Sep 092014
 

I took my kids for a pre-school bike ride, and they rewarded me with a preschool standup routine.

This morning, I decided to tow my two older kids to preschool in our double bike trailer. It was a nice morning, and the school is only a few miles away, so I thought it would be a fun exercise. Exercise, in fact, was a big part of the plan, since this would probably be my only chance to get any exercise today, aside from walking up the stairs from my basement home office/dungeon cell to get more pretzels. So off we went, The Dad on the pedals and 70+ pounds of smartass giggling in the trailer behind.

We got about half a block from our house when the wise cracks began. Oh, these two think they are soooo hilarious. It was like having the two old guys from The Muppet Show sitting in my bike trailer, only instead of grumpy stuffed puppets from the ’80s, I had a three year old and a four year old who think that “poop” is the funniest word ever uttered.bike ride with kids

The comments started as a commentary on my cycling ability:

“Daddy, why are you going so slow up this hill?”

“Daddy, are you having a hard time driving in a straight line?”

“Daddy, why are you breathing so hard? Do you need to sit down?”

“Daddy, do you want me to get out and push?”

“Daddy, are we going to make it to the school today?”

“Daddy, should we call mommy to pick us up?”

Next, the comments turned even more personal, and they began a two-part commentary approach. For emphasis, they started adding 10-15 seconds of hysterical laughter after each exchange:

THE GIRL: “Look at his butt!”

THE BOY: “That’s all I can see!”

AHAHahahahahahahahahaha!

THE GIRL: “Why is daddy so sweaty?”

THE BOY: “I think daddies do that way when they get old.”

AHAHahahahahahahahahaha!

THE GIRL: It smells like a diaper in here.

THE BOY: [Points toward The Dad's rear end]

AHAHahahahahahahahahaha!

And then the grand finale:

THE GIRL: “POOP!”

AHAHahahahahahahahahaha! AHAHahahahahahahahahaha! AHAHahahahahahahahahaha!

Needless to say, the ride home, with an empty trailer, was much more peaceful, if not a little less entertaining.

Happy trails, everyone!

Aug 142014
 

Dear Crotchety Old Shitbag Who Lives Across the Street,

That was super classy of you to not even acknowledge my kids yesterday when they smiled at you and asked if you wanted to buy some lemonade from the stand they set up across the street from your house. I know you saw them, with their hopeful little faces waving and holding up their homemade sign with scribbled pictures of some strange cartoon girl and flowers and other random preschool graphics. But you just turned your back without saying a word and stomped into your garage like it was a personal affront that someone offered you a cold drink on a hot day.lemonade stand

Perhaps you couldn’t afford the 25 cents for a cup of lemonade. No problem. You’re not obligated to patronize their establishment. But you could at least smile and say “No thank you.” My 20-month-old can manage that, and he still shits himself on a regular basis. Who knows, maybe you do, too, but like I always say, “Incontinence doesn’t preclude good manners.” Or, at least, I’m sure someone has said that at some point in history. Anyway, the point is: My toddler who eats pudding with his hands and bathes in the dog’s water bowl has better manners than you.

So, in sum, you’re an asshole, neighbor. Please be aware that when my kids are old enough to start roaming the streets with TP and bottle rockets and other junior thug paraphernalia, your house will not be on the “Do Not Fuck With These People List” that I hand them before cutting them loose on the neighborhood. Enjoy your golden years, dickweed.

Sincerely,

Don’t Fuck with a Suburban Dad of Three

Aug 012014
 

Bad Words Mysteriously Appear, and a Conversation About Puke

My 20-month-old son, a.k.a. Heavy D, has a little wooden alphabet train on top of the dresser in his room that normally looks like this:

Bad Words and Vomit Talk

Today, when I walked into his room, I found this:

Bad Words and Vomit Talk 2

Now, this is a mystery for several reasons:

One, when we put Heavy D to bed last night, I’m fairly certain the letters hadn’t been altered.

Two, Heavy D can’t reach the top of his dresser, which is probably 5 feet tall. Even if he could, he hasn’t figured out how to climb out of his crib yet as far as we know. 

Three, Heavy D can’t spell.

Four, if Heavy D could spell, is he likely to call himself out as being “bad”? What sort of commentary on his self-esteem is this?

Five, Heavy D’s windows were locked, and there were no signs of forced entry by “bad” spellers or mischievous raccoons or both.

Six, the house is not haunted, as far as we know. And if it was, would the ghost haunt us by making a wooden alphabet commentary on my son’s behavior? If so, piss off, ghost! No one calls my son “bad” except me!

 

And now, a conversation with Godzilla about vomit

Yesterday, I was driving with my three-year-old daughter, Godzilla, and Heavy D, and this happened.

GODZILLA: I feel like I’m going vomit.

THE DAD: What?

GODZILLA: I feel like I’m going to vomit.

THE DAD: It sounded like you said you were going to vomit.

