Is This Fork For Eating or Stabbing?

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Thing That Pisses Me Off Today: Single Serve Napkin Dispensers. Those stingy, waste-reducing contraptions that only allow you to get one goddamned napkin at a time. In theory, I love them. Who doesn’t want to save the planet and all that crap? But in reality, I’m eating out with two five year olds who were obviously raised by monkeys because they think utensils are only for stabbing and show their emotions by throwing food. I’m gonna need a rain-forest worth of napkins here people. A rain forest. And if ketchup is involved with the meal (and let’s be honest, ketchup is always involved with the meal) you may as well go ahead and bring out the hose.

In the Valley of Dudes: Stay At Home Dad Tells All

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Being a stay at home dad is weird. People ask me all the time what it’s like to stay home with my kids while my wife contributes to the Gross National Product every day, and the best way I can describe it is, “weird.” Not because I’m a man and she’s a woman—that’s not the weird part. The truth is, I know lots of stay at home dads. (We call ourselves SAHD’s. Pronounced “sad.”) I live in the “Valley of Dudes” where women work and men cook and change diapers. We all have beards, rarely wear closed-toed shoes, and find good excuses to get together and drink beers in the afternoon. Suck it, dudes with jobs!

There’s nothing weird about that. What’s weird, is hanging out with two five year old kids all day, everyday. Let me explain.

Being a stay at home dad is…

…A lot like being a camp counselor. I spend a lot of time teaching my kids how to ride their bikes or swim. For most of our activities, the kids need to wear protective helmets. In the afternoons, I try to keep them from launching frogs off of homemade catapults.

Being a stay at home dad is…

…Being surprised and a little ashamed by how much you like watching My Little Ponies.

Being a stay at home dad is…

…Having your pockets full of rocks, flowers and half eaten cookies. All the fucking time.

Being a stay at home dad is…

…Writing angry letters to McDonalds because they put these huge damned holes in the top of their milkshake lids that are five times bigger than they should be. Why McDonalds? Why such big holes? So my kids can more easily paint the interior of my mini van with their strawberry milkshakes?

Being a stay at home dad is…

…Convincing yourself that your kids are old enough to watch The Goonies so that you can spend a Tuesday afternoon watching The Goonies.

…It’s having a bubble wrap dance party. Step 1) put a bunch of bubble wrap on the floor. Step 2) Play Madonna.

Being a stay at home dad is…

…Catching your kids in the midst of doing something diabolical, like, say, walking out on the back deck with a chair, a bucket full of water and some rope. And they won’t give you a straight answer as to what exactly they’re going to do with the chair, rope and bucket of water. They just keep telling you not to worry. “It’s healthy.” You will thwart similar diabolical plans at least seven times a day.

Being a stay at home dad is…

…Calling out for your daughter 13 times a day, only to find her dancing and singing in front of a mirror. Every. Single. Time.

…It’s spending the morning throwing paper airplanes into a laundry basket. While wearing bunny ears.

Being a stay at home dad is…

…Making three separate meals every night because one kid thinks she’s a vegetarian, the other is on a strict Paleo diet, and your wife will only eat food that’s orange.

…It’s creating elaborate sticker charts that reinforce “good” behavior but really, are just designed to make your life easier. Get daddy a beer from the fridge—get a sticker. Walk on daddy’s back—get a sticker. Mow the lawn but tell mommy that daddy mowed the lawn—get a sticker.

Being a stay at home dad is…

…Riding your daughter’s pink scooter through the neighborhood all by yourself, so she can ride that same scooter home from school. Like a boss. Then googling “adult scooters” while you wait for your kids to get out of school because you had so much fun riding the pink scooter, but you’re a grown ass man, so you think you should have a scooter that’s suitable for a grown ass man. Something with skulls on it or naked lady mud flaps.

Being a stay at home dad is…

…Getting a manicure on rain days while reading comic books and drinking a beer. #glitterfingers.

Being a stay at home dad is…

…Trying to figure out if I should get frustrated or be proud when my daughter signs her name for a school paper but gets distracted mid signature and spends five minutes turning the “i” into a pony.

Being a stay at home dad is…

…finding new places to hide the glitter glue, which is the bane of my existence. How do they keep finding the damn glitter glue?

Being a stay at home dad is NOT…

…a job. Don’t let anyone tell you taking care of the kids all day is a job. That’s bullshit. As far as I can tell, people get paid for jobs. I receive no monetary compensation for my hours of toil. Will I get a gold watch when my kids go to college? What’s the pension like? Do I get two weeks off every year? Hell no. Being a stay at home dad is work, but it’s not a job.

 

 

 

 

My Intentions With This Ladle Are Pure and Wholesome

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I got a new ladle at Ikea this past weekend, and I’m psyched out of my mind to use it tonight. Like, really really excited. I’ve been searching for the right soup recipe all day to break in this beautiful ladle. Maybe a shrimp bisque, or a watermelon gazpacho. I don’t know. Maybe I won’t make a soup at all. Maybe I’ll do a chili!

