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Adele, THAT Adele, was our Nurse

So a few nights ago, I found myself in a London emergency room.I know: whaaaaat?

My younger son had a collision at a playground and bit his tongue. There was a lot of blood, but it stopped quickly. He said he wanted to go home, but daddy was all, “Kid, we schlepped all the way to the Princess Diana/Peter Pan playground because the damn blogs said it’s a ‘must’. We ain’t leaving til you’ve found the Lost Boys and made someone walk the plank.” 

He cried more.

I bought him ice cream.

He stopped crying. Shocker. 

The boys played for another hour. 

Getting ready for bed, younger kiddo says, “My tongue is bleeding, again.” 

I might have rolled my eyes.

“Come here, Buddy,” I beckoned, “and stick out your tongue.”

He did so. And I stared into a lingual abyss. Seriously – the Grand Canyon had etched itself into his little 3yo tongue. 

I went white, took a video, sent it to some medical friends in the states and they said, “Yeah. You should have it checked out.”

So, for the second time in 6 months, I took my youngest kid to an emergency room in a European city. (I think I failed to write about being in a French E.R., last summer with the same accident-prone kiddo. I’ll get to that, eventually.)

We climbed into a cab, and we arrived at the hospital that Google said was closest. 

I walked through the automatic doors and a man greeted me saying, “How can we help?”

“My son bit his tongue.”

The man gave me a form to give my name and address, my kid’s name and address, and our physician. No endless pages of disclaimers and waivers. Just my name and number. He could’ve handed me a scratch piece of paper and asked, “Digits, mate”. 

Then we were ushered to the children’s waiting room.

I was disappointed to leave the main waiting room. It was the kind of crowd you’d expect for a Sunday night in the center of a massive city – mostly skinny crackheads and hooligans. They all had great accents, despite their ragged appearances. Like…the 35-yo rave-going meth addict with 4 teeth who loves soccer and drugs…and he’s cast in Pirates of the Caribbean Part 11 for his 4 jankety teeth and unhealthily skinny body.

Or the hot Black man who’s just come from “playin’ football wiff mah mates and I cracked my leg.” And he’s cast as the best friend in Love Actually.

Or the 28-yo who should have his shit together, but he’s a millennial who opted for a life of crime on the streets and petty drug-dealing and he’s the romantic lead in Trainspotting 2. 

Misery in a London hospital on a Sunday night is so charming!

So many accents on this tiny island, and some people are incomprehensible to each other.

In the children’s waiting room, the parents were equally charming. I refrained from asking if they’d all been guest stars in various UK shows. I’m sure they think the same of us – hillbillies, NYC cops, everyone overweight. They probably think we’re all TV clichés, too. 

After a mere fifteen minute wait, the nurse called our name. 

I swear to you: it was Adele in a nurse’s costume. I kept thinking, “where’s the hidden camera? PLEASE tell me she’s going to bust out in ‘Chasing Pavements’ while examining my kid, to whom she keeps saying, ‘Oh, darlin’, yo’ jus’ so luuuhv-lay.’”

She said “lovely” 17 times in five minutes. It was pronounced, “luuuuhv-lay”. 

She looked at my kid’s tongue and said, “Ohhhhh, yoo’r a cheeky mohnkey, ahn’t you?”

Seriously – where’s the hidden camera?

She continued – “Usually we don’t do stitches, but if they prove necessary, we’ll send you next door to the main clinic. Now, the emergency room is free of course…”

I’m sorry…what? Free ER?

“…but if we send you for sutures, there’ll be a charge. I assume you have travelers insurance?”

“You mean…like the red umbrella company?” I laughed, nervously, suddenly anticipating a $3,000 ER visit.

Adele smiled confusedly.

I confessed “Who, me? Come to London for two weeks with two children under five, during which time we just go from playground to playground? Why would I need traveler’s insurance?”

She smiled graciously…as one does in England. “Well, there’ll be a charge.” 

“Like…thousands?” I grimaced. 

“Oh, goodness no. Perhaps fifty pounds.”

