Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Santa Claus Pooped In Our Yard (And Other Truths I've Learned from My Kids)

The other day I walked outside with my three year-old son. He stepped onto the grass, turned to me, and said, "Santa Claus pooped in the yard." I laughed at the image of a jolly man in a red felt suit stopping to drop some personal fertilizer on our lawn, but I knew immediately what my son was trying to say. There are deer who occasionally wander through our yard (they really like the peach tree), and they sometimes leave little piles of poop pellets. My son saw the deer poop and attributed it to Santa.

I didn't feel the need to correct him, but apparently his older brother and/or sister must have, because later in the evening the three year-old reported to my wife that, "Santa's unicorns pooped in our yard."

When in doubt, blame Santa.


Kids know things. And, sometimes kids think they know things. They will hold as facts things that they have been told, things they think they have been told, things they hear, things they sort of half hear, things one of their older siblings may or may not have said, and/or things they make up on their own, but decide should be true. (After all, what's really the difference between a unicorn and a reindeer, anyway?)

Here are a few of the "facts" I've learned from my kids:

*English muffins should really be called "French Toast Bagels."

*"Mermaids don't fart." My older daughter stated this one day, very matter-of-factly. We weren't talking about mermaids. We weren't talking about farts. Why she believes this and/or why she brought it up, I may never know.

*My younger daughter has declared that beef is, "dead cow chicken."

*A better name for ketchup is "tomato mustard."

We'll need to pick up some Tomato Mustard the next time we go to the store.

*My younger daughter once told me, "When you have bad breath, you talk louder." I'm not sure if she meant me, specifically, or everyone in general. Either way, I probably shouldn't yell so much.

*When a toilet in a public restroom flushes automatically because of a motion sensor, she says it has an, "audio flusher." (In her defense, they are rather loud.)

*My older son thinks that the big "G" in the middle of Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin stands for "Geico."

*And, according to my younger daughter, we celebrate Easter because, "Jesus didn't want to become a ghost."

Kids know a lot of things. Maybe I should pay attention.

Friday, October 11, 2019

I'm Mr. Important

Let me just state the obvious right here at the start: I'm more important than you. I really shouldn't have to say it. I mean, I'm me and you're you; of course I'm more important.

We have rules for a reason, and that reason is to keep people like you in check. The rules apply to everyone except me, because I'm too important to follow the rules.

Don't scratch my mini-van!
I'm going to park wherever I want. Those yellow lines painted on the ground don't mean anything to me. (Well, except for when I park on top of those lines and take up two spots to make sure no one scratches or dings my car.) Handicapped parking? There's never enough really handicapped people to fill all those spots, so I might as well use them. Fire zone? When's the last time you saw a fire at a store? Of course I can park there.

As far as I know those yellow lines were painted there as someone's abstract art project.
The carpool lane is for vehicles with two or more people in them. Or for me. (Because I'm more important than you.) Don't cross the double white lines? Good advice...unless it's convenient for me. Speed limits mean nothing to me. Are two lanes merging into one? Well, obviously I should be allowed to keep going forward until the last possible moment before I merge, crowding ahead of all you idiots who got over when the sign told you to.

I don't wait in lines. Ever. I'm far too important for that!

I'm glad you people shut off your phones before the start of the movie. But, I'm not going to shut mine off. How will I know when I get a call if I turn my phone off? Besides, I might want to check the scores or play a game if the movie gets boring. Can't do that with my phone off!

20 items or less? Who's got time to count? If it's the shortest line, that's where I'm going.

No, I'm not going to clear my tray and throw away my garbage at the fast food restaurant, I'll just leave it sitting on the table. And no, I'm not going to push my shopping cart to the return area, I'll just leave it by where I parked. They have people they pay to do those kind of things. Why should I bother to do it?
Oh, paid servant! Come fetch my cart for me!

Yes, I'm more important than you. I'm not sure how I can put it in a way that will make sense to you. Maybe if you pretended every day was your birthday you might understand. But probably not, because I'm way more important than your birthday.



Edited from a post originally published on 10/13/2017.






Tuesday, October 8, 2019

How To Get All the Laundry Done (In Less Than a Week!)

As it stands right now, I am a stay at home dad. I have a wife, who is a junior high math teacher, and four children. Including me, that's a total of six people. (I was able to do that math all on my own, without the help of my wife.) While I'm staying at home, I do the laundry. I wash all the clothes for all six members of our household.

I do the laundry once a week, and sometimes I'm actually done with the laundry before I have to start on the laundry again. Some of you might find that statement a bit confusing, but if you've ever done the laundry for an entire family, you know exactly what I mean.