I’m giddy with the prospects.

Yep. Really excited about that ladle.

Is that sad? I can tell you think it’s sad. On the one hand, it’s just a big ass spoon. I shouldn’t get too worked up over something that simply transfers soup from a pot to a bowl. A soup transferring device, if you will. It’s not like we’re talking about a new puppy.

But it’s so shiny. And really solid. There are some kitchen utensils that are so heavy and sturdy, you just know you’ll be able to count on them for years to come. That’s how solid this ladle is. It’s heavy…like a weapon. If an intruder tries to break into our house, I could use this ladle to defend my family. That’s how solid it is.

But be honest with me, you think I’m pathetic, don’t you?

It’s not like I’m having dreams about the ladle. We’re not in a relationship. That would be silly. It’s a spoon and I’m a man. How would that even work?

And yet, I can sense you judging me as I write this. Maybe if you knew how flimsy my previous ladle was, you’d understand my enthusiasm. Listen, this thing could barely hold a half cup of chowder. And forget about a hearty stew—it couldn’t support the girth of meat and potatoes. Stupid, flimsy ladle.

And did you ever think that maybe I’ve reached some sort of weird “stay at home” Zen state of being, where I can finally appreciate the simple pleasures in life, like a big ass shiny spoon, or 10 minutes of not talking? Maybe my ladle infatuation is a sign that I’ve reached a higher level of spiritual awareness, and everyone else is pathetic.

Chew on that, Judgy McJudgerson.

No, you’re right, it’s sad. I need a hobby. In the meantime, hit me up with good soup recipes.

 

 

Boy/Girl Stuff

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So my son has never really been interested in drawing. If there’s a ball of any kind involved, or a race, or maybe you’re smashing the shit out of something, he’s your guy. If you’ve got any sort of art project lined up where he has to sit still and not smash shit, he loses interest in about 3.2 seconds. Whatever, no big deal. I like to smash shit too.

All of a sudden though, he’s developed a newfound interest in drawing. He’ll get his markers or colored pencils and sit in a chair and draw for up to seven minutes at a time. That’s seven minutes out of my day when he’s not bringing me some sort of family heirloom and asking if he can smash the shit out of it with his golf club, so I’m pretty psyched about this developmental leap.

Am I worried that all he seems to draw are penises? A little, I guess. I’d probably laugh it off altogether if he realized he was drawing penises over and over and over again, but he doesn’t. He comes up to me with this really bright, proud smile on his face and says, “daddy, check out my…” fill in the blank here. Sometimes it’s a race car, a space ship, a sky scraper, a boat, a coffee table, a Christmas present, a dog…It could be anything, except that every time, the picture he’s drawing is obviously a penis. Doesn’t he see it? It’s like the worst ink blot test ever. Little penis. Little balls. Plain as day.

Meanwhile, my daughter has skipped her adolescence, tween and teen years and gone straight into her hysterical single 30s. The other night, she had a melt down at bed time, which sounds normal, except she was freaking out because she isn’t married yet. “But I’m already 5!” she said. “And that’s really old and I have to find a husband and get married so I can have kids!” She’s crying her eyes out the whole time—legitimately concerned that her best years are past her. She can’t tell time yet, but obviously, her biological clock is ticking.

What the fuck is that about? She’s 5! Is this some sort of side effect from watching too many Disney movies? What I wouldn’t give to be able to show my daughter an animated feature where the hero is a lesbian with a career. Like a crime fighting super lawyer who doesn’t have time for a relationship. Just once!

A boy drawing penises, I can handle, but a girl feeling marital pressure before she goes to kindergarten? I’m not trained for this.

I Love You When You’re Fat or Welcome Home Daddy

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As a kid, I remember waiting for my dad to get home from work every afternoon. This was back when people used to get home from work at 5:30 like clockwork. Actually, shit, this was back when people used to have real jobs instead of just running boutique letterpress studios out of their basement, or quilting, or handing out business cards that say “Project Manager.”

Anyway, I’d sit by the kitchen window and watch for his car to pull up, then run as fast as I could out to the driveway to give him a hug.

It’s not often that I “go to work.” Usually, I just sit at the kitchen table trying to ignore the chaos that erupts from two five year olds with little parental supervision. Sometimes they play cards quietly. Sometimes they try to figure out what will happen if they put action figures in the toaster. Often, they do “parkour” in the living room, performing somersaults over the cat.

In other words, shit gets crazy. When it gets really crazy, I retreat to a coffee shop and leave the kids with my wife or a baby sitter or some random lady that I find walking by the house who’s willing to watch the kids in exchange for free wifi and all the microwavable popcorn she can eat.

Working in coffee shops has a couple of advantages. 1) I live in a weird town and weird people congregate in coffee shops in the middle of the day. So I get to watch old ladies in ornate, peacock-inspired hats look at vampire porn magazines Seriously. I see this lady at the coffee shop all the time. She’s like 80. Loves vampire porn. And peacock hats 2) I get to pretend like I’m a dad from the ‘80s who goes to work and comes home to a loving family. Punching the time clock. Contributing to the gross national product. Working towards my pension. That’s me.

