Tag Archives: parenthood

The Time I Tried Stand-Up Comedy

Last summer I got a chance to cross off an item from the old proverbial bucket list.  I tried my hand at stand-up comedy and pretty much had a blast.  I’m not sure why I never shared the video but I’ve been looking into giving it another try and thought it might be worth posting.  Apologies for the video quality, if I do it again I will try to get a better recording.

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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.

 

 


72 Band-Aids and Plenty of Apple Juice

 

Father Knows Best was an old TV show that I am old enough to know of but not really know about. It seemed fitting, this picture is from the Interwebs and belongs to the show. I guess.

Father Knows Best was an old TV show that I am old enough to know of but not really know about. It seemed fitting, this picture is from the Interwebs and belongs to the show. I guess.

*Stands up, clears throat* Hi, my name s Simon. I am a 35-year-old father of two and sometimes I would rather play Xbox than Polly Pocket or watch a show about pawn shops instead of giving them baths. *All together now* “HI SIMON” 

Horrible huh? I mean moms on Facebook are re-purposing tiny mason jars into sippy cups and spending 6 hours making rainbow cup cakes for their kid with two last name’s preschool class. Dads are coaching multiple sports teams and all work for companies that are happy to give them half the day off to go to their first grader’s Christmas party to stand around like overgrown wall flowers and watch their kids eat said cupcake. Babies are learning sign language and how to read and the other day I met a 5-year-old that knew what quinoa was.

The over-achieving appears to be at its zenith and it seems that all of the parents around me went to orientation or got the syllabus ahead of time and have a way better clue as to what they are doing.  I mean I hate to break it to you but some mornings I wake up and it takes me a few minutes to remember I’m not 15 and I am in charge of TWO HUMAN BEINGS.

Don’t worry though, the whole grown up secret is safe with me. While I may not fool other parents, my kids think I’ve got all the answers just like we thought about our parents when we were kids. One day I will be able to hand down this tradition of the human condition to my daughters and the cycle will continue.

“Wow Simon, that was quite the little rant, you must hate being a parent.”

Nope. Being a parent is one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me and guess what? It’s my favorite. I love my kids with all of my heart and I even think that sometimes I am a pretty good dad, maybe even most of the time.

I also know that it isn’t always easy and when you add being a parent to being a spouse, being a sibling, being an employee, being a son or daughter, and being an adult, sometimes you can forget what it feels like to be you.

The good news is, I think there is room to be all those things, be good at them, and still be you. I also think that if you can remember who you were when you were 15 and not be afraid to let it shine through in your other roles, it will make you better at them and the days more fun along the way.

I’m not going to lose who I am in an effort to be the best parent I can be. I’m going to share who I am with my kids and figure things out one day at a time. It may not always wind up looking like a photo on Pinterest but as long as I can keep them healthy, happy, learning, and laughing I think we will figure this thing out.

I hope to share some light-hearted stories and observations from a dad’s point of view of what it can be like raising the generation that doesn’t know what the roll down window gesture means and can’t drive to the grocery store without wanting to watch a movie.

I love them with all I’ve got even when they make me miss video games. As long as we have a fun-loving disposition, plenty of juice, and extra band-aids I think we will do just fine even when we do eat the occasional gluten and still aren’t positive that quinoa isn’t a city in Canada.


Fun Little Games Like “Find That Smell” and Other Joys of Life with a Toddler and a Puppy

Sweet

Man’s Best Friend 

Meet Lucy

Last Monday I woke up and the brilliant idea came over me that what this household really could use is one more blue-eyed brunette female needing things from me.  You read that right.  We got a puppy, another female in this house and likely a few more steps down my personal path to the loony bin.

Her name is Lucy and she really is just what our family needed (I think).  It has been a year with no dog in our house since losing our little guy Rusty and I think everyone just had a little extra love to share that needed a home.  We are finding that Lucy has plenty of it to give back too.  The girls have a serious case of puppy love and when I think about Lucy being a part of our family as the girls grow up, it makes me smile.

True, even in one week I have questioned if we bit off a bit more than we can chew but then I remember that Lucy is happy to chew the rest.  I can tell that she is going to be a great dog.  She is gentle but playful smart and learning quickly.  Another fun part about a new puppy is just in case I wasn’t already drowning in an ocean of ping and sparkle, Lucy has food and water bowls with hearts on them and a collar with pink trim.  Basically what I am saying is, if any of you are going fishing or getting together to watch the game, give me a shout.

