Shanghai Dad: Q&A with Jacob Aumann

On his transition from buddy to dad, a memorable Christmas road trip and his four kids' distinct personalities.

by Abbie Pumarejo | Fri, April 14, 2017

Every month, we reach out to a Shanghai dad to discuss family, life and being a father. This month, Jake Aumann talks about his transition from buddy to dad, a memorable Christmas road trip and his four kids' distinct personalities.

Dad Chat Jacob Aumann

Name: Jacob Aumann

Job: Head of APAC Sales & Marketing Operations – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Nationality: American

Children: Julia (16), Shannon (14), Emma (6) & Dean (4)

School: SAS Pudong

Time in Shanghai: Just over 3 years 

When did it first register that you were actually a father and what did you start doing differently?

For me, that moment I realized I was a dad will live with me (and my kids) forever. You see, I met my two oldest daughters when they were 4 and 6. It wasn’t long before I was seen as their buddy, Jake.  Though we didn’t know it at the time, the friendship we developed would turn into a blossoming father/daughter relationship. But one day, my wife (hot girlfriend at the time) was inside and the girls and I were playing outside their house in New York, when Shannon, 5 at the time, ripped the tassels off of the handlebars of Julia’s bike. Julia looked at me like "Umm, Jake are you going to do something about this?" So somehow from the depths inside came “Shannon, what did you just do? Go to your room.”  Not knowing what I had just done, I walked in the house and said to Heather, “Yea, I just sent Shannon to her room for ripping the tassels off of Julia’s bike.”  She replied, “Good job, welcome to parenthood.” From then on, I was still their buddy, but also that’s what changed me into being their dad. I am happy to say that a few years later those two little girls officially became my daughters and were joined by a younger sister and brother

How has fatherhood changed you?

I didn’t realize until a few years later that being a dad had changed me…maybe we all don’t realize we are changing into a parent. Our family may be what some call sport junkies, we love to be active with sports and both my wife and I played several sports in high school and college. But now as a parent, that feeling you used to have when you won or lost and gave you the ultimate high or low, is magnified even more when you see your son or daughter out on the field fighting for the win. And by the way, when did it become more stressful to watch the game compared to participating in it?

What has been your worst parenting moment?

Do I have to pick just one? It was New Year’s Eve 2012 and it was well past midnight. We were living in Michigan, and had some of our friends from New York visiting us as part of a NYE tradition. We had just finished a serious Nerf gun fight…I mean this was intense with full on running around the house and jumps through the air like you would see in a movie. Now it was time to gather all of the Nerf darts. We had what we thought were all of them and so it was off to bed. But to our surprise we saw two more.The problem being that they were on the ledge above the front door in our foyer. The normal person would have left them until the next day. But not me. I grabbed my daughter, pulled over a kitchen bar stool and asked my buddy to hold the stool.Then I placed my daughter on my shoulders and stepped up on the stool so she could reach the darts. The problem was she could not reach. She had been doing gymnastics and had good balance, so I asked her to stand on my shoulders to be able to reach them.She reached them alright, but right at that moment mom appeared! Can you imagine the lecture we got? But even today, this has to be one of the most told stories in our house.

What is one of your most memorable parenting moments?

As expats we have to take the good with the bad, but one of the really good things about being an expat here is the ability to take a more extended holiday break and getting to spend time with the family. Whether it’s the beaches or the campervan, it’s always a blast. The most memorable moment, though has to be the Christmas holiday in 2015. Based on many tremendous recommendations we decided to try and put all six of us in a campervan…I know crazy, right? So off we go tooling around in this campervan up and down the roads of New Zealand. From the giggles of the kids sitting around the table to the helicopter landing on Fox Glacier or just the joy of waking up in the campervan as a family on Christmas morning with stockings full of candy and toys, it’s a memory that I will never forget and one I hope to be able to experience again someday.

In what ways have you noticed your children are similar to you?

Their looks of course – no all joking aside, I have noticed that the kids have similarities to me...thank goodness most of their similarities are with my wife. For my oldest daughter, we need to have everything in order, in its place and be ready to go to wherever it is as planned. If it doesn’t go as planned, it freaks us out a bit, but somehow we all still survive. My 14 year old is like looking in a mirror when I was her age (don’t tell her). She is a bit of a rebel and is ultra-competitive. We may not always be the best at what we do but we hate to lose and when we do, it’s not good. Our youngest daughter is really developing into a witty young girl and her desire to have everyone laughing around her, whether it’s at the dinner table or with a crowd of strangers is much like me. And then there’s the boy. With three older sisters he’s dabbling in everything they do but there’s no question he and I are the same. If it’s outside, a sport or anything to do with letting loose and having a good time, we love it…and boy how we love our house full of girls and of course our St. Louis Cardinals!