Sunday, June 27, 2010

SAHPs - How do you do it?

Ok... I'm admitting defeat on this one.  You won't hear me say that often (whatever).  But there are some things that I just don't get.  And try as I might, it's still not coming to me.  So I pose this question...

Stay At Home Parents (SAHPs)... HOW DO YOU DO IT?!?!?

For the last few weeks, I have been a SAHD... during the day.  I LOVE my children to no end.  But after spending the last several days with them I have to go to work to recover from being a SAHD!  When I see my wife and it is time to hand them off, I pass the kids to her like a football and I run... and I don't look back.  As far as I know, she takes the little footballs, scores a touchdown and spikes them in the end zone.  She might even kick a field goal after doing a little dance.  (I don't think she does that but I was just saying what I would do.)

I know that some of you (Spuds and his +6) are going to laugh and call me a wimp (or some more colorful nouns surrounded by some even more colorful adjectives) and then laugh some more.  But this is more of an acknowledgement that it truly is the hardest job in the world.  Also, that I understand your pains and I don't know how you do it.

First off...  Why don't ALL SAHPs weigh 300+ lbs?  I have been doing this for a few weeks now and EVERYTHING makes me want to eat.

Just replace the fruit with the 3Cs:
Candy, Cake and Cookies.
"Kids, it's breakfast time!" - They eat. I eat.
"Kids, it's lunch time!" - They eat. I eat.
"Kids, Sesame Street is on!" - They watch. I eat.
"Awww... That was a GREAT poopie!  Let's go get some food!" - No I don't see the poopie and think of food.  When my 4-year old is done on the potty, she announces the size, weight, shape, color, serial number, maunfactured date, and warranty information of all of her poopies.  So what do I do to celebrate (cause you have to celebrate)???  I eat.

Honestly, I think I have gained 10lbs... in just my toes!  Whenever things go wrong, I eat.  When the kids are pulling the dogs ears... it makes me hungry.  When the I'm cleaning the house, I'm hungry.  When I'm watching TV during the kids nap time (when I should be cleaning the house)... I eat. WHERE DOES IT END??!!

After you tell me how you tackle the food issue (I'm hungry just writing the word food) you can tell me how you handle the cleaning.  There are times when my wife comes in and the house is a MESS!  She doesn't say anything but I think in my head, "You should have seen this place 15 minutes ago!"  But she knows.

I have found that I have to time my cleaning just right so the house doesn't look like a disaster right when my wife comes home.  It's the Goldilocks Plan.  If I do it too early, I will have to clean more than once. (For some reason, my kids like to follow me around and destroy the EXACT thing I just cleaned.)  If I do it too late, I only get a few things done and my wife comes home with me still cleaning.  But if I do it JUST RIGHT, my wife will come home to a clean (relatively speaking, of course) house and the kids are just now starting to mess everything up again. Now most of the time we meet up and do the football (kids) spiking thing I was talking about earlier.  So the timing has to be adjusted to factor in travel.  But I'm pretty good with time so It's not a major conversion.

The next issue is education.  You can't just sit the kids in front of the TV all day and let the watch Spongebob. (No Honey, I don't let them watch Spongebob anymore.  When it is on the channel it was for me!)  I guess in all reality, you COULD just let them watch TV all day but then you risk the GIGO Affect. (GIGO - Computer programming term that basically means Garbage In - Garbage Out.) So there has to be some non-TV related educating even when the kids are out for Summer Break. (A quick question: I know that Sesame Street is educational programming but why is it that every song ELMO sings is always sung to the tune of "Jingle Bells"?  SAHPs, you get a bonus for answering that one for me.)

My problem with all of this is when I'm "educating" the 4-year old.  How do I get the (almost) 2-year old to just SIT there?!?  (I put the ALMOST in there because I'm really tired of writing out her actual age in months.  I personally think that mess should stop after 12 months.) No running around.  No tearing up the place.  No pulling out the same toys I just cleaned up (too early, I might add).  No chasing the dog around.  No making a lot of noise.  Just sit there quietly like a good little 2-year old should while I work on educating your sister.  Is that asking for too much?  I'm pretty sure it is.

