By Russell W. Peterson | DayParentDad.com

Some dude blogger and stay at home dad at DadNCharge wants to "Banish The Playdate". He argues it is hampering spontaneous, imagination-filled free play. Hogwash. It is about returning to traditional childhood values where barefoot women stayed at home and never really watched the kids. Men were men, protected the family and went to work. As it should be. Children played unsupervised most of the day. We all had a star spangled youth and grew up just fine.

My dad went to work in the dawn's early light before most of us were up. We didn't usually see him until dinner. Sometimes not even then if there was an emergency incident. Occasionally he would show up on the weekend and pull us around on the lawn tractor perusing his land or take us out for gun shooting practice. The protector/soldier role is best for dads.

I remember my mom's perilous fight with the laundry and mixing up frozen slushies by the gallons for her girlfriends. They never planned anything. They'd just show up, open the freezer and go to town with those cool beverages from the ice cream pail. No need to schedule a play date and select some fancy schmancy wine with the correct stemware. Who needs lunch anyway?

All the while, my friends and I played gallantly. We had a red, white and blue rusty metal swing set that bounced off the ground every time we swung very high catching and cutting our hands on the unprotected metal chains. No protective covering. No bandaids needed. We flew off those swings and landed on the hard dirt ground not that soft rubbery stuff the pansy kids play on nowadays. We scuffed our knees and broke arms. No urgent care. A sturdy, straight stick and some gauze did the trick. That metal slide was brutal on hot days scorching our hands and our behinds. I hit my head on that monkey bar so many times, I’m sure I had more concussions than an NFL player. It is what made us men and why we are supposed to be working and not playing house with the kids.

Once in a while we "had" to play with the girls. They were obsessed with dolls and playing house. We reluctantly assumed the role of father, went off to work and never returned. The tree house fort we escaped to was way too much fun anyway with our bottle rockets and swords. The dozen or so boards we had swiped from the dump across the street made great floors and walls. I'm sure there was no chemical contamination. A few rusty nails pounded into the flimsy tree branches and every building code was properly met. We inspected it ourselves. Eating our white bread salami sandwiches filled with fat and salt on those floor boards built up our immunity. I'm sure of it! The candy cigarettes with real smoke were a plus.

What I'm saying through these illustrations, is that I agree with DadNCharge dude on some level. Banishing the playdate would help us return to these free form, imaginative play times and restore America to her rightful heritage waving the banner of traditional roles. The cry across our parentingdom should be "Land of the play date free and home of the childhood brave!"

*PLEASE NOTE: This post is entirely nonfiction and contains absolutely no sarcasm.



 
 
As the dad of two daughters, I've never understood the fathers who rarely show up or don't attend their daughters activities: not one soccer game, dance recital, or swim practice. Why have a child? It might not be your interest, but it is theirs which makes it yours. Just because you are male and she is female, doesn't mean you should use historical social norms to excuse your participation in the raising of your child. Three years ago I had a heart attack. I missed my daughters' dance show. Even though I had attended 90% of their activities, I decided I was never going to miss another performance or game. After all, I didn't know how much time I had left. None of us really do. Upon further reflection, I decided it was more than that. So, I came up with a list of positive things a dad should do with his daughter before she leaves the nest or in my case goes to college.

  1. Hug your daughter and tell her you love her. Multiple times. Daily.
  2. Attend every open observation, practice, game, recital, etc. Give her flowers. When appropriate.
  3. Let your daughter paint her bedroom when she is older. Buy her good brushes. Throw them away. Don't cry.
  4. Ride with her while she drives the car. Don't criticize her driving. Compliment her at least once.
  5. Create a painting together. Hang it in the living room. No matter what it looks like.
  6. Find a sport to do together once in a while such as fishing, soccer, hiking, etc. Give her some tips. Then just be.
  7. Buy her a cell phone. Program your number in it. Title it "24/7 Availability".
  8. Bake her a birthday cake. Frost it. Looks don't matter.
  9. Buy her a puppy or a kitty. You won't regret it.
  10. Have a tea party with the dolls or the stuffed animals. At the small table. In costume.
  11. Go swimming with her. No matter your body image.
  12. Paint your toenails with her. At least once. When she is young.
  13. Go to a double feature. Romance movie followed by a science fiction flick. Cry at one of them.
  14. Share hot cocoa and toast with her late at night. Dunk the buttered toast. Listen.
  15. Take pictures of her doing things. Before she is too old to say no.
  16. Go shopping with your daughter and buy her a dress. Don't look bored. Treat her to lunch.
  17. Take her to the daddy daughter dance. Get a corsage. Buy the campy photo.
  18. Tell her you are proud of her. Be specific. Several times a week.

