Tag Archives: babies

De-Grumpified


How do you measure a day?

For the longest time, I’ve been a Grinch about virtually every holiday. Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s… you name it, I can give you a good reason to hate it.

Christmas? Over-commercialized. Flimsy reason for overspending and going into debt around the same time every year. Based loosely off some religious gobbledygook wrapped around a Russian mythology that bears virtually no resemblance to the fat man in the sled who apparently runs the show these days. Pure invention, for the sake of blackmailing kids into being good for a few months out of the year. Can it.

Halloween? If you feel the need to disguise yourself once a year, to let your “wild side” or whatever out of your system, you probably aren’t living your life right. If you’re an adult and you’re dressing up for a halloween party, you missed the memo that it’s time to grow up. If you’re a kid and your parent is driving you around to trick or treat, you’re doing it wrong… in my day we WALKED house to house. If you’re a teenager… get off my freakin’ lawn. Also, a poor excuse for making me buy a bunch of candy that I’m going to have to eat later.

Thanksgiving? Yeah, does the rest of the world need a signifier that we Americans take things to excess? So we have a holiday for the express purpose of eating ourselves into comas. Pass the gravy and the weird uncles, and I’ll be in the corner nibbling on cornbread until the in-laws are strangling each other over political issues.

Valentine’s? The canned argument is that if you need a specific day to show your special somebody that you love them, you’re doing it wrong. But I won’t even go there. I’ll fall back on the fact that this one is another one that’s pure invention, and who can stand all that red and pink? And, for that matter, the overnight megainflation of flower stock. Racketeering sanctioned by the people.

The list goes on, but you get the idea. I don’t go in for holidays or birthdays or any of that. My wife hates it, but I can’t help it. Any holiday is just a futile attempt to add significance to an otherwise insignificant day, a way to add punctuation to another year.

Uplifting, right?

But our son is three this year. And our daughter is coming up on one.

And… dammit, everything is different. I find my Grinchly armor cracking at the seams, I feel the warmth of caring and celebration clawing its way into my cold, cold heart. Like… okay, this year was the first year he really cared about Christmas at all. In years past it was just a pile of toys that he got excited about for a few hours and then forgot about. But this year, he freaked out about Santa, and he jumped up and down on the morning of and he was talking about Santa Claus all day, and … god, it warmed my heart.

A chink in the armor.

And today, Easter.

Say what you want about religious connotations, but Easter is another holiday that’s had America’s grasping capitalist claws rending at it. The bunny, the chocolates, the eggs… honestly it sounds like one big acid trip if you ask me. Ridiculous. Ripe and ready for my scorn. And scorn it I have, and did this year, too… right up until about 11 AM this morning.

Why 11 this morning? Well, at 11 this morning I found myself in the midst of this seething throng of humanity…wpid-20150404_114802.jpg

… and if you know my thoughts about holidays in general, it should come as no shock at all that I really don’t much care at all for being around crowds like this. People are at their worst in crowds. That herd mentality sets in, and all of a sudden you don’t have individuals making clear decisions on their own merits, you have a mob in the ragey throes of pack logic.

But today was Easter, and my mother had the great idea to take the sprouts to this big Easter Egg hunt, and, well, there we were. And there were moments — several of them — when I wanted to bail, to take my kids and get as far from this manufactured mass of pastels and candy as possible. But we went through with it.

And you know what?

The kids had a great time, and that’s all that fargoing mattered. Who cares if their grumpy dad was uncomfortable with the crowds, if he was inwardly sneering at all the colors and smiling faces? Who cares that the parking was a nightmare, or that my son wimped out on the bouncy slide we waited five minutes to get him on, or that the sno-cone we bought him cost two freaking dollars? (TWO DOLLARS. FOR ICE AND SUGAR WATER. It still hurts me.) He came back talking about doing more Easter hunts, and his face was illuminated with the joyous glow that I can only dream of having in my own cranky old disillusioned soul. I will never in my life feel the joy that permeated his being and exploded from his every pore at the simple happiness of the balloon handed to him at the tent operated by the local Plumbing group, except for the joy I can feel vicariously through him. I even grinned at the simple but pure greed of sprout #2, who was too young to know what was going on, but not too young to go back for one taste after another of the delicious purple ice I offered to her.

This is my wife’s fault. She’s known all along that there was more to these occasions than I ever allowed myself to believe, and she staunchly held her ground against my protestations that we shouldn’t bother celebrating any of them all these years. As is so often the case, she gets to have the last laugh now.

wpid-20150404_114823.jpg

It was a day I should’ve hated, but it was the best Easter I’ve ever had. And there must be something seriously wrong with me, because I’m thinking it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to do it again next year.

