Crying Games

Sweet

Kissing Boo-boos 

This sticker sucks, where is the princess?

This sticker sucks, where is the princess?

My kids can go from adorable and well-behaved to faking an injury in the speed of being told no.  Injuries have always been spotlight grabbers and kids are smart.  We go through band aids like paper towels because let’s be honest, band aids are just princess stickers that come with sympathy and attention.  Could there be anything better to have for a toddler.  So yeah, I recognize that when I hear, “I NEED A BAND AID” it rarely is warranted and often the location of said boo-boo can mysteriously relocate in the time it takes to get the wrapper off of the sticker band-aid.  That’s because keeping tabs on the locale of imaginary injuries can be a tough job.

There is a real benefit to those little bumps and bruises though, both real and imaginary ones.  It gives me a chance to kiss something and make it better.  Even though my lips have no magical healing abilities, as long as I am dad and they are little, kisses get to be better than medicine because they make everything feel better. There is definitely some magic in that.  When we grow up tears usually have so much stress fueling them that kisses and hugs seem to lose their luster. I try to remember how lucky I am to be able to provide the kind of comfort that a parent gives their child and though some level of that will always remain, this is the time that it is really special.  For example, go find an adult that is crying and start to tickle them and see what happens.  One of the greatest things about being a parent is being able to make everything better in their eyes even on days that you can’t seem to get anything right in yours.  Seeing a tiny little smile begin to blossom out of a face puddle of tears is totally sweet.

 

Weak

There Will Be Tears 

I don't want crust on my sandwich!

I don’t want crust on my sandwich!

Speaking of face puddles, toddlers are crazy good at crying.  In their defense, if I was just beginning to learn and understand that I was a part of a whole big world instead of the whole big world being a part of me I may get a bit verklempt as well. I’m not suggesting that our little one isn’t still the boss of us in a lot of ways but she is starting to figure out that the whole baby thing where the world and everyone in it revolved around her was only temporary.  That is probably a tough pill to swallow and for the most part she is handling that kind of life changing realization rather gracefully but every now and then the reality slaps her cold in the face and she isn’t in the mood to deal with it.

She doesn’t know how to do a ton of stuff yet but for as far back as she can remember tears got results.  Granted back then she was crying because she needed a clean diaper and now the tears may be because butterflies won’t talk to her or her mean parents won’t let her mix Skittles with Cheerios and milk for breakfast.  When she was a baby the only reasons her cries weren’t tended to immediately was If they went unheard. Well, Captain Lung Capacity has no struggle with upping the volume  and if that doesn’t work, then the real exasperation begins to set in.  I’ve even had her suddenly stop mid sob to look up at me and say, “DADDY, I’M CRYING!”  Like anyone in our house or on our street didn’t hear her.  There should be a game show where parents of toddlers have to guess if the cries of a 2-year-old are the result of an appendage stuck in a piece of running farm machinery or if they got an orange Popsicle when they wanted a red one.

Toddler-hood is the gateway into a brave new world and I need to remind myself that it isn’t all roses and sunshine for them either.  I should also keep in mind that If I am going to call them a jerk under my breath I had better make sure it is way under my breath because the lady at the grocery store doesn’t understand but is happy to offer her parenting critique.  Like apparently suggesting that your kid  can use the tears streaming down her face to wash down the two more bites of carrots (that basically make up 79% of her entire lunch) you are begging her to eat is not good form.

I am lucky that these times are less and less frequent and love them no matter what causes the crying but when it is because they aren’t allowed to paint the TV, it is totally weak.

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Potential Book Titles and Watermelon Explosions

I bet the best parts of writing a book are finishing it and deciding on the title.  The problem with finishing it is that it takes a bunch of work.  Deciding on a title doesn’t take near the time commitment or talent that writing a whole book takes.  I don’t know if I will ever actually write a book but these are some of my title ideas of I ever get off the schnide and make it happen.

