April 26, 2007

Jeopardy or Is it phrased in the form of a question?

We have reached a seminal moment here at the Childsplayx2 household. For the past almost-two years we have spoken to Swee’Pea and TheMonk in a cute, high energy way that is often phrased in the form of a question. This has not been a problem since we never received any response. It was understood that these questions were, indeed, NOT requests and we would be doing what the parent suggested.

That has all changed.

The word “No” has entered into the lexicon here at our household as these two little ones have finally figured out that they have a mind of their own and that free will is a pretty damn good thing. In fact, the word “No” is such a good word, they say it twice.

Examples include:

Me: “Are you ready to go to bed?”
TheMonk: “No, No.”

Me: “Would you like to give your brother one of the toys you’re hoarding holding?”
Swee’Pea: “No. No.”

Me: “Can we please put on your shoes and leave before we make Daddy late for work and he gets fired?”
Both: “No. No.” (accompanied by emphatic head shakes)

So, we are having to reprogram our minds to utter demands rather than requests which, admittedly, is taking some getting used to.

Let me see if I have this down…

“It’s time for bed, suckas! Mommy and Daddy need a break!”

“It’s either ‘share the toy’ or ‘time out’ – your choice.”

“Get your shoes on! Come back here! I said, come back here! Please! Please?!”

Okay, maybe I still have some work to do.

April 22, 2007

Performance Anxiety

Now I know that I’ve written before about how I’m not looking forward to this potty training thing. However, something just happened that makes me even more sure that this potty training thing is a bit overrated.

This morning I had morning duty with the kids while Mommy got some much-deserved rest. At some point I became aware that I was going to have to use the facility – or as we now say in our household, “Go caca” (which is the spanish word for Poo Poo for those of you that aren’t bilingual).

Two things bothered me about this revelation. One, I wouldn’t be able to set up office in the restroom with this week’s Sports Illustrated or the Sunday Target Ads. The second, was that I didn’t want to call attention to me having to use the facility by enclosing the twins in our “kid safe” zone. Instead, I let them watch Sign Language videos while I quietly snuck into the downstairs bathroom to do some quick business, leaving the door slightly ajar.

No sooner had I settled down when TheMonk appeared. Normally, he’s not allowed to go into the downstairs restroom because it’s where we have the cat food and water – something that is far more interesting to little toddlers than it should be. Taking advantage of my compromised position, he sauntered in with a mischevious half-smile that seemed to say, “Try getting me out of here with your pants around your ankles, Daddy.”

As I hurried the act, TheMonk pointed out all the things in the bathroom. “Kitty Food…” “Kitty Water…” and if there was any doubt to what Daddy was doing, “Daddy, Ca Ca!”

This announcement piqued the interest of another little one in the house and Swee’Pea arrived to see the spectacle. Suddenly, I felt very exposed. I also realized that the only thing left for me to do was wipe. Now, if it was meant for humans to watch each other wipe, God wouldn’t have invented doors. But there I was, about to wipe, with four little eyes intently watching.

I stood up quickly to do the deed and took care of business as quickly as possible. While doing this, TheMonk pointed to the bowl and yelled, once again, “Daddy Ca Ca!”

I am finally done and I pull up my pants with my audience following my every move. I decide to ensure they see all aspects of using the toilet by announcing that I’m going to wash my hands. This isn’t nearly as exciting as watching Daddy poop so the crowd disperses in much the same way after police have cleaned up a crime scene – they both move along.

I finish washing my hands and reflect on this experience. I know that all the potty training books advocate having the kids watch a parent to see what this “using the potty” thing is all about. It’s something I’m not looking forward to. Then I remember… There’s another parent in this household.

Let’s all go watch Mommy! Yay!

April 19, 2007

A lesson for my children

To my son and daughter,

This week, my little ones, a very angry man took the lives of 32 innocent young men and women at a university in Virginia. I wish that I could explain why or how something like this could happen but when things like this happen, it’s difficult to pinpoint a reason. Even saying it’s “God’s plan” seems hollow.

What I do know is that as I read about the unfulfilled promise of so many, all I could think about was you. It is times like this that push home the stark reality that I will not always be around to protect you from all the bad, angry people of this world. As hard as I pray and as tightly as I hold on, I know deep down that I cannot be there for you all of the time.

