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.

 

Reason Why Hanging with Preschoolers is Awesome #6

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Sometimes, if you push your kids past the brink of exhaustion and keep them up really late, like 9pm, they start to mumble really cute things like, “You know who I love? I love everybody,” and then out of nowhere, they’ll be like, “Daddy, daddy, check this out.” And then they show me how they play piano on their toes.

It’s like hanging out with a couple of stoners. And it’s awesome.

Bat-Woman

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I had a nice moment with the kids the other day. They were telling me about the squirrel that comes to the feeder outside their window at school. They’ve named her Gary-etta. Addie said Gary-etta comes to the feeder to get food for her kids at home. I asked why the dad squirrel, Gary, didn’t come to the feeder. Coop said, “Gary stays home and plays with the baby squirrels.”

Awesome. We’ve completely upturned generations worth of gender stereotypes. Mission accomplished.

When you ask Addie what she wants to be when she grows up, she says, “A mommy. And a doctor. A doctor mommy. I want to do them both.”

Cool.

Ask Cooper and he says he wants to be a daddy with no career attached. Then he goes on to tell me all the things he’ll do better than me when he’s a daddy. Like this: “When I’m a daddy, I’ll know how to make ginger bread houses.”

Touche Cooper. Touche.

I made the mistake of asking my kids what they thought daddy does for a job. Coop said, “Daddy, your job is to clean up after Murray (the cat) vomits.”

I like to think there’s more to what I do on a day to day basis, but the boy did a pretty good job of summing it up concisely.

Of course, there are some gender-specific characteristics that seem to be ingrained in our children no matter how hard we try to subvert the paradigm. The boy loves to pee on the tree in the front yard…preferably with as many neighbors walking by as possible.

And the girl, well: “Wait daddy. I changed my mind. I want to be a Princess when I grow up. A Princess Doctor Mommy.”

I always thought raising a girl would be exponentially harder than raising a boy, but I didn’t think the difficulties would start until High School. Sadly, the trouble is already brewing. The other day, Addie came into the living room wearing a cape and a mask. I said, “What’s up Bat-Girl?”

She said, “No daddy. I’m Bat-Woman.”

She’s four. Imagine what our conversations will be like when she’s fourteen.

Reason Why Hanging with Preschoolers is Cool #5

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Communication Will Never Be the Same

Occasionally, you get to send this text: “The panties are in your mailbox.”

And you’ll get to send this text to another stay at home dad, a guy you play poker with, a guy you often drink beers with, and a guy you occasionally have play dates with. Because when you have play dates that involve four-year-old girls, accidents happen. And when accidents happen, you have to borrow a pair of undies for your daughter, and then you find yourself returning those undies at a later date while walking the dog around the neighborhood. So you stuff the panties in the mailbox and send the text.

On a completely separate occasion, you’ll get a text from your wife that simply says “Balloons!!!” which will send you into a tourettes-like frenzy of profanity and derail your entire afternoon. One word, three exclamation marks, and it becomes the most important thing in your world that day.

You will also have entire conversations with other adults that include phrases like, “I think the new My Little Pony cartoons are a little too dark.”

You’ll say this because it’s true. Not the old ones that we watched when we were kids, but the new ones. They’re really disturbing. Ditto Care Bears. That shit’s kind of fucked up. And so you’ll have long conversations with other parents about how disturbing Grumpy Bear is, or how you don’t trust any bear that can shoot a rainbow out of its belly button, and you’ll do this with a straight face, because you watch way more cartoon TV than regular TV.

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.

 

Viva La HouseBoy!

I became a little teary eyed during a commercial for a combination steamer/vacuum this morning. It was just so beautiful. Not only does this product vacuum up all the crap your kids leave behind, it “sanitizes the floor with steam” at the same time. The woman using it said so. And she looked so happy.

My emotional response to this commercial means that the transition from dude to house wife is almost complete. The next time you see me in public, I’ll probably be wearing Jeggings and a little tipsy from too much afternoon Chardonnay.

I thought about trying to fight the transformation by doing some pushups or hitting a strip club, but who has the energy anymore? And let’s face it: I’m more comfortable discussing the latest episode of Fashion Star with the other moms at the park than I am talking football with my dude friends. So I’ve decided to embrace it. I can’t wait until the kids are a little older and I can spend my days reading vampire/werewolf books written for teenage girls.

Now, a quick reading of this blog might lead you to believe that I’m saying all housewives are poorly dressed, slightly drunk devotees of crappy vampire lit and reality TV. That’s not what I’m saying at all. I’m saying the most fun housewives are poorly dressed, slightly drunk devotees of crappy vampire lit and reality TV. Ladies, you know who you are. Keep it real. Never change.

Wait, can I even use the term “housewife” anymore? Probably not. I bet it was retired along with “stewardess” and “secretary.”

Personally, I like the sound of “houseman.” It’s a little bit degrading, but a little bit naughty, too. Sure, your houseman cleans your gutters, but he also cleans your gutters, if you know what I mean. (Wink, wink)

Several of my friends were “houseboys” for sororities in college. They cooked, did a little cleaning of the massive Southern mansions the girls lived in, and had a lot of sex with the residents. None of them seemed to complain about the “houseboy” title.

Viva la “houseboy”!