How to Be a Dad

How to Be a Dad

Silence and Spaces

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Only talk when it improves the silence.

That’s what I kept telling myself for the past five days, not that it helped. I walked amongst giants in the blogging world, trying to convince myself that I belonged. I was proud to be part of the conversation between the digital dads and modern brands, attending the first annual Dad 2.0 Summit. But even as I force these inept fingers to the plastic keys right now, I feel like I’m trying to put a puzzle together about this past weekend in Austin, Texas.

Dad, you don’t threaten Voltron with a butter knife.

When I was little, there was a WWII jet fighter skeleton stuck in the sand of my favorite playground, glazed in lead paint. The cockpit had been filled with cement and the only way to climb it was by grasping the wing from below, and hoisting yourself up. It was nearly impossible for me, a normal-sized sprout and on the dusty Normandy-like beaches of the playground, other kids were not fast on help. I was on my own. One day, I leapt for that wingspan. I wanted to get on top of the cockpit like the older boys. I was determined. I made a go.

But, I bit dust. Or rather sand. And swallowed. I lunched on the soft glass particulate. All the boys above me laughed and promptly went back to their shoving game atop the dorsal ridge of the defunct aircraft. Boys always seem to want to be kings not kingmakers, especially when it’s dangerous.

Oh, Austin. You’re so sweet to Dad 2.0 bloggers.

Upon entering the room of my first speaking engagement, my mouth went dry and gravelly with nervous uncertainty. I transformed into that blue-eyed, freckle-spattered boy again. It’s stupefying how fast our adulthood evaporates into childish insecurity when bullied by the past. I sat myself in front of the microphones and next to people of great acclaim. They appeared legitimate while I just played pretend in my grown up clothes.

Our panel of five launched into it. I only blacked out three times and dropped the f-bomb twice. It was a good day.

That night, we went into Austin, and engaged in merrymaking at the hipster circus. The social lubricant flowed, conversations ran their course from existential to the inane. We paraded around debating the necessity of testicles, some almost cried, some waxed philosophical about the subject of “penis fly traps” and I enjoyed the hell out of simply talking to all these people. I realized, these were my people.

You can’t tell me these guys aren’t habit-forming.

Suddenly, I was ready for the lights to come on. Last call. My homebody tendencies began strangling me. I just wanted to go home and find my spot on the couch, to lay my head down. Instead of calling out for my mother at the park, I yearned for my son, my wife and my home. They’ve become the tenders of my hearth fire now. I had resisted their call for long enough. It was time to sojourn back to my center.

As much as the rest of my life will be about teaching my son to be courageous, it’ll have to be about my own risk-taking with an active effort to resist to my fears, not simply count them absent. I just hope one day, I’ll get the chance to skip the piss-in-your-pants part and go directly to fun.

Thanks to Dad 2.0 for getting me one step closer.

Larsen Park (Photo By: Sasquatch & Yeti)


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66 Responses to “Silence and Spaces”

  1. beta dad says:

    I don’t want to seem too critical, but you forgot to attach a link to my blog on the phrase “giants in the blogging world.” Otherwise, great recap.

    If you had any pants-pissing moments, it didn’t show.

    Great hanging out with you. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed waiting for cabs and planes any more than this time.

    • charlie says:

      Your link is in there. Let’s play “Where’s Waldo…”, shall we?

      My pants-pissing is usually relegated to the silent panic attacks in bathrooms immediately following things… At least, that’s what I do after auditions.

      Great time though. For as much as I wanted to be home, it nice to pretend to play grown-up for a few days too. Well, that and accosting hipster college students on the street.

  2. Canadian Dad says:

    One of my favorite tweets from the event was when someone pointed out that you dropped the F bomb in the first 5 minutes. It was fun following the event online and it sounded like you didn’t disappoint.

    Love the site! Cheers!

  3. Michelle says:

    Great article! As parents, I think it’s good to have a network of friends that support you. They can give you a boost when you are feeling insecure.
    I used to be an extrovert but after having kids, am now more of an introvert. There’s no place I’d rather be than with my hubby and two boys!

    • charlie says:

      Yeah, we have to find that balance of risk-taker/explorer and homebody, frumpy-pants. At least, I do. Otherwise, I see myself genetic modifying myself into the couch DNA.

  4. daddy in a strange land says:

    If you felt this way, imagine how the rest of us mortals felt. ;-P
    And I almost took that same photo of the graffiti in the Stubb’s portajohn, lol.

  5. Suebob says:

    The best part about these conferences, for me – well, the most inspirational part – is realizing that these giants are mostly huge messes like I am, and yet they still manage to accomplish great things. I file it under “Things that make me go “Hm.”