GODZILLA: Yeah.

THE DAD: Okay, I’ll turn the car around and go back home.

GODZILLA: No, don’t turn around. I like riding in the car.

THE DAD: Well, I don’t really want you to puke in my car.

GODZILLA: I won’t.

THE DAD: But-

GODZILLA: Daddy, I’m not going to vomit. That’s just something people say.

THE DAD: It is?

GODZILLA: Oh yes. People say that all the time.

THE DAD: They do?

GODZILLA: [Exasperated sigh] YES!

THE DAD: So you’re not going to puke in the car?

GODZILLA: [Exasperated sigh with eye roll] No, I just said that because that’s what people do.

THE DAD: Okay, well as long as we’re on the same page.

Jul 212014
 

Leading up to a tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy for my three-year-old, some well-intentioned folks pumped us full of lies

My three-year-old daughter, a.k.a. Godzilla, a.k.a. Destroyer of Cities, had her tonsils and adenoids removed last week. It was a routine procedure conducted by a highly regarded surgeon at one of the best children’s hospitals in the United States. Still, as a parent, it’s a nerve-racking experience to watch your baby girl get hopped up on anesthesia and liquid narcotics and then have a stranger with a bro-tastic goatee cleverly hidden behind his surgical mask start slicing around in her throat. The people at the hospital understand this, which is why they’ve come up with a series of lies to tell parents to ease their nerves. As a public service, I’m going to share and debunk some of those lies right here, right now.

adenoid diagram

If you’re like me, you’re probably like, “Where the fuck are the adenoids?” Well, here’s a diagram. I still have no clue.

1. Your child will self-regulate her activity level to help herself recover. The doctor actually told us this, with a straight face, while looking me in the eye. “We find that kids will regulate their own activity to allow themselves to rest more and recover. She’ll probably want to lie around a lot for the next few days.”

Um, no. Clearly this guy has never met Godzilla in the wild, nor many high-energy three year olds. After spending the night in the hospital, we brought Godzilla home the next morning, and she promptly began chasing her brothers around the house in between doing a series of pirouettes to screams of “Look at me, Daddy!” To get her to calm down and actually rest after her surgery, we had to bring her car seat inside, strap her in extra tight and point her at a TV playing Frozen on repeat.

2. Staying overnight in the hospital allows everyone to rest. And by “rest” we mean “wake up every 90 minutes for a check of vital signs, administering of medications and idle 4:00 a.m. chit chat.” Seriously, what is it about night-shift nurses that makes them so chatty in the middle of the night?

I’ve been through this drill before, when Godzilla had to spend the night in the hospital last year for a highly contagious respiratory infection. Every hour or so, a nurse came in wearing full HAZMAT gear, scared the shit out of both of us, poked and prodded Godzilla until she erupted in a fire-breathing fit, and then left us with an admonishing directive: “Do try to get some rest.” Oh, you mean like I was doing before this little episode? Yes, exactly.

Needless to say, when the wife volunteered to stay with Godzilla during this post-tonsillectomy slumber party, I did not argue.

3. She won’t want to talk much for a few days. You know, because she just had surgery on her throat, which tends to make it sore. The no-talking statement was probably made without considering the effects of anesthesia, hospital-grade painkillers and abundant sugar intake from a diet consisting entirely of popsicles and ice cream. Not sure about your kid, but when you drug mine with narcotics and give her a month’s worth of sugar in one day, you’ve got a chatty preschooler on your hand. Also a wild preschooler who wants to ride the hospital wheelchairs like a surf board the second you turn your back (see lie #1).

4. We have everything you need here at the hospital to make your stay comfortable. Except for an adult-sized bed for a parent to sleep on. “Comfort” at the children’s hospital comes in small packages.

5. This is probably harder on the parents than it is on the child. I’m counting this as a lie because no matter how stressful this situation is for the parents, we’re not the ones having surgery and getting pumped full of drugs that make us loopy like it’s night two of Bonaroo. As parents, we suffer for our kids, but we can’t go through these life experiences for them, as much as we might want to. So you put on a brave face, tell them it will all be over soon and march them into whatever life has waiting for them. About 99% of the time, it turns out just fine. Kids are resilient. And they have short memories. My three-year-old little girl is tougher and braver and more determined than I ever will be. She’s a kid, but she’s not completely naïve. She knew she was walking into a difficult situation that wasn’t going to be all dancing unicorns and rainbow sherbet. And she didn’t blink. She stepped up, took her medicine (literally) and owned it. That’s the matter-of-fact bravery of childhood that so many of us grown-ups have forgotten. Did she cry and get scared and cringe from the pain afterwards? Yes, because that’s what you’re supposed to do when you’re faced with a traumatic situation. Sure, this experience was harder on the kid going through the procedure than her parents watching from the sidelines, but she’s got the tools to deal with it, and she’ll be just fine.

