The Negotiator

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March 15, 2019

Someone famously said that everything in life is a negotiation.  I don’t know who said it but it was probably some annoying business expert.  But I do know that negotiating is just a nicer word for debating or arguing.  And whatever name you assign to this practice, I have always sucked at it.

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(You may as well call me Little Stephen)

My wife and I have been married for many years.  I’m somewhat a simpleton and I tend to find simple explanations for complex things. My brain could translate Stephen Hawking’s, A Brief History in Time into a pamphlet.  So what if it would no longer have any actual science based physics?  It would be a better bathroom read and I add a comic strip where Captain Kirk explains that Black Holes are actually called “singularities” another version of a wormhole that will bring you to an alternate universe.

This is how I have managed to whittle down the complexity of a successful relationship. The key is establishing early on, when it comes to arguments, who’s going to win.   Within the first week of dating it was clear that my wife was superior to me in terms of intelligence, debating, and effort. Moving forward she was going to be the argument winner and I was going to be the argument loser.  Knowing you’re going to lose an argument gets you back to watching the football game sooner or getting the full night’s sleep you desperately crave.

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(This the expression of joy when you’re willing to admit that your side of the family gives crappier Christmas gifts.)

I remember my friend, Ed falling asleep during an important meeting years ago. Why did he doze off? He was up till 3 in the morning the night before arguing that his 6th grade gym class experiences were more emotionally damaging than hers. Puberty sucks for everyone but I think you have to give it to the girls on this one.

You know what happens to couples who both want to win arguments?

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(Surely, this guy could have given in on the “Did Marisa Tomei Deserve An Oscar For My Cousin Vinny” argument.)

By no means is my wife someone who nags or routinely argues with me.  I depend on her to win these negotiations to prevent us from minor and major catastrophes. Don’t forget.  I’m a simpleton.

I recently gave my 3 year old a bag of marshmallows at 7pm.  Why? Because he asked.  Did we have to go the ER when he tried to jump off the stair railing and landed on his face…sure. Did I take the blame when my wife cited the manic state of the marshmallow sugar high that preceded this? Of course I did.  Because I LOVE my family.

For someone who is genetically an “argument loser” being a dad is a problem in a big area.  Because I have to negotiate with these two.

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(This is how soundly you’d sleep if you knew you were going to get anything you wanted from your father.)

Mommy gives these two tons of treats.  Some are unexpected surprises and some of them they get because she motivates them to earn them.  But they also know she’s not a sucker.  She’ll dig in her heels when they’re acting like Mariah Carey realizing that her assistant brought her a caramel macchiato without the whip cream topping. Arthur, our taciturn toddle, has recently caught up to his brother in realizing that Mommy’s NOT going to lose the argument.

I believe figuring out that just high pitched maniacal screaming will NOT get you what you want is a great sign of the receptive communication progress he’s made over the past few months.

Another great sign of his receptive communication progress is knowing that being a loud d&ck head will, more often than not, get him what he wants when he’s dealing with ME.

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(If I ever go to prison I’m going to look for an inmate with this expression and ask for his protection.)

Because Arthur doesn’t yet speak in full sentences he doesn’t demand things, he takes them.  Or if he doesn’t want to do what you’re asking, he’ll run into his room, slam the door and brace himself against it to prevent you from getting in.  I call it his Hodor Technique.

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(I honor the actor who played Hodor by using a more stylish image.)

If Arthur doesn’t want to wear his shoes, he kicks them off as easy as if they’re three sizes to big.  My record for putting shoes on his feet that he’s kicked off in one sitting is 13. After the tenth time my fingers start to swell.  And if he’s doing something he shouldn’t be doing and I tell him, “no,” he’s started to look at me and laugh as if I’ve just said something hilarious.  Is there anything more disrespectful?  He’s laughing at the idea that I’m an authority figure.  Sure, I find it funny, but he has no idea of my decades of incompetence.  Yet in an instant, at less than 48 months old, he thinks he has me figured out.  I blame snapchat, or would if he could use it.   But, I have learned to use certain foods to lure him away from doing things I don’t want him to do or things I do want him to do.  The power of a paleo hot dog bite can motivate him to stop hanging off the dining room chandelier.

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(If Arthur is holding hostages in a bank, he’ll release two for every Applegate frank you throw his way.  At least that’s my guess.)

Arthur is winning the negotiations now because I can’t use conversational reason with him as much as his brother.  But as he improves on almost a weekly basis, I can already see how he’ll be able to manipulate me to an even greater extent. If he was on the Shark Tank Panel, he’s be O’leary walking away from the negotiations.  It might be organic hot dogs now, but by the time he’s sixteen I’ll have to dangle my car keys and the pink slip to get him to perform yard work.  But I’m sure he’ll give me a lift to work.

Charles has no problem telling me what he needs if I’m going to get what I want.

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He’s an opportunist who knows that the best time to get what he wants is when I don’t have a lot of time or if I have something that I need to do right at that moment.  My wife teaches a dog training class on Saturdays.  That leaves me about four hours to undo everything she’s taught them that week.  Charles, the opportunist, likes to strikes when I’m trying to do something with Arthur.

Charles: Can I have a popsicle?

Me: No. It’s 8:30 in the morning.  I’ll make you some cream of wheat in a minute.

Charles: I don’t want cream of wheat!!  I want a popsicle!!!!

(Arthur starts crying at Charles’ abrupt screaming.  I don’t blame him.  He barks as menacingly as a Marine Drill Sargent.)

Charles: I want a popsicle!!!!

Me: What color?

Charles: Red.

(I get Charles a red popsicle.)

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Someone without kids, OR a better parent looks at this and sees a box of 20 popsicles.  What I see is time.  It takes Charles about five minutes to polish off one of these.  That’s five minutes that I have to wrangle Arthur, cook something in the kitchen, go to the bathroom, pick up their clothes, etc.  Those 20 popsicles represent 100 minutes of time, strategically placed throughout the day to get stuff done and Charles knows when to act. They might not be identical but they share the same gene for manipulation. So, when I say that there are Saturday’s where he’s had seven of them by the time Mommy comes home, I feel your collective judgement and I don’t think I care.  Those popsicles are my bargaining chips.

Charles also knows he can negotiate in the mornings when I take him to preschool.  I drop off and my wife picks up. He knows I need to get to work and the longer it takes to get him to school, I become an easy mark. It always gets out of hand.

Charles: I don’t want to go to school today.

Me: Sure you do, you love school.

Charles: No, I don’t.  I want to stay home.

Me: If you get in the car right now, Mommy will have a treat for you when she picks you up.

Charles: I want the Flash Lego.

(20 additional exchanges)

Me: OK, so I think we have a deal.  You get in the car now and Mommy will pick you up with a Flash Lego, take you for a blueberry Slushy, you’ll both go to the new Goosebumps movie and then you’ll finish the day at Disneyland and get a six piece McNugget Happy Meal on your way home.

(Charles gets in the car and I don’t pass on the deal I’ve made with my wife)

Let’s just say that my wife has a lot on her hands when she picks this kid up from school.

I’m not saying I don’t always win a negotiation.  After all, I outweigh these kids by about 150 pounds so I have the ability to pick them up and place them in a time out.  But even with that advantage I don’t think I have a winning record.  I’m kind of like a professional football team that is good enough to win every now and then but never makes the playoffs.

