Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Learning to Listen to my Wife

I have learned a lot since the birth of my son, and the most important lesson of all is that, no matter what, my wife and I have to listen to each other once in a while.  Practicing our listening skills in front of our son is probably the most important lesson that we can teach him.  Practicing this skill will also help us survive as a family.  We all know how irritating it is to speak to someone who plainly isn’t listening or maybe not even hearing us.  None of us wants our kids to be that guy.  We want our children to be able to have healthy relationships, and proper communication skills are the key to having a healthy relationship with someone else.  In order to make that happen we have to provide the example that they will live by.

With that said, I need to work on my communication skills big time.  You see, I tend to shut down my mind a lot of the times when my wife talks to me.  I am terrible at listening to hear.  What’s worse is that I get defensive when she calls me on it.  I try to listen to her, some times, but often I feel like she is nagging me about things she has been nagging at me since we got married.  It doesn’t sink in that the reason she nags at me is because I haven’t been listening to her all this time. We have been married for 8 years and I still haven’t learned to pick up after myself.  She still gives me the same speech about it too.  At least I think she does anyway.  It always starts with her saying that she feels unappreciated.  After that I stop listening.  Man I am a jerk.  I really do appreciate my wife and everything that she does, but it is not enough for me to think that and say it.  I have to show her that I am listening and make an effort to change.   How simple is it to change my habit of tossing my clothes just anywhere I feel like?  So what's stopping me?  Laziness. She knows that I am completely comfortable living in squalor, but I know that she isn’t.  I need to throw her a bone and try to be less lazy and pick up after myself more. It can't be that hard to do.

Even though I haven’t gotten any better with my clothes, I have tried to improve on my tidying up after I am done cooking skills.  I have found that my wife is absolutely right in that. It is so much easier to clean the crap off our pots and pans if I wash them immediately after I use them.  Yeah, that sounded like it was ridiculous when she was saying that to me for years, but after a while I tried it her way.  She was right.  It saved me time in the long run.  A lot of time.  It really is easier to clean up sooner rather than later.  I can’t count how many times she used to tell me that if I cleaned one pot or pan while the other was being used I wouldn’t have to scrub so hard later on.  I should have listened to her from the start.  I was always the “let it soak” guy.  I still am when I am especially lazy, but I am trying to be the “get it done” guy now.  It just saves time and hassle.  Why turn a 1 minute job into a ten minute job?  It just doesn’t make sense.  I hate to say this, but my wife was right from the get go.  I was just too stupid to listen to her.

I realize that my wife feels ignored a lot of the time, and I don’t want her to feel that way.  I don’t want my son to grow up in a household where ignoring the people you care about is commonplace.  I have got to change to make this happen.  What is the quote, “Change is good?”  I think that is it.  Well, anyway change is good, but it is also hard.  I have recently decided to change my lifestyle habits too because I finally listened to my wife and went to see a doctor to check on my blood pressure and all that rot.  It turns out I am not healthy.  I knew that already.  After all, I do have a genetic disease.  So what else is new?  Well, it turns out that I have stage two hypertension as well.  So, the doc gave me a little prep talk and wake up call, and out the door I went with a new attitude.  I haven’t been absolutely true to my new diet, but I feel that I am making progress anyway.  My wife likes to tell me that if I wasn’t so selfish I would have taken better care of myself years ago.  She’s right.  I should have.  I was being selfish, and now I am going to try and make it up to her and my son because now they both depend on me to stick around for a while.  So, I need to get healthier.  I am guessing that like washing the pots and pans, it would have been easier for me to become healthy if I had started right away rather than wait until I got around to it.  Once again, my wife was right from the start.  I should have listened to her.  Now I have to work twice as hard to get healthier. 

I don’t want anyone to think that I only need to work on my listening skills in this relationship.  No, that would be lying.  I also really need to work on my speaking skills.  I have to be willing to tell my wife what is going on with me.  If I am having problems or if something just isn’t right she has a right to know.  Telling her this kind of stuf is almost harder for me than listening to her. It isn’t enough to just work on half the skills needed for proper communication when both skills are necessary.  If I want my son to be able to have all the skills necessary to succeed, he is going to need to know how utilize both halves of what is needed to communicate.  You can’t listen to someone who is not talking.  We are not mind readers here.  So, for my son I am going to try to open up and talk to my wife about my feelings more often.  Hopefully it will get easier.  However, as for now the very idea kind of makes me feel nervous.  I don’t know why though.  Isn’t that why people get married in the first place?  So, we can be comfortable telling each other our feelings and what not.  I have been told that the reason why the average woman lives longer than the average man is because that women are more verbal and in tune to their emotional wellbeing.  I am not sure if I believe that, but what do I know? 

What I do know is this.  I want my son to be a better person than I am.  I don’t want him to resort to name calling during an argument.  I don’t want him to be a tantrum thrower.  I don’t want him to feel like he is shut inside himself until he bursts either.  So, I am going to make an honest effort to lead by example.  Doing this has been pretty hard for me so far.  You don’t know how many times I want to shower random people in stores with profane language.  It feels like the world is just full of idiots and I am one of the biggest and baddest that there is.  Therefore, it is hard for me not to react to stupid people the way I have always reacted, with profane language and hostility.  It didn’t work then, and I am sure it won’t work in the future either.  Since I can’t make them change, I will change or at least try to.  Eventually, I hope to be the role model that my son deserves to have, but until then I will have to be content in my realization that I am trying to be.


       

Monday, November 29, 2010

Whiskey? The Good Ole' Days?

