Tag Archives: humor

7 Horrible Parenting Moments No One Warns You About

horribleparentmoments

Parenting — especially in the age of social media — requires spending ample amounts of time wading through a superfluous amount of bullshit.

I’m not sure why it happens, but parents routinely lie to one another without hesitation. Perhaps it’s because we’ve all been force fed fairy tales of how happy babies should make us 100% of the time, and we feel guilty saying “truthfully, some of this really sucks.” But the fact of the matter is, some of it does suck. And in the very beginning, I’d argue MOST of it sucks.

I know you love your kids. I love my kids too. Kids really are fantastic, and in the end it’s all worth it. But it’s not all fun and much of it is really, really hard. Denizens of Facebook and Pinterest already see all the good moments (since that’s all most parents put out there) where babies fart rainbows and spit up sunshine, so here are a few distinct moments of terror most parents face but seldom discuss.

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7. The Moment You Realize It’s All on You
When my oldest was born in 2008, I was over the moon. First kid, tons of excitement, the novelty of the childbirth experience — the adrenaline from all of that combined was enough to get me through the craziness of the first week. But then the nurses were gone. The family members lining up to hold the baby so you could take a nap were nowhere to be found. I distinctly remember holding Will during a crying fit late at night and not being able to calm him down, as an insane thought crept into my head — I’m in charge of his life. I know it seems like something that should already be clear, but it’s not. It doesn’t happen in the delivery room. It happens at 3 am when you’re sleep deprived and the reality that life as you know it has forever changed because every decision you make now affects another human being and it’s your job not to screw him up and parenthood is FOREVER! Eventually this is a positive turning point, but in the moment it’s a tsunami of fear and anxiety.

6. The First Time You Use Google for Medical Research
Everyone talks about how scary it is the first time your kid gets sick. That’s a no-brainer. But something that is under-discussed is how terrifying it can be if you plug your baby’s medical maladies into Google and spend the next few hours getting sucked down the hypochondriac’s rabbit hole until you’re nearly catatonic because you’re convinced your kid’s slight rash is actually lamellar ichthyosis, and he’s going to start shedding his skin like a snake at any moment unless you get to the ER, stat! If you think your kid is sick, don’t trust the yahoos answering questions on Yahoo! because you’ll make yourself crazy. Talk to your trusted friends or better yet, just call the pediatrician. They’re used to first-time parents being unsure and scared, and they’ll guide you through it.

5. The First Explosive Public Poop
June, 2008. Boston Beer Works right across the street from Fenway Park. Father’s Day. That was the first time Will had, what I now refer to as, a “World Ender.” It’s wasn’t so much that he pooped, it was that he summoned all the poop that was, is, and ever will be and released it upon the world using some sort of infant physics I’ll never understand, which allows that much shit to come out of a space so tiny. The diaper never stood a chance, and the poop went everywhere. Every. Damn. Where. As new parents, we were unprepared for the possibility our son could suddenly become a shit demon, so we didn’t bring a second outfit. Suddenly we found ourselves in the middle of a crowded bar with a baby covered in shit, carseat carrier covered in shit, clothes covered in shit, and my hands covered in shit from picking him up. I honestly can’t describe the panic in my heart having never gone through that. I looked around frantically, not knowing where to go or what to do. Panic. Pure panic. If you find yourself in such a situation, let me give you the answer — throw everything away. Well, not the baby. Keep him. But the clothes? Toss ‘em. Don’t even give it a second thought. I don’t care that it’s the special outfit your Aunt Marjorie gave the baby. Fuck Aunt Marjorie right in her face if she doesn’t understand. It’s just not worth it. Trust me.

4. The Toxic Sippy Cup/Bottle
This is similar to the poop situation, but possibly more disgusting. You see, you’re going to go through tons of bottles and then sippy cups. Some of those will inevitably turn up missing. You’ll find it eventually, because your car or house will start to smell like a skunk died in a swamp filled with rotten Indian food. Now because you’re new parents and no doubt financially strapped, you might be thinking “Well, I’ll just suck it up and wash it because I don’t want to be wasteful.” Ignore that voice. That is the voice of inexperience that has never suffered through the unimaginably putrid ordeal of unleashing that hazardous material out into the world. Throw the cup away. Or bury it. Or better yet, find that little bastard Frodo and pay him to dispose of it in the fires of Mt. Doom. And never, ever talk of it again.

