This 4th of July, me and my family planned a trip to visit with Marti‘s cousin and her kids in Kingston, Massachusetts before heading up to Bath, New Hampshire to their cabin for some time in the mountains.
It was a really nice trip. The weather was a refreshing change (it still got pretty warm during the day, but with much less humidity than Florida, and it cooled off in the evenings) and the terrain and landscape were also a very welcome change coming from the monotonous and flat swamps of Florida.
I happened to spend 4th of July there and so participated in the town’s 4th of July parade, which is kinda cheesy and stale, but it’s something to do for the day. However, despite trying to fit in on the 4th of July, my American family still tried to send me to my grave by sitting me such that my chair fell through the deck and the balcony railings. Fortunately, I stopped just shy of falling over the edge and slept with one eye open for the remainder of my trip.
Previously, I felt disqualified to talk on such matters because I didn’t have kids but now as a parent of 2 I think I get to have my say.
Frankly, my position hasn’t much changed since before I had kids. If you have children, my first position if that you should avoid taking them anywhere where they can be disruptive in the first place. In general, Martina and I avoid going to restaurants with the kids unless we have a good degree of certainty that they’ll be well-behaved.
I have both a son and a daughter and in many respects, they are like night and day.
When Ellie was 9 months old, you could hear the winds of change: she was starting to scoot about and explore, but nothing was in danger.
With Jack, it’s less like the winds of change and more like a hurricane. Destruction threatens your house at any moment and when the hurricane and floodwaters come, anything that you treasure needs to be at least three feet off the ground to have the best chance of survival.
In fact, if possible, you should suspend everything in your house from the ceiling, creating a three-foot clear zone at the bottom where only items that you don’t mind seeing broken, consumed, torn, licked, thrown or destroyed should go.
A few weekends ago, Marti and I visited St. Augustine, Florida. It was part of a Christmas present to me: a 2-night getaway from the kids with just Martina in tow. We had a great time exploring the city, but the best part without a doubt was when we visited the St. Augustine Distillery.
The Ice Plant’s history
The St. Augustine Distillery opened just a couple of years ago (March 2014) after successfully securing ownership of the former “Ice Plant” on Riberia St. This Ice Plant opened up as a power plant around 1907 and they started producing ice soon thereafter as the city began to boom in order to support tourism and commerce (such as providing fishermen with a way to keep their fish fresher for longer).
The plant closed down in the 60s and lay dormant for many years before real estate developers who wanted to tear it down to make room for new condos snapped it up in the early 21st century and subsequently lost it in the downturn. The community bandied together with a common goal to save this historic building and the St. Augustine Distillery was born.
Yesterday, I read an article which my wife sent me. The subject matter is something that I’ve been considering for quite a while as I think to how we spend countless weekends bouncing from one thing to the next before finally crashing on Sunday night and going our separate ways again on Monday morning. The title of the article?
Busy is a sickness
The article really resonated with me. Ever since having kids especially, I just feel like there’s not time for anything because we’re always so booked up with menial things.
It’s been a pleasant and enjoyable Christmas this year. Ellie had her moments where the excitement got the better of her and her behaviour wasn’t up to scratch, but other than that, it’s been really nice spending some time with family, keeping it moderately low-key and playing some games.
We spent yesterday making a trip to Ikea getting a new bed frame to go with the new mattress that I got Martina for Christmas which was a lot of fun. While we ate lunch at the cafe (they have a lot of good vegan options!), we got this adorable picture of Jack:
We ended the day by going to Hofbrauhaus in St Pete – a new German restaurant, which is a lot of fun. They have live music, vegan food (surprisingly good) and a lot of singing and dancing. Great end to the day.
I’ve never considered myself to be particularly attractive and I’ve never really noticed women taking much of an interest in me. But there was a clear difference in how women looked at me after one particular event in my life: having children and being a half-decent dad.
Ever since having kids, women look at me completely differently. I by no means think that I am the greatest dad in the world, but I’m certainly above-average (which, to be fair, isn’t too hard given how low the bar has been set by many men). When women see my out with my kids – cuddling them, playing with them, encouraging them and teaching them – I invariably become 10 times more attractive and get much more longing gazes.
All of this is very gratifying, but it makes me wonder: are these women being blinded by my above-average fathering and missing everything else that hasn’t been of much interest over the past 30 years, or am I coming into my own as a dad?
Either way I’m flattered by the attention, even though ironically, it took finding the most amazing woman who saw in me what others didn’t and having children with her, such that I’m completely unavailable, for anyone else to even bat an eye.
I was born in 1985. As I was growing up, the music of the 80s was fairly current, 70s was a bit dated, but music from the 60s was really old. The 50s and earlier was prehistoric and I’m not sure that I really heard too much music that predates the 60s.
Thinking about this is somewhat bizarre because in reality, the 60s were as recent as just 16 years prior to my birth, but that segues nicely into my next point.
Circumcision is a hot topic in the US. It’s a discussion that until I moved here wasn’t even something that I ever thought about. To me, it’s a bizarre practice rooted in either religious doctrine or bad medical advice that just won’t die and most people who are not American, Jewish or Muslim would tend to agree.
In the UK, circumcision is uncommon. Along with countries like Australia and Canada, the UK made a decision to stop routinely practicing it on newborn boys in the middle of the 20th century after medical research increasingly pointed to it being more dangerous than leaving the foreskin intact.
This excellent lecture by Ryan McAllister, a research assistant professor at Georgetown University removes the misinformation and emotions from the equation and just looks at the argument intelligently.
Maternity/paternity leave is not something that we should be thankful for. It’s a fundamental need for new parents to bond with their children and recover from birth. It promotes the wellbeing of mother and child, reduces post-natal depression and gives mothers the support they need to make it through the early days of raising a child and be able to choose whether or not to have another child without being forced to stop at 1 because they had such a horrendous experience or because it cost them so much to do the only thing they could to spend a little time with their newborn child: take unpaid leave.
As highlighted in the talk, there are 9 countries in the world that have no national requirement for paid maternity leave. The first 8 have a combined population of 8 million and include countries like Papua New Guinea, Suriname and the Marshall Islands. The 9th is the United States with a population of 320 million. How the United States can continue to claim that it would be such a burden on employers or the state is beyond me. Literally everyone else has done it: stop hiding behind this bullshit America and give new mothers the paid leave they need.