You are Viewing "The Philosophical Parent – Values, Ethics, Morals and Thoughts About Being a Parent and Raising Children"

Dec 17 2012

The Wake Up Call – Learning to Control My Temper So My Daughter Doesn’t Throw Me to The Wolves

Summary: Simple things like loosing your temper have far more impact of your kid than you think.

About four weeks ago I’m at Silver Spur having our pre Saturday adventure breakfast with my daughter and her friend. I’m checking some schedules on my phone to figure out what we should do, and in what order, while the two of them do their normal chit chat and goofing around.

After a few minute my daughter’s friend gets my attention.

“I asked (your daughter) that if she had to choose which parent to save which one would she choose. She said she would choose her mom because you cuss and yell at her.”

Ouch. Now, I didn’t think my daughter would ever choose me over her mom. She has a special bond that can only happens with the person who gave birth to you and breast feed you for the first year and half of your life. However, to know that my daughter would let me die because of my temper and foul mouth is pretty sad. That one really hit home.

Now fast forward to last might. I’m sitting on the coach getting ready to read Stewart Little to my daughter. We just finished Charlotte’s Web yesterday and the sophistication of E. B. Whites prose was a welcome reprieve from the mind numbing repetition of her Breyer Stablemates pony books that she loves so much.

I’m exhausted as I’ve had the flu for five days and the phlegm has settled into my lungs leaving me weak and coughing most of the day. I grab a tissue, blow my nose for the umpteenth time and lay the tissue next to the couch on a bookshelf.

“Throw that away.”


“Throw your tissue away.”


“You should throw it away.”

“Fucking get off my case. It’s none of your god damn business what I do with my tissue! You ever think that maybe I put it there because I plan to use it again instead of just wasting one box of tissue after another using each sheet just once? Fuck!”

My daughter gets really quiet and I can see she’s on the verge of tearing up.

“I’m sorry for yelling at you. I handled that wrong.”

“That’s all right.”

But I know even though she’s says that it’s all right, it really isn’t.

So we read a few chapters of Stewart Little and after a half an hour it’s time for bed…for both of us.

After putting my daughter to bed and giving her a goodnight kiss and head to be myself. I’m totally beat.

Twenty minutes later my partner comes in. She and our daughter often share a short tuck-in conversation before the lights go out.

“We talked for a while about your behavior. She said that she feels that she can’t trust you completely. I told her that she can trust you 100%. That you love her more than anything. I told her that she is part of both of us. Half of her is me and half of her is you. Then she asked in all sincerity, “my eyebrows?”

We got a good chuckle out of that because it was quite obvious the day she was born that she got my thick and bushy meet in the middle eyebrows.

Joking aside, it’s become painfully clear that I’m undermining my super dad status and her security and self-worth with my very infrequent but intense outbursts.

The funny thing is I’m fairly patient, easy-going, have a very high tolerance for chaos and I’m more forgiving and tolerant than my partner, but when I snap it happens very suddenly. Almost too fast for me to see it coming. On the other hand my partner is more of a slow boil type so she has far more warning internally that she’s about to lose it.

So my daughter can’t really read me and sense when it’s time to back off. And I don’t sense it either. So in her mind she has no idea which dad she’s going to get at any one moment.

So that’s my new project. Look for the signs that I’m about to snap so I can learn to catch it before it happens. Kind of like those “early signs of stroke” lists but one tailored to my temper.

Let the learnin’ begin!

File Under: Controlling  Your Temper When Around Children – How Cussing and Angry Words Hurt Your Kids

Jul 27 2012

Killing One Surfboard With Two Stones

Summary: Sometimes Redirection Makes a Bad Situation Worse.

Relay race at Capitola Beach. My daughter's in the blue shirt with the red rash guard and the boys red swim trunks of course..

So I’m at Capitola Beach picking up my daughter after Junior Guards because it’s Wednesday, which is laundry day. This means I take over daughter scheduling duties because, as the name implies, my partner is doing laundry instead. Because it’s Wednesday. Which is laundry day.

But it’s such a beautiful day that me and a couple of others dads I know decide to hang out afterwards and let the kinds play some more.

And as is typical of Capitola in the summertime, and especial after Junior Guards lets out, the beach is packed.

I’m heading to the water on the left side of the jetty when I spot a little girl, perhaps two years old at best, and she’s grinding a rock into the bottom of a surfboard that’s attached to a bike.

I watch for about thirty seconds and don’t see any parents around. So I walk over.

“Excuse me. You shouldn’t hit a surfboard with a rock. It hurts it. Here’s another rock, bang these two together.”

She takes the rock in her free hand, looks at me for a few seconds, and then starts clacking the two together. There, mission accomplished! What a smart, proactive, and responsible parent I am!

I tell my buddies the story and when I look back to point out the girl, she’s now grinding both rocks into the bottom of the surfboard. Oops.

I watch for a while and still no parent. However, another good Samaritan tries to run interference. She likewise has no success in stopping her.

Poor surfboard.

 File Under: Unintentionally Making a Bad Situation Worse.

Jul 10 2012

Wild Child – Horseplay and Roughhousing Should be Encouraged as Much as Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic

Summary: Encouraging Kids, and Especially Girls, to Explore Their Physical Boundaries and the Importance of Horseplay, Roughhousing and Goofing Around to Their Development.

It’s Saturday morning and my daughter and her friend are sitting across from me at our favorite breakfast hangout Silver Spur. We’re sitting at the only table that has a wooden bench. The back is high and smooth. My daughter’s friend is sitting on her lap and is rocking back and forth pushing her weight of her back into my daughter which forces her head into the back of the bench.





This rhythmic rocking and my daughter‘s head thumping goes on for about 30 seconds at which point I interrupt their fun.

“Hey, are you OK with this?  How does your head feel?”

They stop and my daughter looks at me like I just asked the stupidest question in the world.

“Uh, yeah…I’m fine.”

“Ok, just checking.”