I laughed. (Those people arguing against universal health care saying “Europe is a mess!” need to bite their own tongues and come sit in a European emergency room, themselves. With all the professional background workers as entertainment.)

Finally, the doctor came in. He was South Asian (Pakistani? Indian?)…with a Hugh Grant accent, piercing green eyes, and oozing charm. Perfect for the next romantic lead of the next Love Actually spin-off.) 

He looked at my kiddo, made a few jokes, and explained in his gorgeous accent, “We don’t do stitches on tongues. They heal quickly because they have so many vessels. We don’t do stitches unless it’s the tip of the tongue that’s about to fall off.”

And that was it. We bid goodbye to our new friends in the waiting room – the woman with her feverish son who sounded like a “Wildling”, the dad who was clearly “Targeryen” and the twins who were both clearly Lannisters. Yep – all the major tribes of Game of Thrones, all in my emergency room. 

Seriously: the entire country must do background work.

I never did find the hidden camera.

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More London Woes

You guys! I just keep doing it. I’m a moth to a flame. 

A despondent liberal news junkie gravitating toward CNN. 

A rat returning for just one last nibble off the near-carc…I don’t know where that metaphor is going.

I keep falling for my the guidebooks and guideblogs that say, “Spend a scrumptious day with your child wandering baroque delights of Henry VIII’s residence as your child marvels at the throne rooms and bedchambers used for the British elites of the sixteenth century.”

And I was like, “Yeah. This’ll be the day my 3 and 5-year-olds will become history buffs and focus on museum plaques written in higher English than the History Channel could hope for.”

I need to close the books “London for Kids”. It’s not catering to idiots like me torturing their kids who just learned to walk and talk two years ago. 

And why did I fall for the charms of a saccharine travel blog that’s really just a lifestyle and advertising webpage for one of those asinine people who take instagrammable pictures of cappuccinos and laughing children skipping in frilly dresses past (stolen) Van Goghs? Seriously, this particular blogger’s list of “10 adorable things to do with little kids” is really just geared toward the billionaire single with their only child who happens to be an impeccably calm and inquisitive British girl who’s perfectly coiffed and behaved. This blog said, “take your child on a hundred pound (!!!) tea party on a converted double-decker bus. (And then hand your child back over to your personal Mary Poppins and go about your business being fabulous in London.)

That ain’t me, kid.

Parents: I’m speeding up my “traveling with little kids” travel series and jumping to the conclusion – little kids are the reason for all-inclusive Cancun resorts. There’s no thought necessary. They eat whatever they want, they go to the kids’ camp all day, and you’re left alone.

Learn from my mistakes.

Is this just a humble brag that my kids are experiencing London before yours are? I doubt it. Yeah, it was cool when my kid pointed to Big Ben and shouted, “Look! The Eiffel Tower!” But thank goodness this trip didn’t spawn from over-aggressive, money-as-no-option helicopter parenting. We are here to save my sanity from six straight months of solo parenting and to celebrate my partner’s West End conducting debut. 

And we have free housing. One takes advantage of such situations, doesn’t one?

But as the children yanked my partner and I at light speed Henry VIII’s dining hall, and I was genuinely interested to read about the succession from the Tudors to the Stuarts to the Hanovers, I had the thought, “What if this is my kids’ only experience traveling in such world heritage sites? What if we don’t make it back when they’re teenagers, capable of appreciating the history but hating me even more for dragging them on a ‘boring trip through churches and museums’?”

Talk about princess problems.

Get over yourself, Gavin.

Just stop for a quick pint and go suffer through another museum. It’s a rainy day. Let the kids watch the iPad in our corporate apartment.  

Carpe the diem, as one does, doesn’t one?

London With Kids: Don’t.

