Posted in Fatherhood

Living in Disney Hell

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Disney Hell is a very real place.

It’s not filled with villains, or kidnapped princesses, or evil magic. Rather, it’s a song. One song. That your child keeps asking for over…and over…and over…and over…

The make-up of Disney Hell varies depending on the family and child. But in the Siebert house, Disney Hell is this “I’ve Got a Dream” song on a constant loop. My two-year-old will specifically ask for, “Dream Song?”

And no, “I’ve Got a Dream” does not feature Martin Luther King Jr.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Fatherhood

So, What Did We Learn Today?

chaos is how i learnBy Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

When my oldest daughter was a baby, she had a t-shirt that read “Chaos is How I Learn” (shown right). I actually found an adult-sized version of it over at Box Lunch.

She’s two now. This morning, I wound up chasing her around the house as she held a digital thermometer in her hand, and had a Target gift card stuck to her foot.

So…what the @#$% did we learn from THAT?!?

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Fatherhood

“Mean Daddy” Arrives

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Anybody remember the Full House episode where Jesse (the John Stamos character) has to discipline his kids? They retaliate by calling him “mean daddy,” causing Jesse gets all self conscious and introspective.

Naturally, I saw that episode as a kid. But the closer I got to adulthood, and the more I thought about becoming a father, the more that story resonated with me. Of course, now that I actually am a father, it’s more relevant than ever.

Nobody wants to be the mean daddy. Everyone, of course, wants to be the fun daddy. That’s how I always pictured myself. Or at least the daddy that didn’t yell a lot. The daddy that kept his calm and composure in the face of his kids being upset and/or defiant. I looked at it as the Fred Rogers approach. On television, Mister Rogers never lost his temper. He was always serene, calm, and collected. That’s what I wanted to be.

But the other day, “mean daddy” showed up. Lil’ Primary Ignition, who’s about one and a half, wasn’t cool with having her diaper changed. As she was on the changing table, she started wiggling, bucking, and generally fighting me. I was already having a pretty bad day, and I wasn’t cool with her not being cool with things. So I raised my voice. You might even say I yelled.

The operative word was “Stop!” I must have said/yelled it four or five times. She’d been crying when I set her on the changing table. Now she was crying even harder. Not a hallmark fatherhood moment for yours truly. Mister Rogers would not have approved…

Then again, maybe he would have…

“Everyone gets mad sometimes.” “Everybody makes mistakes sometimes.”

I suspect if I were to come to him with this story, Fred Rogers would say something to the effect of: “There’s no such thing as a parent who doesn’t get angry. Just like there’s no such thing as a child who doesn’t get upset sometimes. What’s important is what we do with the mad that we feel.”

I think I need to stop thinking in terms of “mean daddy.” In that moment, I wasn’t needlessly harsh or cruel toward my daughter. I was angry. I let her know it, and she responded in the only way she knows how: She got more upset. It was a lose-lose situation. Next time, I can come into the situation a little bit wiser.

A few years ago, a parent friend of mine posted a Facebook status talking about a meltdown her toddler had in public. I replied that I was sorry she had to go through that. In return, she said something along the lines of, “It’s okay. Kids have a lot of feelings.”

Evidently, they aren’t the only ones.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Fatherhood, Toys

Don’t Touch Daddy’s Toys!

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I’m a toy collector. Action figures in particular. That shouldn’t be too hard to ascertain, given some of the stuff I post. I used to have a lot more shelf space in my office to display them. Be warned, collectors. Once you get a house and a family, shelf space becomes a rare commodity….

I have a vivid memory from a day years before Baby Primary Ignition was born. We had a two friends, a married couple, over with their young son. They knew I was a toy collector. Apparently word had trickled down to their boy, as right when we opened our front door, the little guy made a mad dash for my office. He proceeded to make his way in and out with Ghostbusters (shown above), Power Rangers, superheroes, etc. Our friends looked at me apologetically. But I said something to the effect of: “You can’t have a room full of toys, and then have a kid over and say he can’t play.”

I look back fondly on that moment. That felt like a good one for yours truly.

