Monthly Archives: March 2011

My How Sick Days Have Changed

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I’ve been sick for a week with my third sinus infection in four months. And because I’m an idiot, each time I’ve been sick I’ve tried to beat it myself. Using a mixture of positive thinking, DayQuil and NyQuil, I set out to conquer my stuffy, congested demons. Which, of course, fails miserably and just delays my recovery time until I break down, call into work sick and go to the doctor.

But even though I’m miserable, the only silver lining is after I see the doctor, when I take the rest of the day as a sick day.

Yes I’m stuffed up, coughing and constantly hacking up green mucous. But at least I’m home on the couch. So while I’m resting, I’m enjoying a rare moment to watch whatever I want on TV. Whether it’s catching up on On Demand shows like Californication or my new favorite Shameless, I delight in being a total couch potato because I know I won’t have the opportunity again for ages.

This morning I couldn’t take not breathing anymore so I called in sick and prepared myself for the doctor’s office, and then a day filled with movies and TV. Until my plans changed rapidly.

“He’s got a fever of 101,” MJ said this morning. “Looks like you’ve got company.”

Most dad bloggers would lie to you right now and talk about how cool it is to have a day at home with their kid. But I, dear readers, am honest. And that’s why you love me. Or at least put up with me. So for the sake of transparency, I will tell you my initial reaction went something like this:


Instead of watching Hank Moody hook up with beautiful, naked women on Showtime I’d now be sitting through Mickey & Minnie flying to Mars. It meant Timmy the sheep and Handy Manny would be gracing my TV, when what I really wanted to watch is William H. Macy & his family of hilarious white trash scam artists drop F-bombs and act out their shenanigans all over the Windy City. And instead of playing a few games of Bond wherein I get to shoot as many people as I want and blow them up with grenades and timed mines, I’d be trying to dodge landmines of my own when Will takes a huge dump in his pull up.

Look, it’s not that I don’t love Will. I do. But he’s a little kid. And when I’m sick, I’m even more of a little kid. I know I speak out against stereotypes, but in this case I’m a classic male. I turn into a whiny little bitch when I’m sick and I just want to be left to my own selfish devices. Except when I need something, at which point I attempt to guilt MJ into acting like my personal maid. I’m terrible.

But I can’t be terrible with a sick toddler at home.

The day started off rocky. Will kept saying “I want something dad. I want something.” When I asked him what he wanted, he would only tell me to come walk with him. I told him dad’s sick and resting on the couch. That led to tears. Which led to me yelling which led to more tears. Which ended in a timeout. For Will, not me.

Then we watched some TV. But apparently when a kid is on the brink of turning 3, he turns into John Madden. Which is to say he turns into Captain Obvious and narrates everything that happens on whatever TV show you’re watching, even though you’re right there and can see everything. Moreover, he makes me confirm it and repeat what he’s said for good measure. Case in point:

“Dada, Mickey Mouse in a rocket ship.”

“Yup. Mickey’s in a rocket ship.”

“Dad, Donald with Mickey in the rocket ship.”

“Uh huh.”

“Dad, Donald with Mickey in the rocket ship. Dad. Dad. Dad, Donald with Mickey in the rocket ship. Dad. Dada. Dada, Donald—“

“Yes buddy. Yes. Donald is with Mickey in the rocket ship. Gotcha.”

“Dad, where they goin in the rocket ship?”

“Hopefully they’re aiming straight for us.”

“What Dad? The rocket ship is coming here????? Yay!!! Tell Mama, Dad. Tell Mama Mickey is coming here in a rocket ship.”

“Oh boy.”

But after I got over being a selfish prick (and apologized for mistakenly telling my soon-to-be 3-year-old he was getting a visit from Mickey), we got out a book. Then a puzzle. And pretty soon we were having a ball. Granted it was begrudgingly, but it still ended up being pretty fun.

However, I can’t wait til he’s old enough to watch my shows and blow stuff up in Bond!

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Life Is Like a…Dishwasher??