They continue where they left off.





Then my daughter’s friend stops, gets off her lap, and sits down.

“Ok, now you do me!”
Continue reading

Jul 5 2012

Girls Mature Faster…Not!

Summary: Only women think men mature late. From a man’s point of view some women never mature at all.

It’s often said that girls mature faster than boys. I don’t mean physically as that’s undisputed – girls start puberty earlier and finish sooner than boys. I’m referring to the common use of the term as it’s often applied to boys by women, which refers to their mental and emotional maturity. It’s often used in a dismissive manner, as a way to establish one’s superiority, and this “fact” is based on a female centric viewpoint on what is considered mature and what traits are most valued. But what if we didn’t used female centered values as the sole judge on a male’s maturity level. How would they fair?

If one were to place a premium on self-confidence, self-esteem, the ability to control your emotions in a crisis, the strength to separate personal issues and business decisions, appreciation of and self acceptance of your body, and the knowledge that you can’t change others, one could say that boys mature by age twelve and girls take till their mid forties – if ever.

I’m not saying this to be mean or even in a reactionary backlash way. It’s just that men and women both bring something to the table and their skills and perspectives are equally valid and useful. Neither is more “mature” than the other unless the test for maturity is biased in favor of one gender or the other.

Most men think being able to separate your emotions and personal feelings from business is a sign of maturity and sophistication. If a man was to refuse to sign a multi-million dollar contract with a company just because the CEO from said company hit on his wife at a party, it would be a sign of weakness and immaturity. You would be seen as someone who couldn’t be counted on to handle complicated stuff that could get messy. His loyalty and principles would probably also be in question. For most men, the situation is clear – sign the contact first, then kick the guys ass on your free time if that’s what you need to do. Or, pull him aside the next day and threaten to kick his ass. But definitely sign the contract first.

However most women would see that same refusal as a sign of maturity. That man would be seen as principled, strong, and loyal. Of course you shouldn’t do business with people like that. To choose money over your wife is appalling.

This is why the classic fantasy dilemma of  “I’ll give you a million dollars to sleep with your wife” is not a dilemma at all to most men. The first thing that pops into a man’s head is “Does he have the money or is he bull shitting me?” The second though is “if this guy turns out to be a psycho could I take him?”

Men see it as a business transaction. Sex with my wife for one million dollars. Sounds like great deal! A man would mentally suspend his wife’s status as his marriage partner for the duration of the transaction – business is business and it’s not personal. Her having sex with the stranger would not be viewed as a betrayal in this situation. The real question is would you be able to able to control the situation in a worse case scenario.

However most women would see this same situation as a conflict. How could he agree to let me have sex with another man just for money? What does that say about me? What does that say about our relationship. For a woman the decision will be wrapped in layers of symbolism and deeper meaning.

Well, to a man it says I love you so much that I’ll support this because a million dollars will change our lives. This million dollars is for us and our future, and that is way more important than a night of meaningless sex with a stranger. In fact, because the husband gets to keep his wife and the million dollars, it’s quite a triumph. The man who paid the million would be seen as a fool and a sucker.

Depending on your point of view, a man letting his wife have sex with a stranger for a million dollars can be seen as heroic or shameful. Most men would probably choose heroic. Many women would choose shameful or at least a 9.5 on the creepy scale.

So to label men as developmentally stunted because they fail to live up to female centric values is as pointless as it sexist. While most men and women agree on the basics, we also have different standards in some very specific areas. This is fine, healthy and desired. It only becomes a problem when we call the other weak, stupid, thoughtless, and inconsiderate because of these differences.

File Under: Debunking the Girls Mature faster Than Boys Myth.

Jul 5 2012

Girls Gone Wild No More – Establishing Boundaries With Hot Chicks and Holding Them Accountable

Summary: Stop the Madness. Turning young hot girls into social cripples by giving them whatever they want.

I just got back from a nice, calm, small get together at my brother’s house this 4th of July and it inspired me to finally publish a story that I wrote last 4th of July.

My brother, who happens to be born on the 4th of July, was having his usual 4th of July party at his beach house. Now I love living in a beach community but with that also comes a derelict element. Beach towns just tend to encourage drinking and parting and slacking off. It’s really easy to just waste your life drinking forty-ouncers on the cliffs and heckling the tourists and groms if you don’t have any clear direction of self discipline.

At the time my brother’s house was occupied by several single male roommates. Over the years it had become a beacon for all sorts of sketchy behaviors as many beach houses occupied by males tends to do if you don’t keep it in check. Last year it got out out control as dozens of “party” types descended on the home. This inspired my brother to finally “clean house” and restore some boundaries. But his story is about last year.

I arrived early to my brother’s house but it was already jumping. Most people I recognized but some I didn’t. As the minutes passed by the ration of knowns to unknowns continued to rise. As it rose, so did the chaos.

I’m sitting at the appetizer table enjoying some cheese dip and veggies when up walks this young woman. She’s maybe mid twenties at most, with blond hair, a beautiful face, and a body that would no doubt inspire double and triple takes from the guys every time she steps outside her house.

In short, she’s the type of girl who’s probably never heard the word “no” in her life.

“What’s this?” she says pointing to the bowl in the middle of the table.

“That’s a cheese sauce for dipping.”

“Ok, thanks. Is that your plate?”


She then grabs a spoon and puts a big blob of cheese sauce on my plate and starts to dip a chunk of bread into it.

“Whoa, what are you doing?”

“You don’t mind do you?”

“Yes, I do mind. Get your own plate.”

“Oh, are you a vegan?”

“No, and my dietary preferences are irrelevant. This is my plate.”

“Oh, I didn’t think you’d mind.”

“Well I do. Go get your own plate. There’s a big stack over there.”

She looks at the stack, then back to my plate and the blob of cheese sauce. She’s seems completely lost and it looks like she’s going to try to dip into my plate again. So I pull it back towards my chest and kind of shield it with my left hand.

