Saturday, August 29, 2009

Justin Roberts Rocks!

Thanks to NYC Dads Group for bringing this to my attention:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Train Makes A Very Good Hat!

This morning, in a moment of sheer brilliance, my younger son, Jamie, decided to 'wear' his electric toy train by turning it on and then placing it on his head. Needless to say, it took about fifteen minutes before I could disengage the locomotive's wheels from my son's springy locks.

At the time, I was so exasperated with both of my sons that I nearly let Jamie wear his new hat for a while. But then I remembered how, as a five-year-old, I came up with the ingenius idea of creating a Spider-Man mask by taking some Wrigley's gum, sticking it atop my hair and then pulling the sticky strands down so to make a gummy web around my head. This was just after my mother had spent an inordinate amount of time blow drying my hair. So, in the great scheme of things, I think Spider-Man beats out Mavis any ole day of the week.

As anyone who has kids probably knows, being a parent can be a truly exhausting experience. The day-in-day-out experience of making sure the kids are properly fed, dressed, behaved, taught important lessons, loved and protected can really wear one down. The amount of gray hairs on my head are certainly a testament to this. But then I remind myself that someday these kids are going to grow up, have their own lives and not need as much attention and I know I'm going to look back on moments like these with a deep fondness. So, thanks for wearing the train hat, Jamie and when your own child comes up with a unique hat to wear, I hope you get as much of a chuckle with it as I did with you today.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Aidan Quinn Joins the Evolution!

Today, I had the great pleasure of interviewing Aidan Quinn for the project. Aidan is the dad of two daughters, the eldest of whom is autistic. Listening to Aidan talk about the challenges and wonders of being a father was very touching.

I have always been a big fan of Aidan's, dating back to the father he played in Avalon. And if you haven't seen this cinematic gem, go rent it immediately. The loving manner that it depicts fathers and sons (as well as grandfathers) will bring you to tears - at least that's what it does for me.

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts about fatherhood, Aidan.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Kramer vs. Kramer: 30 Years Later

I can't recall another film that nailed a moment in our culture better than Kramer vs. Kramer did back in 1979. I can remember my parents coming back from a matinee screening of that film and talking at length about how they felt about it. Mind you, divorce wasn't (thank God) an issue in my household, but the movie really stirred things up - just as it did for so many others across the world. What kind of mother was Meryl Streep's character to have left her husband and son like she did? What would happen to this little boy who would be brought up primarily by a dad? Is the legal system this biased against dads?

Thirty years later the veracity of this film strikes me without any depleted impact. Minus the people smoking in offices, the dated clothing and a scene having no doubt been shot from an office in one of the twin towers, not much seems to have changed from when this landmark film arrived. The struggle of work/family balance, the reasons for many-a-divorce, the bias of many judges in the courts, even the basic identity of what it means to be a man - all remain to a great extent still unchanged to this day. Yes, there have certainly been strides towards more gender equality, flexible work schedules and an increase in dads staying at home, but at the end of the day, we as dads still remain in a period of confusion, caught between the cultural ideals of what it means to be an 'involved father' and the realities that determine how involved we can truly be at this point.

Still, there's hope, just as there is hope for Dustin Hoffman's character at the end of the film. There is the possibility of change, the opportunity for things to keep getting better. The evolution is slow, yet inevitable. I can only wonder how my boys will perceive Kramer vs. Kramer when they watch it in their adult years. Hopefully, things will be improved enough for them to chuckle at not only the workers smoking in their offices but about how the role of dad was perceived back when.

(Below is an interview excerpt by Dr. Michael Kimmel on the topic)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Star Wars Under The Stars With Charlie

Okay, I have something to admit. I'm a Star Wars junkie. Have been this way since the age of seven, when my dad first took me to see the original film. The first three movies still hold a lot of magic for me. So, now that my son, Charlie, is nearly six, I have been fairly excited about sharing the original movie with him.

First, we listened to NPR's radio dramatization of the film. By the way, it's great for longer car rides and it's really first rate, with many of the actors reprising their roles. Charlie was fairly enamored by the radio version, so I felt he wouldn't freak out too much watching the actual movie. He's still pretty sensitive when it comes to seeing movies and gets really nervous when characters find themselves in peril.

I was going to play the movie for Charlie in our basement, but then decided to make it a little more special. So, this past Thursday night we invited all of our neighbors into our backyard for a screening of Star Wars under the stars. Everyone brought their lawn chairs. One neighbor (an at-home dad) built the movie screen. Others brought candy. The lightning bugs were out and the air was electric with excitement. I sat close to my son as we watched the film. For me, it was more interesting watching my son's reaction to the movie than the movie itself at this point.

Watching the Star Wars films has always been a bonding experience between my father and I and now, to share it with my own son, is one of the more meaningful things we've done lately and something that I think will linger in Charlie's memory for many years to come. I know it will linger in mine.