Monthly Archives: March 2010

“Slow Parenting” is for Lazy Parents

Sometimes I wish I  wasn’t so plugged into the news. Because if I wasn’t a journalist addicted to the Internet, I might never have seen this piece of shit article.

If you don’t feel like clicking over, here’s the synopsis:

Kids have busy lives. They have school, sports and extracurricular activities up the wazoo. They’re stressed and frazzled. Moreover, their parents are stressed out too because they have to drive them from soccer practice to guitar lessons to drama club rehearsal, and then they’re up until midnight finishing their homework. Their whole lives are structured and none of them get any free time to sit back, enjoy life and smell the roses. Something must be done to save the kids and their tired parents.

The answer, according to this article, is something called “Slow Parenting.” The idea, according to “experts,” is that the frenetic schedules most kids keep nowadays is taxing. So the answer is doing away with some structured activity and replacing it with free time during which everyone in the family can relax together.  This will slow down life’s chaotic pace and give kids and parents time to reconnect.

Or at least that’s what the people pimping this program want you to believe. But I’m not buying it.

First of all, the marketing wizard who thought it was a good idea to use the word “slow” to describe this has to be a little slow himself. Not the brightest idea in the world to connect your product to a word that can mean dumb. Yet dumb is exactly the word I’d use when discussing this.

There is nothing wrong with kids having a crazy schedule. There is nothing wrong with playing sports, learning an instrument and joining various clubs in addition to going to school. In fact, that is ideal. I was an honor roll student in high school and I played three sports a year. In addition to that I played three instruments, acted in a few plays and worked part-time from the time I was 15 years old. Not only that, but my younger brother had a similar schedule. So my parents were constantly shuttling us to various places both during the week, and on weekends, on a virtually non-stop basis.

But guess what? I still had time for family. We didn’t sit around the dinner table like the Brady Bunch, but I always managed to catch up with my parents at some point during the day. And both of my parents made the effort to carve out a little one-on-time throughout the week and also made sure to take trips and do things with us, so I was never lacking any Kodak moments. And because I kept busy, I had good grades that allowed me into a good college that accepted me, in part, because I was a well-rounded person who was always involved in something.

So to suggest that parents should slow things down is not only dumb, it’s wrong. Personally I think the majority of parents are too slow already. If anything, they should speed things up. Get themselves and their kids more involved, not less. Sure you have to remember to stop and smell the roses once in a while, but I think you can do that while simultaneously carrying on everything else in life.

Besides, a kid who is playing sports and acting in the drama club is probably not causing trouble on the street or getting into drugs.

And what really upsets me is that some parents are signing up for “Slow Parenting” classes and seminars. Are you kidding me??? Do you really need a class or an instructor to tell you how to be lazy and not take your kids to all of their activities? It’s just another racket from someone calling him/herself an “expert,” in order to make tired, lazy parents feel OK about shirking their responsibilities, under the guise of “Well you need to slow things down FOR THE KIDS.”

Not to mention I’m sure there is a tidy little fee parents have to pay to learn how to become “Slow Parents,” which is absolutely ridiculous. Can you imagine the commercial for “Slow Parenting?”

Are you tired of having an involved child? Are you missing your favorite TV shows because you have to pick your kid up from baseball and then take him to Scouts later in the night? Would you like to get some rest from your busy lives, but want to avoid the guilt of being a shitty parent? Well you’re in luck, because today we’re introducing “Slow Parenting”: the revolutionary new parenting method that allows you to stop running around all the time while simultaneously convincing you it’s all for the benefit of your children!

It’s such bullshit, because most kids want to learn. They want to try new things. And they thrive when challenged. Let’s not cut back on the amount of activities in which kids participate, let’s get MORE involved. But if you are a “Slow Parent,” don’t tell me you’re doing it for your kids. You’re doing it because you’re sick of running around everyday and you’re lazy.

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Monday Morning Musings

From time to time I like to empty my brain of all the little odds and ends floating around in there. Separately they don’t constitute a post, but together…well, it’s probably still not a great post but they can’t all be winners you know. Here’s what’s been kicking around in my head lately:

–> I don’t think I’ve ever been excited about anything in my life as much as Will nowadays when Mickey Mouse Clubhouse comes on TV. As soon as he sees Mickey he lets out a ridiculously high-pitched scream, then runs in circles for 10-15 seconds around the room with a huge smile on his face. This morning he got so excited he ran into the wall.

