Thursday, January 14, 2010

Papa, Can You Hear Me?

People in the Sun
A review from People in the Sun:

I feel I have to start with a short introduction to--oh, I hate the word--Daddy Blogging. You know, for the haters.

I collect blogging fathers. Not the weirdest hobby in the world, but not the most common one either. I even have a blog where I present my collection. It all started a few years ago, when I visited an old friend who had one-year-old twins. When I told him we were thinking about having one of them baby-things ourselves one day, he said, "It changes everything." I asked him what he meant, and he said, "You know, everything." Now that I'm a stay-at-home father, I'm still not sure what he meant. But by reading other fathers' blogs, I begin to connect the dots.

Maybe what my friend meant was not simply, "You don't have sex anymore," or "You get to relive your joyous childhood moments," or "Having children is very expensive." Maybe he was referring to the change in our self-identities. How quick are we to embrace the change we don't fully understand? How honest are we? Do we try hard to hold on to the Man part of our identities because we're afraid the Father will take over? Or do we embrace the Father part of ourselves to the point of looking back at our pre-Father days with scornful disbelief?

Just like everything else in life, apart from Nutella, it's all about moderation. When it comes to blogging fathers (or, you know, Daddy Blogging), it means embracing fatherhood and accepting the fact that Everything Changes (even if we don't know what it means), while making sure we don't write as if we've invented fatherhood or as if our children say the darndest things. In other words, a father's blog, just like any other blog, works well when it deals with the writer's honest expression of his individuality.

I think SciFi Dad, writing in Tales From the Dad Side, has found the good place in the middle. It's unashamedly a parenting blog. On his About page, SciFi Dad even makes sure we know this is not a random blog, but "primarily a personal parenting blog, where I write about my experiences and uncertainties as a father." But even with a blog that uses Dad in the title, written by a man who uses the word Dad in his moniker, writing about being a father, this blog always keeps the writer and his, well, uncertainties at the front.

What else is there? Well, the navigation is cool. Just to prove me right, SciFi Dad's drop-down label menu is all about the different sides of his life and the way they're reflected on his blog, creating a full image of a real person.

It might come off as me taking the easy way out here, but as long as he includes links to his favorite posts, why shouldn't I follow his lead? There's the one where he decides to listen to his parenting gut rather than to experts. And the really funny one where he goes back in time to help his stressful father-to-be self. Oh, and there's one I even linked to from my Facebook page a month ago.

There are two more posts on SciFi Dad's Best Of list. One talks about the pain of being away from the family because of work, and the other explains his parenting style comes simply from his unconditional love for his kids.

The existence of these posts explains the difference between a Love You button and a Four-Star review. Most of the blog was, for me, just a little too cute. Maybe it's because SciFi dad is Canadian, and everyone knows nothing bad ever happens in Canada. Because everyone is so goddamn nice (apart from the guy who decapitated the guy sitting next to him on the bus. He wasn't nice). Or maybe it's the way he ends nearly every post with a question for the readers to answer in comments (although, to be fair, I only noticed it today, even though I've read the blog for months). Or maybe some of the funny stuff, which SciFi Dad does very well, is there to hide the true SciFi Dad--the one who comes out in those two posts he admits are more "Unfiltered."

And another small thing, SciFi Dad. It's not you--it's me. Or maybe it is you. But I've never seen you in the comment section of your blog. I know you get a lot of comments on most posts, but other bloggers with more comments do reply to each one, even if it's just a single-line reply. I know you care about being a part of a community of bloggers, so it makes sense that you treat the comments as additions to the conversation you had started with the post. It makes sense to me, anyway.

Don't get me wrong, I fucking love you. And to prove it, here are four shiny stars.


  1. I've been a lurker over there for awhile and I like it too. But I'm sure I'm biased because of the subject.

  2. I collect Dad-Boggers, too. And SFD is one of the crowning stars of my collection. :) Great review!

  3. Thanks for the positive review.

    To answer some of queries posted:
    - I don't comment on my own posts because I LOATHE how blogger comments work; I am looking at migrating to a new commenting platform which will remedy that
    - the "real" SciFi Dad is both comedic and serious; I can't be one or the other ALL the time, so I mix it up
    - to be honest, I enjoy the funny stuff, but for me it is harder to write than the serious stuff

  4. I love this essay, Peeps. I've hit SciFi Dad a few times in the past, but I think I need to go a little deeper into it.

