Month: April 2015

Busted In The Bedroom?

Why do kids wake up in the middle of the night? If there some kind of restlessness in their brains that says, “Hey wake up and see what is going on!”. Whatever the reason, the timing is guaranteed to be the absolute worst.

I have a fear that one day the children (or at least one child) will wake at the number one worst time of night. Mommy and daddy “alone” time.

It is a situational cliché that is the basis of many “Little Johnny” jokes and repressed childhood memories. I wonder how many children are accidental victims of such an unmentionable sight?

I can only imagine how things would unfold.

[12:01 am, Children’s Bedroom]

There is a quiet silence in the Underdaddy household. One of the children is tossing and turning only to wake and notice a rustling sound. A sound that is somewhat out of place for midnight. Perhaps they get out of bed to investigate, totally ignoring the boogey man under the bed or the dark hallway. They are, no doubt, intrigued by the curious commotion.

Once they enter the hallway they become aware that the sound is coming from the master bedroom. A mild panic builds with each step.

Are mommy and daddy okay?
Did someone leave a window open?
Are wild raccoons are ransacking their room?


Driven forward by fear for family safety, my brave child slowly and silently turns the worthless excuse for a doorknob and prepares to confront the savage animals that must have broken into the house. She edges open the door and is frozen with panic. It is worse than she could have imagined.

Bear attack. Possibly a grizzly.

This is bad. A very pale grizzly bear, beset by a terrible case of the mange with a touch of a farmers tan, is loose in the bedroom and is mauling mommy. My daughter gasps and releases the spring loaded door knob as she turns to run into the living room and hide behind the couch.

Meanwhile, in the bedroom, an intense round of Paper, Rock, Scissors delegates Daddy to venture into the living room and return the wayward child back to bed.


He assures her that; a) A wild bear has not broken into the house and b) she was hallucinating and Mommy and Daddy were playing Scrabble. HOpefully sleepiness will blend this night into a confusing mixup of dreamland memories.


The next morning will be a silent dance around an invisible elephant in the room. There will be uncomfortable looks and a popular cereal that is somehow not as magically delicious as it was the day before.

If you have been “busted”, this post is for you. You poor bastard. And you’re welcome.Just try to lock that door next time.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

I Am Laughing At You Not With You

What is the magic point where we as parents make a decision between being protective and being entertained?

  • A toddler running through a hardwood hallway with only a diaper and socks while holding two sharpened pencils… Bad right? Let’s take those pencils away.
  • A baby picks up a small marble and slowly moves it towards their curious mouth? Stop it immediately!

Anyone can see that these things will not end happily. The best case is that a lesson is learned. The worst case is not something worth thinking about, let’s just avoid these dangers.

There are some dangers however, as a parent, I see well before they happen and I choose to do nothing. History can be my judge and I’ll let you guys weigh in too. Here are a few situations where the children had to learn their own lesson.

Situation A:

An interesting thing about kids is that they look to older siblings to gauge their own reactions. “If big sister is happy then I should be happy.” or “If big sister cries then I should cry too.”

Lady Bug is exploring the vacuum cleaner which is still plugged into the wall. She has been watching Supermom turn it on and she pokes at the switch.

I quietly corral Supermom so we can watch from across the room and secretly hope it is hilarious. Two other sisters are sitting nearby but not paying attention to their youngest sister. Lady Bug punches the switch and the vacuum roars to life. She is startled but the noise more than startled the sisters. It straight-up scared the bejeezus out of them and they ran out of the room screaming and throwing their crayons and toys wildly into the air. This panic by the two older sisters makes Lady Bug think that maybe she underestimated the vacuum. Maybe the vacuum is not just “on” but instead “trying to kill her”. She scrunches her face and is so panicked that she tries to scream and no sound comes out. Her face is red with tears starting to well up as I turn off the monster and Supermom picks her up. Lady Bug catches her breath and starts screaming. We both start laughing.

Side note: It is very hard to be comforting while laughing.

