1

Dad Challenges

This was not what I expected.  I always imagined my first kid to be a boy, you know, wrestling  and getting dirty. I always thought I would have all the answers; having crushes, what cologne to wear, when to be smooth vs. goofy and letting him know what the world expects of him as a minority.

Up until the second that we received the news – “Congratulations. You are having a baby…” BOY. Thanks. I knew it. I cut the doctor off mid-way through her announcement because I was so sure but oh boy, or should I say girl because I was so wrong.  When the doctor said we were having a girl, I could no longer imagine my life with a boy as my first child. She was all I could think about, it felt right.

Now don’t get me wrong, my daughter and I wrestle, we get dirty and I still do my best to explain to a 1 year old what the world expects of a young woman of color, more importantly, to exceed the expectations of a young black girl during this time.  We do all the things boys do and she even throws better than a few guys I know –  but MOM (Cue the super villain music) she wants to be as glamorous as her mom.

Here’s what I’m struggling with.

Nail polish

I saw the look in her eye when she saw her mom painting her toe nails and I thought to myself “oh no. It has begun.” Her mom is her fashion idol from being dolled up to just lounging in sweats.  There is no off button.  I’m not against nail polish, I just know that I will soon be lured in by the “please daddy” then be victim to her glitter, purple nail polish.

Dating

“I have a particular set of skills..” – Liam Neeson

I was asked by my colleague – Selena ” When will you allow your daughter to date?”.  My initial thought was DATING? She’s going to work for Jesus, there is no dating.  I have 2 answers for this type of question, 1. When she’s in high school, the topic can be open for discussion but it’s based on maturity and respect.  I want a clear dialogue with my daughter which supports a “no secrets” rule. 2. My dad answer is when she’s 35, no debate.

I despise the idea of her dating but I have faith and trust that she’ll make the right decisions. BUT!!! I will always be on guard for teenage, sad romance.

Have you ever seen Taken?

Menstrual Cycles

(Cringing already) You may be thinking c’mon, don’t be immature but that’s not why.  That’s her step into womanhood and I won’t be prepared for it.  It’ll be painful , necessary for the both us but we don’t have to like it.  See for guys, I can deal with the arm pit hair, the  deep voice and weird smells but for my munchkin…….(I passed out, sorry.) Grabbing the necessary tools to handle those leaks will forever be a sad day for me.

Game face ready

As much as I want her to remain my small, munchkin forever, it’s always my duty to prep her for what this big world has in store for her.  As a young woman of color, it’s my duty to nurture her progression in all aspects – no matter how difficult it may be for me.  Truth of the matter is, I can’t fight every battle for her, I can’t always be there and I can’t always make things right. As her dad, I can teach her, mold her and be there whenever she needs me to lick her wounds aka “boo boo kisses”.  For all you dads out there, our job is to continue to push our girls/family in the right direction in hopes that our seeds create a beautiful garden in their era.

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7

Scraped knees 

As a new dad, I’m usually always over protective of my little one.  Sometimes, family members and friends would ask why am I so involved and sheltering? My response would simply be “Why wouldn’t I”?!

I come from an environment where it’s not deemed masculine to be there for every step of the growth process of your child.  It’s called the “mothers job”. I never grasped that concept. To worry about education, health, appointments, schedules, the overall development of a child is a natural gift that I believe all mothers inherit when they start cooking that “bun in the oven” but dads; we need some getting used  to.  That’s why we should receive standing ovations for trying our best to get everything down.

I can’t tell you enough how much our toddler loves exploring and how much it gives me anxiety.  To make matters worse, she’s in her independent phase so she hates her hand being held when we take a stroll. (Oy vey)  If I can place her in a bubble till she’s 35, I’d be fine but that’s not legal .. is it? A lot of the feeling of stress is attributed to being away most of the time, it makes you feel like you’ve missed everything. Time seems to be flying by when I’m away at work. It’s as if on Tuesday morning she’s my little headache, crawling everywhere but when I get back from work, she’s climbing everything and everyone.  Then I look at her mom with so much anger as if she worked some magic to speed up time while I was away. “It was you!! You did this!”

Here’s the real

It’s a great, big world out there that we still have yet to fully discover but some things have gotten old to us adults.  To a toddler, the world is brand new.  They’re experiencing every single detail on this green Earth for the first time so they want to know everything about it.  I thought it was always best to follow my instincts to always shield her from everything that can be a considered harmful but I had to realize that there’s a difference between shielding her from harm and shielding her from progression.  Over the weekend, while taking a stroll around the neighborhood, my daughter asks to get her stroller to walk. Usually, I’m on her like white on rice but this time, I took a step back to just be in the moment with her.  She had complete freedom to explore.  While walking, she fell and scraped her knees. I resisted the urge to run to her with a stretcher and IV bag ready to go. (toughest moment of the year) To my surprise, she got up, examined her wounds and made the decision to come to daddy for a “Boo Boo kiss” (Dad to dad – no one can know about this.)

I guess no matter how young old your kid is, they’ll always know how much you want to protect them but I guess what THEY WANT is for us dads to be in the moment with them.

