reading

Release Super Genius

Your child can be a genius.

Strike that. Could be a genius. As in, it is entirely possible that through some miraculous set of circumstances you have a child that processes, retains, and recalls information much faster than an ordinary child. Your child could be a genius but, most likely, is not.

My dog is not a genius. She sniffed around the kitchen floor for a good fifteen minutes looking for an elusive piece of soft dog food. She could smell it but couldn’t figure out where it was located.

Truly a mystery meat.

Truly a mystery meat.

Maybe my children could do better. I briefly held such a hope. I remember thinking, “Maybe one of these kids will be a mental mega-star and lead the family to riches.” Then they learned to walk (roughly) and talk (sort of) and my thoughts have shifted to, “Man, I hope they can fill out their own applications at McDonald’s.” Not that McDonald’s is a bad job or that people who work there aren’t intelligent but let’s be honest, it isn’t the first career on a parent’s wish list.

My kids are all at normal intelligence from what I can tell. There are flashes of brilliance and depths of unrealized potential. There are also moments where all I can do is stare at them. Speechless. Searching for the universe where – the words they uttered or the actions they took – make sense.

How about a few examples?

Prima is my drifter. She gets lost in glassy-eyed thought while spinning in circles and staring at the television. On our snow day a few weeks ago she insisted on getting herself dressed to go play in the snow. She came to me in the living room with her layered shirt, overalls, jacket, and knit cap.

“I’m ready to go outside!” she declared with excitement.

“Are you sure?”

“Oh yes, I have my coat and everything!”

“I think you are missing something.” I prodded after I noticed a very key piece of clothing was missing from her winter ensemble.

“Nope. Im ready.”

“Okay.” I said and opened the door into the snow.

She ran forward and her bare feet sank ankle deep in the icy whiteness. She stood there for a second and even reached down to touch her bare feet with equally bare hands. “Uummm. Daddy… I need some shoes.”

“I thought you might.”

Shoes really help with the cold feelings on feet.

Shoes really help with the cold feelings on feet.

A couple of nights ago Prima had some more quotable moments. Again I blame her fickle attention span. Jane was looking through some books for the bedtime story for the night and she mentioned gnomes.

Prima said, “Gnomes are creepy.”

I replied, “Did you know that Gnome is the name of a town in Alaska?”

She looks at me with her head tilted sideways like a confused puppy, “We live in Alaska?”

Blank stare.

I turn my attention to the search for something to read. Jane finally finds a book on dinosaurs and we all sit in the floor. Prima is twirling her hair while looking at the book in a daze. She stares past the turning pages without flinching and I just tell myself that she is like a laptop that is in sleep mode. As long as I don’t punch a button or move her mouse she will twirl her hair like a screen saver.

The book has lots of neat dinosaurs. I try to read out the syllables of the names and get the girls to say them with me, “Pterodactyl, Ter-OH-dak-till

Prima blurts out, “I’m allergic to those!”

“I doubt that.”

“Yes I Am!” Both eyes stare at me with an intensity of a death row inmate pleading for someone to believe their story.

I try and give an honest answer to why it can’t be true, “You have to be exposed to be allergic which I think would make you nearly immortal because they have been dead millions of years.”

“Well, I don’t like birds”, she says as she shifts her gaze to her own wiggling toes.

“Fair enough.”

I finished the story. I may have been more entertained than my audience.

Life is funny. We do things like read bedtime stories in an effort to enhance our children. To give them an edge. To make them smart. We want to teach them about the world and endless possibilities of imagination. We hope they are inspired to read and learn. Then, in the midst of it all, they do exactly that service for us, the parents.

So, if you try to be a teacher and end up a student – this post is for you. Reading to your kids is one of the best things you can do for yourself. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Was my Black Friday Experience Influenced by Ferguson Controversy?

Are Ferguson and Black Friday Related?

You may be asking me, “How the hell can you go down a slippery slope of reasoning and tie these two things together? One is a volatile discussion of justice and lingering race issues while the other is a mega-shopping holiday where people trample each other for things that are almost on sale.” I know right? Lets read on and find out.

Maybe I will compare the rioting and irrationality of large crowds?

Perhaps media misrepresentation of what they (whoever they is) want you to believe and what reality is?

No, I don’t have time for that deep thinking philosophical stuff. I will just take a few moments out of your day and let you know some of my thoughts on the issues at hand. As mentioned in the title; Black Friday and Ferguson.

First is Black Friday. We all want to sit on the moral high horse by telling people to be mad at the retailers for not closing their doors and sending workers home to be with their family for the holidays. My goodness, what is this crazy world coming to? No respect for the families. Blah, bubbity blah.

