The Grammanati

I’ve noticed something a bit curious about the interactions between my mother and children.

Every time Granny Awesome keeps the boys overnight, we always have a quick de-briefing to see when and if she’ll ever watch them again. The response I get is always the same: “Oh, they were sweet little angels. They slept all night, didn’t give me any problems with eating. They were just so happy and content”.

I find this puzzling as I cannot believe these are the same children I dropped off. They almost certainly turn out not to be the ones I picked back up. There are only two explanations:

1) They’ve somehow been replaced by sophisticated replicants programmed to obey my mother’s every word. This is, of course, completely preposterous, which leads to the only possible truth:

2) They’ve been brainwashed. They’ve become sleeper agents for an insidious conspiracy that is referred to in hushed tones only as “The Gramminati”.

Think about when you first brought your children home from the hospital. Who was the first person to volunteer to come over and keep the kids “so you can get some rest?” Granny. And while you were sleeping, that’s when the conditioning began. Their techniques are shrouded in mystery, and completely effective in making the child a willing thrall of the grandmother (not the grandfather. While he does benefit from the practice, he’s just the muscle. Grandma’s the brains of the operation).

It all becomes so clear when you think about it. Why are they always begging to have the kids come stay with them? Why do they always show up with gifts, hugs, kisses, sugar, and caffeine? To maintain the linkages on the brainwashing. Watch “The Manchurian Candidate”. It’s all there. Know what those loud noise making presents and cards full of cash are? Discreet arming and funding of home-grown terrorists.

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To what end you ask? Revenge for the sheer hell we put them through when we were agents of THEIR parents. Haven’t you ever wondered WHY you will drop absolutely everything just to go mow Grandpa’s yard at a moment’s notice, or do household work for Granny that you would never do for your parents, let alone yourself? It’s an endless, vicious, escalating cycle, and it must be stopped.

But this doesn’t make any sense, you say. If they could manipulate children so easily, force them into compliance, why didn’t they do that with us? Simple. When you’re a first-time parent raising a child from infancy to adulthood for the first time, you don’t know
$h!t. It takes YEARS to refine the techniques that can turn a feral child into an instrument of vengeance. This is how it’s worked for generations, when the first European settlers brought with them the Ancient Babylonian mysticism that makes it all possible. It took years to meld those arcane spells with the practices of the native people to create this infallible system. “THE WAY” is only passed on once you are accepted into the ranks of the conspiracy (typically when you receive your first AARP card – Press “0” on the help line to speak with an operator that will send you a free indoctrination kit).

Now you know. I write this to sound the charge to defend yourselves. Don’t be lulled by Granny’s warm words of support and sympathetic nodding of the head the next time the children decide your walls make excellent canvases on which to express their artistic inclinations, or that the toilet makes an awesome jacuzzi.  Don’t be fooled by their understanding hugs when puberty hits and the children go bat-a$$ crazy, staying out all night doing God knows what. Now you know what they’re doing. Her will.

She is the architect of all your pain.

If anything happens to me, you know where to start looking. God Bless.

 

You can follow on instagram at fatherhood_in_the_trenches, or on twitter@jmwilson3055.  At least, you can for now…..

Lawyered

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“Here come da judge…here come da judge….”

Everyone goes on and on about “the terrible twos”.  Weary parents the world over have bemoaned how terrible life becomes once the small ones move past the “cute, unable to escape you” phase that it has become a cliché.  This might be surprising to hear from the guy constantly going on about the challenges of parenting, but I didn’t find “two” quite so bad.  Sure Roundbottom could run and hide around the house now, but he was still so wobbly that I could catch him pretty easy.  That, and his hiding skills still left something to desired:

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“Nothing to see here, folks.”

No, it wasn’t too tough.  It was actually kinda nice.  He was not only more interactive, but still huggy and cute, still lovey.  No, it wasn’t too bad at all.

Then he turned three.

He could talk now.  And with the power of speech came something truly terrifying:

A law degree.

