Cinco De Mayo

Rat Race Resolutions

I call my children “rats” all the time. Lovingly of course. They complete simple tasks for rewards. I think at least three of them could complete a maze if they had to and they hide everything under their beds. Quick inventory of what was under the bunk bed after a one week time period; ¼ Brown Sugar Poptart, Barbie Head, Paci, Juice Cup with Chocolate Milk (Mocha Sour Cream now?), Threeto’s missing toothbrush, and one Pre-Screened Offer for FHA refinance curtesy of Obama something-or-other. Like I said, rats. They need to keep random things close and guarded as if they were important.

But as adults I don’t think we are any different. We are scurrying around for this or that every day. Maybe someone is looking down through the clouds and placing bets on who will chase what cheese the hardest. There was a dog in the neighborhood I grew up in that loved to chase cars. He would run as fast and as hard as he could until he reached the end of a chain that was bolted to the side of the house. I saw that dog hit the end of the chain so hard that he would do backflips. It had to be painful and I don’t know how it didn’t break his neck. Every time a new car came over the hill he was off to the races. Never learned.

The New Year is here and with it come the resolutions. The list is usually the same:

  1. Something Family
  2. Something Health
  3. Something Fitness
  4. Something Money
  5. Something Love and Heartbreak

All of it is aimed at increasing our “Happy”. If I had this or that then I would be happy. If my teeth were straight or I went to Disney Land. I talked some before Christmas about happy memories from childhood and the holidays. Outside of pictures I really don’t remember one thing that Santa brought me. I remember family and doing things.

So what is the chain or the link that gets us to the point of being so busy that seeing people and doing things is out of reach? For my family I think it is the work, eat, sleep, repeat cycle.

I value honesty but it stings when applied to close to home. If I were honest I think the whole cycle is ironic. We consider ourselves advanced in America because we have cell phones, central heating and air, television, internet, cars, and insurance for everything. We have convenience.

Of course, convenience is pricey. We have to work for all the handy things we love and that takes most of our time. I nice long workday with dinner, TV, and internet worked in leaves very little time for other things.

Cellphones let us sit and stare at what other people are thinking while they are sitting and staring at what people are thinking. Most of these people wouldn’t recognize us in public or acknowledge us but they are friends. But they have some funny cat pictures. Thank God we can share that cat picture.

Central Heat and Air makes us comfortable and I’m in no way condemning it but isn’t it funny that by getting our bodies used to 72 degrees year round we are probably creating health issues. How can your body get used to hot or cold if it never really feels it? It destroys my sinuses but I won’t change that either.

Television and internet are really the same category. They are visual Xanax. I have a DVR with a couple hundred episodes of shows that I want to watch but “not right now”. I have shelves of DVDs that I know we will never watch because while they were good the first time I don’t know that they are good enough for a second watch. Some DVDs still have plastic wrap and sometimes I get home with one that we already own. Talk about insanity.

Cars make it easy for us to travel long distances with hellish commutes. I know several people who work fifty or sixty miles from their homes. Cars make it easy to underestimate time and over schedule events.

We pay insurance for everything but not in the true sense of what insurance was intended to provide. A family insurance plan can cost upwards of $1,000 per month. That is $12,000 per year for what turns out to be checkups, colds, and minor infections. We have used ours for some big things but would the overall cost be better if we could bear the minor costs of going in for a cold? Fifteen dollars a month for phone insurance and then the benefit is a new phone for the low price of $200? If you don’t use it and go a full two years between contracts then that is $300 down the drain. Car insurance is a must because of lawsuits and dishonest people. Insurance on my video game purchase? That may be a little much Wal-Mart.

So we work hard and use the money for phones we don’t like to talk on, to sit in houses that keep us comfortable, so we can watch TV and internet during our only free time, and eat unhealthy food because we don’t have time or space for the real stuff, only to feel unfulfilled and unhealthy. We top it off with Gym memberships that we will never use to get the exercise that we never get from real life. And when we do get a holiday that we all agree should be a holiday we make it all about buying something so that it stresses us out and we enjoy the point of the holiday even less, in fact we dread them entirely. This is not just Christmas.

Valentines Day – Show me how much you love me by buying stuff. If marketing is supply and demand the people who thought up flowers during the coldest part of the year are idiots or geniuses.

Mothers/Fathers Day – How good of a parent am I? Show me by buying stuff. Not a tie either.

