Real Men Don’t Cry

Real Men Don’t Cry

Frankie is almost 2.5 years old and still sleeps with us, which is actually something I’ll cover in another blog. However, it’s relevant to this particular post so it warranted mentioning.

We sleep in a platform bed. For clarity, that’s a bed frame with wooden slats upon which our mattress sits directly. There is no box spring which means the sleeping surface is probably a little below the height of the average beds sleeping surface. It’s also not extremely low, meaning that you wouldn’t want to roll off of it onto the floor. Unfortunately for my son, who likes to crawl around in his sleep, that’s exactly what happened. Fortunately for my son, he had crawled to the foot of the bed and rolled directly onto a chest, so his fall was probably around 18 inches, if that.

Now I’m a light sleeper, pretty much like a highly trained secret agent who might have to deal with an attacker at any moment. Should a burglar, serial killer, or any former cast member of Saved By The Bell invade my home in the night, they should expect to be dispatched quickly with lethal force.

So, when Frankie 4 rolled onto the chest with a thump, I was there before he even had time to cry out. I scooped him up into my arms and he let out barely a whimper, placing his head on my shoulder. I whispered over and over again, “It’s okay, daddy’s got you.” I laid down on the bed still holding him on top of me and he was already back asleep. He was fine, not even scared, and the entire incident was no big deal at all.

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The next morning I worked out, as I do on a daily basis, to maintain my muscled physique, youthful appearance, and immense feelings of superiority over others, then went inside. Lisa had fulfilled her wifely duty of preparing breakfast for my son and I and he was already at the table. When I sat down to eat Lisa asked him, “What happened last night?”

Frankie replied, “I fell off the bed.”

She followed that with, “Then what happened?”

My son looked me directly in the eye and said, “Daddy saved me.”

I stared at him.

He said, “Daddy you saved me. You saved me daddy.”

My chin quivered, my eyes got watery, and then I started sobbing so hard that I couldn’t speak. Frankie just kept at it, “Daddy you saved me.” Every time he said it I sobbed harder. And I mean full on, loud, gut wrenching, tears gushing, couldn’t breathe sobbing. If you’d walked in at that moment you would have assumed that someone close to me had died.

Now let’s be clear, I am well aware that I didn’t “save” my son from anything. In fact, I didn’t even really have to console him. He fell a few inches and the impact was so mild that he didn’t even cry. Truth be told, I was just happy that it was a non incident and we got to go right back to sleep. If I am to credit myself with anything, it’s that I responded instantly when he fell. Maybe he was scared for a brief moment and my picking him up so quickly made him feel “saved”.

None of that mattered when he said, in that little boy voice, “Daddy you saved me.” Regardless of what had actually happened, he decided to string together some words that struck me right in my heart. My son causes me to experience intense bursts of emotion on a daily basis, often resulting in me becoming teary eyed. This was the first time, however, that I lost control and couldn’t stop crying. It got so bad that Frankie looked at me concerned and asked, “Daddy, you sad?” which only served to make things worse.

Although some people from my past might disagree, I’ve never considered myself an emotionally closed off guy. I’ve certainly held back my emotions in many circumstances but I’ve never been too “manly” to let myself feel or to express those feelings. What I had never done prior to Frankie being born was to allow myself to become fully vulnerable to my emotions, to immerse myself in them openly and fearlessly, and to express them without reservation for all the world to see. So rather than be embarrassed to share that I cried like a little wussy infant baby sissy over my son, I wear it like a badge of honor. I’m a man. I don’t cry when I’m sad, when I’m injured, or when I’m scared. I cry exclusively when I’m so overwhelmed with love that I can’t and don’t want to contain it.

After what seemed like an eternity of me trying to reign myself in I finally caught enough breath to squeeze out, “No buddy, I’m not sad.” Unfazed, my boy smiled and said, “Daddy, you happy?”.

All I could say through the tears was, “Yeah, daddy’s happy. Daddy’s happy.”


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Life Swap

Life Swap

I unstrapped Frankie 4 from his car seat in the gray mini-van. We were in the parking lot at Noah’s Bagels going for a little father-son breakfast. When I asked what kind of cream cheese F4 wanted on his bagel he responded, unsurprisingly, “T-Rex cheese bagel.” Everything with him is either “T-Rex,” or “T-Rex egg,” which I love. So, as I’ve done about every 10 minutes since he was born, I laughed and said, “Give daddy a smooch.” He obliged by planting a big T-Rex kiss on me and as I closed the door to the mini-van I heard from behind me, “I’ll trade you.”

I turned to see a good looking guy, roughly 10 years younger than me, dressed stylishly, standing in front of a black late model Corvette.

I responded, “For the mini-van or the kid?”

He said, “Both, just for the day.”

Then he went on to explain to me how he wanted to experience what I have. He said that he was still in his ‘having fun” phase, but keeping an eye open for the right woman to settle down with and build a life. However, he also admitted that he wasn’t quite ready for all that. He liked the women, he liked the sports car, and he liked the freedom. But when he saw my son and I exchange a kiss he imagined it must feel pretty great to be a dad.

I shared with him a little about my past life and a little of what my life was like now. We both stood quietly for a moment then he went off to do what cool single guys with no kids do and I went to watch a 2 year old smear cream cheese from his forehead to his nipples.

