Bad Parenting

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.

Kindergarten Sex Ed?

When and how should kids learn about sex? Or any controversial subject?

Excellent Question.

Lets ponder a while before we answer. Recently my wife and I held an anatomy conference/discussion for our second grader, Calamity Jane. There were a few questions on the car ride home that prompted the discussion. She was unimpressed and we learned that she probably had already learned most of these things in school from other kids. The school is public and children can be expected to be exposed to all types of beliefs, opinions, and realities that they wouldn’t see otherwise. After the talk my wife and I both wondered if second grade was too late and when was the time frame, on average, that kids become exposed to life’s truths.

Today I learned that the answer, in some cases, is Kindergarten.

You heard me. Kindergarten.

What truths you ask?

All of them, from what I can tell. The following is an unedited lunch table conversation that I held with a five year old in my daughter’s class. Not the second grade daughter, CJ, but the kindergarten daughter, Prima.

First let me say that in religions and civilizations throughout history, people who knew more than they should were held in high regard as oracles, soothsayers, and philosophers. To this kindergarten class this special child that you are about to meet is no doubt Aristotle. I will reference him as A and myself as UD. Remember that this kid is five.

I join my daughter in a single file line of kids waiting for the cafeteria. She is excited to see me and holds my hand as we wait. She whispers to her friends as she swings our hands back and forth, “This is my daddy, hehehe.” I feel like a good parent today.

Ahead of us is a very energetic child who turns around and introduces himself.

A: Hey mister my name is Aristotle.
UD: Good to meet you, I am Prima’s dad.

A: I have a cornhole and I need toilet paper for my butthole.
UD: Wow okay. Don’t we all. (What do you say?)
A: I made that up.
UD: Which part? You know what, never mind.

He was trying to quote Beavis and Butthead for the generations who are not familiar. He was the Great Cornholio and needed TP for his Bunghole. I see where the translation went wrong.

I try to change the subject for the first, but nowhere near, the last time.

UD: I sure am hungry. I’m glad you kids eat lunch so early.
RANDOM KID: Speaking of lunch, did you know I can walk backwards? (He walks directly into a table and falls over. Strong program we got here.)

We go through the buffet style line and take our seat at various tables. I am excited about my baked fish and pears. Thank goodness that Aristotle is already seated at our table. I try and visit with Prima and we talk about school. Aristotle has a thirst for deep discussion so he starts in with conversation right away.

A: Hey dude. Can you guess what I have in my closet?
UD: Ummm, I found a spider in mine but….
A: Nope! I have guns.
UD: Oh good.

UD: So do you go to a shooting range or practice this like a sport?

A: Nah, We just shoot in the yard at stuff.

UD: Why waste money on safety, I understand.
A: Yeah one is a rifle and the other is an assault rifle, they are BB guns though.
UD: Yeah you might want to lead with that information and I wouldn’t take them in public. They sound confusing.
A: They look really real! They are black and everything.
UD: I bet.
A: Do you have an XBOX 360?
UD: Nope. Just Yahoo Games. I mostly play Sudoku for the mental challenge.
A: I play Modern Warfare Zombie Apocalypse (Stands up and makes machine gun sounds)

UD: (Looking to the boy to my right) Is he always this aggressive?
BOY: (nods yes)

I need another subject change.

UD: So what else do you do for fun?
A: My dog is an Army Trained dog.
UD: Oh yeah what did he do for the army? Pilot or something?
A: Yeah he flew in space planes and did lots of sky battles and stuff.
UD: That sounds like an advanced program. I’m surprised you have such good insider information. Flying dogs could be huge in the arms race.
A: Yeah and he can sit.
UD: Also important.

A: Hey dude guess what?
UD: I have zero idea at this point.
A: A man from a space plane landed in my yard and we had to take care of him until someone could get him.
UD: Oh like in E.T.? I think it is good you care for people no matter the specie or planet of origin.
A: (scrunches up his face in confusion) What?
UD: Nothing. Lets all just eat.

He doesn’t want to stop. He has an audience and is on a roll.

A: When I get a car I’m going to mount guns all over it and pull the triggers.
UD: What would you do that for? I don’t think there are many villains running around the mean streets of Tennessee (although the conversation would suggest otherwise).
A: Yeah well just to shoot things. Why did you say village? I’m gonna have seventy two rockets.
UD: That seems like a lot of rockets. And I said VILLAINS, like bad guys. What are they for?
A: The chainsaw man. (He moves his hand over his face indicating a mask and the boy to my right nods in agreement. They must discuss this often.)
UD: Seventy two missiles seems excessive. (I look toward the boy on the right) Do you think that is too many?
BOY: slowly shakes his head No. (Seventy two seems reasonable to everyone so I leave it alone)

At this point we have already covered Aliens, Violent Video Games, Drive-by Shootings, Inappropriate Cartoonsm Chainsaw Massacre, and Flying Army Space Dogs. Time for yet another subject change.