EVERYTHING is a negotiation now.  I can’t ask him to sit down without getting into a five-minute argument about how he not only doesn’t want to sit down, but shouldn’t have to because he’s obviously in the middle of something very important that shouldn’t be interrupted.  Like chasing the cats.  If not for the fact that I’m still far larger than him, there would be no way for me to enforce the rules of the house.

Of course, he just sees that as parental brutality, and such injustice WILL NOT STAND.

I used to joke that with the way he hopped around and hooted all the time, he was channeling John Belushi.  Now it appears that another spirit has taken hold of my diminutive barrister:

Johnny Cochrane.

Don’t believe me?  You better start. From what I hear from other beleaguered parents, EVERY three year old now comes with a juris doctorate.  If you haven’t already made it to this stage and found yourself buried under an entirely different mountain of briefs than the diapers you’re used to, you will.  To give you an idea of what we’re facing, let me share with you some of the common defense strategies he employs when caught red-handed in the midst of his shenanigans:

The Jedi Mind Trick:  This is where my son, no lie, actually attempts to use the Jedi Mind Trick on me.  For example, if he requests a cookie, and then is denied said cookie because its 6 in the morning and that is not an appropriate breakfast food, he will fix his gaze on me, concentrate, and say the following:

“But you WANT to give me the cookie!”

Fortunately for me, this particular Dark Lord of the Sith has not refined his powers to the point where he has mastered that little trick just yet.  Or Force Lightning, thank Lucas.

The “Exorcist” Defense:  This isn’t him telling me he doesn’t want to do something I ask him to.  Oh, no.  That would be too pedestrian for the likes of him. No, this is when I call him on something I don’t want him doing (again, like scaring the hell out of the cats I didn’t want in the first place but that a story for another time), and he responds with the following:

“But I don’t want to chase the cat!”

This is the one that makes MY head spin.  Essentially, the child is telling me that he doesn’t want to do something that he’s been thoroughly enjoying prior to being disciplined.  This would imply that some otherworldly entity has taken possession of his form and forced him to carry out its evil desires.  Long story short, the only response to this one would appear to be to call a young priest and an old priest.  I’m letting Momma Angel handle that one.

The Stall:  This one is fairly typical from what I know of other children.  It’s the point of night wherein he asks to put off his much-needed (by me) bedtime to engage in some sort of crucial exercise that MUST be completed in order for him to sleep soundly.  The plea deal starts small.  He asks for one more episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  22 minutes.  Fair enough, that doesn’t seem too much to ask, especially if it’s the weekend.  That’s the trap, though.  Now that he’s gotten what he wants once, it’s time to sweeten the pot:

“One more Mickey Mouse Clubhouse?  The one with Santa?  Watch Three Mouseketeers Movie?”

It’s at this time all previous agreements are rendered null and void, which leads to our final strategy:

The Civil Disobedience of Doom:  Yeah, it’s a temper tantrum.  The likes of which I pray no one else has ever or will ever see:

The child drops to the floor, tear streaked face turned bright red, and essentially becomes completely limp in an effort to impede any attempt of “incarceration”.  Any attempt to reason with him is rendered moot, as the child is caterwauling so loudly that at different points of time, he actually gets so choked up that he goes silent for a brief moment.  At this point, it is only the reassurance that he will receive milk, night-night songs, and his “rainbow” night light that will calm him enough to get him to his cell.  I mean bed.

These are only the beginning.  The boy is nothing if not studious, continually seeking to learn and hone his craft.  He’s recently been dabbling in the “You Make Me So Mad” and “I Don’t Like You” strategies.

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“No one has ever suffered as I have suffered!”

These however, have not gone over well for him, leading to lengthier sentences and less chance of time knocked off for good behavior.  This is due to one very important, teensy-tiny detail that he has overlooked in the orchestration of his practice:

He doesn’t live in a democracy.  He lives in a dictatorship.