This post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday.


Remote Controlled Lunatic (Or, children make you insane, vol. 271)


Being a parent means so many little changes in your life.  Big ones, too, naturally, but little ones that don’t even really trip the radar.  There’s the level of ambient noise you perceive as “normal” in your house or the world (increases the longer you have kids).  There’s a general level of cleanliness you’re willing to accept (and which deteriorates over time).  There’s the idea of being awakened in the middle of the night for things short of the house literally being in flames or an actual intruder coming to murder your face (goes from “hardly ever acceptable” to “pretty much planned and expected every night”).  And you’re aware of these things in a detached way but not so much that you actively think about them.

Then there are the things that sneak up on you and which you accept so completely and unquestioningly that it shocks you in retrospect.  For example, I am willing to believe just about anything my wife tells me that I know about or knew about.  She could lie to me and tell me that she explained the meaning of life to me in all its nuanced poetic simplicity over pancakes yesterday, and I would believe it in a heartbeat despite not actually being in possession of said knowledge, and also knowing full well that we did not have pancakes yesterday.  My mind has become a leaky sieve, and I am no longer a good judge of whether or not I have heard something before and whether I told a thing to somebody or whether I remembered to put on pants before the family came over for dinner (spoiler alert: I didn’t, and continued to prep dinner for thirty minutes in my pajamas before my wife pulled me aside to correct the situation).

All that is to say that I no longer trust myself to know what’s actually going on right in front of me, and I will latch like a facehugger onto any explanation which presents itself, whether that explanation is reasonable or not.

Case in point.

I’m driving to work the other morning.  It’s not even a discombobulated, late, running-out-the-door-with-shaving-cream-still-on-my-ear kind of morning.  I woke up, ran, showered, shaved, had breakfast, said goodbye to the wife and kids, and got into the car and drove off.  I even remembered my pants.  I turn on the radio and I’m listening to the prattle of the Bert Show as one of the DJs (is she a DJ if she doesn’t wrangle music?… whatever) professes that she can divine facts about a person’s life just by looking at their wedding registry.  You know, high-brow entertainment.  So I’m driving and not-really-listening when I hear this voice.

It’s a strange voice.  It’s too high and too stilted and the cadence is weird and I can’t make out a word of what it’s saying.  It’s not speaking a foreign language, it’s just speaking at the lower register of what’s audible.  I turn down the radio and it stops.  “Okay,” my brain thinks, “it’s just ambient noise from the studio, maybe somebody forgot to squelch a mic or wandered through the studio gossiping about their weekend.  No worry.”  And on I drive.

Then I hear it again, same weird pitch, same weird cadence, same inaudible volume.  But I hear it more distinctly now.  A voice outside the car?  I’m driving through a neighborhood so it’s possible it could have been a kid shouting.  I buy it until I look in the mirror and see no evidence of any kids waiting on buses anywhere in the vicinity.  I turn the radio off and it stops again.  Fishy.  On I drive.

It’s when I hear the alien voice for a third time that my brain just throws up its hands and says, “Okay, I give up, you’re obviously going insane and hearing voices is just a part of your life now.”  I still can’t make out the words, but the voice is insistent and deliberate under the drone of the radio.  I’ve switched stations so I know it’s not an artifact of the studio.  I’m no longer in a residential area so it can’t be somebody speaking outside the car.    Yet there it is, sounding almost like it’s coming from inside my own head.  Do I have to be concerned about hearing voices?  Does it matter if there’s a sinister voice telling me to kill people if I can’t understand what it’s saying?  Maybe it’s my subconscious whispering to me in German because I somehow subliminally understand German from a past life I had living in feudal Germany?  I turn off the radio to be alone with my thoughts and drive for a solid five minutes under the assumption that this oddball voice is just something I’m going to have to learn to live with.

Then I come up on a red light and stop, and I hear the voice again.  Without the hum of the radio and the whimper of the car’s engine, the voice is suddenly crystal clear, if still muffled and distant sounding in my head.

“Nine!  This is the number, NINE.”  *Boing, boing, boing*

And immediately my mind flashes back in time two months to the time my son brought this horribly annoying Grover “remote control” that talks to you when you push its buttons and how much I hated that toy and how happy I didn’t realize I was when he somehow didn’t have it when we got out of the car; so happy I didn’t bother to think what had happened to it.  Obviously it slipped from his hand and slithered across the cheeto- and cheerio-crusted floor and found its way up under the driver’s seat and wedged itself in amongst the discarded coke cans and the seat’s guide rails and waited, WAITED for me to forget all about it so that it could one day — THIS DAY — begin using the momentum of the car to fling itself against a screw, which would depress the number “9” button, so that it could prattle its inane message that “THIS IS THE NUMBER NINE” into my subconscious under the guise of being radio interference.

