Monthly Archives: June 2009

Play Ball

We took Will to a Pawtucket Red Sox game (they’re the Boston Red Sox AAA farm team) on Sunday and it was really great. Well, it was great. It was kinda great. Really.

Honestly, asking a 14-month-old kid to sit still for a 3-hour baseball game is a lot. That’s why I fully expected him to last about 4 innings before he went to DEFCON 1 and had an Earth-shattering meltdown that caused us to leave. But with the help of Grandma Donna and Papa Tom, we managed to get all the way to the 9th inning.

This was especially tricky because you’re in a really confined space. Will likes to walk and he hates to be on our laps for extended amounts of time. But with precious little room between our knees and the back of the guy in front of us, it’s a delicate and constant struggle to keep him happy and entertained while keeping the gameday experience fun for the people around you.

You might think you could use toys, but we quickly learned toys end up as projectiles. He throws them or drops them on the people in front of us. So then you give him a bottle, but that’s the same result as the toy. So, you’re stuck trying to bribe him with ballgame food. And that works for a while until he gets bored and instead of eating the food he starts throwing french fries as well.

Now keep in mind you’re totally screwing with his nap schedule. So you try to put him on your lap, curl him up with a bottle and get him to catch a few Zs. Only problem, every time he starts to fall asleep something happens on the field and the crowd goes wild, waking him up.

Eventually, we found the solution.

Just go with it. Pass the kid around and let him get a lay of the land. Butter up the people around you with free french fries and hot dogs, and apologize in advance for any screams, objects thrown at them and general debauchery and chaos your child will ultimately cause. If you’re up front with them and nice about it, you’d be surprised what people will put up with when there’s a ridiculously cute kid involved. And be sure to let your kid wave to people, look around and explore as much as possible without being a total pest.

Will ended up waving at everyone and warming their hearts to the point they didn’t care how loud he was being. He also demanded to kiss most of the women in the immediate area, and at that point they were all putty in his hands and he could do no wrong. He even managed to nap for a couple of innings (it helped that the Paw Sox really sucked and there wasn’t much to cheer about).

In the end, we had a really good time and I’m glad we took him to the game. I was worried about the crowd, about Will’s activity level and pissing everyone around us off. But it’s much better to at least try and get out of the house, than not attempt it at all.

Just wish the Sox had won!

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Gay Marriage: Get Used to It

This column appeared at Debating Dad on Dad-Blogs!

My son Will is only 14 months old, and although I think he’s smart enough to take and pass the SATs right now, he’s not currently enrolled in school. But just because he’s too young to be in the classroom, doesn’t mean I’m not paying attention to what’s going on in school systems around the country.

All too often, I read stories in the news about parents who are furious their children are being taught about homosexuality. They feel the subject matter is taboo or inappropriate for their kids. They act all indignant and demand that the teacher either stop teaching such things, or alert the parents when the subject arises so they can pull their kid out of school that day. Most of the people against teachers raising awareness of non-traditional families are of a religion that believe homosexuality is a sin, and as a result punishable by spending eternity in hell.

But hell is exactly where I’d tell those people to go.

I live in Massachusetts, where gay marriage has been legal for 5 years. And in that time, the world hasn’t ended. Gay marriage hasn’t affected heterosexual marriage one iota. But what it has done is give basic human rights to ALL of our population, instead of excluding and marginalizing gay people. And although some would disagree with me, I’m proud of our legislators in this state because they stood firm against a petition to put gay marriage to a popular vote, knowing that human rights has no place at the ballot box.

But back to the classroom. Teachers, especially in a state like mine where two people of the same sex can be married legally, should ABSOLUTELY teach kids from an early age that some boys and girls have two daddies or two mommies instead of one of each. I highly doubt any teacher in his/her right mind is getting into the specifics of either gay or straight sex, so it’s not like the minds of poor, young children are being poisoned with evil, damaging thoughts. The message being sent is there are all different kinds of families out there and kids should try to be accepting of all of them.

I understand some people disagree with homosexuality and genuinely feel it is wrong. Aside from the fact that discriminating against someone based on their sexual orientation is the worst kind of ignorance, that shouldn’t matter. If you feel gays are evil then you can tell your kid that at home. You’d be wrong and foolish to do that in my opinion, but if that’s what you believe then knock yourself out. But at school, in the classroom, kids should be made aware of the different kinds of families that exist and taught to keep an open mind no matter what. After all, would people get upset if their kids were reading a book with a black, latino, asian character? I would hope not. So why get so upset about kids learning about gays in class? Diversity is diversity.

