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 kids to do things: putting away clothes

Any parent, let alone a stay-at-home Dad, needs to be a good communicator. You need to know what to say and when to say it.

Let me set the stage for you: 3 years ago one of the things that I have struggled with up until a couple of months ago, was getting my oldest daughter (who was 7 going on 40 at the time) to put away her clothes properly. This had been something that was a sore point for both me and my wife since we started having our daughter put away her clothes. (She was 5 when we started this agonizing process.)

Both together and on our own, my wife and I had taken the time to point out what article of clothing should be put away ‘where’ and what should be hung up on a hanger as opposed to what we were ok with being folded and put away in a drawer.

Our daughter speaks English. She’s not blind. There’s nothing holding her back from doing all of the normal, physical things that 7-year-old children do. She just chose not to put away her clothes the right way most of the time.

Don’t get me wrong, she’s been able to do it right the first time every so often but for the most part, she would do everything in her power to do it the wrong way. I would find dresses balled up behind her desk, underwear stashed underneath the bathroom sink… My personal favorites were the multiple times when she would cram everything that needed to be folded into one bin.

We’ve taken stuff away. We’ve threatened with grounding. We’ve made her do it over and over and over again. Then we thought we were doing something wrong. So we (my wife and I) and reevaluated our daughters clothing arrangements and made it ‘idiot proof’. Nothing was working. We had gotten to the point where we thought what might be considered effective, might not be appropriate.

It was after the last ‘idiot-proofing’ (what you see in the following picture) that my wife and I had our last straw. It was more of the same thing. Clothes stashed, knickers hidden, dresses barely on the hanger in the first place.

While my wife was ripping apart our daughters closet again, I calmly and severely reminded our child of the last room that she occupied. Prior to living where we are now, our daughter had to share a room with her younger brother (he’s 4 now) and her younger sister (she’s 2 now). It was a small room, taken up mainly by a bunk bed and crib that she, our eldest daughter, was in charge of keeping neat and tidy. It was something that she was able to do with great ease as the 3 of them only had a handful of personal belongings in it.

I told her quite plainly that it would be the same situation. Only now, it would be the 3 of them all in one room, with 3 separate beds, and all of their possessions. And she would be in charge of cleaning all of it. Regardless of ‘who’ made ‘what’ mess.

She understood me quite clearly and has long been aware of the fact that I never bluff. Her closet along with her room has never been a problem since.

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.

img_4754

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. 

 

On Sleeplessness and Getting ‘Quality Sleep’.

I have had issues with sleep since the 4th grade. 

At that time, I was a child of two worlds. This is also known as living with mom during the week and living with dad during the weekend.

During the week, I was inundated with the strict Catholicism that my mother tried to use as a tool to enforce my obedience. On the weekend, my newly sober father was multi-tasking: he was learning how to be a father again (as he was drunk when he was supposed to be doing those duties when my siblings were my age) by basically letting me do whatever and spoiling the shit out of me (a common tactic divorced dads usually resort to in an effort to curry favor with their children). Occasionally, he’d alternate spoiling me with letting me know how he really felt about my mother.

One time he dropped me off from school and laid this one on me: “I would be getting out of prison right about now if I had killed your mother.” I was still in the 4th grade at the time.

Freshly divorced parents are too self absorbed to realize that if there is a kid in the picture, that the familial schism that their hubris has caused is going to fuck up the kid more than it ever will them. 

So, from the 4th to the 8th grade getting quality sleep was a pain in the ass for me. If I couldn’t shut my brain off at night, I was getting to bed on time only to wake up an hour later unable to get to sleep until the wee hours of the morning. By the weekend, I was completely fucked because my father wanted to be ‘the cool dad’ so it became normal for him to let me sleep until the afternoons.

Bear this in mind: I harbor no ill-intent towards either of my parents. I’m just illustrating how sleep was a hard won ally for me. 

From high school until the present day, I didn’t fare much better. Sure, I got better at understanding people and how they worked. And sure, gainful weekend employment coupled with social activities made going to sleep at the end of the night a breeze thanks to sheer exhaustion. But getting enough quality sleep has always been a pain.

In recent years, if it hasn’t been anxieties about employment, or the future, it’s been about someone else: a new baby, a sick child, or a light sleeper sleeping next to me.

Since I have become the resident Resident of my family and since I have accepted the fact that I can’t burn the candle at both ends (like I did in my youth now that I’m in my mid-30’s) sleep is my favorite hobby.

Unfortunately, there are still some incidences where I can’t turn my brain off.

What to do in the Event of a Sleep Malfunction.

Before I go further, I should re-iterate that I’m not a sleep expert, nor am I a medical professional. 