I may not have as much control over my house as more mature, responsible parents my age, but there are some aggravations of justice THAT WILL NOT STAND.  He doesn’t seem to realize that his punishments have not been as egregious as he supposes. This is because I realize that for the most part, he is a very sweet little boy with a good heart.  I punish him in the hopes of keeping him that way and teaching him respect.  Not just for me, but for the community we live in and the people who populate it.  He has to learn right from wrong, and unfortunately fate has bestowed upon me the responsibility to mete out these lessons when necessary.  I am judge, jury, and executioner, and my word is FINAL.

Unless Mommy’s there.  She’s the Supreme Court.  He does NOT want his case to go there……

What strategies do your little litigators employ?  Sound off in the comments section!

You can follow Roundbottom’s ongoing proceedings on instagram at fatherhood_in_the_trenches or twitter @jmwilson3055.  Public opinion will be about the only ace he has left to play at this point……

This One’s for the Moms

So you may find it a bit confusing to come across a post about mothers on a blog about fatherhood.  The first thing to keep in mind is that, as we all know, there would obviously be no fathers without mothers to begin with.  The second is that this is my blog and I can do whatever I want.  Nyah.

In all seriousness,  there’s been something nagging at me about the perception of mothers in society (no, that is NOT a pun about nagging mothers.  I’m not suicidal).  We Dads have it pretty easy.  For the most part, we’re seen as the B-team. The perception is that we’re the well-meaning stooges that chip in when Mom is absolutely unable, usually with hilarious if not disastrous results.  Now I obviously don’t buy into that vision of fatherhood (as you can read in my previous post, “Not Just Window Dressing”), but I get where the idea comes from.  We can be clowns, and we do tend to “improvise” a lot  (that stretched out sheet was a totally appropriate trampoline, and yes it was harnessed properly.  Not my fault the kid can’t aim).

Point is, we have it way easier as far as general expectations go.  For Dads, just showing up is a medal-worthy occasion.  Moms, though?  You don’t get to just show up.  You have to show up looking like you just stepped off the cover of Glamour Magazine, with children who look like they stepped off the GAP KIDS catalog cover.  Dad picked up a Lego he stepped on?  Get that man a beer.  Mom?  She better make sure every toy has been put away in its very own mom-made, super crafty, organizing tub, that the spot on the floor it laid on has been swept and Lysoled, all the while insuring every inch of the rest of the house is the same.  Dinner has to be home-made, nutritious and delicious, made only from the finest all natural, chemical and preservative free ingredients.

I fed my kids chicken nuggets and Jell-O last night.  I think you get the picture.

You know what the worst part is, though?  It’s that the group of people who are hardest on, and most judgmental of moms……are other moms.  Why do you hate each other so much?  I don’t get it.  I’d think you would all link arms in a united front just to survive us and the children.  My God, it’s gotten to the point where it’s not just the way a woman chooses to raise her child that’s up for dissection, BUT HOW THEY BRING THEM INTO THE WORLD, TOO.  Oh, you didn’t go out into a specially prepared spot in the woods and give birth in crystal-clear water while Brahms was  gently played by a string quartet in the background?  Don’t you care about the child????

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Yeah, it’s gotten a bit nuts.  Don’t even start me on the whole breast vs. bottle fed war.  I want no part of that.

Ladies, I’m not sure where you got this idea that you have to embody some impossible standard of perfection.  If it was from us (the dads), you have my heartfelt apologies.  I don’t think that’s the case, though.  At least not totally.

I think there are two influences here.  The first is that while Dads are result-driven, Moms are process-driven.   Dad doesn’t really care what he feeds the kid so long as the child is still upright, healthy, and doesn’t have any body parts falling off.  That’s not how Moms are wired, though.  It’s driven into them from the time they pick up their first Cabbage Patch Kid that parenthood is supposed to be this wondrous journey like something out of a fairy tale.  I don’t know about you, but my kids are more like a cautionary warning.  They are messy, loud, and from what people have told me, just like other kids for the most part.  Unless people are just being kind.  That’s another story.

