daddyblogs

I Was a Good Fucking Dad

A lot of parenting blog posts - including many here - are about feeling bad about how bad a parent the writer is.  But today, let’s flip the script!

  • My daughter wanted to play on the computer for more than an hour, so I let her and I made her more computer savvy.
  • My daughter wanted a malted milk ball before breakfast, so I let her have one and I made her happy.
  • My daughter kept singing a non-sensical, repetitive song that was driving me crazy and I pleaded with her to stop and I finally lost my cool about it and made her stop.  I taught her a valuable lesson about song structure.

See?  Today I was a good fucking dad.

ABGKAHT:  ALWAYS BE GIVING KIDS A HARD TIME

My daughter was trying to sell me some “dragon gems.”  Dragon Gems are some sort of imaginary item that she was trying to get me to buy.  In other words:  a scam.

The price list for Dragon Gems:

  • 2 DGs for $1
  • 3 DGs for $2
  • 4 DGs for $3
  • 5 DGs for $4
  • and so on.

I tried to tell her that a lot of times you get a discount for buying in bulk.  Apparently not with Dragon Gems.

I tried to tell her that favored customers get discounts.  I’m her *dad* after all.  She was having none of it.

So I told her I’d prefer to buy 2 DGs for $1.00, then come back later and do it again, thus getting 4 DGs for $2.00 instead of her lousy 3 DGs for $2.00.  

I’m gonna take her DGs and run her out of imaginary business.

ABGKAHT.

The Invisible Child Gag (or How I Multitasked the Pounds Away)

Two years ago, my daughter was in the especially useless school situation known as Morning Pre-K.  In NYC, you can have the sweet, sweet experience of public pre-k for your kid with the big catch that it will be an incredible waste of your time as it will last only from 8:40am to 11am.  That is just long enough to get a coffee, feel sorry for yourself and then turn around and get your kid.  

However, if you have no shame and you are an extreme multi-tasker you can replicate my trick to maximize your time and MINIMIZE YOUR WAISTLINE (pretty slick, right?).

You know that invisible dog leash gag?  Well, I employed a version of it with my jogging stroller.  This is where a lack of shame comes into play:  a lot of people just feel plain stupid running along with an empty jogging stroller.  But not me!

My trick was to jog my empty stroller over to my daughter’s pre-k to pick her up and then jog back with my full stroller.  I gotta go pick her up and I gotta go back too, right?  That’s just one half stupid-looking, shame-filled workout and one half awesome-looking bad-ass multi-tasking dad workout.  Zero one way, hero the other.

So if you can deal with the stares on the way there, you are in for a nice workout.  Plus, you get to show up at school looking fine in your workout gear.  Pretty sweet!

[photo stolen from my pal Charlie Todd’s wonderful Improv Everywhere]

My Kid Sucks Just as Much as Yours

Sometimes people say to me:  "your kid’s so cool!“  And I realize that my good-humored attempts to provide comedy here paint an inaccurate picture. So in full disclosure:

My kid sucks as much as yours.

  • I told her that a kid she knows can tie his shoes already.  She said "No fair!”  I explained that he practiced and she could learn it just like him.  But then I tried to teach her and she was like, “I already know how to do the knot part!”  And I said, “Okay, you do the knot and I’ll show you the bow part.”  And she did that and then freaked out again when she couldn’t do the bow part.  I know you can’t do the bow part because that’s called TEACHING YOU HOW TO TIE SHOES.  I DON’T HAVE TO TEACH YOU IF YOU ALREADY KNOW HOW.
  • The other day she got a big cookie, ate most of it and then said, “I’m full.  You can have the rest.”  Parents:  you see where this is going, right?  So I ate part of it.  Then I asked her, “Are you done with your cookie?”  "Yes yes yes, done!“  Okay.  CUT TO:  two hours later, she is freaking out about not having that cookie.  Another cookie will not do!  There is no consoling this tiny, crying child.  NEVERMIND THAT SHE TOLD ME TO THROW AWAY SAID COOKIE HOURS EARLIER
  • Whines a lot.  And then when you say, "I don’t like the whining” she says “I’m try-ing noooot too-ooo-ooo!!!!” in a really whiny voice.  TRY HARDER!
So you see?  We both have terrible children!
Upcoming Schools Calendar
WEEK OF NOVEMBER 12-16

MONDAY:  No School - Veteran’s Day
WEDNESDAY:  Half Day - Teacher’s Conference
THURSDAY:  Book Fair, or something else sketchily described a long time ago that you forgot to read about.  Put $5 in your kid’s folder, ya ingrate! 

