Month: May 2015

That’s What She Said

My kids say weird things and I’ve covered some of that stuff before but sometimes what they say isn’t as weird as my brain’s context. My knee jerk response as a dad is different than a teenager, or it should be. But lets have a few beers and blog this out. Sometimes I just want a friend in earshot to hear what they say and lock eyes with me in acknowledgment of how awesome that phrase could have been.

From what I remember of my childhood, questionable topics crept into my life around 3rd grade. I learned about birds and bees on the school bus. Not direct experience, everyone settle down. My area was rough but not that rough. I had body parts explained to me through the poetic power of song. Also, I had a friend with some questionably obtained adult magazines that he hid in a rotten tree stump in the woods. We would grab our plastic guns or bicycles and feign interest in playing war only to go and inspect some wrinkly and moldy pictures of boobs. Discuss the reality of such things and ogle. There were maybe four total, in the whole magazine. (Which is why I learned to love the articles.) Once you learn a taboo topic you also find ways to joke about it with friends.

A fast forward learning timeline; [Birds and Bees] = Elementary School, [Interest in Actual Girls] = Middle School, [Abandon Ambitions to Focus on Actual Girls] = High School through Engagement (which required me to remove the (s) from said girl description). During this time I honed and crafted an arsenal of gutter minded, deadpan, and innuendous catch phrases. True mastery. A tuned ear for “That’s What She Said” type of humor that was less acceptable as I got older which sucks because I got better. The even crueler trick is that my kids have no filter for things they say and fountains of poorly chosen words fall out of their heads.

I have to stand idly by while they say awful things. Like trying to describe an aptitude for sports with phrases like “He is really good at balls.” Or we are reading Dr. Seuss, working on rhyming sounds and one reminds me that “Hey dad, do you know what rhymes with Box? Cocks!”

Dammit. She is right. Cocks does, in fact, rhyme with Box. (This is the point in a past life where my buddy would say something similar and I would elbow my wife and say “That’s What She Said!” usually receiving the eye roll.)

Do you know how hard it is to keep a straight face while other adults in the room are staring at you with wide eyes, wanting to laugh and react and you have to keep a poker face? No. No you don’t. Only Lady Gaga and I know Poker Face at this level.

So if you ask your kids what the door prize was at a birthday party and they tell you it was “A Candy Ball-Sack” and you giggle. This post is for you. I hope I’m not the only one who struggles. If you are going to question anyone, it should be the person handing out “Candy Ball-Sacks” at a child’s birthday party. For shame! You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Negative Role Model

So this past week I was invited to join a really talented group of six writers at Conceited Crusade. I suspect it was because there are seven days in a week and they needed a day of rest. It is a potpourri of heartfelt stories, pondering, swearing, and eventually an awesome cat picture or two (those will be mine I’m sure). Join the following and put a little variety in your blog life. Once we (they) take over the writing world we are going to require it anyway. – Okay back to your regularly scheduled programming. –

Conceited Crusade

Sunday morning at the gym. Eminem is screaming in my ear but I’m still not entirely awake. The only people here are young men who look like Leonidas and old women who look like Gandalf. I take a seat at an empty bench after I grab my weights and stare at my reflection. The gym is the only place where it’s socially acceptable to look at yourself. I compare my lacking chest and round tummy and linger on my arms where stretches of muscle are visible. I look myself in the eyes a little too intensely and, honestly, if I wasn’t me I’d probably think I’d want to fuck me. Narcissistic teenage girls don’t look at themselves this long. Finally, I inhale, and up go the weights. After eight reps, the weights come back down and I review my reflection. Getting swole, I think they call it. I’d be swole…

View original post 267 more words

The Tell Tale Cart

I was thinking about a recent trip to Walmart and how parts of it reminded me of a story we had to read in 9th grade English.

This is the story of the Tell Tale Cart.

Intro Scene: (Dusk. The orange glow of a setting sun is rapidly disappearing behind a dark line of trees on the horizon. Like a dying coal it fades to grey. Lights across a shopping center parking lot are rapidly coming to life to greet the approaching night. There is a buzz from the lighting and the sound of a lone car quietly moving across the asphalt. The camera follows the van and zooms in to our hero.)

