My youngest is admittedly a mommy’s girl. She also just turned three this summer, and despite her age, still has a raging case of the terrible twos, where opinions are fierce and sensibilities are inconsistent.
I had two tickets to our Columbus Blue Jackets’ last home preseason game. Both of my older two kids have been fortunate enough to visit Nationwide Arena for a few games in the past. Given this was an exhibition, I figured this was a low risk, tremendous opportunity to indoctrinate my youngest to the game of professional hockey and a perfect time for some daddy/daughter time. Because she has two siblings around, I don’t always get many opportunities to hang with just her solo.
With a 7 pm puck drop, my plan was to get downtown early, settle into our seats for warm-ups, stay for the first period, and get back to the cozy confines of our home in time for a reasonable weeknight bedtime and avoid unleashing any toddler tantrums.
The first sign the night might go eskew occurred when I received an email at the close of business that the game was delayed a half hour due to issues with the St. Louis Blues’ (the Jackets’ opponent) airplane. This gave us some surplus flexibility, which is always appreciated when doing anything with children.
All was well until we hit unforeseen highway traffic navigating to the arena. What should’ve been a 20 minute drive, doubled in duration, and my leisurely pregame plans were tightened significantly.
We parked, and instead of moseying to the game, I threw my daughter on my shoulders for the two-block walk to save time (and her stubby little legs). No friction entering the arena, buying her a treat (Sour Patch Kids which she insisted she’d like, but didn’t at all) and getting to our seats - all with minutes to spare before the new alleged puck drop.
Both teams came onto the ice to warm up at 7:30, but after ten minutes or so, went back into their respective locker rooms. To my confusion, the scoreboard then displayed another 15-minute countdown. Then I realized - this game wasn’t going to start until 8 pm.
This obviously threw off our intended itinerary, and any three-year-old can prove to be a ticking time bomb, ignited by any number of unforeseen circumstances. To my daughter’s credit, she was as happy as I’ve ever seen her. And most importantly, we were having a blast just hanging out together, which was exactly what I needed.
Finally the game started, and we stayed for only half of the first period. Satisfying for me was watching an incredible first shift by our new top line which resulted in a goal a minute into the game.
We took the customary photo in front of the cannon, and scooted out the door for the car (again, her perched on my shoulders). It goes without saying, but I highly recommend taking your kids to a Columbus Blue Jackets game. Plenty of activities to take advantage of and a true family-friendly environment. This was over two weeks ago now, and she is still constantly talking about the Blue Jackets.
On the drive home, another familiar parenting curveball occurred: we hit traffic again. Absolutely uncanny to deal with traffic at off hours on both legs of our travel in Columbus. Both situations were car accidents, and in both, it appeared everyone was ok, which is clearly most important. Again, my daughter took the delay in stride, even insisting that we listen to the game on the radio in the car.
Serendipitously (and maybe intentionally on her part), she dug out Night Night Daddy to read at bedtime - a book no one in my household has chosen for this ritual in a long time.
Life as a parent is a frenzy, and this night was no different. But none of these minor parenting curveballs detracted from what was outstanding time well spent bonding with my youngest child, who just may end up being the biggest hockey fan within my crew.
That Time I Ate Bear Poop
There is a new favorite story in our household. Much like the “feather wand” episode of Bluey, this story is on repeat almost every hour. It’s not the personal triumph of wearing pull ups or graduating into pre-school. No sir. It’s that time I ate bear poop.
Let me give you a little context on this fecal spectacular. I was hiking with our son and some friends who had their four-year-old with them. While on the trail in the White Mountains, I stayed back and found the exciting excrement from a black bear on the side of the trail. By that I mean I chewed up a Tootsie Roll and placed it over the wrapper, placed it on the trail and yelled in excitement.
The two ran towards me with excitement. The crouched down to examine it with me. I proceeded to show them the texture, how it is still wet which means its fresh. When one of the little explores asked how I knew it was of a black bear, I showed them features followed by taking a bite out of it. While chewing curiously, I explained how typically these bear eat berries and it tends to be sweeter in taste. They were equal parts stoked and sick to their stomachs. To where I lost my composure and began telling them what it really was.
