Dad for Beginners

Amateurism at its best

September 1, 2014
by Creed

Learning Moments, pt. 2: Labor Day

Labor Day is a strange holiday. Unlike the majority of contrived, superficial American celebratory days, Labor Day is not based solely around the idea of gift giving. Labor Day in modern times has become yet another day where people can enjoy the day off from work and freely consume copious amounts of alcohol early in the day without the stigma of being a day-drinker. Labor Day is a wonderful day, when loyal citizens haul large quantities of food preparation equipment and tents out to a local park and attempt for perhaps the final time of the summer season to acquire melanoma.

Labor Day has ultimately become a holiday signifying the end of the summer season. After observing this annual celebration, people will return home and prepare to hunker down for the long winter months right around the corner. Although the outdoor climate and general environment remain the same, Labor Day symbolizes the annual curtailment of fun. There is nothing to look forward to besides several months of bitter cold a half-dozen family oriented holidays that will ultimately have you suffering even more.

Labor Day

Don’t let the flags fool you. Labor Day has nothing to do with patriotism.

Labor Day is also a day of intense consumerism. Retailers typically run deep discounts today, knowing that the volume of people freed from the bondage of their daily labor will be available to shop. For individuals working in the retail or merchandising sector, Labor Day is exactly that – a day of lengthy and painful labor. Ironically, due to all the sales at local stores, roughly 25% of the American population is coerced into actually laboring more today than normal. The Knights of Labor will never appreciate the irony nor will they know how dramatically their plan backfired for a quarter of the national proletariat.

Labor Day

Celebrate American Labor with a discount firearm. Nothing is more American than bargain-basement personal weaponry.

One of the more popular colloquialisms of Labor Day is the fashion restrictions it marks. It is common knowledge in this country that white clothes should not be worn after Labor Day. Because high-society of the Gilded Age was engineered by wealthy and pretentious women from old money, they set in place an array of fashion faux paus to differentiate themselves from the indulgent and vulgar new money of the time. One of these rules was that white clothing was not to be worn after Labor Day. These old crows literally had nothing else to do. Therefore, wearing white after Labor Day is simply unacceptable if you adhere to social dictums from the late 19th century. When you leave your house tomorrow, be sure it’s not in white. Make sure you’re dressed appropriately for the fall season like all the other Robber Barons.

Labor Day

Leland Stanford wears white after Labor Day because goddamn it he’s Leland Stanford.

Labor Day is not purely an American holiday. Canada also celebrates the same Labor Day for much the same reasons. Historically, the differences between Canadian Labour Day and American Labor Day are minor. The most egregious variation is the rogue “u” that Canadians add to random words to complicate the English language. Of paramount importance when celebrating Canadian Labour Day is wearing the proper colour when strolling through the city centre in honour, using your looney to buy a twenty-sixer to enjoy on the chesterfield. Make sure everything is spelled correctly, you’re in Canada, eh.

However, none of this Labor Day foolishness remotely orbits any rational thought nor comes in any proximity of the real reasons for the creation of Labor Day. As with virtually every holiday in this wonderful nation, the meaning has been buried under jargon, colloquialisms, and false traditions…and probably several dozen cases of beer as well. Grover Cleveland is probably spinning in his grave. Cheers.

Learning Moments, pt. 1

August 27, 2014
by Creed

The Chrysalis

The constant stress of economic turmoil is how our system was designed. Although the architect may not have prophesied the utter cataclysmic reality that you now find yourself in, they certainly designed the entire structure out of self-interest. Self-interest is the nexus of all intention. Behind all self-interest is a catacomb of altruism, now devoid of any benevolence. The ancient ruins of a once great society of humanitarians now consumed with an egomaniacal lust for more. The chutzpah in their objective nourished by the very normalcy we’ve all adapted to accept. What was at first slightly askew has grown into a cyclical rotation of status quo, birthed and fed by itself. It is its own mother. It gave birth to itself.

When your acrimony hits the ceiling, the only optimism keeping you buoyant is the remembrance of a more rudimentary yesteryear. When people freely played woodwinds on the streets without a tip jar. When children knew to go home not by the regulations set forth by their parents, but when the streetlights came on and the twilight vanished into darkness. When social gatherings were not accompanied by devices that can invariably elicit a desired social response based on the status of what another being is doing in a virtual world. When a road trip meant staying up late the night before and plotting your journey on a foldout map using pushpins and the tiny car from Monopoly.