With breakfast came a few unexpected events, one of which was Frankie sitting in his chair the entire time. This might not seem like a big deal but he’s not a sit still kind of kid. He’s a “this restaurant is a post apocalyptic world where I can run, climb, hide, accost strangers, and throw forks” kind of kid. So him sitting and chatting with me for the whole meal was a first. In the middle of forcing me to eat a bite of the bagel he’d already licked, two cops walked in and he said, “Daddy, policemans. Two policemans.” Lately he’s been obsessed with, mostly firemen and firetrucks, but also policemen and police cars. And saying “Two policemans” wasn’t news because he usually quantifies everything as two. He can actually count to 10, but that doesn’t come into play when he’s asked—

How many eggs are in that carton, Frankie?

Two.

How many fingers do you have?

Two.

How old is mommy?

Two.

You get the picture. But not long after the two policemen sat down, two more walked in. Frankie saw them and said, “Daddy, four policemans.” I was like, say what? “Four policemans, daddy.” I was super proud because he can count to 10 no problem but that was the first time he’d added up things (people) in a room. A few minutes later one of the the policemans came over and gave Frankie some police badge stickers that I was forced got to wear the rest of the day.

Frankie Daddy Badge

After breakfast we walked to the park and along the way he stopped to pick up a leaf. He held it up to  me and said, “Dinosaur bone.” Then he pulled me down to his level and put the leaf up to my mouth. “Daddy, show teeth.” He held the leaf up to my mouth, made his comparison, and decided, “Dinosaur tooth.” He carried that leaf the rest of the way to the park, comparing it to the various leaves, flowers, rocks, and sticks he paused to study. Some he declared to be dinosaur bones while others turned out to be nothing at all.

We spent about an hour at the park, climbing up the slide the wrong way, going down the big yellow tube slide together 349595993 times, and running through the entire place playing “obstacle course” in preparation for my next Spartan Race.

Slide with Daddy from Frank Prather on Vimeo.

After a while F4 started to get lazy.

T-Rex Cake from Frank Prather on Vimeo.

Eventually, he just gave up on exerting himself.

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Just before we left another family arrived with a baby and he whisper asked, “See the baby?” I took him over to see the baby and when the mom spoke to Frankie he got real shy and put his head on my shoulder. That’s a sure sign that he’s exhausted so I knew it was time to go home.

Back at the house we played with blocks for a while, building both a T-Rex and a firetruck. Then we watched an episode of the bane of my existence his new favorite show, “Dinosaur Dan”. Bordering the closing credits they had photos of some bones and he said, “Daddy, fossils.” I had no idea that he even knew the word “fossil” much less what they are, but seems that both he and I learn something new every day.

Just before I put Frankie down for a nap he planted another big kiss on me. And as I lay on the bed next to my sleeping boy I reflected on how magical the day had been so far. Reading this, I know you’re probably thinking, “That’s a pretty average day,” but you’re wrong. For me, every moment with my son, every word, every smile, and every kiss, is an indescribable feeling of discovery, awe, happiness, and love.

Just before I dozed off I thought of the last thing I said to Corvette guy in that parking lot just a few hours before.

“I appreciate the offer, but I wouldn’t trade this for anything.”

He simply didn’t have anything to offer me, because I already have everything I could ever want.

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The Two Of us

The Two Of us

Frankie 4 is my son, my main man, my go-to guy, my best buddy, and I spend as much time with him as possible. In fact, someone asked me just the other night what I would do if I could do anything I wanted for the rest of my life. I responded, “Spend time with my son,” because I am a loving father and I knew that “become the ruthless overlord of all mankind” was the wrong answer.

I also know that hanging full time with F4 is not a viable option because, unfortunately, I have to earn a living. Plus I require a minimal amount of “me time” for myself and “us time” with my wife. I’m always explaining to people that I get up early in the morning for that very reason. While my wife and son are still asleep I have coffee, read a book, check the news, and work out. Me time. Once they wake up, it’s daddy time. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

People always told me that I’d never have a kid if I waited until I felt ready to have a kid. Ever since I first heard that I added it to my “Stupid Shit People Say” list. I purposely waited until later in life to have a kid just so that I’d be ready to have one. When the time actually arrived I was far beyond ready. There wasn’t anything I wanted more than to be a dad. Now, 2 years into it, the only thing I wasn’t ready for is that it’s even better than I thought it would be.

I was in the bank recently adding my wife to one of my accounts because clearly I’ve lost my mind and don’t care about my money what’s mine is hers and vice versa. We got to chatting with the banker and it came up that we had kids around the same age. When my wife offered to stop by later with some paperwork, the banker, who was female, asked if she’d be bringing our son. I explained to her that no, he would be with me.

She said, “Wow, what do your friends think of that?”

I responded, “Think of what?”

“You babysitting for the day?” she oozed out of the asshole in her face.

Babysitting? BABYSITTING?

Is my wife paying me $11/hour to babysit? No.

Was I referred to her by a neighbor whose kid I watch when they go to the movies? No.

Am I a 16 year old girl earning money to go to cheer camp? Maybe er, no.

He’s my son you moron. I don’t babysit him.  I FUCKING CREATED HIM. If I’m spending the day with him on a Saturday it’s because I’m his father and I want to spend the day with him. In fact, I spend virtually all of my free time with my son because he is the best thing on the planet. What on earth is better than spending time with your own kid? How shitty is your husband that he’s not doing this?

Is spending most of your free time with your kid(s) not a thing for men? Are so many men absentee fathers that it’s a surprise when one chooses to hang with his son on a Saturday? How are we not castrating these people before they can impregnate women?!?

