Friday, June 17, 2016

My First Day as a Father

What am I going to do with a baby?

I always knew I’d wanted to have kids, and had been a very experienced uncle for years, but when the moment of truth was upon us, what would I do with my own child? How would I take care of him? Would he be OK? Would I be OK?

After 9 months of waiting eagerly, suddenly I found myself nervously observing in the operating/delivery room, sitting behind a draped cloth with my wife’s upper body, while doctors and nurses worked their magic scalpels and tools on her midsection. In 10 minutes, the anesthesiologist announced, “it’s a boy”, but I’d never considered otherwise. He was here, I had to be ready. Even if I didn’t think I was.

Are you ready to cut the cord?

I tend to overthink things, especially all of the possibilities of everything that could go wrong. What if I cut the cord too long or too short? What if I couldn’t even cut all the way through it? At that moment, as I watched my son on the table, just minutes old, I knew I had to jump in with both feet. I grabbed the scissors from the nurse and cut the cord swiftly, which freed my son from his only source of life up to that point and suddenly gave me a new one of my own.

We headed to the recovery room where my wife was able to rest for a bit. As adrenaline pumped through my body like a gallon of espresso, I watched this little miracle lay swaddled snugly and started to feel inklings of confidence return despite the enormous uncertainty squarely before me.     

After a while, we were given a room. My wife was understandably exhausted when the nurse came and examined my hours-old son. She asked if I wanted to give him a bath. As I pondered the joyous task, the feelings of doubt returned? How do I even give him a bath? He’s so little; I don’t want to break him.

She reassured me: “They’re hard to break”.  Whether that was true or not, who knows. But she seemed to know what she was doing, and mentioned that she’d been doing it for 20-something years, so I had to let go of my fear once again and literally get my hands dirty to clean my still somewhat goopy child. With each soft swab of the washcloth, he amazed me even more. Before I knew it, he was clean. What now?

“Are you ready to put on his diaper?”

Well, I’d attended the pregnancy class before he was born and strapped one on a plastic baby, knowing it was foolproof. Guess what: so is diapering a real baby. Sure, I may have ripped a couple straps pulling too hard, but my boy was fine. His scrawny little legs dangled out of the Pampers Newborn, a size he fit in for exactly one day. As I watched his body temperature even out after the bath as he lay upon the warming table, I knew he’d be OK. And so would I.

Later that night, as I watched my wife and son sleep in our hospital room, one day in the books, it finally occurred to me, as obvious as it had been all day to our gathered family and friends. I was a father. And had to be ready for whatever was coming next. Looking back, I’d read the baby books before he arrived but there is no parenting book as real, as honest and as true as the one you start to create upon becoming a father. It’s not an easy job and the benefits are crap, literally, but there is nothing better, nor more sleep depriving in life. Seven years, another child and yet another en route later, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Note: I have partnered with Life of Dad and Pampers for this promotion, but all ideas expressed above are mine and mine alone, for better or worse. I was compensated for this post, but I can assure you it was much less than I’ve spent on Pampers over the last almost-seven years.

Note 2.0: Pampers put together an amazing Father’s Day video, which I know you will want to check out. Spoiler alert: tears are looming that you may not anticipate.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Why I Want to Move to Zootopia

Movie Viewed: Zootopia

Moviegoers: Dude, 40; Mrs. Dude, 40; Little Dude, 6 & Littler Dude, 3 

Family Fave Flicks: The Star Wars saga, Finding Nemo, Toy Story, The Lion King, Despicable Me and Mr. Peabody & Sherman.

Fave movies for grown-ups: The Dude’s Faves (that the kids aren’t ready for): Bull Durham, Goodfellas & Old School

What’s the story: Growing up in rural Bunnyburrow, Judy Hopps enjoyed her simple life, but influenced by a bullying incident she witnessed as a young bunny along with her parents’ slow-paced lives as carrot farmers, she yearned for more. Judy’s goal was to become the first rabbit police officer in mega metropolis Zootopia, and being an optimistic overachiever, she does it!

After moving to the big city and being assigned to the largest police division in Zootopia, Judy is quickly ostracized because she’s not a typically larger police animal, but she’s out to prove her worth, no matter the task assigned. One day while on her beat, Judy encounters a sly fox named Nick Wilde who teaches her a lesson or two about trust, friendship and hard work. Judy enlists Nick to help with the case of a missing otter and together they work to solve one of Zootopia’s biggest mysteries.

What parents may like about this movie: Zootopia is an inspiring tale of how optimism, dedication and determination, even at a young age, can lead to a great future. There were also some very strong messages that about bullying and prejudice that are important for kids to be exposed to in this day and age.

What kids will like: The myriad animals are entertaining, adorable and subtly educational, too. Kids will love the top-flight animation (and grown-ups will, too!)

Concerns: No major concerns as Disney never gets too controversial, though there are some bullying scenes (with a positive spin) and metaphors for racial bias that could resonate with older kids. Also, a key storyline about some of the animals’ ferocious behavior might frighten some younger kids.

Bottom Line: Movie elements ranked on a scale from 1-5, with 1/5 being the least and 5/5 being the highest.

Positive themes: Overwhelmingly positive look at setting goals, achieving and overcoming obstacles on the road to success. Living up to your dreams is a great message for kids, even though Judy’s parents tried to temper hers. Thankfully for everyone, she didn’t let them stop her. Great messages about right vs. wrong and friendship permeate this cuddly flick. (5/5)

Violence/scare factor: There was no real violence in this movie beyond the typical cartoon variety. That being said, one storyline revolves around seemingly domesticated predators reverting to their savage nature. A couple scenes featuring some of these wild animals probably won’t scare kids, but might make them briefly squeeze your hand a little tighter, which isn’t always a bad thing. (1 ½ /5)

Sex/Romance: None. Though a relationship was briefly hinted at. (0/5)

Bad language: It’s Disney, so the closest thing was the word “butt” once or twice. (0/5)

Final thought: Zootopia is classic Disney and sure to entertain kids of all ages. The morals and lessons in this movie are applicable to everyone, including adults. The animation is excellent and there are a slew of jokes purely for the adults, including the sloth-run DMV vignette you’ve surely seen in the trailers.  I can’t recommend Zootopia highly enough. It’s a must see for all ages and my early prediction for next year’s Best Animated Feature Oscar.

I was compensated by Fandango Family for this review, though all opinions contained within are solely mine, for better or worse. Also, my family really wants to go to Zootopia now.