Here's another thing that drive me absolutely nuts... I LOVE when I come home from work and the kids yell out, "Daddy!"  I will probably not be able to find too many things in life that I could put in the same category of just pure joy. (Maybe a hole-in-one in golf.  But that will never happen so I won't be able to make a true comparison.)  It warms my heart.  It makes me smile.  And I look forward to it EVERY single time I walk into the door. But...

When I'm home with the kids for a long period of time, the little one likes to ask for things by throwing what she wants into the middle of a bunch of daddies! "Daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, ona cup (which I assume is "I want a cup" of milk or water)."  And if I don't answer, acknowledge or otherwise start moving in the direction of the sippy cups in .7 seconds, it starts over again with even more authority. "DADDY, DADDY, DADDY, DADDY, DADDY, DADDY, DADDY, ONA CUP!"  I completely understand why my mother always threatened to change her name.  I think mothers are much better with dealing with this (in general).  Because as a father, after 2 rounds of this I'm ready to give her whatever she wants (water, milk, beer, wine, rum, WHATEVER)!

This justice scale is voice activated!
I was reading another blog (that I will link to if I can remember where I saw it) that was stating that men are pushovers.  And this is just not true.  We give to get quiet.  I have no problem saying no to a beautiful little sad pouty face.  It's the loud, obnoxious, repetitive noises that I will give anything just to make it stop!  I know I will eventually have to stand up to this torture but, for now, I'm just going to run away.  I will live to fight another day.

Unfortunately for the middle child (and the oldest one for that matter), it doesn't work in their favor.  The loudest kid usually wins out.  I try to be fair to all of my children.  And though justice might be blind, she's not DEAF!  Even SHE would tip the scales in favor of the little loud one just for some peace and quiet.  So the squeaky wheel get the grease.

There are millions of other things that make me wonder why anyone CHOOSES to be a SAHP.  I have nothing but love and respect for each and every one of you.  I think it takes a special person to do what you do.  And to celebrate who you are and what you stand for I have decided to eat something.  I'm not sure what it is yet but apparently it doesn't matter to me any more.  I eat everything... And after I eat, ona cup (of something a little harder than milk or water).  I need to practice on being the squeaky wheel.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Broken Window Means 7 Minutes of Bad Luck

For those who don't know us personally (and for some that do), my wife and I have a broke car (grammatical error intended).  I'm not going to point any fingers, but the car was working FINE when it was MY car. (That was not to imply in any way, form or fashion that my wife had anything to do with the breaking of said car.  And any interpretation of my words into thoughts of that sort are extremely misguided and in some cases just plain WRONG!)  But now that it is my WIFE'S car... it's broken (see above parenthetical (I actually used that word in a sentence!) side note).  I'm just sayin'.

Apparently, the driver's side window had been having problems before.  And on a particular day last week (horrible week for things breaking in our house) while attempting to roll (can you still call it that or is there something else) up the power window, it made a crackling noise, a loud popping sound then... nothing.  (Now, I wasn't in the car so I'm just relaying the information I got.)  Basically, it BROKE!

I called our normal mechanic and they were unable to see the sick vehicle for 6 days.  We are pretty loyal to these guys because there has NEVER been a moment where we felt like we were being cheated about anything.  So 6 days is a while but they are worth waiting for.  But this decision created a few problems.

