Month: January 2015

Pick Of The Litter

So in the world of good intentions and parental backfires I think I have a new one.

Trying to sway popular opinion requires social cooperation. The parental magic of reverse psychology and using siblings to apply peer pressure is well known. Tell a toddler that you are going to eat their food and they might start eating eat. Tell them that you will give it to another sibling and they will eat the gravel in the driveway just to keep it away from the others. Sometimes the younger ones look up to the older ones and you can use the trick of getting the older one to tell the younger ones how awesome a new food tastes. Sometimes peer pressure is effective.

Every now and then the kids learn a trick and attempt to use it against you.

We were all gathered around a storybook and as I was finishing I realized that Lady Bug had a booger that needed extraction. One of her sisters handed me a wipe from nearby and Lady Bug put two and two together. She reached a nubby index finger up and snagged the booger instantly out of her nose. It was impressive because when I try to wipe her nose she sucks it up just far enough that I can’t quite get it out. Now I know why. She starts towards her mouth with the freshly picked treat and I chase her hand with the wipe saying, “No! We don’t eat boogers. They are gross.” Lady Bug giggles and Don Threeto chimes in, “They aren’t gross. They taste good!”

 

Underdaddy: They do not taste good.

Prima: Actually they do dad.

Underdaddy: Not you too? Jane tell them that it is gross.

Jane: *shrugs shoulders*

Underdaddy: Oh My God. Am I surrounded by booger eaters?

Jane: Have you ever tasted them?

Underdaddy: Yes, No, I don’t know…. I … hmmm. Well played.

 

Smart little bastards. They talked me into a no-win answer about eating boogers. I questioned my own reality. Do I remember boogers? Are they terrible? Should I eat them? They are made of glucose I think. No. No. What is wrong with me? Blah.

I just got peer pressured and out-thought by a gang of booger eating bullies.

We clarified that boogers are not a tasty treat and are about the worst thing you can eat. I don’t know that they will believe me because I didn’t have anyone nearby to back me up. The dog was there but she licks her butt so that isn’t helpful.

So if you have given you children social weapons by accident, this post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

ThreeKwanDoh

My kids directly contradict the very nature of the Golden Rule as moral guidance. Rule: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”

That sounds like it should be solid right?

I don’t like having something stolen so I don’t steal from others. That sounds easy.

Can you think of an easy example? Maybe it is “I don’t like being robbed at gunpoint so I won’t carjack anyone tomorrow.” Yep, solid rule. Seems to work every time.

Then I lived with Don Threeto. Yet again I have overheard the girls talking and thought that maybe I should offer some fatherly advice. I hear, faintly from the living room, “…you do it hard and then I’ll do it too.” That snippet of conversation was followed by a smacking of skin and some giggling. I walk around the corner and Lady Bug is standing in front of Threeto and she has a bright red cheek but a confusing smile. All I could think was, “Oh God there are two of them. Why is she smiling?”

 

I start the standard dad conversation:

Underdaddy: “What is going on in here?”

Threeto: Just some smacking.

Underdaddy: We don’t need to smack each other. We have talked about this. (I am trying my best not to laugh, who says “Just some smacking”. That’s like saying oh you know just some kidney punching and blood peeing, no big deal.)

Threeto: But I like to fight.

Underdaddy: I know but we’ve talked about this. There are lots of reasons. Women make less money in the MMA and getting to the top is really hard. Not everyone likes fighting.

Threeto: Can she punch me?

Underdaddy: No! We are done punching anyone. I forbid anything physical-not even squeeze hugs. Go sit in the corner and think of flowers or something.

 

I know that this has happened before and I am confused about kids who enjoy getting “roughed up”. How do I teach her about being kind to others when her disappointment sometimes includes not getting punched by her sister. The proper application of the Golden Rule would have three of four daughters getting their asses whipped by Threeto because you know, “Do unto others..”.

A brief thought. We can’t all be communal vibes of happiness.

So if you have children who test the moral fabric of society, this post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Let The Bodies Hit The Floor

I start as early as November with my Christmas mantra of “no toys”. I get physically tense thinking about having more toys around the already overrun house. My defenses creep up and I become an un-livable defensive assault of “No.”

But why?

I have a theory. Men remember bad things and try to head them off. Women forget traumatic events and repeat them.

