The Baby Shark Dilemma

Comedian Seann Walsh put something into perspective on a recent episode of Conan.  Part of his routine focused on how young people these days have literally all of pop-culture at their fingertips, ready to download and consume within seconds.  Walsh then talked about how years ago, many people used LimeWire to download songs, movies, and TV shows and that it could take anywhere from a few seconds to several days.

Listening to his bit, I laughed and was struck by the thought of how great I have it as a parent in this age of instant access to more pop culture than you can shake a stick at. Continue reading “The Baby Shark Dilemma”

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A Tough Nut to Crack

Why are kids’ toys and cold medicine so hard to open?

You might think this is a pretty random thought, but it’s one that’s crossed my mind a couple of times this week.

Shortcake’s plastic horse arrived on our doorstep this week, thanks to the wonder that is the Amazon Vine.  And while we’d wanted to save this new toy for her birthday, Daddy made the mistake of opening it while she was around and letting her see it.

Trying to outwit her, I figured I’d just put it aside, distract her with some of the myriad of other toys she has, and slide the gift into our gift closet when she wasn’t looking.

She was having none of that.

Despite my best efforts to outwit her, she kept finding the plastic horse (still in the box, mind you), bringing it over to me, and telling me that I should just surrender and open it now.  It was a battle of wills — and I’ll admit, I lost.

Having lost the battle of wills, I didn’t expect that I’d need a small thermonuclear device to get this toy open.  Which made me ponder the question of just why manufacturers make it so dad-blamed difficult to get into children’s toys?!?  It’s so bad that they even make a special tool to help parents get into these toys (my parents got us one during the holiday season and it’s a lifesaver!).

The horse was better secured than most toys, requiring a few more impatient minutes to get it open.  I left some of the accessories attached to the packaging to be opened later because Shortcake was not going to wait any longer for her new acquisition.

Finally, after much tension, worry and frustration (all of it on my part), the horse was free and ready to be played with.  Squeals of delight were heard from Shortcake, which made it all worthwhile.

The horse arrived after Shortcake accompanied me to the doctor. I’ve had the crud this week and wanted to get on the road to recovery sooner rather than later.  This blame my general lethargic feeling and weariness from coughing as to why I didn’t think before opening the package with the horse.  It also made me wonder just why the manufacturers of cold medicine put the doses in packaging that leads you to believe you can just tear it open if you tried hard enough.  Honestly, I think the Incredible Hulk would have a problem opening the cold medicine. In fact, this may be one of the reasons that Bruce Banner transforms into the Hulk to begin with.

The irony of this being the tenth anniversary of the premiere of Breaking Bad occurred to me.  No where in the early episodes of the show did we see Walter and Jessie struggling to open up all the packets of cold medication in order to make their infamous blue product.

 

Intensity

I’ve never seen myself watching a University of Tennesee football game, but I think I’ve got a pretty good idea (now) what I look like.

Shortcake loves watching timers count down.  Any timer will do, whether it’s the one on the stove, microwave or dishwasher.  Just set the timer, hit start and she is hooked until it counts down to zero.

And don’t make the mistake of getting between her and the object of her interest.  She will wiggle in her chair, leaning left and right until she can see it again. If that doesn’t work, she will loudly let you know that you’re blocking her view and that the sooner you move out of the way, the better off things will be for everyone.

 

I love watching her intense fascination with the timer.  It’s a go-to way to get her to calm down if she’s getting frustrated.

Yesterday, I set the timer on the microwave and the stove for her and started them both counting down. The look of sheer delight on her face, as if to say “Why didn’t I know that I could watch TWO timers?!?”  was wonderful. I can only imagine it’s the same look I had on my face when I first encountered a TV with picture-in-picture and I could watch two football games at once.

 

(I Hope She’ll Always Be) A Daddy’s Girl

Sometimes I have to just sit back and marvel at the strange way our lives unfold.  I’m among the last of my friends to have children, which means that while I’m entering the potty-training phase with Shortcake, they are dealing with driver’s licenses, first cars and the kids looking at where to attend college.  We’re all in different stages of the journey.

