Birthday Party

Party Pegasus

Lady Bug recently had her birthday weekend. A two day run of festivities. We celebrated the birthday weekend because of parenting guilt for not preparing a party or bothering to bake a cake. In fact, we had no real plans for how to celebrate with our four-year-old until about two days before her big event.

As the day broke we realized that something must be done. When I got home from work everyone loaded up into the car for a trip to Toys R Us. Up and down the aisles looking at all manner of cheap plastic shit to step on. Why do we constantly buy this stuff? Each child selected something that they couldn’t live without and the birthday girl got a larger budget than the others. A total first-world way to handle the issue. Once everyone is satisfied with their selection we pay the lady at the front and get into the van. The children immediately open the new toys and lose 53% of all the accessory trinkets in each box.

All that shopping made us hungry so we went to the number one choice for when mommy says, “I don’t care..” when asked where to eat. Cracker Barrel. It was 7:40 at night so we hoped the dinner rush was finished. As we pulled in the parking lot I noticed a charter bus with a large Cruisin-for-Christ logo down the side. I don’t suppose the logo is relevant to the story other than I found it humorous as I imagined what road tripping for the lord in a charter bus and stopping at the Cracker Barrel actually looked like. I found out. Inside the lobby was a group of 40+ septuagenarians who refused to group up and share tables so they were being sat two at a time. I was disappointed. I feel that Jesus would have encouraged sharing of tables. Especially in the midst of a cruise in his honor. BDAY2

I could see that my family of six was out of luck for quick eats. We had to fall back to the always decent second choice of Olive Garden. The only place that I go into with the intent of eating soup and salad and end up bingeing on every carb ever created. This trip went exactly like that. Pasta speaks to me in a dark and romantic language. As I crammed the last scorched end of a buttery breadstick down into my stomach I remembered that we promised ice cream as desert. The girls were smart enough not to touch their dinner while I ate like a land based catfish; hovering over uneaten scraps. Shoveling the precious pasta into my pie-hole.

Once I felt totally defeated from the inside out I sat in my self-loathing for a few moments until I overheard a conversation that was happening a couple of booths down. A grandmother person was angry at a child person and was berating her. The child spilled a drink and it ran off the table into this grandmother person’s purse. Grandma proceeded to pepper the child with frustration and f-bombs to the point I thought she was going to become physically violent. The mother of the child was there but remained silent. Obviously, she was a victim of the same type of abuse. It was very disappointing to watch.

I noticed my girls starting to stare at the action and I got their attention.

UD: See that lady. (I pointed)

Kids: Yes.

UD: No one should ever talk to you like that.

Kids: Okay daddy.

UD: Don’t let them!

Kids: We won’t.

UD: There’s a second part…

Kids: What?

UD: Don’t ever treat anyone like that. No matter how frustrated or mad you get. Look around. I mean it. Everyone here has an opinion of that woman now and it isn’t a good one. Her kids will grow up thinking that treating people that way is normal. You can’t be part of that.

Kids: Okay.

UD: I love you girls.

Kids: Love you too daddy.

They seemed to understand that not all people are nice and that calling a child a “stupid little f*ck” is generally in poor taste. It was hard to get out of my head because those scenarios are tricky. I have trouble deciding on action because nothing big will change and my saying something might make a bad situation worse for the child. I do report people who are really shitty but I don’t confront people directly as often as I would like. We paid off the Italian overlords and got up to leave.

As I lumbered into the parking lot, smelling like garlic and shining from the greasy glow of alfredo sauce, I realized that I would need a minute before heading to the ice cream shop. We went to the literary purgatory known as Books-A-Million. Everyone got a book because of course they did. I turn my back for one minute and they had made their selections. I didn’t really turn my back. I actually took a dump in the world’s most uncomfortable bathroom. The only stall is handicap accessible which means the door is five feet away so you already feel like you are pooping in the middle of a room but the extra gaps in the partition walls really help bring the feeling home. When you can make eye contact through the small gaps in the wall and feel the social impulse to wave or do the head nod thing, I think the gap is too big. Toilets should be caves of solitude. Regardless, I am a man of action. A second critique of the bathroom… washing up I learned that the water pressure at Books-A-Million is amazing. The slightest turn of the knob ignited a geyser that soaked my pants in the general region where incontinence would have done the same. I returned to the sales floor with a large wet stain on the front of my pants and I tried to not make eye contact with the gentleman who ventured into the bathroom and stared at me through the partition gap.

