For the next few posts, I shine the light on the guy who pays the bills and was the brains behind this whole enterprise in the first place: Yours truly, the humble alterna-dad blogger.
We start with what my kids would probably say is my most distinguishing characteristic as a parent.
A little background: In my 12+ years as a dad, I have noticed that the relationship of child to parent very often looks something like this: The child is the star/comedian/actor/personality, while the parent plays the straight man/woman. Over time, the parent fades bit-by-bit into the background while the child’s presence overtakes not just center stage, but the whole darn theater. We’ve all seen the most extreme version of this: Children who don’t pay any attention to their parents under any circumstances, listening to or ignoring them at whim. I believe these children have—correctly, unfortunately—somewhere along the way picked up the message that their needs, interests, and whims matter, while the parents are simply stage crew in the production.
And the parents, all too often, are willing accomplices in this game: Kids’ needs, important. Mine, not so much. On the other hand, based on the amount of complaining I have heard over the years, it may be more of a case that the poor parents didn’t know what kind of monstrous situation they were creating.
Purely by luck of the genetic/personality draw, I have a secret weapon that I believe has helped our gang avoid this dynamic:
I’m pretty weird.
Being a pretty weird dad has had two terrific consequences: one, as a family we have laughed a lot, especially when the kids were younger and our senses of humor were more aligned (i.e., before they became teenagers and no longer had a sense of humor). And two, even though I hope/think my kids have developed pretty sparkling personalities along the way, our home is definitely a three-person show, and I claim my fair share of the spotlight.
How weird, you ask? A few examples:
- For a long time, when I would say goodbye to the kids—for example, when they left for school in the morning—my standard line was (probably inaccurate) “goodbyes” in every language I could think of:
“So long, see you later, don’t forget to write, auf weidersein, sayonara, au revoir, adios, ciao, arrivederci roma, vaya con dios, aloha means hello and goodbye.”
- For about an equally long time, I spoke to them in the voice of Scooby-Doo—which translates as 1) starting every word with an “r” and 2) referring to them (either one, it didn’t matter) as “Raggy”:
“Rood rorning, Raggy.” “Row are roo, Raggy?” “Rinner’s ready, Raggy.” Etc.
- And when they would do something noteworthy: “Wunderbar! That’s German for, wunderbar!”
(And let’s not forget our world-famous bedtime hits, which were a long-standing tradition that I will explain in detail elsewhere.)
So yeah, weird. The good news is that it has kept them guessing—always a useful strategy for a parent—and helps them enjoy and express their own quirkiness, so everyone can feel comfortable being himself.
Though I’m funnier.