Month: March 2015

Release Super Genius

Your child can be a genius.

Strike that. Could be a genius. As in, it is entirely possible that through some miraculous set of circumstances you have a child that processes, retains, and recalls information much faster than an ordinary child. Your child could be a genius but, most likely, is not.

My dog is not a genius. She sniffed around the kitchen floor for a good fifteen minutes looking for an elusive piece of soft dog food. She could smell it but couldn’t figure out where it was located.

Truly a mystery meat.

Truly a mystery meat.

Maybe my children could do better. I briefly held such a hope. I remember thinking, “Maybe one of these kids will be a mental mega-star and lead the family to riches.” Then they learned to walk (roughly) and talk (sort of) and my thoughts have shifted to, “Man, I hope they can fill out their own applications at McDonald’s.” Not that McDonald’s is a bad job or that people who work there aren’t intelligent but let’s be honest, it isn’t the first career on a parent’s wish list.

My kids are all at normal intelligence from what I can tell. There are flashes of brilliance and depths of unrealized potential. There are also moments where all I can do is stare at them. Speechless. Searching for the universe where – the words they uttered or the actions they took – make sense.

How about a few examples?

Prima is my drifter. She gets lost in glassy-eyed thought while spinning in circles and staring at the television. On our snow day a few weeks ago she insisted on getting herself dressed to go play in the snow. She came to me in the living room with her layered shirt, overalls, jacket, and knit cap.

“I’m ready to go outside!” she declared with excitement.

“Are you sure?”

“Oh yes, I have my coat and everything!”

“I think you are missing something.” I prodded after I noticed a very key piece of clothing was missing from her winter ensemble.

“Nope. Im ready.”

“Okay.” I said and opened the door into the snow.

She ran forward and her bare feet sank ankle deep in the icy whiteness. She stood there for a second and even reached down to touch her bare feet with equally bare hands. “Uummm. Daddy… I need some shoes.”

“I thought you might.”

Shoes really help with the cold feelings on feet.

Shoes really help with the cold feelings on feet.

A couple of nights ago Prima had some more quotable moments. Again I blame her fickle attention span. Jane was looking through some books for the bedtime story for the night and she mentioned gnomes.

Prima said, “Gnomes are creepy.”

I replied, “Did you know that Gnome is the name of a town in Alaska?”

She looks at me with her head tilted sideways like a confused puppy, “We live in Alaska?”

Blank stare.

I turn my attention to the search for something to read. Jane finally finds a book on dinosaurs and we all sit in the floor. Prima is twirling her hair while looking at the book in a daze. She stares past the turning pages without flinching and I just tell myself that she is like a laptop that is in sleep mode. As long as I don’t punch a button or move her mouse she will twirl her hair like a screen saver.

The book has lots of neat dinosaurs. I try to read out the syllables of the names and get the girls to say them with me, “Pterodactyl, Ter-OH-dak-till

Prima blurts out, “I’m allergic to those!”

“I doubt that.”

“Yes I Am!” Both eyes stare at me with an intensity of a death row inmate pleading for someone to believe their story.

I try and give an honest answer to why it can’t be true, “You have to be exposed to be allergic which I think would make you nearly immortal because they have been dead millions of years.”

“Well, I don’t like birds”, she says as she shifts her gaze to her own wiggling toes.

“Fair enough.”

I finished the story. I may have been more entertained than my audience.

Life is funny. We do things like read bedtime stories in an effort to enhance our children. To give them an edge. To make them smart. We want to teach them about the world and endless possibilities of imagination. We hope they are inspired to read and learn. Then, in the midst of it all, they do exactly that service for us, the parents.

So, if you try to be a teacher and end up a student – this post is for you. Reading to your kids is one of the best things you can do for yourself. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

What Do You See?

My psyche has been cracked. I may be rolling down a hill towards clinical insanity.


Because today I went into a bathroom and ending up laughing like a madman while staring into the toilet.

This toilet.


Do you see it?

Do you see it?

Our brains recognize images and patterns. We spend most of our brain power filtering out things that aren’t important. Something about the toilet shape caught my eye and gave me a funny thought.

I am trying to take up space so you can’t see the picture below.

It is what I saw in the toilet.

Is this working?


Fa La La La Laaaaa La La La Laaaaaaaa!

Fa La La La Laaaaa La La La Laaaaaaaa!

So yeah. I saw Santa Claus singing in the toilet. I may be broken. The most screwed up part is that I almost couldn’t bring myself to pee in Santa’s Face and then I was laughing the whole time. Then I realized that people could probably hear me outside and I laughed harder.

