We're surveying some of the coolest guys we know about life as a modern dad.
Name: Alex Williams, Writer, Styles Section, The New York Times
Kids: Toby (3) and a baby due in less than a month
Location: New York City
Location: New York City
Find me online: @alexwilliamsnyc
1. My favorite children's book: Even though I grew up in California, I always loved E.B. White’s “Stuart Little," which my mom read to me multiple times as a kid. I loved the mouse's adventures in the New York—who knows, maybe it stoked an early fascination with the city. I also loved that too-cute cover image of Stuart paddling a canoe. It just killed me. To this day, I find mice incredibly cute, which is hard to believe, considering how many real-life “adventures” you share with mice in the standard New York City apartment.
2. My parenting superpower: My ability to get Toby love sushi with brown rice. Still working on ginger, though.
3. My favorite toy from childhood: From the time I was a small child, I loved drumming. I started out with a cookie tin that my mom spray-painted gold (very noisy, so I was only allowed to play it in the backyard), then graduated to a Remo practice pad that was a hand-me-down from my brother. By the time I was 5, I could do the fight song for my brother’s high school marching band. I always wanted to play the REAL drums, but my mom was worried about the noise, so I got stuck with a trumpet, which never held a candle to my humble little Remo practice pad. (PS—It was this kind of thing, fyi.)
4. A song I'll be really bummed if my kids don't end up loving: “Penny Lane” by the Beatles. The night we brought Toby home from the hospital after he was born, Joanna went to sleep and I stayed up with him. He was so tiny, lying there in his car seat (our “crib” for the first couple of nights), staring up at me. I logged onto my iTunes and told him, “Toby, I have something very special to introduce you to. It’s called music.” I tried to think of the most joyous, uplifting, life-affirming song, and “Penny Lane,” with that soaring trumpet, was the first thing that popped to mind. The message seems to have taken. At 3, he can already name all four Beatles, plus which instruments they play.
5. A website or blog I visit regularly: Honestly, I can’t imagine getting through parenthood without Amazon. I do a huge percentage of our kid-shopping (clothes, toys) on Amazon, since we don’t have much time to shop anymore, and the reader reviews are really useful in figuring out which toys and other things that kids will actually love.
6. A product I would recommend to another dad: I’m a big fan of Honest diapers, because they’re green (lots of biodegradable plant-based materials) and stylish (gotta love those diapers with anchors, skulls, and leopard-print). My wife of course insists I only swear by the brand because I have the hots for Jessica Alba, who founded the company. Which I swear I don’t. Honest.
7. A question I hope my kids never ask me: “Was there such thing as music before Lil Wayne, Daddy?”
8. My favorite way to spend a few hours with my son: The Transit Museum in Brooklyn. Like most little boys, Toby is obsessed with buses and trains, and we can spend hours running around all the old-time subway cars from various decades preserved forever in this old subway station.
9. A parenting trick that works for me and not for my wife: I call it the“Rolling Jukebox.” We live in NYC and don’t have a car, but whenever we’re on vacation in L.A., where we have friends and family, I manage to chill Toby out for hours by taking long driving tours of the Hollywood hills or Malibu, rocking out on K-Earth 101, the oldies station there. Even months later, he’ll remember the time we were cranking anthems like “Shake Your Booty” or “California Dreaming.” Sometimes we’ll park the car at the beach and I’ll put him in the front seat, where he loves to lean over and crank up the sound himself. Joanna can’t believe it, since he’s always fidgeting and fussing whenever she drives him anywhere. Maybe she just isn’t turning up the volume loud enough.
10. A myth about modern dads: That we think we look cool and enlightened wearing a Baby Bjorn. We don’t. We do it because we know we must, for the good of the family. But we get really tired of the Zach Galifianakis jokes—especially those of us with beards.
Thanks Alex! Readers, also check out Alex's 8 Confessions of a New Dad on Cup of Jo.
(Image: Joanna Goddard)