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The United States of America: Behind on Paid Leave

The phone rang.  I was in a glass edit bay looking out a newsroom buzzing with activity.  I had been out in a live truck all morning covering an overnight shooting in the Kansas City metro area.

It was Mrs. Rookie Dad.  This is the 3rd time she has called me that day.  I had been anticipating a phone call from her to tell me that it was time to go to the hospital for a few days now.  The newsroom had been put on baby watch, knowing that at any moment I would have to leave.

But that morning, the calls from Mrs. Rookie Dad had been what I like to call the “nothing” phone call.  A call that can wait until I come home to discuss.  We were at the point in the pregnancy that I couldn’t just let the phone go to voice mail.

I picked up the phone and in my head I remember thinking, “Now what!” but on the other end of the phone before I could get out a hello, I heard:

“My water broke!”

Instantly, a feeling of guilt rushed over me as I stopped momentarily to think and regret what my thoughts were that morning. I realized that would be a memory I would never forget, the thought that went through my head when the Kid was born.  That immediate regret turned into a smile and happiness though when the Kid was born at 2 A.M the next morning.

Paid Leave - The Rookie Dad

The Rookie Dad holding his newborn son.

The moment that the Kid was born, my paid paternity leave started.  It was only two weeks of paternity leave, more than what most new fathers get.  Most get none.  I was one of the lucky ones.

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How Do You Explain Death To A Child?

How do you explain death to a child?  It is a question that I have been asking myself lately after hearing the news of Robin Williams.

How Do You Explain Death To A Child? - The Rookie Dad

Image Courtesy of Flavor Wire

The other night when we were sitting down to dinner my phone started to explode, not literally but the ringing from it was constant.  Naturally, I have to check it and find out that Robin Williams died knowing that Mrs. Rookie Dad would be interested.  We both were shocked by the news but little did we know that the Kid would be too.

The Kid, for those of you who don’t know, is named William.   I just chose to use the Kid as his name on this blog.  After making the announcement at dinner, William’s face immediately turns from a jubilant 3-year-old to heartbroken child.

“You mean I died?”  He said.

Mrs. Rookie Dad and I look at each other shocked that the Kid made an immediate connection to the death of Robin Williams, all because of a name.

We tried to explain that it was someone else, someone that Mrs. Rookie Dad and I used to watch on TV all the time.  This just made the situation even worse in the eyes of the Kid.

“Bad guys killed him didn’t they?”

“We don’t know that yet but I don’t think they did.” (We now know the most of the story)

“But only bad guys make people die.”

“Yes you are right, but sometimes people die from other reasons.  That happens.”

I will be the first to admit that the death of Robin Williams hit me hard.  It hit me harder than any other celebrity death.  This exchange with the Kid didn’t help things.   I could tell just how much he was identifying with the loss.  How do you explain to a child that death happens and is a natural part of life?

It wasn’t but five minutes after we had finished eating that he forgot the conversation and was asking me to play cars with him.  As I am racing cars with him I couldn’t help but wonder how this will affect the Kid.  Will he ask about it later? Will he ask if the bad guys that killed that one guy were caught?

On one hand I am glad to know that he understands the difference between good and bad guys.  On the other hand, I want him to know that death is a natural part of life.  Maybe I am expecting him to grow up to quickly.

I don’t know if I am ready to answer the tough questions that parenting has to bring me.  While explaining that bad guys aren’t the only reason people die isn’t that tough of a question, it was a sign of what is to come.  A sign that I am not ready for.

The Hell I Put My Mom Through

I was never one to show affection towards my mother.  In fact, I am still not.  When my mom tries to give me a hug, one of my arms goes limp and only the other one will wrap around her.  For some reason the words, “I Love You” get stuck somewhere in my mouth.  She knows that I love her, but for some reason the words just cannot come out of my mouth.

They say if you are a woman (clearly I am not so I am only hearing this third hand) that if you want to see how a man will treat you, watch how he treats his mother.  Well I am glad that I have such an incredible wife could see beyond that and realize that I do love my mother, I just don’t always show it.  Otherwise, I would not be where I am in my wonderful life, which is incredible because of my wife.  Anyway, enough trying to earn points.


I really don’t know what my deal is.  Maybe it is because I haven’t really reached the adult age of 30.  Maybe this is really my way of showing my mother that I love her but giving her these one-armed hugs.  Could that be our thing?  So mom if you are reading this, the one-armed thing is our special thing and that is why I do it and it is my way of showing you that I love you.

The way that I treat my mother though, has a trickle-down effect to my son as well.

The Hell I Put My Mom Through - The Rookie Dad

The Kid denies a kiss.

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Lessons Learned from Disney’s Planes Fire and Rescue

Disney has done it again. They had a great children’s movie in Planes and before the success of the movie even started they were already preparing their new movie Planes Fire and Rescue. This time however unlike Cars 2 they did not ruin the movie franchise.

Disney's Planes Fire and Rescue - The Rookie Dad

If you want my opinion, Planes Fire and Rescue was better than the first Planes. I believe that Disney hit it out of the park with this one. There is much more emotion and even brought me to tears when Dusty went… well you will just have to watch the movie for yourself.

