actual dads, prominent bloggers, musicians, and me, a humble writer-slash-Belgian-waffle aficionado.

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Help! My Son Doesn’t Give a Damn About Social Media! (via On Parenting at the Washington Post)

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On Parenting at the Washington Post — My son, now halfway through his eighth-grade year, does not appear to have the slightest whiff of a care about social media, and until about two weeks ago I did not realize the severity of this problem.

Newly 14, my son is attached to his phone on a seemingly molecular level, but he has no Facebook account, no Twitter, no Snapchat, no social media presence to speak of (at least outside the world of Minecraft, where, I am told, he exists as a shipbuilding contractor of some repute).

For us, that’s fine, bordering on glorious; if we had to rank all the things we’re excited to deal with from a male teenager, The Hideous Labyrinthine Terror of Formative Years with Social Media is near dead last, right under Researching Tuition and Explaining Who Stormy Daniels Is. Yet when I mention this mysterious void to people, his seeming disinterest, I get a sort of head-cocked curiosity and a response on the order of, “Is that okay?”

Here’s what we figured out about it. 

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The Eighth-Grade Karaoke Party: A Horror Story, Obviously (via Fatherly)

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Fatherly — If there’s a more potentially socially-ruinous situation than Eighth-Grade Karaoke Night at the Middle School Cafeteria, I simply do not know of it. The phrase alone has caused visible reactions and exhumed latent formative-year terror in friends and family members. At my son’s age, I would have crawled into a cafeteria heating duct to escape singing karaoke. I would have burst through a wall, leaving a me-sized hole in the bricks.

This is not what my son did.

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Snow Days are the Awful Worst and I Hate Them a Lot (via On Parenting at the Washington Post)

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On Parenting at the Washington Post — Not to sound like one of those tiresome “everything was better about X when I was a kid” people, but when I was a kid, everything was better about snow days. The phrase itself was a code word for hours of maniacal fun, for compulsory playtime, for a vacation day illogically deposited midweek, for a meteorologically blessed block of time in which you were compelled to do nothing at all because even if you had a destination, you probably couldn’t drive to it. One 5:45 a.m. ring of the phone meant the day had exploded into a rainbow of possibility. By startling contrast, when my children’s school last week buzzed my phone four times — twice to report an initial two-hour delay and twice to report “Never mind, it’s gross outside and we’re bailing” — my response was more like this: OhfortheloveofPete.

The full story at On Parenting at the Washington Post.

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Why I Am Happily Plunging My Family Into Poverty Because of Honeycrisp Apples (Fatherly)

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Fatherly – I don’t have a large house, a Trunk Club membership, or student loans, but my children only eat Honeycrisp apples so it’s all sort of a wash.

Honeycrisp apples are the fresh, plump varietal in the produce section under the sign labeled “Prohibitively Expensive Versions of Normal Food.” They are large. They are delicious. Unlike stupid dumb loser apples, which break as though you’re cutting into oatmeal, Honeycrisps, true to their name, crack in a crisp example of Nature’s Majestic Symmetry, like the crystals of a geode, their little droplets of juice-spray playing delightfully in the air.

If I sound prejudiced against other apples, it’s because I hate them.

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How to Properly Decode Your Child’s Parent-Teacher Conference (via The Loop / Golf Digest)

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The Loop / Golf Digest — It’s fall! Which means the football team you’ve loved since age 8 is being used as ugly political currency, your preferred cereal brands are all issuing pumpkin-themed novelty editions that taste like orange garbage and your children’s schools are contacting you about parent-teacher conferences, those annual events in which teachers take time out of their languid, relaxing lifestyles to schedule some time in which they can be directed by parents to pay more individual attention to their daughter’s snack habits.

Sure, parent-teacher conferences may seem like they exist primarily to make you scramble for child care at 6:45 p.m. on a Wednesday, but it turns out the people raising your kids for seven hours every day do have information they wish to impart. They just can’t do that using their grownup words, because as a rule, parents deeply object to negative commentary about their children, forcing everybody to use strange circular patterns of conversation that only occasionally say what they mean. Here now, a helpful translation to what’s really going on.

