There’s something about idiots that I gravitate toward (sorry, honey). And I’m not just talking about your regular ‘ol run of the mill idiot. It’s a special kind of idiot that I’m drawn to, and they are collectively known as “amateur idiots”. One of the many I know and the one I am closest to (we hope) is my husband, Josh. Yep, he is a full-blown idiot — no idiot-in-the-making here.
Another amateur idiot I know also refers to himself as a “professional dad”. Wait…are you okay? Did you just throw up a little in your mouth? Yeah, me too. Any dad that believes he is a professional dad, especially when he is an amateur idiot, is surely just a big “f-ing” idiot.
Okay, okay… I’ll calm it down with the name calling, but in truth these two men are more than happy to describe themselves as idiots, and in fact one of them (who is thankfully not my husband) actually calls himself “Amateur Idiot/Professional Dad“. His name is David Lesser, and he even has a website dedicated to being an idiot.
So, why in the world am I introducing you to him? Well, it’s because I actually kind of like the guy. I like that he enjoys life so much. I like that he loves his kids and wife so much. I like that he can laugh at himself. I like that he is teaching his kids to use humor when things get too serious or challenging. And although I don’t agree with some of what he says, we do agree on way more than I could have ever expected when I came across his work.
Let me give you a little back story. David and I first got a chance to read each other’s work when we both shared our pieces on the “man cold” to members of a group that we are a part of. I enjoyed David’s piece so much that I reached out to him and we had a little chat, which you lucky folks will have a chance to read about here.
Here’s a little glimpse for you into the mind of David Lesser, one of this world’s many amateur idiot/professional dads:
Me: Why do you call yourself an “Amateur Idiot/Professional Dad”? Isn’t that an oxymoron? Oh, let me guess, you would welcome me calling you a moron, wouldn’t you? And, why is that?
David: I was actually “Amateur Idiot” before I had a blog. I was running a Tough Mudder (obstacle course race) with friends and we got a team shirt, each with a silly name on the back. My wife thinks a lot of the things I do are kind of dumb, particularly the obstacle course races. She called me an idiot for running them, but I wasn’t getting paid…hence the name. She actually calls me an idiot a lot; it’s kind of a term of affection. The “professional dad” part grew from there, since I’m a stay at home dad and it is kind of my profession. Although, also unpaid. Womp womp.
Me: What’s your opinion on moms with tattoos? Also, where would you get the unicorn tattoo your daughter wants you to get? Dare I even ask that?
David: I love tattoos! I don’t have any and neither does my wife, but I think they’re gorgeous. I’ve kind of wanted one for a while, but was never sure what it should be. I’ve never thought “THAT NEEDS TO BE ON MY BODY FOREVER!!!!” about anything. The unicorn thing was mostly an inside joke with my wife that my kids picked up on and has started becoming an odd theme on my FB page. But, if I were to get a tattoo of a unicorn or anything else, it would probably be on my forearm. You were hoping I’d say “on my butt,” weren’t you? Where did you think the horn would go??
Me: Your article on surviving kindergarten was on point. And you know how you referenced those parents who have a blog and use it to gush about their teacher – yep, I did that, just like you. But, have you ever pondered this…do you think that your children’s teachers would ever write such a letter “to the amateur idiot that is my student’s parent”? What would it say?
David: No, they probably wouldn’t. I’m sure they have better things to do with their time. But I do talk to my kids’ teachers all the time. Based on those conversations, if they wrote something, they’d probably mostly gush about my kids.
Me: I steer away from talking politics or religion because I feel like no one is freaking capable of having an actual intellectual yet fully respectful conversation about it. Yet, you tackle it head on…straight up, but delivered with humor. Do you believe that through humor hard conversations become easier and more productive?
David: I can’t help it. I don’t have much of a filter and if I think it I usually say it. If it’s on my mind, I’ll write about it. I don’t add the humor to make something palpable, that’s just sort of how it comes out. Maybe it makes the topic more palpable for me. I try to only write about those sorts of topics if I have something truly unique or personal to say. I don’t want to just add to the noise
WHEN PENNY WAS YOUNGER I’D WRITE ABOUT ANYTHING, INCLUDING HOW SHE USED TO BLAME HER FARTS ON HER PRINCESS DOLLS.
Me: You write a lot about or to your kids and so do I. Do you ever hesitate publishing an article on them that may make mention of their less desirable personality quirks or traits?
David: Yes, definitely. Especially as they get older. When Penny was younger I’d write about anything, including how she used to blame her farts on her princess dolls. I would never write that article about her now. It was cute then. Now it would be mortifying for her. Maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned it here. Sorry, sweetie.
Me: I write a lot about my husband and it ain’t all pretty. But, the fact is that we are secure enough in our relationship to openly talk (alright bicker) about each other’s flaws. Do you think a relationship could fail if both partners are just too damn nice to each other?
David: Dammit, I’m agreeing with you again! I thought this was a he said/she said kind of thing. But, yeah, you have to let it out in small doses or else shit will explode. I’ve written some personal stuff about my wife, but all with her seal of approval. She has veto power over everything that gets published.
Me: I wrote a post on The Sarcastic Parent. In my house, that person is my husband, not me. Shocker, right? You seem to ooze sarcasm – does it ever get you in trouble with your wife or the kids? Should your kids just learn to deal with it because the real world is full of assholes like you or because sarcasm is a good way to stay positive when life gets tough?
