2015: The year in fatherhood

This week’s blog post is by The Paternity Test co-host Matt Boresi, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood of Chicago with his wife (“Professor Foster”) and their 4-year-old daughter Viva, who rocks harder than Ryan Seacrest and Janet Davies combined.

Well, Chicago dads, you did it, you staved off suffering a grabber over your Maxwell Street Polish at Portillo’s for another year. Now you get to grow another year older and deeper in debt as we move into 2016, a year which promises a blessed increase in the amount of screen time allowed to children by the American Academy of Pediatrics (More Star Wars: Battlefront for 2-year-olds everywhere!). It will likely also deliver an even stronger Chicago Cubs team to choke in the home stretch.

Before we get there, let’s recap some of the the year that was: 2015 in fatherhood stories from across the country and right here at home.

When they came for the free-rangers, we said nothing

A family in Silver Spring, Maryland let their kids walk to a park three quarters of a mile away from their home. On the way back, they were stopped by police, who brought the kids home and hassled their dad about possible neglect. The story (which began in Dec. 2014) dragged on for much of this year, with child services stepping in and an ultimate declaration of “unsubstantiated neglect,” which I guess means, “We are definitely sure you did something wrong unless you didn’t.” For those of you who bemoan the loss of halcyon days when children wandered in packs looking for dead bodies down by the railroad tracks, you should know that such behavior is now illegal.

We partied like it was 1859

In California, New Agers and Bible Thumpers alike took to (maybe?) throwing “Measles Parties” to expose unvaccinated kids to deadly diseases, because evidently some people hate, hate, hate their children. It was the trend that launched a thousand blog posts and an exhausting amount of debate and Facebook account blocking. In the end, I think we can all agree it’s the measles that were the real winner, being welcomed back more profoundly than Gabe Kaplan at a Brooklyn Public School.

America’s favorite dad got unfavorited

Speaking of TV characters – remember Cliff Huxtable? Me neither. In the near future, TV Land will show expurgated 5 minute minisodes of a series renamed “The 1980’s Adventures of Rudy and Buuud.”

Blood flowed red on the playground

Chicago’s Maggie Daley Park opened in 2014 with a skating ribbon, but the main event was the enormous playground to which hundreds of thousands of families flocked in 2015. Subsequent investigations by local news organizations suggest that there is a steady flow of injured kids (and dads) headed from the park to Northwestern Medical thanks to the awesomely steep, fast and bone-crunchy slides and ladders all over the park. While I never exploded any femurs like some dads did, my friends’ kid tore off a substantial chunk of his face on a ladder (he got better), and my daughter Viva declared it the “coolest park ever.”

Chicks dug us

Blogs and puff pieces declared 2015 the year of the “Dad Bod” – the bloaty, paunchy, formerly muscled physique enjoyed by much of the fathering set. Evidently, sorority girls pretended to consider this the ne plus ultra of looks for the past summer. I’m sure by next year they’ll have gone back to digging, well, actual hot people. It was good while it lasted, though. (He says finishing an Italian Combo with giardiniera.)

We told those darn kids to get off our lawn

2015 featured many, many groups being villainized by other groups (Demagoguery hasn’t been so vogue since the Machtergreifung.) but none so much as the dreaded “Millennials.” And what’s to like? They’re lazy, entitled victims who want trigger warnings lest we microinvalidate their safe-places. Plus, they keep snapchatting on their hoverboards. (Which don’t even hover!)

Former Stanford University Dean of Freshmen, Julie Lythcott-Haims, said in her widely publicized book “How to Raise an Adult” that a one-two-three-four punch brought about by the TV movie “Adam” (1981), the publication of “A Nation At Risk” (1983) the advent of the “Self-Esteem Movement” and the invention of the “playdate” (1984), lead to the creation of … what’s the opposite of the Greatest Generation? A wave of squishy, allergic, helicopter-parented and Tiger Mom’ed veal-calves who want ribbons for participating and A’s for showing up once a term. Worst of all, they do not understand our deep psychic pain over the loss of Scott Wieland of Stone Temple Pilots. They are not like us and will never amount to anything. Have I mentioned the boards don’t actually hover?

The Force was with us

Nostalgia ruled the day in 2015, especially nostalgia for a galaxy far-far away, as our generation demanded that our favorite 38-year-old movie take over all forms of media and merchandise for the entire year, with not one, but THREE Star Wars oriented holidays being widely celebrated: May the Fourth (an annual holiday), Force Friday (a one off release date for new Star Wars toys, including beloved bleeping sphere BB-8) and the actual release of The Force Awakens–history’s biggest movie. The day of the film’s release was nearly as unproductive as Good Friday or Christmas Eve as dads, kids and friends gathered to celebrate a movie series that continues to be very, very much about daddy issues. (Damn you, Kylo Ren!). It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. After all, we’ll only have one Star Wars movie a year for the rest of time.

See you in 2016. (And see you at “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” on Dec. 16. Take the day off work and bring your favorite Millennial.)

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