June 30, 2009

Dear God, it’s me Matthew

About a month ago, as the kids and I were driving in the car, we noticed a very long funeral procession traversing along the local freeway. It was a quiet Saturday morning and the sight of at least 50 to 75 cars following each other in a single file line was unmistakable. The fact that there were four motorcycle cops rushing up to the nearest onramps and shutting down traffic to allow the procession to proceed only added to the sight.

Of course it wasn’t long before I heard a little voice from my inquisitive little boy (who, by law, is mandated to ask more questions each day than a week’s worth of Jeopardy) piped up from the back seat. “What are those caws doing, Daddy? Where are those caawwws going?”

Think fast old man! Where are they going? A baseball game? The beach? The local carwash? I couldn’t think of a suitable answer. My mind raced and as he waited for an answer I could feel the anxiety rising in my chest. Finally, after reaching a point where hyperventilating was a real possibility I seized upon an idea that was so far out there that I couldn’t believe I would even consider such a response. But I was desperate. So I took a deep breath and…

I told the truth.

“Monkey, someone in that black car in front of us died. They are taking that person to the cemetery so that all those people in the cars behind us can come and celebrate that person’s life.”

TheMonk, I could tell, was digesting this information. I could tell there was going to be a follow-up question. There always is. So I braced for the worst and squinted from the reality of the situation as he uttered his next question… “Well, what are the motorcycles doing?”

Motorcycles?! Oh praise the Lord! I could DO motorcycles. We spent the rest of the drive talking all about motorcycles. Not dead people. Motorcycles. I have never been so glad to discuss why some motorcycles are loud and some are quiet. I had survived!

Fast forward to this evening. We are driving along the same stretch of road that we had driven on a month prior when we witnessed that funeral procession. I was lost in thought as we cruised down the freeway with Jason Mraz providing background music. (It’s all about the Wordplay, apparently)

Suddenly, from out of the blue, TheMonk speaks up from the back. “Daddy, why did that man in the back of the car die?”

*Sigh* This time, I went straight for the truth. It worked so well last time and as I formulated my response, I began scanning the road for a motorcycle to distract us.

“Well, Buddy, just like babies are born every day, people die every day. It just happens. It’s sad when we know the person who dies because we can’t see them anymore but it’s okay that people die.”

I pause and wait for his follow-up. And when it comes, it’s a doozy.

“Daddy, what happens when someone dies. Do they ever wake up?”

As my body temperature rises, I experience a heat flash and I can’t find a Goddamned motorcycle ANYWHERE! So I take another deep breath and say…

“Buddy, when someone dies they aren’t sleeping. When someone dies they leave their body and, if they’ve been good, they go to heaven.”

Oh, shit. Why did I bring up heaven? Did I really want to go there? Maybe he didn’t hear that part.

But TheMonk heard it. “If they’ve been good they go to heaven? What’s heaven?”

“Heaven is a place where we go after we die. It is in the sky and it’s where God lives and it’s a wonderful place. But you have to be good to go there. That means you have to tell the truth, be nice to others and don’t hit people.”

Now the words are just barfing out of my mouth and I can’t control it. I know that I am sliding head first down that slippery slope and the bottom will not be pretty. And there is still not one damn motorcycle anywhere to be seen.

TheMonk, smelling blood in the water, follows up again. “You mean, if I hit, I won’t go to heaven?” He quickly mentions two younger daycare friends who, as fate would have it, are dead smack in the middle of their hitting phase. “Victoria and Jayse like to hit. They are not being nice.”

And then, a little girl voice pops up from the back seat for the first time since we started this conversation. In a matter of fact voice that is dripping in sad resignation, Swee’Pea declares…

“Yep. Victoria and Jayse aren’t going to heaven.”

*sob* I so suck at this.

December 7, 2008

He’s going to fit in great in 7th grade gym class

This weekend has introduced a new chapter in our lives parenting a little boy. Recently, within the past few weeks, poo-poo jokes have become the rage. I mean, they are funny as hell to a little three-year-old boy who just loves to say “poo-poo.” Every joke has to do with fecal matter and I’ll be damned if that just doesn’t send the little guy into belly laughs galore.