“Your child is so full of energy!” = WHAT IN THE NAME OF SKIPPYJON JONES DO YOU FEED YOUR UNGROWN CHILD IN THE MORNINGS? Is there a Skittles cereal? Is he just eating smushed-up gobs of Lucky Charms marshmallows? Your overcaffeinated wombat couldn’t remain stationary if I duct-taped his butt to his tiny chair, which I can’t do because of the “school board,” thanks a lot Obama. Look, I’m not saying ADHD, you’re not saying ADHD, but if you guys haven’t worked out a strategy about such things, it’s probably worth a Google. Meanwhile, tomorrow, for breakfast, TRY SOME FRUIT.

More at The Loop / Golf Digest.

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Why Your Children Can’t Stop Watching Other Obnoxious Children Play Video Games on YouTube (via the Washington Post)

VenturianTale, I guess?

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On Parenting at the Washington Post — When I was 12 or 13, I busied myself with a range of pursuits, from the dumb to the very dumb to the hugely and galactically dumb. Every month, I purchased a new issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated. I memorized the entirety of Young MC’s debut album, which contained “Bust a Move” and 12 songs that weren’t “Bust a Move.” I got really, really into  “Dr. Mario” (but I stand by that one, as over time I became startlingly good at it).

When you’re in those weird culturally formative years, you explore a lot of weird culturally formative options. So I understand that it is a middle-aged cliche to say that my kids’ penchant for watching videos of bothersome millennials playing video games on YouTube is a remarkably idiotic waste of time.

There is a monster cottage industry of millennials who record themselves playing video games, and my boys, ages 13 and 6, have plunged into it. Mild-mannered on most days, my children, when presented with these videos, spot-mutate into glassy-eyed replicants who draw the shades, hide under blankets and watch as many as they can before I dramatically stomp in and do my impression of the dad at the beginning of that Twisted Sister video.

Here’s why, maybe.

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Good News, Everybody, We Are Raising a Future Polka Star (via On Parenting at the Washington Post)

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On Parenting at the Washington Post — Good news, everybody: We are the proud new owners of a baritone horn, a band instrument that’s big and brassy, and apparently not a tuba.

We’ve been renting it for my son’s band class for the past three school years, making monthly payments that — fun story — it turns out were actually lease-to-own payments that have ended with ownership of what is easily my family’s first enormous brass object with a spit valve. I am happy about this, in the way that you’re happy about suddenly owning a huge pricey object you weren’t planning to buy, and which will probably live in your basement, crawl space or attic for the next 40 years.

It’s a happy accident, and one that cements band as something that, in three years, went from a school-day hobby to a regular, if mysterious, part of my son’s identity.

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A Manly List of Masculine Father’s Day Gifts, For Men (via The Loop / Golf Digest)

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The Loop / Golf Digest — Father’s Day is thoughtful, appreciated and — without resorting to the kind of hyperbole I’ve been accused of using by every single person in the universe — the single most unfair thing about fatherhood ever. Mother’s Day takes place during the school year, so moms quite rightfully enjoy fridges full of hand-scribbed art projects and reverent tone poems written in English classes. Father’s Day is in midsummer, when school is well out, so it’s like having your birthday on Christmas Day, or sharing it with a “cousin” or “twin” or whatever. We get objects we already own, re-wrapped and delivered with a crayon index card that says, “School’s out, it’s 87 outside and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna sit in the kitchen drawing some stupid picture.”

Yet repackaged paperweights are leagues better than actual store-bought products for Father’s Day, all of which assume every man on Earth is a leather-skinned flannel-shirted Man’s Man who spends exactly all of his free time knocking back Glenlivet on the hoods of rusted-out pickup hulls. All Father’s Day catalogs are written in the voice of someone who’s spent years studying human males but has yet to approach one in person, so screw it, we wrote our own, and used lots of all-caps for extra growly masculinity. Send this to your wife/children/partner/hangers-on at once, and watch the joy roll in. .

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