Parenting and Kids

During my high school years, Sunday evenings triggered a festering pit of dread in my gut. My father would turn on 60 Minutes only to find that the “goddamn football game” wasn’t over yet. It was as predictable as the fact that the next morning would bring a new week of school, requiring me to wake up too early, only to fall asleep in geometry class, and awaken 40 minutes later with my cheek resting next to a shimmering pool of desk drool.

Now, 25 years later, Sunday nights bring, not only my favorite television shows — unencumbered by America’s favorite lite beer and nacho fueled homoerotic team wrestling event — but also a feeling of relief that the weekend is finally over and my family can get back to its routine: the boys off to school and various classes; I up to the confines of my office; and my wife, Lindsay, off to Trader Joes, or her “dance garage,” and after that, maybe an abandoned warehouse to angrily chop wood, or whatever else she does with the hour or two of free time she gets each weekday. Continue…

Here’s something I learned: I can only ask, “Do you need a Kleenex?” 17 times within a four hour period before I give up. Arlo inherited a clean nose obsession from me. If I feel anything clinging or flapping around in there like a sad little prisoner, I can do nothing else until I free it. Usually I blow it into a Kleenex, but sometimes I pick my nose because I’m a grown-ass man who can do whatever he wants while sitting at a red light or standing in line at the pharmacy.

I don’t carry around a handkerchief because who wants a 16 square foot piece of cloth smattered with nasal effluvium in his pocket? Continue…

The beauty of domestic bliss is that it’s so elusive. Our family is usually at its most dysfunctional when all four of us are together. My wife and I try to discuss important “grown-up stuff,” which the kids react to as if it were a level-4 biohazard that can only be neutralized via obnoxious singing and fights over crackers. And it works: we stop talking to each other and start speaking tersely to them about being patient and waiting for us to complete our conversation about getting the gutters cleaned before demanding that we referee a snack dispute. Eventually someone becomes upset, we all feel bad, collect ourselves for a few minutes, and start the whole cycle all over again. Continue…

I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of Amber Dusick’s book, Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures, and well…I’m not surprised that it’s hilarious. What I love about this book the most, though, it how real it is. Amber (Crappy Mama) doesn’t hold anything back, and the result is therapeutic. If you have young kids, you will see yourself in many, if not all, of these stories. You’ll be laughing and nodding and probably crying, and maybe even wondering why Amber never took a Microsoft Paint class.

Interview with the Crappy Mama

Jason: Crappy Papa is always dressed in black. Continue…

Yesterday, Silas (5), asked me, “Daddy, do I have to go to college?” Without any hesitation, I responded, “Nah. You don’t have to.” Lindsay offered some clarification from the kitchen, “It depends on what you want to study.”

“Well, if I don’t want to do science, can I not go to college?”

“There are a lot of different things you can do at college besides science,” she answered. Meanwhile, I’m thinking. “Why the hell are we talking about college? He’s five.”

I continued with my un-nuanced advice, “It’s optional. No one has to go to college.”

“Well, I don’t want to go then.”

“Sounds good to me.” Believe it or not, that’s my honest answer. Continue…

Spaghetti is totally great, but umm…is this dinner or arthroscopic surgery? “Here’s some delicious hair that you’re incapable of eating!”

Why is it that I can’t eat as many vitamins as I want? If they’re good for me, but apparently more than two will result in liver failure, why make them taste like candy? Seems a little dangerous, no?

The rules of the game Tag are backwards. If I’m “it” I should be the one being chased. That’s all. It’s not really a joke I guess, but sometimes I just bleed truth up here.

I don’t get clothes. It’s the 21st century and we’re still using zippers? Continue…

From the ages of 9 to 26, I addressed my friends’ parents by saying, “Hey, ummm.” and just hoped they responded. If they didn’t, I’d  go back and eat more of their food without cleaning up after myself. After 26, I called them by their first names because once you have a full beard there’s no point in formalities.

My son, Arlo, who’s three, calls adults “lady” or “man” and that’s adorable because he’s three. For people he knows really well, he’ll sometimes address them by their child’s name and then daddy or mommy. So, for instance, “Jojo’s daddy.” Cute, but he can’t do that forever. Continue…

After feeding, comforting, dressing, teaching, entertaining, and loving our children, the remaining 30% of parenting is basically trying not to say the f-word in front of them. When they’re babies, it’s fine, blast away if you want. But as anyone knows, when they get older, children have a knack for repeating things, and when given the choice between “Oh my Golly” and “Holy Fu*king Sh*t”, they’ll always choose to yell the latter in front of the new neighbors.

I suspect the “The Terrible Twos” is a lie propagated by the pharmaceutical and booze industries to sell us their products. They set us up to believe that if we can just muster up enough patience to weather the second year of our child’s life, that the rest will be hugs and harmony. So as our kid’s third birthday approaches, we relax and look back with pride upon how we survived the previous two years without any lengthy hospital stays or restraining orders, and fantasize about our new future with a child who can ride in the car for more than 8 minutes and eat a meal without throwing ranch dressing. But as soon as that third birthday party is over, a new, more energetic, more resolute, and opinionated beast appears. The two-year old has shed his skin, and exposed the dirty little lie that the past year has only been practice for enduring a more formidable foe: The Xanax Threes.

Yesterday, I told my five-year old son to pretend like his little brother (3) is a puppy. I wasn’t trying to get them to role play, though that’s not a bad idea. “OK, Silas, you’re the owner and Arlo, you’re the dog. Now use your imagination and go play, but no choking!” I can imagine a child psychologist recommending something like that. “You should encourage your sons to engage in fun, make believe; play that forces them to work together.” That wasn’t my intention. Instead, I was simply attempting to help Silas understand why his brother goes “CooCoo Bananas” or “All Spazzy Mcgillicutty” as we call it.