Situation B:

It is bath time in the secret lair and Prima, Threeto, and Lady Bug are all anxious to start playing the same game that they play everywhere, My Little Pony. The ongoing Days of Our Lives level saga of the mini collectable ponies doesn’t stop for anything. Bath time included. I allow the girls to sit in the tub while the water is running and Threeto is sitting near the faucet and her pony is swimming in the “water fall”. I notice she starts to look at the knob that turns on the shower when pulled upward.

A good parent sees this and says, “Don’t play with that knob. It will do…something….” I don’t know what they say because I instead whispered to my wife in the other room, “Hey!”. I motioned her over with a devilish smile that also said, “You’ve got to see this!!” Supermom is pure of heart so she tiptoes over and peeks around the door frame to watch. The girls are all in their own little world playing with ponies and enjoying the rising bath water. Threeto is continually drawn to the knob with the same curiosity that kills cats. She pulls the tab and from the ensuing screams I could only assume that it released acid with a pH of around 1.0.

Three faces of pure panic. Three screams that alerted neighbors. They all drop their ponies and freeze in a pose that makes them look like they are being electrocuted. Their pleading eyes look towards their parents and beg us to save them from the unholy torture of what is essentially, warm rain. It probably will come out in children’s therapy session that we were unable to help them because we were laughing uncontrollably. I could barely breathe. These are the tough times that were mentioned in our wedding vows. I’m just glad we were there to hold each other up or we might have fallen straight to the floor in laughter and hurt ourselves.

What made it funnier was that they sat there screaming with those “I’m Being Stabbed!” faces and all I could think was that parents finding it funny probably looked really evil to them. Like we planned it or something. Did they have randoms thoughts like, “This must be what a lobster feels like?”

I don’t know I was too busy laughing.

Situation C:

This one involved Lady Bug as well. We have a sectional couch and one section looks like a three-seater but the middle folds down and has coasters for the reclining seats on each end. This fold down end table stays deployed full time and this is where most of the meals are eaten, while the kids watch TV. (Go ahead make some TV, food, or health comment. I’m aware that I suck as a parent.)

Another fun activity that I don’t regulate properly is the fun habit of the kids climbing up and sitting on top of things. If you put that activity together with my couch it can be really funny. One day I hear a blood curdling scream. I race to the living room thinking that a rabid dog or swarm of bees was preparing to attack. I have recreated the probable events that led to the scream in a series of three pictures below. Imagine that the part of small child is being played by an Olaf hat and a Dora backpack;

I think I will sit in the last place that a child should sit to use the couch in any manner. This will be perfect.

I think I will sit in the last place that a child should sit to use the couch in any manner. This will be perfect.

My adventurous Lady Bug climbed up on the back the couch and sat on the rear edge of the fold down section. Her weight was behind the hinge point and it closed up trapping her in the couch.

Snap! Another child trapped!

Snap! Another child trapped!

All I can see are two wide eyes looking for help. The problem turns out to be a little tougher than I thought.

Another lonely drifter eaten by the couch.

Another lonely drifter eaten by the couch.

The folding couch is the equivalent of the Chinese Finger Trap. As I try to pick her up the section tries to fold out again and pinches her. It is like the couch is trying to eat her and once again she panics while I try to stop laughing. Eventually we make it and I am sore with laughter.

So if your kids look to you for calm during the storm and you laugh in their faces like a psychopath, this post is for you. Me too. But sometimes it is just too damn funny! You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Vehicular Homicide

Everyone has heard the expression, “Drive it until the wheels fall off.”

I know that sometimes people say this and it isn’t a joke. In fact, until my teens I wasn’t quite sure if anyone thought the expression was a joke at all.

You could say we were hard on vehicles. You could also say that the surface of the sun is “warm” or that a swift kick in the junk is “uncomfortable”. The truth is there might be advocacy groups concerned over my family history of serial vehicle murder.

My earliest memory in a string of doomed vehicles was a two-toned green farm truck that looked like it was jumped into a street gang. The large dent in the side was from a cow that had been tied off nearby and in a panic the cow moved sideways into the truck. Boom. Cow’s ass sized dent. Looking back it is strange to me that there was never any real emotion wasted on damaged trucks on the farm. They were tools or livestock even. They served a purpose and getting beaten to pieces was apparently part of the job.