WEEK OF NOVEMBER 19-23

WEDNESDAY:  Early dismissal, unless you are a bad parent
THURSDAY: No School - Thanksgiving
FRIDAY:  No School - Thanksgiving

WEEK OF NOVEMBER 26-30

MONDAY:  Quarter day - Leftovers Day
WEDNESDAY:  No School - “Why Have School?” Day
THURSDAY:  Snow Day, or a Storm/Hurricane or there’s no gas or something Day

WEEK OF DECEMBER 3-7

TUESDAY:  Christmas Shopping Day
WEDNESDAY:  Early dismissal, just to fuck with you
THURSDAY:  Full day, but now you’re spooked right?  Pick up early to be safe.

WEEK OF DECEMBER 10-14

MONDAY:  Pretty sure that’s Hanukkah
TUESDAY:  Hanukah.  I spelled it different this time, so no school this day either
WEDNESDAY:  Yom Kippur, though I’m pretty sure that already happened.
FRIDAY:  Grey Friday

WEEK OF DECEMBER 17-21

No School.  Just Cuz

WEEKS OF DECEMBER 24-MARCH 26

No School:  Christmas/New Year’s/President’s Day/MLK Day/Mid-Winter Break 

OLE MACKIE


I was cheered this morning to see our old MacLaren stroller out toting another child.

We sold that stroller for a song at a yard sale we had in October.  Yard sales are humbling.  It’s near-offensive how people pick over your stuff and low-ball you!  People stick their noses up at stuff that you used to think was awesome.  It can be a bitter pill to swallow.

Having thankfully outgrown the stroller era, we had our two strollers up for sale.  One was a hated $10 Toys R Us umbrella stroller whose wheels operated as if plucked from the worst shopping cart imaginable.  Of course, this was a hot item at our yard sale and went nearly immediately to curse another family.

The other stroller was our beloved Maclaren Quest Stroller. In the heady, pre-baby shopping days we arrived at this stroller through extensive research and comparison shopping.  The theory behind this purchase was that it would tilt back to accommodate an infant and our daughter could still grow into it.  It was easily foldable for subways, tight apartment living and toting.  It had some cool retro styling and a rain cover and I dunno, I guess maybe we fell a little in love with it.

It was a constant companion, a reliable necessity that we used all the time.  Like a samurai masters his blade, I mastered the MacLaren.  I could fold it and un-fold it with one-handed aplomb.  I knew how to engage the brakes and angle it just so for optimal subway riding.  Guys, I could haul that thing with sleeping child up several subway stairways, over several curbs and then up two flights of stairs into our apartment without a precious naptime.

Yes, we had to get the wheels replaced at some point, and – sure – this thing was mildewed from being stored in the basement and okay, it was partly food-stained from heavy usage. But it was disturbing to see this old friend so passed over at the yard sale, our shared history given so little respect.  I almost wanted to scream at the people “NOT FOR SALE” and scoop it up in my arms, whispering “One last ride, buddy?

But in the waning hours of our yard sale, a frugal German couple arrived.  Frugal Germans who could see past the stains, see the craftsmanship, the practicality under the mildew so easily scrubbed away.  Five dollars?  How could they refuse such a deal (though many had)?  It would make a good “backup” stroller they decided.  

But today I saw that Frugal German mother out rolling her child around the neighborhood in Ole Mackie (I have now decided that is its name).  "Backup stroller,“ huh?  Maybe my old friend has worked its considerable charms on another family.  Maybe some big fancy Stokke or Bugaboo monstrosity has found itself curbed in favor of this "backup” with more and more regularity.  

Keep on truckin’ pal.

Ban the Men's Room!

My daughter:  "Sometime you could go in the girl’s bathroom.  They don’t have penis toilets.“  

How does she know about "penis toilets?”  Because of the conundrum faced by parents out with their kids.  There’s a finite number of scenarios:

1.  Mom + daughter = Women’s Room

No problem here.  There’s something even a little nice about this.  It’s got a feeling of the passing down of traditions, of the comforting feminine embrace.  The girls are off to freshen up in the powder room.

