Month: September 2014

Glow Stick Kids

My biggest fear as a new parent was breaking my child. Here was this little lumpy thing that I felt should be carried only if necessary. Most of the time I preferred her to be low to the ground or secure in something with straps. No fast movements, warm liquids, sharp objects, or itchy materials around the baby. Don’t break the baby.

I’m in no way advocating breaking your children but some things are made to be broken. It is a fact I have had to accept. Egg shells are designed to break from the inside out. If they never cracked baby birds would never escape. Wildflower seeds sometimes need fire to complete the journey to a flower. Glow sticks are unimpressive until they are cracked and shaken, then they give off beautiful colored light. It must be the same with kids and bumps to the head.

Our youngest child completed this milestone recently and I realized that each of them has at least one significant concussion-level head smack. If you or I were to do these same things the result would be death, coma, or years of speech therapy. I lose a few years of my life each time on falls and I never get used to it.

The first incident, and so far the scariest, was the first child Calamity Jane. She loves horses, stories and is a walking accident. Even when she concentrates on not doing a very specific thing, like spilling a juice cup, she somehow still does. One day, toddler Jane was practicing running from the kitchen to the hallway and back again. The last lap she decided to venture off the carpet and into the actual kitchen which requires a hard right turn on smooth tile. She was barefoot and there was something wet on the kitchen floor.

I could claim that we had just mopped but that is highly unlikely. Maybe it was spilled juice, water from Dog’s face (our Boxer drips randomly), or condensation from a poorly insulated house. No one is pointing fingers but whatever it was, she slipped sideways in a full run and bounced her head on the tile. The sound was a sickening hollow bowling-ball thump and she was slow to get up. There was crying and panic from Mommy which made the injury crying worse.

I am at work and get the call to rush home. We try to evaluate. We text our extremely patient family doctor. I am sorry to say that we even checked WebMD. WebMD suggested she had a rare disorder that attracted her head to tile floors. Alas, there is no cure for tilefaceidis.

Our doctor promptly called and asked a few questions:

DR: “Was she unconscious at any point?”
ME: “I’m not sure.”
DR: “Okay. Is she lethargic?”
ME: “Yes” (It was nap time, she had been crying, and two panicked parents were probing her head and eyes. Of course she was tired.)
DR: “Has she thrown up?”
ME: “No.”
DR: “Alright, bring her in and I’ll evaluate. Try to keep her awake and if anything changes go to the ER.”
ME: “See you in a minute.”

I strap Jane into her car seat and adjust the rearview mirror to stare at her. Supermom is standing at the door with tears in her eyes as we pull away. She has to stay with the new baby and wait for whatever horrible news the doctor may have. That has to be one of the worst feelings a parent can have is the dread of the unknown. Somehow I drive without looking forward as I try to tell funny stories and keep Sleepy Jane engaged in conversation. Her eyelids are sinking and the eyes are rolling around at the edge of sleep. I sing Hannah Montana, this is getting desperate. Not even jokes about cat poop keep her awake! We are about a mile from the doctor’s office and stopped at a traffic light when her eyes open wide and she immediately vomits into the floor. Super.

I run the red light like a fugitive and swing the car around towards the nearest emergency room. I park on the sidewalk at the drop off area and run inside with fragile Jane. The receptionist seems nice but way too calm. I am holding a vomit covered sleepy child! Action! People! Action!

I explain the critical details, “She hit her head and now she is sleepy and puking and I sang Hannah Montana and not even cat poop works.” Maybe I was blubbering a little. Things picked up. Nothing makes people uncomfortable like a grown man crying. A consultation showed good response and awareness, her CAT scan showed nothing out of the ordinary. By the time we were getting ready to leave Jane was dancing around and talking about her horses and drawing pretty pictures. I leave the hospital with a vomit shirt, puffy eyes, more grey hair, and possibly a parking ticket while she skips along like nothing happened. Not that I would want anything different but still…

Maybe that wont happen again….