“Right there. Big stack. Go get your own plate.”

She just keeps standing there looking at my plate.

“Go now! Go get your own plate.” I say as I gesture to the stack of clean, never used, completely free plates that the host has thoughtfully put out for everyone to use.

She leaves and finally gets her own plate.

Now I said earlier that she’s probably never heard the word “no” in her life. I bet good money this is true. I’m sure most guys give her whatever she wants and put up with her bullshit just so they can continue to bask in her glory. I’m sure most think that if they just played along long enough, if she was intoxicated enough, and if they happened to say just the right thing at the right time, they could fuck her.

Not this dude, however. And it has nothing to do with being a happily committed family man. I just have a low tolerance for the Marilyn Monroe act – always have. It almost feels as if it’s my civic duty to draw the line on this manipulative behavior since no one else seems willing to reduce their odds, now matter how remote, of getting into some cute chicks pants.  It’s also supremely insulting to think I’m just going to let you do whatever you want because you’re “hawt”.

So my mom, who saw the whole thing because she was sitting next to me, asks what the deal was. I fill her in on the details and she’s as dumbfounded as I am.

A half an hour later, the girl with no cheese dipping boundaries comes up to me.

“I’m sorry about that earlier. I didn’t think you’d mind.”

“That’s what’s so baffling to me. How could I not mind? In what instance has that ever been acceptable behavior.”

“I didn’t think it would be such a big deal.”

“I don’t know how you could think that. When has putting food an a total stranger’s plate and then eating off it ever been acceptable. I’m serious, I really want to know why you did that and why you thought it was ok.”

“I just didn’t think it would be such a big deal.”

“That’s it? So you do this all the time and no one cares?


Then she just walk away.

Wow. Quite an eye-opening experience and it makes me think of my daughter. My daughter has blond hair and blue eyes and all indicators point to her being be tall and fit. Basically a physical prototype for the type of girl who never hears the word no. On the other hand, she’s not a natural manipulator, a bit shy, and introverted. She also has two parents who are not trying to be her buddy or win her affection or approval. We are her parents and it’s not our job to be her friend – that’s what friends are for.

So I think she’ll be ok. But as she matures it would certainly help if the guys, including her male teachers, would hold her to the same standard they would if she were a just another dude. In short, hold her accountable. Better yet, let’s hold everyone accountable regardless of their position, status, gender, race, and any other identity that could be used to get away with bullshit. That would be awesome!

Coda: To be fair, which she doesn’t deserve, I’ll point out that the girl with no boundaries also came to the party with a friend. An hour later her friend was crawling on the floor like a dog. I’m not sure what she was trying to achieve with the crawling bit, but perhaps they both were under the influence of psychedelics when they arrived. Which could explain a lot but doesn’t let her off the hook.

File Under: Instilling Responsibility in Hot Chicks

Jul 25 2011

Dojo With Mojo – The Day Our Pet Dojo Took A Walk On The Wild Side

Summary: No matter how bizarre and unlikely, you should take your child seriously when they insist the “impossible” is possible.

dojo aquarium fish weather loach

Dojos are very friendly but have very poor eye sight so they use their whiskers to find food.

This story happens during our very recent and very long wet spring.

In you live in the bay area our spring was unusually wet. It seemed to rain at least once per week. Besides annoying it also destroyed about six weeks’ worth of strawberries at my favorite pick your self farm.

One weekend my buddy and his daughter we joining us for a trip over the hill. It was the usual “do something fun for the kids, get something to eat, then run errands at Fry’s and 99 Ranch Market” Saturday routine.

As usual, it was raining hard and my dojos were especially active. What’s a dojo? A dojo, also known as a weather loach, is a very cool eel like fish. They are exceptionally good natured and friendly. They’ll readily eat right out your hand. They also have the unusual ability to breathe air like a land animal. They don’t actually inhale and exhale. They take in breaths and then hold it in their intestines and slowly dissolve the oxygen. They get the name, weather loach, because of their erratic behavior with approaching storms.  It seems they are especially sensitive to barometric pressure. In their native Asia they are used to dealing with their homes drying out and then becoming flooded again. I suspect they evolved this weather sensitivity as biological marker to induce them to get ready for rain and possibly look for a new home.

dojo aquarium fish weather loach

For a supposed bottom feeder, dojos are very active and use the entire tank.

They are always active, and for a supposed bottom feeder, they spend more time at the top than any other fish I’ve owned. They are also expert jumpers. If there is an inch of open space at the top of the aquarium they will find it and eventually get out. Every dojo I’ve owned, since I was twelve years old, has escaped. Most of the time you find them on the floor hours later, dried up and covered in lint. However, just pick them up and throw them back in. They almost always recover and live long healthy lives.

So back to the beginning.

My buddy shows up and of course his daughter runs into our house and the two start playing. Even though we’ve told them we are leaving in two minutes, they still will squeeze in as much play time as possible.

After a few minutes, we break it up and pile into the car. We’re gone for five hours and it rains the whole time.

This where my daughter found our dojo.

We arrive back at our house and the girls jump out and start playing in the water puddles. They’re having a blast when suddenly my buddy’s daughter yells out.

“Look, it’s a salamander!”

She’s points at a puddle right in front of our house. My daughter leans in close.

“That’s not a salamander, that’s a dojo!’

“No it’s salamander!”

“No, it’s a dojo, see the whiskers?”

“That can’t be a dojo.” I say.

“Yes it is. It’s a dojo!”

“That’s impossible.”

“No, I’m telling you it’s a dojo! Come look.”

So I go over to the puddle expecting to see a salamander.

“What the hell is that? Holy shit, that’s a dojo!”

It’s just swimming in the puddle with half its back sticking out. I scoop him up and go up the stairs, into the house an throw him back in the aquarium.

“That is unbelievable. Did you leave the house today?” I ask my partner.

“Nope. Been cleaning the house.”