2.  Dad + son = Men’s Room

 Again, this feels right.  C’mon son, let’s go piss on something.  There’s men’s work to be done.

3.  Mom + son = Women’s Room

Even this, no big whoop.  To me, having to grudgingly join your mother in the women’s room seems like just one of a number of vaguely humiliating errands sons are forced to go on with their moms all the time.  I remember the horrors of waiting for my mom as she got her hair done at the salon.  I remember the feeling that this was definitely NO FUN and lame and sissifying.  Even the magazines provided seemed to point out how I shouldn’t be there:  soap opera recaps, People, Ladies Home Journal.  

4.  Dad + daughter = Men’s Room

So here’s where we’re at.  When your daughter tells you she has to go to the potty, a lot of times that means a Men’s Room.  Even I don’t want to go to the bathroom in a Men’s Room.  All of us men would be better off if every bathroom was co-ed or single-use.  Left to our own devices, with a room so clearly just for us, we devolve into animals.  Flushing strictly optional, reading material grossly left behind, disconcertingly long usage of stalls and our lazy aiming all contribute to an environment that even we are sad about.  And into this:  my daughter and I.  Since she’s generally looking at the world as if unicorns and rainbows are everywhere, she doesn’t seem to mind, but I do.  Can’t we abolish the Men’s Room?  For my daughter’s sake?

 


Happy Giftsmas!

Are you like me?  Are you an agnostic who still loves Christmas carols and gift giving?  Has your failure to fully latch on to Religion left you adrift?  

My daughter has a school project to describe the traditions and holidays her family follows in this holiday season.  I’m sure some households will be plumbing the deep traditions of a faith passed down from generation to generation over the millenia.  

But in ours, I look at our grab-bag of traditions – vaguely Christian, without any of the Jesus-y stuff, with the addition of “Thanksmas,” a Thanksgiving-Christmas hybrid to see more of our family – and I wish we could start over.  What would an ideal holiday be if I could just start from scratch?  Don’t you wish there was more candle shit?  I love candles!

Let’s call it Giftsmas!  

First, it should have the lead-up, the countdown like Hannukah and advent calendars.  Maybe in the morning you get to open a little window in a weird Giftsmas Calendar and it has a little toy or a candy or just a crazy picture.  And then maybe every night you get to light a candle on a giant menorah.  And since this is all made up and it’s my g-damned holiday to do what I want with, let’s say the candles all light a fuse that trails off to a giant crazy star firework display.

On Giftsmas Eve, you have to sing Beatles songs and go door to door.  At each house, you collect candy and what the hell, fake gold coins too.  At each house, adults can demand high fives and choose whether to “psych” the kids and instead comb their hair with their open palms.  

At the end of caroling (oh, be sure to designate a Carol, who must dress as Carol Brady), everyone returns home to tell stories about Santa.  Ya gotta keep Santa!  But each year a new reindeer is added to his team and a special story created for it.  It should be topical.  Like maybe this year there’d be a story about the fiscal cliff and how a special new reindeer with sharp and clever claws helped Santa from falling off the fiscal cliff.  Let’s call him Boehndeer.

Next, a big turkey dinner with all the fixins.  And then to bed for the children, while grownups watch horror movies and get themselves freaked out.  

In the morning, children cook breakfast in bed if they know what they’re doing.  If not, it’s the tradition that area stores offer free delivery for children ordering for their parents.  When the breakfast is done, stockings are opened, presents are opened and then naps.  

That night, there’s a dinner where a seat is kept open for a ghost visitor.  There’s an egg hunt, people stomp on some glasses and then do a funny dance.  At midnight, everyone finds someone to kiss under mistletoe or organic kale if that is more readily available.  

Traditionally, Giftsmas Resolutions are vowed and the remaining, unfulfilled Giftsmas Resolutions of the Year Passed are written on tiny pieces of paper, folded into paper cranes and sent down a river, where they are set aflame.  Cuz it’s cool!

Anyway, there’s some kinks to work out.  I know traditions don’t change overnight.  But as we enter the holiday season, be sure to keep the awesome parts.  And Happy Giftsmas!

Baby Gorillas

“When do I become a gorilla?” my daughter asked me the other day.

Oops.