Recently, I decided to keep track of one week's cycle of laundry to see how exactly it went. Here is that laundry log:

Wednesday, DAY 1:
11:11 AM--Start gathering the dirty laundry to sort it into loads. (Whites, darks, brights, delicates, etc.)
11:14 AM--Actually begin sorting laundry.
11:23 AM--Put first load (LOAD 1) into washing machine. (HINT: If you put the first load in while you still have sorting to do, you'll get a headstart on getting all the loads through the washer and dryer.)
11:29 AM--While gathering dirty clothes hampers from around the house, pick up clothes strewn about the floor of the girls' room.
11:32 AM--While sorting clothes, continually have to separate underwear from the pants that they were worn with. (Surprisingly, this again is more of a problem with the girls than it is with the boys.)
11:37 AM--Finish the sorting of the dirty laundry. Counting the load that's already in the washer, there are a total of 7 loads of laundry.
11:39 AM--Take all of the separated baskets of dirty laundry downstairs to the laundry room.

Some of the laundry.
12:56 PM--Take LOAD 1 out of the washer and move some of it to the dryer. Put LOAD 2, which is the load of delicates, into the washer.
12:57 PM--Take my wife's shirts, which were part of LOAD 1, and hang them on the in-house drying rack.
2:20 PM--Take LOAD 2, full of delicates, out of the washer. Put LOAD 3 into the washer. (LOAD 1 is still drying.)
2:21 PM--Hang the delicates from LOAD 2 on the in-house drying rack.
5:17 PM--Remove LOAD 1 from the dryer. Move LOAD 3 from the washer to the dryer. Put LOAD 4 into the washer.
9:43 PM--Remove LOAD 3 from the dryer. Move LOAD 4 from the washer to the dryer. Put LOAD 5 in the washer. [NOTE: The large interval of time between putting LOAD 3 into the dryer and removing LOAD 3 from the dryer is due to a variety of factors, including a) length of time for dryer to get a load dry, and B) being distracted by kids and life in general.]

Thursday, DAY 2:
6:24 AM--Remove LOAD 4 from the dryer. Move LOAD 5 from the washer to the dryer.
6:53 AM--After showering, put LOAD 6 in the washer. (Didn't want the washer running while I showered.)
8:40 AM--Check dryer. Clothes not yet dry. Set it for another hour.
9:54 AM--Remove LOAD 5 from the dryer. Move LOAD 6 from the washer to the dryer. Put LOAD 7 in the washer.
12:50 PM--Remove LOAD 6 from the dryer. Move LOAD 7 from the washer to the dryer.
1:01 PM--Put surprise LOAD 8 (towels) in the washer.
2:52 PM--Check dryer. Clothes not yet dry. Set it for another thirty minutes.
3:24 PM--Remove LOAD 7 from dryer. Move LOAD 8 from washer to dryer.
5:25 PM--Check dryer. Towels not yet dry. (Towels are never dry.) Set it for another hour.
7:05 PM--Check dryer. Towels are dry!!! Remove LOAD 8 from dryer. The laundry is DONE!!! (But no, it's not actually done.)

Friday, DAY 3:
6:41 AM--Go downstairs. Dig through baskets of clean laundry for clean underwear and socks to wear for the day.
6:42 AM--8:54 PM--Busy day with kids, school, and life in general. Totally forget about clean laundry waiting in baskets downstairs.
8:55 PM--Start separating clean laundry into seven baskets, one for each member of the household, plus one for towels and etc.
10:12 PM--Finish separating. Start sorting (pants, shirts, pajamas, etc.) and folding clothes in each persons' basket.
10:57 PM--Finish sorting all of the laundry to the point that it is ready to be put away. The laundry is DONE!!! (But no, it's not actually done.)

Saturday, DAY 4:
7:42 AM--Bring wife's clothes (including shirts from the in-house drying rack) upstairs for her to put away.
7:44 AM--Bring my own clothes upstairs. Put away the clothes in the closet and the dresser.
8:01 AM--Bring clothes for Thing 1 (oldest daughter) and Thing 2 (oldest son) upstairs. Tell them to put away their own darn clothes.
9:04 AM--Bring clothes for Thing 4 (youngest son) upstairs and put them away myself.
9:16 AM--It's Saturday. We've got a busy day and things to do. Don't think about laundry.

Sunday, DAY 5:
7:29 AM--Thing 4 has peed through his diaper, all over his pajamas, sheets, blanket, and pillow case. Throw emergency LOAD 9 into the washer.
12:11 PM--Move LOAD 9 from the washer to the dryer.
2:50 PM--Remove LOAD 9 from the dryer.
8:13 PM--Put away LOAD 9, making Thing 4's bed so he can sleep with his favorite blanket.

Monday, DAY 6:
9:08 AM--Realize that clean clothes for Thing 3 (youngest daughter) are still downstairs and need to be put away.
9:10 AM--Put away clothes for Thing 3.
The laundry is DONE!!!
(But no, it'll start back up again in a couple of days. The laundry is NEVER done.)





