Monthly Archives: December 2011

Disney On Ice Review

There are certain things I swore I’d never do when I became a parent. Things like engage in baby talk, dress us all in matching sweaters for family portraits and overdose on all things Disney. Admittedly, I’ve been known to go so far as to say Disney is single-handedly ruining the world.

Looks like I owe some people some apologies.

I received four complimentary tickets to the Dec. 26 Disney on Ice “Treasure Trove” show courtesy of Feld Entertainment, and it was AWESOME! Keep in mind, I’m saying all of this as a snarky and former self-confessed Disney hater. Believe me, I wanted to hate it. I wanted to bitch about it and make fun of it and be the cool blogger who’s so above this tired Disney stuff. And ice skating to boot? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been forced to watch figure skating in the Olympics and been bored to tears, just waiting for one of them to fall so I could laugh. Believe me, I was prepared for all of this.

Until my son started smiling, my toe started tapping and—God help me—suddenly I was singing along.

The Lion King, Peter Pan, Snow White, Tangled, The Incredibles, Aladdin…you name it and this show had it. There’s really no bad seats because the action is constantly moving and you can see everything. The skating is really good, the music is awesome and the characters are flying, taking magic carpet rides and pyrotechnics are going off everywhere. It’s really pretty incredible.

Will’s favorite part was when Tinkerbell was flying and suddenly pyrotechnics went off in the form of “pixie dust.” You should’ve seen his face, he was stunned. That was followed closely by one of Will’s favorite movies, “The Princess and the Frog.” Don’t believe me? See for yourself.

He was so happy. Seriously. Just ecstatic. And seeing him so happy made me happy. And honestly, it was pretty fun for me too. MJ and I had a blast right there along with Will. Thanks to Feld Entertainment, we even got a special meet-and-greet with Mickey and Minnie afterwards.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a true review if I didn’t have at least SOME criticisms. They’re few and far between though. For instance:

  • As you can imagine, there are hawkers galore trying to get you to buy something. We combated this by bringing cool toys from home. Especially ones that light up, because there are these crazy, spinny, light up toys that kids crave. If you can bring your own you’ll save a ton of money.
  • This is what one fellow blogger called a “princess heavy” show. If you’re against princesses and the like then you’ll probably find this more than a little annoying. I’m OK with it, but I know others harbor some angst when it comes to this.
  • I’m not sure why Disney can’t have Timon & Pumba say the word “fart,” yet they’re fine with playing Kei$ha’s song “Tick Tock” and having the hyenas from Lion King feast on Mufassa’s carcass. Arbitrary lines in the sand always amuse me. But seriously, they show Mufassa dying so be prepared for some sad parts.

My favorite part was during the Lion King (one of Will’s favorites) when Rafiki the monkey started singing “Just Can’t Wait to be King.” I thought Will would love it because it’s one of his favorite songs, but when I looked over he was troubled. I asked him what was the matter and I absolutely LOVED his response.

“Dada, Rafiki doesn’t sing this song with Simba & Nala. Zazoo sings this song. They got it wrong.”

And he was right. As a movie snob and trivia fanatic, he did me proud pointing out the inaccuracy. But other than that snafu and the stuff I mentioned earlier, this is well worth the money and it’s a great time. Click here to find shows and times near you and do yourself a favor and buy a ticket immediately.

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Santa Isn’t Screwing Around

See that to the left? That’s a picture of a letter Will brought home from preschool a couple of days ago. A letter to Santa. In case the print is too small to read, here’s what it says:

Dear Santa,
This year for Christmas I would like a choo-choo train. I have been a really good boy. I have been working really hard to clean up my room. We left you some milk and cookies and we made some reindeer food for Rudolph. I hope you both like your treats.

Love always,

Cute isn’t it? Clearly they asked Will to fill in the blanks regarding what he wants for Christmas, what he’s been working hard on throughout the year and what goodies he left for Santa. Surely this heart-meltingly adorable letter to Santa Claus is exactly what he needed to solidify himself as a “good boy” and bask in Christmas present Valhalla on Sunday morning, right?

Not so fast.

Santa Claus read the letter and sent a response back to Will. And apparently the Big Guy is ready to call all these boys and girls on their bullshit. Either that or he’s drinking heavily again. Maybe both.

See for yourself.

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Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See?

Will loves the book “Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See?” by Eric Carle. It’s his favorite by far. Mine too.

