March 28, 2012

Resent Your Children in 4 Easy Steps

Authors Note: I wrote the following post for  Please check out their site for great articles about modern fatherhood!

We as Americans value two things more highly than any other.  We tout these to the rest of the world as the reason that our country is the greatest on the planet.  We give them as reasons for being the object of hate of terrorists and oppressed people everywhere.

More than anything else, we love opportunity!  The greatest thing about this country is that everyone has the opportunity to be successful.  (Apparently)

The second greatest thing, is the ability to resent those with better opportunities, such as our children.  This must be done, however, with the greatest level of efficiency.  For, you know, freedom.

Here is a handy-dandy guide to helping parents resent their children in the most effective ways possible.

1) Don't ever set aside time for yourself:
Children are the future.  We must do everything we can to give them a leg up.  This means that the time that you spend at poker games, at the gym, watching TV, checking your e-mail, reading this blog post, or sleeping, is all wasted time.  You should be spending every moment, waking or not, playing with, talking to, working for, or otherwise paving a golden future for your kids.

If, in a moment of negligence, you take 30 seconds to relax and reflect upon things in life which are less wonderful than your children, like the latest episode of The Walking Dead, you should be ashamed of yourself.  The sound you hear as you turn on electronic devices isn't a high frequency whine.  It's the sounds of other children getting into medical school ahead of yours.

2) Challenge them to almost anything:
With the notable exception of the gentleman behind the Man Vs. Toddler video, if you challenge your child to almost any task, you will lose.  I don't mean that they will be faster, stronger, or smarter than you, because most likely, they will not be.  But you will still lose.  Why?  Because when the competition is over, they get to go play, or eat dirt, or make hand-turkeys.

You, however, get to go back to work to make money to buy them toys with which they will play while you are at work.  In addition, you have the added shame of knowing that you challenged a child to a contest just so that you could feel superior.

Which leads to number 3

3) Have a job:
Every weekday morning, your alarm clock goes off earlier than you could have imagined.  You get up, shower, eat breakfast (maybe), drink coffee (if you're lucky) and head off to work.  Regardless of how much you may love your job, your kids are having more fun than you are.

You're filing TPS reports, they're playing cops and robbers on the playground.  You're sitting in a budget meeting, they're trading their apple for some fruit snacks with the fervor of a coked-up day trader.  You're at work, desperately waiting for the weekend so that you can mow the lawn and do the laundry and paint the house and clean the windows and plant some flowers and go food shopping for the week.  They are not at work.

4) Remember your "firsts":
Your first kiss, first car, first apartment, first A in school, first best friend, first sleepover, first sip of beer, first time falling in love...

You are done with those.  Admittedly, you have more "firsts" to look forward to, but they aren't nearly as fun.

Your first adult diaper, your first pair of black socks with sandals, your first set of dentures, your first anxiety attack when your daughter brings a boy home.
Your first (medically related) prostate exam.

It is despising those who are more fortunate than us that makes this country great!
Resent your kids now, before they grow up.
Or the terrorists win...

March 25, 2012

Actual Discussion

Harper is carrying around my PSEA membership card.

Me: What is that, baby?
H: Money!
Me: Money? Is that your credit card?
H: Yeah!
Me: Wow! What are you going to buy?
H: Stuff!

Parenting Tip: Toddlers understand credit cards...

March 24, 2012

My Daughter, The Chef

Parenting Tip: Teach your kids to help out.

Harper loves to "help" in the kitchen.  She always has.

More recently, the quotes have been coming off of the word "help."

A year ago, when she had just learned how to walk, run, climb and destroy things a little higher off of the ground, I dreaded hearing "Hep, daddy!!" when it was accompanied by the sound of a chair being dragged into the kitchen.  My lovely child would bring a chair in, place it exactly where I needed to stand to make breakfast/lunch/dinner and proceed to manhandle whatever she could reach.  Eggs were thrown on the floor, razor-sharp knives were wielded with excited abandon and cups, bottles and jars were knocked over, spilled, opened, closed or whatever action was the least convenient for me.

I want to cultivate certain interests in my children.  One of the main ones is a love of cooking, and cooking with someone.  Unless we are in a rush, Sara and I cook and bake together.  It's a family activity and I want the girls to know that and enjoy it as well.

Also, volunteering to help someone is a pretty great attribute.

As I have stated before, I am not a fan of food-based messes as they often lead to sticky messes.  This aversion, coupled with my desire to have Harper love working in the kitchen, and helping in general, causes a bit of internal conflict.  On Saturday or Sunday mornings, I almost always make eggs for breakfast.  A few weeks ago, I bit the bullet and taught Harper how to carefully crack eggs into a bowl.  It took less time than I would have thought and only a few broken eggs.  I cringed, but calmly had her help me clean up the eggs and wash our hands afterwards.