  • Waiting in the Car While My Wife Runs Into the Store and Other Ways Parenthood has Increased My Carbon Footprint
  • 72 Band-aids and Plenty of Apple Juice, A Parent Survival Kit
  • Parenting With Fruit Snacks (Little Bags of Shut the Hell Up)
  • Honey, the Kids are Finally Asleep, We can Finally Break Out the Good Snacks
  • Toddlers with Sharpies and Other Reasons I Should Have Become a Hostage Negotiator
  • Told My Kid to Shut Their Cry Hole and Other Reasons I May Not Get That Parent of the Year Trophy
  • Not Letting Them Put Princess High Heels on the Dog and 2,346 Other Ways I Ruin My Kid’s Lives
  • 37th Time Is A Charm: Tips On Putting Your Toddler To Bed and Other Parenting Pearls of Wisdom
  • Cutting The Dog’s Hair is Never an Accident, Our Children Are Liars

I love my kids and I love being a dad; choosing to laugh instead of cry at some of the ways parenthood challenges you has been a good decision for me.  If any real life writers out there need a poorly thought out title that is likely a run-on sentence hit me up.

I hope everyone has had a good summer and I appreciate folks still stopping by to read even when it has been ages since I have written anything.  I have done a few cool things though this summer and wanted to share one of them.  Watch all the way to the end to see the big pay off, definitely sweet.


Wish You Were Here

Sorry, this was kind of a jerk move. My bad.

20130703-003036.jpg


THIS POST IS FOR MEN ONLY!

Take my advice, this can be easier than it looks.

Take my advice, this can be easier than it looks.

Hey guys, come closer.  I have a little something to tell you that could very well change your world.  Are you in a relationship with someone special and have a birthday or anniversary coming up?  Are you dreading that moment when you know you need to come up with a heart-felt message to put inside of the card and not just underline a few words and write “I love you” at the end?  Could she tell last time based on the penmanship that you wrote your words of love and adoration while you were sitting at a red light?

Well don’t worry about that any longer because I have an idea that is going to melt hearts and make you look like Captain Romance.

The next time you are looking for a card and you find one that you like, keep looking until you find another one that you like.  Find something with a really sweet romantic message.  Now take those cards to the counter and buy both of them.  Open the card that you have decided to give your sweetheart and write the message from the other card into the card you are giving her.  BOOM! CASANOVA.

Give her the card and wait for tears of happiness.

You Are Welcome.


Relationship Status: Survived a Trip to IKEA

My wife and I recently celebrated 12 years of marriage.  I know to some that is a long time and to others we are still relatively new at this.  Here is the thing though, I think 12 calendar years is probably equivalent to at least 20-25 IKEA years.  What I mean  is that this 12 year accomplishment  deserves your applause because during that time we probably made at least 20 trips to IKEA.  IKEA is like the Swedish Wal-Mart where healthy loving relationships go to die.

Tools? We don't need no stinking tools!

Tools? We don’t need no stinking tools!

I guess one of the good things about IKEA is that the golf pencil and little paper tape measure are free, especially since the marriage counseling is going to be so expensive. I mean, if they would let you take a plate of those delicious horse meat meatballs into the showroom I would go there by myself on a Saturday just to watch couples melt down in public.  I am pretty sure that any husband can agree that the 4 words that can strike fear into even the bravest of souls when spoken in an IKEA are “what do you think?’  WHAT DO I THINK?? EJECT, EJECT, SAVE YOURSELVES I’M DEAD ALREADY.  What I think is that after 20 seconds in that place we are all drunk on sleek design and functionality and that intoxication will soon wear off when we realize no number of multi-tool organizational shelving units will make the inside of our house look like the showroom there.  Of course that isn’t what I said.  What I said was, I think it is great, I think everything in here is great.  I think if we get this dining room desk /storage unit with hidden drawers and special built-in lights that take light bulbs that cannot be purchased anywhere else on the planet it will probably solve most of our problems.  Que meltdown.

At IKEA this is like finding Super Mario's secret warp zone to world 8-1.

At IKEA this is like finding Super Mario’s secret warp zone to world 8-1.

Those Swedes think of everything though, because it is hard to look all pissed when you are storming off pushing a cart with 4 swivel wheels and you have to Tokyo drift around the corner to avoid knocking over a display of 4000 glass tea light holders.  The also know that any little argument can easily fade away when you turn the corner and both marvel at the 200 square foot living space.  Suddenly you want to trade your big house in the suburbs for a broom closet because how cool is all of this stuff?

