I was at the park with my daughter McKenzie. We got some ice cream and while we were walking, it started to melt on her hand. She asked, “Mommy, why is my ice cream melting?” I tried to explain in simple terms the concept of heat and how liquids can freeze and melt and evaporate. She replied — and I am most definitely not making this up — “Wow, I was actually pointing out how little you are doing to fight climate change in a sustainable way.” I learn so much from her every single day.
Last night Ethan drew a lovely stick figure, which we proudly displayed on our refrigerator. When I asked him who the drawing was of, he sighed and said, “Barack Obama… I miss him so much.” Ethan is 18 months old. Why would I lie about something like this?
At the dinner table, my daughter mentioned that her friend Devin from daycare is “really cool.” I asked, “What’s his favorite snack?” and my daughter rolled her eyes and, without even a second’s pause to gather her thoughts, said, “Dad, please, you shouldn’t assume someone subscribes to the gender binary imposed by society. Devin’s pronouns are they/them and it is not their responsibility to educate you.” She’s right. I need to be a better ally.
While I was driving home today my son told me he went potty in his diaper. He was crying and I softly, but firmly, explained we’d be home soon and I would change him then. He calmed down, wiped his tears, and said, “OK, mommy.” It’s important to treat children like adults. When we got home and I was done changing his diaper, he looked up at me and said — and I wouldn’t dream of putting words in his mouth — “Mom, your negligence to stop somewhere on the road to change my diaper is representative of a broader symptom of our complacency with our crumbling infrastructure.” If my two-year-old can say that, why can’t our politicians??!!
We took our four-year-old, Ocean, to Disney last weekend. It was our first time going as a family, and we were all very excited. As we walked into the Magic Kingdom, Ocean’s face lit up with so much joy and wonder that I couldn’t hold back my tears. “Oh, mommy, don’t cry,” Ocean said — and I couldn’t come up with this even if I tried — “I know it’s hard to come to terms with the sad reality that we are on the verge of America’s inevitable downfall. The empire is crashing down and our culture of excess is rotting us from the inside, but come on, I want to go to Space Mountain then eat a turkey leg.” Sometimes it’s the little things that keep you grounded. I love you, Ocean.
I took my daughter with me to the mall on Sunday. After I bought her a cute dress we went to the food court. I asked her if she wanted a burger and fries. She just looked right at me and — I swear on her life — said, “Mom, I think our American dietary habits have led us to believe we need to consume red meats, but the reality is our beef consumption is well above what our bodies need. More importantly, fast food restaurants source their meats from farms with unsustainable practices. The meat lobby is partly to blame, but it’s also Capitalism. The problem is that health food & fitness trends are also a by-product of these companies who are actively making us unhealthy, and we buy these health products to be healthier, but the money goes to the same pockets. It’s an unfortunate vicious cycle from which we cannot escape unless we move to a self-sustaining vegan commune, but I don’t think that would be feasible long-term so I guess I’ll have a milkshake if that’s OK.” We did have the milkshake, but kids have such a way of putting things in the simplest terms!
Let me preface this true story with the fact that I am not lying: it was around bedtime, and I told my three-year-old, Ryker, it was time to brush his teeth. He groaned and moaned but finally agreed to it, but not before telling me, “Fine, Dad, I will brush my teeth not only because it is an action that would benefit me individually, but it also stands to reason that for the greater functioning of society it is a categorical imperative to adhere to common sense rules which allow us to cohabitate in peace. No one wants to talk to me with funky breath!” Teach kids about tooth hygiene when they’re young. Don’t underestimate them, they’ll get it. I am a dentist.
This past Thanksgiving, my mom and dad, who are deeply conservative, were arguing about women’s rights with everyone at the table. At one point, my toddler, fuming with rage, dropped his sippy cup and yelled: “INTERSECTIONALITY IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE FORM OF FEMINISM.” If more men are like this in the future, we may be all right after all.
It was a lovely evening out in the country. My wife Karissa, my son Fris, and I were stargazing. You could see every single constellation in the sky. “Oh my god, this is so beautiful,” Karissa said. Fris looked at us, incredulous, and opened his mouth, closed it, paused for a second, then opened it again, “God? There is no god. It is an undeniable fact we are currently in a computer simulation and when you die you just get plugged back in.” It really is mind-boggling how kids develop their own tiny personalities!