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The Real Good Luck Charlie, Chapter 2: Parenting 101

18 Sep

So Charlie, here we are, 1 month from when you have been scheduled to make an appearance.  If you are anything like your sister and brother, you will be a bit early.  This is also the LAST time you will ever be a bit early (again, if you are anything like you sister and brother).  We’ve been real busy getting to this point.  We’ve been organizing, cleaning, washing, installing, and putting things together all in preparation for your arrival.  We also took a birthing class at the hospital.  We did this with your sister 14 years ago, don’t think you’re special.  We do it for all the girls.  We skipped it for the boy.  He was, is, and always will be easier than you two.  About 20 minutes into the class, I had a thought:  What are they actually teaching us?  To tell you the truth, not much.  Rather, they did teach us quite a bit about what to expect during the birthing process.  What they didn’t teach us was ANYTHING about parenting.  Not that the boss or I need any help.  We’ve successfully kept 2 kids alive for 14 and 11 years.  Believe me, that’s no mean feat.  What about the new parents, who don’t have other kids that they figured things out with?  What will they do?  Wing it?  Read stupid books that doesn’t really tell you anything useful?  Probably.  Which led to a second thought:  Could I teach a Parenting 101 class?  Would it be successful?  Would people pay me for the privilege of having the boss and I tell them all the little secrets?

This led me to think about what I would want covered in a Parenting 101 class if there were such a thing.  Here are the basics of what I came up with:

The class would start off with the moms and dads to be in the same room.  We would go over the basics: feeding, diaper changing, clothes changes, what to pack, how to not ever get a mini-van (provided you stay with less than or equal to 3 kids), etc.

Then the men and women would split up.  The men would go with me, the women with your mother.  There the real learning would take place.  The men would learn things like speed diapering, how to hold a beer and feed a baby (and how not to mix them up), clothes wrangling, avoiding getting peed or pooped on, etc.  I guess the women would learn things like how to swaddle, baby powder 101, breast or bottle, couponing while dealing with a fussy baby, etc.

At some point, I suppose the women and men should trade places and go over the same things.

Then we would all come together for a conclusion of some sort, followed by a celebration of some sort.

What do you think?  Do you think people would participate?

As always, Good Luck Charlie, your dad is obviously insane.

Sort of proud…

14 Oct

I think we’ve been over this before:  I’m a horrible person.  H.O.R.R.I.B.L.E.

Last week was parent-teacher conferences for Thing 1.  She’s in middle school now, so I guess they’re sort of a big deal…  So The Boss and I go to the conference (leaving Thing 1 at a soccer game with some friends/family) to meet and talk with her teachers.  Of course The Boss works in the school, so she already knows everyone.  Me?  Not so much.  On the way The Boss tells me that Thing 1 told someone in band that she was afraid she was failing Social Studies.  Well turns out, she was right.  She got an A-.  For reference, see the first 2-3 seconds here:

Her teacher said she was doing great, and was an awesome kid to have in her class.  All good things.  Whew!  To be fair, the Social Studies curriculum is very difficult and she has one of the top grades in her class.

We go around to most of her other teachers and as it turns out in her core subjects she is a straight A student.  The important (to me) classes:  math and science she has a 95 and a 98 respectively.  Woot!  I am so proud of my little girl for really blossoming this year and for doing so well.  Of course I’m a cynical pain-in-the-butt and can’t ever actually say that I’m proud of her without first poking fun and/or making a joke of things.

Back to the soccer game we go.

I walk right up to her majesty, Thing 1, and beckon her to come see me.

“What!?!”

“Come. Here.”

“What?!?”

“I. SAID. COME. HERE.”  At this point her friends have shocked looks on their faces.

She gets up and walks the couple of steps to me “What?”

“Why are you failing Social Studies?!?”  Her friends jaws drop to the bottom of the bleachers

“WHAT!?!”

“You heard me:  WHY ARE YOU FAILING SOCIAL STUDIES?!?”  Yes, I did raise my voice a bit.

A terrified 12 year old responds:  “Daddy, I’msosorryit’sreallyhardandI’mdoingmybest,honestlyit’shardandI’mdoingtheverybestIcan!!!!!”

“A 92 is unacceptable!  How could you only get an A-!”  A smile ghosts across her face

“Daddy!”  Her friends, relieved, bust out laughing.  “That was the best thing I’ve ever seen” – Thing 1’s friend

I get a hug and go back to my seat.  Later, I told her the rest of her grades and how proud of her I was/am.