As I read about this tragedy I think of the parents of these victims and how they must feel. How they must feel knowing they will never feel the embrace of their only son or the beautiful smile of their youngest daughter. I cannot imagine the despair and anguish these parents are feeling but I do know that were something to happen to you, life as I know it would end.

As you grow and become more aware of your surroundings my hope is that I can prepare you on how to deal with the bad, angry people you may encounter in your life. I hope to teach you to turn the other cheek when accosted. I hope to teach you that being alive tomorrow is more important than being arrogant today. I hope to teach you to pick your friends wisely.

But none of those lessons would have saved these 32 beautiful people whose only crime was being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I want you to know something now – and you will learn more about this as you get older, I’m sure. But I feel very strongly that guns are not the answer to a safer society. While I am a proud, patriotic American who understands why our forefathers insisted on the right to bear arms in our constitution, I feel that this “right” has turned very, very wrong.

It is because of the right to bear arms that I worry about you, Monk, being shot and killed by a gang member because you happened to be wearing the wrong color in the wrong neighborhood as happens three or four times a year near where I work. It is because of our right to bear arms that I worry, Swee’Pea, that you could be assaulted in ways no Daddy wants to imagine happening to his daughter.

The old adage is that guns don’t kill people – people kill people. This is a gross simplization of a very complex problem that has been growing for generations. All I know is that this week 32 innocent people died because a crazy person was able to buy a gun in the same way I order flowers for your mother.

Because of this, I want you to understand the impact that guns have on people’s lives. Because of this impact you will never have a toy gun to play with. You will never see me holding a gun. And while there are many good, honest people out there who strongly disagree with me on the subject of gun ownership, I think the risk to our society far outweighs the good.

Anyway, tonight I say a prayer for the families of those whose lives were tragically lost. I also say a prayer for you, my little ones, that you be safe when you are far beyond your father’s grasp. I pray that you never know the horror of what these people had to endure and I pray that the America that your children live in will be a safer and more tolerant place than it is today.

I love you.


April 17, 2007

Learning through discipline

1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 (inhale)
11-12-13-14-15-16-17-18-19-20 (inhale)

Multiple Choice Question:

What is the above most likely to be?

A) Us teaching Swee’Pea and TheMonk to count.
B) The amount of counting it takes to calm down when Sanjaya survives another week.
C) Me counting the number of Cheerios wedged between the cushions of our couch.
D) Timeouts in the Childsplayx2 household.

And the answer is…

Well, “C” is ruled out because there are waaaaay more than 30 Cheerios currently nesting within my couch. In the same vein, “B” is wrong because I need more than 30 seconds to overcome the anguish of having to watch Sanjaya for another week.

So that leaves “A” and “D”. And the answer is… both!

Yes, we have perfected the “Time Out” method of teaching. If you truly want to teach your kids to count at an early age, give them one a few a lot of timeouts while you count out the seconds of their punishment.

And while the timeouts will have very little effect on curbing hitting, screaming and throwing of tantrums, it apparently is very effective in teaching the ancient art of counting.

For proof we need only look to this evening. After dinner Swee’Pea and TheMonk begin bouncing a ball back and forth to each other – laughing out loud at the novelty of playing together with this bouncing ball. As Mommy and Daddy encourage and watch, Swee’Pea picks up the ball, cocks it at shoulder level and shouts, “One… Two… Fweeeeee!” as she releases the ball.

Caught off guard, Mommy and Daddy look at each other, not sure we just witnessed our 22-month-old count. As if to make sure there wasn’t any doubt, Swee’Pea picks up the ball once more and this time goes even further…. “One, Two, Fwee, Four, Five!” As she releases the ball once again.

“Are you counting, Swee’Pea?” I ask.

“One, Two, Fwee, Four, Five, Seben, Nine, Ten!” shouts our little girl.

While not quite sure what she has against six or eight, we are amazed at her ability to count. It seems she wasn’t just sulking in the corner while we counted out all those time outs. She was taking notes!

Time Out
Time Out

April 16, 2007


In our household we have more than a few names for the gluteus maximus. Mommy and I fondly use words like “glutes” or “bottom” or even “booty” to describe the little butts running around. Of course, our new talkers have taken to using these words whenever the mood strikes.