Prima the Ballerina, our second, had her emergency room visit when she was around three years old. We were working on sleeping in a big-girl bed and she didn’t like staying in bed. She would sneak to the door and peak out into the hallway until I would check on her and she would then race back to bed. Fun game. This night she was enjoying the adrenaline of getting in trouble and would wait until I was close to the bedroom before running back to bed. I could hear what she was doing and it was driving me crazy. I put her to bed and before I even made it to the kitchen I hear her bedroom door creak open. I rush back to the room and hear her giggle. There was a sound of little feet rushing across the room, a grunt, a loud bang, and split second silence followed by screaming. I rush in and scooped her up and there was already an inch-tall purple bump above her right eye. She had tripped while running and flown headlong into the bedpost.

The panic is always the same.

Text picture to doctor. At 10:30 at night.

Follow up phone call from doctor at 10:31. High five to responsive doctor.

We weren’t sure if twinkle toes had gone unconscious or not so back to the Emergency Room. This time Mommy went while I stayed home and thought of the worst things that could happen. This visit produced the same good result but the ER doctor on-call gave particularly crappy advice. We paid $300 for Ibuprofen and were told to check on her in the middle of the night to “make sure she’s not in a coma or anything”. Who tells parents crap like that? That is kind of what this visit was about, preventing a coma. Unbelievable. With no CAT scan or anything to settle our minds we spent the next 24 hours poking her while she slept as a ‘Coma Check’ routine.

Surely they won’t all do this…..

Don Threeto had her head incident at a vacation cabin. We had just gotten settled and were showing the kids the room they would be sleeping in. The cabin was a rustic theme with hand hewn wooden post beds. There was a large stack of pillows at the head of the bed and before I could utter a word, the Don was in a full swan dive at the pillows. The top pillows were hiding a solid wood pole that was part of the headboard.

Thump. Purple bump. Crying. Panic.

Luckily our physician was nearby and a flashlight pupil check with some generic Ibuprofen was our fix. The one positive thing out of the incident was verifying to our doctor that our kids have a tendency towards head injury and we weren’t punching them or anything.

More recently child number four, Lady Bug, fell out of a small kiddie camping chair and spiked her forehead into the hardwood floor. I know, I know. Killer parenting skills at work here but I can’t be everywhere all the time. Things happen. The offending chair has been eliminated.

Same instant purple bump. Same crying. Same parental panic.

Well almost the same. I checked pupils with a flashlight and tried to gauge her condition. We have plenty of children’s pain relief at this point and we administered the proper dose. I will still worry obsessively for the next few days. Lady Bug will probably not remember anything about it.

This childhood pattern can only have two explanations; A) All kids are made to fall and bump. It is a part of growing up. Or B) I have failed to teach some essential physics like gravity and momentum at the appropriate age. I think (A) is the correct answer but I have ordered “Your Baby Can Understand Physics” just in case.

So if you didn’t teach your kid about gravity and have more than one trip to the ER because of it, this story is for you. Don’t worry about it, kids are like glow sticks. You’re welcome.

Underdaddy to the rescue.

Cleaning The Shotgun

As a father of many many girls I get the frequent question about “the dating years”. Well, not so much a question as a knowing look down the end of a nose followed by, “You better get your shotgun ready. Keep them boys at bay.”

My lord people. Are we such a violent and harsh society that it takes a threat of force to protect our children and convince teenage boys to think twice about their actions?

Absolutely. Without question.

But I have a better idea. Timing is critical for this idea to work right but if done correctly it will cascade as urban legend down through the years and cover all of my children in a protective blanket of mystery. “Mystery of what?” you say. Mystery of who I am and if I am indeed insane. Convince the first boy that comes around that something is wrong with you and the word will spread like wildfire. Let’s be careful here, I don’t mean something wrong like you wear women’s clothing to go jogging in the rain. Try and stick to upbeat but possibly psychotic under a happy faced disguise. The objective is uncomfortable fear not weird looks.

For example…
Scenario One: A young man is coming to our house to escort our daughter out on her first date. I instruct her to remain inside while I meet this fine young man and assess his mannerisms. She rolls her eyes at my quirky and overbearing nature. I promise to behave.

