I never realized how easy it is for a child to make a clean house messy. It's not so easy for an adult, but for a two year old, it's a piece of cake.
It's almost like they do it on purpose. In their little minds they're thinking "My parents just spent the last hour cleaning the house, and now everything is perfect . . . almost too perfect."
Before I had kids, I was somewhat of a neat freak. My bed was always made, my clothes were always put away neatly, I rarely left dishes in the sink, the house or my room always had a candle lit. Everything had a place and was in their place.
But now I've gotten to a point with AJ where I have just learned to let things be. His room is a disaster? Whatever, we'll clean it tomorrow. He has hella laundry that needs to be folded? I'll fold it on my day off.
I never let things stay dirty, but I do allow him to make a mess. I mean he's two years old, I'm not going to not let him make a mess. But I can't say it's easy to sit back and watch him terrorize my house. Sometimes I want to put him in his own little bubble where he can't mess anything up.
But as a dad who wants to let my son express his creativity, I condone the mess making.
As you can see from this video, AJ got into a package we got in the mail that had a lot of styrofoam. And his way of expressing himself on this day was by taking the styrofoam apart piece by piece by piece by piece...
I'm not sure if he thought eventually something different was going to happen. Or if he thought that having a million pieces of styrofoam was better than one. Or if he just wasn't thinking at all and was just letting his hands go to work.
Whatever the reason was didn't matter. As I realized what was happening I said to myself "Screw it, just let the kid make a mess." And as much as I wanted to grab everything from him and throw it away before he could display his art, I just couldn't help but laugh at how great this moment was.
His demeanor remained the same the whole time, stoic and silent. He just kept grabbing it and tearing it apart over and over. This went on for about 10 minutes before he finally took a break, checked on his baby brother, then went back at it for another five minutes.
Yes, I eventually had to clean up the mess. I wasn't going to let AJ do it because it would've never gotten clean.
But that moment in time was priceless. Watching my son's brain work like I've never seen before was beautiful. He was truly in a state of pure bliss. So much so that he couldn't even display any type of emotion.
As I sat behind the camera, (laughing my ass off silently as to not disturb his work in progress) all I could think about was all the times I told him not to do something because he might make a mess. And although I won't let him go crazy all the time, I will check with myself first and ask if it's worth it to stop him or let him be free.
There's only so much you can prepare for as a dad. You can read all of the parenting books. You can babysit your nieces and nephews to get some practice in. You can practice changing diapers on your cat.
But no matter how much you practice on your dad skills, sometimes shit happens. Literally.
Santiago just turned one month old, and he's starting to have a little personality. He's a lot like his mom. He needs your undivided attention 24/7, he's moody, and if his meal ain't ready in the snap of a finger his whole worlds stops turning.
And like his mom, he likes to mess with me. I like to think that he knows exactly what he's doing. I can just hear him in his tiny head "Oh you just gonna set me down in this swing while you clean the kitchen huh? Watch this... WAHHH! WAHHH! WAHHH!" Then as I come back to pick him up, the crying stops and he looks at me like "Yeah that's what I thought, slave."
I thought I knew what to expect because I already had one son. At night, AJ used to wake up every two hours to eat. Sometimes, my wife and I would alternate waking up and take turns feeding him. I could bank on him waking up at 5:30 every morning. So I would always wake up at that time, take him to the living room with a bottle, and watch SpongeBob until we both fell back asleep for an early morning nap.
Santiago ain't about none of that.
He sleeps like an adult. It's kinda weird actually. At night, he'll sleep like 6 hours straight. Maybe waking up once to eat knock back out immediately. We've been getting much more consecutive hours of sleep than we did with AJ.
But he makes you pay for good nights of sleep. This morning, he woke up at about 6:00 am to eat and poop. So my wife wakes me up and asks me to massage his stomach like I always do, to assist him in letting it all go. Usually I can tell when he's done, because he stops grunting and he stops flexing his stomach.
