Who’s the Boss?


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.


The Penis Dialogues

The best thing about taking your 3.5-year-old boy on a swanky studio stroll? When you’re in a crowded studio and you ask him if he needs to go potty, he says, “hang on. Let me ask my penis.” Then he looks down at his pants and says, “Penis. Do you have to go pee pee?”

Everyone knows that men make all of their decisions with their penis, but I think my son may be taking that concept a bit literally. Or maybe this is the start of a beautiful relationship between a boy and his imaginary friend. Either way, I see therapy bills in our future.

Democracy in Action

Last Friday, we decided to take the kids to vote in this little thing called the Presidential Election. Typically, I like to vote on Election Day—hamming it up with the volunteers and seeing all the old people dressed to the nines to practice their constitutional right makes me fall in love with Democracy all over again. But standing in an hour-long line with two bored preschoolers is enough to make anyone hate democracy, so we decided to vote early. The line was short and the kids were really excited to witness democracy in action. I was actually surprised at how enthusiastic they were when I told them we were going to vote. They jumped up and down and clapped. It took me a good 15 minutes to realize they thought I was saying we were going to go “boat,” not “vote.” Their enthusiasm waned when we got to the polling center and there was no water or boats.

But we pressed on, determined to teach our kids why America is the greatest country in the world (because after a year of attack ads, scandals, predictions, and crazy punditry from Fox News, we get to release all of our pent up energy by filling out a tiny bubble on a scantron, casting our vote for the person we think should spend the next four years steering our great nation into what will likely be an End Of Days scenario, if the aforementioned crazy Fox pundits are correct. Oh, and by the way kids, your vote doesn’t really matter unless you live in Ohio). But I digress. Back to democracy.

I spent some time trying to explain to the kids how everyone in the country gets to cast their vote for elected officials. “Sort of like when I ask you what TV show you want to watch,” I explained. The metaphor fell flat because typically, I discount their votes for Barbie and just put on Phineas and Ferb because Phineas and Ferb is awesome and Barbie is not awesome.

The kids may not have a firm grasp of the democratic process, or understand what the President of the United States does, but they know how to doodle on pieces of paper. And that’s exactly what they did. They each took a ballot and drew shapes, scribbled their name, created elaborate treasure maps with volcanoes and crocodiles and mountains. My daughter spent a lot of time circling the face of Mitt Romney, which, I have to admit, made me a little nervous. It would be a hilarious cosmic joke if my wife and I turned out two little Alex P. Keatons.

In the end, wisdom prevailed. When I asked my son who he’s voting for, he said, “Cooper,” and wrote his big “C” on the ballot before turning it in. (Who among us hasn’t resisted the urge to write in your own name on that presidential ballot?). For a moment, I was in a daze, imagining a world where my 3.5-year old son Cooper was President. Imagine if you will, an America that follows the whims of an easily distracted preschooler (Insert George W. Bush joke here).

As for my daughter, when I asked her who she wants to be President of the United States, she told me straight up: Christmas Lights.

A house divided. But at least they voted.