F#@king Pickles

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This one’s for the new parents out there: At some point during your parenthood, you’ll decide it’s a good idea to try to make your own pickles with your children. Maybe you and the kids planted a little starter garden and you got a bumper crop of cucumbers that you don’t know what to do with. Most likely, you’ll see an article in a glossy parenting magazine that declares making pickles is the easier than making toast and including your children in the process will guarantee hours of quality family time that will spark long-lasting love and admiration from your children. This article will subtly imply that when you’re too old to take care of yourself, your children will recall the day you helped them make their own pickles and be so overwhelmed with joy and love that they’ll build you an in-law suite complete with a Jacuzzi and on-call masseuse.

In this article, there will be a big two-page photo spread photo of a beautifully multi-cultural family laughing and looking gorgeous while making pickles in their brightly lit kitchen. You will hate that family in that picture because their countertops aren’t covered in stacks of art projects (which are actually, accidentally glued to your countertops so why bother trying to sort them?) and three weeks worth of mail that you haven’t gotten a chance to look through yet. But still, you think, “hey, that looks like fun. We should make pickles.”

But listen, it’s a trap. See how that family in the magazine is smiling? There won’t be any smiling when you do your pickle project. One kid will throw a shit fit because you cut the pickles in the wrong shape (“I said trapezoid!”) and the other will refuse to wash her hands and decide she has to lick every cucumber before it goes into the jar.

And then there’s the recipe. The one in the magazine calls for ingredients like dill, or garlic, or saffron. You don’t have dill or saffron because when you go to the grocery store, you can barely make it out of there with milk and eggs before your kids pee on the floor or lick all of the free cheese samples. Saffron is for people who shop without kids. Forget about saffron.

It doesn’t matter anyway, because your kids have their own idea about what sort of ingredients should go in the god damned pickle jar. Shit like sticks and action figures. I’m not kidding. This will happen. One of your kids will try to slip an action figure into the pickle jar. You’ll be so fatigued by the end of the pickle project that you won’t care. You’ll just close the lid on the jar and set the cucumbers and tiny construction man action figure in your fridge to age.

Oh, and your house will smell like fucking pickles for the next six hours.

Consider yourself warned.

 

Are these marshmallows local?

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I phoned it in on dinner tonight. An uninspired mash-up of hot dogs, mac and cheese, and steamed broccoli. It’s a meal that screams, “I’m too tired to give any thought into the nutritional value of food, but too broke to order pizza.” My kids immediately called me on my apathy, refusing to eat a bite. I explained to them that hot dogs and mac and cheese were in fact their favorite foods. That they’d asked for this very meal on a number of occasions, but they were too quick for my logic. My son had the best excuse: “Well, it’s Fall. And when it’s Fall, I change the food I eat. I don’t eat hot dogs in the Fall. Or mac and cheese. Just chocolate. And juice boxes.”

That’s a preschooler’s notion of “eating seasonal.”

And he says this while wearing his sister’s oversized pink sunglasses…and no pants…

How the hell do you respond to that?

I’m stunned, and frankly pleased with his creativity, so I just switch from beer to bourbon and decide to have a fire in the backyard fire pit. Fun fact: if you eat four marshmallows, you’ll ingest one gram of protein. So it’s not a total loss.

Four Reasons Why I’m a Shitty Dad

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Okay, I’m not the shittiest dad in the world. There are plenty of deadbeats out there that make me look good. I don’t beat my kids. I haven’t turned my basement into a meth lab. And not once have I ever seriously considered leaving one of my children at WalMart and just driving away. Not seriously. Nope. Never.

But I don’t deserve that World’s Greatest Dad mug, either. I screw up a lot. I forget to put mittens on my kids when it’s cold. I rely heavily on Disney Jr. for a few minutes of peace and quiet. And I’ve got a prison-style “notch in the wall” calendar running down the days until my angels start kindergarten. I’m not proud. I know I have room for improvement. I’m trying, honest, I am. And in the spirit of AA-style full disclosure, here’s a list of the top four reasons why I’m a shitty dad. Judge me if you will.