Oh, and in case anyone is wondering: If you remove Godzilla’s tonsils, does she still breathe fire? The answer is yes. Hells yes. Look out, world, this kid’s going to be back destroying cities before you know it.

Godzilla

Tonsils or not, Godzilla is ready to wreck some shit.

Jul 012014
 

The World Cup boiled down to a preschool primer

Unless you’ve been living inside a vegetable crisper for the past couple weeks, then you’re probably aware that the World Cup is going on. This is a massive, global event, initially involving 32 nations and billions of fans worldwide, and I am a big, big fan.

A lot of Americans have gotten swept up in World Cup fever and have happily jumped on the bandwagon of the U.S. team, which defied all odds to beat out higher-rated competition en route to the second round of the tournament. But there are a lot of people out there who don’t understand the game, and may be at a loss to explain it to their kids. True, it’s a remarkably simple game involving two teams, one ball and only one objective (put ball in other team’s goal). However, there are some confusing things, like refs who wear a different color shirt at every game, strange rules and colorful plastic cards.

To get to the bottom of all this, I’m going to break down a few key soccer concepts in very simple terms. In fact, I’ll explain them how I would to my kids, who are four, three and 19 months. If you don’t get it after reading this, then I simply can’t help you. So here you go, soccer in a pre-school package. I challenge you not to enjoy the World Cup now!

Referees. A soccer match has three referees (one on the field and two linesmen who patrol the sidelines), plus a mysterious “fourth official” who has the unenviable task of keeping the two team benches in line, holding up a big digital sign during substitutions and generally being the other refs’ bitch. The refs wear a color that contrasts with both teams’ jerseys, but that color could change from game to game. It’s the only sport I know where the officiating crew could be wearing fluorescent yellow or hot pink, and you’re still supposed to take them seriously.soccer referees

How to explain the referees to your kids: “Referees are like parents. They are out there to make sure everyone behaves and no one gets into a fight people don’t fight too much.”

Cards. “Getting carded” is not the same thing as when you were trying to sneak into a bar when you were 19. It’s a system for cautioning players and, ultimately, ejecting them if they persistently misbehave. A yellow card is a warning. A red card is an ejection from the game. Two yellow cards equal a red. I’ve decided to implement this disciplinary system at my house. The bright colors and clear consequences have resonated with the kids. Only, it’s a little hard to explain when a neighbor walks by and asks my four-year-old son why he is sitting in the front yard by himself, and he explains, “I got red carded.”

How to explain cards to your kids: “When the players misbehave, the ref shows them a yellow card as a warning. If they keep being bad listeners, then they get a red card and have to spend the rest of the game in a timeout.”

taking a diveDiving. Also known as “taking a dive.” No, not literally, although sometimes it looks like it. Diving is both a curious art form and an absolute plague on the game. It’s when an offensive player falls down intentionally, and melodramatically, in an attempt to get a foul called on a defensive player. If you’ve seen a two-year-old throw himself on the floor in a wild tantrum, flop around like a fish out of water, scream, cry, and display all manner of unnecessary histrionics to get his way about something, well, then you’re familiar with the concept behind “taking a dive.” Oddly enough, the toddler tantrum scene is eerily similar to watching Italy in the World Cup. Eerily similar.

How to explain diving to your kids: “Diving is for pools, not soccer fields. Some people don’t play fair. Don’t let those people play with your soccer ball.”

Penalty kick. This is often the intended result of a dive. A penalty kick, also known as a spot kick or PK, occurs when an offensive player is fouled inside the penalty box. The penalty box is a space on the field that extends 18 yards on either side of the goal post, and 18 yards out into the field. If a diver gets into the penalty box, look out, ‘cause he’s going down if you look at him sideways. If the ref awards a penalty kick, the ball is placed on a spot 12 yards in front of the goal, and an offensive player gets to take a shot on the goalkeeper from there.

How to explain a penalty kick to your kids: “The penalty box is like this house. Do not hit, kick, trip, bite, push or spit on anyone in this area. If you do, that person gets to kick a soccer ball at you from a close distance.”

penalty kickShootout. No, not what happens in a Sao Paulo favela after a World Cup game. A shootout is an unsavory ending to a game that remains tied all the way through regulation and 30 minutes of overtime. That’s 120 minutes of full-throttle soccer—and professional soccer has very limited substitutions, so most players are on the field for that entire time. During the course of an overtime game, the average player runs about 217 miles at a dead sprint. As much as we’d all like to see the fellas finish it on the field, you can only expect the human body to run so much. So after two hours of straight soccer, you have a shootout, which is a series of penalty kicks (see above) until one team finally scores more goals than the other. Not very satisfying, but trust me, very necessary.

How to explain a shootout to your kids: “This is how you and your sister will settle arguments from now on. Whoever scores more goals in a shootout gets the toy. End of story. Any whining about the result, and you get a red card. Now go in the other room and play. Daddy is watching the World Cup.”