I need to be honest though, while it is possible that IKEA can present some unique relationship challenges, they do have some cool stuff; no Viking helmets but cool stuff none the less.  We have some of their cool stuff in our house and most of the time the joy of new furniture is enough to quell the in store disputes and bring everyone back to a happy place before the put together meltdown occurs.

I think we all know about the put together meltdown.  I am a pretty handy guy I fix stuff and know my way around a tool box but that really doesn’t matter when it comes to Swedish engineering.  There is no piece of IKEA furniture in our house that wasn’t halfway assembled then taken apart and reassembled because I had something upside down or backwards or inside out. You would think that the only  problem with that would be the increased amount of time to complete the build and the addition of a few 4 letter words to your kid’s vocabulary but the real problem is this:

Once she learned the new curse words it was time to let her take over.

Once she learned the new curse words it was time to let her take over.

Furniture from IKEA is not designed to be taken apart and put back together.  With the re-screwing or allen wrenching or whatever you call it of each bolt with that multi-tool the structural integrity is compromised.  So basically after a 6 pack of beer, 2 cut knuckles, a kid wondering what that word meant and a bucket of tears (mine not there’s) you wind up with a bedside table that is capable of holding an alarm clock and a pencil and anything heavier than that causes the legs to wobble.

They say that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and I think that this can be applied to relationships for sure.  Arguing in IKEA can be pretty weak but getting home and lounging on your new futon/file cabinet/spice rack is totally sweet.


Not Letting Us Put Princess High Heels on the Dog and Other Ways Dad Ruins Our Life

What do you mean I can't go to my sister's school performance dressed like this?

What do you mean I can’t go to my sister’s school performance dressed like this?

I have often joked that if Hollywood made a movie about my life, the actor that would play me would be whoever is best at walking around the house turning off lights and forgetting to put a new trash bag in the can.  It’s funny how paying an electric bill can turn you into your own father.  I used to always wonder what the big deal was during the summer when he would yell at us to SHUT THE DOOR!  Now any time a door is open for more than 4 seconds it just looks like a $10 bill waving goodbye.  So I get it dad.  It took me a while but I totally get it.

I also get that sometimes you need to let your kid help with a home repair project even if all you let them do is hold the flashlight and sigh when the space in the cabinet under the sink goes dim right as you get a grip on the part of the disposal you were working on just to see your kid shining the flashlight into their mouth to see if it will come out of their ears and nose.  Sometimes being a dad means you have to take your daughter into a public bathroom and answer questions about the urinal or suck it up and smile while you fork over $18 for a bag of popcorn at the circus.  Other times being a dad means you have to tell them no when they want to put lip stick on the dog or bring the fish with us to the grocery store, “can’t we just put them in a bag like when we brought them home from the pet store?”

For me, being a dad of daughters means that sometimes I have to ease out of my comfort zone and play “bad cop” even when they act like not letting them push the button on something just ruined their entire life.  It also means helping find missing shoes and honing my negotiation skills trying to talk my little one into putting down the magic marker.  It can be about explaining why you can’t just put down a Popsicle on the table because climbing onto the kitchen counter requires both hands and it can be about threatening to turn the car around and drive home when you are 4 hours into a drive to Disney World and back seat sibling rivalry has reached an apex.

Being a dad can be about cleaning up messes and saying no and checking prices of diapers on Amazon instead of perusing watercraft on boattrader.com.  Fatherhood can include all kinds of stuff that I could deem “weak” but guess what? Those kind of problems are like hardly having enough room on your bedroom floor to set up the GI Joe Aircraft carrier.  They pale in comparison and are blown away by the awesomeness of fatherhood.  The sweet always outweighs the weak.  The good guys always win.

Being a dad means you get to freak your wife out with stuff like this.

Being a dad means you get to freak your wife out with stuff like this.

You see, being a dad means getting to carry 40 lbs of unadulterated happiness on your shoulders while you feel her ice cream cone drip on your head. It means seeing the magic that only lives inside of a Christmas morning smile.  It means getting to be a hero, prince charming, and the guy that can make everything good again.