On a less violently angry and judgmental note, last Sunday I took Frankie to Disneyland. Well, to be more specific, to Disney’s California Adventure (hereafter known as DCA). Why you ask? Because he said he wanted to ride “Mah-turr”, which is how he pronounces “Mater” from the Cars movie. DCA has a Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree ride in Cars Land and he loves it. It wasn’t something I had planned for the day but my son wanted to go so we went. And it was awesome.

Disney

The ride to Anaheim wasn’t the awesome part. Nor were the crowds, the lines, or (for me at least) even the rides. What was awesome was spending the time with Frankie and seeing his joy. He smiled, he laughed, he yelled “Wheeeeee” on rides, and so did I.

I don’t mention Disney because it’s a particularly unique experience for us. We have an annual pass and go all the time. In fact, F4 and I have gone countless times. Same with the aquarium, the beach, the park, and the movies. We do it all, all the time.

Because I work all day Monday through Friday, I only get to spend mornings, evenings, and weekends with my son. Much of that time Lisa is there too so it’s the whole family. We’re fortunate that we get to be together as much as we are. Lisa is home during the week and gets to spend more time with Frankie than I do which makes me a little jealous. So when she works on the weekend I don’t look at having Four all to myself as a duty but rather as a gift.

I know that one day he’ll reach an age where hanging out with dad won’t be his first, or even second choice. Hell, he might not want to at all. So I’m taking advantage of every moment right now while I can. One day, when he’s old enough to understand, I want him to look at his life and know that I was there for all of it. Not just when his mom needed someone to babysit. I don’t babysit my son. I raise him, love him, and live every moment of my life around him.

That day at Disney was the best day ever, because every day with him is the best day ever. I want as many of those as possible. He gave me so many smiles, so many hugs, and so many kisses. What else could I have been doing that would have been better than that? What else could possibly be better than spending time together, the two of us.

Here We Go Sport

Here We Go Sport

I just did something I swore I’d never, under any circumstances, do once I had a child. It’s difficult to reconcile that I’ve gone against my principles and risked all that I hold dear, gambling both my and my childs well being.

I signed my son up for soccer.

There’s a list of sports I want to kill and soccer holds a place firmly in the top 5 along with golf, tennis, lacrosse,  and golf. Yes, golf is listed twice because I harbor double the disdain for this so-called “sport”. It’s a skill, certainly, but not a sport. At least tennis and lacrosse require some level of physical fitness. You can play golf if you have one eye, emphysema, or even a wooden peg leg. Not to mention the fact that watching it is like staring into an empty abyss for all of eternity, only not as exciting.

Soccer held a similar position in my heart up until a few months ago. It was not Cristian Ronaldo or Lionel Messi that swayed me. Nor was it the great and glorious god of hairstyles that I worship, David Beckham. It was my one year old son himself, Frankie Four. See, I’d purchased F4 a little soccer ball on a whim one day. Not because I wanted him to play soccer, far from it, but because the ball itself was more durable than the other balls on sale for $4.99. My vehement opposition to soccer is overshadowed only by my frugality. I hate soccer but I still want to kick it in its cheap balls. Anyway, Frankie Four and I were outside playing the day before his first birthday. The ball was just sitting there when he walked up and kicked it. I figured it was an accident, that he’d been walking toward it and his foot hit before he had a chance to pick it up. Then he kicked it again. My son is only one but he’s sharp, so I doubted that the second time was inadvertent. Just to be sure, I pulled out the trusty phone and nudged the ball with my foot. Seconds later—

Boo ya! And ever since that first flurry of kicks, roughly 3 months ago, he’s constantly dribbling the soccer ball. Dribbling. Is that what it’s called? I know that’s what you call bouncing a basketball to move it down court, but is it the same for soccer? I could Google it but I’m terrified that soccer related ads will start showing up in my email and newsfeed. I’d rather Google “animal with largest testicles” or “is human pancreas edible” or “am I secretly a woman trapped in a mans body?’ than have soccer related marketing target me. That’s my level of disdain for soccer.

You’re probably wondering why I hate soccer worse than Donald Trump hates well, everyone. First off, I played one season of soccer back in elementary school and I sucked at it. I know, I know, it’s hard to believe there was ever anything at which I did not excel. That should be proof enough that soccer is a ridiculous activity. If I wasn’t good at it then, by default, it must actually be the thing itself that sucks, because look at me. Aside of  the traumatic childhood experience of participating in that horror show of a sport, it’s fucking boring. Painfully boring. Granted, it’s not “golf boring”, but it’s definitely a snooze fest to the nth degree. Proof is in the goals. The average number of goals in most World Cup matches is less than 3. Remember, we’re talking about a 90 minute game. That means you’re lucky if you see one goal every half hour. In between those goals you’re watching 22 people run toward a ball. One of those 22 people kicks the ball really far down a field roughly the size of Rhode Island. Then, all 22 people turn and run after the ball. Whoever gets there first kicks it back in the opposite direction and they all turn the other way and run. In the unlikely event that someone kicks the ball into the opposing teams net, a man, always from a foreign country, screams “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL!” then immediately dies of surprise that someone scored. His scream is roughly 19 minutes long and is easily the most exciting part of the game. Unfortunately, just after he dies, the 22 people go back to playing soccer.

To make matters worse, I’m going to have to pretend to enjoy soccer. My son is only 15 months old so there aren’t a lot of sports he can play. I can’t sign him up for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or wrestling because it’s too early for the other toddlers to get choked out or suplexed. I considered swimming but that breast milk gut he’s rocking is not a good look in a Speedo. I’m going to discourage him from football because I prefer to avoid brain damage. And don’t start lecturing me about how MMA fighters can get brain damage because I’ll head kick you. When he’s ready to fight, he’ll fight.

