Dad’s Clues

by: Greg | Filed under Dad's Clues, Parenting

No offense, but who’s the slob? I’m not judging here, I simply started to reflect on how we choose to present ourselves and I’m just fleshing it out and…well, I’m just looking for some answers.

In the realm of self presentation, when does the gender division ramp up within couples? I ask because we’d just returned from a mini Bahamas vaca and I couldn’t help but notice that a large number of women looked healthy, they seemed to refrain from throwing on any old, college T and overall, they generally cared about how they presented themselves. On the contrary, their male counterparts looked like they were just awoken, their college T would have been a better choice and they carried themselves like it was their final day on Survivor!

Mind you, I’m a creative that wears jeans 6 out of 7 days, and I’ve never had a subscription to GQ, so while there might be a fashion discrepancy between my wife and myself, I care to look unlike I just emerged from the darkest depths. And while my sense of style might be different, I care to look presentable.

I understand we were on vaca where people are free to relax but that doesn’t mean a razor shouldn’t come into contact with their face or that they have to wear the shirt which they wear to acid wash their roof every fall!

I’m also okay with the fact that more men than women will prefer Home Depot toys over items di’ beauty or personal care gadgetry. What  does concern me, on the flip side, is when great care in oneself emerges from insecurity…a necessity to do it for others or some similar old fashioned attitudes. However, self love comes 1st, regardless of gender.

I just hope that if my daughters chose to spend enough money to send their facialist’s or personal trainer’s kids to college, it’s because it makes my daughters feel good…and if others benefit from their choice, that’s simply gravy. Yes, it’s nice when spouses care to better themselves for each other, but within reason…for they are people and not dolls. With that said, if the husband prefers to present himself as the Yedi, shouldn’t that be okay if every other aspect seems to be tended to in the relationship? Couldn’t Belle still love the beast without him transforming back into a handsome prince?! Or do you think an unkept fashion sense is the uniform of a fed up, non-expressive man pre-coup?

There seems to be such a huge disparity in many cases. Lend some insight if you will. As you’ve probably surmised, I’m still wrestling with this one.

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by: Greg | Filed under Dad's Clues

With the Super Bowl about to kick off a few hours from now, I can’t help but reflect on my gridiron days. I was that high school football captain with his name in the papers on Monday, my cheerleader girlfriend walking around with my lettermen jacket and college scouts from respectable universities filling my head with how good I was and why I should attend their school. Kenny Ortega would have a field day with the film adaptation!

Truth of the matter is, while I played ball through my college years, I chose a different path moving forward. While this early decision was mostly due to my reluctance to pump my body with GH and other anabolics to keep up with the pack, I’d like to think there was a bigger plan.

As an involved parent, the papers don’t know who you are, nobody outside your home tells you how great you are and you’re probably not making $26.5 million like Eli Manning. Sure, I wouldn’t mind sampling a little bit of each from time to time but when you become a parent, you shouldn’t need nor expect the accolades. While I’m sure a Super Bowl ring is impressive, I think to play such a part in supplying the world with two conscientious, smart, fun and caring women is a bit cooler to me at this stage of my life.

Enjoy the game and cheers to those that work hard to put good out there!

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by: Greg | Filed under Dad's Clues

It’s interesting how different we all are. Even members of our own family…while we might have similar characteristics, I’m often a step away from needing to see papers that we’re actually blood related at times. Sure things get heated from time to time as a result of this. But at a family function two weeks ago, a line was crossed.

Our meatballs were judged!

Attack me. Attack my longer than typical suburban length hair. But stay out of an Italian’s cooking panache. At least, it was finally ALL out in the open: my wife’s cousin uses 3 types of meat, my sister-in-law uses far too many eggs than I would dare say and we…well, we…we use…ground oats instead of breadcrumbs (with a yeast allergy being so easily dismissed by all)!

What can a person do, but setup an old Sicilian Meatball Throwdown?! Oh, it’s happening at our house tomorrow alright!

Six Italians:1 Kitchen. Stay tuned for how we fared & we’ll give you the winner’s recipe for the finest meatball on Monday.


by: Greg | Filed under Dad's Clues, Parenting

I was having lunch with a friend on Arthur Ave. last week & it hit me. If you’re not from the Northeast or you simply haven’t been, Arthur Avenue is the Bronx’s Little Italy. It’s got the most authentic Italian restaurants and grocers and an indoor market that resembles an outdoor street market in Rome with sausage makers to bread bakers and cafes to florists. But my visit taught me more about my job as a Dad than how to get the best prosciutto.

