Dad Flashes reaches the one-year milestone this week. Below is a special note about the blog’s first anniversary.
1. LOSING BATTLE. At times, I simply cannot stop myself from being jealous about the other man in my wife’s life — our Yorkshire Terrier, Jake. When I teased her this week about how much affection she showers upon the dog, she tousled his hair and explained, “How could you not love this little guy? He’s always in a good mood, doesn’t ask for much from me and always obeys my commands.” Okay, Jake, you win. There’s no way I can compete with all of that.
2. WRONG ANGLE. Having teenaged children provides me with regular lessons on all the things I do wrong. As I noted in a previous Flash, I apparently chew gum the wrong way (I still haven’t figured that one out). Recently, I learned I don’t take selfies right either. Given that selfie-taking seems like a fairly simple, straightforward act – you flip the camera lens to face you, then snap way – I couldn’t imagine what possible error I could have committed. But after looking at one of my selfies, my youngest let me know, “You never take a selfie from a lower angle. Everyone knows that.” You can imagine my shame at discovering that I am both the world’s worst selfie-taker and the sole exception to the category of “everyone.”
3. THE DAY HAS COME. Of course, when I was 15, I thought my parents were so firmly ensconced in what I then considered “old age” (their late 40s!) that I didn’t believe it was really possible that they had ever roamed the earth as a teenaged girl and boy. But knowing how obtuse I was at that age still didn’t prepare me for the shock of finding myself on the opposite side of the generational divide and hearing my oldest daughter recently exclaim to me, “Dad, you have absolutely no idea what it’s like to be a teenager.” Ouch, that left a mark!
4. STAY POSITIVE. When I go shopping for the healthy food at the grocery store, it’s hard not to feel weighed down by the onslaught of negative messages on their packaging. NO preservatives. NO artificial ingredients. NO artificial coloring. NO nitrates or nitrites. NO added growth hormones or stimulants. Okay, I guess that’s all good, but it’s hard, in that sea of absence and denial, not to feel like you’re missing out on something. To counter that, I think all the foods outside the healthy section should shout out more affirmative messages: YES, we’re full of junk that’s bad for you. YES, we taste way better than all that healthy crap. YES, if you eat us, you’ll lead happier, although perhaps shorter, lives. Would work for me.
5. ANNOYANCES SUPPORTED. In this blog, I have gotten a lot of mileage out of the funny things my kids say when they’re letting me know how unhip and out-of-synch with teenage culture I am. Extolling the virtues of having children, which I could easily do, I have refrained from only because it doesn’t provide much comic fodder. But there are many times when I am grateful to have my children around. Just one example came in response to my inveterate drumming. When I’m sitting at a table, I can’t help but treat it as a substitute bongo. Even when I ride my stationery exercise bike, I deal with the boredom by pounding out drum solos on my thighs. My constant tapping used to drive my mother crazy, as she often had to reach across the table and command, “Johnny, please stop!” Often, I’m not even consciously aware I’m doing it, so I don’t realize my noise is distracting anyone — like my wife — who may be sitting in the same room, trying to read or write. The last time she had to ask me, “Can’t you stop that?” my youngest, the musician, came to my defense and said, “Mom, you shouldn’t mind Dad’s constant noise-making because it’s percussive and interpretive.“ God, I love that kid!
NOTES ON DAD FLASHES REACHING ITS FIRST ANNIVERSARY
I decided to joins the ranks of dad bloggers when I came up with an idea to write five things I learned about fatherhood each week. I also chose to publish on Saturday mornings, thanks to a tip from the great marketing guru Drew Davis, who advises online content providers to post on a regular schedule and time that readers will remember – what he calls “appointment TV.”
After discovering the Web address “Five things” was already in use, I kept brainstorming more name ideas, but consistently kept coming up against the “already taken” roadblock. Then one morning in the shower — where all my best ideas seem to come - I hit upon Dad Flashes, which I immediately liked because it suggested both new flashes and hot flashes, the latter of which seemed particularly apropos because I am in the age zone of male menopause, if there is such a thing. (And frequent readers of Dad Flashes can attest to the fact that I made many claims that there is!) Only after the site was up and running and I started using Google analytics did I remember that flashes is a verb as well as a noun, so “Dad flashes” also had a less favorable connotation. (And to all those twisted types who came, via search engines, to my site, expecting something else, all I can say is, “I’m glad I disappointed you!”)
Even though “five things” was taken already, I liked the rhythm of posting 5 weekly short observations. I do realize I often violated the spirit of “short,” and I want to thank those who made their way to the end of the posts on weeks when my verbosity took over!
Now, 52 weeks later, I’m a little amazed that I managed to come up with 260 observations on family life. I was partly helped by the few months I had between jobs at the beginning of 2014. That extra leisure time afforded me many hours to brainstorm future flashes. Fortunately my “transitional period” didn’t last too long, but full-time employment also made it more difficult to keep cranking out new content.
So for year two, I probably won’t be able to maintain the schedule of 5 weekly flashes. Life changes also present new challenges. My oldest will be heading off to college this fall. I’m sure that experience will provide new material, but our no longer having regular interactions could further limit my output since she tends to provide me funny Dad Flash material every time she talks to me!
Throughout this experience, I’ve tried to draw that fine line between what belongs in the public sphere and what doesn’t. In the days of reality TV, it’s embarrassing to see how many intimate personal details people are willing to expose just for the sake of getting attention. I hope I haven’t ventured into similar territory here. Fortunately, my family members – who prescreen the material — have never felt their privacy was being violated. Hopefully, readers have found these silly observations not peaks behind the curtain of our lives but rather universal truths about the fun realities of living with teenagers today.
Finally, I just want to say thanks to all the friends, family members, and new online acquaintances who’ve taken the time to read Dad Flashes. I know how busy everyone is, so I’m extremely grateful for the time people took to peruse my posts. And to those who have helped me reach a wider audience by liking or sharing posts, all I can say is, “YOU ROCK!”
Thank you all very much.