Friday, April 30, 2010

Real Fatherhood for Dummies

The older I get, the more I realize the books on fatherhood are wrong.  Maybe not wrong, but definitely not completely right.  There is so much that is left out of the books.  I'm sure that's because it would fill an encyclopedia (if you are old enough to know what a REAL set looks like) on just the everyday silliness that being a father evokes.  (To make it more time sensitive) You could crash the Wikipedia site with just the information on what fathers DON'T know.  So I have decided to remedy only a couple of chapters that I would like to have seen when I was thinking about becoming a father.

These are a few amendments to the Fatherhood handbooks.

Chapter 1 - The Why Oh Y-Chromosome - No matter what anyone says, you cannot WILL a Y-Chromosome.  For those who have read a previous post or two, you know I have 3 girls.  And try as I might, I couldn't produce even a measly little Y-Chromosome.  Sure, I'm happy with my girls but that doesn't change the fact that I wanted at least 1 Y-Chromosome to break through the House of Super X-Chromosomes and plant the male flag for all of the world to see.  Apparently, my Ys were just drawing cover fire while the Xs just walked on in through the front door.

To all of the potential fathers... The more you try to make it happen, the less chance that it will.  So don't try to force the Y-Chrome (for short) deal.  Plus, what's the worst that can happen???  All girls???  I have all girls and there is nothing wrong. (That is, of course, if you don't count the uncontrollable twitching and over-analyzing every little thing a boy does when he walks into a room with your girls (Oh, yeah... I'm watching! (And I really don't care that the boys is only 2.)))

So if you have a pre-planned idea on how many boys and girls you plan to have... BURN IT!  It will do you no good.  Just hope/pray for the standard happy and health and be done with it.  You have more important things to worry about like trying to make sure whatever child you have LOVES your favorite NFL team.  (That is a whole chapter within itself.)

Chapter 8 - That was Childbirth?!?!? - I don't care what anyone says... Chilbirth is NOT pretty!!! It sounds good on paper but really loses something in production.  I do agree that it is the most miraculous thing in the world.  Bringing a life into the world is a very precious, spiritual and wonderful thing.  And if anyone tries to tell you that it is a beautiful process... They are lying to you right dead in your face!  Trust me, there is nothing beautiful about it.

And on top of everything else... it's nothing like what you see on TV!  On TV (or movies) the couple is always at the top end of the bed and the doctor is always at the business end of the process.  There is also a sheet or something that is making sure the soon-to-be parents (or the camera) can't see what's going on.  In real life... THERE IS NO SHEET!!!  I wanted a sheet!  A hospital full of linens and we couldn't get one sheet over there.  I didn't need to see all of that.  I would have paid extra for the sun roof, the DVD Navigation and a SHEET! I'm not going to go into detail on this one (I might in a book) because of 3 reasons: One, my wife would kill me. Two, I would lose all 6 of my readers when I started talking about the details. And three, my wife would kill me.  But I will say this...  I'm truly amazed that a women can show everything that is on display in a delivery room and not be the slightest embarrassed but if you even mention the thought of going to the store without putting makeup on...  Well, that's just blasphemy!  Don't get me wrong... Fellas, you should do it once.  If you don't, you will regret missing one of the most important days in your life.  But I'm telling you now, the novelty wears off REALLY quick! I didn't even want to be in the room for the last one but my wife made me.  *AHEM* I mean, I decided to be there for my wife and support her on such a glorious day.

Chapter 34 -The two tastiest thing in the world are the middle finger and the ring finger.  That is according to my 19-month old.  Even tastier than Fruity Pebbles (whatever). Even tastier than the mythical raspberry Jolly Rancher (PLEASE).  And, yes Brian... Even tastier than the Sour Skittles.  Personally, I find this very disturbing.  I can't even lick my fingers after I eat a bag of Doritos.  It just really grosses me out.  So I have to fight the urge regularly to want to just yank those fingers out and explain to her about all of the germs she's voluntarily inviting into her mouth.  Not that I'm a germaphobe but I don't go out of the way to accommodate that germy lifestyle they lead.  Our daughter must have gotten that from her mother.