Things not to say to or call your children

25 Jul

Mom, I’m going to stop you right here.  Do not read any of this post.  It will not be pretty and you won’t get it.  Actually, Boss, don’t you read this either…

 

There are certain things you should never say to your children.  There are certain things you should never call your children.  Most people know this.  Me?  Not so much.  Here are some of the things you should never say and/or call your children.  Most of these will be fictional.  Some I may or may not have actually said.  No I will not tell you which is which.

  • We really wanted a dog.  So for the first couple of years you slept in a doghouse.
  • No you really did like to eat dog food.  Why not try some now?
  • You know you’re really being a douche right now.
  • Why don’t you go find a busy corner to hang out on.
  • Sure you can play in the street.  Frogger is a perfectly acceptable real life game to play.
  • Boys are bad.  Throw rocks at them.
  • Girls are worse.  Throw bricks.
  • No bones are broken.  Get back outside.
  • Apply some pressure.  The bleeding will stop.
  • Your period?  You mean when you bleed out and die?
  • No you will not be allowed to have your period in this house.
  • You’ll just have to live in the shed when it comes.
  • Holy crap!  That was awesome.  Never tell your mother.
  • You did what?!?!  Can it be traced back to you?  No?  Well good.  You got away with it.
  • Will you please knock it off before I knock your block off?
  • Why don’t you go play parachute on the roof.  Take the big blanket.
  • Sure you can play with knives.
  • Cook it yourself, you’re 5 after all.  Gotta learn to survive sometime.
Heaven help me should my kids ever read this….

In which I discuss the politics of RISK

25 May

I hate politics, yet love strategy games.  Both politics and games have always been a huge part of holiday traditions for my family.  We’re a group of arguers, my family.  We’ll argue anything.  A-N-Y thing.  It doesn’t matter what we believe, or even if we agree with the opposite party.  We’ll argue for the sake of arguing.  It’s what brings us together.  Recently over on Lessons from Teachers and Twits Renee asked, “What are some non-traditional family rituals that bring you joy?”  I of course had to respond.  The following is an expansion of my reply:

Every Christmas and Thanksgiving we get together as a family (no way, really?!?!).  After the presents are opened, dinner had, dishes done, and desert well on the way we all join together to play a game.  We usually play Trivial Pursuit which gives us ample time to argue over the correct answer to a question and to fight like cats and dogs.  We’ve also been known to play Monopoly (until dad lands on my brother’s hotel on Boardwalk and flips the board over), RISK, and more recently Bananagrams.  These are times of family bonding.  And times to ritually destroy each others fragile emotions over board games.

I believe I was 13 or so the first time we played RISK.  Both my brother and I were smart enough to know not to trust dad, yet dumb enough to think that he wouldn’t destroy us given the tiniest chance.  For those not in the know, when playing RISK you basically try to take over the board by chancing dice roles and armies against your opponents armies.  My brother, being twice as competitive as I am, immediately gets into a land war with dad over the control of Australia.  I sit back and collect every territory of South America giving me extra armies at every turn as long as I hold those territories.  Dad picks Latin America as a starting point to try to knock me out of S.A.  I pick North Africa to protect my border.  Eventually all the territories are divvied up and we can begin.  Immediately, my brother attacks my dad to wrest control of Australia away from him.  Dad of course gives him a run for his money.  I fortify my border with Latin America and attack dad, taking him out and gaining control of a crucial border.  We go back and forth winning and losing territories at each turn.  We’re collecting cards, trading them in for extra armies to use to fortify borders all over the world.  Here’s where the politicking comes in to play.  Dad sees himself as the loser in this if things keep going the way they are.  He’s more competitive than my brother is, and HATES to lose (see Monopoly above).  So he starts making deals.  He first tries to get my brother to stand down and allow him to keep Australia.  Failing in this, he makes a pact with me to not attack me for 4 turns if I take my brother out at the Ural Mountains territory.  Stupidly, I agree.  Two turns later, I’ve taken out my brother at the Ural Mountains, drastically depleting my armies in Asia.  He strikes.  First he blows through my defenses at Latin America, then Venezuela, second he switches up and attacks North Africa.  Then abruptly he ends his turn.  “What about our agreement?”  “Yeah, I went and broke that.  I needed you not to have control of South America.”  Eventually I’m wiped out and it becomes a one-sided two person battle for control of the world.  Dad of course wins.  We win a valuable lesson:  We can’t trust dad.  Especially when it comes to board games.  If he can’t win legitimately, he’ll cheat to win.  So now when we play, it’s two on one.  Many times my brother and I are able to take out dad and begin our head-to-head battles.  Occasionally I win however it’s not really about that with me.  It’s about teaming up with my little brother to destroy dad.

