Friday, October 2, 2020

How Not To Dad: Episode 21 - The Ties That Bind

I've forgotten a lot about what it feels like to be a kid, but one thing I do remember is how easy it is to be embarrassed in front of other kids. I also remember how you can hear someone say something, even if it's just an off-hand remark, and take it to heart without the speaker having any idea they've just rocked your world.

I screwed up the other day.

It all started two years ago, when Logan was four and my wife and I decided we'd get the jump on teaching him to tie his shoes. Logan's a smart kid, and we figured he'd take to it and have it figured out in an afternoon. A weekend, at most. We sat down with him, sat a shoe in his lap and went through the motions of tying one of his shoes while he followed along. I tried to show him the way I learned, and it went something like this:

    "Okay buddy, make an X with the strings. Now wrap the top one around the one on bottom, and pull both ends. No, not like that.  That's not the top one, is it? There, that's the one. Loop it over the other one, tuck it back under, and pull."
    Logan pulls and the strings come apart; he sighs.
    "Nope. Try again."
    He tries again and pulls the strings apart again. My blood pressure is like that stupid yodeler on the Price Is Right. The little bastard is climbing the mountain past ever increasing blood pressure values. 130/82.... 135/85... 141/90... 155/95. Yodel-oh-ee-dee. Logan tries again and barely gets the first part of the knot to work.
    "Good! Good! See? This is easy, right? Now, make a loop."
    He stares at me.
    "Remember? Like this." I take the string and make a loop. "Now wrap the other string around the loop, but leave a little room at the bottom."
    He stares at me. Diddly-odel-oh-ee-dee...165/98... 170/100...  I do it for him.
    "Okay now push the other string through the space at the the bottom, pull the loop through, and..."
    He pulls the wrong string and it all unravels. He huffs. We repeat the process five or six more times with the same results. Yodel-oh-ee-dee-ayee. Here comes the cliff edge. 180/105... 185/108... 
    "I can't do it!" He yells.
    The yodeler goes off the cliff.

It wasn't so much that he wasn't grasping the concept (which he wasn't), but that it was hard as hell to try and explain how to tie a knot to a four-year-old. Eventually Nikki and I - and Logan too, I think - got too frustrated and decided on the simple, kick-the-rock-down-the-road solution.

We bought him Velcro shoes. 

Two years and two pairs of Velcro shoes later Logan was prepared to enter second grade and still didn't know how to tie his shoes. Enough was enough. Armed with the knowledge that this was going to be monumentally harder than we'd anticipated two years ago, we searched for some teaching aids. There is a video on Youtube that shows how to tie a shoe in an infinitely easier way than I had learned back in the mid eighties (I posted it below, for the parents who are currently living this nightmare). Nikki, Logan and I watched the video and he exclaimed "That's easy!" and asked for his shoe.


Hey, guess what? It wasn't easy. The video is extremely helpful - I'd recommend it to anyone - but seeing and doing are two different things. The strings of his new shoes were made of a material that does not lend itself to tightening easily into knots. It wasn't elastic enough, I think. 

When we started I was patient. I probably deserved a medal for how calm and understanding I was in those first five minutes. I was certain we were about to have this problem solved. I watched Logan leaning over his shoe, carefully working the shoestrings one over the other, and every time he tried it would fall apart in front of his face.

"It's alright," I'd say, and each time Logan's breathing would get heavier as if he were revving up some internal engine. "Try again." I punctuated each mistake with statements like "Don't rush" and "It's okay you're doing fine."

The frustration began welling up in him as time after time the knot unraveled in his hands. Less than ten minutes in, Logan exploded.
"I can't do it!" He yelled.

"Yes you can. Try again."

Remember the yodeler from before? That guy was back, and he began his ascent of Mount Blood Pressure.

I guided Logan as best I could. Eventually  after a lot of anger and frustration, things began to turn around. He made the first part, the pretzel, flawlessly. He got to the second pretzel, made it, and prepared for step three, the loops. The loops always foiled him. His fingers grabbed the loops, pulled outward, and the strings slipped like limp noodles out of the knot.