But lately TheMonk’s boy-ness has grown to new levels. For example, just yesterday, the boy took his oversized Dora baseball bat, positioned it at groin-level and shouted, “Look at my penis!” Of course, this was followed by hysterical laughing that all but drowned out the stern talking to given to him by his parents.

Later that night, as we were tucking our little ones into bed, Mommy leaned over to give TheMonk a kiss while he lay in his bed. TheMonk took this opportunity to pull up the tail of his stuffed monkey and pretend that the monkey was farting in his Mommy’s face.

Then, today, TheMonk walks up to me, turns around and begins rubbing his little butt on my leg while laughing out loud.

Lovely Wife and I began talking about our little potty mouth and I was quick to blame the little hoodlums he hangs out with at daycare. Which little punk is putting this kind of filth in my kid’s mind? Whose parent am I going to have to corner and let them know all of their penis talk has not been appreciated in this household.

And then I had a thought.

What if it’s MY kid that’s been doing all the penis talk at daycare? What if the scenes I described above are being played out in households throughout my community and that I will be the one confronted by an angry mob of parents who want to stick it to the Dad of the kid who likes to talk about male appendages, breaking wind and rubbing what his mama gave him against people’s legs.

Hmmmmmmm. Maybe I’ll have Lovely Wife take him to daycare tomorrow.

September 29, 2008

Seeking enlightenment

Dear Swee’Pea and TheMonk,

One of the things that most surprises me about being your father is how much I have learned from you both. As your father I thought it was my responsibility to teach you but, rather, you have often taught me about life. You have reminded me of the special magic that is created when sharing something with someone you love. You have reminded me that power of laughter and the wonder that exists at the eye level of a toddler. You have reminded me how discovering new things is still a wonder – even when you’re old and jaded like me. Yes, you have taught me so much.

But I gotta tell you. For all that you have taught me, my little ones, you absolutely suck at “hide and seek.”

Tonight we played our first all out “hide and seek” game and while I don’t like to brag, I kicked your little toddler butts. And while you may have taught me so much in the last few years, your old man proved tonight that he can still teach you a thing or two.

Like when you ask me to count and then stand by giggling? Hello?! I can totally hear you!

Or when you go hide and scream to each other where you think you should hide? I can STILL hear you!

Hiding under the covers is a great idea and I totally give you credit for that, but for it to work you have to lie still. Flopping around like a fish out of water is kind of a giveaway.

Oh, and just because you can’t see me? Doesn’t mean that I can’t see you. Hiding your head under the pillows with your little booty poking out, waving back and forth as you squirm in anticipation, is not going to cut it. I may be dumb but I’m not blind.

And finally, when you run through the house screaming, “DADDY! WHERE ARE YOU?!!!” because you can’t find me hiding behind the shower curtain in your bathroom, don’t expect me to just shout out, “Here I am!” No, you found out the hard way that I will scare the bejeebus out of you when you least expect it. It’s for your own good, really.

So, you might teach me a thing or two about life but every now and then I get to teach you a thing or two as well.

You learned tonight that if you want to beat Daddy at a game of hide and seek, you better bring your “A” game.

Just call me The Bus Driver. Because I took you to school.


September 11, 2008

She Drives a Hard Bargain

I am sitting on the couch and Swee’Pea has just returned from using the potty.

She approaches me while I sit and places her head in my lap. I massage her scalp and wonder what has brought on this moment of affection. After a tender moment, Swee’Pea looks up at me with her big brown eyes full of sincerity and finally speaks…

“Daddy…” [blink long eyelashes. blink] “Can I have a cookie?”

It has been over a month since we stopped rewarding her for going pee-pee in the potty but this doesn’t stop her from asking. Especially since she detects a weakness that she can exploit. Me.

I can’t help it. It’s after dinner. The cookie in question is a “mini” vanilla wafer – which I bought knowing that if they ask for a cookie I could give them one and it would only be about 13 calories – so I figure, “why not?”

I get up to go to the pantry and she follows after like a little lapdog anticipating a yummy treat. She is so excited that she runs around my legs causing me to stumble over her as I reach the pantry and pull out the yellow and red box of vanilla-y goodness.

