Archive | August, 2011

The bowels of hell.

9 Aug

irst off let me state for the record that I am aware of the fact that “potty” has taken up a larger than normal percentage of the Dorkdaddy bandwidth of late. But let’s face it – this is a blog about parenting. I have a 3-year-old. “Potty” is a very large part of our life. So there it is.

Today was my son’s 3rd birthday. (Happy birthday, buddy. You ROCK) The big birthday party is this weekend, but to celebrate as a family we went out to dinner at his favorite restaurant. Naturally, just before the meals come he announces to the entire restaurant “I have to go pee pee!”. Without missing a beat my wife says to him “O.K. Daddy will take you to the potty”. No discussion. No silent, secret communication between parents. In no uncertain terms she was telling me that she just didn’t want to deal with it this time, and that I’d better step up if I knew what was good for me. Fine, I get it. She deals with the potties 999/1000 times during the day. It was my turn. So with grim determination I dutifully trotted my little 3-year-old off to the men’s room.

Now I will be the first to concede that in the vast majority of cases, women have it figured out WAY better than men. But just in case any of you women harbor the notion that taking your child to the potty in a ladies’ room is essentially the same experience as taking them to potty in a men’s room, I’m here to tell you, you are DEAD WRONG.

Here’s the cold hard fact of nature: women civilize men. Without you ladies I am convinced we would all be running around in the streets like a bunch of feral animals. There are very few bastions of 100% pure manhood, untouched by a woman’s influence in the western world. But any such environment quickly degenerates into what can only be described as a festering cesspool. The men’s room is just such an environment. I don’t know why it’s like this. Maybe it’s because all the peeing on wall-mounted urinals reminds our limbic-system reptile-brains of marking our territory. Maybe it’s because it’s the only place in the world where we don’t have a woman telling us what to do and how to do it, so we rebel in the extreme. The cause is irrelevant. The salient point to this blog (and the point that you ladies are critically missing because you don’t live in our world) is this:

THE MEN’S ROOM IS NOT AN APPROPRIATE PLACE FOR SMALL CHILDREN

The first thing you need to understand is that even if it was possible to get in and out of there without touching anything, you still can’t come out anywhere near as clean as you would from a ladies’ room for one simple reason: the very air in a men’s room is utterly contaminated. Once you walk in there, you’re infected, from the inside of your lungs to the fibers in your clothes. No amount of hand washing can overcome it. What’s really needed is the sort of decontamination you see in the movies where the hero walks into a hermetically sealed plastic bubble room, strips his hazmat suit off down to his undies, raises his hands over his head like someone’s pointing a gun at him and slowly turns in a circle while jets of steam cover him from head to toe. My wife always carries a bottle of hand-sanitizer in her purse. Unless that bottle holds enough gel to slather your entire body, it ain’t gonna cut it.

So my boy and I walk into the men’s room and I know we’ve already lost the sterility battle. Oh well, best to just finish what we started. We manage to get act 1 complete at the stand-up urinal without touching anything. But my guy is still used to sitting on the toilet, so the finer subtleties of stand-up technique have yet to be properly developed. He winds up dribbling a bit down his leg, a bit on my hands, a bit on my pants and who knows where else. It’s not like I’m going to give the kid a bath or dry-clean my clothes in the men’s room sink, so I guess he’s just going to have to go through the night with pee on his leg.

Just when we finish act 1 my son announces to me “Daddy, I need to go poo poo”. I get it. A successful bathroom experience for him is like conquering a challenge. He’s still proud of the fact that he can do it like a big boy, so he wants to go for act 2. I suppress my horror and we move from the urinal to the stall. The first thing we notice is that the person who was there before us left his calling card – if you know what I mean. I use my foot to flush before I let my son get within 3 feet. As I prepare the throne for my little prince he (unbeknownst to me) removes the relevant articles of clothing, including his shoes. So now his clothes are sitting on the nasty-ass ground immediately surrounding the uncared-for toilet and even worse, he’s walking on that nastiness with his bare feet.

We read somewhere that it’s easier to potty-train a boy if you start out sitting on the toilet facing the wall. That’s all well and good at home in a controlled environment, but it’s an extreme strategic error in public bathrooms. Naturally my son refuses to use the toilet any other way, so he sits facing the wall where it’s absolutely impossible to keep his hands from touching the backsplash from the dozens of people who came before him. I’m so horrified by the entire experience that I barely register the chuckles coming from the urinal we just finished using as my son gives the play-by-play of the entire act 2 experience to everyone in the room.

Once he’s done my efforts are devoted to getting him dressed (and in shoes) again. While I’m working at it I hear him say “Uh oh. Someone was naughty. They colored on the wall. That’s permanent”. Naturally he saw the graffiti some classy, reptile-brained, feral animal left for everyone to see. “What’s that, Daddy?” my son asked, pointing to a crude rendering of what Austin Powers would describe as “sticks and berries”. I managed to dodge the question as we wrapped things up.

