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: Mother Earth Endless River

Brewed in tiny Kinston, N.C. at Mother Earth Brewing, Endless River is a super light  German kolsch style ale. It’s tasty enough to get excited about, but light enough to drink all day long. Get a small cooler, ice, and a six pack of Endless River and spend your entire Saturday in your front yard, drinking the bottles slowly while you knock out last minute Fall home projects, like painting your brand new fence cliché white. Normally, painting a fence sucks, which is why you’ve put it off so long. But today, you’ve got beer, and more importantly, the kids aren’t your responsibility. Because you’re painting the fence. Getting shit done. You can hear them screaming inside the house (something about wanting the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches cut into circles, not triangles), but that’s not your problem today. Your spouse is on tantrum duty. Because you’re painting the fence. Monotonous tasks never felt so relaxing. It’s like a little vacation. Put the headphones in. Have another Endless River.

Independence Day

How do you work Maxim magazine, public urination, and 3am donut runs into the same essay? You write about toddler independence–that golden period in a kid’s life when she figures out she can do things for herself, but has no idea about the consequences of eating carbs after 7pm…or public nudity.

Check out my latest blog at Breathe Magazine. And before you ask–no, my kids didn’t suddenly become two cute Asian girls. Although I think the new iPhone 5 has an app for that.

 

 

Inspirational Messages (and other bulls$#!)

I hit rock bottom today and almost bought a journal with inspirational messages in it. You know, a leather-bound, important looking book with messages printed at the top of each page like, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.–Wayne Gretzky”, or  “A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.–Francis Bacon.”

Maybe I’m jaded, but I have little patience for inspirational messages. Who has the energy for inspiration? You know what gets me motivated? Coffee. Eight hours of sleep. My wife naked. The mortgage. That’s about it.

What can I say? I’m a simple man with simple needs.

So screw you, Sir Francis Bacon. I don’t need your inspiring quips.

Now, what I do love, are misspelled inspirational messages. Like this beautiful little nugget on my coffee cup. Right on the lip of the cup, it reads, “Love the Momet.”

It’s my favorite mug. I love to sip my coffee in the morning and wonder, “what’s a momet?” (I put the emphasis on the “e”). I picture the momet as a cute, furry animal with a blonde stripe down its back. Maybe it was was prized for its pelt by Germanic tribes during the 15th century.

But in the spirit of posters with kittens hanging on trees, I’ve come up with my own inspirational messages for other parents with young children. When times get tough, (you know, around 6pm every freaking night) just think about one of these gems.

1)    Money can’t buy love. But ice cream can.

2)     Take a deep breath. They’ll be in public school soon. Then they’re the city’s problem.

3)     Somewhere, some scientist is working on a study that claims Vodka is a superfood.

4)     You can’t beat your children. But subtle manipulation using the promise of Disney cartoons and M&M’s? There’s no law against that. 

The Toddler Time Trials

Does anyone know where I can get a used starter pistol? The kids have begun riding their balance bikes in earnest, and they’ve already discovered the joy of racing each other down the hill next to our house. I think a starter pistol will make each race a bit more official. I’m working on a yellow jersey in a size 4T too.

As for that racing hill, there’s nothing to worry about: it’s just a ridiculously steep hill with a blind curve on either end and heavy traffic during daylight hours. At night, it’s a popular hangout for prostitutes, so broken glass and used condoms fill the gutters (no kidding). Oh, and it’s surrounded by poison ivy.

Standard Chinese Downhill Rules apply: cheating is encouraged and the kids can use any means necessary to knock each other off their bikes. These are their rules, not mine. My daughter’s favorite thing to do is let her brother get ahead of her, then speed up and sideswipe him. To be honest, I’m hoping the starter pistol will give me a bit more authority when I try to enforce basic rules like, no running over someone after they’ve fallen off their bike. You know what they say in those inner city movies: “no gun, no respect.” That certainly applies in my household too. It seems the older the kids get, the less control I have over any given situation. I can strongly suggest they eat their vegetables and not throw beer bottles at each other, but ultimately, it’s up to them what they throw at each other. The best I can do is surround them with soft items like plush toys and marshmallows and hope they make good decisions. Sadly, they always manage to arm themselves with something sharp that will likely result in a tetanus shot. The sharper the weapon, the funnier the situation is to them.

Oh, to be three and parented by a man with no sense of authority. Lucky little bastards.

 

 

The Twenty

I was doing some light math recently (always dangerous when I start tinkering with subtraction) and I realized that I’m closing in on my 20th high school reunion. It’s a mere two years away. I had to double check my math because, well, because I’m so damned young, it simply can’t be right. But…carry the one…pie…yep. My twenty is just two years away. Which means I can’t be as young as I think I am. I must be well into my 30s.

