What I Did On My Summer Vacation.

I have never really been a fan of summer. Doubly so, since I have lived in Florida for the past couple of years. (I try not to stereotype, but there’s really no reason for anyone to actually live in Florida. Sure, a fraction of the general population leaves something to be desired, but nothing is helped by the fact that the Sun is essentially trying to kill everything that attempts to go outside between the months of March and December).

What also doesn’t help my general dislike of summer is the fact that it’s been designated as the time of year for vacations, as well as for kids to think that they should get a break from life. I’ve also thought that those two factors were absolute bullshit. Vacations should happen whenever it is appropriate and economically convenient for the person or people involved.

As far as kids thinking that they’re entitled to a break, fuck that noise. My kids don’t get a break. Every year, my wife and I have made a point of securing workbooks for our children for the grade that they would be entering in, in the fall. You know what? They have been consistently ‘better off’ for it. I’m not Hitler about it. They devote an hour a day and they also help out around the house. Other than that, they are generally free to do what they want as long as no one, and nothing, dies.

For the record, 2 out of the 3 have maintained ‘honor roll’ status (the 3rd has been a solid ‘B’ student). Point of fact? When I was a kid, my parents thought I should be able to “enjoy” my summer and “do what I want”. The following school year was always an educational nightmare for me because I retained little of what I learned the year before and no one was making sure that I was doing anything intellectually stimulating (defined as, the opposite of what I was doing: watching reruns of My Favorite Martian and playing endless hours of video games).

I digress. 

This past summer, through an unusual, but expected set of circumstances, my wife, a Captain in the USAF, received orders to relocate herself and her family to Japan.

That’s right: I am now littering the Internet from the Land of the Rising Sun. (Fun fact: while I haven’t confirmed this, I’m fairly certain that Japan is referred to as that because THE SUN RISES AT 4 IN THE FUCKING MORNING DURING THE SUMMER). Suffice it to say, there will be more writings about Japan, our journey here, and the usual drek I tend to prattle on about.

In sum, I will leave you with how I found out that we were moving to Japan. You may get a chuckle out of it, or it may confirm what you all ready know about me (that I’m an idiot). Regardless this is EXACTLY what happened. 

One day in the kitchen of my former, Florida abode, I was using our food processor to get down on some dinner prep before I had to pick up my kids from school. After I had cleaned up and was ready to leave, I go to put the food processor away and the damn thing slipped out of my hands and hit the floor. Rather than try to save it or perhaps catch it on the rebound, I got the fuck out of the way because it’s heavy as hell and can easily break a foot when it is in a gravitationally dangerous state.

After I regained composure, I surveyed the damage.

This is a present-day photo

Naturally, I was sweating bullets because my wife had bought this a while back. The name plate was popped out and, as you can see, there was a massive crack in the housing. My first thought was, “Welp: I’m fucked. There’s no way that this is going to work”. After I checked the remaining integrity of the base and popped the name plate back in, I plugged it back in to see how bad it was.

It worked perfectly fine. I switched out multiple attachments and it was still fine. My next move, I thought, was fairly obvious. 

I packed up everything nice and neat, put it in the one cabinet that she’d never go in, and buried it under other kitchen gadgets. All of this was done, thanks to the thought “I’ll blame it on the movers the next time we move”.

Five minutes later, I got a text from my wife saying that we were moving to Japan this summer.

My adventures in discipling my childrens. Part 2.

I think that at this point, I should note that I do not enjoy discipling my children.

It would be nice if we all lived in a world where everyone respected everyone else and we were all aware of how our actions affected the lives of those in our immediate environment.

Sadly, that is not the case at all. 

From the moment we escape our mother’s womb, like the trapped miner’s that we all are, our curiosity is what guides us. For good reason, too: it’s the only tool we have at our disposal that helps us learn.

FACT: babies drop things because they want to know if the thing in their immediate reach makes a sound. 

Ever have that happen to you? A baby is in the high chair and the little fucker knocks all of it’s toys on the floor. Then, like a good Samaritan, you pick the stuff up for it because you think it’s an accident. Then it turns it into a game that you get sucked into every 5 minutes? Good times. 

Eventually the kid(s) get older but that curiosity is still there. It’s just evolved into a version boundary extension and seeing what they can get away with. This is the time of their life when their identity really starts to take shape.

More often than not, the kid will show an interest in things that you, as a parent, can completely get behind (e.g sports, music, being romantically interested in stuff, etc.). Sometimes, they’ll do a lot of stupid shit that makes you, as a parent, really wonder if they do share your genetics. And on occasion, they’ll do something so astoundingly dumb, that you, as a parent, will feel like a failure.

