Five Things That Aren’t Awesome About Parenthood

Parenthood is magical, there’s no doubt about that. Sometimes, though, it’s more black magic than “kiss the frog” magic. Luckily, 87 percent of the time, being a dad is awesome. Here are a few things that inform that other 13 percent.

  1. Scraping poop out of big boy underwear…three times a day.
  2. The nasty looks that other parents at Mighty Might Gymnastics give you when your kid coughs on their kid. In my defense: I don’t care if my kid is patient zero with a wicked strain of chipmunk flu. We’re getting out of the house today!
  3. Fishing random objects out of the toilet with chopsticks. (Sidenote: chopsticks make excellent retrievers of floating cars, candy wrappers, credit cards…all the little things that end up in the toilet.)
  4. Suspecting your kid loves iPhone “Paint Sparkles” more than you.
  5. The constant fear that your two-year-old daughter is going to ask the waiter if he has a penis.

Look Ma, No Pedals

I like this on so many different levels. The kids are just now big enough to start using the Strider-type bikes we bought them (Read: cheap knock-offs). I see a Strider World Cup in their future. What probably impresses me most about this vid, is that it’s a tough-looking crowd of toddlers. Every single little kid in this race looks like they should already have a tattoo of some kind, even the little girl in the tutu.

Check out more from Strider here. I’m pretty sure if my daughter sees the picture of the “limited edition” purple Strider, she’s going to lose it. She has a thing for purple right now. It’s the new pink.

Balance Bike JoJo takes on Toddler No-Pedal Racing from Balance Bike JoJo on Vimeo.

Injury Free Work Days: 0

Can we get through a single day without one of my kids throwing a toy truck at the other one? It’s amazing what my kids can turn into a weapon. You’d think a bubble maker would be pretty benign, but if I leave the kids alone on the porch with a small bubble maker, one of them will get water-boarded by the other. And my daughter thinks the only way her fairy princess wand will work is if she puts her entire body behind it. She’s like a ninja with that thing.

It reminds me of the intense “Chinese throwing star and nunchucks” phase I went through as a kid. I have no idea why my mother thought it would be a good idea to let a 10 year old have half a dozen pointy metal discs forged with the singular purpose of killing people from a distance. I didn’t question her decision at the time, but now that I have kids of my own, I’m a little suspect. Of course, this was before safety was a real concern. Apparently, kids raised in previous decades never got hurt. How else can you explain our lack of bicycle helmets and seat belts? And yet most of us survived somehow. It was probably all the hairspray we used back then. All that puffy, crusty hair was like walking around with an airbag on your head.

Looking back, it seems a little strange to go through a “throwing star” phase. I can’t imagine my kids getting into that sort of thing. But all Southern boys growing up in the ‘80s went through this phase. Like every other kid I knew, I spent a lot of time in the knife shop while my mom browsed the consignment store next door. It was inevitable that I’d come out of that shop with something sharp I could throw at other people.

Basically, childhood for me was just a series of weapons-based phases. A few other notable phases: bow and arrow phase. Homemade slingshot phase. Poison dart gun phase. Throwing pinecones at other people’s faces phase. Booby trap phase. The list goes on. It’s the result of the laissez faire parenting techniques of the time. A lot of people look back on the fact that our parents simply opened their back doors and made us go play outside as a sort of idyllic period in history. In a lot of ways it was—Last Child in the Woods and all that crap—but the truth is, we just spent most of that outside time trying to figure out different ways to maim each other with the tools at hand. We didn’t want to kill anyone, but if we could cause serious injury without getting into trouble, then we were game.

So maybe a nation full of video game children isn’t so bad after all. The first person shooter games may be disturbing, but at least they’re not literally playing war like we did, fastening makeshift bayonets to our toy guns and loading our backpacks with grenades (heavy rocks). You don’t know darkness until you trap your best friend in a ditch and pepper him with rocks and pinecones. But we weren’t fat, so we had that going for us.