1. Temperature - Where we currently reside is (apparently) firmly situated between earth and the mouth of hell. It's not quite as hot as GA, AL or MS but if you were driving from Northern to the Southern USA, somewhere along the Tennessee border you would probably think to yourself, "This would be a good place to put a mouth to hell."  And you'd be right!  I think the actual opening is a Memphis Tourist Attraction (mainly used by scared straight programs and awesome BBQ restaurants (for the FREE heat)).  The heat index here was over 100 each of the 6 days.  The main reason this is a problem is because we have 2 small children and no air conditioner.  I mean, the AC works... but the car would still be over 80 degrees (Fahrenheit for the picky) inside with the window stuck in the prone position.  And that's not good for the little ones or the chocolates I keep for myself when the kids start acting like kids.  (It calms me, OK.)  For those who are worried about the kids in this situation, don't be.  We worked out a system so that whomever had the kids, had MY car.  More on this one later...

2. Security - Having your window down in a parking lot (or at home) is like an open invitation to well... window shop.  As bad is this one sounds, it's really not that much of an issue.  If anyone tried to take anything from our vehicle the joke would be on them.  That is unless their true intent was to steal a bunch of receipts, Goldfish (the snack, not the actual fish), preschool artwork, potato chips that have been on the floor for a few months, happy meal toys, old socks, a couple of "missing" sippy cups (containing MILK) and various and sundry (a redundant expression) items that I'm sure NOW don't resemble the various and sundry items they were when they were originally placed in the car.  So to a would be thief... Let me know what you think of the picture of the "A is for Apple" coloring picture with the crayons scribbled ALL outside of the lines.  (That pic is actually mine.  It's not one of my finer moments.  Come to think of it... I'm gonna need that back. I might have prematurely signed and dated the artwork.)

3. Weather - This is a completely different problem than the temperature.  Looking on the weather report we saw that there was a potential for rain EVERY SINGLE day from the time the window broke to the time we were to take the car to the mechanic.  With 1 day left out of the 6, this particular issued proved to be our (my) undoing.

My wife took my (window working) car this morning.  I'm guessing because of the potential for rain.  I'm not sure but that's what happened.  So we fast-forward to the time I go to work in the afternoons.

On the way to work I was trying to talk to my mother on my wireless.  She could barely hear me because (duh) the window was all the way down and it was sounding like I was driving through a wind tunnel.  I had tried to pull the window up (by hand) before but every few bumps the window would drop down about an inch and a half.  So I gave up on it.  But as I'm talking to my mother, I see dark clouds ahead.  I only live about 12 miles from work so I was hoping I would get there before the rain.

...I didn't.

Though non-texting cellphone use while driving is not illegal in TN, non-texting cellphone use while driving in a downpour, holding up a window up with the free hand just might be.  Especially when you consider that I would have had one hand on the wheel, one hand on the phone and one hand holding up the window.  (Even elementary math says that doesn't add up.)  So, I let my mother go just as the rain started to come down.  I'm sure I hung up on her while she was talking.  (I'll pay for that one later.) I didn't even tell her I loved her at the end of the call.  (I'll REALLY pay for that one later.)  But these were desperate times and they called for desperate measures.

At first it wasn't raining that bad.  So I decided to play it cool and just drive with the wipers on and my window down.  No big deal.  My 4-year old even decided to let me know it was raining.  (She's so thoughtful.)  Then it started to rain a little harder.  I'm still trying to play it cool.  But at this point it's raining hard enough that I went from playing it cool to looking like the only idiot driving down the street in the pouring rain with his window down.  But the fact is I wasn't the only idiot driving this way.  There was another person driving down the street the same way. (It was raining hard enough at this point that I couldn't see if the person driving was a man or a woman.)  This goes out to the person in the red Jeep Cherokee...  Though others might judge us, WE know the truth.  I dont think you are in idiot.  I completely empathize with you.  Those others judging us just don't understand.  Even though we ride through the valley of the shadow of clouds, we will fear no rain, for He is with us.

And, just as I was feeling a certain kinship with the unknown person in the red Jeep Cherokee I was snapped back into reality.  My 4-year old says, "Daddy, I'm getting wet!" I tell her, "I know." She tell me, "Let the window up!" I tell her, "I can't."  She tells me again that she's getting wet. Thus the vicious cycle of words starts over again.