I was more than ready when we left for ice cream. Not just any ice cream. The good place where they mix all the candy you want into the most glutinous pile of sweet cream ever scooped. My children have a terrible habit of touching, licking, or face pressing any glass display cases that they come across. The only problem is that other kids do the same. I noticed Donna Threeto sliding her hand across the glass just in time to tell her that I think she ran her hand through a smeared and dried booger. It was crusty and slightly green. What did she do? Smelled her hand and then licked it. I suppose to see if I told her the truth. I don’t even try to understand anymore. All the girls devoured their ice creams and we realized that it was way past bedtime so we started for home.

We managed to bribe the kids into bed solely on the fact that we still had birthday festivities the next day. We had promised a night at the movies to see Captain Underpants. I started to question the whole birthday weekend concept.

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Captain Underpants was exactly the kind of movie that it promised to be. Fart humor. Funny banter. Crazy plot lines. Everyone had a good time. We snuck in some half -filled bags of candy and finished them off with popcorn once we got settled. Lady Bug set her bag down beside her chair and during the movie she started reaching down beside her seat by muscle memory to find her popcorn. Her eyes were glued to the screen. The bag fell away at some point and I noticed that Lady Bug was still reaching down beside her seat and eating something she picked up. Further investigation showed that she was eating the long forgotten pieces of old popcorn that fell between the seats sometime within the last five years. I only put the time limit of five years because surely, they manage to vacuum the seats at some interval? I shuddered in the darkness and then told her to stop eating the seat treats. What else could I do at that point? Charcoal, induce vomiting, stomach pumping? I leaned over towards Supermom.

UD: (in a whisper) I think Lady Bug just ate old seat popcorn.

Supermom: Nice.

UD: I told her to stop.

Supermom: Good.

 

The movie ended. We left the theater and Supermom decided that she needed a new bathing suit for going to the river the next day. We went to Target just before closing time; with four children who were jacked up on Sprite, popcorn, and a movie about flying around in underpants.

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It was a test of my patience. It also tested my humility because my job was to take pieces of the swimsuits back to the rack and exchange sizes as needed by Supermom. The only worse job would be taking the four girls tampon shopping and having to explain the features of all the wings and strings and where each might fit in their future active lives.

BDAY4

I thought we were nearing the end of the punishment when Lady Bug announces that she needs to poop. Supermom disappeared to the bathroom with Lady Bug. I was left holding a striped blue swimsuit top while standing near the entrance like a creeper guy who got a job as a greeter. If Target even bothered with greeters. Honestly the store feels a little too arrogant for that. A few minutes later Supermom emerged with the blank stare of a parent who is done for the day. The exact same stare I had for the previous 45 minutes. Turns out the seat popcorn might have triggered diarrhea. Awesome.

At that point I knew we had achieved birthday success. It started with indulgence. Progressed through entertainment. Ended with shitting of pants in a Target bathroom. The tale of all good birthdays!

If you enjoy a good celebratory binge, this post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Fun and Games with Chuck

I love arcades. I love skee-ball. I love shoot-em-up alien games with loud shaking guns and plenty of animated violence. Supermom and I often try to sneak away to something like a Dave and Buster’s establishment and waste a couple of twenty dollar bills on some electronic action.

Why do we think the kids will enjoy the same things? Why do we try to instantly create childhood experiences and ingrain a love for nostalgic things in our toddlers?

I grew to love arcades in middle school. I have never enjoyed giant animatronic mice. I always forget both of these facts and try to take my children to Chuck-E-Cheese’s – Where A Kid Can Be A Kid; And they can contract an illness…and be scarred for life by nightmares of giant mice… and get the pizza shits for the car ride home. Awesome.

Why do I go back?

I have witnessed hamsters in a cage and children in this God-forsaken house of horrors are no different. Is the entire building a homeopathic treatment for ADD? This mini-Vegas of carnival games instantly hypnotizes the most attentive of children. You might as well be leading Hellen Keller around an art museum. Look Hellen this is skee-ball do you want to play?

Why do they only want to ride the teacup and lick every new surface that they see? One of my kids wasted a half cup of tokens by cramming them into a ride that was already activated. A four dollar ride with Chuck-E-Cheese in a red roadster. Thank goodness I got a picture that looks like it was printed via carbon paper and a claw hammer. Nice.

