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Entries in parenting (23)


A Rookie Mistake

So, I screwed up.

I made a very rookie parenting mistake. It’s the rookiest of all rookie parenting mistakes.

I make the kids lunches every morning. It’s my minimal contribution to the day. So, yesterday morning I go in the kitchen to begin this thankless process of packing a delicious, healthy meal which my kids will only eat half of.

I throw four pieces of bread down, grab the mayo, mustard, turkey, lettuce and cheese and immediately notice the counter is full. No room for me to work my sandwich magic.

What’s taking up so much room? A big package of Halloween Oreos. So, I pick it up and it’s surprisingly light. A bit astonished at this since we just bought the package yesterday, I open it to see how many are left.

One. One cookie is left.

All I want to do is throw this damn package away since it’s taking up crucial counter space needed for me to get my sandwich makin’ business on.

I grab a plastic bag, throw the cookie in it and toss it into one of the kids’ lunch pouches. Then, I throw the empty package away.

BOOM! Problem solved.

I finish making their delicious lunches, throw their lunch pouches in their book bags…my work here is done.

Fast forward to 8 hours later. I’m cranking away at work when I get a text from the wife who’s picking up the little bastards at school. And that’s when the rookie mistake slams me in the balls…..

Immediately I feel like the biggest asshole ever. My little girl is sitting in the back of a car, crying because her daddy that she loves so much decided to deny her a round, crumbly, chocolate Halloween treat in her lunch. In her brain I might as well have reached my hand into her chest and ripped her heart in two.

Not only that, my hands are now tainted with favoritism and she has proof which no doubt will be rubbed in my face for the rest of my life. The infamous "Halloween Oreo cookie my daddy loves my brother more than me" incident.

I can see myself sitting across from my strung-out daughter and a therapist during the taping of an Intervention TV episode 10 years from now learning that she uses crack to fill the void left by the uneven treatment in distributing Halloween Oreos within the family.

I couldn’t have that. I will not turn my daughter into crack addict!!

So, I did this:



Death, Vaginas & Religion - Oh My!

Every year my father gives me a $50 gift certificate to The Fresh Market. He has one right near his house in North Carolina. But in Chicago, where I live, the closest one is an hour away.

So, I decided to make the road trip with the 9-year-old boy so we could have some dude time.

The following is a so very true conversation we had on the way there:

The Boy: “Daddy, do you think I lie?”

Me: “Absolutely not. You’re the kindest soul I know…well, except for when you’re beating the ever living hell out of your sister.”

The Boy: “Yeah. Sometimes I just can’t help myself. Especially when she walks around the house singing!! I just want to scream!”

Me: “The fact you don’t lie is one of the greatest qualities about you Grayson. Even if it gets you in trouble you always tell the truth. Don’t lose that.”

The Boy: “I do lie sometimes.”

Me: “When?”

The Boy: “Like when someone’s opening a gift I gave them and they’re asking me what’s in it. I always lie and say a car or a dog or something stupid like that.”

Me: “That’s not lying my man. That’s just being a cool guy.”

The Boy: “Do you believe in a second life?”

Me: “You mean reincarnation? Where after you die you come back as something or someone else?”

The Boy: “No, like a life in heaven?”

Me: “I think the better question is do you believe in that?”

The Boy: “I do. I think there’s a second life.”

Me: “Then that’s what matters. What you believe in is what you use to guide your own life, your own decisions and to decide whether you’re living your life the way that makes you feel good about yourself. You don’t use it go judge people. Everyone’s different and believes different things. But we’re all human beings who deserve to be loved while we’re here on this big round blue ball.”

The Boy: “What big blue ball? You lost me with that.”

Me: “Earth son. Earth. You know…what with all the water on it and what not.”

The Boy: “How did mommy’s daddy die? Mommy said it was something with his heart.”

Me: “He killed himself son. He struggled in his life and made a very bad, selfish decision. Now he’s not here to watch mommy be a mother to you. He’s not here to meet you. But we love him anyway. And…if that hadn’t happened, I never would have met your mother and you wouldn’t be sitting here right now.”

The Boy: “That’s sad.”

Me: “It’s very sad. But your mom’s an incredible woman and continued living her life and is now the best mom you could ever dream of having.”

The Boy: “Yeah, she is awesome. Sometimes I call girl’s private areas a butt in front.”

Me: “What?!!!!”

The Boy: “Yeah, it looks like a butt crack in the front area.”

Me: “It’s called a vagina son. It’s not a butt crack.”

The Boy: “A…vagenia….a what?”

Me: “You have a penis that you pee from right? Well, girls have a vagina and they sort of pee from that area, kinda.”