One aspect of this that I do enjoy is that Frankie Four is going to start the soccer program at exactly 16 months old, to the day. The age range is 18-26 months for the starter program so he’ll be one of, if not the youngest kid on the field. If he’s good, I can brag about how advanced he is for his age. If he sucks (like I did), I can explain it away because he started so young. Either way, I win.

If I take a step back, and pretend that I’ve signed him up for something that’s not soccer, I’m really excited. It’s Four’s first group activity other than a sign language and sing along class that I never had the opportunity to attend. The soccer “league” is on Saturday mornings, right in our neighborhood, so that gets to be a daddy activity. I’m looking forward to seeing him interact with other kids in an “organized” manner and introduce him to being a team player. Although most of the sports I personally enjoy participating in and watching are solo endeavors, I understand the value of the team structure. Mostly I’m just enamored of the idea that this will be the first of many activities throughout his life where I can be there to cheer him on. Watching him school the other toddlers enjoy himself while learning valuable life lessons will be an immense source of joy for me. Whenever I took on a sport as a child my dad was always there and it was a great bonding experience. I look forward to sharing the same experiences with my son.

At the end of the day, I don’t care that he likes sports as long as he embraces physical activities and fitness. But if he does like sports, and wants to play, I’ll be on the sidelines 100% of the time, cheering him on, encouraging him, congratulating him for wins, consoling him for defeats, and always reminding him that I am his biggest fan.

Even if he loves to play soccer.

Although I’d prefer baseball.

Or powerlifting.

Bad Ass Dad

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10 Things I Learned In My First Year As A Dad

10 Things I Learned In My First Year As A Dad

I just celebrated my son’s first birthday and spent time reflecting on some of what I’ve learned in the last year.

birthdaybanner

One of the first things I realized is that the birth of your child is the single greatest experience that exists. I’m not claiming that everyone should have a child, or that you’re wrong if you don’t want them. Most of you shouldn’t. Have them, that is, because look at you. I’m simply saying that the actual birth of a human being, that you created, is impossible to equal with any other experience aside of possibly being born yourself. The only difference is that you probably don’t remember your own birth unless you have a really good memory.

That said, the subsequent raising of your child might suck. You might resent having given up your old life in order to raise your child. You could be a shitty parent. You could even have an ugly, stupid kid. All valid reasons for you to not risk having one. I, on the other hand, was never concerned about those things. Rather than give up my old life, I just integrated my son into it. Be a shitty parent? Given that I excel at everything, not a problem. And having an ugly and/or stupid kid? He’s got my genetics so that’s a scientific impossibility.

birthday

The last year has been more rewarding for my son than I ever could have anticipated. As the undisputed greatest parent that’s ever lived, my sense of accomplishment for raising a perfect child is huge, and deservedly so. I mean, there are a lot of great parents out there so imagine how I must feel being considerably better than all of them. It’s truly humbling to outshine the rest of the world.

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My son, Frankie Four, is just like me, exceptional. Beautiful blue eyes. Check. Winning smile. Check. Superior intellect, charming personality, and smelly poo poo’s. Check, check, and check. Here we are, face to face, a couple of silver spoons.

love

Enough nonsense. Here are 10 things I really learned in my first year as a dad.

1) Nothing does, or ever has, come close to making me feel the way I feel when my son smiles at me. When he looks up with that little face and breaks into a grin, which happens about every 3 minutes, the rest of the world ceases to exist.

balls

2) As a proud germaphobe I am wholly disgusted at the idea of most people, except for perhaps my wife, sharing a beverage with me or taking a bite of my food. Because you people are gross. However, Frankie Four can grab food with his filthy little hand, drop it on the floor, pick it back up, put it in his mouth, partially chew it and cover it in slobber, spit it back into his filthy little hand, then hold his hand out for me to eat it. Whatever it is tastes better than than the best steak and lobster I’ve ever had.

food

3) My wife is way more bad ass than I am. She takes care of our son, takes care of me, takes care of the house, and works (check out her work at www.makeupartist411.com). And she complains uh, never. In fact, she thanks me on a daily basis. Not going to write any more about her. She requires her own post, not an entry on this one.

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4) Having a child makes me appreciate my parents and grandparents even more than I already did. They didn’t have it easy and, under the circumstances, did an excellent job. Whenever I’m unsure of what to do as a parent I just love my son like they loved me and I know it’s exactly the right thing.

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5) I want to do things that don’t involve my son approximately 10% of the time, or less. Don’t get me wrong, I like to get away for “grownup time”. But after a very brief respite from the responsibility of parenting, I want to be with my kid. When I’m not with him, I’m generally thinking about him.

backpack

6) Watching your child grow up is both awesome and heartbreaking. As much as I want him to advance quickly so I can post video of him reading at 18 months, I also want him to continue babbling unintelligibly forever. Every new stage is adorable and fills me with pride but makes me miss the stage that just ended. That’s another reason I spend virtually all of my free time with him. I don’t want to miss any of it.

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7)  I spent much of my life being, or trying to be, the center of attention. Now I prefer to direct my attention toward my son and your attention well, doesn’t matter so much. That said, keep paying attention to me because you deserve to treat yourself.

bath

8) Frankie Four has me at about 50/50 on wanting another kid. On one hand, he’s so incredible that it’s hard to fathom not doing it again. On the other hand, I feel like it’s a huge risk to hope the next kid turns out to be like him. Everyone says that you’ll love the second one just as much, even if they’re different.