Social anticipation is stimulated from an inherently anti-social and non-human medium. The physical representation of one self is more often then not driven from a fabricated reality that’s received wholesale buy-in and thus justifying it as a transmitter of a veritable pantheon of contrived emotions. Memory is simply a feature of cognitive function, as all the intrinsic need to create genuine memories has been replaced.

The word “progress” has become a strictly fiscal term. Human growth that does not run parallel to financial gain is no longer called progress but instead labeled as maturation, evolution, or augmentation. Progress is now something only an accountant can track.

For the few, sarcasm is the mask behind which the dagger is shielded. The supporters of our current state of affairs will refer to the sarcastic as narrow minded, cynical, and misanthropic. It is only in the best interest of keeping the dagger sheathed that the sarcastic promulgate their trenchant ways. People are scared when they don’t understand. They feel threatened when they see the chrysalis of truth. When the normalcy is disrupted, people cleave to what they find familiar. When rubbing against the grain, most people will always remember to return the grain to its original state.

Advanced levels of bitterness, sarcasm, and cynicism are the de facto defense mechanisms of a mind that comprehends its reality but cannot rationalize any reasonable solutions. The acceptable venues of free thinking are becoming too narrow to comfortably express unpopular ideas…and thus the grain is always returned to its normal state. The social penalties for vocalizing ideas that do not conform to societal trends are swift and unpredictable. Contrition is easy to feign, however, and the astute mind can atone for virtually anything in an immediately credible way. The undertones are usually so subtle that only fellow “social deviants” appreciate the witty irony concealed within the most sincere statement of regret. Verbal subterfuge has to be so clandestine that it materializes as allegiance. Only like-minded miscreants truly appreciate such an elaborately secretive display of social insurgency.

There is no potential to mobilize or overthrow the procreation of sensitive and overbearing social saviors sent to rescue humans from their biases and unfair beliefs. If a space of social freedom for dialogue will exist again, the commoner will have to evolve into the sarcastic…and the sarcastic will have to emerge from his cocoon of acerbic self-containment. It will be a mental purification that will take generations.

Economic reality is inherently bound to social convention. The ideas rotate cyclically and support each other. The oppression of one upholds the oppression of the other. They live harmoniously in a circular state of backwardness. Embracing one and not the other is impossible. If financial freedom prevails then social subjugation is not far behind. If the serfdom of convention is overthrown, the prosperity of commerce falls right alongside it. Every situation is a loss. Every scenario a failure. To live free is to conform completely. Tow the line or accept your fate. The chrysalis is hard and unattractive, but is a necessary metamorphosis en route to leaving everything else beneath you.

August 11, 2014
by Creed

Parents, Babies, and Human Waste: A Short Treatise on Infant Feces

People don’t like to discuss human defecate. For some reason, human bowel movements are socially taboo. It makes little sense since humans will willingly discuss things like breathing, sleeping, eating and virtually every other physiological requirement without any concern for social convention. But when it comes to poo, people shy away from the topic.

Parents of toddlers and babies, on the other hand, have absolutely no qualms about diving into poo. Both in a social setting and quite literally diving right into it with their hands. As a parent of an infant or toddler, handling human excrement becomes as normal as deciding what to have for dinner. The volume of feces that a baby produces is simply astonishing given their relative size and diet. For a miniature creature who consumes only small quantities of food throughout the day, the amount of times a baby or infant has to evacuate their bowels is truly amazing.

baby poop

To poop as much as a baby, most adults would need a steady diet of Taco Bell and Metamucil.

As the parent to a tiny poop machine, one quickly learns that getting your hands dirty is a requirement. While at first it may seem disgusting and vile, after a few journeys into a blown out diaper, parents quickly adapt to the fecal mess and it becomes perfectly normal. In fact, as time goes on, parents will develop a remarkable ability to identify the subtle characteristics of baby poop and determine not only what previously consumed foodstuff is currently exiting but how the pungent odor relates to the food consumed. Touching baby poop is the ultimate destiny of virtually every parent and although it is gross at first, it becomes no different that manipulating any other like substance such as mashed potatoes or cottage cheese. If handling human fecal matter is the key to long life, I’ll probably live to be about 90. My wife will probably live forever.

baby poop

You won’t need a photographic memory to appropriately discuss this poop later with your fellow parents. You’ll remember every detail.