Reflecting upon our viewing on opening night of Planes Fire and Rescue, I realized how much meaning there was behind this movie. There are many lessons to be learned and I hope that the Kid will someday fully understand some of those lessons that Dusty and his friends are teaching not just our kids, but all of us.

Life Doesn’t Always Work Out

For those of you who haven’t seen the Disney flick yet you might not realize it but Dusty’s racing days are over in Planes Fire and Rescue. Dusty has become a racing champion known around the world but in one accident, his racing days are over. Naturally, Dusty is extremely upset. This was all he wanted to be in the first Planes. He has no idea what to do with his life at this point knowing that he will never race again. Dusty along with the many who have already watched the movie learn that life doesn’t always work out. What you can do is the next life lesson that the movie teaches us.

If You Get Knocked Down Pick Yourself Back Up

Dusty has just learned that there is a way that he can save Propwash Junction in Planes Fire and Rescue, he can become a firefighter. He understands that this may the only thing he has left. Dusty understands that because he unable to race, he needs to do something to pick himself up, distract him from what is really bothering him, and save his home town and become a firefighter. He doesn’t let the fact that he can no longer race stop him from living his life. Much like in all of our lives, if you get knocked down pick yourself right back up and keep fighting. A lesson that many of our children teach us adults, but one as our children grow we must remind them.

Disney's Planes Fire and Rescue - The Rookie Dad


Learn To Grow

Since Dusty has no firefighting experience in the beginning of Disney’s Fire and Rescue, he knows that he that he has to learn to grow into something that he is not. It isn’t his ideal scenario in life. Even though he doesn’t know how to be a firefighter he does everything he can to learn how to be one. He isn’t doing this for himself he is really do this for all of his friends back at Propwash Junction. He is learning while growing into a bigger and better plane. As parents, we must teach our children to become a better person. It is quite possibly the hardest job we have as parents.

You Can Do Whatever You Put Your Mind To

When Dusty arrives at Piston Peak, he makes up his mind that he is going to be a firefighter. Once this decision is made, he combines all the three lessons mentioned above: life doesn’t always work out, when life knocks you down pick yourself back up, and learn to grow. Knowing that this isn’t how life was supposed to work out, he is tested as a firefighter and is knocked down in many ways as he is training to get his certification but he learns from those upsets and grows from them. Dusty puts his mind to it, he really wants to be a firefighter, not only for himself but for Propwash Junction and everyone at Piston Peak. In the end, it all… well again, you will just have to watch the movie for yourself to see how it ends.

Disney's Planes Fire and Rescue - The Rookie Dad


This was the first time that I actually dove into a movie to see what it was really teaching the Kid. Not only that, but Disney’s Planes Fire and Rescue brought a tear to this grown man’s eyes. This may sound like most of the Disney movies, but one thing that Disney has figured out that many other studios haven’t yet, is how to drive these lessons home to their moviegoers and make the movie truly family friendly. Take my advice, go out and watch Planes Fire and Rescue, you, your children, and your family will not regret it.

This goes without saying though, that this movie is in dedication for those first responders who put their lives on the line every single day.

In The End I’m The One Being Punished

I am sitting at work networking with my colleagues from other PBS stations. PBS is a different world than most TV stations in the sense that we are always sharing ideas and I was searching for ideas and ways to make myself a better TV producer. That is beside the point though.

As I am sitting there emailing back and forth with someone and I hear my phone go off. I look over at it and it was a text from my wife. I wasn’t expecting to hear from her on this particular day because I knew just how busy her schedule was at work.

The text said “The Kid is in trouble! Got into a fight on the playground and punched someone”

Shock and disappointment rushed over me. Knowing that these behavior issues have been a problem at school with him I never know what kind of report I will be getting from his teachers.

Mrs. Rookie Dad and I begin to text back and forth about how we plan to punish him. Friday’s are his typical splash days at school and the teacher has already taken that a way for his behavior. We have told the teacher that we will back her on any way that she tries to correct the behavior issues and she is working with us as we try varies things at work as well. We decide he will definitely not get TV or get to play with his friends when we get home.

Later that night we are sternly talking to the Kid at dinner to make sure that he knows that punching someone is not OK. We make sure to tell him that we expect a stellar report tomorrow and suddenly one of us, I don’t remember who said this but if he doesn’t have one he will not get to go over and play with his friends tomorrow.

On the outside that might sound like we are just being good parents. Yes we are, however, what we forgot until about 5 minutes later is that the reason the Kid was going to go over to his friend’s house was because the two of us, Mrs. Rookie Dad and myself, were going to have a date night. Something that we desperately needed.

I wish that I could say that our date night was in the new Toyota Sienna but the car gods must be punishing me somehow because that won’t be revealed until tomorrow.

Date nights are something that Mrs. Rookie Dad and I do not get very often. Mostly because we don’t want to pay for a baby sitter. This date night as mention we really needed. We needed some time for just the two of us, something that most marriages lack. However, this night was jeopardy because of our kid. Naturally, because of his actions we are punished.

It might seem unfair that because of the Kid’s action, we have to be punished by not going on our date night. As parents we are tasked with making sure that our child has good behavior and will follow the rules. If that means that we have to lose out on our date night, so be it. We are being the parents that are taking responsibility for what our child is like.

(On a side note, the Kid did end up getting a stellar report and Mrs. Rookie Dad and I were able to go on our date night)


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