For the remainder of the trip, I was called out for eating poop and for telling lies. Ever since, I’ve almost had daily tellings of the story. Grandma knows now, the high schooler with super-fast bagging skills at Giant Eagle knows and now you do too. I ate bear poop, and I liked it.
In my past life I was a tripping guide in Maine and New Hampshire. For months, I led age-appropriate hikes through trails and on mountains for kids ages 8-15. I learned some fun games and pranks to pull on kids along the way. This particular prank I waited years to pull on my own son, and I seized that opportunity.
This was something I’ve always wanted to do and had the opportunity to make a memory with more than just my own son. We’ll cherish this for years to come. I’m willing to bet the other half of the Tootsie Roll that it will be brought up on our next hike, and I totally welcome it.
While recently a presenter at the HomeDadCon in Phoenix, put on by the National At Home Dad Network, I had the opportunity to learn from men who care for their families full time. I heard countless stories of memories these men have made with their children during even the most simple of daily tasks. One man shared a story that struck me hard. Because of physical challenges he’s unable to help his child overcome challenges with sports, especially when he sees how awful his son is at it. After hearing his story and wiping countless tears from my face, all I could think about were all the times I put off or denied an opportunity with my son that I’m completely capable of doing. There’s no reason not to jump all in!
As I am retold the story of how I ate bear poop on our vacation, I think of it as the building block of how moving forward as a dad and husband I will not put off making another memory because “I’m not able to right now” or because “it’s too hot to go outside and play baseball.” If I’m capable, I’m going to make our own fun and do what Robin Williams suggested “Carpe Diem,” seize the bear crap.
-Matt Lofy, regular contributor
The start of the new school year is rapidly approaching. Fears of new classrooms and classmates are building, while we adults are trying to navigate these rocky conversations with our children.
The Dadass Podcast recently had on Ariana Hoet, PhD, clinical director for On Our Sleeves at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, who provided a lot of meaningful ways we as parents can begin making a difference now. Hoet works in Pediatric Primary Care where she serves primarily Latino and Somali immigrant children. She is also a clinical assistant professor of Pediatrics in the Department of Pediatric Psychology and Neuropsychology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and The Ohio State University.
She recommends starting these conversations 2-3 weeks before school. Whether your kids are going into preschool or high school, begin asking open ended questions to truly see how your kids are feeling. These questions open it up for true feelings and thoughtfulness in responses.
One of the most downloaded resources on the On Our Sleeves website is their conversation starter. We’ve linked two resources for overall conversation starters and for back-to-school conversations to help lead conversations at home.
To hear the full conversation with Dr. Hoet and all her tips related to going back to school, building empathy within your kids and more click here.
On the 84th episode of The Dadass Podcast we chat with professional brewer and operations manager for Wolf’s Ridge Brewing Adam Hickernell. This craft beer artisan and girl dad talks all things beer, grilling and starting a hot sauce company, Burrito Belly Hot Sauce, with his wife.
On the episode we taste and learn all about Daybreak, a nationally recognized coffee vanilla cream ale; AJ's Umbrella Ride, their first foeder-aged golden lager; and Chocolate Dire Gorgon. We also learn of Adam’s longtime dream to brew a cold IPA set to be served in the coming weeks at Wolf’s Ridge.
Between discussions of his family, being married for 10 years (together for 18) with his wife, we learn about what it’s like to work with his wife on a passion project. Our taste buds are lit up with flavors and heat as we try three different hot sauces.
Recently I’ve felt like a fraud as a father. Maybe you feel the same way. Maybe it’s just me.
As work picks up, and the sleep at night never seems to be enough, I honestly feel I’ve been going through the motions as a parent and as a husband. I’ve felt at time numb to what’s really going on. While the stress builds, and we avoid stepping on little army men and race cars throughout our home, I’ve found that I’ve lacked a true sense of what it means to be fully present.
