I am happy to introduce you to this week’s Smarty Dad, Boris Bunich. And the timing couldn’t be more perfect. Today, Charlotte Smarty Pants celebrates its second anniversary. And we wouldn’t be here today, without Boris’ wife and co-founding smarty, Jennifer Bunich. We are saddened by the lost of this wonderful mother, wife, friend and daughter, but her legacy lives on in Charlotte Smarty Pants, her gorgeous daughter Claire and wonderful husband Boris. We hope that you enjoy getting to know this special and oh so Smarty Dad, Boris.
Being a single parent, how do you do it all?
Even though I am a single parent, I am very lucky to have the help of a lot of family and friends. I am fortunate to have a wonderful relationship with my in-laws and they normally pick Claire up from daycare several times a week which allows me to stay at work a few more hours. On those days, we have dinner together as a family which maintains a lot of traditional experiences for Claire. It also allows her to have a really close relationship with her grandparents which I do not think is always the case when a parent passes away. My own parents also help me out a lot but that happens more on the weekends, which allows me to go out if I need to or get other work-related things done. Additionally, it provides a scheduled opportunity for my mother to continue to remind me about all of the things that I’m doing wrong! I’ve also been dating someone for a while now and she and Claire have developed a close relationship. While I’ve learned in the past year and a half to do so many things with Claire on my own, it is so nice to have someone in my life that can provide me with advice, a second opinion and an “are you really sure that you want to do what you’re about to do” look. Plus, Claire always has a blast with her and that makes me happy.
I know you have an amazing group of friends, tell us how they have become a part of Claire’s life.
Both Jennifer and I had our individual large groups of friends when we met, so I am fortunate to be surrounded by a lot of people who are able to make a very positive impact on Claire in many different ways. One of my best friends and Smarty Dad, Himanshu (or Brown Bear as Claire calls him) is a stay at home dad with two boys and he is a great resource for me. Claire adores him and really likes to show off for him when we all go to the park together. We sit on the sideline and she gets on the monkey bars and yells at the top of her voice “Brown Bear, watch this!” That normally gets a lot of parent heads turning as they try to figure out what’s going on. All of Claire’s “Smarty Pants Aunties” are a great resource as well as they are always full of advice and ideas for me and are always willing to teach me how to deal with a little girl… ponytails, clothing, toys and bows. They even had a separate birthday party for Claire last year so that they all would have plenty of opportunity to celebrate with Claire in their own way. This year, Claire and I were invited to a Halloween party at the advertising agency that Jen worked for and even though Claire is too young to remember a lot of the people there, it warmed my heart to see the smiles on her face and on the faces of so many others there as they got to interact with her and see how much she has grown in the past 18 months.
What has been the most rewarding part of being a dad?
I don’t know if I can pick out just one part, so I’ll cheat and say everything. I love going into her room every morning and watching her wake up and enjoying how warm and snuggly she is when she’s still half-asleep. I love it when I go to pick her up from daycare and how she drops everything and runs toward me at full speed screaming “Daddy…Daddy… Daddy” at the top of her voice when she sees me come in. I continue to be amazed at the healing power of a kiss when she gets a “boo-boo” and I love that every time I ask her what she dreamed about when she wakes up, her answer is always “flowers, butterflies, rainbows and daddy”. I laugh when she’s telling me a story and all of a sudden pauses and says “Daddy, I lost my words” and I am astonished at how quickly all the stress and pressure of being completely responsible for her 100% of the time disappears when she sighs, thinks for a moment and says, “Daddy… I love you”.
What is your favorite place to take Claire for some Daughter/Daddy time?
The racetrack! It’s amazing how often she can pick winners from just looking at a list of horses and we’ve made loads of money together!
What is your favorite activity/place to go with your friends and their children?
We love going to the park. When it is a nice day outside, it’s a great experience to hang out with your friends as our kids play together.
You are a hard core Tar Heel fan, has Claire embraced this obsession?
DEFINITELY… Sure, it took a few extra minutes spent in time-outs until she would recite the entire fight song, but I think it was certainly worth it. I’ve also been really good about making sure that she knows that of the three mice that hang around Cinderella, the one in blue (who does not have a name in the story) is actually a rat and his name is Coach K. I don’t think that there is anything wrong with her learning early on which side of the UNC/Duke rivalry she needs to be on. Other than that, I am really good about providing her with plenty of Tar Heel clothing, toys and paraphernalia and when she turns 10, I am going to teach her how to always complain about the officiating… just like her dad!
What is the funniest thing Claire has ever said to you?
One time, when I woke her up, I was singing a song to her that I made up as she was getting dressed. All of a sudden, she pulled away, crossed her arms, looked at me sternly and said… “Daddy, pipe down, you’re giving me a headache”. While I have yet to determine where she learned the phrase, I am hopeful that her “constructive criticism” was aimed more at the volume of my singing rather than the quality of my voice.
Favorite place to take Claire to dinner?
Claire loves Brixx Pizza on Fairview Road. The food is always good and we always seem to run into someone we know. My favorite times are when we run into someone from her daycare there and the kids hug and act as if they haven’t seen each other in weeks when they just spent nine hours in a classroom together thirty minutes before.
Favorite stay-in activity?
This seems to change every couple of months, but right now, it’s definitely doll houses, dress up and pretend-cooking (Claire… not me). While I have no experience with any of these growing up, I have gotten really good at putting 3000 outfits on a Polly Pockets doll in the span of an hour, playing the part of a prince when she’s Cinderella or taking tasty “bites” out of plastic eggs, chicken wings or cookies.
What’s your biggest challenge right now?
The biggest challenge right now is trying to decide on a school and trying to decide whether to enroll Claire in TK or K next year. Since her birthday is in late July, I’m feeling some stress and getting advice on whether to push her a little bit and go for kindergarten to make sure that she will not be bored or give her an “extra year of childhood” and put her in TK so that she’s not one of the youngest kids in her class. I used the calendar on Charlotte Smarty Pants a couple of weeks ago to find out when school open houses are scheduled and I am trying to gather as much information as possible so that I can make an informed decision rather than resorting to the famous decision-making tool that men have used for generations….. the coin flip.
Thank you Boris, you are one Smarty Dad.
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