Monthly Archives: July 2012

Colorado Shooting Brings Out the Worst in Parent Bloggers

Parents are a judgmental lot. Parent bloggers have turned judgment and ridicule into an Olympic sport. And never has that obnoxious trait been on display in all its wretchedness more than the past 36 hours.

I just read a post (I won’t link to it because it doesn’t deserve the pageviews), in which a fellow dad blogger said his first reaction to the Colorado theater shootings was: “Why the hell are kids at this movie?” And he’s not alone. There are thousands of anonymous Internet cowards saying the same thing — ridiculing parenting decisions of others less than 24 hours after a horrific event.

And it makes me sick.

Let me bottom line this thing for you. If your gut reaction to the Colorado movie theater shootings was anything other than “Holy shit, that’s so horrible. I feel awful for everyone who had to endure such a tragedy,” then that’s a real problem. Because while I’m all for using current events as blog fodder and even jumping on the occasional soapbox to talk about parenting issues, criticizing these parents for taking their kids to a movie after they had a gun pointed at them and bullets flying by their heads, is one of the more despicable things I’ve seen from the online parenting community in quite some time.

Would I take Will to any showing of this Batman movie? No, I wouldn’t. Because he’s only 4 and I’ve heard this is a pretty dark movie. But there are some mitigating circumstances to the Aurora incident. Some of the kids were just newborns, including a 3-month-old. And I’m absolutely fine with that. Newborns are great because you can pretty much still take them anywhere, and it’s impossible to warp them for life by enduring Bain and Christian Bale’s harsh Batman whisperings. And when kids are older — in the 9 to 10  range — I’m all for taking them to a midnight showing as a special treat. Kind of like when your parents allow you to skip school for one day and take you to a baseball game or amusement park. I think that’s where some special memories can be made, even though it’s not in the parenting handbook to have your kids skip class.

But all that is secondary.

The main problem I have is that some parents couldn’t wait for the crime tape to go up before they started in on criticizing parenting decisions that go against their own. And that sucks. It starts with pregnancy and whether moms are going to go natural childbirth or use an epidural. Home-birth or hospital? Once the baby is born the breastfeeding vs. formula snark begins, followed immediately by cloth-diapering vs. disposables. Vaccines, daycare, when to introduce solids, when to start watching TV — there is FIERCE debate each and every step of the way. Which is just downright stupid because no one forces us into our parenting decisions and we’re free to do as we please. Yet we’re inundated with the need to convince other parents that they’re wrong and you’re right at every turn.

Newsflash: I took Will to pub trivia when he was just a few months old. I was never drunk, there was no smoking and it was a neighborhood bar. We had fun, I got to socialize and if he got really fussy I’d leave. I also took Will to the movies in his infant carrier when he was just a few months old. He slept the entire time. And lo and behold, my now 4-year-old is neither a raging alcoholic nor a TV zombie.

I don’t know why so many parents feel they have to martyr themselves when their kids are born. Sure life changes big time when you have kids. No you can’t do everything you used to do. But you can still do some things. And you should when possible. Because even though you become a parent, you don’t stop being the person you were before kids came along. And if you don’t take SOME time for yourself once in awhile, you’ll go insane. I’m lucky enough to have family around who can watch Will occasionally, but not everyone does. So because of that, sometimes you end up with parents bringing their kids to movies.

And I don’t know about you, but a crazed gunman entering the theater and killing us all is not something about which I usually worry.

These parents are victims. Everyone in the theater is. They were tortured by an armed lunatic and put into one of the most terrifying situations I can imagine. And none of it — NONE OF IT! — was their fault. Anyone feeling anything other than pity and compassion for what these people had to endure should take a long look in the mirror, because if you judged these parents or called them names, I’ve got a few names I’d like to call you that will be much more deserved.

I just heard Usher’s 11-year-old step-son died. He died from injuries sustained in a jet ski accident earlier this month. And I swear, the same people who are knocking the movie theater parents are going to go on tirades about how young kids shouldn’t be on jet skis. Forget the condolences and jump right to the accusations and condescension. It kills me.

Parent however you want, but don’t be a dick about it.

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Caught in the Act: What Not to Do When Your Kid Catches You Having Sex

From the moment your kid takes those first fateful steps, the timer starts counting down. You never know when it’ll hit zero, but whether it’s a matter of months or you’re lucky enough to remain unscathed until he/she is a teenager, your kid will accidentally walk in on you while you’re gettin’ it on with your spouse.

Our timer went off last week.