I'm sure there are others, but this list works for me. It covers art, sports, shopping, creativity, conversation, love, food, admiration, security and empowerment. We have so little time on this planet that dads shouldn't let history, established social behavior or society dictate what they can or cannot do with their daughters. Live a little. You may want them to fly home to the nest some day.

Copyright BartzPeterson LLC DayParentDad.com
Shared painting with my daughter. Yes it is in my living room. Copyright 2014 BartzPeterson LLC DayParentDad.com.

Get This Great Tshirt For Your Girl!

 
 
By Russell W. Peterson

Journalist Mark Simpson coined the word "metrosexual" in 1994. He claims these guys are clothing and grooming obsessed. They live in metropolitan areas and spend their money on image shopping. Now he now says metrosexuals are a dime a dozen and there has been an evolution to a new man: spornosexual - a mash up of sports and porn. These dudes are obsessed with their body, fitness, abs and selfies. They spend their money on physical training and have no need for shirts.

But there is another branch to the male evolutionary tree. It has taken longer to evolve; its numbers have grown dramatically in the past several years. I'm talking about the stadosexual: a mashup of stay and dad in stay at home dad. They spend their money on their families and wear gifted t-shirts. Although according to the National At Home Dad Network there are nearly seven million dads who stay at home at least one day per week and two million who do on a weekly basis, this breed is a bit more elusive to spot. 

I could say that stadosexuals aren't obsessed about their clothes, but that wouldn't be true. They are doing the family laundry nearly 24/7. There is always a pile of Mount Neverend clothing on the sofa needing to be washed or folded. Concern for their family's attire is only overshadowed by the stadosexuals need to wear the most advanced graphic designed t-shirts they've been given for father's day, Christmas and birthdays.

I could say that stadosexuals aren't obsessed about grooming, but I know many of these men spend countless hours changing diapers, washing babies, wiping up their muddy sons, brushing their daughters' hair, and painting their own toenails while playing with their girls. I'm sure they get to shower a few times a week.

I could say that stadosexuals don't live in metropolitan areas, but many of them do. Yet, many do not. They are a bit elusive. They are generally disguised as a babysitter pushing a stroller or camouflaged by a child they are carrying in their arms. The next time you see one make sure you tell them that their baby sitting disguise is working.

I could say that stadosexuls don't shop often, but we all know that isn't true. Children eat hordes of food, so weekly stints at the local market or warehouse store are very important to them. Typically you will find them in the fresh produce aisle during a week day with one or more children testing vegetable freshness or crying or screaming or behaving. Sometimes it is hard to tell.

I could say that stadosexuals aren't obsessed with their bodies, fitness or abs, but they are. The messages men are getting in media and advertising are as bad as what society has been selling to women for decades: thinner and leaner with more definition through shredding, eating less carbs, consuming more protein, training like a rock star and running a daily marathon. If a stadosexual does these things he will definitely have the muscle-defined super hero body of the comic book movie era. This is most definitely what a spouse and child wants from the stay at home male.

As mystifying as many of these traits are, there is one common trait I've witnessed in all stadosexuals: the ability to nurture their children and provide a loving home environment for their family. Not really a new breed of man, just one that is one the rise.

(Russell Peterson is a stay at home dad, architect, entrepreneur and some times lifestyle blogger. He lives in Minnesota with the trophy wife, two smart stiletto wearing daughters, three territorial cats and two escape artist dogs.)