Mardi Gras – Party Holiday! Lets base a short term sexual economy around plastic bead necklaces. But for this to work we all need to be really really drunk. That way if we don’t remember it, it never happened. Plus the beads will be an indirect measure of boob attractiveness or how quickly you took off your shirt. Both are good indicators of whether or not to pursue further action.

St Patricks Day – Party Holiday! Green beer and mid-week hangovers!

Easter – People are treating Easter like Christmas part II. I saw a Facebook post last year where a little girl got a bike. Did the Easter bunny do some crank and steal Santa’s bag? And where did the bunny come from? Was he hiding in the tomb and got super powers from the radiant glow of Jesus’ resurrection. Is the Easter Bunny the first real world documentation of a Ninja Turtle scenario? Emerging from the tomb enlightened and determined to bring colored eggs and chocolate to all the Christian households of the world. Like turndown service in a hotel but with baskets and only for Christians on a certain day of the year.

Cinco de Mayo – Misrepresented as Mexican independence day, the southern US celebrates beer and bad decisions in what is a mini-Mardi Gras.

Halloween – This is a cool holiday. I got nothing here. It is candy and pretending to be something else. That’s what this whole society is about so at least Hallowen doesn’t deny that.

Thanksgiving – A shotgun start to Christmas. Sales have moved the holiday to Wednesday and Thursday lunch. Maybe the first time in history that consumerism for one holiday shifted another. Which brings us to….

Christmas – Show me how much you love me by buying stuff. Thoughtful yet in the proper price range and as much as others with my similar social standing. Dinners, decorations, and time give way to the checklist. We have trips limited to the time it takes to exchange stuff. I love giving and receiving but the “have to” kills me. I really feel guilty about the whole thing because I never feel I give enough and I always feel that I receive too much. I would much rather avoid the whole thing. Hell, it is scheduled in the dead middle of the North American flu, cold, and stomach virus season. A guaranteed annual event that probably kills as many family members as unvaccinated people do when they allow old diseases to return so that their child isn’t subject to the unbearable statistical possibility that they will have an adverse reaction to something that is safer than the car ride to the office where you get the shot. A month later they go see Grandma at a holiday gathering with a kid who is “probably just teething” and in reality is spewing flu-bola on the elderly. That may be Grammy’s last Christmas but at least she got to see those precious petri-dish kids.

What would the world look like if we put up Christmas lights like normal and then every other night we could visit or have visitors over for Hot Chocolate or Beers. Just a couple of hours with no activities in mind. Hey how are you? How’s life? Maybe coordinate some alternating work weekends where we help each other with some type of tasks that would be easier with extra laborers. Maybe just a trip to cut a tree or see a decorated park. Piss on this shopping crap. Kohl’s is the worst offender. Double price with a 45% markdown and 10% Kohls Cash. I have no feel for if I am loosing or not because all of the prices are cheaper at Wal-Mart. Click it on Amazon and let Prime shipping work it out.

Where do you think society is going? Things getting better? Things getting worse? In all of 2014, in the madness and hustle do you remember even one moment of being in the present? Just a memory where you weren’t distracted and you enjoyed what was in front of you without thoughts about the rest of the world? Maybe twice for me but that is about it.

My true worry is our children. They watch more than we think and just seeing the reasoning and the obsession with pleasing and obeying tradition at every turn is something that you never have to speak about and they will do the exact same thing. When we have a heated discussion about not having enough money at the holidays we just teach them that they have to participate and presents get priority at the holidays. I want to figure out one of two things. A) How to be happier about doing it all or, B) Find a way to do things differently that makes everyone happier.


What do you guys do for holidays that are different? It can be any holiday. They are important to remember and spend time. Fathers Day? Fourth of July? Any cool alternative traditions that I can hijack next year and use as my own?

-Underdaddy to the Rescue.

ABC World Champion

Modern society puts a lot of pressure on parents to fast-track their kids into growing up. Everyday tasks are only impressive if they are done at a young age so the vibe out there is sort of: “Everybody out there with young children better get going on teaching reading, potty training, vocabulary, sports, and ‘second place is the first loser’. Pick it up already! My God, if we don’t have all these kids ready to out-learn China in the next century we might be forced into slavery under the communist’s rule. Red Blooded Americans Unite! I’m telling you if we don’t get these ABC’s learned by two years old, the terrorists have won.”

