Monthly Archives: November 2008

The Outset of Addiction

When you see someone you love start down the road toward addiction, it’s never a good thing.

Yesterday, while surrounded by family, I watched him set out down that path. I tried to rationalize it at first. After all, I’m not a narc or anything. I’m not the fun police. I’m a pretty laid back guy. A little experimenting never hurt anyone right? As long as he could keep it under control and not get hooked, I was fine with it. So when he took his first hit and I watched the amazed and exhilarated look on his face, it was actually kind of amusing.

Because as most of us know, there’s nothing like that first time. All of those chemicals hit you all at once, lighting you up like a Christmas tree. You feel the adrenaline start to pump as you realize you’ve never had anything like this before. You get the vague notion there will be consequences later, but in that moment you don’t care about anything except the euphoria you’re feeling.

I thought he would be happy that we let him experiment and leave it at that, but that wasn’t the case. He immediately went for some more. And again. And then again. He was immediately consumed with it and you could tell he was hooked mind, body and soul. He craved it. He needed it. To take it away might as well mean depriving him of the air he needs to breathe.

Everyone warns you that all it takes is one time to get hooked. But those people are squares right? They’re no fun. So you think you can handle it, that you can keep it under control. But yesterday, as I watched him take a hit for the 20th time, it was quite apparent that some people are just not equipped to deal with these things. And what’s worse, I knew I’d be dealing with the aftermath.

When we finally wrestled all the substances away from him he was angry. I’m talking ANGRY! He was yelling, screaming, kicking, clawing…it was an ugly sight. Sure he was all full of energy and adrenaline at first, but then he started to come down. Then the withdrawal symptoms started. He couldn’t walk and hell, he could barely crawl without falling over. His words were slurred and soon only unintelligible noises escaped his mouth as he craved for his newfound drug. Eventually he passed out, face down on the carpet.

Not to mention the fact that he soiled himself in the process.

It’s probably my fault. I condoned the behavior in the first place. I basically gave him a green light to try it and now this is the price we pay.

And that’s the story of Will’s first experience with ice cream, pie and a sugar rush!

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“Ummm…Where’s Will?”

That’s what MJ said as she sat at the computer and I loaded up the dishwasher.

We block off sections of the house using furniture, household objects and family pets to let Will crawl around. I’m not sure what caused us to be so negligent this morning. Maybe it was the blissful silence in the house which is rarer than an eclipse. I think it lulled us into complacency or something. But before we knew it, it was a little too quiet and MJ blurted out “Where’s Will?!?!” in a panic.

If you could see the layout of our condo, common sense would’ve told you he couldn’t have gotten far. It’s less than 1,200 square feet and there’s no stairs. But there’s no such thing as common sense when your kid is missing.

The next few seconds were a blur. I think MJ developed Wonder Woman type powers and managed to hurdle the table, the barricade and the couch all in one fell swoop. I vacated the kitchen like an Olympic sprinter out of the starting box as we both ran toward the bedroom. My heart was in my throat as I feared for the worst. Fingers in an electrical outlet? Was he eating something he wasn’t supposed to? Was he playing with electric cords and strangling himself?

The answer was none of the above. He had managed to bypass our barricades and had crawled into the middle of our bedroom floor. We barged in the room and he just turned to us and smiled. It was the smile that threw me off. It wasn’t an innocent smile. It was a devilish one that said “Didn’t even notice me giving you the slip huh? Get used to that big man. I run this MoFo now.”

That’s the last time I let a Golden Retriever and a Dalmatian babysit Will.

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Fangs!

For two months we’ve been waiting for Will’s upper teeth to come in. Well, the good news is the wait is over. The bad news? He’s a frickin’ vampire!

Instead of his top front teeth popping out he’s growing vampire teeth on the both sides. I guess maybe I should’ve had him baptized huh? He’s an unbaptized child who I dressed as Satan for Halloween, and now he’s got the Mark of the Devil on him. My bad.

Or maybe my son is just very, very sly. After all, society is obsessed with vampires right now. True Blood is one of our favorite shows right now. If you haven’t watched it, order HBO and watch all of the first season on On Demand. There’s something for everyone in that show. Women have the sappy love story between Sooky and Vampire Bill, and guys get to see lots of boobs. Everybody wins. Not to mention that movie “Twilight” that’s out right now which every 15-year-old girl in America is going to see roughly 67 times each over the next couple of months.

So maybe he’s not the Devil. Maybe he just recognizes a trend and does his best to fit in. I’m not going to start worrying until he melts in the sunlight or tries to drain me of all my blood.