If you are reading this and you don’t have kids, or maybe you are on the fencepost, please know that it’s not as scary as it sounds. It’s just part of the ride that you bought the ticket for. 

Last week, I posted a document that I drew up for my eldest because she got her ass grounded this past summer. I made a point of spelling everything out for her because she had gotten grounded before and the groundings never really went anywhere: no conclusion was reached, she didn’t really seem to care about the effect of what she did, did to those around her, closure was nowhere to be found. It was just a waste of time for everyone.

Also, I welcomed the opportunity because I wanted to write up something where I got to use the word “redacted” and have footnotes. 

In sum, the grounding worked to an extent. There’s been hiccups since the actual grounding, but nothing monumental.

She understands how her behavior affects everyone else. She understands that when things build up like they did, she needs to do something positive about it. That’s why the grounding was as structured as it was and why it included all of the holistic things and educational things that it did. In the grand scheme of things, I was trying to arm her with weapons that she could use when she felt life start to close in around her.

Grounding your child is a tightrope all parents have to walk. If there is one thing that I would like to impart it’s this: keeping your balance is easy. Just make sure you leave as much of your own opinions out of the grounding as possible. The grounding is about your child and what’s been informing their behavior. Not why the kid won’t fit into the box that you made for them inside of your head. 

My adventures in disciplining my childrens. Part 1.

It’s bound to happen eventually: your kid(s) is going to do something stupid and you, as the responsible adult, are going to have to deal with it. 

We, as a society, are past the days of beatings. That’s right: the only tool left at your disposal is ‘the grounding’. 

One day, I had had enough of my eldest child’s shit. (She’s 11, a cheerleader, and self-identifies as a pre-teen. I can’t help but pucker at the thought of that previous sentence).  

What follows is the result of said shit. 

In the following days, I will post what the results from this particular grounding as well as what I have concluded from grounding my child.

**********

Grounding of [REDACTED]: July 28, 2014

 

[REDACTED], on this day, you have been grounded, not for a specific reason, but for scores of reasons, including but not limited to: arguing over petty things, talking back, bullying, being bossy, being selfish, showboating[1], not listening, being rude, fishing for compliments[2], not acting your age[3], being ungrateful, etc.

SECTION 1.

 

In the days of the dinosaur, children were grounded for one specific reason. Example: a child did something wrong and was punished for it (generally speaking, things were taken away, privileges revoked… Basically, the parent decided the punishment that fit the crime). As your grounding is a little more complex in nature, you will be un-grounded when you have eliminated all traces of the items mentioned in the previous paragraph. If it takes forever, then that is on you.

SECTION 2. 

 

On a daily basis, you will be expected to:

  1. Write in a journal. Daily. YOU WILL NOT: draw in this journal, color in this journal, or do something stupid with it[4]. In the beginning, you will address each point in paragraph one as your journal entries (ex. One daily journal entry will address being rude. You will write down everything that comes to your mind about that; why you are rude, why people are rude, what the end result of someone being rude is, so on and so forth).  After you have addressed all points, you will still be expected to free write in your journal. Daily. Failure to follow this guideline will result in a deepening of the trouble that you are all ready in. 
  2. Meditate. Daily. For no less than 15 mintues a day. You will sit comfortably in your room, with your eyes closed, door open and you will breathe deeply. You will listen to the sound of your breath and you will focus on your breathing. If your mind wanders, that’s ok: just bring your focus back to your breathing. Failure to follow this guideline will result in a deepening of the trouble that you are all ready in. 
  3. Keep your room, and your person[5] clean and organized. You will no longer spend hours upon hours cleaning your room because “you didn’t feel like” putting things away nor will you skip on personal hygiene because you “were in a rush”.  Failure to follow this guideline will result in a deepening of the trouble that you are all ready in. 
  4. Practice the things that you need to practice for cheer tech. This includes, but is not limited to: warming up properly, and working on your cheer tech moves. Upon completion of said warm up and cheer tech moves, you will then complete two rounds of “7 minutes fitter” and one round of “Simply Yoga” (all ready downloaded!).  A word about “Simply Yoga”, for the first week, it will be allowed that you only complete the 20 minutes segment. After the first week, you will be expected to vary your yoga routine (ex. A day of 40 minutes, a day of 20, a day of 60 minutes, etc). If you cannot perform a specific pose modify it in a way that will allow you to until you can complete said pose. Failure to follow this guideline will result in a deepening of the trouble that you are all ready in. 

YOU WILL NOT ALLOW THE COMPLETION OF THESE FOUR TASKS TO INTERFERE WITH THE DAILY OPERATION OF THE HOUSEHOLD. THIS CAN BE DEFINED AS A PARENT ASKING YOU TO DO SOMETHING AROUND THE HOUSE AND YOU SAYING THAT YOU HAVEN’T COMPLETED ANY OF THE PREVIOUS FOUR POINTS AS A MEANS TO GET OUT OF WHATEVER THE PARENT ASKED YOU TO DO. Failure to follow this guideline will result in a deepening of the trouble that you are all ready in.

