The Foot Lickers

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When you bring your baby home from the hospital after he’s born, your mind is reeling with the possibilities of parenthood. Mostly, you see rainbows, imagining afternoons at the park playing baseball and making macaroni necklaces for Christmas presents. What you can’t imagine is that at some point during your tenure as a parent, you’re going to have to say the phrase, “son, don’t lick your sister’s feet.”

You’re not an idiot. You know there will be ups and downs. There will be tantrums in the Fun Depot. Smoothies spilled in the car. Maybe some light biting. But having to tell one child not to lick the other child’s feet never even crosses your mind.

But it’s going to happen. The first foot-licking incident will be accidental. They’ll be wrestling barefoot and an errant foot will cross in front of someone’s face and that kid will seize the opportunity and stick his/her tongue out and take a lick. It’s an act of curiosity mainly. The other child will giggle and then it’ll be an all out foot lick fest, at which time you’ll have to say, “son, don’t lick your sister’s feet.”

It’s such a weird thing to say, you’ll actually pause and think, “I can’t believe I just had to say that.”

Soon you’ll be saying it so often, you’ll have to write it on the dry erase “rule board” next to other gems like, “don’t put mom’s pearls on the kitty,” and “don’t tell strangers their hair looks funny,” or “glow sticks are not food” or any number of bizarre societal norms that most of us take for granted.

But the foot-licking thing will be the weirdest. At least for a while. Then the kids will come up with something even weirder that makes you long for the simplicity of the foot-licking days. I don’t know what that thing will be yet. I’m just warning you, it’s going to get weird. Then it’s going to get weirder.

 

Reason #5 Why I’m a Shitty Dad

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Yesterday, my kid had to eat a stale cracker he found mushed in the bottom of his cup holder in the mini van. Because I forgot to pack any food on a long excursion to the pool. That’s right. I forgot food.

That’s the second time I’ve forgotten to feed my children. The first time, they were babies and wouldn’t stop crying. I tried peek-a-boo, I tried their favorite monkey toy, I tried putting them down for a nap, I tried hitting myself on the head with a book, I tried holding them, funny faces, sad faces…nothing worked. They just cried and cried.

“Wait,” my wife said. “When was the last time you fed them?”

Right. Food.

It takes a special kind of idiot to forget to feed his kids. Twice.

 

I See Dead People: Really Hard Questions From My Kids

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My kids are at the inquisitive stage when they want to know absolutely everything. This is a problem for me because I know almost nothing. If you have a question about ‘80s sitcoms about kooky butlers, I’m your guy. Want to talk about the mid-90s Atlanta Braves team that climbed from worst to first, I can go on and on. You got a question about nature, birds, cars, trees, electronics, prosthetic legs, tax codes, the sleeping habits of monkeys, or anything else my kids seem to give a shit about, and I’m stumped.

For whatever reason, it’s been an inquisitive week. I guess it’s an encouraging sign of development, but let’s be honest–it just makes my life more difficult. Because do my kids care about Mr. Belvedere or Otis Nixon? No. They don’t. They seem hell bent on only asking me questions that I don’t have an answer to, which only underscores my suspicions that I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing as a parent.

So here are the top three questions that stumped me this week.

 

1)   “What’s dirt made out of?”

“Umm…smaller pieces of dirt?”

I don’t fucking know. I don’t have a phd in, um, dirt. Are dad’s really supposed to know everything? Everything!

 

2)   “Daddy, what’s a girlfriend?”

This one I just ignored. The key to avoiding awkward conversations with a four-year-old is shock and awe. They’re persistent little bastards, so you can’t just change the subject. They’ll keep pestering you with the same question over and over unless you present them with something so fantastic, it gives them short-term amnesia. I recommend setting something on fire, or showing them a nice piece of road kill. Be careful though. Using road kill as a distraction to avoid a talk about sexual relations could lead to the following question:

 

3)   “Daddy, what happens when you die?”

