I Got 99 Problems…

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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.

 

 

 

 

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.

Dear Over-Achieving Parents

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An open letter to the mom who brings a story book to read her kids at the playground,

Suck it.

Why are you reading to your children in public? You’re trying too hard. Everyone knows that books are to be read as quickly as possible and half-assed during the last 15 minutes before tucking your little monsters in bed for the night.

Parks are supposed to be a book-free sanctuary, a place where parents can go to wear their children out with minimal parental effort and parent/child interaction.

The mom checking Facebook while her kid eats cigarette butts knows this unwritten rule. The circle of moms bragging about their hybrids understand this. You don’t bring books and interactive activities to the park. What’s next? A craft project with glitter glue?

I really don’t even think you should spend too much time pushing your kids on the swing. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. The sooner they learn how to pump their legs.

If you want to be a good parent, you do it in the privacy of your own home.

5 Reasons Why Daddy Drinks Went MIA

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You’ve probably noticed a slight gap in my posting schedule for this blog. Like, a two month gap. There are several reasons why a person who blogs about the shenanigans that ensue when a man-child is put in charge of real children on a daily basis. Here are the Top 5 Reasons Why Daddy Drinks Went MIA.

1)   Coma: After an innocent pillow fight turned tragic, I fell into a coma for the last two months. Don’t feel sorry for me—I spent the time dreaming that I was the seventh cast member of Friends. It was lovely.

2)   Sugar Crash: During the holidays, the kids lived entirely on candy and hot chocolate. Since January 1st, I’ve spent 18 hours a day mitigating the massive withdrawal symptoms that occur when you force two five-year-olds to quit sugar cold turkey. It hasn’t been pretty.

3)   Lego Bender: The kids got so many Lego sets for Christmas, I’ve been hold up in the basement for the last two months putting together multi-colored block cafes, fire trucks, and helicopters. I didn’t even break for the Olympics. I drank protein shakes and wore a catheter. As soon as I’d finish a model, my son would begin deconstructing it. It was like some weird, tragic performance art.

4)   Work: I took a job as the Drink editor for Paste Magazine and liquor and beer started showing up on my doorstep at an alarming rate. At the same time, I put up a zip line in the backyard for the kids. Booze and zip lining don’t mix. See reason 1) Coma, above.

5)   It was ski season.

6)   Bonus Reason: Shit hit the fan after I bought my wife a vacuum for Christmas. At first, she was all like, “oh, honey, I love it!” But then she casually started telling me about all the great gifts her other friends got from their husbands for Christmas (“did you Tim gave Julie a necklace? Isn’t that wild?”) then started vacuuming up various personal items of mine. I just now pulled all my computer keys from the vacuum bag.

You choose the reason for my absence. Believe what you want. The important thing is, Daddy Drinks is back—“Daddier” and “Drinkier” than ever. I’ll catch you up on what’s happened in the last two months in the next post. Hint: there is a zip line involved, and the tooth fairy, and booze.

Road Games

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In Boulder we counted how many Punch Buggies we saw, then we moved on to Mini Coopers. We had epic thumb wars in Moab, and the world’s shortest staring contests outside Canyonlands. (Some new info: my daughter blinks 211 times a minute).

At one point, we tried to teach the kids some Spanish but they just kept making up their own words and teaching us: “chiminobo” “it means lets go to the volcano.”

We had an ice cream eating contest outside of Zion, then Liz tried to see who could stay quiet the longest. That game was over before it started.

At one point, my son tried to see how many Scooby Snacks he could eat without throwing up. Normally, Scooby Snacks are not part of the Averill Recommended Diet, but we let it go. “They’re just graham crackers” we told ourselves. Graham crackers coated in sugar. It’s like meth for 4-year-olds.

Also in Zion, my son tried to see how many tantrums he could throw before I threw him off the side of a cliff. He almost found out.

Now, the kids are watching cartoons in a swank hotel room in Las Vegas and for some reason, my son feels the need to tell me, “daddy, you are not a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle,” about every 30 seconds. As if I needed a reminder.

All this is to say, “Happy Father’s Day” to all the dads out there. In the words of fine ‘80s television: “You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the Facts of Life. The Facts of Life.”

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Who’s the Boss?

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Like most three year olds, my kids have become rather bossy. They’re getting older, more independent, and more worldly. They’ve seen a thing or two. They know what’s up. They’re pushing four for Christ’s sake, and they know how spaghetti and meatballs should be made! They know how their jacket should be zipped, and they’ve got no problem with telling me I’m not doing it properly.

It would be less annoying of they weren’t usually right.

The other night, I reached into the fridge for my third beer of the evening. My daughter cocked her head and, somehow channeling both my mother and my wife, said, “you’re having another beer, daddy?”

It wasn’t a question, it was an accusation.

Last week, we were headed to the park to meet some friends for soccer. It was one of those rare, warm winter days and everyone in the neighborhood was hell bent on making the most of it. We live less than a mile from the park, on low-traffic roads, so I loaded the kids into the bike trailer. It was a quick trip, so I didn’t think it was necessary for the kids to wear their helmets, but my son refused to leave the yard until I dug his helmet out of the back of the car. “Safety first, daddy.”

Addie has taken her bossiness to a whole new level, appointing herself to the role of my anger management coach. Like all stay at home dads, I’m prone to fits of rage. Someone, please tell me how you keep from seeing red when it takes an hour and fifty seven minutes to get a pair of shoes on a child? By the time I get that second shoe on, the kid has already taken the first shoe off and hidden the sock somewhere in the basement. Even Buddha would lose his shit, right?

Whenever I go into one of my tirades and threaten to melt every single toy the kids own in the chiminea my daughter looks me directly in the eye and says, “daddy, don’t be so angry. When you’re angry, you act like Captain Hook. I don’t like Captain Hook.”

Her logic is completely disarming. Not to mention those cute pigtails.

The whole situation has left me wondering who’s parenting who in my house.

I always thought that if my life was an ‘80s family sitcom, I’d be the unrefined but wise Tony Danza character: Unconventional, but good hearted and with a natural instinct for right and wrong. Tony Danza is the voice of reason in a topsy-turvy world. But it turns out, my kids are Tony Danza, which makes me what, Alyssa Milano? I’m certainly not the ambitious, work-focused mother. Wait, am I the oversexed grandma?

If my kids ever figure out how to turn on the TV by themselves, I’ll be completely out of a job.

 

Drink of the Week: PBR, 24 Ounces

No, not a Tall Boy. A 24 ouncer, which is like, a third bigger than a Tall Boy and demands significantly more commitment. Preferably, the beer should be pre-warmed in the bottle cage of your road bike. Enter that road bike and Super Tall Boy PBR in a sprint race up the side of a mountain—the kind of race where Olympic medalists show up, and everyone talks about “tapering their training.” You should immediately get disqualified from the race because your wife beater and jean shorts don’t meet US Cycling Association “standards,” but then demand to race anyway, promising to donate all of your winnings to the charity of the USA Cycling Association official’s choice. Drink that warm PBR slowly, at the finish line at the top of the mountain, in front of that USA Cycling Association official. Preferably, you should drink it with at least two other friends, also over-worked, over-tired dads dressed in jean cutoffs and wife beaters. Because sometimes, dads need to get together and do something that embarrasses their wives.