Friday, October 4, 2019

Cold Cereal Killers

If you could have anything you wanted for breakfast, what would it be?

French toast! Bacon! Sausage! A ham and cheese omelet! Waffles! Hash browns! Crepes! Cinnamon rolls! Fried eggs! Scrambled eggs! Pancakes! Smoothies! Leftover cold pizza! Cinnamon toast! Toast and jam! Yogurt! Donuts! Bagels! Oatmeal?

There are so many great and delicious options for breakfast. (I'm getting hungry just thinking about them!) But, if you were to ask my children what they would want, they would say "none of the above."

My kids would choose cold cereal. Seriously. Cold cereal every single time. And I'm not even talking about the sugary "candy" cereals, like Froot Loops or Cocoa Puffs. I'm talking about cereals like Raisin Bran and Special K! Given the choice between french toast and Cheerios, my kids would choose those little donut-shaped pieces of cardboard.

Mmmm...she just can't keep her hands out of that excellent source of fiber!

I don't understand it. It makes no sense to me. I'm sure part of it is that we don't let them have cereal very often--usually just once or twice a week. But that doesn't really explain it, because we're lucky if we have bacon once a month, but the kids would still choose cereal over it.

And cereal isn't the only bad choice they'd make. They would choose a piece of candy over a piece of pie or cake. That's insane! They'd rather have a Tootsie Roll than some apple pie!

Why is this? Is there something wrong with their brains? Is it because their brains are still underdeveloped? Is it somehow related to why they like Pokemon?

I wish I knew. But, I don't have any answers, I just have questions. And right now my question is: do we have any bacon in the freezer? (Mmm...bacon!)


Edited from a post originally published on 9/1/2017.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Parenting On a Need-to-Know Basis

They say that knowledge is power. Is it a bad thing when, as a parent, I use that knowledge to my own benefit?

Recently, my daughter's best friend was having a birthday. My wife and the mother of my girl's BFF exchanged a few texts and it was arranged that there would be a small birthday celebration, and that my daughter was invited. This was information that my daughter would find extremely exciting.

Party!!!
We didn't tell her. (At least, not immediately.) Why? Because if we had told her about the birthday party, she would have spent all of the days and hours leading up to the party thinking of nothing else. She would have bounced around the house doing a mental, and very vocal, countdown of the time until the party. She would have talked about it non-stop. She would have driven us crazy.

And so, as parents, we wielded the power of that knowledge to our own advantage. We didn't tell her--until we did.

With just hours to go before the party, I was at home with my two oldest children. (My wife had taken the two younger ones to go grocery shopping.) It was Saturday, and we had asked the older kids to do a chore outside of their regularly scheduled ones. But, they were moving quite slowly. A task that should have taken them 45 minutes was turning into an all-day event.

That's when I decided to use my knowledge to my benefit. I told my daughter about her friend's birthday party, and warned her that she wouldn't be able to go unless she finished the task at hand. The results were amazing! She got more done in the next ten minutes than she had in the previous hour and a half.

And it was all because I leveraged the information at my disposal for my benefit. Does that make me a bad person? Maybe. But, it definitely makes me a parent. Parents use the power of their knowledge to their advantage all the time. Don't believe me? Just think about how we use Santa Claus. "You better be good, or Santa won't bring you any presents." Or, "If you keep behaving like that, I'll tell Santa he doesn't need to stop at our house this year."

In the end, did I feel guilty for using the knowledge at my disposal for my own benefit? No. My daughter was able to finish her chore, AND she went to her friend's birthday party and had a great time. For me, that was a win-win situation.

Their youthful energy and boundless enthusiasm gives kids an edge over adults. We need to be able to use one of the few advantages we have: knowledge. Because knowledge is power.



Photo courtesy of the website Pixabay.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Parents Get Stuck Sticking Sticky Stickers

Kids love stickers. I don't know why, but they do.

Parents, on the other hand, are not nearly as fond of stickers. This time, I do know why. Stickers stick to things. They stick to things they shouldn't stick to. They'll unstick from things they should be stuck to. And then they'll restick to yet more things they shouldn't be stuck to. If you have kids, there is a good chance that at least once a week you will have a sticker stuck to the bottom of either your shoe or your foot (depending on if your around-the-house preference is barefoot or shod.)

If a kid sticks a sticker to your kitchen table, it will remain stuck to your table henceforth and forever, unless you sand it off or scrape it off with a screwdriver. Either way, it's going to leave a mark.

But if a sticker is supposed to stick forever on a piece of paper or toy, it will peel off by itself in a matter of minutes. Somehow the stickers know.