3. The First Time You Drop the Baby
Sometimes it’s a drop, but not always. You might be changing her on the bed or couch and she rolls off, and you SWEAR you only turned your head for a second when — THUD! You will feel fear the likes of which you never thought possible. This is a legitimately traumatic moment because not only is your baby hurt, she’s hurt because you weren’t being careful. I get it. I’ve been there. We’ve all been there. Obviously if there’s bleeding or your baby isn’t responsive, go get help immediately. But nine times out of 10, these falls are nothing. I don’t know why, but babies are like rubber. That doesn’t mean you should experiment on them or anything, but their elastic bodies are far less fragile than you think, and tougher than you can imagine. Trust me, you’re going to beat yourself up and make yourself suffer more than your baby has because of the fall.

2. The Moment You Worry Your Marriage is in Danger
There often comes a time, usually a few months after having a kid, when you will look at your partner and freak the hell out because you suddenly realize you have a roommate where a loving spouse used to be. For us, it was complicated even further by MJ’s postpartum depression, and I will NEVER forget the tidal wave of emotion as I realized this was not what I wanted in a marriage and I had no clue whether or not it would change. Parenting is an all-encompassing endeavor and it’s extraordinarily easy to focus all of our energy on the new baby while failing to attend to our partners. No one is saying you’re going to live the fancy free lifestyle you had before kids, but you do need to focus on each other after a baby — although that’s easier said than done. Give the kid to a grandparent or relative. Pay for a babysitter. But for the sake of your relationship, make some time for each other and reconnect as two people who love each other, not just two people taking care of a baby.

1. The Fleeting Moment You Realize You Genuinely Hate Your Kid
Because parents only want to talk about the good times, I had no idea it was possible to hate your kid. When that baby has kept you up for weeks on end and refuses to stop crying and is having trouble latching and never seems satisfied no matter what you do and you’re a zombie who can barely function anymore, there comes a moment when all of that anger and frustration culminates into a single moment of pure disgust — and you hate him. It doesn’t last long, but in the moment it’s real. And it’s scary as hell to have those thoughts about someone you love so much. That’s when you tap out and go get your partner. If you’re a single parent, leave the kid in the crib for a few minutes while you walk away and calm yourself down. The baby will be fine for a bit in the crib, but not if you let that feeling consume you. And also, realize it’s pretty normal. Show me a parent who says they never felt that way about their kid, and I’ll show you a liar. Just be sure not to act on those feelings, and if they don’t go away find a counselor or doctor and get the help you need.

I know these aren’t all pleasant and this stuff is often difficult to talk about. But it’s also pretty important to discuss, because too many parents (especially new parents) think they’re the only ones who feel this way. But in reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

So, did I miss any? Leave some other suggestions in the comments.

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Why I Prefer Parents With Messy Houses

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How many times have you gone over to someone’s house for a play date and before you’re even through the door you get “Please excuse the mess in here. It’s been a DISASTER but I’ve been so busy I haven’t had a chance to clean it?” 

As a father of two precocious boys, I nod knowingly and walk in to find — nothing! Not only is there no mess, the place is freaking immaculate. Floors you could eat off, carpet freshly vacuumed, no crumbs on the couch, and not a speck of dust to be found. The throw rugs are all perfectly aligned, there’s no dirty laundry draped on the banister or hanging from light fixtures, and — wait a second, did they — yup, someone has put all the DVDs in alphabetical order.  The family has three kids and a 90-pound Labrador, and yet this house would pass inspection from even the strictest drill sergeant our fine Armed Forces could produce.

It’s like a museum, and I’m immediately uncomfortable because I’m wondering if anyone has ever sat on that white, pristine couch. And since there are no scuff marks or fingerprints on the walls, I start questioning if this is one of those rooms that no one is allowed in unless company is over. Then I wonder why anyone would have a room no one can go in! But mostly I’m afraid I, along with my rambunctious clan, will ruin anything we come in contact with.

Truth be told, I prefer a little mess because it puts me at ease.

I’m not talking about hoarders or people living in their own filth, I just mean I tend to gravitate toward parents with domiciles that — you know — actually look like a family lives there. And it doesn’t mean I automatically dislike or distrust the Mr. and Mrs. Cleans of the world, it’s just…I don’t get it.

The big things I realized when I became a parent included 1) how much STUFF babies come with, and 2) how messy life gets. Even with one kid, the mess factor is incredible. Little kids pull stuff out of cabinets and off tables. They spill drinks you forgot to pick up, and smear food everywhere but their mouths. Even older kids come with problems like leaving their clothes everywhere and littering the floor with an ungodly amount of toys.

