Apr 16, 2014

The Finest Joke is Upon Us

Pssst. Hey you... prospective parents. Yeah, YOU. Guess what... everyone is lying to you...

Parenthood is, in fact, one lie after another perpetuated by those "in the club" to those considering membership. When it comes to honest conversations, you're likely to find more straight talk in a timeshare sales pitch.

"You'll fart, pee, puke and poop in front of ten complete
strangers who'll be staring intently at your vagina."

From the act of birthing a child on through college and beyond, it's one fabrication after another. OK, I don't know about college and beyond since I'm not there yet, but given the track record of parenting reality vs. parenting marketing, I'm going to assume it's a continued pack of lies.

The first rule of Parent Club is never talk about Parent Club. Ha! Just kidding. Everyone knows that 75% of what we do in Parent Club is talk about our kids, our way of parenting, other people's kids, other people's ways of parenting and our kids. I've never actually seen the rules, but I'm guessing the real first rule of Parent Club is never tell the whole truth about Parent Club.

Here's a perfect example. The grossest part of parenting is usually advertised as changing dirty diapers. FALSE. I'm not even sure if changing a poopy diaper cracks the top ten list of nastiness in the parenting world. Why don't we find out? Here is my honest take on the top ten grossest experiences in parenthood.

10. Cleaning boogers off of walls - Old, hard, crusty boogers. Smeared on the wall next to the bed. These things are nasal concrete.

  9. Cleaning carseatsReally cleaning the carseats. Covers off. I can't tell you the kind of amazingly disgusting things I've found in the crevices of carseats. No, really, I mean I literally cannot tell you what those things were. They were unrecognizable by the time I got to them. All I know is they were sticky, stinky and utterly nasty.

  8. Picking another person's nose for them - Sometimes baby needs you to go for the gold on her behalf. It's a revolting feeling. Makes the hair on my neck stand up just thinking about it. 

  7. Someone sneezing in your open mouth - Kids have a fascination with the insides of mouths. And they have the uncanny ability to sneeze directly in one when they have it open for inspection. You would think the odds of these events converging would be astronomically low, but somehow it happens. All. The. Time.

  6. Wiping a runny nose on the inside hem of your shirt - Sometimes there just isn't anything else handy. Nothing. Sure, as a parent you should have tissues stuffed into every pocket on your person at all times -- even that useless little coin pocket in your jeans. But one day you won't be prepared. And on that day your child will be a fire hydrant of long, stringy, chunked out snot.

  5. Changing a dirty diaper during/after an illness - This is not the same as changing an everyday poopy diaper. Not even close. The stench and consistency is both unpredictable and unbearable. You'll know it when you change your first one. You'll probably briefly lose consciousness.

  4. Cleaning the bathroom after potty training is over - How do I know that changing dirty diapers isn't the grossest part of parenthood? Because if you have boys, eventually you'll actually long for the days when they were in diapers. How can such little things create so much filth in so little time?

  3. Recovering an old sippy cup that six months ago contained milk - Oh, you finally moved the couch to clean under it? Surprise, there's that missing Mickey Mouse sippy cup out of which she loves to drink her afternoon milk! Spoiler (heh) alert: It's now cheese. The stankiest cheese you've ever encountered. Might as well throw that nastiness directly in the garbage can. The outside garbage can. 

  2. Cleaning up after a toddler that learned how to remove his own diaper - I know he's up from his nap, but I can hear him on the monitor and he sounds like he's entertaining himself in his crib. What a cutie pie. I'll just finish loading the dishwasher before I go get him... Rookie mistake. If you think cleaning shit off of a diapered butt is grand, you'll just love cleaning it out of fingernails, hair, pajamas, pillows, curtains, stuffed animals, walls, crib rungs, belly buttons, ears, blankets...