The second thing is that because of all those ideas that are pounded into their heads,  some mothers feel so insecure about the job they’re doing that they judge lest they be judged first.  It’s easier to feel good about the job you’re doing if you’re knocking someone else you don’t think is doing that same job as well.  I feel for those people, I do.  I feel for them because they’re so obsessed with perfection that they’re missing out on the beautiful crazy merry-go-round that is raising kids.  Call me nuts, but with all the demands placed on parents, you should probably still have the opportunity to let go and just ENJOY it sometimes:

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Lord knows you deserve it.

So ladies, there’s no point in trying to hold yourself up to some impossible standard of perfection, whether it be from others or yourself.  You know why?

Because you already are perfect.

For most, you’re the first person that your children ever loved or was loved by.  If nothing else, you’re definitely the first that comes to their mind when they think of someone loving them unconditionally.  As long as they never question that love, you have done a perfect job.  Delivered your child naturally?  Perfect.  Delivered caesarean? Perfect.  Adopted?  Perfect.  Fostered?  Perfect.   Breastfed?  Perfect.  Bottle-fed?  Perfect.  Make them a roast to die for?  Perfect.  Give them Pizza Night?  Perfect.  Married to your high school sweetheart?  Perfect.  Raising your young’uns as a kick-ass single mom?  Perfect.  So long as those children grow-up knowing you always have their back,  that you believe in them, and that you love them as adults just as much as you did when they were infants, you’re already perfect.  You have nothing to prove to anyone.

So give yourself a break.  You’re the best thing that ever happened to us, and we know it.  We’re not always good at showing it, fathers or kids alike, but we know we’d be lost without you.  Maybe life isn’t the fairy tale you imagined as a kid.  Regardless, you’ll always be the queen to your own little brood:

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ALL HAIL THE QUEEN!!

FOR MAMA ANGEL, GRANNY AWESOME, AND ALL THE OTHER ROYAL MOMS OUT THERE.

you can follow “Fatherhood in the Trenches” on Twitter @jmwilson3055 or on instagram at fatherhood_in_the_trenches.

Profiles in Disorder: Mama Angel

12993370_10208645981734440_5105689471599135085_nThey say that behind every powerful man, there is a stronger woman guiding and supporting him.

Fortunately in my case, this also holds true for overgrown, neurotic man-children.

Please join me as I at long last pull the curtain and reveal the magnificence of she who is my wife, mother of my children, and head administrator of our homey little asylum….

MAMA ANGEL:

Aliases: Princess Angel Tiger War Kitten the First, Mommy/Mommy/Mommy (always uttered thrice), Dirty Hippie

Age: Yeah, right.  Like I’m that stupid.

Occupation: Optician

Dream Occupations: Cat Whisperer, Roadie for Metallica

Likes: Being “Mommy/Mommy/Mommy”, babies, kittens, tap-dancing, crocheting, shiny things, full-grown cats, parades, the films of Grace Kelly, the music of Tom Petty, little pink tutus, You Tube videos featuring kittens and/or full-grown cats, mimosas, proper skin care,  the sublime rock power that is Metallica,  the egregious affront to the eyes, ears, and mind that was Hallie Berry’s “Catwoman”, her cats, Doctor Who (really!), over-grown, neurotic man-children who get her turned on to Doctor Who

Dislikes: Waking up early, being called a “Dirtie Hippie”, dish-washing, constantly being called-out on her love for the egregious affront to the eyes, ears, and mind that was Hallie Berry’s “Catwoman”, me complaining about her cats

Celebrities I’d have to be okay with her leaving me for:  Johnny Depp, Hugh Jackman, James Hetfield (lead vocalist of Metallica), Leonardo DiCaprio, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant (God I hate “Bridget Jones’s Diary”), a rejuvenated Sean Connery

Spirit Animal: Really?  You haven’t caught on to the theme yet?  Shall I draw a picture?