I made that point just to show that you don't get to pick and choose what your child inherits.  We always like to think (and tell everyone) that our children get their singing ability from us (or our side of the family).  We brag about how we infused (no one actually uses this word) our child with OUR athletic ability.  And when she is making straight As in school we just know whose genes we are witnessing in action.  And we are glad for all of those perfect qualities.  But who's going to take credit for the nose picking?  (I have my guesses on which side of the family that comes from.  But I'm not saying.) And what about the running around the house with a bucket on her head? (I have my suspicions.) And don't forget about the singing off-key and changing all of the lyrics to songs so that they are completely self-serving. (OK. She got that one from me.  But it's just so CUTE.)

So if you think you have some kind of control over what qualities your child takes from you then you need to re-read chapter 1 (above).

Chapter 3115 - Luke... I am your Father (not to be confused with Maury Povich (You are NOT the father)). - The last chapter I would add (right now) is the one that the books can't tell you.  The books don't tell you that you will love your children with all of your being.  The books don't tell you that when they hurt, you hurt.  The books won't tell you that your successes and failures won't translate to your child as much as how you handle your successes and failures.  The books also fail to mention that there will be moments where your child will inspire you instead of the other way around.  The books also leave out that your children will one day do things that make you question everything that you "thought" you already knew.  The books only gloss over the fact that you will lose your Superman status the first time your child comes home with Algebra homework. (Some lose it sooner than others.  They started that mess in 4th grade at my daughter's school.)  The books DO tell you that you should say NO, punish and set boundaries on you child (they call it parenting).  But they don't tell you that you will know they are right, but will feel HORRIBLE after doing so.  The books don't always tell you that sometimes teaching a lesson means more to child than proving your point.  The books also do a poor job at explaining that sometimes you will contradict your family, your friends, your religion, your politics, your financial beliefs and even your spouse in an attempt to do what YOU think is right for the child. And lastly, they will NEVER tell you that even though it's the exact same food... for some reason it tastes much better coming from daddy's plate.  And they're right.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Inspired Epiphany

The other day I had a revelation... an epiphany if you will.  I'm the father of 3 girls. (That's not the epiphany!) With my wife and I deciding that the last child was going to be our LAST child, I will not have a son (again... no epiphany).  Now, I wouldn't trade in any of my girls for anything (minus Super Bowl tickets (and they don't even have to be good seats)). But as a father, I realized that I will never be able to pass along my fatherly advice to my son just as my father did to me and his father before him. (Normally, you'd think this would be the epiphany... but we are not quite there yet.)

So I had 2 choices in the matter.  I could let this little quandry consume me.  I could dwell on things that I could not change.  Or... I could turn this into one of those lemons to lemonade stories that you hear about. (Just to clarify, having all girls is not the proverbial "lemon" it is the not ever having a son that is covered with lemons... juice, seeds, peelings and all.)

In the spirit of adding the right ingredients to make my lemonade, I began to think of all of the positive things that this unplanned scenario has brought into my life.  And one of those things stood out (*insert epiphany buildup here).  The more and more I thought about it the more I began to realize that this is AWESOME (epiphany is almost here)!  Since I'm the father (wait for it) and I have all daughters (w..a..i..t.. for it...) I will NEVER have to have THE TALK!  And *BAM!!!* just like that... there it was! (For those who missed it, that was it.)

For most of you this is not that big of a deal.  I really struggled with the idea of THE TALK.  I really didn't know what I was going to say. First off, everything I would have told my son would have been a lie.  I don't know what I'm doing!  So I would have just been making stuff up.  It took me 3 times just to figure out what causes babies to begin with.  (And when I found out, you better believe I stopped that mess right then and there!)

Then there's the whole what to call everything.  I could have called it the birds and the bees.  OK... I'm pretty good on solving problems by figuring out the relationships between (sometimes seemingly unrelated) variables.  But what does birds and bees have anything to do with... well... you know?  If you are going to bring birds and bees into the conversation, why not bring in other animals?: the raccoons and the wildebeests... the turtles and the dolphins... the pigs and the elephants (South Park reference).  Each of these has just as much connection as a bird and a bee. (Quick Note: If anyone reading this had the talk with their parents or had the talk with their children and actually used the birds and the bees to explain things, please email me excerpts from the conversation. I would almost pay good money for that.)

