One reason why more men aren’t staying at home with their children.

In my quest to make a blog that would provide a working, and accessible encyclopedia of knowledge that most men should have, I did what I normally do when I am writing about something: I got on my library’s website and I requested every book I could find on any given subject related to men (manhood, staying at home with the kids, fatherhood, etc).

A couple of weeks go by, and the books I had requested started to trickle back in to my house.

One such book had a single sentence in it that, for me, summed up why there hasn’t been a great influx in the amount of men willing to stay at home with their kids. Before I go on, I will not name the author nor will I name the book from whence such quote came. Additionally, I would like to put in print for the record, that I do not enjoy “trolling” someone or generally speaking ill of someone if they aren’t in front of me. Yes, that’s right: I’m that type of asshole.

“Here’s another example illustrating that men have lost the battle of the sexes: a modern hero needs to be able to hold, feed, and change a baby.”

Son of a bitch. This sentence is chock-a-block with things that piss me off!

Please allow me to be the Mr. Peabody to your Sherman as we jump back in the Way Back Machine (aka the Internet/Wikipedia) to find out exactly what the “battle of the sexes” was.

Let us look back 41 years ago. The date was May 13, 1973. The place was Houston, Texas. The “Battle of the Sexes” was in actuality a tennis match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King (Billie being the female, in case you were too lazy to click around…). It was one of a series of three matches that pitted man against woman.

The first match, won by Riggs, made him a household name. As such, the promoters of the next match labeled it a “battle of the sexes” because of all of the dick-wagging that Riggs did prior to the meet between himself and King in Houston.

In Houston, Ms. King took Riggs over her knee and spanked him like the entitled shit he was.

In the years to come, there was rampant speculation that Riggs threw the match on purpose because he was up to his ass in debt to the mob.

Since then the phrase “battle of the sexes” has been misused and abused ad naseum.

Now, lets’ take a look at the last half of that shit-pile of a sentence: “…a modern hero needs to be able to hold, feed, and change a baby”.

Well, yeah, yeah they do. If there smart enough to figure out what to do with their penis when it changes into it’s “active state”, then they ought to be man enough to deal with any of the numerous outcomes that may arise when their ding-a-ling transfers back to it’s passive state.

When men start to think like a “hero” is usually when shit starts to go wrong. Furthermore, heroes don’t acknowledge the fact that they do heroic shit. They live their lives by doing what they think is the right thing.

When a man becomes a father, he should do the right thing and accept the fact that he is responsible for the life that he brought into the world and that he should make it his fucking duty to be the best damn father that he can be.

That includes the basics like holding, feeding, and changing a baby.

Ladies, want your man to stay at home with the kids so you can have “the career”? You better make damn sure he doesn’t believe ignorant things like he’s too good to take care of a child that the two of you brought into the world. 

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

On the need for silliness in a serious world. (NSFW).

As a parent, stay at home parent, working parent, or general denizen of the earth, it’s really easy to fall into the trap of taking everything way too seriously. I battle with this daily.

My home is located in a social desert (e.g. there’s nothing but urban sprawl, shopping malls, and people I wouldn’t want to have anything to do with) and I live in a part of the Continental United States where the sun is a crushing ball of hate 7 months out of the year. As a result of those factors I am alone 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, and I don’t go outside all that much. I’m not complaining, those are just the facts.

When it’s just you and your thoughts, it doesn’t take much for the trap to be sprung and all of a sudden you’re on that slippery slope that is above the chasm of seriousness. One misstep and you’re thinking about all of the shit that you’ve been trying to ignore that other people have perpetrated. This has been my daily battle for the past 2 years.

As such, I always try to amuse myself. 

Prior to my acceptance of being the parent who stays at home I was a member of the retail workforce. One of the jobs that I occupied was that of a field representative of a now defunct company who provided outsourced maintenance to Home Depots.

One day I had a business meeting. Upon the conclusion of said meeting, I was walking my then boss (and his lackey) out to their automobiles. It was a nice spring day and for some reason, the area had seen a spike in the bee population. Seriously, the little fuckers were everywhere.

