Dads worry, cherish fatherhood

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Fathers of today may be more involved in the rearing of their children than fathers of yesteryear–attending Lamaze classes, assisting in childbirth, changing diapers, taking part in, if not completely taking over, night feedings, even cooking breakfast and dinner regularly for their families.

However, one thing remains constant and true with most fathers of years past and those of the present–they all worry about their progeny, especially when they enter the dreaded teenage years.

Looking for advice on what to expect and how to deal with teenagers is Brad Norris, owner of Malibu Health Fitness Center & Spa.

Norris is the father of two young children: daughter, Ashley, 8, and son, Toran, 4. He has about three to four years before he will be in the throes of pre-teenage-hood with Ashley, and, as he said, “It’s going to be scary.”

“She’s a looker,” he said of his little blonde girl.

Norris not only owns his own business, but also puts in heavy time in caring for his children.

“I’m Mr. Mom,” Norris said, who is blonde, fit, and looks 40ish (he declined to give his age, but said he was “old enough.”)

Catie, Norris’s wife of nine years, is a newly “self-employed entrepreneur,” manufacturing and selling therapeutic magnetics, which takes up a lot of her time, traveling and working late, said Norris.

Norris, a California native, spends early evenings with his children, cooking them dinner, until his wife comes home.

“That’s what I love to do. That’s my therapy,” he said. “I get home and I cook for them.”

Norris, whose father died when he was 18-years-old, said he has always envisioned fatherhood.

“I played baseball, and a lot of guys were with dads at the games,” Norris said. “I thought man that must be great, hugging your dad after a victory. My dad used to go the games when I was in high school, before he passed away, and it was great having him in the stands.

“I could see myself going to my son’s games.”

Though he has always seen himself as a father in the future, he didn’t expect it to happen so soon.

“I wouldn’t have minded waiting a little longer,” he said. “We could have traveled a little more.”

In fact, one of the hardest things about fatherhood for Norris is the “lack of free time.”

“You can’t do what you used to do,” he said. “But, even though you don’t have that free time, you’re doing those other experiences that you have with the kids, and so it’s worth it. It’s an even swap.”

“I don’t know if there’s a unique perfect time to do it [have children],” he said. “It almost forces you to be successful.”

While Ashley was a surprise, having Toran was definitely planned.

“We planned it so much that we knew we wanted a boy,” Norris said. “We did all the little things that you do to guarantee that you get a boy, and we got a boy.”

One of the greatest joys Norris has with his children is when he exposes them to a new experience.

“I took my son to his first Dodgers game last night,” Norris described. “His eyes, when he walked in and saw the green field . . . when you see those types of moments, when you’re going to show them something that they’ve never experienced, and you know they’re going to love it and they do love it, that feels great.”

Bill Androlia knows what it’s like to be the father of teenagers. He has two–Adam, 16, who is a state champion archer, ranking 10th in the nation and a 2004 Olympic hopeful, and Whitney, a slender blonde blue-eyed girl of 14.

When Adam and Whitney Androlia speak of their father, it is with excitement and the desire that it be known that their dad is the best. And the smartest. And the least grouchiest of all fathers in Malibu.

Androlia, dressed in an olive-green shirt with matching slacks that set off his own green eyes behind gray-framed glasses, is in his late 50s. Though he describes himself as an “older father,” the twinkle in his eyes show an energy and youthfulness that have not been lost with the responsibility of family and a 60-hour work week as a patent lawyer.

Whitney shifted restlessly as she sat on a square white divan, bursting with desire to talk about her father.

“He’s really cool,” said Whitney, whose passion is dancing and singing. “He always helps with homework and always has a good attitude.”

Androlia shoots a look to his daughter, as if to say that this is not entirely true, that this is not “Leave it to Beaver.”

However, Adam seconds his sister’s assessment of their father.

“He’s the only one [father] that can come home from work and be in a good mood.”

“He’s an inspiration,” said Adam. “I want to end up like dad ended up. He went from nothing to living in the greatest place in the world.”

When not in the presence of his children, Androlia talked about what it is like to be a father of teenagers.

“I’d like to think my teenagers are better than most,” he said. And even at that they’re tough.”

“The thing about teenagers is, you’re not entirely sure what you’re going to get on a daily basis, or an hourly basis–that’s what makes it so tough,” he said.

“It’s constantly changing, and I think this is what drives parents crazy.”

The best part, Androlia said, is that though “they’re teenagers and they say they don’t [love you], they still really do. They love you and they depend on you, and I think that continues through a child’s entire life–that love-dependent relationship.”

Androlia, who also teaches a patent law class part-time at Pepperdine University in addition to his work-week at his law firm Kodah & Androlia in Century City, has from the beginning arranged his life to give the most to his children–making breakfast, helping get their lunches ready and sending them off to school, and making sure to be home to spend the evening with his children before going back to work.

Homework is an area that Androlia reins over.

“He helps them more now because Adam’s classes are beyond me,” said Linda, Androlia’s wife of 33 years, whom he met in grad school.

“Never been stumped,” Bill said of homework problems that the children would come home with.

Not knowing what to expect when having your first child can scare the wits out of most people.

Not Peter McBride, 31, whose first child with his wife Jennifer is due July 9.

“[I’m]] not that nervous,” said McBride. “I think I’m ready for it.”

McBride, who works as a fitness trainer at Malibu Health Fitness Center & Spa, is originally from England, moving to Canada when he was seven. He’s lived in California since 1983, and has lost most of his accent, though on the day of this interview he said his tongue was swollen due to a possible allergic reaction to taking Tylenol.

He and Jennifer, having “definitely planned” their pregnancy, know that they will be having a boy.

“Together, we decided to try to be prepared as we possibly can,” said McBride. “[It’s] such a big life change, that we wanted to get everything ready.”

“We’re pretty much done,” he said of their preparations. “We’re as ready as you can be. We’ve been around my brother-in-law’s son a lot, obviously it’s a whole different ball game when you’re with a child 24-7.”

Their son’s room?

“It’s boyed out–very blue,” said McBride.

Of not knowing what being a father is like, McBride said, “It’s a waiting game at this point.”

“I just hope that he’s a healthy kid,” he said. “The first few months there’s not a whole lot going on. There’s crying, eating and there’s sleeping.”

Really?

“I’m sure there’s more to it than that,” he admits.

McBride, who expects to get a card out of the upcoming Father’s Day, said he is looking forward to taking his son swimming in the ocean, doing the little league thing and going on “little” vacations.

Already he and his wife have a trip planned to go to Hawaii in October when their son will be four-months-old.

“I want him to get used to being mobile,” said McBride.

As far as mentally preparing any further for fatherhood, McBride said that his brother-in-law told him, “It’s a lot of instinct–go with your gut feeling, go with your instincts and you’ll be fine.”

“There’s so many books and magazines–saying do this, do that, and a lot contradict each other,” McBride said. “I think when we get the baby home, then we’ll come up with a plan. I don’t think you can set out a game plan before that time.”