The second truck I remember was a clean looking short-bed Chevy, black, single cab. It had electric door locks which, at the time, was akin to a phaser from Star Trek. You could push a button and the locks would go up or down. Magic. This truck was the nicest vehicle I can remember us having for a long time. I think I even remember my mother and stepfather discussing after making the purchase, “Well… We needed a truck and we will drive it until the wheels fall off.” I should have known how it would end, after all we gave it the extremely caring name of “The Black Truck”.

Have you ever looked at yourself in old pictures and thought, “Man… This is not what I remember. How did I get from here to there?” A scar above the left eye. Teeth that seem to be playing musical chairs. Back hair. When the hell did I get back hair? I am slowly morphing into something that doesn’t remind people of the thing that I used to be. The last time I saw The Black Truck I felt the same about it.

I have pondered the laundry list of abuse that transformed it from a sparkling new vehicle worthy of a five year note into something a scrap metal vendor would be uncomfortable carting off for free.

We drove it like the Dukes of Hazzard across fields and through woods. The luxurious air conditioner died slowly and several times. The door panels never quite fit right after the electric window malfunctioned. I think the rearview mirror fell off at some point. Dirt and hay dust permeated every part of the truck. The glass fell out of the window once. The antenna from our trendy cellular bag phone left rusty rings on top of the truck cab. The bushings on the doors relaxed to the point that you needed to lift up while slamming the door for it to shut. Basically, you had to throw the door upward while shutting it. One time I was tasked with unhooking the truck from the gooseneck trailer and I didn’t drop the tailgate. I noticed this when the truck jerk to a stop and I turned around to see the tailgate bent in a perfect ninety degree angle. From then on the CHEVROLET that used to adorn the back just said CHE—LET. This seemed a little odd until the UV coating on the paint broke down and large chunks of black paint fell off and revealed the primer layer underneath. Sort of a wounded dairy cow theme.

Hunting, hauling, and farm life formed The Black Truck into a cracked clump of half-dried clay. Then it finally happened. Rust formed inside some important connections and the front wheel actually fell off. It was attached to the frame by the shock but hung sideways facing the ground as if the wheel was physically embarrassed to be attached to the truck. It had been driven until the wheels fell off.

We had other cars that were used and abused. The Mazda had an entire box of Crayola crayons melted into the rear cloth seats which accented the permanent mildew smell from an accident that left it leaky for a period of time. A snazzy Jeep Cherokee lost a side mirror because we left a dog leash hanging from the mirror and it found its way under a wheel. The same Jeep suffered door trauma from a freak accident backing into the garage. I believe that since there was no side mirror, the door was being held open while the driver looked directly behind the car backing into the garage. (Just like in “Tommy Boy” no consideration was given to the open door and the brick edge of the garage bent it backwards.)

Cars for us were like Nemo being given to the dentist’s niece, Darla. A death sentence.

Maybe that is why I chuckle when people talk about cars being an investment or holding their value. From my perspective, a car is something that you use until it is a jumbled mass of blue smoke and duct tape that makes other people nervous to witness in motion. It is something that is passed off only when it is a withered husk of the car that rolled off the line in Detroit. Maybe it gets parked at the edge of a field and buried under a pile of other broken shit, who knows? But a luxury item that is groomed and sold before it loses value… that is a new concept.

Maybe somehow my children will show better planning and restraint than I do in the car department but statistics say, probably not. After all, I came by it honest. If you drive things until the wheels fall off, this post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

My Unexpected Loss

You don’t know what you have until it is gone. So true.

Tonight… I am dealing with the loss of my BACKSPACE button. Seriously, this computer is four months old and BACKSPACE just quit working, completely. I hope everyone will take pause for a moment and consider the extreme luxury that we enjoy with the BACKSPACE button.

It is a true first world problem but if you look at little deeper there is a lesson to be learned. For instance, I wouldn’t be nearly as upset or inconvenienced by loss of the DELETE button or even the LEFT ARROW. Life would go on without them and I would barely notice. But BACKSPACE…. Oh how I miss you. This miracle of technology is a combination of DELETE and LEFT ARROW Some programmer somewhere said to himself, “This typing shit would be a lot easier if I could erase the garbage that I just wrote but I don’t feel like moving the cursor to the left of the mistake and then hitting delete.” He then created BACKSPACE.