I have recently been informed by my wife, that on November 20th’s blog, “The Annoying Things That People Say to Me,” I forgot the most annoying utterance of all.  Apparently, I left out that most people insist on us putting whiskey or other various alcoholic beverages in my son’s mouth in order to fend off his teething pains.  Although no one has ever suggested this to me, many have suggested this to my wife who finds the idea utterly obnoxious.  I can’t say that I don’t agree with her either.  Wouldn’t that have the opposite effect of what I wanted to happen?  I assume that if I soaked a rag in whiskey and made my son chew on it for a little while one of three things would happen, or probably all three would occur.  First of all, my son would probably cry harder than ever because whiskey is not what one would call a pleasantly flavored drink.  I happen to like it, but I am not an infant.  My baby would probably feel violated by that awful stuff and scream for eternity.  Secondly, he would probably get sick from it either by screaming or due to the fact that infants are not supposed to ingest alcohol.  Thirdly, I am sure that I would be arrested for endangering the welfare of my child.  So, whoever told my wife that she should put alcohol on a cloth and have my child chew on it until he stopped screaming must have been slightly off kilter because that sounds like a horrible idea.  Even if all we did was rub a little whiskey on his gums like someone else suggested to my wife the result would probably be the same minus me being arrested because apparently it is hard to arrest someone for being stupid.  Anyway, what is wrong with giving a teething child children’s Tylenol?  That seems perfectly reasonable to me.  Why would people automatically jump to the whiskey solution?        

The only reasoning that my wife and I could come up with is that most of the people who suggest this to her are either elderly or at the very least middle aged.  You know who I am talking about.  These are the people that were still alive when smoking was supposedly healthy for you and good for your lungs especially.  These might not be the people you would want to turn to for parenting advice for a number of reasons.  One of which being that they are so far out of the loop that they couldn’t catch up to modern parenting techniques even if they wanted to.  Another major reason is that back in their day you could still smack your kid for just about anything.  You can’t do that anymore.  Nowadays we kind of like to use our words to let our children know that they took a wrong step or made a wrong move.  But, maybe we have just gone soft or something.

I know that a lot of us can see the appeal to the good old days where you could have smacked your kid around for being a kid, but that doesn’t mean that the good ole’ days were really all that much better than now.  I am sure that both eras have their good points and bad points, but I, for one, am awfully glad that society has progressed the way it has.  Sure, maybe youngsters behaved better then, but what about all the other problems that kids and parents had then that we conveniently don’t remember or don’t want to?  Think about it.  How many middle aged to elderly men do you know?  Now ask yourself how many of those men had a decent, loving relationship with their children as they were growing up.  If you cannot hazard a guess then ask them yourself.  I have had the opportunity to chit chat with numerous old geezers and the consensus is that the majority of these gentlemen feel like they were cheated of really enjoying their children during their formative years.  From what I have heard, it was practically unacceptable for a man to be loving and caring with his children then, let alone being a primary caregiver.  Apparently, it just didn’t happen.  I guess men were supposed to be providers and disciplinarians and nothing else.  I don’t know how many times an elderly gentleman has stopped me while I was hugging and kissing my son in public to tell me that he wished he’d had done that when his kids were young.  I do know that each time I have heard this I feel a little more privileged to have such an opportunity with my son, and it is an opportunity that I do not intend to waste. Who wants to be the parent that looks back on their children’s childhood and regret not being affectionate enough?  I don’t, and I am sure you don’t either.

Yes, I am glossing over an issue that stems over multiple decades, but in the end it doesn’t really matter.  Things of changed.  Our society has changed, and we have changed as parents.  So, when my wife tells me about all the times that people tell her to give our son whiskey for his teeth, it kind of makes me feel glad.  For one thing, I now know that people really do bug her about our kid and it is just as hard for her to listen to other people’s advice as it is for me.  For another thing, it makes me think of all the times that I have heard the whole whiskey thing and I feel lucky to be able to show affection for my son in public without feeling awkward about it.  Just think, not that long ago men weren’t expected to really parent their kids.  Boy did they miss out, and I am going to make sure that I don't too.

Friday, November 26, 2010

My Arch-Nemeses, Christmas Shoppers!

In a previous post entitled, "More Toys? No thanks, I got My Ball Dad," posted on November 16, I stated that nothing that I purchased for my son could top his inflatable ball.  I mean he plays with it non-stop just about.  Well, guess what.  I triumphed.  With a little help from our friends, who I am so glad I listened to, my son now has a new favorite toy.   It is a pooh bear train.  It was so totally awesome to see him smile and toss the ball aside to come and play with the train my wife and I had just purchased for him.  The only problem now is that we can't possibly top that at christmas.   I have done it to myself again. Not only have I broken a promise to not buy my baby boy anymore toys, but I created a new mark that I feel I must beat.  Now, it's a total challenge. To make matters worse, I hate to shop at this time of year.  Everyone is always in such a hurry and such total assholes.  I am always so overwhelmed by the sheer weight of anxiety I feel when I go into every store and it is nothing but wall to wall people.  These aren't just any people, they are frantic christmas shoppers, my nemeses. 

If you are anything like me, you just can't stand christmas shoppers.  My hatred stems back to my childhood and comes to a head on a single Black Friday that I worked at a retail store.  It was terrible.  We opened the doors at six in the morning and my co-workers and I looked like we were deer caught in headlights.  At the back of the store where I worked I could actually hear the stampede of people coming my way.  People were swearing and pushing each other. It was utterly ridiculous.  That one day, and all the days following it until Christmas that year, may very well have ruined all my christmas's  to come.  But, I didn't allow it too.  As I worked my way through that dreadful day, and said to myself "Never again will I subject myself to such torture," I vowed that these monstrous people would not win.  I would not allow them too.   