No, I won’t.

chair

9) Watching Four interact with other kids is one of my favorite parts of being a parent. It’s especially great when he’s playing with the children of my friends, as it gives our bond of friendship an additional layer. My favorite play dates are those with Bodhi, the son of my good friends Jeff & Angeline. Jeff and I are the same age, and our sons are only around one month apart. Witnessing them grow side-by-side makes me hope that they develop a friendship that lasts forever.

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10) Although I understood it even before my son came into this world, the moment he was born was when I learned the most valuable lesson of all—that I was meant to be a dad. I will be forever grateful to my wife Lisa, and my son Frankie, for making me the happiest dad on earth.

And a bonus lesson—my son kills the facial expression game.

base2

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Baby Food For Thought

Baby Food For Thought

My favorite part of the day has always been early morning. I like to get up before my wife, before noisy traffic, often before the sun has risen. The world is still a peaceful place and I can ease into life, like gently lowering myself into a warm bath infused with some sort of ridiculous overpriced chick-nonsense scented bath ball.

And then a baby fart rudely awakens me from my beautiful daydream.

Theses days I’m getting up even earlier than before. But it’s not to enjoy a few moments of quiet introspection, or a leisurely stretching session, or to watch mankind destroying itself, aka the news. It’s because I have an 8 month old baby boy who owns my mornings, along with any other previously labeled “me time”.

Ironically, I love these morning more than any mornings that came before them. Before Frankie Four was born the morning would (he said “morning wood”) be dedicated to avoiding all other human contact. Now the start of my day is dedicated solely to interacting with my son.

I usually wake up before Lisa and Four, so I hustle to shower and complete a few chores like take out the trash, wash the dishes, or poop. In the midst of these tasks, usually the pooping, I inevitably hear a call of, “Daaaaddy”, which is Lisa’s cute way of saying, “This kid chomped on my boobs half the night while you slept like you’re on vacation, so batter up motherfucker.” I drop whatever I’m doing and rush in to find my boy smiling up at me. He’s a happy kid in general, almost always smiling or laughing. But he’s got this big sleepy grin when he first wakes up that reminds me of what a great life I have.

I scoop him up and he presses his face against mine, his little warm cheek soft against my cheek, his arm around my neck, and nothing else in the world exists. It’s just me and my son and a love so strong that I don’t think my heart can contain it. There are mornings when holding him almost brings me to tears because I’d never imagined that being a dad would feel this good.

Now that I’m done weeping on my Macbook Pro like a little bitch, let’s get to the fun part—breakfast! This truly is the best part of my day. Every morning I put Four in his high chair and I make us breakfast. My oatmeal, his rice cereal mixed with carrots. My coffee, his steamed sweet potato. My scrambled egg whites, his scrambled egg whites. Actually, they’re the same egg whites. I don’t make them in separate batches. That would be stupid and inefficient.

Bad Ass DadI prepare eggs delicately, hence the extended pinky.

Bad Ass Dad CookingPlating and presentation of an ample bicep is key to being a good chef.

Bad Ass Dad feeding babyFour glares at me waits patiently between bites.

Bad Ass Dad feeding babyMy cereal looks good dad, but mommy taught me to try to eat your food instead of my own.

Bad Ass Dad feeding babyI’m not kidding old man. Gimme the goddamn oatmeal.

Bad Ass Dad feeding babyI’m done now. Be gone.

Before I say anything else, let me just point out how much I love my son. I allowed Lisa to take these photos prior to applying any hair product to my always perfect coif. In essence, I’ve bared my soul for you, for him, and for all mankind. You’re welcome. (Also, side note, I don’t have a soul because that’s not a real thing.)

This is a pretty typical morning for us. We also spend some time playing, maybe read a book, and practicing our conversation. I’m in an office Monday through Friday, have a few personal projects I work on, and go to the gym 4-5 days per week. Other than that, my family gets 100% of my time and attention. In a perfect world I’d spend all of my time with them, but then we’d be living in a dumpster behind an Arby’s and worse, be eating Arby’s. So, I maximize my time to the best of my ability in order to take an active role in raising my son. Lisa busts her ass on a daily basis taking care of Four (and me), and she deserves some time for herself. But more than that, I want to be a good dad more than I’ve ever wanted to be anything in my life. Each and every day I wake up grateful for the opportunity to be a father, and I want my son to know how much that means to me. If I can communicate that with morning snuggles, a diaper change, and some scrambled eggs, I think I’ve done my job.

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If you enjoy the blog then follow me on Instagram (@frankprather) for pics of our daily adventures.

What I Learned From My First Father’s Day

What I Learned From My First Father’s Day

I’m a dad.

That thought recurs periodically throughout each day, and every time I’m hit with a surreal sense of wonder. I wake up in the morning, there’s my baby. I get home from work, there’s my baby. I get a text in the middle of the day, there’s a picture of my baby. It’s not as if I ever forget that I have a son, but rather that my mind is occasionally occupied with other thoughts until his existence unceremoniously dropkicks those “other thoughts” out of my head.

This past Sunday, my first Father’s Day as a dad, there was not a single moment where any thought other than, “I’m a dad” was able to cross my synapses. It actually began a day early, on Saturday, when the first card arrived from my mom. Sunday started with a text at 5:59am from my stepmom, followed by one from my mother-in-law, my dad, then a bunch of friends throughout the day.

text1 text2 text3

There were also some awesome cards.

Father's Day Cards

Most importantly, there were these two:

LisaFour

That’s my wife, Lisa, and my 4 month old son Frankie, aka “Four”.