My first piece of evidence. We have four kids. FOUR. That is a full three kids above what a man’s memory would allow. If I had to volunteer to pass anything larger than any orifice through that same orifice. Nope. Not happening. Fool me once shame on you. Fool me three more times… Shame on selective memory.

I have a selective memory. It is so selective that I don’t even know what it is going to choose or discard. I do know the trauma that makes it through the subconscious filter. The unmitigated pain of a Lego is childs play compared to Involuntary Tutu Slide into Man-Splits on a Hardwood Floor or Tripoli the three legged horse stabbing you with his nub. Have you ever stepped on a metal ball bearing in the middle of your heel and put all your weight down bruising the inside of your foot? These are the nightmares.

We bought a kitchen and chair table set thinking that we were adults and it was high time we have something respectable in the house. Our one mistake was the fact that the chair legs angle outward towards the floor and are so easy to stub a pinkie toe that we have stopped using the chairs. They are hidden around the house and, just like the elliptical machine, they are now for stacking shit we don’t feel like putting away right now, or ever.

There is so much danger from our reckless abandon that we have a gate into the kitchen and we keep everyone out. Kitchen is off limits because it is the safe haven. It is the home base in our hide-and-seek from the kids. If we make it from the bedroom to the kitchen without getting tagged then we are safe and can eat what we want for 45 seconds. But this gate is its own problem, it hangs socks and shoe laces in the exact perfect place where you are past the gate and bringing that last foot up and over. Your body is in motion away from the gate. You are holding hot soup and Faberge Eggs and since the gate hates nice things it grabs your sock and sends you head first to the floor. Of course, you will try to correct and look like drunken Bambi dancing on ice before you smash into the floor landing on each and every pointy plastic toy around and probably breaking two “favorites”.

It was one evening around Thanksgiving that I had stepped on a few toys on my way to the bedroom and was swearing under my breath. Supermom is staring at a list she is working on and asks, “What should we get the kids for Christmas?”

I answered, “Not a Damn Thing!”

I remember these traumas and I stress about it happening again. But the cuteness of little girls is Daddy Kryptonite and my Grinch heart usually grows two sizes. We go Christmas shopping and write to Santa and even feed the reindeer. We wave goodbye to the elf on the shelf and open the presents. The whole happy song and dance.

Then we start slipping out of the holiday hangover. The girls have more toys than the living room can hold. There is a doll house that is three stories with thirty five pieces of soon to be missing furniture. The little one has a box of foam block with round pieces. She also got a box of Lincoln Logs, LINCOLN LOGS! There are flash card games scattered across the floor. A knock-off version of the board game Trouble (Frozen style) is sitting on the abandoned train table where the wooden train and its tracks used to be. Where is the fifty piece train set? Fifty eff’n pieces!

Jane is starting to whine because we can’t put up the 12×18 tent that Santa got her because it is raining and winter outside.

Don Threeto, I realize, is oddly quiet behind the couch with a suspicious trail of Hersey kiss wrappers leading to her feet. She smiles with a wide eyed and fudgy brown face and says, “I LOVE CHOCOLATE”. I bet you do kid.

Prima does interpretive dance with the wrapping paper until it is all cleaned up and then she gets on the new iPad (that was not brilliant by the way). Don Threeto got a tablet too and it has one free demo of a game and she is just punching the screen so I don’t know if that was a waste or not. There is also a Zoomer which is a robotic dog that listens to your commands and learns your voice. He is your “real best friend” according to the box. Don Threeto doesn’t speak clearly enough for him to understand but she does know that in America if your language isn’t understood you just yell LOUDER and point at him violently. I come back ten minutes later and they are all on iPads and Zoomer has peed in the corner and is whimpering.

This post-Christmas waste land of a living room had more toys spread out than a megachurch nursery. MacGyver could build a Saturn V rocket with the random things lying around. If we put up the tent then it might look like the first scene in the movie Congo where the mutant apes destroy this campsite and leave no survivors. It feels like they may be recreating that actually.

So all day we wade through the churning mass of mixed up parts and eventually the kids give in and go to bed. Supermom and I head to the kitchen for a stiff water on the rocks. I step on what I though was a microfleece blanket and hear a sharp plastic crack.

“Hang on. Let’s take bets on what I just broke.”

“I’m saying horse.”

“That’s a good one but ….nope looks like the board game Trouble.”

“Underdaddy! They just got that!”