If you’ve been coming here for any amount of time, you know I get my inspiration from all kinds of crazy places. My son, my wife, my family, work are all examples, but I’ve found epiphanies can come from even the most mundane places. It happened while I was stuck in traffic a few months ago, and something similar struck me yesterday in the kitchen.

I’m sure I’m not the only parent who feels stretched too thin and worked to the bone.

In the morning I get Will dressed, deal with his tantrums and drop him off at daycare. Then, after a full day of work, it’s usually incumbent upon me to also pick him up before 5. Some days I’m not done with a story, so I need to leave work, get him and then finish writing my story from home. Which if you’ve ever tried to actually be productive with a whiny, needy 3-year-old in the same domicile, you know is next to impossible. I’d say at least three times a week I’m responsible for cooking us all dinner as well.

But even after MJ gets home I’m still not done. My work at the Good Men Project is truly a part-time job now, taking up far more time than I envisioned. Don’t get me wrong, I love it and I do it because I believe in what they’re trying to do. But there are only so many hours in the day. Then there’s the rigmarole of feeding the dog, taking her for a walk, giving Will a bath, getting him into his PJ’s and getting him to bed. By the time all that is done it can be close to 9 p.m. some nights.

But just when you think you can relax, you remember the kitty litter has to be cleaned. And the trash has to be taken out. When you’re done with that and you settle comfortably into the ass-dent in your couch, that’s right about the time the dog starts pacing by the door to let you know she has to go out again. So you get up and do that, only to notice the sprawling mass of dirty dishes threatening to climb out of the sink and take over the kitchen.

I’ll tell you right now, ever since Will came along the dishwasher has been my personal nemesis.

Before Will, the dishes were simple. They only had to be done every other day and it was all big, standard stuff. Bowls, plates, silverware, glasses. Maybe the occasional crockpot or frying pan, but nothing I couldn’t handle. Everything had a place in my dishwasher and I could finish the task in no time flat.

Now? Not so much.

Sure we still have all of our stuff, but it’s not the big items that annoy me. It’s the collection of small items that haunt my dreams. We have Will’s little plates, Will’s little forks and Will’s little spoons. We have all of the little Tupperware containers we use for Will’s lunch. And of course, each one of those containers has a wee little lid to go with it. We have sippy cups with sippy cup lids and big boy cups which aren’t actually big at all.

So what does all this mean? It means I used to grab the things out of the sink, put them in the dishwasher and be done with them. But now it feels like I reach into a bottomless pit of a sink—taking out tiny item after tiny item—and after an hour I look down and there’s still TONS of shit left to wash. The big plates and bowls and cooking equipment are no problem. Once they’re gone I feel better because it looks like I’ve made a dent. But Will’s dirty dishes are a collection of little things, rising up against me in a sea of anxiety-ridden filth.

That dishwasher represents parenting in a nutshell. A never-ending task of innumerable little items which you not only have to somehow fit all in one place, but also make sparkling clean when you’re done. And just when you think you’ve caught up, another pile of dishes gets tossed your way. And this happens every single day.

MJ recently told me she thinks we need a new, bigger dishwasher. She has no idea how right she is.

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Do Men Want a “Hall Pass?”

I saw the movie Hall Pass on Saturday night with a couple of my married guy friends. I like the Farrelly brothers because their movies are slapstick funny, occasionally smart as a whip and—let’s face it—I’m a guy who loves scatological humor. So a movie about frustrated 40-ish married guys getting a permission slip for a week off of marriage and fumbling miserably along the way seemed perfect.

If you’re looking for a movie review that’s not my intent. I’ll just say that if you go into it with minimum expectations and the realization you’re about to see some stupid-funny shit, you’ll like it. But it wasn’t the gags and gross-out scenes that prompted this post. It’s the message.

And the message is “Married guys crave a Hall Pass because they’re bored with their wives and want a week off from marriage to fuck other women.”

But I just don’t think that’s true. I mean sure, there are married guys out there who want to (and have) cheat. But I don’t think they’re the majority. I’m totally in love with my wife and I’m not bored with her at all. If anything, things in the romance department are better now than they were five years ago when I married her.  Likewise, most of the guys I know are still very much sexually attracted to their wives. So telling us to stop being with the person we already love being with really doesn’t make much sense, and the whole idea of a sexual Hall Pass becomes moot.

