End of summer scorecard: A Chicago dad looks back at summer with a toddler

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 laughs at your child’s need for 20 glue sticks and 40 wide ruled notebooks.

There’s only one summer in which your child is 2. (And only one summer when you are 39.) You can enjoy it, or you can let it pass you by. Viva and Professor Foster and I enjoyed our summer, and seemed to avoid calamity in the process. So, how’d we do?

Chicago Landmarks

We got in some Lincoln Park Zoo trips to see pens that theoretically hold Big Cats. (The trip to Brookfield messes up naptime.) Haven’t bought one of those weird wax sculptures yet. Did a visit to Field Museum, some Millennium Park, Botanic Gardens, and some children’s museums. No White Sox yet, despite Paulie’s swan song and Abreu’s amazing summer – our potty training situation just didn’t want it to happen. Maybe next year we’ll see some games and a pennant race? Maybe?

Festivals and Holidays

Almost got blown up by amateurs with explosives on the 4th of July (a Chicago tradition), went to Midsommer Fest to see broken water towers and puppet bikes, Square Roots Fest to enjoy craft beer and ukuleles, and Edgefest to bop to “Jesse’s Girl” with the 80s cover band Sixteen Candles. It isn’t summertime in Chicago without at least one Jesse’s Girl sung by Sixteen Candles. They’re as Chicago as closed beaches and endless construction.

Broken Bones, Sunburns, Major Bug Bites

None! Scraped, knees, sure, but nothing worth the emergency room. Now we just have to see if those knees scar like Daddy (none) or like Mommy (uh oh).


Lots of local parks, and a lot of deck gardening. Pity 100 percent of our tomatoes were enjoyed by squirrels, raccoons, and God knows what kind of urban vermin. (Viva swears lions, but I’m not so sure.)

Grilled Food, Sausage, Brats, Italian Beef, Hot Dogs, Ice Cream

All of it. We. Ate. All of it. (Just ask my triglyceride count.)

Restaurants, Wine, and Beer

Too many and too much to make note of. Really enjoyed Edgwater’s new Herb with upscale Thai with a prix fixe menu, and the local farmhouse ale “Apex Predator” by Off-Color Brewing.

Theater and Music

It’s a busman’s holiday for my wife and I, but we enjoyed children’s pieces, live music, and site specific work by Music Institute of Chicago, Nothing Without a Theatre Company (who did “Alice in Wonderland” in the park), and all manner of bands and performers. Let’s hope Viva didn’t enjoy it.

Spousal Alone Time

Relaxation: It took us three months, but we got through that 12-hour season of 24. Spoilers: Jack whispers and shouts a lot in a gruff voice.

Honeymoon trip eight years later: Check. And we only spend 90 percent of it watching videos of Viva on our phone.

Grown Up Time: Pretty sure we “hooked up” (as the kids say) at least once this summer. OK, just once, but it was crazy good.

Life Events

Potty training. That was the big one. The resulting lifestyle change is a mixed bag (see last week’s column), but we’ll save money on diapers (and not have to explain to our preschool why our child’s pants are so puffy.)

Next Summer

Brookfield Zoo, perhaps the Museum of Science and Industry, some baseball playoff games (?), and maybe a beach? (Nah.)

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!

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