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Famous Quote:  “All right, Fart-Nuts!!  Mommy’s coming downstairs, AND HELL’S COMING WITH ME!!”  (The children may have been acting-out a bit too much that morning….)

BIO:  Born in an explosive burst of glitter and sparkles in a small, Kentucky town you’ve never heard of (Flemingsburg – “Covered Bridge Capital of the U.S.A”), the child that would one day become Mama Angel immediately displayed a love of whimsy and demand for obedience that she would one day pass on to her children.  This was most inappropriately illustrated the day that she pantsed her mother in the local grocery store after being told she would not be getting the “My Little Pony” she had her eye on.

Allowed to continue breathing after the public humiliation she foisted upon her innocent and well-meaning mother, the little angel would grow into a beautiful young woman full of life, humor, and barely restrained contempt for those unable to color coordinate their clothing.

Ironic, considering who she would end up marrying.

As it turned out, ours was your typical love story:

Boy breaks glasses.
Boy tapes glasses and goes to mall to buy new pair.
Boy meets Girl who sells him new glasses.
Girl flirts with Boy.
Boy thinks she’s just trying to close the sale (Boy is immensely clueless).
Boy leaves mall with new glasses Girl sold him.
Boy can’t get Girl out of his mind.
Boy keeps coming up with excuses to go to the mall to see if Girl is working.
Girl notices Boy constantly walking by the Deb Women’s Store across the hall.
Girl assumes Boy is a cross-dresser.
Boy dresses up for an interview for a job he didn’t get.
Boy figures he’ll never look better, maybe it’s time to grow a pair and ask out Girl.
Boy goes back to Girl’s work, with ingenious excuse of needing his frames adjusted.
Boy’s brilliant plan seems to backfire when it appears that he will instead be assisted by Sweet Old German Lady.
Girl notices Boy is back, takes hapless customer off Sweet Old German Lady’s hands.
Boy babbles while Girl looks at frames.
Boy confesses to Girl that his frames didn’t need adjusting.
Girl responds, “yeah, I know”.
Boy responds, “well I have a crooked head so you couldn’t really know”.
Girl smirks.
Boy asks Girl if he can take her out to lunch.
Girls says, “no”.
Boy hears fighter plane in his head going down in a savage burst of flames.
Girl then says, “but you can take me out to dinner”.
Hilarity ensued.

Three years of dating and seven more of mariage later, I still find myself in complete wonder that this Beauty would ever give the time of day to my Beast.  There are times I still catch myself getting completely lost in the radiance of her beautiful smile.  She’s the best thing that ever happened to me, a best friend who has given me truly priceless gifts in the forms of her love and our children.  She is everything to me.

And she knows it.  Which is how we recently ended up with two damn cats.

Still, life would be dull and gray without her.  Not just my clothing, mind you, but my world itself would be immeasurably darker without her.  She is the yin to my yang, the Bonnie to my Clyde, the sacrificial lamb I offer up to the children whenever they’re particularly irksome.  Where I’m introverted, she’s extroverted.  Where I’m quiet, she’s loud.  Where I just want to sneak out the back, she wants to dive in headfirst.  To paraphrase the immortal Jack Nicholson (who I’m sure she’d also totally leave me for if he were 40 years younger), she makes me want to be a better man.

In the end, all the things that truly matter in my life – our home, our children, that bottle of Maker’s Mark she got for being an ambassador – I have because she loves me.  It is a love that I don’t know that I’ll ever feel worthy of, but will spend every day of the rest of my life trying to be.  Of all the things I’m thankful for in this life, her love is the first that always comes to mind.

But I’m still not getting her another damn cat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Terms

benji-7“They say he has autism.”

I didn’t go with my wife to the appointment with the developmental pediatrician that day. I had taken a couple sick days not too long before then, and I didn’t think it would be prudent to take another day off. I remember telling her I wasn’t worried about what she was going to tell us. “He’s just a little behind”, I had said, confident in the outcome of the appointment. “I was behind. I had to go to therapy and all that.  Look, he’s only two. We’ve got plenty of time for him to catch up.” With that, I gave her a kiss and snuck out as quietly as I could so as not to wake my boy.

