Tuesday, August 31, 2010

***The Final Post***

It's the end of the line for Dawn of the Dad. I've done 365 posts (one a day for a year) and my time as a stay at home dad is almost up. Tomorrow, I return to work as a teacher. The kids come in and the school year begins in earnest.

This last blog entry will sit atop all the other for all eternity. So to put a little cap on experience of blogging about my daily life there are a few things I want to do.

Explanation of this Blog

If you are perhaps a first-time visitor, here's a little backstory...

I took the last year off from working as a middle school teacher to stay at home with my daughter (referred to in this blog as Baby J). I began this blog so that family members who live far away could keep tabs on us and so I could keep a running record of my experience. I figured it would be cool to look back on it someday, to offer it to Baby J when she's old enough.

Dawn of the Dad also became a place where I could think out loud (or type out my thoughts out loud...whatever, you know what I mean). This process of reflecting and ranting and posting has given me valuable insights into the nature of family, fatherhood, and child-rearing. Over the course of the year, there have been some "valuable insights" which have developed into what you might call Super Mega Reflections, big ideas or perhaps major themes that involve parenting. Here they are...

Super Mega Reflections
  • Public libraries are the greatest thing on Earth. There is no doubt about it, libraries were what got us through this year. They have space, programs, and toys designed for little kids. They have a limitless supply of information and entertainment right there for you and your family. They want nothing more than for you to take from them all you can carry. And it's all for free. When you really sit and think about it, libraries are just amazing.
  • The parent who parents less parents best. I'm not advocating lassiez faire, total hands-off parenting. Keep your kids safe, of course. But, let them learn to fall and get up on their own. Let them learn to make decisions, screw things up, and then set them right again. Let them figure things out on their own. Someday you won't be around anymore and your kids will have to get along without you. Help prepare them for independence right from the very start.
  • When you care for a child, you must also care for yourself. Otherwise you will both suffer. Do what it takes to keep yourself healthy and sane. Sleep, eat, exercise, socialize with other adults. Whatever it takes. If you aren't a whole person, you cannot give of yourself in the way that children need you to.
  • Comparing children to one another is an ugly affair. Parents who measure their child against someone else's are really just exposing their insecurities and anxieties. I give you my solemn promise - your child will grow up to be big and strong and smart and happy. If not, your pediatrician will point out the red flags way ahead of time. So relax and find something else to talk about with other parents. I really don't care how many teeth your kid has.
Comment Policy

People seemed to enjoy making the occasional comment on my blog. And as much I appreciated the interaction, I'm afraid I will have to shut all that down now. The problem is that spammers love to post links to pornographic websites in the comments section. And for some weird reason, it's always in Chinese. So because of these Chinese spammers, as of September 1st, comments will no longer be a feature available on this blog. One feature that will be available, however, is a tidy, little table of contents.

Table of Contents
  • Firsts - This here is a list of all the milestones Baby J reached. First steps, first words, etc. Very useful if you are a Baby J historian.
  • Comics - When Dawn of the Dad first got started, I did a comic pretty much every other day. Though I couldn't keep up that pace, all told, I posted about 50.
  • Music - To celebrate milestones and to add a bit of variety to the blog, I posted about ten songs I'd written over the course of the year.
So there you have it. It's been a hoot. I hope you enjoy my musings.

Monday, August 30, 2010


Baby J seems to have a low frustration threshold these days. If she can't complete some task quickly enough or make herself understood, she moans and growls and does this strange, fake cry. I think it's because she's at the point where she can communicate a bit verbally and knows how to get her message across. But when words fail her, she goes straight to angry grunts for almost anything. She sounds like a little cave-baby.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Baby J is going through a biting phase. At least I hope it's a phase.

At school she's been chomping down on her friends left and right. My wife is scared she's going to get kicked out of school but they don't seem too worried about it there. Especially since Baby J only seems to bite in an affectionate way. It's only when her friends are giving her a hug or she's playing nicely with someone. Never out of frustration or anger.

Either way, I'll be happy when this phase is over.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Got Poo

Today, Baby J reached another milestone - an awareness of poopy.

She was playing with some toys when suddenly she stopped and came over to me. She was babbling on about something but I didn't quite understand. But then, quite clearly, she said, "got poo."

