If you’re going to San Francisco


Emmeline and I were on the afternoon show View from the Bay yesterday — right after a segment with Joan Rivers. You have no idea how difficult it was not to bag on her outfit.

I can’t seem to make the video embed here, and after a billion attempts, I’m chalking it up to a problem with their web site, not my skills.

So here’s the link to the segment if you want to check it out.

We were on to talk about a few out-of-the-way, fun, cheap things to do in San Francisco with kids. The segment was live and filmed at the Seward Street Slides, which you may remember caused some serious familial discord. But we made it out alive this time and I think Emme did a fantastic job, despite the fact that she talked the whole way over to the shoot about finally getting a chance to sing “Defying Gravity” on TV. Seriously, for half the interview, I was waiting for a tiny voice to hit full stride and take over.

In retrospect, that would have been a whole lot more awesome. Because I always forget that the show trots me out there and then tries to make me feel like a miserable man for staying home while my wife goes to work. Here I thought we would talk about cool things to do with kids if you’re in town, and then I get hit by the stay-at-home dad questions. I should have known they were coming. But I’m basically a moron.

I looked at the video later and was surprised to hear that I was at least semi-coherent, because I don’t really remember what I said. I remember saying something about Colonialism and remember cringing when I said it, but I was grasping at straws. But then I got home and it didn’t turn out half as badly as I thought it would. Thanks, Jeremy Adam Smith, for writing a fantastic book on the history of fatherhood — it totally saved my ass.

There’s a French phrase called esprit d’escalier that translates roughly to “wit of the staircase” but basically means you think of better things to say later, after the conversation has already taken place. Anyone ever cut you down and you just stood there, fumbling for the words only to remain silent and then think of something brilliant to say afterward? That’s what it means.

If I had it to do over and was faster on my feet, I’d answer the question about “how do I juggle it all?” with something along the lines of this: It’s not rocket science. We try to do fun things every day and we try to learn something new every day. I squeeze in work when I can and enjoy hobbies when I can. Everyone “juggles.” When I was young and single, I juggled work and friends and softball and hangovers. Now I’ve chosen to juggle different things and try to have as much fun as possible doing it.

The question about throwing my wife “over my shoulder” and heading out to work was just … odd. Do they expect men to carry around clubs and hunt animals? Maybe make neat minimalist cave drawings in the apres-meat hours of evening? It was such an odd question that at first I thought he was joking, and only later did I realize what he was trying to get at: I’m a man — shouldn’t I be the one at work?

It’s nearly been four years now since I started staying home with Emme and the bottom line is, this works for our family. Not all the time, but most of the time. Seriously, I fucking sew and listen to show tunes and mourn the end of the Girlmore Girls and watch Parenthood religiously only because Lauren Graham (whom I still call Lorelai) is in it. If you’re looking for someone to comment on the role of males in whatever century we’re in (I also get confused with numbers), then you’re asking the wrong guy. We’re happy and what else is there?

I really hoped these questions didn’t take away from the tips on cool things to do in San Francisco with kids. I get emails all. the. time. asking about fun, cheap things to do here and genuinely wanted to share some of our favorite hot spots. I’ll be doing more of these in the future and next time, I’ll be more prepared. And make sure the kid gets a chance to sing.


  1. Mike, thanks so much for sharing your ideas (we’re off to SF next month and I have forwarded the video to our friends there to contribute to the planning process).

    The guy doing the interview was a douche. No man, I did not think I was seeing double because you both shave your head. (sigh) Maybe he thought the other cavemen watching would be confused, but I wasn’t. I give you credit for not walking away at That Very Moment.

    See you at the slides ! I’ll be the one cringing and covering my eyes and trying not to vomit while my kids have the time of their lives (or sustain traumatic brain injuries – either way it’s going to be memorable).

  2. Thanks for the kind words — and I hope it helps for the trip planning!

    The weird thing is he’s a really nice guy. I actually enjoy his segments. But I think he was reaching for the low-hanging fruit, and who knows, maybe he was told to ask something like that and it came out all odd. Still, a little thought next time would be nice. Anyway, I think for the most part it turned out OK — and I’m sooooo glad you found it useful for planning. That’s exactly what I was hoping for.

  3. debinsf says:

    Possible he’s feeling the same things you were (like “what the MF did I just say?!”). Perhaps he was feeling a bit intimidated by a man who does what feels right and owns it. I’d be surprised if not. One of the things that gives me the most joy about this town is that everyone lives the life they need to, the life they love and no one looks twice.

    I thought you sounded great and your girl was stunning, as always.

  4. Amanda B says:

    That was a painful part of the interview, no doubt about it. Does he also think that we shouldn’t drive or vote too? Yeesh. That said, I agree with Debinsf, maybe he is cringing about that wondering why in the world he said such a moronic thing. I have those moments where I am saying something and realize that its going to be taken the wrong way and yet I can’t stop myself from saying it, or the question comes out of my mouth before my mind can edit it. Let’s just hope that that was the case for him. You handled it all very well and kudos to Emmeline – my son wouldn’t have sat in my arms that long while I chatted with someone. No way no how!