The ultra-luxurious minivan pulls into an empty parking space at Walmart. Underdaddy bounds confidently out of the driver’s side. He moves with the finesse of a Jaguar around the opening and closing of the car door. To the untrained eye, he would appear like a phantom sweeping out of the car while the door flapped like a delicate metal wing. He barely looks back as he holds up the key fob remote and points back to the van while pressing the lock button. A seasoned veteran. He presses twice so the van honks. This alerts would-be burglars and lets them know that a super security system is in place and is ready to valiantly protect the collection of empty water bottles, half consumed sodas, and what might have been a hotdog or a petrified tree. Precious cargo that is guaranteed to be safe.

Underdaddy strides towards the automatic sliding doors with a cool confidence that is somewhat unexpected from a thirty-something balding man with a Pac-Man t-shirt and cargo shorts. In the fire lane, a woman is loading the last bag of groceries into a large SUV that has been strategically hovering near the front door and blocking traffic. Our hero has an eye for citizens in need so he slows down to assist the damsel in distress.

Underdaddy: Excuse me kind citizen, I noticed you are finished with that grocery cart. Might I be of service and return it to the store?

Damsel: Are you sure? (She seems to hesitate)

Underdaddy (Feeling like the Shopping Cart Savior): Verily I say to you, this is not a problem. I need a cart for shopping and you need to allow the SUV to leave the fire lane so we aren’t all burned alive inside this fire-resistant metal and concrete building.

Damsel: (Obviously in awe of such selfless bravery) You are my hero! Take this cart. Shop… so that others may live!

(Okay… so that is a little dramatic but I did offer to take someone’s cart on the way into the store which should win a civil service award or something. Back to the story.)

The fair damsel exits in the Escalade and Underdaddy continues into the store with the rescued shopping cart. He is walking proudly (nose up, chest out) and enjoying an adrenaline high from such a noble deed. Who says chivalry is dead? He barely notices a slight tick of a damaged wheel that is tapping softly but regularly on the vinyl tile flooring. The thump is nothing to be concerned about. A petty complaint that is only noticed by lesser men. Underdaddy is a local hero and willing to sacrifice through an imperfect cart.

He makes his way to the feminine hygiene section to grab a spare pack of tampons. No one needs tampons yet but with four small girls he knows that stockpiling feminine products is a strategic investment. Add in a few new toothbrushes to replace the three that magically “fell” in the toilet on top of turds that someone “forgot” to flush. The wobbly cart continues to thump and the small dental products bounce playfully around the cart with each slap of the wheel. Underdaddy nears the edge of the tampons and notices a fellow male browsing in the “personal” products shelf and holding a box that appears to be water based lubricant. Momentary jealousy gives way to a deep understanding as he realizes the box is actually an Early Detection Pregnancy Test. A four pack. That poor bastard. The men exchange a somber nod and Underdaddy continues past. The soon-to-be-exiled man makes a casual comment, “They need to fix those lumpy wheels huh?”

Underdaddy smiles and, as he quips “They won’t waste money on that…”, he considers the rhythmic thumping for the first time. It is a definite rapping of a flat place worn into the rubber wheel. The vibration is making his hand tingle so he tries to vary the speed of the cart to make the thump less noticeable. Slower gives a harder *thunk*….*thunk*….*thunk* and faster makes the cart feel like it is rolling over a continuous washboard pattern, *thunk*thunk*thunk*thunk*. He considers if the wheel could be fixed by jamming some chewing gum onto the flat spot of the wheel.

The situation makes him think of the Buddhist concept of duhka (doo-kah) which is represented as a wheel out of round and a life out of balance. He continues through the aisles trying to be at peace with the noisy wheel and happy for the reminder that life needs balance. He doesn’t want to end up like a lumpy wheel. He picks out some energy efficient lights that are most certainly the wrong size, brightness, or shape then continues to the pet food area, stopping only once to browse the bargain movie bin. He thinks to himself, “Why did they produce so many generic animated movies?” and “Why is half of this bin the exact same movie?” He decides that any place of business that allows lumpy carts probably isn’t very concerned with the contents of the discount movie bin.