Nobody Touch My Poop

One of the great mysteries of parenthood? Why toddlers who are potty training become overly possessive about their poop. Seriously. You’d think we were flushing their puppy down the toilet. We had a nice little screaming session this morning because our boy didn’t want his mom to take the poop out of his big boy underwear. And he definitely didn’t want her to flush it down the toilet. He melted into a naked mess on the bathroom floor and then came back several times to visit his poop in the toilet after he’d calmed down.

He’s not alone. I know other toddlers with the same sense of attachment. One dad tried to get to the bottom of the mystery by reasoning with his child, asking him a series of very logical questions. The result of the Socratic discussion was this: his boy likes the color brown.

Very logical.

I’m sure there is plenty of child development research that would tell me exactly why kids turn their poop into a friend. Maybe I’ll look them up later. In the meantime, I’m choosing to focus on the positive indicators of this new development. If nothing else, it shows my kid is loyal, even to feces. You gotta respect that. Never leave a man behind. Even if that man is poop.

Lucky Bums: Baby stuff for dudes with babies.

If you’re looking for some really cool last minute Christmas ideas, check out Lucky Bums. It’s outdoor gear for kids. No diaper bags here, but you’ll find vintage sleds, kids-sized sleeping bags, fishing vests, skis and snowboards. Basically, all the stuff you need to help get your kids outside and doing all the stuff we wish we did when we were kids. Personally, I regret all those hours I spent watching Brady Bunch reruns after school. I got the kids sets of toddler skis in hopes that this winter, they’ll take their first turns. We’ll see how that little experiment goes. Check out the site and see if there’s anything that inspires an experiment of your own.


Organic Schmorganic

Here’s my beef with organic grocery stores: They’re filled with people who aren’t in a hurry.

The success of my day hinges on the fact that every other person I’m gonna encounter during the course of that day is running just as late as I am. The other drivers on the road, the teller at the bank, the washing machine repairman, the mothers at Story Time…the whole world needs to have the singular goal of getting through the task at hand and moving on to the next line in the to-do list. It’s as simple as that. And it all falls apart when I have to “dash” into the organic grocery store at the bottom of my neighborhood for an emergency six pack of beer…er, uh, gallon of milk.

Because this is the one place in 21st century America where nobody is in a hurry. Everyone is content to simply “enjoy the moment,” which sounds fantastic until that beatific state of being comes between you and making it home to set your DVR to record Vampire Diaries in time.

These people mosey between aisles and contemplate the ingredients of soup. It’s soup. Sodium and water. That’s it. Just get the cheapest chicken noodle like the rest of us. And to the dude with the ukelele slung over your shoulder–stop lingering over the cheese samples. It’s not a buffet. And when the check out girl asks you how you’re doing, don’t give a thoughtful response that links your mood with the current state of alternative energy subsidies. Just buy your $30 worth of locally-sourced pimento cheese and get on with your day, kind sir.

Sesame Street Raised My Children

My better half, also heavily influenced by Elmo

I like to think I’m having some sort of positive impact on my kids. There has to be some advantage to having your dad hang out with you every day as opposed to your mom, perhaps a medical benefit to having a bit more testosterone around the house. Right?

We may not bake a lot of cookies, and my daughter may always look like a drunk homeless person because I have no idea how to braid her hair, but there are some advantages, right? Like, they’ll learn how to play poker at a shockingly young age. And they already have a rich knowledge of the Beastie Boys.

Even though I don’t know what I’m doing, I daydream about their inaugural address 40 years down the road (yes, the first twins ever to be elected President) where they thank their dad for teaching them how to tie their shoes and treat others with kindness (at least to their face).

But the older my kids get, the more I realize I’m not really doing much more than keeping the razor blades and liquor out of reach. And sometimes, I fail at that. Every now and then I’ll stand in awe of a new skill that my kids display and wonder, “where did they learn that?”

More often than not, the answer is Sesame Street. Seriously. Counting to 10, their colors, empathy…they picked all this up from The Street.

I taught them to jump over the couch cushions while yelling, “parkour!” but Elmo taught them that brushing their teeth is healthy. I showed them how to take tiny nibbles out of their cookie until it looks like a sail boat, but Abby taught them the importance of saying “please” and “thank you.”