SECTION 3. 

 

Upon daily completion of the previous four points, you will be allowed to:

  1. Create art.
  2. Read for pleasure.
  3. Use your tablet for informative measures[6]
  4. Fraternize with [REDACTED] and [REDACTED].
  5. Listen to music that you wouldn’t normally listen to. [7]
  6. Sit outside.
  7. Watch documentaries (not reality television. Ex: River Monsters) on Netflix. YOU WILL NOT DOCUMENTARY HOP (ex: start one documentary and then get bored with it, moving on to another one, etc).
  8. Read before bedtime.
  9. (Twice a week) Skype with the [REDACTED] for 30 minutes.  YOUR GROUNDING IS ABSOLUTELY NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS. The limit of twice a week is set in hopes that you will actually converse with the members of said family and not resort to “WAH. PANCAKES”.
  10. Play your DS.

YOU DO HAVE TO ASK TO DO THESE THINGS.

IN SUMMARY.

While you may feel that you have the weight of the world on your shoulders now, rest assured, there are plenty of children in the world who have it a whole lot worse than you ever did, or ever will, for that matter.

The time has been taken to put this grounding in writing to eliminate any doubt of what can and cannot be done as well as to fully address the problem(s) at hand.

This grounding will not be reversed overnight. Nor will it be reversed in a week.  The daily completion of points 1 through 4 (in SECTION 2) will aid you in your journey.  As stated in SECTION1, it’s on you now. You have to do the work.

 


[1] Defined as: “HEY LOOK AT ME! AREN’T I GREAT ISN’T THIS THING THAT I CAN DO WONDERFUL??!??”

[2] Defined as: “I did (this thing): WASN’T THAT NICE OF ME?”

[3] Defined as: “WAH! PANCAKES!”

[4] Defined as: damaging the journal in any way, or writing in larger than normal handwriting in an attempt to go finish the journal quickly.

[5] Defined as: not trying to grow a beard in your armpits, nor having “Michael Jackson” legs.

[6] Defined as: looking stuff up for the expansion of your mind, listening to podcasts (provided that they are appropriate in nature), etc.

[7] Defined as: everything that you wouldn’t hear on 96.5

Getting Your Kid to Shed Their Training Wheels.

That’s not a metaphor. I’m being literal.

When it comes to teaching a kid to ride their bike, I have found that the only thing that will help you (and your child) is having a healthy understanding of your child’s personality (Are they an adventuresome hooligan? Or are they someone you’ll eventually have to kick out of your house when they hit they’re late 20’s?), consistency (NO! YOU AND JUNIOR CANNOT TAKE A DAY OFF FROM LEARNING HOW TO RIDE!), repetition (See previous parenthetical) AND ONE, METRIC FUCK-TON OF PATIENCE.

Preamble.

When it comes to determining your approach to getting your kid road-ready, you need to be a bit choosy about the method that you adopt.

Some people will tell you to take away one of their training wheels (like how I learned) so they can work on finding their center of balance. The only foreseeable problem with this is that you run the risk of your kid milking the fuck out of jettisoning the last training wheel. I have vague recollections of doing this when I was this age and I sure as shit remember my son pulling this on me as well.

Other people will tell you to fuck all that. They’ll tell you to take the kid (and the bike…) for a drive to the nearest hill. Then they’ll tell you to pitch both training wheels, give the kid a speech about learning to ‘nut-up’, and then assemble kid on top of bike and pitch them screeching down the hill. Here’s the problem with this method: Most kids aren’t dumb enough to fall for this. They also have large and long memory banks. In the event that they do take the bait, they will kill you in your sleep when they are 16 because of the time you told them to ‘nut-up’ right before they got a compound fracture because you were being an asshole. 

Then there are those of you out there who like tools and gimmicks like ‘coasting bikes’ (No shit: I have seen infomercials selling a training bike that  doesn’t have any pedals. It’s basically a scooter minus the ‘standing bit’. Seriously, why waste the money when you can just take the pedals of off your Tater-Tots trike??? )  or those bikes ‘half-bikes’ that attach to the parent’s bike (I’m assuming the purpose of those is so the kid can get an idea of what bike riding is?).

What My Kids Put Me Through When I Taught Them How to Ride.

I don’t believe that there is a ‘right’ or ‘correct’ way to teach your kid how to ride their bike.