But I get to leave that ALLLL to my lovely and wonderful wife.  Just like with the birth of our last child, I don't even want to be in the same room when all of that is going on. (Yes, I was there(Yes... there will be a post about it).)  I will trust that she doesn't need backup on this one and I will let her do her thing.  I'm not going to interrupt.  I will find out when the talk is and I'll be leaving the house for the evening.  That will relieve me of the temptation to want to go in there and say something.  Because if I do, I know I will screw it up.

If I had to explain the babies without using the stork or a cabbage leaf then I would probably have used sports.  That would completely ruin it for the girls.  Because in sports there is a winner and a loser.  So I probably would have told them that if you let the "other team" score, you lose (and that includes field goals - ESPECIALLY field goals)!  I would have told them that there will be no first base, second base and definitely NO home runs.  As a matter of fact they should try to hit the batter every chance they get.  There will be no free throws or dribbling of any kind.  And 3 pointers are COMPLETELY out of the question! (And right there, I just made a connection I can't figure out myself.) If anyone tries to get the puck in the goal, YOU CHECK THEM RIGHT INTO THE WALL!!!  NO mercy!

And I probably wouldn't stop there.  I know computers too.  So THAT conversation would have been even more confusing than the first one. Say NO to gigabytes and terabytes! Say HELL NO to floppy disks and hard drives!  USB ports?!?!? (I'm not even going there)  Mac? PC? It doesn't matter! Don't let either one touch your spreadsheets.  The'll be NO Internet Explorers of any kind on your desktop.  And you let me know if any guy even TRIES to Google you.  And if I'm still breathing you can forget about anyone Facebooking you as long as you live in MySpace!

You can clearly see that it is in the girls best interest if I stay as far away from THE TALK as possible.  Now that I'm done with with this blog I'm not even sure how my wife and I even had the 3 kids we got! I'm pretty sure if God had asked me to explain the birds and the bees to Adam and Eve, the world's total population would have ended at 2.  I guess I'm OK with that, though.  We all play to our strengths.  So if for some reason my daughters DO ask me about THE TALK I'm just going to point them to Wikipedia.  Because if it is in there, it MUST be true.  (Situation resolved.)

Come to Dad-Blogs to see this and other great contributions!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I got my first blogging award!!!

Man...  After months and months of blogging I FINALLY got and award.  (Now I know how Susan Lucci must have felt. (Surely, someone out there will get that reference.))  Here is my sparkling award in its beautiful display case.

But with great reward comes great responsibility.  So here are the rules for accepting the reward:

The Sunshine Award: The Sunshine Blog Award is awarded to bloggers whose positivity and creativity inspire others in the blog world. The rules for accepting the award are:
     1. Put the logo on your blog or within your post
     2. Pass the award to 5 bloggers
     3. Link the nominees within your post
     4. Let them know they received this award by commenting on their blog
     5. Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award
     6. Share 5 things about yourself

The award is forcing me to tell 5 things about myself.  And since I only have a few readers, I'm not too worried about the fallout of over-share. So here are 5 things about me.

1. I hate almost ALL musicals (especially RENT (Cartoons are excluded from the hatred.).) even if I absolutely LOVE the soundtrack. There's something about everyone knowing the same song and choreography at a moments notice that really freaks me out... BIG TIME!

2. Me and cats do NOT get along... EVER.  I've never met one I liked.  I'm not cruel to them (anymore).  But when I see any cat we immediately have a mutual understanding that this friendship thing is just not gonna work. (I'm 100% convinced that is the reason why cats try to snuggle up next to me. Just to push my buttons!)

3. I often wonder what would happen to someone if you leaned in face-to-face with them while they were sleeping and you yelled out, "YEAH!!!!!!!" as loud as you could.  I would never do it but I spend a lot of time thinking about it.