Suddenly, Swee’Pea’s mood changes as she squares up to me and announces loudly while showing me all five fingers of her little hand spread out for emphasis, “I WANT FIVE!”

Hmmmm. Apparently she is on to the “little cookie” plot. I laugh at her audacity as I tell her that there is no way in Hades she is going to get five (holding my five fingers out for emphasis) cookies.

Sensing that I’m serious, she quickly switches into negotiation mode. “How about three?” she asks, positioning her fingers into the very difficult three-finger pose. While I am admiring her willingness to negotiate, I also notice that she has left me with a counter-offer which I quickly pursue.

“Okay, how about two?” And, sensing that this is the end of the negotiation, I pull two out of the box.

Swee’Pea, realizing that she has now gone from a possible five cookies to a miniscule two cookies, remains steadfast in demanding three. But, if you ask me, her method is a tad immature.

“THREE!!! I WANT THREE COOKIES!!!!” she screams.

And, at this, I can’t help but laugh. While this appears funny to me, it is most certainly NOT funny to Swee’Pea. This becomes apparent when she throws herself to the floor and begins an epic tantrum of screaming and kicking. And screaming. And kicking. And… (wait for it…) screaming.

This little maneuver earns her a timeout which pisses her off even more. The screaming coming from the timeout step is quite loud but does nothing to earn her anymore cookies. Meanwhile, TheMonk, sensing an opening, announces, “I’ll have two cookies, Daddy. I like two cookies.” The dude ain’t subtle. But he is eating cookies and his sister is not.

Finally, after the 3-minute timeout is done, I explain to Swee’Pea why her bargaining skills were lacking. She finally apologizes for losing her cool and admits that two cookies are, in fact, quite generous. Which she eats quite happily.

But deep down, I know she is thinking, “I should have countered with four cookies, not three!”

June 2, 2008

Funny, kid, real funny

It’s dinner time and we are dining on Boboli pizza, apple sauce and a glass of rice milk. The twins are enjoying the pizza and all is well.  Everyone is in a good mood at the end of a nice weekend and I am relaxed and at ease while eating my slice of pepperoni pizza.

Then, without warning, TheMonk begins to make a terrible noise and I am jolted back to reality. I look over at TheMonk and his face is beet red. He is holding his hands to his throat while continuing to make a loud, choking noise. “Ack! Ack! Ack!”

Realizing my son is in danger, I jump up and ask, “MONK! ARE YOU OKAY?!  ARE YOU OKAY?!!!!”

I run over to his chair and prepare to lift him up out of the chair. His face is a deep red now and I know I have to act fast. I focus on what I’ll do once I reach him. I decide I’ll whack him between the shoulder blades first but will also be prepared to lift him up to perform the Heimlich maneuver if needed.

TheMonk is watching me react and our eyes are locked onto each other as I race to him. He can visibly see the fear in my face and I ask again, “MONK, ARE YOU OKAY?!!!”

And then… The kid smiles at me.

He pulls his hands away from his neck, relaxes as the redness drains from his face, and lets out a laugh.

I stop in my tracks, having trouble computing just what is happening. It is clear that he is no longer choking but what becomes even clearer as he continues to laugh is that he never was choking in the first place.

Yep, the kid thought it would be funny to make his old man sweat. And his laughter made it clear that he had succeeded pretty good.

Until I started choking him with my own hands. Then it wasn’t so funny.

May 28, 2008

Another thing they don’t tell you about fatherhood

I stand facing the bowl. Feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Knees slightly bent. Head down.

This is something I have done for approximately the past 34 years of my life. I am so good that I could probably go pro. I can do it (and have done so, I suppose) with my eyes closed. But in all my years, most of the time doing this has been in solitude.

Not today.

In an effort to encourage the potty training, the books recommend that you allow your kids to see you use the facilities. This, along with cartoon patterned underwear, stickers, m&ms, and a crisp $20, is supposed to entice the little one to forgo diapers and switch to the porcelain goddess.