 

1)   I cooked an entire meal for my children using only the microwave.

The meal consisted solely of cheese-like products and a cornucopia of preservatives. It was like a science experiment–can children subsist entirely on ingredients no one can pronounce? Yes they can. They’ve stopped growing, but they’re still alive, so…

 

2) “I can’t wait until I’m old enough to drink beer.”

That’s a direct quote from my son. My beautiful, impressionable, 4 year old son. Yeah. That happened. It was like a fucking after-school special (I learned it from watching you, dad!). We were heading out for a walk with another family. It was a long walk, like 500 yards around the block, so I brought beers. My son looked at the cans in my hand and asked, “why do you have 10 beers, daddy?” First of all, I didn’t have 10 beers. I had three. But the impression on my kid was the same: beer=fun. More beer=more fun. Awesome.

 

3) I’m not good at teaching my kids stuff.

See the above anecdote about counting cans of beer. Yeah, they can’t really count. They don’t know their ABC’s either. They used to know their ABC’s, when my wife took care of them every day. But since I took over, they’ve been dropping knowledge like a punch-drunk boxer. They can name every character on Jake and the Neverland Pirates (even the obscure, one-episode mermaids), but ask them what state they live in and they’ll probably say, “Cheese.” Sometimes I try to teach them things, like new words, or how the earth rotates around the sun, but usually, my daughter just interrupts me and gives me the definition of some word she makes up on the spot. It typically goes like this:

“Daddy, do you know what Simisimiwanka means?”

“No, honey, what does simisimiwanka mean?”

“It means give me a cookie.”

 

4) You gonna eat that?

We’re sitting in a crowded restaurant and my son’s sandwich shows up and he looks at the plate with this puzzled expression, holds up a piece of celery like it’s a god-damned moon rock and says,  “Daddy, what is this?” He says it really loud, so everyone can hear.

Awesome. Vegetables are so foreign to my kids, they literally don’t recognize them.

An awkward exchanged ensued where I had to explain to him what celery is, how it’s a vegetable, and why it isn’t coated with sugar and processed into a substance that can be squeezed out of a tube—like the only other vegetables he’s ever had in his life.

Just another day in the life of a lazy, shitty dad.

Shit Cats Like

 

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You know what cats like? Surprise parties. Thrown by 4 year olds. Take my cat, Murray. Murray loves it when the kids wrap milk cups and action figures up in construction paper (like presents), put on costumes and party hats, then hide behind the couch cushions all quiet like ninjas, only to jump up and yell “SURPRISE!” when Murray saunters through the living room to get a drink of water. Yeah, cats love shit like that.

My kids have recently discovered how much fun it is to fuck with the family cat. On any given day, they’ll spend a total of 3-4 hours coming up with new ways to “play with” the cat. Here’s one of their favorites: they like to collect acorn tops, then find the biggest one and make Murray wear that acorn top as a hat. It’s humiliating. I can see it in Murray’s eyes.

They also like to try to wrap him up like a present. They’ve gotten the bow on, but never been able to tape all the corners of the paper down because of Murray’s spirited protests.

My cat also loves impromptu breakdance sessions, which my kids call “meow meow dance parties.”

They love to see how Murray looks in their mother’s jewelry. (He looks pretty).

My daughter has figured out that she can pick the cat up now (“look daddy, he loves it!) and she’s drunk off her newfound power, placing Murray in awkward places (in the bathtub, on her pillow, on her pillow in the bathtub) just because she can. It’s only a matter of time before I find the cat in the refrigerator, wearing a fabulous bracelet.

Seriously, watching my kids have  a “play date” with Murray makes the water boarding scenes in Zero Dark Thirty look like a damn Saturday Morning Cartoon.

But it’s all done out of love. Whenever we’re out running errands, the kids spend most of their time trying to get Siri to get in touch with Murray because they miss him so much, screaming from the back of the van, “text Kitty.” “Text Kitty.” “Siri, text Kitty.”