It’s a simple book that names a bunch of animals & what they’re doing. Will can’t read yet, but it doesn’t matter because he knows it by heart. He reads it to me, word for word, every night before bed. “I see a red fox slipping by me” and “I see a prairie dog digging by me.” One by one he ticks them off with precision and accuracy as he rubs his eyes and tries to fight off the sleep quickly coming for him.

“I see a blue heron flying by me” and “I see a mule deer kicking by me.”

He doesn’t like some of the real text though, so he substitutes his own words. The rattlesnake doesn’t slither, it rattles. And the mountain doesn’t climb, he goes up the mountain. Apparently creative license and editorial ambiguity is genetic.

As we get towards the end I smile. My favorite part is coming up soon.

Will gets to the page with a picture of the mama bear. The line is supposed to read “Mama Bear, Mama Bear, what do you see? I see a—” and then you’re supposed to turn the page. But Will like to ad-lib. He says “I see a Mama Bear looking for her baby because she loves and misses him.” Then he curls into me and smiles. Our favorite part is next.

The next page consists of small pictures of every animal featured in the book. I point to each of them and Will rattles them off like clockwork. Red fox, blue heron, mountain goat, prairie dog, mule deer, flying squirrel, screech owls and—of course—the baby bear. After naming them all, Will pauses and smirks at me. The last line is supposed to read “That’s what I see.” But Will, in the cutest voice imaginable, ad-libs the final line.

“All wild animals are free.”

I don’t know why I get such a kick out of that, but it makes my day. And it’s proof that the best and most memorable part of having kids is the stuff that’s woven into the mundane fabric of our daily lives. While a part of me can’t wait to read the Hardy Boys & eventually the Harry Potter series with Will, I’m going to miss Baby Bear when he finally gets sick of it.

“Thanks for reading to me Dad,” he says. Can you believe that? He’s thanking me!

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Found Treasures, Future Letters and Advice From the Past

As parents, we all think about the future. Pretty much from the moment we find out we’re having a baby. I know I did.

Even before Will was born I wondered what he’d look like, how he’d act as a toddler, taking him to Fenway & Gillette for the first time and how he’d act as a precocious teenager. But then I stopped because I remembered my own teen years and the mere thought of being on the other end of that hot mess scared the holy hell out of me.

So I decided in that moment to write a letter to future Will, eight years from now on his 12th birthday, which I’ll keep and hopefully read in the future when I’m ready to tear my hair out. Here goes:
To my oldest son William on his 12th birthday.

Dear Will,
It seems impossible to me that in one more year you’ll be a teenager.
You are so big now, and every year I get more and more proud of you.

I wanted to write you this letter because maybe I can explain
what I want to say in writing better than I can in person.
As you get older, the pressures on you will get tougher and tougher.
You will have to make important decisions almost everyday,
decisions which will affect your life forever. Decisions like
“Should I try smoking cigarettes?” “Should I try any drugs?”
“Should I drink beer or alcohol?” and “Should I have sex with anyone?”|

You are also going to have feelings or desires to do things, or ideas
that you’ll think about that you think makes you weird. What you won’t realize
is that everyone is weird—just being you is what’s important.

Growing up is hard on a kid—I know. And it helps a lot to have parents
you can talk to, who will listen and not make fun of what you think.
Your mother has always been a great parent. She listens and understands.
I’ve always been too busy or impatient to really listen to you, and I know
you think I’m an old fart who doesn’t understand.

But the truth is, as you grow up Will, I’m growing up as a father.
Now I know it’s more important to listen than to yell.
I can remember how hard it was being 12 and I want to be there to help you.
It’s important to have a father at home to talk to about stupid things like girls,
or being embarrassed about something, or to ask if this ever happened to him.

As great as your mom is, some things you want to discuss with your dad.
I want you to know that I will try to be a listener, not a lecturer.
I will try and help you help yourself, not tell you what to do.

I know I haven’t done a great job so far, but I hope
you’ll give me a chance and trust me. I won’t let you down.
I love you,

Cool letter huh? Wanna know something even cooler? This is the exact letter my own father wrote to me 20 years ago when I turned 12.

Call this one of the perks of moving back home at 32—you find funny stuff from decades ago. But the silver lining is I’m once again reminded I never had to look beyond my own two parents to learn how to be a good one myself.

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Where Do Babies Come From?