I went to high school a few blocks down the road and it was my 1st time back on Arthur Avenue in about 25 years. The smell, the pace, the walk-up clam bar, the taste of the fresh mozzarella…Madone! Nothing’s changed! It’s amazing that it is still THE place that Italian-Americans go for the best of what they need. It first hit me from a social media perspective, in that they’re constantly adding to their huge fan base. But more importantly I learned 3 things there that clearly carry over in the quest to a better parent:

Know your family – On Arthur avenue, they know their customer. They know what she expects and why she puts her faith in them. Italians are all about famiglia. Generations of customers wouldn’t trust them unless they felt that they were being taken care of and understood. Likewise, I hope that I’m doing my fair share at home so that my family feels that they are being taken care of and understood.

Tradition – There is such an understanding of Italian history and culture in that slice of the Bronx which is what draws it’s people together. It’s the sense of belonging to the group and the pride which comes with that which is so utterly important to Arthur Avenue’s visitors and residents. I hope my kids, as well, carry such respect for who they are and find strength in where they come from.

Passion – Many years ago Joe Pesci was working on Arthur Avenue when Robert DeNiro spotted him & noticed his overwhelming energy. Pesci’s enthusiasm and passion launched his career and such similar excitement can be found all over the avenue. Love what you do and let is show. Such energy is contagious and it shows your kids that not only are you the architect of your own destiny, but you should be enjoying the ride.

Buona fortuna!

by: Greg | Filed under Dad's Clues, Parenting

While I wanted to be a judge when I was little, I don’t intend to judge anyone now, especially parents…because everyone’s situation is different. But there’s one thing that always bothered me as a kid and still does and that is child leashes/restraints or whatever the manufacturer is choosing to call them.

On a recent trip to Orlando, I was amazed to see more than a handful of children competent enough to walk safely & independently on two legs but were nonetheless being led about on a leash by their parents. Sorry, but I’m in the camp that believes physical restraint doesn’t teach much…the restrainee is only trained to think “I can’t” rather than “I shouldn’t”. I spoke about this with a friend who (no lie) has a friend whose parents used to harness him when he was a child. To this day he remembers it clearly and still holds somewhat of a grudge with his parents because of their decision to leash him.

Sorry, but in an effort to be “safer”, the tugging of one’s child at the end of a cord because his decisions might not be in sync with yours really does seem like an SNL skit. Yes, some public space is ridiculously crowded and kids are at times off the wall and “often” don’t listen to what is asked of them but really, a leash?! Better alternatives exist. Pardon the comparison but we used to leash my dog all the time when I was growing up and he ran away more than a few times…but our dog now is rarely on a leash, knows not to run in the street and he follows me more than my own shadow. Am I alone here?

Shed some light on this if you will. And if you do use one, use it properly please.

by: Greg | Filed under Dad's Clues, Parenting

Do I have control issues? Perhaps I do. But admission is 1/2 way to recovery…or something to that effect.

I saw this Melted Snowman Cookie Tutorial on which looked very simple/creative. So we figured we’d (as in my 2 kids) give it a try for some cute holiday cookies to be used as place card holders for dinner.

Our expectations are often quite different from the final product…symbolic, perhaps. But when my kids roll up their sleeves to create, for some reason it’s hard for me to take off the art director hat. This is probably my biggest hurdle when it comes to parenting, not the art director part but simply “watching” them independently attempt…falter…attempt…falter (& repeat).

I know, I know, Live & Learn should be my mantra as a parent. But it’s not easy for me to get out of the way. I guess it’s obvious what my New Years resolution will be!



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by: Greg | Filed under Dad's Clues, Parenting

Growing up I was but one of the many boys/men that had the Farrah Fawcett swimsuit poster smiling from my wall. I didn’t think much of it until Sunday, when doing a little holiday shopping.

Mind you I’m no prude but, especially as a Dad, I cringe a little when I walk my pre-teen daughter past the Victoria’s Secret partly due to the well shot, yet risqué, photos meticulously hung all over the storefront…but I guess they are displaying what they essentially sell. But as I walked into Abercrombie & Fitch (I’m quite certain it was the kids section), the ever so carefully cropped, flagrant photos of their male, teen-ish models were difficult to ignore.