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(I’m the Detroit Lions of parenting)

My only hope is that these kids really like me.  This past Saturday they saw Mommy’s car coming in the driveway.  Arthur got down from the dangerous piece of gym equipment and Charles put on a pair of pants, after a three hour battle trying to convince him to wear them had been lost.  As he pulled his sweats on, I looked at him and asked, “Now, you’re putting on your pants”? He simply replied, “Daddy, I don’t want you to get in trouble.”  I know that wasn’t 100% the reason they started to behave.  But if it was some combination of being excited that Mommy was home, with a dash of “I don’t want to get caught doing something she doesn’t like’ and even a sprinkling of “let’s make sure Daddy doesn’t look incredibly overwhelmed,” I’ll settle for the sprinkles.

Least Favorite Child Results

Monday, March 4 – Cats may have nine lives, but I have one with many more.  Charles’ unbounded love for our ragoll cat, Kiki, has easily used up a few dozen lives. He’ll pick her up by a leg, an ear, her collar which instantly becomes a noose.  When it comes to Kiki, Charles is playing the Lenny part in Of Mice and Men. Someday I’ll let Kiki post a blog just because I think she could use an outlet.  On Monday night I told Charles, “Please, don’t kill that cat” about a dozen times.  Least Favorite – Charles

Tuesday, March 5 – Arthur moves like the scary girl in the Ring movies…deceptively fast.  And when he grabs something he shouldn’t, he’s got eyes in the back of his head and makes a run for it.  You begin to doubt you have any remaining athletic ability when you can’t corral a human whose stride is so much shorter than your own.  Least Favorite – Arthur

Wednesday, March 6 – When it comes to bed time, Arthur makes his own hours.  He’ll walk into his room in the afternoon for a nap that lasts until right around our bedtime.  Then he’s game for some entertainment.  He’ll gladly go back to his bedroom, but he’s not going there to sleep.  I hear giggles that last until 5am. I’ve even gone in the room on occasion because it sounds like he’s got guests. But those giggles turn to angry cries responding to the injustice of being woken up at 7am for school. Least Favorite – Arthur

Thursday, March 7 – Charles has a lunch box that he uses to carry all his favorite Lego men.  When it started dripping on Thursday I opened it and found out he’s started throwing some other stuff in there.  Items like a 7-Up, that exploded over a dozen Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies. Legos, soda and Thin Mint cookies.  I’m guessing this is his earthquake kit. My evening was spent washing Thin Mint gunk and sticky soda off of about 50 Lego men and his lunch box.  No quality TV for me.  Least Favorite – Charles

Friday, March 8 – Arthur has an ability to get wet without getting near water, getting food stains on his clothes without eating anything, and getting his hair in knots moments after brushing it so it looks like he had it professionally blown out at a Beverly Hills salon.  I put him in the car every morning in pristine condition.  Seven minutes later I arrive at school, open the door to get him out and he looks like he just took part in a spartan mud run.  Least Favorite – Arthur

Least Favorite Child Totals To Date

Arthur – 5 days

Charles – 5 days

Close competitions are always so thrilling!

Hey Neil, what’s going on?

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Oh Sh%t, Daddy!

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March 4, 2019

As far as bad language goes I fall somewhere in the average category.  Rarely do I swear at work and never in front of someone I don’t know or I’m meeting for the first time.  I’m a situational swearer.  A stubbed toe, realizing I’ve overslept and the entire length of any game involving a Boston sports team that I’m watching on TV are my swearing sweet spots.

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(I understand why my wife leaves the house during the Super Bowl)

Despite my swearing disclaimer, I have no problem with salty language.  Some of the funniest and smartest people I know swear as if it’s an involuntary action such as breathing.  It’s a natural human function required to live.  Nick is a smart and funny lighting guy I work with on my show who says the word “f%ck” so much that I’m pretty sure he once squeezed the word “f%ck” into the work “f%ck.”  I didn’t even know that was possible. If Donald Trump wants to build a wall in Mexico he should try and convince Nick to give a swear jar a try.

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(This isn’t Nick, but if they do a movie about his life this guy could play him.)

The word “f%ck” for Nick is like the word “aloha” in Hawaii.  It means a lot of different things.  If Nick says, “F%ck you” it can mean anything from, “Thanks for the coffee” or “Have a great weekend” to “I believe you’re incorrect when you say that” or sometimes just “F%ck you.”  Sorry, I didn’t mean to go off on a tangent about Nick.  He’s just an intelligent guy who happens to have the most foul language of anyone I’ve ever known.  It’s because he doesn’t have kids.

As almost every parents knows, swearing habits change when your kids reach around two years old and you realizing they’re aware of what your saying.  I’ve got two kids.  Charles, the non ASD child, and Arthur with ASD.  And I have to say…I could be doing better.

The boys are fraternal twins. No twins could be any different. Charles, is HIGH maintence.  He needs fun, he needs it NOW and constantly. .  He’s creative and hilarious but he never and I mean NEVER stops talking. Sometimes I hear his voice when I’m at work.  It’s like after you get off a flight and you still hear the buzzing in your ears for hours after.

Charles hears everything.  I am proud to say that at three and a half he hasn’t reached past the point of situational swearing out of reflex.  A few weeks ago we were in the car when another car ran a red light and came with a few feet of hitting us.  Charles’ response from the back seat was, “Sh%t, that was close.”

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(Watch out, Nick.  Charles isn’t even four yet.)

Recently my wife was at the Home Depot with both the boys.  She told Charles to keep his eye on Arthur as she climbed up to grab something in the orange rafters. In the split second she turned away and then back she could see only Charles standing there watching in amazement as she mounted the Home Depot jungle gym like an action hero.  When she asked where Arthur was he realized he was derelict in his duty and replied, “Oh, sh%t.” Arthur was found moments later.

Luckily, I’ve been better watching my language around Charles. His slips are really just cute stories that make family members laugh and no more than that.  We’ve received no calls from his preschool complaining about his language so that’s a relief.  Because at the end of the day you just want other people thinking you’re better parents than you really are.

Where I need to make big improvements is with Arthur.

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Arthur is, as my wife says, “the angel”. He gives the longest and strongest hugs and when he climbs into your lap he gives you a look that says (to quote from Jerry Maguire), “ YOU complete me.” It’s his way of taking you hostage emotionally. For most of his life he has been non-verbal. My wife has him on a special diet and supplements and he’s really starting to improve.  He’s even starting to repeat and mimic words back.

I’m sure I haven’t been as careful with what I say around him as I have been with the kid who’s already saying, “Sh%t that was close.”  And if Arthur’s been absorbing what I’m saying, his first expressive statements might be PG-13 or even R.

Don’t get me wrong.  For my wife and I, the day when Arthur starts communicating in full sentences is going to be one of the happiest days of our lives.  I’m just don’t know at this point if that sentence is going to be, “Mommy, I’m hungry” or “Who does a kid have to blow to get a f%cking pancake in this place”?  And even if it’s the second one, it’s going to result in tears of joy.

We’ll spend days calling our friends and family on speaker phone asking Arthur to repeat, “Who does a kid have to blow to get a f%#king pancake around here”?

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(Tell Granny and Grampa about the f%#king pancakes again!)

We might even have a party with his first spoken sentence on banners and a large sheet cake.

He gets closer every week to getting there, so it’s a race against time for me to clean up my act and my language so our Hallmark moment doesn’t sound more like a scene from a Quentin Tarantino film.

But even if he starts off more like Nick, I won’t be able to contain my joy.  Because what parent doesn’t look forward to coming home to a child who smiles with delight as he runs, hugs you with his tiny little arms and says, “F%ck you, Daddy”  “F%ck you, too Arthur.”  “F%ck us all!!”