–> A friend of mine from high school is a TV reporter at Fox news in Boston, and he and I were working on the same story Saturday night about a shoplifting ring run by a mother and daughter. My buddy told me when he tried to talk to the daughter, her boyfriend told him to get the hell out of there and then yelled “Suck my left nut!” Which begs the question, why, when people say that, is it always the left nut they want you to suck? Why not the right one? And for that matter, how is that an insult? You’re a heterosexual who’s mad at another man, so you tell the person at whom you’re angry to put one of your testicles in his mouth? Something is very off there.

–> I know I was a little hard on MJ last week with the whole farting thing, but yesterday I was reminded why she is the coolest chick on the planet. She told me how appreciative she was that I’ve picked up the majority of household chores and the responsibility of caring for Will almost by myself everyday, so she surprised me by signing us up for the HBO and Starz channel. Hello True Blood, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Big Love, and movies with swears and no commercials!!! For a couch potato like myself, it’s a dream come true.

–> Even though Will’s birthday isn’t for another week, we had a family party yesterday. It was great and once again, friends and family were way too generous with the gifts. And they also paid no mind to me and MJ when we said go easy on the gifts and avoid the big ones that make a lot of noise. EVERYTHING he received is loud. A remote controlled forklift that plays rock n roll music? A Chuck the Truck that responds to voice commands and also talks? Books that speak to you and make weird sounds? I swear to God, I’m pretty sure even the clothes he received have buttons that make noise. This is Karma’s way of getting even for all those years I was such a prick.

–> Went to a Boston Celtics game last night, and watched as the 20-something guy in front of me nearly got in a fist fight with an old guy there with his 3 kids. The father was mad because the younger guy swore at Rasheed Wallace for being lazy. So the dad, still in front of his kids, turns around and yells “If you don’t stop swearing I’m gonna turn around and punch you in the fucking face!” Hello pot, this is the kettle calling…

–> My son looks like me, but he’s got MJ’s personality. When he plays with his trucks, they all need to be lined up neatly in a row. When he eats, all of his food needs to remain separate on his plate. God help us all if the food touches. I, on the other hand, would be perfectly content eating my mashed potatoes, turkey, stuffing, corn and gravy all mixed together in one delicious lump, and my play time is decidedly more unorganized. Living with these OCD nutballs is going to be interesting.

–> What’s up with cell phones these days? If someone calls me and I don’t get it right away, my phone alerts me. Perhaps too much. First of all it flashes. Then when I get to it there are a plethora of icons to deal with. One shows me that I have a missed call. The other tells me what number it was that called. Then there’s an icon to let me know I have a voicemail. My only real incentive to answer my phone is so I don’t have to spend 10 minutes making sure all the annoying icons aren’t cluttering up my screen afterward.

–> I always hear people say they don’t trust the media, and some even accusers reporters of making things up. Yet I fielded a half dozen angry calls from readers this week concerning a picture we took of a memorial at a crash site set up by teenagers because one of their friends died. And included in the memorial was a full can of Budweiser. The angry callers wanted us to either Photoshop the beer can out, not include it in the picture or not run the picture at all. I repeat, they wanted me or the photographer to alter reality by taking it upon ourselves to change the scene. Do these people really want their local news media screwing around and doctoring photos?? Yet they accused me and the paper of promoting underage drinking and I was lambasted for days. Yet if someone found out we interfered, we’d be accused of doctoring the news. We can’t win.

–> And finally, my son reached a milestone of which I’m very proud. If you ask him about the New York Yankees, know what he says? “BOOOOOO Yankees!” I admit, I shed a tear when he mastered that phrase. He is now part of a family history that goes back many decades and generations, and from this point on he will proudly wear the badge of being a pinstriped Yankees hater.

Happy Monday guys, and remember it’s only six days to Opening Day at Fenway!

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Her Shit Don’t Stink

Apparently all farts aren’t created equal.

I’m tired of it. I’m sick of the discrimination and the banishment. Why am I destined to live life as a second class citizen, when everyone else who lives in my house does the same thing, but minus the derision, snide comments and piercing looks of death?

Yup, we’re going high brow today on Daddy Files and discussing farts.

I’ve been noticing a disturbing trend lately regarding the subject. Despite the fact that everyone in the house (including the animals) routinely passes gas, my wife treats mine differently than everyone else’s. If Will farts, it’s cute. Mainly because everything he does is cute. He’ll hold his stomach, bend slightly at the waist and then let one loose. And he always has that look on his face where he’s half amused and half scared that he did something wrong. So MJ and I both laugh, and rightfully so. My wife farts (even though she tries to deny it or pretend it didn’t just happen) and I’m just supposed to look the other way. She gets upset when I call her on it, as if her ass is too precious for such a foul act to occur. Hell, even when the dog and cat farts MJ thinks it’s funny and cute.