We wash from the elbows down at a sink I’m not convinced is any more sanitary than the stall we just left, and we exit the bathroom, dripping hands in the air, back to the door like freshly scrubbed-in surgeons entering an O.R. We get back to our table and my son announces to the entire room “I did it! I made pee pee and poo poo!” The people at the table next to us don’t seem impressed. As I sit down at the table all I can think about is the fact that every square inch of my body is covered in unimaginably disgusting nastiness. Naturally the waitress arrives just at that moment and puts my dinner down in front of me as if I didn’t leave my appetite at the door of that men’s room the moment I entered.

Ladies, the scene I just described is not an isolated incident. As far as men’s rooms go, it is more the norm than anything else. Why in the heck would you expose your child to that if you had any alternative? When they are old enough to know the difference sure, send your little boys to the proper bathroom. But until then, keep your sweet, innocent, pure little boys as far away from a public men’s room as possible.

In any case, happy birthday buddy.

Yeah. After that story I bet you're looking at this picture a little differently.

This has been a public service announcement.

-Dork Daddy

 

Update 11/29/11 — A friend of mine passed along this link to another blog that articulates the challenges for both boys AND girls in just the right way. If you enjoyed this post, you must go see it.

Dork Dad’s 10-step guide to indoctrinating your child.

6 Aug

(Or, alternatively, how to make a dork out of your child)

 

1) Control the environment.

It’s important that your child is surrounded by the appropriate images. In language acquisition it’s called “total immersion”. This step is not for the light-hearted. If you are serious about indoctrination you have to be totally committed, and this is where your metal will be tested. Expect resistance from your wife.

2) Early exposure.

The earlier you get started the less extraneous influences you’ll have to filter out when you finally do get serious. If you get started early enough your dogma of choice will take top-billing from the beginning, and all the other distractions will pale by comparison. It’s like putting off your dental cleanings… the longer you wait, the more undesired buildup you have to eventually scrape off to get back on track.

3) Toys.

Kids love toys. It’s a scientific fact. You can use this to your advantage. Provide them with toys that reinforce your dogma of choice and take the path of least resistance to indoctrination.

4) Part of the culture.

Make no mistake. It IS a culture you’re indoctrinating your little-one into; both the culture of your dogma of choice, and of dorkness in general. Your little-one needs to feel like they are part of that culture. The secret to being a successful dork, (as opposed to the pathetic kind that gets wedgies in school and never has the opportunity to date a woman they haven’t met in “World of Warcraft” first) is self-confidence. It bears repeating: self-confidence. Make your little-one the leading expert of your dogma of choice in his/her circle of friends and self-confidence will flow automatically.

5) Role-play.

One day your little-one will be called upon to save the world. If they haven’t practiced exactly what to do beforehand, they’ll have no idea what to do when the time finally comes.

6) Role-model.

Your little-one will look to you for reinforcement. They’ll need guidance to know where to go and how to get there. You need to be the example in every way.

7) Control the message.

There will be many distractions along the way, from many outside influences beyond your control. What you can control are the messages they hear while they are with you. Make sure those images are consistent. Purity is everything.

8) Spread the gospel.

Encourage your little-one to share the love with others in the same way you share it with him/her. After all, not everyone is as enlightened as you and your little-one. There will be many, many people who won’t necessarily appreciate the message. Don’t let that deter you. Be respectful of other peoples’ wishes, but keep the message strong in your heart.

9) Keep things comfortable.

It’s a lot of work indoctrinating your child, and even moreso BEING indoctrinated. Your child needs to be reassured that they are in a stress-free, low-anxiety environment. Make sure your little-one feels comfortable exploring things on their own. Any educator worth their salt will tell you the best way to teach is through a self-motivated student. Spark the interest and let your pupil guide their own learning.

10) Mass-media blitz.

Don’t forget, it is 2011. There are so many more ways to bring your little-ones up than there were when we were kids. Take advantage of the multitude of opportunities at your disposal, and by all means, document everything.

 

 

My name is Dork Dad, and I endorse this message.

-Dork Dad

Hot momma

5 Aug

Summer swimming lessons have a very interesting dynamic you don’t find anywhere else. On one hand you have hotsie-totsie little 20-something swim instructors with perfectly tanned skin, sun (and chlorine) highlighted hair, and barely appropriate teenie-weenie red bikinis. They parade around the pool and everyone pretends that it’s totally normal; that they aren’t completely on display for the 20-something dude instructors with equally highlighted hair, equally tanned abs, and equally inappropriately lowriding swimsuits (call me a fuddy-duddy, but if you’re riding so low in the back I can see your buttcrack, or in the front I have to wonder if you get “The Brazillian” manscaping, you’re inappropriate).