Photography assumed in the public domain unless otherwise notified.
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The metrosexual poses in his natural environment.
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The spornosexual displays shirtless as usual.
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The stadosexual blending with family camouflage.
 
 
A news post yesterday identified the 7 best foods one should buy on a budget. Yes, apparently there are only seven. One of the items was peanut butter, which I can tell you is not cheap and is usually full of fat and sugar. The final one was protein bars - also usually full of sugar as well as sodium. The story talked about a couple who had eaten only protein bars every three hours each day saying they had saved a load of money and lost a bunch of weight. Good for them, but I don't buy it.

First let me say, that eating the same food over and over for days on end is no way to live. I've done it before. Not going back. As soon as you re-enter the real world, your system goes haywire and any weight you've lost most certainly will come rushing back. Not very healthy at all. Try having a social life or going out to dinner with friends. Not going to happen.

Second, as expensive as protein bars are, if you eat them every three hours it would cost a family of four $60 a day at a minimum or $420 per week. I just don't have that kind of money to spend on food. I'm not sure who does - so much for their saving a load of money.
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So here is my list of the 50 best heart* healthy budget foods with their approximate cost** per serving:

 
 
A few days ago a video was posted on YouTube showing Chicago Public School teachers in a professional development session. The teachers were all lined up in rows of desks too small for most adults and reciting word for word after the presenter. Honestly, one would have thought the presenter was programming Cylons. But she was not. She was training our teachers.
Here is the description on YouTube: 
"This presenter was one of several consultants flown in from California and the United Kingdom for the Chicago Public Schools' Office of Strategic School Support Services' special network. This is a professional development for teachers of Saturday ISAT preparation classes."

This really disgusts me and should enrage you too. Adults learn differently than children. There many proven instructional methodologies that work way better than repeating something over and over. I cannot believe that in today's educational environment, this kind of training is happening. 

On the other hand, I have served on many local school committees, a statewide standards committee, a charter school business board, and a school board. I've learned many people are checked out of the data, few are truly interested in the children, and most are more interested in their jobs, their personal relationships, or their narcissistic tendencies.

I like to say that the persistence of mediocrity overshadows excellence. Programming teachers like Cylons casts a very ominous shadow.

*The ISAT is a standardized statewide test. 
 
 
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Dave Lesser starts his recent Time magazine article 5 Myths About Stay At Home Dads with the following sentence: "I think that woman just call me a pedophile." He got this from participating in a television talk show pitting at home dads against moms. Those shows are designed to whip up antagonistic feelings. But he is not crazy to believe that the overwhelming majority of women AND men are suspect of men who are the primary caregivers to their children.

On more than one occasion I have had comments, stares, and atypical or modified behavior from people around me. Most of his 5 myths are pretty much on target and I thought I would share a few of my experiences and observations about those myths:

 
 
Seems we are obsessed with pop stars of late and they are obsessed with us. Our society is eager to cut someone down who has made it and personalities with their entourages are trying to spin a media frenzy in order to avoid being forgotten. Either way, there are more important lessons to teach our children from this foolishness.

Recently, pop star Justin Bieber has been in the news for an arrest, a warrant, drugs, alcohol, resisting arrest, assault, rehab considerations, and drag racing. When I spoke to my kids about this, one of them said, "Imagine growing up in that environment with girls clawing at you and the media hounding you non stop. The push by adults to grow up fast, make loads of money, be popular, but still remain a kid. That could screw you up." They are right. There is something to be said about the unnerving world of "child personalities." Compassion is a value I'm glad they have learned.

On the flip side, I pointed out that every child on this planet is important. Each day 17,000 children die in the world due to hunger. It costs less than a dollar a day to feed those kids. Let's say $17,000 a day.  Every major and minor media outlet covered Mr. Bieber's DUI arrest multiple times these past weeks and not one mentioned child poverty. The pop star is worth $130 million which in total could eliminate child death due to hunger in the world for 21 years.

