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:
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.
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.
If you only watch one video for the rest of this year, make it this one. Those of you with the iPhone 4S will appreciate it immensely. “ASK MY WIFE IF SHE IS FUCKING JIM MACPHERSON!!” I’ve never laughed harder.
PICTURE OF THE WEEK
Thanksgiving is upon us and that means Christmas shopping season is about to be turned up to 11. Those of you who have children (or those of you shopping for parents) may be wondering what to buy this year. I can only speak for myself, but I’m recommending DINKutopia’s Child Containment Unit. Fuck the pack & play and those baby gates that are always breaking and never seem to work, the CCU’s prison-like force field will keep your kid in solitary for hours while you finally catch up on all those video games you haven’t been able to play. Just $49.95!
I know Christmas is over, but I would be remiss if I didn’t blog about the gifts Will received. It’s not really the number of gifts that stopped me in my tracks (although the number is fairly staggering), but the type of presents Will received.
For instance, my Aunt Darleen & Uncle Paul gave Will a digital camera. Not a fake camera or a toy digital camera. We’re talking an actual, working digital camera complete with a memory card and everything. While extraordinarily kind, I have to admit I was a little peeved. Mainly because I didn’t get my first digital camera until I was in my 20s. Granted the technology wasn’t there when I was younger, but the point is my 2.5-year-old now has a nicer digital camera than some adults.
He also received a portable DVD player which he already knows how to operate. My DVD player is like 15 years old, and my toddler now has nicer electronic equipment than I do.
Will also got himself a tool bench this Christmas. Sure he had a little one for babies, but now he’s got an official Black & Decker job thanks to Grandpa George & Nana. This has everything: hammer, nails, screws, an electric screwdriver, an electric drill, vice grips, tape measure…the whole enchilada.
And the crazy part is he really does know what he’s doing.
He takes up the screws with the electric screwdriver no problem. We never even told him how it worked, he just did it on his own. And he measures everything with the tape measure, including my arms, legs and head. Which led to my smart-ass wife saying “Let’s hope he doesn’t try to measure anything you’ll feel bad about.” Have I mentioned I don’t like my wife much?
And of course, there’s the kitchen set. You’ve all already seen a picture of that and you know how I feel about it. No need to revisit that one. He doesn’t like it as much as MJ thought he would, but he does enjoy making coffee quite a bit. He also boils lemons and strawberries, and made me “strawberry Chinese food” one night. I didn’t care for it.
But the piece de resistance of outlandish gifts from this Christmas, hands down, came from Papa & Grammy Donna.
When we went to their house on Christmas Eve I noticed a rather large, oddly-shaped package over in the corner covered in wrapping paper. I didn’t think much of it at first and figured there was no way it could be for Will.
But I was wrong.
I watched in disbelief—and with jealousy—as Will unwrapped his gift. I apologize for the darkness of the picture, but just in case you think your eyes are deceiving you, that is a children’s Barcalounger.
Yup, I’m serious. Will got his very own furniture. A recliner no less. I didn’t even get a recliner until about a month ago, and my son is now able to kick up his tired dogs in his very own chair while unwinding from a tough day of arts and crafts, singing and playing. And, as you can see in the picture, the damn thing even has a cup holder. Which means he’s got a leg up on me in that department.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. We are extraordinarily lucky and blessed to have relatives who care this much about Will. I thank my lucky stars for them every day and I don’t know what I’d do without them.
But a recliner? A tool set? A digital camera? This kid is going to have EVERYTHING. Between all of this technology and the various savings accounts already begun in his name, Will has better stuff and more money than I do at the age of 31.
It’s going to be very awkward when I’m asking my toddler if I can borrow some cash and some of his stuff.
You guys are going to absolutely hammer me for this post. I mean, you’re gonna tear me a new one and ridicule me through and through. And you’ll be completely justified in doing so. But I can’t help it.
The way Christmas works in the financially strapped Daddy Files household is as follows: We get Will one “big” present and a few little things. The rest of the gifts are supplied (in abundance) by family members and friends who are WAY too kind when it comes to buying things for Will. In the past, his gifts from us have been really awesome. Big Tonka trucks and a work bench with tons of tools. Very fun, very cool and very manly.
When it came time to choose his gift this year, well, there wasn’t actually much “choice” involved. At least on my part.
MJ just came home one day and declared that she found THE PERFECT present for Will. She was beyond excited and so proud of herself for finding it. So I asked what it was. But instead of telling me, she balked a little and started to talk around it. To preface it with “Well Will already has trucks and trains and stuff like that…” I should’ve known, right then and there, I was in for trouble. After prompting her to just tell me already she showed me the picture of Will’s Christmas gift.
Yup. A toy kitchen. Complete with a burner, coffeemaker, frying pan, plates and dishes. A complete kitchen set. For my son. I didn’t even have time to think of a good way to react because my delayed response and the look on my face must’ve given me away immediately. That put MJ on the defensive, which is never a good thing for me.
“What’s wrong? You don’t think he’ll like it?” MJ asked.
“I…uhh…well, it’s just that…it’s a kitchen. For our son.”
Tactical error on my part.
MJ must’ve anticipated this type of response from me because she had all of her ducks in a row. She told me that Will loves to cook with her in the kitchen, which is true. She told me the culinary arts are not simply for women and some of the best cooks in the world are men, which is true. And she told me I routinely make a point on this blog to tear down nonsensical stereotypes and challenge gender stereotypes, so I shouldn’t have a problem with this or else I’d be a hypocrite. Which — damn her to hell — is true.