I won’t stop my complaints there. Oh no. The tickets are the worst part. Those little inept hands always tear the one ticket sticking out of the machine into a giant triangle with half still attached.

“Why don’t I get more tickets daddy?”
“Because you are terrible at this, and every, game in this whole place.”
But because fate hates you and likes to watch you suffer, it is guaranteed that you child will hit a random jackpot for 300 tickets so they actual qualify for a prize nice enough to cause indecision.
“Do you want a spider ring or an eraser cap?”
The attendant flings out a plastic spider without verifying that you were making a “Final Answer”.
“No I think she wanted the eraser cap…”
“You have 42 tickets left…”
“How much is a noose?”

But the licking of random surfaces. This I have to include in my ranting. I have lamented this several times before because I don’t understand it.

At. All.

I keep a list of things I’ve seen them lick.

I want to scream at them, “What is broken with you? Do you have a mineral deficiency? Pica? STOP!”

Here is my current list on licking:
1) The floor
2) My arm
3) Toilet paper roll
4) A sister
5) The dog
6) The wall
7) A dirty plate
8) Two rides at Chuck-E-Cheese
9) A window
10) (Very nearly except for my intervention) A toilet seat.
11) A book
12) Their upper lip creating a half moon of chapped skin.
13) A cabinet knob on a lower kitchen cabinet
14) Sunscreen lotion
15) Bug spray

That is nowhere near comprehensive and doesn’t include anything that actually should be licked like ice cream cones or envelopes.

So if you cycle back to Chuck-E-Cheese or some similar place, this post is for you. You’re welcome.

It is totally worth it. Isn't she adorable?

It is totally worth it. Isn’t she adorable?

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

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.

Shame on the Red Ranger

As a former Red Power Ranger, I am deeply saddened by the actions of my colleague.

http://www.tmz.com/2015/02/01/power-rangers-ricardo-medina-arrested-murder-sword/

That’s right. I am a former Red Ranger. It’s time I come clean and share my tale.

Almost a lifetime ago, I was a High School senior and my much younger cousins were celebrating the birthday of the one and only Mr. Smiles. Mr. Smiles was always happy and smiling. Perhaps no one ever told him that life wasn’t a happy place, I don’t know but none-the-less he was always happy. Always. His father, GI Joe, wanted to keep that smile alive for years to come so for his birthday party he decided to make it an exciting version of Mr. Smiles favorite TV show; The Might Morphin’ Power Rangers. Red Ranger would be the guest of honor and it would be AWESOME! He ordered the outfit complete with a realistic helmet and when it arrived he suddenly realized that it wouldn’t work.

The problem was that GI Joe was a very muscular guy. Former bodybuilder, military MP, and member of the local SWAT team; he was lean and mean but way too big to squeeze into the Red Ranger tights. I’m not sure he could get them over his thigh muscles without ripping them like The Hulk. The birthday was a few days away and there would soon be an attempt to find someone to fill the role of Red Ranger.

In general, whatever you do for your own children in the name of making them happy is forgivable for your pride. Want to dress like Dorothy and go check the mail because your kids think it is the funniest thing ever? Okay but it better be for the kids only. Society will forgive you but beyond that it gets fuzzy.

The tricky part is that GI Joe needed someone who was willing to dress in a red spandex suit. That person needed “Mad Ninja Skills” and a “Hollywood” physique. To his dismay, I was the only volunteer and I had little of either but I was able to fit into the suit. As the much older cousin it was always my job to oversee the never ending karate fight in the living room at every family gathering. There was much tickling, hi-yahs, and wrestling throughout the years so I was prepared.

I love the confusion and boredom on their faces. I must have been a terrible Ranger.

I love the confusion and boredom on their faces. I must have been a terrible Ranger.

As they say. The rest is history. We talked about fighting Puttys (Bad guys on the show) and how cool it was to morph into zords. I didn’t know enough of the intricate details so at the end of the visit they looked at me like I had brain damage from all my battles. I’m not sure that I advanced the brand for those customers but I think they had a good time.

It was a good reminder that magic and wonder don’t hang around forever. If you can make something memorable for kids then pride should be ignored. That’s why I want to set the record straight and let everyone know that the real Red Ranger is totally against killing your roommate with a sword. Shame on you Ricardo Medina. Bad form.

So if you dress like a clown or a power ranger to make kids happy this post is for you. You’re Welcome. Hopefully you didn’t scar their fragile minds like evil Easter Bunnies or Creepy Mall Santas.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.