After the fifty pound bag of dog food is in the cart, the thumping seems to grow louder. The additional weight should help keep the bounce of the wheel to a minimum but instead it just made the sound stronger. Lifting upward on the right corner of the basket while pushing seems to help but only momentarily. Holding a fifty pound cart on two wheels is energy intensive and by the start of the grocery section the hero has grown tired. He settles for a dull pounding sound as he enters the dairy section.

More groceries are added. More weight. Louder thumping. Banging in fact. Other shoppers watch from the corner of their eyes and Underdaddy can feel their glares. They are quietly wondering who would pick such an annoying cart and then walk around the store annoying others. The slamming wheel is threatening to chip the floor tile and the car is bouncing up and down like a hotrod with hydraulics. A couple of pin stripes down the side and some flames and who would know the difference?

The pounding is getting ridiculous. Underdaddy stops to examine the wheel. Did it lose more material on the trip through the store? Is the wheel made from a package of square wooden coasters? Is the cart slamming on the floor hard enough to crack the welded frame?

Everything appears normal so the brave hero presses forward. He can see the underutilized row of registers at the front of the store. Another hundred yards and he will be able to pay for the groceries and household products and return the God-awful, brick-wheeled piece-of-shit cart to the cart return. He tries to smile through the searing wrist pain and blurred vision that is growing worse with each body slam of the products. The leisurely stroll has become an attempt to walk a raging jack hammer. He no longer cares if the eggs remain unbroken or the bananas unbruised. The thumping of the cart stabs his brain with every smack of the wheel.

The seed of a thought planted by some asshole with a pregnancy test has grown into a thorny thicket of mental anguish. Underdaddy struggles to remain brave but all he can hear… or see… or feel… is the cart!

THUMP!

Time slows down and he can feel the wheel rotating in space. The next one is approaching.

BANG!

Just like a Jack-In-The-Box or an unpopped can of biscuits, he knows the moment is coming but it still startles him.

 SMACK!

No human should have to endure this pain, this lower middle-class water boarding torture. How much can one DAMN wheel cost? Surely not enough to affect the executive jet service of the stockholders of Walmart! Enough is enough. If it happens one…. More…. Time….

WHAM!

Underdaddy stops in the middle of the aisle a mere thirty feet from an empty check-out line. Rage bubbles out of his eyes in the form of a cold dead stare at the offending wheel. He snaps into action and flings the cart into the air with a guttural growl. Groceries scatter. Metal clangs. Children scream.

The thumping wheel has become a throbbing vein attached to the forehead of a screaming madman. He runs to the checkout line and grabs a package of grill lighters and dashes off into the clothing section setting fire to the socks and women’s underwear. He swats at the racks of oversized night shirts and shoulder tackles a display of discount canned chili (with beans). He doesn’t notice the crackle of the intercom.

Security (via Intercom): Walmart would like to remind our shoppers that involuntary fits of rage are prohibited for your safety and ours. As always, thank you for shopping at Walmart.

The rampage continues. After a near 100% loss of slicing tomatoes in the Produce Section, the fallen hero returns to the upturned cart to finish what he started. He jumps on the side of the cart and bounces repeated to crumple the basket. Red faced and with tattered clothes, he is still cursing a lumpy and misshapen hunk of metal when the police arrive and place him in custody. The officers of the law drag the wide eyed attacker out of the front door and past an illegally parked Escalade. The same Escalade from earlier. Underdaddy returns to reality momentarily when he recognizes the same woman who gave him the cursed cart. She has returned to the store for the same reason everyone does, she forgot something. She recognizes Underdaddy from earlier and has the gall to mention as he slides past, “Sorry about that cart…that wheel was just awful”

He flails wildly and screams into the now darkened skies, “You evil bitch! You knew about the cart this whole time!” The betrayal is more than the broken man can bear. His body goes limp as his mind is defeated. The police roll him into the back of a squad car and slam the door shut.

As he lays against the faux leather and smells what seems to be sadness and urine he realizes a small victory. At least he is away from that terrible cart and the constant *thump*. He smiles and closes his eyes as the car pulls away. The tires roll evenly on the asphalt and the car drives off into the distance.

Never question the power of the Tell Tale Cart.