What really bothered me about that day, was the fact that I could plainly see myself in each and every one of those shoppers.  I could understand why someone would get upset enough to push other people away from a beloved purchase.  I instantly hated myself almost as much as I despised these folks.  Unlike them, I would never do anything so asinine.  I don't care if I was looking for the last "Thomas and Friends" steam engine in a series and saw that some defenseless grandma had it in her clutches.  I would not try and snag it from her.  Sure, I would want to, but I would never act on it.  You see, it's this blatant push of consumerism that just drives me batty.  I hate it!  I hate the fact that I always feel guilty that I haven't purchased enough for everybody on my list.  Every year it is the same for me.  If I haven't gone completely broke, I haven't done enough.  I want to give all my loved ones and friends the world, but I simply cannot.  When I don't, I feel like I have let everyone that I care about down because I can only show them how much I care by spending money on them.  Bull shit!

This year is going to be different damnit!  This year the only person that I am going to spend money on is my son, and I am doing that because I can.  He is my son and it is his first christmas.  He deserves it.  I am sorry if that means everyone else is getting the shaft.  They won't mind, and if they do.  Screw 'em.  They'll either get over it or they won't.  Most likely scenario, is that everyone on my list won't even notice that this year is a little lighter than previous years.   We just want to have a good time and hang out with each other.  The gift exchange is circumstantial.  We do it because we like to give to each other, not because we like to receive gifts.  I always feel awkward getting a gift from someone. Even when it is my mom and dad.  Sometimes, I even get a little annoyed because I want to be the giver.  I get that, "How dare you give me something!" feeling going in my brain.  Yes, I actually get pissed about sometimes.  Not because I am ungrateful, but because I like to be the one giving things.  It is how I tell people that I care about them.  I am not good with vocalizing feelings and emotions.  However, I am good with symbolic gestures.  Kind of anyway.  

Anyway, the really hard part of this christmas is going to be the same as the hard part of last year and every year before that.  I am going to have to brave the crowds.  It will be even worse this year because I will have to bring the little man with me.  At least, I am a stay at home dad and can shop while most people are at work.  That is my only solace.  I am uncomfortable enough in crowds by myself.  I wouldn't even dream of taking my boy into one.  Do you know how many kidnappings there are at this time of year?  I am hyperventilating now just thinking of it.  There is no way that I would be able to brave the shopping hysterical crowds with my son.  But, I am going to have to if I am going to get any shopping done at all.  There is less than a month left to do it in. Unfortunately, this is just one of those times where I am going to have to "Nut up or shut up!"  I just hope I can.  Although, I probably could go by myself once my wife comes home from work someday, but that wouldn't be facing my fears now would it?  The only way to get over them is to face them I have heard.  So, I am going to start slowly with small christmas shopping crowds.  Then I will work my way up if I haven't finished everything the first trip.  Sorry.  That is the best I am willing to do.  

After the one and only Black Friday that I worked when I was in retail, I realized just how ugly the Christmas season can get.  Commercialism changed a season of celebration into an ugly season of consumerism that has horrid christmas shoppers as its henchmen.  It doesn't have to be like this. That is why I am trying to change my gift giving habits.  People don't need to spend wads of cash on each other to show that they care about each other.  Why can't we just get together and enjoy each others company?  That way we could forego all this frantic shopping crap and actually enjoy the season in its entirety. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

How I am Going to Survive This Mad, Mad Holiday Season

Well, it is the holiday season again.  If you are anything like me, you are probably wondering just how the hell are you going to survive it this time.  Every year it gets more and more complicated.  When do you go to the in-laws?  When are you going to your parents? Who is going to be there? What are you going to bring?  The questions never seem to end.  Now, I have my son to take into consideration and all his nap times and such, which makes everything even more complicated.  Therefore, I need to make some definite plans because I want him to enjoy the holiday, but I don't want to go nuts while scheduling all the mandatory visits.  Personally, I would rather not go visit anyone.  I think a phone call should be sufficient.

No, a phone call is not sufficient, I know.  But, I'll be damned if my wife and I are going to stress out over timing issues.  It used be that we would try and make it to both of our parent's homes in the same day.  That wasn't fun for anyone because having two thanksgivings and two christmas' in the same day sucked.  We would just finish one dinner and have to go to another one immediately. We never got to enjoy ourselves.  So, the last few years we ended up scheduling the separate gatherings on different days.  That was annoying too because it is terrible to try and find a good time where everyone will be able to make it, but what else could we do?  Apparently, the holidays are a time when you are supposed to get together with your families.  But man, what a hassle.  I have my own family now.  I am sure you do too.  If grandma and grandpa want to see me, why don't they come and visit me on the holidays?  I know that they didn't like having to pack up all their kids and the various shit that was needed and head off to their parents or family get-togethers on the holidays.  Why don't they throw us a bone and come visit us instead?  We don't need a big dinner.  Some chips, dips, and coffee or pie or something would be just fine.  Besides, I know that it is expensive for grandma and grandpa to feed everybody that shows up anyway.  Plus, when the whole family gets together, you never really get to just hang out with the few people in your family that you can stomach.  Don't lie to yourself! No one likes everyone in their family.  Some of us even hate people in our families, so why force yourself to see them?  All that does is ruin your festive mood.  So, I suggest having just the people you actually care about over.  Forget about the rest.