Once I composed myself I snapped a picture of the toilet and walked out as if nothing had happened. “Nope, no one peeing in Santa’s mouth over here… Just normal compulsive laughter when I am alone in a bathroom.”

I want to know I am not the only broken person out there. Do me a favor; Right click on the top photo and “Save As” then draw (in MS Paint or whatever) a face. Email me at or post to the Facebook page

If you have been mentally twisted by sleep deprivation this post is for you. You’re Welcome!

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Ten Things I No Longer Use

Having more than two kids earns you a higher rate of questions and requests for advice. I have no advice because even now I have no idea what I am doing. As with most advice, things you need or want on hand change depending on your situation. All of the things I list below were once very useful but we have outgrown them and it is funny to look back at our glowing ambition to make this parent thing more easy. The truth is that there is a lot of neat gadgetry that is a frilly substitute for nothing much. So below is my current list of things we don’t use and most sane parents of two or less probably still do. (Parents of two or less = Wise)

  1. SPECIALTY BOTTLES –I don’t know what high technology they press into rubber nipples but Wal-Mart presses the cheap bottles into boxes for $1 each; BPA free and dishwasher safe. Yes please. Marketers will have you believe correct nipple design increases IQ. I would have you know that after the first few months it is next to impossible to keep anything out of their mouths. My kids have the single goal of drinking any drink within fifteen seconds so they can ask for more before their sisters get to.
  2. CHANGING TABLE – For the first child this worked well. Now it is not as useful because we don’t care where we actually change a diaper. This is a good place to stack diaper supplies and even used diapers temporarily. My kids gutted the side cabinet for use in hide-and-seek. Then the little anchor things shattered and if you look at it incorrectly it will collapse into a pile of kindling. It is not physically safe for its original purpose.
  3. DIAPER GENIE – Our sheer rate of diapers and trash generation has hit a daily amount equal to that of the main trashcan. The dog uses a pull-up with duct tape. Diaper genie is old news at this point. Be sure to check for a lingering diaper in the actual diaper genie before you store it in the garage for two years. It is like a window into a suburban landfill. Not to mention when you empty a diaper genie you feel a little like Nicholas Cage pulling out the string of nerve gas in The Rock.
  4. HIGH CHAIRS – One extra accessory in our tiny kitchen. It is nice but it didn’t last long. It now holds things in the garage. Brand new except for the bugs that die on the fluorescent light and fall all over it. Our fourth child is unfamiliar with the entire “chair” concept, she eats while standing in the floor with her plate on the couch. Or she dumps it and tries to eat it off the rug before I can pick it all up. The dog follows her like a criminal record.
  5. CHAIRS – My kids won’t sit down and eat. They are nomadic. They roam and forage off each other’s plates. The dog prowls for dribbles of food. I roam between the bedroom, the kitchen, and my secret eating spot over the washing machine. The chairs have been moved to the garage. All that nostalgia about eating around the table and sharing your day…. Maybe when they are older and we have an actual dining area. For now they selected eating arrangements by which TV they want to watch; Kids Shows, Baby Shows, or Dance Moms/Raising Asia.
  6. THE KITCHEN TABLE – My kitchen table is storage and workspace. The chairs are in the garage and the long bench is shoved underneath as a secret perch for Cat. I dream of dinners where we sit around and pass food while talking about our day. The reality is doling out plates of whatever easy meal of the day and letting the four girls eat and watch TV in the living room while SuperMom and I hide in the bedroom and try to watch Wheel of Fortune. Keeping it Classy.
  7. BABY MONITORS – These are for multi-level housing where there is substantial separation in parents and children’s rooms. I took the batteries out of ours and was much happier. If the cry wakes me through a closed door then a response is justified. Also the sound generating bears with heartbeats and whooshes just make the kid think that something is sneaking up to eat them. I accidentally left one on in the living room and by 3:00 am I was ready to find a licensed priest and schedule an exorcism.
  8. HUGE TRENDY STROLLERS – Get an umbrella stroller as soon as the kid can sit upright. They are way more useful and mobile. Unless a piece of gravel jams both front wheels at an inward angle, then it is dead in the water. A wheelbarrow race with a one armed partner. A battleship with a broken rudder. Fish in barrels have a better outcome than a wounded fold-up stroller.
  9. MASSIVE DIAPER BAG – Cram some wipes and a couple diapers into the wife’s purse or a small bag that will hang on the back of the umbrella stroller. Most of the things we carried either spoiled or spilled before they were used. If I am by myself I will sometimes calculate how likely the kids are to shit themselves in Walmart based on a complex algorithm of [Time In Store + Lunch + Last Known Poop + How Much I Care At The Time]. Usually I chance it and figure, “The worst case I can buy diapers and wipes because we probably need more anyway.”
  10. EDUCATIONAL TOYS – I give the kids all the pen, paper, and markers they want to draw pictures, write books, or trace the cat while someone holds it down and smothers it with printer paper. The kids like cardboard houses and make shift blanket tents. Stacking red Solo Cups into pyramids and crashing it down. At this point an educational toy is one that teaches them what not to do. Unstable boxes used as an impromptu podium = educational toy (Don’t stand on flimsy crap).