This is how marketing companies make me feel. If I bought into the hype I would believe that any child who learns the ABC’s early enough will be automatically accepted to an Ivy League school. The same with counting in a foreign language. All my Spanish counting knowledge has helped me with is realizing when Cinco De Mayo should be celebrated. I hope there is a checkbox on the application to point out these landmark accomplishments.

Maybe I need some professional kid teaching help? Look at this packaging it says everything you need to know. Baby+Photoshop Hat = Awesome!

Lifetime Success Only $59.99

Lifetime Success Only $59.99

We started hammering the alphabet with child One, determined to do things right. That had to include “Your Baby Can Read” because everyone who is anyone has a baby who can read, right? I don’t know if you have experienced this DVD series but I think my children needed the remedial course, “Your Baby Can Concentrate” or “Ooooh Shiny Colors” because they watched about 45 seconds of the first video. They can watch mindless kid shows like Spongebob all day but one round of the video was plenty. Also, I don’t know who those poser-ass kids were in the commercial or how long it must have taken to get them to memorize the queue cards but they are lies. Don’t show me some cute girl in thick glasses reading ‘War and Peace’ and make me feel like my three year old should be doing our taxes. This program is akin to a diet plan fine print, “Results Not Typical”. The best part about the whole thing is that the PhD behind it, Titzer, had his own difficulties with the program.

Titzer is an awful last name. Could his mother not read?

Titzer is an awful last name. Could his mother not read?

That was a bust so what should we do now? Oh wait…. Look at this! A fun website called “ABC Mouse” and it has real teachers in the commercial. I’m sold. There is curriculum and incentive programs so it has a better chance of holding attention. ABC Mouse is moderately better than pretending to teaching toddlers to read. Of course, my kids discover the non-learning activities like re-arranging a virtual hamster cage and repeatedly trying to hack the parent password until the iPad freezes. ABC Mouse has a cool reading section where the words are highlighted as it reads them aloud. The kids paid attention to it for a full half story before they resumed tearing the Baby-Can-Read flash cards into confetti.

Let’s all tell the truth here. The world gets a little less exciting for the parents once the kids can read. Doesn’t it? This painful light bulb of truth clicked on one afternoon. My wife and I enjoy funny T-shirts because that is the only hobby we can afford. My eldest daughter walks into our room and stares at her mother’s shirt quizzically while she sounds out the words, “Taaat, Thhhaat…. That’s What She Said.” I glance over at my wife and try to choke down a smile. “Mommy why does your shirt say That’s What She Said?”. Mommy answers with some fumbled response about women always being right so men need to remember who said something… I didn’t really hear the rest because I was in the closet… changing my shirt.

I can live with PG T-shirts maybe that will be the only issue. Wrong. Another area where reading isn’t so handy is the Direct TV channel guide. Randomly scrolling through the page down button and suddenly there are fifty channels in a row with titles like “Lesbian Love Lust” and “Hard Cock Farms.” Try to explain that with a six year old reading along… “I think it is about chickens honey, really firm chickens. And farms. Hey! Who wants to watch Dora!”

Don’t believe me? Check out the awesome titles I captured at a creepy 10:30 am. This was not a search or special menu, this was me hitting the Page Down button repeatedly like a child.

Nice mid-morning programming.

Nice mid-morning programming.

This photo says a lot about humanity.

This photo says a lot about humanity.

Personally, I was worried that Dirty Rotten MILF Lovers #4 would saturate the market but the people wanted more. One show is more of a description and why are so many of them series? I’m spending too much time on this. So yeah, no scrolling through the guide until you are at least thirty years old. I hope there is a way to remove these channels from even showing up. Moving on.

With a reading six or seven year old even innocent places and normal activities become a problem. Grocery tabloids are just another layer in the onion that we call literacy. “Mommy, what is ‘gay’?” “Mommy, what is sexy?” “Mommy, why did aliens kidnap Betty White?”

I want my children to have a love for reading but I don’t want the responsibility of censoring myself or screwing them up if I don’t. I long for the days of making up my own words to Dr. Seuss stories and texting dirty messages to my wife. Sooooo….

If you are the parents of a child who achieved literacy at a young age, that was probably a good decision. Good work. If you threw in the towel like we did, this post is for you. You’re welcome.

Underdaddy to the rescue.