An interview with a dad: Me!

On August 14 at 6:07 a.m., my golf career officially came to an end. That’s when Anne and I welcomed our son, Owen Michael, into the world.

For the nine months leading up to that momentous occasion, I ended every night by whispering into Anne’s belly. “I can’t wait to meet you,” I’d say. “But please, oh please, pretty please, don’t come on August 14th. That’s the day when daddy gets to play a really nice golf course.”

Kids. You know? They never listen. 1 week ago, I didn’t think anything in the world could be better than playing a beautiful exclusive country club for free on a cool summer morning. (sorry Anne). But then I saw this for the first time:

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And in that one moment, when I looked into my son’s eyes for the first time, I could feel my life changing forever. I felt a sense of purpose, of pride, of protection, of parenthood. And then, I had the most amazing realization: If I hurried, I could still make my tee time.

EXCLUSIVE: My First Interview

To commemorate the birth of my first child, a masculine child, I’m bringing back my “Interview with a Dad” series to answer all your pressing questions. My first subject, Ryan, is back. But this time, he’s the one asking the questions. Here’s what Ryan had to say for himself.

Ryan: Congratulations, Rob! I’m so happy for you.

Rob: I wrote that part.

Ryan: I know, but the rest will be the things that I really asked you. So let’s get to the questions.

Rob: Fine.

Ryan: Biggest surprise so far?

Rob: I never thought anything in the world could prevent me from responding to emails at the precise moment I received them. Even if someone were to chop off my hands, I could just get one of those straw microphones to dictate my responses. So I was quite surprised that having a new baby somehow prevented me from responding.

I was also surprised by how much my kid sucks, and even moreso by the power of his sucking. One of the books we have suggested that the dad put his finger in the kid’s mouth to soothe him when he cries. I tried that, and the next thing I knew, I was pulling my shoulder out of his throat.

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Actually, there was one other thing that was the quite surprising. After the onset of labor, when I was blitzing through the house grabbing every last thing we could ever need, Anne decided that she should take a quick shower and blow dry her hair. I was in full on panic mode, and Anne decided to clean herself up and make herself beautiful for the hospital. At least it worked – her hair looked fucking amazing until a little but of her vomit got caught in it.

Ryan: One thing that happened from the water breaking to the birth that you wish you could take back?

Rob: Nothing. But I imagine that I’ll say something in this blog post that I’ll need to take back. Maybe the vomit comment. Or the sucking thing. She’ll probably think I mean that he sucks, like “Man, what a jerk. That guy totally sucks.” When what I really meant was :

suck definition   Google Search
Ryan: What’s the meanest thing Anne said to you during that same period?

Rob: I’ve spent the last three hours thinking of a good response to this question. And believe me, I love taking shots at Anne. But she was amazing throughout the whole process. I mean, I guess if I had to pick something that was kind of mean, it would be the moment when she said, “Rob, I wish I never married you. I hate you and I hate your face and I hope that you burn in the pits of hell for ever and ever. Oh, and I hope that when you arrive in hell, you find this waiting for you:”

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Ryan: Did you cry at any point during that?

Rob: No. You did a great job of preparing me for what to expect during labor. I’m basically a pro at this parenting thing:

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Ryan: On a scale of Jodie saying yes to going to the junior prom to getting your socks wet on a log flume, how excited were you to see balls?

Rob: Good idea to reference two things that no one who reads my blog will understand. For the uninformed, I went to the junior prom with Ryan’s now wife. She loved me at the time. I also once got my socks wet at Great Adventure. I was pissed because my moron friends thought it would be a good idea to ride the log flume at the end of the day. I told them, right off the bat, that it would be stupid to ride the log flume because then we would be wet for the whole ride home. No one likes being wet and cold, including my son, who cries every time he has a cold wet diaper. That’s my boy!

So to answer your question, I was very excited to see the balls. I was especially happy when the doctor said, “it’s definitely a boy.” One of my biggest fears about not finding out was that the data would be inconclusive at the time of birth.

Ryan: What’s the first thing you said to Owen?

Rob: Wow, I wish I remembered this. I think I said, “Hi Owen! You have daddy’s hair!”

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Ryan: have you been mad at him yet?

Rob: I mean, he did make me miss that tee time. Also, every day when I get home, we go through the same routine. I hold him for a few minutes and we have a blissful moment of love. Then he pees on my shirt. Then I change him. Then he immediately pees again. Then I change him. Then he starts crying. I sway and make idiotic noises to soothe him, but nothing works. Then he shits on me. Then I change him. Then I finally sit down and he gets this big smile on his face. I’m pretty sure it’s his way of saying, “that was fun, right pop?” Then he shits on me again. Then I change him. Then I hand him to Anne and he doesn’t go to the bathroom again until she hands him back to me. It’s not that I’m mad at him, but I know he’s doing it just to fuck with me.

