The Pinnacle of Fatherhood
This past weekend I had the honor of escorting our beautiful daughter to the annual Stepfordville Daddy-Daughter Dance, or Triple D as I like to call it. This is a first for both of us. And with she in her old flower girl dress and Me in my only suit, we head out for a night out under the Stepfordville lights. Just a Dad and his Daughter…
In Stepfordville, few things are bigger than the Daddy Daughter Dance. (The only thing bigger is the
annual luxury import vehicle giveaway…that’s the only way I can explain how everyone here drives one…maybe this is my year to win…) And due to the unrealistically large number of children in Stepfordville, the Triple D cannot simply exist as a single event held in an evening. In fact, there are so many little girls in Stepfordville that the Triple D must be divvied up like chow time in prison. Each age group (or cell block) gets a 1.5hr time slot for which to hold their dance.
We decide to surprise M and get her a pretty corsage to wear to the dance. This, of course, is met with indifference, if not disgust. (Perhaps we should not have opted for the corsage tattoo) After a quick guilt trip, she relents, and agrees to wear the flower…but ONLY until we get into the dance…So, donned with our pretty flower and a scowl, we are off to the Triple D! (After 400 photos…thank you, Mommy)
If I can describe the dance in one word, it would be, “Crowd”…or “Lines”…It starts before we even leave our vehicle with waiting in line to pay for parking. Once we have parked and make our way into the Stepfordville Conference Center and we find ourselves in line yet again. This time the line is to take photos, which, like the parking, cost money. Oh well, you gotta pay to play, right?
20 or so minutes into our allotted chow time…err, dance time, we finally make our way into the main hall. As you might suspect, we find ourselves in line for a third…and final time. This line is for refreshments. (Wow, we actually do get some chow! … the prison similarities are starting to pile up…Is that guy wearing an orange jumpsuit??) We load up our paper plates with tiny finger sandwiches, semi-fresh fruit, and stale cookies. This feast is not to be outdone by the airplane-sized servings of soda poured straight from the 2-liter bottle! Oh well, we ain’t here for the grub. Let’s dance!
We hit the floor with some fellow daddy-daughter cohorts and the dancing commences. As we approach the dance floor, a sea of suited-up middle-aged dads parts to allow us entry. These dads are busting some moves! I see the sprinkler, the running man, the cabbage patch, and even the robot. If not for the little girls, I would swear I am at an insurance seminar mixer! As they say, “When in Rome…” so I start working my magic on the floor with M. Soon, she is dancing in a group of her schoolmates and I find myself moonwalking alone. Now I know how Farmer Ted felt when Sammy left him on the dance floor in Sixteen Candles…awkward.
The rest of the dance continues in this manner except that the other “single” dads and myself make our way to the sidelines to watch our little girls having a blast…without us. It is at this point that I am thankful that the Triple D is so short. There is only so much small talk and little girl screams this man can take. (The loudest of the screams came when What Does the Fox Say comes on…I am still deaf in my left ear)
Before we know it, the time limit is up on our fairy tale evening and the DJ is ushering us out the door in order to prepare the mess hall for the next cell block. We take our girlies out for dinner and rather than cut our losses and call it an evening, we decide it will be a good idea to take them to Main Event (a mega-super-center containing bowling, laser tag, video games…and beer).
Main Event is anything but an event. As soon as the game cards are loaded up with dad’s cash, our girls are gone… So we do what any other man would do in this situation, we get beers and follow them around while they play games. If they were older, this would be equivalent to holding purses and coats while they shop. At least the beer is cold.
It takes roughly 1 1/2 hours for us to collect the girls and exit the mega-supercenter-gameapalooza-bar. The girls guzzle down the candy that they purchased with their winning game tickets on the way home while the dads ride in a silent, slightly beer-tinted reflection.
As I tuck my sweet baby girl in and looks up at me with those heart-melting baby blues and she whispers, “Best night ever” and then flashes an ear-to-ear grin (at which point she looks like a jack-o-lantern due to all of the missing teeth she has…or doesn’t have). It is at this point that I come to a harsh realization.