I sometimes find myself wondering how this will affect Shortcake as she grows up.  Right now, she doesn’t know that Daddy is older than a lot of her contemporary’s daddies. But it won’t stay that way forever.  I know that I may not always have the same energy that my younger counterparts do (though I can still toss her in the air and catch her with the  best of them and I’m pretty good at keeping up with her as she barrels off to find mischief), but I hope she always knows how special she is to me and how much I love her

I know that she won’t always be delighted to see me, bursting into a huge grin when she sees me every afternoon after a long day of work.  I know that I won’t always be the guy she snuggles up with a night, after a bottle and slowly fades off to sleep as we watch TV together.  I know she won’t always be calmed down by the Baby Shark song, nor will she always look over at me with just delight showing in her eyes that she can’t believe something this awesome exists and she gets to watch it.

It just emphasizes something a good friend told me once — remember these moments and take lots of pictures.  And he’s right.  So very right. I look at pictures of Shortcake from a week, month or year ago and while I recognize my little girl, I’m still gobsmacked at how much she’s grown and changed. She’ll always be my little girl, but I wonder if she’ll be as much of a Daddy’s girl.

A selfish part of me hopes she never outgrows that stage.

And part of me knows she will.  And that I need to savor our time together now.

 

The Kindness Rock Projects

kindessrock1My wife, Shortcake and I visited our local park the other evening to get in an evening constitutional.  As we took turns pushing Shortcake’s stroller, my wife’s face suddenly lit as she saw a distinctive looking rock under a bush.

Grabbing it up, she showed off a painted black rock with white writing on it, seemingly decorated for Halloween.  Grinning, she showed it to Shortcake and we resumed our constitutional.   As we passed a tree, I noticed a festively painted blue rock sitting under a tree.  I pointed it out to my wife, who picked it up and we examined the colorful flower decorations and the encouraging words on the front of the rock.

“It’s an odd coincidence that we’d find two decorated rocks here,” I said.

“No, it isn’t,” she told me.  “It’s this new project.  I’ve seen a lot of posts about it on Facebook lately.  I’ve even joined a Facebook group that gives you hints on find rocks and lets you tease where you’ve hidden them.”

Because the light was getting dim and my wife forgot her cell phone, she decided to take the rocks home, photograph and share her find to the local group and then hide them again.  As we headed to the car, a young man ran up to a tree nearby, finding a rock nestled in its crook.

“I found it,” he exclaimed to his mother and the two then made a bee-line for where we’d picked up the Halloween rock a few minutes before.

Suddenly, I was intrigued by this.

Turns out, this real-life scavenger hunt game, is the newest Internet craze.  And while on the surface it seems like it’s a variation of Pokemon Go, there’s actually a lot more to it.  It’s part of the Kindness Rocks Project and it’s a movement to bring a bit of encouragement and positivity into the world today.

The project started in 2015.  Megan Murphy of Cape Cod, Mass says she had reached a turning point in her life following the death of her parents.  As she walked the beach each day, she would look for certain shaped rocks (heart-shaped for her father, a piece of sea-glass for her mom) that would be an encouragement from her parents.

Then one day, she happened to take a Sharpie marker with her and while walking the beach, she drew on five rocks and placed them back on the beach.   That evening, a friend texted her with a picture of one of the rocks and asked it Murphy had written on it and left it there.  The friend said the rock encouraged her at a moment when she needed it.  Murphy says that serves as an “a-ha” moment for her and the Kindness Rocks Project was born.

Two years later, the movement has its own website, local Facebook groups and has received coverage in newspapers, magazines and TV outlets across the country.

kindnessrock2At its core, the Kindness Rocks Project is helping bring a message of hope.  As the Kindness Rocks Project website says, “Now more than ever kindness can become a connecting force for good during uncertain times. Many people, including myself, are feeling a sense of overwhelm, unease and restlessness due to the current events taking place in our world today, and I believe that our united strength can be cultivated through simple random acts of kindness. Each of us can make a positive difference. Together we can make a positive IMPACT!”

