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A Chicago dad begrudgingly learns to love fall

This week’s blog post is by WDP co-host Matt Rocco, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood  of Chicago with Professor Foster (his “Brown Mom” wife), and their daughter Viva, who just loves that crispness in the air, because she never has to go to school or work.

They say the orchestra onboard the Titanic may have played a song called “autumn” as the ship went down. This makes perfect sense, as “autumn” is what happens just before inevitable icy doom.

So many of my friends make empty tedious statements when the air gets brisk: “Ah, I smell fall in the air. I love that smell.” Come on, what do you love about it, exactly? The increased work load? The boring earth tones? The carcinogenic bonfires? The even-more-unpredictable-than-usual weather that ranges from “I can’t believe I have shorts on in November” to “I can’t believe there’s freezing rain in October” to “Better go check and see if the thunderstorm blew a tree onto your car again today”?

Maybe you love Halloween and the ugly “cotton that’s supposed to look like cobwebs but looks more like you filled your yard with garbage” decorations?

Or perhaps you’re just one of these pumpkin spice fetishists who just loves mediocre beer, bland cookies, and coffee that tastes like the shelves of your grandmother’s lazy susan?

Ah, the fall.

I will say, though, that fatherhood has turned around many of my opinion of fall. Below, I’d like to list the way I felt about Autumnal staples BEFORE fatherhood followed by how I feel now.

Falling leaves

Formerly: Itchy, mushy sky mulch to rake up.

Now: Itchy, mushy sky mulch to jump in.

Charlie Brown cartoons

Formerly: Horribly voice work, tacky jazz scores, rudimentary animation, and those honking adult sounds.

Now: “I got a rock.” High comedy for the little ones.

Apples

Formerly: Available all year but oddly romanticized in the fall, this mealy, sticky, tiresome fruit is only slightly more expensive than not buying any food at all for good reason.

Now: Caramel-able, bob-able, bake-able, pie-able, sliceable – the easiest of fruits to bond over with your child. Something they can get excited about that doesn’t have a touch screen.

Sweaters

Formerly: Giant yarn cages in which to simmer in your own sweat.

Now: Giant yarn cradles in which to hide your sloughing physique.

Goats

Formerly: The orniest of the smelly farm animals, they eat tin cans, shoes, and railroad tracks and don’t taste good even if you soak the meat all night and cook it all day in coconut milk.

Now: A staple of the fall petting zoo, a gentle critter to photograph your child petting and hugging. (Still tastes terrible.)

Pumpkins

Formerly: The watermelon’s worthless cousin. Good only in a one to one ratio with sugar and spices, and inevitably crushed by teens in “Scream” masks on your front stoop.

Now: While children aren’t actually capable of carving pumpkins their investment in their design and display is a highlight of the year. (Until they are inevitably crushed by teens in “Scream” masks on your front stoop.

Candy corn

Formerly: Kind of candy, definitely not corn. Tastes like silicone caulk mixed with tooth decay.

Now: Disgusting food that makes my daughter giggle and dance.

Watching the Bears lose

Formerly: Football is too much of a cluster, reminiscing about 1985 is sad, there’s too much CGI during the broadcasts and if you want to see it live you have to put warming chemical packets in your snow pants or you’ll freeze your giblets.

Now: 14 chances to avoid your responsibilities for an entire afternoon.

Corn mazes

Formerly: Who decided that getting hopelessly lost in a labyrinth of agricultural bi-products filled with fleas, Lyme disease, and He Who Walks Behind the Rows was something worth paying for?

Now: No. Still hate them. So does the baby. Nothing good comes of being lost in corn.

So, there you have it. Still the second worst season, but made marginally more palatable by the presence of your child who doesn’t have the life experience to realize that the ship is about to submerge into a sub-zero abyss.

You can CALL the White Dads now on their hotline:  (347) 766-3866. Leave a message or a question they can play on the podcast! If you enjoyed this essay, subscribe to the WDP podcast for free on iTunes!

You can also listen at whitedadproblems.com. (Do note that the show has a potty mouth and is definitely for Over 17 Only.) And follow the Dads on Facebook and on Twitter: whitedadprobs.

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