My African Journey

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Next week, my ten-year-old daughter returns to school to begin fifth grade in her last elementary level year.  Doubtless, one of the first writing assignments of her new year will be the ubiquitous, dreaded, and dreadful “What did you do this summer?”  This always seems a particularly sadistic form of pedagogy designed to (1) remind you that your blissful summer holiday is over, (2) transmogrify the very memory of respite into a chore, and, should you be truly unfortunate, (3) rub your nose in other people’s more exotic journeys and your own comparative mundanity.

Lead

Thankfully, we had a terrific holiday and nobody is going to grade my writing.  So, in solidarity with my daughter, I’m writing about what I did this summer – specifically my African journey.  Continue reading

Cake and karate

For_6.16.2016_blog_postSo, this week was a big week for promoting the book.  Yesterday began with a 9:00 AM television interview, and I was *supposed* to have radio interviews at 11:00 AM and 3:30 PM.  The night before, when I told Dessa, she asked “Daddy, aren’t you going to come to our California presentation at school?”

Um, right.  Missing your daughter’s school presentation so that you can give an interview for your book about being a dad.  Not a commendable application of the concept of irony. Continue reading

The Vocabulary of Family Vacations

VW_van_in_desertSummer approaches.  The time when families traditionally pack some belongings into tight little wheeled containers, strap themselves into tight bigger wheeled containers, and disrupt routine in the name of roving relational recreation. 

Note I did not say “vacation.”  Vacation comes from a Latin root meaning to be unoccupied.  When you put together the words “family” and “vacation” the concept of being unoccupied just doesn’t apply.

I’m speaking of a specific type of odyssey that many of us know from childhood – usually involving a vehicle that even a high school student desperate for wheels would be embarrassed to drive – a journey to somewhere that is supposed to wholesomely promote togetherness.  (Because sharing the same genetic material and living under the same roof are apparently just not intimate enough.) Continue reading

Crashing the Party

crashing partySo what’s the big deal about being a full-time daddy?  Dads are an unremarkable part of the human baby-making dance that has been repeated successfully literally billions of times, right?

Yes, but there is still the small matter of sex roles.  And before you brush me off with platitudes about how modern society has changed, let me put it in context with simple analogies.

Men and women see each other naked or nearly so with reasonable regularity, right?  Think sex, of course.  (Reference the baby-making dance discussed above…)  But also think beach, swimming pool, gym, etc. Continue reading

Mommy is Still Mommy

mommyI am a full-time daddy in a mommy’s world.  I have changed poopy diapers, pureed food, taught the alphabet, mediated playground disputes, kissed booboos, wiped boogers – you name it.  I even take pride in the fact that my daughter thinks I braid her hair better than mommy.

But at the end of the day, daddy’s not mommy.  Sometimes I must simply accept my backup quarterback status.  No daddy – even the most obsessively dedicated full-time daddy – can replace mommy.  Continue reading

Secrets of the Sherpa

sherpaFull-time daddies carry a heavy load.

This is not a metaphor.  I literally mean they have to carry a lot of stuff.  And packing up a bag full of mashed bananas and diapers while putting on your Baby Bjorn can make you feel pretty unmanly.

That’s why I want to share the secrets of the Sherpa.  Sherpas – a mountain people from Nepal – were indispensable to early mountaineering efforts, serving as hardy guides and porters.  You’ve probably hear of Sir Edmund Hillary – the first man to make a confirmed summit of Mount Everest, the tallest mountain on Earth.  You may not have heard of Tenzing Norgay, the Sherpa who summited with him – and doubtless lugged most of Edmund’s stuff.  For the first half of the twentieth century, behind nearly every western climber standing boldly astride a Himalayan summit with his hands on his hips, there was a Sherpa, eyes squinting knowingly, shoulders squared beneath a heavy backpack, calmly ready for avalanche or ascent.  For most Sherpas the climb is its own – and the only reward. Continue reading

The Dream

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It is just past 6:00 AM – the quiet time before my wife and daughter wake and the rush to work and school begins.  I am standing at my desk in the upstairs library, getting my pre-dawn jump on the day as I do every weekday.  My phone buzzes with a text message:  “Come see us pls”.  It’s from my wife, Kathy.

Every day is a surprise.  This one just starts earlier than usual.

In our bed I find Kathy and our daughter, Dessa in a full body octo-cuddle.  Dessa is a mess.  Red-eyes, tear and snot-streaked face, wild hair.  She extracts one arm from the MomDessahuddle, reaches out to me, and chokes out one word: “Daddy.”  It is a plea, request, and command all rolled into one. Continue reading

Buds

Buds.Buddies

Such a pretty word. Evocative of growth and flowering, of beginnings and beauty.

When you stick the word “breast” in front of buds, it means the onset of puberty. Puberty is definitely not as pretty a word as buds.

Breast buds are the small lumps that form under one or both of your daughter’s nipples – usually around age nine or ten. Breast buds are a first, irrefutably visible sign that your little girl will someday become a woman. Well, maybe the second visible sign, the first being that you love her irrationally and she can manipulate you with frightening ease. But I digress. Continue reading