Realizing there is enough love to go around with some left over is pretty cool, deciding to share that love with a puppy is totally sweet.

 

Weak

No Lucy, No No Lucy, That’s not your toy, do that outside, drop it, stop chewing that shoe, where did you get those panties…….. 

I may have found the secret to parenting

Shoot me.

Yes, dear old dad, in his ever continued quest to be a hero to his girls and go for the gusto, may have just relived the banana split to-go moment only with much bigger consequences than an ice cream river running through a SUV.  Don’t get me wrong, puppies are wonderful and so are toddlers.  Much like vinegar and baking soda are both, for the most part, manageable on their own; puppies and toddlers are OK separately as well.  Things get a bit more explosive when the two elements mix.  For example: it is a great idea for us to decide that Lucy will not have any table food and we will stick to that, except our little one just gave her half of a grilled cheese sandwich just now.  Unfortunately Usain Bolt couldn’t have gotten to Lucy before the sandwich was no more.

I am all for the notion that the best way to get used to the temperature of the water is to jump head first into the deep end rather than dipping in your toe.  I also realize that sometimes that method causes you to come shooting out of the water with a scream and a shiver.

We will find a way to manage and there is a part of me that will love every minute but as Lucy discovers something new to get into every minute and our toddler works to finish up this potty training thing and start flying solo, I can’t help but wonder what we were thinking.  It isn’t the toddler or the puppy’s fault that  when combined they can become combustible.  Toddler drops food, puppy eats food.  Toddler leaves out toys, puppy eats toys.  Puppy has accident in crate, toddler crawls in and doesn’t want to come out.

I love the feel of chaos when the primary ingredient is joy.  Saturday morning, however, after the girls and puppy only being up for a couple of hours, our living room looked like, smelled like, and sounded like, the beginning of the movie Saving Private Ryan.  For a split second I questioned our judgement but then I realized the toys can be put away and the messes can be cleaned up but the smiles and the laughter that was spilling in the room was a mess worth having.  They are lucky that they are all so adorable.

It is worth it, but I am not naive (well maybe a little) I recognize that when your daughter wants to live in the dog crate and the puppy won’t stop trying to eat the fireplace, it is pretty weak.


Saturday Morning

Sweet

Kid Style 

I’m not sure if it happened all of the time or only a few times but the memories of it were etched deep enough that they are easy to recall.  When I was a kid we would sometimes go to the Dairy Queen on Canton Road on Friday night.  We would sit on the patio with these round fiberglass tables with red and yellow fiberglass umbrellas that were angled just enough to keep the sun away and look like they were tipping their hat to the cars driving by.  Dad always called it getting a Brazier burger and I didn’t even know that was named after the cooking apparatus until I Googled it just now.  I would get a chili dog and there the four of us would sit like some John Cougar Mellencamp song.

When we finished dinner the sun was down and dad would buy everyone a milkshake to have on the ride home.  Usually chocolate for me, in a bright yellow paper cup.  Thick and delicious in a way that made the pain between your eyes as you tried to suck through the straw totally worth it.  We would get home and it would be time for bed.  Half eaten milkshakes were put in the freezer for safe keeping.

Until I hit the teenage sloth years, I was often the first one up on Saturday morning.  I would walk into the kitchen and get my now frozen solid milkshake and a fork.  I would turn on the TV and relish in controlling its destiny.  I would watch Super Friends and Pee Wee’s Playhouse and scrape the frozen bits of milkshake off with a fork until it melted enough to pull the straw free.

At the time I thought I was getting away with the most diabolical act of breakfast treason ever and smiled in the assurance that my unknowing parents were fast asleep right down the hall.  As the roles have changed, I now know better than thinking that they were ignorant to my scheming tucked away in blissful slumber.  They were awake, maybe groggy, but letting a little boy savor his first tastes of independence.  I will never forget that frozen leftover milkshake with Saturday morning cartoons.  Totally sweet.

 

Weak

Parent Style 

After a long week, the fatigue can often culminate on Friday night.  Yet, still determined to have some kind of life, it is inevitable that we will stay up later than usual even if it is just to have a beer or two and watch an old episode of Friday Night Lights on Netflix while folding laundry.  We are wild and crazy like that, I think the kids these days call it thug life.