Yeah. This one came out of nowhere while I was running. The kids were in the jogging stroller, talking, getting all existential apparently, and my son lobs that grenade at me.

“What do you mean, buddy?” I ask.

“Like, if you get eaten by a giant snake. And die. What happens?”

“Well, uh, your body gets buried into the ground.”

Simple, to the point. Case closed, right? Wrong.

“And then what?” the persistent little bastard asks.

“Then your soul goes to heaven.”

“What’s a soul?” This is my daughter now. Because the conversation isn’t deep enough as it is.

“Well, uh…”

I’m not sure exactly how I explained it. I was running, and tired, and scared I was going to completely fuck up my kids’ perspective on life and death. You get one shot as a parent to have the first life/death discussion. I expected more time to prepare. I expected to have notes. Maybe some scientific or religious tomes to reference. Actually, I expected my wife to handle it. Alas, my wife doesn’t run. So I’m there alone.

Here’s what I did. I made up an analogy on the fly that equated the soul to the Apple TV box and the body to the TV. It sounds ridiculous, and I’m not proud of using television to explain the great mystery of the soul, but you gotta work with what you have. I stand by my decision.

Then they wanted to know more about what happens to the body. Specifically, “Why do we bury dead bodies?” I went into some deep Lion King circle of life shit that I think kind of made sense to my kids. They definitely sunk their teeth into the notion that burying a dead body feeds the earth and makes flowers grow. For the remainder of the run, my daughter kept pointing to flowers and saying, “look daddy, there’s a dead body.”

Someone out there help me out. Tell me I’m not the only one that’s botched the big death question. Better yet, tell me about the questions your kids stumped you with.

 

Insane in the Membrane

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Ever since I became a dad, I’ve spent countless hours wondering what the fuck is going on inside my children’s heads. Okay, maybe not hours. Minutes. Lots of minutes. Because kids are weird. They do weird shit. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think my kids are any weirder than your kids. They talk to squirrels and pretend to be watermelons and will only eat food that’s orange—but from what I understand, that’s standard operating procedure for an American four year old. I’m proud to say my kids are normal weird.

Still, I want to know what they’re thinking. Call it simple curiosity, call it an attempt to better understand my offspring.

Now that the kids are starting to learn how to draw, I’m finally getting a window into their complex minds. So far, it’s fucking scary in there.

Take my daughter. Cute as hell. Likes to wear dresses and put pink ribbons in her hair. If you asked her what her favorite activity is, she’d probably say petting the kitty. Typical girl shit. She’s made of sugar and spice and everything nice, right?

Apparently not. Now that she has the motor skills to draw, does she draw rainbows? Stick figures holding hands in a meadow? No. She keeps drawing these really disturbing monsters with exaggerated fangs. The picture above, on the chalkboard, is a family of potato monsters. She also draws pumpkin monsters. Kitty monsters. Flower monsters. They all have the same happy but crazed look to them. The kind of monsters that are singing a song about butterflies one minute, then trying to give the neighbor’s dog a juice box enema (which pretty much describes my daughter, too).

The kids do a lot of art projects at school, so I know it’s only a matter of time before the teacher pulls me aside with one of my little Picasso’s creations and asks why on earth, would she draw a picture of a potato monster drinking moonshine and puking butterflies?

For the record, I don’t even serve potatoes in my house.

Meanwhile, all my son will draw is rainbows, which makes sense, because I’m pretty sure it’s just a bunch of bright colors bouncing around the inside of his brain. Just like his dad.

