LEGO, Parenting, and Monsters

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I’ve never liked LEGO very much. Probably because building something from scratch is terribly difficult, and it doesn’t come naturally to me.

Much like parenting young children. Especially Sam.

If you don’t know, he’s the one on the left. The one whose picture is eternally blurry because he never stops moving. The one who is currently torturing me with a combination of sleep deprivation, a refusal to listen, and a fundamental commitment to being as difficult as humanly possible.

Recently, Sam become a bedtime terrorist. For about a week, he completely regressed in his sleeping habits and began torturing us to the point of absurdity.

One day he simply refused to go to bed. The antics would start about half an hour before his bedtime, which is when I get home from work. Lucky me. I’d walk in the door and my presence would serve as an internal alarm that he goes to bed soon, meaning he began to equate my presence with misery and impending doom.

He screamed. He threw things. He hit people. He bit people. All this while we’re trying to get the baby to sleep and oh yeah, I forgot to mention, he shares a room with his older brother. That means letting him scream means no one else gets sleep either, which isn’t fair. He soon realized this and held us hostage.

He requires three stories — one involving a castle, one involving a cheetah, and the final one involving his brothers, a cheetah, and a castle. Then he needs three songs — Shake It Off by Taylor Swift, Down by the Old Mill Stream, and Share the Darkness by the Saw Doctors.

And his newest addition is a fear of monsters, which required some creative maneuvering on our part.

I came up with magic monster dust which is kept hidden in his closet, and is an invisible dust coated over the entire room that keeps monsters at bay. But that wasn’t enough protection for him. So MJ concocted a Monster Spray (lavender, water, and sparkly stars in a spray bottle) we spray throughout the room before we leave.

If it sounds exhausting, that’s because it is. Also, none of it really worked.

After a week of screaming, banging the door, kicking the walls, and keeping us all up all hours of the night, I lost it. I hit that dangerous breaking point all parents know and fear. The one where your patience, kindness, logic, sanity, and reason instantly evaporate, leaving you only with desperation and white hot rage.

It was in this state I burst through Sam’s door, picked him up, put him on the bed, and read him the riot act. I told him he was slowly killing us, I screamed that I couldn’t stand him anymore, and I roared at him that he was a horrible child. It all just came pouring out in an ill-advised instant of insane sleep deprivation and frustration, in which I lost my self-control and did something I’m ashamed of.

Sam, with his lip trembling, looked shocked as he recoiled. He tearfully reached for something on his dresser and then hit me right in the heart.

“Dada, you monster,” he said, as he sprayed me with the water bottle.

I cried and hugged him and apologized. I hate getting that mad at my kids, and even though I know it happens to all of us it still sucks. And I’m going to try my best not to get to that point again.

I’m going to try to take a lesson from LEGO, and be a builder instead of someone who just tears down when frustrated. I’m going to heed the lessons Sam learns when watching LEGO Friends on Netflix — friendship, teamwork, camaraderie instead of selfishness and divisiveness. I’m going to be like the characters Will loves from LEGO Bionicle, who band together to protect Okoto Island.

Parenting is all about trying to succeed more than you fail, while building kids up from scratch with little to no directions. And while we all occasionally lose our minds when we step on unseen LEGO pieces with bare feet, it’s all about doing your best to have more wins than losses.

It’s time to focus on building.

Check out these two great shows on Netflix:

LEGO Friends Camp Wild Hearts Still 2 LEGO_Bionicle 3

StreamTeamBadge*As part of the Netflix Stream Team, I receive free Netflix and other products.

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Why I’m Proud of My Scrapbooking Son

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“Dad, I’m taking a scrapbooking class!”

Eight years ago, when I found out I was having a son, glad tidings of scrapbooking were not exactly at the forefront of my mind. Baseball? Football? Maybe track? Absolutely. I played three sports a year when I was a kid and I just assumed any boy of mine would follow suit. Not All-American level or anything, but a kid who’d live, eat, and breathe sports.

But you know what happens when people assume.

Will hates baseball. He’s already well aware of concussion problems in the NFL. And having inherited his mother’s balance and lack of grace, anything involving running seems far-fetched. He does swimming and he just started Taekwondo, but team sports and athletic glory are not in his future.

In their place are things I never imagined.

Where I went to basketball and baseball camp during the summer, do you know what Will did last year? He went to Farm-to-Table camp. An entire week of learning how to cook, visiting local farms, and mulling over recipes using food they picked themselves. And cooking — this kid loves to cook. Donning his pink apron, he’s obsessed with ingredients and how everything comes together to make a meal.

And now scrapbooking. He knew he’d be the only boy in the class going into it. Even at almost eight years old, it’s clear there are “boy things” and “girl things.” On the first day, his well-meaning teacher unintentionally drove that point home when she asked him if he was comfortable, or if he needed material in colors other than pink, yellow, and purple.