I have reached the pinnacle of fatherhood. Soon, this little angel will hate me. She will not snuggle with me while we watch cartoons. She will not throw her arms around me and ask me to pick her up. She will probably not even talk to me…She will grow up.
I only wish “chow time” lasted longer…
So Long Terrible Threes! (Sniffle, Sniffle)
We have scratched. We have clawed. We have laughed. We have cried. Did we contemplate murder… and suicide? Daily. Did we cope by ramping up our discount box wine intake to an all-time high? Definitely. Are we stronger parents after having survived the past year battling our three year-old son? Debatable. And yet, there is something good to come of these trying times…I think I see it in the distance ahead. Is that…could it be? Yes, it is! There’s a light at the end of what has seemed like an eternally long tunnel, otherwise known as the Terrible Threes.
That’s right, folks. Lil b is turning four! I first notice it on the refrigerator calendar as I am topping off my 64 oz glass of fine boxed Merlot. Something on that calendar catches my eye, so I take a closer look and I can scarcely make out the hand-written scribble. “Benny’s B-Day” is scribbled diagonally across the symbolic date box in the Nell-scratch that is wife’s primitive form of written communication (She also points and grunts…and bites when she’s really mad). It was like a beacon of light guiding the lost ship that is my soul safely to shore. Lil b’s birthday…no more terrible threes…there is a God…I just overflowed my wine chugger…
I instantly drop to my knees and french kiss the kitchen floor. Mainly because I don’t want to waste any Jesus Juice. Once down there I also see several drops of gravy that I must have dropped earlier (and every good Texan knows that thou shalt not waste gravy…or chili, for that matter). Needless to say, while I kneel there slurping cheap wine and delicious cream gravy from the grout joints in my tile, I think back on the past year and how much we have actually overcome in our battles with three year-old Lil-b.
Over this past year We’ve endured what I would call a textbook case in your generic toddler parenting book. We have battled the “anger hitting”, where Lil-b will lash out and take a swipe at you if he feels he’s being wronged. Aside from the anger management aspect, the real problem with Lil-b hitting me, whether playing or not, is that he just happens to be at that height to where is right cross lands squarely in my junk. He affectionately calls it, “Tee Tee Punch”. At least he screams it out as he’s winding up his haymaker, which provides me just the fraction of a second that I need to protect the family jewels. Perhaps the silver lining is that he attacks with no mercy when I sick him on my buddies!
Lil-b also has a severe problem with authority. He doesn’t like to be told what to do. (So sometimes I have to check him into the wall and blame it on his clumsiness). Once he gets older, he can get some dark sunglasses and tell people he ran into a door just like mommy…(wink, wink). So, when Lil-b gets upset and he’s not sucker punching someone in the baby-maker, he simply throws an all-out fit complete with screaming, crying, and floor flailing. It is this, and this alone that I pray goes away with the threes. I need this for my own sanity…and he needs this if he doesn’t want to walk around like Verbal Kint the rest of his life.
Lastly, we have valiantly waged a violent war with bed wetting… and have suffered heavy casualties. In fact, we are currently in full retreat. Each night Lil-b is straps on a pull-up and we get to make it through a night that doesn’t involve a midnight sheet changing. We will take this loss (along with the extra sleep) and live to fight another day.
As I finish tongue squeegeeing every last drop of nourishment from my kitchen floor I glance up at the calendar one last time. A smile comes to my face and I start to chuckle just thinking about all of the things I have just ranted about above. It occurs to me that these are the very things that we are going to one day look back upon with fondness and warm fuzzies. This gives me hope for the future and it also reminds me that time flies. Before I know it, my babies will be complaining about me acting crazy and wetting the bed. You know what, Lil-b? You go ahead and throw that fit. You go ahead and wet that bed…and why not, throw in your best Tee Tee Punch while you’re at it. Daddy loves you just the way you are.