Some simple logic here should clear things up.
1) Some people don’t want to be around family for longer than a brisk lunch. Uncle Ted and his godawful foot odor might be making everyone uncomfortable and work is the only valid excuse. Don’t ruin that excuse.
2) Some people want to work and get the holiday/overtime pay. During the actual holiday work should be easier with a higher holiday pay scale. While I understand that some people have a hard time changing jobs and need their jobs, there is always the option of leaving a job that demands too much. Plus I think the Department of Labor has some regulations to address how workers are treated.
3) If people would stay home and not shop, I guarantee retailers wouldn’t feel the need to be open or fully staffed. Judging by the parking lot of Wal-Mart, at 6:00pm on Thursday, there are thousands of people who are fully supportive of the whole Black Friday event.
4) If we all were really that concerned about being able to spend time with family and congregate then maybe we should look into finding more opportunity throughout the year. Counting on Thanksgiving to knock out the obligatory annual visit sounds like a crutch to me.

So Black Friday is a thing that is not going away unless we ignore it. Does everyone agree?

Of course not but lets move on to Ferguson.


Like everything ever, this has become a partisan political issue and the most convenient way to really get everyone tuned in is to make it about more than a result of poor decisions but to add in race and let the hate flow. As people we all need to remember one thing, the majority of all other people are caring, reasonable, and hopeful. Moderate people don’t speak out as often or as loud as the two ends of the spectrum.

The first end of the spectrum is that the riots in Ferguson are by a bunch of welfare recipients who just want to be violent and hate white people for no good reason. They believe the victims of police shootings are always monsters who asked for what they got. If they weren’t a bunch of Godless thugs out mugging old ladies in the Kroger parking lot then none of this would have happened. The general idea or tone can be seen here.

The opposite end of the opinion spectrum is the idea that some global conspiracy is in effect and that the only victims are minorities. Law enforcement is run by some secret white agenda and white authority figures sit in the bushes looking for innocent minorities to gun down in the street. This side would have you believe the world is still black and white with no in between. The general idea of tone can be seen here.

"African American" Friday Ad

“African American” Friday Ad

I did have a chance to read the transcript from the Grand Jury witnesses as well as the police officer involved. It sounds to me like there were a lot of questionable decisions on both sides. Neighborhood witness confirm the story of Michael Brown being confrontational and advancing on the police officer. However, the testimony from Darren Wilson makes me curious why he didn’t wait a few minutes. He states that he knew other officers were in the area and would respond after he radioed out to them (using a radio on the wrong channel). Maybe he did feel smaller and threatened by an aggressive and larger man. Maybe he had some small-man-syndrome and wanted to assert his authority. This wouldn’t be the first time that male ego has gotten people killed.

My takeaway here is two-fold; 1) Don’t attack an armed police officer and 2) If you are a police officer and you feel outmanned and help is nearby, ask for help before chasing an aggressive man that you have already shot at and who showed no regard for deadly force. He might not be in his right mind.
For the people who argue that there are hundreds of other cases deserving of outrage and rioting but are getting no media coverage… I agree one hundred percent! Go be outraged and riot! Right or wrong, the difference with Ferguson is that people are actually rioting and being outraged. Don’t scale your emotion based on who is paying attention, if you are mad then go be mad.

Maybe don’t burn down businesses in your own neighborhood though. If it were me I would probably riot near the people I was mad at and not in my own front yard.

Now see… I have gotten somewhat off track. This is all related to Black Friday too and a message of hope. I didn’t tell you that at first but following two subjects has taken some mental effort on your part so I wanted to reward you. There is light at the end of the tunnel.


Back to business. So Ferguson inevitably brings up some old dirty laundry around cases like Rodney King, the OJ Simpson Trial, and even the recent Trayvon Martin. The bitter race war of feelings and angst really get down to what hate is all about. If you look close enough there is a difference emerging.

I have noticed more people engaging each other on Facebook and social media. There are the normal hate filled troll comments from both ends but the good folks in the middle are being quicker to stand up and say this isn’t what I represent. There seems to be more understanding that discussion is different than argument. Maybe more people understand that disagreeing is not the same as disliking. Maybe the world is slightly more grey. We have made strides from our problems in the past and the setbacks from events like this will be less and less if we keep moving forward.


How does that relate to my Black Friday experience?

This year my wife and I had babysitters and some free time to join in the madness. We agreed beforehand that we had nowhere to be and no expectations. Just cruise around and grab deals as they come along. We had a good time and I think we found some good deals. We also tried to smile, be polite, and help people when we got the chance.

Everyone else seemed to be doing the same. Some people were stressed and mad for sure but the level of rude was down. I don’t have any answers but I think I have interesting questions.

Is it possible that a little controversy and discussion is helpful to remind us that the human race should be a team? Can accusations of racism make people more aware of how they interact with others? Can accusations of abuse of power make authority figures more cautious of how they interact with others? Is it the slightest bit possible that love as a response to hate can make hate self-destruct?

It feels good to think it might.

If world peace happened tomorrow we would still have common enemies of disease, hunger, and asteroids. I hope my girls can grow up in a world that puts more energy into important problems and stops looking to divide people into groups. We all have to read, think, and be open to discussions.
I’ll work on my end where I get the chance, if you need to work on yours then this article is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Author’s Note: Feel free to reblog or share if you think this view is right or wrong. I always want outside opinion. Please hold any hateful comments unless it is purely directed at me, I can take that just fine. Please reference this post for comments.

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.