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Love Letter

Dear Crocs for Little Kids

Dear Crocs for Little Kids,

I love you little kid Crocs for being the hardest working, longest lasting shoes in the business.

I love you for giving a middle finger to shoe laces and a big FU to velcro.

I love you for jumping right into the washing machine and coming out all fresh, clean, and ready to wear.

I love you for ignoring the naysayers who say that you’re “unrefined” and “ugly”. Shits on them!! You make my boys look “Bad Ass” and “independent”… and “super fast”.

I love you for having the courage to stare that giant, muddy puddle in the eye and send it splashing in every fucking direction.

You’re the best little kid Crocs. Never Change!

 

Sincerely,                                                                                                                                                  A Dad

 

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Love Letter

Dear Chick-fil-A Playground

Dear Chick-Fil-A Playground, 

I love you for your glass walls, covered with chicken grease fingerprints, just thick enough to muffle the horrific screams of pleasure within.

I love you for the door that’s heavy enough to slow down a four year old and completely trap a two. I love you for the brief moments of silence you provide.

I love you for that one kid who’s juuuuust young enough to think you’re fun, but juuuuust old enough to teach the little kids about being bullied.

I love you for the parents who forget you’re caring for their child, and I love you for the parent who perches on your little rubber bench, destroying the party buzz you work so hard to create.

I love that you have overly-nice friends who like to refill my drink and pick up my trash.

I love you for swallowing my children’s shoes and inventing the “Where the Fuck Are Your Socks?!?” game.

But most of all, I love that you’re baaaaarely big enough for me to slither up to grab my stubborn ass child when it’s time to leave.

Sincerely,
A Dad

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I Don’t Hate Baby Shark… Yet?

A Pros and Cons List

Depending on your current perspective we can either blame or thank the Korean education startup, PinkFong, for the infectious parasite of a song called Baby Shark. We all know it, and by now we all have visceral reactions when we hear that Jaw’s like intro. After a few months, I still can’t pinpoint my exact feelings on the song. So I’m here to hash it out.

Pro – It can effectively distract my three year old when he’s walking up to the precipice of a meltdown. He’ll turn around, walk away from the edge, and start screaming the song.

Con – He’ll scream the song and ask for it again and again and again and again.

Pro – It’s cute as shit when my one year old makes the baby shark sign with his wittle fingers.

Con –  Me: “Alexa, Play cooking playlist”
Kids: “Alexa!!!! PLAY BABY SHARK”
Me: “DAMNIT Alexa… Don’t!!!!”
Alexa: “Baby Shark by Pinkfong from Spotify… Dum Dump”
Kids: “BAAABBBYYYY Shark….”

Pro – It’s not as bad as “Who Let the Dogs Out” (I convinced my 5 year old that my minivan is not capable of playing that song).

Con – My five year old is well aware that our minivan DOES play “Baby Shark”.

Pro – It will go away with time.

Con – It may NEVER go away.

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Kids Make the Worst Survivalist

Can I still survive the Apocalypse?

I used to love post-apocalyptic stories. I, like all people should, have spent time debating the finer points of weapon choices in lieu of a zombie infestation. (I still choose aluminum bat) Lying in bed at night, I have dreamed of pitting myself against hordes of undead, or testing my mettle against the desolation of a worldwide catastrophe. Of course, This all ended, like so many other dreams, when I had kids.

When my wife gave birth to my first child, I quickly assumed night feeding duties in order to connect with my son on an emotional level that would bond us forever. (Honestly, my wife makes the milk and the money, so I do what I can) Together, my newborn and I began an odyssey. An odyssey of midnight Netflix that rivaled any insomniac or college kid. It was the weapon of choice in my own personal battle of survival. That little whimper from the crib, which quickly turns to a wail, would strike at my will to live. But hey, at least I can finish up Casino Royale for the third time.

 

Around two weeks A.C. (after child), I decided to catch up on “The Walking Dead”, which, at the time, had brought zombies back into the mainstream. The first few seasons were solid: the perfect amount of suspense, violence, moral and ethical questions of survival vs humanity. The primal need to survive captivated my imagination. Where would I go? Would my house stand up, or would I need to take over that two story down the street? Which friends would be helpful, and who could be left behind? What would I do in order to stay alive in the most desperate situations? About ten minutes into the first episode with my tiny new human in hand I realized what I would do… I would fucking die.