At work, I feel I go a thousand miles a minute up to the point that I am forced to come home to go even faster to work in dinner, play time and a bath, just to get the little guy to bed with only two renditions of “Peace on Earth” being sung. It’s a lot and these moments go by and right unto the next. I don’t know how those of you with two or three kids do it.
At the same time, we’ve gotten hooked on (myself included!) rewatching Sing 2 on Netflix. If you haven’t experienced this animated film, it’s brilliantly done with a rockin’ soundtrack, knockout cast and surprisingly awesome storyline. I’ll just drop this little gem right here for you.
There’s a scene where Johnny the gorilla is singing an epic version of Coldplay’s “Sky Full of Stars” while battling a villain. He gets beaten down unexpectedly only to be encouraged by a friend to get back up and finish. He gets up, gathers himself and finishes the number acapella, while beating his challenger. Our son loves this version of the song, and the soundtrack includes the full rendition of this number. At this point in time, I can definitively tell you how many times you can play the song on a trip to Papa's house or the nearby mall, if that paints a picture how many times we've heard it.
There is a part in the scene where the friend begins to bang on a trash can, which sounds much like a drum. Perfectly on cue when this happens, our little guy asks from his car seat, “What’s that noise?” Like clockwork, even on the fifth playing of the song, we get asked. It’s as super cute as it’s super annoying.
But it’s moments like that where we can now share in a moment, we can sing a song and live in the same moment that I realize the need in my life: the need to just be.
Who cares if we have an earworm of a song stuck in our head. It’s a moment we’ll one day think back and cherish. When we watch the movie years down the road, we’ll relive a moment. A particular moment that outweighs the baggage I’m unfortunately carrying and bringing home at this moment and that’s only worth a sky full of…wait, what’s that sound?!
-Matt Lofy, The Dadass and CBUS Dads contributor
A Massive Dad Moment
If you recall years ago hearing a heroic tale of a wealthy antagonist stealing from the poor throughout his kingdom only to wind up losing in the end, I’m sure you can relive the uplifting spirit you were left with.
In this particular tale, I’m referring to four years ago when a former Columbus Crew SC owner, whose name shall remain out of this post, attempted to steal our hometown soccer club from us. As a result, many, including myself, passionately supported the Save the Crew movement. After a grueling grassroots effort, the fans won and kicked his sorry tail out of here.
In many of my personal and professional circles, I made my feelings known of this man, resulting in me becoming a go to source for updates with those I came into contact. Although, not actively involved like those who led the movement, I did my part in the ways that I could. During one conversation in a professional setting someone asked me, “why are you so invested in saving the team?”
It was an easy answer: "because one day I want to share the experience of going to a match and the joys it’s brought me with a future little Loafer.”
That day that I had dreamt about came on Sunday, July 3 when I got to take my son to his first match. Completely last minute and prompted during a living room soccer match when he said he wanted to “go watch soccer.” I messaged our Crews Crew Facebook chat, confirmed all my friends who are still season ticket holders were going and bought tickets two hours before kick-off.
With a solid three-hour long nap for the little guy and a makeshift diaper bag packed with the bare necessities we set off. Singing the entire ride down to the LDC, we were both amped up. Of course, this didn’t happen smoothly thanks in part to a minor injury in the parking lot. After quickly triaging a skinned knee the two of us met friends for a happy hour beer and soda. With drinks in hand, we met Crew Cat, got scared of Crew Cat, got free ice cream, and greeted everyone with a “go Crew!”
In attempts to not lose his attention, we broke from the group so he could walk around and see the pitch for the first time in person. The moment his little eyes locked in on that thick, bright sea of green accompanied by the magnitude of his first soccer stadium made me realize how massive of a moment this was. All the passionate and sometime colorfully articulated reasons why the Crew should be saved became more than just saving a soccer club - it was for this very moment in time.
Kickoff was at his bedtime, so we didn’t last long. For a kid who has no attention span and doesn’t stay seated long, he slowly chewed his pretzel and took in the first half. Between the occasional “go Crew” and “I want to go down there to play soccer” requests he was locked in. This first match experience was everything I had hoped, as I experienced an immense amount of love for those hours of July 3. It may have been a 0-0 draw, but I went home the winner that evening.
