People start having children for a myriad of reasons ranging from pregnancies planned down to the minute detail, to just plain ole accidents, or even adoption. We planned both of our children with careful and exact detail. We employed the use of ancient Mayan and Aztec calendars, along with astrological signs and a fortune teller. In fact, we had the timing nailed down so precisely that my wife became pregnant with both children on our very first try. I suppose for those that struggle to conceive, this would be a blessing. For me, it was a beating. I missed out on all of the no-strings-attached love-making that had been promised by the ancient prophets…and my drinking buddies. Instead, it was wham, bam, thank you sir. I felt that I had been sexploited. Nonetheless, I got over it and we now have two beautiful children with promising futures, at least we like to envision their futures that way.
Many parents have plans for their children’s futures. Some parents start planning their children’s careers at day one. I imagine these people sitting in their nursery and baby has just finished up a nice feeding with mom and is handed off to dad. You might think that dad is going to rock the baby to sleep, or swaddle him up for the night, but instead he whips out his Make Your Baby A Doctor For Dummies handbook and they immediately go into illustrations of the nervous system. There are, of course, parents at the complete opposite end of this spectrum that have, and never will have any ambition for their children’s futures. I envision a typical scene in such a household where the baby is in the garage scrounging around for food on the floor. The mom is just settling in with her heroin rig. She flicks the air out of her needle and the slips away into unconscious bliss. Dad is not there because he is doing 5-10 for assault with a deadly weapon. These are extreme illustrations and most parents fall somewhere in between.
Like most of you, we find ourselves in the middle of this spectrum, if not more toward the front half. Of course we have a plan for our children’s futures. While we may not be doing flash cards with the bones of the body on them just yet, we do some things that are helping our children progress toward our vision of their future. Our work with M (our 3 year-old daughter) is tracking nicely and we are starting to see some positive results. B (our 8 month-old son) is just crawling now and starting to pull up on things. His training will really start once he is walking. I have already bought him one of those little walk-behind toys to help him master walking. This toy will be the start of his training. You are probably asking what our plan is for our children that requires us to work with them and train at such an early age. I am going to provide you with a glimpse into my children’s futures.
Picture, if you will, the wife and I in our summer attire. We are lying on barcaloungers by the pool and catching some rays. The wife is sipping on a cocktail that is topped with a miniature umbrella and I have an icy imported beer. I look over at her and say, “Should we give the kids a little break?” “Oh I suppose. They have been working really hard lately”, she responds. “Well, they work hard because they have been properly trained”, I say as we clink our drinks together. Oh. What’s that? You want to know what this dream sequence has to do with the kids?
Remember that walk-behind toy of B’s that I mentioned? What about all the games that we played with M that involved picking up dirty clothes or dusting furniture with her stuffed animals, or even moping the floor in her costume? These activities seem meaningless when you look at them individually, but as a whole, they are the foundation for our children’s futures. A future that enables the wife and I to enjoy those cocktails, and enjoy those barcaloungers. I think you are getting the picture now. We are training our children to be our slaves. B’s toy has been training him to mow the lawn since he started walking! All of the games that we played with M that were so fun to her were training for her future as our house keeper! It will be only a matter of a couple of years before the rewards start to roll in.
You may be thinking that they are just children and that they should not have to work so hard. The beauty of this is that they think that they are playing games, or playing with toys! I think this future will work out just fine for them. It could be worse. They could be scrounging around on the floor for food while the wife rigs up and I snuggle up with my cell mate, Leroy. In fact, while the kids are “playing”, I think I will go do some online shopping for barcaloungers.
This weekend offered many firsts for our kiddos (and us for that matter!). The wife and I thought that it might be fun to take M & B on a picnic. In our heads we had it planned out that we would hit a shady park around lunch time on Saturday and we would have an authentic picnic. However, the fact that we have two children that are of the age in which a daily nap is still a necessity, our vision of a proper picnic would not work. Instead, after noon naps, we packed up a bevy of snack foods, loaded up the rug rats and headed out to have our makeshift picnic.
