“She was different,” says Punk & Poet Scotty Stopnik, when asked to recall his first memory of his wife Lindsay. “She dressed different, acted different and made my heart flutter.” We at Stance share the same fluttery feeling when we think of "different." Because in our overly Instagrammed world, where much of what we see is cookie cutter and exceptionally unexceptional, there’s nothing more refreshing than a break in the grid. We’re drawn to those who live life on their terms, and revel in doing so.
In this series, we take a look at families who inspire us with their differences, families whose unconventional makeups and unorthodox style of parenting, we believe, redefine the word. Gone are the days of a mother, a father, two children and a dog neatly wrapped up in a suburban home being the standard of what a family should look like. Families aren’t black and white, they’re technicolor, and in the case of the Stopniks, they come with four kids, five chickens, one cat and a tortoise.
The Stopnik tribe, Scott and Lindsay, both aged 32, along with their four children, Rosie Pai, aged seven, Izzy Pai, aged six, Goldie Pai, aged four, and Sid Vin, aged one, their cat Wizard, turtle, Tortellini, chickens Rainbow, Lovey, Lil Fella, Blossom and Daisy, are our definition of a modern family. Saturday mornings in the Stopnik home aren’t your standard cartoons and cereal before soccer practice. They often spend them together, selling wares at flea markets and you'll see their front drive obscured by a cement skate ramp, in lieu of a minivan. Scott and Lindsay are proof that there are no hard and fast rules to parenting, that being a parent doesn’t mean growing old, but growing with your children, and making sure to enjoy yourself along the way.
We caught up with Scotty, the man behind Southern California’s Cycle Zombies, wheel enthusiast, and all around cool dad, and asked him to share a bit about falling in love, and raising kids his own way.
Question: First things first, can we get a brief account of your and Lindsay’s love story?
When I was thirteen years old, I was over at a friend’s house and her friend was there jumping on the trampoline. This is where I first remember meeting Lindsay Pai. I remember looking at this girl and feeling weird in my stomach, kind of like when you jump off the roof of a house, a butterfly effect in your gut. A few days later, I am hanging out at the same house, and Lindsay dresses me up as a girl, and kisses me on the cheek. Fast-forward two years later, I’m fifteen years old. I invite her and her brother over to my family’s house for a summer Fourth of July block party. We hang out the whole day. When she goes home that night, I remember telling my mom, "I’m gonna marry that girl." She went home and told her mom, "I’m going to marry that boy." We became best friends, and at 21 years old, we got married.
"Now, at thirty-two years old, we have four kids, five chickens, one cat and a tortoise-and she still is my best friend."
Question: There’s this idea that parents are out of touch with what’s culturally cool or relevant--your family debunks this notion. How do you see yourself in this?
I think people who have kids think that they, themselves, have to grow up and can’t do anything fun with their kids. It’s all about sharing the things you love with your kids, and learning from them.
Question: With the world currently as it is, what values do you find most important to share with and instill in your children?
The Bible, love everyone, be a free bird, and don’t skate mongo.
Question: What is something your parents taught you that you’ve taken and passed down to your own offspring?
Riding the kids up and down the street on the front of my motorcycle. My dad would do that with all of my brothers and sisters, and I do it with my kids. A difference would be that our kids don’t really watch any TV, maybe some Bob Ross paint shows occasionally.
Question: Toughest thing about parenting so far?
Having to say no when it’s easier to say yes.
Question: Most rewarding?
Watching them grow up.
Question: Difference in parenting styles between mom and dad?
I’m sometimes the fifth kid. Mom has patience and is very good communicating with hungry, tired children. I find it easier to close the door..
Question: What are some family traditions unique to the Stopniks?
Sano Beach days, front yard skate/taco night, Sunday dinners at my parents. And the girls helping me sell at antique flea markets.
Question: Ways you take time out for just mom and dad?
We go out for date night once a week and have morning coffee dates in the backyard. And when all else fails, we lock the door, tell the oldest kid she’s the baby sitter and make tunnels under the bedsheets.
Question: Describe a typical Saturday morning for your fam.
I wake up usually around five am and go to the swap meet. I bring breakfast back for everyone by eight and we all sit on the front porch like lounge lizards with fluffy bed head, eating, while the neighbors look out their windows with a sense of curiosity, wondering why they didn’t build a cement skate park in their front driveway. At least that’s what I think.
Question: What's the strangest thing your kids have ever said or done?
Our four-year-old, Goldie, when asked if she wants more eggs, replies, "I need more protein." Sid, our one-year-old, took off his diaper yesterday and pooped on the driveway. That’s all I can remember from the last twenty-four hours.
Question: Any plans for the future?
Hawaii, camping, beach 24/7, living life one day at a time. No plans are the best plans; it seems as if every day is an adventure.
Question: Any final words of wisdom on parenting?
Cherish every day and every word you have with your kiddos. The time you have now with them, you will never have again.