By Jason Kravits
I remember the first time I brought my son to the playground.
He was about a year old and it was a beautiful spring day. I slathered him in sunscreen, plopped him into the sandbox and gave him his favorite little yellow truck. I took a couple of steps back to sit on a nearby bench - not too far away, of course. Had to be ready to pounce in case he decided to shove a fistful of sand into his mouth. I glanced around at all the happy children, the smiling faces, the ever-watchful caretakers. And one simple thought entered my mind.
What am I doing here?
I looked back at my son. His mouth was full of sand.
What was I doing there? I mean, I could change the oil in my car faster than I could change a diaper, and with less leakage! Yet there I was, surrounded by strollers and sippy-cups, baby wipes and baby bjorns. It was a Tuesday at 11AM and the only other adult male in sight was emptying garbage cans into a large rolling bin. You know, working. And I was jealous! I felt so alone. So lost. So … bored.
The world was changing. The role of men in parenting was becoming more evolved and involved than ever. And while I and others like me were trying to wrap our heads around this new reality, there was still a nagging feeling that something wasn't right. Yes, of course we loved our kids, but weren't we supposed to be somewhere else? Doing something else? Should a Real Man know how many verses there are to Wheels on the Freaking Bus? (Answer: 10.)
There had to be a way, I thought, to take this anxiety and defiance and channel it into something productive. And that's when I started talking to Matt. In creating this series, Matt and I spent a lot of time sitting and laughing at our own, pathetic tales of modern fatherhood: the forgotten stuffed animals, the French-braid disasters, the over-indulging in fruit roll-ups.
And we came to realize that the most important survival tool a dad needs on the playground, beyond a sense of humor, is other dads. Or at least one other dad. A dad who also understood that you were sailing in uncharted waters, that this wasn't our fathers' Fatherhood. That eating a little sand once in a while couldn't hurt, could it?
So that's how these two characters found each other: in this series you'll meet two well-meaning dads on a playground bench, trying to hold on to any last shred of manhood. With a little ingenuity (and a lot of coffee) they can be dads AND men. Masters of their little corner of blacktop. They can be Lords of the Playground.