When the eldest was learning how to ride, I was working all of the time so I missed out on that. With the youngest (and smartest of the three) I barely had to do anything. There wasn’t any one training wheel stuff or removing her pedals so she can learn how to coast. All I had to do was go out there with her and give her a shove every so often until she got the hang of it. The middle child, he was such a glorious pain in the ass about learning how to ride his bike. 

For the record, my son’s personality has always been that of a little old man. To wit, he knows what he likes as well as doesn’t like, and he fucking hates change. (I’m the same way to a degree).

I took off one training wheel, I removed the pedals and taught him how to coast, I put the pedals back on (but not the training wheels) and I spent a lot of time walking around our neighbor hunched over from being ordered (by my progeny) to not let go of his handlebars while we did our lap around the block.

Eventually I won this battle. The day came when he acknowledged that he didn’t need me as much when it came to riding his bike. In order to ensure this concession, I told him (in so many words) that if we were to leave the house on foot, he had to ride his bike.

What the ‘Learning How to Ride a Bike’ Resources Are Lacking.

The most important thing you can teach your kid about riding their bike is how to fall off of it and not get hurt. 

Some, if not all bike riding resources available to parents seem to skimp on the fact that your Tater Tot will fall down and go boom when they are first starting out. While that’s not helpful at all, it’s also not surprising. Kid’s don’t like getting hurt anymore than their asshole parents do. 

What worked the best for me when I was teaching the boy how to ride was figuring out which foot was his dominate foot and then lowering his seat all the way down. If their seat is as low as it can go, then you are basically minimizing their chances of injury (a selling point in the event that your kid is being a bit of a pussy about the whole thing…) and if you know what foot is the dominate foot, then you also know which foot they are more likely to use in order to avoid doing a face plant.

In Conclusion.

Don’t be one of those assholes who makes a fuss every time your Tot falls down and gets hurt. Yes, you should show some concern. But it shouldn’t go any further than that.

In the event that you are one of those parents who fusses every time your kid gets hurt: Nice going asshole! You’re setting a bad example!

The only thing that a kid gets from a parent who fusses every time said kid falls down and goes boom is the idea that physical pain is something to be feared and in some instances it can be used to get attention from the parent. No, kids don’t articulate it exactly like that, but it’s the truth.

People get hurt. Old, young, poor health, good health: the sooner you teach your kid that, the sooner they’ll accept it and make it a part of their life.

In the end, what will work for both you and your soon to be bike rider is consistency, repetition, AND A FUCKTON OF PATIENCE. The more patience the both of you have, the easier it will be. 

Why your spawn should be cleaning up after itself as soon as it is able to walk. 

Way back in the day, before I entered dinosaur-dom, I remember hearing peers and certain family members make mention of the fact that they didn’t have to clean their room (or anything else in the house for that matter) because their mother did it for them.

Keep in mind that the general tenor for families back then was that both parents worked. That’s right: not only did mom have to have a part time job, but she was still in charge of making sure that the homestead didn’t go to pot.

I knew then, as I know now, that that is an incredible load of bullshit. No kid, anywhere on the face of the earth, should be exempt from cleaning up after themselves and pulling their own weight around the house. The only thing that a parent accomplishes when they absolve their child from cleaning or any other household duty/responsibility is the creation of an entitled shit who expects things to be handed to them and will most likely live a large portion of their life in this state.

I’m not advocating whip-cracking. I’m not saying that your children’s lives should play out like the first act of Cinderella. Or that your children should identify with the drama Roots.

What I’m getting at is that you, as a parent, are solely responsible for making sure that your child is armed with the knowledge that they can, and should help out around the house. 

Want to make it easy on yourself? Start them off young. 

For my kids it started off with simple things: putting away toys and picking up around the house. Eventually they graduated to dusting and wiping stuff down. Vacuuming eventually came to all of them despite the fact that we lost a lamp or two during the learning process.

By the time that they were 8, they were doing their own laundry. Yes, 8. They loved it.

This might make you pucker at the thought of having Little Johnny or Susie Shitpants do their own laundry. It shouldn’t: If you are with them every step of the way and you are teaching them correctly, your child ought to be able to do their own laundry. Look at it this way: if they’re doing it right, it’s one less thing you have to  worry about.

For the record, I started them on their laundry when they were 8 because they were at a decent height in order to get clothes from the bottom of washer and into the dryer.

Since my family and I have relocated to Florida, I have taken to using a chore board. It doesn’t waste paper and it establishes culpability (e.g. they can’t “loose” something stuck to the fucking wall). 



It’s nothing fancy. Just a cheap picture frame I picked up from the local department store.
Also for the record, I typically stick with one chore. As barometers I use the collective behavior of the group and what may be going on during the week. Summer time is a little different since they have “so much time” on their hands.