Logan growled. Seriously, growled like a wolf. "I can't do it!" He yelled again, and the tears came.


"I know you can do it." I went through the whole diatribe about how smart he was and how easy this would seem once he gets it right. 

Logan wasn't buying it. He clammed up with his arms folded. I was agitated myself, in part because now he was so mad he was trying to mess it up. I was more mad though because I couldn't really tell him what he was doing wrong. My agitation grew as his did.

And then I screwed up. 

Out of my own frustration I said "Do you want to be the only kid in second grade who can't tie his shoes? Do you want to be made fun of?"

It just popped out. I didn't think he'd even heard it, to be honest. I figured he was so mad he wasn't hearing anything.

Two days later we were getting ready for work and school and Logan was still struggling with his shoes. I heard him lose his temper and then I heard crying. I walked into the kitchen where Logan sat on the floor with his shoes untied.
"What's wrong?" I asked, knowing damn well what was wrong.

Nikki walked up to me and, out of earshot of Logan, said "He's afraid the kids will make fun of him because he still can't do it."

It hit home.

At that point I became the Incredible Shrinking Man. The Hubble telescope wouldn't have been able to see me if it had been hovering outside my own front door, I felt so small. 

I couldn't stop thinking about Logan that day. I thought about what it was like to be a kid. I remembered feeling confused a lot. Not intelligent enough, not fast enough or tall enough or thin enough or whatever other "enough" that people try to use to measure a person's worth. If I recall correctly I was one of the last in my class to learn how to tie shoes. I don't know why my mind held onto this, but I remember holding a paper cutout of a shoe with holes punched in it, and laces looped through the holes like a real shoe. We were supposed to tie them in class, and I had to whisper to a friend to help me because I couldn't do it.

When you're a kid you're still trying to find your place in the world. A lot of it doesn't make sense (hell, it still doesn't as an adult) and sometimes it's scary or uncomfortable or lonely or confusing. To this day I sometimes have this suspicion that everyone but me is in on some sort of understanding about life that I'm not privy to. Maybe we all have that, though, and some people are just really good at hiding it. Or maybe that suspicion comes from my own inadequacies, perceived or actual. I'm not sure but I can say this, though. However frustrated I get, I will never again suggest that fear of shame or embarrassment is a good motivator to learn how to do something. It's hard enough to get along in the world without having to worry whether or not you measure up to someone else's idea of what you should be.

Well that got deep, didn't it? Sort of like a closing monologue on an episode of The Wonder Years. Read it in a Daniel Stern voice, if you don't mind.

Moral of the Story: 

1) Kids hear what you say more than you think they do.
2) Self esteem is more important than aptitude. There is a quote usually attributed to Albert Einstein that says that everyone is a genius, but if you judge a fish by his ability to climb a tree, he'll live his whole life believing he's a failure. Whether Einstein said it or not, it's something to think about.

Read that in a Daniel Stern voice too. In fact, read all these posts in a Daniel Stern voice. Those vocal chords are a national treasure. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

How Not To Dad: Episode 20 - The Molting


Things are weird.

Yesterday I looked out my front door and noticed the grass on my neighbor's lawn was a full inch shorter than mine. My jaw tightened. My eyes shrunk to slits. There was a slight quiver in the pockets of my cargo shorts as the anticipation rippled through the body that I've spent the last half decade cultivating into two hundred and thirty pounds of straight up dad meat. 

That twang of irritation insisted on a simple solution. My grass could not be higher than my neighbor's.

In the garage there's a swoop of fabric as  the cover is whipped from my Husqvarna. Its orange paint is coated in a layer of dust. Grass clippings rest atop the mowing deck. The hard plastic accents are freckled with grit and dried water spots. It needs detailing, but I'm not at that level yet. One step at a time.

After thirty minutes of mowing and another twenty of weed eating I stand on my porch and gaze across the green landscape. Now things are right. The playing field is even. Pun intended.