Least Favorite Child Results

Monday, February 25 – Arthur isn’t a morning person.  I don’t have a lot of responsibilities, but one of them is getting the boys ready in the morning for their schools.  On this morning, Arthur was extracted from his bed like someone attempting to cross the border into the U.S.  But unlike those poor children he was not thrilled to be reunited with a parent. At least not at 7am.  Charles quietly ate his toast while using some zen skill that allowed him to block out the shrieking. Least Favorite – Arthur.

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(“I just need a few more minutes and then I’ll be ready to take on the day.”)

Tuesday, February 26 – Charles IS a morning person.  And on this morning, like many others he has needs that must be met.  Two pieces of toast, milk,  three to five specific Lego men, blanket and much much more.  If I retrieve these things, he will follow up to find out what’s taking so long.  In that time the dog eats his toast.  Let’s just say that Charles had his two pieces of toast, but eight pieces were made.  Least Favorite – Charles.

Wednesday, February 27 – Charles is happy to see me when I get home.  I’m happy to see him.  But as bed time looms, the battle begins.  I burn hundreds of calories putting pajamas on a running child.  It’s like a rodeo sport.  I’m sure I could come up with enough events to create a child rodeo, but I’m sure it would received as inappropriate. At any rate, as much as I love goofing around with Charles, the aerobic workout after a 10 hours day is not what I’m looking for.  Least Favorite – Charles.

Thursday, February 28 – See Monday, February 25. Least Favorite – Arthur.

Friday, March 1 – This was a tough one.  Arthur was repeating a lot of words which was fantastic.  When he makes progress we get so happy, that it offsets the facts that he sat in the dog’s water bowl on three different occasions creating three different wardrobe changes.  And it’s incredibly cute that Charles wants to keep me company when I have to go potty, but there are so few “me time” moments for me on a daily basis, that I really kind of need some pooping privacy.  But sitting on the toilet while a child pounds on the bathroom door while he weeps, “I want to see what you’re doing!”  OK, maybe this one wasn’t close.  Least Favorite – Charles.

Least Favorite Child Totals

Charles – 3 Days

Arthur – 2 Days

Now I have to figure out how long it’s been since Neil Patrick Harris hasn’t responded to my post.

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Let’s Try This Again

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It’s been a long time since I’ve posted.  A few people who wondered why I stopped sharing the daily Least Favorite results between my twin boys, Arthur and Charles.

The simple explanation is that we suspected and confirmed that Arthur is autistic.  It takes a while to accept and announce to others that you have a child with special needs. And it didn’t seem right to compare the boys when they were clearly on different levels in terms of interacting with me.  You know the old saying; you can’t compare apples and oranges.

After more than a year it occurred to me that the apples and oranges saying is such crap!  Why can’t I compare apples and oranges?  If I’m holding an apple and notice that it’s red, then look at an orange and think, “Hey, that orange is not red like the apples is!” then I just compared them.  I could compare apples and oranges all day long. Compared to apples, oranges are more annoying because I have to peel the rind off and it makes my finger nails look jaundiced.  OK, I won’t go on, BUT I COULD!  I call bullshit!!

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The apples and oranges saying is officially as stupid as any late night show that sticks the words, “After Dark” to its title.  You know, like Showtime After Dark or Big Brother After Dark.  Hey, Showtime?  You know what After Dark is?  It’s called morning.  So, if you want to keep the name you better start showing me semi-erotic movies that take place at 6am at Denny’s.

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(Gladys Moskowitz stars in the new Showtime After Dark feature, “Grand Slam.”)

Just because Arthur and Charles are different doesn’t mean they don’t each take turns being my least favorite child on any given day.  Sure, Arthur doesn’t verbally communicate, but his consistently finding my eyeglasses and breaking them the instant I put them down, is his way of telling me he wants to be treated just like his brother or any other 3 1/2 year old child.  Will some people be offended and think that I’m treating a serious problem in a trivial manner?  Probably.  But when you’re spending exhaustive hours working to help a child develop and wonder whether he’ll be able to live a normal adult life, or if he’ll have to live you for the rest of his life, it’s important to find any moment of humor you can.  Unless of course you want to be the world’s biggest downer.  I’ll go with the first one.

It’s been over a year so, I’ll start Least Favorite Child results next week and give you a bio of the boys so you can get familiar with them.

 

Arthur Bio

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Hobbies: Walking around with a sock in one hand and a shoe in the other.  Treating the kitchen as his own personal parkour course.  Not being bothered that people often mistake him for a girl.

Favorite TV Shows: Rachel Maddow, Patriot’s Super Bowl Highlights. (He doesn’t make a lot of TV demands)

90s Sitcom Catchphrase: Doo doo doo doo.

The good news is that Arthur has made a lot of progress since he’s been diagnosed.  He used to walk around in a daze.  He looked a lot like a zombie toddler in a Baby Gap ad.  And considering how popular zombies have become on TV, Baby Gap might want to consider that angle.

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(Sure, adorable.  But put a few streams of blood down his mouth and you’ve got a whole new demo buying your stuff.)

Arthur is now extremely present and up for interacting.  Sure, sometimes the interactions are asking to be picked up so he can grin in delight while he slaps you in the face, but you’ve got to start somewhere.

He has a few autistic stemming obsessions.  The most recent is his obsession with carrying a sock in one hand and a shoe in the other.

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My wife and I do our best to keep stray socks and shoes out of his reach but you’d be surprised how quickly we can access these items and cram them into his mits if he’s reaching the highest notes of a temper tantrum.  You don’t want to find yourself in a Ralph’s Supermarket or a Home Depot with an angry Arthur without having these items.  That’s right.  I’ve added “taking a sock and a shoe” to the checklist of things I leave the house with as if that’s a totally normal thing.  Sometimes I even take notice of of a sock/shoe pairing he has as he strolls through the house.  “A rain boot and an Easter Bunny sock?  That’s a bold combo, Arthur.  Way to not be afraid to ‘go there’!”

Arthur has also become extremely curious and disturbingly adventurous.  Does that sound like a stressful combination?  It is.  He can climb anything like the Asian acrobat in the Oceans 11 movie.  Maybe he has a future working with Cirque du Soleil.  They hire babies and toddlers, right?

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(I immediately regret posting this photo)

And of course, what’s more fun to explore than a kitchen full of knives and a stove with knobs that can be turned to make things super hot.  So, like any typical family, if you want to operate the stove in our house you have to go to a drawer in the high bureau where the oven knobs are located.  Who hasn’t been there?

As many battles as Arthur faces every day, he’s pretty tough and very happy.  Maybe he realizes that he’s the pretty one.  I know parents aren’t objective when it comes to their children’s looks, but if you’re under the age of five and people think you’re a girl, that’s high praise in the pretty department.  If you’re a man being mistaken for a women once you reach your 30s and 40s, it’s much more problematic if that’s NOT the look you’re going for.  It’s fairly common for other 3 and 4 year old girls to hover around Arthur and desperately try to get him to play with them.  Sure, I’d love it if Arthur would engage with them, but his standard procedure is to ignore them and I have to say, it’s a pretty big power move.  If he keeps his looks, then not speaking and not giving women the attention they want and deserve, it almost guarantees he’ll have a lot of choices come prom time.

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(Arthur Hurley.  Chipping away female self esteem since 2018)

OK, that’s more than you probably wanted to know about Arthur.  Let’s move on to his brother, Charles.

Charles Bio

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Hobbies: Asking for Legos.  Getting Legos.  Losing Legos.

Favorite TV Shows: Paw Patrol, Goosebumps, Law & Order: SVU. (That’s my sister’s fault)

90s Sitcom Catchphrase: Hey, come here and look at the poop I just did!