Now that my son is involved in all the holiday gatherings, I am finding out that it is quickly becoming more complicated.  Not only is there space issues, but there is also a timing issue too, and for a nine month old, timing is critical.  Most of you know what happens when you miss nap time.  All hell breaks loose and the devil incarnate rises from the depths of hell and claims your child's body for an afternoon.  There could be tantrums, crying fits, or whatever.  Anything could happen.  Luckily, my son isn't too bad yet.  But, he is only 9 months old.  I have seen what monsters toddlers can be when naptime is missed.  Hell, I have seen what happens when 5 year olds miss their naptimes.  It isn't pretty, and certainly not funny for anyone involved.  But, what do  you do?  Send them to the car to freeze?  No, of course not.  So far, from what I have gathered, parents are supposed to just laugh it off and say in their cutest voice possible, which for me isn't very cute, "Oh somebody's a grumpy pants because he missed naptime."  That doesn't do anything to assuage the issue though.  How could it?  The kid is tired and cranky, not simple.  Your cutesy parent voice is not going to amuse him or her.  It surely doesn't amuse anyone else around you.  So why do we all do it?  Our cutesy voices are not a substitute for a decent nap.  Just roll with it.  There really isn't any need to explain anything.  The kid's being a brat.  Everyone understands.  If they don't understand you can explain it to them, but most of the time I find it isn't worth the time due to the fact that they are assholes anyway.

What helps a lot when my son misses his naptime is feeding him until he can't eat anymore.  Then, it doesn't matter where he is.  He'll be asleep in minutes.  Sometimes he will fall asleep in the midst of a screaming fit.  He will literally be in the middle of a long scream and suddenly fall asleep.  It is awesome.  Unfortunately, I can't say for sure that it will work this holiday season, but I am going to try it if needed.  It's worked in the past well enough.  As I said, hopefully, I won't have to try it anyway.  Maybe he will nap during his regular naptime.  We can only hope.  Worst case scenario I bring him home to take a nap.  Luckily, I don't have to drive far to visit anyone in my family.   That, and little man falls asleep almost every time he gets into the car anyway.

So there it is, my holiday game plan. Hope to god he naps before we head out anywhere, or, if he doesn't, we throw him in the car and go home or drive him around until he has a sufficient nap.  It is kind of simple isn't it? I have heard that those are the only ones that ever work, so I am going to cross my fingers.  I know, it is dangerous to plan when a baby is involved.  Luckily, our family gatherings aren't large or I probably could really get myself into a jam.  Just think, it is only going to get worse and more complicated as he gets older too.  Bummer.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Preparing for the Arrival of the Devil Incarnate

As some of you might know, I am a manny or babysitter for a five year old and a 12 year old three days a week.   It is quite an eye opening experience, and I am glad that I have had the opportunity to do so, most of the time anyway.  I would have never guessed that older kids could be so much more of a hassle than watching my nine month old.  Holy crap is it trying sometimes.  Either the twelve year old is misbehaving or the five year old is.  They can't ever be nice to each other, and they can't ever be well-behaved simultaneously.  Watching them makes me almost dread the time when my son reaches their age.  I can say to myself that my kid will never act like that, but I know that many parents have said the same thing and there kids all act similarly.  There is just so much random noise and chaos when you deal with older kids that I am not prepared for.  Who am I kidding?  I really actually love it.  The randomness is really right up my alley, but the tantrums and the constant whining is not.  I am sure that if you have children you have seen the kind of tantrums that I am talking about.  You know, the fist pounding and head slamming on the floor type of tantrums that we all did when we were little ones until our parents straightened us out.  It is getting to the point that even my son doesn't seem thrilled to be there anymore.  But, luckily, that only happens a few minutes of every day/hour.  I am just glad that most days I only have them for four hours.

I know what you are thinking.  Children need definite rules, boundaries, and limitations and there needs to be consistency.   That must be my problem right?  I don't think so.  Honest to god, I do instate rules and I do have clear boundaries and limitations in place, but there are times when none of that matters.   Kids are nuts.  Not just these kids.  All kids are insane.  For instance, I told the five year old little girl she couldn't have candy yesterday until after she had dinner and her mom was home.  Holy cow, you'd think I had told her that the world was going to end and she had only five minutes to live.  She started screaming and kicking and flailing.  That's enough to drive any one batty.  My usual routine is to count backwards from three and once I hit one if she is not finished doing the tantrum thing I take her to her room and put her in her bed until she can calm down and apologize for acting like that.  Otherwise she sits there all day, which has happened on multiple occasions.   It is just too dangerous to have a flailing five year old little girl around an infant.  Anyway, yesterday stopped almost immediately because I have recently instituted a three strike rule too.  My rule goes like this.  Every time she throws a tantrum or does something that I deem as bad as a tantrum she gets a strike.  Once three strikes accumulate she has to stay in her room whenever I am there to watch her for the rest of that week.  Every Monday the slate is wiped clean.  Of course it is different when I have to watch her for the entire week and there is no school.  That would be too harsh.  During those times, if she gets three strikes she just has to stay in her room for a day, excluding story time, snack time, and lunch time.   I am amazed at how well that is working for the moment.  That little girl goes completely ape-shit insane over such random things, so I am surprised that she has the where-with-all to pull herself together so quickly.   Here is a classic example, she is learning to ride her bike and the last time she got on it when I was there she started tossing and kicking it around everywhere because she feel off of it.  That just doesn't make sense.  I try to tell her to think it through but that never happens.  She's five for christ's sake!  The ability to reason just isn't strong enough yet.

As challenging as the five year old girl is, her older brother who is twelve is twice as challenging.  His thing is telling me how much smarter he his then me.  That doesn't bother me.  All kids around that age think that they are some how smarter than every one else.  What is difficult for me is how do you discipline a twelve year old boy?  The kid is sneaky and deceitful.  If I send him to his room he undoubtedly has a game boy hidden or something up there.  So that really isn't a punishment at all.  He obviously doesn't care if he pisses me off.  After all, I am not his parent, so why should he care?  At this point I think he is incapable of feeling guilt or shame, so that tactic won't work.  For example, his little sister found fifty cents in their couch cushions one day.  As soon as I turned around, he threw her to the floor and started pummeling her until she gave it to him.  What the hell was that all about?  He beat up a five year old over fifty cents!  Who does that?  It's pathetic right?  Anyway, I took the fifty cents back from him, sent him up to his room, and gave the fifty cents back to the little girl.  What else could I do?  Truthfully, I wanted to tan his little hide, but I didn't.  But boy did I want to.  

