2020 has been a really good year for reflection.
I have always thought that I was doing enough in my life to support those who have been forgotten or unspoken for on behalf of our society. Those who don't have a voice, or their voice has been suppressed.
But I've realized that I haven't done nearly enough to help myself be a more understanding person. A more caring person. A more educated person. And a more progressive person.
I have tried to educate myself on other people's oppressions and what I can do to not only be an ally, but be an advocate. And as I've thought to myself how I can be better, I've learned that the best way I can be better is to teach my kids everything I didn't know. Everything I wish I would have known.
And my kids are taking their own steps towards the future, both figuratively and literally.
My youngest son Santiago is finally walking. He's been taking a couple steps here and there for a few months now. But he's been a lazy boy and has been just fine with doing a monkey crawl.
He was hella fast on all fours. Like a baby cheetah. But I think he just figured to himself Why walk when I can just get around like this?
So he finally decided that he was ready to walk. And on the same day he started running. And then walking into the pool with no floaties or life jacket. Just walked into the water.
I'm like Alright dude, you're basically telling me you could've been doing this shit the whole time you've just been either too lazy or just been a troll and gotten us to pick you up whenever you want to go a farther distance.
There is something cute as hell about watching a tiny human walk. My kids got my big ass head and skinny body so they're little lanky boys and if they walk too fast it looks like they're going to go head over heels because half of their weight is in their skull.
His first steps kinda put a lot of shit into perspective for me. Even though I've not quite done enough to help the movement up until this point in my life, I now have a new opportunity to make an impact as a father.
Not a father, like as in a priest, but like a Dad. Sorry, I had to clarify that for someone who once thought I was a "Father."
I have two little brown boys growing up in an America that is becoming more inclusive and secluded simultaneously. That is so hard to accept, but it's the truth.
So I can now take my first steps into teaching the youth that I have the most impact on. Teaching them how to not only accept all races, genders, and different walks of life, but how to learn about their struggles and celebrate their accomplishments.
How to learn from those who have gone through the fire and use that as a way to fuel the fire for the future. Giving them books written by people who have studied social science and how to break the cycle of having our youth's brains programmed to think a certain way about people outside of our culture bubble.
I could go way deeper, but I just wanted to say Thank You Santiago for giving me hope. For giving me strength when I felt like I was failing. For giving me a second chance at being a better person.
Quarantine has been a good time for people to sharpen their mental skills.
Whether that be with writing, creating art, making music, reading, or in my son's case, putting together some puzzles.
For Christmas, we bought AJ some puzzles. Ranging anywhere from 24 pieces to 100 pieces. But he's only three years old, so we didn't even bother breaking them out of the closet.
For one, we just honestly forgot about them, but also because I thought they may have been a little bit too advanced for him.
He saw them in the closet and asked if he could play with them. So I gave him a 24 piece puzzle. It's got huge pieces, the puzzle itself becomes like the size of a table placemat.
I figured that would be a good starting point for him. I helped him put it together. But I realized that he was pretty much doing it without my help for the most part.
So then my wife broke out some other puzzles with 24 pieces, but they were a lot smaller. So with the tiny pieces I again assumed he'd need help. I mean, he's three.
He blew threw it again in like 5-10 minutes. As we sat there dumbfounded that his little brain was working at an incredible speed, we looked at each other in disbelief.
Could he really be ready for a 48 piece puzzle?! There's no way.
We were wrong once again. That boy demolished a 48 piece puzzle.
And then a 60 piece puzzle.
And then a 100 piece puzzle! To be fair, he needed help on that one. But he still did it!
So now we're on to making 3D models out of magnetic shapes. I continue to be blown away by watching his little brain go to work.
I remember being a pretty smart kid, but I don't ever remember my brain working like that.
This time at home has been a challenge at time with two very young children. But I know in their mind, they're happy as fuck to see us every single day.
So the least I can do is hype him up when he's putting his puzzles together. With no sports on, I'm just gonna start commentating when he's putting them together.
Gonna go something like this...
Welcome back to Puzzle Master 2020 (5 and under division)
I once wrote an article about how we are all addicted to screens. Television, computer, phone, all of that.
But it's not just us, it's the youth as well. I see people giving their kids a phone at a lot of different social gatherings. Whether it's at a restaurant, a sporting event, or a family get together.
I'll be the first to admit that I have no idea what I would do without the internet and all of the content I consume on a daily basis. But I also want my kids to be better off than I am. To be more aware of the choices they make when it comes to screen time and the consumption of a mass amount of information, content, and gaming.