Day 2 in London (or was it 3 or 1? I’m confused) had the kids begging to return to the playground where we ended up after seeing ancient mummies and marble breasts. (That playground had a kid-friendly zip-line.)
I had other plans in mind to torture them (and myself).
I took them to the science museum because everyone says it’s spectacular.
After a fairly quick Tube ride (do I put “Tube” in quotes?), I told the information desk, “I’ve got 2 hours to kill with two kids who collectively have 24 minutes of attention span. What should we do?”
“Well…you could walk through the center.”
“Um…OK. Just…let the science lead us?”
“Precisely.”
I listened to her instead of to my instincts screaming “ASK SOMEONE ELSE!”
We walked through the center.
On that ground floor there were feats of engineering – 1950’s Citroens, experimental airplanes, antique locomotives, space capsules (stolen?) from the USA, space suits (stolen?) from the USSR, and a laughable replication of the American lunar lander that – I shit you not – was made of cardboard and aluminum foil. (The lighting was strategically dark. I’m not sure anyone else noticed.) And both kids declared, “This is boring.”
My older son is interested in anatomy. So we went to the “Who Am I?” exhibit. Like most of the museum, it was geared toward 10-year-old brainiacs, not 5-year-old insaniacs. There were some interactive iPads that took up-close pictures of retinas and had brain games too difficult for me to enjoy, let alone my kiddos.
And then there was the “puberty” iPad that explained how hormonal changes make testicles and breasts grow larger in adolescence. You actually touched body parts to watch them grow.
Yeah, my boys LOVED that.
But in the interest of not shaming human physiology (or being too puritanically American), I let them…um…diddle.
For another half hour I dragged them around the museum just to make sure there wasn’t anything interesting for their over-active minds, and we landed on the top floor at the paid exhibit “Exploro-lab.”
I shouldn’t complain – the museum was free. But I quickly grasped that THIS was where we were supposed to have a hands-on extraordinary experience. That information desk volunteer should be fired. After all, they have national healthcare; she’ll be fine.
The ticket seller tried to up-sell me on an annual membership because, if we wanted to return after the mere 45 minutes we had before closing time, it’d be a better deal.
I gave her my best, “Girl, I used to work in an NYC restaurant. We invented the up-sell. Don’t even try it,” stare.
We entered a haven of scientific ecstasy. There were playground slides of varying speeds demonstrating friction, a pulley system allowing kids to pull themselves to the ceiling, an interactive laser show, etc.
This was a science museum for little kids, as opposed to a 3-D encyclopedia of snore-inducing explanatory panels.
And I realized these “London with Kids” books I’ve been following don’t make the stipulation they’re catering to an older segment of whiny tourists: 9 & 10-year-olds.
Furthermore, I realized, “oh, yeah. No one should ever be stupid enough to take 5 & 3 year-olds to international cities and expect them to do anything more than play on playgrounds.”
No matter how much money you have (…chosen to waste), you can’t be a control freak or have high expectations for travel with these little ones.
Am I INSANE?
(Don’t answer that.)
Maybe I should start another genre of travel guides – “Int’l Travel with LITTLE Kids.” My first entry, “Chill the hell out, find a playground, bring a flask.”
It’s just so hard when you’ve come all this way and you want to make use of your time (and money).
At any rate, I’m glad I learned this lesson early into our trip, and not on the last day. I’ll try my best to lower expectations.
So. Over the next ten days, how do I squeeze in visits to Buckingham Palace, the Natural History Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Tate Modern, Stonehenge, and a walk through the market stalls of Camden Road to see the retro punk rockers?
I know. I’m setting us up for even more annoyance. My to-do list even bores me.
I’ll buy a flask for pre-mixed martinis and a thermos for coffee.
(And yes – I upgraded to the “annual membership” to go back to the cool part of the science museum.)
Eye roll emoji, here.

Culturizing My Kiddos

My mother was an inordinately thorough tourist. It could be 6pm after a hellish 5-hour visit to some museum reading every. single. panel in every. single. exhibit. But then Mom would’ve remembered our AAA guide book said, “Oh, that house where some obscure author slept one time in 1957 is just 16 more blocks away.” So we went.

She’d drag my whiny ass everywhere. And I do remember complaining; like…the entire time.

I swore I’d never be the same. I feel empowered by walking out of a museum within 90 minutes because, let’s face it…nobody has that kind of attention span. Or hip flexor strength. Or stamina in their shoulders to hold a backpack of fruit snacks and water bottles while staring at dinosaurs/paintings/historical re-enactments for 4 hours.