As a topic of discussion amongst new parents, virtually nothing is off limits now that anthropoid dung is a relevant and acceptable topic of conversation. New parents, especially mothers, share an uncanny ability to carry on a 15 – 20 minute discussion about not only the frequency of their baby’s bowel movements, but the size, texture, scent, and consistency of the excretion. Few things are more important than recounting how many times your baby dropped a load and what it looked like.

The only significant characteristic that separates baby poop from adult poop is the abhorrent and detestable odor. Adults, for the most part, relieve themselves in a toilet and the instant submerging of the dookie traps the unpleasant aroma. Babies, on the other hand, poop wherever they feel the need and almost never is it into a porcelain bowl of odor-trapping liquid. The fragrant musk of fresh baby droppings can only be described as tantamount to warm roadkill on hot asphalt. The effluvium of a fresh loaf of baby defecate is a bouquet enjoyed only by the seasoned, poo-handling parent.

baby poop

A baby will never thank you for wiping their ass. Form the poo into an artfully crafted message of affection if you ever feel down.

As a parent who comfortably handles and discusses poop, it is tough to remember where you are sometimes. Toggling back and forth between dad and dude is an ability harnessed by only the strong willed and lucid minded. Often times I misplace my verbiage and tell a co-worker that I have to go poo poo. Conversely, I occasionally tell my 14-month-old son to excuse me while I take a shit. It is hard to be consistent with proper nomenclature when there are so many ways to describe an impending need to evacuate percolating human waste.

As you go forward with the knowledge that it is perfectly normal to discuss human feces, keep in mind that the average parent lives this lifestyle on a daily basis. If you are ever uncomfortable or queasy in the presence of poo, just remember that you were a baby once and at some point, someone else wiped your shit. Also keep in mind that as you age, there is an ever-increasing possibility that you’ll once again be needing someone to handle your feces. That person will be a hospice caretaker or a doctor taking a stool sample. Be content with discussing and examining human waste because life comes full circle and poop plays a leading role.

pulling your weight

August 5, 2014
by Creed

Pulling Your Weight: A Discourse on Stay-at-Home Parenting

I’m awakened at 5am by the sound of incessant caterwauling. What is it? Is that a homeless feline being dissected by a vagrant with a bowie knife? No, that’s my son and he’s packing a load in his britches so large that the thought of hiring some landscapers to shovel it out passes through my mind. I live very close to the border, there must be some immigrants around here somewhere willing to do this on the cheap…Despite my weariness, I go ahead and dive right in, because I do, in fact, love the boy and I’m somewhat of a giver. After this brief episode, I’m quickly off to work where my cup runneth over with a plethora of quality co-workers and a seemingly endless myriad of uneducated simpletons who bring an abundant amount of joy into my already joyous life. But, what the hell, I think to myself…my salary is about the same as people who serve food to other people for gratuities and I only have to work 65 hours per week so basically I’m an extremely satisfied individual with a bountiful 401K and pension plan except I don’t have either of those things. That’s alright, at least the thought of them makes me smile, I’ll only have to work until I’m 90.

At the conclusion of my enriching day laboring amongst the über-intelligent and gifted, I head back home where I’m greeted by the faint aroma of baby vomit in a house that used to smell like floral coriander and sweet carrots marinating in delicious Worchestershire sauce. All I want to do before I restart this illustrious cycle is…maybe lay on the couch, watch some TV, maybe have a beer or two or three and throw my hand in my pants but, unfortunately, none of that is in the definition of “pulling your weight.”

‘Tis true, that being a father comes with no breaks, no workers’ comp, and absolutely zero paid time off. But the solution is an easy one, right? Just tell her about it. Surely your wife or baby momma will sympathize with your endless laboring for your newly hatched spawn. As the immortal Billy Joel tune goes…”tell her about it, tell her how you feel. Give her every reason to except that you’re for real“…Now while this may be a good idea in theory…or sound nice set to music, ‘tis not quite the case with a new baby and a first-time mom. I know what you’re thinking…no one knows relationships better than Billy Joel! However, although “For the Longest Time” might have helped you through a relationship or two, Billy Joel’s commentary on “what you should and shouldn’t tell your significant other” missed the mark entirely. A mother will simply not sympathize with your endless personal turmoil. In fact, she may be jealous of your turmoil and eager to trade places with you.