Runner ups: Wipe Warmer, Bottle Warmer, Stride-Rite custom footwear.

I only throw in Stride Rite because the saleswoman insisted that the kid would have physical problems without these special shoes. I asked her how Indians, Aboriginal peoples of Australia, and even George Washington had managed to be bipedal without the magic of her shoes. I was asked to leave and I agreed.

So if you have dropped all pretense of doing the right thing. This post is for you. Your Welcome!

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Time For Talks

I am man enough to admit when I am wrong. In fact, I realize that as a man I am nearly always wrong in some fashion. Recently, I have been surprised by discussions my child has in school at guidance class. I was irritated at the school but that may have been wrong and I have some thoughts on the subject I would like to share.

Allow me to preface this with the fact that all the school talks were legitimate and probably life lessons that children need. That being said, I was a little blindsided by learning about the talks through worksheets crammed in the bottom of backpacks. I couldn’t believe the taboo discussions or the uncomfortable topics. We are guilty of sheltering somewhat so the reaction was reasonable for any parent. I cast out for opinions on Facebook and waited for the social media inflammatory response to cause an itch for the school system.

As always the Facebook reactions were two-sided with arguments each way. Under the surface was another discussion; When should we teach kids difficult, controversial, or uncomfortable topics. Drawing on my own pristine childhood I quickly realized that I learned about most of the inappropriate topics at an early age.

Difference in boys and girls was in preschool, there was a girl who would go around to the boys on the playground and flash them by holding out the front of her pants. They looked in horror to find that someone had taken her penis. Oh the humanity, that poor soul. How would she play bathtub semi-air guitar or write her name on the sidewalk while peeing. I think we all felt sorry for her condition, unaware that it affected about half of our classmates. An anatomy lesson might have helped us be less concerned.

The school bus held the most sway over my questionable learning. By third grade I was already swearing at a twelfth grade level. I knew all about the human anatomy and all the ways it could be “combined” although the baby process was still mysterious. Drugs weren’t around until middle school except for the kids who would bring cigarettes they stole from home. Bullying, fights, politics, and alliances were all critical skills on the school bus. It was a weird kind of buffer between school and home where kids could learn without adults being made uncomfortable. Genius really. But my kids don’t ride a school bus. How will they ever learn?

What should a parent do?

Luckily most of those topics are standard curriculum these days. We have found completed worksheets on domestic violence, appropriate touching, and the dangers of alcohol. We could debate how these things are presented like maybe the violence worksheet shouldn’t have a sentence that is “When my parents fight I feel ______.” Maybe they could not plant the seed that parents will fight and make them feel anything. My true struggle is the thought that for children who need these talks it is probably too late and other children are blissfully unaware and might have a shot at staying that way for another year or two. What to do?

First we all need to take a deep breath and realize that childhood innocence cannot last forever. We can’t keep their mind behind an iron curtain and leave them to process things too late in life. We have to let go of happy thoughts and step into the horrible, horrible world ahead of them. This step will start with a list of things we naturally try and avoid.

These are the pending topics (individual fears may vary);

  • Drugs (How do you explain that drugs are awful but at the same time highly addictive. They are addictive because at some point they felt awesome and kids are smart enough to figure that out.)
  • Sexual Congress (If I use Legos as a visual aid then I can metaphorically illustrate the concept of hetero and homosexuality and the logistics therein but I don’t want to mislead them about what territories are involved in good old fashioned baby making. For the life of me it feels like showing them porn to talk about the naked body)
  • Puberty and the Future Torrent of Vaginal Bleeding (Five women in the house, the cotton industry and I aren’t ready.)
  • Sex In General (Again, this is creepy to think about explaining)
  • Prostitution for Fun and Profit (A reality in our old neighborhood for sure)
  • Swearing at Homeless People from Moving Vehicles (Be nice to others)
  • Crop Dusting People You Don’t Like with Farts (Art of War)

You see what I mean? Who would want to talk about any of that with a kid? Much less, girls who have a daily goal of buying the new My Little Pony or getting some form of candy. But I’m regressing here. We already decided that they need to know the tough subjects and school has been kind enough to start the discussion. I think that I was too hasty in my displeasure and that maybe school could cover more topics. I have added a few suggested books that may help.