Four hours later, she called me at work to give me the news. I could tell how hard she was fighting to hold the tears back.   She had been terrified that day. At two years old, our boy wasn’t walking, spoke less than ten words (most of which were incredibly difficult to make out), and seemed to spend most of his time in his own little world.  He was also  prone to meltdowns at the weirdest times, set off for reasons neither she nor I could determine.   One of the workers at the daycare had actually asked her if he had been diagnosed autistic.  My wife had gotten upset by that, which in hindsight was because she had figured out what I hadn’t.  No, I just waved it off as a mother being overly concerned and sent her off to receive the most life-changing news our family would ever receive by herself.

I’ll never forgive myself for that.

I stared at the receiver in shock.  I’d been so sure.  “Wait,” I stammered out, firmly entrenched in the first stage of grief (disbelief). “He uses words. He looks me in the eye! He loves to be loved on!  That’ s not what autistic kids do!”

“Honey, the doctor’s positive. He fit all the criteria. He’ got it.”  She finally lost the fight, sobbing into the phone.  That’s when I learned the first and most important fact about autism:

If you’ve ever met a kid with autism, you’ve only ever met one kid with autism.

The next few weeks were spent trying to come to terms with what we learned.  There’s a very steep learning curve when your child receives an autism diagnosis.  You find yourself scurrying to put as much information and help together as possible. You find yourself splitting your time between trying to educate yourself and looking for any snippet of information that will convince you that your child’s still going to be able to lead some kind of normal life. You even find yourself pouring through those articles about B vitamin deficiencies, gut bacteria, and fevers that “break the autism” when your kid is sick.   Basically, simple issues with simple solutions that will take care of the far more complex problem.

Thankfully, one of my oldest and best friends had already been through a lot of this.  His former girlfriend had a young son with autism, and he was still a huge part of the boy’s life.  He played a huge part in helping us those first few months, and I’ll always love him for that.  Experienced support is crucial in those early days, and I can’t stress enough the importance of seeking it out, whether it be family, friends, or a local support group.  Thanks to him, I was able to sift through all the bull pretty quickly and focus on what would actually be helpful.

And so our research began.  One of the resources we came across was a website for an organization called “Autism Speaks” (autismspeaks.org).  On the website, they actually have a glossary on the site, full of common terms associated with being diagnosed. Some of the ones we’ve encountered and used the most include:

Autism Spectrum Disorders  an umbrella term for a wide spectrum of neurobiological disorders that affect a child’s ability to interact, communicate, relate, play, imagine, and learn. These disorders not only affect how the brain develops and works, but may also be related to immunological, gastrointestinal, and metabolic problems. Signs and symptoms are seen in early childhood.

– Echolalia the repetition of words, phrases, intonation, or sounds of the speech of others. Children with ASD often display echolalia in the process of learning to talk. Immediate echolalia is the exact repetition of someone else’s speech, immediately or soon after the child hears it.

– Hyperresponsiveness– abnormal sensitivity or over reactivity to sensory input. This is the state of feeling overwhelmed by what most people would consider common or ordinary stimuli of sound, sight, taste, touch, or smell.

Repetitive Behaviors and Restricted Interests common in children with ASD. Children with ASD may appear to have odd or unusual behaviors such as a very strong interest in a particular kind of object (e.g., lint, people’s hair) or parts of objects, or certain activities.

Etc., etc, etc. The glossary goes on and on. For other common terms as well as an extensive list of articles, tool kits,  first hand experiences, and lists of resources in your area, I’ll refer you to the site.

After almost three years, I still feel as if we’ve barely scratched the surface. As he gets older, we’re always encountering new terms and challenges. Still in the mad rush of it all, I noticed something; despite the difficulty he had in putting them together, our boy made use of some common terms of his own:

-“Hello, there!!”- His standard greeting, an indication of his excitement to be seeing you

-“Hugs?”- Self-explanatory. This child is the huggingest kid you’ll ever meet.