Why is that? Your suffering is exceeded only by your desire for an hour off. However, while you’ve been at work all day dealing with a proverbial clown car of Mensa scholars that occupy your place of employ, your lady has been home repeating the same cycle of caterwauling and shoveling of baby excrement that you started your day with. While you were a one-time recipient of the backlash of angry-morning-baby, your wife has been home alone with the pungent yet delightful musk of baby shit wafting through the family estate and the soft essence of baby vomit caressing her shoulder. While you choked down the vile sludge in the free employee cafeteria, she was home all day not eating at all, lest she be the victim of not simple caterwauling, but enraged caterwauling for neglecting an exceedingly needy creature who requires the attention usually reserved for royalty. While you were awe struck by the remarkable ineptitude of your award-winning cast of extremely average co-workers, she was at home, awe struck by the remarkable agony of both areolas as they cracked and bled after the profound intensity exacted upon them by a creature who’s unbridled cravings for motherly lactose rivals most of the characters’ blood-lust in the Blade Trilogy. While you were out pulling your weight and perhaps even being recongnized for it, someone else was pulling more, clandestinely.

It’s actually not that sad a tale that men face. The perils of fatherhood are so much more perceived than actual. Where your seemingly ceaseless anguish meets eternal frustration, that’s where you’ll find the being that is really pulling the weight. Stay-at-home parenting earns no money. It contributes nothing to the financial welfare of the family. The stay-at-home parent perceives their existence as stagnate. There is no career that is less thankful. No job less forgiving. No boss more demanding. There is no break, vacation, or paid overtime. It is a job that would never be applied for if it were posted online with a description. The joy of spending an overabundant amount of time with a baby becomes an unforgiving chore.

As I leverage my portly and pathetic corpus out of bed each morning, I smile more when I depart for work, knowing that in my household, I have the easier of the two jobs. I still come home to the same cycle and endure the same hardship, but I complain less. I still find it challenging to pull my weight, but I appreciate that although my relationship with my wife might not always be the way it used to be, it is solely because of the job she is currently doing. My labor provides barely enough to survive. Her labor is what really keeps everything afloat.

July 30, 2014
by Creed

Thousands of Years of Bad Parenting Advice: Soviet Union, families

As a highly developed social theory, Communism holds that children represented the power of the future and should be afforded the best possible care and education. Mothers were considered “laborers” and were entitled to benefits as any worker would be.

In the interest of protecting both children and mothers, Soviet Russia organized a system of “crèches,” essentially daycares, where mothers could leave their children while they worked and where children could be molded into the proletariat of the future. The crèche accommodated children ranging from one month to three years and proved to be a means of fighting disease and decreasing child mortality, as children were exposed daily to exercise, food, social interaction, and medical examinations. A crèche was typically connected to a factory and working mothers would be organized into work groups that would coincide with their child’s crèche attendance. The crèche essentially removed the burden of motherhood for a brief time each day and was state sanctioned as a benefit to both mother and child.

Children were often the subjects of intense scientific research. With the Communist regime erasing traditions affiliated with Imperial Russia, there were virtually no social traditions to hinder Soviet science regarding children and the family.

Thousands of Years of Bad Parenting Advice

Colonial America

Victorian England

Soviet Union, orphans

diaper bag

July 21, 2014
by Creed

Baby Junk, pt. 2 – Diaper Bag

One thing I’ve learned in the one year I’ve been a parent is that other parents like to tailor their public parenting to meet their narcissistic needs. Parents like when another parent admires how “together” they are. Conversely, some get their jollies by appearing overwhelmed and disheveled. These vainglorious parents enjoy the public perception of their parenting as much as they enjoy their own reflection.

diaper bag

It’s a little known fact that Caravaggio painted his famous “Narcissus” after witnessing the ostentation of new parents at his local grocery store.

One of the benchmarks of parental vanity is the diaper bag. Parents tote this monstrosity around with extreme loyalty, as if the Earth would implode on itself if you accidently forgot it in the car. However, the diaper bag has become more than just a bag for carrying diapers. In my experience, these “diaper bag” parents like to carry everything from diapers and wipes to their personal effects, a various assortment of toys, multiple changes of clothes, and probably a month’s worth of pre-pumped baby deliciousness. None of which is really necessary.