In sum, keep in mind that raising a child is a process. When it comes to showing them a new skill or teaching them the proper way to clean ‘a thing’, it will take some time for them to get it as right as you want them to get it. They are also going to cut corners. Kids are sneaky as fuck.

Also please do the world a favor: make sure you are creating an individual who will contribute to society, not drag it back to the stoneage.

When my kids learn to drive.

Today’s child doesn’t really understand that driving an automobile used to be a privilege. Given the commonality of cars these days, who can blame them?

One of the things that grows from this commonality is a new level of impatience. People in general seldom drive for pleasure like they used to and when they do drive, their fellow drivers aren’t going fast enough to suit their needs. As a result of this impatience, car accidents happen more frequently. If you need evidence, google ‘auto detailers near me‘.

 When privilege become expectation.

The last automobile accident I was in happened when I was 14. My father was driving. I was in the front passenger seat. We had just crossed a major intersection on a two-lane road that our neighborhood was built around. Approaching us was a long line of cars, at least 5 deep.

I don’t remember what the holdup was for the oncoming traffic.

It could have been some old bitty, nothing but two hands on the steering wheel and a faint wisp of purplish white hair where the face should have been. I never knew. I was staring out the window, bored, like everyone normally is at that age.

My father’s attempts at bonding with me usually culminated in long car rides. Presumably this was due to the fact that it’s awfully hard for someone in their teens to ignore the person behind the wheel given the fact that the person behind the wheel is in total control of the environment.

As we began to pass the cars, that’s when I heard my father swear. At that age, I had heard my father swear before but this time, there was a hint of helplessness to it.

“You fucker“. 

I looked up at him and then through the windshield. Another car from the back of the throng was hurtling towards us. Neither of us were wearing seat belts.

Avoidance wasn’t an option.

The oncoming car didn’t have the chance to accelerate fast enough to do any real damage to us. The only souvenir my father had from that event was a knot high on his forehead and a totaled car. I had managed to escape with some bruises and some cuts on my hands because I was fast enough to put them up to protect myself from the windshield.

When my kids learn to drive.

Every kid expects their parent to teach them how to drive. With how common cars are and how glorified they are (The Fast and Furious franchise), it’s basically in their DNA by now. The idea of control, the controlling of a vehicle, of the fact that you are in charge of a destination hits all of the really gushy parts of their little lizard brains.

I’m not looking forward to the days when I have to teach my shit-heads what it really means to be behind the wheel of an automobile.

It’s not because I think that all kids (even mine) are dumb and reckless. It’s because I don’t want to ponder how they might feel or react to their fellow drivers who could potentially be less than courteous. It’s because, if they get into an accident (which might happen) that it won’t be due to the fact that they were being careless. And, it’s because I can only hope they will have the balls to call me when they know that they are too fucked up to drive. 

The bottom line is that other drivers, even you, dear reader, and even me, are assholes. The thing that I have been driving into my children’s brains since they have been able to interpersonally relate to people outside of the family, is that you can’t change an asshole: you can only give them a wide berth. 

 

A Question of Ethics.

One.

I thought we were fucked for sure.

It was the weekend and we were on our way home from grocery shopping. I was driving; my son and my youngest daughter were in the backseats. We went to the grocery store the same way every time and we came home from the grocery store the same way every time.

The path we took was by way of a main road that had a speed limit of 35 miles per hour. It traversed a relatively residential area that was perforated here and there with schools, an office park, and wooded areas.

The wooded areas weren’t substantial. They always struck me as aesthetic choices made by the developers to give the people in the neighborhood something better to look at other than the house next to them.

As I was driving, I saw this “thing” burst out of a line of bushes by the office park. These bushes were roughly 60 feet ahead of me and lined “the slow lane”.

I was driving in the “slow lane”.

I have had this type of thing happen to me before: I get behind the wheel and I’ll see something familiar happen outside of the car or I’ll pass by something familiar but it takes my brain a couple of seconds to catch up. I blame the hypnotic nature of driving. The wheels rolling on the road, the sound of traffic outside of the car, the chatter from your passengers or the radio: It’s a perfect recipe for letting your mind wander.

“What the hell is that?” I said.

Initially, I thought it was a dog. Someone’s dog had made a jailbreak, found it’s way to the office park and then got spooked. As we got progressively closer, I see that it’s too big to be a dog and it’s moving way too fast.

Our car is still cruising at 35 MPH. Two seconds later my brain finally catches up with my eyes. It’s a deer. It’s coming straight for us and I know that this is going to be a bad car accident.

(At this point in time I was 33 years old. I have been a licensed driver since I was 17. At no point have I been in a car accident where I was behind the wheel. Not to mention, I wouldn’t know what in the hell to do if that was the case).