“That means that this dojo had escaped in the morning, flip flopped through the house to the front door, and in the few minute while we were loading the car, managed to get outside, across the welcome mat, down the stairs and into the street where it found a puddle and decided to stay . Unfucking believable!”

I told you it was a dojo! But you wouldn’t believe me!”

“I’m sorry about that. Next time you insist that something is true, I’ll take you seriously even if it what you’re saying seems impossible.”


dojo aquarium fish weather loach

Still happy and healthy. Dojos are very social and should kept in groups.

File Under: Trusting Your Child When They Insist Something is True Even if it Seems Impossible

Jul 17 2011

Tomboys, Gender Training, and The Trouble With Stereotypes

I’m doing some gardening when my daughter walks up.

“Am I a tomboy?”

“Well some may consider you a tomboy because you’re strong and athletic and like things like dinosaurs, skulls, and boys underwear and swim trunks. But I don’t like the term tomboy because it implies that a girl should only behave a certain way – which is ridiculous. Because you ARE a girl, anything you do, and anyway you behave,  is by definition something that a girl would do. So the tomboy part doesn’t make any sense and only serves to limit you as a human being. Why do you ask?”

“My friend says I’m a tomboy, but she said she was one too, and it’s good to be a tomboy.”

“Well that’s true, there’s nothing wrong about being a tomboy, but it would be better to just be the way you are rather than trying to put a label on it. Does that make sense?”



File Under: Limiting Human Potential Through Gender Expectations

Jul 17 2011

Are You Hot Mama? Love and Life According to Foreigner’s Hot Blooded

Summary: Tens seconds of classic rock leads to ten minutes of relationship talk.

I’m on the way to the boardwalk with my daughter and her good friend when I click on the classic rock station to clear my head. Wouldn’t you know it, it’s an old favorite by Foreigner.

But you’ve got to give me a sign
Come on girl, some kind of sign
Tell me, are you hot mama? You sure look that way to me

My daughters friend speaks up.

“What’s a hot mama?”

“It’s not hot mama…it’s hot….mama. When this song came out mama was a popular term to call an attractive girl.  So he’s asking her are you hot mamma?

“Is that like sweaty hot or good looking hot?”

“In this case it’s neither. I this instance the term “hot” means are you ready for some fun. Like hot to trot. So he’s asking her if she’d like to go out tonight and have some fun with him because he finds her attractive.”

“Oh, I thought hot was only used when you see a good looking girl.”

“Usually yes, but in this case, no. Also hot is gender neutral. Boys can be hot too.”

My daughter speaks up.

“Is mom hot?”

“I think so. But hot is also a personal thing. Someone that one person thinks is really good looking may not seem very good looking to another. Personality also plays a big part. Once you get to know someone, their personality will change the way you see them. So someone who is really mean and rude will not look so attractive after a while, while someone that is nice and kind will seem better looking as time goes on.”

“Is mom nice?”

“Yes, mom is very nice. She’s kind and thoughtful. But she’s also very nit-picky and critical. But her heart is pure and her ethics and values are unshakable. So overall I’m very pleased with having your mom as a partner.


File Under: The Multiple Definitions of Hot

Jul 8 2011

Dealing With a Toddler’s Violent Temper Tantrums – How to Handle a Child Who’s Out of Control

Summary – Sometimes it’s not about solving a problem but about rolling with the punches…literally. How I rode out four hard years of tough tantrums from toddler, to preschool, to kindergarten.

So, are we gonna do this or what?

As much of a fan I am of modern parenting techniques and philosophies they also assume a certain basic level of civility and compliance on the part of the child. No one really talks about what happens when your child just walks away from their timeout. Seriously, what would you do if you child simple refused to take a time out. And not only refused to stay in time out but ran away? And then when you went to get them they spat at you. Or how about bit your arm or cold cocked you in the jaw? Or maybe just fought with every fiber in their body and just punched, kicked and squirmed their way out? What then? Take away their treat? Take away their video? Have them talk about their feelings?

Fortunately my daughter was never quite at that level but she did have very physical tantrums for nearly the first five years of her life. These were full on meltdowns with weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. To mix it up she also included a bit of hitting, kicking and trashing of the house. Oh, and they lasted for ten to twenty minutes. May I add that we never once gave in to a tantrum. Never, ever. We were absolutely unwavering on this so it was not about her thinking that a tantrum would result in anything positive. It never worked. Not ever. We simply continued what we were doing and made it clear that when she was done that she could join us. No interaction until the tantrum was done. Did I mention we never gave in to a tantrum?

These tantrums were also completely random. It wasn’t connected to not getting a toy or her favorite treat. After the tantrum, we would reflect and try to find a trigger, but the perceived trigger was not sufficient to cause such extreme behavior. Also, the same trigger never proceeded a tantrum at any other time. In other words, we were trying to find causation in what was actually correlation.

Well, let me make add a caveat to that statement. Most meltdowns happened after a lot of stimulation or during big life transitions. But this information is so vague, and so comically obvious, as to be useless for trouble shooting cause and effect issues.

So with no real way to prevent them, the only thing we could do is ride them out. Fortunately they mostly happened at home.

The infamous rocking chair. Great for nursing and great for launching a kid's head through the window! Yipeee!

One of the first really big ones that made it very clear on how dangerous a violent tantrum could be was when we were coming back home after a day out around town. She was perhaps 18 months old at the time and she just started to fall apart in the car on the way home. I had her in one arm and a bag of groceries in the other.

That was the first mistake.

She was kicking and screaming so bad that I had to put her down quickly so I could keep my balance and get the groceries to the counter. I chose to put her on our swivel rocker that we bought to make nursing easier.

That was the second mistake.

