Babies Like Fresh Air Too!

I came across this story recently on Twitter.

My first thought (other than hey, it’s Augustus Gloop!) was how much my daughter likes looking out of her bedroom window at the animals in the back yard. This would honestly be a neat way for her to see the animals AND get fresh air! It’s a win-win! Seriously though, I cannot believe that people actually used these things.

According to the article, the cages originated in London and were intended for children who did not have backyards to play or other access to fresh air. Hmm, fresh air is a good thing right? But is this the best thing somebody could think of to resolve this matter?

My second thought was that while my wife and I were making our baby registry, we had a long discussion about a modern day equivalent to this depression era playpen. Other than dangling out a window, is there a real difference between the 1930s baby cages and these?

Okay, so it’s not dangling out a window from several stories above the ground. I get that. But it is still a cage that you are confining your child within. The picture itself amuses me. How are two children supposed to have fun in that tight of a space with a toy truck? Everyone knows you cannot properly play with a truck in a space like this. I love how the page calls it a “superyard.” Really? What if the kids get restless? If you are a wrestling fan like I am, two toddlers could easily have their own steel cage match within this structure. It’s 26” high, which is only a litter shorter than my daughter. It would basically enclose her entire body. For a mere $79 you can have a WWE pay-per-view right in your living room!

If you scroll through the pictures, you come across one that shows a dog walking out of the cage. So this can be used for pets too? I’m sorry but anything that is designed for a child should not be used for a pet and vice versa. I would not want a dog playing with my child’s toys, just like I would not want my daughter chewing on a dog bone while she’s teething. I know pet owners love their animals like family, but dogs and human children are two different things, people!

Seriously though, exploring their environment encourages intellectual development in babies. Restricting a child’s environment puts physical and intellectual development at risk. This is common sense and any child development course would agree. When kids are getting into everything, believe it or not they are actually helping both their cognitive and physical development.

There are times when I’ve put my daughter in her Exersaucer while I changed a load of laundry or something but I would never cage her. The same way I would never attach a leash to her neither.

Bottom line – play with your kids, love them, make them feel loved. I don’t think love is an emotion that can be believed or understood when locked in a caged environment.

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Bedtime for Dad

I really need to start going to bed earlier.

Before I became a dad, I could easily get away with staying up until 11:30 pm on a work night. Nearly 17 months later my brain has not caught up with my body in this regard.

My body has a natural alarm clock and even before my daughter was born I would usually wake up between 5:30 and 6:00 am. The difference between then and now is back then I had roughly two hours to do whatever I wanted in the morning. I would work out, check my email, watch the news, leisurely eat my breakfast, etc. This is not the case anymore.

I still wake up at the same time, but it is usually because of a little girl in the next room crying and calling for Mama. Being the awesome husband I am, I usually get up and go get her and bring her into bed with us for a few minutes. After that, in addition to my wife and I both getting ourselves ready in the morning, we also have to get the kid ready too.

Bottom line – my mornings take a lot more energy now. I am usually ready for a nap by the time I leave for work.

The solution to this is to go to bed earlier each night, but after my daughter’s 8:30 pm bed time it is the only time my wife and I have together to discuss the day and watch TV. There lies the conflict. Should I sacrifice time with my wife and all of the good TV shows in order to get a longer night sleep? I try to do a little bit of both. Most nights we go to bed sometime in the 10 pm hour, but last night was an exception because of a particularly enthralling episode of WWE Monday Night Raw. Yes, I am a wrestling fan. I am not a fan of any other sport, but I love pro wrestling. I am familiar with a beautiful thing called DVR, but a) some things just aren’t the same unless you watch them when they originally air and b) we never get around to watching most of the things we DVR. So it goes.

The nights when I go to bed an hour or so earlier, I feel like a completely different person in the morning. If I am able to get my run in that morning too, I feel even better. I drive to work those mornings thinking “Wow, I need to do this every morning! I think I’m going to bed early tonight too.” Those are always the nights I am up extra late. Figures.