I blink really hard just to make sure that I wasn’t seeing things. It didn’t do any good: there’s still a deer on the same trajectory, muscles rippling, flying at us in full gallop.

I had a car next to me, a car behind me and a car behind the car that was next to me. There’s no way out of this.

Two.

Our responsibilities as humans to other species are hopelessly bogged down in what you believe ethically.

Case in point: it has been common practice in Afghanistan to have surgeons train on pigs. These aren’t the fetal pigs that we all had to deal with in Biology 101. These are live pigs. After intentionally wounding the pig, the pig is brought to the surgeon and the surgeon patches it up. The reasoning is that if the surgeon is able to stabilize the pig’s condition and patch it up successfully, then soldiers as well as the Afghan people will benefit (Rosenthal, 2007).

There seems to be two schools of thought with regards to the ethical responsibilities of animals: human centered ethics and life centered ethics.

With human centered ethics it’s really a case of ‘what’s good for the goose is good for the gander’. Hence, intentionally wounding Ms. Piggy. Additionally, human centered ethics bolsters it’s way of thinking by proposing that it’s our responsibility to care for the world (even through ambiguous means) so that our preservation is galvanized.

Conversely, life centered ethics proposes that everything (yes, everything) has a right to life. Even bugs (Environmental Ethics, 2008). While this may seem a bit odd and silly, it should be taken into consideration that it is a part of human nature to dominate our environment. Even if it is in a small way, consciously or unconsciously.

As it can be seen, not only do our ethical responsibilities rely on what we believe; they also rely on where we draw the line.

Three.

I slowed down as much as I could. Just when impact seemed imminent, the deer broke hard to it’s right and crashed head first into the car that was next to me. The pin-wheeling mass of flesh landed directly in front of my car in a twitching heap.

The worst thing about the whole situation wasn’t having to explain to my kids that they don’t save deer in this situation; it was the awkward sixty-seconds that passed before I realized that the person with whom the deer collided was only going to drive off.

I was agog.

A deer crashes into your car and you’re just going to drive off?

I’m sure that it is a hell of a thing to have happen to someone. Maybe this person didn’t have their cell phone on them. Maybe they didn’t have the faintest idea of what to do when you hit a deer. Their departure from the scene of the accident is understandable to a degree.

The people in the other car were headed the same way my children and I were headed. I knew that I couldn’t sit there and hold up traffic. Something had to be done.

After getting their license plate number, I pulled into the first parking lot that I could find to gather my wits.

Animals get hit by cars all of the time. It’s intense to see a living thing get taken out by a man made object and have it slowly die in front of you.

I knew I needed to be responsible. How would I feel 30 years from now when my son is my age and he brings this up as one of his earliest memories and I didn’t do anything? 

(For the record, he brought it up a month ago).

I called the cops. I told them what had happened. I told them where it had happened and I told them, in essence who was responsible for it.

Don’t get the wrong idea: I’m not the “deer police” nor am I an animal rights activist. I am a man that saw something happen that most people won’t see nor will they have happen to them. As a responsible adult and a responsible father I needed to draw the line and show my kids the difference between humans and animals.

Sources Consulted

Rosenthal, Susan. (2007). Animal Rights or Human Responsibilities. Retrieved from http://susanrosenthal.com/articles/animal-rights-or-human-responsibilities

Environmental Ethics. (2008). Retrieved from http://www.itstheplanet.co.uk/environmental_ethics.html

Accidents happen.

As a parent you should not be operating under the illusion that your children are perfect little angels who are whip smart and have nothing but respect for you. 

‘Smarts’ and ‘respect’ are both learned intangibles. Your children are people. More importantly they are people that you brought into the world and whom you are solely responsible for. If they are lacking in anything, there is the slim chance that it is the result of a genetic deficiency. Short of that, who they are and how they behave are the direct result of your own interaction with them. 

With that said, as a parent you should also be operating under the idea that some days are just going to go tits up. 

It might happen at the end of the day. It might be a slow burn throughout the whole day that results in you reenacting the ‘bathtub scene’ from Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind. It might even happen before you get out of bed. 

A week ago, I was coming home from dropping off the oldest child at her gymnastics class. As I was turning onto my street I received this Skype message from my son: 

  

That’s no exaggeration
: I was turning onto the street when I got the message. 

For the record, my son is 9 years old. His little sister is 6. In the event that someone somewhere reading this should get their panties in a bunch given their young age, here’s a few facts for you

  1. We live on government property. What that means is that our neighborhood is beyond safe. 
  2. My children are the epitome of responsibility within their respective age groups. While that may be a bit presumptious, it is a fact. I know it’s a fact because my wife and I have been imbuing them with responsibility since they could demonstrate critical thinking. 
  3. Children are never ‘too young’ or ‘too old’ to learn the values of responsibility. 

