The toddler daughter watched the baby tip the glass beaker over. There was a towel on the table so nothing broke. The tapered beaker top just thudded once and its food-colored water bled out and spread out against the white like so many gunshot wounds in action flicks my daughters won’t be watching til’ they’re thirty five. We were in the midst of doing this, for an upcoming book review:
When, suddenly, my phone started chirping. We all heard it blurting from somewhere downstairs and might have otherwise thought nothing of it, were it not for the laptop on the desk and a scattered tablet or two joining in the canon. The cacophony of sound grew maddening due to each device’s discordant notification tone. I could have left it alone, but being a new blogger and trying my derndest to stay in the loop, I just couldn’t ignore what was quickly becoming a symphony of the absurd. I reached for my phone and swore it felt hot to the touch. I swiped my notifications open and HOLY SOCIAL MOLY I was soon scrolling through a cascade of incoming emails, a gazillion message pop’em’ups, infinity times infinity Twitter thingies! Retweets, I guess the cool kids are calling them. He-tweets and she-tweets and “HEY, did you see?” tweets. I don’t exactly have the jargon down. You see, I don’t do the Twitter. I’m not a Twitterer. Well, that’s not entirely true but keep reading, I’ll keep it brief.
Earlier in the week, those riotous rad dads over at How To Be A Dad started wildfire promotion of their upcoming “Never-before-seen…” Twitter Event (Twitter Party?). The Clorox Ick Awards or #Ickies. (A ‘#’, or hashtag in the familiar, is used to denote – oh, nevermind….I’m sure you’re already loads more hep than I) There were to be CASH prizes! Poster prizes! They shared hilarious teaser videos with the event’s MC and former SNL cast member Rachel Dracht or @TheRealDratch (hep-ness is an acquired skill) and the Second City Communications Improv troupe. I even joined in to spread the word by posting this silly photo around.
The countdowns circled the blogosphere (is that still a hep word?) until the actual day of the main event, yesterday. A most glorious of the glory kind of days in that I was gifted with that ever-elusive overlap nap and was eerily kid-free at the start of the Event as the toddler daughter was deep into her three hour siesta when her sister, too, hit the crib like a sack of baby bricks. I was free to Twitter fiddle, and try my hand at seeing what all of the fuss was about.
What started off tame enough, and probably perfectly manageable to the fingertips of seasoned, social media vets, quickly grew overwhelming to the likes of yours truly (a few years ago you’d have thought me a luddite.) I must have had ten tabs open on my browser. Twitter, with the requisite #Ickies searched for and isolated. Then a separate, somewhat saner, live feed page of the tweets pouring past. I left howtobeadad.com open, as a reference to all of the other places where I could get in on the “fun” and left all of those places open too, for fear that I’d miss something.
I typed something stupid. I don’t remember what and I don’t remember where. It became apparent that the object was to offer up your zaniest, mess related escapades (thus #Ickies and the Clorox angle) and the few that stayed on screen long enough for me to read started to tickle some social funny bone of mine. The video vignettes were a hoot. I typed something about those baby-changing Houdini turds that magically appear on the carpet, staring at you mockingly, after the old diaper’s taped up and the baby’s re-diapered. (How do those get there?) and if anybody noticed or could relate, I was none the wiser, lost in a sea of tweets. Like trying to find a tweetle in a haystack. The twits. just. keep. gettin’. harder to find….sing it with me. It was madness, I tell ya. For the life of me I couldn’t fathom how anyone could find the time to put in the necessary social media work that being a part of a blogging community apparently entails, much less a parent. I clapped the laptop shut, jaded, and went to get the kids up in turns.
With a few hours tp go until the At-Work Mama’s return I whipped up some mango smoothie for the baby and taught the toddler tic-tac-toe. I tidied up a bit and took them both out back to blow some bubbles and kick the little red soccer ball into the plastic goal that screams at you when you score. (GOLLLLLLLLLLL!) I broke up a cage match behind the baby gate and goofed both kids’ tears to laughter. I applied heat to some meat and veggies and they both got it down with little objection. And what I discovered, to my pleasant surprise, while doing the day-to-day, and sometimes mundane, tasks of an At-Home Dad was that once I started to check in with the Event on my phone, I started to get the hang of it.
When the baby finally wriggled out of my lap to go get a cup and lid from her kitchen drawer, content to sit a minute and practice that “righty, tighty…” thing she’d just discovered, I sneaked a peak at my phone. When the three year old decided she’d had enough of my silly little flash cards and, in fact, was no longer my daughter J. (or Elsa, or Emily, or Victor or Allie anymore) and was now to be called Skweevis and only Skweevis and Skweevis shoved off to her room to change into the day’s eleventh outfit… I checked my phone. The Ick Awards were in FULL swing and I started to recognize the “handles” of other dad bloggers that I sometimes read on the porcelain throne (or on weekends- sorry, honey). I started to “retweet” some funny lines from some of the guys in groups I frequent when the kids are sleeping and the At-Work Mama is in her Crochet Zone or otherwise taking a break from me (understandable). I got beeps and blings when people retweeted me of all tweeple (ok, I’ll stop) and some direct tweets to me too! Fun.
I started to realize how someone- some writer- with experiences,, with questions and answers, with words to say and a world full of people that he or she wants to share those words with- can find a spattering of seconds in the course of a day, to tap into the community’s current, even while nurturing and mentoring two bright, active, inquisitive kids, full time. (I’m sorry I ever doubted you up there, other dads who raise kids and write about it). I felt like a wily social media vet, my Note 3 in it’s holster, me in tune with my two girls but periodically drawing it and firing off some bits of hopeful wisdom; a title idea, a draft paragraph, a tweet. Like this one, to the #HorrificMess category at the #ickies, the last category I saw:
And that was the one.
So we find ourselves back where we started. Mom’s finally home. We’re photographing the kids doing awesome science experiments for an awesome book’s review that I’ll be posting next week (hint, hint). It’s a mess, and a laugh riot and like pulling teeth at times but we are learning science, and parenting and kid-being, left and right, when the beaker tips and the stain spreads in stark contrast to the white of the towel and the whole house goes haywire with those notification tones. (My phone was blowin’ up I should say, now that I’m hep.)
I had apparently won the category with that silly little tweet. I was hit with the first wave when the award “show” posted this semi-live, eeenteresting, reenactment of the real-life events that inspired my tweet and asked participants to vote for the nominees by way of retweet:
Then a second, unrelenting wave of Facebook congratulations, emails, tweets, retweets, three-tweets and so on, when my offering was proclaimed the winner.
Even two days removed this young, and some might say struggling, site is steadily gaining eyes. My phone won’t shut up. The Twitter follows are still trickling in. And most importantly to this little At-Home experiment of mine, people, like you, are reading my words.
It was, virtually, the best thing that has ever not-actually happened to me!
And while I didn’t win any… well, actually…anything, I did gain some perspective. And some know-how. And some exposure. (It’s quite a task keeping up with my website, Facebook Page and Twitter Page (page?), so the little boost is much appreciated.) And some equally appreciated connections with the bigger, writing world, at large. And some more stories to share with my girls. Stories that they were there for. That Dada has vowed to never let them forget. So thanks for inviting the new dude to your party, Charlie and Andy of HowToBeADad.com and Rachel Dracht and and their corporate sponsors. I’m off to go Clorox Bleach a science experiment out of a once white bath towel. So, please, click those share buttons down there, if you would, and be sure to stop by next week, if not sooner, when I lay down my review of that book that I mentioned!