Friday, February 15, 2013

Tooth Fairy Dilemma

I’m conflicted about the Tooth Fairy.

As the father of two elementary school aged daughters, teeth are flying left and right.

One problem is that their grandma set a precedent of $10 per tooth a while back. If you’re anywhere near my age, that’s shocking. We got dimes and nickels. Even when adjusted for inflation, ten bucks is still an outrageous rate.

And it’s not like I can always predict when the Tooth Fairy’s services will be needed.

Spoiler alert: I’m the Tooth Fairy. Well, not THE Tooth Fairy, but I am the Tooth Fairy in my household. And when not in character, I pay bills on-line and I use plastic cards for most other purchases. I don’t always have cash lying around the house every time said Tooth Fairy’s services are unexpectedly needed. I don’t need that kind of stress in my life.

But, it’s not just about the money.

It’s getting harder and harder for me to perpetuate such an outlandish ruse. While teaching my children the scientific method and to be reasonable and logical, at the same time I’m also encouraging them to believe a fairy comes down from somewhere and swaps out a bloody tooth for dough while they sleep. Really?

I lose all credibility when I then try to convince them that it’s absurd to think an ogre lives in the woods behind the house.

For some reason, I’m ok with Santa Claus.

Santa represents joy and goodness and magic and we know a lot about him from all the TV shows he’s in every year.

“He’s real if you want him to be” is what my mom told me when I asked her about jolly ol’ Saint Nick when I was a kid; that works for me still.

Plus, the old “…he knows if you’ve been good or bad, so be good for goodness sake” routine gets me at least a few months of excellent behavior.

When my girls confront me someday about all the lies, I think I’ll be able to spin Santa. But the Tooth Fairy? My 6-year-old asks what the Tooth Fairy does with all those teeth and I got nothing.

I can’t even conjure a consistent image in my mind of what the Tooth Fairy looks like.

But here’s the thing: I love the unadulterated joy and silliness and wild-eyed wonder of my girls at this age.  Childhood is fleeting.   The day is soon coming when they no longer jump in every mud puddle or think of me as a super hero. 

The sparkle in their eyes when they see the first star bright to wish upon at dusk or sheer delight in catching lightning bugs in the back yard is always tonic aplenty for whatever might be ailing this tired old soul. I know it won’t be long before cynicism will creep into their lives and more grown-up realities will take hold.

So, conflicted as I may be, I guess the Tooth Fairy can be real if they want her to be for a little while longer.  Good thing there’s an ATM close by.

But don’t get me started on the Easter Bunny. 

The Transformation of Lunu

The Raburns would like to announce the latest addition to the family: Lunu, the Luna moth, born February 2, 2013.

This is the true story of Lunu.

Sometime in early September, under a giant tree on the playground at Club Blvd. Elem. School, Xia and Anika and their classmates noticed dozens of large florescent green caterpillars, the likes of which we had never seen. Of course we brought one home with us. We made a nice little home for her in a plastic Tupperware container and filled it grass, dirt, leaves, berries and an abandoned bird nest.

We did a little research that night and found out that this particular type of caterpillar would become a Luna moth. We named her Lunu.

The first day we had her, the caterpillar explored her new home and got out of her container several times. We would find her crawling near the sofa or near the TV and promptly put her back in her home. That night she began spinning a cocoon, and by morning was morphing into a pupa state. By the end of the second day with us, she had completely transitioned from a juicy green caterpillar to a dull brown, lifeless, motionless pupa. According to our research, it would take from two weeks to several weeks for her to become a Luna moth.

Remember, this was in early September.

We anxiously awaited her transformation.

Nothing happened.

Then we got cats. So, we stuck Lunu in a closet to be safe. She was mostly out of sight and out of mind.

Weeks passed. Months passed. We checked on her occasionally, whenever we even remembered she was in the closet. Several times we just assumed she didn’t make it and considered tossing her out. But every now and then, when we held the little pupa in our hands, we could feel movement. As time passed, the movements became more frequent and more vigorous, like she was doing the twist.

Finally, this morning when I opened the closet to find my wool socks, there she was: a beautiful Luna moth, proudly perched on the side of the plastic container, some five months after we brought her home from the playground. Welcome to your new life, Lunu! Those wings look marvelous on you!

From what I understand, she’ll need a few hours for her wings to harden and dry for her to be able to fly.

Tomorrow will be a nice, sunny day, a little warmer. I expect that we’ll find a nice place along the wooded hiking trail nearby and release her.  The closet is no home for a Luna moth, after all. We’ll send her on her way and wish her well and be thankful for the few months we had together.

Lessons: take time to notice the miracles that happen every day all around us; delicate things require patience and nurturance; and, from humble beginnings magnificent things can evolve. 

To your journey, Lunu!

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Intro to OH DAD!

"Oh Dad!"

If I had a quarter for every time I’ve heard those words!

As an active father of two amazing little girls and admittedly a little on the goofy side, “Oh Dad!” is indeed a frequently spoken phrase in my house… accompanied by obligatory eye-rolling and (usually) uproarious laughter as well.  It was the obvious name for a line of books I’ve been looking to create.

Truth of the matter is that I love every second of being “Dad.”

In many ways, I’m typical of a growing subgroup of dads. Generally speaking, fathers today are more actively involved in the everyday care and decision-making of children than those of previous generations.  That’s partly due to the natural evolution of parenting, I think. And partly due to economics. More dads are able to work from home or have flexible work schedules than in the past. And women are earning more, so dads aren’t necessarily the automatic breadwinner for the family these days. That’s the good news. The bad news: there are an awful lot of unemployed dads out there too.

Whatever the reason, there’s a bunch of us spending a lot of time with our children. And that’s got to be a good thing.

But the publishing biz has been slow to catch on. With most magazines and books, “Parenting” is code for “Mom,” it seems. In my experience, there’s a dearth of resources for dads.

Oh Dad! is a line of books created to fill that void: fodder for those of us who aspire to be greatest dad in the world (but need a little help).

The first book is scheduled to hit the market in March, 2013. I lucked out and landed foodie Sarah Spigelman who wrote “What’s for Breakfast, Dad?” for us.

Ms. Spigelman is a renowned Manhattan food critic, blogger and connoisseur of edible delights. “What’s for Breakfast, Dad?” is in equal parts intro to the kitchen and awesome cook book. Sarah gently leads us into the kitchen and shows us that it’s not such a scary place after all – once you know a few basic rules and techniques. The recipes? Think bacon candy and waffle-wiches.

“What’s for Breakfast, Dad?” is a perfect example of what Oh Dad! is hoping to provide: fun, quirky, insightful, useful books for devoted dads and the eye-rolling kids who love them.

Next up:  “Let’s Build Something, Dad” written by retired engineer and father of four, Peter Hill. It includes step-by-step instructions for 30 fun backyard building projects.

There are many more titles percolating.

I started this blog as a companion to the publishing company. I’ll post updates on books as we go along and also share my thoughts on the joys and challenges of being Dad.

Your input is appreciated!

Stephen Raburn 
Oh Dad!
A Division of Raburn Publishing