Although I do believe that Mr. Bieber probably has a legitimate rationale for his environmental pressures, it seems to me that no matter your situation, you must rise above. Justice is as important as compassion. 

Think about it. Seize your destiny, don't waste it. I'm sure Mr. Bieber would agree.
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Children are hungry all over the world.
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Just Bieber arrest photo.
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Just Bieber tour photo.
 
 
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Last night I watched the Miss America pageant with my wife and daughters. We were of course cheering for Miss Minnesota as she is from our home state. But we knew right from the start that Miss California and Miss New York were going to be hard to beat. They all displayed poise, grace, intelligence, and talent. These are all the things of Miss America and should be of all of us. Unfortunately, within minutes of announcing Miss New York had won, there were racists rants a plenty on twitter. Then this morning we woke to a shooting spree at a naval yard in D.C. This afternoon a friend posted this letter on facebook about a woman enduring discriminatory disdain from another while using an EBT (food stamps) card in the grocery store in our community.

These events reminded me about the time 20 years ago when I got in line behind a couple with a young child at a grocery store in St. Paul. As they were checking out it became apparent they did not have enough money for all of their groceries. So they started working with the cashier to take out certain groceries to get down to the amount they could afford. They were well dressed Hmong immigrants who spoke very little English (none of which should matter). They were buying great whole foods (no junk) and obviously distressed at the situation, but very polite. I could have gotten impatient, angry, violent or even discriminatory as we've witnessed by the events of the last 24 hours. But, after about six or seven items were removed I turned to the cashier and said put the items back, I will pay for them. She was stunned. The couple in disbelief started shaking their heads in thanks. As they left and kept thanking me, the cashier just said over and over that I was an angel sent from heaven and she had never seen the likes of that and it was a miracle. I told her thank you and as I drove away I thought to myself I am no angel and this was not a miracle. It was just a little kindness.

I'm so tired of the shooters, and the racists, and the discriminators, and the hate mongers defining who we are. It is time to pick up our collective selves, stand against hatred and oppression, challenge intolerance, and start acting like the human beings we have the potential to be. Angels and miracles? I'll settle for poise, grace, intelligence, and talent...oh, and a little kindness.

 
 
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Ted Coonradt - Oberon Puppet Voice | Rick Miller - Puck
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Chris Rohling - Lysander | Rick Miller - Puck | Rachel Brady - Hermia | Logan Bitz Daum - Demetrius | Hannah Wehlage - Helena
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Maddie Tonjes - Peter Quince | Will Dziuk - Bottom | Kali Jennings - Snug | Alec Lambert - Snout
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Sam Pavich - Tatania Puppet Voice
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Ted Coonradt - Oberon Puppet Voice | Rick Miller - Puck
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Rick Miller - Puck | Will Dziuk - Bottom
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Wesley Erickson - Flute | Kali Jennings - Snug | Alec Lambert - Snout | Will Dziuk - Bottom | Maddie Tonjes - Peter Quince
Since I'm an architect, someone in a conversation invariably says, "I can't draw." To which I reply, "Yes you can." Startled, the person initiating the conversation says, "No, really, I can't draw." To which I reply, "No. You can draw. But your perception of your ability has been socialized out of you. By that I mean that our society believes that only a few people are talented enough to draw, so we don't really even try." 

Drawing is a creative endeavor that is all about perception. For instance, we all have come to believe that a school is drawn with a peak over the front of a door with steps and a flag flying in front. (This was on a test my kids had in grade school and they had no idea what it was.) However, most schools today don't even come close to looking like that. Why then do we teach our children that a school is an old iconic image from the western frontier? Because we are lazy about creativity and don't try to understand how those images create social barriers to perception and inventiveness. Thus most of us have to go back to the beginning to re-learn what it means to be creative. I've used creative techniques that turn perception on its heels from Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain, The Zen Of Seeing, and other sources to prove that you can eventually overcome that socialization.