  5. Man I hate parenting blogs. Except for xbox, that guy's fuckin awesome.

  6. I love plenty of parenting blogs. Xbox is one of my favorites, but I think most of my favorite blogs are written by parents.

  7. I wonder if that's a western thing. I've seen my parents (Indian) have 3 hour long conversations without ever mentioning me or my brothers. Same with all their friends and my friends who are starting to have kids.

    Over here I can't talk to a group of people for 5 mins before someone starts yacking about their "15 year old". Same thing with parenting blogs. Just not my cup of tea.

  8. Thanatos,

    I understand hating parents who do nothing but talk about their kids all the time, but I have tons of parenting blogs on my reader and the overwhelming majority of them talk about other subjects in addition to parenting.

    Granted, I can't read a blog that says "Today I took junior to gymnastics and here's a picture" every single day. That is annoying. But if they tackle other topics once in a while or, even better, merge life as a parent with current events or issues, they can be pretty fun to read.

  9. If I were a parent, I think I would find it difficult to ignore that facet of life, and why would I? Where I find parent blogging annoying is when I can't find the person behind the writing, only the kids. But that's not the case with the parenting blogs I read. Because they are usually a parent, among other things and when they discuss parenting, they reflect on themselves. For xbox, whose blog is soley about parenting/pre-parenting, his self is at the forefront of his writing.

  10. SciFi Dad, glad you liked it. I have to warn you, though, that some of the fancy commenting platforms out there are really bad. Sure, they work with Twitter and Facebook, but readers need to log in every time, Firefox doesn't remember what you typed there before, and then you get an email telling you to confirm you want to subscribe to comments. It has stopped me from commenting a few times. I feel it really ruined a few of my favorite blogs. I don't know anything about Wordpress, but I recommend staying with the Blogger commenting system as long as you use Blogger.

    I'm not saying you shouldn't be comedic when you write funny stuff or when you write serious stuff. I just feel like you want to say something you're not saying. Sorry if I'm wrong. Sorry I pretend to be your psychiatrist.

    Thanatos, see, that's why I started with the thesis. For the haters. I understand having no patience for people with "My son is an honor student" car stickers, but a good parenting blog like this one is about the writer and the way he deals with life's changes, not about the child's honor class.

  11. Thanny, I'm with you. I'm not good at reading the parenting blogs either. Unless it's a blogger I've already deemed solid, I just kind of...wander away.

    Honestly I don't want to read about fucking kids. I would rather read something written BY a child than ABOUT a child.

    People lock onto blogs that dovetail into their own lives.

    So SciFi, it's nothing against your person or your writing ability, because both seem above average. Just not my thing.

  12. Still, Peeps and Suns: Nice review.

  13. Well, you got one thing right, nothing bad ever happens up here in the Great White North! NOTHING. (Okay, some stuff happens; and, yeah, that greyhound bus thing sure didn't look good for our glowing reputation).

    Okay, okay, you were also right about the sheer awesomeness of SciFi Dad's blog. ALSO! I find that SciFi is really good at emailing responses to comments, so even though he's not there in his comment page, I feel connected anyway (and he's good at coming over and reading the Blogger's posts who comment on his posts, and leaving comments on their blogs too). The sense of community is definitely there.

  14. Ok, so I am quite biased when it comes to my hubby's blog, but I do think that he is a very talented writer.

    As what Steph said, if a blogger replies to comments in form of email, does that not count? I find that is what I do and it opens up more intimate e-conversations with my readers whereas if I were to do it in my comment section a) They may not ever see my comment and b) It isn't as personal...but, that's just me.

    AND, I totally get that some people don't like reading parenting blogs, just like I stay away from some other types of blogs, it's all about what you can relate to and what you're into, isn't it?

  15. "intimate e-conversations" isn't that a lot like an oxy moron? no? okay, nevermind. Pardon me.

  16. Nice review. I find that SciFi dad's writing has no heart and soul. It's unemotional. His humour writing is great though.


Grow a pair.