Recently my friend and I had taken our daughters to the American Museum of Natural History, or “The One with the Whale” as we call it.  We’re very lucky to live in New York City with all its wonderful museums and opportunities to educate and enlighten our children.  And because my kid isn’t a dick, we’re able to go to the MOMA, the Met, all over.  We even went to the The Morgan Library to see an exhibit of illustrated lists; not exactly a Dora the Explorer type child friendly exhibit.

And with all this learnin’ going on, you have new opportunities as a parent to teach your child and re-learn old lessons.  You feel a responsibility to explain exhibits to your kids even if they’re barely paying attention.

So it was that we found ourselves in the Hall of Human Origins.

At first, the kiddies were fascinated by the glass brick that they were able to stand on, completely ignoring the weird monkey-people right in front of them.  

And then, of course, it was about the “boobies” on view.  

Our kids are only 4 and 5 years old, so we knew they weren’t going to get the full evolutionary picture from one visit to the Hall of Human Origins.  And because they were looking for buttons to push on the exhibits, they were really racing through the place.  But we tried to impart a little bit of knowledge on them.  

“People used to be monkeys!” we’d say.

Confusion.

“Everyone used to be hairy, like these monkey people” we’d say.

Huh.

“Your grandmother’s grandmother’s grandmother’s grandmother’s grandmother’s grandmother used to look like these gorilla people.”

In my family, we have Nana and Papa, Grammy Jan and Poppy, Papa Robert, Grammy Karen, Terry and Linda; I’m not even sure my daughter understands what a grandmother is.

And as we went through the hall, my friend and I realized that we might have been gone through the exhibit backwards by accident.  Anyway, it hardly mattered.  They got the gist!  Everyone used to be monkeys!  Let’s go to the whale exhibit.

But now, a day later, this:  

“When do I become a gorilla?”

“You don’t become a gorilla.  What do you mean?” I asked.

“Babies become gorillas and then gorillas become grownups.”

“No, no.”  I clarified:  "Baby gorillas become gorillas.  Baby babies become grownups.“

This seemed clear.  Done!  But then, I had to add:

"But a long long long long long time ago everyone used to look like gorillas.”

She went back to coloring.  Sometimes I think she just decides it’s not worth it to argue with me when I so clearly don’t know anything at all.

What Would Happen if I Shot My Teacher?

My daughter is learning to spell and write stories. She’s made amazing progress in just a little time in kindergarten, but there are occasional missteps.  Spelling is hard!  I just had to spell “missteps” so I oughtta [sic] know!

Sometimes her stories require… a little explanation.  Like this one:

“One day I thought [if] what would happen if I shot my teacher”

huh.  

Is this a warning sign?  A cry for help?  Or is she merely pondering the possibilities?  She has a wonderful, beloved teacher and yet…ya never know, right?  I don’t want to be one of those parents you see on the news who are like, “She was always such a wonderful kid, we HAD NO IDEA!”  And meanwhile all the neighbors are like, “There was always something off about that kid.  I don’t know why her parents let her kill all those cats around the neighborhood.  It AIN’T RIGHT!”

“What would happen if I shot my teacher”

There it is again.  Pretty clear:  "what would happen if I shot my teacher.“  Even an illustration of a disgruntled…kid?  With a…bird singing on its head.  And a porcupine on a leash (obviously).  

There is a third page….I hesitate to even look.  

"So I shot my teacher”

Hmmm…no bloodshed.  Curious.  I’m not trying to sound disappointed.  And there’s the kid showing the porcupine to a teacher?

OKAY.  I GOT THIS:

“WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF I SHOWED MY TEACHER (my porcupine)”

Phew!  My daughter’s not a psychopath!  Take better care of your cats imaginary neighbors!  Stop blaming my kid!  

Like I said, these things required a little explanation at times.  We take spelling for granted, but it can get you in hot water if you’re not careful!  

I’m not alone in this confusion.  Another parent shared with me their son’s story, “How to Rib a 20 Inch Dick,” otherwise known as “How to Ride a 20 Inch Bike.”  Eeek!

Tongue Twisters
  • Tongue Twisters
  • My Daughter
  • Nonsense
Play

BOK BOK JOKE

I recorded my daughter telling jokes at dinner the other night.  I did that because I find it almost impossible to explain how she can make so little sense, while retaining the form of making sense.  When we have arguments, it’s one of the things that drives me the most crazy.  She can argue a point with the structure of an argument, but without the logic of an argument.