But folks…I did it, today. I’m in London with my partner (after two months solo in NYC). But he’s still working all the time as his two shows are prepping for opening night. So it’s still just me and the boys. Except we’re in London.

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So today we went to the British Museum to see mummies – per their request. We saw mummies. Mummified adults the size of my 5yo, mummified cats, alligator, a mummified eel (wtf?) The boys were horrified/fascinated/traumatized. But mostly bored. Seriously – we saw one mummy and my 3yo says, “I’m bored. Let’s go home.” Admittedly, he might’ve been overwhelmed by the 3,000 students mobbing the room of 3,000 year-old mummies. But really, I think he was like, “There’s nothing to TOUCH in this museum? This place blows.”

But we were in the GD British Museum. We weren’t gonna leave without seeing some more priceless stolen treasures. (I kept saying “And the British stole that, and the British stole this, and that…” Curiously, neither of them asked “why?” or “but stealing is bad, Daddy.” They just begged to leave and didn’t demonstrate a modicum of moral rectitude.)

So I dragged them to see the Samurai armor because my older one read a book about ninjas. Zzzzzz.

Hey look, boys – a 3-story tall statue of Buddha!

Daddy? Can we go to the cake pop store? (Starbucks)

Shut up and look at this amazing stolen Roman thingy.

Daddy, my stomach feels angry that we are here. Can we go?

Are you gonna throw up? Look at that sarcophagus.

No. I mean, yes, I’ll throw up. If we stay here.

Can it, kid. Look at these stolen friezes from ancient Greece.

And then we turn a corner. The Rosetta Stone. I mean – the translator that opened humankind up to a trove of another rich civilization. Guys, this is one of the most important archaeological finds in all human history!

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I mean…the ROSETTA STONE.

Okay, okay. So they’re only 5 and 3. I should cut ’em a break. But we’re in the BRITISH MUSEUM for stolen’s sake!

Look guys! Sphinxes and obelisks and some old stolen temple, oh my!

Daddy? Can we buy a present?

No. Look at this medieval metalwork. (I’m boring myself, by this point.)

I hate it, here, Daddy. There’s nothing to do but look at stuff.

Right, but you’re growing smarter by the second. I just know it. You’ll pass that test to get into the G&T program and I’ll never have to worry about you being dumb. I’ll just worry about you being a drug dealer at ivy league schools. And that’s preferable to you being stupid.

Daddy, don’t say stupid.

And then, it happened. We stumbled into a room of such gorgeous (stolen) splendor that even my sons couldn’t avert their eyes. They were transfixed, they were enlightened, they were stimulated. My nagging and dragging had been worth it. They were changed beings from near-toddlers to almost-tweens. Such magic a little T&A can do…even for little American, uncultured troglodytes.

One more minute of giggling and they were back to…Daddy, this is boring. I wanna go.

And we did. We’d been there an hour. Pretty good compromise, if I do say so, myself.

Me: Solo.

I’ve been solo for 2 months. If you’ve spoken with me for more than six seconds over the last month, I’ve definitely reminded you when you ask, “How are ya?”

“Oh…solo. That’s all. Me with two kids. All the time.”

“Ohmigod. How are you holding up?”

I’m fine.

My partner is in London supervising two West End productions. This is what we signed up for. Long ago, when discussing becoming parents, he said to me, “But what if I have to go conduct in Vienna for three months?”

“Well,” I quickly countered, “until the kids are like – fifteen? – we can all just go together. It’ll be fun!”

Not for one second did I consider schlepping our lives to London for three months.

I have a life – a performing career on life support and a small business that no one’s heard of (yet). I didn’t want to galavant to London for three months.

And when I considered visiting for a mere month, my partner quickly brought me back to Earth.

“Gavin, you’re accustomed to a school schedule, by now.”
“Yeah? So?”

“It’d be all you, all the time, in a very expensive city you don’t know.”

“Oh, yeah.”

Put a gun to my head, already.