A quick sniff confirmed it and I whisked her off to be changed. I really didn't think much of it. But when I told my wife, she got really excited - giddy even! After that, I thought about it a bit and realized that this is the first step towards potty training, towards doo doo independence, and, most importantly, the end of me having to change poopy diapers.

That is certainly something to be giddy about.

p.s. The spell-checker on my computer put a little, wavy, red line under every reference to poop in this post. Apparently, the folks who programmed my computer did not feel it is important to put potty talk in the computer, they consider it all to be misspelled. Why is that? The more graphic, four-letter word for it passes muster but not "doo doo." Strange.

Friday, August 27, 2010


I got my first paycheck today. I'm making money again!

We've officially made landfall on this stay-at-home voyage. Even though we'd planned everything out well in advance, it's still hard to believe that we survived financially for almost two years with a single wage-earner.

When I look back at my time as a stay-at-home dad, I don't much think of the lean living. I don't think about the student loans I've amassed. I don't think about the wage earning potential I gave up. At this moment, now that I fully realize my stint as a stay-at-home dad is ending, I feel only a tremendous sense of accomplishment, I feel really proud that my family and I made a goal, stuck to our plan, and made it out the other side. In these tough economic times and in a way that most families don't operate, we followed made a decision, stuck to our guns, and it's really something to be proud of.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Listening To

Over the course of the year, I kept a running record of the music I was listening to while I wrote. Part of the reason I did this was to make recommendations to anyone who happened to be visiting Dawn of the Dad. But I've been keeping track of my musical meanderings for my own benefit too. For some reason, I feel like this will be important to me someday.

So, for your benefit and mine, here's an excel spreadsheet of all the Dawn of the Dad albums complete with comments from yours truly. Yes, it took me a long to do but I think you're worth it.

And if you want some more musical recommendations, here's an online list of 1001 albums you must hear before you die.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

We Only Accept the Love We Think We Deserve

A thought has been bouncing around my brain recently: we only accept the love we think we deserve. I think I read that somewhere. Maybe a fortune cookie. Maybe on a bathroom wall. I can't remember. Either way, I think it's a pretty profound statement.

I'm not going to comment too much on this little snippet of wisdom. It's probably better if it infects your brain the way it did mine. I just wanted to ruminate a bit on where our concept of self-worth comes from. Is there a preset, innate sense of self-esteem for each person? Is it something taught to us by our friends and family? Is it both? How is it that we decide how much we're worth?

Psychologists have probably written scores of books on this subject. I should probably check a few of them out of the library. After all, I want to make sure that Baby J grows up feeling good about herself and worthy of love.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Baby J acquires things over the course of a day so that, when it comes time for bed, we have to disinter her from her collection. For example...

Yesterday, my wife bought her a toy stroller. She, of course, needed a passenger - her teddy bear, Timmy. Then, she decided she wanted to put on a pair of my wife's shorts but they were a bit too big to stay up around her waist. I improvised and used a tutu to hold them up like a belt. Then she found my wife's cardigan and demanded that she wear that too. She spent the final part of the evening walking around like some bag lady, pushing her cart and ambling around in cast off clothing.

At the end of the day, when I went to give her a bath, I had to take all this away from her and more!

I wonder if, when she grows up, she'll be a hoarder.

Monday, August 23, 2010


I'm not on Facebook or any other social networking site so I don't really keep track of old friends via the internet. I try to keep up correspondence through emails and phone calls instead but it's a sad fact that some folks slip away as the years go by.

So when one of my friends said she wanted to get all our old pals together and do a BBQ, I thought it was a great idea. The date was set, the location picked, and all old friends tracked down. My family and I are driving out to see everyone over Labor Day and I'm really looking forward to it.

One of the coolest things about this BBQ is that everyone is bringing their kids with them. In the past few years, we've all been busy siring offspring and now they're all at the age where they can interact and meet each other. For some reason, I just think that's the cat's pajamas. I can't wait for Baby J to meet the other babies. I doubt she'll see anything really significant about it but for me it'll really be something special.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

FIRSTS: Sentence

Baby J's first complete sentence is:
"Where did it go?"
She said it the other day in the tub when the water drained out.