Over the past few years I've noticed certain changes taking place in my thought processes and decision making. There are even changes in my environment. For one, my shoes are turning white. Two years ago I was wearing black shoes. The next thing I know, my preference turned to gray and then, dear God, light gray. The path to glowing white shoes draws nigh. 

Another is that my biggest concern on our summer vacation is how to most efficiently deliver our supplies to our spot on the beach. I'm a pack mule. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. 

There's more. 

I can't grill without a beer. The thought of it disgusts me.

I'm comfortable wearing tank tops outside though I really, really shouldn't be.

I can physically feel it when a light is left on in an unoccupied room.

I find myself referring to my son as "buddy" or "big guy" more and more. "Tiger" and "sport" are just around the corner. I can feel it like a tickle in the back of my throat when I try to talk to him.

My legs are turning white. Like, bone white.

A few weeks ago I unknowingly bought a pair of shorts with an elastic waistband. They were cargo shorts. Columbia brand.

I've grown tolerant of country music. There are a handful of songs that I even like.

I already don't know where all my tools are, and my junk drawer is overflowing with things I haven't used in years but ones that I know I'll need again someday.

When I can't find a tool I stomp through the house, pissed off that "Nobody can ever find anything around here."

But this one, though, is the kicker. The other day my son showed me a picture of a deer in his new book, and as a reflex I immediately replied "Oh deer." He laughed! I've been slinging dad jokes since I met the kid, and he's finally to the age that he gets the jokes. These next few years are going to be awesome.

But still, the road to ultimate dadhood is a long one. Soon the jean shorts aisles will be calling to me in clothing stores. The tank tops will become too restrictive, and I'll need to lose them altogether. I will blossom out of them like a butterfly from a cocoon and when I do, I will instinctively know that I need to wash and wax the lawnmower after each use. I will know to complain about keeping the front door closed to save money on the energy bill. I will know to pull my hat over my eyes when in my recliner, and to tell my kids that "I'm not sleeping, I'm resting my eyes" or "I'm gonna stare at the back of my eyelids for a while."

Statements like "That's how they get you," "Let's get this show on the road," "Do you want me to give you something to cry about?" "They don't make 'em like they used to," "That's not going anywhere," and "Oh no, I think we'll have to amputate" are in the larval stages of growth somewhere in my mind. They're nudging against other requests like "You buying ours too?" when seeing co-workers at a restaurant during lunch, and the classic "Working hard or hardly working?" when passing someone in the office.

Inevitably there will come a time when a severe thunderstorm will roll through town. On that day, long after this phoenix has risen from the ashes of early fatherhood, while my family has already holed up in the storm shelter, I will step onto my front lawn and watch the clouds and rain move closer. I will stand tall and proud as if I could shield my family from the oncoming maelstrom with the strength of my World's Greatest Dad coffee mug, my collared shirt (painstakingly tucked into my khaki shorts), and my blinding white shoes with their accents of smeared lawn grass. Hopefully after an intense stare down I'll surrender to the storm and head in with my family.  But you know, who really knows the true power of fatherhood? Could I take the storm?

Monday, June 15, 2020

How Not To Dad - Episode 19: The Sound and the Fuhrer

 As I navigate the vast, majestic and sometimes troubled waters of dadhood, I almost always look back and think of how amazing it has been to be a part of these two kids' lives. Every day I hope I'm making a positive impact on their development. Every day they surprise me with their intellect and their kindness and their cuteness. There is, however, a dark underbelly. Case in point, yesterday afternoon my one-and-a-half-year-old daughter engaged me in hand-to-hand combat. 

I accepted. 

She was pissed because I had raised my voice at her after she pulled her brother's hair and tried to bite him. First I told her "No," which worked about as well as blowing bubbles into a hurricane. After she tried it again I raised my voice, saying "NO!" again, secretly hoping that would do the trick so that I didn't have to get out of my recliner (If you're thinking "What a lazy sack of  bull squirt," I refer you to the title of my blog.) 