She has become, not super-helpful, but not counter-productive to have in the kitchen and this delights me.  I no longer cringe at hearing "I hep you, daddy!"  Even if I am not giving her a useful task, like "make the rue, please." or "that pan needs to be soaked before you scour it, baby." or "I need this onion diced. Do you think you can do that for daddy?" she will happily do almost any task I set before her.

Usually it's asking her to mix something that doesn't need to be mixed.

This morning, I made eggs and pancakes.  Harper helped me mix the pancake batter and did a wonderful job listening when I told her to mix slowly and carefully.  When she was done, she even carefully left the whisk in the bowl so it wouldn't spill.

I think she will be an excellent helper as she gets older.

That is, of course, when she's not climbing into the fridge...
I'm waiting for her to tell me it's her igloo.
Seriously, how many parents have to (get to) use the phrase "Stop climbing into the fridge!"

Unrelated, but cute, photos:

March 18, 2012

My Daughter, An Ode

Double double, toilet trouble
And may the boiling water never bubble
Of those who failed on wood to knock
When speaking of our youngest stock.

A pox upon the cursed head
Of any whom in the past have said:
"Oh so sweet with manner mild
Is your youngest. Lovely child!"

This horrid words a plague have brought
And to my soul, a lesson taught.
If 'twas you those words did depart,
Heed the tale I now impart.

Hear of my daughter, the tiny Brynn,
Of sparkly eye and stunning grin.
She catcheth all who gaze her face,
Her net draws them in at an alarming pace.

But there is a side that they have never seen
And so their view is squeaky clean
In the public eye, she coos and giggles
In strangers views, she smiles and wiggles!

But when the door at home will close,
Another face, she does disclose.
From joyous to joyless in less than a blink.
Transitions faster than the brain can think.

To put her down will draw a squall,
Alligator tears from her eyes do fall.
And screams to shame the banshee's cry
Erupt from this apple of my eye.

She flails her arms and wails in woe
To shake the walls of Jericho.
The Lord's own angels would soon go mad,
Asking "Whyever is that child so sad?"

But this distressed visage will die,
When falling under the spying eye
Of one who goes not by "dad" or "mom"
And is replaced with perfect aplomb.

Those who would congratulate
Us on our stunning, lucky fate
Of children who are sweet and kind
Would do well to keep in mind

You have doomed, with hex and jinx,
Us to an attitude that stinks.
Much like diapers, from back two weeks,
We must take out from home what reeks.

She is quite cute, we do concede
But a tearless hour is what we need.
So in private, we call her, with white flag unfurled,
"The saddest baby in the world."

It has come to my attention from some above
That I, not once, did declare my love!
Through time happy and sad, you can rest assure
That this young child, we deeply adore!

This lovely child is perfect not,
But screaming, crying or covered with snot
Our love for her, daily does progress
And we wouldn't trade her for all the cash in congress.

March 16, 2012

My Daughters, Hazards To Themselves

While I was taking this video, Brynn was eating rabbit droppings...

OHSA approved of this gate. 
Why is it that going for walks is less stressful than playing in the yard?

March 14, 2012

My Daughters, Outside

Parenting Tip: Take your kids outside!!

I am beyond excited that the weather is getting nicer.  Because I am a mediocre parent and not very creative in activity development, I consider my main job to be to find ways to tire out my children before they tire me out.  It's like a race but there is no finish line.  You just run until one of you collapses.

During the winter, I lose.  I am incapable of finding enough things for my kids to do so that they simply pass out from exhaustion.  Sara has, on more than one occasion, come home to find me passed out, face down on the floor with both girls crawling over me, sticking pencils in my ears, pulling the glasses off of my face and stuffing hand-crushed poptarts and slices of cheese sticks down the back of my pants.

In the cold months, I concede victory to my adversaries.

The spring and summer, however, are mine!
These guys don't even argue with me!

With the warm weather comes one of my favorite phrases to use with my kids: "You want to chew the arm off the couch?  How about we go outside?"

Harper loves going outside.  She loves having the window open and feeling the wind in her hair.  When we go for car rides, she yells for us to "winnow! Down!"

In the winter, we made the mistake of replying with "Sorry, sweetie.  We have to leave the window up or it will snow in the car!" so of course, she then wanted it to snow in the car.

With beautiful weather, will come lowered car windows until the wind becomes too much, at which point we will play the "winnow up!  Winnow down!" game for hours.
Harper's role model
Also, we can go for walks!