We decided to venture away from our regular park and went to find a new spot for our picnic. We searched online and settled on an old park near downtown Plano. We selected this park partly because it was playing host to an event that we just had to witness. That’s right, The Texas Tree Climbing Championships…in Plano??? Last I checked Plano was filled with overpriced homes and hordes of affluent drug addicted high schoolers. I don’t recall seeing any trees that could serve as the championship of anything other than a coveted HOA yard of the month award. Needless to say, we had to go if only to poke fun at the event.
We get to Bob Woodruff Park and we follow the signs pointing toward the” Tree Climbing Event”. We get out of the car and, as expected, I am not seeing trees that are much different or larger than those on my street. Oh well, we are here and we might as well set up our picnic and make fun of the arborlogical dorks. We walk from the parking area on the sidewalk which quickly ducks out of the standard park clearing into a heavily wooded area. “Wow”, we said as we walk toward what have to be some of the larger trees that we have seen in Texas.
Turns out that some of these trees are friggin’ close to 500 years old! Maybe these arborlogical dudes are not dorks afterall…on second thought, they are still dorks…they are grown men…climbing trees…We decided to stay with the other 100 or so spectators (20 of which were a latino family having a cookout that just happened to be in the same place as the tree climbers). So we spread out the ole blanket and broke out the snacks. We stayed long enough to see two contestants and we had our fill of watching grown men do what we all did when we were 12. I could swear I heard them announcing the next event, “Attention all sling shot and rock skipping contestants…” as we made our way back to our car. All in all, our first family “picnic” was a success and I am looking forward to doing it again (only without the overgrown kids hopefully).
Another first that was experienced this weekend was that I took M to see a movie in a theater. I did not know what to expect because the girl cannot sit through a DVD at home without losing interest or talking the entire time. We load up and head to the theater for the first showing of the day. I was thinking perhaps the theater would not be crowded in the event that M decided to talk over the movie like she does at home. As we pull into the parking lot I see few cars and the outlook is good for a small crowd.
After a brief explanation to M on proper movie etiquette we make our way to the ticket booth. At the last minute I make the judgement call and decide not to see the 3D version of the new Shrek joint. I could see the excitement on M’s face. It is the most awesome thing to witness a child in full amazement of what they are seeing or doing. Her eyes were lit up and she was grinning so big that her eyes were squinted. I can’t explain how it made me feel to see her so excited. Next stop, the snack bar!
Just when I thought that her eyes couldn’t get any wider, they almost popped out of her head when she was standing, nose pressed to the glass of the candy display, and she heard me say, ” You can have any candy you want”. While I was not pleased with her selection of Dots, I upheld my word and bought them for her. Those have to be about the nastiest candy of all of the available choices. Of course, that did not stop her from eating most of the box during the movie (aside from the couple that I had…I had to test for quality…yeah that’s it).
We made our way into theater number 15, a fully packed, number 15. “Oh great”, I thought as we grabbed the last two available seats. My little etiquette lesson must have done some good because she hardly uttered a word during the entire movie except to tell me she needed to potty. AND we only went to the potty once during the entire movie! I could not believe that I walked into a movie theater with a three year-old and we sat through the entire movie in silence and only one short bathroom break. It was at that moment that I realized that my toddler handles a movie better than her mother. I think I just found my new movie date!
So two of my buddies and I decided it would be a good idea to do a daddy-daughter camping trip. We all have daughters ranging from 3 to 6 years in age and none of them have been camping before. A weekend was selected and a camping location agreed upon. After a week’s worth of negotiations with my wife, we wer finally cleared for take-off.
Rather than take the economic option and carpool, I was forced to take my own vehicle in the event that M could not handle life on the prairie (I conceded this point during negotiations). This actually ended up being a nice decision because of all of the crap that I had to bring for a one-night camping trip.
