daughter

How Much Do I Have to Pay For No Homework?

Official daughter of Dad Stuff, Olivia, has begun Kindergarten. Starting around 9 months ago, Olivia declared that she was never going to Kindergarten. I did and didn’t take her seriously. The fear was real: all transitions are fraught with their insecurities. But much like her promise to never attend college, because she wanted to live with her mom and dad forever, I knew things could change.

Change they did, by the time this fall rolled around Olivia was genuinely excited to attend Kindergarten. She had spent the entirety of her pre-k year riding a bus 15 minutes to another part of town, so going to the elementary school two blocks away was a nice prize too.

With about 48 hours before the big first day, I noticed fear begin to creep in again. Olivia started to act out in a couple ways that I’ve learned are surefire tipoffs that she’s feeling worried. First, she would ask endless questions, and when she reached the end of my answers she would fret that she wouldn’t “know enough” for Kindergarten.

Second, on the playground with a friend a couple days earlier she had a huge overreaction to having to leave. I knew something was wrong, so I confronted her. I asked her if she was worried about Kindergarten, and she relented with some tears. We talked about it that day and the next. Hugs were applied.

The big day came. She was excited again. She bounced into line and was thrilled to see her friends from the previous year. All was good. When I picked her up later that day, she was wearing a hat that said “I rocked the first day of Kindergarten” and had an attitude to match.

She told me she wished that she was still in Kindergarten, it was so much fun. All good right? Unfortunately, the honeymoon was brief.

Not even a full week in, the dam burst again. The teachers had announced “testing” by the end of the week. We were given a “homework” sheet of what she would “need” to know for the testing. My kid was afraid,. She told me that she feared not getting all the answers right, that somehow this would get her in trouble.

This all happened about an hour before we were due for our first parent teacher night. I was pissed. Official wife of Dad Stuff, Kate, was similarly boiling.

The test was one thing, but there was also more “homework”. Was it very easy? Yes! Was it equally stupid and pointless? Sure seemed like it!

As I recalled in what can best be described as a “rant” during the evenings meeting, I think I got my first true homework in the 3rd or 4th grade. We had recess twice day. Gym class nearly every day. My daughter has a recess, if she’s willing to down her lunch in under 20 min. Gym class once a week.

Does anyone think this is the right thing? No one in the room seemed willing to defend it on its merits. I was told that the homework grew like a nasty parasite throughout elementary school. How wonderful! I was told that the school was after high test scores on state standardized testing, as if that end justified whatever means.

I calmed down pretty quickly. There’s nothing drastic to do. The test came and went last Friday with almost no mention. Olivia seems pretty unfazed to do her homework every night.

Meanwhile, I’m left googling schools without homework, and wondering how much we’ll have to pay if we ever want to send her to a school that isn’t designed to turn children into anxious, depressed automatons that love doing some unpaid overtime.

What I Teach My Kids About Masculinity

A lot of this space has been devoted to talking about the dad process for my five year old, never stops talking, possibly “too much” personality, five year old daughter Olivia. Why not? She walks, she talks (did I mention it’s a lot?). There’s a lot of material to work through.

Jacob, now seven months old, still communicates only through crying, smiling, and laughing. Yesterday, he did say “babababababababa” to me for over an hour, which I can only deduce was a fascinating story about his day.

In both cases, I’ve had to consider that as official DeSantis Dad, I am likely going to be the most influential male figure in their lives. So what do I want to teach them about what it means to be a man, or to interact with men? Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

Men are sources of love and comfort

What I just typed is either blatantly obvious or somehow controversial. I think everybody should fight for what they believe in. I believe the world would be a much better place if fathers put more energy into loving and comforting their families.

I’ve put almost too much effort into building a secure base with Olivia. It’s to the point that even at age five, she expresses some embarrassment at my public love proclamations. For Jake, I made a conscious effort to from the very beginning be loving and comforting.

Kate was just away for a weekend, and we had several “snuggle parties” where I sat with the two little kids on my lap, hugging and just enjoying each others company. I think having a secure base of love and comfort from a father gives kids confidence and resilience.

Daddies are rough and tumble

Kids like a little bit of rough play, especially with their fathers, I’ve found. I’m physically about 1.5 times the size of Kate, and somewhat more resilient to being picked or punched inadvertently by a little kid. I’ve got a little more power for throwing a child up in the air.

Also honestly, there are few things that are better for my own mental health then a little bit of rough play with the kids. Just yesterday Jake got sheer joy out of trying to crawl over the top of me. If I could figure out how to package babies smiling and laughing as a mental health treatment I would.

Respect Space

Olivia has learned from a young age that other people have to respect her space. She tells us- “I need some space”. She tells the same to friends. Her most common complaint at school is typically about some a boy not respecting her personal space. She even made one cry by the tone and volume of her voice when he got too close too often.

I hope she keeps that boundary strong. The news and history tell us that men have not traditionally done a great job respecting other people’s personal space. I want to teach Jake to be a different kind of man, that there is strength in that respect

Boys do cry

I’m aware that accessing my own emotions is a challenge to this day. Years of personal life experience, which I cannot separate from the “boys don’t cry”, has created a lot of barriers for me.

I’ve decided against passing on to my two kids that somehow, this detachment is somehow what makes me “manly”. I don’t agree with that sentiment. When Jake cries, I don’t tell him “you’re ok”, a pretty typical response for a crying baby. I tell him “I know”.

We can’t communicate about what’s going on just yet, but I want to prepare to have the conversation where I acknowledge his feelings instead of trying to shove past them immediately. Maybe I can help him to have a different experience of being a man than me.

Farts are funny

One thing I will not allow Big Feminism to convince me of is that farts are not funny. Normal human flatulence is hilarious, and once you give in to that you have an endless, naturally occurring, sustainable sense of humor to draw upon.

Laughing at farts is what connects me to my ancestry, my people and all my forefathers. I want to pass down that connection to my own children, so that they can pass it down to theres. So that one day, when I’m very old, I can sit by the fire on a cold winter day and laugh at a fart with four generations of DeSantis folk.

We all have a dream.