I think the Farrelly brothers made a mistake by focusing on the sexual part of the Pass. I want a Hall Pass of a different variety. I crave not the temporary freedom to have sex with other women. I have no interest in going to the hottest club and flirting, dancing and grinding up on attractive women to feel better about my advancing years. You know what I (and many married men) want?

I want a Hall Pass that gives me the freedom to shirk my responsibilities for a week.

The immediate question is what would guys do with that week. It’s gonna depend on the guy. I have married male friends who would use it to prepare for their fantasy football draft or play video games the whole time. Others would go to the bar for a week-long bender, or gamble at the casino. Personally, I’d gather all my friends in an RV and drive across the country, hitting up different baseball stadiums along the way. I wouldn’t work, I wouldn’t have a kid to take care of or a wife looking over my shoulder. We’d eat junk all day, tell all our old stories, crack very inappropriate jokes and have the time of our lives. Would that RV resemble a testosterone-fueled, drunken (except for the driver), ass-reeking,  mobile shit storm? Hell yes it would. And it would be utterly fantastic.

Not to spoil the movie, but at first that’s exactly what Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis do (minus the RV). Although they talk a lot of smack about bedding as many members of the fairer sex as possible, their first two days of the Hall Pass are spent with their friends. They eat to their heart’s content at Applebees. They go on golfing excursions. They get drunk together at bars. That is exactly how I’d want to cash in my Hall Pass. Basically reliving my college years for a week with my friends, minus all the sexual escapades.

Although I enjoyed the movie, I think the Farrelly brothers didn’t give men enough credit in general. Most of us don’t truly believe we can bang supermodels, and I can only speak for myself but I wouldn’t want to even if I could. Maybe we’d like to have more sex with our wives, but we certainly don’t want to step outside of our marriage for physical intimacy. But what we do want is a small taste of the carefree life we lived years ago.

And I don’t think that’s such a bad thing.

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Talking With My Son

The first words are a marvelous milestone, especially to first-time parents. Of which I am one.

Sure it’s usually something of the “mama” or “dada” variety. And if we’re being honest, let’s cop to the fact that sometimes that first word isn’t really a word. It’s something the kid utters that MIGHT be a word. Maybe is a word. Or at the very least, could be a word. So we count it. Because despite how each of tries to play it cool, we’re all rushing toward that particular milestone so we can call our parents, tweet about it and put it on Facebook.

When Will started talking it was a very proud day for me. But it’s nothing compared to the last month.

Will isn’t talking anymore. He’s communicating. He’s stringing together longer (and grammatically correct no less) sentences. He’s reading facial expressions and deciphering tone of voice. And frighteningly enough, he’s even harnessing a little bit of dad’s sarcasm and purposefully joking around.

And I cannot get enough of it.

When I pick him up from daycare I always ask him how his day was. And he proceeds to tell me about every little bit of it. How Jacob pushed him after he growled at him. How Miss Marcie scolded him, but he knew he deserved it because he didn’t want to pick up his toys. And he even asked me to give another one of the boys in his class a hug one day, because Will was sure the boy was sad for some reason.

And that’s all good. Really, really good. Unfortunately, with the good comes the…other stuff.

We do not let Will shoot guns, even with his fingers. He knows that is strictly forbidden and ends with a toy being taken away. But one day about two weeks ago he was watching Spiderman and had an epiphany. When I came around the corner it appeared—to the untrained eye—he was shooting guns again.

“Will!” I said with exasperation. “How many times do I have to tell you NO GUNS!”

“Dada, calm down. It’s not guns. I’m shooting spiderwebs. And spiderwebs are OK because they no hurt people.”

First of all the little shit told me to calm down. Second, he had me. I told him it was OK to watch Spiderman because Spiderman was a superhero who helps people. And if Spiderman uses his webs in non-violent ways, how can I in good conscience tell Will  he can’t emulate Spiderman? So now he walks around shooting spiderwebs everywhere he goes, all the while proudly citing his newfound loophole. He better not turn into a lawyer.