And why is it that I have to put the stickers on new toys? Shouldn't they come with the stickers already attached? A while back one of our kids got a Happy Meal toy, and the instructions looked like this:

No Happy Meal toy should have 16(!) assembly steps!
Yes, there were 16(!) tiny stickers that they wanted me to peel off and place on the little toy truck. And I couldn't just put them anywhere; they had to be placed in very specific spots on the truck. Nevermind that me and my big sausage* fingers have a difficult enough time just getting the stickers off of the paper, let alone getting them placed properly in the tiny spots they are intended for. [*Link sausage, not patty.]

Luckily for my kids my wife was there, and she was able to get all 16 stickers in their proper places. (She has dainty, unsausagy fingers.) But still, couldn't they have just had the toy come with the stickers pre-stuck?

Stickers stuck.
A few years ago we got a toddler bed. (It was for one of our toddlers.) According to the pictures on the box, the plastic headboard of the bed had a big picture of Elmo on it. In actuality, this was not the case. Upon opening the box and going through the parts of the bed that needed to be assembled, we found a large sticker of Elmo that we were supposed to affix to the headboard. Okay, fine, no big deal, right? We placed the Elmo sticker in the proper place on the headboard.

Unfortunately, it didn't take long for our toddler to discover the fun of peeling stickers off of things. Before long he had ripped Elmo's eye down to his nose. We tried to reaffix Elmo, but he was never quite the same again.

Elmo needs some cosmetic surgery.
Maybe I'm crazy, but I have to think if the sticker had been pre-affixed at the factory, my toddler wouldn't have been able to give Elmo a (literal) face lift.

Of course, most stickers we deal with aren't the size of a headboard. Most stickers are tiny, and come at us 20, or 50, or 100 per page at a time. They'll stick to your clothes. They'll stick to your floor. They'll stick to the wall. They'll even stick to your face. (Let's just hope you notice it before you go in for that big job interview.)

Stuck.

And if you don't, let's hope your interviewer has a soft spot for rainbows, or hippos, or hippos under rainbows. If not, you might find yourself in a sticky situation.




Edited from a post originally published on 10/17/2017.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Sports Radio Is Dyfunctional

It's getting to the point where I can't listen to sports radio anymore.

Some would say that's not a bad thing. My wife would be one such person. Before I got married, I used to listen to sports radio in the car all the time. It was my standard background noise while I drove around town. However, I learned pretty quickly that I would not be listening to sports radio when my wife was in the car. She has no problem watching sports with me (except baseball, which is "like watching grass grow," and golf, which is "not a sport.") But she hates it when they are just talking about sports. "Why are they yelling at me?" she'll ask. (And these are just the regular pre- and post-game commentators; if she were to watch First Take or Around the Horn I think her head might explode.)

Sports radio isn't what it used to be.

So, when I'm in the car with my wife, there is no sports radio. But, I've always felt it was a fairly safe thing to listen to when it's just me and the kids. Oh, they'll occasionally ask for music, but I'll play the authoritarian Dad card and say things like, "I'm driving--I'm choosing," or "When you're old enough to drive maybe you'll be able to listen to what you want." (This makes me sound like an opinionated gasbag. It's probably true.)(I learned how to be an opinionated gasbag from listening to sports radio.)

But lately it's been more difficult to justify listening to sports radio with the kids in the car. Why? Erectile dysfunction. Yes, I said erectile dysfunction. Usually, erectile dysfunction isn't a problem when I'm driving--except when that's all they talk about on the radio. About half the commercials on sports radio these days are for erectile dysfunction or male enhancement. Apparently the makers of these advertisements feel that there is a significant overlap between sports radio listeners and their target audience. I guess I should be insulted, but that's not really why the commercials concern me. What bothers me is the barrage of questions that will soon be on its way because my children have ears. Questions like:

"Dad, what is ED?"
"Dad, what does erectile dysfunction mean?"
"Dad, you're over 40. Does that mean you have ED?"
"Dad, don't you want to improve your performance?"

These are not questions I want to discuss with anyone--least of all with my children!

But, that's not the only reason I'm finding it increasingly difficult to listen to sports radio. As more and more athletes get into legal trouble, the more those troubles get talked about. Recently, a star athlete was accused of rape, so the sports radio pundits felt the need to discuss it in detail. Unfortunately, the subject matter requires a little more nuance than can be expected from someone who spends most of his day yapping about why James Harden would beat Michael Jordan in a game of one-on-one (he wouldn't), or why Eli Manning belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame (he doesn't.) I don't really want my children listening to "Sports Bob" giving his "take" about sexual assault.

And then, there's the yelling. I'm starting to understand why it bothers my wife. Whenever my kids hear Stephen A. Smith they'll yell, "Hey, it's the Yelling Guy!" ("Stop yelling," I'll yell back at them.) Really, I'm not sure why some of these guys feel the need to be so loud all of the time, or why the people in charge put them on the radio. If I wanted to be yelled at, I've got an old boss I could look up. (I wonder what he's doing these days.) (He probably has his own sports radio show.)


Photo courtesy of the website Pixabay.