Now, I want to go on record that I did not introduce the word “booty” to our kids. No, that would be their Mommy. Of course, I did my best to reinforce this word (“Wash the booty! Clean the boooooty! Little Boooooties! Where’s Djibouti? Not in your booty!”) but I did NOT introduce the word. I just want to make that clear.

So, tonight while Mommy changed Swee’Pea in their bedroom, I read a story to the Monk down the hallway in our loft. While saying Goodnight to Gorilla and finding the banana in each page, we hear a little voice echo down the hall as she is getting her diaper changed…


“Ya Booty! Ya Booty! Ya Booty!”


Um, we might want to teach her a more suitable word or I imagine we’ll be getting a call from her kindergarten teacher.

Of course, I’ll just blame her mother.

April 13, 2007

A Note to My RSS readers

Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to be doing some maintenance on my blog. I’m going to go back and manually change my kid’s names to their nicknames rather than rely on the plugin that does it now. I’m also going to go back to the early posts that were originally on blogger and fix all the questions marks that got lost upon transferring over the WordPress.

The reason my RSS readers need to know this, is that if you’re reading this through Bloglines (which I use) or another reader, if you don’t edit your subscription to this blog to ignore updates, then you will be getting a lot of “new” posts that are really, really old.

Why am I doing this? Because eventually, I’m going to have this blog printed as a book. And I want it to look purdy.

Thank you. That is all.

April 11, 2007

A humble confession

I walk past the table and it stares back at me. It has been sitting on the table for a few weeks since I first brought it home. The colors and animated characters on the cover promise a good time filled with giggles and joy – leaving behind nothing but happy memories of a special moment in time.

I try to ignore it. I pretend I don’t see it. I walk past it and look the other way. And I almost succeed in blocking it out of my mind – that is, until I open the refrigerator.

There they are. Sitting there. Waiting. Waiting for something to happen. Waiting for a change of scenery – perhaps a dip in the hot tub or adding a bit of color. But, alas, there they sit with unfulfilled potential.

I pretend that all is okay. That I have done all I can to ensure my children have experienced the best of each and every day. I try to pretend. But deep down I know that I am a fraud.


You see, my kids didn’t dye Easter eggs this year. I admit it. I am a cheapened shell of the father I set out to be. I cannot help but admit that I succumbed to the allure of plastic, pastel-colored eggs. There will be do photos of my kids drinking dye. There will be no fond memories of writing our names on eggs with the “Magic” crayon. And, perhaps most important, there will be no egg salad sandwiches.

I humbly admit this to you, my fellow parents, to repent and beg for your forgiveness. I have shamed all that is good about being a parent.

I’ll make it up to you. I promise to get sparklers for them on the Fourth of July. A few singed fingers will be a small price to pay to redeem myself in the eyes of my parenting bretheren.

April 10, 2007

A recent conversation


“Car!” (Does sign for car as well)

“Home!” (Does sign for home too)


(takes a breath)


“Outside!” (Points to garage)

“Swee’Pea!” (Points to self)

“Daddy!” (Points to me)

(Smiles and claps)

Swee’Pea, over dinner, tells me all about how she saw me drive into the garage and how Mommy carried her out to the garage when I didn’t come in right away.

(You got that, right?)

April 8, 2007

How was your Easter?


P.S. No matter the holiday, some things don’t change.

Twenty Easter photos have been uploaded on Flickr. Click on the photo for more.

April 3, 2007


Okay, so I’m not going to stop blogging. April Fools! (He says as he giggles like a school girl)

Let’s see… Where were we? Oh, yes, Swee’Pea and TheMonk! Okay, here’s another story…

It seems, when it comes to being a daddy, I am old school. Now, I imagine that in the coming years the generational gap will prove to be wide and treacherous but up until now I have been blissfully living the hip dad life. My kids think I’m cool. We do cool stuff. When my kids do cool stuff we give each other a high five. Little ones giving their daddy’s a high five – is there anything more cool than that?

I didn’t think so either until a young lady we know asked TheMonk to bump knuckles – a fist bump. He had no idea what she meant. And I felt like a failure. How could I not teach my kids the fist bump?! I grew up in the Bay Area when the Oakland A’s were bashing home runs while injecting huge amounts steroids. There was fist bumping going on all around me and it never occured to me to teach my children… knuckles.

But I have corrected this oversight. And, believe me, few things are cuter than saying to your son or daughter… “Knuckles?” And seeing a huge smile attached to a little fist.


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