All you have to do participate is join log-on to the Kindness Rocks Project website or Facebook page and either start looking for or creating your own rocks.  The site includes details on the best way to create rocks.  The website recommends using smooth stones that you can either collect in the wild or purchase at a home or craft store.  Seal the rock with a non-toxic spray or paint and then use oil based Sharpie Paint pens to create your masterpiece or share a short, encouraging word.   You can add the hashtag #TheKindnessProject to the back of the rock and then seal it with a clear coat of non-toxic sealer.

Then, with permission of the venue where you’re going to leave the rock, start leaving them in places where others can find and share them.  And if you find one, share it on social media and then either put it back where you found it or take it home and create your own rock to replace the one you’ve found.  You can even share where you’ve placed your Kindness Rock on the local Facebook groups or the Kindness Rock Project’s website.

And if you’re struggling with what to say, there are a ton of resources out there on Pinterest, Instagram or just by using our good friend, Google.  Craft store Michael’s has partnered with the project to sponsor the Million Rock Challenge.

I know the joy, encouragement and fun that finding those two rocks has brought to our family. And we’ve decided that we want to create our own rocks and share them with the world.

Who knew that making the world a brighter place could start with something as simple as a rock?

Joss Whedon and the Gene Roddenberry comparisons

josswhedonEver since “discovering” Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the mid-90’s (in season two, before it was cool to like it), I’ve had an admiration for Joss Whedon.  He’s a creative guy who wrote and directed some of the most memorable episodes of television of that era.

He’s since gone on to shepherd some of the best-loved loved TV shows and movies of the last two decades.  Much of his output has been about female empowerment and creating strong roles for women, up to and including Whedon seeming to earn the label of a feminist.

All of that seems to be crashing around Whedon with his ex-wife, Kai Cole, publishing an op-ed piece that says Whedon is “hypocrite” and that he had multiple affairs during the course of their marriage.

Reading Cole’s piece and then seeing Whedon’s response (it feels like a non-denial denial in addition to closing down a website devoted to his fandom), I can’t help but feel like Whedon has become Gene Roddenberry for a new generation.  For those of you who don’t live and breathe Star Trek, I’ll try to keep this short.

Roddenberry created Star Trek and founded his view of humanity’s future on some wonderful ideals.  As Ken Wray, co-host of the superlative Mission Log, recently put it, Roddenberry’s vision was that not only do we make it to the future, but we get past many of the issues that face our society today. Or as Trek put it, Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combination.

And while Roddenberry had a great vision for the future, he was still a human being with weaknesses.  One was that Roddenberry had a weakness when it came to women.  The guy put his then-mistress, later-wife Majel Barret into the pilot and then crafted a recurring role for her on the original series as Nurse Chapel.

And it feels like Whedon has almost followed a similar path.  The letter by his ex-wife says that Whedon had multiple affairs over the course of their marriage and

Despite understanding, on some level, that what he was doing was wrong, he never conceded the hypocrisy of being out in the world preaching feminist ideals, while at the same time, taking away my right to make choices for my life and my body based on the truth. He deceived me for 15 years, so he could have everything he wanted. I believed, everyone believed, that he was one of the good guys, committed to fighting for women’s rights, committed to our marriage, and to the women he worked with. But I now see how he used his relationship with me as a shield, both during and after our marriage, so no one would question his relationships with other women or scrutinize his writing as anything other than feminist.

And while I’m disappointed that both Whedon and Roddenberry didn’t live up the ideals or the image they portrayed themselves to be in pop culture, this doesn’t mean I’m not going to let Shortcake view their creative output (when appropriate for her.  I don’t think she’ll get a lot out of Buffy right now!)

Both men created women who are smart, funny, empowered and aren’t defined by their relationship to men.  As the father of a little girl, I’m grateful to them for creating pop culture heroines that my daughter can look up to and emulate.

I also think it could be a valuable tool to teach her about the difference between the public and private persona that people can have.

I still respect the output of both men.  And I understand the public persona they created, even if they were flawed and failed to live up the lofty expectations they and their fans created for them.