I spend more time on Instagram than I probably should. Creating content for my multiple hats I wear, but mostly for checking out the latest and greatest memes.
My son however, literally is never allowed to use the phone. And even if he was, he never asks for it. Probably because we have never used it as a crutch for his mental breakdowns or emotional roller coasters that all kids go through.
He doesn't have an iPad. We don't own any gaming systems. Since we went on semi-quarantine, he has been allowed to play ABC Mouse on my wife's iPad for 45 minutes a day.
Even with that, I feel bad about letting him play. I feel like I could be spending that time teaching him in other ways.
But we teach him a lot, and he spends most of his time playing with his toys or outside and using his incredible imagination.
Remember how it was when we were kids? The most we got to do was watch television for a bit. But we didn't have DVR or streaming or YouTube, so if our parents wanted to watch something on TV then it was too fucking bad for us.
But we didn't care. We went to our rooms and played with our toys and did whatever kids are supposed to do.
If we went out to a restaurant and we were acting up, we didn't get to play some game or watch a video or whatever else. We either started acting right or we weren't going to be able to eat. Simple.
On car rides, we brought activities to do in the car. We might've had a CD player or an iPod, but that was about it.
Now listen, not all of us turned out great. There's a lot of dumb fucks out there and it has nothing to do with the fact that they did or didn't have technology growing up. It's about how they were raised.
I don't ever want to create an outlet for my children that will give them some kind of instant gratification. I won't be able to keep them from screens forever, but I can do my best to make sure that they only use it in moderation.
Technology is forever growing, and it's inevitable. But as I said, it's all about how you raise your kids. Showing them what's important.
Not taking advantage of the world they have around them. The people that they spend their time with should be seen as much more important than whatever is going on in the virtual world.
This is not only a lesson for our future, but for ourselves as well. I find myself getting sucked into the rabbit holes of the internet, and then snapping out of it and throwing my phone across the room so that I won't look at it.
If I can get my kids to be better than me, then I'll feel like I accomplished something in the short time we all have on this earth.
And I swear if I ever catch my kids making a damn Tik Tok, I'll Tik Tok them on the fucking head with the chancla.
Having one boy is a joy, having two boys is a blessing. Finding a way to get those boys to play nice together is nearly impossible.
AJ will smother Santiago with kisses and tell him he loves him and that he's the best baby in the world. And five seconds later, he's got his fingers in Santiago's eyeballs because he took one of AJ's toys to play with.
I'll be talking to Santiago, and AJ will throw a temper tantrum as if his world is ending because he is not the one getting all of the attention.
I gave Santiago a bite of AJ's biscuit the other day, and you would have thought I had stabbed AJ in the back with a knife the way he reacted.
And even with his struggles to share with his baby brother, he still finds a way to give me these moments when I realize that he is much more of a giving little person than most kids or adults are.
AJ's birthday is just a few days before Christmas. So I knew that he was going to be getting an unbelievable amount of toys between both of those days.
I had already told my wife that I was going to be going through his toys and throwing away a bunch of stuff that was broken or just junk and then donating the toys that were still in good condition.
She and I didn't think he was going to go for it. I pumped myself up for the conversation I was going to be having with my soon to be 3 year old.
This kid is smart, so I had to think of a million excuses as to why I was going to be getting rid of all these toys. I thought about saying the Grinch stole them. Or that Santa's elves had to take them back to their warehouse for inspection.
Anything that was going to distract him from the fact that I was ultimately getting rid of a bunch of his toys.
I sat next to him while he was eating, I figured this would be the best time because he's usually most happy when he's got food in front of him. I told him that I was going to be giving his toys to kids who didn't have toys. I told him that we were going to take a bag of toys to a place that will give them to these kids.
His response was "Theres kids that don't have toys? Yes, I have to give my toys to kids that don't have toys. All kids need to have toys."
I mean come on now. How is that my two year old son knows more about sharing than the president?
It's just another moment when he shows me that he's the most woke person in our household.
I'm sure there's gonna be times in the future when I get a call from his teacher saying that AJ had to pull a red card in class for not sharing. And there's gonna be other times when we're having a parent teacher conference and they tell me that I have the sweetest and most giving boy in the world.
I wouldn't be shocked by either of those statements. I know my precious little boy doesn't like to share sometimes, and honestly I'm the same way. When we go out to eat and my wife says "Don't order me fries, I'll just have some of yours." You know damn well I'm ordering two, because I ain't sharing shit when it comes to fries.
But having those conversations, and teaching him why it's important to share is key. But in this case, he was the one teaching me.