The items required for M were as follows (keep in mind this was a one-night event): M had 2 pants, 5 shirts, 3 panties, 4 pairs of socks, a blanket, 2 stuffed animals, 1 princess miniature camp chair, 1 sleeping bag (princess graphics of course), 2 pairs of shoes, 1 towel, 1 pillow, 2 gallon-sized Zip-Lock bags full of every child medicine known to man. Turns out that the only item that I was short on was princess band-aids (I was only outfitted with 4, and once one of them was issued, it seemed that all of the girls mysteriously developed injuries), and last, but not least, a little potty for the girls (this had to be one of the most valuable items we had…guess I just assumed that nature-potty-ing came natural to little girls like it did for us boys…I don’t want to even think of the issues we would have had without that miniature miracle of modern convenience…). In addition to the food items that I was assigned to bring for the group, I had to bring the food items that are M-friendly because she is still a pretty dedicated non-meat-eater. To say the least, the back of my SUV was crammed full (I think it took longer to load and unload than the duration of the actual trip).
A short two hours (and 3 pit stops) later we finally arrived at the camp grounds. While we didn’t get the perfect site, we were able to get a pretty good one. We attempted to bribe the girls with a little snack in hopes that this would keep them occupied while we started setting up tents. Of course this did not work. I counted at least 15 times that there was a toddler/pre-schooler diving into the tent as we attempted to set it up. I won’t even get into how the air mattresses were treated as trampolines…That being said, the tents went up without a hitch.
It was about this time that the third daddy-daughter team arrived (conveniently just after all of the hard work was done hehe). The only reason I mention the late arrival of our third tandem is that they stopped at the general store up the road from the camp site and my buddy unwillingly made a purchase that would haunt us for the rest of the trip.
Inside this standard little general store, tucked away in the back corner behind the fishing lures and Little Debbie snakes was a little display/dispenser of highly polished, multicolored rocks. The idea being that you grab a little draw string bag and fill it with your choice of as many stones as you could fit for a flat rate. Well, my buddy, being the great dad that he is, lets his daughter get a small pouch of said rocks, and any of us would have done the same. However, what my buddy did not know, what any of us did not know, was that these little rocks would be the center of much controversy amongst the daughters. You would have thought that this little girl was the Pablo Escobar of geodes with the way that the other daughters reacted upon seeing them…”yo man, how much fo just one rock?” “I need it, I gotta have it, man” “you got so many rocks, I’ll do anything…cain’t have just one?” The dialog may not have been quite so Menace II Society-ish, but you get the idea.
Despite the small spats over the rocks, things were going pretty well. We took the girls on a nice little hike and let them throw some rocks into the stream. They would have stayed there for hours if we had let them. It was not just picking up rocks and throwing them into the water. No, they had to find the perfect rock. “I have an idea, let’s toss that bag of multi-colored rocks in the creek, whataya say?”, I said…in my head. It was great to sit back and watch them interact with one another. My 3 year-old was on an entirely different plane than the older girls, but yet they all agreed on one thing, throwing rocks into the creek is big fun. Big fun until my daughter looses her footing and takes a little spill into the drink. Needless to say, our little hike was over shortly thereafter.
We get back to camp and it’s time to get the camp fire up and going. To the girls, the lighting of the camp fire meant one thing, and one thing only, SMORES! So we start cooking up some burgers and dogs when we realize that we forgot to bring any type of eating utensils, plates, cups, etc. Thankfully we were eating a typically hand-held meal, so this was not a huge issue. It just bruised our all-knowing camping egos.
So, the girls ate a combined total of one hot dog (no bun), 1/2 of a hamburger, and one hand crafted peanut butter and jelly sandwich (one guess as to who ate this…) This might be cause for concern had they not eaten a bucket of trail mix, a bag of beef jerky, several snack packs of goldfish, fruit snacks, and a drank gallon of Capri-Sun throughout the day. It should be no surprise that dinner obviously did not take long to finish. Bring on the smores.
The smore feast was a really fun period in the trip. None of the girls had eaten smores before and it was quite a treat for them. They had a blast roasting marshmallows although all agreed that they did not like the “black” part. You can imagine the sticky messes that ensued as the girls picked away the charred exterior of the roasted marshmallows to reveal the melted center. I think I am still picking sticky goo out of M’s hair…(hold your “Something About Mary” references please)
As the daylight faded to dark, the good times roared on for the girls. We provided them all with their very own identical flashlight (you would think that this would keep them from fighting over the flashlights…and you would be wrong). I ended up having to provide my daughter with her own (you guessed it) princess flashlight so that everyone knew which one was her light. Ahh to get into the mind of a toddler…We also had a special treat of glow sticks for the girls to play with in the tent. (Between the “crack” rocks and the glow sticks, Insert your rave jokes here.)