It makes me wonder why DELETE is even a button. Isn’t DELETE just BACKSPACE the other direction? Is LEFT ARROW + DELETE the same as RIGHT ARROW + BACKSPACE? This is getting deep.

I need to lay down.

What if these buttons were an option in life? BACKSPACE is clearly a winner. Think about it… you can change things that haven’t been said yet (delete) but once you say something wrong, the cat is out of the bag. I can think of several scenarios where BACKSPACE would be an excellent button for life in general.

If you are the kind of person who needs a BACKSPACE; this post is for you. I needed it no less than 1,234 times in this post alone. I want to shoot a woodland creature or burn pieces of the ozone layer out of frustration. Maybe not that extreme. I would erase it but sadly I can’t. I refuse to push the Left ARROW and Deleter any longer. Typso be dammed.
You’re elcome.
-underdaddy to the Rescue.

Pants On Fire

Kids are liars. Pathological.

They lie like a penny in a parking lot. Out in the open for anyone to see. The problem is that they believe their own hype and the blame falls to the parent.

We listen to a popular XM radio station that works as a sedative for children in a minivan; Kids Place Live. A few weeks ago the Absolutely Mindy Show was talking calls from children. The object was for the child to say three statements, one of which was a lie. Mindy would have to guess which statement was false and then the kids would request a song (always “Let It Go”). The first caller gave a few obvious truths and one obvious lie. Mindy spots it easily and then asks, “What song would you like to hear?”

The child never flinched and answered, “Turn Down For What” by Lil’ Jon.

Mindy replied with complete professionalism while I laughed and my children asked if we could hear that song too. I assured them that Mindy would probably not be able to find it but not to worry because “Let It Go” was on the way. I still imagine the parent, standing nearby while their eight year old sold them out to satellite radio, had to be mortified at the judging that was going on in the minds of all the minivan moms and at least one minivan dad. (Not judging but sharing a familiar empathy.)

Then came the second caller. The first embarrassed parent was quickly cleared of all bad parenting because of the second story. A six-ish year old boy whose lie turned out to be, “I sleep in a bed.” It went something like this:

Mindy: Wow! You don’t sleep in a bed? Where do you sleep?
Boy: In the floor.
Mindy: Oh awesome! Like camping or playing pretend?
Boy: No, In the attic.
Mindy: Do you have a bed in the attic?
Boy: Yes but I don’t have room to sleep on it.
Mindy: Oh so I bet you are messy and have too many toys or clothes on it. (Trying to move the conversation or give him a way out.)
Boy: Well it is full of stuff. My brother’s stuff that my dad put there.
Mindy: Oh okay. I bet you have a great dad since you have all that stuff. (The eternal optimist.)
Boy: No, it is just car seats and stuff.
Mindy: ….

If you are that parent, I am certain there is an explanation. You have satellite radio and have given over use of your cell phone to an elementary age child. It is hard for me to accept that you force a child to sleep on the floor next to junk in an attic.

That’s what kids do. They tell unintentional lies and the next thing you know you are under a social shakedown. You are feeling the shame of the working middle class beating down upon you while you plead to God that the child didn’t mention any names.

I am taking the side of the true victims, the parents. Maybe because I know that one day I will be caught in a similar situation. When conversations break down as fast as light travels, it is only a matter of time before some innocent bystander walks in at the tail end of one of my regular parenting meltdowns. Does anyone else ever stop after a little ranting and raving and think, “My God, I am a monster.”?