Then on the other hand you have the good, dutiful mommies who are all about doing the right thing for their (multiple) kids by schlepping them to swim lessons twice a week. If the troupe gets out of the house and makes it to lessons in time it’s a banner day. If the kids get breakfast in their tummies and all articles of clothing for afterward make it to the pool too, it’s a miracle. Forget about mommy doing her hair in anything but the quick up-do. Makeup? Not a chance. Mom’s major victory for the morning depends entirely on whether or not, by some miracle, she manages to get Starbucks.

At swim lessons these two worlds come in stark contrast.

I remember when I realized (for me) that moms were hotter than the red-bikinied swim instructors. I was in college, working at a local private elementary school, doing before and after school daycare, lunch duty, summer daycare, that sort of thing. Part of the responsibilities were managing traffic drop-offs in the morning where hurried (sometimes harried) parents drove their kids to school and dropped them off without even turning off the engine. After a time I remember taking note that by and large, the 30-something moms dropping off their kids were more attractive to me than the 20-something co-ed’s I was working with. The realization startled me at first, but I saw it for what it was and I accepted it right away. Intellectually it’s not hard to figure out why. These women have their acts together enough to have stable lives, and they have family-oriented priorities; both values I share. For my money the bikini-clad 20-something swim instructors seem way to into themselves to be anything more than eyecandy. They have all the nutritional value of a bowl of applejacks. That much was clear enough to me in college.

So here I sit on a Friday morning at swim lessons with my wife and kids. The bikini-clad 20-somethings are everywhere, but I just can’t take my eyes off of my wife (who, I think you’ll agree doesn’t need perfect makeup or hair to put those hottie-totties to shame). Two kids later and she is still the most beautiful, miraculously well-put-together woman I have ever seen. Those swim instructors have oceans to cross before they’re even in the same hotness-league as my wife.

Lucky me.

-Dork Dad

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Swagger-Dad

2 Aug

I need to premise this by saying I’ve never been a car guy. But things change as we get older. The #1 pre-set station on the radio changes from classic rock to NPR. We get a little pudding around the middle. We grow hair in unexpected places. And in my case, about a year or so ago, I began having an extra-marital affair. Here she is:

Curves like Marilyn Monroe. I've never been an "ass man", but just look at that rear end. Tell me she isn't sexy.

I always scoffed at those guys who thought having a Porsche was the entire reason for living. That would never be me. But this is a post about reneging on a few of those “I’ll nevers” in life. I stumbled across a craigslist posting about a year ago, and ever since then I haven’t been able to shake the 911 from my mind. It must be hormonal – some sort of evolutionary thing. When women hit their mid-to-late 30’s their biological clock starts ticking. When men hit their mid-to-late 30’s, they need a Porsche. I think it’s safe to say that where I sit right now, I need a Porsche. In fact, more than that, I have taken a solemn vow that someday I WILL have a Porsche. Suffice it to say, I don’t have one now, and don’t have any plans to get one in the near future.

Recently I found myself in a rare position. The business was clipping along really well. The credit cards were paid off, and there was some extra cash in the bank. The planets were aligned. It’s Porsche time, right?!

Wrong.

I’m a family man, and that comes first. My two kids are growing like weeds, and although we were still able to shoehorn them both into my wife’s car, there wasn’t much else we could fit in there. We knew the time was coming where we’d have to start schlepping around their friends, their grandparents, their soccer equipment, whatever. We couldn’t ignore the fact that we were outgrowing the family car. In the vein of reneging on another one of those “I’ll nevers” in life, the wife and I were seriously thinking about moving into… **big sigh for dramatic effect**… the minivan stage in our life.

My poor wife had to ride wedged in like this for 6 hours during the drive down to Disneyland last year. Since then our kids have only grown.

So with grim resignation I took my wife to the Toyota dealership, and on our 9th wedding anniversary we finally picked up our brand new (certified pre-owned) 2011 Toyota Sienna (the pimped-out version thankyouverymuch… if we were gonna get a minivan I was gonna get ALL the extras. If they offered hydraulics, spinners on the wheels and a snowplow I would have ordered them all). So now we roll around town in the bee-all and end-all of family wagons. The Porsche will have to wait.

Happy anniversary honey. The astute observer will notice the headlight in the foreground. It WILL happen someday. This I vow.

If you happen to think about it, please drop me a few words of encouragement. Remind me that I did the right thing; that with patience the Porsche will come. I know it will, but I still need to hear it.

 

 

I’ll let you in on a little secret though: as much swagger as driving around town in a Porsche would give me, I get even more showing off the fact that I got my family the Formula-1 of minivans. If you knew what made minivans cool, and you saw ours, you’d be jealous. Sure, a Porsche is a great status symbol. But truly, what is a better status symbol to show off with zeal than a well-provided for family?

-Dork Dad

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