I’m just another asshole who has an opinion and can kind of write good.

If you’re having trouble sleeping for a prolonged period of time (longer than a week), quit dicking around and make a doctor’s appointment. I  personally hate hospitals and I have a general disdain for doctors. However if there’s something keeping me from sleeping that may be “internal” you better damn well believe I’m making the appointment.

If you can’t bring yourself to do that, here is a short list of things that have worked for me in the past. (Maybe something herein will work for you too).

  1. Ear plugs and an eye covering of some sort. Yes, it’s a very thin line that separates you from a bird in a bird cage when you use these tools but sensory deprivation fucking works. I don’t use ear plugs often because they get irritating after a while, but I do make it a habit to cover my head. No light = better sleep.
  2. Daily physical activity (a.k.a keep yourself so busy through the course of the day that you have no choice but to go to sleep as soon as your head hits the pillow). Think of it this way: you’re earning your right to sleep at the end of the night.
  3. Writing and meditation. Both are very effective means of helping you shut your brain off. I use the writing because I live with four different and dynamic people. Sometimes they do shit and behave in a way that makes me want to squeeze their heads so hard that their brains shoot out of their assholes. Instead of doing that, I write about the stupid shit they do that pisses me off. In doing so, I’m able to strike an understanding of said behavior and come to a middle ground without entertaining the idea of exactly how much Comet I would need in order to clean up feces and grey matter. The meditation has helped in the past because sometimes you just need to sit down and breathe. The only problem with that is that you need to make yourself do it consistently so it becomes a habit. Here are the apps that I use: Stop, Think, and Breathe, Meditation Studio by Gaiam.
  4. Alternate methods and drugs. As far as the ‘alternative methods’ are concerned, they’re pretty simple. The first one that I started using was to have a cup of ‘sleepy’ tea. Lame sounding, but it works. Lately I have been partial to Sleepytime Celestial Seasonings with Echinacea. It’s fucking delicious and is just as good as a traditional ‘night cap’. Sure, I have to get up in the middle of the night to take a piss, but it’s a small price to pay for quality sleep. My recent addition to my sleep regimen has been leaving one of my feet uncovered. I read an article on Mental Floss that explains the science behind it and guess what? It fucking works. I get to sleep faster. My last method I don’t do as often as I should: it’s taking a cold shower before bed. Doing this is the real life equivalent of getting hit over the head with a sledge hammer. I first came across this when Tim Ferriss included it in his book, The 4 Hour Body and came across it again when AOM did a post on it as well. It works. And yes, you get used to the blast of cold water on your bits rather quickly. With respect to taking pills to go to sleep, I haven’t taken any that require a prescription (yet). When it comes to over the counter drugs like Benadryl and Melatonin, I highly suggest that you tread lightly and do your own research. Speaking for myself, both drugs have consistently left me sleep drunk (I need to take a nap shortly after getting up in order for the fog of drugs to dissipate). This may not be the case with you. Again, tread lightly.

Have a sleep ritual or trick you’d like to share? Let’s hear about it in the comments!

 

A brief word on food.

One of the cornerstones of our society is the necessity of food. While our bodies can survive for nearly three weeks without it (Gandhi, yep the “Be the change you wish to see in the world guy”, also known as Sir Ben Kingsley to others…. survived 21 days of complete starvation. Obviously he had water or else he would have been dead inside of 5 days) one would think that it would be common sense for an individual to have a working knowledge of food preparation (e.g. you know the difference between your ass and a hole in the ground when you step foot in the kitchen).

Sadly, most people cannot make the aforementioned distinction. 

If you marked my progress in the kitchen from when I first started out as a stay at home parent, to now, it would be a thick, black line that traveled through smoke (the smoke being whatever the fuck it was that I was cremating in the oven), traversed canyons of boxed dinners (mac ‘n’ cheese was not only friend to my family but also really friggin’ versatile: seriously google it. People have taken that staple a real long way) and is currently supporting someone who cannot only improvise on the fly, but also follow some pretty complicated recipes.

Cooking is not scary. It is following directions. That’s all that it is. 

If you’re not completely sold on the idea that you should be working on being considered a wizard in the kitchen, cooking is also SCIENCE. And I would be remiss if I did not point out that (even if you aren’t a dad, husband, whatever) chicks dig a guy who knows his way around the kitchen.

Currently, I have a very modest collection of recipes here. Unless otherwise noted, most of them ARE NOT MINE. 

If they are not mine, I will obviously say so. I will link to the origin site, the original recipe or (if it’s something out of a book, for instance) I will link to the Amazon page featuring the book (if there isn’t any other stones for me to turn over).