She’s right. She’s 100% right. Will loves to cook and he should know how to cook. He’d love this as a present. And I, as an enlightened father who speaks out in the name of fairness and equality, should embrace this gift. I know this. And the rational, intelligent part of my brain accepts this as truth.
Unfortunately, the neanderthal strain of prehistoric male DNA is using a megaphone to shout “YOU CAN’T GIVE YOUR SON A KITCHEN SET!!!!”
I know I shouldn’t feel this way but I can’t help it. Girls get kitchen sets and dolls, while boys get G.I. Joes, toy tools and trucks. As a dad I’m fine with responding to Will saying “Hey Dad, wanna play trucks.” But entertaining the thought of “Hey Dad, wanna play with my pastry cutter?” not only gives me pause, it gives me the willies.
Which is ridiculous because I want Will to be able to cook. Not only will it make him self-sufficient, but it never hurts to know your way around a kitchen to improve your luck with the ladies. But it shames me to admit the first thing that crossed my mind was that giving him a kitchen set for Christmas may deter him from even being interested in the ladies.
Like I said, that’s a completely ignorant and stupid thought. Like a kitchen set could actually influence my son’s sexual orientation. And even if my son was gay, so what? I’d still love and support him the same as always. So what’s my problem?
I don’t actually know the answer.
I know my wife is right and this is a great gift for Will. I know I’m being a hypocritical idiot. And yet every time I look at that kitchen set (which I actually put together myself if you can believe it) I cringe. it’s in the same league as a Barbie or pink socks. I’m not sure if it’s age-old gender stereotypes holding me back or my own archaic ideas about how these things should work, but I can’t deny I’m bothered by it.
But I better get over it quick because as any married guy know, the wife gets what the wife wants. And that means my masculine, future professional athlete of a son is going to wake up tomorrow, shriek with joy at his new kitchen and then ask me if I want to help him whisk.
All fathers (and parents for that matter) fall into slumps. Right now I feel like I’m under siege by every single aspect of my life. Our financial situation is, well, bleak. The creditors will not stop calling my freaking cell phone and it’s taking a toll. Christmas is around the corner and I can’t even afford gifts for all of my family members. Meanwhile Will has decided he no longer wants to sleep through the night. He’s waking up at 1, 2 and 3 o’clock in the morning and refusing to go back to bed. That leaves me blurry-eyed and draggin’ ass most mornings.
And as much as I hate to admit it, I’m just sad lately. As we inch towards 2011, I can’t help but think of Alex and how wonderful it would’ve been to hold our New Year’s baby for the first time. I know MJ feels it too. There’s a general sense of loss and emptiness surrounding us that really just sucks.
The problem is I don’t do sad. Never really have. My version of sad is angry. Seething, venomous rage that spreads throughout my body like poison and burns unabated, before settling into a smoldering hot fire. I’m not violent or anything, just intensely unhappy.
The first thing that goes is my patience, and as every parent knows that is the one thing you need in spades to successfully deal with a toddler. I’ve lost patience with myself, with MJ and unfortunately with Will. When he talks back to me or — even worse — if he hauls off and hits me I feel my blood pressure go through the roof. When he cops an attitude after I ask him to pick up his toys, my head nearly pops off my shoulders. It’s not pretty.
The last straw has been his poorly timed decision to wake up insanely early every morning. He gets up and immediately starts to whine. I tell him to go back to bed, he whines some more. Then he demands milk. I tell him it’s too early for milk and I put him back in his room. Now he’s gone from whining to screaming bloody murder. To make matters worse, his shrilly voice demands either his monkey, dump truck or crane. Whichever one is lost at the moment, it seems, because I can never find what he’s looking for.
He asks for milk, which I then get, and then he throws the cup at me. He wants his monkey, which I give to him, but as soon as he has it he wants nothing to do with it and cries for something else. He hits me. He pinches me. After 20 minutes of assaulting my ears with his piercing shrieks, something inside of me just snaps.
“Go to bed! Be quiet and go to bed right now or so help me you’re getting the bare butt spanking. STOP CRYING AND GO TO BED DAMMIT!!”
I regret what I’ve said before the words even leave my mouth. But at that moment I don’t care. MJ hears me yelling and kicks me out of the room for making my poor son cry even harder. She takes the time to figure out what’s wrong and then soothes him, which is what I should’ve done in the first place. I feel bad, but not bad enough to do anything about it right then and there. I crave sleep more than anything so off to bed I go.
It amazes me that he still greets me with a kiss and a smile in the morning. I hug him tight and tell him I’m sorry. He accepts my apology. I don’t deserve it. I don’t deserve my son or my wife.
As dads we can’t make excuses. No matter what’s going on in my life I need to put all of that aside and be a good father to my little boy, who I love more than anything. I’ve been failing in that regard as of late. And I really can’t be considered a finalist for Husband of the Year either.
It’s not easy, this thing we call parenting. By and large I put Will’s needs ahead of my own like all good parents should. But lately I’m feeling very selfish. Some days I want nothing more than a quiet house, a good movie on TV and a cooler of beer. I just want to escape from my problems for awhile, no matter how temporary a respite.
But good dads don’t make excuses. Good dads just do what they have to do and they do it while they’re smiling and playing with their kids. Even if that smile isn’t all that genuine at the moment.
While driving Will to daycare this morning, I told him I was sorry for yelling at him. And then I told him I loved him very much.
“It’s OK dad,” he said from the backseat. “You just need to be good boy.”