I have no problem with strong women. I married one. But as a father of three boys, I have plenty of problems with Sheryl Sandberg and the way she thinks we should go about turning young girls into leaders.
Most of the time, my head gets in the way of my heart. I worry over work and saving money for your college and delivering something on deadline. This is called maturity. It’s easy to blame work or responsibilities for the muting of the adult heart.
This week, I presented my thoughts on what makes a good story to about seventy colleagues and clients. This is the fun kind of presentation, where money isn’t on the line.
Rather than talk about the hero’s journey and other topics covered ad nauseum in countless books about writing, I looked at my five favorite stories to try and figure out what made them great to me.
Picking five favorite stories is like asking me to pick my favorite child. For purpose of presentation, I chose Franny and Zooey, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Toy Story, Breaking Bad and Harry Potter.
My point was that we make stories great. Our experiences help us to enjoy stories. Our point of view helps us tell good stories.
But that means we have to be open to both feeling and sharing.
That’s when I made them put their it out there and field-tested an idea I’ve had for a long time — Once Upon a Wiki, a crowd-sourced story platform.
I had written the first sentence of the story as a prompt. Then asked nine other people from this room of mostly strangers to write successive sentences. Their goal: a story I could read to my kids at bedtime.
When we were done, I spent an hour laying it out so it could be printed and handed out to class. I was hoping to do more than save $12 at Barnes and Nobles.
I wanted to show this group that we can all tell stories. That we’re all creative. And that writer’s block can totally get his ass kicked if he doesn’t watch himself.
It’s not often I have the opportunity — or willingness — to mash every aspect of my life together. It was as close to I’ve come in a while to being what I thought I would be: a college English professor. And, given how often the demands of work mean sacrificing time and attention toward my family, it was nice to have them at work with me. All told, a pretty well-spent three hours of time.
And one I want to recreate with the boys and work on a book with them. Although the way the middle is talking, I’d be afraid most of the plot points would resolve around poop, butts and wee wees.
There’s a prevailing feeling that when Dads appear in commercials, they are portrayed as either incompetent to the point of ridiculousness (“Honey, what hole does the food go into?”) or completely absent from the lives of their children. The question is, does it matter?
At this point, we can all agree that parenting is different than it was a generation or two ago. As much as we chuckle at the aloof horribleness of Don Draper as a father, surely things couldn’t have been THAT bad, were they?
Let’s take a pair of beloved children’s books and find out.
So, there I am, in a bar with my wife, a few drinks into a night filled with dancing and drink and the music that I listened to on my Walkman. It was the closest thing my wife will ever come to having a date with my younger self.
We can’t get enough of Jesse Pinkman. He’s jumpy. Aggravated. In constant need of stimulants.
That doesn’t sound like any parents I know.
What other trends have I missed? Am I the oldest, most out of touch person the face of the planet? Is my kid going to do horribly bizarre things to his friends and/or himself? And will I be completely oblivious to his antics?
“Resting comfortably on the bottom shelf of my kitchen cabinet is a coffee mug my husband purchased for me five years ago, when I celebrated my second Mother’s Day as a mom. I have not been able to use the mug more than a few times, mostly because of the guilt and pain I feel when I look at that photo.”
I’m taking November off from ranting about the little fuckers. The little fuckers being Caillou and Rosie. Do you think I talk about the kids that way?
Children’s television. Sure. The kids are addicted. It happens. You let them have a little taste, every now and again. Because sometimes, daddy needs a little quiet. But too much, you get a little strung out. Those theme songs stick in your craw. The same stories, over and over. I’ve got seven more years with the SPROUT monkey on my back.…
If The Brady Bunch has taught us anything — and I’d like to think that it has — it’s that being a middle child is not easy. By dint of your birth order, you could go through life feeling alternating waves of alienation, isolation and inferiority. That you are not noticed. I hope you don’t, because it couldn’t be further from the truth.