So when families have more than one kid, the mess increases exponentially. Throw in a cat or a dog, and fuhgeddaboutit.

Honestly, even a stay-at-home parent would have trouble keeping up with cleanliness on the immaculate scale. That level of squeaky clean can only be maintained by constant vigilance and an unimaginable force of will. It would have to entail either not letting your kids and dogs outside, or wiping them down each and every time they come into the house. It means you’re following them around with a Dustbuster (did I just date myself??) and tailing them to put everything back into place once they’ve blown through like a hurricane. I just can’t see any scenario in which the highest levels of cleanliness can be consistently maintained without sacrificing time to actually parent and enjoy what’s happening.

Which is why I prefer a messy parent.

Messy parents understand spills happen and a few stains are the price of doing business. They don’t follow their kids around with the vacuum, they chase them because they’re playing tag or pretending to be a superhero. They know muddy footprints in the kitchen are just evidence of fun times had out in the yard — at least they hope it’s just mud. And they’re OK with some pet hair on the couch because that’s where they cuddle with the dog after the kids go to bed.

Don’t get me wrong, I have my hang-ups. When Sam flings his food around it gets to me, because I have a weird thing about dirty hands. And I cringe a little when MJ paints with the boys in the kitchen, but then I get over it because I see how much fun they’re having. And I can only speak for myself, but the fun is fleeting so we’re going to enjoy it. Even if that means putting off some chores and letting the mess win for a while, it’s worth it.

I’m a proud messy parent, because I believe a home is meant to be lived in and enjoyed. After all, life is messy. And messy can be a whole lot of fun.

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Where Parents and Serial Killers Meet

Sam had his first haircut this morning. Goodbye curly mullet locks of baby blonde cuteness, hello to him looking 10 years old in minutes.

Such is life when you have young ones. 

When the hairdresser began cutting, she turned to us and asked if we wanted to keep some of the hair. My initial reaction was to laugh, but before I could say or do anything my wife gave an enthusiastic yes. So we took it.

When we got home, MJ immediately went to the bookshelf and took out a Daddy Files book my brother put together for me as a gift. She opened it up and I was floored at what I saw.

More hair. Specifically, the hair from Will’s first haircut. And that’s when I worried we might have bypassed eccentric and crossed into creepy. 

What’s the plan with the hair and teeth we parents save? What will we do with them? What’s the end game? Because honestly, it made me feel like we had a little too much in common with some very bad people.

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The 11 Most Obnoxious Internet Commenters

Image: FLICKR/babbletrish
Ima?ge: FLICKR/babbletrish (license)

Internet trolls. I hate them. And yet I’m habitually guilty of feeding them.

I’m not proud of it. OK, I’m a little proud of it. Sometimes. But after seven years of writing about controversial topics online, I can say with complete certainty I’m exhausted by Internet trolls and the terrible (yet inevitable) kinds of people who lurk (mostly anonymously) in the dreaded comments section. The ones who you think can’t possibly be that stupid or misguided, yet manage to surprise you every time. The people who have you wondering whether the human race is ultimately doomed. The people you wish would come out of their mom’s basement long enough for you to shine the light of truth and righteousness on them while they scurry back under their bridges. Hopefully without an Internet connection.

I’m not going to list every single one of them.

For instance, I’m leaving off the Grammar Cop because, well, I am one. And despite all of your bitching and moaning, the difference between their, there, and they’re IS that important! Instead, I’m focusing on the big ones. The large, hairy, nasty, atrocious, obnoxious, festering types you find in the comments section, who make you mad enough to kick kittens and punt puppies.

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to document them here, but without further ado, here is my list of the 11 worst types of internet commenters. Also, I’m alternating between male and female pronouns lest you think Internet trolls are limited to one sex only.

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11. All Caps
An oldie for sure, but still as obnoxious now as when he first honed his craft in AOL chat rooms 20 years ago. If you’re unfamiliar, using all caps online is known as “shouting.” And unfortunately, many people think they can stop losing an argument BY TYPING IN ALL CAPS TO MAKE THE POINT THAT THEY ARE RIGHT BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY THE LOUDEST PERSON ALWAYS WINS THE ARGUMENT NO MATTER WHAT!!!!!!! These poor souls don’t realize their stupid, vile comments are no more acceptable or correct just because everything is capitalized.