It’s a little weird having a child that carries little if any of my DNA.  He looks just like my wife and she has passed on many of her personality traits.  They’re both stubborn, charmingly manipulative and absolutely sure that they’re in charge.  Yes, I know my wife’s in charge but Charles regularly attempts to put me in timeouts.  And I’m not ashamed to say I’ve agreed on a few occasions to sit quietly in a corner for a minute or two just to resolve the dispute faster.

For a kid who has so much moxie he’s pretty sensitive.  God forbid my wife and I argue in front of him.  The way he reacts you’d think we were breaking bottle necks on the kitchen counter and using them as shivs. Or are they shanks?  If you’ve done time and know the difference between a shiv and shank, let me know.

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(“How many times did I tell you today that you needed to pick up toilet paper!?  Let’s do this!)

Now, my wife and I have to argue in a civil tone.  There’s nothing more satisfying. (Insert your own sarcastic tone here)

Legos

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This is my wife’s fault.  She started Charles with the advanced Legos and not the more simple Duplos.  I’ve read that a standard automobile has 35,000 different parts.  A Lego car easily has twice that.  Luckily, my wife has assumed master builder duties which will lead her to madness before the boys are four. I’m already figuring out how to best play the pity card as the dad raising two boys on his own because his wife lost her mind building The Stark Industries Tower.

Charles has a different Lego character to obsess over every week.  This week’s it’s the Green Ninja.  Whichever is the favorite is what we spend most of our time looking for while Charles weeps like a parent of a missing child.

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(Does this look like someone enjoying play time or more like someone terrified that the Hulk could vanish at any moment?)

A couple of weeks ago I found that week’s favorite, Iron Man, in my pants pocket when I got to work,  I could have given my wife a heads up for the day that was in store for her.  Instead I just pretended that I found it under a couch cushion when I got home. Judge if you want, but I didn’t need one more time out that week.

Charles’ imaginative play skills are unparalleled. Usually I’m the Spiderman or Hulk Lego and he’s whoever the week’s favorite is.  We’ll commonly head over to Tony Stark’s lab where Charles says we need to be quiet because Thanos and Thor are not feeling well and need to sleep.  That’s some pretend I can get behind.

Last item of note is Charles’ potty habits.

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(What prompted me to take this photo?)

Charles actually potty trained himself.  I couldn’t be more thankful for something that’s been done for me.  Maybe that’s why he takes such pride in what he leaves in the bowl.  Without going into detail, I’ll just say that a poop does not get flushed unless someone is called in to look at it and analyze it as if it’s an art exhibit.

Poop even inspires his humor.  Last month he called to me from the living room and said, “Daddy, there’s a poop by the couch.”  There’s a cat, dog and two toddlers in my house.  This isn’t a shocking thing to hear.  As I came in to take care of the poop, there was Charles, looking and me and smiling.  And then, his next motion was putting the poop in his mouth and chewing it.

So, there I am screaming, “Why would you put that poo poo in your mouth?!” loud enough for everyone in the neighborhood to hear, when he pulled a Tootsie roll rapper out of his pocket. It may have taken a year or two off my life but how can I not respect great poop humor.  Maybe he does have some of my DNA!

OK, that’s all for now.  It’s time to start figuring out who my least favorite one is today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Million Cheerios

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January 6, 2017

For the most part, Charles and Arthur have drained my creative energy.  Occasionally a burst of imagination still pops into my mind.  I picture one day in my head vividly.

It’s just after meal time with the boys and I look at the carnage on the floor below their highchairs.

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This photo in no way represents the amount of food on the floor after one of their meals.  If I ate what they casually toss to the ground it would qualify as the “cheat day” on my diet.  Nonetheless, I imagine a day like any other where I get them out of their seats and begin the mundane process of picking all the uneaten food up.  As I search the corners of the room I find a several discarded Cheerios.  They’re the remnants of the first course of every meal they’ve ever had.  As I bend over to pick up the last Cheerio hundreds of balloons begin to cascade down upon me.  A confetti cannon bursts just as a marching band comes blaring through the front door with a cheer squad right behind.  Several smiling corporate looking people, one holding an oversize check. come over and start hugging me, shaking my hand and shout congratulatory.

I’VE JUST PICKED UP MY ONE MILLIONTH CHEERIO!!

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(It would look something like this.  And I imagine the Clintons being there now that they have some idle time.)

After the initial celebration a few corporate lackeys come in and place a dais in the middle of the dining room for the big wig to make his speech.  A grand chair of red velvet is set out for me to sit on amidst the throng of fans I’ve unwittingly made as I’m honored for my unbelievable achievement.  The big wig starts by pointing out the improbability of what I’ve accomplished.  Unlike any sane person I’ve chosen not to use the hand vacuum to make my job easier. It’s a nod to the kind of dogged stupidity needed to do what I’ve done.  He/She (no reason a woman can’t be the big wig) also thanks me for not bowing to purchasing cheaper trendy Cheerio knock off brands at Trader Joe’s.

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(Shame on you as usual Trader Joe’s)

Fun facts about what I’ve achieved are thrown out for the crowd to be amazed by.

  • 847, 456 – The number of Cheerios on the floor I’ve encouraged my dog to eat.
  • 368, 221 – The number of foul words I’ve used while picking up the healthy circled treats
  • 106, 834 – The number of Cheerios I’ve stepped on creating a fine coating of Cheerio dust on my floor at all times
  • 5,859 – The number of Cheerios that still remain hidden somewhere in the corners and cushions of my home

Then come the testimonials.  A large heavy set mouse from my previous home speaks in admiration of my determination to pick up every last Cheerio, yet always fail to see several that formed 50% of his diet in 2016.  He jokes that when we moved he tried in vain to jump into one of the packing boxes to ensure his food supply.  He then excuses himself to burrow into one of the walls of the new home.fatmouse

(This mouse will be featured on next season’s Biggest Loser, when he breaks down and cries after his first workout, and admits to a trainer that he’s never had the same self esteem as his thousand brothers and sisters.)

Next up is Juana, who comes every two weeks to clean our house.  After she speaks, corporate officials let us now she was only 300 Cheerios away from stealing this honor from me.

Along with the Clinton family, some of my favorite celebrities are there as well to wish me well including the entire cast of the short lived Firefly, a show I’ve never watched but have heard wonderful things about.

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(I promise them I’ll watch the lone season of their cult it on Netflix as soon as possible.)

At the ceremonies close, I’m given the key to Valley Village, California and the day is declared in my honor.  All of this goes out on a live feed to every network and overshadows whatever Donald Trump has tweeted that day.

What do you think about when you pick up a Cheerio?

Least Favorite Child Results

There’s a month to cover here as work and the holidays took me away from my blog.  It didn’t prevent me from calculating who was the favorite each day.

December 11-16

Arthur was the Least Favorite five out of six days.  He’s going through a real douchey phase.  Crying for no reason, throwing fits when he’s not happy with the food presented to him, tantrums any time he gets a diaper change.  Do 19 month old boys experience menopause?

December 18-23

Arthur edges out Charles this week as least favorite four to two.  Arthur likes to hit milestones only after my wife and I start to become concerned.  He sit up on his own only after we spent weeks wondering if he had some spinal deformity.  He walked only after my wife shed tears that he might have some serious physical issues.  This week we wondered why he didn’t engage us much and Googles, “signs of autism.”  Moments later he smiled and began engaging us.

December 26 -31

Charles edges out Arthur for the honors four days to two.  Charles is very vocal.  He likes to march around saying ‘happy” over and over again.  It’s very cute.  Less cute is that he likes to march around and say, “die, die, die” more than “happy.”  We Googled, “signs your toddler may become a murderer.”