Ryan: Has he been mad at you?

Rob: I think I crushed one of his balls once when I was changing his diaper. He didn’t like that very much.

Ryan: What’s the best thing about him so far?

Rob: When he falls asleep on my chest and snuggles in extra close while we watch golf together.

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Ryan: what’s the worst?

Rob: That he can’t talk yet. The hardest thing so far is that I know he’s trying to communicate with me, but I don’t understand. Just try to imagine how mad Anne would get if we had this conversation:

Anne: Rob, I’m cold. Can you please turn the AC off.

Rob: Um…. Do you want to take your sweater off?

Anne: No, I’m cold. Please turn the AC off.

Rob: Milk? Do you want some milk? If so, I’ll go get your mom and have her bring it to you.

Anne: Is it fucking cold in here, or is it just me?

Rob: [sticks finger in her mouth] Is that what you want?

Anne: The AC. Off. Turn it off now.

Rob: [smells Anne's ass] Did you poop?

Anne: This is really pissing me off.

Rob: [pulls Anne's underwear aside and peeks] Any pee in there?

Anne: if you don’t turn the AC off right now, I will murder you.

Rob: Let me get your mom. I think it’s her turn.

Anne: I don’t want my mom! I’m just cold, you asshole.

[Anne takes the baby, Rob walks out of the room decides its cold, turns the AC off because he's cold]

Anne: Thank you.

Rob: See, I knew you just wanted your mom.

That’s what it’s like when Owen cries. I have no clue what he wants, but I know he’s trying to tell me. It’s so stressful to not be able to give him exactly what he wants at that exact moment to make the crying stop.

Ryan: What’s the nicest thing someone said to you after the birth?

Rob: “He looks just like Anne.”

Ryan: What’s the best advice you’ve gotten since the birth?

Rob: “Whatever you do, don’t blog about your child. Respect his privacy and let him decide on his own whether his images or stories should enter into the public domain.”

Ryan: Did you stay in the north end zone?

Rob: Nope. I saw everything. The hospital didn’t do much in the way of delineating the end zones. I didn’t have much choice in the matter. And, frankly, I’m glad I got to witness everything. It’s unlike anything I’d ever seen before. I have a whole new love and respect for Anne, and think I’m not forbidden from ever getting mad at her again. When the delivery was finished, Anne said to the doctor, “things really seemed to get easier when you started sawing me open.” As a witness to everything, I can assure you there was no saw.

I feel like the luckiest guy in the world to be married to such an amazing woman. One who can endure 16 hours of pain, stress, and sawing, deliver the most amazing baby of all time, and remain so god damn beautiful throughout. I think all women can learn a valuable lesson from this: Even when you’re in the throes of labor, there’s always time for a quick blowout.

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Real Answers to All of My Ridiculous Parenting Questions

Although my moula search rages on, many of my questions about parenthood remain unanswered.  To stay on top of things, I’ve decided to go right to the source.

For the next few weeks – or until I run out of willing participants – I’ll be conducting a series of interviews with dads.  They have kindly agreed to answer all of my ridiculous questions about my quest to become the perfect father to the perfect PGA tour golfer.

First up in the series is Ryan. Ryan is a dad of a Parker, a rambunctious 3 year-old boy.  This is Parker: Continue reading

Rob Pollak: American Hero

Although I’m not usually one to draw attention to my own accomplishments, last night I had a moment so life-defining and heroic, that I had no choice.  I had to tell you about how I single-handedly saved New York with the help of three others.

It was 9:00 pm and almost a foot of snow had piled up on the roads.  For many people, the conditions were treacherous, but I learned how to drive a storm when I lived in the tundra of Central New York.  In Central, NY, it’s not appropriate to even wipe the snow off the front windshield until it has piled up to at least 14 inches.

But in New York City, which Central New Yorkers refer to as “the South,” things are different.  The mayor holds a full press conference at the sight of a little kid with a sno cone.  And if we get three inches (god forbid), schools shut down for a week and Whole Foods sells out of bread and water.  But not English muffins or fizzy water.  Who can afford such lavishness in the face of our own demise?

Last night the roads were bad.  Not “we need to plow” bad, but bad enough that a number of inexperienced snow drivers spun out like crazy and freaked out when they had to go up a hill.  I had a good laugh at these people.

By Rob Pollak By Rob Pollak

At least until I hit the spot where the Bronx River Parkway merges onto the Cross County Parkway.  Things had been moving steadily at 15 miles below the posted speed limit up to that point.  But as I approached the merge, traffic halted.  A slight incline in the road caused a few drivers to freak the fuck out, stop, and then rev their tires as fast as they could while not moving.  This created a doubly bad result:  They didn’t move and they turned the drivable snow into a slush-ice combination.

At first, cars sputtered and then figured it out.  But one dickwad in a van started spinning like crazy.  And then he spun some more and some more until he was basically stopped.