So I give him a couple minutes, just to make sure he's all done. His eyes are starting to slowly close, dozing back off to sleep. So I figure I can change his diaper now, right?
I get the next diaper ready, I've got a wipe covering his little friend so he doesn't pee everywhere, everything is accounted for. As I begin to pull the dirty diaper, he looks up at me. I know he's thinking in his mind, "You done fucked up."
I lift up his legs to place the new diaper, and SPLASH! Projectile baby shit all over me! My stomach, shorts, and legs are literally sprayed with that mustard seed looking shit. It's great, this is fine, everything is fine.
At this point, I've done seen it all. I've dealt with a two year old dropping an entire log into his underwear. It comes with the territory of being a dad.
I wasn't even disgusted by it honestly. I was more upset with myself for letting my guard down. I should have known that was coming.
So at 6:30 am, I gave my son a bath, gave him back to his mom, took a shower, and started my day. I've been wanting to wake up earlier anyway, so thanks Santiago for helping me get my day started.
And a PSA to anyone who has a weak stomach for human feces, (looking at it, smelling it, getting it under your fingertips somehow) YOU'RE NOT READY TO HAVE KIDS!
This article was supposed to go a completely different direction. I was supposed to talk about one of the first nights at home with both of our boys. My wife was in bed taking care of our one week old Santiago, and I spent all night going back and forth from my room to AJ's.
Adding another child is a difficult transition for everyone. My poor AJ was lonely in his room so every time he woke up, I went and laid on the ground next to his bed to keep him company.
The whole article was already written in my head. I was going to joke about how miserable I was the next morning, but I think this story is a little more indicative of what its like to be a dad with duties.
My wife recently returned to working about 3 weeks after having Santiago. She is a beast when it comes to business. She is really about that paper.
So while she's out working, I'm on paternity leave for another 9 weeks. So as a temporary stay at home dad, I've been adjusting to trying to map out my day. It's hard not to sit on the couch all day and hold the baby. What other time in his life am I going to be able to enjoy him this way? Never, which makes it that much harder.
There was a ton of laundry to fold, all the dishes in the dishwasher were ready to be put away, and AJ's room was a disaster. But my wife had to leave to get some work done around 12 and both boys were getting a little restless.
Obviously the chores were going to have to wait, so I decided to take the boys on a walk to their grandparents house. Mommy was gone for about 6 hours, so there was a lot of time to kill with these two little guys.
We didn't get home until about 9 pm. AJ still needed to get into his pajamas and read his bedtime stories before going to sleep. We read Skippy Jon Jones, The Cat in the Hat, and Coco, literally all his favorites.
He finally went to sleep at about 10. Then I put the books down, and looked at his room. I will never understand how such tiny humans can make such big messes. I could barely see the floor because there was so many books just everywhere. So as he slept, I cleaned it up. Took me a while, but it was worth it.
My wife was in bed feeding Santiago and she asked for some cereal because moms need their midnight snacks too. So I went to the kitchen and couldn't find a bowl, probably because they were all in the dishwasher. So I brought mommy her cereal, and I told her I was going to clean the kitchen and fold the laundry.
She looked at the clock and said "Right now?" I knew she had work the next day too, so I simply asked her "When else will I be able to do it?"
Staying up until 2 am doing chores wasn't how I planned my night to go, but that's what it was. But I actually enjoyed it, which led me to change my mind on the direction of this article.
I got to rewatch the Sixers playoff game while I folded the laundry, so it didn't even feel like a chore. As I sat there looking at all the folded clothes, I reflected.
My wife has a lot on her shoulders since she is breastfeeding. Now adding work into her schedule makes her day even more crowded. So I asked myself what I could do to make her life easier. If staying up until 2 am doing chores allows for her to get some sleep and spend quality time with Santiago, then it's not a chore at all.