I only drove 7 minutes like this but it felt like 7 hours.  I had yelling.  I was wet.  The broken window was very slippery so trying to hold it up just made me look like a bigger idiot that just letting it stay down.  I'm glad other people had their windows up because they would have really thought I was a bad father if they could hear my 4-year old yelling that she was getting wet and her father looking like he's ignoring her trying to act cool.  Luckily, there was a movie playing so my 20-month old didn't join in all of the fun going on around her.  And just when I was wondering what else could possibly go wrong with this crazy scenario, I heard the noise that my wife told me she heard one time when she turned the wheel of the car.  So I did what any respectable husband would do in the this case.  I ignored it.  After all... It's not my car anymore.

For my previous blog post click here: Crime Doesn't Pay (But will occasionally leave the tip)

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Crime Doesn't Pay (But will occasionally leave the tip)

My two youngest daughters have decided to go into a life of crime.  They didn't consult with us (the loving-you-no-matter-what-you-do parents).  They just did it.  I'm sure they enjoyed it.  And I'm not sure, but I think they might do it again!

My wife had taken them to the store to do some lite grocery shopping.  She uses that cart with the car on the front.  I can't bring myself to use that thing yet.  I'm not sure why.  I think if I did, I would be too tempted to go running down the aisles as fast as I can making race car noises.  Then, if I ever pulled up next to someone else that was driving another "car" cart, I would get kicked out of the store because the Drag RACE would begin whether they wanted to race or not!  Just thinking about it right now makes me go swap some paint at the grocery store.  No kids... just me... the shopping cart.... and 1/4 mile stretch of unadulterated asphalt (or aisle 7 (whichever comes first)).  But anyway, this is not about me.

My wife finishes the shopping and gets out to the car with the groceries and the kids.  That's when she notices that the little angels decided to do a little shopping of their own.  And since NETHER of them have any money (that we know about) it was a shock to my wife.  I guess it would be considered a drive-by stealing because they were in that little car cart.  I was just envisioning them as Thelma and Louise. (Only without the sex... and the drinking... and the guns... and the suicide... and definitely NO Brad Pitt (sorry, honey)!  But other than that... Straight up Thelma and Louise!)

OK.  I know that stealing is bad.  It's still bad even when they use a not-so-bad-sounding term like shoplifting.  Shoplifting sounds more like seeing something in a store that you want so badly that it becomes a religious event. (Like, "I saw these shoes I just had to have.  It was a shoplifting experience! All of the cashiers rejoiced!")  Now, you can call me sad if you want but I was more upset with what they stole than the actual act of stealing.  They took Chicken Noodle Soup (OK), Pepperoni (Hmmm) and Kleenex (What the... Kleenex???).  Now, we need to talk.

I am completely at a crossroads with this issue.  I know they shouldn't steal (the 10 commandments, the law and all of that stuff).  But I've decided to wait a few weeks before I teach them that lesson.  My wife doesn't know this yet but I plan to take our lovely children shopping next week to Best Buy.  Father's Day is coming up soon and Daddy needs a new 52" Plasma TV.  Now, as a father I will not teach them that stealing is a good thing.  That would just make me a horrible father.  But if for some reason the 52" TV just happened to FALL off the shelf and into their pockets.... Hmmm....

If that happened, I would have no choice but to teach them the err of their ways when we got home and were mounting the TV on the wall.  And I think there are a few Blu-Ray movies that would do a better job than I ever could explaining the negative side of the path they have chosen.  I don't have a Blu-Ray player yet but I AM taking 2 kids to Best Buy.  And they BOTH need to learn a lesson.