In anticipation of this day I will have prepared the following; one black garbage bag full of smashed watermelons and one pack of raw ground beef (Allow to sit for two days so flies are bouncing around the inside of the bag.), a fresh four foot hole around the side of the house near the edge of the woods, one dirty shovel.

Prince charming arrives a few minutes early. Two points for punctuality. I walk around the corner to the front of the house as he is getting out of his car. I imagine that I will be slightly sweaty with maybe some dirt smudged on my cheek. He will smile hesitantly and maybe even half wave to acknowledge me. I will stare for a second to increase the awkward, all the while beaming a Sunday church smile. Once the young man looks sufficiently confused I will thrust out my hand and say “Hi! I’m Jane’s father! Really nice to meet you. I know Jane is excited for her date.” He responds politely, “Hello, nice to meet you too sir. Oh yes I am excited too. I really respect Jane for her intellect and solid moral stances.” I’m sure this small talk is all heart felt but the moment will turn as I step up close and place an arm on his shoulder.

“Say, Dan, do you have just a second to help me with something?”

He will say yes, social protocol guarantees it. I will turn and head back around the corner of the house. I will place my dirty shovel on the ground near the freshly dug hole and beckon Dan to come closer. I say, “Grab the corners on that bag, CAREFULLY, you don’t want to bust this.” It will be much funnier to me than him and I will suppress a giggle, “huh hu hu ha ha ugghmm.”

The weight is lumpy and awkward with some mystery liquid sloshing in the bag and giving a half rotten smell. We heft the bag into the hole and I stare at it for a few moments in deep thought. I realize he is still standing nearby and I say, “Hey… Thanks for your help. And don’t tell anyone about this.”

“About what?” He looks confused and concerned.

“Exactly! I like you already!” Then I pick up the shovel and start filling in the hole. I talk over my shoulder as he walks slowly away, “You kids have fun. Don’t be late.”

Hopefully the first thirty minutes of the date will be spent trying to figure out what was in the bag. He may ask Jane what she knows but I refused to tell her earlier so the mystery will build. In fact, I will never mention the incident again. Each new wave of teenagers will carry the legend and try to solve the black bag mystery. Some of them will notice a sunken spot at the edge of the woods. The grass grows well in that spot. Perfect.

All I want is the title. The “crazy dad who buried someone in his yard” has a nice ring. It is like an old horror movie, the unseen is much more terrifying than something that can be visualized.

There may be other psychological warfare games that can produce the same results. Feel free to use any good ideas as your own or send me a better one. I’m open minded. And if you are planning on protecting your daughter’s virtue through intimidation this post is for you. You’re welcome.

Underdaddy to the rescue.

Womanist? Maybe.

This isn’t my typical funny post. I have been driving and thinking with the help of coffee and iTunes. Just a summary of where my kids have centered me in all the madness and how I actually feel about a lot of it.

I sold my “man” card. Slowly over the years I have actually given it away. Pink tutus. Painted nails. Knowing all the characters in Sophia the First. Yeah that baby is gone. But what good was it anyway?

Maybe being a father to four girls has swayed me to the dark side. Maybe media coverage has me on the feminism radar. The NFL isn’t helping. Maybe Emma Watson is really hot and therefore I value her recent opinion and subconsciously attach it to thoughts. Thanks Emma, it is already uncomfortable to think that you were a little girl in Harry Potter and then you go and grow up all good looking in Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Whatever the reason, the gender issue has been at the forefront of my mind. I put some thought time in on the issue and I hope my fellow fathers do the same.

The strongest people I know are women. I have a grandmother who has a reputation for making weaker people cry when they cross her. With nothing more than her honest brutality, I envy that skill. That trait passed through me and into my third child perfectly. I am greatly excited to watch this hurricane reform and clear a path. This great mother I mention also raised twentyfive percent more children with six times less help than I currently have at my disposal. That fact alone borders the impossible. She was Santa’s saving grace for many years and taught me selflessness.  I’ve watched childbirth through Supermom. Those points all go to women. I got a bug bite on my manscape and thought about bed rest or going to the ER for a morphine drip. Milton wrote about that circle of hell. The unending jock itch.