We stay up later because we still live under the guise that just because we won’t be rushing off to work the next morning, that there will be time for rest and relaxation.  The reality of that is parenthood does not come with a snooze button.  Saturday mornings never arrive late, and often seem to smack me right in the face before the sun is even up or my eyes have had the chance to peal open.  Dropped toilet seats by the oldest begat cries from the toddler begat the realization that we have to be at some dumb kid’s birthday party in two hours and there is more to do than time to do it in.  It is funny how the cherry on top of that Saturday morning scramble is always writing something in said dumb kid’s card, even though a card is merely the gallbladder of a 6 year old birthday party.

Saturday mornings have a different feel now but if my oldest follows in my footsteps as an early riser, as long as she is quiet, she can eat whatever she can reach and clean up.  It would also be in her best interest to hide the evidence if she ops for ice cream sandwiches and fruit roll ups.  I can wax poetic about letting her spread her wings and have a touch of freedom but the reality is, pop should have probably passed on that last Amstel Light and just needs a few more dad gum minutes to sleep.  She has almost completed the complicated TV remote training so I think the time is drawing near.  Until then, we will remember the days of yore and hope those memories ease the pain of our new Saturday mornings that are totally weak.

 

 


Book Learnin’

Sweet

School Supplies 

School supplies were kind of my jam back in the day.  In fact, even now whenever I enter serious business negotiations, I always lead with slowly splitting the Velcro seal on my Transformers Trapper Keeper in order to let the intimidation set in.  You other professionals can have your leather padfolios but I bet they don’t have a built-in pencil-case or a secret milk money pocket.

I always liked school supplies because the idea of organization is very appealing to me.  It is the execution of said organization that I find dreadfully boring and difficult to maintain.  The first day of school was always my most organized day of the year because my backpack was full of fresh pencils and unbent folders and all of my crayons were present and accounted for in a box with no frayed and torn edges.  Basically by day two, I had doodled on all of my folders, lost three crayons, spilled my glue and managed to crumple every important handout into one paper lump in the bottom of my Jansport.

The first day of school was also the day that my shoes were the cleanest which meant I was at the apex of my jumping and running abilities.  Maybe the first night or so I would get home and try to rub out the new scuffs with a wet paper towel but by the end of the week they looked like those Nikes that Forrest Gump ran across the country in.  Only they weren’t Nikes, they were Pro-Wings which were similar to Nikes only the swoosh went the other way, the colors weren’t as cool, and they cost about 20% of what Nikes did.

I loved the new school supplies because regardless of their looming destiny of being lost, broken, or crumpled, for that brief moment they were pristine and full of promise.  Not to overload the Tom Hanks references but I think he summed up the allure of new school supplies best when his character Joe Fox told Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) “I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils.”  Much like a bouquet of flowers, my pencils would wither and die in no time but for that moment they were perfect.  There is a little bit of magic in that first day of school as you feel your independence start to swell inside of you and realize that you will have a hand in charting your own course.  Even if it is only that you are in charge of your pencils and glue sticks, you are still the boss of something.

I don’t know if you remember the last time you had one of those little lumps form in the back of your throat but my daughter started first grade today, so for me it was this morning.  Regardless of their inevitable demise, the perfectness of brand new school supplies is totally sweet.

 

Weak

When The Fat Lady Sings 

Yep, you read that last part right.  Today the high in Atlanta  is 90 degrees and kids are headed back to school.  Where does the time go?  Sure, they get out at the beginning of May now but it still just doesn’t feel right.  While I will admit that the first day of school can be sweet, it pales in comparison to the weakness of the last day of summer vacation.  The last day of summer vacation is like the Sunday night blues times infinity.  You start to worry that they might have really been serious about that summer reading list but there is no use in starting now and you suddenly feel like you didn’t chew near enough gum during the summer and it is about to be forbidden.

You try to look on the bright side and consider your new kicks and school clothes but no matter what your mom says, you know that the little knight on the horse holding a flag  on your Knights of the Round Table shirt looks nothing like the real Polo logo.  At least you were able to avoid the Rose Art crayon incident of last year and you got your mom to spring for some Crayolas (not that anyone forgot your loser crayons).