Look, the toy is not sentient, okay?  I know that.  I HAVE TO BELIEVE THAT.  This story is not about the toy, it’s about the mind of an adult turning to mush after two years of looking after a tiny human.  It’s about the fact that it seemed — and I am not exaggerating in the least here, though I am wont to do so — more reasonable to me that I had actually gone GIBBERING INSANE on my ride into work than that a perfectly innocuous toy might have been triggered in the backseat and started singing about the number nine.  In other words, simple problem-solving strategies and common sense filters completely failed me in that moment.

Why have they failed me?  Because there is no simple problem solving strategy, and there is no such thing as common sense when you have a toddler.  I found a stuffed animal crammed into one of our living room lamps the other night.  I don’t even know how the kid was able to reach high enough to get the thing in there, or how my wife and I failed to notice it lurking, bright orange and horribly silhouetted, against the lampshade for the weeks it was up there (judging from the healthy layer of dust).  I had to tell my kid not to drink bathwater out of his little pitcher thingy not thirty seconds after he had nearly drowned himself in the tub DRINKING BATHWATER OUT OF THE LITTLE PITCHER THINGY.  The phrase, “You can’t have any smarty-candies because you didn’t make a poop” actually came out of my mouth.  I’ve cleaned MUSTARD off of the TELEVISION.  And that was all just in the last two days.

I don’t want to say that the kid(s) made me crazy.  They didn’t.  They’re only tiny little humans.  What they’ve done is eroded my mind and made me into something like a child again myself.  Higher-level thinking goes out the window when you’re a parent.  You start believing in fantastical, ridiculous sharknado because you forget to care about whether it makes sense or not.

Did I give the impression that all this was a bad thing?  I’m not sure that it is.


What Day Is It, Even? (Or, a teacher’s ode to Summertime)


I mentioned several posts ago how babies are basically localized black-holes that wander through your house and crash into your coffee table, sucking up space-time and stuffing stale Cheerios in their mouths, those slobbery, germy little event horizons.  So time has no meaning in my house at all right now.  Basically, if it’s daylight out, we try to remember to eat and wash the stale sweat off ourselves.  If it’s dark out, we try to put the kids in their beds so that we can put ourselves in our beds.

But that’s life as a new (repeat) parent.  (As soon as I typed “repeat” before parent, just there, it immediately struck me that the phrase was not so very different from “repeat offender.”  Which is horribly apt.  Parents of multiple children should be referred to as repeat offenders: obviously they didn’t learn their lesson the first time around and they need to go into the penalty box again.  The penalty box filled with poop, urine, vomit and tears.)  I’m down with that.  Trouble is, I’m also a teacher, and for teachers, a similar phenomenon takes place annually. Continue reading


The Barnacle


The times, they are a changin’ at Casa de Pav.

Once upon a time, back when it was just my wife and myself and Sprout #1 (the animals don’t count for these calculations), my wife was head and shoulders the favorite parent.  Like, don’t even bother with the three-legged race or the egg-spoon relay, she had this thing wrapped up with Sprout #1 from the word go.  It’s not even worth trying to break the thing down into categories; the boy clearly preferred her in virtually any situation in which there was a choice.

His language even told the story.  He has plenty of vocabulary to say “Mommy” or “Daddy” in response to questions like, “who would you like to read your bedtime story?” or “who would you like to brush your teeth?”  or “who would you like to scoop the pulverized, mashed-potato consistency poop out of your butthole?”  (It’s not always bad to be the second choice.) Continue reading


Toddler Life, Chapter 171 – Bathroom Steak


It’s come to this.

This picture isn't symbolic.  It's exactly what it looks like.

This picture isn’t symbolic. It’s exactly what it looks like.  And yeah, my shower curtain has penguins on it.  Represent.

That, indeed, is a picture of my two-year-old in the bathtub and my steak sitting on the counter.  Never mind the clusterfargo of bottles and shampoos and towels on the counter, that’s called sharing a bathroom with a toddler.  I’ll come back to the picture in a moment.

I want to talk right now to those of you reading this blarg who don’t have kids, who are planning to have kids, who don’t have kids yet, or who occupy any other spot on the spectrum between definitely-not-having-kids-ever and having-kids-tomorrow.  I know you’ve read the blogs and websites and books about having a child and the way it will change your life.  It’s all true.   Continue reading


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