m-ito ism

m-ito ism

M-ito said to me a few days ago, “Did you know that happiness is made up of two words – happy and penis?”

“No, I did not.” I replied.

But I will never think of happiness quite the same way again.

10 Armpit Hairs

Frazetta the Incredible

Here’s my list for the ten best Dad-dito moments of 2012. These are in no particular order.

  1. My son got his first armpit hair and has underarm body odor. He is now wearing an adult size shoe. Puberty is around the corner. But the happy smile on my son’s face as he lifted his arm to show off his BO has been more than worth the price of this early transition. He is slowly emerging as a sexual being, one hair and smell at a time. “Hey Dad-dito, smell this!” has taken on a whole new meaning.
  2. My son read a book about puberty called What’s Going On Down There, by Gravelle and Castro. He laughed at the big nose/small penis jokes inside and the cartoon line drawings. It had a section about being Gay and a section on girls and provoked discussion for a good month afterwards. He read it cover to cover. I can’t recommend this book for boys enough (age 10-14).
  3. We saw The Hobbit together and loved it. We saw John Carter of Mars together and loved it. My son chose to see these movies with me over seeing them with his friends. That won’t happen much longer so I’m grateful for these moments while I have them. This was the year we graduated to live action films. We still see lots of animated films and that is good because I love animated films also but a corner was turned.
  4. Mom-ita and I survived M-ito going to sleep-away camp for two weeks. We survived. He survived. I don’t know if he’s going back again this summer but… we all learned something about being apart from each other. I learn over and over again how much I love my son and my wife. And I will never forget how it felt to say goodbye.
  5. Ratzo’s zombie apocalypse almost took over the world on my son’s birthday. For the third year in a row my son asked me to create a live roleplaying save-the-world from super villain Ratzo birthday adventure. He says he wants a fourth go at it. I hope I have it in me.
  6. My son said he has classes that he enjoys in school. Seriously, this year, 5th grade, he actually said Fridays are his favorite day at school and he does not want to miss it. I practically had a heart attack. He has a day he wants to go to school! His favorite classes are Drama (they play great theatre games) which he has twice on Friday, and Percussion (he loves the xylophone). The only thing that would make it better would be if he had art class too.
  7. My son read all 24 books in The Warriors series. He loved this series so much he actually said, “I wish this didn’t have to end.” What else can I say?
  8. My son played soccer at school on their B-team. This was the first time he’s ever played an organized team sport. They lost all of their games but scored goals in 3 of their 5 games. It was wonderful watching him play. He says he didn’t enjoy it but I think he enjoyed the experience overall. Mostly I enjoyed going to two of the games, standing on the sidelines, and watching the same way my father did with me when I played baseball, football, and rugby. My father came to both games also so for a few moments in time we watched M-ito play together.
  9. M-ito received his purple belt in Taekwondo. He is 60% of the way to his black belt. Watching him do his forms, break boards, and spar was one of the most nerve-wracking things I’ve done as a father. He was near perfect in all three aspects, though he had to persevere through hitting his board with his knuckles six times before the board finally broke. That’s character and guts. Ouch.
  10. Hurricane Sandy left my Rockaway in-laws homeless and Pop-pop, my father in=law, living with us for two months while the ground floor of his home was rebuilt. M-ito gave up his room and slept with us. For a few weeks one of Mom-itas sisters stayed with us also on the living room couch. Many nights were spent with the three men sitting together on the sofa watching The Big Bang Theory. We survived the holidays together. We’re all still talking so I count it a success. I also have an image of my shirt-less father in-law walking around our apartment scratching his stomach that I can’t get rid of and a few moments of we’re living in close quarters, I have no privacy, somebody get me out of this nut-house, and I just want to get in bed get under the covers and pull them up over my head, that I’ll keep close to me but in the end I think it all balances out.

I come back to this again and again. It is the hardest job I have – being a father. I need a beginners mind for just about everything I do as one and I have to learn quickly in order to keep up with my son. It is frustrating. It is heartbreaking, sometimes boring (helping with homework), fun, terrifying, daunting, maddening, makes me full of rage some days and pride on others. It is also the most fulfilling and wonderful job I have and I would not trade it in for anything.

Feet and other sundry things…

My son is now wearing an adult sized shoe.

He has now pulverized me in Strategery, epic scale, one on one.

He has just finished 24 of the 26 Warrior novels even though he likes dogs more than cats. He expects to finish the last two before Thanksgiving and I believe he will. “I wish these wouldn’t end,” is his highest complement for the series.

He has watched all three of the Lord of the Rings movies in preparation for The Hobbit coming out in three weeks.

He now watches Big Bang Theory with us (including his grandfather and aunt who are still staying with us as the first floor of their house in Rockaway is being rebuilt from the hurricane damage). What were we thinking when we allowed this (I’m referring to watching the show…)?

He still loves animation. We say Wreck it Ralph last week in the theatre, Flushed Away, and Over the Hedge on DVD – all of which had us both in stitches.

His favorite day at school is still Friday and not because it’s the last day of the school week. He loves it because he has drama class twice, or drama and shop and those classes make him smile.

He still loves art, taking a three-hour class at the Art Student’s League of New York every Saturday morning with his friend. I drive him in and write all morning at Argo Tea around the corner.



Jackson Heights

Hurricane Sandy hit us this week.

We have my father-in-law and sister-in-law staying with us as of last night.

I don’t know for how long.