You don’t even consider it at the time because you are excited about your new duds but somewhere around getting off the bus, you realize you are that kid that wore his back to school sweater and stiff dark blue Rustler jeans even though it is August and almost 100 degrees outside.  Your new supplies are nice but eventually you realize that your Trapper Keeper must have been last year’s model on clearance because it didn’t come with a glow in the dark protractor or vinyl mesh pocket on the inside.  Quickly any first day magic fades away and cold hard fact that summer is over washes over you.

I guess there are two kinds of people in the world, those that call it the night before the first day of school, and those that call it the last day of summer vacation.  For me, I was like  a sailor watching his final day of shore leave evaporate around him.  That day was always a last day and never a day before a first.  I suppose book learnin’ is still important so off to school they go but when the fat lady is entering the final chorus of your summer of freedom, it is totally weak.

 

 


A Handful of Spaghetti and Other Toddler Delicacies

Sweet

Well, At Least She is Eating 

I wonder how much it would cost to get a drain installed in our kitchen floor?  I could probably justify a couple of benefits of having one but the primary reason is that more often than not, our little one needs to be hosed off before leaving the table after a meal.  She is learning to use utensils and it is great to hear her gurgle out an “I got it!” as she bites down on a fork load of food.  Let’s be honest though, she might as well be eating soup with a slotted spoon.  Last night we had spaghetti and we are perfectly content with robbing our second of the cute picture of spaghetti all over her head and face.  We let it happen with our first and there are just some things that you learn from aren’t worth repeating.

She was bibbed up and things started well as she managed to keep some cut up noodles on her spoon.  Flash to 15 seconds later and she is downing sauced up pasta by the handful.  The horror recedes from her mother’s eyes as we both realize that she is in fact eating and we know that utensils and cleanup are only battles but nourishment is the war.  We try to help a bit but accept the mess she is making.  That is, until our united family front begins to crack in weakness.  Our well-behaved 5-year-old makes the mistake of laughing at the little one and one little chuckle is all the encouragement our little ham needs before she attempts her best spaghetti juggling routine and delights in the laughter of her sibling.  Before long she has her parents laughing as well and she is relishing her role as the star of the show.  We manage to get a few more bites down her hatch between giggles and then flip a coin to see who gets bath duty and who gets to clean up the dinner massacre.

I got kitchen cleanup and asked myself what  CSI’s David Caruso would do?  After taking my sunglasses on and off a few times and squinting my eyes to survey the damage I went to work.  A roll of paper towels later we were finished and our freshly bathed kids still had a case of the giggles.  It may have been an epic mess but at least she was eating and even if you have to navigate nostril peas and hair dipped in yogurt, knowing your kid is fed is sweet.

Weak

My Greatest Fear Has Become the Rogue Sippy Cup 

Is there anything worse?  You find a sippy-cup under the couch or behind the toy-box and your prayer begins.  Dear Heavenly Father, please show me your grace and mercy and let this cup be full of water, and if it has to be full of milk, please give me a sign so I can throw it away when my wife isn’t looking so I don’t have to wash a white festering clump of rot out of this thing.  In Jesus name, amen.  You may start and end your prayer differently or address it to someone or something else but there is no mistake that in that moment we all hope for some kind of divine intervention.  You try to remember the last time you saw the cup in the active rotation and what was in it but it is no use, the princesses and the Dora’s and Minnie Mouse’s all run together you don’t have a clue.  You walk to the sink and play a version of parenthood roulette as you twist open the lid and pray for the best.

I used to think that finding a forgotten sippy-cup was the worst thing possible, until last week when our little one upped the ante of horror and disgust.  She walked into the living room holding a sippy-cup that neither of us had just given to her.  My wife and I exchanged glances and like a scene from a movie both lunged as the word NOOOOOOOOOOOO bellowed out of each of us.  Diving to save our little one, I batted the cup from her hand but it was too late.  The sip of septic gross combined with the scare of having her dad punch a cup millimeters away from her face may very well result in a hefty therapy bill one day.  Not sure if this one had juice of milk in it but the sour odor was already escaping the nozzle and the fruit flies swarming around it made the decision to throw it away an easy one.  Contrary to any opinions that may be forming, we are not unfit parents and go through lots of wipes and elbow grease  trying to maintain a suitable living environment for our little mess machines.  Cleaning a house with little kids in it is like tossing buckets of water over the side of a sinking boat.  No matter how fast you go or how much headway you make, you are still taking on water.  Most messes are all in a day’s work and just part of the gig but the rogue sippy-cup is totally weak.


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