“Like they could actually play with the two remaining game pieces out of the original sixteen. Seriously where are all the pieces?”

I notice something plastic and purple under the edge of the couch and pick it up.

“What is this? It looks like a flat egg with a little plastic tab on one side.”

“I don’t know but here is another.”

I then notice that poor Zoomer has been tortured mafia style. We are holding his ears. This fifty dollar miracle robot has been de-eared in under three hours. I guess Threeto thought if he wasn’t going to listen to her he wouldn’t be able to listen to her sisters either.

I stand over a smashed Trouble-bubble that will never see its family reunited. A game called Memory with pieces that no one seems to remember where they went. How ironic I guess technically, that is a loss.

I stand beside a three story doll house shoved full of foam blocks and Lincoln Logs but strangely void of all the plastic tables and chairs and cups and shit that should be in a doll house. The dolls still have heads but their clothes are another story. I think the dog ate a boot. We will find that in four months with the lawn mower.

I see parts of the train set scattered around but God knows if we will ever find all the right pieces to make “the one on the box”. What do you do with kids who say, “My transformer is broken!” and you say “That is a piggy bank not a transformer, well was…. Don’t let your sister eat that glass. We are on probation at the ER, they have a three strike system.”

This happens every year. It is the Gettysburg of gifting. More toys die in a single day than the rest of the year combined. We count the dead and file them in a mass grave. As we assess the damage and hand each other things like legs and ears, we start to laugh. It is the dark and morbid laugh of defeated parents who know that this same event will happen again.

All I can hear is the heavy metal song “Let the bodies hit the floor, let the bodies hit the floor, let the bodies hit tha’ FLOOOOOOOORRRRR!

Current Talley of Broken or Lost Things

Hello Kitty Headphones, Zoomers Ears, Assorted Lincoln Logs and plastic Cowboys and Indians, Half of the Frozen game set with memory cards, flash cards and some type of spinner game that is irrelevant because the spinner is broken; Monster High Dolls clothes and accessories; Trains for the actual train table set; a large portion of the candy that was in the stockings (Lady Bug shoved some of the chocolate in her pants and melted it into different shapes); DVD boxes were stepped on and cracked; clothes were stained by various liquids, hair coloring chalks have been broken; Threeto’s tablet only plays sound when headphones are plugged in (I kind of like that actually); the tent has a shattered fiberglass support pole that we will have to duct tape every time we put up the tent; Bingo set may be missing some numbers from the ball cage; two fluffy pens for Hello Kitty diary sets are completely crushed and the kids are chasing each other and poking with the shards; and can we stop lying to ourselves and just buy Grey-Brown Playdoh?

Do you want to know what the icing on the cake is? Christmas night after I took the electronics away they asked to go to a Grandparents house because they were bored. What? Bored? You should be exhausted. Construction crews don’t get that much demolition work done in one day.

For those of you who lose the Christmas war, this post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Threeto Peeto

Don Threeto is always worth reading. Tonight she was on her game.

 It is no secret that we have had a stressful end of 2014 and start to 2015. Quick recap: Prima broke her arm, Lady Bug had a seizure and visited the children’s hospital a few days later, Supermom is dealing with some issues that are related to having four kids, Lady Bug had an ear infection, Supermom has surgery planned for tomorrow to correct an umbilical hernia.

 Of course as we are getting the kids ready to go to the baby sitters (grandparents) we notice that Lady Bug is tugging at her ear again and has a slightly runny nose. We make a last minute call and carry Lady Bug to see the world’s finest physician. Sure enough the ear is infected again so we have to stop at Walgreens on the way to the grandparent’s house. Never mind that we have to report to the hospital at 6:00am.

 That is where the interesting part of the story begins. I am stressed and tired from preparing for tomorrow and trying to make sure my work is complete. Kids are properly assigned. Normal anxiety stuff on top of worrying about a serious medical procedure for my wife.

 We pull up to the pharmacy drive thru and there are six cars ahead of us. No problem. Kids are watching a DVD and I will just catch up on some Facebook. Mom tagged me in a Louis CK standup about four kids that is hilarious. The line creeps along because people don’t understand that drive through service is for pick up and drop off and waiting can be done somewhere else. McDonalds will ask you to pull up in a heartbeat but Walgreens is just too polite for that.

 

We get halfway through the line and I hear Don Threeto.

“Daddy!”

“What?”