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Just Show Up

I’ve received a ton of compliments in real life and from people who follow my blog about how I’m a good dad. And you know what, it really has me irritated!

I’m not pissed off about the compliments. By all means, keep those coming and feel free to tell me how stunningly handsome I am while you’re at it. I’m angry because in my mind, I really don’t do anything out of the ordinary as a father. All I do is what any father should do. Help out with diapers, contribute financially, read to your kid, spend time with him, feed him, wake up for a late night feeding occasionally, etc.

These are the basics. These things make up the fundamental framework of being a parent. I should be EXPECTED to do these things because that’s what a father does. I shouldn’t receive praise simply for doing my job. But that’s how it is with fathers because the bar has been set so low in the past. If a man lifts a finger and helps out once in a blue moon he’s looked at as extraordinary, simply because the level of a man’s involvement with his children historically has been so paltry.

Throughout the last 8 months, MJ has thanked me profusely for helping out with Will. And each time she does it, I just look at her like she’s crazy. I tell her she doesn’t need to thank me. That I’m just doing what every father does. And she looks me square in the eye and says “I love that you think that way, but it’s just not true.”

And I hate to admit it, but she’s right. It’s not true. And that’s pathetic.

I know from meeting other dads, talking with friends and even befriending some new moms on the blog and on baby Web sites, that a large percentage of fathers aren’t nearly as involved as they should be. It’s getting better and dads are spending more time with their kids compared to 30-40 years ago, but it’s still not where it should be. And what makes things even sadder, is that so little is expected of us all we really need to do is just show up.

Just show up. Honestly, that’s half the battle. It’s like getting 300 points on the SATs for writing your name down correctly, or knowing you could pass that course in college just by having good attendance. Just show up.

I realize not every dad is going to attend workshops or join a group for new fathers. Hell, I never thought I would and I’ve gotten a lot out of it. But that’s not even necessary. As long as you show up and put it just the slightest amount of effort, that’s a decent enough start. Your wife/girlfriend will appreciate it, your kid is benefiting and you’ll have taken an important step toward added involvement with your child.

There’s just no reason to have a list of Deadbeat Dads. And I hate hearing about some of these moms who are married, but might as well be single moms because Dad goes out every single night and never lifts a finger to help with the baby. We don’t need to do much to look good. All the pressure to raise a child falls unfairly on the mom, so as long as guys don’t act like total douchebags it’s almost impossible to fail.

Yet with so little pressure and the miniscule expectations men have on them as fathers, too many guys still manage to screw it up. And there’s just no excuse for that.

Just show up.

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Parental Misconduct

The whole family packed up shop on Friday night and headed to my parents’ house an hour away to spend the night. It was good to get out and to see everyone. And I received an added bonus when I went up to my old bedroom and found my journal from when I was just a kid (Did I really write things down once upon a time? I can’t believe I functioned without blogs?).

I read through all the old entries, some of which made me laugh and other times cringe. Sometimes both. It was filled with all the usual stuff that pre-teen angst consists of: school woes, trouble with friends, all the girls who didn’t return the attention I was lavishing on them and, of course, a lengthy chronicle of parental misconduct.

The term “parental misconduct” is one I made up when I was younger. I love football and during football games the referees throw a yellow flag whenever there’s a penalty. I secretly wished I could have the power to blow a whistle when my parents were being difficult and penalize them for parental misconduct.

Although looking back, it’s silly to be complaining. Honestly, my parents were great in just about every way. My mom was one of the most involved moms on the planet. My dad wasn’t so involved when we were younger because he was building a business from the ground up, but because of that we had a house, food and clothes so I think it evened out. I could literally spend days extolling the virtues of my parents and listing all the great things they did raising us.

But that’s really boring and not nearly as humorous as pointing out the miniscule amount of mistakes they made. So, spurred on by my journal and the short list of events I was upset about when I was younger, I give you some parental misconduct moments which I will probably repeat in some form or another with Will.