My Father’s Day kicked off with a family walk at the beach, pushing Four along in his stroller with his fat little feet sticking out just enough to feel the warmth of the sun. We passed quite a few other couples doing the same thing, each time the dad and I exchanging a nod and a knowing smile. It was an unspoken acknowledgment that we were proud members of the new dad club, and that this was our day. In many ways it was similar to the looks I get from other bikers when I’m sitting on my motorcycle, only this felt way cooler. I never imagined that pushing a quiet stroller would make me feel infinitely more Bad Ass than a roaring 1600 cc Harley.

Dad with stroller at beach

Lisa took me for sushi after the beach and Four cooperatively slept through the entire lunch.

Next we headed to treat ourselves to some Açaí bowls and boobs, both refreshing on a hot summer day.

boobandbowl

Our final stop was  so that I could revisit 1982, the last time I bought a pair of Van’s. That particular pair were the black and white, checkered slip-ons a la Jeff Spicoli in “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” which 12 year old me watched hundreds of times just to see Phoebe Cates boobs. The new kicks I treated myself to have laces, and no checkers, because my son seemed to like this pair more.

FourShoes

On a side note, growing up in Maryland, I loved Fast Times because, to me, it romanticized the idea of living in a Southern California beach town where life appeared to be sunshine and boobs every day. Funny how, 33 years later, I bought my second pair of Van’s in Hermosa Beach, just a few miles from where I live now, enjoying year round sunshine and a gorgeous Southern California bred wife with even better boobs than Phoebe Cates.

boobs

Sunday really was the perfect day. A simple time spent with my wife and my son, the two people that I love most in this world, and the two people who made me a dad. And, over the course of my first Father’s Day, I came to learn something I’ll endeavor to keep in mind for the rest of my life.

On Father’s Day, while everyone is honoring me, I need to remind myself that they’ve got it all wrong. To me, the day shouldn’t be about others honoring me, but about me honoring them. Honoring them for allowing me to take on the most important role I will ever have in my life, that of being a dad.

Frank Prather

Dad Bod – Does This Kid Make Me Look Fat?

Dad Bod – Does This Kid Make Me Look Fat?

Let’s get this out of the way before all of the professional victims start whining about my opinion on the “dad bod” trend and call me a fat shamer. I’m not a fat shamer. I shame all people equally.

I’m a mediocrity shamer.

For those who don’t know, “dad bod” is a term recently coined by a Clemson student named Mackenzie Pearson in an article for ‘The Odyssey’ called “Why Girls Love The Dad Bod”. Ms. Pearson describes the dad bod in the following excerpt:

“The dad bod is a nice balance between a beer gut and working out. The dad bod says, “I go to the gym occasionally, but I also drink heavily on the weekends and enjoy eating eight slices of pizza at a time.” It’s not an overweight guy, but it isn’t one with washboard abs, either.”

Given the adult and childhood obesity epidemic in America, I’m relieved that someone has finally started a movement to set the bar as low as humanly possible. I’ve spent so many years exercising and eating healthy, trying to maintain a high level of fitness, that I’m ashamed. My wife must be disgusted with my lack of excessive body fat. And christ, what kind of example am I setting for my son. He’s at risk of growing up to think that fitness and health is important to your quality of life. Fuck that. I’ll be at the McDonald’s drive through if you need me.

Pearson goes on to list the reasons that girls love a dad bod, which I will now shit on in this particular post.

1) “It doesn’t intimidate us.”

She uses the example of standing, in a bathing suit, next to a guy with a fit body and feeling insecure about herself. Basically what Pearson is saying is that his fit physique makes her feel badly about her unfit physique. So rather than taking better care of herself, eating healthier, and exercising more frequently, she’d prefer that he also make poor personal choices, giving her a lower standard to live up to.

I think more people need to start thinking this way. All of these stupid motivational book encouraging you to aim higher are pointing you in the wrong direction. What you need to be doing is surrounding yourself with people who are less fit, less educated, and less successful than you so that you’re not at risk of being dissatisfied with your own mediocrity. Don’t set the bar low, bury it underground!

2) “We like to be the pretty one.”

According to Pearson, females aren’t satisfied with just having a poorly constructed physique, they also want to appear skinny. And the best way to accomplish this is by standing next to a fat guy. In comparison it would make her look smaller. Notice how she doesn’t mention that she might look smaller if she stood next to a muscular guy.

How are all women not mad at this chick for assuming that every female suffers from poor self image and a complete lack of self esteem?

3) “Better cuddling”

Her entire entry under this heading is, “No one wants to cuddle with a rock. Or Edward Cullen. The end.” I think it makes perfect sense. Why would a girl want to rest her head on a firm, muscular pec when she could squish it down onto a hairy man boob that would mold to the shape of her face?

As far as the Edward Cullen comment well, point taken.

4) “Good eats.”

A guy that eats healthy should disgust every woman. “Sexy” is a lack of self control and succumbing to your every craving regardless of the consequences. Here I am, literally “doing my meal prep every Sunday” night and only indulging in moderation, mostly on the weekends, when I should be eating tacos and drinking beer on a nightly basis.

Atherosclerosis is a panty dropper.

5) “You know what you’re getting.”

This one might be the saddest greatest statement of all. Young Mackenzie continues on to explain that women envision a future with a male prospect very early on, so having a shitty dad bod from jump means that they have years to get used to it. He’ll have “the same exact body type at age 22 that he’s going to have at 45.” Yes! Hopefully he’ll start at the bottom of the ladder and stay there forever. If she’s truly lucky, his intellect, emotional maturity, career, financial status, and social skills will also remain stagnant from his 20’s until he dies early from heart disease.