 

 

Daddy Drinks Does Britain

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Today, I had the opportunity to take part in a discussion on BBC Radio about parents lying to their children. Apparently a study was recently published that “discovered” the vast majority of parents lie to their children. I put “discovered” in posts because, well, no shit parents lie to their kids.

Anyway, they had me and a couple of other parents on the show as well as the psychologists involved with the report. I’m not really sure how I did—let’s just say I have a face for radio and a voice for silent film—but I was amazed when a couple of parents called in and said they never lie to their children. Ever. About anything. Not about Santa, not about the quality of the art work their children produce in class…they don’t even create fictional monsters that eat children who don’t sit in their seats at dinner! Shocking, I know.

Obviously, I’m not that good of a parent.

Here’s the podcast if you’re interested. After the bit about parents who lie, they switched topics to Beyonce’s inaugural performance. Obviously, I’m honored and humbled that I got to share air-time with people who were even mentioning Beyonce.

Hop Scotch…Or Just a Scotch, Please

You know what your local playground needs? A margarita machine. And if you’re installing a margarita machine, you may as well go ahead and put in a fully stocked bar. Obviously, there would be some added liability issues with a playground that had happy hour, but the pros completely outweigh the cons. Don’t believe me? Read my latest blog at Breathe, and be convinced.

 

 

For the Ladies

The six scariest words you’ll hear from your three-year-old: Look daddy, I have glitter glue.

The six scariest words you’ll hear from a heavily bearded man who drinks too much and spends most of his time with two three-year-olds:  I’m blogging for a women’s magazine.

What could possibly go wrong? Check it out.

Read Breathe, people. Read Breathe.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Toots and the McGoots

There’s no way to say it, but to just say it: The kids and I have started a band. Scratch that. We’ve started a kick-ass band. To say we rock is an understatement. The kids typically share the drum set, while I wail on the electric guitar. Occasionally, my daughter will kick the piano keys. My son only says one phrase during each jam session: “Louder, Daddy. Louder.”

Our influences? Beastie Boys, Nirvana, and Justin Bieber (his edgier stuff before he sold out).

Obviously, since we’re dealing with two toddlers and an A.D.D. dad, the band name changes quite a bit. First, we were the Yogurt Explosion, but we decided that was too sophomoric. We do a pretty good job keeping our yogurt in its container these days. So right now, we’re calling ourselves Toots and the McGoots. I’m not sure who’s Toots and who’s the McGoots.

We share bylines on all of our original songs, but to be honest, I do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to the lyrics. Mainly because the kids can’t write yet. Every time I give them crayons and paper to work on a chorus, they just draw circles, which they then tell me are whales. They’re not whales. They’re circles, but I’m supportive.

Even though we’re still looking for a label, we’ve got a full album worth of songs. We’ve titled the record,  Don’t Call the DSS. It’s a concept album in the vein of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. If you start our album half way through Apocalypse Now, the music synchs up perfectly with the action on the film. When Martin Sheen meets Colonel Kurtz and “Yep, That’s Poop” kicks in, I get chills.

The record kicks off with Honey, We’re Out of Wipes, which is the single we’re we’re hoping will get a lot of radio play. It’s really melodic. Then things get a bit Ska with Is That Poop? We sample the Clash’s “London Calling” for this one. Then it gets heavy with three punk songs in a row: 3am Puke Fest, Fuck Sleep, and Yep, That’s Poop. Then we slow things down a bit with Don’t Worry, It’s Just Yogurt, a sweet love song that sets the listener up for Petrified Turkey Sandwich in the Glove Box and the finale, A Sixer Fits Nicely in this Diaper Bag, a classic country ballad that was also the inspiration for the album title, Don’t Call the DSS.

The toughest aspect of playing in a predominantly toddler band? Trying to get a three-year-old drummer to follow my chord changes. Booking gigs has been tough too because of bed time constraints. But every band has to start somewhere. Toots and the McGoots may only be playing my basement right now, but with the massive loopholes in child labor laws, the sky’s the limit.

Here’s a short clip of the drum solo in the middle of 3am Puke Fest. Enjoy.