You know, boy colors. A masculine blue or powerhouse red.

But Will looked her right in the eye and didn’t hesitate to tell her he was fine and there are no girl colors or boy colors. He simply went about his business, comfortable in knowing he was doing something he really likes.

I wish I had that strength and self-confidence at 27, never mind 7 years old. Will isn’t perfect, but his self-assured nature and ability to do what he wants to do no matter the consequences is astounding. He does what feels right to him, which sounds simple but is actually a ridiculously amazing trait.

Before Will, the only way scrapbooking could’ve stirred emotion in me is crying tears of boredom from the mere thought of it. But now? My eyes well with tears because I’m proud of my son. He identifies what he likes and he does it, even though he knows it’s not the popular (or traditionally manly) choice. Doing what’s right for him even in the face adversity? That’s remarkable no matter your gender.

As usual, my son continues to teach me more than I ever thought possible.

 

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9 Ways Donald Trump Is Like a 2-Year-Old

trump child

I think, like most sane and reasonable people I know, my reaction to Donald Trump’s asinine antics went something like this:

  1. Amusement
  2. Concern
  3. Anger
  4. Incredulity
  5. Fear

That last one isn’t listed because I’m afraid to ever face down Donald Trump, it’s the deeply rooted fear of knowing at this moment in time, there is very little stopping him from becoming the Republican nominee. This man — this hyperbolic collection of jackassery and ignorance — is far too close to the presidency for my liking. And he’s backed by the uneducated, bigoted, racist fringe, which makes his rise to prominence all the more terrifying.

But when you take a good, hard look at Donald Trump, maybe you don’t have to be so afraid. Mainly because, well,  he’s a child.

Seriously, is there any doubt at this point? The tantrums, the insults, the obstinate nature that defies reason and logic — the man is like a 2-year-old. And while 2-year-olds can absolutely be frightening and awful, one thing they cannot be is President of the United States. Just like Donald Trump (at least I really fucking hope so).

So, in the name of everyone calming down a bit and having some fun, here are 9 ways Donald Trump is exactly like a 2-year-old child.

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9. He Doesn’t Follow Simple Instructions
You know how 2-year-olds can be little assholes for no particular reason, and love to make simple things like coming when you call them really difficult? Trump knows.

8. He Lies, Then Won’t Admit It
One day a few weeks ago, Sam got into some strawberries when we weren’t looking. We asked him if he took the strawberries and he said no. We asked him again, stressing the importance of telling the truth, at which point he got screaming mad and yelled “NO! NO TAKE STRAWBERRIES!!!!” It was pretty convincing, save for the huge red smear on his face and the red juice dripping from his lips. But despite pointing that out, he stuck to his guns and claimed total innocence.

Sound familiar? If you’d like to go down the rabbit hole of Donald Trump’s lies, give yourself a few hours and click here.

7. He Spills Shit on Purpose
We tell Sam not to throw things when he’s angry. He looks us straight in the eye and tosses whatever is in his hands like a maniac.

via GIPHY

6. He makes ANGRY FACES
I mean…c’mon. The man legitimately cannot control his emotions.

via GIPHY

5. He’s Intent on Dropping Bombs
At least Sam’s are contained to his diapers. Trump, on the other hand, is desperately trying to overcome his micropenis by promising to drop bombs on EVERYONE.

4. He Has Paper-thin Skin
When you admonish Sam, he crumbles. He roars and cries and sulks over to the corner for 10 minutes, refusing to interact with anyone and essentially taking his toys and going home. Donald Trump acted in much the same manner when he skipped a debate because Fox’s Megyn Kelly was a big meanie to him. Because people will TOTALLY believe you can handle delicate international negotiations when you can’t even handle a journalist asking you basic questions.

3. He Loves Things…Until He Hates Them
Last week Sam loved chicken. I mean LOVED it, and he’d wolf it down like it was the last food left on Earth. As of two days ago? Hates it. Without any warning, we saw a 180-degree about face and now he swears he’s always hated chicken. Kind of like Donald Trump. Abortion? He was totally pro-choice 15 years ago but is fervently pro-life now. Guns? In 2000 Trump was for the assault weapons ban and critical of NRA Republicans? Now he’s bragging he can shoot someone in NYC and not lose a vote. And when someone calls him on the discrepancies, refer to #8.

2. He Doesn’t Like to Share
On the one hand we have an immature and obnoxious character who doesn’t play well with others, wants to be the only one in his sandbox, and gets way too territorial about his personal space. And then there’s Donald Trump, who wants to temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the country. Edge: 2-year-old.