4. I would love to have a pet kangaroo if for no other reason than to use the pouch to carry my laptop.  I'm just gonna leave it at that.

5. When I was in elementary school I used to have a nice size and shaped afro (It was sweet! I could show you pics but I'm not.).  One day we were playing kickball and I felt something land in my hair.  When I reached my hand up to feel what it was there was nothing there.  I found out later that a bird had pooped in my hair but my fro was so nice the poop bounced off my hair and landed on my shoulder.  Up to this point I'm sure only a handful of people knew that.  But thanks goes to Lilly @ A Pre-Life Crisis (a very funny blog) for sending me this award and making me bring up bad things that I had long since suppressed! I guess it's back to therapy for me.

Here are 5 other bloggers you should check out when you get a free moment...

1. Mocha Dad - He has a very witty and insightful blog about fatherhood and other everyday issues.  And he is a fellow Dad-Blogs blogger so he gets much props.
2. A Mother's Life. Uncensored and Uncut - A personal friend of my who has a site that is funny and sometimes has a little bit of grit to it.
3. Miscellaneous from Missy - This site is more of a literary walk in the park with a friend you know than a blog.
4. Fragrant Liar - I'm sure she get a million of these but she deserves it.  Her site always leaves me in stitches.
5. Juggling Eric - This is another site from the Dad-Blogs community.  I go here often for few laughs as well.

I would like to thank my fans (all 6 of you)  for making this award possible.  And if for some reason I'm not able to fulfill the duties of a Sunshine Award Winner I understand the crown will be passed to someone far less deserving and who has been secretly (maybe not so secretively) waiting for me to screw up.  Tough luck #2. There's always next year, Mrs. Lucci!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Negotiating with an 11-year old

At first glance of the title, I'm sure the natural response would be, "Silly, man.  Why would you even bother?"  And normally you would be right.  I would rather try to theorize why Ryan Seacrest is even remotely successful (my brain hurts just thinking about that one) than to negotiate with an 11-year old.  But this situation is a little different.  I'll explain.

My wife and I decided that it was time to trade in one of our SUVs and become more environmentally friendly. (By environmentally friendly I mean more environmentally friendly to my bank account. (Have you seen the price of gas???))  So we started our quest to *ahem* save the world.  I searched around online to find a smaller car with WAY better gas mileage than the 2 miles per gallon (3.218688 kilometers per 3.78541178 litre (notice the overseas spelling) for my 1 overseas reader) of our current vehicle.

I contacted a local car dealership and told them I was in the market for another vehicle.  I let them know what I had to trade in and what I was looking to purchase.  I also added 2 rules to my search... It had to used (nothing newer that 4 years old) and it had to get considerably better gas mileage than what I was driving.  And that was pretty much the only things I was NOT willing to negotiate.  I really didn't care about the other features like the color, the amount of leg room, or even that it wasn't a good fit for a family of 5. (The kids can ride in the trunk (if no trunk then the roof).)  There were a couple of cars that fit the I'm-not-worried-about-the-kids-just-give-me-better-gas-mileage description.  So I decided to go check them out.

2006 Civic EX - It was a nice car.  It accomplished what I was trying to accomplish.  Smaller car.  Great gas mileage.  And only 1 of the kids would have to ride in the trunk or on top of the car. (This is a bonus because I originally thought I was going to have to strap 3 seats up there.)  I'm not sure which child would be the lucky one on top of the car but I was fully prepared to make a game out of it.  And the 2 "losers" would have to ride inside the car with the totally lame parents and the other even lamer sibling.  While the "winner" would be treated to a magical getaway from all of the silly confinements of conventional cars (doors, windows, protection from the elements, family communication (Are we there yet?)).  They would be able to enjoy the freedom of an eagle in flight as we cruise down the interstate at 75 miles (120.7008 km) per hour (an eagle that is not afraid to take a bug in the face at high speeds).

A lot of pluses for this car.  And the clincher was that my 11-year old hated it.  So I automatically like this car. (Freebie Glimpse into the Male Psyche: I didn't like the car because my 11-year old hated it.  That would just be mean.  (And besides the whole making one of the kids ride in the trunk or on top of the car... I'm not mean.)  I liked the car because if she hated it, she would NOT be asking to borrow my car in a few years.  She would ask her mother.)  Now what about the other car???

