Unburdening Social Obligations

Last night, my partner’s brother came over with his sons (ages 16 and 13). They’re great doting cousins.

My kids were excited for their arrival, but when they walked into the house, my older kid promptly veered into “shy kid” land, wanting to “play indoors” and not interact.

One family rule we don’t negotiate is “you must say hello to friends and family. You don’t have to talk more than that, but you must say hello.”

And holy cow my older one took that to heart – she said “hello” then disappeared.

But that’s fine.

I tell myself over and over that I don’t want to push my kids to become slaves to social obligations. I have this revulsion because so much of my upbringing was spent pleasing people around me.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m social and out-going. I love groups of friends and comradery and fellowship.

However, my entire youth was spent feeling the desperate need to be the life of the party and center of the action. My FOMO trampled any self-awareness that could “just being chill and quiet”.

I wanted to please/impress/delight everyone around me, so I pushed myself to be “that guy” All. The. Time.

It was exhausting.

I came from a family life that always put forward the best, happiest filter. So it just didn’t occur to me that we could be anything but social butterflies.

And as an adult, I’ve finally realized I don’t like big parties (I’d rather have a conversation around a dinner table with eight friends, max) and I don’t like hosting (I’m terrified no one will show up) and I don’t like going out all that much (I’d rather hang in my sweats.)

Maybe I’m just getting old?

But what’d I do that evening with my kids and their cousins? Forced socializing.

When my older kid wanted to go inside, I cajoled her into joining the rest of us outside kicking balls and playing chase in the summer twilight.

And I got pissed when she didn’t want to join in.

Granted, she was whining for me, “Daddy! I want you to come inside and play with me!”

Perhaps I was a teensy bit justified. “No, Sweetie. I’m playing outside with family and it’s a gorgeous summer evening. I’m not coming inside.”

I didn’t make her feel bad, but I didn’t make her feel good. It’s just that, “NO! On a gorgeous July evening, I’m not going to indulge the sudden impulse to play with those damn LOL dolls!”

(And mind you this wasn’t with random people that might induce shyness…but actual family whom they know and love.)

A good friend of mine inadvertently has given me permission to pump the brakes on forced socializing. Once I invited his family over for a playdate leading to pizza on a Friday evening and he said, “You know what? Fridays our kids usually just melt down and it ends in tears. We’re more likely gonna play it mellow at home.”

(He also pointed out to me that he loathes our school’s “publishing parties” all the adults are crammed in a room frantically pretending to enjoy the classroom party, when in reality it’s just a sweaty fest of parents judging other kids. I’ve given myself permission to loathe these parties, too…or at least to lower my expectations and not force myself into enjoying them, at the very least.)

So anyway. Summer evenings spent indoors.

Am I being a hypocrite? Am I making my kid feel bad for not jumping into horseplay with her older cousins?

Gavin! Remember: you weren’t that, either. Playing sports was not my idea of an idyllic summer evening. (Kick-the-can with neighbor kids was the ideal.)

Forty-five minutes later, she came out of her shell and was intrigued by the baseball game we’d all struck up.

She picked up a bat of her own volition, after I’d long since chilled the hell out.

And she was GOOD! A little slugger.

It just takes her a little time, perhaps.

Or not.

Or whatever.

My take-home from the night? Try try TRY not to pressure your precious child into being instant participants. Let them observe. Let them suss it out. Let them play inside a little bit. Who cares if everyone’s outside? They can do their own thing and make their own decisions about socializing.

But don’t force the comradery to keep up appearances that your kid is – what? Well-adjusted? Smart? Sociable?

How about let them be their own form of well-adjusted?

Don’t force the socializing or the happiness, because that just takes the enjoyment out of it.

Even on gorgeous summer evenings.

The Best (and/or Coolest) Diaper Bag for Dads

The Best (and/or Coolest) Diaper Bag for Dads

Am I titling this “The Best (and/or Coolest) Diaper Bag for Dads” and including terms like “cool” and “stylish” within the first sentence to maximize my SEO in a way that makes me seem like I know what “maximizing SEO” means?

Absolutely.

However, I’m serious – this is the best (and/or coolest) diaper bag for cool dads and stylish dads.

Amanda Kloots thinks so, and she can do like five-minute-long planks:

Additionally, these folks at TTPM? They’re like deadly serious and they think the bag rocks.

So in addition to these highly-scientific endorsements, and the fact that you’re a new parent, there’s no reason you need to compromise your sense of style. It’ll help your entire parenting mojo.

Just like fashion: it’s all attitude.

Perhaps you feel like rocking a cowboy hat walking down Madison Avenue? Just own it and love yourself for it.

Living their best life. Totes jealous, ain’t ya?

Or maybe it’s your jam to sport pink platform boots with googley eyes on Main Street, (or in this case 28th Street), then dude: werq it.

And the ECKnox Carryall diaper bag is a bag new dads (and moms!) can rock with confidence and attitude.

However, “ECKnox Carryall diaper bag” – that’s a mouth full, isn’t it? I gotta get my team on that.