Now if only I could be as understanding today with Baby Primary Ignition. She’s almost two, and as one might surmise, she’s gotten very grabby…

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Fatherhood

Getting Your Kid a Spoon

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Ahhhh Calvin & Hobbes. So timeless. So perfect.

Baby Primary Ignition has this electronic toy shaped like a little soccer ball. It rolls around, plays music, annoys her parents, etc. This morning I noticed her playing with it, but no sound was coming out. I figured the batteries were dead. So I did what I imagine most dads would do. I got a screwdriver out of my little tool kit in the closet, opened up the ball, swapped out the batteries, and low and behold the ball was back in business!

In one of my favorite episodes of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Jerry Seinfeld recounts something Matthew Broderick told him about, of all things, getting his kid a spoon…

“Matthew has this great line about when you get your kid a spoon. You think, ‘What a great dad I am. Look at me getting my kid a spoon.’ That is what we think.”

He’s talking about a certain kind of narcissism that comes with parenting. But there’s a sweetness to it too, I think.

When they’re older, we won’t be able to solve life’s big problems for them. But for now, the small ones will suffice. Because those small problems feel big to them. So they feel big to us too.

Oh, my Baby. Feel free to take all the time in the world growing up.

(In truth, part of me now regrets fixing the ball. The damn thing is currently rolling around our wood floors making more noise than ever.)

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Fatherhood, Toys

An Androgynous Potato (Head)

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Somebody in my Facebook feed this morning referred to people getting freaked out over “an androgynous potato,” and I knew something was up.

Turns out Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head are rebranding. Hasbro is going to less prominently display the gender labels for the toy line. The brand will now simply be “Potato Head.” (See packaging below.)

This triggered some folks online, because that’s what the internet is and has always been for: Triggering people. How dare we cut Mr. Potato Head’s imaginary balls off! (What would you call Mr. Potato Head’s balls anyway? Spuds? Spudlings?)

My initial inclination was to say this is one of those things that’s been given way too much thought. Just how much will the world be improved by de-emphasizing the gender roles of toy potatoes? Is Hasbro fixing something that isn’t broken?

Then I read the AP story, in which Ali Mierzejewski, editor-in-chief at The Toy Insider says…

“It’s a potato. But kids like to see themselves in the toys they are playing with.”

Okay. I’ll buy that. It makes sense.

The older I get, the more I understand the importance of representation in popular culture. It’s not just toys that kids project themselves on to. It’s all kinds of mass media and merchandise. Everyone deserves to feel seen, regardless of sexuality, race, or however you want to measure difference.

I find it usually helps to look at these things through the lens of fatherhood. Baby Primary Ignition has a pretty conventional family thus far. It’s mom/dad/baby. But I’d like to think that if it were mom/mom/baby, or dad/dad/baby, or if there were a gender-neutral “they” mixed in there somewhere, she’d still be able to look out into the world and not feel like she doesn’t belong. I’d want her to know her family is beautiful the way it is.

And if genderless plastic potatoes can move us further in that direction, I’m game.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

 

Posted in Fatherhood

Dory, Sesame Street, and Why Characters Matter

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Baby Primary Ignition is slowly but surely learning to talk. Two of her favorite words are “Dah-wee” and “Mo.” Which are apparently baby talk for “Dory” and “Nemo.”

The older she gets, the more I’m starting to realize just how much mass media characters matter, especially when kids take to them so early in life. They become a big part of how they discover and relate to the world around them.

I couldn’t help but compare Baby’s love of Dory to my love of Sesame Street when I was about that age (she’s one and a half). In the mid ’80s, Bert and Ernie were it for me. Bert specifically, for some reason. I had these little stuffed Bert and Ernie dolls, and my mother tells me Bert went everywhere with me. Perhaps even at that young age I realized I’d one day, like Bert, be a nerd with a nasally voice.

Actually, those Bert and Ernie dolls have ended up in Baby’s toy chest. I actually get a pretty big nostalgic kick out of seeing her play with them.

