I’m the cool dad

Aug 18, 2014 by

I got called the cool dad today and it felt great.

I drive an older Jeep Wrangler. It’s just a fun car to drive. Its not terribly practical when it comes to hauling anything or anyone for that matter and it gets horrible gas mileage and also has no guts at all. Not sure how they got both of those things wrong in the same car, but they did. But for southern California weather its just so much fun to drive. Plus its red and my wife likes red.

We got the jeep as just an in between fun car. My old Ford Ranger finally died with 503k miles on it and we couldn’t decide on what car to get next. I would have loved another truck, but we didn’t necessarily need one. My wife wanted a BMW SUV and I knew we for sure didn’t need one of those. We didn’t have kids yet, so I suggested we get my wife a fun little convertible car to drive around for a year or two until we decide on what car to get next. We looked at a few, but didn’t really like anything we saw. I think my wife suggested a Jeep, I don’t really recall, but we started looking at those and they fit into the fun category. We could take the top off and cruise around and that sounded cool. So I found a used one that was red and that made my wife happy.

cool dad

Fast forward to us having our first kid and now we’re not sure what to do with the Jeep. My wife wants to sell it to get something practical, but I balked and said its fine. He’s small, so he can fit in the cramped back seat for a while. Heck with the top down it may be easier to put the car seat in than the Prius! She’s not a fan of having him in the jeep with the top off as the protective mama bear side of her comes out, but I’m big on not over protecting our son, so it all balances out.

With that, and all the warm weather we’ve been having this summer I’ve been driving around with the sides and back off the jeep, but still keep the top up. This is great because you get all the nice air blowing around you and my son loves it as he sits backwards and in the Jeep he is up high and can see out the back and sides now vs staring at the back of the seat in the Prius. So we put on some good music and cruise around in the Jeep together and we love it.

I was picking him up from Grammy’s house (my mom) tonight as I often do and heading home. When I get to stop lights I reach back and put my hand in his car seat. I do this for two reasons. First is to see if he is still awake. As he sits backwards I can’t see him, so I put my hand back there to see if he’ll grab it and then I know if he is still awake or fast asleep. The other reason I do this, is to hold his hand as I really dig my little one. So as we come to a stop light, I reach back and he grabs my hand as he is still awake and happy. He’s playing with my fingers and I look past through the side of the Jeep to see a man with a big grin on his face. I can’t know for sure that Jackson wasn’t smiling also at him, but he does smile at most people so I assume he was. I smile back as he rolls down his window and says, “That is outstanding! You are the cool dad. I bet he loves that”.

My smile got even bigger and his comments made my night.

The light turned green, I cranked up the volume on a great song and we continued our cruise home.

Ben…

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Balancing Technology

Aug 5, 2014 by

I received a great email from a beautiful and intelligent (assuming) reader named Valerie.  She was referencing a post about camping and asking about the the balance of technology with her teenage and younger kids and wanted my input.  Here is some of what I responded with:

I love camping with my friends, family and all the kids in that group.  That said, those kids pictured in the Orange Roll Recipe are not mine.  They belong to a close friend of mine, but I have known them their entire life and we’ve been camping many times together.  That said, my first kid is only 10 months old, so we have not yet had to struggle with the proper use and limits of technology in his life yet, but we are already starting to.

I don’t want us to use the TV as a baby sitter or have him be one of those children that can’t go out to eat, or be anywhere without an iPad and be constantly entertained.  That said, he loves his Baby Einstein videos and I don’t want to judge those parents as not having been in their shoes yet.

I love technology.  It’s been my work and hobbies for many years now and I am loving the amazing things it allows us to do.  That said, like any tool it can be abused and misappropriated for unhealthy purposes.  Just this month I’ve given up playing a video game I’ve been realizing I spend a little too much time playing.  It’s about finding a balance.

childhood

I recently found this image on my Facebook feed and it resonated with me.  While I love technology, I am SO grateful to grow up without a lot of it.  I’m so happy I got to run and play in the woods and didn’t spend time staring at a tablet.  Now I did have a Nintendo growing up, and learned how to use a computer from a very young age, which I also love, but I really do cherish the “play time” I had with friends riding bikes and running around the neighborhood until the sun went down.

I hope we set appropriate boundaries with our son with technology.  I hope he has a wonderful curiosity about technology and wants to know how it works and how to make it work instead of just consuming or playing games.  That is the struggle I see ahead of us and the balance I hope to strike.  I’m already suggesting to my wife and mother not to let him play with their iPhones as he will be clamoring for such devices soon enough.

I don’t enjoy seeing families with all their kids head’s buried in their devices all the time.  I hope we don’t become one of those families, yet I must acknowledge we are living in a different time.  I can’t even imagine how pervasive and cheap such devices will be when my son enters school.  I’m all for using technology to empower our lives.  I hope they find a way to use it in the classroom to help the children learn more and more efficiently, but I hope it doesn’t come at the cost of robbing their childhood of real playtime outdoors with friends and just their imaginations.  I foresee us setting strict limits on screen time vs outdoor play time.  I hope to take my son camping often and all over so he can learn to appreciate the great outdoors and all it offers.  I hope we can find the right balance of using technology to empower our lives and not wasting it away consuming nonsense.

So what is your balance with technology?  Do you take a technology Sabbath and put the phones away for a while?  Do you limit your own or your kids screen time?  I would love to hear what ideas and solutions you’ve implemented in your house.

Ben…

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