I don't know about other moms, but I see how much my wife does on a day-to-day basis and it makes me want to be a better and more helpful dad. By no means am I perfect at it, far from it. But making a conscious effort to make sure all the little things are done for her so she doesn't have to worry about anything but working and taking care of our newborn. And cooking for us too, because everyone knows mommy makes the best food.
The night I never slept was more of a wake up call than a sleepless night. Thanks Santiago, AJ, and mommy for making me a better dad.
Life was going great as a dad. I was just learning how to deal with a child slowly growing into his "Terrible 2's." I was spending a lot of time with my son at home while my wife was growing her business at a rapid pace. I was devoting all my daddy time to one little guy and we were living it up.
And then one night I decided to not use the "Pullout Method." I knew right away what had happened. I text my best friend "Aye bro, I fucked up." Sure enough, about a month later my wife told me she needed to talk to me.
We pull up to her parents house, and before we walk in she shows me the pee stick. I wasn't ready to be a dad all over again, so my initial reaction was denial. I told her "Let's just wait and see." She didn't like that answer, for obvious reasons.
How could I do this all over again? The diapers, the bottle feeding, the sleepless nights, all while also trying to continue to raise another growing little boy. For the next two days at work, I don't think I said a word. My mind was somewhere a million miles away and my body was just on autopilot. I remember a coworker talking to me right in my face and all I could hear was the thoughts in my head.
We went to the doctor, and guess what, that pee stick ain't never lie! The denial phase was over, it was time to put the newborn daddy pants on again. People would constantly ask me "Are you ready?" and I would give an honest answer.
I wasn't ready to do it all over again. I was terrified. Sure we did a good job on the first one, but parenting ain't easy. The consistent work and teaching it takes to make sure that you're always being a mindful parent is draining. But damn is it worth it.
As the pregnancy continued, I started to get a little bit more excited day by day. But to say I didn't have a mental breakdown here and there would be a lie. Remaining honest with myself and those around me is what got me through.
I knew it was all going to be another big challenge, but the thing that I forgot about was how natural it was all going to come.
All of the fears, doubt, and denial was forgotten about in a split second. The second I heard his little cry for the first time, it was a wrap.
I remembered that feeling I had with my first son, AJ. It's a unique feeling that is unlike anything else in life. It's a feeling of pure bliss, and you realize that nothing else in life matters. Santiago was a blessing from the beginning, I just couldn't fully accept it until he was here in my arms.
The best part about having a newborn baby is that they sleep like 18 hours a day. They just want to eat, sleep, and poop. The good life.
And at two weeks old, he is definitely living his best life. And his big brother is even more loving and caring than we could have imagined. It's a proud moment when Santiago is crying and AJ says "You're ok baby. I'm here, I'm here."
It's hard not to brag, but I have two beautiful boys. I can't be humble when it comes to that. Usually people will say "Oh my god your baby is so cute." And then will go home and be like "Goddamn that baby is ugly."
I sleep well at night knowing that people aren't lying when they tell me that our boys are some of the cutest kids they've ever seen.
But I can't take all of the credit. My wife is gorgeous and was so cute as a baby and little girl. I can honestly say I don't want any more kids, but I also wouldn't be opposed to a mini version of my wife.
What is art to kids these days? It's being cut from most public schools. It's becoming less and less of a priority as time goes on. It's much less of a way to make a living as it is a hobby, which is totally backwards.
So how do we get kids to even care about art anymore?
At two months old, AJ was already getting himself more culture than most adults. His first art show he went to was the Sacramento ArtStreet. It was located at an abandoned factory, so he was really on some underground art.
Mom and Dad had to make sure that he saw everything, so he wasn't going to be in the stroller. He was in his baby wrap all bundled up, and ready to stare deep into some obscure art. He even broke out of the wrap and had Dad get him up close to some pieces to really get immersed in the experience.