She responded in kind. "NNNO!" She shouted.

"You don't tell me no." I said.

"NNNO!" She answered, and then charged toward me with her hand raised. When she reached my chair she swung, connecting with my forearm.

"What are you hitting me for?" I asked.

Her answer: "NNNO!"

Another slap. 

My automatic reaction was to swat her butt. It was padded with a diaper and wasn't intended to hurt, but I hoped it was hard enough to startle her into realizing she needed to stop. Believe it or not she didn't get the message. A session of swapping licks ensued, until it became apparent that she wasn't going to give up. Finally I raised my voice to eleven, figuring that would surely do the trick, and it pissed her off even more. The ol' booming voice always worked wonders on my siblings and I when we were younger. Apparently I can't muster up the intensity and conviction that my dad always had. Abby fought back by biting my chair (wth?). 

In the end I had to force her to sit against the wall, essentially putting her in the corner or, in terms that are a bit cringey to me though I don't know why, "time-out." The only problem was she didn't want to stay there. I had to stand about six inches from her. If I moved farther away she started scrambling like a running back through a defensive line, which drew me right back to her. At least twice I had to pick her up and, for lack of a better word, wrestle her into a sitting position. Eventually she tired of fighting me and gave in. There were tears. There was screaming. There was rage. Some of that was even from her.

And that, my friends, is why I find myself searching through online articles with titles like "How to Absolutely Love Parenting Your Toddler" or "How to Be a Calm, Cool, and Collected Parent"(Actual interesting reading, if you are so inclined).Two weeks ago I was marveling at how laid back my daughter was, and now I can't quite shake the feeling that I might be raising the next Hitler. Not the racist stuff, mind you, but I guarantee if you Sharpied a square on Abby's upper lip, slicked her hair over to the side, and slid a tiny podium in front of her she would slap the hell out of that thing while shouting her demands at her subjects - namely, my wife and I. 

Moral of the Story:  Take a breath. Count to three. 

(Willy Wonka voice)
"Come with me, 
and you'll be, 
in a woooorld of toddler confrontation.

Keep it calm, grit your teeth,
Or you'll wind up in therapy..."

Thursday, April 23, 2020

How Not To Dad: Episode 18 - Cabin Fever

Things have unraveled a bit at Casa Whaley.  My wife is working from home, and has been since last month.  We have two small children (one seven-year-old, one nineteen-month-old) who are now out of school and with her all day.  Some days I come home to a calm house where I'm greeted with a running hug from the baby girl, another hug from her mom, and a short but effective wrestling match with Logan, who is usually hunkered in front of a video game in a back room.  Those days we accept the quarantine with a smile.

Other times my wife stands in the kitchen with her head down, palms flat on the island's surface, one eye twitching, a few strands of hair taking the Albert Einstein approach to style.  She breathes slowly, deceptively calm.  She stands there like she's trying to hold that boulder from the beginning of Raiders of The Lost Ark on her shoulders.  At her feet confetti is scattered across the floor.  As my eyes adjust I see that it's not confetti, it's Froot Loops.  The living room floor is a landmine of stuffed animals, children's books, blankets, crumbs,  hard plastic toys that are really fun to step on, and clothes.  It doesn't take long for me to realize that at some point in the day, something has gone awry.  My wife looks at me as if to dare me to say something.

I usually don't say anything.

It's at about this point that my baby girl comes trotting up to me and hugs my leg.  She has no idea that anything is wrong.  There's always a content smile on her lips, usually a greeting of "Hi daddy."  All around her is the evidence of her destruction.  This day has driven her mother to near insanity, has made her question whether or not she could go on with her work and home life in such chaos.  To Abby, it's Tuesday.

The kids have their ways of dealing with the cabin fever too, though.  Their daily lives have also been uprooted.  As normal, one night I got settled (and by that I mean I walked through the door and stripped down to the bare minimum amount of clothes necessary to keep my dignity in front of my family) and took the baby to get her diaper changed.  My first mistake was allowing her to drag the Nerf rifle along with her.  I figured she'd need something to keep her distracted, and there were no bullets in it.  What harm could it do? 