As I put down the groceries, I look back and see that she had stood up. Still weeping and wailing, she threw her weight back as hard as she could. Normally this would just flip a rocker like this and she would land on the floor. However, our rocker sits in front of our living room window. As the rocker went back full force I saw her head smash through the window. It paused for a microsecond, and then as the glass started falling on the driveway, the rocker went back into position and pulled her head safely inside the house. I was stunned and my daughter was obviously cognizant that she had royally fucked up because she suddenly stopped crying. I swept her off the chair and combed through her hair. Not a scratch. We were unbelievable lucky. It also taught me a very important lesson. When she’s out of control I will need to physically control her to keep her, ourselves, and our house safe. So that’s what I did.

When she was just a toddler, although really big and strong for her age, it wasn’t that difficult. Sometimes I’d put her on my lap facing away from me. I’d then bring one leg over to pin down her’s and then cross my arms over her chest and hold the opposite wrists. I would essentially wear her out until I felt the tension leave her body and she stopped screaming. Then I’d release her back into civil society. This worked pretty good until she got taller and stronger and it got too difficult to keep her from head butting my face. After you almost crack a few teeth or nearly bite off your tongue it’s time to try something new.

The second method was basically a father-daughter wrestling match.

One of the most memorable tantrums happened when she was three. My partner was celebrating her birthday with a party at the house. She had decorated the yard and put out plenty of chairs and food. Things we fine for a while until our daughter started acting up. Acting up often involved walking up to my partner and slapping, punching and poking her. Sometimes she’d repeatedly charge my partner with arms raised as if to hit her. Often she was laughing as she did it. My partner would grab her wrist mid-swing, look her straight in the face and in a very serious and stern tone say “stop that, it’s not ok to hit my body, you need to stop now or you need to leave!”

Well, this rarely worked once she crossed that sanity thresh hold. It was like she was possessed. Nothing could penetrate her brain.

Seeing where this was going I took my daughter to her room.

“Once you calm down you can go back outside.”


She charges me and I take her down like a pro wrestler would. I then let her get back up to see if she’s ready to behave like a human being.


She charges again and I take her down. At this point I’ve had enough tantrum experience to know this is going to take a while so I get on my knees and block the door to her room.

“As soon as you stop crying and screaming and fighting you can go back outside.”


I brace myself and take her down a third time – and this time hold her. Now to understand what I mean by take her down, you have to image trying to halt a 35 pound speeding object with flailing appendages. Oh, and this object is also fragile and priceless. Basically irreplaceable. So taking her down is similar to catching a run away shopping cart. You don’t want the groceries to go flying everywhere so you extend your arms and body and then kind of collapse your body to absorb the impact without getting hurt or destroying the groceries.

Now after I take her down and I need to keep control. I form a cage on top of her with my body and just kind wrestle with her. The goal is to wear her out and avoid getting hurt. The hard part is finding the right balance of force. She is kicking, squirming, and flailing with 100% of her strength. I, on the other hand, need to hold back full force so as not to hurt her. It’s quite unfair.

I’m not exaggerating that this tantrum lasted twenty-five minutes. I know it’s finally over when she suddenly stops crying and gets real still.

“So are you ready now?’

“Yeah, I’m ready to go back outside.”

We walk back outside and I see my surf buddy.

“Wow, that was interesting.”

“Yeah, that was a pretty tough one.”

“We could hear her screaming the whole time out here. Pretty intense shit. She’s a trip.”

“Yeah, she’s trippy alright. And you look at her now and she’s completely calm and centered. It’s like it never happened.”

And so that was our tantrum routine until she was five years old, at which point she just stopped. I’m not saying she stopped getting pissy or loopy, but the tantrums just stopped. Go figure.

My mom says I just screamed for the first three months so of my life. I wouldn’t let her hold me and I would kick and scream and squirm to get away if she tried to console me. Apparently I was not the cuddling type. I’m still not. I was pulling myself up and standing by five and half months, walking by nine months and would rock in my bed so vigorously that she took apart my crib and put the mattress on the floor so they wouldn’t have to listen to the squeaking of the springs and the constant banging as I rocked my crib straight into the walls every night to wear myself out enough so I could fall asleep. I would tuck my arms under my pillow and hold it tight. I was  face down in a hunched ball like one of those 1950’s civil service videos about surviving a nuclear blast. Then I’d roll my body forward as far as I could and tuck my chin in as if doing a somersault. Then I’d slam back down on my heels.I’d repeat the process for a half and hour or so. I did it so frequently and vigorously and for so long that I still remember what the walls of my crib looked like, the sound of the rocking, and the way I did.

And then I just kind of settled down and stopped doing that.

However I still have remnants of my whacked out nervous system. I wiggle my legs and fidget all the time. If you’re sitting on the couch with me you’ll need to put up with a vibrating mattress.  If I’m in the car and it’s not moving, you may noticed it’s shaking instead. I wake up bright and early and ready to take on the world. I have two states, wide awake and sound asleep. There is no transition period. And I’m still loud. I don’t yell, I just talk really loud. A coworker once said my timber was in a range that just cuts through everything in the room which just amplifies the problem. At age seventeen I took apart my bed and put the mattress back on the floor and there it stayed till I was twenty-eight and got a place with my partner. So in many respects not a lot has changed.

So I guess on hindsight, my daughters tantrums kind of do make a little bit of sense considering the source. Perhaps that’s also why I could deal with them so well. While I didn’t understand what was going on in her head intellectually  in a way I think I did “understand” what she was going through.

That’s it for now.

File Under – Dealing With Temper Tantrums in Toddlers and Children – Techniques for Kids with Violent Temper Tantrums – How to Help a Toddler Who’s  Having a Temper Tantrum – Controlling Temper Tantrums in Children Ages 2 to 5

Jan 6 2011

The Little Arcade Game That Could, and Did, But Shouldn’t Have

Summary. The sociopolitical implications of miniature golf and a broken arcade game redistributes the wealth.

neptunes kindom miniature golf santa cruz beach boardwalk

Neptune's Kingdom miniature golf at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is off the hook. Two levels, a cave course with black lights and full size cannons that shoot off continuously above your head and fill the room with smoke. Oh yeah!