  1. Catching vomit in your bare hands - Kids don't vomit like adults. There's no moaning. There's no dry heaving. It's all smiles one minute, projectile vomit the next. Strangely, though, there is some parenting instinct that gives you a 1/10th of a second warning. I don't know what it is. Maybe you see their eyes suddenly dilate or the hue of their cheeks alters ever so slightly. Maybe their lips twitch.  Whatever it is, you'll know it. And, reacting faster than you ever have in your entire life, like lightening bolts from Zeus himself, your hands will shoot under your child's chin to form a receptacle for the oncoming deluge. After all, cleaning vomit off your hands is far better than cleaning it out of the shag carpeting. Just kidding! It's not like you actually catch more than half of what exits your retching offspring. Congratulations, you got barfed on AND you have to clean the carpet.

Well, there you have it. Run of the mill changing of dirty diapers doesn't make my top ten list of the grossest realities of parenthood. Truth. I'm sure any parents that are reading this are thinking of several disgusting experiences that I left off the list, too. It's a dirty job for sure. 

Remember this, though, prospective parents: Once your kids are out of diapers, parenting only gets easier. And being a parent is the greatest joy in life. There's some truth in there somewhere. I swear. You can trust me... I'm a parent. 

Apr 8, 2014

Smothered in Hugs

Over the years, I've developed a number of little games and rituals with each of my kids. They're not created with intention... they just sort of emerge over time based on our interactions and the meshing of our personalities. All dads must do it. It's part of our fatherly bonding experience and a way to show our kids that we share something special. Some of these routines only last through certain ages or phases of development. Some stick around longer. Some seem to go away and then pop up later when you least expect it. They're all important, though, and serve as little reminders of the unique relationship we fathers have with each of our children.

Eliana, my little two year old whose charisma cup runneth over, has several of these little rituals she shares with me. They are mostly madcap and always loving. And 100% unique to her. The one I love the most right now (and hopefully one that lasts) is our bedtime routine. After getting dressed for bed and brushing our teeth, we head downstairs while the remaining hooligans of the house prepare for bedtime under mom's supervision. We find a cozy blanket, turn off all of the lights and snuggle into the recliner to begin our nighttime wind down. Sometimes we read a book by the light coming in from the window. Sometimes we go straight to the music. Every time Eliana insists on picking the first song. And she ALWAYS picks "Book of Love" as sung by Peter Gabriel. It's an odd choice for her as any other time of day she prefers upbeat dance music. But without fail she scrolls through the music list on my phone and her tiny little finger taps her chosen song. As soon as the music starts, she lets me know that it's "Book-a-Love." And she reminds me again every time Mr. Gabriel sings those words throughout the rest of the song. Sometimes, without any specific prompting in the lyrics, she tells me "he's singing James and Eli." Needless to say, my heart promptly melts and I nestle her in even closer. (And this all but guarantees that one day, the first boy to break her heart will meet an untimely death at the hands of her hysterical father.)

Once her preferred song is over we listen for awhile to whatever music the random toggle serves.  Each time a song starts, Eliana immediately asks me "what's this song about?" I smile because she always responds the same way -- repeating whatever description I just gave her but prefaced with an "Ohhhhhhh." Like, "Ohhhhhhh, it's about two people in love." Or, "Ohhhhhh, it's about dancing all night." This goes on for several songs as she moves and adjusts to find the optimal arrangement for drifting off to sleep. Finally (and maybe my favorite part of our whole routine) her stirring subsides as she finishes fine tuning her position on my lap and she asks me to "put it back on Book-a-Love." She closes her eyes. Her little hand gives me a pat on the arm. Her breathing gets deep and slow in that way that only babies and puppies seem to master. And before the first verse is over, she's... out.

And usually before the second verse is over, I too am... out.

Mar 18, 2014

How's My Drinking?

For one reason or another, St. Patrick's Day has been a good day for family photos for us. Maybe it's usually around the first days of warm weather so outdoor family portraits sound like a good idea. Maybe it's the luck of the Irish.

Looking back at these makes me feel old, though.