Who I was in high school

On Saturday, I’ll be at my 30-year high school reunion in San Diego.

Today, I found myself mentally rehearsing what I would say to people at the reunion if they had trouble recalling who I was or their connections to me. I decided to just blog it instead.

  • I was in band all four years; I played tuba.
  • I tried acting in my senior year and had a supporting role in “Li’l Abner.”
  • I probably served you a Titan Burger or “taco burrito” at least once.
  • If you were in a communication-related class with me (Spanish, humanities, literature, composition, speech, drama), you should remember me because I talked all the freaking time in those classes.
    • I injected religious themes into my creative assignments ad nauseam. Classmates had to read these assignments or (worse) hear me read them aloud.
    • In Mr. Barone’s humanities class (my sophomore year), where the first part of each period was dedicated to open discussion, I rambled a few times about my mother’s death, which had happened in the summer just before that class began.

If you were there for either of those uncomfortable experiences, sorry!

And if you were in any other kind of class with me, there’s a good chance you don’t remember me, which is  totally fine.

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Maturity

I’ve been trying to get my #3 son interested in riding his own bike. He’s fine pedaling behind me on his trail-a-bike, but so far he is pretty afraid to ride on his own, even with training wheels.

Part of me feels impatient. Riding a bike is something any 7-year-old should be able to do, right?

On the other hand, what’s the rush? Does it get harder to learn as you get older? Maybe a little, but I think he’ll be fine taking on this challenge later. 

So he’s advanced in some areas and behind in other areas. Aren’t we all?

Who will learn more – you or Cameron?

It’s been a long time since I posted. But I’ve come out of hibernation for a good reason: to publicize this opportunity for other “old new dads” to help a marketing student in the U.K. with his research by sharing their insights.

If you are a recycled dad, please download this questionnaire, complete it, and e-mail it to cameronblack19@googlemail.com . I found the questions very thought-provoking; you probably will, too.

Here is the message the researcher sent me via my blog:

My name is Cameron Black. I am a  first year student at Bournemouth University, England and am currently studying Advertising. As part of a consumer psychology unit, we are doing a project on a new market segment that is yet to be explored by a high street retailer i.e old new dads. The main aim of our project is to discover what new products might appeal to men who have become Dads later on in life and what would help them to bond better with their children.

If you have any suggestions or any information regarding a product that you think might be successful it would be much appreciated. I would also be interested to hear about your experience of becoming a older or recycled father and what the positives from that experience.

Good guess!

Background item 1: Ever since Charlie and Thomas were in elementary school, I’ve referred to the indirect (often scenic) driving route as “the fun way.” I’ve continued this habit with Jacob.

Background item 2: Jacob recognizes many words on sight, including the names of familiar streets on signs. As we drive around, he will call them out (“Hey, that says ‘Dublin Boulevard!'”).

Two nights ago, on the way home from preschool, Jacob requested “the fun way,” referring to a specific route that we often take. I said it was too late — we were already in the turn lane to go the normal way, but we could go a *different* fun way by going straight at the next intersection. As we approached that intersection, he spotted a small green sign in the median that read “Finnian Wy.” He said, “Hey, that says “fun way!!”

Been there, done that, so what?

People I meet at my son’s preschool are sometimes surprised to learn that Jacob has two adult half-brothers. When I told one of the dads, he said, with hints of awe and envy, “So you’ve already done the whole thing — this is easy for you.”

He and I both know that it never gets “easy” no matter how many kids you have. As we talked, it became clear that he was talking about confidence more than competence.

Like most recycled dads, I am more confident and less anxious as a parent this time. But let’s face it: I don’t really have any special advantage over the average parent of multiple children.

The last time I had a child Jacob’s age was 15 years ago. Any parent with more recent experience with a preschooler has an advantage over me.

I guess there may be  special insights I’ve gained from seeing my older sons grow all the way to adulthood, but I think the confidence and ease that I feel are mostly ‘conjured’ — the result of feeling that I have ‘been there, done that.’ It’s the parenting equivalent of Dumbo’s magic feather.

We are a Microtrend. I did not know that.

Did you know that the phenomenon of older guys becoming fathers is a Microtrend?

Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes, includes a chapter on recycled dads — or, as the authors put it, “Old New Dads.” Those authors, Mark Penn and Kinney Zalesne, were kind enough to ‘adapt’ the chapter into a Babble.com article that seems to explain everything about us in fewer than 1,200 words.

So if you’re cheap and lazy, just read the article rather than hunting down the book or buying it online.

If you are cheap and ridiculously lazy, read my <400-word summary of the article.

If you encounter something (in the article or this post) that you strongly agree or disagree with, please feel free to leave a comment.

My summary:

There has been an explosion in the number of men ages 40 to 44 who are fathering children. That’s represented by the solid line in this graphic:

Reasons there are more “Old New Dads”:

  • More older women are having children.
  • The divorce rate continues to increase.
  • Men tend to marry soon after divorce, and to marry younger women the next time.
  • There is “a combination of biology and success” that makes it feasible and appealing for older men to have children.

Implications (negative)

  • “Old New Dads” have trouble keeping up with their kids physically.
  • “Old New Dads” have fewer years with their kids.
  • “Old New Dads need to work longer, and retire later, in order to pay for college tuition and other expenses of child rearing later in life.”

Implications (positive)

  • “Old New Dads” dads are more relaxed, satisfied and ‘engaged’ in their roles as parents.
  • “Old New Dads” experience “the joys of family life” in a period that might otherwise be less meaningful for some men.
  • “Old New Dads” are a strong consumer segment and have more resources to share with their families.

“Old New Dads” have hardly been studied, even though “in 2001, the number of children born to fathers over 40 was practically equal to the number of children born to mothers under 19.”

(The article suggests) the children of “Old New Dads” gain as much from having more mature role models as they lose by having less physically active fathers.

In the final paragraphs: heavy thoughts about “our aging-parent support system,” the political clout of “Old New Dads,” and the notion that these dads disrupt traditional voting patterns by having the values and priorities of men 20 years younger.

What a preschooler considers a thrill ride

I spent Sunday afternoon with my 3.5-year-old, Jacob, at a theme park where we have season passes. When it’s just me and him, I can’t do roller coasters — we just do the kid stuff together. On top of that, he’s still afraid of the most exciting kid rides, so Sunday was a potentially dull day for me. But as it turned out, I really enjoyed going Jacob’s speed. It was fun just watching him have fun.

Jacob will eventually warm up to things like the Road Runner Express,

and then Cobra, 

and someday Medusa  .

I know from my experiences with my older boys that each stage is fun in its own way. Watching a child overcome his fear and try something new is actually one of the most exciting things about parenting.

Right now, I’m just enjoying that fleeting season of life when all it takes to ‘thrill’ Jacob is to put him in a miniature safari jeep that does a lap around a tortoise enclosure at 1 mph.