You can listen to the joke above and read the transcript below.  

*************

My daughter:  

“We’re doing tongue twisters, remember?

Okay, so the Bok-Bok Girl is onto the Earth.  And then it says on the iPod

‘Oh, Bok Bok’

'Who’s there?  I love to hear who Bok Bok is!’

'Hey hey hey!  You shouldn’t interrupt my joke!  Hey hey hey why am I calling on the phone in the first place?’”

[Laughs and laughs]

My wife:  "What’s the tongue twister?“

My daughter (annoyed):  "Eh.  Never mind.”

My wife:  "Tell me it again?“

My daughter:  

"I forgot the Chicken Chicken Chicken iPod jokey on the moon!  Actually, on the Earth!  Naaaaaah.  Think I was thinking about the moon and I said Earth.   Okay, okay it’s the moon, not Earth.  Okay, okay it’s the Sun because it’s left out in outer space.  Oh now I use a rocket ship and then… it went all the way to Earth and then it said 'Who selled this iPod to me in the first place?’

And then I said to the Chick Chick…

'Bok, Bok’

'Who’s there? Ahhhh’

[Laughs]

'Bok Bok’

'Who’s there?’

'Ha ha ha ha’

'Bok Bok’

'Who’s there?’

'I called you on my iPod, why didn’t you answer me?’

'Because I don’t even want an iPod!  Who sold this in the first place to me?  Oh I remember it was my husband!”  

Hey hey hey:  who husband would do such a thing?  Get it?  Hey yooooo….“

*********

Anyway, as a comedy nerd and a HAM, I have clearly indoctrinated her into some comedy choices here:  selling a joke with a funny delivery and giving some stage patter ("hey hey hey”).  There’s the structure of a knock knock joke here and even some inspired word play where she transforms the “Bok Bok Chick” into the “Knock Knock” part of the joke.  

See how this could drive you crazy?

GIRLS.COM

As I’ve mentioned, my daughter is very Pro Girl.  She’s always dancing around yelling “Girls rule!” and pointing out how girls are THE BEST!  And on each of her stories that she’s been writing in kindergarten she’s been careful to put her imaginary website on the back cover:  "girls.com"

Yeah, you’re probably about where my wife and I were with this.  There HAS to be a Girls.com already and my hunch was that it was not a Pro-Girl site in a kindergarten-appropriate genre.  

But despite all that, we forgot that our daughter can easily type an URL in a browser to go check out “her website.”  Which is what she did while we were cleaning up dinner last night.  

“Ooooh!  Girls.com!  Yeah yeah!  There’s a pretty dancing girl!” she yelled from the couch.

We raced over to the couch to grab the iPad from her.  

Luckily for us, Girls.com features some alluring photos of young ladies and, weirdly, dating advice (oh yeah, also the opportunity for finding “local sex”).  Phew!  But it’s probably time to set a lock screen on that iPad before our daughter orders up some “girls” for us by accident.

nyti.ms
Making Room (on the Web) for Daddy
A growing number of websites for fathers shows that dads want their own space to talk, get advice and show off the children.
By Hannah Seligson

The NY Times Styles section took some time away from talking about handbags to break some news:  Dads, it seems, love their kids!

I can’t hate on the Times too much for talking about dad bloggers or proud papas.  But the revelation that dads want to share pictures of their kids with other other dads instead of talking about sports or something is a little, um, condescending and out of touch.  Personally, if I wanted to scroll through pages of other people’s kids I’d just log on to Facebook.  But it shouldn’t be that surprising that it appeals to some dads.  

Sure, in the old days your wife’s doctor would send a telegram to tell you that your kid was born and on their 10th birthday you’d give your kid a hearty pat on the back to express, if not affection, tentative approval.  And you’d next see them when they were grown adults, to ensure they married well.  But times have changed!

FATHER’S DAY IS CRAPPY

Father’s Day is almost upon us again and it’s terrible.  It’s so obviously a Mother’s Day wannabe.  Without doing even the most cursory internet research, I assume that Father’s Day was created by the Hallmark Company a year or two after creating Mother’s Day.  

A couple of execs were like:  

“How do we sell more Mother’s Day cards?”