The diaper bag affliction is taking parents by storm. They cannot survive without this thing. A trip to the local grocery store with a baby is suddenly tantamount to traversing the Gobi Desert during the Siberian anticyclone. The sheer volume of supplies parents feel inclined to carry with them at all times is astonishing.

diaper bag

Bactrian camels of the Gobi and new parents with pretentious diaper bags have a lot in common. See? You learned something today.

But in reality, none of this is for the baby. Yes, at some point any or all of it could be used for the baby to some degree, however the diaper bag is an accessory. Modern parents with all their haughty and overbearing charm, have taken the diaper bag and made it a symbol of their self-ascribed parenting acumen. The more clever and creative parents have also adapted the bag to reflect their economic status.

diaper bag

If you don’t have a Gucci diaper bag then you are nothing to me. Be gone.

The diaper bag is a useful device for transporting diapers. But with all these modern parents and their diaper bag vanity, I prefer to keep my diapers and baby ass-wipes locked securely in my gold plated, antique-style, steamer trunk sea chest with vintage wooden leather rustic belt straps. At least when I push my grocery cart around the other parents will know I’m extremely wealthy and possibly a pirate.

Part 1: The Crib

July 10, 2014
by Creed

How to Save Money, pt. 4: The Bondage of Baby Clothing

For a variety of reasons, there are few things more frustrating than baby clothing. Most obviously, baby clothing is a never-ending expense that is predictably cyclical in nature and ongoing until your baby reaches a physical plateau. Secondly, babies, much like zoo animals and convicted felons, crave freedom. Infancy is one of the brief eras in the modern human life when nakedness is perfectly acceptable in virtually any situation. Moreover, baby clothes are subject to the same parental vanity as any other baby accessory and become quite expensive. It is for all these reasons that new parents are all the wiser to save themselves some coin and forego an abundant wardrobe of baby attire altogether.

Once a baby is born, there are only a few certainties for the new parents. 1. It will need to eat. 2. It will shit. 3. It will cry, and 4. It will grow. Now while clothing is in no way a requirement for newborn babies, one of the tangential certainties is that it will likely get cold. The fatless and frail physical frame of a new baby almost guarantees that at some point, given your geographical proximity to the equator, your baby will get cold and therefore will need to be clothed at least a percentage of the time. However, in reference to certainty #4, that the baby will grow, it is implied that once you do clothe your baby, you’ll be enrolled in a ceaseless cycle of discarding old clothes and procuring new, larger ones. The rate at which a baby grows rivals that of other notoriously rapid growing entities like sea kelp, blue whale calves, sunflower bamboo, or an inebriated married man’s ego at a singles karaoke night. Be prepared to experience an endless cycle of re-outfitting your tiny human with size-appropriate baby clothing.

baby clothing

Welcome to Oman. Famous for having one of the most comfortable year round climates on Earth. Baby clothes not required.

Secondly, it is a well-known fact that babies like freedom. Much like zoo animals and convicted felons, babies desire liberty. Similarly to nudists, infants crave unbridled nakedness. This desperate pursuit of infant nudity is where you as the parent can corral those greenbacks and work that Visa card down to an almost manageable debt. Baby nakedness is wonderful for the baby because it provides much-needed aeration to the nether regions. Being wrapped up tightly in a diaper all night, sitting in a pool of urine doesn’t give the sensitive epidermis the needed exposure to healthy air. More importantly, it is socially acceptable for a human baby to be naked in virtually any scenario. Allowing your baby to roam naked freely will save you some time and money. As long as you keep that bottle of Resolve handy for when he or she drops a load on the carpet, you’re going to be just fine.

baby clothing

Invite the boys over for some beer, wings, and naked time. Male bonding at the infant level is as close to utopia as you’ll find.