But if I fart, it is the end of civilization as we know it.

Look, I will admit I don’t hold back. Mainly because it hurts my stomach to hold it in, so I freely trumpet my gastrointestinal rebellion throughout the house with reckless abandon. And yes, sometimes it smells like a dead skunk that was just removed from a decaying corpse a little, but that’s par for the course. I’d venture to say 99% of all farts smell. It is a bodily function that originates from your anal cavity. The very act of farting is gross and malodorous, so why all the shock and outrage?

But that’s the thing: my wife doesn’t think her farts stink. Seriously. If she does fart in front of me she goes to any length necessary to hide it, and she will never admit it. And if I say it smells, she gets legitimately upset and tells me I’m wrong. She literally thinks her ass expulsions don’t stink. Even if I do catch her, she wants me to treat it like a novelty or some freak occurrence, and give her a pass.

Yet when I fart, she looks at me like I am the grossest motherfucker on the planet. MJ is someone who cannot mask her emotions, so in that instant after the fart leaves my body, she displays raw emotion that cannot be hidden. Her eyebrows crinkle together, her eyes narrow into snake-like slits, her lips purse and one corner of her mouth draws up into a nasty snarl. In short, she treats me like I’ve just taken a dump on the Mona Lisa. Like I’m the biggest Neanderthal she’s ever seen. Like my very existence at that moment in time is so grotesque to her, she can’t possibly fathom that I exist, nevermind the fact that she is actually married to such a cretin.

Earlier in our relationship, I used to be sensitive to her feelings. So I’d either hold it in (painful) or I’d literally leave the room to pass gas. But as we stopped giving a shit about impressing each other our relationship matured, we became comfortable with each other and began letting our guard down. No need to put on airs in a marriage, and so the gas was passed. At least by me. But I was never deliberate or mean-spirited about it.

Until now.

If she gives me that look of disdain, I seek revenge the next time around. If we’re under the covers, instead of aiming it away from her I go right at her. And if she still gives me shit, I either give her the Dutch Oven or I flap the covers up and down so the fart can permeate the room. And if I’m really feeling spiteful, I’ll wait for her to fall asleep and then rip a particularly nasty one that wakes her up.

Some say you shouldn’t resort to using chemical warfare while involved in marital battles, but at this point I have a win at all costs mentality. I’m standing up for the rights of flatulent husbands everywhere. And history will eventually view me as a hero.


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A Trip to the ER

***NOTE TO READERS: We’re having problems with the comments so I apologize to the people who have tried to leave them and had trouble. My crack team of experts (aka my awesome brother Nate) is working on it so bear with us.***

Will has been sick for nearly a month now.

It started with vomiting and diarrhea. Then it was a cough and stuffy nose. We called our pediatrician’s office after about 10 days of problems, and they basically told us it was going around and there was nothing we could do except to let it run it’s course. A week later he was still sick, so I demanded an appointment. When the doctor “examined” Will, it consisted of taking a temperature and poking twice at his stomach. That was literally it. Then he told me it was probably two viruses, one after the other, and that I should just wait it out and he’d be fine.

You have to understand, I do not have any medical training. Therefore, I treat doctors like infallible gods. I know that’s probably not the best way to be, but I can’t help it. I take doctors at their words and I trust them without even blinking. But our pediatrician was so dismissive of Will’s problems that it just didn’t sit right when he shooed us out of his office so quickly.

That’s when MJ turned into “Mama Bear.”

Will’s cold persisted and a couple of days later she called the pediatrician and lambasted him far more than I ever could because I’d be totally humiliated berating a doctor like that. Needless to say, we got some goddamn antibiotics after that. And they worked for a few days, until they ran out this past weekend. And wouldn’t you know it, by Sunday night Will was coughing again. Except this time it was accompanied by wheezing. This morning he woke himself up at 6 a.m. with a coughing fit, and when I picked him up he was having trouble breathing.

That was enough for us to take him to the emergency room.

Will was really fantastic in the hospital and well behaved. He was flirting with the nurses, impressing the doctors and inspiring “Awwwww” sounds from all passersby. When we got settled in the doctors listened to his breathing and heard lots of congestion and some “crackles” in his lungs. So they ordered a chest x-ray for Will, and soon we were off to the x-ray room.