As we were exiting the building, I was concluding my plan for success and out of the corner of my eye, I spied a bee buzzing it’s way towards my left arm. Without hesitating, I left out a deafening “HYAH!!!”, karate chopped the little fucker, and concluded my spiel.

When I had finished talking, my boss immediately inquired:

In Which, I Talk About My Adventures in Body Hair Grooming.

Shortly after our world had stepped over the threshold into the 2000’s, man-scaping became a ‘thing’. Men, once hairy of forearm, were spotted out in public working on their farmer’s tan. Father’s once ashamed to sit on their front porch on a hot day, without a shirt, could now do so and know what a stiff breeze felt like on their stubbly back. Eventually, the Internet to spoke up and created a new word for these men who folliculy manipulated their appearance (amongst other things). And lo! metro-sexuals were born.

For those who don’t know what that is, the term metrosexual is a now antiquated term used to identify a grown male who takes care of their appearance in the same way that women zealously use beauty products and age defying cleansers. This male, the metrosexual, sexually prefers women, contrary to the implication of their description.

Men began publicly identifying as ‘metro’ when Bravo put Queer Eye for the Straight Guy on the air. Essentially, this was a reality show that took 5 gay men (of some renown) and tasked them with some hapless chump who couldn’t dress himself and lived like a college kid in a dorm room.

Yes, I watched the show regularly for the first couple of seasons. Don’t judge: it was 43 minutes of catty gay men ripping on a man child. What’s not to like about that?

At the height of the metro sexual phenomenon, my older brother and I were regular drinking companions.

On one particular excursion, I had met him at his apartment in Brooklyn, Ohio. For some impossibly stupid reason, my brother needed to change his shirt. He did it really fast, like the fat kid in gym class. But it wasn’t fast enough for me to notice that something was ‘off’.

His torso, from his pierogi shaped chesticles down to his (at the time) 3rd trimester food baby belly was completely nude. No hair. Smooth & shiny.

I didn’t question him at the time (probably because it was his turn to buy) but I did have an immediate thought. Either he’s on estrogen pills or something fucked up is going on here!

  • My father was a hairy man. He wasn’t Robin Williams hairy but he had enough for people to make sweater jokes should he doff his top. As such, my oldest brother (not the drinking buddy) was also hairy. Point of fact: I remember seeing a picture of Oldest Brother from the 1980’s in which he was wearing a sleeveless shirt. The hair on his shoulder/upper arm area was the same length as his moustache. Further, I was (and am) hairy. It only stands to reason that all males from the same parents would be just as hairy as the father, no? My confusion was palpable.

I questioned my brother about the incident recently and this is what he had to say.

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Sidebar!

Yes, I probably did call him a faggot. No, I don’t recall given that this was over 10 years ago. In the event that there might be someone somewhere reading this with bunched panties, I’d like to point out a few things that you may or may not be aware of.

The relationship between brothers, good brothers who keep in touch and have your back when you need it, should be the epitome of tough love. Case in point, if one brother is doing something vaguely effeminate, it is the duty of the other brother to call him out on such behavior. Doubly so, if the reasoning for the effeminate behavior was unsound. Hence, my word choice.

Do I use this word regularly? Nope. Have I in the past? Yep. But not in a harmful way.

My understanding and use of the word fag, as well as gay, or retarded has been in terms to describe something as dumb, boring, or useless. Do I still use those words in the same way? Not really. I have kids who understand the comic value in swearing and name calling. As a result, I have to watch my mouth.

End of Sidebar!

After my brother’s admission and his reasoning (that being, it made him feel less ape-like) I decided to give it a try. Sadly, I thought at the very least a lack of body hair might help my chances with the ladies as I had just come out of a horrible relationship at the time and I was remarkably lonely.