We get back to the master bedroom.  Yes, we still change Abby on our bed (if you want to know some of the earlier dangers of that, read Episode 2: Speedbag).  Logan is lying on the bed, watching Youtube videos on the Xbox.  I lay Abby down and get to work.  The first blow came from the left.  A swipe of neon green and orange connected with my temple and sent a jolt of pain and shock through my head.  It startled me more than it hurt me, but it was still unexpected.  Before I could process what had happened, though, the second blow came.  The Nerf gun bounced off my forehead. 

"Abby! No!" I said, but she was already on swing number three.

My second mistake was not taking the gun away at that point.

In order to change a baby you need two hands.  Those same two hands can't also fend off an attack while they are attempting to fasten the diaper around the baby's waist.  I was already mid-fasten when the gun hit me, so I had no other choice but to finish the job as quickly as I could while the shots rained down.  In the background I heard laughter.  Logan was getting some free entertainment, it seemed, while my daughter rifle-whipped me.

All told, I really only took about five shots before she understood that she needed to stop.  She's at that age where it's funny when someone says "Ouch!"  Looks like her mom and I have some work to do.

As for Logan, I'll be collecting Nerf bullets for the next few days.  I'll gather all the guns.  Load 'em up.  Wait for the perfect time to strike.

No one laughs at me.

Moral of the Story:  Stay sane out there, people. That cabin fever's a bitch.

Monday, March 16, 2020

How Not To Dad: Episode 17 - Sippy Cups Suck (AKA The Leakening)

  My daughter and I sit at a dining table. Sunlight from a perfect Spring day slants through the windows. A bird chirps from somewhere in the distance. There is laughter and merriment in the neighborhood, and Abby and I sit with smiles on our faces having a light lunch. She picks up her sippy cup and sips, ever so daintily, from it and then places it securely on the dining room table.
"Thank you father," she says, and offers a little bow of the head. "This milk is exquisite. Two percent?"
"One." I counter. "Only the best for my little angel."
"Angel indeed!" She says, smiles, and sips from her cup again. When she sits the cup down it leans and threatens to tip over, but she catches it. We share a glance after the near incident and then both chuckle heartily as if we were the ending shot of a sitcom credit sequence. Probably frozen in place and everything.

So none of that crap happened.

You know why? Because a toddler's cup is not used for drinking as an adult's cup is. It doesn't just sit on the table or the high chair tray and never move. The reality is that holding liquid is only one use for a child's sippy cup. Abby's has been used with equal measure as a hammer, a baseball, a watering can for our floors, a step stool (never goes well), a stress management tool (she throws it), and a comfort device, as sometimes she likes to just carry it around with her for no reason. We've been through at least half a dozen cups over the past six months, and I've come to a very grim conclusion.

There isn't a sippy cup on earth that doesn't leak.

I'd love to see what qualifies as a good test procedure to see if a cup is leak proof or spill proof. I picture a group of engineers standing proudly beside a table in a lab, grins and nods of approval rippling through them as one of them reaches out and gently lays their prototype sippy cup on its side. Another one keeps a timer. They stare at the cup. Ten seconds later an alarm goes off, signaling the end of their experiment. They all shake hands and congratulate each other. Job well done, right? The cup has survived ten seconds of lying on its side. One of them slaps a "Leak Proof" sticker on it and sends that baby over to the marketing department.

In my home there is no gently placing a cup on a table or floor. Half the cups we have end up lying on their side, a puddle of milk or water resting just below the lid as if the thing had seen too much and pissed itself out of fear, anxiety, or exhaustion. I have yet to find one that can survive Hurricane Abby. And Abby's a relatively calm baby! What do parents of hyper kids do?