10. Only Reads the Headline
I once wrote a piece titled “Frozen Turned My Son Gay.” Spoiler alert: Frozen didn’t really turn my son gay. Cinderella did. You see? That’s me using a forgotten and frequently misunderstood tool called sarcasm, to prove how ridiculous it is that some bigots out there were claiming a movie had the power and capability to affect a child’s sexuality. But you would only have known that by, you know, actually reading the article instead of merely a five-word headline. It’s stunningly sad this has to be said in 2015, but it’s important to read the thing on which you’re planning to comment.

9. Link Spammer
This jerk doesn’t have the time to personally educate you as to all the reasons you’re wrong. So instead of making her case, she’s going to send you links. Lots and lots of them. Here’s a link to this study, here’s another link to this guy’s academic research paper, and here’s another to a blog post she wrote in which she referenced more studies with more links. She knows no one has time to read them all, so she’s going to maintain she proved her point with the links but you’re too lazy to read them so you must be wrong. It’s the online equivalent of blinding people with paperwork so they get distracted and give up.

8. The Hitler Guy
The one troll I automatically dismiss and refuse to engage any further is “the Hitler guy.” Simply put, he’s the one who winds up comparing everything to Hitler and Nazi Germany.  It’s Godwin’s Law – “the theory that as an online discussion progresses, it becomes inevitable that someone or something will eventually be compared to Adolf Hitler or the Nazis, regardless of the original topic.” Against gun control? You know the Nazis limited weapons, right? Did your town ban trans fats? What is this, Nazi Germany? Unhappy with the teachers union? Clearly they’re the educational gestapo. Do not engage the Hitler guy and try to shut him down. Wanna know why? Because that’s exactly what the Nazis would do!!!

7. All Memes, All the Time
This person has no words. However, she has amassed a library of memes and uses them religiously during arguments. Because responding to valid criticism with pictures of Grumpy Cat and Willy Wonka really drives your point home.

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6. Captain Politics/Blame Obama
You could be talking about butterflies and rainbows, but “Captain Politics” will find a way to turn the conversation political and divisive. And, of course, it’s always capped off by blaming President Obama. Because rainbows are gay and butterflies are traditionally thought of as symbols of change, which means Obama is clearly trying to push his liberal agenda of gayness in an attempt to weaken the state of Christianity in this country because he’s really a Muslim who is NOT EVEN FROM HERE!

5. The Racist/Homophobe/Misogynist
These are easy to spot. Just look for a string of insensitive and disgusting slurs complete with terrible grammar and lots of misspellings. As a bonus, you can Grammar Police their nonsense and point out how stupid they are afterward — a trolling of the trolls so to speak — which does bring out more of their idiocy, but makes you feel better as well. So it’s a wash.

4. The Martyr
This is one of my favorites to hate on, because they really don’t see their own stupidity. This gal’s calling card will be terms like “Well I’m entitled to my opinion” and “You’re trying to take away my freedom of speech just because I disagree with you.” What this person doesn’t realize is since she just spewed her unbelievably terrible opinion, she demonstrated her freedom of speech which is very much intact. Furthermore, she also can’t see that while she is free to have an opinion, she is not immune from the fallout of stating said opinion. These trolls either don’t know or don’t care that while freedom of speech means they won’t be put in jail for projectile vomiting their filth in public, they are absolutely and unequivocally responsible for facing the consequences of those words. But rather than face up to them, they cry foul and claim they’re the ones being bullied. Because they’re stupid.

3. The Purveyor of Non-reliable Information
This is The Link Spammer’s dumber, more dangerous cousin. He finds something on the Internet that validates his preexisting opinion on a topic, and he runs with it. He publishes it on Facebook with an incendiary diatribe methodically listing out all the problems and the ways in which is is wrong. WRONG I SAY!! The only problem? It’s not true. Because it’s from an extremist website that literally makes shit up. The reason I say he’s “dangerous” is because too many people don’t bother checking their sources, which is how this misinformation winds up spreading like a disease all over social media. Bonus points when this clown becomes infuriated over a completely fictitious piece of made up satirical news, a la The Onion.