It’s two weeks before the new year and we’re burning through our coupon book for the Santa Cruz beach boardwalk. You see, every year we get a year pass, and with that pass comes a coupon book.  Unfortunately most of the book is 2 for 1 offers for hot dogs, soda, and various forms of deep-fried death on a stick, but mixed in the bunch are gems like 2 for 1 miniature golf and laser tag. My daughter doesn’t like to play laser tag but she’s into miniature golf. And, lucky us, December is also 2 for 1 tokens. For every $20.00 in tokens you buy, they give you $20 more for free. So I buy sixty bucks in tokens. She needed to break open a money bag with a security lock on it to fulfill such a large request. They hand me twelve ten-dollar rolls. Four hundred and eighty tokens in total.

“Uh, do you have a bag for these?”

“No. We don’t have anything. Sorry.”

I can’t hold them all, so split them up with my daughter and we take them to the car. I throw an old shirt on top and scatter some trash around to make it as uninviting as possible.

“OK, let’s go play some miniature golf.”


My buddy is also joining us with his six-year-old daughter.

I pay for our golf first. I use my coupon.

“You should use a coupon too. They expire at the end of the month.”

“Shoot, I don’t have my coupon book. Wait let me check the car.”

He comes back two minutes later and hands a coupon to the girl at the counter.

“I’m sorry sir, but this is from 2008? Do you have this years?”

“Shoot, it must be at home. Can you just go with it?”

“No I can’t, sorry.”

“He has the same booklet as me, we buy our passes every year. He just doesn’t have it with him. It’s almost to the end of the year.”

“Sorry, I can’t.”

My buddy takes the coupon and rips the date off the corner and hands it back to her.

“Oh no, what date it is? Ah heck ,who knows?  Might as well just accept it, I’m sure it’s good.”

She chuckles.

“I’m sorry, all the text and colors are different too. We change the look every year. If I accept this I’ll get in trouble. See, here’s the stack of coupons I turn in. Tell you what, I’ll give you both a dollar off.”

“Ok, that’s better than nothing. Thanks.”

There’s something I’ve noticed with miniature gold and that it’s the world’s great equalizer. If you wanted to see a socialist paradise in action, miniature golf would be it.

I’m older than my daughter by thirty-seven years, and a much better player. I plan my shots, have good form, and take my time.

My daughter, with a whole life experience of seven and half years, hardly aims, switches from left to right handed stance at random, has a grip that can best be described as “creative”, and more or less just whacks it.

Still, she makes par from time to time and even occasionally beats me on a hole. No matter how hard I try I can’t shoot under par and most people don’t shoot much over.

The brilliance of the game is that it makes bad players good and good players bad. Since everyone meets in the middle it’s nearly impossible to feel inadequate. So children can play adults and the adults don’t have to hold back because the geometry of the course preordains a roughly equal outcome regardless of skill.

For Ayn Rand and the Republican party, miniature golf is truly a sign of the apocalypse.

We knock out a game of miniature golf and then head over to the arcades.

My daughter goes over to her favorite game and puts in a token.

“Hold on now, we are not going to spend a lot of money on this game. We’re not here to win prizes today. I want to focus on entertainment games like skee ball and air hockey, ok?


The game in question  is mostly a game of chance. There’s a little bit of skill involved in deciding when to drop the ball, but after it drops physics takes over. What hole it ultimately goes in is anybody’s guess.

“It’s not doing anything! I pushed the button and nothing happened!”

“Did you put in a token?”


“Hmmm, it says zero credits. Put in another one.”

“It says one credit now!”

“Great now…huh, that’s weird,  it went back to zero. This game is obviously broken. Stay here while I go get someone to fix it.”

So I walk up to one of the staff people – a wonderfully geeky guy around eighteen years old.

“We have a broken game over here, can you come fix it?”

He comes over and pulls a huge ring of keys out of his pocket. He fiddles with several of them, but none of them fit.

“I’m sorry I don’t have the proper master-key to reset this machine. I’ll have to go get my supervisor.”

I wait for a long time, almost enough time to think we’ve been forgotten, but then a few minutes later the supervisor comes over.

“The machine is frozen. I put in a token but it won’t  give me a credit.”

He puts in a token and it immediately shows one credit. He gives me a quick glance and flashes a subtle but unmistakable  “thanks or wasting my time” look and then beats a hasty retreat and disappears into the darkness.

We start to hit the red button and the credit disappears again so I flag down the original guy.

“Sorry, but it’s still not working.”

He leaves to go get the supervisor once again.

Then all by itself the machine starts running. The conveyor belt starts bringing balls up to the top and dropping them down onto the rotating platform. One drops down, bounces around, and falls into the number eight hole.  Then another one drops, and then another.

The conveyor belt is not running completely smooth and kind of jams and backs up to correct itself over and over again.

“Awesome, the machine’s playing itself. Don’t touch anything.”

Just then the supervisor comes over with a clear “not you two again” look.

“Uh…thanks but it’s all working fine now” I say is I pretend to operate the buttons. Relieved, he quickly leaves to go attend to more pressing matters.

“OK so here’s the deal. Let’s keep some money on top of the machine and you just keep your hand near the red button so it looks like you’re playing. But don’t actually touch the red button because I’m afraid it might stop the machine”

The machine just keeps spitting out tickets. We get a lot of eights, threes, ones and a few twenty fives. We are probably around 150 tickets when the conveyor belt stops. Figuring it just needs a little help, I reach over to the side and give it a few love taps. Sure enough to conveyor belt starts working again.

It isn’t long before we hit the jackpot which is good for an easy 100 tickets.

A few people walk by here and there and notice the huge pile tickets that’s building on the floor. I reach over and act like I’m hitting the button and putting tokens in the machine. Seeing we’re not done yet, they leave.

arcade redemption game winnings santa cruz beach boardwalk

By now our pile’s well over 500 tickets and a young girl and her mom walk over. I been noticing them cruising our isle, and they’ve clearly taken an interest in this game that seems to pay out so much.  I suspect have realized that something is not quite right. Since we’ve won so many tickets, and it’s clear they’re waiting their turn to play, I tell my daughter it’s time to wrap it up and turn the machine over somebody else.