This week

January 1 – Least Favorite is Charles. How did you start off the New Year?  I started it off in the grocery store with a child happily screaming, “Die, die, die” to people who tried to say hello.

January 2 – Least Favorite is Arthur. Arthur introduced himself to his new daycare provider with tears and a loud dump.  Way to put your best foot forward.

January 3 – Least Favorite is Charles.  He likes to put food in his ears.  My next Google search will be “How to remove snow peas from the deeps wells of a child’s ear.”

January 4 – Least Favorite is Arthur.  He’s a passionate music critic.  There’s a song about a dinosaur on a loop of music that causes him to cry and wail as if he’s standing in the middle of war torn Aleppo.

January 5 – Least Favorite is Charles.  His new hobby is attempting to strangle himself with iPhone charger chords.  I’m beginning to understand what “Die, die, die” might mean.  Of course he later chanted “happy” over and over again so he’s pretty conflicted.

Least Favorite Child Year One – Charles

Total Days As Least Favorite Child – Year Two

Arthur – 105

Charles – 92

Days since Neil Patrick Harris received my post and hasn’t responded – 502

 

Charles Chips Away At My Self Esteem

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December 9, 2016

I had been feeling good about myself in regard to my appearance.  Since I visited my parents about a year ago and they remarked about how fat I was it became my mission to shed the excess poundage. And I knew that pleasing my parents was a long shot, so when they looked at me and told me I should put on some weight back on, I took it in stride.

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(I’d love my parents to weigh in at the Biggest Loser finale to bring everyone down.)

I’ve lost almost fifty pounds in order to avoid being the “fat” dad and had been feeling great.  Charles, however, is keeping me in check. When I come home at the end of the day, Charles is always the happiest to see me and greets me with an enthusiastic, “Dadu!!”  Isn’t that adorable?  I certainly used to think it was.  But I was due to be knocked down a peg.  Charles seemed to think one peg wasn’t enough.

During our trip to see my family over Thanksgiving, Charles let out another boisterous “Dadu!!” on morning number one.  He let it out when he saw my father.  My 85 year old, poor postured father.  Really, Charles?  I have some resemblance to my father, but did Charles really think I aged 36 years after a 3,000 mile plane flight and a bad night’s sleep in a poorly ventilated room?  I dealt with this by grabbing a few donuts in the kitchen.

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(This is how I looked after we made the 3,000 mile trip back to Los Angeles)

After about a week I came to grips with the fact that Charles thinks “Dadu” looks like an 85 year old man.  I figured he’s just one and a half.  Kids that age are morons.  He drinks out of the dog’s water bowl why should I worry what he thinks.

Besides, I had little time to worry about my looks.  We were in the middle of moving to a bigger house with a nice yard for the boys, where they could frolic and play while their 85 year old Dad ran after them.  We had five days to clear out all our stuff and move to the new home.  We had an electrician doing some work while we moved in.  His name was the same as mine, Steve.  Here’s what Steve looked like.

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Of course Steve wore a shirt and pants but when he bent down to work on an outlet he may as well have been dressed in the manner in the above photo.  Like I often do, I’ve telegraphed where this is going.  Who did Charles call “Dadu” next?  Yes, Steve the electrician.  My Dad might be 85 years old but at least he’s svelte.  Charles was totally going for the throat with this passive aggressive “Dadu” remark.  Here’s how he’s telling me he sees me.

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(For the record I have that same chair, but not the guitar.)

My wife thinks it’s funny but assures me that Chalres has no agenda and that I look great.  I’m not sure I believe her. In a few years he’ll be at the age where he’ll be bring home a picture he drew of the family and I’m dreading how I’m rendered.

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Will I be proud to hang this up on the fridge with the title, “Dadu”?

I’m not above payback though.  I plan on calling all sorts of things Charles from now on.

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Charles!!!

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Charles!!!!

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Charles!!!!

Two can play this game.

Least Favorite Child Results

Traveling and moving has taken me away from the blog over the past few weeks but I haven’t stopped keeping count.

November 21 – 26

Arthur was Least Favorite four days to two.  The worst was the flight back from Boston.  We had a seat for Charles but Arthur had to be strapped to me in my seat.  Have you ever flown six hours with an 18 month old strapped to your chest?  It’s gotta beat water boarding in terms of torture.  It was like being in a MMA fight where you aren’t allowed to hit back.

November 28- December 3

This is a well deserved 3-3 tie for Least Favorite honors.  I’ve never moved with two year and half old kids and don’t suggest it to anyone.  They are drawn to all sorts of sharp moving materials.  Even though the first things we did when we arrived was unpack every last toy for their entertainment, none of them could compete with anything resembling a box cutter.

December 5 – Least Favorite is Arthur.  I understand while Charles cries.  You take something away he’s holding.  The dog eats his breakfast bar.  I can see the cause and I understand the effect.  Arthur?  He might be looking out a window and start crying hysterically?  Is he contemplating the unjust aspects of the world?  Does he have depth?  Please, don’t let him have that type of depth.

December 6 – Least Favorite is Arthur.  As part of his new sensitive phase he refused to lie on his back for a diaper change.  Putting a diaper on a kid who rolls over on his stomach takes ten times longer.  He may have freed up his calendar for the day but I haven’t.

December 7 – Least Favorite is Arthur.  Another part of his sensitive phase is thrashing his head around and banging it on the floor.  He’s going to need a cat scan before he’s two. Charles just looks at me with a “What’s going on with this one” look.

December 8 – Least Favorite is Charles. The good old sneak poop right before bed is always a nice end to my day.

Least Favorite Child Year One – Charles

Total Days As Least Favorite Child – Year Two

Arthur – 92

Charles – 82

Days since Neil Patrick Harris received my post and hasn’t responded – 471

I Blame You, Arthur. I Blame You!

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November 18, 2016

If Arthur inherited one thing from me it’s his hair. I’ve been riddled with insecurities about my appearance for as long as I can remember.  I was the kid in gym who was saying a novena if is the class involved a team sport that would require a shirts versus skins scenario.  Probably because I always had that farmer’s tan and if I was chosen as a skin I would wind up looking like a kid wearing a white t-shirt with nipples.

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But one thing I’ve never had to worry about is my hair.  I have great hair and a pretty impressive hairline.  I always knew I’d never have to worry about balding.  My only recent worry is that I kind of have a hair style similar to Steve Bannon’s.  And while he may be an evil guy, you can’t deny he’s got pretty good hair.

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(If Robert Redford starts hating minorities and completely lets himself go, this is probably what he’d look like.)

Arthur will never have to worry about losing his hair either.  If his hair is trimmed at 9am, it’s grown over his eyes by 5pm.  It’s an extreme 5 O’clock shadow.  He puts Fabio to shame. He may even have a future as a Harlequin Romance Book  cover model.

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He’ll just have to feather his mane out a little.

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(This style is a little Hitlery.)

My wife is always paranoid about using scissors on Arthur.  He jerks around a lot.  To solve this problem she bought something called a razor comb.

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What a razor comb does is allow you to trim hair without risking jabbing or cutting someone.  What a great idea!  The only problem is that I didn’t know what a razor comb was and my wife didn’t inform me that she bought one.  She keeps me in the dark a lot.  Can you see where this is going?  You probably can.  The direction of this runaway train was headed straight to my one security and the brakes weren’t working.