Babies are loud, needy, and can’t fight zombies. They’re dead weight. My one year old is currently banging on my keyboard right now. How is that helpful? My three and five year olds sounds like alien cats fighting outside my bedroom window. Not too convenient when hiding from looters. Suddenly, the thought of surviving any sort of disaster, let alone one that’s zombie related, was no longer filled with the thrill of a challenge, but the dread of impending failure and death. I no longer lay awake at night mentally mapping my exit from the city. Actually, I never lay awake at night anymore period; kids are exhausting. I definitely don’t daydream about what store is likely to have the best survival gear if everyone mysteriously disappeared overnight. (Definitely Academy for Sports and Outdoors) I guess I have more important things to think about; like which grocery store has the best race-car carts.

So when my friend recently asked me what to expect when his baby was born, I looked him in the eye, put my hand on his shoulder and told him cancel any plans for building a survival shelter. He might as well build an extra closet for all the fucking toys you’re about to collect. And forget about enjoying “The Walking Dead”. However, he’s going to appreciate “Taken” on an entirely new level!

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The “Tilt and Pour” An Essay on Fatherhood and Vomit

 

My youngest son threw up in my face today. I’m used to spit up. I live in spit up. My first child spent the first six months of life spewing milk every which way: up, down, sideways, and sometimes, defying physics, in all directions at once. Our house was perpetually littered with soaked burp clothes, and our shoulders were permanently stained with dry, half-digested breast milk. In my dreams, I would find myself standing knee deep in baby vomit, helpless as it slowly crept up and overtook my head.

Back in reality, I soon discovered that cleaning the floor was easier than keeping up with the laundry, so in desperation, I developed a tried and true method. At the first sign of an eruption, usually a seemingly innocent burp, I would tilt his mouth and thrust him out over the hardwood floor, as if I was pouring a 40oz for my fallen homies. Then I would calmly put him down, clean up the mess, and move on about my day. I call it the “Tilt and Pour.” For some reason, my wife found this practice to be insensitive, at least at first. Like all parents, you learn to survive and some “insensitive” practices become commonplace. She eventually came around and would laugh at the “Tilt and Pour,” and even admit to its effectiveness. But, sadly, never utilized it herself.

Fast forward three years, and number two decides to take after his big brother. I asked my mother if I was the same way, but she couldn’t remember. I guess she’s mentally blocked that time of her life. So once again, our house is festooned with damp burp cloths and shirts with wet shoulders. And once again, I have resorted to the “Tilt and Pour” method.

A few weeks ago, I had to be reminded that most people find baby spit up a bit gross. My sister and her boyfriend were kind enough to visit the zoo with my kids and me. The boys had a great time, as kids often do looking at exotic animals and running into the backs of adult’s knees, while parents smile and apologize to each other with understanding looks. My sister’s boyfriend is great with children. He’s patient, and goes out of his way to explain important details about life to my three year old son, which is something I greatly appreciate. He even sat in the back of the car by the baby, cooing and trying to make him laugh.

It wasn’t long before I heard a familiar noise, something like a mix between a cough and a mountain spring running over rocks. Nothing new. Like any experienced father, I calmly asked my sisters boyfriend to wipe it up before the milk soaked in too deeply. He responded with something like a squeal of amazement and disgust. He couldn’t believe it; why was I so calm? Even weirder still, why was the baby so calm? We often forget as parents how strange our lives appear to those without kids. We forget that spit up is, in fact, a little disgusting.

I guess that’s why my experience this morning paints a nice little snapshot of the early stages of parenthood. In the midst of somewhat organized chaos, I sat feeding the little one before frantically loading everyone up, rushing them off to daycare, and begrudgingly heading to work, always a little late. Keep in mind, Usually my senses are keen during a feeding, always ready to “Tilt and Poor.” Yet for some reason, this morning I was a bit off. I think I was distracted by his infectious smiles as I kissed all over his chubby cheeks. When the small, innocuous burp came, I hesitated. Out it came, like an angry geyser flowing silently out of an innocent smiling mouth. Some of it ended up on the floor, some on my arm. The rest desperately clung to my beard like a climber hanging on a cliff. It was the kind of image you would see in a hyperbolic scene about young parents who are in over their heads. The audience feels bad for them, but laughs at the same time because there’s enough truth to make it relatable.