So we’re going for two weeks…which will probably feel like seven days too long since it’ll still be all me, all the time, in a very expensive city I don’t know. (My partner will be in extreme crunch time opening these two shows while we’re there.)

Anyway – I don’t have much to say about this two-month odyssey of single parenthood. I guess I’m just writing this to reach out for yet MORE acknowledgment that THIS SHIT IS HARD!

I’m succeeding. The kids are alive and thriving. We still read books at night. We haven’t been late to school even one time.

But I sure as hell wouldn’t do this by choice. As I’ve said before: ONE MILLION KUDOS TO SINGLE PARENTS. Cuz this is not for the weak.

Also – I don’t know how regular people do it. I can BARELY pay the bills, make the lunches, wipe the poopy heinies, do the laundry, remember red clothing for Valentine’s Day (and Int’l Women’s Day), schedule the playdates, do the grocery shopping, etc, in addition to my own (occasional) auditions and business meetings. Seriously – this job is impossible without help.

So, again: kudos to those super heroes who do this by themselves…and WITH jobs.

I am snapping, though. I don’t feel tired. The boys sleep through the night 70% of the time, now, thank GOODNESS. And I have breaks, when I need to do something else.

But we’re all suffering. My patience is gone. I yell faster than I wish. And I go nuclear with threats much quicker than is constructive in the long run.

Recently, a friend asked, “what throws you over the edge?”

“Oh, probably just cuz it was 5pm and I was tired of saying ‘no’ to every ridiculous request for extra fruit snacks, visiting neighbors, or being greeted at school with, ‘Ahhhh. You, again? I just want to have a playdate, Daddy. I don’t want you here.”

That all wears on a soul.

But we’ll make it. I’ll make it.

There are positive aspects, too:

I get all the snuggles in the morning.

I’m the only boss…so the ridiculous spats I have with my partner after we both lay in bed thinking, ‘you’re gonna get up, right? Not my morning? No, seriously, you’re going to get up, right? I mean, not me AGAIN’ and then suddenly there’s 20 minutes left to listen to the kids complain that they don’t want oatmeal again and then battle what stupid buttoned shirt is acceptable and the arbitrary hatred of certain socks and then my partner can’t read my mind when he puts shoes on before brushing teeth and I’m like, ‘we don’t do it that way’ and he’s like, ‘since when’ and I’m like ‘we changed the order’ and he says, ‘what does it matter? I can’t read your mind,’ and I’m like ‘well please start reading it!’ and he’s like, ‘I just can’t do anything right, can i?’ and I say ‘not true’ and think, ‘well, you said it’, and it’s already five minutes after we should’ve already walked out the door and I’m trying to take an ipad out of a 5yo had and we leave the door in a frustrated huff and I think, ‘I can’t WAIT until I can’ do this alone, again, cuz it’s actually easier.’

Yeah. That doesn’t happen.

I’ll be happy to have that stress, again.

Because being alone is tough, yo.

Screw Normal. Dresses are Fun.

So I wrote in another piece how I often want to say to my son, Just be a normal boy!” (Disclaimer: I don’t actually say that to him.)

And since I talk about this, frequently, with more people than the ½ dozen who read this blog, I’ve had a lot of conversations that checked/schooled/inspired/calmed me. A few that put me at ease and reminded me that my “issues” with my kid’s “issues” are really just my issues.

Last year, when I visited a childhood friend in suburban Denver, I gave him a heads-up that my eldest son might want to wear a dress. So my friend gave his own three sons a heads-up: “Guys? So this little boy is coming and he might wear a dress. You guys know that’s ok, right?.”

Their response? – “Duh, Dad.” (Followed by eye rolls.)

I was not expecting from suburban Denver.

Recently I reached out to in-laws with whom we spend a lot of time. Neither they nor their kids had ever acknowledged the fact that my older boy frequently (always?) wears a skirt. They’ve never acknowledged it, not even the teenage boys. I reached out to thank them and sort of address the white elephant in a skirt to just say, “It means a lot you haven’t made it a big deal.”