The Boy: “Do babies come out of there too?”

Me: “Good talk Grayson. I think it’s time I introduce you to Led Zeppelin’s fourth album while we fart and burp and act like total dudes the rest of the way to the store. I love you dude.”

The Boy: “I love you too dad.”



The Punishment

“That’s it! You’re not going to your sleepover at your friend’s house tonight!”

It’s those few, short, simple words that have a tendency to come flying out of my mouth before registering in my brain. Because, if it had registered, I would have quickly thought to myself “Take away his Legos, but for shit-sake man don’t cock-block yourself by pissing away a night alone with no kids!”

But when your little bastards push your buttons all day, your anger boils over, drowning your common sense leaving you incapable of making anything even closely resembling a good decision.

You stand there red-faced with heart palpitations as you scramble for a punishment that’ll reach deep into the soul of your kid. And that’s when it happens. You sternly command some of the dumbest shit you could ever come up with.

Things like:

“No TV for a week!!”

“You’re spending the afternoon watching The Sound of Music in Spanish…in slowmotion…twice!”

“You’re making dinner tonight for everyone!!”

“You’re in your room for the entire weekend!”

And the worst part about it, you have to stay true to one of the top 10 parenting rules of all time:

“Follow through with your punishments.”

It only takes 0.008th of a second before you realize the hell you just created for yourself.

You now have to entertain the kid who just lost TV privileges while every ten minutes hearing him say, “daddy!!! I’m booooooored.”

You now have to listen to the Sound of Music in Spanish…in slow motion…TWICE!!. You have to supervise his cluster-fuck of an effort at making dinner, or be stuck at the house for the entire weekend with nothing to do because your son was too much of an asshole to stop kicking his sister’s blanket with his shoe that has dog crap on it.

The worst is when you have to watch your loving spouse fall victim to the punishment trap.

It’s like a slow motion train wreck as she slowly mouths the angry words, “ffffiiiiiinnnneeee….nnnooo…..slleeeepppp oooovvveeerrr fooooorrrrr….yyyyyooooouuuuuu!!!”

Meanwhile you’re pointing a laser pointer at the wall near your kid’s head hoping he’ll catch a glimpse of this wonderful distraction outside his peripherals and begin rabidly chasing it while you tackle the wife preventing what clearly would have been the second biggest mistake of her life.

“What the hell are you thinking woman?!!  Just make him hug his sister and let’s call it even!”

It takes a real friend to tell you when you’re screwing up.

This is precisely why the wife and I have a game plan. We try to gang-punish.

We both walk over to the situation so when one of us screams, “that’s it! You’re painting the living room for the rest of the day!!”…the other one can chime in and say, “is what we’re going to punish you with if you do that to your sister one more time!!”

Which works most times…except when you’re both pissed beyond your limits. Then it backfires big-time.

That’s when I yell, “I’ve had it! No sleep over for you tonight!”

And the wife yells, “Or ever again!! You’re never having a sleep over ever! For the rest of your life!!

And then we all cry.



Night Terrors & Helplessness

As I write this it’s Wednesday night.

Last night my son had his first “night terror.”

He’d sleep walked before, resulting in us simply re-directing him to his pallet of awesomeness bedness.

Only this time was different.

He’d spent the day dealing with a 104 temperature. We’d alternated Tylenol and Ibuprofin throughout the day keeping him at a solid 101 to 100.5 temp. Fluids were pumping and he slept like a champ.

Around 6 p.m. Chicago got beat-down by a strong band of storms that left us huddled in our basements waiting for the all-clear.

Then sleep came.

And all was calm and normal.

At 1:30ish a.m. I heard a bang!

I’m a light sleeper. A door could slam three blocks away and after many beers I’d still sit straight up trying to assess the situation.

I walked into the daughter’s room and found her slowly crawling into bed. She’d performed her nightly “I have my father’s genes and clumsily fall out of bed” routine and was recouping.

I checked on the boy who’d been dealing with a high fever all week. And he was burning up.

That’s when I made the parental rookie mistake.

I tried to wake him up enough to take his temperature and that’s when it happened!

His eyes opened.

Pupils as black as night and covering every millimeter of those amazing hazel eyes I’ve grown to cherish.

He looked at me as though I were the devil. His eyes pierced my sockets as though he could see through the back of my skull.

He kicked violently to get free of his covers as his arms shook and his voice quivered to find the words to say, “no….no…I’m OK…I’m OK..just give me a minute, I’m OK!!!!”

Still not registering for a second I believe he’s worried I’m going to give him shitty tasting medicine but it quickly becomes clear that’s nowhere near his concern.

I’m there to guide him to harm.