Remember when your parents would be like "I'm not an ATM machine!"
As a dad, I now understand what that really means.
My oldest son is about to be 3 years old, and I can't wait for him to get a job.
His birthday is coming up, and he keeps asking me for everything. Which is fine, he's pretty nice about it so I can't get too upset.
But why is it my job to get my son presents for his birthday party on his birthday? I gave him life, what else does he need?
He doesn't need any toys and he doesn't need any more clothes. But sometimes he needs an attitude check.
Yet, with all of the attitude he loves to give me most of the time, there's always those little moments that just make you so grateful to have them in your life.
I was taking a nap on the couch and he woke me up to tell me he had to go to the bathroom. So we run to the bathroom so he can go poop.
While he's sitting there looking at me, he asks "Daddy, where's your glasses?" I didn't have them on because I was asleep, but instead I told him that he broke them. He says "I broke them? Oh, I'm sorry."
Obviously he didn't break them, but he continued. "Daddy, I'm going to get a job so I can get money and buy you new glasses."
I was like "I'm sorry, what?" Then he reiterated that he was going to get a job. I don't know who this little guy thinks he is, but man he's got my heart.
So long story short, I helped him create a resume and send it to a bunch of places. So let's hope he gets a call for an interview soon so he can buy his own presents.
In my personal opinion, the whole point of having kids is so you can get them to say and do funny ass shit.
AJ is almost three now and he will literally copy anything I say or do, and will do exactly what I tell him to do.
Unless it's a chore or a task, then of course he acts like the world is ending. And that his hearing has suddenly stopped working.
One of my favorite things is when AJ says something cute and they're like "Oh my god, I can't believe he just said that!"
Because in reality it's me teaching him to say the right things in the right situations. Mostly using good manners and shit like that.
I wouldn't be able to live with myself as a parent if my kid didn't use proper manners. Like simple things like saying Thank You, May I, Please, I Love You, Have a good day. Anything that helps him be a better person, I want him to learn.
His favorite word right now is "WooHoo!" but mostly because it just makes my heart melt when he says it so I told him it's his favorite word.
But let's make one thing clear for those who don't know, I have a bad mouth. And I have never even attempted to hold myself back in front of my kids. They're gonna hear this shit anyway.
I'm not out here cussing like a sailor in public, but around my family and friends or in the comfort of my own home, I'm not going to censor myself just because of how it may make my children feel.
The real world is full of crazy shit, them hearing cussing is the least of my worries.
I'd rather expose my kids to the reality of the world then to shelter them until they become old enough to understand and become confused. The world ain't pretty.
Now if AJ is going around cussing up a storm, then I'm going to teach him right from wrong. But it doesn't mean I'm not going to record him saying "Futch You Daddy!" and send it to all of my friends. That shit is comedy gold. And it'll be hilarious for them to watch when they're older.
I know a lot of parents will think I'm being insensitive and selfish. But when you have kids, you sacrifice a lot. So you better believe that my voice and personality is one thing I ain't gonna sacrifice.
Santiago and AJ, I love you guys to death. But fuck that shit. Y'all drive me crazy sometimes so if I feel like saying "Fucking shit!" when I stub my toe, then you better believe I'm yelling it at the top of my lungs.
And when Too Short asks me what his favorite word is while you two are in the backseat, you already know what the fuck I'm singing out.
So if you hang around my kids, you have my permission to cuss in front of them. I really don't give a damn.
Having kids is a blessing. They'll change you for the better and make you grow in ways you never imagined.
The love you share with them is like no other love in this world.
They make you smile even through your worst times.
But sometimes man, oh my god, sometimes.
Theres a million things I love about my kids. I could go on and on about everything great they've brought into my life.
But why focus on the positives when I can gripe about the things they do that annoy me.
When my oldest son was a baby, that dude would literally be able to sleep in the middle of a party. Once he was out, he was out. Nothing was going to interrupt his sleep.
But now with my youngest baby, holy shit man. He could be in his crib in the room down the hall and you could sneeze and wake him up. It's so annoying.
It's like what you see on television where you have to be quiet whenever a baby falls asleep. That's him.
The worst is when he falls asleep in your lap, because you're screwed. Don't even think about putting him down, or even readjusting for that matter.
He's asleep right now, and I'm writing this on my laptop in another room with the door closed because I don't want the sound of me typing to wake him up.
I've had to become that parent that is tells people when they come over "Be quiet, the baby is sleeping." I hate being that guy.
My oldest son doesn't do anything more annoying than that, but he's got his own things that bother the hell out of me. Two things in particular.