I feel like most real-life parents would react in the same manner I did: calmly place the baby in his pack-n-play, laugh hysterically, and clean up the mess. That’s what parents are supposed to do. We get shit on and puked on, both literally and metaphorically, and just keep plugging through the day. We adapt to a new way of life. We learn to “Tilt and Pour.” Otherwise, the throw up will literally, and metaphorically, drown us where we stand.

How to Defeat the Rule-Changer

Strategies for winning when your kid is constantly changing the rules.

With some kids a simple game of catch can turn into a competition faster than a political discussion at work can turn sideways. Before you know it, there’s a rather fluid list of rules and procedures longer and more confusing than the Itunes terms and services contract.

  • “No! That wasn’t a point because I touched it!”     
  • “That was MY point because I was standing outside the imaginary circle.”
  • “Wait… that didn’t count because I wasn’t ready, and you didn’t hold left leg and stand like a flamingo.”

My son once told me I lost all my points because I was sitting the wrong spot. I calmly explained that he never fucking told me that I was in the wrong spot! I was under the impression that I had 8 points!! He can’t just change the GOSH DARN RULES!!!!!! THIS ISN’T HOW REAL LIFE WORKS, SON!!! He won that game. 

Unfortunately, kids can and will change the rules because that IS how their “real world” works. And it’s OK. They probably just want to laugh and run around with you right now, and sometimes that’s more valuable than a life lesson. Instead of turning into the get-off-my-lawn old man screaming about tradition and rules, it’s more fun just play by their rules. But losing sucks, so here’s how you can still win.

Bloggy Advice

  1. Write Down The Rules – Believe it or not, kids are more likely to follow rules that are written down, especially if they’ve already started school. So make them stop and write down every crazy rule that pops in their crazy head. They’ll eventually become more selective. This strategy requires extra work, but if the game you’re kid is creating is actually fun, it could be worth it the long run.
  2. Use Your Length– make a scoreboard and hang it too high for them to reach. This way you have complete control, so the score doesn’t fluctuate like a the stock market.

Petty Advice

  1. Holdout– Great athletes sometime have to holdout to get the contract they rightly deserve. You’re a great athlete; hold out to get the point you rightly deserve.
  2. Out-rule Change Them – Keep it simple. Change the rules more frequently than they do in order to preserve your lead. Maybe they’ll start to understand the injustice of it and change their ways.
  3. Threaten to Play With Someone Else – Works every time, especially if there’s a sibling.

 

Three Simple Ways to Make Your Kids Leave You Alone

When “Go Away” Just Doesn’t Work

Adults have to do adult things. Simple things like read emails, go to the bathroom or enjoy silence. Kids, of course, have no concept of this. You know how full grown humans often use kitchen’s as gathering places for fun, social conversation. In case you didn’t know, that’s how kids view the bathroom.

“Oh, you’re going to sit down with a book or phone in our water-room?!?! Oh Cool!! Let’s tell that one joke I know a hundred more times! Watch me wrap myself in the shower curtain! WATCH!! Did I tell you I want some milk… like right NOW!!”

You know how you sometimes need to sit at the computer to check the news or write an essay. This is the equivalent of online political discussion to the still-growing humans in your house. They can’t stay away even if they want to.

“Oh, you’re going to write an email? Let me show you how hard I can bang on the keyboard! That’s the power button, right? I knew it!! This is how you close a laptop, Dad.  Hey… let me close it. LET ME CLOSE IT!!”

You know you can’t use TV to shut them up and leave you alone because some blogger told you they took away all screens and now their children are better than yours. And you’re vaguely aware that you’re not supposed to lock them in a room because laws and stuff. So the next time you need to steal a few moments, try these tricks.

1. Extended Hide and Seek – If your kids are old enough, you can convince them that they’re the best hiders in the world. Then they’ll hide for a good five, maybe ten, minutes before you have to find them. I’ve heard of kids hiding upwards of twenty minutes behind a door, giggling the whole freaking time.  

2. Throw Couch Cushions On the Ground – If you don’t have a couch that your kids can jump on, you shouldn’t be reading this article anyway. You should be holiday crafting with your children. If you do… chunk those cushions on the ground. You’re kids will carreen themselves around for a good six minutes before they hurt themselves. That’s enough time for a few emails. (PS – It must be noted that you might hear “WATCH THIS!” a few hundred times)

3. “Forbidden” Kitchen Tools – No shit. Hand your kids a pair of tongs and basting brush, look around to make sure no one is around and whisper, “Don’t tell Mom.” They’ll be “cleaning” and picking crap up all over the house for a good fifteen minutes. Plenty of time to read another blog post filled with useless advice on parenting.