Not just for factory workers and the military anymore.

Not just for factory workers and the military anymore.

Then we could cover sex and prostitution with the next book and reinforce drugs through a variety of related chapters.

Teach them that YOU are a person of value. How much value is up to you.

Teach them that YOU are a person of value. How much value is up to you.

Then there is the fact that dangerous people are all around us and we have to be prepared for life in a dangerous world. This book could cover bullying, assault, guns, and human body part black markets.

True Facts.

True Facts.

Then as reinforcement there could be a final book that summarizes all of the dangers of life and gives examples of horrible things that have happened to really young people so our kids will know that the danger is now!

Run you idiot, run!

Run you idiot, run!

Yes I am sure that this book series will solve all of the problems concerning education of children on the hard topics. I will probably be a millionaire for my discovery and I may not have time to respond to the wave of fan mail because I am preparing to travel across the country and hold parenting workshops.

If you have ever been troubled by new knowledge that makes it home from school, this post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Threeto Shift

Quiet is never good. We pray for quiet but the truth is that it doesn’t exist in a normal situation. Quiet is suspicious. Quiet says that something is broken, someone is hurt, or electronics are hypnotizing them.

My resident gangster in training, Don Threeto, has been awfully quiet these days but I’m still onto her tricks. She is adapting her game as all good masterminds will do. The main reason is that Lady Bug is becoming more mobile these days and is bulking up on anything food she can scavenge. Like the skinny dude on the prison block, she is plotting her rise to power. She eats whatever she can find and has a goal. Forging herself in the fire of pain by falling off of furniture, running into walls, and dropping things on her toes. Lady Bug may not match Don Threeto in cleverness but she can squint her eyes and swing wildly with the best of them. Her scream is nothing to be messed with and she can butt-scoot down stairs fast enough to ignite flannel pajamas. Another six months and we could have a full blown turf war on our hands.

The psychological games continue with near constant references to killing things.

Example: Prima says, “I’m a beautiful rainbow.”

Threeto replies with, “I hate rainbows and I kill rainbows.”

I ask the obvious question of, “How can you kill a rainbow?”

She looks me straight in the eye and says, “I know a guy.”

Jesus kid… You are really putting me at a crossroads here. Do I accept that organized crime may be your “thing” and buy all of the classic gangster movies and CSI collections as educational material? Do I surround you with Care Bears and little Buddha statues? I hope something changes soon.

I thought she might be softening a few weeks ago. She was acting timid and sweet. I checked her temperature and sure enough it was slightly elevated. I took her to the walk-in clinic and as soon as the co-pay was paid she sprang back to life. That didn’t explain the temperature being elevated but some part of a parent boils at the sudden disappearance of all symptoms once you arrive a the clinic.

The nurse asks, “So what are you in here for today?”

I snapped back a little hastily, “Who the hell knows? Nothing I guess. She was acting like a catatonic lobotomy patient thirty minutes ago and now she is Pippy F’n Longstockings on crack. You tell me nurse lady and make it worth twenty five bucks.” At which point the wide eyed nurse says, “okkkaaayy” and checks her patient’s blood pressure while minimizing eye contact with me.

The doctor comes into the room and checks things out anyway and finds an ear infection so I didn’t feel totally duped. However, I did find the source of the dramatization by Don Threeto. The doctor was trying to negotiate the strep test and was about to bargain with a reward when Threeto said, “Do you have suckers?”



Boom. There is was. I just paid twenty five dollars for suckers. She was totally cured and back to the old tricks in no time.

FYI a picture of a nurse holding a big dripping shot is not helping...

FYI a picture of a nurse holding a big dripping shot is not helping…

That night she told me that she slapped a mermaid. I asked, “Why?” She just smiled. I can only assume she owed her money or was working the wrong reef? Maybe it was for luring in sailors and disrupting boat shipments of black market goods? Lady Bug better not be taking notes.

Then again, maybe I have the whole competition situation wrong and the Don is training “The Muscle”. Lady Bug is toughening herself through hazing practices such as eating multiple containers of lip gloss and re-usable Barbie stickers. She rubs pizza sauce directly in her own eyes despite an obvious understanding that it will hurt. She is on track to be a real badass.

Completely unrelated (for the moment) I am taking resumes for an attorney to handle family “business”.

So if any parents have children who “know a guy”. This one is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.