All the while, I was sitting in my toasty car listening to a book on tape. My current selection is Willful Blindness:  Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril, a book about, well, exactly what the title says it’s about.  Anyway, right before the insane snow drive, I listened to a chapter discussing the ways people conform to expectations when in a group setting and don’t help others out if a lot of people are around.

With that in mind, I’m sitting there watching these cars literally spinning their wheels (I bet that’s where the term comes from!!), and everyone else is sitting in the car thinking “man, I hope a plow comes.”  But, I was not going to sit around and be willfully blind to accepting that my night was ruined.  I flung open the door and started sprinting past all the cars in front of me.  Five cars to be exact.

Note – it’s hard to sprint in a foot of snow while wearing sneakers.  I almost fell and busted my face/ass.  That’s probably why most people sit in the car.

Anyway, I finally get to the van and start pushing.  Less than a minute later, three other good citizens were by my side pushing the car with me.  If I hadn’t run out there and started pushing, science says that no one would have.  Because we conform to the pressures of society that say it’s embarrassing to get out of the car and go out in the snow.  We may even make the problem worse.  Then everyone will be mad at us.

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Then we pushed three or four more cars up the hill.  Per usual, I was very sweaty.  But I got back in my car and climbed up that hill with no problems of my own.  Thank you Hamilton College for actually teaching me one thing:  how to drive in the snow.

And that’s how I saved America.

Epilogue:  Three of the four cars that I pushed up the hill were in accidents or stuck again on the other side of the hill.  But at that point, I was moving.  So fuck ‘em.

 

How to be cool

How to be cool (Reposted from Elephant Journal)

I just want to be cool.

That emotional craving guided my life for many years. Only recently did I learn the truth. For all those years, I was doing it wrong. The desire to be cool was actually the thing making me uncool.

Yoga changed that. Through the practice of yoga, I learned that most people—including this guy—do the opposite of what we really want to do. Okay, you caught me. Maybe I’m giving too much credit to yoga. I first learned it from an episode of Seinfeld (My name is George, I’m unemployed, and I live with my parents), but it sunk in when I started to practice yoga.

Let me break it down with an example.

While on this quest for coolness, I imagined what a cool person would do if confronted with my specific situation. Like if I was at a wedding and the photographer said, “do something crazy!” I’d think really hard about how to look cool while “going crazy,” hemming and hawing between options: Should I give the West Coast Rap Sign or the Backwards Peace Sign? Do those U.S. Weekly people really say “prune” right before a picture? Is my left or right side the less pudgy one? If I jump in the air, will everyone jump higher than I do? Won’t that look lame?

It’s impossible to look cool after that much thought. The end result was photos like this:


A cartoon by Rob Pollak for Elephant Journal

 

A cartoon by Rob Pollak for Elephant Journal

Who looks like the asshole in the second picture? The people jumping up and down, making stupid faces? Or the one schmuck with his shoulders scrunched up to his ears and his hands in his pockets?

In other words, I tried to look cool by not looking uncool, a strategy which actually made me look the least cool of all.  Those who did whatever they wanted looked the best. But why? Rumi said it best:

“When you do things from your soul, other people totally dig that shit.”

When we do things to protect ourselves, we wind up with the exact consequences we tried to avoid in the first place.

Don’t believe me?

Did you ever procrastinate because you didn’t want to screw a project up? Then at the last minute, you were forced to half-ass it just to get it done on time? And the work wasn’t your best? So something got screwed up? And you were all, “Whatever dude, I didn’t put in a full effort anyway.” That’s what I’m talking about.

What is it about yoga that made me realize I was doing it wrong? For one thing, when I first tried yoga, I immediately felt like an outlier. And not in the Malcolm Gladwell, you’re going to do 10,000 hours of hard work and end up as the best yogi of all time, outlier kind of way. More in the Ugly Duckling way. I was the sweatiest, chubbiest, manliest, hairiest, stiffest, anxious-est person in the room, and I was convinced that everyone was looking at me and judging me.

That self-image was a lot of baggage to take into the yoga room, and I struggled to feel comfortable in my skin—my sweaty pale skin. But after awhile, I just stopped caring. I can’t pinpoint exactly when or how it happened, but it absolutely happened.

One day, I no longer cared that a small puddle of sweat would start to accumulate in front of my mat and forge a stream towards my neighbors mat. Instead, I started to see that disgusting sweat river as a sign of triumph, and root for it to infiltrate her $110 Lululemon pants. Actually, that’s a terrible example. Sweat rivers are disgusting.

Regardless, yoga taught me how to be aware of my emotions, creating a mindset that carried off the yoga mat and bled into the rest of my life. I started to care less about what you assholes think of me. And once I stopped caring what other people think, I became the coolest guy in the whole world, unafraid to take pictures like this:

Rob and Anne Pollak