-Matt Lofy, Regular Contributor
I remember saying when our son was only months old, “I can’t wait until he’s more fun.” Then he started to walk , which quickly escalated into a hurried, unbalanced shuffle.
Not long after, I remember saying, “I can’t wait for him to talk.” He’s two and a half now, and that boy doesn’t stop. There’s no off switch or mute button on the kid. I’d like to think he gets it from his mother, but I’m the one with the podcast!
There’s a couple of memorable phrases he now often says. For instance, if you ask him if he had a good day at daycare, he’ll have a reflective look on his face and reply as if he’s a philosopher “I did…and I didn’t.” It’s also the same answer when we ask him if he gave his cheese stick to the dog.
The one that really hit home recently, is his improper use of “that’s impossible.” It can be one of the most mundane stories from work or when we ask if it was he who tooted. He responds with an exacerbated tone, “what…that’s impossible.” Son, I assure you I sat through that meeting at work, and I also got a fresh whiff of the smell when you ran by me.
For me personally, his “what…that’s impossible,” quite possibly can be the most thought-provoking phrase I’ve heard in recent memory. I’ve found myself reflecting in regard to his progress through the past months. It’s impossible at two and a half, that he’s carrying the garbage bag on trash night showing me how it’s done. While I mow the lawn, he now tells me to straighten my lines. It’s impossible that he is aware enough to notice that.
There is so much joy in hearing that phrase come out of his mouth. Although used improperly, his response is genuine excitement in the things we as adults lack the same sentiment. It has provided a reason to stop and take stock in the possibilities this little chatter box has currently before him and in the months ahead.
It’s a reminder that in the words of Walt Disney, "it's kind of fun to do the impossible.” If the little guy can’t believe it happened, then as his dad I can keep surprising him and finding ways to blow his mind. I have the opportunity as a father to put aside what I believe are simple joys and just cherish the moments that I can provide him the memories of the impossible.
My question for you Dads who read this is simple, “What are you doing for your little one(s) to make the impossible, possible?”
-Matt Lofy, Regular Contributor
It’s no surprise that most kids look forward to summer vacation all year long. After all, who wouldn’t want more time to relax, have fewer responsibilities and enjoy great weather for fun activities?
While summer should be enjoyable, we also need to think about ways to keep some structure at home. Children’s mental health actually thrives when we give them routines and rules; plus, too much freedom may lead to boredom. When children don’t know what to do, they may gravitate to their smartphones, tablets or laptops, and too much screen time may raise the risk of anxiety, depression or obesity.
An added bonus to a summer routine? The transition back to school will go more easily.
Here are some suggestions of ways to help your child maintain structure this summer:
Looking for more ideas to keep kids mentally healthy over the summer? Head over to OnOurSleeves.org and sign up for our free e-community for weekly emails with a different recommendation from our behavioral health experts at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. You can also follow us on Instagram or Facebook.
This was a guest post by Ariana Hoet, PhD; Clinical Director of On Our Sleeves® and Pediatric Psychologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital
Another Father’s Day is fast approaching. As we prepare to get another pair of funny socks or some sort of weapon needed in our arsenal of weekend warrior tools, let us make this Father’s Day a little different.
As we reflect on being a father, and being a partner, let us take a moment to think about the things we really need more of. Those gifts that will truly make us happier and make a lasting difference in our lives:
While channeling our inner Brene Brown here, it is true. Vulnerability is the “birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity.” Imagine the freedom we will truly experience when we let go of anxiety and ask for help. Taking it a step further, the powerful life lesson we pass on to our little ones when they see Dad being vulnerable.
We are currently switching to a big boy bed at home and slowly going into potty training. Vulnerability has never been more evident in our household than now, but it is also a needed companion, as my wife and I navigate these delicate and often messy times.
Like any part of our lives, albeit work, home, extracurricular, etc., we need to find a community of men to share ideas with and to learn from. Maybe your dad still calls the remote “the clicker” and talks about the days of Reagan, but imagine the wealth of knowledge he can pass down on to you as a dad. Think about those friends who had kids before you and the years ahead they are on potty training, travel soccer and college prep. Pick their brains, learn from them.