FYI the ‘red stretchy thing’ he was referring to was an exercise band that someone left out and did not put away. Also, the tv wasn’t an old ‘tube’ television with the rabbit ears wrapped in tin foil that only works if your little sister with the braces is in the room touching it. It was the family television, a 38″ Vizio. 

Of course, I was a bit peeved. Firstly, I wasn’t gone that long. 25 minutes tops. Secondly, I’m a notorious tight wad. While my family is by no means ‘poor’ we certainly aren’t wiping our asses with dollar bills. Televisions aren’t cheap. 

I get out of the car and enter my home not knowing how bad the damage was. My son immediately began to inform me about the message he sent me. I cut him off mid-sentence with “I ALL READY KNOW” and I survey the damage. 

  
I was hopeful. “That doesn’t look so bad,” I thought. Then I turned the TV on. 

I’m not going to show you what it looks like turned on. It still works, the screen is just fucked and essentially beyond repair. 

It was an accident. I knew that before I walked in the house. I knew that before I surveyed the damage. I tallied the collective ‘accident report’ of all 3 of my kids immediately after reading my son’s message. I could still count the previous accidents on one hand. 

Sometimes, stupid things happen regardless of your age. 

Them not being able to watch their favorite shows, or play Minecraft, would not have driven the lesson home. There’s a time and a place for horse-play. Specifically and preferrably when they are not latch-keyed.  

After my blood pressure normalized, I made sure that they were fully aware of the ramifications of what they had done. They knew how much the television was, how long it took their mother to  work for the money to buy the television, and how their little faux pas was disrespectful to their mother (e.g. If they consciously knew all of that before they picked up the exercise band, it wouldn’t have happened). 

Accident or not, they still got grounded. As the saying goes, the punishment needed to fit the crime. I gave them reasonable parameters for the grounding and told them that they would get ungrounded if they stuck to the parameters and illustrated that they learned their lesson. 

My son was ungrounded after 2 days. The youngest took a week (which is understandable because she’s only 6). Since then they have been on the straight and narrow. 

Have a lesson-filled horror story? Sally forth in the comments, please!

In Conclusion (Potty Training Finale).

Like the previous two children, when The Wife and I had our third, and final child, we didn’t know what to expect. It was great news and perfect timing (there’s only three years difference between each child). We were happy.

How can you know what to expect, really? Not to get all hippy dippy and weird, but everyone kind of is like a snow flake. Doubly so, for babies. They may seem like one-trick ponies, what with all of the neediness and crying and noise. But even with something as simple as teaching the kid to shit in the toilet and not their hand, your kid’s personality will shine through, every time.

Parents don’t consciously realize this (at least I didn’t…) until hindsight kicks in. No one is to blame if this is the case. Parenting is fucking hard. All of the time. Even when you think things have plateaued out and are hunky dory, parenting is still hard.

So when Little Bear was born, The Wife and I were blown away. Why? Because everything was easy with this fucking kid. Feeding, playing, exercising, listening… Everything.

And what’s more, she was happy. All. Of the fucking. Time. There was a good streak there when she would wake up with a smile on her face. We weren’t doing anything funny or exciting to get the kid out of bed, we were just waking her up. And she’d wake up like that for anyone.

Then one day the kid started reading. Out loud on her own. We didn’t prompt her. No one (to my knowledge) explained what the alphabet was and how it made words and how the words were also seen as well as heard.

Little Bear just figured that shit out all on her own. 

It didn’t take long for The Wife and I to realize that we had a bit of a genius  in our midst.

 

Eventually, Little Bear needed to stop shitting in the woods, as it were.

To recap her siblings similar journey:

  • Thing One liked to wait until the last minute before she Jackson- Pollocked her Underoo’s.
  • Thing Two was the Ninja Gaiden or Shinobi, if you will, of poo-hiding.

Much like her sister Thing One, Little Bear was incredibly hands-off when it came to peeing in her potty chair. At her young age, with her voracious intellect she knew that if she needed to ‘make water’ her little pink potty chair that was by the side door (going outside) was more than happy to catch for her.

Getting her to empty the damn thing was always hard. There were more than a few times when she’d use it without our knowing and then a day or two later things would be kind of foul smelling. Hence, my placement by the side door.

You’re goddamn right I dumped it outside. As long as there weren’t any Poop Snakes hiding in the Pink Throne, what the hell did it matter?

Also like her older sister, Pooping was always a hassle. The difference between the two was that Little Bear held on to her stinky-ness until she had the mid section of a malnourished Somalian child. (As I write this, I still don’t fully understand it. Everyone poops. Just because you’re a female doesn’t mean that your street cred diminishes every time someone learns that you don’t actually poot talcum powder).