The smartest people I know are women. If not for women how would I know that I am wrong? This is probably because women can remember minute detail of everything that was ever uttered in conversation. They may not remember context all that well or the fact that you were joking and didn’t mean it but they have your words burned in there. Mention a little weight gain and see if you live that shit down. Ever. The answer is no. No you don’t. Still they are smarter than men. How many stay-at-home dads do you know and what is that compared to women? They know how to lock down a sweet gig.

The most caring people I know are women. The nurturing is innate. Men have to get acclimated but women seem to pick it up from birth. This character trait is why I ended up with an adopted dog named Chester Sparkles. It is also why Mr. Sparkles wasn’t euthanized a few months later. Women are caring. There is a reason that an ointment that we have is called “Mama’s Kisses.” They have healing power. I know women whose depth of empathy actually makes them cry when you describe someone elses pain. No joke there. That is heart that I don’t have.

I think of all these things and I think of my girls. My beautiful and happy girls. They have clear pieces and parts of myself mixed thoroughly with their mother. Thank God. My hairline would wreck them in Middle School. I feel like the reaction of the world to them is also a reaction to me. I ask myself questions about the struggles they may well encounter.

Do I think they will be every bit as capable as a man at anything they ever chose to do? Of course.

Do I think they deserve equal pay and equal treatment? Absolutely.

Do I think that I am giving them away when they marry and they become subject to someone else? Hell no.

Would I hesitate to bury someone who harmed them and spend my prison time with the satisfaction of knowing my protection of them was complete? Not for a second.

Would I have felt this way about societal opinions before they were born? I want to say yes but that may not be true…

It is hard to imagine how you will feel but if you have children, you know the feeling. You want to shelter them and beat down their bullies and right all the wrongs before they happen. You want to keep them from feeling bad things you have felt. It is a miniature you. The helplessness and future injustice stings my eyes while they are asleep, naive to the world outside their window.

Daddy slide day.

Daddy slide day.

I feel like my girls are a form of me. I’m not even female and yet this makes me feel judged. It makes me angry. There are definite differences in gender but we tend to make them disabilities.We dont show them options that they should have. There is a sexy nurse Barbie but no Doctor. Legos are all in boys styles and colors except for specialty girl sets. We train the special right out of them.

Women are better than men.
I think we need to review how these “man” cards are issued. Sometimes I think holding a “woman” card might be more impressive.

Ps. Women are still terrible drivers. That is just good science. But that story is for another day.

Orgreenic Can Stick It

Are you someone who feels like they lose the daily struggle?

Do you take one step forward and then two steps back and if so, are you somewhere other than a Country line dance bar?

Are you looking for cookware that does the opposite of working as advertised?

Today is your lucky day!

I want to take a second to tell you about the phenomenal failure of culinary hardware known as Orgreenic. I first saw this amazing feat of material engineering on an infomercial. They threw a piece of cheese into a hot pan and I’ll be damned if it didn’t sweep right off with no mess! Proof of alien visitation! No earthbound material could possibly do that!
I remained a skeptic. Probably costs thousands of dollars right? Then I see it in Wal-Mart.

Like. OMG.

So affordably priced miracle cookware made available by the purchasing power of Wal-Mart. Sounds legit. I’ll try out a pan an entire set. Let’s throw the other out for good measure. Okay all sounds reasonable to this point.
Then I unbox the magic pans.

The Greenic coating is jumping ship. That can't be safe.

The Greenic coating is jumping ship. That can’t be safe.

I am amazed! This new technology works so good that it doesn’t even stick to the pan! One of the five is unusable. This is still an amazing deal. No non-stick spray. No butter before each pancake. I can cook like a Wildman!