Wednesday, November 16 – 7:37am

Like every morning, I get out of the shower and begin my search for a brush or comb.  My wife likes to brush her hair and immediately place the brush somewhere it will never be found.  We have five or six brushes and you might find them in spots ranging from the kitchen freezer to the outside mailbox.  That’s the type of system we run in our home. Looking for any implement to comb my hair, I spot what LOOKS like a comb.  I take a single swipe through my hair in the spot I always begin, in the front.  Here’s the result.

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This is just a sampling of the hair I lost.  The first swipe of a comb or brush is always the most aggressive.  Here’s what my hairline looks like now.

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Let’s just ignore my oily forehead and drink the tremendous amount of scalp that’s now exposed.  I even see a couple of those brown spots you get from age.  There’s no real solve for this issue.  I don’t work in an office where I can wear a baseball hat. I could attempt to change my style and wear a knit hipster hat but everyone’s going to think I’m going through a mid-life crisis.

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(I don’t see these people taking me in as one of their own.)

Of course when something this tragic happens blame needs to be assigned.  Do I blame my wife?  Not a chance.  In the beginning of every relationship you establish who gets to win arguments.  In the first month dating my wife it became clear that she was going to be the argument winner.  I was glad to lose every fight to someone willing to date me.  Since we’ve been together my record in arguments is 0-10,000.  No sense in going 0-10,001.

That leaves the kid with all the hair.

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Thanks, Arthur.  I know you’re too young to get sarcasm, but I’m laying it on thick.

Least Favorite Child Results

There’s a lot of catching up to do as I was buried in work.  I’ll try to give a briefer synopsis.

October 31-November 5

Arthur gets Least Favorite Honors four days to Charles two.  Arthur’s low light comes on Halloween when he tried to swallow the sleeve on his scarecrow outfit.

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(I’m the witch.  I may wear that hate for a while.)

November 7 – 12

The boys split honors 3-3 this week.  I’ll be honest.  Neither were standouts nor did they provide any memorable shenanigans.  A tie for the week seems right.

November 13 – Charles is Least Favorite.  Mostly because I took both boys out for a stroll and people kept saying Arthur was a pretty girl and two people assumed they were my grand kids.  I choose Charles as LF as a show of solidarity to Arthur.

November 14 – Arthur is Least Favorite.  Getting him into the car on this particular morning was a battle.  A battle that people passing by knew I was losing.  He used the “stiff body” method to avoid getting into his car seat.  He’d be an awesome protester.  Good luck getting this guy into a police car.

November 15 – Charles is Least Favorite.  No one likes a morning person, and Charles is a morning person.  If he could walk it down to a 7, I could deal with it, but he jumps out of bed at a full 10.  I’m nice enough to give him a polite smile.

November 16 – Charles is Least Favorite.  He doesn’t seem to be phased in the least that Donald Trump is the President Elect.  That type of self absorbed personality is off putting.

November 17 – Arthur is Least Favorite.  Doesn’t matter how late I wait to change his diaper before bed time.  He’ll still poop moments before I put him in the crib.

Least Favorite Child Year One – Charles

Total Days As Least Favorite Child – Year Two

Arthur – 82

Charles – 76

Days since Neil Patrick Harris received my post and hasn’t responded – 464

 

 

 

 

 

Potty Poker Face

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October 28, 2016

The boys are only a year and a half but my wife insists it’s time to start potty training them.  She’s a “doer.”  I’m not a “doer.”  Left up to me, my sons wouldn’t become toilet “goers” until their sophomore year in college.  So my wife’s drive will certainly make life a little easier for everyone when Arthur and Charles hit high school.

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(At least the diapered guy in this picture has abs. Kind of a trade off if you ask me.)

I had no idea how to begin the potty training process.  My wife, the “doer” did.  She advised me that we have to figure out when they are actually taking a dump.  Much like poker, we’d have to look for their tells in order to determine when they where holding a royal flush. (Sorry for the pun)

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That’s right.  My wife and I now spend our evenings together in the family room drinking cocktails and trying to spot signs that are children are taking a dump.  And I can tell you now, from firsthand experience, that it’s tough to follow the thread of a TV show like Designated Survivor when your attention is diverted by a a child locked in a half squat position.

It’s a high stakes poker game not unlike Casino Royale.  Lives may not hang in the balance, but there are a lot of smelly chips on the table, and one of the players is adept at bluffing.

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Luckily, Arthur is a poor poker player.  He doesn’t have a tell as much as he just walks up to you and shows you his cards.  He squats as if he’s about to jump off a diving board and hold that spot for about a minute before moving on.  I assume that’s a pretty standard position.  What’s less standard is that occasionally he does this facing me and looks me straight in the eye.  I have to believe that’s disrespectful on a lot of levels.  If I walked up to a coworker, glared at them straight in the eye and took a massive crap without saying a word, I’m pretty sure that would be interpreted as a huge “fuck you!!”  It might also be the single biggest power move in the history of office politics. I don’t think I have the nerve to pull ever pull this off, but it’s now in my mind.

Charles is a much different player that Arthur, and quite frankly he’s holding all the cards.  He never stops moving.  How can you tell when someone has shit themselves if they’re always in motion?  And why would you ever WANT to poop on the move?  Personally, I’ve reached an age where the mood and setting has to be perfect for a good dump to happen and a huge part of that… is sitting still.

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(I don’t know what you have earmarked to buy with your change jar but this is kind of what I have in mind.)

Not only is Charles winning every hand in this card game of craps, but I’m becoming increasing concerned that he’ll never sit still on anything long enough to poop in it.  Will I have to strap the plastic potty to his ass?  The book Everybody Poops leaves a valuable message but it doesn’t really hit home how much joy you can get from 15-20 minutes with a good book in the can.  I blame his mother.  She’s the “doer.”  Doers don’t like to sit still.  They always have to be into something.  And Charles is beating us because he’s multi-tasking.  He’s pooping while he hits the toy piano or playing with his fire truck.

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(Hearing a child squeeze one out as they murder their rendition of chopsticks is a tall order)

These kids have flash cards that show them parts of the body, dogs, cats, and all sorts of stuff that wouldn’t come in as handy as a single card with a pile of poop on it.  That’s why I’m finishing this post as I drink a strong cup of coffee and my iPhone camera at the ready when it’s time to run to the mens room.  Sometimes you have to make your own flash cards to get things done.

Least Favorite Child Results

October 22 – Least Favorite is Charles.  We went to a pumpkin patch over the weekend and threw the boys in a bouncy house with a bunch of older kids.  It went about as well as the soldiers getting off their pontoon boats at Omaha Beach.  This set the tone for Charles to not enjoy a single thing at this event. Toughen up.

October 23 – Least Favorite is Arthur.  He’s going to be that kid in school that puts everything in his mouth.  The day before at the pumpkin patch he was grabbing hay and putting it in his mouth and at home it’s the same, we just have more dog hair and less hay.

October 24 – Least Favorite is Charles.  Speaking of putting things in their mouths.  Charles spent the morning chewing on something forcing my wife and I to take 10-15 minutes trying to open up his mouth and find out what it was.  It was nothing.  This kid is just toying with us.  I respect him but resent him as well.

October 25 – Least Favorite is Arthur. But only because Charles caught some bug and looked adorably pitiful.  It’s tough to be least favorite when you play the pity card so well.

October 26 – Least Favorite is Charles.  He’s feeling better now.  He displayed his health by trying to take down the wall mounted TV with all his might.  Don’t ever mess with the TV.  That’s what gets this family through our days and our nights.

October 27 – Least Favorite is Arthur.  Arthur speaks like an Ewok from the Star Wars films.  I’d prefer a few human words at this point in his development as opposed to the dialect of a small creature waving a wooden spear.