When I was a child (not all that long ago), I played soccer. I played every outdoor season, then played indoor soccer in between the outdoor seasons and sometimes even simultaneously. Let’s just say I played a lot of soccer growing up. (I played so much that my ankles are now about as useless as Nancy Kerrigan’s after a Tonya Harding crow bar session)
While I no longer play due to my competitive eating disorder, M is now playing soccer and I am truly loving it! Each Saturday the nostalgia comes bubbling back to the surface of the caldron that is my memory. The smell of the fresh-cut grass, the sideline chalk dust in the air, the overly loud soccer moms cheering on their little would-be Pele’s, and the list goes on. Suffice it to say, I love me some game day!
Even at the tender age of 6, the girls are quite competitive, M in particular. I don’t know where she gets it, but she has a wide competitive streak in her and a strong drive to win. (God knows it does not come from me…Hell, if I were out there, I would be swilling a beer and waiting for the ball to come in close enough proximity for me to fane a kick without spilling my drink. And all that running…Eff that! I get tired just watching them. Me, I roll up to the games with a dozen bear claws and go to town while my baby gets her soccer on…I kid, I kid…everyone knows I am a chocolate glaze kinda guy…)
Seriously though, as M’s games kick off, I start out calm and in my camp chair with the Wife and Lil b alongside the rabid soccer moms (& dads). As the action picks up, I find myself standing and starting to bark a few minor instructions to M. ” Cover #8!”, or “Get to the front of the net!”, or maybe “If she comes by you again, slide her an elbow to the temple!”, and occasionally “Shut-up, Ref! Or I will gut you like a fish!”
If we are not already pounding the other team into submission by this point, (we usually are), I start pacing the sidelines along with the coach at times. I start to give M more instruction. Mind you, I am not one of those yellers or arm wavers on the sideline. I am subtle…almost to a fault as M often does not notice me or hear me trying to get her attention. (I sometimes have to trip one of the opponent kids to get a dead ball so that I can get M into proper position) Needless to say, I am slightly involved in the game from a parent perspective, but not overly so like those crazy soccer moms. So, over the past couple of seasons I have been begged by M to coach and even been urged to assist by her current and previous coaches. Alas, I have held strong…until now.
That’s right folks, I am breaking the ole whistle out of retirement! And I must say, I am pretty excited. I have not coached since I was a junior in high school when I assisted in coaching a 5 year-old boys team to what I will now embellish to an undefeated championship season. (in reality, I was probably too hungover at the games to even know if we won…hell,did we even play? Was that all some bad dream?). Even if I am only going to be coaching in an assistant capacity, it is safe to say that I am not the only one who is a little excited. You should have seen (and heard) M’s delight. It totally made my day. (Now I am not regretting all of the threatening and coercing I had to do to get the current assistant coach to “step down”. I hope she regains the ability to walk again soon…)
I dropped the coaching news on M as she completed her final game of the season with yet another tick in the win column. I am quietly reflecting as the team huddles around the coach as he starts to hand out the hardware. And by hardware I mean the standard participation trophies that EVERY kid on EVERY team gets these days. I almost crap my pants (if you count sharting as crapping your pants, then yes, I did crap my pants) The size of these effing trophies is bigger than the largest trophy I ever received. Only, my team had to win a huge citywide tournament to get that trophy! We poured our hearts out on that clumpy dust bowl field to get that trophy! I will probably be buried with that trophy! (Just me, my trophy and that unfortunate Prince Albert jewelry) As M crams her participation loot into the family truckster, I am left to ponder what size trophies they hand out to the kids who actually accomplish something. If the size of these participation trophies is any indication, we are gonna need a bigger house…
The T-Day Invasion
Below is the transcription of a speech given just before the great spring clean of 2013 in Stepfordville, Texas. Go forth and be motivated!
You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many years. The eyes of this house are upon you. The hopes and prayers of clutterless-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the Clutter war machine, the elimination of toy tyranny over the oppressed parents of Stepfordville, and security for ourselves in this house.
Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well-trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.
But this is the year 2013! Much has happened since the Clutter triumphs of 2011-12. The United Parents Nations have inflicted upon the Clutter great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our recent offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the playroom and their capacity to wage war on the ground floor. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting parents. The tide has turned! The clutter-free rooms of the world are marching together to Victory!
I have full confidence in your courage and devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!