That’s right: the advent of man-scaping officially brought men into the circle of hell that the advertising & cosmetic industries had been holding women hostage in for years. “Do this thing with that product and the mate you want will love you forever”. Such a sad, and fucked up world we live in sometimes, no? I digress…

The first time I did it was on a wintry Sunday night in the laundry room of my mother’s basement. No, not exactly prudent timing on my part as far as the seasonality goes. And yes, I was still living at home at the time. Why? You might be asking… Because it was a lot cheaper than living in some shithole apartment.

There were a few remarkable things I noticed upon completion.

  1. Since I had never done it before, I decided that everything must go from the head down. So I took a pair of clippers and went to town. The drop in temperature from start to finish was bananas! (In the future, I made the strategic choice to doff my fur coat during the height of summer. It makes existing when the temperature is 90+ degrees much more bearable).
  2. Muscles. I had muscles. I had never noticed them given all of the personal foliage.
  3. Genital shaving is a fine art. Additionally, there is no greater pain than shaving your junk and knicking it because you were having a hard time clear-cutting the forest, as it were. And yes, the first time I knicked myself was the first time I was teary-eyed and trying not to land on the laundry room floor.

The next day, everything was amazing. My skin was new. Wearing clothes, watching the muscles in my forearm work, even taking a shower was a new experience. I was convinced that no woman would find me attractive as hairy as I was and I became fanatical about man-scaping for the next 10 years.

My fanaticism reached the point where I would actually take shaving cream and razor to a given area after it had been buzzed with the clippers. I was in pretty deep and it was inescapable. About a year later, advertising company’s were capitalizing on this new trend. Special clippers and lotions were made just for man-scaping.

The bitch of all that nonsense was that I had found someone who loved me for me within a year. Unfortunately, it didn’t dawn on me until almost 7 years into our relationship that I could be doing all sorts of other things with the time I spent shaving myself.

Nowadays, the only shaving I do is my face and my swimsuit area. On occasion, other areas will be groomed but only by my wife’s hand. She enjoys it and it keeps her calm.

I’m sure there are weirder forms of meditation out there.

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. 

 

Why I went to College. 

I’ve never wanted to go to college. Seriously.

Back in 1998, I was 18. I had no concept of how important an education was. I had it worked into my head that I was going to continue playing in my band (which broke up shortly after high school), I’d still work at the grocery store I was working at, and that things would somehow still be o.k.

Shows you how far my head was up my ass back then.

In the space of three months, my life took three different turns:

  1. My mother told me I could live in her house after high school, rent free, if I went to college.
  2. My girlfriend at the time gave me the ultimatum of ‘go to college or we’re through’ (we broke up before we graduated high school, in case you were wondering).
  3. As a graduation requirement, my high school required it’s students to fill out at least 1 college application.

So I took the plunge.

I filled out the application for my local community college and I got a good taste of what a ‘higher education’ could have given me.

By the time I had reached the end of that journey, the taste was effectively fucked out of my mouth.

It wasn’t like high school anymore. I couldn’t sleep my way through a class, do the bare minimum of work and still manage to pass somehow. This was my own time and money at stake.

I made the best of it and I still graduated. That was in 2004.

Hindsight has shown me that it’s not about the amount of time and money spent. It’s about the knowledge retained. While I may not have retained a lot from most of the classes I had taken then, I learned something about myself.

I think my biggest problem with going to a traditional school was the fact that your education/grade was contingent on someone else’s existence. That someone else being your professor.

You either got a professor who was self centered and who didn’t really care if their class was engaging or not (just as long as you were jumping through the hoops that they had set out for you). Or you got a professor who had a passion for what they were teaching and they wanted to pass that passion onto more impressionable minds.

It makes you wonder why, as a society that is constantly changing, we haven’t made substantial changes to this yet. Perhaps if there were more educational options, more than just going to school online and homeschooling (and if it was free), our children, our society might be better off.

When I enrolled at Kaplan there was no ‘A Ha!’ moment. It was something that I felt I needed to do. This emphasis, this inflation of education (the idea that the higher your educational degree, the better off you will be) was ingrained in me by society.

That was the fall of 2010.

I had taken online courses before and I had enjoyed the experience. So I had no trepidations about what Kaplan had to offer.