“I want nuggets and Lady Bug will take some fries.”

“This isn’t a restaurant.”

“Yep. Nuggets.”

“What does that even mean? It wasn’t a question.”

“Okay Daddy.”

She is back into the movie and I don’t know that she even remembers what she said.

 

Resume the Facebook scroll.

 The cars in front of me move again and I am two cars from the window. I hear Threeto again.

“Daddy! I have to pee!”

“Of course you do.” *sigh*

 Decision time. I can stay in line and risk an accident or take two kids into the store to an almost certainly filthy bathroom (all public bathrooms are filthy to a parent of a four year old). I do the right thing. I get out of line and park in a space. I only have Lady Bug and Threeto with me so it shouldn’t be too bad.

 I am getting Lady Bug out of the carseat and Threeto chimes in again.

“Daddy.”

“Just unbuckle and get out of the car honey, we have to move tonight.”

“I’m trying to tell you something.”

“Okay what is it?”

“Someone peed in my seat.”

“Someone?”

“Yes.”

“Did they pee your pants too?”

“Yes.”

“Awesome. Do you still have to pee?”

“Yes.”

“Let’s go.”

 I don’t know about everyone else but during flu season I am wary of doctor’s offices, the hospital, and pharmacies because they are the exact route that really sick people take. Dripping droplets of tainted mucus off their noses and hands and into the air. I should never have watched Outbreak or any coverage of Ebola. Now let’s imagine the bathroom at one of these rest-stop cesspools and trying to get an eighteen month old and a four year old not to touch something.

I beg them to do anything but touch anything.

“Don’t touch anything.”

“Okay Daddy.”

“Do you know what I mean by anything?”

“Yes.”

“Then quit touching the toilet seat…”

“Okay Daddy.”

“Just stand still right there.”

I time my next move. I need to set Lady Bug down, wipe the toilet seat, put Threeto on it, and pick Lady Bug back up before she touches anything. Success.

 We wipe and head to the sink. So far touching surfaces is at a minimum. Then we get to the sink.

“Hey Threeto…”

“What Daddy?”

“Licking is a form of touching something. Lets not lick anything. Especially the edge of the sink.”

“Okay!” (Apparently my detailed explanation motivated her)

She then tries to point out a bathroom mistake.

“Hey Daddy.”

“Yes?”

“My pants are wet.”

“That is because you peed them in the car.”

“Oh right. They not warm.”

 We wash our hands and manage to get out of the bathroom only touching the sink, wall, floor, bottom of a shoe, and the entire surface of the door pull handle. All after the hands washing which is a perfect storm because bacteria do much better on slightly wet hands. I don’t even care at this point. Lick the floor kid. Just make it quick because we need to get home.

 The medicine was not ready because it hadn’t been noticed I think. They promise to work on it and we walk around the store. Lady Bug is giggling and enjoying running behind her big sister. I tell them to stay close because I don’t trust people in general and we are in a high crime location. Maybe not the candy aisle in Walgreens but the neighborhood has a good number of vagrants. Anyway, both children are running together slightly ahead of me when suddenly as they reach the end of the aisle it is like a silent alarm triggers a prison break. Don Threeto breaks right and Lady Bug breaks left. Both in a full run and I have to choose which one to chase. Shit.

I grab the slow one first plus she is nearest the front door and then Threeto comes back around the aisle laughing at her new game. We had a quick discussion and went back to the pharmacy to stare through the window and maybe inspire them to rush. It worked and we were on our way.

Normally, or should I say previously, I would have been done for the night as far as patience and nerves but I was pretty much unaffected. It was funny. My stress level has been reset and taking some time to realize it passes quickly really has helped me be a better parent. Even since starting writing this stuff down I can look back and see little things that are barely a memory in my mind. I encourage everyone to make notes, take a picture, or do something to capture the here and now. Tomorrow is an illusion and yesterday is too. All we have is right now.  

And right now is factures, seizures, and pissing our pants but somehow that is fine with me. It will be better.

 This post is for everyone. You’re welcome.

 

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Women Drivers

Lots of my stories will probably start off with the explanation that being a parent changes you. It is true. Being a dad to a little girl is an extra layer for a dad. I see myself every day in a female form and it makes me think about how they will be viewed in the world. How will the world treat them different than I would have been treated? There are definitely moments that bring tears to my eyes.