Most importantly in the quest to save some dollars via baby clothing is to not get caught up in the vanity of baby apparel. Just like in the adult world, baby apparel has a designer version of virtually everything. From useless shoes to seasonal garments, even frivolous baby accessories, parents too easily get vacuumed into the world of baby vainglory. A baby will never care about the public perception of their onesie. They will not lament the discount sweater you picked up at Ross because the cold winter weather drove up your electrical bill. A baby will be just as satisfied in a burlap sack with arm and leg holes as they will in Burberry boxed bodysuit and hat from Nieman Marcus for $150.

baby clothing

A onesie has a lifespan of exactly two to three weeks. Spend your $150 wisely.

There are few things more frustrating than baby clothing. However, we, the conceited and selfish consumer make it all the more difficult. A baby will always grow and will always need new clothes, but the expense can be kept to a minimum unless you want to go ahead and get your spawn a pack of Marlboro Reds and some Folgers crystals and really end the growth cycle early. Until then, set your vanity aside, enjoy some turbulent and unchecked nakedness, and just remember that whatever clothes you bought today will be irrelevant in a matter of weeks. Cheers.

Looking for more useful ways to save money? Click here.

World Cup

July 6, 2014
by Creed

Separation of Mind and State

All the recent American fervor over the World Cup is easily the sorriest display of fandom the sports world has ever seen. It is no secret that America does not like soccer. In fact, it is a well-established fact that America as a nation neither embraces soccer nor cares at all about the plethora of exceptional soccer leagues throughout the world. However, recently we’ve been seeing a lot of public discussion about the sport and America’s place on the world stage. But why is that? It’s only once every four years that American soccer pundits emerge from their hibernations. Why is this year any different? Spoiler alert; it’s not.

The root cause of all American “soccer enthusiasm” is nationalism. Nationalism is the primary catalyst behind most nation’s exuberance during international sporting events. When it comes to the World Cup, however, the entirety of the world sans America has an existing and genuine interest in the sport. America does not. We care so little about the MLS, our own domestic league, that we could faint mid-match and require a gurney to carry us off, much like most of the fake-injury-plagued soccer stars that we care nothing about. It is the same reason that every four years we cheer for a bobsledder or shot-putter that we’ve never heard of nor do we care exists. Soon after the event is over, they fade into obscurity along with the “passionate” fans who only a week earlier could tell you where they went to high school and what their favorite food is. Americans have a gluttonous desire to prove to anyone willing to listen that we are better. We don’t know why nor do we really care what we’re better at; we’re just better.

World Cup

It’s not the majestic bald eagle’s fault that he’s affiliated with us or has been portrayed as a stern and steadfast soccer-hater.

American nationalism is the worst kind of nationalism because it is hollow and purposeless. When given an opportunity to defeat another country at anything, Americans will sing to the high heavens the greatness of our union. We will champion the excellence of America at whatever challenge is presented. We will scurry quietly to our computers where we’ll Google the names of the competitors and then bombard a conversation with our “knowledge” as if we were raised learning about the history and accolades of our more obscure domestic athletes.

When the events are over, it’s remarkable how quickly the average American mind reverts to its normal state. We know subconsciously that because many of these international events only happen every four years, that the next time around we will likely have to learn a new set of names in order to bombast knowledge from the water cooler. Even more remarkable, perhaps, is that many of the unknown athletes we touted, will spend the next four years of their lives earning their professional income in another nation. This is primarily the case with soccer. Yet, of these “super fans,” how many among them will trace the careers of their “favorite” American soccer stars through the English Premier League or German Bundesliga while awaiting another World Cup?

World Cup

My personal favorite biathlete is no one because how the hell is skiing and shooting guns even a real sport?

This nation has reached a point in its history where virtually everyone born an American citizen was born into a developed and advanced nation. When none of the citizenry has really experienced national subjugation, it is difficult to sustain a believable nationalism for any length of time. This is why Americans rally around sports; because they truly have nothing else to rally around. We know in our hearts that an international sporting event will meet our two basic requirements for giddy nationalism; it will be temporary and it will appear genuine. Whether consciously or not, when dealing with serious issues like state solidarity or kicking a colorful orb around a field of green, Americans inherently know that we care about neither and will struggle to feign interest for more than a few weeks.

For a brief time every few years, Americans use ambiguous sporting events such as the World Cup to cultivate an atmosphere of pride, for however brief a moment. It is entirely false. Completely contrived. Barely believable. But in a country filled with shallow and mindless followers, it’s a valiant attempt nonetheless.