At an age for my daughter when sexuality is slowly entering her world, it must be difficult for her to understand what the limits should be for her. As it’s not uncommon for her to hear that some friends are starting to “date” and she’s aware that certain changes are inevitably around the corner, I could understand her confusion. And it must be difficult for her to even formulate the necessary questions when boundaries are pushed all around her or the flip side, wherein the subject is too taboo for some to even address.

This is why, it’s so very important for parents to open up to their kids about what’s acceptable for them. Because if we don’t communicate with them about sex and sexuality, what they see out there will dictate what the norm “should” be and then ladies & gentlemen, we have a problem.

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by: Greg | Filed under Dad's Clues, Parenting

We have all heard far too much regarding the Penn State incident and the trending statistics have gratefully subsided. But one aspect which has barely had it’s surface scratched and is negatively affected by such an occurrence, is the stigma that most men must deal with as they care for children. While many would like for men to play a more active role in bringing up their children, there exists an obvious gender bias when a man is seen playing with a child in a public park or elsewhere.

As more men have been taking on this new role with their children, society has begun it’s slow crawl towards losening it’s gender stereotypes and well basically, evolving. BUT when a case of abuse at the hands of a few severely ill men has been uncovered, all of this progress takes a few giant leaps back. While we’d love for society to be more accepting of any rationally minded minority, it’s not easy when cases such as the one in Pennsylvania are made known.

I have met some amazing men in my 11 years of being in the Dad Club. To compare any of them to Jerry Sandusky et al. would do them a huge disservice. While it’s never easy to positively know if someone is just or truthful, if we take the time and look with eyes wide open, I believe we can trust our Petr Kratochvil

I am thankful for those who chose to live their lives educated and aware rather than generalizing and limiting their view of the world because there’s a ton of good out there, you’ve just got to weed out the crazy!

Happy Thanksgiving

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by: Greg | Filed under Dad's Clues, Parenting

Today I purge my home of any generic VapoRub. Moving forward, Vicks has a lock on my brand loyalty.

Why you ask?

Drew Brees.

As in the MVP Super Bowl QB for the New Orleans Saints?

That’s the one.

By now I’m sure you’ve seen Drew Brees’ appearance in the Vicks commercial where he is shown caring for his son. I think this is honestly a 1st for a large corporation to present a strong male figure in a caregiving position, without resorting to absurd ridicule or stereotypical judgements which typically call into question the man’s masculinity, intelligence or respectability.

While many men throughout the blogosphere have had a snarky comment or two for Mr. Brees as a result of this commercial spot because…because…actually I’m not too sure why. But with the growing number of Dads that are becoming more involved in actually parenting their children, it’s about time that someone of Drew’s stature stepped up to show how comfortable a man is within such a role.

So I raise my jar of medicated eucalyptus vapor to Procter & Gamble. Hopefully more companies will take their lead and educate society in the idea that caring for a child is not simply Mom’s domain and that the buffoon Dad should remain a fictional character on Saturday morning tween programs. Any thoughts/comments here?

NAtional Fatherhood Initiative

by: Greg | Filed under Dad's Clues

I must come clean. Much to the dismay of my wife, I wear my clothes until they themselves decide to be thrown out by virtually disintegrating off my body. Especially those beneath my outerwear, for the obvious visibility (or lack thereof) reasons. Such is the case that brought me to the underwear section at the local mall. And there it was…in all my 43 years, something I’ve never seen.

A burly sort of cotton T, but snug like a corset. I honestly looked around, to confirm that I didn’t drift into the maternity section. But then I noticed the sign resting beside a pile of these slimming, yet manly articles of clothing. “Manx – Spanx for Men

Wow, but then again why “wow”? I never had that reaction when I saw the women’s Spanx but Spanx for Men seemed rather confusing and not quite right. I’m the last to be labeled sexist…or am I? I couldn’t see myself squeezing into some sort of sausage T (can’t even wrap my head around the briefs). And especially as a parent, I want my girls to be happy with what they’ve got and not need to disguise. But then again, I go to the gym a few days a week to feel and look healthy. Is there a huge difference? So much to think about this weekend or perhaps it’s this cold medicine that’s taking my thoughts adrift. Feel free to chime in.