Jackson Heights

They live in Rockaway and their house is a wreck. The ground floor was under water and they watched the water climb the stairs during the ‘surge’, pretty much terrified out of their minds. We had them on the phone at that moment. One sister-in-law lost everything. They both lost cars.


Trees are down in our neighborhood but we maintained power. Three cars were flattened by a beautiful old tree just outside our window down the block.

My father out on Long Island has been out of power also but he was inland so seems to be fine though he’s run out of cell phone power. He only turns it on to call me so I have no way of contacting him.

Nature is humbling and an angry mother nature even more so. We are so small compared to it.

Rockaway – A big Piece of the Boardwalk

I’ve spent the morning and afternoon writing and working at my son’s school. Mom-ita and I, along with a host of other parents, have been given a room to work from, showers if we want, coffee, breakfast, and lunch. We don’t have enough gas in the car to go home and come back so we’ve just staid here all day.


Lines for gas are quarter-mile and longer. I’ll have to get up at 4am tomorrow and see if I can beat the lines, otherwise we’re not going anywhere until it gets better.

My office is in Manhattan on 23rd street without power still so it’s closed.

Maybe on Monday.

In the mean time it’s a full house back at our apartment.

Perfect Birthday

Wake up 5:30am.

Practice yoga and seated meditation (listen to my body speak to me in a chorus of creaking sounds).

Take out dogs (Spike, who knows the sound of my meditation timer jumps on me and licks my face when it rings its ending zen tone).

Make M-ito’s breakfast (challah bread with peanut butter, strawberries, glass of milk) while Mom-ita tries to wake him up and get him out of bed (I have the easier job by far – but then it is my birthday).

My son gives me a birthday hug. Ahhhhh…

Make my tea (English breakfast with honey and milk) and take first sip.

Drive M-ito to  school while talking about books for half the trip (Mom-ita told him he had to talk to me – sigh – for half of the trip before he started to read which is what he usually does on the car ride in).

Realize I forgot M-ito’s cleats at home. Plan return trip in my head and call Mom-ita to prepare her for early journey back.

Come home.

Drive back with Mom-ita to M-ito’s school to drop off cleats.

Go to Dolphin Bookstore and order the perfect latte.

Order Andrew Smith’s new book, Passenger (arrival in two days) for me.

Write two new pages of WIP (I am Nobody).

Pick up M-ito early at school so we can watch him practice lacrosse. He is awesome. The coach speaks and my son listens. It never works that way with me. Ahhhhhh.

Drive to Starbucks. M-ito does homework. I shop for new messenger bag… and order it from Timbuk2. Ahhhhh…

Take M-ito to Tae Kwon Do and write while he kicks and punches his way towards his black belt.

Drive home.

Feed and take out very appreciative dogs.

Order in from Louies Pizza (Margarita with chicken).

Read Andrew Smith’s King of Marbury (absolutely awesome).

Check Facebook birthday wishes. Overwhelmingly sweet.

Watch presidential debates and try not to scream or throw things at the TV (Go Obama!).


Time to Do, Time to Be (dobedobedo)



Do Be Do Be Do

The clock is ticking.

My son is in Fifth grade and part of the fifth grade experience at his school is to play on two team sports during the year. He shall receive the team experience one way or the other. M-ito enjoys playing soccer but it is not, at this point in his life, his thing. Other sports are, though they’re mostly individual sports so in some ways I’m glad he’s playing a team sport so he gets the experience. His life, I hope, will be richer for it.

Team sports were a big part of my growing up so I see their value (even if I also see their horror – oh the horror!).

What this means is this summer I had a fatherhood crisis of sorts. Because I could see it coming. M-ito would be playing games during the week in addition to his usual after-school activities (taekwondo, art, play). Then back in June my son said…

M-ito – Why do you work all the time?

Me – I don’t work all the time.

M-ito – Yes you do. Even on vacation.

Me – Oh.

Mom-ita – Sage nod of her head.

What do I work at besides attempting to be a dad and partner to my wife? My day job as a Director of Training at a not-for-profit in Manhattan. I do some consulting work in the same field also. I teach yoga two-three classes a week. I write when I can (these days during lunch) and try to keep up with the marketing of my book.

How was I going to make time to see games? I didn’t know.

I’d stopped teaching stage fencing a few years before, because I didn’t have time. I still miss that very much. Then I started teaching yoga. I know, I know. It’s a long story for another time. But I did teacher training and started teaching when M-ito was 4. Five and a half years of teaching later…

Last one in, first one out. It was simple, really. Just like an accounting system.

Three Nasty Gnarlies

M-ito on contraception. “So if you want to have a baby you can’t use a condom or diaphragm or anything like that. Right?”

My response after taking a moment to allow the question to sink in: “You got it.”

M-ito: “Then why do they say in the book that you have to use a condom?”

Dad-dito: “That’s to stop you from getting any sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis or gonorrhea.”

M-ito: “And that one with the c at the beginning?”

D: “Chlamydia?”

M: “That’s the one. They’ve got great cartoons of them – they look like the Three Nasty Gnarlies*.”

D: “Yup. The first three you can cure or get rid of and others like HIV/AIDS -”

M: “HIV – ”

D: “- you can’t. Once you get HIV you have it for life. That’s probably why they talk so much about condoms and using some kind of protection.”

M: “Okay. But … to have a baby you can’t use them, right? I figured that out?”

D: “You did.”

Thank you What’s Going On Down There Karen Gravelle, Nick and Chava Castro!

*One of Mom-ita, M-ito, and my favorite children’s books ever by Keith Graves.