And sure, a parent has a right to keep their kid out of school. But pulling your kid out of the classroom on the day homosexuality is being discussed, is nothing more than putting your head in the sand and needlessly shielding your child from receiving an education in diversity.

Some people may not like it, but gays, gay marriage, and gay families are here and they’re not going anywhere. Maybe the Bible beaters are too busy quoting an outdated book in an attempt to continue discrimination against homosexuals, but maybe there’s still hope for their kids as long as they’re taught to accept and respect gay families.

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It’s Just a Scratch!

I’m hopelessly addicted to geocaching these days. And since I have an extremely addictive personality, that means I need to indulge in my new hobby whenever humanly possible.

So last night I was all prepared to go find a few local caches and I was impatiently waiting for MJ to get home from work. I had Will and the dog all ready to go, all she had to do was change her clothes. Well wouldn’t you know it, the minute she walks in the door it starts thundering and lightning like a mofo. I, of course, still wanted to go out amidst the bolt lightning piercing the sky like a dagger. But thankfully MJ was there to remind me that baby + lightning = charring.

So even though geocaching is supposed to be the thing MJ and I do together, as soon as she left for work I got Will dressed and lined up two caches I wanted to hunt. The weather was gorgeous, Will was in a good mood and so I fired up the GPS and hit the trails.

I picked two easy finds, knowing I’d have to carry Will the whole way because the stroller would’ve been useless on these wooded trails. Now keep in mind, I’m new at this. I get all excited when the GPS starts pointing the way to the treasure and I excitedly bound off in whatever direction it points me in, kind of like a hyper labrador.

Eventually I came to a fork in the road. The only problem was the GPS was pointing me straight ahead about 500 feet. Now it’s at this point I should’ve remembered that most cachers hide their loot not too far from the path, because who wants to go bushwacking through prickers and poison ivy? But since I lack common sense, I figured the fastest way to get where I was going was straight.

Straight through the trees. Straight through the branches. Straight through the pricker bushes. All the while carrying my son who was getting eaten by mosquitoes.

I quickly realized that I should’ve stayed on the path. But Will wasn’t too fussy (he actually seemed to be enjoying it) and I’m stubborn, so I forged ahead. Finally I saw the path I needed. As I trudged the final few steps through the underbrush, my foot caught on a root and I knew I was about to fall. Instinctively I held Will up as high as I could to shield him from any danger. Although I was mostly successful in this attempt, he did get cut by one solitary pricker and he started bleeding a little from his right leg.

I expected him to wail both from the shock of falling down in dad’s arms and from the sting of the pricker. But instead he just looked at me like “Dude, what was that all about?” I smiled at him, wiped the blood from his leg and we carried on as if nothing happened.

We found two caches in less than 25 minutes, but more importantly my little man showed his toughness. So he fell (ok, ok, so I fell!)? So he was cut? So he bled a little? Big deal! Will falls all the time because I let him tumble (as long as he’s not going to be seriously hurt) to teach him a lesson. And he learns it fast. I’m so proud of him because he doesn’t wail like most kids his age if they fall down or whack their head. He just gets up, dusts himself off and carries on.

Just like his mother! ;-)

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A Vacation With Kids Is Anything But

Friday means it’s time to head over to Dad-Blogs for Fatherhood Friday. Tons of dads (and moms) are blogging like crazy and sharing some great insight over there on a weekly basis. So after you’re done here, head to Dad-Blogs for some good times and even better reads.

Having a child changes everything.

That’s what they tell you right from the get-go, and it’s true. Will changed everything in my life, and 95 percent of the time it’s been for the better. But this past vacation? It fell in the 5 percent.

The vacation house was beautiful. The mountains were GORGEOUS. Being with our friends was unbelievably great. But doing it all with Will was fucking exhausting. And it’s really my fault. For some ungodly reason, I thought vacations would somehow be immune to a 14-month-old. As if he suddenly and magically wouldn’t need to eat and require diaper changes. I thought I could drink all night and go crazy and just sleep until noon the next day to make up for it.

And then Will woke up at 4:30 a.m. and I wanted to light myself on fire the first day.

I didn’t think about going back to sharing a room with Will. I didn’t think about him being too big to sleep in his pack and play. I didn’t think about the fact that he’d have a hard time sleeping in a new place. I failed to consider our friends’ 4-year-old and how he and Will would react to each other. I didn’t think about the need to be quiet after the kids go to bed, or keeping them quiet in the morning for the sake and sanity of everyone else in the house.

In short, I didn’t think much at all.

But you live and learn right? If anything, this has prepared me for whenever it is we vacation next with our friends. So for those of you who haven’t taken your little one on vacation yet, here’s a “Before & After” list to get you prepared to your new definition of “Vacation.”