-“Tickles?”- Not so much a question as a demand for the immediate provision of sensory input via rigorous bear-hugs and tickling to the extremities, particularly the back and sides of the torso or “belly”.

-“Moke!”- A request for sustenance, usually of the dairy persuasion, but also including poultry distributed in nugget form.

-“WOO-HOO!”- It’s on.

For us, it meant that while we were scrambling to find the right therapies and tools to help him, he was going on with his happy little life and finding his own ways to let us know what he needed.

Even though he’s made (and continues to make) great strides in communicating since then, those early attempts at communication served as signs for another term, one more important than all the others to be found on-line or in any medical journals:

– Hope – an optimistic attitude of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large. As a verb, its definitions include: “expect with confidence” and “to cherish a desire with anticipation”.

That particular term, along with it’s frequent companion, “love”, are what’s kept us going, and what helped us to recognize that the only true indicator of success is our boy’s happiness, and how he feels about himself. It’s not about what we want for him. It’s about what he wants for himself, and what brings him happiness. It’s about living on his own terms.

In the end, those are the only terms that matter.

 

What It Means to be Dad

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What does it mean to be “Dad”?

It means I’m the first face they see in the morning.

I’m the last face they see at night.

I’m the one who wakes up at 3am when they’re thirsty, or sick, or scared.

I’m a talking dog, a sidekick, a spooky ghost, or whatever other part needs playing in my 3 yr. old’s latest adventure

I’m a (terrible) singer of lullabies

I’m a jungle gym, a hobby horse, or whatever other playground equipment they decide on

I’m a paramedic when they bump a head, scratch a knee, or split a lip

I’m a clown when they need a smile

I’m a stern voice when they need a lesson

I’m a knee to bounce on

I’m a shoulder to cry on

I’m a protector (who struggles with the truth that I can’t and shouldn’t protect them from everything)

I’m a caretaker

  • I cook (well, I make sandwiches and heat things up in the microwave)
  • I clean (noses, butts, clothes, floors, walls, dishes, and yes, even windows)
  • I shop (and buy more of the healthy stuff they don’t want then the junk they do)
  • I fix things (okay, that’s not quite accurate. I’m useless with tools. I do have the warranty company on speed-dial, though)

I’m a teacher (someone’s got to learn them all that man-stuff)

I’m a student (who learns more from them than they do me)

I’m an advocate for my boy with special needs, doing everything I can to make sure he lives as full and rich a life as he deserves

I’m a role model (God help them)

I’m the guy who’s got Mommy’s back when she needs a well-deserved break (only partly because I drive her just as nuts as the kids do)

I’m a human being making mistakes all the time, praying he learns from them without irreparably screwing his boys up in the process

I’m not a substitute

I’m not a consolation prize

I’m not only there when Mommy can’t be.

I’m whatever my kids need, whenever they need it.

I’m part of one of the oldest and noblest professions on Earth

I’m Dad

and when it comes to raising my kids, I’m not just window dressing.

Here’s to all the Dads out there in the trenches, doing their best to be everything their families need them to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Conspiracy Files: I Know Where The Little Socks Go

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I have to make this quick.  I’m being watched.

Last week, as part of a “staycation” I was taking to mourn my 40th birthday, I attempted to tackle a few household chores.  Anyone with small children can tell you that trying to keep the house straightened up is a full-time job in and of itself, mostly due to the fact that said little ones would appear to be adamantly against anyone or anything that would have the audacity to try to upset the chaos that they have gone to great lengths to painstakingly cultivate.  They know what lies between the couch cushions, and there is a damn good reason why those Lego bricks and Matchbox cars should be left right where they are.  It’s not their fault that it’s on a “need to know” basis and you just so happen to not make the cut.