Occasionally my kids will run out to greet me in the front yard, just like I did to my dad as a kid. It’s a big thrill, and it makes all the hours toiling away trying to think of synonyms for “velvety” worth it.

Anyway, one night recently I get home from “work,” and my daughter runs out to me and gives me a big hug, then pulls back, looks me over, and says, “daddy.”

I say, “Yes, honey?”

And she says, “I love you when you’re fat.”

And I say, “What do you mean, honey?”

And she says, “I like it when you’re skinny here (pointing to my shoulders and chest) and fat right here (point to my belly).”

Okay. So much for the loving family. I didn’t take it too hard though, mainly because my daughter is bat shit crazy. Two seconds later, she finished the conversation with this gem: “Also, my body is like a video game. When it goes like this, ‘beep,’ that means I won.”

Then she ran off to play with her brother. Occasionally I’d hear her beep from the playroom. I guess that means she won.

Welcome home, daddy.

Things I Said To My Kids Today

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One of the best aspects of being a stay at home dad, is that there’s plenty of time to have really deep conversations with my children. Having a conversation with an adult is okay, but having a conversation with two five year olds can be mind-blowing. You dig into all kinds of territory—houses made out of fruit, Baby Jesus’ texting habits, the various things you can and can not lick in life.

Here are five things I said to my kids today. Long live conversations with five year olds.

1)   No, buddy, we’re not going to have a birthday party for the iPad. The iPad isn’t a person. It doesn’t have a birthday.

2)   Don’t lick your sister.

3)   I like tiny crackers more than big crackers too. They make me feel like a giant.

4)   I think it would be fun to live in a house made of watermelon for a day, but after that, it would just be really sticky all the time.

5)   That’s really sweet honey, but it might be hard to send Baby Jesus a text message. I don’t think he has an iPhone.

 

Camo Shirts and Tomato Soup

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I like to think I’m a pretty easy-going guy when it comes to how my kids dress. I’ve mentioned before that I have no problem if my son wants to wear a dress, or paint his fingernails or put on a tutu to play soccer. Feel like wearing a skirt today, buddy? Good idea. Me too.

That “open mindedness” was tested today when he woke up before dawn to get himself dressed for picture day and put on a camouflage shirt. He looks like the youngest member of Duck Dynasty.

Crazy princess fairy in a Spiderman mask is fine, but junior NRA member? That’s a bit much. I know, I’m being ridiculous, so I let it go. If he wants to wear camouflage and get his picture taken with a deer carcass, so be it. I’ll send Ted Nugent a wallet sized picture.

But the camo shirt is emblematic of a blossoming trend of independence within my kids that I’m not quite ready for. My son puts on a camo shirt and it hits me: I’m losing my babies.

On the one hand, it’s great that my kids will get themselves dressed (every once in a while, but never when I really need them to). On the other hand, that newfound independence often bites me in the ass. Like the time my son decided to get himself dressed before going to the pediatrician. I didn’t find out he was “free balling” it until we’re sitting in the waiting room and he said, giggling, “daddy, I’m not wearing any underwear.”

And of course, they’re completely incapable of putting their clothes on the correct way. Buttons are askew, zippers are in the back, they only have one sock on…You would think that they would emerge from their room with their shirts right side out or not backwards at least half of the time. Statistically, that seems like a possibility, but apparently statistics are bullshit. I’d say 99% of the time, they have their damned shirts on backwards and apparently, I’m not allowed to say, “hey sweetie, can your turn your shirt around?” because that would kill their independent spirit and squelch their will to live, so we have to walk around all day long like some suburban version of Kris Kross.

It’s like they have the desire to take care of themselves, but not the fine motor skills to pull it off. Don’t get me started on the time they decided to make tomato soup (yesterday) for breakfast on their own. We have to move now because of the mess they made.

I guess my son has always had that independent streak. When he was a toddler, I’d wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of the microwave buttons beeping. I’d sprint out to the kitchen to find him naked, standing on a chair, trying to cook himself breakfast in the microwave.

My daughter had her own drama this morning with Picture Day. She was “too depressed to eat breakfast” because her hair wasn’t quite right. She wanted a bun, but her mom gave her some sort of Mormon-wife up-do (see the girls in Big Love if you’re not sure what I’m talking about here).

Sadly, my wife left for work before my daughter realized her hair was “all wrong.” I was no help because I’m a man and all I can do with my daughter’s hair is put it in a “low pony.”

Do they ever ask me for help with things I know about? Like how to catch a fly ball or strip club etiquette? No. Whenever they need my help, it’s always for fixing fancy hair or baking muffins. I don’t know shit about baking muffins. No wonder they’re ready to start taking care of themselves and seeking comfort in camouflage shirts. Their dad is useless.

And me and Ted Nugent will always have their Pre-School Graduation pictures as a reminder.