Very, very better latte. Per favore!

For the past 100 years in a land not so far away (it’s actually a bedroom), a little boy (I know… you’re wondering how he stays so young!) shows up at the foot of his parent’s bed (they look every bit a hundred years old) and at the top of his lungs says:”I want very very better latte, per favore!” The latte he is referring to is not the Starbucks kind, but simply “milk” in Italian. Every day for the past century his parent’s have slept with one eye and ear open dreading the moment. They’ve tried everything to break the spell. Pleaded, threatened, ignored, hidden, cried even – to no avail. Every morning at around 5am, rain or shine, much like a Swiss cuckoo clock, the boy comes and makes his proclamation. It is repeated several times and more. Even the neighbors must hear and fear it since no village posse bearing pitchforks and torches has ever descended upon the household seeking to purge this scourge. I know this tale seems fictitious, but I assure you it is something that neither Tolkien nor Lewis nor Jordan nor Goodkind nor Eddings or any of the other master bards could conjure from the deepest recesses of their brilliant imagination. Such is the fantastical reality known to some of us as Parenthood.

Our inside joke and the blogosphere…

I happened upon an old blog of mine the other day from 2007 called Verba Manent Scripta Volant (purposefully put in the that order) that marks my very first interest in putting something up on the web. It is similar to my The Dapper Dad blog (both on WP and tumblr) where I mainly talk about my love of style, pens, stationery and such. Blogger was at the time the option that was readily available to me and I thought I would be blogging forever. As is often the case, a couple of posts into it I dropped the ball.

As I looked through the few posts I still have up on that old blog, I started thinking about what blogging is all about. I have seen the evolution over time albeit not as intently as over the last year when I happened upon the blogosphere again and fell in love (again?). I have seen weblogs evolve from simple online diaries with thoughts, poems, ramblings and text more or less organized, comprehensible and grammatically correct into web pages with sidebars, feeds, ads and other bells and whistles (some more or less interesting and useful). When I first started, I felt I was talking to myself, which I guess was the original intent of a weblog, but the content I was putting out there was (in my naive mind) meant to be shared and discussed. I think I was discouraged to continue blogging back in 2007 (ironically) by reading other blogs and reading comments and realizing that what I had to say was not reaching the right people if anyone at all (the tools we have today were not there and you really had to keep at it to build a group of readers).

A few years later (or a century in Internet terms) I find myself inside a wonderful community of parents and people with whom, for the most part, I can relate and share thoughts with because of the common thread that brings us together – parenthood.

This does not mean that we raise our kids the same way or believe in the same things or that we share the same values, but raising children is our inside joke whether we like it or not. From that foundation we can find a greater affinity to some as opposed to others thanks to all those details that make me prefer talking about pens and watches and the next person to talk about their stamp collection and the other’s love of Klein’s IKB paintings.

There are also many different ways to transmit our Morse code to each other via Blogger or WordPress or tumblr or Posterous and many others. There are so many blogs out there that I wish I had time to read, but as parents know all too well there are not enough hours in the day to be parents let alone experiment blogging platforms (although I am crazy enough to try several). I am sure that a few years for now the mouthpieces available to each of us will multiply and morph adding layers and variations to the already multi-colored blogosphere. I can’t wait!

Who needs mommy?! I can handle my son on my own…

I recently wrote a sort of poem to single parents over at Dad Revolution (with typos and no rhyme or meter). I do not want to renege on that declaration of love and as far as I am concerned my opinion stands despite what I am about to write.

I have a hypothesis and a very unscientific approach to proving it. I believe that with all variables staying the same, a child is more apt to behave in the presence of one parent than if both are present.

I know. This has Noble prize written all over it and who really cares if I am not the first to think of it.

My son has a gift, like most toddlers, to smell frustration. Just like dogs smell fear in their master and a class of teenagers can sense weakness in a teacher. He gets you at your most vulnerable. Early morning, when you are sick, after an irritating call and a really bad day at work – he knows and uses it to his full advantage.

When you are alone with him, though, there is really not much room for his skullduggery. He cannot run off calling the other parent’s name or throw a tantrum that breaks one of you first so that you help plead his case in a similar whiny voice to the other.

I had my son all to myself for four days and four nights (as I said my methodology was not scientific per se) and I noticed that there was a remarkable shift of power towards the parent once the little guy saw that he could not play his highly successful “prisoner’s dilemma”-like mind games on me and my wife.

He seemed rather helpless the last two days when his calls for “mommy” echoed through the empty apartment reverberating off the walls unanswered. I caught myself grinning a few times as I realized that I was gaining the upper hand despite the constant ringing in my ears and throbbing in my head. Who needs aspirin when you hold the key to breaking your kid?

My hypothesis was further verified upon my wife’s return. You could see my son’s mind racing behind his fake puppy dog eyes as he held on to my wife for dear life as soon as she walked in the door. The crocodile tears were a master stroke. She consoled him, hugging him tightly and whispering how much she missed him. He gently placed his head on her shoulder and as she turned away his face came into full view. Our eyes met for a brief moment and I felt the power drain from me as I saw that all too familiar twinkle in his eyes. It was good while it lasted, but the power balance had been reestablished in one fell swoop and I suddenly felt exhausted again.

The sound of silence…

There are a few moments in the busy day and life of a parent in which you might find yourself alone. Usually, for me, it is while I am in transit between point A and point B. I may take a side street to avoid the cacophony of the larger and more frequented streets that are everywhere in New York. The hustle and bustle suddenly subsides and I might actually hear a bird chirping and hear the leaves on a tree lined street rustling. No cars are hurtling by and there is no one to bump into as I make my way down the street. If the sun is shining I sometimes stop to enjoy this moment. It is rare, but precious – like anything that is teetering on the edge of extinction. The loneliness of the moment is quite intoxicating. I can hear my thoughts. I can hear my breathing. I can remember what it was like when I was not a father and had time to just do absolutely nothing if I so chose. And then I turn the corner and plunge back into my life – my now. I do miss those moments, but I miss them because I am in a better place right now. I have my own family to go home to with a son who yells “Daddy!” when I open the door and hugs my leg. Just that moment is enough to make me survive the craziness that is being a parent. I can only appreciate the silence now that I can no longer have it on demand, but no longer really need it to function. One of the many contradictions of parenthood that I live without regrets.