Atlanta Parent talked with Al Stilo, Director of Sales & Marketing at Aurora Theatre and father to Dominic, 16.
What new activity have you and your family started enjoying during this time?
My wife and I had started to take these walks, using parks and trails that weren’t heavily populated and exploring Gwinnett County’s parks. There’s a lot of natural beauty and history here to explore. My son got a little jealous of the fun we were having and wanted to take walks with us. He’s gotten into more fitness during this time.
How are you balancing working at home with home/family responsibilities?
It’s tough. I wouldn’t say that I was really good at balancing before the pandemic. Working for a nonprofit, I wear a lot of hats, working on nights and weekends. Being teacher and principal with his mom is tough. We’ve been really flexible with him on not having to keep school hours. He’s decided that he’s working on the second shift. He is doing all his work in the afternoon and evening, and then staying up all night and going to bed in the wee hours. Being able to keep him somewhat on task is a give and take.
Do you have any meals that are your specialty?
I love cooking. I’ve reassumed the role of meal planner and chef of the family. It’s been fun. I’m of Italian heritage. I’ll make all kinds of Italian dishes: pasta, eggplant, chicken, chicken piccata, everything. I can make a really great jambalaya, which is great to make on the weekend, and portion it out and have it for lunch on different days. Our dishwasher’s never worked harder in my house, since we’re there for three meals a day. If we get carry out, we try not to go to big chains. We’re trying to make sure that we’re supporting local businesses.
Any funny dad/kid(s) moments from this time?
We have a Fire Stick in the living room, which is connected to my son’s YouTube account. I was watching John Krasinski’s show. He’s like, ‘Dad, I don’t want things like this on my YouTube browser.’ So of course, I look up “Barbie Girl,” karaoke tracks from “Grease,” anything that might be embarrassing to a teenager that his not-shy dad can use to embarrass him. That was fun—he hated every minute of it.
He’s very fidgety. He has lots of energy and now he’s cooped up, he’s constantly making beats with his hands. We have three cats, and they think he’s playing. The cats will fly out of nowhere and attack his hands. When he emerges from his room, he’ll say, ‘I need somebody to get the cats, so I can get a glass of water,’ because he’s become a giant cat toy.
How do you plan to celebrate Father’s Day?
I hope there’s some kind of sporting event. I’m a big sports fan. MMA is coming out, and golf and racing start this month, so I’m hoping one of the sports that I really like will be doing something by then.
Any other advice for dads during this time?
Not to be too hard on yourself. We’re certainly not perfect. Being cooped up together, while we love each other, we also know how to push each other’s buttons. There is no pretense with the people you share a house with. There’s going to be conflict. I think the big thing is you just have to own up to those moments and ask for forgiveness. It’s easier to say I’m sorry to someone else than yourself, and it’s easier to continue to beat yourself up. You’re going to make mistakes, but have the good moments outweigh the bad.