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Our next Awesome Dad is Andrew Cremeans.

Let me try to connect the dots on how I know Andy. He is married to Courtney, who’s mom, Judy, is best friends with my mom Debbie. My brother and I grew up with Courtney and her family before they moved down to Florida. That’s where Andy and Courtney met and later got married. I’ve not spent a ton of time in person with Andy but I consider him a good friend because whenever we are together, we can shoot the breeze like no one’s business. Plus, I think we’re both big kids so we have that. He’s one of the most talented artists that I’ve ever met and and he created an awesome logo for a video gaming business I had over 10 years ago.

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. My name is Andrew Cremeans, I was born in Huntington, WV and moved to Tampa, FL when I was 11.  I have a beautiful wife named Courtney and beautiful daughter named Keira. My wife and I are high school sweethearts and she has been my best friend ever since.

I made video games for a living for 12 years for companies like Disney, Nickelodeon, Mattel, and THQ (I was a Production Artist and then later Senior Art Director). After the video game industry imploded in 2008, I moved over to freelance work where I’ve been doing work for a lot of bands, making apps and doing production design for Disney Imagineering. I have also been a Youth Pastor for almost 10 years, which keeps me young at heart and I have taught Drawing and Photoshop in college.

2) How long have you been a father? A little over three years.

3) What’s your all-time favorite video game? Why? This is a little difficult because it’s tough to take out the ‘wild-eyed wonder of youth’ out of the equation. There was something about the NES coming out when I was around 8 or 9 years old that was a spiritual kismet for me. I will probably have to say that collectively I spent more hours on the first three Super Mario Bros. games than I have with all other games combined. I was kind of obsessed with them.

I would play NES games in my room (while my Mom thought I was sleeping) until 3am. When it’s in the wee hours of the morning, Castlevania can get kind of scary when you are a 9-year-old. Even the first Legend of Zelda could get spooky with the music and that little chime it makes when you find a hidden door or cave. *shudder* Being a little bit scared made me want to do it more.

Recently, combining almost all my favorite things into one, Rock Band 1, 2 and 3 have started to catch up with Mario for hours collected.

4) Do you still play video games? What games are you playing right now?

I do. Funny thing is, I know it’s not really ‘cool’ anymore to play Rock Band. I know its time has passed for many people, but it was the first game that my wife and I loved TOGETHER. Unless you marry a gamer, you are kind of stuck playing games while your wife is doing something else. My wife and I absolutely love music, it’s a HUGE part of our life. She is a singer, and I play drums and we have a drink or two and have Rock Band nights that are almost like date nights at home. I’m pretty sure we kept Harmonix in business for a while. We have close to 1,200 songs downloaded.

I also got really into the Left 4 Dead and Gears of War games for quite a while because all of my gamer friends all over the country were playing it multiplayer and we would all have a few beers and play on Xbox Live together.

When I was in the thick of my game design years, we had to play EVERYTHING just to see what other people were doing. Even Nintendo Wii and DS games. It ended up burning me out when it comes to the standard fare of what is being made today. You can only play so many post-apocalyptic first person shooters before it all starts becoming tiresome.

5) What video game systems do you currently own? For Christmas, we pulled the trigger on an Xbox One. I know there is a lot of debate about the two consoles, but Xbox has always been good to me. It is familiar. I absolutely love the system and all the trimmings, although I’m kind-of-mostly-using it for movies and music while I’m sitting around waiting for games to come out.

I still have all my old consoles strewn about my closet space too. I had a party a few years back where we pulled out the N64 and Mario Karted it up.

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6) What’s your favorite activity to do with your kid? My daughter LOVES parks and playgrounds. She would run for 3 hours straight if we’d let her. It’s fun to just let her loose and watch her have fun. It’s also fun to draw together. I love watching her work out the concept in her mind and try as hard as she can to translate it to paper.

7) What’s the best part about being a dad? I think I’m a pretty loving guy and I am surrounded by a lot of love so I thought I understood all aspects of love. The time since my daughter was born I have learned a completely new concept and definition of love that no one could have described to me. It’s like describing a color you’ve never seen without using other colors as reference.

Watching her learn new things on her own and then repeat them to us later is the greatest. She’ll say certain things or do certain things where my wife and I just have to laugh and say “Where did you hear that?” She’s currently acting out all the musical numbers from Disney’s Frozen, including the hand gestures and dance moves.

8) What has been the worst part about being a dad? A good RIDICULOUSLY outweighs the bad.

I suppose it’s getting myself worked up in the hypotheticals that has been the worst for me. It started when my daughter got hurt for the first time and had to get stitches. It was the first time I had the thought, “Oh no, things are going to happen to her without my ability to prevent it.”

I read a lot of news and hear all kinds of horrible stories about accidents involving children or sick people hurting kids and it just makes me sick to my stomach. It makes me feel like I want to build a huge dome around her and protect and shelter her from the world-at-large but I know that can’t happen. I just love her so much that it hurts to think about her ever not being happy and healthy.

Also, playgrounds at the mall are little chunks of hell on earth. Almost every time we go, there are kids three times her size that just plow through and knock other kids over while their indifferent parents sit and play on their smartphones. Nothing gets you pissed off at other parents more than taking your kid to a playground at a mall.

9) What’s your best advice for new dads? Well, I can start with advice for expectant dads.

My wife and I were trying on and off to have children for 7 or 8 years. When we finally got news that we were going to be parents, it was one of the happiest days of my life. Up to the point of the delivery day, I had only heard stories of people saying things like “The first time I saw my son’s face, it was the greatest moment of my life.”  Or “The second my child was born, I knew that my life was complete.” It sparked visuals of the heavens opening up and shining beam of light coming down on you and your child and everything is perfect with everything.

When my daughter was born, she was breached so there was a quick, almost panicked C-section that happened. Everything happened so fast that I was spun for a loop. There wasn’t time to really savor the moment. They handed us the baby, we took a picture, and then they whisked her away to clean her up. I felt light-headed and almost confused.

By the time we go up to our room and had the baby there with us, I started to feel REALLY guilty that I didn’t have this miraculous, heaven sent, life changing bond with my daughter. I had waited for 7 years, why didn’t I feel it? I didn’t know what was wrong with me, because everything I ever heard before that was “You’ll know what love is when they hand you that child.”

I’m here to tell you that it’s normal to feel both ways. Within a month or two I started to feel all the things that people had been saying and more. I think that a lot of parents project their feelings for their grown kids onto the moment of birth, as opposed to the gradual feelings of love that come over time. Don’t sweat it if you don’t IMMEDIATELY feel an eternal bond with your baby, because it will come very soon.

As far as fathers that already have kids over the age of 14 months or so… (as frustrating as it is), do NOT get mad at your kids for not being an adult. That is why they are called “kids.”

We tend to project adult thought processes on children because we already know the results of specific actions. Since we apply reason to our decisions as grown ups, we tend to think kids are doing things with a specific purpose.

If your kid dumps a cup of juice on their head, it’s because they want to know what the result is. We tend to get mad because of the mess but also because we forgot that we learned the same way.

A kid sees a toy in a package; he wants to open it because it’s a toy. He doesn’t understand that it’s your vintage Luke Skywalker mint on card from 1983. You really don’t have a right to be mad when he rips it open (unless he’s a little older and told not to repeatedly). Not touching toys is an adult concept.

Deadlines for work are a ridiculously adult concept that kids do not understand. We can’t be mad when they don’t understand why you are trying to get work done.

Try to remember that you are an adult, and they aren’t. They are learning. Be patient.

You can visit Andy’s website at http://www.andrewcremeans.com to see his awesome work.

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