Quick sidebar with the team:

  • Me: Hey, Team!
  • The Voices in My Head: Yeah?
  • Me: Can we simplify the name?
  • TVIMH: Hm-kay.
  • Me: How about just ‘diaper bag’?
  • TVIMH: But then that might limit your commercial reach.
  • Me: Perhaps, but…
  • TVIMH: Or men might think “dudes don’t carry diaper bags”.
  • Me: Eh, it’s 2019. Plus, that perspective of uninvolved dads is what I’m trying to change.
  • TVIMH: And also, you can remove the liner of your bag and it becomes a cool messenger bag for when parents have outgrown diapers.
  • Me: Right.
  • TVIMH: And isn’t that one of the selling points that justify the price of your bag?
  • Me: Totes.
  • TVIMH: That and the fact that it’s a complicated bag with lots of features and super slick styling and high quality nylon and leather detailing that jacks the price up, too?
  • Me: Do we really need to highlight the pricing, here?
  • TVIMH: Just stating the obvious from the voices in your head. Apparently you have insecurities you need to work out. That’s on you, dude.

Anyway.

When I was expecting my first kid, I wanted a slick, masculine diaper bag that announced, “I’m proud to be a new dad and I want to look good being that dad.” But in all my research, I couldn’t find such a bag.

I thought about it for another year, had another kid, and but still was confounded that such a bag didn’t exist.

So I set out to make it, myself – a bag with sophistication, super functionality, and timeless styling.

Something that made people say, “Wow. Nice bag. I wonder what it is? Oh, wait a minute! That’s that designer diaper bag for dads. Ohhhh…he’s a new dad! Ahhhh.”

And all hearts would melt on the subway/playground/street/hottest-new-brunch-restaurant-in-the-trendiest-neighborhood.

(Lucky for you, I wrote about my journey here and here but also here and moreover here.)

Do I harbor the illusion that men are going to flock to buy bags for themselves? In some cases, yes. But don’t worry, I’m not delusional – this bag is branded for men and marketed to the women who will be 70% of the purchasers.

So.

Why’s this the best (and/or coolest) diaper bag for stylish dads?

Form and function.

The features:

This is the best diaper bag for dads because it has 14 pockets.

How can you go wrong? This is also the best diaper bag for dads because two of those pockets are for bottles and it’s REALLY the best diaper bag for dads because one of those bottle holders accommodates a bottle of wine for those particularly tough days on the playground. (Might want to get your own paper bag to protect your assets while drinking in a playground, though.)

This is the best diaper bag for dads because there are frequently no changing stations in men’s rooms.

So I made it the best diaper bag for dads because there’s a zip-open changing station for those times there’s no changing station in the restroom. However, there might be times you can’t be bothered to leave the playground; in which case you wanna show your parenting badassery by changing your kid’s diaper on the playground like a BOSS (who’s not overly freaked out about germs. Because kids are petri dishes. Make peace with the germs. It builds character and resilience and immunity.)

This is the best diaper bag for dads because there’s a padded laptop sleeve.

Not only is there a laptop sleeve that makes this the best (and/or coolest) diaper bag for dads, but there are also three sleeves in which you can stow wallets, phones, pens, sunglasses and those quick-access things you just don’t feel like carrying in your pockets (cuz your ass looks better in your pants when you aren’t carrying bulky things. More on that at another time.)

The best diaper bag for dads has mesh pockets inside the liner so you can organize how you want, but see what’s in the pocket.

The coolest diaper bag for dads would have to be easy to clean, so we made it that way. The liner is removable with a hidden zipper. That way, you can wash the liner and even replace it (INSERT LINK FOR NEW LINERS, HERE. OOPS – however I need first to design and manufacture replaceable liners and THEN insert the link for purchase).

Furthermore, what REALLY makes this the best diaper bag for dads is once the liner is removed, there’s an inner liner that’s slick and black and professional, so you can continue to use the bag for years as a messenger bag after you’re done with the diapering.

You can also quickly convert the bag to a backpack (which many bags can do, but they aren’t the best (and/or coolest) diaper bag for dads.)

Finally (and seriously, y’all…this is my favorite feature) what makes this the best (and/or coolest) diaper bag for dads is the instant access to wet wipes.

Through an interior pocket open with a magnetized flap, you can be friggin’ Oprah on the playground.

  • You want a wet wipe? Boom. Here ya go.
  • Need a wet wipe? Boom. Here, Daddy.
  • Ahhhh…forgot your wet wipes? Boom. Here ya go, Mommy.
  • You definitely need a wet wipe, snot-nosed kid whose mom is buried in her phone and isn’t paying attention to the fact that her kid is wiping snot and kid pink eye all over the monkey bars.
  • Oh, and you need a wet wipe, son. Yes, you do, kid. Come here. Please come here, now. Right here to Daddy. Come, right – Junior? Come here right now and make Daddy look good so the other parents on the playground don’t judge him for being just another helicopter parent whose kids don’t actually mind him at all. Junior? One. Two. Don’t make me get to three. Two and a half. Two and three quarters. Boom Here’s your wet wipe.

There ya have it, folks. The best and coolest diaper bag for dads.

And in no way is this bag just meant for dads. All my girlfriends say “why would you only make this for dads? I’d totally carry this. I never liked my stupid pink, puffy bag!”

Exactly, ladies. You’re invited, too. But I started the company to cater to, well, me.

And I’m an only-child actor. So my needs come first.

Lemme sell a few bags, establish my brand, and bring a ton of other really cool things to market to expand into a lifestyle brand, and then this bag will be all about the gender-nonspecific stylish parenting.

For now? I gotta grow my niche.

Won’t you help?

Buy a bag.

It’s an investment that’ll make you feel good inside and out for years to come.

Can any other bag do that for you?

Nope. Because they’re not the best and/or coolest diaper bag for stylish dads.