Super Chicago dads

Blue dad

Blue Man Gareth Hinsley, a Chicago dad of two (Evelyn and Violet), has been entertaining Chicago audiences at Briar Street Theatre for 10 years.

Do you remember the moment you first became a dad?

Nothing felt like it changed, obviously everything did. … I was expecting this huge transformative moment, sort of an epiphany, ‘aha now I’m a dad.’ It didn’t happen.

… Every day there is a tiny little moment where it makes me feel more like a dad, where I am more comfortable defining myself as that.

How are you as a dad?

Honestly, I don’t know. I still feel like I’m learning everything about that. Evelyn is 3 and Violet is 16 months and every day I feel like I’m presented with a different parenting challenge. I think most parents probably feel this way early on, you just do what you think is best. One thing I’ve done is try to stop carrying my phone with me. … I just feel the best thing I can do is just be there with them.

What is your parenting style?

I’m definitely a bit more into discipline than I thought I would be. … I try to be as fun as possible. They are not great sleepers and sometimes the fun reservoir is a little dry, but I try to be as playful as possible.

Best advice you received:

The first month that you have with the baby, really take time, take moments, to sit down and just be with the baby because that time disappears so, so quickly and it is so easily lost amongst all of the other pressures and panic and anxiety of becoming a parent.

The biggest thing you’ve learned since the girls were born:

I thought I had a good idea what I was like as a person before I became a dad. I thought I was endlessly patient and always giving and selfless to the nth degree. It turns out lack of sleep and small children trashing your house take that away from you a little bit.

You have to forgive yourself those moments when you are not at your best.

What does a perfect Chicago day look like to you?

Going to the lake or Lincoln Park Zoo, a picnic lunch, a walk around the Lincoln Park Conservatory, a paddle in the lake, ice cream somewhere along the way and a night out at Blue Man Group.

If you had a superpower what would it be?

Hypnosis that makes them sleep through the night. A full night’s sleep sounds like a faraway and wonderful thing. It’s such a waste of a superpower. Such a waste. Flying would be quite good. I could get around a bit easier.

Blue Man Group is celebrating 20 years in Chicago this year. This summer, you can now see the show seven days a week. Hinsely says the show is definitely a great thing to do with kids of all ages. (The theater recommends 3 and up.) Blue Man is all about openness, play and nonjudgment, important lessons for kids, he says.

Making beautiful music, family style

Juan Lucero, a Chicago dad of seven (Diego, Miguel, Antonio, Carlos, Lilia, Maya, Mateo) ranging in age from 4-14, full-time musician and leader of Cielito Lindo Family Folk Music.

Do you remember the first moment you became a dad?

I definitely do. What’s a little different is I’ve been there for every single one of the births and I was actually the person who caught the baby every single time. It’s just an amazing experience, being the first person to touch a new life. Of course, you feel an immediate bond. That’s a bond I still feel to this day. It only gets stronger.

How would you describe your parenting style?

I think sometimes I am very hands-on and give a lot of feedback to the kids. But then there are times I’m very laid-back and try to give them the space to explore on their own.

How do you balance everything: school, music, home?

It’s definitely a very tight schedule. When we’re traveling, we use that as dual time, family time. The road trips are a special time for us. That’s one of the main tricks of how we fit it all in, a lot of time together, enjoying each other and also learning at the same time.

What does a perfect Chicago day look like for you?

Spending time with my family in Chicago at one of the parks or the beach and having some music involved. I love performing with my family, even if it is just a family jam.

If you had a superpower what would it be?

I think flying would be fun. You could basically go up and look at the world from a different perspective than anyone else and go wherever you wanted.

Now that you are (really) in the trenches, your best piece of advice for other dads:

I would recommend now, after seven children, that you need to help each child become the individual they are meant to be, which is not necessarily like any other kid. You need to help that child and encourage them … and show them how to use their particular personality and passion and make a life out of there.

Music has been a part of the Lucero home from the moment Juan Lucero became a dad. By the time his oldest sons, Diego and Miguel, were 3 and 4, he started inviting them to sing at farmers markets. As the other kids got old enough, they also joined the band, which performs traditional Mexican music all around the state. Follow their summer schedule on Facebook.

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