Monthly Archives: October 2012

Scaring My Son on Halloween

Halloween is by far my favorite holiday.

Screams, scares and Snickers bars. Ghost, ghouls and GOBS of candy. People allowing their imaginations to run free with creative costume ideas, and women everywhere unleashing their inner slooze in the form of slutty cops, slutty beer wenches and slutty nurses.

Let’s face it, any holiday that simultaneously promotes the consumption of sweets, barely clothed women and riles up religious fundamentalists is my sweet spot.

But I digress…

Having Will just ratcheted up my love of Halloween even more. So far he’s been a devil, a monkey, a dinosaur and Spiderman. This year he’s going as Wolverine. But the coolest thing is he REALLY likes to be scared. We’ve taken great pains to explain what’s real and what’s made up, so he’s got a solid handle on separating reality from fiction. We probably let him watch a few movies most parents wouldn’t, but he takes it in stride and if it’s ever too much we just shut it off. No harm no foul.

But some things happen that are just out of our control.

I was down in the basement letting the dog out when I saw Will not-so-stealthily sneaking down the stairs in an effort to scare me. As I spotted him, he suddenly stopped dead in his tracks with a worried look on his face. He was looking past me, clearly troubled by something he saw behind me. I wheeled around quickly but there was nothing there. I asked him what was wrong and he told me one of the basement lights went on and off.

“Dada, the light just went on and off really quick. Why did the light do that?”

Glancing around at the Halloween decorations and knowing that we have had many discussions about what’s real and what isn’t, I decided to have a little good-natured Halloween fun with him.

“Well bud, I think you’re old enough to know the truth. You see, ghosts don’t like the light. So when they get really bothered by bright lights, they touch the light bulb to make it go out.”

I know what you’re thinking, but I swear on his life he knew I was kidding. He even started to smirk with that “you’re pulling my leg” look on his face. Everything would’ve been fine except –

At that exact moment, the light bulb made an audible buzzing sound and then went completely out.

Before I could turn to him and explain it was just a coincidence, it was too late. My poor son turned pale white, got the most scared-shitless look on his face I’ve ever seen, and flew up the stairs shouting “OH MY GOD THE GHOSTS ARE REAL! THE GHOSTS ARE REAL!!!!”

Happy Halloween.

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It’s My Fault We Can’t Have Another Baby

I’ve been putting off writing this post. In part because it’s really personal, but mostly because I feel like someone has taken a proverbial sledgehammer to my masculinity, Gallagher-style.

I told you all that MJ and I began looking into IVF following our inability to either get pregnant or sustain a pregnancy since Will was born. With all the trouble we’ve had both before Will’s birth and afterwards, I kind of just figured if there was a medical problem, it would have something to do with MJ. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not me blaming her or being mad at her. I was just thinking of all the shit and procedures she’s had to endure, and logically it stood to reason something had happened in one of those surgeries that caused a problem with our ability to conceive.

I went in for what I thought was a routine specimen check. But it turns out, I’m the problem.

I won’t bore you with all things sperm morphology-related. Even I’m creeped out talking about it and it’s my baby batter. But I do think it’s important to talk about how this whole thing made me feel, because I know for a fact it’s something men in this situation struggle with, and putting it all on the table is the best way to deal with it.

First of all, it helps if you have a doctor who isn’t an inadvertently offensive ass clown. I understand they deal with this stuff all day and they want to move quickly so they can help. I get it. But it doesn’t matter how often you’ve broken bad news to someone, because it’s likely the first time they’re hearing it and dealing with the flood of emotions. So, in the future, you might want to avoid sounding like a condescending jerkoff while explaining the problem as you would to a small child.

“Well, basically the shape of your sperm is a little off and they’re confused. Instead of swimming to the goal — which is the egg — they’re off running around in circles some place they’re not supposed to be. So all we’re gonna do is make sure the best ones are in the right place at the right time.”

Golly gee Capt. Kangaroo, thank you for that wonderful explanation. Granted, I didn’t go to medical school, but I’m sure even my feeble mind could’ve handled a slightly more comprehensive explanation. But hey, not only did you talk down to me, I also feel like shit about myself. About my manhood. About the very thing that makes me a man and allows me to reproduce. Now for the rest of my life I can rest easy, knowing my swimmers are zombified, miniature versions of the 3 Stooges. Moe, Larry, and Curly smacking each other around over in the corner like a bunch of drunken frat boys.

But that was nothing compared to the immediate flood of pure shame I felt. Women have to do EVERYTHING during pregnancy. Her egg inside her body is fertilized, and she goes on to literally house and shelter the baby for nine months. My only job — the only early role I have to play — is to (literally) plant the seed. That’s it. And now, I’m not even able to do that.

