Tag Archives: parks

First Friends…

Two years ago, probably around this time of year even, I met a dude who really helped me get out of a very dark place. Greta was just entering the terrible twos, Mrs. Yeti was desperately trying to get the hang of the delicate work/kid balancing act that has since become her life and I was literally drowning in my newfound role of primary care giver. And though I never did anything really crazy to myself or Greta (thank God!) there were days when I felt like Luke Skywalker facing the darkness of his soul in a hollowed out tree on Degobah. All kidding aside, it got pretty hairy.

I loved Greta with all my heart (and still do, of course) but, there were days when I’d sit and stare at the calendar and think: this is it. What you are doing today is the same thing you’re going to be doing tomorrow and every other day after that until you kid goes to school. Dishes. Diapers. Bottles. Repeat. I felt like I was on a punishing loop with no end in sight.

I tried talking to people about how I felt (family and friends mostly) and I think a few of them actually understood what I was trying to say. But, even with them I held things back for fear of sounding too whiny or ungrateful. I mean, we had tried for five years to have Greta, how could I even think of complaining about anything now that she was here? Plus, at that stage all most people really want are current pictures and cute little anecdotes about which milestones Greta had reached that week. Which is totally understandable. I mean, I love sharing that stuff too. But, deep down, all I really wanted to talk about was how totally crazy and isolated I felt for like, 90% of my day.

I tried talking about it with Mrs. Yeti many times, but, as I’ve said before, she was on the same sinking ship that I was. Except she got much less sleep and had to work a full time job on top of everything else. Probably the best thing Mrs. Yeti ever did for me was to tell me, point blank that she did not have time for my problems. And while it stung at first, I totally got it. I didn’t have time for hers either. It’s like that thing they always say in airline safety videos, put on your own oxygen mask first, then help the person next to you. I know now that she was way too busy fumbling with her mask back then to even think about helping me with mine.

That said, Mrs. Yeti did say something else that ended up really helping me out a lot. “If its really that bad, start a blog. Write about it.” She said. “Or better yet, join a Daddy Meetup group or something.” I ended up doing all three but the thing that really saved me from my crazy-ass self was joining that Daddy Meetup group. As I’ve mentioned before, I had a hard time finding the right fit (yes, I’m talking to you, Burbank/Hollywood Dads!) but once I did, it was awesome.

I joined a group called the West L.A. Stay-At-Home-Dads and even though the Meetups were clear on the other side of town, the guys in the group were the most real, down-to-earth dudes I’ve ever met. There was no bullshit, no egos or Hollywood posturing, these guys were regular working dudes (animators, musicians, stuntmen, graphic artists, even fellow writers) who’d been banging around the industry for a while and were now tackling the hardest job of their careers, being a full time stay-at-home-dad. And even though we rarely talked about anything other than movies or Star Wars — or, more recently, the intricacies and hidden messages embedded in My Little Pony cartoons — the fact that we could all find some time every couple of weeks to hang out with people who truly understood what we were going through was invaluable. Hell, two years later, it still is.

Actually, the meetups today are even better because our kids grew up together, they’ve been friends for almost their entire lives. And the friendships the dads have formed over the past two years are stronger too. We might not have known each other for our whole lives, but, definitely our whole lives as parents, which, often times feels like a lifetime in itself. And though none of us ever really verbalized it, deep down we were all eternally grateful to our “founding father” Corey for starting the group. Most of us were way too busy treading water to even think about stating a Meetup group, but Corey wanted to start “the kind of group he’d want to join” so he built it, and, as the saying goes, we came. In droves!

So it was with a heavy heart that the group said goodbye to Corey and his beautiful daughter Katana on Monday. Corey and his family are moving to the Philippines in a couple of weeks, and though we’re all hoping they come back to L.A. real soon, I’m thinking it might be a while before we share a lazy afternoon chasing after our daughters in our favorite park in Westwood again.