I’ve been a dad for 7 years and although I didn’t know it when I was a kid hoping to be a baseball player or an archaeologist (I spelled that on the first try by the way), this is what I wanted to be when I grew up.  Being a dad means seeing tears dry when you kiss a boo-boo and standing alone in the street yelling “you’re doing it! you’re doing it all by yourself! keep peddling!”  It means putting up a tent in the living room or making a pallet of blankets and watching an ordinary Friday turn into the greatest day ever.

I remember when I was a kid that no matter how bad I messed something up or how hard a task seemed, when dad came to help I knew it was going to work out.  Now I get to be that guy.  The one that in two little pairs of blue eyes, can do no wrong.  I know it may only be in the opinions of my kids but I’ve got to tell you, it feels pretty awesome to be awesome.  It can be a lot of work and the return on investment may not always translate on a spreadsheet but when the fruit of your labor is rewarded with smiles and cheers and “I love you daddy’s” there isn’t much this planet has to give that is any better.

I don’t do it right all of the time and agree that being a parent can be the hardest thing in the world sometimes but if I had any advice to share with other dad’s out there it would be to not rush past the pay off.  Realize that what you do not only matters but it shapes those little people who call you daddy and has a pretty huge impact on the kind of people that they will become. Don’t let fatherhood feel like nothing but a job.  Enjoy the pay-off of your labor. Smile with them, laugh with them, put a flashlight into your own mouth and see if it will shine out of your ears and nose.  Recognize in the moment that this is what it is about and don’t rush onto the next.  Take the time to make a snuggle sandwich and feel how they have the amazing ability to be the ones that make everything all right with you the same way you do for them.  Those moments can heal you just like your kisses on scraped knees.  Remember them, enjoy them, there is nothing sweeter.

Sure, go ahead and be the bad guy when you need to but remember, you’re not really going to turn the car around and drive all the way home so let those times be the ones you dwell in the least and then remember to slow down and enjoy the part where someone laughs at all of your jokes and somehow even an average guy like you is capable of magic.

Happy Father’s Day.

What can I say, I'm a pretty lucky guy. Doesn't get much sweeter than this.

What can I say, I’m a pretty lucky guy. Doesn’t get much sweeter than this.


Whoever Said, “The Best Things in Life are Free” Obviously Wasn’t a Parent

Sweet

I Laughed So Hard, I Peed My Pants 

funny should be measured on a scale of snicker to involuntary urination

funny should be measured on a scale of snicker to involuntary urination

The rustling of the nylon against her 50 lb lanky frame as she darted through the play tunnel was the only accompaniment to the raucous giggle fest taking place. I walked up the stairs after getting home from work and heard the laughter break just long enough for the words, “Daddy, look at Lucy’s trick!” Lucy is our 8 month old  Weimaraner and she has lots of energy. My daughters had gotten out an old nylon baby tunnel and Lucy decided  running through it as fast as she could was the greatest thing ever.  My toddler agreed and just like that it was giggle-palooza.

Remember that? Remember what it feels like to laugh so hard at something that you think you may never catch your breath? Remember what it is like to have the laughter go silent as your face contorts almost in a plea to make it stop before the control of your bladder is the next thing to go?  Seems like it used to happen a lot more often doesn’t it?

No one likes pee pants but there is something kind of awesome about a moment that entertains you to the extent that you can no longer control bodily functions.  My toddler (standing on the toy box so she wasn’t in the raceway) stood there and laughed so hard she could barely breath.  Lucy, apparently relishing her new role as giggle fuel, continued to dart through the tunnel to the toddler’s delight.

I stood on the stairs and watched thinking about how the laughter of a child can be contagious.  Just before I began to wax-poetic about the unabated joy that can be found in the most simple parts of family life, the laughter stopped.  Lucy stopped.  The toddler looked at me and said, “sorry daddy, I had an accident.” As soon as the words left her mouth, the dog took off again and the giggles exploded as if the puddle on the toy box wasn’t even there.

She has been potty trained for a while now but I knew right away this had nothing to do with being potty trained.  She had simply laughed so hard she peed her pants.  While not the most fun to clean up, you have to tip your hat to the concept of laughing so hard you wet yourself.  When you are a kid there isn’t very much that you are in charge of, you aren’t used to having a tight grasp on things.  It’s probably easier to lose control because you aren’t that used to having control.  As we get older our grip begins to strengthen as we hold onto things we are responsible for and trick ourselves into thinking that we control things when all we really control is our reactions to them.