It happened innocently enough. The weather was beautiful and it was the kind of quintessential Sunday afternoon by which all other Sunday afternoons should be measured. Temperatures in the low 80s, every window in the house open, the sun lazily warming the inside of the house and a gentle breeze billowed the curtains and left you feeling like you stepped into a Norman Rockwell painting. We were all home together (a miracle in and of itself) and simply relaxing and enjoying each other’s company. It was nice.

After lunch it was time for Will’s nap so we both brought him up to bed and read him a story. He was so cute pointing out the different dinosaurs one-by-one, even nailing the difficult ones like the Parasaurolophus, Spinosaurus, and Diplodicus. When the stories were done, MJ and I watched him drift off to sleep with the sounds of summer serenading him through his open bedroom window. We both just marveled at him for a few moments, his angelic and innocent face asleep on his dinosaur pillow, while his perfect little chest was rising and falling in rhythmic harmony.

I looked at MJ and smiled. She slipped her fingers into mine. I slid my other arm around her waist, moved behind her, and nuzzled her neck while breathing in the absolutely intoxicating scent she seems to emanate at all times. We kissed. And then, without a word, we made a mad dash (and by mad dash I really mean the parental equivalent to a mad dash consisting of a frenzied and haphazard tiptoe of sorts so as not to wake a sleeping child) to the bedroom.

I’ll spare you the down and dirty details (which obviously consist of me being a sexual maestro, of course), but there are some things you should know which will help explain what happened next. Namely, our bedroom door does not lock. So to guard against the kid invasion, I placed a shoe up against the door. Not exactly the most hi-tech alarm system in the world but — well, I was in kind of a hurry and had other things on my mind.

I never heard the doorknob jiggle, didn’t see the door open and the shoe didn’t do a damn bit of good. All I heard was a meek little voice call out “Mama, Dada?” at which point all the glorious “motion of the ocean” ground to a complete halt, as the three of us found ourselves in a Mexican standoff.

This is a critical juncture. We’ve clearly been caught in a compromising (albeit very fun) position. Will just stood there — not knowing what to do — with a look that was equal parts amusement, bewilderment and fear. I didn’t know exactly what to say to him at that moment, but one thing was clear — whatever we said had to be measured and calm. Reacting poorly or getting upset was only going to exacerbate the situation, or worse, potentially frighten the poor kid to death. So that’s when I quickly formulated what I wanted to say.

“Will, it’s OK buddy. You don’t need to be scared. I know you’re probably wondering what’s going on, but if you can just close the door real quick so mom and I can get dressed, I’ll be right out to talk about it with you. Don’t worry, you didn’t do anything wrong and if you have questions you can ask them. You can always talk to us about anything. We love you very much OK?”

Pretty good if I do say so myself. That’s a Father of the Year type of moment right there, especially under the extreme circumstances. It allows the situation to be diffused without blowing it up into some unnecessary traumatic event, and we end up using it as a teaching moment. Now THAT’S how you parent!

The only problem is I never got to say anything.

Before I could get the words out, MJ looked right at our poor son and let loose a horrifying shriek. Actually, it wasn’t so much of a shriek as it was a desperate scream combined with a haphazard attempt to roll off of me and hide. I admit, I may have made her dismount efforts a little more clumsy since I was in no hurry to let her go in the hopes that Will would go back to his room and we might be able to (ahem), finish what was started.

Hey, I’m a guy. Whaddya want??

So we were left with our poor 4-year-old son walking in on his parents bumpin’ uglies, made worse by MJ’s complete freak out/gymnastics show as she desperately hid from his sight. Will thought he did something wrong and I could see him starting to cry. I looked at him on the verge of tears. I looked at my wife cowering in shame. I looked at the pup tent phenomenon going on under my portion of the blankets. And when you put all those things together I — well, I started laughing hysterically.

I couldn’t help it, it was hilarious. My laughing snapped Will out of his oncoming breakdown and even seemed to put MJ a little more at ease. And when Will asked what we were doing, I just went with the old standby:

“Mommy and I were wrestling buddy.”

And that, my parental friends, was MY tactical error. Because as soon as he heard wrestling he made a beeline for the bed and tried to pounce on us. Needless to say, having your kid in bed with you mere moments after you were doing…other things in the bed — well, let’s just say it cured the pup tent problem right quick!

As for Will, he seems fine. Hopefully it’s something he’ll repress until he’s in his 20s and it comes up in therapy. But let this be a lesson to all of you: be prepared!

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