David: Ha! “…full of assholes like you…” I love that! My kids learned sarcasm at an early age. I think I tone it down for them, but I still gotta be me. And I can still be sarcastic without the sarcasm being biting or too sharp. And they both already have great senses of humor and are legit funny.
Me: I don’t want my kids using the “F” word. As you see, I don’t even use the “f” word unless my husband and I are having a heated argument. Yes, I admitted we argue. Yeah, I’m not perfect, right? While I agree with you that words like “stupid” and “hate” are just as bad, if your kid said the work “fuck” (okay there I said it) around me, there’s a strong chance I’d judge your parenting choices and I’m one who encourages us not to judge others. What the “f” am I supposed to do about this hypocritical position I seem to be in?? Help!
David: Embrace being a hypocrite! I wrote about how “I Don’t Give a F*ck if My Kids Curse” but whenever they do curse I tell them “that’s an adult word.” I don’t want them cursing at the wrong time (at school, at grandma’s house, etc.), so whenever they do curse, even if it’s just us, I tell them they shouldn’t use that word. See. Total hypocrite.
HERE’S A SORT OF SHITTY METAPHOR: PARENTING IS LIKE AN AIRPLANE CRASH.
Me: So, I just read your post, “Bowling, the End of the World and Furries” and I can appreciate your message which I interpreted as “stop taking life so damn seriously”. Basically, that life is serious enough on its own, it doesn’t need for us to be too. Message received. But, now I’ve got a comment and a question. My comment is this: You seem to encourage “being different”. You see, I didn’t say “weird” because that is one of those words that I tell my children is an “ugly” word that we shouldn’t say. And while I agree that it is good to be unique and exude personality, I also think when it comes to myself and parenting I am pretty aligned with societies “norms”, and there is nothing normal about dressing up like a fox and going to a bowling alley on a random Tuesday night.
So, question for you (since you are a professional at this parenting thing), how can I foster my children’s desire to share their personality with the world and do what makes them happy, while also encouraging them to be mindful of what their actions and behaviors may lead people to perceive about them? Yes, this is a long question, but for me this is a tough one! If my teenager wanted to wear the fox outfit to the bowling alley, I would be weary that they would 1) scare the little kids there 2) look like a “kook” 3) be perceived as less intellectual or responsible by a potential employer for their first job… Can you see what I am getting at? This is the end of a super long comment, rant, question — feel free to answer with one sentence.
David: Growing up I think I cared too much about what other people thought. I think I probably still do, though I try to fight it. I don’t like dancing in public unless I’ve had a few beers or am just intentionally trying to make an ass out of myself (which somehow makes it okay, because I’m inviting people to look instead of it happening to me). Maybe that’s the same with these furries. They know people will look at them weird whatever they do, they may as well just fucking go for it and invite the attention. Own it. As a parent, this can be tough. I’ve written about gender norms and “there’s no such thing as a boy color or a girl color,” but when my son was 3 or so and wanted to go out in his sister’s old Hello Kitty shirt, I hesitated. The shirt was obviously cut for a girl and, at the time, he had longish curly hair. In other words, he looked pretty. I didn’t want strangers or even his grandparents, who we were going to see, giving him any crap. But it made him happy, so he wore it. A stranger told me I had a beautiful daughter and I politely corrected her. That was pretty much it. I think that most of the fears we have, for ourselves but maybe especially for our children, don’t ever get realized. Ha! I think my answer was as long as your question! By the way, “weird” is not a bad word in our house; it’s a compliment.
Me: Okay…this one you are going to have to wing because I don’t see that you have written too much on this. Parenting is HARD on a marriage, unless it’s just mine and in that case, forget I said that. But, if you do agree that parenting makes maintaining a marriage more challenging, how in the hell do you suggest keeping a marriage afloat especially when one parent is an amateur idiot? And keep your answer clean, Dude.
David: Here’s a sort of shitty metaphor: parenting is like an airplane crash. Wait, hear me out! If you don’t take care of yourself and your partner first, your kids will suffer. Does that hold up? I’ll be honest, I haven’t really thought it through.
IF WE CAN LAUGH AT A SITUATION, EVEN IF IT’S NOT THE “NICE” THING DO, WE SHOULD.
Me: Your admitted family motto is: If you don’t have anything nice to say, at least make it funny. My husband feels the same way. I on the other hand subscribe to the motto that if you don’t have anything nice to say you shouldn’t open your mouth (at least not to anyone but a family member, right?) See. I’m not a total stick in the mud, I get sarcasm within the home. I agree that it is important for us to teach children about banter, as it has a place in this world – but shouldn’t sarcasm not have a place in the mouth of a child? Unless I guess you are trying to raise amateur idiots, then it’s better you start teaching it early…
David: I don’t generally like jokes at another person’s expense, but I am a believer that, if the joke is funny enough, nothing is off limits. If we can laugh at a situation, even if it’s not the “nice” thing do, we should.
Well, that’s where our conversation kind of stalled because you can only keep a half-way intelligent conversation going with an amateur idiot for so long (I know from experience. Sorry, hubby). I do hope that you have enjoyed this not-so-brief glimpse into the super creative mind of this Dad Blogger and Amateur Idiot/Professional Dad, David Lesser.
David — It’s been a pleasure chatting with you to try and figure out how my husband’s brain works. Not sure I know how to deal with him and his antics any better than before, but at least I can find solace in the fact that I didn’t find and marry the one man on Earth who doesn’t give an “f” what people think, and who uses humor in 90% of situations. Allie did too. Can I get her number?