Friday, December 22, 2006

Materialism vs. Full-Time Child Rearing: The Battle Rages On

I was ready to let this one go, until I started reading the comments posted in the forum section at ABC News. Last night, ABC New’s Nightline ran a story on stay-at-home-dads. While the structure and context of the story is still the same old stereotype, I appreciate the exposure. Our friend RebelDad has some thoughts on this as well. Visit his latest post.

While reviewing the forum discussions on last night’s show I came across the post below:


Posted: Dec 21, 2006 11:57 PM

This report is ridiculous because it is so unrepresentative of a vast majority of Americans. Who are your trying to reach with this? Only a small number of people in this country have the financial freedom to make this choice, yet you take as your an example as your example a couple who live in a huge Manhattan apartment, Manhattan, where the wife is a National TV anchor. If one person makes enough money to support the entire family, you can do this, but this report only speaks to a small number of real Americans who need two paychecks to get by.

This is my reply post:



Posted: Dec 22, 2006 11:57 AM

As a New York Stay-At-Home-Dad for almost four years, I can tell you that your comment is far from the truth. You speak of "real" Americans who need two paychecks to "survive.” Let's look at what that means; two cars, large mortgage, all the new electronic toys, dining out, how could you ever live without these things? Well when you put your children before materialism it's easy. My wife and I live on a very average income with two young children. No one goes hungry, we live in a nice house, and I even have a big screen HDTV. I can show you that the small number of people you talk about who "can" make this choice is nonsense! It's just that people aren't willing to make selfless sacrifices, not even for their children. Now that's SAD!

P.S. They are asking for SAHD's in the New York area to appear on a follow-up show. I immediately signed-up, and will wait for the phone to ring.

The Spirit of Christmas

I think one of the most important things to teach our children is the act of charity. It balances the ever increasing consumerism being taught by the 24 hour eMedia. Seeing as most children don’t have their own checkbooks, it’s more important for them to use their time and talents to help others. A good lesson for the rest of us as well.

Recently, my – almost 12 year old -- daughter, a member of the traveling soccer team, was required to get up early one Saturday morning and do community service. The local league had made it mandatory for all players, as a team, to participate in some sort of charitable work. What a great rule! While this is not a requirement for professional sports, most big league players also donate their time and money to those less fortunate, though not ALL of them. My little girl grumbled at the thought of an early rise on a weekend, but she got up and met her team and off they went. She’s a better person for it, although, she probably doesn’t see that yet.

That reminded me of another experience I had a few years ago when I taught 2nd grade Sunday school. One of my students, a girl, was having a birthday party. Unprompted, she asked her mother if it was okay if her guests brought non-perishable food items instead of gifts. Why? So that once everyone was gathered at her house the parents would take the children down to the local food pantry and fill the shelves. Wow! Now that’s a charitable 7 ½ year old. Yes, her parents are extremely proud. They’re definitely doing something right. She also happened to be one of my best students and probably knew more scripture than I did.

When my wife taught a class, she had two classroom aides, 11 year old best friends, who had decided, again unprompted, that for their school’s citizen project they would collect books, videos, and tapes, to send to our soldiers in Iraq. That project grew to be a huge event, collecting hundreds and hundreds of items. The postage was paid for by adult donations. Those girls definitely made a contribution to the war effort. It all started with a small idea, supportive parents, and the willingness to put others first.

My, almost 4 year old, Helper, has been playing with a stuffed Santa that resides under our tree. When you squeeze Santa he says, “Remember, the spirit of Christmas lies in your heart.” He’s been taking this toy everywhere and has memorized the recording. Now I just have to explain – in 4 year old terms – what it means. Wish me luck! Children learn by example; as adults, what example are we setting? Again, as always, thanks for reading.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Wants and Needs: My "Wish" List

As this holiday season revs into high gear, I am starting to reflect on this past year. With all the talk of gift lists and New Year’s resolutions I find myself thinking about my own personal wants and needs. One of the things we’re charged to do, as parents, is teach the difference between these two. Over the past couple of weeks I have been putting a list together – in my head – of what I WANT and what I really NEED. While the list below is by no means finished, all inclusive, or in any particular order, it’s a start. I will add to it as I think of new ones. Again, as always, thanks for reading.

I NEED every child to experience Love, Hope, Faith and Joy, every minute of everyday.

I WANT a 15” LCD TV for the kitchen.

I NEED doctors and scientists to find causes and cures for AIDS, Cancer (All Types), Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Crohn’s, Depression, Mental Illness, SIDS and all other devastating human diseases.

I WANT a new electric razor.

I NEED every child to have as much food as they want.

I WANT a free unlimited account at iTunes.

I NEED our leaders to find a solution for the situation in Iraq.

I WANT an uninterrupted afternoon nap everyday.

I NEED Israelis’ and Palestinians to find a way to coexist peacefully.