While a lot of people would consider this a “hack” thing to do, I would also like to point out that they are missing the obvious: IF  A RECIPE IS ON HERE, IT’S BECAUSE THE ORIGINAL RECIPE DIDN’T HAVE ANY FUCKING PICTURES. 

My main goal in making recipes a part of this site is to educate people (men, specifically) that they should be cooking more instead of relying on simpleton shit like fast food or boxed dinners or any other garbage. The sad truth is that Men are less likely to get their asses in the kitchen if there aren’t any pictures. 

It is my hope that in posting the steps, with the pictures, and the general amount of time it took me to work through the recipe, that some of the sting will be taken out of learning how to cook.

Additionally, if people have a general problem with what I’m doing (be it the creator of the recipe or people in general), I warmly invite them to shut up: if you didn’t want people giving you free publicity about something you created, you shouldn’t have put it on the internet in the first place.

Dealing with parental stigmas.

In the event that you are a Stay-at-home Dad (Bully for you!) I’m sure that you are still trying to get your sea legs and work out all of the kinks. It’s not a science after all.

Have you gotten to the point where you’ve wanted to say “The hell with everything!” and run away screaming into the night? Has the irrepressible feeling that you are underappreciated around your own home become to feel like an albatross around your neck, slowly pulling you down into the ether? Have you thought about getting divorced because you can’t handle the adjustment phase?

It may seem like I am joking, but I’m not. There’s something inside the male persona that does not let them properly articulate their own feelings. There are a few shining stars who are able to do this and I admire them for it. But for the most part, men shut down completely if they have to talk about their feelings.

I’m no exception to this, are you?

Consider this the next time that you are thinking about walking away: While the phenomenon of dad’s who stay at home is relatively fresh, it has been argued that “divorce will become less harmful to children than it is today. Father’s who share the care for the children will feel a stronger attachment to their children and will be less likely to stop visiting or helping…” (Smith, p.49, 2009)

Still don’t think your presence has made a difference?

That’s all right. I don’t blame you. Anyone who says that they were completely prepared for being a stay-at-home parent (or just being a parent) is a complete liar.

I have long been of the opinion that the one thing that keeps transitioning from being a breadwinner to a stay-at-home Dad an easy right of passage is the stigma that is attached to it.

Gasp! Negative sentiments about a man staying at home with his children?

Yes! Yes! A thousand times yes! There most definitely is a stigma attached to being a Stay-at-Home dad. 

My first encounter with it was 5 years ago during the paperwork portion of renting our house. I was on the phone, talking to the woman who ran the rental office in an attempt to build a rapport with her and to galvanize the fact that my family and I weren’t hillbillies.

Then she asked me what I did for a living.

I told her that I was a Stay-at-Home Dad.

It was like someone had flipped a switch. She went from being all chummy and glad to having someone of solid character in one of her properties to a cold-hearted shell of a person. She couldn’t get off of the phone fast enough.

“…This myth, (that) Stay-at-Home Dad’s are dysfunctional parents who are so demoralized by unemployment that they are incapable of pulling their weight around their house” (Smith, p.58, 2009) is perpetrated by every member of society who has every given a man playing with his kids at the playground before noon a funny look.

Who’s to say if this stigma will ever be put in the ground?

While as a society we are constantly evolving and creating, there are just some things that won’t go away. Racism, ageism, sexism… Basically any sort of -ism. What adds insult to injury is the fact that these things, these -isms are all born of our personalities.

I’m just as responsible for this stigma as much as you are.

Consider this: 4 out of 10 mothers are the primary breadwinners in their families. Additionally, there are an estimated 143,000 Stay-at-Home Dads with children under the age of 15, worldwide (Stout, 2010).

While men being the caregivers for the children may be a relatively new twist that our society has taken it should also be noted that gender roles as a whole are starting to change. More fathers are starting to participate in the daily mechanics of their families (dropping kids off and volunteering at their school) than their predecessors. If you want further proof, you needn’t look any further than the diaper-changing table in the men’s room (Gill, 2001). Additionally, “more and more fathers are filing complaints with the federal EEOC claiming that their employers have discriminated against them because of their care giving roles… (Some) employers have wrongly denied male employees requests for leave for childcare purposes while granting similar requests to female employees… (This results in) men deciding that they want a work/family balance” (Smith, p. 76, 2009).

So by now, I’m sure you are wondering what all of this means? Facts are great but they aren’t going to help you through your daily family-balancing act.

This means that you are not alone. You’re not feeling feelings that haven’t been felt before. And you most certainly are not going through something no one else has gone through before.

It seems like a bitter pill to swallow but it’s not. If you’re having a hard time adjusting to not being the breadwinner, find someone who has gone through what you are going through and petition them for advice.