I was pleasantly surprised! It was everything I had expected and more.

Most colleges that offer on line classes completely eschew any sort of ‘classroom’ involvement. Kaplan provides you with live ‘class seminars’.

They also had realistic professors who were more concerned about the retention and application of content as opposed to the number of hoops the students had jumped through. The only thing that I had regretted was not doing this sooner.

In 2012, I graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BS in Communications. 

If you haven’t enrolled in Kaplan (or any other school, for that matter) and you want to get the education that you need, then enroll. Be warned! Like all colleges, like all classes, you need to put in the effort. If you are not putting in the effort, then why are you wasting everybody’s time?

There’s always going to be someone else who would be more than happy to take your place.

Liking What You Liked When You Were Younger Now That You’re An Adult.

 Throughout the course of anyones life, likes and dislikes are established. Sometimes these stay the same. Other times, they change as we change with age. That’s just how things are.

As a child of the ’80’s, it’s an allowable fact of life that I dislike the hair metal that I was in love with back then, now. Don’t cop that attitude: I was barely 10 years old and that’s all that was on the radio.

At any rate, I had a discussion with my sister about the fact that she was going to see Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band. Say what you will about the man and his group, I’ll offer only this: even as they’re technically old farts, they are just as tight as they were back in their heyday. Also, Bruce is just as intense live, now, as he was back then. Additionally, I was informed by my sister after she attended the show that Bruce crowdsurfed.

He does it regularly. He’s 66. He’s also probably a member of AARP. Do you think you’ll be that intense at the age? Not fucking likely. 

Suffice it to say, she was pumped to have the chance to see all of them play live again. Leading up to the show, she had started watching recent YouTube videos of The Boss and Crew performing.

What follows is the original conversation.

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I still stand by what I said. If you’re still into the same thing that you were into as a kid, regardless of what it is, the “moment” ought to be about you and the thing that you’re into. Who gives a shit about the people who you have to share oxygen with because they’re apart of the moment too?

Personally, I think the Internet and our level of connectivity are to blame here. While being as connected as we are is nice, the downside of it is that this connectivity has given voice to a lot of insufferable fools. Additionally, these fools are in the majority. And because of that it’s a lot harder to not fall prey to trend following and psyching yourself out of something that, deep down, you’re really into.

Point of Fact

A million years ago, my group of friends and I used to frequent a bar called The Swinging Door. The only thing that this place had going for it was the bar bowling machine and it’s jukebox.

One Sunday night, we all meet up there. It was dead. There was just my group of friends and a group of married people down at the other end of the bar. They were probably out ending their weekend on a high note before they went back to their work weeks and their kids.

Back then I had a bit of a reputation for being the guy you didn’t want pumping quarters into the jukebox. It’s not that I would pick straight up garbage or anything like that. I’d just pick the stuff I wanted to hear. Example: You knew I was responsible if you heard Motorhead, C+C Music Factory, and The Beatles come on in succession. My friends always bitched about it because there was “no flow” to it.

This particular night, I had managed to get to the jukebox without having my quarters slapped out of my hand. I don’t remember the first two songs but I do know that I made a point of making sure that they “flowed”. As a ‘fuck you’ to my friends, I ended with Thunder Road as it was the polar opposite of the first two songs.

SIDEBAR: I genuinely liked the song at the time. Still do. Back then I was just getting into Mr. Springsteen. Plus, my friends were of the contingent that cried foul every time a ‘Bruce’ song came on. END OF SIDEBAR.

The first two songs played out fine. Then Thunder Road starts. After Bruce started singing, I was met with sighs, a few ‘goddammits’, and a stifled spit-take from my little horseshoe of friends. As I write this, I’m still pleased with myself.

Before the end of the first verse, the group of married couples at the opposite end of the bar started to sing along. Loudly, like they were going to war at first light. 

There’s a lot of words in that song. My friends weren’t pleased.

In Sum, as long as you aren’t causing anyone legitimate harm, like what you like: fuck everyone else’s opinion. 

 

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!