I guess the major problem with the twelve year old is that I have to follow him around everywhere to make sure he isn't doing anything stupid that can get himself seriously hurt.  That in itself is a seriously exhausting task.  There is never any telling what enters that kids mind.  One day he tied himself to a tree and tried to ride his back as fast as he could down his drive way.  Luckily I stopped him before that little adventure came to fruition, which caused a little mini crying fit but oh well.  Truthfully though, he has been getting a lot better to be around and watch these last few months.  Of course there are relapses, a lot of relapses, but that is all right as long as overall he isn't too bad.  At least I feel like we are making progress anyway.

I don't want you all to think that it is terrible to watch these kids all the time.  On the contrary, most of the time I enjoy it immensely.  I get to wrestle around with them and joke around.  We read and tell stories, which is a lot of fun.  I really like watching these brats.  They just tire me out and boggle my mind at times.  I would love to be able to get inside their minds and see what they see so I could know what they are thinking when they do some of the things that they do.  They always get me wondering why.  Like, why is she really crying and tantrumming, or why does the twelve year old feel the need to perform asinine stunts?  It just doesn't make sense to me.

However, I am glad that I have the opportunity to witness it all before my boy gets that age.  My wife and our close friends, the parents of the children of the damned, told me that it would be excellent practice for me when I first started.  I laughed it off and said, "How hard could it possibly be?"  Well, I was wrong once again.  It is a major pain in the ass, but they were absolutely correct in that I am finding it to be extremely useful practice.  I get to see what monsters kids really are, and I am learning different strategies to cope with that.  I'll have a game plan all set for later on when little man gets a little older.  Now, I might be a little more prepared for the devil incarnate that my baby is sure to become sooner or later. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Why is it that I Only go out to Eat at a Chinese Buffet? Where else can you take your brat?


Well, I have finally become the parent that has the noisy child in the restaurant.  Although, my son doesn't cry and scream like many other children do, he only chatters and shouts random syllables every once in awhile.  


I remember that being just as annoying to me before I had a kid of my own, and I remember vowing to myself then that if ever I should have a child I would not go out to eat any more just because I didn't want to be the dad who let his kid make all sort of noise while people were eating.  


So far, I have broken that vow, and I will continue to break that solemn vow too because I have learned that there are places where it is alright for a baby to make noise, like WalMart for instance.  


Every kid makes noise at WalMart, and the beauty of Walmart is that infants and toodlers  aren't any less intelligible than most of the other patrons.  So, it is perfectly alright to shop there  with your tiny tot.  


The Science center is cool for kids too, and they are even encouraged to make noise and have a shrieking good time.  


As far as restaurants go though, I have only found one type that is suitable for children all the time.  That my friends is the Chinese Buffet because I can't stand many of the fast food chains due to the fact that I always feel gross and vaguely sick afterwards, but Chinese Buffet is cool.

It's cool because almost every time you go to a Chinese buffet there are scads of free-range children already there.  They are making noise and pestering people, but that doesn't really seem to make a difference to anybody.  It's always the one restaurant, besides Chuckie Cheese's, that I expected to find unruly children.  


So, of course, now that I have a child of my own, a Chinese buffet is exactly where we head to go out and eat.  The wait staff at out local establishment are always extremely courteous to my son.   They even do the creepy play nibbling thing on him occasionally, which is alright because they never mistake me for him.  


They play with him and love it when he gets excited and shouts out randomly.  It is the perfect place to bring a young one.  Your child won't even stand out in the least because they will barely be heard over the din of other eaters anyway.   


And, holy crap are there some noisy eaters there.  


My favorite is the crowd of raucous laughers that always seem to arrive just after we arrive. Then, there is always the table of people who make that awful grunting noise when they eat that I always seem to get placed next to.  It's terrible.  


How do they do that anyway?  


It seems like it would interfere with their ability to swallow.  I have tried to mimic that sound when I eat and almost choked to death.  


Anyway, chinese buffets are usually loud and unruly, so what better place is there for you to bring your child?  Your whole family will fit right in.  It will be just like visiting your parents or in-laws.  Don't deny it.  I know it's true and so do you.

So, if you are afraid that bringing your child with you when you go out to eat at a restaurant will disturb your fellow eaters, try going to a Chinese Buffet somewhere. They are all over place, and, from my experience, they are all virtually the same.  They'll already have scads of un-watched children streaking through the isles, so what could your kids possibly do that would be worse?  


If noise is the issue, don't worry about it.  What's one more voice within the crowd?  


Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Amazing, Invisible Parent Requests That all You People Stop Biting Him.

Well, I have confirmed it.  Parents are most assuredly invisible entities when their baby is with them.  I thought that all the creepy conversations that strangers have with my son were all just a fluke, but I was dreadfully, dreadfully wrong.  


Actually, it isn't just strangers, but family and friends do this as well.   What's even more disturbing is that it doesn't end with the conversations.  


Apparently, people even mistake me for my baby too.  I am just that invisible.  I am not sure if that's a good thing or not yet.  


On one hand I am largely left alone by them, but on the other hand people do some pretty strange things every now and then.  Like I said, I rather like it when people pester him because that means that they leave me the hell alone, but I am not necessarily sure that I like people bothering my son all the time either especially when they mistake me for him.  


Wait...How is that even possible?  He is nine months old.  I am around 354 months old.

I came to this conclusion that parents are, or at least I am, for the most part invisible a few months ago when I noticed that the strangers who come up and talk to me aren't really chatting with me but to my son.  


"That's odd." I thought.  