~Dwight D. Parent
Suburban Garden: A Lesson in Humility
So, we have recently decided to grow our first garden. We are doing this for several reasons ranging from something to keep the kids occupied over summer to us trying to become a little more self-sufficient. This being said, we load up the family truckster and roll on over to Gebo’s. Let me just tell you that this store is exactly the same as I remember it from my childhood. This particular store is even more impressive in that it originally must have been out in the country a bit, but now has an entire shopping center built around it. All of this, and yet, when you walk through those doors you are instantly transported to Small-town, TX. The same line of John Deere toys, the same standard feed store fare, the same live chickens for sale for $2. Watching the kids with the baby chicks was worth the trip alone. Alas, we are here for one thing, and one thing only. We are starting a garden!
Rather than tear the hell out of our yard because, let’s face it, we are amateurs and this garden may not last the summer, we opt for a less permanent option for our garden. We peruse the outdoor section of the Gebo’s until we find exactly what we are looking for in a livestock water tank. But hey, if this keeps me from digging up my yard, I am willing to take on the added cost of $12o “que cash register noise”
Next stop, Calloway’s!
Calloway’s is a less-than-affordable gardening mecca to which the local affluent flock. Unfortunately, we were unable to find veggies for sale this early at our local generic hardware super center, so we are forced to shell out a little extra…again. 4 tomato plants, 2 cucumber plants, 2 water melon plants, 1 jalapeno plant, 2 cilantro, 1 basil, 1 mint and various bags of vermiculite, soil, peat moss, and human feces (at least it smelled that way!) leave us with a full truck bed, less $150 “again with the noise”
But hey, were are moving toward self sustenance here, so what’s a little (or lot) of cash up front, right? “Onward and upward “, like some overly peppy scout leader once said. So, we make the actual garden assembly a family event as to involve the kids from the beginning.
Surprisingly, this goes well and without incident. However, when it comes time to water everything in, we end up with two soaked kids. Somebody please tell me why the hell a kid is incapable of working a garden hose without ending up on the wrong end of it and completely drenched??
Needless to say, our first garden is planted! We are stoked and ready to get those thumbs turning from brown to some form of green. Yes, this is the part where you, the reader, starts to wonder about this story being too good to be true. You must be thinking, “How could those idiot bastards pull off a successful garden on their first try?”. Well, fear not because your instincts have not failed you.
On a whim, we decide to check the forecast. Whoa Nelly! Are you kidding me? We are at the end of March and the forecast calls for a hard freeze…and not just one night! No, it’s going to freeze for the next 3 nights! Being the prepared boy scout that I am, I spring to
action and find some cloth tarps to cover the garden with. I can do nothing more this night other than funnel wine down my craw and feel superior to those poor bastards on Shameless.
Wouldn’t you know it…all of the effing plants are effing dead…eff my green thumb! Eff this oversized tin of dirt in my yard! and eff gardening! I am already in the hole a three hunny and now I have to re-buy most of the plants again! Maybe those hippies at the commune aren’t all that “far out” after all…Oh well, it’s off to Calloway’s for round two. I guess this thumb ain’t gonna turn green on its own. Now, if I can only find one of the kids’ green markers…
It’s Holiday Season Again…Where’s My Shotgun? (Prologue)
Ah yes, it’s that time of year yet again. The leaves are turning, football is in full swing, and all of our coats have been unpacked and dewinterized. For many folks, fall symbolizes the start to the best part of their year. They look forward to turkey, taking time away from the stresses of work and exchanging in pleasant fellowship with loved ones.
I can just see them wrapping up in that new “Snugg Life” Snuggie that they got for Christmas with a nice hot mug of cocoa as they settle in to watch Miracle on 34th Street for the 97th time. Doesn’t that sound lovely? It’s like a Lifetime original movie and you are the star. Too bad this pumpkin spice-scented dream simply does not exist in my world. In my world that same scene would be more like me drunkenly stumbling my way through a maze of toddler toys as I half fall-half sit into a 1/2″ layer of kid snack crumbs on the sofa in an attempt to rub one out to Sue Heck’s Hello Kitty-concealed jugs before I pass out. (I know Sue is under age, but I love me some Hello Kitty!). While that scene may not be entirely realistic, (you all know I am too cheap to buy my kids toys…or snacks) it sets the tone for the holiday season in my family.