Of course the worst of these chores was the tackling of the laundry.  It had been piling up for a while, and had only gotten worse with the influx of new items that Santa brought.  Of course, that might be due to the fact that those same new items were the reason we had been able to slide on the laundry.  Why worry about washing the old stuff when you have a bunch of new stuff you can slip on?  Well, that works great right up until you run our of the new stuff.  Then you end up with a mountain of new and old stuff that I kid you not was double the height of Roundbottom at its peak.  Facing the dread of having to start reversing underwear for a second wearing, it was time to start adulting and tackle the behemoth.

Now 90% of that behemoth consisted of little people clothes.  Another 25% consisted of socks with soles no longer than my index finger.  These are the bane of my existence.   The most frustrating part of my morning routine is the 15 minutes I take to try to find a matching pair of socks for my eldest son so that the teachers at school won’t see how horrible I am at parenting.  So naturally, most days end up being a choice between that or making it out the door so I can get to work on time.  Needless to say, his teachers are surely aware by now of how bad a parent I am, because that child goes to school 3 out of 4 days in a pair of socks that don’t match.

The only break in the cycle is buying new socks.  For about six days, I experience renewed hope as I send him to school in matching pairs, fully resolved to insure that the pairs remain intact.  As they are removed from his feet upon return to the house (wearing socks inside the house is verboten as far as he is concerned), I roll them together to make damn sure they stay that way through the laundry process.

As you can probably guess, that doesn’t happen.  Ever.

So since I had the time this week, I made damn sure that matching pairs were moved from the laundry mountain, to the washer, and finally to the drier.  I did an inventory EVERY TIME.  And you know what?  I still ended up with ten lonely socks that were no doubt tormented by the loss of their sole mates.

This should be impossible.  I checked and double-checked to make sure pairs were intact.  There is no way they could just disappear.  That’s when it dawned on me:

Dissolving socks.

I am absolutely convinced that there is a conspiracy among sock manufacturers that has master-minded the creation of a cotton based fabric that will dissolve during the laundry process.  This is a plot to boost sales numbers exponentially as well as to keep hard working parents dependent on them.  “That doesn’t make any sense,” you say, “if the socks dissolve, how can they be making their way from the washer to the dryer.  Shouldn’t the water be dissolving them before you even get to that point?  If they dissolve, shouldn’t you be left with no socks at all?”.  Therein lies the genius.  Therein lies the malice.

In an effort to cover their tracks, the sock companies don’t use the dissolving fabric on every sock.  The fabric is randomly used on about 45% of those manufactured.  They don’t just dissolve in the water either.  It’s a chemical process where-in the combination of soap and water plus the heat from the dryer initiate the reaction that dissolves the sock.  “Wait”, you say “there still has to be something left over.  You can’t just completely dissolve matter”.

Why do you think your lint trap is so full?

It’s &*(^ing GENIUS.  It’s diabolical.  Socks disappear, and the companies know we’ll go out and buy a whole new pack due to feelings of parental inadequacy and self-consciousness.  It makes leaked election e-mails and ties between government officials and foreign interests look like bad comedy.  Children on playgrounds around the world are being mocked for wearing navy socks with white ones, as their beleaguered parents stand by helplessly, blowing grocery budgets on new packs of 4-T to 5-T socks.  It has to stop.

We have to stop it.

Now you know.  Spread the word.  Hanes, Fruit of the Loom, they’re all in on it.  Fight the power.  Show them we won’t be taken in like a pair of worn trousers.  Alert the media.  Call your congressman.  There must be an investigation!  They must be held accountable!

Sh!t.  I just realized how long this rant took.  They no doubt have my IP address by now.  There are strange men in fruit costumes watching me.  If anything happens to me, you know who to look at first.  Don’t let them silence you!  FIGHT!  FIGHT FOR THE CHILDREN!! FI……….

 

“Fatherhood in the Trenches” is experiencing technical difficulties.  This message brought to you by SockCo’s new Superhero Sock Collection.  Make your child the hero of the playground!  Buy new SockCo’s  Superhero Socks!  Coming to a Target store near you……