One of these days I am convinced that my body and my brain will catch up to each other and I will get the proper night sleep each and every night. Sadly, I have a sneaky suspicion that this will have to wait until my daughter is grown and moves out…which I am not rushing at all. So it goes.

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Public Outings and New Parents

When my daughter was a newborn, one of my biggest fears was taking her out in public alone. This seems like a petty thing in light of the fact that, along with my wife, I was now responsible for the life on an entire human. Public places are scary things these days and I find myself staying home more the older I get. I knew it would not be fair to keep my daughter in the house forever, so I had to get comfortable taking her places. Taking a baby out in public alone is a scary thing for a new father. I mean, seriously, think of all of the things that can happen. Germs are everywhere and the media regularly inundates us with stories of child snatchers and other creepos.

Prior to my daughter’s birth, my time around kids was extremely limited. How could I, somebody who has never taken care of a baby, be comfortable with this? I mean, what if I had to pee, or worse a number two, while at the grocery or at the mall with my infant daughter? Do I take a baby in the bathroom with me? Is that even hygienic? Would I get slack for exposing my daughter to public bathroom germs?

Before I say any more, you must know that I am a chronic over thinker and tend to default to the worst case scenario. When I was preparing to be a father, I often turned to dads in pop culture for guidance because I was never close to my own father. Since TV and movie dads are often portrayed as loveable buffoons, little was done to ease my concerns. What I did learn from watching TV, there is usually somebody in a worse situation than what I am likely to face.

One of my favorite pop culture dads is Michael Keaton in Mr. Mom (1983). The grocery store scene is what I always imagined happening to me if I took my child out in public. I never thought I was naive enough to leave my daughter unattended in a grocery cart, but I, like Keaton, might go into a panic if I had purchase feminine hygiene products.  Okay, maybe I am a bit more secure in my masculinity than that, but still, crazy things can happen.

I do think that holding a baby’s wet bottom up to a hand dryer is a brilliant idea. I do not understand why so many people laugh and mock that scene in the movie. It’s really quite a clever idea. it’s good enough for our hands, it should be good enough for butts too.

I really did fear bathroom incidents in public, particularly at the grocery store for some reason. I only changed a diaper once before my daughter was born and it did not go well. Are there instructions on those little changing stations in the bathroom? Would the men’s bathroom even have a changing table? What if my daughter pooped and the smell made other people so ill that they threw up in the produce section? Again, with the over thinking.

My job allows me two weeks off at Christmas, so the December after my daughter was born I knew I would have to venture out at some point. Sure enough, on a cold Tuesday afternoon I discovered that we were out of milk and oatmeal and therefore, there was no way around a trip to Kroger. I bundled my daughter up and off we went. Thankfully, none of the things that Michael Keaton experienced happened to me. The worst part of the trip was two different old ladies trying to touch my daughter. I mean, old people are cute and everything, but I am just not cool with strangers touching my kid’s face! Common sense, people!

I am happy to say that 16 months later, our public outings have been rather uneventful and my fears are somewhat eased. I still have to fight off old ladies, because they inevitably want to touch my kid. She is old enough now to just give them a weird look and her body language alone lets them know she is uncomfortable.

I also get a lot of people who comment how “cute” it is for a little girl to be out with her daddy. It’s like people assume that all dads are “hands off” parents, so when we are out and about with a kid it is something special. Hello, it’s my kid and I am an active parent in her life. You do not need to patronize me.

Anyway, it is natural to have fears about going out in public with a baby, especially if you have limited experience caring for a child. Like anything else in life, being a parent is trial and error. If something does not work one day, then try a different approach the next.

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First Post!

Welcome! This blog is aimed at bringing together my two most favorite topics: pop culture and being a dad. I am dad to an awesome, quirky one year old who already loves music, movies, cartoons, and other nerdy stuff. I have always been a pop culture connoisseur (I am even completing a graduate degree in it) but I never realized how much this love would intersect with my role of being a dad. While I love Twitter, Facebook, and other social media,  I have found that I have much more to say than 140 characters affords me. Hence, the birth of popaculture. I am not 100% sure where this project will lead, but I am looking forward to the ride. Enjoy!

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