You should know, hospitals freak me out. They shouldn’t by now, because with all of MJ’s health problems I’ve been in and out of them for the last five years. But it’s different when it’s your child. I cringed when they said the words “chest x-ray” but when we got into the room and saw the contraption Will was going to be put in, I nearly had an anxiety attack. Here’s a picture of the device they used to hold Will in place:

But in my eyes, it looked much more like this:

I know, I know. A little dramatic, but you get the point. And to his credit, Will did really well. He only cried a tiny little bit toward the end of the second x-ray, but other than that he was absolutely fine. As for dad, well…I think I was scarred far more than he was.

Thankfully the chest x-rays revealed no pneumonia, which was a load off my mind. But it still didn’t solve the mystery of Will’s ailments. So because MJ has asthma and it runs in her family, they decided to give him Albuterol. They hooked the medicine up to a tube and mask and turned it on, at which point mist began to come out of it. Then they had me put it up to Will’s face so he could breathe it in.

Well, at least they called it medicinal mist. Again, to me, I felt like they were forcing me to gas my own son with poisonous mystery smoke. But six of one, a half dozen of the other.

The stuff from the inhaler seemed to have an immediate positive effect. Will stopped coughing and the doctors could no longer hear congestion in his chest and lungs. So they sent us home with more of the Albuterol and some antibiotics. If he starts coughing again, I’ll have to hook up the inhaler to this mask contraption they gave us and force my son to inhale this crap again. I’m not sure how that’ll work out, I’m kind of banking on MJ being home for that because I’m not sure I’m qualified or capable.

And in the meantime, you’d be correct in assuming that we’re shopping around for a new pediatrician.

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No More Eating Out

As one glance at my wastline attests, I love food and I love to eat.

Therefore it goes without saying that dining at restaurants has long been one of my favorite pasttimes. The simple fact of the matter is I’m not a cook. MJ is actually pretty adept at the culinary arts, but she gets home long after the metaphorical dinner bell sounds every evening. And I’m sure at least some of you parents out there will agree, there’s nothing like deciding to go out to eat and skip the dinner preparation process that involves a 2-year-old latching onto you and being under foot every time you move in the kitchen.

But as Will nears his second birthday, I’m finding the tables have turned and now going out to eat is the cumbersome task where dinner is involved.

A week ago Will was just getting over his cold and the three of us had been stuck in the house. It was before the spring weather graced the northeast, so we were all dealing with gray skies, sickness and the walls started closing in big time. We decided a trip to Chili’s was just what we needed, so we packed up Will and made the 20 minute drive to tasty burgers and MJ’s favorite chile.

Bad move.

Unlike when Will was a newborn and we could sit him in his carrier and enjoy a quiet meal, he’s now a precocious and annoying toddler. And even though he’s my son and I love him to pieces, when we go out to eat he morphs into a wee little asshole of epic proportions.

At first we tried to stick him in the highchair but he immediately pitched a shitfit. I was OK with that because that one was our bad. He’s too big for a highchair. So I asked the waitress for a booster seat, thinking he’d appreciate the independence and settle down. But all a seat at the table meant to him was that he could exit his booster seat and walk all around the booth. He started grabbing salt and pepper shakers. He went after everyone’s silverware. Then he started pulling pictures off the walls of the booth. And he wanted everyone’s drinks except for his own.

Just for good measure he began shrieking “SODA!!!” as loud as possible.

Our food hadn’t even arrived yet, and we had the exorcist baby on our hands. I think we’ve all, at one point or another, sat near the couple with the screaming baby. And if you’re anything like me, you watch the parents intently and judge them on how they handle the situation. In that moment I could feel all eyes on us. Watching. Judging.

At first we were stern with Will and forced him to sit down. We tried to distract him with toys, his own food (which was brought out first), little games we could play, etc. But nothing worked. Then we told him if he didn’t calm down and stop yelling, he’d get a timeout. Then we gave him the timeout by bringing him to the car and reentering the restaurant.

Still didn’t work. In fact, I think it just agitated him.

There is nothing on this Earth that bothers me more than being perceived as the irresponsible parent who has no control over his kid. I was mortified sitting in that restaurant, and even worse was the fact that I was getting seriously pissed off. So I made the executive decision to cut our meal short. I told the waitress to box up our stuff and I grabbed Will and took him out to the car, muttering how awful he was acting the entire way.

If you’re looking for some kind of insight as to how to deal with unruly toddlers in restaurants, keep looking. I have no pearls of wisdom here. I’m just really pissed off that it’s going to be a few years before my wife and I can actually eat at a restaurant in relative peace.

There are a lot of great things about having kids, but this is not one of them.

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