  • My brother and I weren’t allowed to have squirt guns because my bleeding heart liberal parents are anti 2nd Amendment. I understand an aversion to guns, but not allowing us squirt guns until I was 12 was a tad over the top.
  • They made me join the band. I’m serious, they took my course sheet in high school and FORCED me to sign up for the band. You see, they were both band geeks in high school so they wanted me to follow in their geeky footsteps. They still maintain that the people in the band “were really cool.” I quit before I ever had to wear that stupid uniform at a halftime show.
  • My dad completely overreacted when I started dating. He nearly drove off the road when I told him I had kissed a girl for the first time. Then, when I kissed a girl in front of him and my mom, he pulled the whole “Have some respect, we’re your parents, what is wrong with you?” thing. Totally uncool. But for the record, my mom was a champ and gave me a high-five afterwards!
  • My dad was also annoying suspicious that I was drinking and/or doing drugs all the time, when the truth of the matter is I never touched anything until I was in college. He’s still convinced to this day that I came home one New Year’s Eve with liquor on my breath. And he was such a little girl when accusing me of it. Truthfully, I wish I had dabbled in that stuff in high school. But the truth is that I watched the Lion King that New Year’s with my girlfriend while awkwardly making out with her with 6 other people in the room. No booze, no drugs.
  • Every time my father wore shorts in public he’d jack up his old man socks all the way to his knees. And when my brother and I told him how he was humiliating himself and us as well, he pulled them up even higher.
  • And one time he mistakenly thought I whacked my mom and he lost his ever-lovin’ mind. My mom was being totally unreasonable and we started yelling at each other. Well she got so mad that she came over to me and started woman slapping me and pushing me against my bedroom door. I crossed my arms, defending myself, and thrust out my elbows just to get her far enough away from me to stop hitting me. Well all my dad saw was her stumbling back and he thought I had popped her one (which I would never do), so he comes over and screams “DON’T YOU EVER HIT YOUR MOTHER!” I was stunned and before I could explain he was whacking the bejesus out of me. Thankfully he fights like a band geek so the injuries were minimal!
  • I forget exactly what age I was, probably 14 or 15, but one day my dad called me into his room. I thought I was in trouble at first but much to my surprise, he was holding a Playboy magazine. He had heard me talk about how hot Anna Nicole Smith was (back when she was actually hot and not a freak show) and decided to make a father-son bonding moment out of it. So he opens up the Playboy to Anna Nicole’s spread and gave me permission to check her out. I know he meant well, but there were a couple of issues with this: 1) Looking at naked chicks with your dad at 14 years old is just awkward. Not cool. And 2) I didn’t want to burst his bubble by telling him I knew exactly where all of his Playboys were and I had combed through all of them approximately 500,000 times since hitting puberty.
  • Nothing is sacred or secret with my dad. I picked up this trait as well. So as a result of this, he’ll tell his vasectomy story in front of your friends without notice, or he’ll regale a total stranger with the tale of how my first girlfriend at college turned lesbian without batting an eyelash. Bringing home new girlfriends was always nerve wracking.

My mom wasn’t just involved in our lives, she merged her life and ours. For instance:

  • Sophomore year of high school after the semi-formal dance. None of my friends had drivers licenses yet so they picked us up, but they were early. We were just getting our food at a local restaurant so I asked them to get the hell away wait. While I was talking to them, my burger came and I was getting ready to put ketchup on it by whacking the bottom of the bottle. My mom, for reasons I still can’t grasp, grabbed the bottle of ketchup from me and proceeded to stick a knife in there and then smear the ketchup all over my burger for me. In front of all my friends. And my date.
  • My mom not only attended nearly every single one of my sporting events, she drove the bus to my away games in high school. Don’t get me wrong, it was really cool to have her there watching and cheering me on. But it was not kosher to sit in the back of the bus with upper classmen, trying to be cool, while lying talking about my most recent sexual escapades to impress them, with her just a few feet away.
  • Senior year of high school my mom decided to direct the senior class play. I wanted no part of it, yet she not only made me be the lead actor…she made it a frickin’ musical! I tried to get out of it but my father threatened me with a fate worse than death and told me I was not going to disappoint my mother. For the record, my name in the play was Corndoggie and it involved me singing falsetto like my nuts were cut off at one point.
  • Also senior year of high school, my mom was in school more than I was. One day, she was walking through the school library when all of a sudden (and she still has no explanation for this) she became very worried that I didn’t have any lunch money. Keep in mind I was 17 years old and had a job for the last two years. So she sees my friend Jeff in the library and asks him what class I’m in at the moment because she wants to give me lunch money. Jeff, asshole that he was, tells her I’m in math class just down the hall. So as math class is IN PROGRESS, I hear a knock at the door. Time stood still as I realized it was my mom’s face peeking through that little square window. Then, she waved $2 in the air and mouthed “I HAVE YOUR LUNCH MONEY.” As I’m sure you all know, high school is an unforgiving environment and when mommy interrupts class to give you, a 17 year old senior, lunch money…well, you don’t quite live that down.

 

Honestly, I love my parents. And if these small examples are the worst I have after almost 30 years of life then that means they did a hell of a job. I’d like to say I’ll learn from these mistakes, but I already know I won’t. Will is going to have an even longer list of things I end up doing that embarrass the hell out of him, but as long as I can do half the job my parents did…I’ll be just fine.

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