“Maybe make a second Mother’s Day?”

“Hmmm.”

“That’s all I got.”

And then a little later:

“What about a Father’s Day?”

“Okay, I guess.”

It’s an afterthought!  It’s just like Mother’s Day, but for dudes.  It’s obligatory.  It’s a re-tread.  

Who knows what to do with this day?  It’s boring!  What do you do, buy flowers for dad?  Cook him breakfast in bed?  It’s got Mother’sDay written all over it. And just like dads don’t parent just like moms, their days should be different.

What I propose is a Do-Over.  Start from the ground up.   Fathers need a boost, a re-affirmation of their dominance and manhood (even if illusory).  

I think Father’s Day should be like a Game of Thrones-style Tribute Jubilee!  Meat!  Games!  Bawdy humor!  There should be a Testing of Wills.  Tributes!  Songs of Praise and probably A Nap.  In other words, it should be awesome!

Obviously, there’s a lot of room for fleshing out this new Father’s Day.  But I really think I’m onto something here.  Is it wrong to want a piñata involved somehow?  You guys see where I’m going here, right?  Awesome stuff!  

So when you get the sense that your wife is making some preparations for Father’s Day, be sure to clue her into what you want and get your mutton order in for the Father’s Day Feast!  Let’s do this!

Originally published as a guest post on NYC Dads Group blog.

Improv For Babies

Some days I do a terrible job improvising with my child.  

Let me back up.  I teach improv at the UCB Theatre in NYC.  One of the central rules of improvisation is “Yes And.”  It’s a simple rule.  Basically, if someone says something to you, you say “yes” to their idea and you “and” it by adding more information.  In this way, you create a scene from nothing.  

Here’s a quick review in case your last improv class was awhile ago (or never):

A:  “The bakery sure is slow today”

B:  “Nobody comes here anymore [yes].  I think the smells from the fish store next door are driving them away; nobody wants a croissant that smells like a flounder! [and]”

Now, without getting too deep here I want to note that it’s also okay to disagree with people’s opinions.  You don’t have to literally say “yes.”  What you are “yessing” is the idea of the bakery:

A:  “The bakery sure is slow today”

B:  “Are you crazy? [yes, though opinions differ]  We’ve had 20 customers and it’s only noon! [and]”

When you’re creating something out of nothing, the important part is to get on the same page.  This here’s a bakery scene.  You “yes” the idea and add more information (fish store next door, 20 customers).  You approach the scene with a sense of play, an open-ness to do the scene your partner is starting.

This is sooooo applicable to parenting.  When I’m not in the mood, when I’m feeling very much the dad-in-charge, I forget to play with my kid in the way that works the best:  I forget to yes-and her idea and play by her rules.  

Right now I’m typing this in my office which has a sign on the door:  “Kids offise!!!!!” because the other day she and her friends took it over and kicked me out.  That same day, the bathroom had a sign “Kids potty” and basically the whole place was taken over by kids.  The lunatics love running the asylum, and in the spirit of improv, letting them do so is sometimes the best thing you can do.

As an example, the other day she was clearly bored and I proposed a bunch of stuff:  let’s play a card game, make some art, do a project, go try out the bike…all of which were TERRIBLE ideas apparently.  She proposed making her Winnie the Pooh and her Dragon, Lily, into acrobats.  I had about 60 really good ideas and she had one that made no sense.  Normally, in a very non-improv way, I try to steer her towards a game that actually exists.  But I decided to yes-and her choice and we played acrobats.

Ya know:  you throw Winnie the Pooh or Lily to each other over the Frog and if they hit the frog at all - scratch that - if they hit the Frog on the belly, then you lose.  Oh, and it’s best out of three.  Or five.  Or basically until Dad loses.

This game still made no sense, but she was dying laughing, having a blast.  We were violating a no-throw zone in the living room, playing something she cooked up.  And predictably, it all spiraled out of control until I had to shut it down.  But it was probably the highlight of her day.  

One of my improv teachers, Matt Besser, once gave us the note “If you’re not looking like a jackass, you’re not doing it right.”  And the hardest parenting days are the ones where you’re too-cool-for-school, not giving into the idea at hand, not working under the kid rules.  So don’t forget to look like a jackass, be a good yes-ander and improvise with your kid!