Are you competitive?  Does your family get together to play games?  Which ones?  Comment below:

I will always love you. I just don’t like you right now.

19 May

Let’s face it:  Kids can be annoying.  Kids can drive you right up the wall, and right down the other side.  I think they look at torturing parents as a game.  The madder mom gets, the redder her face gets, the funnier it is.  The madder dad gets, the louder he yells.  Let’s see if he can shake stuff on the walls!  I must be just a big kid because I tend the laugh when the kids are getting into trouble.  My dad was the same way.  I can’t tell you how many times he would have to turn a laugh into a cough, or leave the room because my mom was yelling at us over some stupid thing my brother and I just did.  I’d like to think it’s an inherited trait; however, maybe it’s all males who do this.  Do other dads laugh at the expense of their children?  I have sat in the kitchen waiting for the timer to go off choking with laughter at The Boy as he sits in time-out sticking his tongue out at me so many times I’ve lost count.  It’s funny!  He is our constant source of entertainment.  He comes up with the best facial expressions, the best come backs, the best creative pronunciations of words.  He’s a sarcastic little bugger too.  Most kids don’t understand sarcasm.  With my family that is completely untrue.  My kids get sarcasm.  My kids are almost as sarcastic as I am.  I find this hysterical.  I also find that they’ll probably get themselves into some sort of trouble because of their sarcastic nature.  The Boy most definitely will, and probably already has.  I know we’ve had notes home about him rolling his eyes at some comment the teacher made.  (On side note:  How appropriate is it that while writing this post, Vampire Weekend’s The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance comes on?)  Isn’t rolling one’s eyes a sign of appropriateness while being yelled at?  I know I did that with my parents when I was younger.  I also remember my butt breaking many wooden spoons…  I wonder if there is any correlation between the two.

In order to curb the kid’s crappy behavior, I’ve started a new trend.  I simply tell them the following, “You know, I will always love you.  I just really don’t like you right now.”  This seems to have the desired effect.  The kids know I’m going to punish them if they don’t knock it off.  They knock it off, and I don’t have to stop what I’m doing.  Win-win.  I have a feeling that I will be using this statement more and more as my kids get older.  Next year The Girl goes to middle school.  I don’t know how I feel about this.  With middle school comes hormones, crying, boyfriends, acne, crying, break-ups, crying, attitudes, a new school, crying, etc (did I mention crying?).  I don’t know if I’ll be able to stand it.  The Girl knows that I don’t deal with emotional stuff well.  I’ve always been the bottle up your feelings and let them burst out in a rush at the person you’re not really mad at kind of guy.  Lord, give me strength.  She might make it to 13 if she straightens up, flies right, and doesn’t annoy the crap out of me.

Have you ever laughed at your child?  Are your kids successfully sarcastic?  Leave a comment below.

The funny things we say and do

17 May

The following are just some of the funny short stories and sayings from my family:

“Do… Do I poop on the law?”  – The Boy when told that it was the law that he be completely potty trained by age 4 (yes, he’s a late bloomer).

“Damn it!  Damn it!  Damn it!”  – The Girl when she was 2 or 3 and told to put 6 or so stuffed animals onto her bed.  She instead tossed them from her room adding a “Damn it!” to each throw.

“I didn’t want an Ian.  I wanted a Court-a-knee!”  – Me, age 3, when we brought my brother home from the hospital.

“You bought WHAT!”  – Usually Mom.  Occasionally The Wife.  Never from me, or my dad, unless directed at a purchase my dad had foolishly made.

“I’ll just light one more match.  Then I’ll stop.”  – My brother, to be featured in an upcoming blog post entitled, “Playing with Fire.  Part 2”.

“Mom will never find out.”  – Either me or my brother.  She always does….

“BOYS!!!”  – Mom.  See, I told you she always finds out.

“No dad!  Not the knife!  Not the Knife!”  – See yesterdays post

“Mom, we’re play fighting.  We really do love each other!”  – Usually me, as I was beating the crap out of my brother.

“Yeah, you can make it.  No problem.”  – Usually me encouraging my brother to do something stupid.

When my brother was little, he had a terrible temper.  I swear I saw his eyes go blood red on many occasions.  On one of our ski trips, he wasn’t having a great day.  He had fallen and his boot had come off, he had been kicked off the bunny hill for being awesome, etc.  My dad was filming most of these things.  So my dad, being his oh so supportive self, decides to poke the bear.  He taunts my brother about his day, about his falls, etc all while filming my bro.  Funny thing about bears, they poke back.  I think we all almost wet ourselves when my brother grabbed his ski pole and jabbed my dad in the gut.  Watching my dad double over, then fall in the snow was hilarious.  We should have sent it into “America’s Funniest Home Videos”.  We would have won for sure.

