Living Dangerously

Recent news stories have reinforced a belief that I hold. A belief that I routinely engage in the most dangerous activity imaginable for an adult male. Now I am no thrill seeker, and I don’t engage in extreme sports. I have never climbed a mountain, jumped out of a plane or gone white water rafting. In fact on the surface it would seem like I do very little on any given day that could be considered ‘dangerous’ in any sense of the word.

austin-powers-i-also-like-to-live-dangerously

No the danger that I speak of is that I routinely interact with children and teens. Here is a list of my dangerous activities;

1- I help run a youth group

2- I coach my children’s sports teams

3- I help out at my children’s school

4- I take my children to the park, the mall, the grocery story without my wife accompanying me.

Maybe these don’t sound like dangerous activities to you. If that is the case God bless you. However I am painfully aware that there is a rapidly growing sense in our culture that every male presents a very real possible risk to minors.

If you think I am exaggerating here are two stories that filled my Facebook news feed over the past few weeks;

First a little more than a week ago a YouTube video went viral. It was of a man and a puppy going over to three different children at a playground to see if he could convince them to leave the park with him. He was successful each time. The video ended say that 700 children are abducted a day. Which as far as I can tell is not true.

And second a man in Australia who took a selfie in a Target store with a Darth Vader cut out. A mother thought he had taken a picture of her children. She then followed the man around the store took his picture shared it on Facebook describing what she thought happened. The picture was shared well over 20,000 times. The man discovered while he was sitting in a business meeting the following day that this picture of him was circulating accusing him of being a pedophile. He had to go to the police and relinquish his phone to prove his innocence.

These kind of stories chill me to the bone. But I am just not sure what to do with them. The fact is that children in the US and Canada have never been safer. Yet it seems like parents have never been more scared. Lives of well meaning, innocent adults are being destroyed, and children are being kept sequestered away for no good reason.

Back in February I was asked to be Olaf at a community festival. I did it because I knew my daughter in particular would be so excited to see Olaf in person. I also knew that a lot of other kids would enjoy it as well. I was excited, but also nervous.

I knew that the kids would want to hug Olaf/me, he does love warm hugs after all. And they would want to pose with him/me for pictures. And that is what happened. So during the evening I tried to make sure that you could see my hand in every picture that was taken. My hands were either resting somewhere on my costume or they were waving in the air. I got the sense that the women dressed up as Elsa and Anna didn’t have the same concern.

Daddy Olaf

My name is Olaf, and I am generally nervous about hugs

 

I love my children, and I want to be active in their lives. But I also believe in the old saying that it takes a village to raise a child. So I want my children to have other adults in their lives that affect them in a positive way. And I hope I can affect others in a similar positive manor. I am just worried that it is getting too dangerous to try.

What do you think?

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Let It Go Already

At the moment I have Friday’s off with Asher. Lately they have tended to be the time we go out grocery shopping. I enjoy grocery shopping with my kids. I find when they are sitting in the cart we tend to talk more than we would if we were just kicking around home. Plus everyone I see flash nice smiles my way because I am out with the kids.

I know, I know it is a little condescending getting all the ‘good for you’ nods and smiles from people. But I think they are given from a positive place so I choose to receive them positively. And really who can avoid smiling at this fella;

Asher Shopping

If you are wondering the dirt on his face is the chocolate chip cookie he just finished eating. Sobey’s gives them out for free to kids. I am always surprised when I met parents that don’t know that.

 

As Asher and I finished up our most recent shopping trip and we started to head toward the check out my eyes locked on yet another Elsa, Anna, and Olaf display.

This is what we saw;

Let It GoFirst off we really like Frozen in our house. I have long lost count on the amount of times I have watched the movie, and I have no idea how many Frozen products are in our house. But I am going to go on record here and say this is just plain lazy.

Disney you have made billions of dollars on Frozen. Heck you made billions of dollars on the movie alone. I can’t even fathom how much money you have made in merchandise. But come on now this is too much.

Frosted Cheerios are already a thing. You haven’t done anything here other than change the package. And your soft baked Olaf cookies looks like something I should see on a ‘pin-fail’ website.

Now I am not above buy specialty products to make my kids happy. My parents bought me every Ninja Turtle, Transformer or Spider-man themed snack that was ever produced. And I am willing to return the favor to my kids so long as the product puts in the effort.

Disney, General Mills and Betty Crocker, this is a cash grab and you know it. It would not have taken a lot on your part to make the Cheerios look like snow flakes, or to make a cookie that actually looked like Olaf instead of three cookies you just smooched together by mistake .

You didn’t get me to let go of my money, and you need to let go of this lazy marketing.

Same Day Different Year

Occasionally when I check my Facebook I have noticed that it will show me a picture I have taken on the same day in a previous year. Now I don’t post a great deal of pictures so it is possible they have been doing this for quite some time. Never the less it is a new feature for me.

A few weeks back Facebook showed me a picture from two years ago. The picture showed my oldest son and daughter playing with their bikes in our driveway. I couldn’t help but notice that my driveway was completely devoid of snow. The picture gave me a moment of ‘snowdrepressing’ thoughts but little else. More recently Facebook has showed me a same day different year picture and there was my daughter, three years younger smiling at me standing on a small plastic slide in our playroom. The caption read ‘Look where I can get to all by myself Daddy’.

Three Years AgoThis picture took me back for a moment. It was like time itself pounced on me, not unlike the way it does when I remember that no part of the 1990’s was ten years ago anymore. It was like all of a sudden the gravity of those three years hit me at once. Almost three full years have gone by since I went back to work and stopped being a stay at home dad.  The years on the one hand seem to have simply evaporated away. And yet the days on the other hand have seemed so long and many of them were so difficult to get through.

A wiser man than I once said, ‘People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint – it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly… time-y wimey… stuff.’ And boy do I ever feel like I have been hit smack in the face with a big ball of wibbly wobbly time-y wimey stuff.

doctor whoNow that my kids are 6, 4, and 2 instead of 3, 1, and hypothetical I am beginning to understand better why so many people kept telling me to; ‘cherish these moments while they are young’. Because there are so many stages that we have closed the book on. In our home there are no more rocking and shhhhing, no more bottles, no my cuddly babies passed out on my shoulders. And there are times when I miss those moments. Times I wish I did perhaps take a little more time to cherish the moment.

However because my kids are now 6, 4, and 2 and not 16, 14, and 12 I can still remember why I was not able to cherish each day. Each day with a newborn, or an infant or a toddler brings so many challenges. Trying to get out of the house to pick up groceries, or trying to get together when friends, or trying just to sit down and watch an uninterrupted movie together were feats worthy of Hercules. Not to mention trying to avoid being buried in laundry and dirty dishes, or trying to get through the day when you just spent most of the night awake. Let’s not mince words many of my precious moments worth cherishing are nestled within days that I would much rather forget.

Maybe this is one of the great paradoxes of parenthood. The days are so long they seem to go on forever. But the years just fly by in the blink of an eye. I’d love to hear about your days that took forever, or about those times when you realized just how much time really did fly by.

Let’s meet in the comments.

This post first appered on Urban Parent. They are a great local resource site for all things parent related in Halifax.