Click Here to read my next blog: A Broken Window Means 7 Minutes of Bad Luck
Click Here to read the previous blog: Making the Hard Decisions

Monday, June 7, 2010

Making the Hard Decisions

As a parent there are a lot of things to worry about. You worry about things like: Should I really let my 2-year old play jump rope on the stairs... wrapped in bacon... where the lion likes to sleep? Or even... Why do my two youngest daughters like to run around the house with buckets on their heads (like the kid in Parenthood the 1989 movie)?  Both are very valid worries.  (Although, one is more realistic than the other.  I mean whose kids REALLY run around the house with a bucket on their heads? I mean, really?)  But one of my main worries is how I'm going to handle making the hard decisions.  The worry becomes increasingly difficult with the decision is not in black and white but in hundreds of shades of gray in between.
Why, yes.  This is a grayscale.

Another thing I have observed is that it seems like the older generation was better equipped to deal with tougher decisions.  I might be completely wrong with that assumption but I just don't ever remember seeing my parents or grandparents sweating and worrying over the tough stuff.  Maybe they did but they just hid it very well.  It all just makes me wonder how well I'm "hiding" my concerns when it comes to tough decisions that seem to have more gray than black or white.

Here is an example of one of those old school hard decisions that I'm talking about.  This is REALLY about a friend of mine... yeah... a friend.  But to keep the confusion down I'm going to tell the story as if it was about me.

AHEM... Anyway... 

This kinda looks like my Banana Seat Bike
I (he) grew up in the housing projects in a small town.  So basically we had the same crimes as the bigger projects in the bigger cites but on a smaller scale.  We didn't have murders but you would see a dead cat or two around the neighborhood.  There wasn't a lot of "burglaries." You would just look up and realize some of your stuff was missing, but you would find it later at someone else's house (and vice versa).  The reason I wouldn't call it burglaries is because people would sometimes just walk right up to your porch and take stuff.  I had my bike stolen one day and I walked outside just in time to see the kid taking it.  I chased him down and got my bike back.  I was able to catch him because he was trying to outrun me while carrying my bike.  And he, apparently, wasn't bright enough to think, "Hey, this kid is chasing me ON FOOT because I have... HIS BIKE!"  But I got my bike back and there were no hard feelings.  We were back playing together within the day.  It was all part of the Circle of Strife.
Remember These?  The bigger the better!

Our neighborhood wasn't known for its taste for the arts and theater.  We did, however, have a very healthy taste for music and dance.  After school you could always find a JAM-BOX in someones' window and a cardboard refrigerator box on the ground between the houses.  That's where you would find all of us break dancing (I could never get the windmill) to some Midnight Star or Egyptian Lover!

We didn't have "gangs."  I mean, we DID have a few groups of kids that said they were a gang.  They were really more likely to challenge you to a game of football or basketball than to challenge your life.  So I guess, by definition, they were considered gangs.  But gangs of what, I have no idea.  But the main thing I dealt with, though, was bullies.  It didn't help that back then I was a runt (people who see me now wouldn't believe it (6'3" - 190lbs)).  I was one of the smallest around the block.  So I had a healthy dose of teasing and I took a few beatings in my day.  But there was one beating in particular that I'm not sure most of my friends around the block knew about.  They might have known, but I'm sure I would have received irreparable mental scarring from the mental AND physical abuse HAD they known.

When I was in second grade I had a MAJOR bully problem.  This bully was huge!  I wish I could remember the bully's name but we were never formally introduced.  I'm not sure what I even did to gain the bully's attention or even to make the bully mad.  But whatever I did, I would have taken it back, given a formal AND written apology and I would have EVEN given up my lunch money.  But the bully didn't want ANY of that.  The only thing that would satisfy the bully's insatiable urge to pummel me was simply... to pummel me.

Did I mention The Bully had fangs?  Did I mention that The Bully could uproot trees and use them as weapons?  Did I mention that The Bully weighed 300 pounds... in second grade?!?!  (Now, I'm not sure of that LAST fact. I didn't even know The Bully prior to the beatings.  So The Bully could have been in the 3rd, 4th or 5th grade.  Who knows? But the 300 pounds part is ALL true.)  All I know is that I was in 2nd grade and this was a VERY scary moment in my life.  I was getting crunched by this supernatural creature and I didn't know where to turn. Did I also mention that The Bully was a GIRL.  And SHE had me running home every day.