Then we were watching one of my favorite family-friendly movies, The Sandlot. When it got to the part where Squints starts “perving a dish,” Wendy Peffercorn pops up on screen in all her lifeguard glory. This movie first came out when I was a freshman in high school, and I spent many a lonely night thinking of Wendy. So I guess I probably shouldn’t have been TOO surprised at what came out of my son’s mouth next.

“Wow dada. She is SMOKIN’ hot!”

He said it just like that. With the emphasis and all. He also said it again when MJ tried on her dress she wore to Nate’s wedding, but I’d have to agree with him there. It’s nice to know we share the same taste in women. I should’ve named him Oedipus.

But by far the coolest—and most shocking—thing Will has said lately came just before we left for Delaware.

We weren’t doing anything noteworthy at the time, just hanging out. But all of a sudden Will turned to me and looked me dead in the eye, with a very purposeful and determined expression on his face. And then he told me something I’m always going to treasure.

“Dad, I love you. You’re my best friend.”

Then, a few seconds later, he asked me if I had something in my eye because they were red and I couldn’t stop rubbing them. Yeah buddy, dad definitely has something in his eye.

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Vows Renewed

It may have been my brother who got married this weekend, but Nate and Melissa’s wedding had an unexpected benefit.

Watching Nate before the wedding was really fun. I saw the excitement in his eyes and the eagerness to exchange those vows as soon as possible. When everyone else turns to look at the bride upon her entrance, I kept my eyes on Nate. And what I saw reminded me of a January day more than five years ago.

I tried to tell him what it’s like when you see the woman you love decked out in white at the end of the church aisle. I tried to explain the somersaulting free-fall you feel in the pit of your stomach when you realize this unbelievable woman is WILLINGLY walking towards you because she wants to spend the rest of her life with you. You smile and cry all at the same time, and you feel like the world was built solely for you in that moment.

If you could find a way to bottle that feeling or put it in pill form, it would put heroin to shame.

But as all the statistics on divorce will tell you, that feeling usually doesn’t last. Life inevitably gets in the way. Whether it’s kids, job loss, financial woes or sometimes simply the realization the two of you just weren’t meant for each other, there’s at least a 50% chance “until death do us part” really means “until we get sick of each other or find someone better.”

I sincerely hope life is kinder to my brother and Melissa over the next half-decade than it has been to me and MJ. Experts often say the first couple of years are the toughest as the new couple irons out all the wrinkles that stem from life as a newlywed. And we had those. We also bought a house just before the market crashed, MJ was hospitalized for a week a month after we got married, and we spent our first Valentine’s Day in Falmouth Hospital. We had two miscarriages before Will (our only silver lining), and two more after he was born. There’s more, but those are the biggies. And while others have it rougher than we do, many couples don’t go through as much in 20 years as we have in five.

So when we watched my brother and Melissa exchange the same vows Saturday, MJ and I just looked at each other. And smiled. Because we both realized we took them to heart and made them work.

How many couples can honestly say they’re MORE in love with each other now than on the day they were married? I’d wager not too many. But we are. Through all the struggles and bullshit, we managed to come out stronger on the other side. Life has thrown us some unimaginable curves, but we’re here. Still kicking.

But the thing I love most is I’m even more attracted to MJ now than on the day we got married.

Many guys fantasize about other women. I’m not knocking that either, I think it’s a pretty normal thing for men and women to do. But I don’t. Because when I fantasize, it’s about my wife. I know how corny that sounds and I don’t care. Because it’s true. And since I was pretty drunk at the bar Saturday night, half the wedding now knows it to be true since I yelled it from the rooftop.

Nate and Melissa are in Hawaii now on their honeymoon. In a few months that “honeymoon period” will come to an end. When it does they’ll go through turbulent times too. But if you love someone with all the passion you can muster, that love won’t end or go stagnant. It really will grow into something much more meaningful than you could ever comprehend on your wedding day. And I’d like to thank my brother and his new bride for once again reminding me how lucky I am to be married to the most wonderful woman in existence.

And now I’ll leave you with the cutest damn picture of a ring bearer and flower girl you’ve ever seen.

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