Bummer.

Now, an argument could me made that high school reunions aren’t relevant anymore. What, with Facebook and self-indulgent blogs (I’m talking about your blog, not mine. My blog is art), you could say some of us have never actually left high school. Not only do I know what that weird kid who sat in the back of my Spanish class is doing for a living these days (his Linkedin profile says accountant, but really he’s a cashier at Golden Corral), I know what he had for breakfast this morning, and that he’s “psyched to see how this season of Secret Circle turns out.”

And yet, I feel the gravitational pull of the high school reunion. I skipped the 10 year, got stupid drunk at the five year and rode a mechanical bull so I may as well have skipped it, but the 20 year has a certain amount of weight to it. Twenty years is a significant amount of time–plenty of time for my classmates to have grown into interesting human beings.

Which means I have exactly two years to grow into an interesting human being myself. I have a lot of work to do.

There are about eight foreign countries I need to travel to before the reunion. I’m not sure about the specific countries, but I feel like eight is a good, “well traveled,” number to shoot for. What country is hot right now with the ex-patriot crowd? Pakistan? Something with a “stan”? I’ll start with Pakistan, then maybe hit Canada.

I have to find my abs. I can’t remember where I left them (in a bar, probably) but I know it’s been a long time since I’ve seen them.

I have to write a novel. Better yet, I need to write a screenplay, because, frankly, I went to a Georgia public school, so none of us class of ’94 Hoyas can read too good (Go Hoyas!)

I should buy one of those hip hybrid sports cars. The one that Clooney drives. Can you fit two car seats in there?

And any self respecting man should be onto his second marriage by the 20-year reunion. That’s trophy wife territory. Luckily, my wife is trophy hot, so I’m good there. I’ll just buy her a slutty dress and refer to her as Nadia all night long.

That’s a big to-do list to knock off between now and 2014. Fortunately, my high school performance was so underwhelming in every category from sports to grades, that I’ve set the expectations very low. If I show up without a house arrest bracelet on my ankle, people will probably be pleasantly surprised.

Ikea Is The New Spanish Fly

Is it weird that I get turned on by organization articles? You know, “50 Ways to Color Coordinate Your Closet!” or “Stop Looking For the Peas: Three Ways to Organize Your Pantry!”  There’s always an exclamation point–the most phallic of punctuation marks. Forget sexy coeds, give me a two-page glossy spread of built-in bookshelves organized alphabetically any day.

It doesn’t take a psychologist to figure out why I go gaga for organization. People are turned on by what’s foreign to them, and there’s nothing more exotic to me than order. I have none in my life. Lunch meat is stashed in the couch cushions and dolls end up in the crisper drawer. Recently, during a single 12-hour period, my daughter started a small napkin fire at the kitchen table, my son sneezed in the spaghetti sauce I was making, and I was peed on three times.

So yeah, sock drawers that actually close and have socks in them get me hot. It’s really not that weird, is it? I’m not sure if there are others out there like me. I tried Googling “sex fetish” and “organization bins”—you don’t want to know what popped up. But I am sure that there’s a beautiful place for people like me to go. It’s called Ikea. And it’s soooo dirty.

My wife and I recently ditched the kids and drove three hours to the Atlanta Ikea to buy a new wardrobe. As soon as my 2.5-year-old daughter developed an appreciation for purple dresses, she took over my closet and I’ve been storing most of my clothes in the trunk of the car. Anyway, the new wardrobe is the Asplund: three doors, one mirror, five adjustable stacking shelves, a 30-inch clothes rail, and self-closing hinges…sweet Jesus! It gets me so worked up the Asplund may as well come with nipple clamps and a safe word!

And Ikea is full of shit like this. Entertainment centers with dedicated DVD slots, book shelves with glass doors and mounted lights, dressers with sock dividers. Do you know how exciting sock dividers are? If I had sock dividers, my gym socks would never have to touch my dress socks! How hot is that?

For me, a walk through Ikea is like a walk through Amsterdam’s Red Light District. If only I had the money to truly indulge! I picture my house decked out in organizational bins, cubbies, and folding tables that hide remote controls and magazines. I mean, look at this picture:

Don’t those neatly stacked books and rolling storage bins make you want to rip your clothes off and roll around on the floor? And this picture really gets me going: 

Jesus Christ, are those kitchen cabinets Brazilian waxed or what!

Alas, I’ll have to make do with the Asplund wardrobe for now, which sadly, has already been soiled by my kids who have decided it’s a great place to stuff their Tonka Trucks and play hide and seek.

Dare to dream. Dare to dream.