As I sit in jail for domestic abuse, I have some time to reflect on what it is about the holiday season that sends me down the path to suicide each year. It’s the three-pronged attack of holidays that starts, and keeps the beating ball rolling. Think of it in military terms. The first wave of attack is Halloween. If you survive the attack, you find yourself staring Thanksgiving right in the face. Many do not make it through this second wave, but those that are unlucky enough to survive are rewarded with the shock and awe of Christmas. Just the string of those three words has me ordering up my autoerotic asphyxiation kit…hold the lemon.
This year, in an attempt to keep my sanity, I have decided to chronicle the holiday season with my family. I will provide a detailed account of each holiday wave of attack. Hopefully, I keep the shotgun out of my mouth long enough to finish this endeavor. Wish me luck and stay tuned…
Spew Me A River and Long Dong Chimp…Unrelated…Somewhat
I would love some input from you other parents on this one…Our kids seem to have developed some genetic mutation that has given them the super power of projectile vomiting at will. Of all the genes from the multitudes of generations gone by that are carried in my wife’s and my blood, our kids both get hair-trigger gag reflexes.
For instance, B has thrown up on a restaurant table all of the 3 times that we have taken him to a restaurant. You may be thinking, “Wow, they don’t get out much!” You would be correct. We clean enough toddler spew up at our own house. We don’t need the added cleanup duty coupled with the embarrassment that comes from seeing fellow patrons bury their faces in disgust or gasp out in astonishment as they watch our entire meal get glazed with a thin layer of milk spray. You can understand why I no longer eat donuts.
Don’t think that I am leaving M out of this. The poor kid can get a little tickle in her throat, or have a little cough and que the chunk-works. On top of each of them having these separate issues, they both hose down a room with any period of prolonged crying. I recently purchased a John boat and fashioned strap-on buckets for both kids just to get around our own house. Our friggin’ carpet looks like a cheetah with all of the spots. We have been putting off getting wood floors for fear that they will warp under the constant layer of regurgitated food. I even went so far as to trace back our lineage on Ancestry.com to see if some distant relative mated with a fly…or an Irishman. I found a lot of the latter. Coincidence?
On a somewhat lighter note, we decide to take the kids to the Fort Worth Zoo last weekend. The weather is great, the crowds are low, and the kids seem to be holding down their food, so off we go in search of flamingos and elephants. (Don’t think for a second that I didn’t thow the puke buckets in the car) Nevertheless, things are going wonderfully when we happen upon the chimpanzee exhibit.
Like most kids, our kids like the chimps, and any monkeys for that matter.
So we linger at this exhibit just enjoying watching the chimps chase each other around their habitat. It is about this time that I notice a small group of chimps that is up on a high rock above the rest of the group. There are about four or five of them hanging out up there. As my gaze begins to shift from them to the chimps down below something stops my eyes dead in their tracks. I quickly snap my head back up to the rocky outcrop. OMG! Is that what I think it is? Holy S@%*! There is a male chimp just kinda lying back against the rock similar to how a I might sit on the couch and watch a Rangers game.
The reason that I know it is a male is that this guy has the hugest erection that I have seen on an animal outside of a horse (different story…there was beer involved…a lot of beer). As I stand there in amazement of this chimp’s endowment, a female sitting next to him hops up and straddles “Mr. 3-legs”. Am I dreaming? Have I fallen asleep watching internet porn again? This female hops on, grabs the 2-footer that “Long Dong Chimp” is packing and sveltely guides it..well you know what happens next.
It is at this time that I practically blind M with a ninja-like hand to the eyes/headlock spin maneuver to set us down the path away from the chimps. I am almost wishing I had my own puke bucket…As we walk away I can help thinking about the schlong on that chimp. I guess if we consider that Man won the war of evolution with his opposable thumbs, I have to say that chimps won at least one battle…