Not sure you want to do this for the rest of your life? Then find someone who has made a career of this and see what they think.

As our society continues to grow and evolve so will the number and nature of parents who stay at home with their children.

If your situation isn’t working for you, it’s up to you to fix it.

Sources Consulted

Gill, LIbby. (2001). Stay-at-Home Dads: The Essential Guide to Creating the New Family. New York: Penguin Group.

Smith, Jeremy Adam. (2009). The Daddy Shift. Boston: Beacon Press.

Stout, Hillary. (2010). When Roles Reverse: The Rise of the Stay-at-Home Husband. Retrieved from:   Today Parenting.

How I started as a stay at home parent.

For all intents and purposes, I can be socially classified as a ‘stay at home parent’. Here’s how I started out.

I came into this position by way of getting fired from my job. At the time, this stung a little bit since I had three children and a wife to support. Ultimately, my dismissal wasn’t that much of an issue because:

  1.  I knew I was going to get fired. Management was completely turning over the store. Anyone who had a negative thing to say about how things were going got the axe. If things weren’t that simple, the people who spoke up the loudest were set up to fail. I was one of those people.
  2. The plan that the wife and I had from the beginning was for me to be a Stay-at-home parent as soon as she finished school and got a job. As you can see, this as merely an acceleration of our plan.

She was so great about me getting fired. She had already known about everything that was going on. I think that some part of her thought that it was just a matter of time as well.

As a Stay-at-Home Dad, I had it relatively easy at first. My wife was completing her last semester of nursing school which necessitated her being home full time as well. The “hardest” part of my day was keeping the younger two kids occupied long enough while Mommy found a quiet part of the apartment to hole up and study in.

Keeping the house from looking like a bomb just went off? Piece of cake. Our apartment was a bit on the small side plus there were two adults there for most of the day. Keeping the kids occupied and happy? No problem! I completely loved being there for them. The title “Daddy” became synonymous with playtime and all around merriment. [I think that this was in large part a reaction to the type of father that I grew up with. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not “dad bashing”. My father was a good man and I know he tried but for myself (being the youngest of four by nine years) it was too little too late. As a result, when I became a parent myself, I came to the conclusion that the only thing that I really needed to do in order to be a successful parent was the opposite of everything that my parents did.]

Two months into my new job, the wife and I eventually made the decision that we needed to move in with someone until we got “back on our feet”.

As a man, this was a tough thing for me to do. I don’t care if it sounds cliché. Men are conditioned to provide for their family. It wasn’t until the move that the feeling of being a failure began to sink in. On some levels, I still have this feeling. Being the breadwinner and getting fired from your job is a rough thing to go through. It may seem impossible but  “even if it is forced on you by a layoff or any other external circumstance it (being a Stay-at-Home Dad) can only work as long as you stay in touch with the feeling that you are doing something important” (Gill, p.50, 2001).

By July, we’ve completely moved into my sister’s house and my job gets even easier. Now, there’s even less ground to cover and there’s a third adult! I hit the jackpot.

Within weeks of moving in, the wife found a job and things were pretty good. The hardest part of my life at that time was trying to figure out what got capitalized in “stay at home dad”. 

We stayed at my sister’s through the middle of November. After Thanksgiving break, we moved into our first house.

Then the honeymoon came to an abrupt and hellish halt. After the last few boxes were unpacked, the wife and I constantly butted heads on every little thing. There was no middle ground.

If you are a Stay-at-Home Dad, don’t get scared: this is perfectly natural. “Expect dads to do things differently from moms… Men and Women are different… Their differences should be recognized and embraced” (Gill, p. 50, 2001). Personally, I would take a fight about the type of soap in the bathroom any day than complete indifference. If you’re fighting at least you know that the other person cares enough to put in that kind of effort.

Don’t like fighting? Then communicate. Communicate like you have never communicated before. Don’t confuse this with giving in on every little thing. If your wife has some sort of hair-brained scheme about anything or something is not getting done to her liking at all do her the courtesy of hearing her out.

Seriously, stop what you are doing and give her your undivided attention. It might not be that wacky of a plan after all. She may be right about your ability to clean something properly. Or she may have gone completely around the bend, regardless, hear her out. If she’s wrong, then logically and politely shoot her down. If things give the appearance of going nuclear, COMPROMISE.

Find that middle ground.

That way everybody wins.

** Since we’ve been ‘on our own’, I have been practicing what I have been preaching and things have been great. Things may not get done on a regular basis or they may not get done to someone else’s liking but everyone is getting the respect that they need.

Source Consulted

Gill, Libby. (2001). Stay-at-Home Dads: The Essential Guide to Creating the New Family. New York: Penguin Group.

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.