I WANT a free weekly cleaning service until my children leave for college.

I NEED every child in foster care to find loving, caring parents.

I WANT my wife to get a big fat raise.

I NEED to hug my kids everyday.

I WANT a vacation 6 times a year.

I NEED our elected officials to care more about their constituency’s needs and less about fundraising for re-election.

I WANT the kitchen to be magically clean every morning.

I NEED the genocide in Darfur to end.

I WANT PS3 – if only to turn around and sell it on eBay.

I NEED to tell my wife “I Love You” as much as I can.

I WANT a new car that never breaks down or requires gas.

I NEED my children to be smarter than I am.

I WANT a voice recognition program – that works – for my computer so I don’t have to type all this.

I NEED every person to devote some of their time and talents to charity on a regular basis.

I WANT my children to believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth fairy, forever.

I NEED everyone who is capable and wants a job to have one.

I WANT a coffee maker that anticipates my needs.

I NEED every child to experience the joy of reading.

I WANT people to read Long Island Dad everyday.

I NEED all homelessness to end.

I WANT diapers that change themselves.

I NEED Social Security and Health Care in America to be fixed NOW!

I WANT to be a better father.

I NEED to be a better father.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

"Daddy, I'm Stuck!"

Last night, while I was feeding the baby in my big comfy chair, a little voice calls from the kitchen. The Helper was having dinner at the kitchen table – this can be a 5 minute or 5 hour process. “Daddy, I’m stuck, can you help me?” he calls out. Not being overly concerned, as he often thinks he’s stuck when he’s not, I glance through the dining room to the kitchen to survey the situation. Well he wasn’t cryin’ “wolf” this time. Sure enough, his little arm had gotten wedged between the rungs on the back of the chair. I quickly put the baby down and went to the aid of my trapped cub.

To my surprise, he really was stuck – but good. Trying not to rip off a limb, I rotated his arm, slid it up and down to try and free him. No luck! Being a carpenter in a past life I knew the chair would not get the better of me, it’s wood and I own about twenty different saws. But wait; as much as we might want to, let’s not resort to power tools quite yet. Especially, if after I turned the chair into a pile of sawdust, Mommy came home and presented a simple solution in hindsight. Let’s try to use our heads. If his arm went in it has to come out, right? Right! Well The Helper and I put on our thinking caps and figured out that maybe we could twist the rung to provide enough clearance for the captured appendage. One, two, three and he’s free! “Thanks Dad, you’re the best!” First, Santa on Sunday and now this – TIME magazine was right, I am Person of the Year!

I examined the boy’s arm and found no permanent damage. Now, he was more concerned about eating dinner -- love that 4 year old attention span. I went back to Baby and his only concern – finishing the bottle we started.

Today’s Lesson’s: 1. While a home might be “baby proofed” it can never be 100% “fool” proof. 2. Not every problem requires a reciprocating saw in it’s solution. (Although, I will continue to measure corrective action based on horsepower.)

Thanks for reading!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Cargo Logistics: A "Good" Boy's Solution

Doing a great job of promoting the holiday hype, our local fire department rides Santa around the neighborhood on the Sunday before Christmas. They’ve done this every year we’ve lived here and continue to do a great job. These local heroes give up their time on a Sunday to bring joy and excitement to the local kids.

Yesterday, while outside on our porch I heard the rumblings in the distance. I proceeded inside to make sure The Helper got dressed, so when the time came he was good to go. A few hours passed while we continued to hear the sirens and horns making the rounds nearby. This just added to the anticipation.

Finally, around 1:30 p.m. the fire truck carrying Santa was headed down our street. I grabbed The Helper’s hand and walked to the end of our driveway to wait for the “big guy's’” arrival.

As this grand holiday spectacle approached our home, The Helper turns to me and says, “Does Santa have my presents with him?” He further explained, in 3-3/4 year old terms, that a fire truck is larger than a sleigh and that it would make more sense to bring them now.

“No buddy, Santa will be back next week, on Christmas Eve, with your presents,” I tried to explain. So much for all the countdown tools we’re employing.

As Santa arrived and got off the truck to greet my little guy, The Helper asks, “Hi Santa! You have your own fire truck?” Santa played right along and explained about next week and the sleigh – reindeer sleeping -- something like that. He handed my boy a nice size bag of candy, gave the boy a hug, and was on his way. On the way back up the driveway the child turns to me and says, “Santa has to go home and wake up the reindeer, so I can get my presents.” The boy doesn’t miss a trick!


For the past 20 hours the Hess Fire Truck has been the toy of choice. We’re on a second set of C batteries as it’s no fun without the lights and SIREN!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Another Sunday In JETS Land

Today, the N.Y. Jets will take on the Minnesota Vikings. The above picture shows what team the boys will be rooting for -- as if there was any question! FYI -- this was all Mommy, I had nothing to do with it.