I lean over to the mom.

“So here’s the deal. This machine is playing itself. If it jams up just give it a little tap on the left side to get it moving again. Stay close and pretend like you’re playing. We’ve gotten more than our fair share so enjoy.”

The mother and daughter take over and we leave to go find my buddy and his daughter. He’s just a few games over

See that machine over there? It’s broken and just keeps spitting out balls all by itself. I didn’t know where you were so I turned it over to this other woman and her daughter. After they’ve had it for a while, you should go get it.”

So after about 10 minutes are so my buddy and our kids walk over to the machine. The girl has a huge fistful of tickets and has clearly landed in the big-ticket holes many times.

“Looks like you scored. When you’re done my buddy wants to give it a go with his daughter.”

watching the arcade game play itself

They play for another minute and then turn the machine over. My buddy racks up a good 1000 tickets over the next 15 minutes or so. Then I give it a go again and get another 150.

“So, I think we’re done now” I say to my buddy.

“Yeah, let’s turn these in and get some prizes and then jam. We still got some errands to do.”

By this time on another parent has noticed the game and his little boy is eager to play. The boy’s been watching for a while and I can tell by the puzzled a look on his face that he knows something’s up, but doesn’t know exactly what it is.

I lean over to the dad.

“OK, here’s the deal. The machine is playing itself. When it jams up give it a little tap on the left by the conveyor belt to get working again. Have fun.”

They take over and we head to ticket counting machines.

redemption game ticket machine receipt

"You're Always a Winner When You Play at the Boardwalk" Wow, how prophetic!

We feed our tickets into the counter. I start with my “earned” winnings and it comes to about 310 points. Then we feed the massive pile of “found” tickets and it rings up an impressive 737 for a total of 1047 points.

My buddy spent a lot more playing the other games plus he racked up a huge amount on the broken machine. His total is just shy of 2000. Yippee!

I look over and the dad is still playing the broken machine but his kid is doing something else. I walk over.

“So how’s it going?”

“Good. My kid got bored, but I’m still working it.”

Which I think makes total sense. To a kid, a self playing machine is booooring! To an adult it means less money they have to spend to get some junk for their kid. It’s also a bit like stealing, which is bad, but feels good. Not stealing per say, but getting away with something you shouldn’t. And for an adult with a mortgage, kids, a job and a mountain of other responsibilities that must be tended to, that’s a welcome relief. We’re stickin’ it to the man at the arcade!

prize wall santa cruz boardwalk arcade

I walk over to the counter and start the long and painful process of trying to pick out prizes with a child that can’t compute three figure totals in their head.

“Can I have that blue monkey?”

“Yes. That will leave about 300 points.”

“How much is that bear?”

“That one’s 750.”

“Can I get that one too.”

“No, you only have 300 after the blue monkey.”

“Awww. How about the horse?”

“No, that’s 1500 which is more than we have to spend.”

“What if we put the monkey back?”

“No, we only have 1047, that is less than 1500, which is how much the horse costs.”

” Ummm…then I want the bear.”

“Look, you can have the bear or the monkey. They are both 750 points. You can’t have both of them.”

“Ok, I’ll have the blue monkey.”

“Ok. What else?”

“Can I get the bear too?”

Shoot me now, please. After about ten more minutes of negotiations we get the blue monkey and this crazy bird stuffed animal thing. They both have this angora type looping “fur” and its starts shedding right away.

“Oh boy, mom’s going to love this. She just cleaned the house too.”

We have fifty points left and I don’t want to bring anymore junk home. I see a dad with his little boy who’s maybe three and the boy’s figuring out what he’s going to get with his 12 tickets.

“Want to donate the rest of these?’

“Yeah, let’s give them away.”

I tell the girl behind the counter to roll our remaining points over to the dad.

“I’ve donated my last 50 points to your total. Enjoy.”

“Thanks. Look, they gave us 50 more tickets. Isn’t that great?”

It’s become a tradition. Give way the remaining tickets. We do these redemption games so often that we don’t need any more little trinkets around the house, so after we get a one or two big-ticket items we donate the rest to whomever needs it the most.

One time there were three girls, around nine years old, all trying to figure out what they could get with 150 tickets total. The conclusion was “not much” so we donated our last 250 tickets to them which put them in a bracket where they could a each get something half way decent rather than share one bracelet and a plastic frog between them.

It’s also a good exercise for my daughter. I want to condition her early to view excess as something to share rather than horde. After the point of saturation, having more of the same thing doesn’t do you any good. But to someone who has little, access to your surplus makes a huge difference.

As we’re walking away with our prizes I notice the original mother and daughter team that got a shot at the broken machine after us. The girl has two big stuffed animals.

“Wow, you must be really good at playing these games too.”

They acknowledge our secret with a knowing smile and walk out the door.

Just as predicted, the blue monkey starts dropping fur all the way to the car and the entire next week around the house. I think it’s done finally, but next time we’re only getting the short-haired animals.

File Under: The Politics of Miniature Golf and The Ethics of Accepting Tickets from a Broken Arcade Game That Plays Itself

Dec 22 2010

Boys Gone Wild – It Takes a Village at the Family Fun Center

Summary – Not all boys are destructive, but nearly every destructive person is a boy. That’s not a value judgment it’s just a reality.

sky high sports foam pit

If you want to see why the world is the way it is just go hang out a family entertainment center and watch the action.

In San Jose there’s a killer place called Sky High Sports. It’s a huge industrial space with 30 foot ceilings that’s been converted into a trampoline facility. The main room is the size of a basketball court. The entire floor is made up of a interlocked grid of trampolines. The walls are at 30 degree angles and they too are made of trampolines. So basically you can run, bounce, jump, flip and ricochet to your heart’s content.

