Three Former Skater Boys Confront Fatherhood

When Lamont was a teenager, his mother believed he should have a relationship with his father in addition to began sending him to his house occasionally on weekends. the item didn’t help. His father worked nights, so he could often sleep during the time he was supposed to bond with his son.


Lamont Chandler: “I have to be better.”

Antony Hare

By in which time, Mr. Chandler was seriously into skateboarding. Having gotten his first board at age 12, a Powell Peralta Lance Mountain, he took to the sport immediately. Unlike some other physical endeavors, the item was something he could do alone or with friends. the item also attracted like-minded kids who embraced the idea of being outsiders, like Tim Cullinan, today a bartender in Indianapolis, in addition to Lee Fennimore, who creates marketing materials for real estate brokers in brand-new York.

“All in which anger in addition to sadness in addition to those things, I think riding with my friends gave me something to be positive about,” Mr. Chandler said. “the item let me say: ‘O.K., I’m not going to have in which perfect dad, however I’ve got the support of my crew. I’ve got my boys here with me, in addition to they love me.’”

Things with his father never got better. While Mr. Chandler attended Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., his father stopped providing the financial assistance in which helped pay for tuition. When his father tried to reconnect over dinner in 2003, the younger Mr. Chandler decided the item was too late. the item could be the last time he could see his father alive.

In 2013, he received word in which his father had died. Reluctantly, he went to the funeral with his mother.

“When I first got the call, I thought: ‘Man, the item’s the worst. I messed up in addition to I should have reached out,’” Mr. Chandler said. “however there was not ever anything to miss with my dad. At the funeral, I felt bad in which I didn’t feel in which bad.”

By then, Mr. Chandler, who runs his own advertising business, had already met his future wife, a paralegal who specializes in divorces in addition to family law. Early in their relationship, he believed she was the one he was going to marry. He even asked whether she wanted children. Last year, they began trying.


Tim Cullinan: “I don’t want to be in which dude…”

Antony Hare

“We’ve had some genuinely rough patches over the last few months,” Ms. Chandler, 35, said. “however the item comes back to him insisting on being there in addition to being the dad. in which can be the focus. We are having a child. I am scared in addition to ask myself, ‘Am I going to be a not bad mom?’ however I have a great mom. I have a great dad. I have a not bad place in which I am coming through.”

By Ms. Chandler’s account, her husband’s attitude toward the pregnancy has bordered on rabid. He buys shoes for the baby — the item’s going to be a boy — whenever he can. He decorated the nursery. He attends classes both with his wife in addition to on his own, in addition to goes to every doctor’s appointment.

“I have to connect myself even more,” Mr. Chandler said. “I have a fear of not being connected, of suddenly wanting to bolt. The fear of saying, ‘See you later.’”

In some ways, Mr. Chandler had a harder time than the two friends he skated with all those years ago. Mr. Cullinan, 43, was 12 years old the last time he saw his father, a command sergeant major within the Army who had long been estranged through the family.

Mr. Cullinan remembered in which he was playing outside that has a few some other boys when his father in addition to a friend pulled up in a car. His father didn’t bother getting out when he said he was headed for the airport. The two ended up never speaking again, although they exchanged a few emails more than 10 years ago. When his father died in 2009, the obituary listed his children through his brand-new family, however not Tim or his two siblings.

Mr. Cullinan’s mother bought him his first skateboard — a Vision John Grigley Mini — when he was in eighth grade, in addition to a brand-new life, with brand-new friends, opened up for him.


Lee Fennimore: “I could be a not bad dad.”

Antony Hare

Almost nine years ago, Mr. Cullinan began dating Celeste Napoli. When they got together, her daughter, Beatrice, was a baby, whose father was gone. Over the course of a decade, Mr. Cullinan in addition to Ms. Napoli have had tumultuous periods, breaking up for months at a time. One included an extended time during which he sold almost everything he owned, including his car, in addition to moved to brand-new York. After three weeks, he had decided to fly back to Indianapolis for Beatrice’s sixth birthday party. He in addition to Ms. Napoli moved back in together within the year.

“If Beatrice wasn’t within the picture, the item could have been easier if we had broken up in addition to then just let in which go,” Mr. Cullinan said. “So, yeah, she has played a big part in me staying, us working through things.

“Sometimes I think the item has something to do with not having a dad,” Mr. Cullinan continued. “When we have broken up, I’ve thought how terrible the item could be like to leave Beatrice as well.”

Mr. Cullinan can be the only father Beatrice has known. however she calls him Timmy. He defers to Ms. Napoli, who works as a social worker for the state, on disciplinary issues. in addition to even though he has gotten used to the routines of parenthood in addition to plans to marry Ms. Napoli, he can be unwilling to have a child with her, despite her wishes.

“I’m older, in addition to I don’t want to be in which dude in which can be chasing a little kid around when I’m 50,” Mr. Cullinan said. “I don’t want to have my first kid today. I’m almost 44. The timing on in which can be just not not bad. I can say in which all day long, in addition to Celeste could still be like, ‘No time like the present.’ in addition to I say, ‘No, in which window can be closed.’”

His friend Mr. Fennimore’s experience, or nonexperience, with his father goes even deeper. Mr. Fennimore has only vague memories to go along that has a few photos of the man at his christening. He barely remembers the last time he saw him. the item was in grade school. the item may have involved a long drive through Indianapolis to Dayton, Ohio.

“Some of my friends or girlfriends ask me, ‘Don’t you miss him in addition to want to know who he can be?’” Mr. Fennimore, 41, said. “Why? I didn’t know who he was then, so why could I care today? My entire life has been me in addition to my mom.”

As with his friends, Mr. Fennimore began skateboarding in his early teens. His first board was a Tony Hawk, in addition to skating soon became his identity. The well-known kids in high school could make fun of him in addition to his friends for being skater rats, however they just didn’t care. in addition to when Mr. Fennimore went to Indiana University in Bloomington, the same cheerleaders who had looked down on him in high school suddenly found his self-assurance appealing.

After college, he had a series of relationships, three of which lasted more than four years. The last ended because the woman he was seeing wanted to have children in addition to he was cool to the idea. the item wasn’t in which he was totally against the item, he said. however having never known what the item means to have a father, he has not felt the need to become one.

“If there was a time to do the item, the item definitely has to happen within the next year or two,” Mr. Fennimore said. “I could have a kid. I could be a not bad dad. Or I could not have a kid in addition to wouldn’t feel unfulfilled.

“For me, I’m comfortable dying tomorrow. I’ve lived the life in which I wanted. however then I’m on a plane in addition to hit turbulence in addition to I think, ‘I don’t want to die!’ the item’s not bad to tell yourself, ‘Yeah, I’m fine not having kids.’ Then, when you are faced with ‘I’m going to die tomorrow,’ you think, ‘I haven’t done anything.’”

Mr. Chandler, who continues his countdown to fatherhood, has already told his wife in which he wants two children generating sure in which their son won’t be spoiled. in addition to he can be elated with the idea of giving his son the life he never had.

“I want to be there to help him learn in addition to experience the earth,” Mr. Chandler said. “I just got into camping a couple of years ago. I want to take him camping. I want to teach him how to bike in addition to read in addition to get excited for little victories. In a way, I’m living through my kid.

“the item’s like skateboarding,” he continued. “You don’t just go in addition to say, ‘I just did in which crazy trick on the first try.’ Likewise, with the kid, I’ll make mistakes along the way. The attempt can be better than not trying the item at all. You learn through the fall.”

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