The girls’ normal bed times range from 8:00 to 8:30 PM. It was around 11:00 PM that the screaming and giggling finally died down and they all passed out. The daddy’s stayed up until around 3:30 AM enjoying some fire-side beverages, stoking the fire, and solving the world’s problems.
I crawl into my tent and just as I get comfortable I hear the crunching of sticks and leaves outside as someone approached my tent. Then I hear the dreaded, “Merrit is awake and needs to tinkle”. Are you F-ing kidding me! I get up, grab a very groggy and cranky M and head out to the potty. She does her business and I head back to tuck her into her sleeping bag alongside the other girls. Of course she would not just go back to sleep, she wanted me to sleep with her. When I tried to take her over to my tent you would have thought that I shot her dog. Needless to say, we had two six-man tents and 5 people ended up sleeping in one tent and one lucky daddy had an entire tent to himself. No, that lucky daddy was not me…
You would think that since the girls stayed up until 11:00PM or later that they might sleep in, but you would be wrong again…After such a late night and the fact that we were short on eating utensils, we decided to scrap the delicious bacon, sausage and egg breakfast that we had planned (and were soo looking forward to!) to opt for the Pop-Tart variety.
As we ate our “fresh” pastries, the daddy types sleep-packed and tore down camp while the daughter types tried to score more crack from one another. The time was about 10:00 AM when we were finally ready to hit the road home. You can probably guess our first stop. Yep, that infamous general store to score some rocks!
A disturbing trend has begun in our household. My 3 year-old daughter is becoming a nudist. The first symptoms began as rare instances when M would somehow end up clothes-less on a random weekend day. Soon, like the spread of AIDS in an African village, the instances became more and more frequent. Now, it seems that M somehow ends up stripped down to her panties almost every day after we get her home from school. The reasons for shedding her clothes range from understandable to complete nonsensical. For instance, she sometimes spills her drink on her shirt or dress. Naturally, she doesn’t want to sit around in wet clothes, so she takes them off. The problem is that the wet clothes never seem to get replaced with dry clothes…or any clothes. Instead, she would rather lounge around in Dora the Explorer panties munching goldfish. If she were a balding, unshaven, beer-bellied man, you would only need to replace those goldfish with a Pabst Blue Ribbon and you would have yourself a textbook example of trailer trash. I suppose you might need to replace the Dora panties as well…maybe not.
Lately, it’s gotten so bad that if so much as a drop of juice or a smidgen of ketchup hit her clothes, they are off and she is free…I fear that, at the rate we are going, she will have dreadlocks and be living in a tent in the back yard by the end of summer. Her name will change from Merrit to Moonbeam and she will craft the finest hemp products that she will trade for organic food and non-animal tested-products. I can still be a proud daddy…
So, I ask you fellow parents, Is this a phase, or is this just the inner hippie in my daughter coming out? Is this something that all toddlers go through? Embarrassed parents just toss this tidbit into the pile of bones in the closet to save face during those “look-what-my-toddler-can-do” conversations they have with other parents. You know those conversations with those annoying parents? Mine would go something like this: “Little Jimmy can write his own name and he’s only 6 months old”, says one proud (but lying) parent. I rebut, “Well, my little Moonbeam just fashioned this blanket from the grass clippings in our yard.”
I suppose in either case, it’s not the worst thing a little girl could do…thank GOD she finally got through her cocaine phase…
I am going to share something with you all that could change your image of me as a superdad. Iam going to let you in to catch a glimpse of my Clark Kent side. That’s right, I am pulling back the cape, removing the giant “SD” from my spandex toddler fighting uniform ( yes, it’s spandex…my new UnderArmour suit is on backorder).