By way of proving her theory correct, below are two photos of me. The first is of me at age 22, wearing a super manly, hot pink Speedo. The second is of me today, 5/21/15, exactly three months before my 45th birthday. No Photoshop, no filters, no special lighting or flattering angles.

Frank Prather - Bad Ass Dad

Frank Prather - Dad Bod

In the first picture I was competing in a bodybuilding contest where I won my weight class, weighing in at approximately 165 pounds. I’d been training twice a day for months and adhering to an absurdly strict diet. I don’t know what my body fat percentage was but it was low, unlike the amount of hair product, spray tan, and baby oil covering me.

In the second picture I’m standing in my bathroom where I’d just peed in what appeared to be morse code, thanks go my middle-aged prostate. My current weight is approximately 160 pounds. I workout for an hour, 4-5 days per week, and adhere to a mostly healthy diet with weekly binges on In N’ Out Burger and five or six super sized Kit Kat bars. I don’t know what my body fat percentage is here either.

I’m not a candidate for the cover of Men’s Fitness magazine. I’ll never be mistaken for a Calvin Klein model. I’m not even the fittest one of my friends. However, I think I look pretty good for a guy pushing 45 who has a 3 month old baby, a wife, and a normal day-to-day life.

The point of my entire post, if you’re not clever enough to discern it on your own, is that we as a society owe it to ourselves, and our children, to not aim for mediocrity in any facet of our lives. You wouldn’t suggest to your children that they should shoot for below average intelligence, or success, or maturity, or social ability, or kindness, or compassion, or emotional health, or any other aspect of their development, so why would you encourage them to aspire to a lesser level of physical fitness or health?

Ask yourself why you aspire to be (or appear) smarter, more successful, or nicer, or whatever you prioritize in your personal development, but not your fitness? What good is anything else without your health? Yes, I know that the “dad bod” bullshit speaks in terms of physical appearance, but the not-so-underlying message is poor health choices.

“…drink heavily on the weekends and enjoy eating eight slices of pizza at a time.”

People say that America isn’t what it used to be and I agree. Maybe our attitudes are the problem. Shouldn’t we strive to be more, to be better? Are we happy being the fat, fading, consumer society where 21% of our kids are obese35% of adults are obese, and 69% of adults qualify as overweight.

Before my son was born, I wrote a post committing to setting a good example for him when it comes to my health and fitness. I intend to demonstrate that to him every day by exercising, eating healthy, and walking around shirtless so that he can marvel at the fullness of my pecs and how my triceps bulge out like goddamn water balloons. I also plan to teach him to make good food choices, to focus on his fitness, and to indulge in rest and delicious treats in moderation so that he grows up with balance in his life.

I won’t push him toward perfection, I’ll encourage him to set his own standards, but to set them high. I don’t want him to be the best at everything, I just want him to be the best that he can be. And that will never include lowering the bar to make anyone feel better about themselves, particularly himself.

Cloning Myself Part 1

Cloning Myself Part 1

We all agree that I am an exceptionally great person who cares about everyone else in the world and just wants them to be happy. As such, it’s my duty to share with them the most magnificent gift that mankind could ever hope to receive, more of me. And, while I’ve been voted “Most Likely To Be Immortal” by my peers (I have no peers), there’s still a reasonable chance that I will one day expire. Hence, I have created life in the form of my son, Franklin Nathaniel Prather IV (aka Four) and will raise him to be exactly like me, perfect.

Below are 10 things that I’m teaching Four so he can be a superior being, just like his humble father.

1) Most people are irritating so it’s best to simply avoid them. However, you can to share yourself with them via social media so that they may bask in the digital glow of your visage. By the time you’re ready to do that without my assistance, I predict that the most popular site will be Instahologram.com (Instaholagram.com in Spanish) where others can feel ignored by a life sized you, as if you were in the same room.

2) All religion is nonsense, “god” is pretend, and “spirituality” is for hippies, chicks, and motivational speakers. You should be logical, like Spock, only with a scathing wit and winning smile.

3) Exercising and eating right will result in good health, a better physique, hotter significant others, and the right to lord your superiority over everyone to an even greater degree than just being smarter than they are. Nice pecs = lots of se…you get the idea.

4) Be smarter than everyone. This might be the easiest thing on the list.

5) You can listen to and enjoy all types of music as long as you agree that Prince is the greatest musical artist that has ever lived.

6) I don’t care if you’re straight or gay, just never wear white sneakers with jeans or use emoticons.

7) Make fun of everyone equally but lay off those weaker than you. Mockery makes life worth living but bullying is for pussies.

8) Violence is never the answer unless you’re beating the shit out of a bully.

9) Being attractive is a result of good genetics which were bestowed upon you by your father. You’re welcome.

10) There is no one greater than your father in any way. No one.

This is just the beginning of what I’m going to teach you. Eventually you will be filled with so much knowledge that, along with your impressive physique and extreme good looks, you’ll be pretty much the best person ever, just like me.

We are already alike in so many ways…

Spartan4

Frank Prather

I Change Diapers, They Don’t Change Me

I Change Diapers, They Don’t Change Me

Before Frankie Four was born I was told countless variations of the following: “The baby will take over your life,” “You’re never going to sleep again,” “Nothing is ever going to be the same,” and every other version of “Being a parent is great but you are a victim who is totally at the mercy of your baby.”