So there I stand. In the aforementioned “stance” with four little eyes staring intently at the intended target, waiting for some action. I am momentarily frozen with stage fright as I feel the urge to go start to wane. I refocus, however, and release the stream.

Immediately Swee’Pea and TheMonk squeal with excitement at the event that is unfolding. It has been a while since I have drank any fluids and what I am producing isn’t exactly clear. In fact, the exact color becomes a source of debate. At first, they seem to agree on the color. “LOOK, IT’S YELLOW!!!” they scream. But then, TheMonk has second thoughts.

“No, it’s not yellow. It’s orange.” He says matter-of-factly.

“No, Monk.” responds Swee’Pea, “It’s yellow. It’s YELLOW!”

No, Swee’Pea.” TheMonk retorts. “IT. IS. ORANGE!!!”

This goes back and forth as I quickly finish up. I wash my hands and walk out the door. As I walk down the hall towards their bedroom I can hear them in the bathroom, continuing the debate.



*Sigh* Can’t we just leave them in diapers until they go to college?

May 15, 2008

Sarcasm and almost three-year-olds don’t work

I have a bit of a sarcastic sense of humor. It edges on biting at times. At work I like to keep the mood light and I will lightheartedly pick on those who I know can take it and enjoy it when they give it right back to me. For example, if a co-worker starts off a story by saying, “My friends and I…” I will quickly interject with a “Oh, c’mon, you don’t have friends.”

This usually produces a laugh at work. At home, however, I’m finding that using sarcasm with a toddler will produce other, not so good, emotions.

Just this past weekend, for example, we were telling the Monk and Swee’Pea that we were going to go out that day. We kept telling them that we would be going “bye-bye” in just a little bit. TheMonk, however, must have been pretty excited because he kept asking me, “We gonna go bye-bye, Daddy?” After assuring him that, yes, we would be going “bye-bye” he’d ask again a few minutes later. With the same answer.

Finally, for about the 20th time, he asked again.

TheMonk: “Swee’pea’s gonna go bye-bye?”

Me: “Yes.”

TheMonk: “And I gonna go bye-bye too?”

Me: Turning to look at him and with a sad face, I reply, “No, buddy. I think you’re gonna stay home with Nutty Kitty today. Mama, Daddy and Swee’Pea are gonna go bye-bye but you’re going to stay here. Okay?”

TheMonk: Looks at me. Blinks once. Blinks twice. Blinks three times… And then bursts into tears.

So, maybe we’ll wait to introduce sarcasm until he’s three.

May 9, 2008

#23 on his wrists but #1 in our heart

At the golf tournament the other day I bid on and won my very own (and not so desirable, considering I was the only one who bid on it) Clay Hensley autographed baseball hat. Not surprising that Mr. Hensley was of little value considering he has two dubious claims to fame. First, he was suspended for steroid use in 2005 and, secondly, he gave up home run #755 to (wait for the irony)… Barry Bonds.

The hat was $25 for a good cause. Which is all I got out of it because the hat they provided was a fitted cap that might fit TheMonk but certainly doesn’t fit me. There were a few other items in the bag along with the cap that included a Padres bumper sticker, some Padres baseball cards and… Adrian Gonzalez wristbands.

Now, as fate would have it, TheMonk’s friend Brandon (yes, THE Brandon) wears wristbands to daycare every day. We hear a lot of these wristbands around our house and I’ve seen them on him the few times I ran into the little guy while dropping the twins off at daycare. I got a glimpse of them yesterday and one is definitely a red Power Ranger. The other? Not so sure but it’s definitely NOT an Adrian Gonzalez #23 wrist band. The past two days, since I first introduced TheMonk to these wristbands, TheMonk has been extremely excited about donning the wristbands to show off to his wrist-band wearing friend. He can’t shut up about how he’s wearing wristbands.

“I wear wristbands, Daddy! I wear TWO wristbands, Daddy! Help me put ‘em on, Daddy! I gonna show Brandon my TWO wristbands, Daddy!”

So, off my little man goes. All 35 inches of him with wristbands starting at his wrists and ending up at his elbows ready to take on the world one wrist band at a time. He thinks he looks cool and that’s all that matters – even though I can’t help but think of Wonder Woman fending off lasers.