So, thank you, dude. You really did save my life and I will always cherish the many hours and days we spent hanging out in parks all across the Southland with our sweet baby girls (who now insist on calling themselves “big girls”). Katana was and always will be Greta’s first best friend and, despite the miles and timezones between us, you, amigo, will always be mine. Keep on adventuring, brother!

West L.A. Stay-At-Home-Dads (March 25, 2013)

And in case anybody reading this is looking for a stay-at-home-dad group to hang with in the L.A. Metro area, Corey asked me to be in charge of the group now that he’s leaving (here’s hoping I don’t destroy all the good that he’s done!) and you can reach us at our new Facebook Group page here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/WestLAstayathomedads/

So, if you’re interested in joining or know someone who might be, check it out! And thanks again to Corey for starting all this awesomeness…you will be missed, dude.


Filed under Daddy stuff, Good Baby, Good Girl, Good Toddler, Terrible Twos

Mean Girls: The Toddler Years

So, two days ago, Greta and I are at her favorite parkLibrary Park, which we sometimes call Vampire Park, because we’ve been there many times after dark, but, which is officially named Lincoln Park, for those who care — and this pack of toddler ruffians starts dominating the play structure. There were two girls and four or five boys, and though most of them weren’t much older than Greta, you could just tell that these kids were bad news.

They were throwing stuff down the slides, climbing up the slides the wrong way when younger kids were trying to use them and basically doing whatever the hell they wanted, while their parents (if they had any!) zoned out on one of the benches nearby. Watching these punks dominate the usually-very-peaceful park was kind of maddening, but, since no one did anything overtly evil to Greta, I ignored the little anarchists for the time being.

But then, the boys left. Yes, they actually had parents and they looked just as permissive and lazy as you’d expect them too. Sorry, but one of the Mom’s actually cheered her daughter on when she rode a toy car down the slide. Are you kidding me? Not in my playground, beotch! Urgh…

Anyway, the boys left a few minutes later and the two girls started playing near Greta, which seemed to be fine, until I heard Greta yelling at them from the top turret of the castle. “Yes, I am!” she yelled while the two mean girls laughed and taunted her from the slide. “I am a princess!” Greta yelled again, to which they replied: “No, you’re not!”. Undeterred, Greta tried again: “I am a mermaid!”. And again, those heartless little bitches on the slide chanted back: “No, you’re not!” And when that didn’t work, Greta tried again, this time even louder: “I am a fairy!” to which the girls cracked up and yelled back: “Ha ha, no you’re not!” and “Yeah! Good luck with that!”

I was so stunned at what I was hearing that it actually took me a second to realize what was happening. Were these girls for real? They couldn’t have been more than a year of two older than Greta (if even that!) but they were already first class assholes and here they were ganging up on my daughter. Oh, man, all I can say is that they are very lucky that one of the girls Dads was sitting by the slide — he had headphones on and no clue as to his daughter’s true nature — because, well, I don’t know what I would have done, but, it might have involved some untimely face plants on the slide.

And then, while I sat there contemplating the many ways I could beat the mean outta those little brats, one of them pushed Greta and then hit her arm when she tried to climb down the ladder to get away from them. That was it. Park time was officially over. I grabbed Greta by the hand and we left. Of course, she wanted to stay, but, I was done. I knew that nothing good could come from me being anywhere near those girls.

Actually, I felt kinda sorry for them. I mean, only someone whose own sense of wonder and magic and, for lack of a better word, pure imagination, had already been stomped out of them could say something so mean to a sweet little girl who just wanted to play with them. One of my favorite things about Greta is the big, crazy, wonderful way she views the world…everything is colorful and magical, fairies are everywhere, every toy is a prince or princess, hell, even the blueberry-shaped sponge in her bathtub is King Blueberry, the father of Melody the Mermaid! Who wouldn’t want to live in a beautiful, candy-colored world like that?