2006 Jetta 2.0T - Ooooo.... I didn't even know it was turbo at first.  But when I found out, I fell in love.  With each press of the accelerator I was mentally working out my "But Honey" speech. "But Honey, it's still has only 4 cylinders like the Civic (I'm going to conveniently leave out the horsepower difference)."  "But Honey, if I don't press the gas hard it will be about the same as driving the civic (Again, she doesn't need to be bogged down by the technical details)."  "But Honey, it gets over 30 mpg on the highway (I didn't know the "T" in the name stood for turbo so neither should she)."  PLUS... My 11-year old REALLY hated this one.  I must have this car now!

On a quick side note... I found out that my daughter hates cars.  They don't have the room that an SUV or a minivan have.  She loves bigger vehicles.  She's in for a heartache when she turns old enough to drive.  Especially since she didn't even like my joke that if she wants a bigger vehicle, why not buy a school bus when she turns 16.  Marginally funny... right???   ...whatever.

So after the test drive the salesman said that he wanted me to talk to his manager.  Ahhhh.... The old talk to the manager routine.  But he did spend a decent amount of time with me so I decided to oblige.  On the way into the building I decided to make this a learning experience for my 11-year old.  I told her everything that was about to happen from the manager telling me that it would be in our best interest to purchase a new vehicle instead of one of the "pre-owned" (used) vehicles to them telling me that they would work out a REALLY good deal if I purchased one of the said NEW vehicles.  And I looked like I was the smartest father in the world at that moment.  The salesman and manager did EVERYTHING I had just told my daughter they were going to do!  As far as my daughter was concerned, I could have written the book on how to try to sell a NEW car to people who don't want/need one.  It was great!  I would look at my daughter after each of my points was made and we would smile at our nice little inside joke.  We were having a great time mocking the situation and how I correctly predicted this whole encounter.  We were having an AWESOME father/daughter moment.... UNTIL....

If I remember correctly, the salesman said, "Before you say no, I want you to check this out."  I (again) said sure and walked over to the NEW car that he wanted to show me.  And in all of my predictions I did not predict this.  Little Miss Grumpy Pants proceeded to say, "I LOVE THIS CAR!"  It was almost like the salesman slipped her a hundred and told her that she would get a cut of the commission upon the completion of the sale!  This Oscar Winning performance was legendary as she jumped into the SUV and smiled like she was ELMO.  She started telling the salesman of all of the great and wonderful uses of such a BEAUTIFUL vehicle.  She was doing a better selling job than the salesman! And just before she had almost convinced the salesman that this car was too good for mere mortals I played the wrap-it-up music and cut her short.  It was time to throw out the trump card.  I was cornered by her and the salesman.  I didn't know what else to do.  So I said, "Uhhhh.... we need to ask your mother and see what she says."

Whew!  That was close.  Good thing the salesman didn't know me or my wife or he would have spotted the lie.  He would have known that I run the house and I really didn't NEED to ask her anything.  If I wanted the car I would have gotten the car!  I am the M.O.T.H. (by default).  But sometimes you have to pick your battles.  And winning that battle surely would have cost me the war.  But I did learn a VERY valuable lesson...  If I ever need to negotiate a purchase of ANYTHING, I will always leave the 11-year old at home... (or strapped to the top of the car).

Make sure you check out the many great posts from my fellow Dad Bloggers at:

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Solving a Problem MAN Style

For my 3 readers, I apologize for not updating in a while.  We are working on a project at work that is taking a lot of time at work and at home.  But the major part of this will be over this weekend and I can get back to making some updates.

I wasn't planning on making this entry but an event, today, said that I must.  I have posted it on Facebook and have received several responses so I decided to try this here and see what people think.