So good luck in the 2014 World Cup, America. Oh wait, what? We already lost? Ok, whoever dies with the most toys wins. Good night.

July 3, 2014
by Creed
1 Comment

Learning Moments: The Fourth of July

Organic learning moments are so rare. When available, it is critical to capitalize on the natural opportunity to teach a child something without it seeming contrived, forced, or having been done as a reaction to some act of malfeasance. This is my son’s second Fourth of July, although considering that last year at this time he was approximately two-weeks old, for all practical purposes, it is his first real Fourth of July. Since my son is just barely more than one-year-old, will retain virtually nothing I teach him, and has the attention span of a squirrel with hyperactivity disorder, I present this learning moment as a timeless letter for him to enjoy for years to come, including every Fourth of July from here until I’m dead.

Dear Son,

Today is the Fourth of July. It is a holiday celebrated by one nation to commemorate its greatness. On this day, droves of people will consume large quantities of alcohol, transport heavy food preparation equipment to parks and beaches, and attempt to acquire melanoma while they sit and eat amongst the company of friends, family, and copious amounts of American flags.

Fourth of July

Add mini American flags to virtually anything and instantly become a patriot. What a great country indeed.

The Fourth of July is one of this great nation’s many excuses to take a day off of work and pass the time by eating, drinking, and engaging in whatever general foolishness is the order of the day. Basically it’s like every other American holiday. Cheers. The difference between the countless Hallmark holidays we as a nation celebrate and the Fourth of July is that in general, most people are under the impression that the Fourth of July carries some type of historical meaning. Now, although the vast quantity of people are blind to any historical tradition and simply use the day to not work and get heavily intoxicated, there is a decent percentage of society that has remembered that this day is one of history, not just the normal American holiday debauchery.

However, the history that people celebrate is very often the wrong one and yet nobody really cares, because the ultimate goal of any holiday gathering is to get inebriated and consume way too much of whatever holiday fare is being cooked. This particular day is even more special because Americans like to shoot colorful fire in the air and scream.

The Fourth of July is the day America celebrates its independence from Great Britain. However, this really isn’t accurate because although the resolution of independence was closed in Congress on July 2nd, the Declaration of Independence wasn’t signed until early August. Truthfully, most colonies had autonomously declared their independence more than a month before the Congressional resolution. Even John Adams (historical guy) believed that Americans would celebrate July 2nd as the day of independence. Over time, Americans adopted July 4th as the celebratory date because it was the date that the Congressional resolution was first published. Even our forefathers were media whores who believed whatever they read. Kind of makes you feel all warm inside and connected to the past.

Fourth of July

John Adams was best known for his killer Fourth of July barbecues and of course, his hair.

Even with independence declared and Congress united, the Revolutionary War still continued for another 7 years. You see, son, declaring something doesn’t necessarily mean anything. I can declare lots of things and your mother will surely decide to play the role of the British and curtail my freedom. Americans had to support their independence with force and it really wasn’t until 1783 that all European intervention was vanquished. Even then, the America of 1783 was not the America of today, only comprising the land from the Mississippi River to the East Coast and it didn’t even include Florida. So everyone celebrating their Fourth of July in Miami beach technically are celebrating erroneously.

Fourth of July

50 stars to represent 50 Declaration of Independence signers. Red and white stripes to represent the celebratory candy canes they ate. History is easy to make up when nobody cares.

As we see all around us in our postmodern world, Americans celebrate the wrong day for reasons they cannot even begin to understand. Moreover, they decorate the landscape with American flags, not really even knowing why. Far too often we stand in line and follow the chanting without the words even being audible.

The truth, however, is that if it weren’t for partisan politics, the Fourth of July might not even be that big of a deal. It wasn’t until after the war of 1812 and the Federalist/Democratic-Republican divisions that the actual document itself became a torch by which the Democratic-Republicans would become the predominant political party. John Adams (same historical guy from earlier) believed that Americans seemed uninterested in the past and used the pseudo-date of July Fourth and the Declaration to solidify the Democratic-Republican Party. If only John Adams could visit 2014 and see how interested Americans are in the past now. We’ve become a truly impressive group of citizens for all the wrong reasons.

So happy Fourth of July, son. I truly hope we can get you out of this loathsome nation before you’re old enough to learn all these fictions in America’s wonderful public school system. But that’s a letter for another time.

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