It’s Smarty Dad Saturday and I am happy to introduce one of the coolest dads in town! Meet Richard Jones. Richard is a stay-at-home dad in South Charlotte to three boys, Rich (15), Ben (13) and Rocket (yeah, really, 8!). Richard is co-founder of a hysterical new dad’s blog, http://www.adudesguide.com/. You need to share this site with your hubbies – these guys are a hoot!
What inspired you to create www.adudesguide.com?
I think most of the credit should go to my co-founder and the Big Idea Man of adudesguide.com, Barry Ozer. Barry and I have been friends for a long time, since we moved to Charlotte, really. He and I were talking about all the stuff we missed out when we became parents. We missed out on playing with dolls, so we had no idea how to change a diaper until we were faced with the real, stinky thing. We missed out on learning how to dress someone else other than ourselves in a way that didn’t cause gales of laughter in our wakes. And then Barry had an eco-friendly lightbulb go off over his head. We headed out of town for a weekend and wrote a book called “A Dude’s Guide to Babies,” detailing all the quick and dirty tricks of the trade we’ve learned over the years and wish someone had told us when we started. Adudesguide.com is an extension of that work.
What do you hope dads/dudes will get out of it?
Well, Barry and I are really hoping we’ll be able to form a community of dads, firstly, and just regular dudes as well — a group that will offer support and encouragement as we men venture into one of the scariest worlds ever: life, marriage and kids. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.
What is your favorite part about being a stay-at-home dad?
All right, I know it’s a cliché, but my favorite part of being a stay-at-home dad is that I get such a rush out of hearing them call for me. When my three little dudes come home from school, they open the door and the first word out of their mouths is, “Dad!” I get to see them smile so wonderfully, and, sure, a lot of that is because they are happy to see me. Their energy, innocence (more in my youngest dude than his older brothers, of course), wonder about the world is just fantastic to see.
How did you meet other stay-at-home dads?
Actually, I didn’t. For the most part, I’ve met women in my time as a stay-at-home dad. While the numbers are growing, there really aren’t that many of us around that we can run into each other a lot. That’s one reason I hope adudesguide.com really takes off. I want to help create a place where dudes can get together and talk with each other and learn from each other. We’re a sparse breed, we stay-at-home fathers, so we need to connect however we can.
Did you ever think about going for the “fourth” to add some pink to your fam of all boys? (I ask this because I used to get this all the time with two girls – and now I have twin boys, go figure!)
Yeah. In fact, our youngest dude, Rocket, was supposed to be our girl (but don’t let him know that because he gets a little weirded out when he hears it). My wife — the wonderful Alyse — is an obstetrician/gynecologist, so you’d think she would have some insight on how to make sure we had a girl. Well, she had plenty of insight. Unfortunately, we had plenty of y chromosomes. After Rocket was born, we thought about having another, but we figured we’d probably end up with twin boys and the thought of five was a bit much for us.
What is a typical day like in the Jones household?
A typical day in the Jones household starts around 6 a.m. That’s when I get up with my oldest dude, Rich, to help him get ready to head off to 9th-grade at Myers Park. By the time he’s out the door, it’s time for me to wake up Alyse — the hardest working and best ob/gyn in Charlotte — so she can get ready for work and then I have to go dynamite my middle son, Ben, and my youngest son, Rocket, out of bed. To say they’re heavy sleepers would be an understatement. They both ride the bus, Ben to Carmel Middle and Rocket to Olde Providence Elementary, so once they’re off, I’m headed to the gym. I’ve signed up for a couple of triathlons this year, thanks to the encouragement of my wife, despite the fact that I hate running and can’t swim worth a lick. Yeah, I never said I was smart. After that, I do whatever errands need to be done and then try to get some writing done. I used to be a newspaper reporter and PR flack before we had kids so I still like to keep in practice. (You can see some of my work at http://web.mac.com/rjones64/iWeb/Site/JonesWorld.html The dudes start getting home around 3 p.m. and from then on it’s homework and after-school activities, like tutoring and sports and music lessons. Sometime in there I have to make dinner and then we get to relax a little before it’s time for bed. That’s probably my favorite time of the day, since I get to read with my little dude. Up until a couple of years ago, I still read to my two oldest every night, choosing a book that was a bit beyond their reading level, but they outgrew it. Now Rocket and I are doing the same thing. I only hope he’ll last as long as they did.
What is your favorite activity with your family?
If you’re talking active activity, it’s probably going scuba diving. All five of us are certified scuba divers and we love to go out and get under as much as possible. The best part is when we come up from a dive and all the dudes can talk about is what they saw and how cool it was. I love seeing the excitement in their faces and hearing the joy in their voices.
What is your favorite restaurant with kids?
My favorite restaurant with the kids used to be the Mellow Mushroom. My whole family had a protracted period of mourning when that chain closed down. I guess now it would be Romano’s Macaroni Grill. It’s open and loud enough no one notices my dudes making noise and there’s enough food to satisfy my boys as well as give us some leftovers for later. Plus, I get to draw on the tabletop. Too bad they won’t let me take my artwork home. I’ve got a great place for it on the fridge.
Funniest thing your kids have ever said or done?
My kids make me laugh all the time, but mostly at jokes I really can’t repeat on a family website. They’re boys. They think jokes about fecal matter are the height of wit and sophistication. And, um, so do I. Well, not the height, really, but still funny. One incident I can pass on: Alyse had gone on a trip and received a travelers pack, full of useless stuff like an extra toothbrush, a sleeping mask and other bits and pieces. My youngest dude, of course, had to have it. The other night I went into his room and found him racked out and wearing the sleeping mask with the pretty flowers on it. I had a hard time getting out of his room before I exploded with laughter.
What is your favorite date night spot?
My favorite date night spot would have to anywhere as long as I’m with my wife, the wonderful Alyse. She really is my rock in this life. After I had a heart attack in 2004, she was there to push me into recovery and make sure I actually did what I was supposed to. She actually sees me for who I can be and loves me for who I am. I can not spend enough quality time with her. Heck, I’ll even go shoe shopping with her, although I won’t like that part very much, I’ll tell you.
Favorite family vacation?
My favorite family vacation would have to be Florida. Both Alyse and I lived in Florida for a long time and we both still have relatives who live there. We love heading to Crescent Beach, just south of St. Augustine, where my dad has a beach house. It’s close enough that we can visit my mom in Gainesville, and her brother in Melbourne. We get to play on the beach and then hit under for some quality scuba time. If forced, I’ll also take the kids to DisneyWorld. What, you ask, Richard hates DisneyWorld? Yes, but I’m well justified in that and it’s a long story. Trust me.
Favorite park in Charlotte?
My favorite park would be the William R. Davie Park, off SF 51. It’s right next to my house and it’s wide open. My dudes, when they were younger, used to love running around and acting up crazy on the play structure. We explored the woods behind the park and lost many a remote-controlled plane in the trees near the soccer field.
I could not live without my…
I couldn’t live without my family, corny but true. My dudes and Alyse give me work and pleasure, fun and agony, fear and delight. On a slightly more venal plane, I need my computer and internet access — it’s how I keep up with the world. Plus, how else would I find my daily requirement of Mentos in Diet Coke videos?
Thanks, Richard! We love the concept of a place for dads to connect. You guys are onto something oh-so-Smarty!