Yesterday, I took the girls for a walk on the street behind our house.  It is a thru-street, but it's only used by people who have driveways along it and it reminds me of the asphalt play-place of my childhood, the community driveway.  This was a block and a half long driveway that only fed into the backs of houses and 99% safe for us to ride our bikes, roller skates, skateboards, etc.  I spent a large portion of my childhood wearing trenches into the pavement going back and forth.

Normally on walks, we take the double stroller but since we were in a contained area with minimal traffic, I let both girls walk on their own.

They had a great time, with Brynn toddling along and Harper running ahead, only to turn around and yell "C'mon, Bin!"

Walks are going to quickly move back into the realm of regular activities.  I like being outside since it's time that I'm not using the TV as a babysitter.  Also, being outside is pretty great when I'm in charge of where we go.

Being outside in the sun saps energy from children.  They run for hours without even realizing that they have.  If you or I went to the gym and ran on a treadmill for as long as small children run outside, we would be in amazing shape and be dead.

Parenting Tip: Take your kids outside!

Secondary Tip: Let them eat some dirt.  That's for another post.

March 12, 2012

My Daughters, Tantrums and Permanent Psychological Damage

The girls spent the weekend with their grandparents and Sara and I took FULL advantage of the time.

Friday night, we made pizza, watched an episode of Sherlock and went to see a few bands play at the The Altar Bar.  Good friends of ours, Neon Swing X-Perience was opening for the mediocre Reverend Horton Heat.  As usual, their set was awesome and they warmed up the crowd of aging Rockabilly punk fans for the two following acts, The Goddamn Gallows, and Larry and the Flask, both of which were really fun to watch.

Then Heat came on and it was time for us to go.  Saturday rolled around and we went to breakfast, followed by Sara going to a bridal shower.  Upon her return, we went to a potluck with the derby folks that culminated in 5 hours of skating, late dinner/early breakfast at Eat N Park, college-style, and back home at 3am.  Needless to say, it was an amazing time.

On Sunday, we drove up to the in-laws to have lunch/dinner and pick the girls up.

Harper was happy to see us and Brynn was napping.  When she got up, she was pretty happy as well.

Harper has been speaking more and more and has been prone to asking coherent, albeit short, questions.  This was clearly in evidence yesterday when, during dinner, Harper asked Sara if she wanted a certain salad dressing.  When Sara politely declined, she was faced with an inquisitive toddler, curiously asking "Why not?"

I was a bit taken aback and the momentary silence allowed the tyke to ask again.  "Why not, mommy?"

My unbearably adorable offspring gave everyone hugs and went down for a nap.  She woke up, screaming less than an hour later and all of the warm feelings that I had from her earlier inquiry quickly vanished as she went into full blown tantrum mode.

I am, or like to think I am, a relatively intelligent human being.  I think that I can tell the difference between Harper throwing a tantrum and when something is seriously wrong.

As I have stated before, I am prone to horrific nightmares and it seems that Harper has inherited this amazing trait.  Occasionally, she will awaken in the middle of the night, screaming for either me or Sara.  We go in, get her, calm her down, assure her that everything is ok and that we love her, and then put her back to bed.  The entire process takes about 5 minutes and she's back to sleep and dreaming of something other than being crucified in the desert by her close relations.

This was not that.  This was screaming, kicking, going limp and sliding out of grips, followed by more screaming and kicking and screaming "NOOOOOOOOO" at the top of her lungs.  For twenty minutes.  Sara tried to console her.  My mother-in-law tried to console her.  I tried to console her.  At this point, I decide that nothing is truly wrong and that she is throwing a tantrum.

At this point, my parenting style differs drastically from that of my wife and mother-in-law.  Were we at my house, the conversation would have gone like this:

Me: Harper, calm down, please.  Everything is alright and you need to breathe.
Me: Alright.  You're going to sit in your bed until you calm down.  I'll be right outside when you're ready.

However, that did not happen.   There was rocking and walking and screaming, and kicking and crying and soothing and shushing and more kicking and screaming for another 20 minutes.  Somehow, through the tears and limb-flailing, they managed to get her coat on and took her outside.  In the mean time, my father-in-law and I took the pleasant child on a stroll around the yard!

He is not sleep-walking.
I have no patience for tantrums.  Daily, I see at work the products of tantrums having been fed.  My students are often genuinely confused when I don't allow them to do whatever they want.  I don't really think my kids will grow up to be like that but the thought is always there in my mind.

At the same time, I don't want to stifle expression of emotions or ever have them believe that I don't care when they have something wrong.

It's a tough tight-rope to walk.  I have to get it right by the time they are 4 or they'll be screwed up forever and will hate me, right?

I need to stop reading "How To Screw Up Your Kid: 4 Easy Steps."

That book doesn't exist, but maybe I can make my millions writing it...