    • charlie says:

      Yeah, all the Dadcentric guys are just steaming piles of messes. That’s for sure. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Actually, with a couple exceptions, the attendees were pretty sane, very gracious and easy to talk to.

      …After 14 beers.

  6. Stick to these kind of posts instead of those stupid videos.

    And that pick of your lovely duo = totally habit forming. Off to find my mommy.

    • charlie says:

      You shut your mouth. I do what I want.

      These posts are torture for me, especially after a blog conference. I feel like I’m supposed to know how to write (which I don’t) and then psych myself out.

      Don’t you mean “mami”?

  7. the muskrat says:

    Is that why you talked to much? Nervous energy? I thought it was because you had all the answers!

    *scurries off to burn notes from Charlie’s panel*

    • charlie says:

      Why the hell would anyone listen to me? I haven’t been blogging that long and we make poopoo jokes.

      I’d like to see those “notes” (“Charlie said, ‘Mommy bloggers are our drug dealers.'”)

  8. Braindonkey says:

    Only 2 F bombs? Boring.

  9. Big Dan says:

    The part where you spoke about hanging out with the boys but wanting to head home to the wife and kid at the end of the night really resounded with me. I had a similar experience recently – went on an epic guys-only snowboard trip to Snowmass but found myself yearning for the family at night time. It’s amazing the draw they have on us.

    By the way, I hope this doesn’t sound creepy, but you have a gorgeous wife.

    • charlie says:

      First off, she’s mine. Second, she’s mine. Third, it’s hard because we need to retain our rugged individualism (HA!) but know that we have a mantle, or at least some of us, to carry of responsibility.

      The part I didn’t write about was coming home and seeing my son. He made huge jumps in his verbal skills. I felt like I’d missed out. Then, someone started cutting onions in my living room.

      • beta dad says:

        Dude. My kids seemed to have actually grown as well as learned more words by the time I got home. So weird. They’re now into saying “Craziness,” “Doggoneit,” and “That makes sense,” and “Oh my God.” Have no idea where they pick that stuff up. Craziness.

        • charlie says:

          It’s not like we were going after the Golden Fleece for 10 years, but man 4 days and my son is all over the places with 4 words at a time instead of 2. WTH.

      • Big Dan says:

        I feel like my kids made huge strides while I was gone. Amazing stuff. It’s funny how much you want time away every so often but, when you get it, you’re right back to wishing you were at home. I guess what they say about the grass on the other side is true…

  10. Whit says:

    You said it. Well, lots of it, but that part about feeling insecure up on the panel? That hit home. I had tons of stuff to say, and thought up better stuff later, but when I was sitting there all I could do was curse loudly and try not to cry. That actually sounds cooler than it looked.

    Great seeing you, Charlie (Andy was missed).

    • charlie says:

      Cursing and crying would be better than what I did. Being pompous and being connected, people will opt for your connectedness.

      Andy was missed. Next time.

  11. Chad Nikazy says:

    Wow, as new dad blogger (not so new blogger) I thought you were the man. Now I know your F-bombs weren’t as awesome as I thought. Glad I didn’t take any notes.

    Really though, you did great and it was great meeting you and the rest of the guys. Can’t wait for next year.

    • charlie says:

      Why weren’t my f-bombs as awesome as you thought? They were timed and strategized. Don’t take away from me the only thing I DID plan!!!

      Was great to meet you, Chad. Please no greco-roman wrestling at next year’s event. I know for a fact I CANNOT take you.

  12. It’s funny that you say you were a bit nervous – I thought you looked calm, cool, collected & confident every time we crossed paths and when you were on the panel. It was great to briefly meet you during our shuttle ride to the hotel & I’m sad we didn’t get a chance to really chat. You provided much insight & entertainment during the panel that’s for sure so thank you for sharing that with us all at the conf!

    • charlie says:

      Confidence and prostate-quaking are not dissimilar on the outside. Also, I have years of acting to help me ‘fake-it-til-I-make-it’ if you know what I mean.

      Wait, why didn’t we get to talk more??!

  13. Julie Marsh says:

    Considering how popular you were, I’m especially glad now to have had time to chat with you over lunch (afternoon snack?) on Thursday. Your enthusiasm is contagious.

  14. Braindonkey says:

    i would go to one of these if:
    1) it wasn’t in texas.
    2) I had time.
    3) I could drink heavily.
    4) people didn’t make me want to stab them.

  15. jco says:

    if you really were nervous on the panel, it certainly didn’t show. and i loved that panel. thought y’all did a fantastic job. it was so awesome meeting you in Austin — only wish i’d gotten a chance to speak with you more.

    also, if i’d been clever enough on Fri night, during your musings of testicles and penis fly traps, to come up w/ the phrase “clittopotamus,” would you have linked me? ah, the what-ifs that litter my landscape…

    great stuff, charlie. looking fwd to watching y’all continue to tear it up. all the best… john

    • charlie says:

      JCO, you are amazing, man. I watched dance it out, speak eloquently on/at panels and somehow you managed to stay out later than I did every night. Hat’s off to you.