The wife walks in at this point and holds him tight only for him to wrestle free. Meanwhile I leave to go get a cold cloth to place on his head – an old trick I used to do when he was a baby to calm him back to sleep.


It was like placing hot coals on his skin.

He erupted in screams like someone was slowly stabbing him and we were the culprits.

Helplessness filled the eyes that I threw upon the wife in desperation for some type of guidance.

And I got nothing.

We were both trapped in this brand-new world of helplessness , together.

The last time I’d experienced it I was alone. I was watching the wife enter hour 3 of labor, trying her damndest to welcome into the world the very child we’re now comforting.

I then made the decision to call 911.

Five minutes later a policewoman showed up.

Her eyes darted throughout the house searching for wrong-doing, as she record our names, and our son’s names. My daughter was peeking out from under her security blanket as she huddled in the corner of the couch.

Upstairs my son had snapped-out of the terror and finally woken up.

By the time I’d reached the last step I could see his charm, whit, love of human interaction slowly winning the paramedics and policewoman over leaving me humbled and feeling like I’ve wasted valuable time.

I profusely apologized to the paramedics and police.

I hugged my son.

An hour after everyone left and we rested our heads on pillows again, the boy woke into yet another terror. Only, this time we knew better how to comfort him and work him through it until he finally put his head on his pillow going back to sleep.

I then spent the rest of the night with the wife making sure he never left our consciousness as we half-slept in shifts through the remaining 1.5 hours of night.

And when the sun rose I was on my back.


I’m so lucky.

I cannot imagine living the life of parents dealing with children inflicted with diseases, syndromes, etc… that keep them from living any type of life that could be considered normal.

I am humbled by them.

My heart aches for them.

And I’m thankful.



The Daughter's Solution To Death

It’s been a few months since my daughter’s had to deal with death.

A few months ago my son’s hamster “Teddy” took a dirty-nap a mere two months after this ordeal. We honestly didn’t think he’d live two days after that.

But then, this past Monday, she found a tiny little caterpillar. She immediately sprung into action and located a small cup to put it in. She then frantically searched for the perfect leaf for it to munch on.

Next, a toy! It needed a toy. Carefully placing an oversized piece of mulch into the cup she was satisfied until she realized she had nothing to call it!

“Ted! I’m gonna name him Ted,” she declared suddenly.

And “Ted” he became.

For the next 90 minutes Ted and my dear sweet innocent daughter were inseparable. She sat with Ted. She talked to Ted.

She gleefully encouraged Ted to make his first heroic climb up the Mt. Everest of bark mulch.

She even laughed hysterically when she finally found Ted hiding under a leaf, camouflaged and clearly playing a trick on her.

Then, it came time for school and she had to leave Ted behind. After kissing his habitat goodbye she skipped off to get her learnin’ on.

I went about my regular working from home day.

Three hours later, the kids burst into the door with the daughter leading the pack eager to show off her new friend.

And that’s when it happened.

Upon throwing open the back sliding door she screamed, “TED!!!!”

The cup had been blown over and rolled off the deck into the grass. The leaf and mulch piece were there.

Ted……was not.

She was absolutely crushed. After the entire family searched for what seemed like hours we declared Ted alive and well but back with nature again.

Secretly we knew damn well when he landed in the grass, he bumped his chest two times to the lord above and crawled his ass far far away from here.

“Ted always knew how to make me laugh mommy,” the daughter recalled shortly after through her steady flow of tears.

Three days later (yesterday) the neighborhood was alive with the sounds of joyful children when all of a sudden one yells, “a dead bird!”

My daughter’s ears perk-up and she immediately hauls-ass to the spot where a tiny, baby bird had fallen from his perch and landed head-first onto the sidewalk.

Only, it wasn’t dead. It was barely breathing as it laid there slowly dying.

The daughter immediately starts searching for a box to place it in. Crying hysterically asking for help because “I want to save it!!”

If only life were simple enough to where a box, small sample of nourishment and oversized play thing would make everything spring back to a joyous life filled with double rainbows all the way!

The wife stepped-up, hugged the little darling tightly and helped her unwillingly understand the bird was doomed.

The bird would die.

Seeing my innocent little angel learn one of life’s hardest lessons yet again was painfully difficult.

I was humbled at the way the wife made the parenting side of it look so damn easy. I was a complete waste of space during the entire thing just watching as if I were a moth on a wall.

Forty-five minutes later she was eating pizza and riding her bike up and down the block.

Ted nor the dying hairless baby bird that never had a chance were even a blip on her radar anymore.

I long for the days where the only things that concerned me could fit inside a small little container. And, once they fell out of that container, they just weren’t important anymore.

When did life get so complicated?