He was such a good boy the whole time. It must've taken about 2 hours to walk through the entire place and really get a good look at all of the work. He didn't fuss once. He was trying to talk, and was really investing his time into accepting this world around him.
The most memorable moment of the night was when this one specific art piece caught his eye. Work by a mixed media artist named Angela Tannehill really got him locked in.
Dad was holding him and looking at the work when he realized that AJ was paying attention to every piece of detail this piece offered. "After Us" had him stunned and silent for a good five minutes. Even as Dad moved on to the next piece, his eyes remained on it.
So what's the best thing a dad can do about it? How about bring that art into his home. The original piece was four feet tall and eight feet wide, so it was a tad bit too big for his room. So Dad went with the next best thing and got it printed on canvas.
As it hangs above his bed, it is a reminder to the moment he had his first real art experience. A two month old baby had the capability of immersing himself into a world unknown to him at the time. His little brain releasing endorphins at a speed no other baby his age could ever dream of.
Now at two years old, he can look at the canvas and name all of the animals on it. And by the age of five, he'll probably be able to describe some deeper meaning to it that nobody but himself will understand.
Watching sports has always been an easy way for dads and their kids to relate. There's nothing like taking your kid to a basketball game and watching them cheer along with the crowd. Hearing them chant "Defense!" and clapping as loud as they can.
I've always been a big basketball guy, so my son has probably watched more basketball games than he's had poopy diapers. We don't let him watch very much television, and he has pretty much no screen time. But when it comes to basketball, Daddy makes an exception.
AJ was born in December, which is right in the middle of the NBA season. When I was on my paternity leave, all I had was time. So I had plenty of time watch games with him and tell him exactly what was going on in each game. He may have only been a month old, but I know he knew what I was talking about.
He learned quick that the end of a close game is not the time to take a nap, especially during college basketball. Syracuse was playing Duke and the game was tied at 75 with less than 10 seconds left. John Gillon pushed the ball up the court and pulled up from deep for the win. He hit the shot at the buzzer, which sent the Syracuse crowd into a frenzy, and got me and my father-in-law to jump off the couch and shout "OH MY GOD!"
He woke up instantly, wide-eyed and terrified. He must've cried for at least ten minutes straight. My mother-in-law was holding him as he slept, and after we shouted she said "What the hell?! You guys scared the baby." As I sat there trying not to laugh at the situation, my father-in-law goes "What do you want us to do when a guy hits a buzzer beater? Quietly whisper '...yayyy...'?" Then everyone (besides my mother-in-law and AJ) was laughing. He got over it.
He eventually got used to the yelling and screaming after we took him to a few of his Tío's high school basketball games, which could get crazy lit. The loud gym literally didn't effect him in the slightest, he was always kicking back either watching the game or gulping down some chi-chi milk.
(Here's the shot that got us in trouble)
He has been to two Sacramento Kings games, and therefore is an honorary fan. He likes Slamson and the food at GoldenOne Center and all the purple in the arena. He loves chanting "Defense!" and clapping during the team introductions. But don't get it twisted, he's been a Philadelphia 76ers fan since day one. Actually, day zero.
Before AJ was even born, he already had a onesie with the silhouette of Joel Embiid with the words "Trust The Process." For those who don't know, that is a pretty deep cut on some hipster basketball knowledge. It represented the few years where the Philadelphia 76ers sucked, but maintained a cult following of fans. AJ was a part of that group before he had ever watched a game.
Thoughout these terrible years of the 76ers, it could get lonely at times. I would tell my wife "Oh this year we're going to be good for sure," and she'd just respond with "That's what you said last year." And to her credit, she was right. They sucked for like 4 years, it was pretty sad from the outside. But I enjoyed it while it lasted.
But watching the games with AJ have been that much better. He learned how to say "AND-ONE!" before he could walk. He chants "Lets go Sixers!" whenever he hears the crowd getting into the game. He even knows two of the players and he'll say "Come on Simmons! Make a shot!" It brings true joy to my heart.
This bond that we already share with the 76ers is beautiful. And his knowledge of the game for a two year old still blows my mind. The Sixers were playing the Chicago Bulls in a hard-fought game, and AJ could tell that the ending was getting intense.
He sat really close to me and was locked into the game as much as I was. He was pumping his fist everytime the Sixers made a shot and shouting "Let's go baby! Made a shot!" But the happiness didn't last, as the Sixers were upset by the Bulls which left me quiet and unamused by what I had just witnessed.
It was just a regular season game, so I didn't care much for the loss but I was still upset by the result. So as I sat there watching the other team high five as they walked off the court, AJ grabbed my face and said...
Look at me Daddy.
I wanted to laugh so hard out of pure joy but I decided to play along and I said with a pout on my face, "Yes, I'm saddy. I wanted the Sixers to win, but they lost." He looked at me and said "It's ok Daddy," and he gave me a big hug and a kiss.
In this moment, I knew that he truly understood the emotion that goes into being a fan. He knew that the game could have an emotional effect on me and he was there to console me. For all those years when the Sixers sucked, I would just drown myself in my own sorrow. But to have a little human be there to catch my tears when the Sixers eventually lose in the playoffs makes me almost look forward to the losses.
The game of basketball has always been dear to my heart. And as a father, I can see that it is already having a positive effect on the tiny heart of my tiny human.
Everyday there is something new with this guy. A young man with the whole world in front of him. He is in his last few days as an only child and he may no longer be the center of attention.
Over the past two years, he has grown in so many ways. He started talking at 9 months. Started walking at 13 months. Took a dump in the toilet at 2 years old.
As a father, there's always going to be some funny, sweet, rude, kind, and memorable moments. These articles are dedicated to the dad's who are really out there being present in their kids' lives.
These are The Dad Files.
December 24th, 2018
The Taste of Christmas
Everyone is gathered together at your great-grandmas house for Christmas Eve. Tamales, rice, and all kinds of Mexican desserts are spread across the kitchen. You've stuffed your faces for hours, absorbing energy in order to stay up until midnight to celebrate Christmas.
Family games are being played, and one in particular that is rather disgusting. There is a ball made completely of plastic wrap and it is filled with the jelly beans from the game Beanboozled. These jelly beans are tricky because half of them are regular flavors, and the other half are flavors like Boogers, Toothpaste, Dog Food, and Vomit.
The worst part about the game is that you don't know what the flavor is until you bite into it. Your family members are literally throwing up from some of the flavors. Having to tap out from disgust one bean into the game. But candy is candy, and you didn't care about the flavor.
After everyone was done playing the game, you wanted to get in on the action. You and your little cousin thought it would be a good idea to dig into the box of jelly beans. And before you guys could even begin, everyone got out their phones and was ready for the show.
The reactions you two were going to give were going to be too good not to record. These memories needed to be saved. But your reactions, or lack there of, was the best part.
Your cousin ate about two beans before his eyes started to water. He was struggling to finish his second bean, as anyone would. He wanted no part of anymore of those beans.
You, however, went the other way. You love candy so much, you did not care about how they tasted. You ate one bean, and then another, and then another, and then another... This went on for about five minutes.
With every bean you ate, you only grew happier. Dancing and jumping up and down because not only were you being allowed to eat candy, but you were being encouraged. About 20 beans in, your breath could be smelled from across the room. It finally got to the point where your dad was shouting and screaming "AJ PLEASE STOP! YOU'RE EMBARRASSING YOURSELF!"
Everyone had a nasty bean, but not you. You loved every flavor that touched your taste buds. Rotten Eggs, Stinky Socks, and Spoiled Milk. Nothing, NOTHING could shake you. You ate that shit like a champ. You won the game, but your reputation definitely took a hit.
So if you have ever burped and thought to yourself, "That smells like Canned Dog Food" now you know why AJ.