Yeah... right.
I know that some of you (after you stop laughing) are thinking the old saying.  The saying that says that when they hit you they like you.  This girl must have wanted a prenup, a livelong commitment and a platinum emerald cut 3-stone diamond ring (GIA certified 2.00 ct center, 4.02 cttw, I-J color, VS1-2 Clarity (and $43,538 if you are asking)).  I really would like to dispute the hit-you/like-you theory.  The girl didn't like me.  She liked to BEAT me.  I'm just glad that speed was not one of her super powers.  Because it only took 3 beatings before I realized I could outrun her.  And THIS little piggy cried WEE WEE WEE all the way home! ...every day ...for at least a month.

My mother would ask me, every day, why I would run home from school. I couldn't hide it.  I was breathing like I ran a 100 meters being chased my Usain Bolt.  (Of course, that's not true because he would have been at my home before I got there.)  But I wouldn't tell her. I couldn't tell her.  How could I tell my mother is was getting run home by a bully in a cute little dress with daisies on it? I just couldn't bring myself to do it.

My mother let me go this way for a little while; then she found a way to get it out of me like only mothers can.  Maybe she threatened me with a little more than a timeout.  I'm not sure.  But that would a have worked.  I was scared of her (still am) more than I was scared of any bully.  I don't remember the conversation so it's possible I blacked out from just her threat. (I have intrigued myself on this one.  I will have to ask my mother tomorrow how she got me to tell her about this problem.  If you don't hear from me in a couple of days then I must have blacked out again from the mere mention of this traumatic experience.)

After finding out what was going on my mother did the right thing and had me tell the teacher. Of course.... nothing happened. I was still getting chased. So my mother took the next step.  She had a meeting with the teacher and the principal on the matter... Nothing happened. I was still getting chased. So my mother took the NEXT step. She met with the school and the “mean” girl’s mother. And with the officials in tow, the evil one's mother showed showed where her daughter learned to be a good Southern lady.  She told my mother that if “your son wasn’t such a ____ then this wouldn’t be a problem." (I edited that sentence because this blog it read by 8 people but at least one of them shouldn't hear language like that! You can mentally fill in the blank and I'm sure you'd be close!)

Here's where my mother made the hard decision.  I was in many fights growing up.  I lost most of them (remember... runt...hello?).  But I never lost them because I didn't fight back.  But I never hit this girl (if you can even call her that) back because my mother always told me to NEVER hit a girl.  BUT THIS DAY... my mother came home and told me that we are making an exception to the rule. She even told me how wrong this was and that it should never be done again. But she told me to hit that girl back one good time... right in the mouth.

So the next day, you know what I did? I walked home slowly.  And just like clockwork, the girl (I'm still having trouble calling her that) showed up for the normal chase.  But I didn't run.  She threatened me.  But I didn't move.  But she was a REAL bully so the threats weren't just threats.  She came over to fulfill the promise she had made to me that if I didn't run she was going to hit me.  She made true her promise and so did I.  I laid into her one good time... right in the mouth. BAM! And that was all it took.  I walked home that day and every day after that.

I will never say that hitting anyone is the answer.  I will never say that violence is the best way to handle any issue.  But I will say that one wrong thing for the right reason ended months of beatings and probably saved the soles of many a shoe for months more.  My mother had exhausted all of the black and white answers.  In the end, she had to settle on a gray one.  And I personally think I'm a better man for it.  But I still question that when the time comes, will I be able to make the hard decision. (Or will I just defer it to my wife?)

Click Here to read my next Blog: Crime Doesn't Pay (But will occasionally leave the tip)

Thank you for reading about my FRIEND'S childhood trauma.  If you would like to read more stories by Dad Bloggers make sure you visit Also join us in celebrating Fatherhood Friday