Our friends Alicia and Vic just had a little baby girl named Amy a few weeks ago. My best friend Craig and his wife Kelly also had a daughter five days ago named Jordan. Will saw both Alicia and Kelly repeatedly throughout their pregnancies, watched their bellies grow and seemed to be constantly amazed and filled with questions as to how the baby grows and survives in the womb.

So I guess it’s only natural for him to wonder how they come out too.

It started Saturday when I told him Jordan was born and showed him a picture. He was ecstatic and wanted to hold her, because he recently held Amy and loved it. It was so cute because of how focused he was. He took his responsibilities as a baby-holder ULTRA seriously and was all business. It took major coaxing just to get him to loosen up and smile. But I digress…

So long story short, Will asked me how baby Jordan came out of Kelly’s stomach. I wasn’t sure how to answer, so I bought myself more time by asking him how he thinks babies are born.

“Baby Jordan came out of Auntie Kelly’s bellybutton,” he said.

We all have different parenting styles. For instance, some parents would be tempted to concur with Will’s explanation of childbirth and leave it at that. Others opt to make up a story that loosely resembles the truth but skips all the uncomfortable parts. I don’t fault the parents who go these routes. I get it. But ultimately, when faced with these situations, I’ve chosen a vastly different path.

Honesty. Brutal honesty.

“Not quite buddy,” I began gingerly. “Babies don’t come out of a bellybutton. Actually, they come out of a woman’s vagina.”

“WHAT?!? ‘Baginas??’ Stop it dad. You’re kidding.”

“Nope, I’m serious,” I said. “The mom pushes the baby out through her vagina. That’s how it happens.”

But apparently the mere notion of natural childbirth was decidedly unnatural to my son. He really didn’t believe me. So, faced with his continued curiosity and the fact that he doesn’t believe me, I did what all modern parents do when facing a quandary.

I asked for advice on Twitter.

I got some well-intentioned, run-of-the-mill advice at first but then someone suggested something very simple and brilliant. He said there are many videos of natural childbirth on YouTube, so why not show Will what I was talking about instead of inadequately attempting to describe it?

I know what some of you are thinking. You’re screaming “Are you crazy??? You’re going to show your 3.5-year-old a video of a partially nude woman giving birth?! That’s so inappropriate!” And that’s fine, you’re welcome to your opinions. I know my sister-in-law Melissa had the same reaction, and she’s a medical doctor. But I see absolutely nothing pornographic or inappropriate about childbirth, and therefore I see no reason not to show Will. It’s pretty much akin to breastfeeding. Yes Will sees a glimpse of a woman’s breast at times when she’s feeding a newborn, but so what? We tell him that’s how babies eat. And he accepts it, realizes it’s no big deal and moves on.

I want to be honest with my son and give him straight answers whenever possible. And this was one of those times when it made total sense. So, I showed him.

The video was of a woman engaged in a homebirth. She was pushing and grunting, and Will watched with a look that conveyed interest mixed with confusion. Then the woman got on her knees with her back to the camera, gave one final push and suddenly the baby’s head was visible. Will’s jaw dropped and he smiled, pointing to the baby. And for a moment, I was very proud of my son for being so adult, and for my parenting techniques and decision to show him.

“Do you have any questions bud?” I asked.

“Yeah dada. Why does the baby come out of the mama’s bum?”

Ruh-roh Shaggy.

“No no no, the baby didn’t come out of her bum. It came out of her vagina.”

“Um Dad, ACTUALLY it came out of her bum. Look.”

“Will, I know it kinda looks like the baby came out of her bum, but trust me. It didn’t. Babies come out of vaginas.”

“How do you know, Dad?”

“Because I watched when you were born and I would’ve remembered you coming out of Mom’s bum. Trust me, you came out the vagina.”

“But Dada, there’s pee in baginas. Did mom pee on me?”

At that point, far off in the distance, I thought I heard the distinct sound of a train derailing, crashing into a building and then careening over a cliff landing with a fiery explosion. Somehow, in the blink of an eye, I went from teaching my son a valuable life lesson to discussing ass play and golden showers. And the worst part is he’s obsessed with babies right now and he talks to anyone who will listen about babies falling out of bums and how mom peed on him.

Needless to say I’m dreading the inevitable call from his preschool teacher, and having to explain to her that my son and I were watching YouTube videos together and talking about vaginas and assholes.

That stupid stork is looking more and more appealing.

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