[Updated: Since there was semi-popular demand for a photo, I have obliged.]


April 6, 2008

Seeing (and tasting) red

When the twins were born, in all the excitement and extreme sleep deprivation that was subjected upon us at the hospital, somewhere along the line Beautiful Wife and I must have misplaced the Owners Manual on the twins. She insists that since she was the one that was having squirming, screaming objects removed from her belly that I should have taken responsibility for securing the owners manuals in a safe place.

In my defense I was a little distracted too. I mean, have you seen the vending machines at the hospital?

Anyway, sometimes it would be nice to be able to consult this manual when things come up that defy explanation. For example, Swee’Pea and TheMonk have recently been introduced to the wonders of ketchup. (Or is it catsup? I can never remember.) It started innocently enough. I’d give them a little dab of ketchup with their fries from Chick-fil-a.

But soon, a little dab wasn’t enough.

Soon, the twins were clamoring for ketchup whenever possible. And it was no longer a condiment enjoyed with other savory treats. No, it became a main dish. TheMonk would scoop up whatever he could with his bare hands and shove it into his gaping mouth – often missing the mouth and depositing red, gooiness onto his entire face.

Last night, TheMonk took the art of ketchup eating to a whole new level. The twins were dining on fine cuisine of fish sticks and broccoli when TheMonk decided that even broccoli tasted good with ketchup. Even now, when I think of the taste of ketchup combining with the taste and texture of broccoli, the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and little shivers go down my spine.

But, I guess things could be worse. They could request chocolate syrup on everything (mental note: don’t give kids chocolate syrup any time soon) or refuse to eat their vegetables entirely.

But if they ever get to the point where they don’t want to eat their vegetables, I can take comfort knowing I can just hand them a bottle of ketchup and they can chug it down to get their vitamins from all that tomatoey goodness. In fact, if the government had classified ketchup as a vegetable back in the early 1980′s like they had proposed, I could forget the vegetables entirely.

Ketchup, anyone?

March 10, 2008

Tastes Like Chicken

To my beautiful daughter,

You have entered a stage of development where you have become a bit picky with what you choose to ingest. You used to be the best eater in the world (Besides your brother – but you can’t compete against that boy. He sucks down anything in a 5-foot radius.). You would eat anything I put on your tray. I mean, I put down oatmeal with brown sugar on your breakfast tray every weekday morning for a year straight and you shoveled it down like you’d never tasted something so freaking delicious. Then, one day, you looked me right in the eye and said…

“Daddy, I no like eat-mo-meal.”

And just like that it was on. You decided that some days blueberries were the fruit of the gods and other days that you wouldn’t touch that blueberry if Dora herself handed it to you. In fact, there were days when you’d eat nothing but fruit. Bananas, pears and nectarines were the staple of your diet. You became a total fruitarian overnight. While I complained constantly, your brother did not complain one bit. After all, you were sitting within that five foot radius. He devoured your leftovers like a little pound puppy.

So, while you have suddenly become a food critic who only appreciates the finest of cuisines and since I happen to make many of your meals and I cannot help but take these jabs at my culinary skills personally, I would like to address something that came up this weekend that, in light of the circumstances, needs to be further discussed.

You have been fighting a cold, little one. Your little nose has been stuffed with all sorts of gooey, green, slimy substances. And while you are adept at blowing your nose, even your little honking was no match for what was oozing out of your nostrils on a continuous basis. And, it just so happens, that this weekend I watched as you walked by me. You did not notice me watching you but as you walked by, you stuck your right index finger so far up your nose I thought it might be lost forever. But, instead, you came out with some green treasure. And just as I was about to lean over and show you the nearby tissue box where you could deposit that little nugget, you promptly popped it into your mouth. Mmmmmm. Mmmmmm. Good.

So, the next time you tell me you’re not going to eat any of the food I labored hard to provide you, I’m not going to take it personally. After all, since you seem to enjoy a good booger hors’doeuvre from time to time you’ll forgive me if I don’t get too offended.

Next Page »

Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: