analysis

25Sep
girls

Until I Had Daughters…

Look, I’m going to be honest. Until I had daughters, I didn’t really think about the world like it deserves to be thought about. I am guy. I’m white. I live in America. It should go without saying that life has been pretty charmed for me.

I mean, I dunno, sometimes I feel overly conspicuous when I’m at a playground with my kids like I need to go out of my way to prove my non-pedophilia to the other parents.

And when I run, if I see someone of the female persuasion approaching me, I feel obligated to cross over to the other side so they don’t think I’m an undercover rapist.

These are the kinds of things I have to “contend” with. And I kind of passively assumed that everybody else had the same sort of range of things they contended with.

I know. Trust me, I know how wonderfully naive and self-centered that seems. But it’s true. This is how I thought about things. I felt pretty sure that if everyone stayed cool and didn’t cause trouble that most things would work out.

Until I had daughters though, I didn’t realize that this wasn’t at all the case. I didn’t realize that the world wasn’t really a forgiving place for all those who don’t share in my demographic.

I didn’t realize that women earn less money just because they aren’t men.

I didn’t realize that scholastic equality was even a thing to worry about and I certainly had no idea that even the most visible scholarship program for women doesn’t even really give all that much to women.

Until I had daughters, I didn’t realize that most people’s default reaction (and sadly mine too) was to be suspicious of any woman making a claim of assault or harassment.

I didn’t realize that women have been acceptably marginalized in church.

Like be serious about that for a second. Isn’t it strange how there’s still this weird disconnect about the role of a woman in the Church? It’s 2014. We’ve decoded the human genome and we are putting machines on other planets.

Both of these things are infinitely more complicated and confusing than a church service but yet we have no firm grasp or consensus on what a woman’s role in the Church should be? Isn’t that insane? It’s such a vestige of tradition that now, even though conceptually it is baldly illogical, the idea to challenge it feels even more illogical. Absolute insanity.

I didn’t realize that it would take one of the actors from the most successful film franchise of my generation (that concerned wizarding and muggles no less) to bring up the idea of gender equality at the UN for it to get a little traction. Not much. But a little.

If this comes across as a sermon, my apologies. That’s not really my bag and there are greater minds than me with more resonant words that could speak with an infinite amount of more intelligence about this than I could.

I think I mean this more as a public epiphany. I’m not brilliant, but I’m not an idiot either. And I’m just now realizing what the world is like.

Is it because I am now the father to two wonderful little girls? Yes. Would I have had this epiphany if instead of two girls and a boy, I had three boys? Probably not.

The point is, it took me this long. It took me becoming a parent and becoming a parent to girls to realize all of these things and more. How long will it take others?

How long until, like me, they realize that they didn’t realize what the world was like?

18Sep
foot_on_shovel_digging_backyard_620x350

The Existential Value of Digging Up Your Yard

I dug my yard up last night. Not for anything weird. Don’t be like that. It’s because the area around our deck is a mud pit and mud + kids / a door to the house nearby = not great things. So I’m trying to cover it with pavers. Whatever. Who cares. I didn’t mean for this to become Pinterest but with words.

As I dug out the section I was working on, not going to lie, I was pretty thrilled and happy with my progress. But I was also confused at this self-satisfaction. After all, I was literally just digging up dirt. I had a semi-retarded dog in college who did this on the regular and it’s not like anyone celebrated her for it.

And then I realized why I was so pleased with myself; because I could step back and be like, “I did that. There is evidence of my effort right there for THE WORLD to see.”

My life isn’t normally like that. My days consist of me writing in various forms for money and this is a dream come true in many ways because I get money for something I enjoy doing.

But as with everything, there’s a downside and it’s not just in the awkward conversations I have with strangers about qualifying to them what I do for a living.

“You what now?”

“I’m a writer. I write…things?”

“Like what? You write books?”

“I have written some books, yes.”

“Like what?”

“Nothing you’ve read. But my agent is pitching…”

“So how do you make money?”

“Well, see I get paid to…there’s lot of different things I do to…you know what? (gets out laptop) Let me show you my Google Drive Spreadsheet that breaks down my monthly income….”

My work day can tend to have a nebulousness to it. I get home and I don’t have any animals slung over my shoulder, nor do I have blisters on my hands or dirt on my shirt from all the WORK I’ve done all day. Sometimes I do get barbecue sauce on my shirt, but mostly, my back is a little stiff and my contact lenses are dried out. Hashtag Blue Collar.

Most of the projects I work on take months to come to fruition. This isn’t bad and please, save your tears for literally anyone or anything else. What I’m saying is that most of my workdays lack a sense of immediate value.

I suspect that this isn’t completely unlike most people. Our lives are filled with things that are mostly Sisyphean: work, marriage, faith, parenting, etc. We do them largely out of some sense of institutional obligation and for the most part, there is no point of discernible reward in sight with any of them.

What this has all made me realize is that everything has another side to it. There is no holy grail, no zero calorie donut, and no point of abject perfection that dovetails with simplicity. Everything is layered. Upsides and downsides abound.

This is not a lament about the universe, rather  a realization of it. There’s a certain freedom in learning to recognize and understand the reality of things and this is one of them: the point at which I stop pining for sublime contentedness will be when I’m closest to it.

In this sense, I suppose that contentedness is all perspective. And I suppose further that sometimes, getting there is as simple as digging up your backyard.

11Sep
football

How To Not Be The Worst At Watching Football

So it’s football season. How do I know? Because white women are beginning to post their PSLs on instagram and social media, in general, is more insufferable than usual as people assign tangible value to what teams they root for and how these teams fare.

In other words, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Because of this infusion of good feelings and hope, people get the bright idea to not just watch football, but to watch it with others. On paper, this sounds super great.

“We can invite our FRIENDS. There will be FOOD. It will be loud but in a GOOD WAY that makes us think that we are a part of a larger collective.”

But this mindset belies the true nature of what it is to gather many humans together in a small place.

Watching football in a group setting is like being on Survivor. I mean honestly, everything in a group setting is like Survivor isn’t it? Except maybe Survivor itself because in that context, Survivor is really more like Lord of the Flies, but instead of kids, it’s adults and instead of adults intervening at the end, it’s a studio audience and Jeff Probst and wow, not going to lie, this analogy really got away from me in a pretty huge way.

The point is, there are roles and you have to understand your role. Are you the Alpha fan who takes up all the space both physically and emotionally? Great. We love that you still wear football jerseys as an adult human man and you should totally never ever question that decision.

Are you the provider and you bring all the awesome snacks and drinks? Great. Then you are the best, although spinach dip? We’re watching football, not doing pilates. Less spinach, more cheese.

Are you super hot and no one cares what you do because your presence just makes things seem more hopeful in an ultimately shallow way? Great. Do this as much as you can because soon you will have to use your words.

Are you insightful and analytical and bring an intellectual component to the table? Great. But remember, if you find yourself talking about your fantasy team, you’re obligated to leave. Forever.

Are you hilarious and make perfectly timed jokes that don’t undercut the action? Great, but honestly, its better to leave them wanting more than to make 3 too many jokes about Taco Bell. Trust me on this.

If you aren’t one of these roles, chances are that you are one of those people on Survivor who get voted off having had 48 total seconds of camera time. But you know what? Who cares? Those people are people too.

As such, I wanted to lay out some strategies for you to blend in and make the most of your ill-advised decision to go watch something you inherently do not understand.

+ Know who has the conch.

Extending the disastrous Lord of the Flies analogy from earlier, you have to understand the room. By and large, most football viewing groups have a consensus team that is being rooted for. In the rare event that this is not clear, default to who is hosting the party. There’s no great reason to ride or die for the team opposing the consensus team or the host’s team because all it does is make you look like a Douche-Casserole.

Moreover, being the lone dissenter does two things:

A) Causes your presence to annoy everyone else

B) You will become a monument to their frustration or antagonism. Neither is a great look so just don’t do it.

+ Be the Anti-Ricky Perry.

The best strategy is to treat yourself like an intellectually lacking political candidate, so give yourself vetted and rehearsed talking points…

“Man, that offensive line is pretty thick in the britches across the board, am I right?”

…and parrot complicated concepts in a simple, relatable way that cannot be challenged.

“That zone blitz is really keeping their offense off-balance today.”

If challenged on one of your statements, either repeat it in a different way…

“I just mean that you can tell how off-balance their offense is because of the zone blitz.”

…or divert attention…

“Who brought the spinach dip? What is this, Whole Foods? And it looks like it sat under a prison shower drain for two weeks. BRB guys, I’m going to get to the bottom of this.”

+ Ask a question or state a statement.  

There’s no time for nuance. Ask a question and people are happy to help.

“That stupid looking guy on the sideline is Peyton Manning’s younger, more incompetent brother, right?”

Or make a worthwhile statement that contributes to the running commentary.

“Wow, that linebacker is blitzing like a real Streisand today” or “Peyton Manning’s head looks like something Krang would design to put himself into.”

The atmosphere around a football game is like a river and the best way to blend in is to never do anything that dams up the flow.

+ If asking a question, know when to ask what question.

If it’s a quick, informationally-seeking question, sure, fire that off during the game.

“Have we thrown it deep yet?”

But for the bigger, existential questions like…

“What’s Nick Saban’s deal?”

or

“Does Tom Brady represent the new Enlightened Masculinity because he promotes the Ugg brand and celebrates his wife’s greater earning potential? Or is his declining performance indicative of an internal and existential struggle to maintain happiness in the face of these realities?”

…save those for halftime, commercial breaks or never ever. Speaking of never, ever…

+ No one on the football field wears “outfits”. 

Referring to anything the players are wearing as outfits will betray your ignorance. Similarly…

+ Don’t ever say fair or unfair. 

Saying something is fair or unfair is just a fundamental misunderstanding of how football works. This is football not a PTA meeting.

Is it fair that winning the Big 10 conference for Ohio State is like winning a Hunger Games involving Katniss and a contingent of Special Olympics athletes? No, friend, it is not. But that’s football. Watch it, celebrate it and may the odds be ever in your favor.

Got any other tips? Lets hear em in the comments…

20Aug
Chris-Pratt2

Is Chris Pratt the Movie Star We Deserve?

So Guardians of the Galaxy came out recently. Evidently, it’s great. Like so great. Which is weird because having no context on this particular slice of the Marvel universe, the entire concept seemed like an overextension. You’ve got Vin Diesel and Chris Pratt running around along with an anthropomorphic raccoon. At a certain point, I’m hoping Marvel understands that there will be a disbelief we are unwilling to suspend.

It’s like, you got away with Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk. Let’s not tempt fate, you know?

But, again, the numbers and the responses indicate the movie is great and it’s full speed ahead for the Marvel movie-making machine.

The biggest narrative to come out of this movie though is the rise of Chris Pratt. Everything the light touches in the pop cultural landscape is his for the taking right now. But why?

The Appeal of Normal

In the lead-up to Guardians, stuff like this….

and this…

and this…

…all trickled out into the pop culture ether and it made us like him because, let me tell you, nothing gets normal people like you and I all hot and bothered like a celebrity acting non-celebish. We eat that up so hard and then lick the plate.

Jennifer Lawrence belly flopping on her way to accept an Oscar? EAT.

jennifer-lawrence-fall

Kristen Bell sobbing about a sloth? EAT.

kristen bell

We love feeling like the line between them and us isn’t quite so blurred, when deep down, we all super know that it is.

theyre-just-like-us

The Appeal of Familiar

In addition to his normalish appeal, part of his rise is also because he’s been a peripheral existence to most of us for a while now. Thus, this gives him some credibility but this credibility is nuanced, guys. That’s right. I’m about to explain the finer points on an intangible thing like it’s an art exhibit or something. My college tuition at work, Mom and Dad!

The following is self-evident: we like things we know, right? The barrier for entry on anything is easier if its familiar than if we’re flying blind. It’s why studios want known quantities in their shows / movies. It’s why brand names matter.

I know. I just realized it too. I’m explaining to you that brand names matter. Look at me here dispatching wisdom like the Dalai Lama of obviousness.

ANYWAYS, the point here is that we know Chris Pratt. We’ve seen him in movies and we’ve seen him on TV.

The corollary to this though is that it’s problematic if we know someone TOO well. Because then, that super-familiarity  colors the audience’s sense of the character and their response to the movie.

It’s why Lindsay Lohan can never be Cady Heron again. She’ll always bring the baggage of being insane, drug-addled and authorship of an actual bang list to every single role.

banglist

Understanding all this, Guardians clearly was the perfect storm for Chris Pratt. So the question  thenbecomes, what led to Chris Pratt being in this position?

If we consider the idea of market correction, then we can extend this notion to the movie industry in the sense that certain cultural climates demand certain types of content. And within this content, certain types of movie stars are sought after.

Let’s look at this in a more specific way and consider 1996 – 2006. For the most part, this period looked primed to be a Dark Ages as it relates to male superstardom. Tom Cruise had hit an artistic lull, Tom Hanks was trending down after an insane run and for all intents and purposes the throne had been abdicated in terms of dude superstars.

But the market can’t tolerate a world where no dude superstars exist. So, in the void left by Cruise and Hanks, someone filled it.

Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 2.28.24 PM

Will Smith’s 96 – 06 run, featured a vast array of genre and type: franchise, Sci-Fi, Action, Drama, Animated, Biopic, Comedy and even TV.

In terms of the market, was Will Smith SUCH a movie star talent that he would have emerged regardless of what the leading man situation was? OR was Will Smith’s 10 year run a function of the leading man vacuum needing to be filled?

As interesting as that conversation may be, we’re here for Chris Pratt, you guys. Stay focused.

Contingency Plan for Who?

So understanding that the market demands certain types of characters, we can apply this idea to Chris Pratt and assume that he’s the contingency plan for a few other people. But who are these people? Who are these mystery actors that were going to be mostly supporting, mostly comedic, mostly white and charming but not TOO charming so as to step on the leading man’s charm dealings? I have some thoughts…

+ Guys Who Popped

Steve Carell and Bradley Cooper

Both unexpectedly became marketable as leading guys with charisma and charm in spades so they leveled up.

+ Guys Who Flopped

Jason Sudeikis, Ryan Reynolds, Jason Bateman

For me, the Jasons are better on TV. What they have hasn’t translated to movies…yet. This partly explains why I really didn’t like Horrible Bosses because to me, the entire cast aside from Colin Farrell all belong on TV.

Reynolds is different though. He’s the one that I think has most clearly Butterfly Effected Hollywood and has most clearly underachieved to the point that someone like Chris Pratt could get this movie. It’s almost like Reynolds is too handsome to be funny, but yet his humor doesn’t allow him to have enough presence to be “The Guy”. Further, he’s naturally funny to be serious, but yet there’s a part of him that stays serious enough to where he can’t entirely give himself over to comedy.

Regardless, Chris Pratt appears to be here to stay for a while and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or bad thing.

 

17Jul
The-Leftovers

5 Reasons You Should Be Watching The Leftovers

Man. The Leftovers. To say I can’t wrap my head around the show is an understatement. But I love it. I think. No, yeah, I totally do love it. I don’t know that I know why I do, yet, but I do. If I had to pick five reasons why I love it, I’m not sure they’d be the greatest reasons but, hey, this is the internet and this place runs on unsolicited opinions….

Justin_Theroux__Liv_Tyler_and_Paterson_Joseph_star_in_first_trailer_for_The_Leftovers

1. Justin Theroux.

Honestly, to me, I assumed he was just Jennifer Aniston’s sidepiece. Almost like he was another iteration of Lyle Lovett or whatever Julia Roberts’ husband’s name is (Danny something? Masterson? No. That’s the guy from That 70s Show, isn’t it? I wonder what he’s doing now. I feel like it’s either heavy drugs or documentaries and there’s no middle ground on that. I didn’t realize he actually did anything besides look perpetually eyelinered.

But he’s insanely good as our main character. I can’t say that enough. He’s frenetic in all the right ways but also charming and endearingly charismatic despite being damaged. He’s like a combination of Rick Grimes without the drippy, terrible accent and Jack Shepherd only not so turnt up. Theroux has been so good that he’s bordering on detrimental to the show because he is blowing everyone he shares a scene with off the screen. He’s like Miley on a wrecking ball just wreaking actorly havoc.

And again, I have no idea how this is possible. Wasn’t he like a super bit part in Charlie’s Angels 14? The over/under for months until GQ or Esquire has him on a cover has to be 3 months, right? And I’m taking the under because I can already see the photo-shoot. It’s him, shirtless. He’s face-to-face with himself in a mirror while holding brass knuckles a parakeet and a chimney sweep and it’s all vaguely sexual.

25LEFTOVER1-master1050-v2

2. The vibe.

You know when there’s a buzzing noise around and it gets in your ear? Eventually, it fades from prominence, but it never completely goes away as it continues to exist on the periphery of your senses. That’s how the vibe in this show is. The context is clearly our world with the caveat that something supernatural / fantastical has happened. This reality gives the atmosphere of the show a hyper kinetic feel.

It’s like a manifestation of a Flannery O’Connor short story where it FEELS like life but there’s just something grotesquely but very slightly off. And I love it. It manages to feel lived in without really being able to conceive of what this world would be like.

Lindelof

3. LOST Heritage

It’s informed and influenced by LOST, but bears no other relationship to it beyond that. For those of you scoring at home, The Leftovers is a book by Tom Perrotta which has been adapted for TV by Perrotta and Damon Lindelof, he of LOST fame as well as massive rewrites on Prometheus, World War Z and film credits on the new Star Trek movies.