My real work day begins as I pull into the daycare to pick up my offspring (after donning my SD suit!). I am greeted with shrieks of “Daddy!” and a huge hug. Sounds awesome, doesn’t? Well, it is great! Unfortunately that’s as good as it gets for this superdad…see, the very toddlers that I adore so much are also my Kryptonite…
I swoop in and snatch my daughter up like a true hero..and then she and I spend the next 20 minutes collecting baby brother’s empty bottles, soiled baby clothes, and our his daily Crap Log. The daily Crap Log tells you each and every time down to the minute that your baby took a dump during the day. This is valuble information once you learn how to use it…let me know if and when you figure it out so that I will know what it’s for…I feel like the people on LOST blindly plugging away at those buttons on the computer hoping that someday they will find out why…until then I just keep logging the crap…perhaps my secret laboratory will be able to create an anti-toddler serum from this data.
The car ride home is short in distance, and can be very entertaining. It can also be like driving an ice pick through your brain at times…Typically the drive conversation is dominated by my daughter. It goes something like this-
Her: Daddy? Daddy? Daaadeee?
Her: I want a snack at home…I want a snack at home…I wan-
Me: Okay, you can have a snack when we get home
Her: I want chocolate milk…Daddy, I want chocolate milk…Daddy, I want chocolate mi-
Me: Okay, you can have some chocolate milk when we get home
Her: Daddy, can I watch Dora? Can I watch a movie? I want to watch Dora, Daddy, can I watch (breath) Dora, Dadd-
Me: Okay, you can watch Dora when we get home…Let’s listen to the radio (loudly) now
This goes on for a solid 15 minutes. Mind you, this does not stop once we arrive at the house. It continues until she has chocolate milk and snack in hand and is seated in front of the TV. How can that child watch the same episode of Dora The Explorer 50 times with same enthusiasm and interest as if it were her first time seeing it??? I am not bitching. This is quiet time, the time when I mend my super suit from the previous battle and prepare myself for the many that lie ahead…
In the interest of time, the dinner portion of our evening may be seen my inagural post…
It is after the toddler eats that she is most powerful. The post dinner ritual literally begins with me getting my ass kicked . To her, I am a human jungle gym…trampoline, tackling dummy, horsey, and most recently olympic downhill freestyle ski run…Once I have been beaten down and lie on the floor out of breath, my wife rescues me by sounding the “bath time” announcement.
The wife and I alternate bath night because the toddlers powers too strong for one to endure back-to-back nights…If it’s my night, I scrape myself up from floor and take the long walk to the bathroom. “Dead Man Walking!” Like sharks in bloody water, my daughter can sense that she has weakened my defences and she is all over me in no time…
Getting weak…kryptonite too strong…super powers, don’t fail me now…something about the toddler’s strength mixed with princess bubble bath make her powers almost too much for this superdad…just…reach…into the water…and…pull the…plug…ahhh sweet release…bathtime is ending…I am gaining strength as the tub drains. The towel somehow stuns the toddler for long enough to get her subdued and into her special pajamas…now for the final battle, bedtime.
Bedtime is supposed to be relaxing. We read stories to the now imprisioned toddler while she is still stunned from the lead-coated PJ’s. Just when you think that you have defeated her; stories read, Taylor Swift swooning in the background, hugs and kisses gently applied and you are tip-toeing toward the sweet serenity of time alone with your wife, you hear, “Daddy”. You stop just out of the sight line of the imprisoned toddler and you don’t move a muscle…her powers are strengthening…she senses your presence and calls out again…This sets off a 30 minute string of trips to and from her room to bring water, apply band aids to phantom wounds, pick up fallen members of the 15-stuffed animal sleep brigade, and hiding any books that contain “witches” from her site.
After a few idol threats to kidnap valued members of the sleep brigade the toddler falls victim to sleep. This leaves you just enough time with the wife to catch up on the day and then it’s off to bed to rest for the next day’s looming battles. We are fast asleep when my super powered senses are aroused…I suddlenly sit straight up in my bed . I check the clock and see that it is 3:00 AM. “Pat, pat pat”…what is that noise… “pat, pat pat”… that I hear? OH NO! It can’t be! She’s baaaack!