The first thing is pretty common with little kids as they grow up. He's in this phase where when he wants something he says "Give me that." Like where did he even learn that?
I know damn well I been teaching this boy manners since day one. But he's pretty good at correcting himself after I say "Excuse me, what did you just say?" and give him that Dad look.
The other thing that I hate is that he can be such a crybaby sometimes. I get it, he's two years old. He's gonna cry.
But at the same time, please shut up. Like what the hell are you crying about? Keep it up and I'll give you something to cry about.
That high pitched crying scream is the worst sound to ever come out of a tiny human being's body.
Hate is a strong word. I love everything about my kids.
I complain about my baby being a light sleeper, when I'm the one who rocked him to sleep so that I could stare at him as he dreams.
I complain about my oldest being a crybaby, when I'm the one who tripped him so I could watch him fall and get very mildly injured for my own enjoyment.
My point is that it's ok to be annoyed by your kids. They're kids, they're annoying.
Some day they'll be talking to each other about what they hate about me, and I'm ready for it.
Once you're married, there's always pressure from people about creating a farm of children. "When is Baby #3 coming? Are you going to try for your girl? Your boys really need another friend to play with."
I'm not really sure what people's obsession is with trying to get couples to add to the population of the world when there's already plenty of people in it, with no end of growth in sight.
I know I may offend some people, but you guys will get over it.
Everybody in the world has parents one way or another. Probably the most obvious statement I've ever said, but it's a little deeper than that.
There's been good parents, bad parents, absent parents, happy parents, sad parents, unknown parents. Everyone was raised differently in their own unique ways. So every individual has their own perspective on parenthood.
For me, it's pretty simple. My mom had me at 15 years old and my dad wasn't exactly present throughout most of my life. He was there, but never in the way I needed him to be. I was an only child of a single mother. So naturally, I have tremendous respect for my mom and women in general, while my view on fatherhood is skewed.
I did have my step-dad who did a great job of raising me into the man I am, and I'm thankful for him. But there was still a long time in my life where I wished I had a better relationship with my biological father.
I would never want my children to feel forgotten or unimportant, so I raise them the complete opposite way my father raised me. Present in every way possible.
And although I love my kids and I love being a father, I never imagined I'd be raising two kids at 28 years old. As a father who never wants to miss a moment of their growth, it's a lot of work to give them as much attention as I do. And there's days where I feel like I'm not doing enough.
So to imagine bringing another child into our family feels like an impossible feat to win.
As we always say here, perspective is everything. Everyone loves to give advice on parenthood from the outside, when the fact is that every relationship and every child is different.
So if you don't want to have kids, don't allow the comments of others such as "So when are you going to have a baby?" bother you. Don't listen to the "You better have kids before it's too late." And definitely don't listen to "Cats aren't kids." because they are.
If you got kids and you feel like you're done having kids, then be done. Maybe one day down the line you'll change your mind, but do whatever you feel is right for you and your family.
To everyone who asks people when they're going to have more kids, I promise you the world has enough ankle biters out there. I just went to a wedding where kids weren't allowed, and there were still a bunch of those little fuckers running around. They just multiply.
So here's some advice for all you out there who want your friends or family members have more kids; Stay in yo lane!
If people want to have kids or not is on them. And people be having sex on the daily, so you don't gotta worry about whether or not they're doing what it takes to make kids. I know all y'all be fuckin'.
And whoever wants to watch my boys sometime, all you gotta do is ask. My wife and I would love a break here and there from those little devils in disguise.
It's always a sad feeling when your kid is crying and says "I want Mommy!" It almost makes you feel like you're not enough. Like your kid is choosing the better parent.
When my kids are crying or are sad or just need something, I selfishly always want to be the one they go to for everything. But Mommy is Mommy, and she's always going to be first choice. But she's also my first choice too so I don't blame them.
There's definitely times when AJ is getting on my nerves and I tell him "Go bug Mommy." And he's such a good boy that he'll listen to me and do it.
It's ok to be selfish and want your kids to love you more than anyone else in the world. But if you're blessed enough to have multiple people in your life that your kids can turn to, don't take it for granted!
With Mommy's job, sometimes she has to leave us and go on business trips. And although we never like to see Mommy go, we definitely have some fun times while Mommy is away.
She was going to Dallas for a week, and it was just going to be me, our two year old AJ, and our four month old baby Santiago. I felt bad about always bugging the crap out of my wife to pump more so I could have enough milk to last throughout the week. Especially because Santiago is a fat boy and never even gave her a chance to pump.