If you have ever been driven to the edge of insanity by a shopping cart with a thumpy wheel, this post is for you. I have the urge to smash them beyond use to protect the next person who might use it. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

I Know A Mother Who

Instead of a generic Happy Mother’s Day post, I decided to sit and think about all the different mothers that I know. Mothers are some of our most powerful influences and they put up with a lot of crap. I am living proof of that. Below is a list of Mothers I Know.

I know a mother who loves. In spite of harsh words or cold actions from others; she continues to love.

I know a mother who has lost. Deep loss with wounds that won’t heal but she continues to shine for others.

I know a mother who has sacrificed. People who buy houses with deer murals, red shag carpet, and one complete bath for a family of four are not the kind of people I call selfish.

I know a mother who is strong. The kind of strength that inspires some and at times confuses others. The ability to stand up to the odds for family and speak out against wrongs.

I know a mother who is scared. Afraid of not doing the right thing or teaching the best way. Fearful that she will make the wrong choices and totally mess things up. There are no “right” choices and there are laws against most of the “wrong” ones so, To that mom: Rock on, you are doing great!

I know a mother who gives. Love, time, health, money. It is impossible to hold anything close without sharing it with others, you might as well hold love.

I know a mother who never had a child but was just as much a mother for the family tree. She nurtured and protected people who learned from her. People who went on to teach their own children. I think that counts for a lot of mother points.

I know a mother who didn’t have to be a mother but chose to be, before she was probably ready. She figured it out on the fly and is a wonderful mom.

I know a mother who does it alone. She is single and powering through life as a parent.

I know a mother who worries for her children and for other children too. Nothing specific, just a deep seated wish for the happiness and success of others. A desire to protect them from sadness and pain.

I know a mother who faced death. She had cancer and delayed treatment for her baby. She was able to deliver and recover. Can you imagine making that choice? I can’t and until you stare down that barrel yourself, I dare you to even guess how it feels. That child will know what love looks like.

I know a mother who traded reasonable dreams for a less glamorous reality, then worked in that reality to give dreams to others. Many others. I hope she realizes that having an effect like that is something most people only dream of. Life is funny, we get what we ask for but the packaging is often unexpected. (I think we may see a veterinarian out of Jane)

I know a mother who thinks she does not do a good job and I know that thought is a lie. She is beyond amazing. She is showing her children how to be creative, how to try things that scare you, and how to give yourself to make other’s day a little brighter. The world of parenting is hard and exhausting. It really does take a village and for a large part of the village you are their helping hand.

I know a mother who is not a mother yet. She is learning what it means to be mom and is watching others to form her own ideas. She will become what she sees in her world. I know several of these types of moms.

So in a few days we will celebrate Mother’s Day. It is a day to say “Thank You!” but also a good time to say, “Good Job!” and “I Love You!” Remember all the moms you know.

If you are one of these Moms then obviously this post is for you. In the words of Sir Elton John –

You can tell everybody, that this is your song, It may be quite simple but now that it’s done, I hope you don’t mind,…, that I put down in words, how wonderful life is while you’re in the world.”

Thank you.

-Underdaddy

Underdaddy Helpful Hints

The aftermath of four small children is a scattered knowledge that is (mostly) useless. Every situation is a little different and while I remember what I did at the time I have a hard time recalling which kid was involved or how old they were. It is like I made extremely detailed notes on Index Cards but I refused to use any sort of nouns in the descriptions.

“Example: When ____ gets sick with a sore ____ if they are over _____ years of age, use honey and a non-dairy ____ .”

See. Totally Useless.

However, some new parent confronting the same problem might mention that when their two year old had allergies and was lactose intolerant someone recommended using some local honey mixed into a non-dairy creamer. (This is not a real treatment for anything) At that moment your brain fills in the blanks and says “ah ha!” and you remember doing the same thing.

I’m sure that my ocean of knowledge isn’t all that shallow but I feel like it is. I have several friends and family who are expecting and the common question is, “What advice do you have for babies/kids/raising little girls?”

Ummm. I have been dragging my feet on answering but how about this; I will share what things seemed really handy to me in a sort of top ten style.