As far as first sentences go, this one is quite a doozy. I mean, how do you answer that? How do you explain that water is made of individual molecules that, by going down the drain, eventually rejoin the water cycle?

It's probably enough to just say it went down the drain but I try to give Baby J accurate information.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Daycare Update

In case you were wondering, Baby J has been adjusting well to daycare. She can nap there. She eats there. She has fun. She makes friends (she attacks some of them from time to time - we're still working on "nice touch"). She has no problem acclimating when we drop her off in the morning and comes home at the end of the day happy.

So far so good.

P.S. Only ten posts left until 365!

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Bard and Descendant Duties

My recent explorations into the works of Shakespeare has led me to take another look at Hamlet.

Hamlet has been fenced in by centuries of scholarly analysis so everything I say in this post is probably already out there somewhere. I doubt there's really anything new that can be said about Hamlet. But here's my take on it anyway.

Now that I'm dad, I see everything in a new way. The interactions of Hamlet and his family now makes me wonder how much we owe our families? Do we as parents ask too much of our children? Are we in some way bound to honor each others requests just because we are family? Is it our duty to oblige those we are descended from?

All of Hamlet's problems come to him because his family members make demands of him. He's basically just a solipsistic college kid who has grim responsibilities heaped on him until he buckles up the strain. I see that as the tragedy of the play. This young guy never gets a chance to live his life, never gets to fall in love because of his father's angry spirit, his uncle's murderous intrigues, and his mother's weird Oedipal thingamajiggy.

Of course, it's just a play, an expressionistic rendering of reality. But still, the plot of Hamlet could read as a cautionary tale for parents. It says don't place your burdens on your children no matter how pissed off you are. It says don't make unreasonable requests of your kids. Otherwise, you and your whole family end up stabbed and/or poisoned!

Listening To: Pacer by The Amps

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Back to Work

Today is the first day that I return to work in an official capacity. I thought I would have some grand realizations or insightful reflections about my time off and my return to work but I don't.

Well, maybe this one: Getting up really early sucks.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sick in Six Hours

I knew Baby J would get sick more frequently when she entered daycare - the doctor said an average of once every three weeks! - but our little lady was in daycare all of six hours when she came home with a runny nose and some crazy stuff going on in her diaper.

But we have to build up that immunity before she enters Kindergarten, right?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Yesterday, Baby J went down for her nap after coming home from daycare. Usually, she falls right to sleep for her nap but on this day she had a dirty diaper which kept her up. Apparently, she didn't much like sitting there in this dirty diaper and took matters into her own hands. Baby J unzipped her sleepsack, stripped off her poopy diaper, threw it across the room, and then fell asleep.

When she woke up she was cranky, uncomfortable, and flecked with poop from her less than surgical removal of the offending diaper. She went straight into the bath.

Usually cheery in the tub, Baby J was most upset this time, crying profusely. Afterwards, she looked so pathetic, teary eyed, dripping wet, and shivering. My wife offered her a hug which she gladly accepted. And to show just how appreciative she was of this hug, Baby J then peed all over the bathroom floor. She went straight back into the tub for scrub down.

I cleaned the floor.

All in all, this nap and the bath immediately after was a fiasco. But the worst part of it all was that, just as everything was reaching a fever pitch, our friends dropped by fir a visit. These young lovers are soon to be wed and don't have any kids yet. And I'm sure this napocolypse made an impression on them. We may have just changed their mind about having kids altogether.

Monday, August 16, 2010


If you've ever seen Finding Nemo, then you're familiar with the bubbly, blue fish Dori played by Ellen Degeneress.

Dori has some sort of fishie, short-term memory loss which leads to all sort of comical interactions. Over the course of the movie, she manages to overcome her disability and memorizes a single, vital piece of information, the address where the eponymous character Nemo is being held captive.

P. Sherman
42 Wallaby Way

Dori is so delighted that she can memorize this address that she says it again and again and again.

The other day, on the way to daycare, Baby J began reciting the list of words she knew in a loop and my wife remarked how much she sounded like Dori from Finding Nemo. I thought it was very funny and pretty accurate and I told her I would post it on my blog.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

End of the Poo Poo Palace

We've moved some things around our house. Bookshelves, tables, etc. As a result, Baby J's Poo Poo Palace, the place where she once went to play and produce a full diaper, has been dismantled.