2. I Don’t Care/I’m Done With This Conversation
These people might be my favorite of the bunch. They’ll emphatically state they don’t care, and they’ll leave comments such as “No one gives a shit about any of this!” Right. Because the best way to show you don’t care about something is taking time out of your busy day to write a comment and post it online. That’ll show ‘em, Tiger. Then, when you call them out and they’ve “not cared” for eight or nine more comments, they’ll publicly announce they’re leaving and they’re done with this because they have better things to do. Newsflash: they care and they don’t have anything better to do. Because people who don’t care don’t bother, and people who want to leave just leave. They don’t stick around and belabor the point for 53 more comments.

1. There Are More Important Things
“This is what you care about? Out of all the things happening in the world, you’re arguing about this?” Holy hell, for the love of Pete, shut your mouth with this crap! In my opinion, this is the single dumbest comment anyone on the Internet can make. Why? Because of course there are more important things. No one is saying otherwise. But by their “logic,” all any of us should be discussing is The. Most. Important. Thing. But, ummm…what is the most important thing? And who gets to decide that? Is it world hunger? Cancer? Sex trafficking? War? Look, just because something isn’t the most important thing, doesn’t mean it’s not important. Right now hundreds of dad bloggers are trying to honor our friend Oren Miller, who recently died of cancer, by getting Amazon to change it’s diaper subscription service from Amazon Mom to Amazon Family (sign the petition, please). Is this the most pressing issue the world is facing? No. Is it important to us and involved fatherhood? Absolutely. So we’re focusing on it. And many of us are doing it as we simultaneously support initiatives to end hunger, the gender wage gap, and other huge issues. So knock off this crap about “don’t you have more important things to do?” There are enough issues for all of us to focus on, you sanctimonious boobs.

So, that’s my list. Did I miss any?

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Why All Parents Should Volunteer in Their Child’s Classroom

willsdad

It’s Friday. And I love Fridays.

For the last couple of months I’ve been volunteering on Friday mornings at my son’s school. I was nervous at first because I’m not someone who volunteers for anything. I’ll happily lend support from the sidelines where I can blog and snark from the cozy, reclusive cheap seats, but actually volunteering? It always gave me the willies.

But after getting leveled with some hurtful but totally accurate criticism from my wife about being a naysayer who never throws his hat in the ring to actually make a difference, I decided it was time to put up or shut up.

Best. Decision. Ever.

The work itself isn’t glamorous, as it mostly consists of making photocopies. And by mostly, I mean all I do is make photocopies. And after my first time, I almost never came back. Between learning the copier, correcting and preventing paper jams, figuring out the toner, getting paper cuts, and getting interrupted by teachers who need to make emergency copies on the spot, it’s a bit overwhelming at first.

I guess the rational part of my mind knew all those copies had to be made by someone, and that someone is usually the teacher. But as a parent, all the worksheets just magically appear in Will’s backpack. It’s kind of like sausage in that regard — I don’t really think about how it’s made. I’m just glad it’s there.

Well let me tell you something folks, I’ve now seen how the sausage is made and how much time it takes to produce. And frankly, I’m not sure how teachers have the time to, you know, actually TEACH with all the damn copies they have to make. Needless to say, I’m happy to take some of the copying and stapling duties off the plates of teachers if it means they can spend more time instructing students.

And speaking of the classroom, that’s by far my favorite part.

I get a sneak peek into Will’s classroom during the day. On Valentine’s Day, I even got to chaperone a little party they had. I get to put faces with all the stories Will brings home about his classmates. I get to see the classroom Will describes in vivid detail. But most importantly, I get to be his hero during this unbelievably brief time that hero status can be achieved just by showing up to school to make a few copies.

When he sees me walk in his face lights up and he’s proud that I’m there. All the other kids rush over and greet me by my new name — “Will’s Dad.” I’m not Aaron or Mr. Gouveia or even Mr. G. Just Will’s Dad, which might sound like a loss of identity, but is actually anything but.

Will leans his head against me and whispers “I’m glad you’re here.” The other kids recognize me and wave. Some of them show me their new Patriots shirts, others have bracelets they’ve made, and I’m always besieged by play date requests for them to play with Will. I know almost all of their names now, and I’m a tiny part of their routine. And it’s glorious.

When I’m done making my copies, they’re usually at gym or music so the classroom is empty. I drop the gargantuan pile of copies on the teacher’s desk and then I grab a sticky note. Every week I write a message to my son and leave it on his desk as a surprise when he gets back. I tell him I love him and I sign it the same way.

“Love,
Will’s Dad”

If you can find the time, volunteer at your child’s school. It helps the teacher, your kids will love it, and you’ll find joy in a completely unexpected place. And if you need help with the copier, just holler.

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