The response: “Please. What is normal? At my work, I’m within spitting distance of a dad who’s teenage son is in drug rehab, a 50yo woman who’s obviously gay but hasn’t come out, and a woman who’s son is transitioning. So I ask you: what is normal? We support you guys’ decisions regarding your kids and think you’re doing just the right thing. So he wants to wear a dress? Cool. Let him. We love it.”

That, I was not expecting.

(Side note – The closer I’ve grown to Connecticut culture, the more I appreciate that they don’t discuss anything. It’s hilarious. My family is neither Italian nor Jewish, the cultures I associate with tireless discussion…which I love. Connecticut – exactly the opposite. Meanwhile, they’re also fine with everyone around them. Live and let live.

So I suppose I should have expected the response from the in-laws.)

And finally another friend who pointed out to me, “Gavin, it’s fun to wear dresses! Why wouldn’t your son want to do so? I feel sorry for boys and men – that they deprive themselves the fun of feeling the twirl of a skirt, that they never get to put on sparkle-y and frilly things. Social convention has taken away your fun.”

Ain’t she right?

If all the macho, Type-A’s reading this blog can put aside outward judgment for a second – isn’t it kind of a shame that girls get all the fun? Boys and men like costumes like long, swoopy capes and big ol’ boots and menacing robes. If we had the chance to wear more “spinny” kinda clothes, wouldn’t that be just…fun? When old, white men put on drag in any circumstance, they love it; think: old men at business retreats with talent shows.

Why do clothes need to be associated with sexuality? Or even gender?

Does wearing a dress need to mean anything more than just “I wanna wear a dress?”

Nah, it just means I want to wear a dress.

Cuz it’s fun.

Should anyone fear fun? What a buzz kill. Why be normal? What is normal?

What do you think?

I Can’t Shut Up

For months, I’ve remained relatively silent about the debacle happening in Washington, DC.

This has been because my Facebook feed has been relatively devoid of political controversy. I know. Can you believe it? Talk about a bubble.

My Facebook profile was created well after I was entrenched in my NYC bubble of theatre friends. My “friends” have certainly expanded to include my high school and college friends, but it’s been almost completely devoid of vitriol. I’m sure that many of my friends are from the other side of the political spectrum, but no one NOT ONE TIME has ever posted something pro-Trump on my facebook feed.

(As another funny illustration, when gay marriage passed a couple years ago, 9/10 of my friends all had the rainbow filter on their profile pix.)

Again: I know. That’s crazy.

So I’ve remained somewhat silent because I didn’t feel like contributing to the din of all my friends who agree with me.

Then, another friend called me out on it: “Yo, G. Why are you so quiet? We need your informed snark.”

So I’ve decided to come out of the mental cloud and onto the internet cloud and create a dialogue.

Here, on this platform, I want to discuss. I want to “friend” people with differing views. I want to have an informed conversation.

I know so many people will say “I tried it. It’s crazy.”

Or “That’s so quixotic.”

Or “What the fuck is quixotic?”

Or “There’s no sense in reasonable dialog. Only fighting. ‘They’ hated and stymied and blocked and obstructed and threatened Obama for 8 years. What’s the point?”

And I see that point.

But I confess – it’s not me. I’m a talker. I’m patient. And I cannot keep from wanting to reach a common ground with people. All the time.

Oh, believe me, I think a lot of people are fucking stupid. But moreover, I think people are scared.

And few people ask “Why? WHY do you believe what you believe?”

I’m going to try. I’m really, really going to try to engage.

I’m going to march. I’m going to call my representatives. And those small actions carry great weight.

But that’s not enough for me. I discuss. I don’t debate particularly well. I get too heated and emotional. But what I can do is discuss and share.

That’s my strongest weapon.

Here’s my Facebook profile. Let’s talk.

Just Be A Normal Boy!

My kid’s complete obsession with princesses has not been a phase. It’s grown exponentially since he was 2. Anything with girls and pink and sparkles grabs his attention…from Strawberry Shortcake (shoot me, now) to My Little Pony (trample me, now.)

Is this a genetic thing for kids (boys and girls)? An as-yet-undiscovered “pink frills” gene?