Soon after I noticed this oddity, people started tickling me instead of my son when I was holding him.  


Now, that was really weird.  


But, what is weirder still, is that this constant mistaken identity has never stopped.  It is like people can't see me at all, and it;s true that strangers come right up to me and tickle my arm while they coo at the baby.  


Don't they realize that there is a difference?  


I mean, I am a hairy man, and my son isn't quite so hairy.  You can actually see his skin tone on his arms.  With the proper lighting, you can't see the skin on my arms under all my fur.  


I won't lie to you and say that it doesn't scare me that random people come up and tickle me falsely thinking they are tickling the baby because, truthfully, it scares the crap out of me!  


I never see it coming.  How am I supposed to respond to it if I did anyway?  "Umm...Do you realize that you are tickling me and not the baby?"  How awkward is that? 

So far when this has happened I have been able to ignore it because, after all, it really isn't hurting anybody.  There's no sense in embarrassing anyone.  At least there wasn't.  


The problem now is that people seem to want to bite my baby.  Do you know how awkward it is to have random people come up and bite your arm thinking that they are biting the baby?  


No, not real biting, but the fakey play biting people do with babies.  


The very first time it happened to me was when my mom decided to gnaw on my arm.  That, I was ok with because I was relatively sure that she didn't have rabies, but now it has started to occur with other people.  


I want to ask, "How do you not feel the extra long arm hair when you are biting on a grown man instead of a baby?"  I mean that should be a dead give away right?  


It's so creepy!  


You know, I am afraid that if I jump because I get startled one of two things will happen; either the person biting will clamp down hard on my arm, or I will accidentally rip some poor old ladies false teeth out of her skull.  That would just be atrocious.  


Certainly, it would be a disaster that I am not capable of handling emotionally.  I can just picture myself rocking in a corner for eternity after an episode like that. 

No matter what though, I cannot allow this to happen any more.  


People have got to start seeing me because I think that having random people play biting my arm is frying disgusting.  The tickling I can handle...almost when in comparison to the play biting, but I can't handle having stranger slobber on me anymore.  


I mean really, who thinks it is ok to come up to someone and play bite on their baby anyway?  


I get that some of  you probably think that this is perfectly acceptable, but do you think it is perfectly all right to play bite on the baby's father too?  


I don't.  It turns an innocent behavior into something oddly sexual and gross.  Really gross!  I almost fainted when some old lady that goes to my mom and dad's church started nibbling on my arm at WalMart the other day.  


She scared the crap out of me!  


Apparently, she recognized my son from pictures my mom showed her and thought it was a good idea to come and say hi by nibbling on us for a little bit.  


It was disgusting!  


I asked her, "Who the F*&^ are  you, and why the F*&% are you biting me?!"  


That fixed her little red wagon!  


She apologized almost immediately and told me that she went to my mom's church and that my lovely mother said that I was a very relaxed father about letting people handle my son.  


Wrong!  


I don't mind letting people I know hold my son and play with him.  I don't, however, like strangers coming up to him randomly and trying to gobble on him like a turkey, and I certainly don't want you nipping me either.  


Anyway, do you know what that old hag said to me next?  She said, "You aught to really be ashamed of yourself for talking like that in front of your beautiful baby?"  I thought about it for a little while.  Then I realized she was right.  I did drop the F-bomb, and I probably shouldn't have.  


In the end, I apologized and told her that she scared the crap out of me.  And, yes, I was in fact, pretty ashamed and embarrassed for speaking like that in public and in front of my son.


But, holy smutmuffins!  How did you think I was going to react after I realized some old lady had my arm in her mouth?

I have to do something because I can't have this stuff happening to me anymore.  Who would have guessed that being a parent could get so creepy?  I know I wouldn't, and  I never would have guessed that I would feel like I needed to boil off the top layers of my skin so often before the little man was born either.  


Oh well, what can you do?        

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Annoying Things People Say to Me When I am With My Son

I firmly believe that all parents hear certain phrases repeatedly, and these utterings can get quite annoying after a while.  I am not sure, but it is either the repetition that gets frustrating or the shear number of dimwitted people out there that pisses us off eventually.  


I am relatively sure it is a healthy mixture of both.  


SO, for future reference, if you want to stop me and look at my son, just ask.  Say, "May I look at your baby?" or something. Don't come up and ask stupid questions or criticize my parenting ability.  


All that does is piss me off, and I am relatively positive that it pisses off other parents too. 


With this in mind I have compiled a brief list of 10 phrases and questions that people have asked me or said to me since the boy was born that irritate the crap out of me.  


I start with ones that only mildly irritate me and end with one that pisses me off big time.

10.) I can't believe he's so well behaved.

For some reason, whenever someone comes up to me and says this to me I automatically get a little defensive.


I don't know about you, but of all the babies I have ever seen they are all either crying, laughing, sleeping, making random noises, or just chilling out.  That is really all they do for quite a while.  


The way I see it, if that is what they are doing then they are behaving well. You can't expect them not to cry occasionally when they are out in public because that is the only way they can communicate.  


So, if my baby is crying or making noise it doesn't automatically mean he is misbehaving.  He is just doing what he is supposed to do, and the same goes for your kid too.



9.) You know your baby's clothes don't match right?

Who the hell cares?! 


I don't see colors all that well.  Sorry, you are going to have to get over it!  


Most often I ignore this comment by pretending that I am deaf or something.  I also found that pretending I am a foreigner works pretty well too.  


Maybe it is just me, but I find it kind of rude when someone decides that it is their duty to inform me that my son's outfit doesn't match.  


I always want to ask, "Do you think it really matters?"  


At least he isn't wearing jeggings, and it's not like he isn't dressed warmly.  Who cares if the colors don't work well together?  