Viva Las Vegas

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Whether you like Vegas or loathe Vegas, you cannot deny that the city is perfectly located. After dragging my family through the desert for several days of hiking and camping in a series of National Parks, everyone was dying for a bit of air conditioning. Enter Las Vegas, land of the well-air conditioned space. We picked the hotel with the most kick ass pool and spent 48 hours trying to get the desert sands out of our nooks and crannies. It was love at first sight for my kids. My daughter was impressed that music played everywhere (even in the potty!) and everyone wore glitter. The kids ate giant meatballs and helped me crack crab legs at the overpriced buffet and spent hours in the wave pool and lazy river. Taking little kids to Vegas is a concern for some parents, mainly because there are hookers everywhere and there’s a good chance you’ll see someone spontaneously combust thanks to a dangerous combination of cigarettes, gin, and polyester. But I see these nuisances as potential teaching moments. In New York New York, there are women who dance on the casino tables in lingerie. My son took one look at the show, and asked, “why is that lady dancing on the table?”

“Because she didn’t go to college, son. Because she didn’t go to college.”

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Going Pro

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The first leg of our trip was in Boulder, where everyone commutes by longboard and adults lay in the grass and read books by the river on a Tuesday. The highlights play out like this: we saw a vegetarian stuff himself into a box, took a couple of runs through the campus of my alma mater (go Buffs!), ate at the same crappy Chinese place that I used to eat at daily while I was in graduate school (a big shout out to Tra Ling’s, where the food comes by the scoop, and the scoops are only a dollar), scrambled to the top of Red Rocks using a climbing technique I call, “shit, I hope this works.”

From there, we were lucky enough to hit Vail just in time to catch a piece of the Go Pro Mountain Games. If you’re not familiar with this festival, just imagine every Abercrombie and Fitch model descending upon one of the most expensive towns in America to compete in professional mountain sports like kayaking, slack lining, and mountain biking. It’s intense. Lots of people with tattoos who are “spiritual, but not religious.” Our minivan was the only vehicle that didn’t have a kayak on top.

We got to watch a bit of the kayaking action and a little bit of the slacklining. We ate PBJ’s while watching a couple hundred people do a massive yoga class in the middle of the village. They were all very bendy.

After stuffing our backpacks with free samples of beef jerky and organic energy drinks, the kids were psyched to try ziplining for the first time, climb the fake rock wall, and ride the gondola to the top of the mountain where we had a mid-June snowball fight. After pushing our kids beyond the point of exhaustion, we averted a massive tantrum at 10,000 feet above sea level by plying them with M&M’s. It’s comforting to know that even in strange locals, where social status depends largely on body mass index, old tricks still work. My kids will do anything if there’s the promise of hard chocolate on the other end of the deal.

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Daddy Drinks Goes West

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The family is at the precipice of the Great American Road Trip: Three weeks, one minivan, two four-year olds, half a dozen national parks, and 2,000 pounds of luggage. There is no event or catastrophe that we don’t have supplies for tucked away in one of our purple suitcases. Lantern, check; snow mittens, check; malaria pills, check; snow chains, check.

We’re hitting the big sites between Colorado and California  (Las Vegas!, Pikes Peak!, L.A.!) but also hoping to tackle some classic American adventures like panning for gold and maybe starting a small forest fire with an illegal fireworks display.

So far, we’re only a couple of days into the trip, so we’re still in the honeymoon phase. I haven’t even started drinking liquor yet. Okay, I’ve had a little liquor. But not during daylight hours, so that’s good.

A couple of questions I’m curious about answering as we make our way further West:

1)   How will my kids react to all of the free porn that litters the sidewalks of Las Vegas?

2)   How do you get busy with your hot wife in a tent with two kids sleeping between you?

We’ve learned so much already in just a couple of short days. For instance, flying with two four-year-olds is fun if let your wife sit with them while you sit in a completely separate row and drink beers and play Transformers. Also, the cup-holder of a child’s safety seat is not a good place to store a handful of smashed turkey for two days. And this is interesting: if you buy hundreds of dollars worth of food and camping gear at Target, the check out guy will ask if you’re a doomsday prepper.

Feel free to write that info down.

Some pictures.

Optimus Prime likes cheap beer.

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This is just one of the carts we needed.

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How cute are these kids?

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