And my kid’s passionate expression is impressively creative: blankies become boas, sweat pants are inverted around his head to become two braids cascading down his shoulders, skirts turn into a fierce blow-out.

My son is Little Edie with a skirt-turned-turban on his damn head.

Sometimes I want to shout “Just Be A Normal Boy!”

(Don’t worry. I stop myself.)

Instead, I vent to you, here; and the monstrosity of my intolerant thoughts becomes abundantly clear…for the entire internet, instead of just for my kid. I’m sure there’ll be no repercussions, whatsoever.

But I realize my problem with his choices is my own latent self-loathing.

The truth is: he’s doing what I wanted to do as a kid…twirl in beach towels-as-dresses. If I’d been creative enough to put t-shirts on my head, I’d have absolutely done so. (As it was, using a hooded jacket as a pony-tail sufficed.)

My parents were great and supportive and never chastised me for my interests. However, I knew pretty young that they were not cool with me portraying “Princess Leia” or “Daisy Duke”.

If I heard once, I heard a million times: “Someday people won’t be laughing with you, they’ll be laughing at you.”

But their words didn’t deter me from wanting to be “Princess Leia”; I just hid it from them.

So I watch my son perpetually casting himself as “Princess Tiana” or “Scarlett Overkill” (from Minions), or Batgirl and I seethe…with self-loathing. Sometimes I sneer and roll my eyes to myself. I twist a dishtowel until my hands turn white and I grit my teeth and pump my arms in excruciating frustration.

But I say nothing. I never shame him for his choices.

I’ve let the occasional “Strawberry Shortcake is stupid” accidentally slip from my muttering lips. But gawd bless my little son for pushing back and saying, “No! Don’t yuck my yum! Strawberry Shortcake IS. NOT. STUPID.

He schools me.

I deserve it.

Let the paranoia and shame go. So what? You liked being Princess Leia in 1982. And it proved rough for the next, oh…twenty hears. Yeah, my parents were right: people did laugh. And that fostered within me a paranoia that someone ANYONE EVERYONE would know it and mock me.

I had no tools to own it, defend myself, or fight back, because I’d always been taught that eventually my choices would come back to haunt me. Not: be your best self and let’s celebrate expression! Instead: this isn’t ok for the world. So let’s stop.

My paranoia propelled me to flee anything remotely gay. I tried desperately to distract friends, roommates, co-performers, rowing teammates, fraternity brothers (it was just a brief few months, don’t judge) that I never wanted to pretend to be a girl. Nope. Not me. Maybe that other kid. But I hate girly stuff. Hate it. Girl stuff is stupid.

(Ironically, I was a musical theatre actor the entire time. Thank goodness I didn’t run from that. Because Mom supported it. So I felt safe.)

As I’ve “come out” in previous posts, I don’t think I’m 100% gay, nor do I think I was technically closeted. What I definitely was, was paranoid…all the time. Because I didn’t feel safe being me.

As an adult, it feels good to let that go. (Sorta? Hopefully?)

But that paranoia of outside judgment still informs how I protect my kid.

So I want to scream, “Just be a normal boy!”

But I don’t.

And he’s dealing with it better than I am. Frankly, there’s nothing to “deal” with. He knows that boys can wear dresses and there might be some people who think it’s strange but who cares? He likes it. So be it.

Daddy needs to CTFD.

“Go for it, buddy. You use that disgusting dog pull toy as an ‘Elsa’ braid. I love it and I love you for it.”

Disney Poisons My Kid

How I miss Thomas the Train.I never imagined typing those words. 

To quote my older son: “I’m excessed with Disney princesses.”

Truer words, son. Truer words. 

I loathe those princesses. 

To clarify: I’m totally fine with the veritable pu-pu platter of princess dolls he received for his birthday.

What drives me ape-shit crazy is the inane conversations about dresses and hair accompanying this excession. 

The princessification of our lives began with those damn YouTube videos featuring grown-ass women playing with princess “magic clips”. Seriously: they manipulate impressionable minds by opening toys shipped direct from Mattel and make videos. They’re the “Saturday morning cartoon ads” of the 2010’s. (Notice the above video has 84 million views. She must be loaded and I’m chiding her. Who’s the idiot?)

