(Photo courtesy of EJ Shramek)
Q1: “What is your best quality as a father?”
EJ: “There are so many answers that come to mind for this. Patient, compassionate, understanding, and nurturing were the qualities that all popped into my mind, and NONE of them are accurate representations. I would have to say, if anything, ‘dedicated’ would be my best quality. I know I will be impatient more often than not. Compassionate, understanding, and nurturing are laughable at best because I’m truly just not wired that way. My wife blames the Army for it, but it’s just how I have always been, I guess. I was raised ‘old-school’ and I plan to raise my kids the same way. I’m well aware that this is a pipe dream, but I’m holding on to my naivete. The one thing that I can guarantee is that I have always been, and will always be, dedicated. Rain or shine, sick or healthy, frazzled or calm, I will always be there for my kids and put them first. If they need a shoulder to cry on or a boot firmly lodged betwixt their cheeks, I’ll be there. That dedication is who I am in this role.”
Q2: “What is your daughter’s best quality?”
EJ: “She is so very young, but that little girl’s strength and spirit are her best qualities. From the moment she entered this world, she has been unbelievably strong. She held her head up by herself a day or two after being born and has not stopped getting stronger since. She tries to do something (laugh, giggle, roll over, whatever) and gets SO frustrated that she can’t do it. I watched this little girl try to laugh and get visibly pissed that it wasn’t happening. She spent the next hour grunting, groaning, coughing, smiling, and willing herself to push forward until she finally did it. Then, she tried to do it again. She’s still working on it, but that spirit is something I wish I could say she got from me. I can say, for sure, that it’s all her own.”
Q3: “What do you foresee would be the most difficult challenge about having a daughter?”
EJ: “That same spirit I just talked about is going to be PURE HELL for me for the rest of her life. My God, I just developed stress ulcers thinking about it. That may not be the most difficult thing having a daughter will bring, but I’m already exhausted picturing it. I would say that having this girl is a cosmic punishment for all the things I’ve done with regards to women in my younger years. Telling her not to do X, Y, and Z, or let boys treat her in certain ways, will probably be the most difficult challenge. That gut check moment of ‘I know, because I was the little turd doing these things I’m warning you about’ will be challenging, for sure.”
Q4: “What are the top 3 lessons you hope to teach Aria?”
EJ: “Top 3 lessons? First will be do what you have to do so that you can do what you want to do. That is the best thing my father ever taught me, and my daughter needs it just as much as I did (and still do). We all have those days when all we want is to be sitting on the couch, eating horrible food, and binge-watching something on Netflix (completely unaware that it was cancelled in the middle of Season 4 and you’ll NEVER get any closure). The problem with that is that every empire requires funding, especially yours. Go to work and get your money FIRST so that you can do exactly that. Have a hobby? GREAT! Provide for yourself so you can enjoy that hobby.
Next would be to make your decisions and own your actions. You will fail, you will mess up, and you will succeed. It doesn’t matter what it is: make the decision and own what you do. The only thing worse than making a bad decision is not making a decision at all. I would rather have her make a bad decision and get some experience than have indecision keep her from living life and taking risks. As far as owning her actions, it just makes life easier in every way.
Hunt the good stuff. Life won’t be easy, and sometimes it’s downright crushing. You will never get through it if you only focus on the negative. When life gets hard, you have to hunt the good stuff. Positivity solves so many issues and gives you new perspective on the terrible situations you’ll find yourself in. Finding that one good thing in a sea of bad makes it so hard for anything or anyone to steal your joy.”
Q5: “Do you have a funny story about your daughter that you’d like to share?”
EJ: “A few days ago, I was laying in bed while holding my daughter up and talking to her. If I’m being honest, I was holding her hands and acting out a scene from ‘Black Dynamite’ and using her as a puppet. (If you haven’t seen it, you need to. Don’t fight it.) She smiled for about 17 seconds, then decided she was over daddy’s mess. Instead of crying or fussing, she just looked at everything but me. I moved around to be in front of her and she would turn her head the other way. No matter what I did, she refused to look at me. She even closed her eyes if she didn’t have a way out. I was AMAZED at how she was acting, and I told her, ‘You’re your mother’s child. Petty to the core.’
She stopped, turned her head to face me, and giggled for the first time in her life. That true Pampers commercial baby giggle. The one you can watch a thousand YouTube videos of and never get tired of them. My night was made. Until I realized that she was laughing at me. I realized she was being petty as HELL and, when I called her on it, she made sure to laugh literally in my face. ‘Giggle giggle, so you MAD?’ I was hurt, but it was hilarious. Top 5 moments with her so far.”