So, we head to our car and Greta tells me: “Daddy, those bad girls aren’t my friends, they broke my heart.” Yes, part of her wonderful world of Greta is hearing about her getting her heart broken a lot, we hear it almost every day, but, never about some bullies at the park! Biting my tongue, I told her that they probably don’t have as much imagination as you do and that yes, they were very bad girls for hitting her. And just then, the ringleader and her headphone-wearing Dad walked by our car on their way home. Smiling, the clueless Dad waved and said: “Bye-bye!”

And then Greta did something so badass that I wish I had it on video. Pointing her little finger at the meaner of the two girls as she walked by with her Dad, Greta shouted: “You’re a bad girl!” Stunned, the girl and her Dad (and me!) just stared at Greta as she yelled it again: “You’re a bad, bad girl!!” OMG, it was crazy, like Greta was putting a curse on her or something. I know, it’s totally not what the child-rearing experts would condone, but, I could not have been prouder of my little girl standing her ground, even at age three, and striking a blow for all the bullied kids of the world. I mean, I’m sorry, but, she  kinda nailed it on the head. That girl was B-A-D.

Unsure of what to do or say next, I simply shrugged at the Dad and loaded Greta into the car. And as we drove past the father and daughter I saw a hollow, shamed look in the girl’s eyes that told me that she knew she had just been served. Big time! Or maybe she was just plotting how to take down the crazy girl who thinks she’s a princess-mermaid-fairy next time they meet at the slide.

Either way, the whole incident totally opened my eyes about just how young mean girls start, you know, being mean. And though it shocks and saddens me to think that toddlers like this exist, you can bet your magic wand that no one is gonna tell my crazy daughter what she is or isn’t again. Nope, not while my Yeti-ass is around!


Filed under Daddy stuff, Good Baby

Dumped by my Meetup Group…

Had kind of a crappy day today — hooray, my every other day sucks philosophy proves true again! — you know the kind where you can’t figure out what to do with yourself? And your child won’t listen to any kind of reason or logic and/or do anything you want them to, and you kinda just wanna crawl back in bed and hit the RESTART button? Well, that was today in spades.

And then, about midway through the day, it hit me…today was Thursday. See, Thursdays used to be the day my newest Meetup Group of super-cool SAHD’s would get together at the park with the kids and vent and chill and laugh until the sun went down, or, you know, someone had to go home. It was always the highlight of my week, and then, something happened. One Dad said his kid’s nap schedule had changed so he couldn’t come in the afternoons anymore, another said he had to do the kid-exchange with his wife before heading to work and the hour just didn’t work for him anymore either. And so on and so on…

But as the SAHD’s dropped from the schedule like flies, I kept RSVP-ing and showing up with Greta at the park. Sometimes Meetup members showed up, sometimes they didn’t, but, it was the perfect time for us — for the record, 2:30PM is like, my favorite time to do anything…not too early, not too late. The perfect time! — so, we kept going. Until last week…

That’s when the captain (or the founder, or, whatever they’re called) of our Meetup Group sent me a snippy e-mail stating that he was thinking about disbanding the Thursday get-together because, and I quote: “As it is, that time is no longer convenient for me, or anyone else but you, for that matter.” Ouch! I was like, hold up now, did I just get dumped by my freaking Meetup Group?!

My wife says it’s no big deal and to just keep going to the park at the same time every Thursday, but, I dunno, man, part of me feels like that is the last place I wanna be on Thursdays at 2:30PM. Oy, I can see it now…me and Greta walking around the park in our faded, tattered wedding dresses, full-on Miss Havisham-style: “Where have all our lovely friends gone?” Nope. Not gonna do it.

Our captain did ask me if there were other times we could get together and I suggested a couple, but, the total radio silence on his end since that initial e-mail has pretty much confirmed things. I was stone-cold dumped by my Meetup Group, yo. Urgh, and how totally pathetic is that?

So, I reckon Thursday afternoons are just gonna keep on sucking for a while…or, you know, until I start my own “Fuck Your Meetup Group Meetup Group” on Thursdays at 2:30PM at the same park. Hmmm…come to think of it, that might be kinda fun!

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Filed under Daddy stuff