It’s free advertising for Disney and (apparently) these grown-ups gain self-respect based upon their “likes” and “views” playing with toys.

Worst of all, their dialogue consists of nothing more than:

“Look what a beautiful dress Cinderella is wearing.”

“Ooh, isn’t Anna wearing a beautiful dress?”

What this woman is doing merits a head exam. Regardless her uncreative, greedy reasons, my son desperately wants to watch these stupid-ass videos of Disney toys. 

And he enacts the same conversations with his dolls. “Oh, Rapunzel, you have such a beautiful dress.” “Cinderella, you look beautiful wearing Elsa’s dress.”

And my son imitates it! These loathsome videos rob me of money and my son of imagination. There’s no story arc. There’s no hero journey, no problem-solving or growth. 

And then I find myself sounding like an absurd knee-jerk liberal when I manipulate the conversations thusly:

Him: (as Rapunzel) “Hello, Cinderella. Do you like my very long hair?”

Me (as Cinderella), “Meh. It’s fine. But what’s cooler is your medical degree. I actually hurt my arm while I was out rock-climbing. Could you take a look at my arm and fix me? Then we can still go do our volunteer work after you fix it. I love helping others.”

I couldn’t help myself. Girls shouldn’t be content to just talk hair and dresses; nor should boys. 

 (I finally put the kai-bash on these videos when he stumbled on a video where two girls acted out a “mean girl” fight between Elsa and Anna dolls. My son later quoted them, verbatim, and I have taken YouTube off our iPads.)

And my son immediately made Rapunzel go to work fixing Cindy’s arm (for two minutes. Then it was back to hair.). 

Hey, he was game to make it a game. But thusfar, he doesn’t proactively make a scenario. It’s still just dresses and hair.

Insert suicidal emoji, here. 

Anyway. 

Before my own kids, I heard other parents complain about Disney shackling girls with dreams of being saved by a prince and getting married. I thought my friends were ridiculous.

But this morning, my son asked, “Are you married yet? Like Rapunzel? When are you getting married?”

I had an OMG moment, realizing he’s put Disney values on me and applied them to his life. 

One day, as he walked around speaking in 3rd person in the role of “Rapunzel” with three blankets tied to his head, I said, “Buddy? Should I just throw away all your other toys since you don’t play with them anymore?”

“Fine. Except my princesses. Because they’re beautiful.”

🙄

I Tried, Donald. I Really Did.

Hi, Mr. Trump.

I’ve given up on you, already, and I’m a really patient person. I gave you the benefit of the doubt by trusting your word that you’d be a president for all Americans.

I thought you really wanted to #draintheswamp.

I thought you really wanted to change how Washington operated.

And I thought you might be interested in hearing from the more than 50% of Americans who did not vote for you, but whose interests you’d still like to serve.

But when you fill the already-acrid swamp with Washington’s least-qualified, blatantly corrupt and most entrench operators, my world-wide movement (with 3 followers and 2 independent postings-besides my own) feels pointless.

You used to brag about being a mover and shaker who controlled politicians. Now you’re becoming their pawn.

You’re filling cabinet spots with people who divide instead of unite.

I thought you’d care about being well-rounded and serving all interests.

But nope, you’ve continued to be the hateful, tone-deaf caricature of a cartoon politician…just like in the election.

So I don’t care about flattering you with witty pleas to your business “acumen”.

I won’t cater to your perpetual hard-on for making money.

And I’m done with your fragile ego. You should’ve grown beyond that, by now. You’re over 70.

You’ve proven you don’t care about the rest of us who didn’t vote for you. So I no longer care about communicating with you. I’m just gonna yell at you. Because, frankly, that feels better.

I guess that’s why you do it, all the time; indulging childish instincts is easier than thinking things through.

Good luck.

I’m not giving up. I’m still hoping you’ll get in a twitter war with me. But until you prove NOT to be “just another politician”, I’ll take a harder approach.

So, still: #HearMeTrump. Don’t be deaf and dumb.