So anyway, now I walk into Wal-Mart wearing a brown leather jacket and a dusty fedora, a bullwhip tied through my belt loop. An old man stands in the sippy cup aisle of the infant section, chain mail inexplicably covering his head, shoulders and chest. He holds an ancient sword. When I approach he wearily looks up at me.

"You must choose..." The old man says, his arm sweeping across the aisle of sippy cups. "But choose wisely. For the true leak-proof cup will bring you peace, but the false, leaky cups will take peace from you."

I step forward. My eyes roam the display of colorful plastic cups with their whimsical little pictures of ducks or elephants or Mickey Mouses printed on them. I make my choice.

I exit the aisle, proceed with my purchase and head home so Abby can test her new cup. As I leave I imagine I can hear the old knight say something, but can't quite make it out.

Later that night...

Thursday, February 27, 2020

How Not to Dad: Episode 16: Icicles and Spidey Senses

Some of the fondest memories from my childhood involved the colder months of the year.  There was Christmas, of course.  Even better, though, were the snow days that got us out of school and allowed us to head out to a solid white landscape, smothered in fifteen layers of clothes, to throw snowballs and make snow cream and all the other fun stuff we do as kids.

We'd search for the largest icicles.  They were usually hanging from the eaves of the house, and if they weren't long enough to grab with a hop off the ground, then it would take a precision-thrown baseball to knock them down.  We used to eat them like Popsicles.  (Side note: I had no idea Popsicle was a brand name and not the general name for any bar of ice on a stick. I got that red squiggly line under the word after I typed it, and I was like "Oh hell no, I did not misspell popsicle.  Fight me, computer!"  Turns out I didn't capitalize the word.  That's why my computer judged me.  Apparently the generic name I was looking for is "ice pops."  I like Popsicle better, so that's what you're getting.  Just like every carbonated beverage is a Coke, right?)

The past couple of years have not brought much snow.  They have, on occasion, brought a type of cold that can cut straight through your jeans and turn your dangly bits to ice pops.  It has the ability to glue your car doors shut, and will create stalactites of ice on the bumpers of your vehicles.

About a week ago one such cold snap swept through our neighborhood overnight and left a few icicles in its wake.  It was a weekday and we had gone through our morning routine.  The conclusion to that routine occurs when Nikki carries Abby to her SUV, and Logan walks along with them.  I watch from the door's window until they're in the car.  This morning my eyes found a large, dripping icicle hanging from the side of my car just as my family were heading down the steps.  That's cool, I thought.  Logan will see that and he'll think it's neat.  He may pick it from the car.  Maybe he'll drop it on the concrete and watch it shatter, or want to save it in the freezer, or taste it like I would have done (though that one's probably a little unsanitary).  All acceptable responses.

That, however, was not Logan's response.  As if on cue he saw the ice and made a dash for it.  Nikki and Abby were ahead of him, heading toward the back seat to strap Abby into her car seat.

I'm not sure if it's a parent thing or just a human nature thing, but there are times when things go into slow motion, times when your mind has worked something out and is desperately trying to clue you into the fact that it knows some event is about to happen.  Kind of like spidey-senses.  Say, when your kid is about to fall off the couch or when a ball comes flying at your head, and you react first before you even really know what's going on.  Your mind has slowed it down for you, to give you time to process it.

Logan stood up from beside my car, and without even seeing his face (he was smirking, I could tell that from the back of his head.  Weird, huh?) I knew what he was about to do.  His elbow cocked back and his free hand went forward as if he were a pitcher about to deliver a fastball. Spidey senses tingling, I was still behind a closed door.

All I could do was watch as he launched the icicle towards Nikki and Abby.  It shattered on the concrete at Nikki's feet, causing her to jolt.  She turned and admonished him, and Logan quickly apologized.

I think kids have a sort of anti-spidey-sense.  If mine slows down to let me know something's wrong, Logan's seems to speed up.  Don't worry about consequences, just throw the damn thing! his brain tells him.  Get it done before you can think about it!  He had no intentions of hurting anyone, of that I'm sure, but he didn't allow himself time to understand that he was throwing a pointy projectile at his mother and infant sister.