      I think Kristen and Catherine need to see that word, and weigh in. For my money, genius.

      See at the next go round.

  16. Chad Nikazy says:

    Ok, I admit; the F-bombs were awesome.

    the first rule of Dad blogging conferences:

    1. there is no reason for a wrestling match (between dudes)

  17. You had me at Voltron.

    Great to meet you and hear you speak. Looking forward to talking again soon…

    • charlie says:

      Voltron is the great equalizer.

      The next time I compliment you in person and you look at me like I just drowned kittens in clorox, we will have some words, you and me.

  18. Doug French says:

    Speakers like you made Dad 2.0 the kind of conference I would like to attend someday. Thanks for coming and fueling its positive, collegial vibe.

    And don’t let anyone give you shit about your hoodie.

    • charlie says:

      Wow, thank you, Doug. People said I was “enthusiastic” but I prefer the term “nervous.”

      If someone gives me shit about my hoodie or my “skinny jeans” one more time…

  19. I’m just happy that you sat next to me at breakfast on Saturday … and you didn’t puke.

    Cheers, Charlie. K

  20. Was great to meet you, and your f-bombs were very charismatic. I appreciate a good swear word now and again. The conference was all kinds of awesome. I have never been so proud to be a drug dealer.

  21. Wolf Pascoe says:

    Best part for me was the post-Summit, airport lounge talk with you, Andy and Whit. As to nerves, missing home, etc., I begin to see the wisdom of Lenny Bruce’s offhand dictum, “We’re all the same schmuck.” Grateful we connected, Charlie. Must go watch “Three Things” now.

    • charlie says:

      Same schmuck, indeed. That was a good talk, which is a testament since we were sitting in a busy airport. Everything else sort of melted away and we were all more focused than we were for the entire weekend.

  22. So… I can’t get past the “only talk when it fills the silence” part. Well, of course, I did get past it. But I can’t comprehend it.

    Other people don’t babble and talk until they say something stupid? Because I’m a pro at that. Just you wait and see.

  23. mike says:

    This is so great in so many ways. Homebody tendencies is exactly it. It was a real pleasure to meet you and get a chance to chat, and now it’s even better to know that people who seem to have their shit together are secretly as awkward inside as me. You rock.

    For what it’s worth, you did an amazing job on your panel.

    And one more thing if you want to take a look at what Dolores Park looks like nowadays … I haven’t been able to get over there and photo the new park yet, but someone else already has:

    • charlie says:

      The platonic pleasure was mine, Mike. If you asked a Magic 8 Ball, “Does Charlie have his shit less together than I do?”, it might tell you “All signs point to yes.”

      Thank you for the kind words.

      HOLY SHITSICLES. Dolores Park looks UNREAL. The forced focus stuff makes it look like a magical, distant planet as designed by the people of Teotihuacan. I just remember it filled with used condoms and ‘preowned’ needles.

      Nice to know another blogger who doesn’t like the word “Frisco.”

  24. faunce says:

    i have to say this.. i just scanned through most of those other dad and mom blogs…but NONE compare to yours, i love your blog, i have never followed one everyday like yours, i enjoy your videos and your photos. my fiance laughs every time i show him a post of yours. high-larious stuff, dude. i kinda cant wait to have children of my own, then again-i can.

    • charlie says:

      Wow, Faunce. That means everything. And the fact that you don’t yet have kids is even more reason for us to continue our quest. Thank you for all your support and sharing of our stuff. It’s really incredible to have so many cool readers like you. Thanks again.

  25. Chelsea says:

    Ahhh…first of all, this blog actually brought me to tears. 7 months ago I would have found it sweet, but having had my own child for a whole 6 months now, I was absolutly with you all the way through. Secondly…our kids look so much alike!! Mine’s got wack-a-doo hair (which he already likes in his eyes, I’m not allowed to touch it), loves his soothies paci, and sleeps just like that in my arms.

    Gotta say, you and the Mama make cute kids ๐Ÿ˜‰

  26. I feel you need to jump past actor and move on to Writer/Director. If that would be your cup of tea? Good post.

    • charlie says:

      Wow, thank you. I’ve been writing, producing and directing the videos recently. I also have a short film premiere that I produced and co-wrote on Tuesday. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks again!

  27. Congrats on losing your speaker’s virginity, for realizing that, really, it’s all just guys doing shit, and for remembering that what matters is back home under the covers. Everything else is just eye wash.

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