Kenzie getting in her car 2-1.jpg

Btw .. She does not have permission to drive yet.

 

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Aside
6

The Fatherly truth revealed


**Before we get into this, I caution you to not read this out loud or within earshot of the mother of your child.  Results may vary in terms of how bad she lets you have it.**

I think it’s pretty fair to admit to the world (silently) that dads are better than moms.  We are the everyday Supermen of our household by being the man of close to steel, entertainers and Dr.Phil, all in one shot.  That takes some real finesse to pull off.  Here, let me point it out for you.

We’re always there for the smiles

Kudos to you sir! You just spent close to 10 hours of your day at work hustling and bustling to get projects launched, avert crises and sit through long meetings that could’ve been kept to 5 minutes. By the time you reach home, I know you’re tired but that doesn’t stop you. You throw your cape on and make sure that your little monster has the time of her life because, for all we know, she was miserable with boring mom all day.  Now is the time to be baby girls hero and work triple overtime for those smiles.

Playtime – Moms Kryptonite

This is our specialty right here. We dads go on every adventure imaginable. Moms do too, except for adventures that has to with getting dirty. DIRT – a mom’s krptonite. From the sandbox to just rolling around on the ground, we’re genetically built for this.  I can go for hours with our toddler without missing a step and will let her explore a “cleared” section. (Scroll down to the bodyguard section to get that reference.) We dads don’t fear crumbs, mud or stains. Fearless.

Bedtime

Bedtime may be a tricky time … FOR MOM. We dads know exactly what to do! Remember moms, we’re working triple overtime for those smile so bedtime may be 30 minutes later than usual but it’s alright. 1 episode of her favorite TV show, 2 games of hide and seek, 3 books, 1 cup of milk, bathroom check then one cup of water will have her sleeping like a log. Remember moms, later bedtimes, courtesy of dad means you have a later morning to kick off the next day. We know how much you love your beauty sleep. You’re welcome.

We’re creative

I have never met a dad that is stocked with bedtime lullabies. Let alone, know all the words to the ones that they do know. Personally, I don’t know all the words to any bedtime lullabies (shrugs) .  From the womb – up until the first year, I only sang Bob Marley songs at bedtime and she loved it! Nowadays, I just make up my own lullabies (her mom hates it) to help our little monster hop on the express to dreamland.

We don’t have to limit this to bedtime, this goes for singing songs to help her calm down because she can go “0 -100 real quick”, eating , cleaning up, annoying mom etc. The more I think about it, I just may have some gifted vocals.

Dads are the best body guards

We’ll have to get more in depth in the future but for now, we are the best body guards. My girlfriend often calls me overbearing or “Dadzilla” but hey, there will be no scraped knees or BOYS on my watch.

Our toddler loves to walk on her own and sometimes I hate it.  This is New York City so sidewalks are always packed. Moms are just way too cool in certain situations, , meanwhile I’m freaking out inside. That’s why I’m always less than one step away so I can catch her when she trips or drop kick someone who gets to close. I’m in no way promoting violence, simply saying, pay attention while walking or you may get drop kicked by a dad because you were too into your phone and almost trampled his kid. THAT’S ALL.

6

Welcome to team over time

As a first – time dad, let me tell you, this thing is scary. You can read all the parenting books and take all the parenting classes but nothing can prepare you for what happens when your sweet, little poop machine arrives. That is, at least in my case. Don’t worry brother, I’ve you covered.  For all you future dads out there, here’s what to expect during your new experience as a dad.

1. She wins – you lose

Fellas, this may be one of the most frustrating pills to swallow but that’s kind of one of the things that make us awesome.  All decisions will be made equally in your relationship or at least I hope but that goes out the window when she’s pregnant. Her hormones are working overtime so don’t be surprised if you get “the look of death” when stating your opinion.  There’s no shame in waving your white flag.

2. Sleep? You’ll wish

As a dad working full time, one of the biggest challenges is being a full-time dad but we’ll get into that another time. Sleep. The biggest shock to my system to date. Heed all the warnings to get as much rest as possible before your beautiful monster arrives because at that point there won’t be much sleep going on and not in a good way.

When my daughter was a newborn, she would barely go 2 hours without crying to be fed or just in need of some attention. My girlfriend and I decided teamwork makes the dreamwork and decided to sleep in shifts instead of constantly waking up out of our beauty sleep to answer our call to duty.  We stopped a few scares immediately since one of us would always be focused on her but with early meetings, long hours and cat nap nights, you will look like an extra from The Walking Dead for a few months.  Wear your bags (scars) with pride.

3. Don’t touch her food

I learned this the hard way when I almost lost an eye when she was pregnant with our daughter.  Let’s not even dive into the fact that she ate half of my dinner which is the reason why I wanted some of hers in the first place.  What’s yours is hers and what’s hers is …. well .. do you value your eye?

4. Have fun

You’re a dad now, don’t dread it – have fun with this new experience.  This is your opportunity to spread your Jedi wisdom to the next generation.  Make the most of every moment because before you know it, they’ll be off to college. Gotta run now, she’s up from her nap and it’s time to plan Operation Lock Mom In The Bathroom.