Knowing this, you can spot moments where an exchange or mysterious moment feels right out of LOST. And this may be difficult for you to hear but listen closely: this familiarity? It’s not a bad thing.

Look, we’ve got enough straight-ahead TV shows with minimized pretenses and super low barriers to entry. Nerd comedies, comedy comedies, procedurals, iterations of procedurals, spouses of coast cities, etc etc etc. If you are looking at the menu of TV and think, “I don’t want to try,” then you are so very good to go.

BUT, if you like your shows with a little ambition, the selection is not as abundant. As it turns out, people would prefer to be told how to feel about the B in apartment 23 rather than speculate on whether or not she is actually a B or if the sum total of her life experiences has led her to becoming a B OR how maybe her being a B is simply a projection of who she thinks she has to be to survive.

The Leftovers has ambition though and its main currency is that scourge we call ambiguity. Things aren’t spelled out! Mystery abounds! People dress in white and smoke like sullen teenagers!

After three episodes, we’ve been given this vivid landscape of complicated ideas, groups/individuals and conflict and now we get to deep dive into why we’re seeing what we’re seeing. Will the end result be fantastic? I have no idea. It could be the worst. It could literally be the worst thing to have ever been on TV. BUT THAT IS FINE. THAT IS OK.

twins

4. Poor-Man’s Taylor Lautner Twins.

These guys, am I right? Just the best. They’re like Lautner but without the Twilight baggage (ish?) and there’s two of them. And they seem to be playing the anti-Jacob Black kind of character and already I feel like I’m demonstrating too much of a Twilight-orientation here.

Did some weird event happen where a small % of the population just disappeared? Yep. Do they let that stop them from doing classic teenage boy things? Nope. These guys just want to roll up in their Prius and try to get girls. It’s like a more nuanced and complicated version of Dazed and Confused.

Within the show, it’s a neat little defuser to the tension to see these weird-looking twins spitting weak game at girls like teenage boys have done for basically ever. But also, they seem like they would be a good hang.

guilty

5. Resonance.

The Leftovers bluntly provokes a bit of soul-searching as it slowly strips away some of the pretenses that comprise our day-to-day lives. What does “it” all mean? Why are we here? What happens next? Our place in the world / universe / existence is at the center of the very thing that makes us human, right? The ability to ponder outside ourselves. However this also leaves us horrifically vulnerable when we are bluntly struck with the distinct possibility that there is nothing else and we are random.

In a broad sense, the main conflict of the show has been setup as those who embrace the pointlessness of existence versus those who search for meaning within it. Each have their own ways of living inside those frameworks, but the fundamental idea therein is this: what do you believe and how do you go about believing it? More specifically, is what you believe ornamental to your context OR is what you believe a manifestation of your are regardless of your context?

I guess said a different way, the thing every episode makes me consider is what would I be if the world I knew was stripped away? Would my values still be my values if my faith/religion ceased to exist? If the idea of love or institution of marriage was gone, would I still feel like I feel about my wife OR do those things tell me what I should be feeling / thinking / doing? Basically, are you explicitly defined through institutions or do those things exist to help define you more acutely?

For me, the fascinating part of The Leftovers is that it makes a slight pivot into a world that still looks 99.999% like ours except with this big issue looming over everyone. The fact that 140 million people randomly vanished without explanation is the new prism through which everything else exists. And this vibrates with intrigue and resonance because it gets at our squirminess with uncertainty.

Remember flight MH370? It captivated us because it seemed impossible that a plane could crash and we’d never find out what happened. But we never did. And in that ensuing and perpetual mystery, it seemed to expose a tear in the fabric of our own senses of certainty. Of control.

I don’t usually like things that poke and prod at this notion, generally speaking. I like existing in my immediate reality where things are simple. Easy. Prescribed. We all do, mostly. We have a way of constructing realities that explain / define / motivate us in the same way that they also reaffirm us. Which is why I  think I love this show.

Because it is raw. It is confrontational and it forces the viewer to consider uncertainty and how we might deal with it.

Are you watching The Leftovers? If so, would love to hear your thoughts on it.

1Jul
term

On Being Your Kid’s Terminator

The most comforting, safe feeling I can ever remember feeling was in the backseat of my parents car. Anytime we would go on vacation, we would drive all night to get to our destination and by the time we arrived, it would always be very late.

As we traveled, I would drift in and out of sleep, but I would always stir at the sound of our turn signal clicking and the feel of the car slowing, then going around the exit ramp. I would continue to drift in and out of sleep until I ended up in a bed.