The wife and I haven’t exposed Baby to Sesame Street yet, largely because we don’t subscribe to HBO Max these days (I guess the Justice League “Snyder Cut” didn’t draw us in.). Full episodes are available on YouTube, though. So I imagine it’s only a matter of time before Elmo’s voice echoes off the walls of the Siebert house for hours at a time.

I don’t want to dislike Elmo. He was around when I was a kid. But too much of anything, and I tend to turn against it…

Maybe we’ll reach a compromise with Daniel Tiger. He’s the stand-in for Mister Rogers these days, right?

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Fatherhood

Baby’s Pal Superman

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Baby Primary Ignition has a favorite action figure. That should come as no surprise to those who know me personally, as I’ve got an office filled with them. So there’s a thrill that comes with her being attached to one.

Even more thrilling? It’s a Superman action figure. (For the geeks out there, it’s based on the Bruce Timm design from Superman: The Animated Series and Justice League Unlimited.)

There’s a certain warmth and comfort that comes with associating my daughter with Superman. I’ve heard it said that every girl wants to date Batman, but marry Superman. That’s a pretty poignant observation, even from the male perspective. Every guy would love to be cool like Batman. But I think most grown men want to be Superman for their spouse and children.

I think that’s where that warm feeling comes in. Because right now I can be Superman for her. I can fix owies. I can read to her when she crawls to me with a book in her hand. I can even pick her up in my arms and make her fly.

So maybe it’s not about the thrill of her liking a Superman toy, so much as it’s about the feeling the toy drums up in me…

Incidentally, I don’t plan to be Superman once she starts dating. I fully intend to turn into the Hulk.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Fatherhood, Movies

Intro to Tarzan

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

At one and a half years old, Baby Primary Ignition doesn’t see a great deal of TV. But she has been exposed very selectively. We have a Disney+ subscription at the PI household. She loves the Frozen movies, Finding Nemo and Finding Dory, and as we very recently found out, Tarzan.

Released in 1999, Tarzan came down the pipe a little late for Mrs. Primary Ignition and I. But she recently turned it on for Baby, and was amazed at how responsive she was to the opening sequence. So much that she showed it to us this morning.

The sequence that’s pretty dramatic even by Disney standards. Baby Tarzan loses his parents to a leopard attack, and we see blood next to their shrouded corpses. This is after said leopard kills a baby gorilla. So of course, the gorilla’s mom adopts baby Tarzan, and we’ve got ourselves a movie.

As she gets old, Baby has started to point to things and say, “What’s that?” (In her own special toddler language, of course.) She was quite responsive during the movie’s opening, as Tarzan and his parents escape a fiery blaze. She also responded to the gorillas. Animals of all sorts are big with her. She’s started to point to different ones and say “Cow,” “Sheep,” etc. She also calls fish “elmo,” which we think is supposed to be Nemo.

But what really surprised us was her reaction to the bloodthirsty leopard. When the tiger leapt out and attacked, she actually called out “No!” She wasn’t afraid for herself, but the characters on screen.

It’s both scary and exciting to think that she’s becoming more aware and responsive to the world around her. That can only mean being a parent is about to become harder, and we’ve got to make more small decisions about what content is and isn’t appropriate for her. My days of watching John Oliver while she plays nearby may nearly be over.

Then again, we just showed her a movie where a ferocious leopard kills two humans and a baby gorilla. So maybe the child psyche is more durable than we give it credit for.

Incidentally, that Phil Collins soundtrack? Highly underrated.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Fatherhood

Funko Pops as…Toys?

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

The Siebert house isn’t huge on Funko Pops. But we have some. Most notably, we’ve got Batgirl and Nightwing in our family room (shown left). We’ve also got Charlie Brown, and a few others down in our basement TV room.

Baby Primary Ignition, who’s about one and a half, keeps grabbing Batgirl and Nightwing off the end tables. Then yesterday she discovered Charlie Brown in the basement. She’ll carry the little wide-eyed figures around with her. She’ll bang them together. Charlie even joined us for a diaper change this morning.

So many collectors gather Funko Pops for display, customization, etc. It’s actually kind of a wonder to see these little toys used as…you know, toys. They might get a little beat up in the process. But somehow I’m okay with that…

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.