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Just Call Me Dad

Fatherhood in the 21st Century


Archive for March, 2010

A while back I was asked to write a guest post for the great website Unfortunately, I didn’t get off my butt until just a couple of weeks ago. Thankfully, they were still happy to hear from me and recently posted the article that I wrote for them on potty training. i encourage you to check it out when you have a couple of minutes.

The worst four-letter word is of course…CAN’T. As in, I can’t do this, or I can’t do that. For some reason, Nick has started to say this a lot lately.

There are times when every four letter word is useful. The *F* one comes in handy when you drive your car into something, and I like to use the *S* one sometimes when I step in a pile of dog doo doo or a police car pulls up me behind when I am speeding.

The *C* word though – can’t – I’m not sure where it fits in. Yes, I could say that we CAN’T go to Toy’s R Us this afternoon, although saying that I don’t want to is probably more appropriate. Telling your son you can’t afford a new toy probably isn’t true either – you likely just don’t want to spend the money on that item.

When my son says he can’t do something, I try to respond with yes you can, I’ll help if you need it, or sure you can, let me teach you. I don’t like how often I hear the word can’t in today’s world. Perhaps it’s because I’m a sucker for motivational tapes and books, but I really believe that the words that we use to describe our situations and feelings have an effect on us. I wouldn’t say that I believe in “The Secret” (I’ve never seen it or read it), but I don’t see any reason to put negative thoughts out into the world.

Am I being pedantic? Or am I teaching my son a life lesson? If I explain why I don’t wan’t him to say he can’t do something, will he remember the lesson his entire life and achieve great things, or will he think of Dad as a stuffy old writer who was always correcting him?

I remember reading somewhere that instead of saying “I can’t do something”, you should say “How CAN I do this?”. That is a lesson that I would like my son to learn.

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs

I do my best to be an active parent and not let the television babysit for me, but there are times when it is nice to turn on the Backyardigans (or more likely Thomas & Friends) and let my son be entertained.

As Nick gets older, he is more and more aware of the technology around him, especially as he sees Mom and Dad engaging in it. He’s been viewing videos on YouTube since he was six months old (In fact, for a time viewing The Wiggles was one of the best ways to get him to calm down when he was upset). He talks to Grandma and Grandpa on the telephone, and he sees me checking e-mail on my Blackberry.

With his growing addiction to Thomas & Friends, it was only natural that trains would extend into his YouTube viewing. In many ways this is great, because there is a plethora of Thomas & Friends videos and fan recreations on YouTube, many of them very well done and with millions of views.

I began wondering if I could capture some of these videos and transfer them to my telephone for use in outside situations. There are lots of places where kids are forced to wait such as doctor’s offices, restaurants, the mall, in the car, etc where a 5 minute video could prevent a crying fit or prevent him from running around bothering others.

What I found was a handy website called KeepVid ( This site allows you to download and save any video from YouTube (or other streaming video sites). It even gives you a few options for how you would like the video to be saved. Be aware that there may be copyright issues with downloading some videos.

This was great, and I could now watch the videos on my laptop without an internet connection. However, it didn’t really solve the problem of getting the videos onto my phone; none of the download options were compatible with my Blackberry. For that problem I turned to AVS Video Converter ( This software allowed me to convert the video into the correct format. Because I use the free version, there is a watermark at the beginning and end of the videos. Those of you using different devices may be able to download videos directly to your device without any conversion.

The end result is a 5 minute babysitter that grasps Nick’s attention when I really need it.

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs

I don’t pretend to be an expert on food. To be honest, I’m not even very knowledgeable about the topic of food. Sure, I’m a pretty good cook, and I have some ideas about what food is good for us and what food is bad for us. However, I don’t know enough to keep me from being in the 66% of people who are currently overweight.

A few weeks ago, Nick and I went to Wal-Mart in the afternoon and we bought a three pack of Reese Peanut Butter Cups. We each had one, and the third cup stayed in my coat pocket. That night when it was time for a bedtime snack, I offered him the third peanut butter cup. My wife made it clear that this was not an appropriate snack. Of course, when I actually thought about it, I also knew that this was not a healthy snack. However, habit and convenience led me to not think about it.

I think that most of us know about food, but we don’t spend a lot of time actually thinking about food or the food that we eat. Of course, as adults, we have every right to eat whatever we want and live with the consequences of that. However, my concern was that I was teaching Nick some poor eating habits, and that did not sit well with me. I reached out to a Nutritionist with a list of questions, and that will be the subject of a coming blog post. In the meantime, I came across an excellent video from TED 2010. In it, Jamie Oliver (of Food Network fame) talks about childhood obesity and the way that we feed our kids. It’s about 20 minutes long, and really made me think about how I feed my son, and also about how I feed myself. I hope that you enjoy it.