That moment of hearing our blinker and existing somewhere between awake and not so much was the safest, most comfortable feeling I can remember. All I had to do was just be there and I knew I would end up where I was supposed to be. Getting there was someone else’s job and there’s such a comfort in that as a kid.

Now, I’m 31. I’ve got a wonderful wife and three wonderful kids. It’s all front seats for me now. I’m the pusher of turn signals and the transporter of sleeping locales.

When I brush my teeth at night and take out my contact lenses and do a cursory glance for new wrinkles emerging and old ones gaining in prominence, I think about how it’s a good thing that my kids have no idea where my mental frame of mind is.

Would they be as trusting as I was with my parents if they knew about how much I overreacted about the sandwich shop leaving the sriricha mayo off my sandwich yesterday? Or how I spent a good portion of the morning looking for the keys that were in my pocket the whole time? Most of the time, I feel like a big dumb kid, just one with more responsibilities. Like Tom Hanks in Big but with no piano skills.

To my kids, I’m like a relatable and scaled down version of Superman spliced with Wikipedia. Don’t all kids think that? I did with my parents. I assumed they knew everything and could do everything. It was just a given and I’m pretty sure my kids feel the same way because the other day, I told them the following story about how we came to have our dog, Ajax.

________________________

SON (5 yrs old): Dad, how did Ajax become our dog?

DAUGHTER (2 yrs old): (To me) Go get me some juice.

ME: Well, a long time ago, before you were born, your mom and I found Ajax. He was very unhappy because he was owned by a giant and the giant was very mean to him. So, I asked the giant if I could buy Ajax from him. The giant said no, but he offered to fight me for Ajax and if I won, we could have Ajax. So I did.

SON: How did you fight him?

DAUGHTER: (To me, through gritted teeth) Go. Get. Me. Some. JUICE.

ME: Some punches. Some kicks. The usual. Finally, I hit him with a big rock and did some ninja stuff to defeat him.

SON: Ninja stuff?

ME: Yep. And then, because I’d beaten the giant, we took Ajax home with us.

DAUGHTER: (To me, yelling) GO GET ME SOME JUICE, NOW.

________________________

And they bought it. No questions asked. The idea of me fist-fighting a giant for a dog, and winning, they did the mental arithmetic and were like, “Yeah. Ok. Sure. That definitely makes sense.” And I don’t really want to do anything to discourage this worldview of me for now.

My son was talking about spiders the other day and how he doesn’t like them. He said to me, “Do you not like spiders like I don’t like them?” (Most questions with him are super convoluted statements tagged with an interrogative and high-pitched punctuation that lead you into agreeing with him. If he was an attorney, he’d be the most objected-against attorney in the history of attorneying.)

I agreed with him, because spiders really are worse than face AIDS. They seriously are. If I was in a movie like Indiana Jones and I was swinging over a pit of something, if it was a pit of Face Aids, I’d be like “This is not really that big of a deal.” But if it was spiders? I would be like, “This is a super not great moment in my life.”

Anyways, in our conversation about spiders, I thought I’d have a life moment with my son and show him my vulnerability so that he can slowly start to understand how the world really works. How Dads have weaknesses too and how it’s ok to not be the best at something or to need help with things. So I looked at him and whispered, “Wanna know a secret? I’m actually scared of spiders.”

The look he gave me. Seriously. So many things about that look.

He looked at me with big eyes and said, “You’re just joking right?” (again, leading the witness) and immediately I hated myself for getting philosophical with a kid who totally just bought a story about me curb-stomping a giant over a dog.

I scrambled and said, “Just kidding. Spiders don’t even scare me a little.” And he was cool again, but I realized something from that exchange: to my son, I’m a T-1000 Terminator just doing whatever I want, however I want. No dog-owning giant, spider, ant-hill or wasp nest can get me down. Basically, I’m Solange Knowles to him and the world is my elevator.

I don’t know if all parents feel like this, but there’s this pressure to make every moment you spend with your child something profound. But sometimes, I think being present is better than being profound.

Clearly, my son wasn’t ready for me to keep it real. Maybe I should have dug in and made the point more clearly or maybe I need to let him figure out my vulnerabilities on his own. Who knows?

Regardless, I realized that my son looks at me assuming that I’ve got my life in order and this assumption allows him some stability. It allows him to feel safe and comfortable falling asleep in his car seat because he knows that I will get us to where we are going. And once we get there, if he’s asleep, he knows I’ll get him to his bed. And I think that’s all he needs to know about me and the world for now.

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