They look so sweet when they aren't sprinting through the living room or peeing on the toy box.

They look so sweet when they aren’t sprinting through the living room or peeing on the toy box.

What if you could have a moment that you didn’t just loosen your grip but you opened your hand completely, trusting that there would still be something to hold onto when you were done but for just that instant you laughed.  You laughed long and hard and maybe you don’t wet your pants but you get right to that point.  That point where everything just kind of disappears and the only thing that you are cognizant of  is the thing cracking you up.  You know what else is cool about that? Laughter is free.  I don’t know about you but for me it has been a while and I miss laughing like that.  Cracking up is totally sweet.

 

Weak

The Best Things in Life do Not Care About Money As Long As They Get Most of It 

Seriously dude? You are spending me on another glow necklace at the park then putting me in the freezer? We both know that doesn't really work.

Seriously dude? You are spending me on another glow necklace at the park then putting me in the freezer? We both know that doesn’t really work.

Remember that time I disabled the parental control’s on my daughter’s Kindle to download some movies for a long car ride but forgot to turn them back on and 2 months later found out I owned every single episode ever of iCarly? I remember it like it happened yesterday because that is when it happened.  That’s right, every single episode bought one at a time (instead of the discounted price for purchasing the entire season) over a couple of months.  I guess this goes into the family budget column of  “unexpected expenses” but I really thought that meant stuff like tire repair or an wrist cast.  I’m sure those will come but for now, our “unexpected expenses” are brought to us by Nickelodeon.  I get it though, I know it was my fault for not turning the parental controls back on but in all reality it is probably my fault because my 6 year old has a Kindle Fire.

Regardless of if it is something you have time to prepare for like shoes for school or something unexpected like a broken window and a flesh wound in need of stitches, kids are expensive.  Money arrives and departs my bank account so quickly it doesn’t even have time to sign the guestbook.  People joke that if money talked,  theirs would only say goodbye but I think mine would give me a long sigh, an exasperated look, and exclaim “seriously?”  Then I would suck it up and pay $18 for popcorn at the circus or a Disney World souvenir that will have the newness worn off on the drive home and be designated to some junk toy bin that probably holds $200 worth of plastic chachkies.

Image property of Nickelodeon, just like my $150.

Image property of Nickelodeon, just like my $150.

I wan’t my kids to experience things to the fullest as much as anyone else but now that I am older, I get why so many dads in movies and cartoons I watched as a kid came with a scowl.  I think the process goes something like this:

Kid: Look they have a petting Zoo!

Dad Brain: Awesome…..wait, twelve dollars?

Kid: Yay! Snow Cones!

Dad Brain: Gotta love snow cones…… but ten dollars?

Kid: I got invited to a birthday party!

Dad Brain: twenty dollars

Kid: Thanks for bringing us to the movies dad!

Dad Brain: fifty dollars

Kid: I think I broke my ankle, its really swollen.

Dad Brain: Rub some dirt on it.

Kid: Uh Oh

Dad Brain: Eleventy bajillion dollars.

This uh oh will cost a bit of coin but luckily she was fine. We were glad the blinds were closed and she learned a lesson about climbing onto the table.

This uh oh will cost a bit of coin but luckily she was fine. We were glad the blinds were closed and she learned a lesson about climbing onto the table.

As you can see, it is a steady digression and finding the balance between basking in the smiles of your offspring and calculating what it cost to get them can be a challenge.  I guess it is important to make it work though and realize that there are ways to make things less expensive and it is insensitive to nick name your kids “could have been a jet ski” and “instead of a lake house.”  This week I got a broken window and iCarly.  When they are teenagers I will probably look back at how this was small potatoes.  Still though, over $300 of unexpected expenses in a 10 day span is enough to put me at risk of sporting a scowl.  I mean, just think of how many fireworks you can buy with $300.  Perhaps the most telling piece of information in this blog post is the fact that I was just thinking about how many fireworks you can buy with $300 and not how much interest it could earn over the next 10 years if tucked safely into an IRA.  Enough about that, never mind the man behind the curtain  the great and powerful dad has spoken.  Kids are one of the best things in life but they are far from free and spending over $100 on iCarly episodes is totally weak.

 

 


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