No matter how many bags of milk I had for that kid, I knew it wasn't going to be enough. That guy literally never stops eating. I had to have a bottle of milk warm, a bag thawing, and another bag on deck in the fridge just in case.
I knew we weren't going to make it with the milk I had, so Mommy asked a friend to donate some milk. And for those of you who may not know, you can give your baby breast milk from someone else! She was a life saver and gave us like 30 bags of milk, and Santi loved it.
My wife breastfed both of our boys, but this week gave me a whole new perspective on how much work she has to put in everyday to make sure they were fed. I must've went through like 9-10 bottles a day just for a four month old baby. So I can't imagine what her body goes through on a day-to-day basis.
AJ was the easy one. All he wants to do is play, read, dance, sing, and be a crazy little boy.
But that crazy little boy still missed his Mommy like crazy. He would tell me "We can't go to the park without Mommy! She's NOT in Texas!"
When it was time for bed, I found it was easier to put Santi to be. I could just load him up on some milk and he'd pass out. But AJ knew something was missing. He couldn't go to bed without his Mommy.
Thank technology for FaceTime because those few minutes he got everyday to see her face were enough to get him through. But he would still wake up in the middle of the night crying for his Mommy . . . and so was Santi and I.
The single dad life was fun because I had my boys all to myself. If they needed anything, I was the one they turned too. I felt like their everything. And while I selfishly loved that feeling.
But while I enjoyed my time with my boys, I realized something. My wife is not only everything to me, but she's now everything to my two little beautiful boys.
They see her as their role model, their best friend, their world, and (I'll admit) their favorite person in the world. And mine, too.
She carried them both and gave them life. She breastfed them as babies and will continue to nurture them for the rest of their lives.
She went on her business trip because it's something she had to do for our family, and so that she could show her boys that she's a strong woman who handles her shit.
So the next time my boys tell me that they want their Mommy, I will say "Me too."
The Lion King came out in theaters when I was two years old. I’m pretty sure my mom didn’t take me to see it in the theaters, and if she did I don’t remember. Give me a break, I was two.
But I still remember watching it on VHS a million times over at my grandpas house. Sticking it in the little VHS rewinder machine, and then starting it over immediately.
From playing it so much, it starting getting kinda grainy in the opening Circle of Life scene. It would do that weird thing where the music and sound were playing but it would cut in and out.
Oh man, those were the days. Everything about that movie is nostalgic and just brings back memories as a kid. So when the new one came out, my wife and I decided that our two year old wasn’t going to watch it with us.
I mean seriously, what is a two year old going to get from this movie anyway. It’s not animated so it’s not like he’s going to care about the storyline. So we left his little butt and his baby brother with his Nana while we went and watched the movie in peace.
We were able to enjoy every moment of the movie without hearing AJ go “Daddy I’m hungry. Mommy I have to go potty. Mommy this is loud. Daddy this is scary.”
NOPE! NONE OF IT! NOT TODAY!
Don’t get me wrong, I love including my kids in a lot of things. We take them to sporting events. They explore big cities. AJ has even been to Hawaii already.
But sometimes man, kids can be a bit of a third wheel. I love my wife, and to be fair, she was here before them kids. So naturally she has dibs.
Its rare, but there are times like these when we just gotta go out and do shit on our own. No kids, no whining, no diaper changing. Nothing. Just each other.
Of course other parents brought all their snot nosed little brats to watch a movie that was specifically made for adults ages 21-40. Every five minutes a kid was crying, whining, or asking to go to the bathroom.
And that’s fine. I get it. But every time a kid made any kind of noise my wife leaned over and said “And that’s why we didn’t bring the kids.”
We got to eat our own snacks without sharing. It was life changing.
Spending time with your kids is irreplaceable. But you have to make sure to spend time with yourself too, and your spouse.
Being with your kids for days in a row without a break can sometimes be exhausting. Kids are really needy, like all of the time.
Just this morning, I was taking a shit and my son comes running into the bathroom screaming “Daddy I have to go pee pee toilet right now!” Mind you I’m literally in the middle of taking a shit.
I can’t just get up and switch spots with him, so I had to scoot back on the seat, and create enough space for him between my legs for him to pee. So yeah, that’s what I’m working with.
So excuse me if I want a few hours of no kids and quality time with my wife. I don’t feel bad about it, and you shouldn’t either.
Make time for a date, even if it’s weeks from now. Tell your parents they’re going to watch the kids for a few hours while you go do the damn thang.
Now I know there’s some of you out there who be dropping your kids off everywhere all the time, but that’s for another article.
Take some time for yourself, and always remember to Leave your kids behind!