I'm sad to see it go for a number of reasons. First of all, it was the only enclosed, self-contained area in the house where we could safely leave the baby and steal a few moments to sneak off to the bathroom. But even more than that, I'm sad to see the Poo Poo Palace gone because Baby J no longer has her own quiet corner in our home. The Poo Poo Palace was her own private property where there was no chance of injury, no one bothered her, she had all she needed, and got a little space to herself. We all need a little place to go and chill out by ourselves. Baby J probably doesn't care one way or the other but, for some reason, I do. Probably because I wouldn't mind having a little Poo Poo Palace of my own. Oh, wait a second...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Gray Area

I write a lot about Baby J's firsts but really there usually isn't a single first instance of anything. Not for walking, not for words, not for the first day of school. Everything involved with a child's growth and development seems to be a gradual transition. There is no sudden walking, no sudden words, etc. No stark black and white. At least not for Baby J. For her, everything blends from one stage to another in a large swath of gray. I'm guessing it's like this at every moment in a child's life. Even in utero.

Friday, August 13, 2010

School Daze

Today we began a process that probably won't finish up for another two decades. Today is the day Baby J went off to school all by herself.

We dropped her off with the staff and the other kids and then walked back up the hill thinking wistfully of our little love in the care of strangers. It was sad and sweet but we didn't really have much time to dwell on it. Our neighbor almost ran us over in her SUV and the whole fight or flight reflex kicked in.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Personality Study

Today's post is a link to a recent study that suggests people develop their personalities in childhood and that they do not change much at all through adulthood. That's good new for Baby J since she's got such a delightful disposition. I just hope she gets over the whole violent streak she's got. Check it out here.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Bard and the Universality of Young Love

I have strange and sporadic areas of interest. Sometimes it's science, sometimes it's history. Some times it's science, sometimes it's mathematics. Right now, its Shakespeare.

I've been listening to recorded lectures on him, watching productions of his plays, reading his sonnets. One of the goals of my exploration is to find out why Romeo and Juliet has such universal appeal and why it has endured as one of his most popular plays despite being written some 400 years ago.

I'm not academic so I can't give any sort of elaborate dissertation on the subject but I think it has something to do with young love and the universality of that deliriously dizzying feeling. Everyone falls in love when they are young and, sadly, pretty much every one of those small, sweet romances is doomed from the very start. Folks remember these early affairs fondly and somewhere (in the back of the back of the back of their minds) can still feel the smart of the breakup. I think it is these memories of young love and love lost which give Romeo and Juliet it's universal appeal.

Anyway, what's all this have to do with Baby J and being a father? Well, Baby J is not going to be a baby forever. She will become Teenager J and then Adult J and then Senior Citizen J at some point. And somewhere during those transitions she is likely to encounter young love and her first heartbreak. From my vantage point as an adult, I romanticize the past. I see all that as being very sweet and charming. But she might not feel the same way as she's going through it.

Who knows? It may be sweet and charming for her or it may be bruising and bewildering. Either way, I'm pretty much certain that it is a universal occurrence and when she comes out on the other end she will, at the very least, be able to appreciate Shakespeare a bit more.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Nice to Meet You or I Will Destroy Your Face

I don't know what it is but for some reason, whenever Baby J meets another child, she tries to scratch out their eyes.

Today at the mall. Yesterday at the library. At playgroup. At birthday parties. At the pool. She runs up to other kids and goes straight for the face. Needless to say, I'm a little concerned about this sort of anti-social behavior.

However, I'm beginning to suspect that this is just the way she introduces herself to other children. Like adults shake hands, Baby J shakes faces.

Or maybe I'm just making up excuses for my child's homicidal mania.

Listening To: Led Zeppelin 1 by Led Zeppelin

Monday, August 9, 2010

Moonlight Serenade

Last night, around 2:00 a.m., I awoke to hear Baby J singing from her room down the hall.
Keeyah, keeyah,
Uh dah dah de uh dah dah
Clean up, clean up
Everybody, Everywhere...
You might know this little ditty. We sing it to the baby whenever we're helping her to put her toys away. Why she was singing it at two in the morning, I'll never know. But if something's going to wake me in the middle of the night, I guess I'd prefer a singing baby over something else.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


The other day I saw a young mother feeding her toddler a cheeseburger from McDonald's.