1. He Turns Authority Figures Into Zombies
All parents of a 2-year-old have been there. You’ve fought valiantly but eventually you’re just worn out and worn down. The out of control antics, insults, and frustrations have become too much to bear, so you give up. You’ve lost your will to fight the good fight, and your soul is depleted. Empty. Technically you’re still alive, but the actual human being who once inhabited the now empty shell of your festering carcass is just waiting for Rick Grimes to put you out of your misery. You know, kind of like:

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Netflix Has Helped Perfect the “Night In”

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A night in in my 20’s meant defeat. It meant I was either being lame, I was too broke to go out, or none of my friends were around to hang out with me. Now, a decade and three kids later, I hold my nights in sacred.

I’m going to be honest with you and I won’t sound like the world’s greatest dad in the process. You ready? My night in only begins when my kids are in bed. Why? Because I love watching TV — binge watching TV to be exact — and that’s impossible with kids around. So when my personal tornado of insane monkeys is finally asleep in their respective cages, only then does my night in begin.

And it is glorious. Like Al Bundy hand firmly in pants while sitting on the couch wonderful.

I love/hate Frank Underwood and simultaneously root for him and curse his name during House of Cards. I laugh uproariously with Kimmy Schmidt. I marvel (see what I did there??) at the superbly choreographed fight scenes in Daredevil, and I hurt with every ordeal that befalls Jessica Jones.

I love Orange is the New Black so much I’m starting to think prison might not be such a terrible place. The gorgeous scenery and ugly family secrets in Bloodline leave me slackjawed, although it does make me feel better about my own family. I laugh at and mock Aziz Ansari in Master of None for all of his Millennial tendencies, until I realize I’m more like him than I care to admit.

Sometimes I’m in the mood for the wonderful slow burn and steady hand of Longmire, while other times I want the instant hilarity and raucousness of Scrotal Recall. And I’m always up for a martini or two with Don Draper and the rest of the Mad Men.

Although I certainly have a Fuller House than I used to, my TV time is even more sacred which is why my nights in are held in such high regard. I lay on the far side of my sectional couch — remote in one hand and a drink in the other — and I binge. The worries disappear and I’m lost in whichever world I choose for the night.

That my friends, is the real beauty of Netflix when you’re a parent.

StreamTeamBadgeI was compensated by Netflix for writing this post. Although I did not receive monetary compensation, I received free Netflix for a year and an smart TV. However, as always, my opinions are 100% my own. Check out Netflix on Facebook.

 

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The Importance of Legacy

orenglove

My biggest fear isn’t death, it’s not being remembered.

Irrelevance scares the shit out of me. To think I could die tomorrow and I’d eventually fade away like I never even existed? Terrifying. Ever since last week when I attended the Dad 2.0 Summit where the entire theme of the event revolved around the idea of legacy, I’ve been thinking about the subject. About what my own legacy will be. And about my friend, Oren Miller, who died exactly one year ago today.

How we’re remembered and the parts of us that live on starts with our families. If I’m worth a damn as a dad, my three boys will be the living embodiment of my legacy that carries on well after I’m gone. If I can raise them to care about others, to be kind, compassionate, and resolute, then that is a worthy legacy in and of itself.

But I want more than that.

As I spent time with Oren’s wife Beth last weekend at the conference, I watched as dozens upon dozens of dad bloggers introduced themselves to her and told her what Oren meant to them. It was extraordinarily emotional and meaningful. For those of us who couldn’t make it to Oren’s real funeral, it was a chance to memorialize him and say goodbye. But the takeaway for me? It doesn’t speak of finality.

We are a community of writers and our currency is stories. Oren impacted us in such a monumental way, and for that we have taken it upon ourselves to be a small part of his legacy by passing those stories around to a wider audience. And that comforts me beyond measure.

Hell, Oren even helped his own cause from beyond the grave (and with an assist from his beautiful, brave, and talented wife), who read a letter Oren wrote to himself. Check out the video (but be prepared to cry).

No one can live forever, but stories about worthy people can echo for an eternity. By instilling good values in my kids and surrounding myself with a community of storytellers, that opportunity is there. Now it’s up to me to create a legacy worthy of being mentioned well after I’m gone.

I write this piece two hours from running in a half marathon. On Cape Cod. In cold and windy February. When I saw the race was taking place on the exact one-year anniversary of Oren’s death, I knew I had to do it. And when people ask me about his name written on my running gloves, I tell them about a man I loved and admired. A brave man who scratched and clawed against cancer for 9 months when doctors only gave him one to live, because he wanted every single second he could get with his family.

None of us could cure Oren, but we can all do our small part to make sure his legacy lives on. He deserves to be remembered and he will, thanks to his family, friends, and even scholarships that bear his name to help provide for financially burdened dads. He put that much good out into the world and is deserving of every remembrance.

Befriending an army of storytellers is only half the battle. Now it’s up to me to make my legacy one worth remembering positively.

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