For instance, we were all watching a super awesome but somehow depressing show called American Ninja Warrior. The contestants run through an obstacle course like magical fitness hamsters and are rewarded for endurance, strength, and being taller than other people. Women are particularly ill-suited for this game because several of the obstacles favor people who are close to six feet tall. One episode we watched a former gymnast, who was five feet nothing, go through the same course as the men and even put a few of them to shame. She was the first woman to complete the curved wall but she continued to beat the course. My girls were watching and they turned to me with wide eyes when it was over and said, “Wow dad! Did you see what that girl did?” I got a little choked up. I did see and it hit me hard that anyone would be amazed by what women are capable of. They are truly amazing creatures and definitely the better half of whatever poor slob they agree to marry.

I hope that my girls grow up with the strong will and determination that will erase any sexist limits to their success. I encourage them to work really hard on the areas where differences can be easily pointed out. Be better than men in these areas so you push the bar the other direction.

For example, areas such as Driving a Car.

Women are just not as good at this one task and the world knows it. They could be I suppose, I just don’t see it. Look at the Allstate commercial where the man and woman are having lunch and he is amazed that she got a reward check for no incidents. Why would they use that situation in a national commercial? Because the world knows that women don’t focus as well at driving? You tell me. Nobody mention Danica Patrick either, she is the Anna Kournikova of racing.

As a group, women don’t seem to plan ahead and prepare for turns, lane changes, or even driving because of texting, talking, or doing makeup. Then they glare and wonder what the other driver is thinking. If you are a woman who is saying, “That is ridiculous and I am a woman and I am the best driver I know!” You are probably my target audience. Women who think they are excellent drivers usually are the worst. It is like being the oddball in a group. Every group has one and if you can’t think of who it is then it is probably you. (Except for my group, I don’t think we have one.)

I’m not talking about all ladies but a good 75% scare the crap out of me. None more so than a few who are near and dear to my heart. There are some differences in men and women that are fundamental and important to understand. Some mechanics of how we operate may explain part of the driving difference.

First let’s consider men. We focus really well on one thing. I don’t mean just one subject but more like whatever has our attention has our full attention. There is no multi-tasking that is worth a damn. If we are watching a football game and the kids are saying, “Daddy, daddy, Daddy, daddyyyyyyy!” We seriously don’t hear it. At. All. I know if I am reading a good book or daydreaming about sandwiches, everything else (all my senses) goes away. Men put incoming information together in our brain and prioritize subconsciously. So a man sitting on the couch with football and yapping kids will subconsciously pick football. Notice if someone gets hurt and screams the man will jump up instantly. This translates well to driving most of the time because priority in our brains is given to driving. It is thinking about movement and action and danger.

Women are champs at multi-tasking. They can hear what three people are saying while cooking and talking about what to do for so-and-so’s birthday. The chaos that drowns a man’s brain is all part of the ride for a woman’s. Everything is given equal priority. Therefore, while driving, a woman may be more likely to do her makeup or read a novel (I have seen this so don’t try and deny it). The red light or stopped car ahead is given just as much priority as the interesting billboard or talking on the phone.

Don’t get all bent out of shape. Especially, if you are driving at this very moment. Put the iPhone down and come back to this article. It will still be here. Look at the road!

The driving record within my own family supports this theory, overwhelmingly. My own sweet wife, Supermom, admitted to me early on that she believes in this stereotype as true 80% of the time. A good example story for her: When we were still dating we had just left her house one day and she was driving. She veered too far right and almost ran off the road. I mentioned her lacking some certain driving skills and she turned to look at me and berate me for suggesting such a thing. The only problem is that she turned with her head and her hands too. We were once again almost in the ditch. I think that was the day I took over as primary driver..

I put Prima on an electric Power Wheels type car and she didn’t get the concept that the steering wheel affected her direction. She kept the wheel turned completely to the left, foot down on the pedal, and rode in circles with zero regard for mail boxes or other drivers. You should all be terrified that she will be on the road one day. I know I am.

I have four future bad drivers and I really want to explore this issue. I need to know if there is anything I can do or practice with them to help the driving skills

Feel free to post and help me out.

Also, I the interest of fairness I did do a little research and found that the accident rate is about the same overall. Men are more likely to have an accident before age twenty five because of aggressive driving. Women are more likely to have an accident because of…SQUIRREL!

-Underdaddy to the rescue.