To date, Little Bear’s inability to be reasonable and poop daily was only remedied within the past year and a half. ‘How did you fix that?’, you’re undoubtedly wondering.

When I would notice the tell-tale Somalian belly sign, I’d ask her in a calm and passive voice, ‘When’s the last time you pooped?’. If she started to hem and/or haw, I’d tackle her, yell out ‘POOP MASSAGE!!!’ and I would start rubbing her distended belly like a wad of dough.

Cruel and unusual? Hell no: The kid would be overcome with the giggles every time. Result? A svelte looking Little Bear the next day.

In Sum

In short, you can consult any source that you want. The bottom line is that if you want your kid to use the john you need to do three things:

  1. Learn how to read them. Kids aren’t any different than grown adults: they telegraph the fuck out of most emotions.
  2. Lead by example. That’s right, they need to watch you go. Creepy at first but it’s no different than using a public restroom. Trade Secret? If it’s just you and the kid at home, leave the bathroom door open when you go. They’ll wander in if they want. Just be sure to give the Significant Other a ‘head’s up’.
  3. Set a routine. The success rate of any child doing anything at all is dependent on the routine that the parent(s) set up for the child. Reading, learning to walk, learning to do anything for that matter.. Want your kid to use the potty sooner, rather than later? SET UP A MOTHERFUCKIN’ ROUTINE. 

The Horrors of Potty Training part 2.

Today we pick up where I left off the other day when I was regaling you about the time my Eldest Child was being potty trained, and building upon the fact that whatever you may read from a parenting book, your child will prove your wrong.

My son was no less difficult when it came to sitting down on the toilet. 

Boys, in general, need a different approach when it comes to toilet training. Again, I’m sure you’re thinking “another one for the No Shit, Sherlock file”. Stick with me.

From what I remember, Middle Child didn’t trust the process at first. That is not to say that we didn’t educate him. I can unequivocally state that it was impressed upon him that the diapers would eventually have to go (and that they would be replaced with big boy pants) and that white thing next to the bathtub that his mother, father, and sister sat on from time to time would handle all of the pee pee and poo poo he could put into it when he was ready to break from his potty chair.

Additionally, Middle Child had relatively the same support group that Eldest Child did. What he had going in his favor was that his mother and father were a bit older and a bit wiser about the entire process of getting a child house-broken.

What kept Middle Child from taking and using the throne sooner rather than later was his complete and utter aversion to change. Yes, that’s right: At the ripe, old age of TWO he was a little old man. Seriously, he’s still like that to some extent (he’s nine years old, now).

When it came to him pissing himself, everything’s a bit foggy for me. I think I managed to get him to think about not doing that by way of letting him pee in the kitchen sink. Relax prudes: it’s not like it was a sink full of dishes. It was an empty sink.

As I remember it, one day after work, I had finished the dishes and Middle Child was next to me. Why and what he was doing is completely lost to me. In all likelihood, he probably was doing to pee pee dance.

“Do you want to pee in the sink?”, I asked him.

“UH HUH” he replied.

So I helped him out with a kitchen chair and he mortared himself so he would have full range of the kitchen sink and hey presto! The kid managed to have a dry evening. We didn’t make a habit of this and quickly transitioned him to peeing in the toilet by the end of the week.

Middle Child was no different from Eldest Child when it came to pooping. Again, maybe it had to do with the fact that it was a weird and potentially horrible smelling sensation for a miniature human to go through. I have no clue what their problems were. But when it came to pooping in his pants, Middle Child didn’t give a fuck. 

Unlike his older sister, Middle Child doesn’t have a catastrophic poo story attached to his legend. However, I do remember him being a bit of a magician when it came to him and his poo.

Many times, I’d poke my head in the bedroom he shared with his sister and he’d be standing there, next to his toy train table, watching Thomas the Train in his underoos (which would be sullied by the bulky, brown tail he had grown between my previous and current check ups).

Other times, he’d just hide it. Literally, he’d remove said poo from Under the train table, under the bed, didn’t matter: Why he never just put it in the toilet is beyond me.

Things got to the point between Middle Child and his mother where he was forced to use the potty one evening. There was no “laying of hands” on anyone. Wife said, “YOU’RE NOT DOING ANYTHING UNTIL YOU POOP IN THE POTTY”. Or something to that effect.

Credit must be given to Middle Child as he hung in there for better part of any hour. Eventually, he realized that his mother would not be swayed and there was nothing that Dad (me) could do about it. So, he pooped in the potty. And then had a minor freak out as he could not feel his legs.

Thus concludes another episode that supports my claim that anything you can read in a book about child-rearing will be ripped asunder when you eventually get a child of your own.

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