When I was a kid, I used to love McDonald's. Going there was a real treat for me. But the older I got, the less appealing McDonald's was to me until finally I came to find it repulsive. But I'll always remember how cool it was as a kid.

Since I'm making the decisions about food for Baby J, she's never had McDonald's. And as long as I'm making the decisions about food, she probably never will. It's not that Im trying to shield her from gross, unhealthy food. It's just that I find it unappetizing so I why would I take my kid there.

But I know from being a kid once myself, raising a kid of my own, and teaching kids as part of my job, such behaviors of avoidance can create a sort of desirable forbidden fruit for kids. The more I shy away from McDonald's, the more Baby J will be interested in it. I guess at some point I'll have to take her there and give let her order what she wants. Otherwise, she'll probably grow up and go binge on Big Macs. Besides, McDonald's is just cool to kids.

And I have to admit, they make a good shamrock shake.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Baby J frequently goes into our closet and puts on one of my wife's shoes. Just one. Never two. If we try to take this one shoe away from her, she cries and moans and throws a fit.

Recently, she's discovered a pair of white gloves that she loves too. She needs help putting them on but once they're on, she hates to take them off.

Also, she's taken a shine to an old purse my wife doesn't use anymore.

And she's always had a thing for wearing my watch.

And two Livestrong bracelets we have.

Sometimes she puts them all on at once and stumbles around the house. She has zero fashion sense but she loves to accessorize. Maybe someday she'll be a trend-setting designer.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Sing, Sing, Sing, Sing

Baby J has been doing very well with learning how to communicate verbally. She has a large and diverse vocabulary at this point and is continually adding to it. But even more exciting than these new words are the new songs she's singing.

After months and months and months and months of singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star to her, she's finally figuring out how to sing it on her own. Same with Are You Sleeping? and The Wheels on the Bus. She hasn't quite got them down yet - for example, the honk on the bus goes beep, beep, beep a little bit longer than it should - but she is definitely progressing with her repertoire and I couldn't be happier about it.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Baby J is learning how to kiss and today I think she made her first official kiss. A proud mommy was the recipient.

You may be asking what constitutes an official kiss. Well, there are three parts.
  1. The kisser must first lean towards the kissee.
  2. The kisser must place his or her lips on the kissee.
  3. The kisser must make the appropriate kissy noise to ensure the transaction is complete.
And I'm proud to say that Baby J has mastered all three criteria.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Bully Babe

There have been several instances where Baby J was the victim of other aggressive children. I've blogged about it several times in the past. However, the tables have been turning and my beloved little angel has now become the perpetrator of violent acts on others. She has become a Bully Babe!

Today at playgroup, she ran over to one of her friends and clawed her face in a grisly attack. She whacked another kid in the head. She scratched my arm quite deliberately when I was getting her out of the car seat this morning.

I'm pretty sure this is just a developmental thing and that my job her is to discourage these violent tendencies as best I can. For a long time, she's been beating up on the cat and we've been practicing "nice touch." And I think we've started to see some progress with "nice touch" and the kitties. Now we just have to get it to generalize to all other living things.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Home Stretch

Alright! I'll admit it. I'm running out of gas with this blog. It's August now and my stint as a stay-at-home dad is in its final few weeks. I've been blogging for a year about the profound and the mundane. My world has been babies and bottles and binkies and boo boos and, now that I'm starting to return to the world of adults, it's hard to keep my focus on documenting the lives and times of a toddler.

So my posts have been less than stellar, the regularity with which I post diminished somewhat. But I committed to a year as a stay-at-home dad and I committed to a year of blogging and I will complete them both. There will be no Heartbreak Hill for Dawn of the Dad.

Monday, August 2, 2010


As mentioned in a previous post, Baby J was the flower girl in a wedding over the weekend. It was cute. We drove back this weekend. That's why I didn't post yesterday.

I have nothing further at this time.