Tuesday, January 28, 2020

How Not To Dad: Episode 14 - Barrel O' Monkeys


Barrel O' Monkeys    

    I'm not going to gross you out here.  I've done that too much with past episodes.  This is a safe place.  Just know that I walked through our front door the other day holding my child and, about three minutes later, she hurled.  Repeatedly.  She and I were bathed in it, let's say, and I'll leave the imagery at that.
    Now, on to the meat 'n potatoes of this post (no, that's not a reference to the copious amounts of puke, or what my daughter ate to cause such an outburst, so quit thinking about those disgusting things).  Much like any other given moment in the span of my time as a parent, I didn't know what to do.  I stood there and thankfully remembered to lean her forward as the event took place so that she didn't choke, but after the deed was done I became neanderthal Luke (See episode 1) searching my cave for a towel, a washcloth, a stack of napkins, or just a simple clue as to how in the hell I was going to begin to clean this mess up.
    I started the cleanup by setting my daughter down and taking her shirt off.  It didn't occur to me until after I'd started to do this that hey, she probably doesn't want me to rake a puke covered shirt across her face as I remove it.  Probably didn't want any of it to get stuck in her eyebrows either.  Hindsight is always 20/20.  With my daughter screaming and her shirt gone, I pick her up and tip-toe around the mess.  I spot a pack of baby wipes on top of the microwave.  I'm saved.
    Here's where I lose it.
    With my one free hand I work the package open and I pinch the top wipe with my fingernails.  I pull, and a wipe comes out.  It has a friend.  And that one has a friend.  And the next one.  These friggin' wipes are playing Barrel O' Monkeys with me and I'm looking like a half-ass magician pulling a never-ending string of tissues out of the package while my baby sobs in my other arm.  Mind you, I'm still covered in puke at this point.
    I then do what most any man would do.  I get mad.  I pull faster, and wipe after wipe is jerked from the bag until finally they spill over the side of the microwave and a few drift to the floor.  When the chain is broken, I snap the string of remaining wipes like a bullwhip and I'm left with one.  The others scatter into the air and come to rest uselessly at my feet.  I wipe Abby's nose, mouth, and eyebrows.  I carry her to our bedroom where I lay her down to change her.  It is only then that I remembered my shirt and jacket had been, shall we say, severely soiled.  I may or may not have dripped said soilage down the hall as I hurried to get Abby cleaned up.  Luckily my wife stepped out of the bathroom as I changed the baby, and Nikki wasn't nearly as helpless.  Between the two of us we eventually got the mess cleaned up.
    We've put men on the moon.  We put robots on Mars, and others into orbit around the moons of Jupiter and Saturn and God knows where else.  We've sent two satellites on an interstellar flight that began in the 70's and they are still sending data today.  We can split an atom.  We've sent men into ocean depths several miles deep.  Untold thousands of obstacles were overcome in order to carry out these missions.  Surely somewhere along the way someone had to figure out how two damp materials could be pulled across one another without clinging to themselves and dragging all the others along for the ride.  Is there anyone in any scientific field that knows how to design a package of baby wipes that doesn't make you look like the world's saddest magician when trying to rip one from the package?

Moral of the Story:  When your baby wipes refuse to let go, it's you who must let go. 
Of your rage.

Monday, January 13, 2020

How Not To Dad: Episode 13 - Ghosts of Christmases Past

In light of the Christmas season that just passed, I thought I'd do a special episode of How Not To Dad that's a little bit different.  I did this for two reasons: One, because I just want to and this blog page doesn't cost anything so who am I hurting, right?  Two, Until this post I have only exercised my silly side, but I'm quite the nostalgiac (I don't think that's a word but it should be).  Let's flex that sentimental muscle for a minute.

Here goes...

Two years ago we - strike that, "Santa" - got Logan a Hot Wheels Super Ultimate Garage as his big gift for Christmas.  On the side of the main tower clung a toy gorilla that Logan referred to as King Kong.  This giant pile of snap-together plastic costed just shy of two hundred dollars, and it was all Logan talked about when we asked him what he wanted Santa to bring.  It had to be under the tree.

So Christmas Eve of 2017 rolled around.  The box this thing came in was about the size of the monolith on 2001: A Space Odyssey, and I had the pleasure of wrestling that box into a coating of wrapping paper that was red, white, and silver and would have looked right at home with a Budweiser logo on it.  The minute Logan walked into the room the following morning he pointed at the box.  "That's the King Kong thing!"  He said.  It was the last gift he opened that year, and he squealed with excitement as he tore through the beer paper... er... wrapping paper.  The look on his face as he opened the present told us we had done our job.

Logan played with it for a couple of months after we'd set it up in his room, but over time it became a really colorful place to set cups and books and other forms of debris that always seems to congregate in a child's room.  It spent the next year and a half being a dust catcher.  One of the orange strips that connected the garage to a winding, loopy off ramp disappeared.  The spaceship that perched atop the highest level of it vanished into a pit filled with balls and cars and Nerf guns and action figures.  The massive thing withstood the weather of a hyperactive young boy for two years, but now it squatted in the corner like an abandoned building awaiting a demolition crew.

This past week Nikki and I moved that heap of joy out of Logan's room and onto our front porch.  It's destination: the thrift store.  For some reason that I couldn't quite pinpoint at the time, it bothered me that we were getting rid of it.  It was bulky, it took up space, it wasn't used.  There was no reason to keep it.  Logan wasn't even all that upset that it was going away.

I guess that was the problem.  I was certain Logan would be attached to the toy garage because he'd wanted it so bad, but he'd had it for two years.  He's only six years old.  That was a third of his lifetime ago.  The garage had gotten its fifteen minutes with Logan, and it was time for it to move on.

I thought back on Christmases when I was young.  The memories that gathered in my mind were blizzards of voices and laughter and chairs sliding on the floor and silverware on plates and the crackle of wrapping paper.  I thought of fifty people laughing in a tiny house my grandparents had owned for half a century. I thought of counting houses decked out with Christmas lights on rides home after dark, and I thought of mom making us sing carols in the car along with the radio station.  I remember being seven years old and seeing a red blinking light in the sky - no doubt an airplane -  at my other grandparents' house.  I believed with every bone in my body that it was Rudolph's nose as he guided a sleigh through the night sky. I thought of being unable to go to sleep on Christmas Eve, and wondering when Santa would show up.  I thought of waking up at two in the morning with my brother and creeping into the living room to see the presents, and the sheer torture mom forced on us by making us wait until she and my dad were awake before we started opening them.  All that came drifting back when I thought of Christmases past, but not a single thought was given to individual gifts I'd received.

In the end, I decided that the Super Ultimate Garage, now taking up all my porch space, could go on to its next adventure with my blessing.  The conclusion I reached is that it's okay for your kid to blow through life giving passing glances to the toys he loved yesterday.  The toys, the material things, are not what he'll think about when he looks back to these times in his life.

I hope he looks back and remembers family movie nights watching Home Alone or Elf or The Grinch.  I hope he remembers his parents driving his sister and him through the Christmas light display at Sportsman's Lake, and playing with his cousins at the family party on Christmas Eve.  I hope he remembers opening gifts with his sister in their pajamas on Christmas morning, drinking hot chocolate, and eating candy from his stocking.

One day I hope he'll set his own child's toys outside when it's time to let them go, and memories of what made Christmas so important will flood through him. If we've done a good enough job as parents, those memories won't center around a toy Hot Wheels garage, but around the people he loves and the times spent with them.

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 ...