Unfortunately, things got even worse when we got in the car. Because my wife is not a man, she saw no reason for me to be upset, nevermind completely devastated. So instead of being understanding, she was pissed that I was pissed. Ladies, I know it’s probably hard to understand. But if your guy is anything like me, he feels worthless and emasculated. Biologically speaking, men are put on this earth to spread their seed and procreate. So when a doctor sits there and tells you something has gone haywire with your primordial ooze, it’s a blow to our caveman DNA. We don’t feel like men. And so we pout.

And then we get ridiculous. Or at least I did.┬áBecause I was hurting, I felt like lashing out. And given the news I just received — which involved learning that I have a roughly 2% chance of successfully conceiving a child, my mind stupidly wandered to (what I believe to be) one of the biggest and most irrational fears fathers have.

“Since we know I’m now a man in name only, is Will really even mine?”

There are lots of questions you shouldn’t ask your wife. “Are you really wearing that?” “Have you put on weight?” “Do you realize you’re starting to act just like your mother?” I wish I had asked one, or even all, of those stupid questions. But instead, I vaulted myself right to the top of Asshole Mountain by asking my wife if she cheated on me, was impregnated with another man’s baby, and lied to me about it for 4.5 years. Yeah…I’m THAT guy.

To her credit, MJ remained pretty calm. And then she pointed out the silver lining that should’ve been completely obvious to me the moment I heard the news.

Will. My sweet, healthy, fantastic, perfect son. Made even more perfect by the fact that it’s a minor miracle we could even have him. Against some truly staggering odds we didn’t even know we were facing, we got the lucky break of a lifetime and were able to conceive a healthy child without IVF.

I immediately felt very sheepish and selfish. How many couples out there have been trying — either with or without IVF — for years with nothing to show for it? I can’t even imagine wanting a child so badly, trying so hard for so long, and enduring heartbreak after heartbreak. I can’t fathom walking by an empty nursery that’s been set up for years, just waiting for a brand new boy or girl to occupy it. Sure MJ and I have dealt with our share of rough times, but we have Will. Sweet Will, who constantly brightens our lives and gives us purpose. Even when he’s being a shit I’m still beyond thankful I have him. And now that I know he’s a longshot baby, I appreciate him even more.

To be honest, I still feel like half a man. I know I shouldn’t, but I can’t help it. I feel like all of this struggle is my fault, and I feel incredibly guilty for being the cause of our inability to complete our family. Is that ridiculous? Of course. If the tables were turned and something was physically wrong with MJ, there’s NO WAY I’d ever blame her. It wouldn’t even cross my mind. And she doesn’t blame me either, but that doesn’t stop me from blaming myself.

I don’t really have any advice for the guys going through a similar situation. In fact, I could probably use some. All I can say is there’s a bunch of us out there and we’re probably feeling the same way. So let’s rest easy in the knowledge that we’re all being unnecessarily stupid and hard on ourselves together.

Next up, to see if our insurance will cover all of this, and what type of IVF we’re eligible for. Stay tuned.

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Fathers, Sons & Farting (Video)

For my money, sharing experiences with your kids — even from the earliest age — is probably the most spectacular part of parenting.

Watching as Will found his hands and feet, teaching him sign language, witnessing him take his first unsteady yet determined steps — these are all privileges of parenthood. Milestones on a journey that hold so many highs, lows and unexpected detours. And now that Will is a little older (4.5 to be exact), I’m enjoying these shared experiences even more. Coaching his tee-ball team, watching him play soccer, taking him to his first Patriots game, grinning as he realizes his first childhood crush on a girl — it’s truly fantastic and I’m loving every minute of it.

These shared experiences will come to serve as the foundation of our father-son relationship. Although we’ll disagree and he’ll inevitably hate me at some point, there are some things that will land us on common ground, about which we’ll always be able to talk. The Red Sox, the Patriots, girls and –

Farting?

Yup, farting. I’ve covered this ground in the past, but it bears repeating. Farts are hysterical for guys. Probably for some women too, but not for most I’ve met. And certainly not for my wife. If Will and I fart, or hear a fart, or hear somebody mention farting, we crack up laughing. Every. Single. Time. Without fail. But it’s more than just entertainment, it’s also competition.

If we’re all sitting on the couch and Will farts, he’ll immediately smirk at me and giggle. At that point my eyes narrow, my stomach tightens and I one-up him. Then he sneers at me, scrunches up his nose and grunts with spectacular concentration and focus until he can squeeze another one out. Which prompts me to once again return fire. Back and forth we go, volleying like Nadal-Federer, until MJ loses her mind and tells us to stop before she shoves a cork in us both.

Then Will and I laugh, give each other high-fives and prepare for our next battle at some point in the near future.

Is this a good habit to get my son into? Probably not. Does it make our air Glade Plug-In air freshener work overtime to battle the stench of our efforts? Most of the time. Does my wife look at us disapprovingly and threaten to murder us each and every time we engage in our flatulence festivals? Well, see for yourself.

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