Today a problem presented itself in the normal fashion and I handled it.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.  There was a problem.  I solved it.  As you can see, I was writing short sentences.  That's the way we “men” think when there is a problem.  What's the quick solution?  What's the easy solution?  If we have to think too long about a problem then we cannot and should not be held responsible for the results.  And if we can solve two problems at the same time we should get a doggie treat!  I did that very thing today and I'm STILL waiting on my treat!

The first problem: Most weekdays I get the kids ready for school.  I feed the 3 girls.  I clothe 2 of the 3 girls.  And I fix the hair of 2 of the 3 girls.  The only reason I don't fix all three of their hair is because my oldest already has reservations about how I handle issues that arise.  I wonder where she got that from!?!  I'm going to make a longer post about the routine but that's not necessarily the problem I dealt with this morning.  The problem is that my 19-month old will NOT stay dressed.  It drives me NUTZ!!!!  She apparently thinks that EVERYDAY is Easter.  She thinks that Daddy would just LOVE one more Easter Clothes hunt.  I will get everyone ready and when it is time to go, I notice a shoe over here, a sock over there... Oh!  Another shoe behind the TV!  Now where's the OTHER sock?  Ah... yes.  Why didn't I think of that?  It's right next to her PANTS!  I also know when the pants drop because the 4-year old starts to sing PANTS ON THE GROUND in true American Idol week 1 – 3 form.  That's problem #1.

Problem #2: I will only assume that my 19-month old is an oddity.  I can only GUESS that there are ZERO 19-month old children that are the same size and shape as mine because NOTHING fits her.  She has the upper body of a 18 – 24 month old but the lower body of a 6 – 9-month old.  That's the only way I can see that ALL of her pants/shorts fall off of her.  So what about a belt? That's a silly question!  Don't you know that children 6 – 9-months old don't wear belts.  Again... I'm just assuming that because we can't find one that fits!  So her pants falling down and being otherwise easy to take off means it gets to be logged as problem #2.

Well.... This morning was like any other morning.  I got the girls ready.  I fed them.  I clothed them.  I did their hair.  And in classic form.... PANTS ON THE GROUND!! PANTS ON THE GROUND!!  OK... I have had enough of this mess.  So I searched high and low for some colorful thing that my wife promises is a belt.  When I started the search there was plenty of time on the clock.  Two personal fouls, 4 free-throws and a technical for bad language later, I'm starting to feel like Butler going up against Duke (For the record, I'm not anti-Duke but it sure would have been nice to see the little guy win one).  My time is running out and I need to make something happen or we are ALL going to be late.  So I stopped looking for the “belt” and started looking for a “belt-alternative.”

(Belt-alternative definition: Something that is NOT a belt but will serve the function of a belt in case said belt is missing or unable to perform its duties.  Often used by those who are creative and in a pinch.  Also, not always approved by the better half).

Ok... Now there is only 5 seconds on the clock and we have used our last time-out.  The other team is quietly celebrating their victory but they forget we have the ball and nothing to lose (but the game).  So I put on my game face and we drive this one home!

I'm not sure where I found the belt-alternative but it was right where it needed to be.  I find a beautiful pink... shoestring.

For those who fail to appreciate the creative mind (as well as genius) behind this I will pause while you let it soak in.  I didn't build the suspense of the shoestring because I didn't even think twice about it at the time.  But the more I thought about it... This was the PERFECT belt-alternative.  It allowed me the ability to kill 2 birds with one stone.  I have found a “belt.”  I put the  shoestring on like a belt. Then I tied it with a nice, pink, little bow (problem solved).  But I've seen this kid work.  I know that this cutesy bow wouldn't hold.  I've seen her take her clothes off and pull everything out of her hair like she was part of a NASCAR Pit Crew.  So to solve problem #2, I put a super-duper, triple-trouble, double-knot on it (It was really just a regular double-knot but it needed a name to go with its glorious purpose).  This knot worked better than expected.  The lady at daycare couldn't even get it undone.  She had to wiggle my daughter out of it just to change her diaper.  I have never been so proud.

Now, my question is... Is this a crowning achievement (that I should be proud of) or simply another daddy fail (that I should ALSO be proud of)?  All I'm saying is that there will be NO PANTS ON THE GROUND TOMORROW!