UD: Soooo. What is everyone’s favorite Jolly Rancher flavor? I can’t stand Green Apple. (Please don’t make this a horrible subject)
A: Ranch Dressing.
(There was zero hesitation, I can’t make up stuff that cool. I was laughing on the inside but kept the poker face going.)
UD: I haven’t had Ranch Dressing Jolly Ranchers but it is the south so I guess it may be a thing.
A: Want to hear a word I made up?
UD: Probably not. (Man this kid doesn’t quit)

A: Okay. Man boobs. Thats my word. (He starts making round nipples with his hand and holding them to his chest.)
UD: Whoa there buddy let’s leave body conversation to somewhere other than school.
A: Man Boobs. Man Boobs. Man Boobs. (Boy to the right is holding out his hands like he is holding something.)
UD: Seriously. Something different. Anything. (I give him the serious dad look and he straightens up for a minute)
A: Nipples? (He searches my reaction to see if perhaps nipples are more appropriate than man boobs.)
UD: God. No. No body parts.
A: Nipple guns! (He stands up again and make machine guns noises holding his chest or his man boobs.)

I ignore him and try to talk to my daughter who thankfully is oblivious to all of this because she is talking across the table to her friend. I sit frozen and trying not to stimulate any further conversation. That doesn’t work either. Turns out he starts his own conversations.

A: We shop at the Dollar Store.
UD: Oh yeah, what do you like to buy at the dollar store?
A: Guns.
UD: I didn’t know they carried those at the Dollar Store.
A: Yeah they have some. In the back or the side I think.
UD: How about that….

A brief moment of silence and then he continues.

A: Hey dude. Do you know the magic quarter trick?
(Small Prayer: Sweet baby Jesus don’t let this be something I have to report to the State and Child Services, Amen.)
UD: I don’t know what you are talking about. (I hold out my hands to show I am not holding anything.)
A: Oh that is a wedding ring. I thought it was a quarter.
UD: Nope, just married.
A: You know what that means. (He bounces his eyebrows and smiles slyly)
UD: That if I leave she gets half of everything I own?
(He holds up one hand with the thumb and forefinger making a circle. The universal okie-dokie, A-Okay signal. Then takes his other hand and moves the pointer finger back and forth through the hoop. He is making the hand signal for sex. Else he thinks marriage is about using a circle file on the inside of a bagel? I think context answer that question for us, don’t you?)

I dont know what I did but put some money on it and make it better.

I dont know what I did but put some money on it and make it better.

This time I don’t have to change the subject. He does it for me.

A: Hey give me a postcard.
UD: I don’t have a postcard. (Where could this possibly go with a postcard?)

One of the children at the table hands him an imaginary card which he proceeds to hold each side and lick along the top. After licking the “postcard” he acts like he is rolling it into a tube and then places it behind his ear. I just witnessed a five year old demonstrate the concept movements of rolling a joint. Fantastic. I don’t think he learned that on Kid’s Bop.

Then, like kids are known to do, Prima changes the subject back to marriage. She teased him in that kindergarten, na-na-na boo-boo tone.

Prima: One day you are going to marry a girl.
A: No I’m not. I’m gonna marry this chair.

He then pushes the chair away from the table and bounces up and down on the edge of the chair. It wasn’t distinct enough for the kids to realize what he was doing but I’m pretty certain it was a humping motion.

UD: No one is marrying anything. Just sit back down and lets all finish our lunch.
A: My daddy lives far away and I don’t see him.
UD: I believe you.
A: I live with my mom, grandma, cousin, and KeeKee.
UD: That sounds fun. Let’s eat lunch.

The only other notable event was the kidney punch he gave me when he was walking back from throwing away his tray. More of a love-tap in his world but strange none the less. He did respond to an accusation of being the “meanest kid here” by putting another kid in a headlock.

I am conflicted on this experience because on one hand the conversation was hilarious. On the other, I am really sad for how he will view the world and his role in it. Aristotle is a bright kid. He is full of energy and pretty snappy on the comeback so I think he has potential to pull out of his situation and/or mindset. The saddest part is that his story is the rule in most neighborhoods instead of the exception.

So for all the parents that worry about organic foods and cursing on Prime Time TV. This story is for you. You are not a bad parent and for once, I’m not either. You’re welcome.

Underdaddy to the Rescue.