I've only been a father for 17 weeks. Really. Hard to believe but, thus far, the sum total of my parenting experience has been the short time I've spent with my beautiful, little infant daughter. Yet apparently I've become some sort of repository (or perhaps suppository) of parenting information. I literally get dozens of e-mails a day asking me for parenting advice. This is either evidence of the true dearth of adequate parenting literature available or further proof that some people will do absolutely anything to avoid reading a book. Regardless, I've decided to publish the answers to your questions in what will now become a regular part of the blog. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to The MetroDad Mailbag.
Dear MetroDad...I generally like my kids and want to bond with them. However, my problem is that I have no idea what they're saying. Even though we're white and live on a farm in Ohio, they speak like rappers from Compton! All they want to do is wear baggy Rocawear jeans, smoke blunts and bust caps. I can't relate! Can you help me?
-Bobby Joe. Greenville, Ohio
Bobby Joe...Out of the panoply of annoying things that irk my soul, I have to say that white kids talking like rappers is probably number one on my list. However, it's clear that your kids feel opressed to the point where they've co-opted African-American culture as their own. Whereas most rappers are rebelling against the socio-economic inequities prevalent in an America that they deem racist, your children are most likely rebelling against having to milk the cow at 4:00 in the morning. So what can you do? Join 'em. Dress like Wu Tang, walk like Ja Rule, and talk like Snoop. Take that Dodge Caravan minivan and pimp the shit out of it. Go low rider or bust out for the 22" rims. And when your kids ask you what you're doing? Tell them "Yo dog, Big Baby is droppin' bombs in the hizzouse, kids. Damn, he stupid fly when he gets bizzle at the grizzle." Because the only thing more annoying than a white kid acting ghetto is a grown man acting ghetto. You'll make them see the folly of their ways. Trust me on this one.
Dear Metro...I'm a new father and I haven't quite figured out what kind of parent I want to be for my daughter Nicole. I think the best way to explain my philosophical conundrum in regard to parenting is by way of making an analogy to my favorite 80's TV show, "My Two Dads." Part of me wants to be a protective, overbearing father like Paul Reiser. But another part of me yearns to be an open, free-spirited parent like Greg Evigan. Is there any way I can achieve this balance? What do you think?
-Joey. Tiburon, Ca.
Joey...Are you fucking trying to piss me off? Did one of my friends from 6th grade put you up to this? Because nobody (and I mean NOBODY) was more pissed off than I was when NBC cancelled "Gimme a Break" in favor of "My Two Dads". Nell Carter was the pure embodiment of household love and harmony. Just when you thought she was going to go ballistic on you, she'd do something sweeter than sugar and make you fall in love with her all over again. Many a life lesson was learned from dear old Nell. Tough love, baby. Tough love.
Anyway, on the off chance that you're actually serious, I'll answer your question. It's actually interesting because there seems to be a trend whereby parents are desiring to be their child's best friend. Personally, I'm against this. Children need structure and guidelines. The parental boundaries must be clearly delineated. Though you may feel uncomfortable in the role, I think you'd be wise to follow the parenting philosophy of Paul Reiser. In the long run, I firmly believe that a protective parent works out best for everyone. After all...where the fuck is Greg Evigan now?
Dear MetroDad...I grew up in a non-violent Buddhist family that practiced passive resistance and empathy for all living creatures. However, my children are the offspring of Satan. My spouse and I have tried time outs, grounding, counseling, pleading and reasoning. But nothing seems to be working. I think we're going to resort to some good old-fashioned spanking. Any suggestions or tips regarding this matter?
-MoonUnit. Sherman Oaks, CA.
Dear MoonUnit...modern society dictates that corporal punishment is politically incorrect. I only wish someone had mentioned this to my dad this when I was 9 years old and I spraypainted his brand-new car to make it look like General Lee, the fastest car in all of Hazzard County. Dad was a tennis player so he preferred to use the backhanded slap. But whether you're a golfer, tennis player or baseball player, I think the key elements remain the same. The most important part of a good old-fashioned beating or spanking remains the follow-through. (An excellent reference source that has passed the test of time is Ted Williams, "The Art of Hitting.")
MetroDad...I'm a SAHD. Not only does my wife work full-time but she's also extremely successful and earns over $1 million per annum. To make things easier for her, I do a lot around the house. I clean the house. I do all the errands. I send the kids off to school. I even have dinner ready for her every night. But lately, she's been doing things that I can't stop thinking about. The other day, she bought me a pink apron with the word "mom" embroidered on it. And last weekend? After we made love, she slapped me on the ass, turned her back on me and fell asleep. No cudding or anything! I was so hurt, I whimpered and cried myself to sleep that night. I feel so unappreciated. All I want to do is keep a happy home for her. But what can I do to let her know that I'm a living, breathing human being with real feelings?
-Mr. Mom. Bethesda, Maryland.
Dear Mr. Mom...Remember the movie "Indecent Proposal", where Robert Redford offered Woody Harrelson $1 million to sleep with Demi Moore for a weekend? Well, I hate to say this but you're Woody and Demi. On the one hand, you've been objectified and stripped of your sexual freedom. But on the other hand, you're getting some serious coin. Personally, you might want to reconsider your situation. I know the grass is always greener but I'm sure that there are a ton of guys who would switch places with you. I've lived in Bethesda and I know that $1 million per year goes pretty damn far there. My suggestion to you is that whenever you're feeling unappreciated, go to the mall in Chevy Chase and buy yourself something pretty...like a big fucking pink Porsche! And as for your wife falling asleep on you after sex? My God, man! That's why ESPN shows Sportsccenter at 11:00!
Dear MD...With all the Michael Jackson coverage on the news, I thought it would be a good time to speak to my children about the dangers of pedophilia. I've warned them about speaking to strangers or getting into cars with people that they don't know. So far, the kids have taken my lessons well. They're good kids and we generally live in a pretty safe area. But tonight, we were all watching television again and, as part of the Jacko trial, the local news showed part of the video for "We Are the World." I had a beer at dinner but I could have sworn that I saw Dan Akroyd singing in the background! Are my eyes deceiving me? What the hell is Dr. Detroit doing in that video? And as if it wasn't bad enough, I think he was standing next to Dylan!
-Pissed off in Philly!
Dear Pissed off in Philly...I hear you, man. 43 of the world's greatest musicians and Dan Akroyd? Apparently, he was sleeping with Anne Murray and snuck in a side door. Seriously, man. Nobody knows how this happened. There's a rumor that Stevie Wonder thought the Blues Brothers were a real band but there's been no confirmation. And as my good friend Bill Simmons has said, the sports equivalent of this was Jimmy Fallon kissing Drew Barrymore -- on the field, on live TV -- right after the Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years. In fact, they were shown in a close-up within 60 seconds of the final out! And as disgusting as that was to witness, true Red Sox fans try not to let that one disturbing image taint the moment. I suggest you do the same in regard to Mr. Akroyd. (In a side note, BossLady and I were at dinner a few months ago at a trendy Vietnamese restaurant in Tribeca. Dan Akroyd was at the table next to us. He looked like a bloated version of my grandmother...and she's been dead for 20 years.)
Ok, friends. That's the inaugural edition of the MetroDad mailbag. For the next edition, feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail. As always, MetroDad is here to answer those parenting questions that you can't get answered anywhere else.