And, one of these days I am going to respond with "By the way, you aren't looking so great either.  Some one really should have told you that spandex pants were never meant to be worn with out something over them.  No one wants to see all that." 




8.) Oh, I am a pro when it comes to babies.

I am sure you are...wait. Why are you telling me this?  


Really, who just comes up to a complete stranger and states that they are a pro with babies?  


I don't care.  No one cares.  Go be a pro with your own kids and leave me alone because I am not impressed.  


Geez...It's like claiming to be a pro at tying your shoes.  


So what?!   


I'm glad that you are proud of being good with your kids.  I really am, but that doesn't mean that I want you telling me what you think I may or may not be doing wrong.  



7.)  Where did he get his red hair from?
What really burns me about this lame question, is that they aren't asking me.  


They actually phrase it, "Where did you get your red hair from little boy?"  


That annoys me because, first of all, it implies a question of parentage, and, second of all, they are asking a baby who obviously cannot speak yet.  


What do they expect him to say, "Um...I believe that the red hair actually comes from some sort of pigmentation created by a combination of eumelanin and pheomelanin of which I have more pheomelanin.  That is why my hair has a reddish tint.  But, I could be wrong."  


No my son is not going to explain that to the retard who is asking him about his red hair.  


Why not?  


Because he is a baby and, he is not allowed to talk to strangers!  Haven't you people ever heard of "Stranger Danger"?!  


And don't bother asking me where he gets his hair color from because I'll probably say something like, "Probably gets it from his father...whoever that is."  


I know that isn't nice, or funny, but what else do I say.  It's an asinine question, especially when whoever asks it has an accusatory tone in their voice.   



6.) Is this your baby?
No.  I just happened to have found this one in the parking lot and thought I'd take him on a parenting test drive.  


Of course he is my son jackal!  


Did you think I went out and bought him somewhere?  


Ok, sorry.  


He actually just magically appeared in my shopping cart, and this isn't really a diaper bag.  It is my man purse.  I hear it is all the rage somewhere.  


In reality, I always answer this question like that, and I have had ample opportunity to practice the response because I get asked this question every time I go anywhere with the boy.  

5.) Are you breast feeding?

I don't know, are you?  


I heard the milk tastes funny.  


Actually, I haven't just heard.  I know that the milk tastes funny.  


The real problem with this question, is that everyone has an opinion on breast feeding.  When I say everyone, I mean, EVERYONE does, even the people that don't have children.  


Give me a break!  Do you really care if my son is breastfed or are you just looking for an avenue to spout your opinions on the matter to me?  Either way, I am busy.  See ya!  

     (To answer any questions, yes, my son is breastfed.)

4.) You shouldn't let him put things in his mouth.

Thank you Captain Obvious!  


I don't know what I would have done had you not been here to tell me that.  


Let's get real here.  My son is nine months old.  Every thing goes into his mouth.  It's not like I am allowing him to put them there.


You know what really annoys me when people say this to me is that when they feel the need to tell me this, they act like they are imparting some dear knowledge to me that only they have gained.  


It's like I would never have known to stop him from putting any random old thing in his mouth had they not told me.  


Trust me, I only look as stupid as you are.  


The other problem I have when people say this to me is my son is usually asleep when they say it.  So, you know they were just fishing around in their empty noggins just searching for any thing that they could tell me so they'd have a reason to bother me.  


Again, if you want to see my baby just tell me or ask me or whatever.  Don't try to act like you want to give me advice.  I'm not going to respond well to it because I have morons like you pestering me every time I go shopping.

3.) He's not old enough to do that yet.

Excuse me?  Who do you think you are?  How do you know how old a baby has to be before they crawl, sit up, hold their head up or whatever?


What do you suggest I do...tell him he has to stop pulling himself up to a standing position because, although he doesn't know it, he is really to young to be able to do that?


Come on!


Babies don't work on schedules.  I don't care what the stupid parenting magazines say.


Please, do me a favor and the next time you feel like imparting some of your wisdom on me that involves the  time frame when things should happen involving my son, don't.  I don't go up to you and say that your five year old should be potty trained and out of diapers do I?  No. 


All I am asking is that you show me the same courtesy.

2.) You're not co-sleeping are you?

Dude!


What does it matter to you?!


People do it all over the world, and my baby, my wife, and I sleep well all night because no one has to get up and feed him when he is hungry.


I know you have an opinion on co-sleeping, but keep it to yourself because I don't give a loaf about it!


He's been sleeping in our bed with us for nine months now, and, so far, we haven't had any problems what-so-ever.  It's not like I am telling you that you have to do it too, so relax.  Go talk to someone who actually cares about what you have to say.


Here...I'll even give you a quarter so you don't have to call collect if you want to call from a pay phone.  

1.) Where's his mother?

This is probably the most irritating question that I ever get asked when I am out with the little man.  Not only do I hear it every time that we go out, but it is always asked in a nasty, accusing tone of voice.


What?!


Can't a father be capable of taking care of his child?  I'm really sorry your father was an jackal and couldn't help raise you. I am also sorry that your husband wasn't helpful in raising your children, but don't put that pilfered bagel on me!  I can parent my child alongside my wife with no problems.  So, bugger off!

    





Thursday, November 18, 2010

Our Terrible Photos and the Task of Finding Clothes for The Little Man That are Photo Worthy

So, my wife and I decided to have "professional" photos taken of the little man and of us together as a family.  


Big mistake.  


First of all, my wife is never happy with any photo taken of her because she is super critical of herself, which greatly annoys me because I think she always looks great.  


But, what I think is not important.  


I know that.  


The other problem we had with this so called professional photographer was that the photos looked like crap.  They are cropped funny and they don't even come close to resembling what I thought I ordered.  