  1. Baby Swing – This is an awesome thing. Someone to rock your baby when you can’t or maybe don’t want to. It is cute and special and something you miss until a baby needs to be rocked sixteen hours out of the day to prevent screaming, then a swing is a good thing. We looked for one with efficient battery drive because the first swing drank D Cell batteries faster than fraternities drink cases of Natural Light.
  2. Pacifier – Maybe controversial to someone but I stand by them. For little kids it doubles as a mute button and a choking filter. If they have a pacifier in their mouth then they can’t fit dog food or random bits of paper. Once it is time to stop using a pacifier it can be taken away unlike the classic thumb sucker who will be harder to break from the habit.
  3. Universal Seat Carrier – Those car seats with detachable bases that also clip into a stroller are awesome. If you can avoid waking up a sleeping tyrant every time you stop and start going somewhere, that is worth a lot of sanity. Riding in a car is like Nyquil for infants so the clip in stroller and car seat keeps naptime intact.
  4. Swaddling Blanket – Learning the baby wrap technique with the stretchy fabric (Muslin?) is also helpful. The first few times I did it I was worried that I was squeezing them too tightly but they all lived so… whatever that is worth. I guess it wasn’t too tight.
  5. Booger Sucker Thingy – Plastic bulb that I hope contains a sanitary black-hole because of all the boogers that went in, none ever came out. Our dog ate one once. We thought we might never find out what happened until one day while mowing the lawn we chipped one up that had been in a pile of dog poo. Back to the point, this thing is helpful to get snot out of a kids nose. Next item.
  6. Background Noise – Always have some sort of background noise. If this is your first child then turn on The Weather Channel or stick some forks in a blender. Create some racket because if a baby gets soured on silence then you are doomed to be silent every time they drift off to sleep. The first child was a light sleeper. Our fourth child could sleep in the swing while my wife vacuumed marbles off the hardwood floor. That was pretty sweet.
  7. Pets – These are happy distractions. When I say pets I don’t mean things like Boa Constrictors or Bengal Tigers. We are talking dogs and cats. Aggressive dogs need to go but for the most part, I see animals welcoming new family members like a new brother or sister. I’m glad our kids have had lots of pets.
  8. Ora-Gel – A little of this stuff during teething can buy enough time to get them back to sleep. I hear whiskey on the gums helps too but I imagine that getting a teething infant drunk is bad advice. Too much Ora-Gel can be bad too so sometimes just letting them cry is the only way out.
  9. Baby Carrier or Wrap – The commercially available Ergo or just a specialized, long piece of fabric that you tie around you in a sort-of parenting origami that holds your baby without a need for you to use your arms. Think Native American papoose but without a wooden board. As a Dad I like the clip and nylon strap style because it is less work and less to remember. I think my default picture on this blog is me rocking a carrier.
  10. Boobs – I recommend having a set of boobs for a newborn baby to eat from. Cheap, convenient, and best of all it is not something that Dad has to be involved in. As a Dad I could sit back and do something else the whole time the baby was eating. Plus I didn’t have to get up more than two seconds in the middle of the night. That is pretty fantastic.

I am a slow learner so I didn’t fully embrace all the benefits of boobs until the third and fourth child. No more steam powered bottle warmers that burn the shit out of your knuckles because you are holding the bottle (at 2 am) to get it a little warm instead of piping hot. In fact, no more heating bottles and trying to remember to use distilled water because using regular tap water will (apparently) make baby’s heads fall off. None of that.

Using baby formula is fine. Lots of great parents do. Some moms have complications or life situations that prevent breast feeding. I’m 100% good with that. I don’t have functional boobs so, like other issues in the female wheelhouse, I probably don’t need to have a strong opinion. But man was it nice not to have the iron-stained clothes from the formula spit-ups and this very specific smell when the baby burps. Distinct, like pipe tobacco or leather, but more along the lines of vomit. Yum.

So there you have it. Things that I found helpful. Feel free to completely ignore any part of that list.

Also, if you need another tidbit to completely ignore, “Sleep when the baby sleeps” is a perfect example of wishful thinking. Once the baby was asleep all I ever wanted was to do something normal to feel like I hadn’t completely lost my old life. This reaction is also known as denial.

To those about to rock, I salute you. Do what you feel. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

ps. my next post is number 100 and I am thinking it over. If you have any inspiration or words of support now would be a good time. 🙂