Then I attempt to make dinner. Scrambled eggs because I am weird like that. Breakfast for dinner is actually a house favorite. We cook the bacon first and then scramble the eggs in the bacon grease for flavor. Plus it is a really good way to capture the fat and cholesterol that tries to get away.

Sometimes the first round of bacon will stick to a pan because the fat hasn’t had time to coat the surface. I put a dab of bacon grease in the pan and heat it up. Double insurance against sticking right? Wrong.

That bacon was stuck. I tore bacon trying to flip it over. Each new batch of bacon was the same story. The only miracle was that the pan could actually convince grease not to work in the general area of each piece of bacon. I thought, “Maybe I am a mutant who can change the properties of anti-stick cookware!” I could fight kitchen crimes by threatening to ruin all sorts of dishes. “Give me all your money or say goodbye to that omelet!” Let’s be honest, the best name would be Peter Pan and that is taken so I’ll leave it alone. Although I think he left Neverland to start Toys-R-Us so he probably doesn’t need it anymore. (I don’t want to grow up ‘cause I’m a Toys-R-Us kid….)

After the bacon was scraped free I proceeded with the scrambled eggs. The trick here was not to stir them at all. Just let the eggs cook into a lump and cut the decent part off the top. Try not to damage the pan while removing the eggs so that you don’t hurt the non-stick surface. Dear God don’t nick that priceless material.

After three hot washes I have changed my feeling towards this product, downward.

After three hot washes I have changed my feeling towards this product, downward.

Bacon and eggs are no go. Maybe if I use some butter or nonstick spray that will help. And don’t tell me about using some products hurt the surface, blah blah blah. If putting butter in the pan hurt the properties then it would only work through about fifteen seconds of cheese. Fat is fat.

No, this set of pots and pans has the singular ability to mangle anything you can throw its way. I imagine if you dropped an ice cube in that son-of-a-bitch it would be impossible to get it out and would probably leave a stain for two weeks. I’ve stopped soaking and cleaning it in hopes that it will begin to season like an iron skillet. Maybe the layers of failure will build until the dead carcasses of meals gone by are the saving grace for future meals.

I’d buy different ones but I can’t afford nicer ones and I am afraid that cheaper ones would burn things I don’t even try to cook. Like I would look up and this vagrant gutter-of-a-pan is strutting around in a sleeveless Tshirt and has set my breakfast cereal on fire and is drinking all my beer. I think the cookware that is cheaper than Orgreenic is aluminum foil.
I’d mail the pans back but they would get stuck in the mail I’m sure.

And they aren’t even a good size! I swear they found the perfect size pots and pans and reduced it ten percent just to piss people off. “Hey look here, we’ll make it too small and burn every fucking thing they try to cook. It will be hilarious!” They probably have video cameras “Steve come check this out he is going to try and put two pancakes in the pan. NO WAY! HAHAHAHAHA” Maybe I bought the Orgreenic Barbie cookset?

The trick is the ceramic coating. Take something non-porous and put anything with mater molecules on it and you have a sticking situation. Completely dry out this item and the water bonds are gone and no sticking. Works well if you want to burn everything in the pan to a stupid pile of doo-doo heads!

This demonware taunts me and causes intentional bad feelings. Sometimes I make spaghetti and while it sits in the pan waiting for me to get a second helping, the pasta residue in the water will dry on the sides and flake off completely. Falling into the spaghetti.

Why is this relevant to a daddyblog? Because some asshole at Orgreenic now needs to tell three very confused children why daddy was yelling at burned pancakes in the kitchen. Assure them that daddy isn’t crazy because he started taking random things out of the refrigerator to “Burn the shit out of them” in a small scale product quality control test. Same procedure, flames, water, ashes into the garbage can. Nothing escaped its sticky wrath. All scientific data has since been nullified because daddy flattened the G.D. pan with a G.D. sledgehammer in the driveway. You can’t have a successful experiment if it isn’t repeatable. I made sure that bastard would never hurt anyone again. I felt the anger of lower middle class consumers coursing through my veins, powering me on!