Oh well, that's what we get for getting photos done at Sears.  It was bad enough that we found it virtually impossible to find a cute outfit for him to wear, but to have the rookie photographer crop out most of the boy in a solo shot is just ridiculous!  


I almost understand why she did it for the family photos, but not in a solo shot.  What the hell was she thinking?! 




I should have known when we went to have our pictures taken that it wouldn't turn out the way we wanted.   But no, I didn't think that there would be anything wrong even though the photographer looked like she was in junior high.  We also made the mistake of scheduling the photo session to happen right in the middle of little man's afternoon nap time.  That was stupid!


He handled it extremely well though.  


My wife and I, however, did not.  We bickered just about the whole time.  She didn't like the pictures that she was in.  I did.  She didn't want any of them.  I did.  Honestly, I thought she looked beautiful, especially the ones that were of just her and our son.  


Unfortunately, I got overruled, which pissed me off, so we didn't buy any of the photos with my wife in them except for the two family shots.  


All in all, we ended up purchasing two family poses, one pose of the little man, and one with my son and I together.  I wasn't exactly happy with the arrangement, but I wasn't too unhappy either, and by the end of the whole ordeal I kind of just gave up.  


I guess I sort of saw the whole family portrait thing and the professional baby pictures thing as a rite of passage.  Everybody does it.  I just hope that every one else is happier with their photos than we were with ours.





I guess before I start ripping apart the photographer too much, I should say that she was really nice, and that I am hard to impress photo-wise.  


It seems like any idiot with a camera is a photographer, and having photo shop readily available makes it easy to make virtually any photo look nice and professional, which makes me wonder what the hell happened to our photos?  


I know she used a digital camera.  I know that she had access to photo shop.  I just don't know what she was thinking when she cropped and printed the photos out.  When you are taking a photograph of a family, wouldn't it be important to make sure that the entire head of every member of said family be in the photo?  


How did she not do this when she cropped it?  


I honestly can't believe that we paid for this.  


I should have paid our friend down the street to take our photos.  I know that he takes nice photos.  It would have been awesome!  We could have hung out, watched the little ones play together, had pizza and had him take a few shots of us with his camera.  But, no we couldn't do it that way could we?  


If we were going to have a family portrait done, we were going to do it like everyone else.  We were going to have it done in a studio by "professional."  Monkey Balls!.  Even I could have taken better photos.  Boy, am I sorry now.  I can't believe that I wasted my money like that.  Oh well, you live and you learn.  


That's the way it goes isn't it? 

You know, as pissed as I am about the photos being crappy, I am even more frustrated about not being able to find any thing for the little man to wear while having his photo taken.  I don't know what he would have worn had we not had a talented friend who knitted him a cute little sweater that looks awesome on him.  In reality, it is probably the nicest article of clothing that he has.    


I guess had we not had a gifted friend who could knit tiny sweaters, we could have went out and bought a tiny suit for the little man's photos, but do you know how hard it would have been to get it on him, let alone keep it on him.  I don't know about anyone else's nine month olds, but mine doesn't sit still for anyone.  And, if he doesn't like the clothes you have on him that's it.  Those clothes are coming off pronto.   



But, I would still like to know why it seems like there are so many clothing choices for little girls, but hardly any for little boys?  


Don't parents want their sons to have nice clothes too?  


We want more variety than the tiny suits, various cartoon themed outfits, sports themed outfits, and obnoxious cute saying outfits than are currently offered.  


It shouldn't be so damn hard to find a decent outfit for my boy.  Hell, I would even jump on the chance to buy a sailor outfit for him at this point!  


Unfortunately, that's a no go because we haven't been able to find one of those either.  What the hell is that all about?!  We managed to find a little girl's sailor outfit...great!  


At least now I know that if I have a little girl sometime in the future, she'll be able to wear a sailor dress.  


Awesome, right?!  


No, because it doesn't do me any good now.     

It's unfortunate that the options for little boy's clothes are so limited.  I can't tell you know how many stores we searched looking for photo worthy clothes for the boy.  


There just isn't a lot of selection out there.  


However, if he were a baby girl, we'd be all set.  We'd probably never even have to own a camouflaged pair of pants or coat because all the other choices were so incredibly hideous.  


Almost every time my wife and I go out shopping for the little man you can hear her say,  "What?  Don't little boys get to have cute clothes to wear?"  She's absolutely right.  They don't.  I think it is just retails' way of preparing them for the future.  


Have you ever noticed that the men's clothing and shoe section in stores is always about half the size of the corresponding women's section?  


The difference is, men supposedly don't mind.  We are not supposed to care about our clothes, which I don't.  But, they have got to realize that it's usually momma and dadda who buy the clothes for the little ones, and momma likes to have more choices.  


Dadda does too secretly.  


I won't lie.  I enjoy dressing my son up too, and there are a lot of times that I think I should dress my son up in little girl clothes because it is so hard to find occasion appropriate clothing for him.  After all, he won't know any better, and it will be fun to have photos of him dressed like a girl lying around when he gets older.  

So, with all this in mind, I am vowing to myself that I will fight like hell against ever having professional photos taken again because either I can do just as well as a professional photographer myself, or I know someone else who can for sure.  And, from what I have seen, the guy I know is better than most, if not all, of the "pro-photographers" in the department stores and studios around here anyway.  


I have also started to write complaint letters to the local retail stores about the egregious lack of clothing options for little boys in all of their stores.  The poor little boys are going to be stuck wearing cartoon themed clothes forever at this rate.  


"Where are the occasion specific clothes?" I ask.  


It is ridiculous and I want something done about it flabbernabit!  


Besides, I don't know how long he will still fit into his hand knitted sweater, and we will need to replace it with something soon.  So please, throw us a bone here retail stores.