I Got 99 Problems…

problems

So I’m wrestling two ridiculous problems right now. I have my share of normal problems like deadlines and a conspicuous lack of funds in my bank account and a piss-poor mile PR and absolutely nothing to cook for dinner that my kids will eat, but the two problems that are currently demanding a lot of time and energy on my part are absolutely, utterly ridiculous.

Problem Number 1: There are zombies in the toilet.

At least, that’s what my daughter thinks. So she’s too scared to go to the bathroom alone. Instead, she forces me, or her mom or her brother, to come into the bathroom and watch her. “Because if you don’t come with me, the zombies will crawl out of the toilet and bite me.”

Obviously, this problem is a holdover from Halloween.

I’ve tried using adult logic (“but, zombies aren’t real”) and I’ve tried using kid logic (“but, I used the special zombie cleaner when I scrubbed your toilet this week”) but nothing works. So going to the bathroom is now a group activity. Awesome.

Problem Number 2: We’ve lost our Elf on the Shelf.

We moved. Apparently, our Elf didn’t move with us. At first glance, this seems like an easy problem to fix. Go buy a new Elf on the Shelf. The kids will never know the difference, right? That’s what I thought, too. The problem is, our original Elf on the Shelf was one of the Vaguely Ethnic Elves. He’s not black, but he’s not white. He could be Hispanic or maybe Middle Eastern or even Asian. I don’t know, I feel uncomfortable even trying to guess at the Elf’s ethnicity.

The point is, he’s definitely more tan than the standard Elf on the Shelf, which is great. We follow a strict “White Man’s Guilt” approach to race issues in our house, meaning we ignore race altogether. I’d like to say we originally purchased the Vaguely Ethnic Elf to teach our kids a lesson about race, but the fact is, I picked up the first Elf I saw in the store two years ago without realizing it was Vaguely Ethnic and then my wife and I debated for five minutes in the store about whether or not putting Vaguely Ethnic Elf back and getting White Elf would be racist. Then we felt racist and guilty just because we actually thought about putting the Vaguely Ethnic Elf back on the shelf…

So we have…nay…had a Vaguely Ethnic Elf on the Shelf, and we spent the last two years ignoring his race and all was right in the world. The problem is, I go to the store to replace this Elf and all I can find in the God damn store is White Elf. Boxes and boxes of White Elf. There’s a Girl Elf now, which is awesome, bully for women’s elf rights, but my kids are expecting a super tan elf to show up and judge their actions for the next 20 some odd days. Not a Girl Elf and not a White Elf.

Or maybe not? Maybe our kids never noticed their Elf was Vaguely Ethnic? Maybe our complete ignorance of race has worked and now our kids literally don’t see color? Or shit, maybe that means they’re even more racist because they can’t see the beauty and differences of different ethnicities. Jesus Christ. There should be a manual.

Meanwhile, I’m wandering around the store looking in every aisle for a Vaguely Ethnic Elf because I don’t want to ask the store clerk if they carry an Elf that’s, “you know, darker than this elf?”

Like I said, I’ve got plenty of problems right now, but the ones I’m mostly concerned with are utterly ridiculous.

 

 

 

 

Is This Fork For Eating or Stabbing?

ketchup

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

IMG_3435

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

ladle

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

IMG_3065

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

superbatgirl

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

IMG_2829

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.