So I guess it’s my turn. Thank you Elmo, Abby, the Grouch, Cookie Monster et al. Thank you for picking up my slack.

And people say TV is bad for you!

Santa’s a Dick

I’m not talking about the real Santa. I’ve got nothing against him. He’s always treated me fairly, so much respect. I’m talking about the Santa in the classic Christmas movie “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” I just watched that film again for the first time in years with my kids, and I want to punch that guy.

The other reindeer get a bad rap for not letting Rudolph play in their reindeer games, but Santa’s just as prejudiced, shunning Rudolph from birth because of his red nose. Discrimination is institutionalized in the North Pole, from the top down.

And when the weather turns to soup and Santa can’t see in front of his beer belly, he turns to that bright nosed freak, but does Santa apologize? Does he say, “Hey Rudolph, sorry I was such a douche and cast you aside all these years. Maybe I should be more sensitive to those who don’t quite fit in, especially since I have a bowl full of freaking jelly and pimp around the world in a sleigh, you know?”

Uh, no. Sadly, Rudolph rolls over like some punk and guides that dick’s sleigh. Bullshit. I’d like to see a total rewrite where Santa and all the North Pole upper management take some diversity sensitivity training. I’d like to see Rudolph do some more hard-nosed negotiating (pun!). Maybe Santa pulls the sleigh for a while and Rudolph gets to whip the hell out of his fat ass for a change.

I’m disappointed Santa. I turn to the TV not just to entertain my kids when I’m too tired, but to teach them morality and ethics too. I don’t want them to grow up thinking you can fire someone just because they’re different. They need to learn you have to frame that different person for stealing. That’s basic Business 101.

Dirty Little Caterpillars Make Me Happy

So I have toddler twins. That’s two, count ‘em, two crazy ass kids who, at this point in their life, are really only part human. They’re lovely, don’t get me wrong, but let’s face it, they’re toddlers so they have the morality and self control of a monkey who’s been fed a steady stream of The Sopranos for a year straight.

The first two years are a complete blur. The kids didn’t sleep. They still don’t sleep. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought about using chloroform. Raising infant twins is a lot like parenting on acid. When it’s good, it’s great. When it’s bad, you see feces everywhere. You may or may not be hallucinating.

I remember the first few months were dominated by the word “nipple.” There was a lot of concern over my wife’s, the children’s, and occasionally mine. I also remember a very happy hour (somewhere around month four) when I tried to get the Leap Frog Caterpillar to say dirty words. It was a smart little caterpillar. You press a key, it says the letter. If you pressed the keys fast enough, you could get it to sound out whole words, like “HAT.” But it wouldn’t sound out “FUCK,” or any version of that word. No FUK. No FUQ. It wouldn’t say “ASS” or “DICK”. When you typed in the letters, it got through the F and U, but then giggled when you typed C and said, “that tickles.” It said that whenever you typed in any dirty word, which means there was some toy engineer who had the foresight to plan for immature parents.

I like to imagine the meeting where the engineer brought this little glitch up to the rest of the Leap Frog team. I like to think of a bunch of suits brainstorming about what sick and demented words fatigued parents might try to make the little green caterpillar say. I picture them writing them all down on a big dry erase board.

Thinking of that makes me happy.

Other stuff happened in the first two years. The kids got baptized and my daughter got a rash from the holy water. No shit. She slept better afterward too.

Captain Nothing

I don’t know what I’m talking about. Seriously. Don’t come here looking for advice. Unless you have questions about ‘80s era sitcoms, I don’t have any answers. If anything, come here weekly, daily, neh, hourly, looking for self assurance. Come here to reassure yourself that you’re doing this parenthood thing better than I am. To reassure yourself that no matter how lost you feel, there’s someone out there that’s way more lost. Someone navigating parenthood with an outdated GPS, no map, and an overinflated sense of direction who’s too stubborn to ask directions. If I can give you that sense of peace of mind, that there’s a dad out there that’s more clueless than you, if I can help you sleep just a little bit better knowing that at least your kids aren’t being raised by a complete jackass, then maybe I’ve done you and the world a solid. You’re welcome.