March 6, 2012

My Daughters, The Uneven Skating Rink

One of the problems that couples may encounter after they have children, (aside from lack of sleep, decreased liquid assets, increased stress, depression, nausea, upset stomach, flu-like symptoms, etc.) is the lack of time spent together.  You find yourself spending all of your free time with the children, or, if you're taking breaks from them, doing so one at a time.  This may be good for the family dynamic and cohesion and all that crap, but it wreaks havoc on your marital relationship.  Sara and I were having this issue.  Several times a month, we would look over at each other, gaze loving into one another's eyes, exclaim how glad we were to see the other and how it has been so long since we spent time, just the two of us.  We then promptly fell asleep, only to be woken, if not by the babies, then by our respective alarm clocks at separate times to get to our respective jobs.

But this is not a tale of those issues.  It is a tale of the solution and the (my) problem arising from that solution.

Several months ago, we were wandering around the mall and I offered to buy my lovely wife a chocolate and peanut butter coated pretzel from the candy store.  While there, Sara happened to notice a flyer for a roller derby league that was forming in our area.

She took a tab, contacted the woman in charge and in mid-February, we found ourselves at an exhibition bout watching women on roller skates beat each other up in a very NASCAR-esque fashion (not domestically, but geometrically.)  It was amazing!  We rented some skates and rolled around with the people for a while after the bout ended and we were hooked.

Sara got more information about joining the league and bought a nice set of starter skates and pads.
She's badass!
Not to be outdone, Harper had a go as well!

Since receiving her skates, we have been skating every weekend, at least once.  This past weekend, we managed to convince some friends to come with us.  So we went with them on Friday.  Then the derby group went on Saturday, so we went with them too.  Then Sara had practice on Sunday, so she went to that as well.

Sara has even gotten a new hair style that I could only describe as derby-fied.
The lighting doesn't do justice to the color.
On top of the fact that skating is amazingly fun and good for us, the group of people involved are incredible.

I am, historically, a negative, cynical person.  I have a tendency to surround myself with people who are like-minded, people who enjoy dark humor and may feel a certain level of superiority over the simpletons who we suffer to inhabit our space.  In short, we are good people, but necessarily the nicest.

This group is completely different.  They are happy, positive, open, caring, supportive, joyful and free.  Normally, these are all qualities that I find exceedingly annoying and borderline cultish, but every person in this group pulls it off with panache and grace.  They see the good side of all situations and I am finding myself inspired.

I don't want it to seem like they are crazy people, willingly blind to the ills of the world.  They are realists in the truest sense of the word.  They have difficulties and problems like everyone else, but they don't seem to dwell on them.  They have an attitude about life that puts me in mind of Walter Sobchak. Y'know, when he's not being angry, stubborn, insane or ... Walter.
F@ck it, dude.  Let's go skating!

These people have been welcoming to both of us, in spite of the fact that Sara is the one in derby and I'm just a spectator.  Although, I have expressed my interest in being an announcer at the bouts since I can't skate on the team.  It has felt like we have been welcomed into a new family with open arms and hearts.
Me with two new friends who don't know me well enough to hate me.  Yet.
Because of who I am, I can't simply let a good thing be a good thing.  I have been overthinking everything around our new obsession.  Primarily that derby was supposed to be Sara's thing and I am terrified that I am going to elbow my way in and make it mine.  I want it to be hers.  Everyone is very excited for her and I am too.  I don't want to steal it from her.

This line of thought has been forcing my mind to go places that I don't wish it to go.  It came to a bit of a head yesterday when Harper managed to get into some Vaseline when I was taking care of Brynn.  The results, predictably, were as follows:

When she saw how upset I was, she sat in the corner, watching me clean the TV stand, trying to not cry.  When I saw this, I realized that I am doing something terribly wrong as a parent.  She's 2.  She's going to get into things, she's going to make messes, she's going to destroy things.  My anger at this particular incident was totally misdirected.  Luckily, I was able to catch it and give her hugs and reassure her that I wasn't angry with her.

I've been working through some things in my head and I'm almost back to where I need to be.  I know I scare Sara a bit when I do this.  Perhaps if I did it out loud, while laying on a couch, it wouldn't seem as crazy, but this is how I currently am able to work through things.  Writing helps.  While this blog has been sporadic as of late (sorry to Heather, Brittany, my mom and the few others who anxiously await my updates tolerate my rants to see cute pictures of my kids), just because I'm not posting doesn't mean I'm not writing, or thinking about what I want to write.

I am supposed to be working out after school with some of my coworkers, but I don't think I'll be good company today.

I have my blades in the car.  Maybe I'll skate the empty halls of the school and think until it's time to pick the girls up from daycare.

Skating seems to clear my mind.
They don't make potatoes like THESE at daycare!



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