  5. Christa says:

    Well the pictures of Emme snorkeling and in the pool finally have Connor convinced to start swim lessons on Monday. (She is one whole week younger and already swims.) I wish I had known about the Hotel Nikko pool when we still lived in San Francisco. What a deal. I also wish you hadn’t reminded me that the Gilmore Girls are over. I am now despondent and no amount of fast talking and wise cracking at my 15 month old can pull me out of it. He just lacks Rory’s vocabulary.

  6. Yeah, that guy was a little douchey. But you came off really well, and the activities you mentioned look like a lot of fun. (Also, you looked really butch. No one would guess you listen to show tunes.) I can’t wait to take my kids to San Francisco!

  7. I adore Parenthood! If I could only watch one show in the world, that would be it. And since I’ve read Gilmore Girls quotes in your posts I was wondering if you watch it!

  8. I wasn’t really sure what you looked like until now. You two are adorable! Wow.

  9. I don believe I have posted but once before, but I have read here alot. I find you to be an amazing writer. Entertaining, and funny. A fantastic father. One I wish I could instill in my husband. Patience and love towards a child is so very hard to find in a man these days and I envy your wife. Does she know how lucky she is? Proably not! It is a hard job to stay home and run a household and raise a child. You do a remarkable job from what I can see and read. Your daughter is beautiful. Your blog is fantastic, if you want to see sad, check out MY blog…B-O-R-I-N-G! I don’t have time to post pictures and articles, let alone all the unique info that you do, so I just pop on over to your sight every once in a while! You are the bomb! Keep up the good work, both blogging and parenting.

  10. Great tips and great show!

  11. Please don’t let those questions make you feel bad about what you do, not for a single second. I read you almost every day. I talk about you to other Dads that I see on the playground. I tell them that it can work and I direct them here. Seeing how much you love your daughter and how much fun you have with her helped me to decide to have a child of my own. Your daughter will have first-hand knowledge that stereotypes regarding men and women’s roles and presumed disparities in the ability to raise children are wrong, just wrong. You are a gift to her. I hope to make enough money doing this job I love to allow my husband the same opportunities with our own children. Don’t let that doubt eat at you.

  12. Kim aka Mama Sxia says:

    Hey, Mike,

    I’m at home with my kids right now, while looking for work. (Actually, right now, Daddy is tucking in my 3 1/2 y.o. blondie.) You give me hope that it’s not just a woman’s role to stay home with the kids, but that it’s perfectly okay for me to go out and work, and that if the day comes where I make the big bucks and my husband wants to stay at home, we won’t be the oddballs. Okay, we won’t be the ONLY oddballs. :)

  13. That guy was definitely ad-libbing and came off the worse for it. Seemed like he was surprised by the conservative babble he was spewing as well. I’m so taking my kid to those slides next time we’re out that way. Think a daring toddler can handle it?
    And at least now I know I’m not the only one who still calls her Lorelai. *stands up* My name is Diana and I’m a Gilmore-aholic.

  14. Mike,
    You were awesome. Well spoken, easy going. Emme, was as always, adorable & so mellow!!! Little would not have been able to keep her mouth shut that long, NO WAY.

    LOVED the Colonial times comment. And, IDK, what the heck he was saying w/the “throwing the wife over the shoulder” thing, WHA?!? Not only inappropriate, um, did you not notice what city you were in dude? He just looked like as arce at best & you came across as a lot nicer than you had to be. Great info, will be stealing from you soon.

    Are you familiar w/the Frommer’s walking tours? I have a set of cards, of ones for in SF to do w/kids. Supposed to be my push to get up there more & take the kids exploring, but my back hasn’t cooperated on that front yet. Just curious, bet they’d comp you a set so you’d take the walks.

  15. I’m still so unfamiliar with SF – and especially with kid-friendly SF! So thanks for the hidden gems. Bizarre interview to say the least, but you’re right. He went for the easy questions. And you handled it like a champ.

  16. Kathleen says:

    Must watch clip and read the comments later, but I have to comment now- “wit of a staircase” – thank you for giving me a phrase for something I suffer from far too often!

  17. You did a great job even though the guy interviewing you asked some really dumb questions.
    And I’d love to see your daughter sing! My little one is stuck on Michael Buble songs right now –her mother got her into it I swear…!

  18. If only I had a greenback for every time I came here… Incredible post.

  19. I actually thought the twin thing was kinda funny.


  1. Isaacsdad says:

    Summer trip? Planned. Thank yuo!

  2. Karen says:

    You sounded great and yes, you were dressed OK. (But just OK, dude put on a non-crappy shirt every now and then?) E is amazing and did such a great job, and now I have to come to SF to see the slides and the pool! Nice job to you both.

  3. [...] you can’t make it to one of the readings, we’ll be on View from the Bay on Tuesday June 15 to chat up the book. And if you can’t tune into that, well then [...]