We began our podcast and partnered with local dad blog CBUS Dads to ensure we were part of a community trying to learn more and be the best versions of themselves. Blindly beginning a podcast, but meeting so many amazing people along the way has been worth the countless hours put into this passion project. It may be challenging at first to find, but is worth its weight in gold, nuggets of information shared among like minded people.
We need to stand up and stand out on things that hold us back from truly "dadding." Like more changing tables in men’s rooms and gender-neutral bathrooms at our favorite public places. Teaming up with CBUS Dads, we are currently hosting a Dadvocate for Change campaign advocating for just this. We have talked to businesses, had conversations with elected officials and even partnered with mom-owned Pluie, who has hit the Columbus market with the first of its kind self-sanitizing changing table.
Families come in all different shapes and sizes, meaning there are many more areas of our communities and psyche we need to Dadvocate for. We have had numerous stay-at-home dads on our podcast who shared the unchartered waters of striking up conversations with moms typically at playgrounds, while attempting not to look like they are making a pass at them. Imagine a Dad trying to get his child into a playgroup but is left out because Mom is not a part of it. We all can give the gift of Dadvocating for change!
Sure, another bottle of bourbon from a local distiller is never frowned upon and anything to help up the lawn mowing game is always a strong gift, but let us take a moment this month to look at what gift(s) will truly help us this year.
Stay strong Dadass.
-Matt Lofy, Regular Contributor
We’ve all been there with kids, whether it’s in the car, at home or even at the park; no matter where you are, kids seem to find a way to use the phrase “I’m bored.” Your first instinct may be to supply them with an endless supply of ideas, after all we are here to help, right? I’m here to encourage you to simply respond by acknowledging their statement and feelings, but allow them to figure out what comes next. This might sound something like “I’m really sorry to hear that, I know I don’t like feeling that way. You are so creative I know you’ll figure something out!” There are two parts to this answer that are important:
By validating their feelings they will feel heard and seen. Sometimes we might feel frustrated at the very idea that they could be bored given all the things they have at their disposal for entertainment. We also may be having a time where things are busy in our adult lives and might even feel a slight bit of wishing our lives would slow down enough to feel bored. Try to recognize that feeling as your own and leave space for their feeling too. Remember, they are used to being in school with their friends all day where they do art, PE, swimming, reading, recess, and more. Summer time is a big shift for them so they are adjusting to a slower pace. If we respond negatively to their statement this immediately shuts down conversation as well as any bit of creativity they might have (and they’ll need that later to fix the boredom). Having your feelings shut down never feels good so try to remember to always start with a statement that validates what they are feeling, it will open a connection and make them feel as though you are listening to them.
Encouraging without suggesting is where things get tricky. As adults who care for children we often want to see them happy, healthy and thriving. The desire to see them happy can place us in the role of fixer of problems. Stepping in to help guide a child and assist them in fixing a problem has a time and place, but I am here to tell you this is not one of them. When we start suggesting solutions to their boredom problem we are unintentionally reinforcing the idea that they cannot fix the problem themselves. We are taking away their power as intelligent, creative, capable beings that can navigate their way through this feeling. By reminding them of some of their strengths and encouraging them to use them to solve the problem on their own you are telling them “you got this, I believe in you.”
Summer is an amazingly fun time for many children. Remember, bored is not a dirty word, just a skill that needs to be intentionally developed and cultivated. By encouraging them to use the skills they already possess, we are helping them to trust themselves to solve their own problems. Feeling bored can increase a child’s creativity, problem solving skills and much more. I sincerely hope your summer is filled with many fun activities and enjoyable experiences - with a little boredom too!
-Shaun Ditty, Regular Contributor
CBUS Dads is a community of central Ohio area dads balancing an active lifestyle with being an involved parent. A Saturday for us may involve enjoying morning t-ball, lunch at a new local spot and an evening at a summer festival with our families. We may live downtown, in the suburbs or somewhere between, but our common thread is that we continue to experience the community we love - now as parents.