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Least Favorite Child Year One – Charles

Total Days As Least Favorite Child – Year Two

Arthur – 73

Charles – 68

Days since Neil Patrick Harris received my post and hasn’t responded – 443

It’s Good Enough, Damn It!

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October 21, 2016

I vividly recall one particular morning when I was five years old.  My seven year old brother and myself where getting ready for school when he discovered he didn’t have a clean pair of underwear.  He bellowed to my Mother, who I’m sure was desperately drinking coffee in the kitchen praying for the next 15 minutes to pass when her four kids would be out of the house and she would have peace until roughly 3pm, when the Mike Douglas talk show began.

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(This fun and breezy talk show signaled the end of my Mother’s daily tranquility)

I could hear my Mother’s footsteps as she approached our room and she tossed my brother a clean pair of skivvies to wear.  She was quick and efficient in her delivery.  The only issue for my brother was that the clean underwear he was given didn’t belong to… his collection.  They belonged to one of our sister’s.  That’s right, my Mother heard my brother’s problem, discovered another problem along the way, and dealt with it as best she could.  My brother was speechless for a few moments until the devastated cries ensued.  While he loudly protested I saw his possible future instantly.

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My Mom’s reply to my brother was calm and succinct.  “They’re good enough, damn it.”  And with her simple answer he resigned himself to a day he’d spend in fear and confusion. It didn’t help that as a five year old armed with juicy gossip that we shared the same bus to school.  I held my secret for almost two full bus stops before the entire bus knew that my brother was wearing girls’ underpants.  I’m pretty sure my mother didn’t count on my lack of discretion as part of her, “They’re good enough, damn it!” reasoning.  The good news is that my brother had regained a reputation of good standing by third grade.  Of course he became quite a worrier at a young age and developed ulcerative colitis a few years down the road.  Is this my fault or my Mom’s?  We’ll never know for sure but I KNOW the roots of his issues started with “They’re good enough, damn it!”

I thought of that story last week when my wife traveled for business for several days and left me alone with the boys.  Of course, she didn’t arm me with a lot of important information that a sole caregiver needs.  Most notably that Charles likes to use the second half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich as hair gel.  But I realized that I’ve already reached the “It’s good enough, damn it!” stage of parenting.  I’m lazy so this was inevitable.  The first entry into this thinking was their day one outfit.

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I knew that the camo shorts weren’t going to be a hit with my wife, but when you’re trying to find any outfit that matches for twins, the “It’s good enough, damn it!” thinking sinks in rapidly.  At least their fashion DON’T was a match.  Good enough, right?

On day two, Arthur wore two different shoes.  There was one left foot, and one right, so that always gets things done.  Good enough, damn it!  For dinner that night I forgot to pick up yogurt for their dessert.  Yogurt that night became a few cookies.  Good enough, damn it!

Bath night?  I’ve seen the work that goes into that.  You know what makes an 18 month old child look like they’ve had a bath?  Applying 15-20 wet wipes to various parts of their body.  As far as I’m concerned we live in a world of perception which means looking clean if far more important that actually being clean. Good enough, damn it.

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Sure, it looks like an adorable process but the aftermath of bathing two small children is devastating.

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(We have an animated bathroom in our home)

And here’s a little secret that I haven’t told my wife.  While she’s going to great lengths engaging them and keeping them entertained, I’ve discovered how to do this AND watch my shows.  It’s a little item known as an empty 7-11 coffee cup.

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As long as you don’t mind putting the lid back on this thing periodically to keep your kid happy, you’re good for 2-3 hours.  That’s MORE than good enough, damn it!

I’ve embraced the “good enough, damn it” phase of parenting and because of my mother I’ve even learned where to draw the line.

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Of course one of them could grow up to identify as a person who wants to wear this style of underpants.  And then I’ll have to be supportive.  At least I’ll get a blog post out of it and that’s good enough damn it.

Least Favorite Child Results

October 15  – Least Favorite is Charles.  People always talk about the terrible twos.  Unfortunately we weren’t prepared for Charles to hit the terrible twos at 18 months.  Let’s just say you don’t want to be in the room when you take away his 7-11 cup.  I’m the same way if you take away my coffee cup but that’s because there’s actually coffee in it.

October 16 – Least Favorite is Charles.  He wouldn’t go to sleep until I walked down the street and got an empty 7-11 coffee cup to give him.  I’ve given him his first unhealthy addiction.

October 17 – Least Favorite is Arthur.  The down side of having a baby monitor in your bedroom is listening to one of your kids in their bedroom whining from 5:30am to 7am.  He wasn’t crying.  Just whining.  In other words, not enough to get up and see what’s wrong, but just enough to keep you awake during the best sleeping time.

October 18 – Least Favorite is Charles.  Some nights you work hard to make a dinner your sons will love.  Some times those are the same nights one of them decides they give that dinner to the dog.

October 19 – Least Favorite is Arthur.  Some night you work hard to make a dinner your sons will love.  Some times those are the same nights that you realize that one of your sons will keep putting food in his mouth before fully chewing the previous piece.  This leads to holding regurgitated dinner in the palm of your hand.

October 20 – Least Favorite is Charles.  If Arthur was holding a vile of the Zika virus in his hand, Charles would likely knock him down and take it from him, because it doesn’t matter what it is.  By all rights it belong to him.  What a dick.

Least Favorite Child Year One – Charles

Total Days As Least Favorite Child – Year Two

Arthur – 70

Charles – 65

Days since Neil Patrick Harris received my post and hasn’t responded – 436

 

How To Talk To Your Kids About Donald Trump

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October 14, 2016

I could write about other things today, but is anyone interested in anything that isn’t related to Donald Trump?  I know I’m not.  And as I look through all the justified outrage I see a lot of parents wringing their hands over how to explain Trump’s words and actions to their kids.  I’m not sure why this is such a big problem.  It’s an easy thing to explain to anyone, even young impressionable minds.  He’s a douchebag.

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The contributions that the douchebag made to women’s health pales in comparison to the gift it gave mankind in its name alone.  No word encapsulates the entirety of an asshole as well…even the word asshole.

So if your child comes up to you confused and asks you to explain what Donald Trump’s words mean it’s a quick and easy conversation. “He’s a douchebag.  Turn off CNN and watch some cartoons. And stop asking me stupid questions.  Love you!”

If you put more than a little thought into it, as parents we should thank Donald Trump.  He has become a clear example for us to show our children how not to behave.  Our kids no longer have the benefit of heavy exposure to Goofus and Gallant in Highlights Magazine.

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I miss these guys.  Granted, I always identified more with Goofus, but in today’s environment I’m sure people would jump to Goofus’ defense and say we were bullying him for being ADHD or somewhere on the Asperger’s spectrum.  But thanks to Donald Trump we have our modern day Goofus to look to and say, “OK, he did THAT so we probably shouldn’t do THAT.

My boys can’t speak but years from now when they ask me about something that Donald Trump did, because let’s face it, he might not become President but he’s still not going anywhere, I’ll tell them, “He’s a douchebag.  Remember, you don’t want to be one of those.”

And if they ask me how they’ll know if they’re being a douchebag, I’ll say, “Is it something you could see Trump doing?  If so, you’re probably being a douchebag.”

Just as an aside when did it become the common practice to have this question and answer forum with our kids about issues of the day?  Can’t we go back to the time when kids figured stuff out for themselves and if they got it wrong then parents would explain that they were idiots or being…douchebags?

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(“That’s a very interesting question, Timmy, and I want you to think about what the answer to that might be while Mommy watches the View.”)