Now, just after hitting the one month mark, I can unequivocally say that people are soft and terrible at life, because this baby shit is easy. Literally. I change about 600 diapers a day and the shit, it’s easy. He eats, he shits, and he sleeps, not necessarily in that order. What he doesn’t do is present a great many insurmountable challenges. Granted, the sleep schedule is inconvenient but I did what any sensible person would do.

I got my baby addicted to sleeping pills and I’m finding that quite restful.

Obviously I’m kidding. He almost choked to death when I tried to get him to swallow the sleeping pills. Since he was so uncooperative, my wife and I had to figure out our own system which has been working very well.

Lisa is breastfeeding so we’d done a lot of research and every “expert” said, “Don’t introduce a bottle or a pacifier before he’s at least a month old because it will cause nipple confusion.” So I decided to do the exact opposite and realized that it absolutely does cause nipple confusion—

if you have a stupid baby.

Fortunately, my kid, even at two weeks, was able to differentiate between a pacifier, a bottle, and a HUMAN BREAST THAT’S ATTACHED TO HIS MOTHER. If your baby is unable to do this, don’t blame yourself *cough*weakgenes*cough*.

Bad Ass DadFour, “So you’re telling me that some babies can’t tell this…”

Bad Ass Dad“or this….”

breast“From THIS?!?”

Bad Ass Dad“Your baby sounds dumb. Does he even know how to read yet?”

Four is so advanced that we were able to introduce the bottle very early on. Thus, we have developed a system that affords both of us a reasonable number of consecutive sleep hours. Lisa breast feeds him all throughout the day, right up until the “final” feeding around 9pm, then heads to the bedroom and closes herself off from the world. I turn all of the lights down low and put Four to sleep in the co-sleeper, which I’ve rolled into the living room. If I’m tired, I crash on the sofa. If not, I watch a little TV until I doze off. Initially he’d wake up around 11 or 11:30pm to eat, although now that’s stretched to around midnight. I put a bottle in the warmer and change his diaper while we wait for his milk to hit titty temp. Once I feed him he’s usually restless for 30-40 minutes then konks out again for another 2-3 hours. By the time he’s ready for his next meal, Lisa has had 5-6 solid hours of restful sleep and I’ve gotten a few winks myself. At that point I wake up Lisa and we switch. She hits the living room, feeds him and naps on the couch. I lock myself in the bedroom for some real sleep. Assuming it’s around 2am, and I’m going to wake up at 7, I also get at least 5 consecutive hours. Now, 5 hours isn’t a full night in anyone’s book, but add to that 4-ish hours of intermittent sleep and we’re just as rested as a lot of people who don’t even have kids.

I told Lisa from the moment we decided to have a baby that he would integrate into our life, not consume it. We would get enough sleep, continue working, exercise, eat right, and not be stuck in the house like prisoners. Check, check and double check to all of the above. It boggles my mind to hear that some people don’t do this. It’s like they’ve brought home a tiny warden who has sentenced them to an ambiguous amount of time in the pen.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re not living our “normal” life exactly as it was before, but we haven’t given up anything either. I’m fortunate in that my bosses are all family people and have been letting me work from home. Lisa’s mom, Susie, is next door and a huge amount of help. But all I heard before this baby was, “Get X in now because you won’t be doing it again for a while.” I thought a lot about that the third day after we’d brought him home from the hospital, while I was at Crossfit working out. When I got home that evening and was eating salmon with roasted vegetables that Lisa had made for dinner, we discussed how much our normal daily routine had been destroyed by bringing home a newborn.

Lisa: How was Crossfit?

Me: Great, I’m starving. 

Lisa: Don’t worry, dinner is ready.

Me: Cool, you want to watch “Blacklist”?

Lisa: Sure, but I have to tell you, this is already becoming really difficult for me to handle.

Me: Having a baby?

Lisa: No, this situation between agent Keen, her ex-husband, and Reddington. 

Now, Four is about to hit 6 weeks old. He’s been to restaurants for lunch multiple times. He’s attended a small dinner party. He spent Easter morning picnicking on the beach. He’s been to the park at least a dozen times to watch mommy work out. He’s been to Target, Trader Joe’s, and the baby clothes store. He’s ridden in the car from Manhattan Beach to Claremont to visit his grandpa. He stayed home one evening with grandma so mommy and daddy could go for sushi. His feet have touched sand, grass, and concrete. Soon he’ll come to watch daddy do Crossfit and shortly thereafter attend his first Spartan Race where he will stay in his first hotel. He is living his life by living our life, and will continue to do so because he’s a goddamn baby and doesn’t have any choice. Luckily for all of us, he enjoys it. I know that he enjoys it because he looks me straight in the eye, smiles a lot, and babbles sounds that I translate into him saying, “These are things I like, daddy…”

Bad Ass DadMy Batman shirt.

bad ass dadLifting weights at the park.

bad ass dadGetting my diaper changed in the trunk.

baby turtleDoing my turtle impression.

bad ass dadTaking selfies with daddy.

bad ass dadGetting weird with mommy.

bad ass dadShowing off my neck strength like a boss.

bad ass dadWearing my stunna shades.

bad ass dadFolding laundry (sucks).

bad ass dadWatching my dad do dumb shit with me.

bad ass dadShowing disdain for other humans, just like daddy.

But most of all, I love…

bad ass dadMy mommies kisses.

What it comes down to is that our lives are better than ever. So good, in fact, that it makes me wanna puke.

A video posted by Frank Prather (@frankprather) on