BEFORE: Pack some clothes but not much else. Anything else you forget you can pick up when you get to your destination.

AFTER: Start planning your packing scheme two weeks prior to vacation. Bring the pack and play, half his wardrobe, diapers, diapers for the pool, sippy cups, milk, baby snacks, noise machine, baby monitor, all of his toys (just in case), his stroller, his jogging stroller, his sneakers, his sandals, his Red Sox cap, his beach hat, sunblock and every other thing you can imagine. And then, come to the realization that you’ll forget something very important.

BEFORE: Save most of the vacation budget for beer, food and snacks.

AFTER: Just get a six-pack for the week. Spend the rest of the money on milk, strawberries, blueberries, oranges and Gerber Puffs.

BEFORE: It doesn’t matter which bedroom I get, as long as the bed fits two (if you catch my drift!).

AFTER: Choose the bedroom carefully. Don’t pick the one near the bathroom because he’ll wake up every time someone flushes. He can’t be downstairs because that’s where people will be partying and they’ll wake him up. And don’t worry about those creaking bedsprings because the baby is sleeping in the same room and you stand a better chance of hooking up with a Victoria’s Secret supermodel than getting any kind of nookie on this vacation.

BEFORE: You pay no attention to anything concerning the house because you’re most likely drunk the whole time and stumbling around the house with friends. What’s to worry about?

AFTER: Upon first entering the house you scan the place like Terminator to perform a status check on all the potential pitfalls and danger zones. Put up a baby gate there. Make sure that door dead bolts. Take note of every creaky floorboard and door, so you can avoid it at all costs.

BEFORE: Upstairs, downstairs, outside…it didn’t matter where your friends were because it was vacation!!

AFTER: You might as well bring several pairs of slippers for people to wear so their footsteps will be silenced. Block off creaky door hinges with yellow police caution tape. Don’t allow the flushing of toilets past 9 pm. Limit the decibel level of all conversation to barely above a whisper. And every time one of those rules is broken, be ready to freeze and clench your entire body as you hope against hope that he didn’t wake up. Sounds very relaxing doesn’t it?

BEFORE: Feel like heading out to a bar? Go for it. Want to go for a 5 mile hike? Knock yourself out. Feel like getting drunk before noon. Tip that elbow! Vacation is grand ain’t it?

AFTER: Feel like heading out to a bar? HAHAHA! Good luck convincing your significant other to watch the kid while you fly solo and have a grand old time. Want to go for a 5 mile hike? Only if you can take the stroller, otherwise you’re out of luck. Feel like getting drunk before noon? Not with a baby you delinquent. Sober up and do some parenting. Sure if you have great friends who are willing to watch the baby for a few hours you can do some stuff, but for the most part that baby might as well be a bungee cord permanently attached to your leg. Vacation is grand ain’t it?

Basically what I’m saying is that you have to pack your entire house, break your kid’s routine, deal with rebellious behavior for breaking his routine, baby proof a whole new house, burden your childless friends with rules and quiet time, walk around the house PETRIFIED of making noise, and cringe every time someone moves. And yet…

I’d do it again in a heartbeat!

I’ll never be one of those parents who stays at home just because it’s easier. And since I’m lucky enough to have friends who actually want kids around on their vacations, I’m just going to count my lucky stars and try to enjoy spending time with them. And I’m pretty sure it’ll get a little easier as Will gets older. So if you’re pondering a vacation with the little one this summer, just do it. It’s a lot of hard work — you’ll probably work even harder than you would normally at home — but it’s worth it for moments like this.

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Vacation Picture Post

I have an entire post planned regarding vacation before and after kids, but to be honest I’m too tired. I’ll get to it in a couple of days, I promise.

Vacation was fun and I’m sad it’s over. Except in some ways I’m not. It’s a lot of work to take a 14-month-old to a new place and break a routine. But I’m glad we did because it was a BEAUTIFUL house and the area was so gorgeous. I’m a sucker for the mountains, hiking, streams, and the outdoors in general so this was perfect. And the heated, in-ground pool helped too. There aren’t any pictures of the house or of me, MJ and our friends because…well, we were taking care of babies during the day and at night we had a few alcoholic beverages so no one was manning the camera.

But here are some parts of our mini vacation:

This is the view looking down the road from our house.

This doesn’t do it justice, I swear…

Finding the treasure during our geocache adventure in the Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge

My two favorite people

Dipping Will’s toe in the Pemigewasset River in Franconia Notch

It was a great (albeit exhausting) time and thank you so much to my friend Alex who made it all possible. Now it’s back to the grind stone and trying to catch up on the ridiculous number of posts in my Google Reader. You guys have been busy!

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