In the end, it really wasn't a big deal.  Even if the icicle had hit them, the likelihood of an injury was maybe 0.01%.  If there's any concern, it's that I need to work with him on his pitching arm if he ever wants to play baseball.

That throw needed work.

Monday, February 10, 2020

How Not To Dad: Episode 15 - I'm Getting Old, Doo Doo Doodoo Doodoo...

   I'm Getting Old Doo Doo Doodoo Doodoo 

Did you know that cool has an expiration date?  I remember a time when I didn't know that...

When I got my first car, an '86 Honda Civic with a New Mexico tag and luxurious green carpet interior - and an alarm system for those who might want to steal that hunk of raw, four cylinder power - I thought I was the bees knees.

(Quick tangent: The "bees knees" phrase is thought to have derived from the word "business," as a slang word that meant something like the epitome of excellence.  Other adjectives that popped up in this period of the 1920's are "the cat's pajamas," the "eel's ankles," and the "elephant's instep." Around the same time, the British came up with their own animal/anatomical part combo: the "dog's bollocks."  Henceforth, since the word "bollocks" doesn't get used in the U.S. enough, I will be using that term whenever I can possibly fit it in.)

So back to what I was saying, I thought I was the dog's bollocks.  I could go where I wanted.  I had a sound system with a cassette player and a cassette-to-portable-CD-player converter that allowed you to play CD's through your car's tape deck.  It was a sweet setup as long as you didn't hit any bumps in the road.  Portable players were only meant to sit on a flat, level surface with no movement whatsoever, basically rendering them anything but portable.

I drove to school with the music screaming out of that little car.  I rocked out to Sublime, The Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails, The Deftones, maybe a little 2Pac or Dr. Dre thrown in.  I drove with the windows down (I'm fairly sure the A/C was broken).  I wanted to feel the music running through me, so it needed to be played at as close to max volume as my little speakers could handle.  When they rattled, it was time to turn it down half a notch.  Best not test the factory speakers.

I don't think I was too obnoxious with my music, but then again does an obnoxious person know they're being obnoxious?  In my experience that answer is no.  No they don't.  I do remember a high school friend telling me they could hear my music from about three cars behind at a stoplight on the way to school, and that sounds pretty obnoxious to me.  But the world was big and I was young and it was a time for excess.  Strain those eardrums.  Let the music course through you.  In that day and age, your music was what made you cool!  At least that's what I thought then.

A couple of months ago my baby daughter and I were in town together and she had a little meltdown.  The drive home that day brought me to the realization that I had met the expiration date for being cool.  I drove with music blaring from my car, oh yes.  I got looks from people at stoplights and drew attention to myself like I had done twenty years ago.  This time, though, I wasn't singing along to Rage Against The Machine's "Killing in the Name" or "March of the Pigs" by Nine Inch Nails.  My phone was connected to my car, and through that phone the Youtube app played a little ditty called "Baby Shark."  For those of you that know it, I'm sorry for bringing it up.  For those that don't, I'm sorry for bringing it up.  I hate that friggin' video.

Also, I love that video.  Some angel had seen fit to post a one-hour-long version of that song on constant repeat.  Abby rode the rest of the way home in relative silence, enjoying the absolutely insane monotony of that song as it repeated over and over and over and over and over and over again.

So my level of badassery has diminished over the years.  I am no longer the dog's bollocks.  The streets of Cullman are more likely to hear "doo doo doodoo doodoo" wafting through the air around my car than any hard rock, metal, or industrial band.  Instead of feeling electrified by teenage angst I'm singing along with a family of cartoon sharks as they playfully try to eat two children.

Come to think of it that sounds pretty horrific.

Moral of the Story:  Embrace the baby shark.  By a narrow margin, it's better to hear this song on repeat than the screaming and crying of your child.

How Not To Dad: Episode 2 - Speedbag

How Not To Dad: Episode 2 - The Speed bag       There are two problems I have with furniture at my home right now.  Two things that have ...