It’s not like we ever leave our kids alone for a single second. If they have things figured out incorrectly and it looks like their about to be a douchebag, we can swoop in pretty quickly and explain to them that their being Donald Trump.  All role models aren’t positive ones.  But if you have a clear blueprint for what doesn’t work that’s almost as valuable, right?

My boys are only 18 months.  So it’s unclear if their douchebags at this time.  They say a few words but mostly just babble.  I’m pretty sure Charles did say “pussy” once, but I think that’s what he was calling me when I winced opening up the diaper pale.  That doesn’t make him Trump.  But it does put him in the “Goofus” category.

Least Favorite Child Results

October 9th – Least Favorite is Arthur.  During dinner he threw up.  With no paper towels nearby and seeing it coming ahead of time, I cupped my hands in front of his mouth.  When your holding two handfuls of puke in your hands it’s easy to choose your least favorite.

October 10 – Least Favorite is Arthur.  If you puke at dinner it’s important to get right back up on the horse the next night and shovel as much of a hot dog into your mouth as humanly possible.  This time I had paper towels.

October 11 – Least Favorite is Charles.  When I’m walking the boys in the stroller, Charles likes to stick one leg out and kick at things.  His favorite place to this is at the supermarket where he can knock a lot of things over.  Total Goofus.

October 12 – Least Favorite is Arthur.  Arthur likely thinks he’s being helpful when I change his crap filled diaper and before I can get to a wipe he starts to aide the cleanup process with his hands.

October 13 – Least Favorite is Charles.  Charles is into using hair products.  Specifically whatever he’s having for dinner which he run through his hair.  Chicken doesn’t work so well, but peanut butter definitely gives his hair the hold he’s looking for.

Least Favorite Child Year One – Charles

Total Days As Least Favorite Child – Year Two

Arthur – 68

Charles – 61

Days since Neil Patrick Harris received my post and hasn’t responded – 429

Hello, My Name Is _______?

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October 8, 2016

Some words have many meanings.  Aloha is a great example.  It can mean hello or goodbye.  It can also mean love and affection.  Aloha can be added onto other words to express good morning, good afternoon and dozens of other expressions.  Aloha means so many different things that I could stand in downtown Honolulu, scream it at the top of my lungs, and either be hugged or arrested depending on how someone chose to interpret my tone.

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(Sure, Hawaii is the Aloha State but with so many meanings can we be sure they’re not telling us to pound sand up our ass?)

My sons, Arthur and Charles, are about 17 months old and have no idea what their names are.  I say their names hundreds of times a day to no response.  They’re not deaf.  If they hear Elmo’s voice their heads snap in that direction quicker than their bodies can even adjust giving them a Linda Blair in The Exorcist vibe.

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(“Aloha!”)

It’s possible that they’re aware that their names are Arthur and Charles but aren’t crazy about them.  They might just be ignoring me until I call them by names they prefer but I think that would be giving them way to much credit.  I don’t think they’ll start being passive aggressive until they’re two.

At any rate they hear the words Arthur and Charles constantly so I have to conclude that they think these words mean something.  And I believe they think that “Arthur” and “Charles,” like “Aloha,” has many different meaning.  I’ll attempt to get in their minds and translate.

  • Using their names with a question mark attached

Arthur? – Translation – “Hey there, Sport.  Do you think you could pull the Apple TV cords out of the TV and start chewing on them”?  (ALT) “If I turn my back for a minute can you try to drink the liquor I hide in my ‘There’s A Chance This Is Tequila’ coffee thermos”?

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(Another fantastic gift from my friend Kirsten.)

Charles? – Translation – Buddy, your brother is holding something he’s enjoying very much so can you take that away from him right now”?

If I say their names with an exclamation, they never interpret it as a warning.  They think of my tone as pure support and enthusiasm.

Arthur! – Translation – “Great job taking all that dog hair and putting it in your mouth and swallowing it!  Let’s find out if they have competitive eating competitions for that like they have for hot dogs in Coney Island.  You could be the Joey Chestnut of Golden Retriever fur.”

Charles! – Translation – “I couldn’t be prouder or more impressed that you’re standing precariously on top of the tall bureau.  So many people would be frightened they’d fall to their death but not you, you brave little idiot!!” (ALT) “You go run away now and don’t look back for either of your parents at any point!  No one steals kids these days!”

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(Charles, always on the search for new parents)

Of course they hear their names most often in a defeated tone.

Arthur – Translation – “Please pull my arm hair.”  (ALT) ” “Thanks for taking a dump in the diaper I put on you ten seconds ago.” (ALT) “Thanks for putting my iPhone in your mouth.  You’re right.  I DO need to unplug.”  (ALT) “I don’t know if that will fit in your nose but you should give it a shot.”

Charles – Translation – “You’re right. Dressing people while they sit still IS boring.” (ALT) “Good call.  It’s more fun for everyone if you to try to escape while I put you in your car seat.” (ALT) “Yes, putting children’s Tylenol in a moving target is much more rewarding.” (ALT) “Sure, I think someday you’ll achieve your goal of smashing Arthur’s hand in a door jam.”

**Charles is more active than Arthur.

I feel I’ve become fluent when it comes to the language of Charles 101 and Beginning Arthur.  They’ve taken the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” and turned it on its head.  For these guys one word is worth a thousand meanings to fit whatever it is they feel like doing at that particular time. I thought I had lazy mastered, but these kids teach me that I’m a novice every day.

Least Favorite Child Results

Yes, I was on a blog sabbatical as I went on vacation in Catalina and had a busy week of catch up at work, so I can go into the detail of every single day.  I’ll break it down for everyone’s (mostly mine) convenience.

  • 8 days of vacation. Charles was least favorite 3 of those days and Arthur won the honors 5 times. Highlights for each included Charles taking a dump in the hot tub and Arthur drinking an unknown amount of tequila when I wasn’t looking.   I handled the tequila the same way I would handle it if I drank one tenth my body weight in booze.  I gave him some pizza and water before he went to bed.

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(Kudos to Arthur who had his first shot without a lime or a chaser.  I expect his first chest hair next week.)

  • September 26 through October 2.  The boys had a 3-3 split last week.  Arthur ran out to a quick lead, but Charles caught up if for no other reason than putting his shoes on every morning is an effort that makes beads of sweat fall down the crack of my ass. (Sorry for the visual)

October 3 – Least Favorite is Charles. The one bright spot about having kids is that you know a day earlier when you used to that you were going to be sick.  Charles is always the first one to catch a cold and when I spot his runny nose I know I have 24 hours to get to the CVS and get my meds.  Of colds always start with Charles.  I may change his name to Patient Zero.  He may answer to that.  **99% of all cold come from blue ball pits.

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October 4 – Least Favorite is Arthur.  Arthur caught Charles’ cold but of course my wife and I have it now as well.  Don’t whine to me Arthur.  Look at your brother is you’re in to assigning blame.

October 5 – Least Favorite is Arthur. Arthur likes a late night snack.  So do I, but I can manage to take care of my snack needs myself while Arthur needs me to bring him a bottle of milk.  Can’t he just quietly get a Snickers bar and turn ESPN on low like Daddy?

October 6 – Least Favorite is Charles. Wiping the nose of a reluctant and fast toddler requires more athletic ability than I ever displayed in high school.

October 7 – Least Favorite is Charles.  Charles is feeling much showing off his obnoxious dance moves while we are all still dealing with coughs and raw noses from generic kleenex.  Glad you’re feeling better Patient Zero!

Least Favorite Child Year One – Charles

Total Days As Least Favorite Child – Year Two

Arthur – 65

Charles – 59

Days since Neil Patrick Harris received my post and hasn’t responded – 422