Monthly Archives: February 2013

Discuss Amongst Yourselves

I love my job.

I love that I work for a non-profit. I love that I work in the arts. I even love the building I work in.

I love that my job requires me to have a working knowledge of carpentry, knots, basic wiring, how to sew body parts onto a styrofoam dummy, how to make canned pears into fish fillets, and how to get hard water stains out of crystal.

I love that I can fix almost anything with hot glue an gaffers tape.

In five minutes.

In the dark.

And I love the people I work with. There are certainly exceptions, but most people in the arts are educated, passionate, and excellent bakers.

And they’re fun to talk to. College degrees and rich inner lives make for great conversation.

Which is why I owe them somewhat of an apology. See, for the last 2.5 years my topics of discussion have revolved around 1) how tired I am. 2) how awesome my kid is. 3) How awful my kid is. 4) how tired I am, and 5) something I can’t remember – sorry, I didn’t get much sleep last night.

They’ve all been very patient with me – nods, smiles, and commiseration abound.

But believe it or not, effort is being made. I think the rate at which I mention what time I wake up has dropped from 48 times per hour to about 30. I’ve been trying to cultivate opinions on things like Downton Abbey, awards shows, certain Kardashians, and those clowns in congress. What a bunch of clowns.

Other parents know what I’m talking about here. It’s hard to express how one can become so fixated on something. But it’s kind of like waking up one morning with a third arm, an exoskeleton and a French accent. It takes a while for these new developments to become mundane.

So bear with me. Working together we can get through this.

Which reminds me – my son did this awesome thing at 5:30 this morning we were…wait. No! No, I won’t!

Sorry about that. So, how about that Glee, huh? Those plucky underdogs sure can sing.

 

 

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It Also Works For Playing Risk.

There are a lot of books out there on parenting.

Dr. Spock, Dr. Sears, Dr. Seuss, Dr. Dre, everybody has an opinion. Britney Spears’ mom even had a book deal, at least until her younger teenage daughter got pregnant and her older one shaved her head and went into rehab.

And that’s just literature. The entire lineup of TLC can be considered one giant instructional video on how not to raise a functional human being.

I read up on some of these books before contraction day, and would vigorously recommend at least skimming a few, but my current favorite manual on Dadness won’t be found in the family/parenting/infant section of the bookstore. It won’t be popping up on the “customers also bought” bar on Amazon.

My current favorite parenting manual is Sun Tzu’s Art of War.

It’s not just for Sociopathic financial executives anymore.

I’ve mentioned before that I looked at parenting like a fight – in that you can prepare all you want, but when it happens the script goes out the window and you just have to roll with what comes. And now I’m going to wax blogosophic on The Art of War and it’s applications to child rearing. So, just to be clear,  I wish to take a moment to state for the record that parenthood is not combat. Your child is not your enemy. And though you will engage in many battles, there will never be victory. You will never win. There is no winning in parenting, only naps.

Everybody clear? Bitchin.

Now, here’s how parenthood is exactly like combat.

Sun Tzu writes: “All warfare is based on deception.” He writes this a lot. If you take away nothing else from The Art of War, understand that war is based on deception.

And so is parenthood.

Well, maybe deception is the wrong word. It’s more like distraction.

Stuffed toys, balloons, dogs trucks, and – should all else fail – videos and food. As a parent your entire day consists of deploying these forces to keep your target safe, engaged, and away from your laptop.

A wise man does not try to stop the flow of a river, so a wise parent avoids abrupt intervention, instead channeling the little dynamo in a more beneficial direction. Try to take your phone out of their mouth and you’ve only made more wailing, tantrum-throwing work for yourself. But wait, is that a giraffe over your shoulder? Ooh, isn’t that more fun to chew?

Try to diaper up an unwilling 2-year-old and you get a crash course in Brazilian Jujitsu and a toddler graduated from whining to shrieking. But wait, who’ll hold this balloon? Hey presto, babies are happy and sofas are urine-free.

Seriously, poppas, balloons. I cannot overemphasize the entertainment potential of balloons. Use it wisely.

It’s important to know about vaccinations. It’s good to have discussions on parenting philosophy, when to introduce sugar, which Star Wars trilogy to start with, but really, practice your card tricks. Watch some Penn & Teller. Slight of hand, misdirection – these will be your trusted generals in the 18-year campaign against delinquency and reality TV stardom.

Become practiced in deception, poppas, if for no other reason than to convince your child that you have any idea what you’re doing.

Hey is that sasquatch?

…and I slip quietly away…

 

 

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Love Sonnet of the New Father

It’s still Valentine’s Day, right? This counts.

In honor of my Baby-Mama, for all the things I didn’t do for her today.

Ahem.

I love you like a 7th hour of sleep.

I love you enough to be wrong for the rest of our lives together.

If I had to choose between you and coffee I’d choose you in an instant. And start drinking meth dissolved in Red Bull.

My love for you is the only thing I feel more acutely than joint pain.

My love for you must burst forth, and not even the highest-quality, most securely-fastened diaper could stop it from a blowout. And I didn’t mean that in a dirty way at all.

Unless you think it’s funny.

When toddlers dream and the dishes are done, when all the fluids are cleaned up and we’ve figured out what that smell is, when the books about trains have lost their allure and we’ve both found our keys – so ’round about 8:30 –  I love you so much that I won’t wake you up to tell you you’re beautiful. I’ll just leave a note.

Happy Valentine’s Day, gorgeous. The hours are long and the years are short and I’m so very grateful I’m sharing this messy adventure with you.

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Stack Like the Wind

Kids are strange.

And not just that one kid who smells like boiled rice and looks kinda like Paul Giamatti. No, I mean regular kids. My kid.

It’s weird what sticks and what doesn’t: with only moderate prompting he’s saying “please” and “thank you” at home, but he won’t even wave goodbye when we’re outside. He’ll collapse into giggling fits with a peekaboo game or if you repeat “That’s impossible!” over and over, but doesn’t even crack a smile when I read Confederacy of Dunces to him.

And he fixates on things. Some of which I totally understand – Gorillas, basketballs, the letter O – but some things remain a mystery to my coffee-soaked mind.

Speed Stacking, for instance. Have you heard of this? You take cups, and stack them in pyramids and then collapse them. Really fast.

No, really fast.

Little dude is utterly mesmerized by this stuff. He watches  youtube videos of these little 10 year old boys (it is overwhelmingly boys, for some reason) who are apparently too nerdy even for video games. They twitch their hairless arms at speeds far too great for the eye to follow and triangles appear and disappear faster than crises in a news cycle.

And lately he’s started speed stacking himself, or “making cups” as he puts it. This involves taking his alphabet blocks, clattering them around, then stacking them in little towers of 2 or 3. He then finishes by strutting around, allowing me to loudly admire his work.

I know it sounds like I’m making fun of it, but I’m just a sucker for a laugh line. It’s certainly no stranger than anything I did at his age.

The only memory I have of which is forming the “Jaguar Association Team” with 2 of my first grade droogs. The duties of said team included riding motorcycles, piloting TIE fighters, and singing the theme song.

It’s the arbitrariness, really, that gets me. Stacking cups. I’m sure there’s a mental aspect to it, like anything, but the whole deal is based on a sequence of repetitive tasks. The only way to excel is to do these tasks for hours and hours – there’s no strategy, or elevated level of thinking. It could just as easily be competetive light switch operation, or belt buckling.

Whatever, he won’t be risking spinal injury or brain damage doing this. And cups cost significantly less than hockey pads. And can fit on a bike. Give me some pom poms and watch me cheer.

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