The Twirl Factor (and other things I know nothing about)

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It’s safe to say I had no idea what I was doing as a parent when the kids were born. Changing diapers, burping, feeding them, even holding them was completely foreign to me. I’m happy to say that five years later, I still don’t know what the fuck I’m doing. You would think that after being a stay at home dad for almost three years, I’d have this parenting thing on auto pilot, but my kids still throw me curveballs on a daily basis.

For instance, at this point in my parenting career, I should know that it’s going to take my daughter 45 minutes to get dressed in the morning because she has to test out the “twirl factor” of each dress in her closet before deciding what to wear. Yeah. “Twirl factor.” Apparently, she has a closet full of dresses that are low on the ITS (International Twirl Scale). “Skinny dresses don’t twirl,” she says. “I don’t have any dresses that twirl,” she says.

And you’d think by now, I’d be prepared for unprompted tantrums of all kind. When one of my kids throws a fit because I won’t let him have marshmallow Peeps for breakfast, I’m prepared for the backlash. But when my kid loses his shit because I tell him that, no, he didn’t invent the game of “punch buggy,” that people have been hitting each other whenever they see Volkswagen Bugs since Biblical Times, I’m caught off guard. Why would he scream his head off and throw his shoes against the window because he didn’t invent Punch Buggy? Why, lord, why?

And why does it surprise me when my kids aren’t perfect 24 hours a day? Am I too much of an optimist? Or too naive? Or just an idiot? Maybe it’s a little of all three.

There are good surprises too. The other night at dinner, my daughter said, “I love chicken nuggets,” and then I said, “then why don’t you marry them,” and they both fell out of their chairs laughing, like it was the first time they heard that joke. Because it was the first time they heard that joke. How amazing is that? I had no idea that being a parent would allow me to recycle tired jokes from my childhood, so I guess it all evens out in the end.

 

 

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Like Cinderella, God Damn It!

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There’s a whole bunch of unreasonable going on in my house right now. Here’s a snippet of a real “conversation” I had with my daughter last night.

“Daddy. Daddy. Daddydaddydaddy. Watch me dance. Daddy, watch me dance. Are you watching me dance? Daddy STOP WATCHING ME DANCE!”

She went from zero to Bat-Shit within a single breath. That has to be some sort of a record.

My daughter will literally eat an entire hotdog while telling me how much she hates hotdogs. And my son is no better. He will only eat food cooked on the grill (not in the oven) and drink from a green cup. Sometimes I give him a blue cup just to watch him lose his shit.

I think there’s a clinical term for what my kids are. I read it in a parenting article once…what’s the phrase…oh yeah, it’s called FUCKING CRAZY!

One night, my daughter threw an unbelievable tantrum as she was going to bed. I kept trying to cover her up with a blanket, but she kept screaming, “No, like Cinderella!” then she’d kick the blanket off the bed and scream as if she was on fire. “Like Cinderella, like Cinderella, like Cinderella…!” After 45 minutes of her thrashing around my wife and I finally figured out that she wanted the blanket to be draped over her slowly by helpful little birds like in Cinderella.

Are you fucking kidding me? She wants me to train wild birds to tuck her in at night! Thanks Walt Disney. It wasn’t pretty when I explained the limitations of domesticating certain animals. She didn’t take it well.

A lot of people compare raising young children to hanging out with drug addicts, or alcoholics, or schizophrenics because of the irrational behavior and wild mood swings. I think those people aren’t giving drug addicts enough credit. Sure, they’ll take money from your purse when you’re not looking and often spread hepatitis, but not even Charlie Sheen on his worst bender would expect you to manipulate woodland creatures into becoming house servants. That’s a special kind of crazy reserved for three-year-olds.

People, please share the most unreasonable thing your child does so that I know I’m not alone in this world.

 

Booby Traps

We had one of those beautiful days where the kids were super cute. Cooper called Baby Jesus on my iPhone and Addie ran from her shadow at the park. They said “thank you” when I handed them juice and they built a block tower together without coming to blows. Perfect little angels. Of course, they were just setting a booby trap. They were lulling me into a false sense of security and would at some point during the day launch an all out assault of toddler chaos. Think Nazi Germany wooing Russia before invading them.

Yes, I just compared my children’s subterfuge to that of Nazi Germany. Hang out with two three-year-olds long enough, and you’ll find it’s not that much of a stretch.

There was no way to tell when the kids would turn on me, only that they would as soon as I let my guard down. Perhaps while I tried to sneak in a quick shower, they’d pull the blender out of the cabinet and make a “peanut butter and daddy’s wallet” smoothie.

In the meantime, the sneaky munchkins kept being cute, smelling our rosemary bush and saying it smelled like spaghetti. Holding hands and saying, “it’s a beautiful day.” Trying to hula-hoop together in the same hoop. Adorable! Real melt your heart kind of shit.

Honestly, it was a maddening day waiting for the bomb to go off. It was like being stuck in the first hour of a Hitchcock movie–all anticipation and foreshadowing and no violence.

And then, the violence came.

It happened at nap time. Well, it was supposed to be nap time. I turned my back on them for 12 seconds and they used their milk to grease their crib railings to facilitate a quicker escape. Without a proper nap, they were free to fulfill their true toddler nature, which began with a sizable tantrum because I would not let them finger paint on the couch and ended with both of my kids peeing off the top of the slide at the playground. No shit. The night ended with me wondering how much trouble I would get into if I duct-taped them to their beds.

I’m still not sure about the legality of that parenting technique, but I’m sure if I explained myself to Social Services, maybe showed them a few videos, they’d understand.