Sidewalk Talk with Jon Wilde
Name: Jon Wilde
Occupation: Editor at GQ.com
Children: Esmé (3.5)
What’s your favorite kid-friendly brunch spot in your neighborhood?
In Park Slope, we tend to hit Hugo, where she devours the pancakes and they give her crayons to keep busy. Or Talde, a block farther down 7th Ave., where she gets the tater tots while my wife and I eat things like avocado bao and egg-and-sausage fried rice.
Favorite playgrounds in your area?
We live right next door to Prospect Park, so that's basically our backyard when the weather’s warm. There’s also a few little nooks-and-crannies-type parks in the neighborhood that my daughter’s “school” takes her to. She loves the purple playground, which is called that because it's, well, purple.
What are your children’s favorite activities?
Playdates with friends on Friday, aka Mommy-and-Esmé Day (“Yay!”). Esmé also loves the beach, and will gather every shell in a quarter-mile radius at Jacob Riis or Fort Tilden out in Queens, or favorite shoreline spots. And she gets pretty psyched at the Splashpad in Prospect Park. So do I, since it has burgers and beers
Two foods your little ones are obsessed with?
Carbs and cheese. She’s picky—to the point that she’s started discerning between different brands of string cheese, as if one vacuum-formed cheese product is radically different than the next. Like her dad, she also loves pizza, which she prefers to eat at the “pizza store.” Lollipops are also the most valuable unit of bribe currency in our house.
What three things do you always pack for your child when you go on vacation?
An iPad with Moana, her current obsession. Some kind of tutu-esque dress for dressing up. Snacks. So many snacks. Mountains of snacks.
What are you most strict about when it comes to parenting?
We don’t tolerate whining. Like any kid, Esmé has honed her ability to whine into a deadly weapon, and my wife and I spent (and still spend) a lot of time calmly reminding her that whining is a very quick way to not get what she wants. It's working! Sometimes!
Oh, also, toothbrushing at night. Esmé is a master procrastinator and frustratingly, impressively deft at avoiding it by any means possible. Though considering I turned this questionnaire in two days late, I have only myself to blame, I'm sure.
What’s your favorite way to unwind?
Playing basketball. A Sunday Times crossword. Reading for more than six uninterrupted minutes.
Best daddy hack?
Be very nice to her and do the dishes. (If you want a Dad hack, we have a whole package of them I just edited over at GQ.com!)
What does a day in the life of you and your children look like?
Every day is different. Our week is a hodge-podge of school (M-Thursday), with a different person picking her up each day (Mom, Dad, Claire the babysitter, my parents-in-law). Friday’s are Mommy-and-Esmé days. Weekends we’re all together, unless one of us is traveling for work. If not, my wife and I are trying to make time for each other to get some solo time. So while there’s no real schedule whatsoever, the most average weekend day has Esmé waking up anywhere between 5:30 (brutal) and 7:15 (blessing). She eats, then we all lounge for a while, eating breakfast and watching TV and listening to records or the Disney soundtrack du jour. (My wife taught her to use the record player, and currently Madonna’s Express Yourself album is in heavy rotation.) Esmé still naps, and that shows up anywhere from 11:30 to 2, so while my wife and I love the midday break, it also makes planning the day a pain. We usually don't get out of the house until after, and then it's open season. Park, play date, the book store nearby (Powerhouse on 8th), hanging with friends at the kid-friendly beer garden nearby… the options are endless and ideally involve some day drinking for the adults. Then bedtime starts at 7, and lights are out by 8. Any later, things get…messy.
Favorite rainy day activity…
Dancing and singing along to music. I can CRUSH the Moana soundtrack now.
Funniest thing your children have said to you…
Esmé once turned to my wife, while I was still in bed, and apropos of nothing said, “Daddy is old and I don't like him much. I need to get a new one with more hair.” It's hard out here for a bald man.
One thing you miss about your pre-parenting life…
Spontaneity. Child-having requires a bit more preparation and foresight than is my general nature. Though certainly the act of raising a kid is a 24-7 improv session.
How did you come up with your children’s names?
My wife spotted it in the credits of a movie that neither of us remember. It was fun telling our friends: half had the same reference as us, JD Salinger’s For Esmé, With Love and Squalor novella. The other half immediately said “The mom from Twilight!”, which my wife and I hadn't seen. “Esmé” turned out to be a good way to discern our friends’ tastes.
One thing you'd tell your pre-parent self…
Worry less about taking care of the kid, which will come naturally, and worry more about taking care of yourself and your relationship with your wife. Sane parents, happy kid. .
Favorite bedtime book…
“They All Saw a Cat” by Brendan Wenzel. Full disclosure, he’s a close friend. But it's also a very cool book about perception and the differences between animals. It's sparked a lot of fun conversation between my daughter and I about why the cat looks scary to a mouse but blurry to a fish.
Best tantrum tactic…
Walk away. It’s part self-preservation, part bomb-defusing.
How do you make dad friends?
Very carefully (hey oh!) Dads don't tend to be the best at this—by our late 20s, most guys have frozen their friend squad into place, I find. We’re eighth-grade awkward about exchanging details and making plans together. I’d like to say I've recognized this and become better at it, but truth is that I draft off my wife. Luckily the husbands of my wife’s mom friends have been pretty cool, so my dad-friend circle hasn't stagnated.