Here is a small example of how we go from “Happy Go Lucky” to “Sweet Holy Hell!” in about five minutes. Imagine that the child is seated in front of some freshly prepared spaghetti with garlic bread. And go…

Underaddy: What would you like to drink with dinner? (Smiling and looking at the oldest child, Jane)
Child: I don’t know. (Child is draped across the arm of the chair like a sad Emo rock star)
Underdaddy: Well… We have some grape juice and some water.
Child: I don’t like water. (Picks at her spaghetti)
Underdaddy: Sit up straight you are going to…(child knock plate off table onto the floor) Ugghh.
Child: Daaaadddyyyyy. I dropped my fork.
Underdaddy: You dropped the entire plate. In fact, the fork is still on the table because you haven’t touched it. (Stares in disbelief)
Child: I’m thirsty.
Underdaddy: Can you pick up the spaghetti you just spilled? I will get you a towel.
Child: Why do we always have to clean!?
Underdaddy: It’s not …. Stand up. Take this rag. Clean up the spaghetti. (Breathe and count to ten)
Child: Here biscuit. (Starts flicking food towards the dog)
Underdaddy: Stop feeding the dog and clean up the food! What do you want to drink?
Child: Milk. (From under the table)
Underdaddy: We don’t have milk. I told you that. We have grape juice and water.
Child: Sweet Tea? (Picking up food with hands and slopping it on the table NEXT TO empty plate)
Underdaddy: Oh for the love of … Grape Juice or Water… (Rubs temples and recites a Buddhist calming chant under his breath)
Child: Can I have more spaghetti? (Child tries to stand up under the table with a THUNK she hits her head.) Owww!
Underdaddy: Water… I’m going to get you water. Bring me your plate and I’ll get you more. (Hands child a cup of water) Use two hands so you don’t spill it.
Child: Here’s my plate daddy. (Walks to table with cup of water and instead of putting it down she tries to pick up the plate and spills both into the floor.)
Underdaddy: Did you really just do that?
Child: I spilled my water! (She starts crying. For both of us, I assume. She bends down to pick things up and nails the table again with her face)

The dog is taking advantage and chowing down on spaghetti. I am certain that I will clean it up later once the dog pukes it on the carpet in my bedroom. The other children are finishing their meals and requesting refills of juice and/or more spaghetti. I prepare another water and plate of food for Helen Keller. I yell at the dog for eating the spaghetti and the dog runs towards the bedroom to escape. The fourth child is walking up behind the dog as the dog spins and knocks her down. More crying. BTW, we are now out of forks. I haven’t yet made myself a plate or a drink or even sat down since arriving home.

Child: Why do we always have spaghetti?
Underdaddy: Because daddy is inconsiderate. He doesn’t have time for much more than boiling water and browning beef in a skillet. (This is where things go south)
Child: Can I have grape juice instead? This water is spicy. (She is clearly just speaking to hear sounds)
Underdaddy: There is zero explanation for you having spicy water. Water is not spicy and no you have to drink your water first. I just made you a new water after you spilled the other one.
Child: My head hurts.
Underdaddy: That’s because you smack it on things like it’s the end of a blind man’s cane. You probably have a concussion or something. Eat your dinner.
Child: I don’t want it.
Underdaddy: Fine. Don’t eat your dinner. I don’t even care. I am going to eat mine. (I dump whats left of the sauce into the pan of noodles and stand over the stove cramming spaghetti down my gullet.)
Child: Daddy?
Underdaddy: (Stops and waits a split second before responding through a mouth full of spaghetti) Yes…
Child: Why are you upset?

-Here is the point where a stranger walking in and hearing the end of the conversation would not end well. These are the things I want to say for a brief moment.-

Underdaddy: (Takes a deep breath) I am upset because I do my best to feed you and keep you alive and yet you insist on beating your own head against a table, flinging food around like dishes at a Greek wedding, and using your ears as decorations instead of sensory organs. Thanks to your general lack of concern I have a ruined carpet, a vomitty dog, and a deep seated doubt of my own self-worth. I don’t care if you sit and stare at the damn spaghetti until it grows legs. All we will ever have from here forward is spaghetti and water. For the rest of your life. Italian prison food! Learn to love it or get your energy from the sun and lay around in the window sill talking about how terrible I am and comparing notes with the fucking cat. I’m going to eat this half-portion of food that is left in the back corner of my almost walk-in closet. You can put yourself to bed and good luck turning off the light without being eaten by the boogie man, he knows when you are alone. And don’t cry he can smell tears.

Of course I never say those things. I don’t have the money for therapy. I usually try to take pause and relax. But man would it feel good to let fly on those little energy hogs just once? Yes it would. A man can dream cant he?

If you repress your frustrations towards your children, this post is for you. It happens. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.