Let’s here some of your family’s crazy stories, quotes, and/or sayings.  Leave a comment below:

My dad attempts to knife me

16 May

When I was 6 or 7 we were building our new house in an up and coming subdivision.  When I say we, I of course mean my dad and friends of ours.  I was busy being a kid, trying to learn something useful at school I guess.  My dad was the general contractor for the house and had friends do the framing, etc.  We used to visit the house to see all the stages of the build.  We saw the basement as it was formed up, poured, then the frames removed giving us our first glance at our new home’s shape.  Then the rough framing began.  When the first floor was rough framed and the second well on its way we made a very important visit.  We went to check out where our rooms would be, what of our furniture would go where, etc.

Right around the corner from our new house was a Fisher’s Big Wheel.  I can still remember we bought little blue plastic bowls, plastic spoons, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch!  Coming from a family where eating an exciting cereal consisted of either Honey Nut Cherios or Life, CTC was a dream come true.  Finally!  I was going to eat the same sugar laden cereals my classmates enjoyed on a daily basis!  Building a house is awesome!  Maybe we’d have CTC all the time now!

Disaster hits (big surprise, huh?)

Somehow over the course of me and my little brother running around the rough framed house barefoot, I got a sliver.  Imagine that, a sliver from rough plywood and Douglas Pine joists.  As I recall it, this sliver was huge.  I had an entire tree stuck in my toe.  It hurt like hell, being 6 I of course knew everything there was to know about hellish pain.  I’d fallen off my bike and skinned my knees before.  I knew pain.  This. Was.  It.  My mom, in all her nurse-y wisdom tried her best to remove the giant hellish invader from my tiny little toe.  She tried to no avail.  That thing was staying put.  I had no choice.  The guys at school were going to call me Tree-foot from here on out.  I’d have to learn to see around the branches as it sprouted and grew a trunk right from my toe.  I’d have to learn to kick a soccer ball with my new trunk.

What?  Dad knows how to get splinters out?  Awesome!  Bring it on dad!  Why are you getting your knife out?  Why are you opening it?  Don’t come near me!  What’s wrong with you?  You’re going to kill me just because I’m going to have a tree growing from my toe?  Or worse!  You’re going to cut off my toe, aren’t you?  You’re sick you know that?

I remember (and am reminded of by my mom every chance she gets to embarrass me) screaming, “No dad!  Not the knife!  Not the knife!”  Here we are the new people in a prominent subdivision, and I’m screaming my head off as my dad advances on me with a knife.  It’s a miracle that there weren’t cops swarming the neighborhood cuffing and stuffing my dad for attempted murder or toe-icide.

Is it just my family that has these kinds of stories?  Do you have a story of a similar experience?  Share it in the comments below.

Happy Mothers Day: Hope you don’t get a colander!

6 May

Wait, what?  What does a colander have to do with Mothers Day?

Quite simply, my dad did something very stupid.  Very, very, VERY stupid.  A very stupid thing in a long line of stupid things.  And people wonder where I get it from….

The Colander Incident or: How mom got super mad on Mothers Day

One Mothers Day when my little brother and I were smart enough to know what to get our mom on Mothers Day, yet penniless to contribute financially, our dad bought her a colander.  But wait!  There’s more!  A colander, a fancy plastic mounts on your cabinet paper towel holder, dish towels, and wooden spoons!  All these things can be yours and more for your crappiest Mothers Day ever!

I can remember telling my dad that mom was going to be super mad if that’s all we got for her.  His reply:  “No she won’t.  She’ll love these things.  Trust me.”  Yeah…  About that…  You know how there are some people in this world that you should automatically trust?  At that point, I realized my dad was not one of these people (Now much later in life, I realize that of course my dad is to be trusted.  Just not with gift buying).

Mothers Day arrives and mom opens her “gifts”.  Is it any wonder why my brother and I both apologized on our cards?  Mom goes BALISTIC!  From that moment on I knew the meaning of: Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

He can be taught!

Ever since then, my dad has been awesome at buying Mothers Day stuff for my mom.  Usually he gets her jewelry, or lets her pick or what it is she wants.  She gets something shiny, bright, and often useful.  Sort of like a colander.  Huh, maybe I should get my wife one for Mothers Day?

Who says we actually learn life leasons?