 

Four Surefire Ways to Respond to Incoherent Rambling

When your three year old stumbles through a four minute soliloquy about a puddle while waiting in the dreaded elementary school pick up line, it’s NOT important that you understand everything he/she says. It IS important that you have quick, go-to responses when they start yelling DAD!, DAD!, DAAAAAD!, signalling the end of their lecture. Here are Four excellent responses that will all but guarantee you the ability to continue listening to the radio instead of having to ponder deep thoughts on shallow water.

1. “Oh Cool” – This is clearly the easiest, simplest, and should always be your first option. It doesn’t always work, but you’re making no promises or commitments. And let’s be real. Your kid thinks whatever they say IS the coolest, and they’re looking for confirmation.

2. “Oh… you think so?” – It’s a yes or no question. If I know anything, I know that kids need practice answering yes or no questions. It also forces them to re-examine their original idea, which can either teach them valuable skill or at least make them stop talking for a while. 

3. “That’s Good Thinking, Chief”  – Whether the thinking was sound or not isn’t the issue; they’ll forget what they said anyway. This response provides solid positive reinforcement for exploring profound issues. And all kids like being called Chief. It’s a fact!!

4. “Oh Man, Are you Serious!?!?” – The key is excitement. If you match their enthusiasm, they’ll love you forever, and more importantly, they’ll think you were actually listening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love Letter

Dear Hot Wheels,

I love you, tiny land mines, for being the best bang-for-buck toy in the business.

I love you for being small enough to fit in a babies mouth, but not big enough swallow.

I love you encouraging sound effects like shhhhhhhwoo, ahhhhhhhpshsscrash, and vroooommmmm instead of repetitious, battery powered ear pollution. 

I love that you can cause major damage when hurled across a room.

I love that taking you away is an effective punishment, and giving you back makes me a fucking hero.

I love you being less than dollar.

I love you for never getting lost because you multiply during the night and have taken over my house.

Never forget that I love you, even when I curse you for living beneath my bare feet.

Sincerely,                                                                                                                                                  A Dad

Vicarious Confidence

Is Kid Confidence Contagious?

 

I’m not worried about my boys uncovering the truth about Santa. In fact, I’ll be proud. All the clues are there; it only takes a tiny amount of logic to hash out the facts. I’m not worried about the day when my boys ask about sex, drugs, or even politics (no logic involved here). I’m not even worried about my boys spending waaaay too much time in the bathroom. What I worry about, at least currently, is when they discover that they’re not nearly as fast as they think they are.

My boys honestly believe they are the quickest, strongest beings on earth. My oldest is even faster than the boys that blaze past him on the soccer field. It’s my fault. It’s completely, one hundred percent my fault. I use the fake stopwatch as much as any parent… probably a little more.

“Go get the wipes in the other room, hurry… I’ll time you!”                                                   Kid bolts down the hall.                                                                                                                 Kid returns a few minutes later, frantically breathing.                                                     “Damn!!!… that was FAST, 13 seconds!! NEW RECORD”

It’s going to be a rough day when my oldest has to face reality and admit that there might be a person in the world capable of getting the wipes faster than he can. His world will be shattered. Maybe worse, MY world will be shattered because he’s going to first realize that that person is me, and I don’t want to have to get up and get the wipes every freaking time.

But more than that, there’s something uplifting about a kid’s self-confidence. I wish I owned half the self-assurance my son possesses. Most parents need a little shot of pride and arrogance each day, just to get us through the times our kids let us down. Because we feel like we let them down. In the race against the stronger, faster parents of the world, it’s easy to feel like other Moms and Dads are blazing past, leaving behind a trail of homemade yogurt, crafts, and judgement. So it’s nice to feel my self-worth bolster a little each time my boys flex their scrawny little arms and tell me how strong they are or brag about their drawing of a dog that looks more like a dying tree. I’m learning to feed off their positive energy like an emotional parasite.

It’s not a wonder parents sometimes find themselves getting washed in glory on YMCA sidelines. Maybe it’s not always a bad thing. Occasionally, we’re simply basking in the glory of our kid’s confidence, even if they’re getting rocked by a faster, stronger team.