If they had brains at all they would be researching how to use this material to climb vertical glass walls or hold together broken steel chains. The bond between meat residue and pan is sacred and eternal.

If you have ever had an unreasonable product meltdown this one is for you. Go buy a set and have a completely valid meltdown over how awful these green suction cups with handles can be. And explain to your children the importance of feedback through angry blog posts. You’re welcome.

Underdaddy to the rescue.

Silence of the Rabbits

Goals in life should be simple and attainable. As a parent I have a few goals for my children. First and foremost is the goal to keep my girls off of drugs and a stripper pole. Almost any other profession will do. They can aspire to be a sock designer for pinkie toe amputees, I support that. But dear sweet baby Jesus, don’t let them dance on a pole for money, Amen.

My secondary goal is to avoid mental and emotional scars. I know this may be unavoidable at some level but I like to take a stroll down memory lane every now and then just to consider things that affected me in some way.

Sometimes the incidents were just a perfect storm for leaving an impression on a small child. For instance, one time my mother left me with a baby sitter while she went and got a haircut. She left with long straight brown hair and returned with what my mind remembers as a brunette Shirley Temple-ish short and super curly perm. To this day I don’t like short curly hair and my wife even feared I would leave her after the hairstylist got a little loose with the scissors. Of course this quirk isn’t anyone’s fault really but you can’t change how you feel.

Other scars are definitely someone’s fault. This memory starts with my sister getting a black fuzzy rabbit named Jack. My mother is probably reading this story and thinking, “Oh God where is this going?” You know…. And make a note, the poor decision was totally the neighbor. My mother was just as traumatized as we were I’m sure.

So one good rabbit deserves another and we get Jack a girlfriend. Rabbits can reproduce about every fifteen minutes so in no time at all we had lots of rabbits. The only thing that really kept them at bay was the fact that a male rabbit will eat the babies about half of the time because he knows he can’t afford rabbit diapers or rabbit cars at sixteen or five hundred rabbit weddings. Good call rabbit dad, nip it in the bud early.

Anyway, long story short, we had lots of extra rabbits that needed to leave. Luckily we had a neighbor who wanted free rabbits. He was interested in eating the cute little bunnies but there was no reason to tell the children. Just let him come pick up the rabbits and take them away to a happy farm. When you live in the country neighbors are trusted friends so the offer for free rabbits was a standing offer and the neighbor was encouraged to come “get” the rabbits whenever it was convenient.

That happened to be a day that my sister and I were playing in the backyard within sight of the cage. Our neighbor walks into the yard with a smile and a wave… and a burlap sack. We watch with curiosity as he goes to the rabbit cage and sets the sack on the ground beside a large oak tree. How can he possibly get all those rabbits into a sack of that size without them running out? He really needs a box or crate or something…

Up until this day I didn’t know rabbits could make a sound. It is a weird half-screech, half-squeal. The neighbor reached into the cage and grabbed one of the bunnies by the hind legs and it let out the squeal while he dragged it out. Then in a single smooth motion he pops the bunny against the tree and tosses it into the sack. I don’t remember ancillary details but my sister claims that my mother carried her inside quickly. I know I stood slack-jawed watching scared rabbits get smacked against a tree and thrown in a burlap sack. A redneck assembly line of squealing death.

Growing up on the farm I knew about the life and death and food chain cycle. We had a different pig every year with the same name, Spec. We had a cow that we would name Christmas. I had helped behead chickens and chase down their headless bodies. I knew what it really looked like to run around like a chicken with your head cut off. But the rabbit thing seemed awful. That asshole neighbor left my poor mother with no chance of lying to us and there was really nothing to be said, just an uncomfortable silence at dinner that night. I don’t know if it was mentioned much since but my sister remembered almost instantly. We laughed harder and longer than we should have but some stories are screwy enough they have to be funny.

So if you are feeling bad about not censoring yourself enough just remember that until you are pulling pet bunnies out of a cage and smashing them in front of the children/owners you aren’t doing that bad. It’s a low bar but my neighbor was a real piece of work. You’re welcome.

Underdaddy to the rescue.