This concept of turning perception on its heels was made perfectly clear to me in a recent production of Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare performed by an inter-generational group of professionals and students in the parking lot at the Main Street School Of Performing Arts this summer in Hopkins, Minnesota. This talented menagerie looked at the story, placed it in a post world war tent encampment that was also a drive-in movie theater. The changed setting forced the actors to re-imagine what the motivations really were behind the characters and made the audience push the bounds of its perception. Creativity and inventiveness were present in every aspect as they used video, costuming, staging, and puppetry to set the scenes. Several of the characters including Helena, Bottom and Puck became even more powerful and relevant giving the audience pause about the lessons from this play.

Some might say, "So what?" This is theater and they are suppose to be creative. Yet, aren't we all? Isn't our job to re-invent and improve? Perhaps the stagnation in our economy and society is about a lack of creativity. What if it really isn't about money, but it is about the way we've been socialized, educated, and manipulated to perceive. That creativity and inventiveness together have been thrown away for popularity, emotion, and vulgarity which drives a societal engine that never really helps people. Are we "painted blind" as Cupid is because we are not looking with our eyes? Perhaps we need a paint scraper and a magically different perspective. Sounds like a Shakespeare twist to me:

Get Thee To The Forest
Go outside and I'm not talking about mowing the lawn. Change your every day location in a big way. Get out of the house. Get out of your car. Get out of the office. Run away to a state park forest or a zoo filled with magic. Daydream. Lie in the grass and watch the clouds. Imagine mother nature using the rustling of the trees to speak to you in new ways. Shakespeare used this technique, why can't we?  

Flip Disadvantage Into Advantage
Most people couldn't imagine working or playing in a cracked, sloping parking lot with dumpsters, parked cars, and weeds. But this theater team made it happen. They took a craggy looking space and turned it into an even craggier looking space with purpose. Find your biggest disadvantage and turn it on its head.

Change One Thing
In one scene Helena rides in on a very long bike. It sets the stage for a more humorous and realistic presentation of her character. The bike says she is unpretentious which is counter to being a desperate and jealous rich woman as many interpret her character to be. Of course the actress breathes new life into her throughout the play, but the bike was the one thing that first began the perception change for the audience. 

Be Inquisitive
Ask questions. Investigate. Imagine. Why can't a god be a monster in a garbage can? The play's controlling god, Oberon, was portrayed by many things: an over sized puppet, an under sized puppet, a cloaked human...even a puppet monster in a garbage can. Who would think that Sesame Street could be any kind of inspiration for Midsummer Night's Dream? Yet, Oscar The Grouch would be proud (really, more grouchy) that he could be seen as a god; after all he did a lot of controlling on Sesame Street. Drawing that parallel to a post war pop culture and seeing the possibility meant that someone had to ask the question first.

Take Risks Together
This summer workshop production took a great deal of collaboration. Midsummer Night's Dream is a complex play with numerous intertwined themes. It would make any business analyst graphing a flow chart get a migraine - long into the moonlit night. No one person can do it alone. A reinvention like this takes collaborative brainstorming and a willingness to open yourself to supportive vulnerability. The end product will be well worth the creative endeavor. 

Throwing aside socialized perceptions and embracing creative endeavors can be daunting, but just as A Midsummer showed us something new and magical might just be created in the end. Perhaps a societal amend.
Additional Cast
Todd Hanson - Theseus | Eryn Warne - Hippolyta | Rob Thompson - Egeus| Lily Lenarz-Hooyman - Philostrate | Danny Noyed - Fairy | Kelalani Jankowski - Fairy | Bailey Roth - Fairy | Robby Miller - Fairy | Carley Guthrie - Fairy | Lilly Lenarz-Hooyman - Fairy

Artistic Team
Robert Thompson & Rachel Brady - Associate Directors | CC Keith - Production Stage Manager | Devin Hueffed - Puppet Design & Creation | Max Lazerine - Technical Operator | Cole Benson - Original Music | Will Dziuk - Up & Down Video | Sam Kenknight - Puck's Costume | CC Keith & Logan Bitz Daum - Graphic Design |
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