There’s another smaller trampoline room with the same configuration that is set up for dodgeball games that they run every ten minutes.

Next to that is the seven and under trampoline room and next to that is the foam pit. And the foam pit is where this story begins and ends.

The foam pit has three lanes. Each lane is clearly marked with a colorful mat  – lane 1, lane 2, and lane 3. Each lane has two trampoline sections. So basically you make two or more big bounces and then launch yourself into the pit. You climb out the same way so everyone must wait for the previous person to get out before they can do their run.

The kids are all lined up, perhaps four or five at each lane. Mostly girls in the four to nine age range.

Suddenly a boy comes running across. He bounces and leaps across all three lanes and then back again and then launches himself in the middle of the pit. His friend soon follows. They’re perhaps nine years old. They climb out of the pit, bounce around again and then launch themselves into the pit a second time.

The girls, who have been patiently waiting their turn, just stand there in silence. However I’m pissed.

“Hey, you two! There is a line here. Everyone takes their turn. Go to the end if you want to jump.”

They seem genuinely surprised. However, I can’t tell if they are surprised to learn that there are three lines of people waiting their turn, or that someone actually held them accountable for their behavior. It’s a tough call.

sky high sports foam pit

Now I’ve been here at least five times and this is one of the most predictable occurrences. Without fail a boy or two, usually age five to nine, will just blast through and jump into the pit – sometimes three times before someone forces them to stop. Now, not every boy does this, this is a small minority – perhaps five or ten percent at most – but it is ALWAYS a boy and NEVER ever a girl.

The girls always take their turn, are in tune with their environment, and generally just “get it’. However a small minority of the boys treat the world as theirs and are completely oblivious to anyone else’s needs.

Compounding the problem is the absence of their parents. Without exception, the boys who just run over the other kids have no adult supervision. I have no idea if these two situations are related, could be complete coincidence as my sample of subjects is so small, but I do know it shifts the parenting responsibilities to others if they aren’t around. That’s assuming they would even notice or say anything if they were present.

Now being the parent of a shy girl I’m especially sensitive to this. If another kid is taking advantage of my daughter she just let’s it happen. She’ll rarely speak up and defend her interests or territory. Someday she will, but at seven years old she’s no match for a rambunctious nine-year old boy who just takes whatever he wants.

Unfortunately, this is the norm for girls. They just suffer in silence. So I say what they don’t have the courage or confidence to say which is “knock it off and get in line”.

So what does this have to do with the state of the world? Everything. Pretty much every problem in the world can be directly linked to an errant boys behavior. If someone’s being shot, stabbed, beaten or raped, good money says it’s a boy (man) doing it. If someone ruining fortunes and swindling investors it’s probably a man who thinks only of themselves. If someone dumping waste in the river or polluting the skies without restraint, it’s probably a man who treats the word as his personal trashcan.

Now granted, men hold the vast majority of positions of authority and power in the world so they have far more opportunities than women to fuck things up, and there are plenty of powerful women who behave like sociopaths, but this dynamic is played out all over the word though every culture and ever ethnic and socioeconomic group. Rich or poor, black or white, it’s the dudes who are messing things up.

If someone shoots their own children and then turns the gun on themselves, it’s a guy doing it. Rampage at the office leaving a dozen coworkers dead or injured, yep it’s a guy. If you’re getting cold cocked, having your leg peed on at a concert, or having your car window smashed with a bat, there’s guy’s appendage attached to the other end.

So what about these rambunctious boys at the trampoline place that just cut in front and pay no attention to social etiquette? Are they tomorrow headlines? Probably not. They’ll most likely get a clue eventually and turn out fine. But behind every male criminal is a boy who at one point was mostly indistinguishable from his peers. He was just a kid. His parents never thought their son would grow up to rob a bank, stab a stranger or deal meth. No one does.

Now male energy is a wonderful thing. It’s what got us out of the caves and across the oceans. It’s what drove most of our modern inventions. It’s a restlessness and confidence that enables men to take great chances, to disregard convention and to be willing to destroy what they have in the attempt to make something new from the pieces. I’m a guy and I get it. It does feel good to shake things up.

Yet, if you line up all the first grade boys at any school in any city in America, it’s absolutely certain than some will end up in prison because they never learned to control their male energy.

This is why I think it’s important for adults to level the playing field, not only with their own children’s abilities, but throughout society as well.

I know my daughter is shy and has trouble asserting herself, so we give that area a little extra attention. Same with her teacher. She’s doesn’t need any help in being shy. She’s got that one down quite well.

Other parents have the opposite dynamic with a bold and fearless child who will take whatever they want. So they’ll need to focus on giving them attention is the areas they are lacking such as empathy, sharing, and observing social cues.

But parents can’t accomplish this on their own. This is where the painfully cheesy, yet accurate “it takes a village” concept comes in. I shouldn’t have to school these kids on etiquette but I will if I have to. We all should. Every parent should be looking out for all the children in their immediate area, not just their own. If a kid’s bullying it’s your job to step in whether it involves your child or not. If a child is putting themselves in harm’s way or acting rude, foolish, or destructive it’s your job to say something.

It’s also a two-way street as I also expect other parents to treat my daughter the same way. If she’s out of line, and I’m not there, then yes, as an adult, it’s your responsibility to say something. Don’t just let her play with broken glass, go into a dangerous crawl space, or tease another child. She’s only seven. Her ability to assess risk and to fully comprehend and predict consequences doesn’t mature until age twenty-five. That’s a long, long, ways away.

So that’s my wish. Let’s all step up a bit and not be afraid to get involved. There are things that all parents agree upon that involve safety, kindness, and fairness. There is nothing wrong with drawing the line on those issues.

And if you don’t like us interfering with your “parenting”, then get your act together and pay attention to what your kid is doing. We all see the consequences when parents shift their responsibilities on to society. It’s not pretty and often ends with the proper authorities.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

File Under: Teaching Young Boys to Control Their Inconsiderate Behavior – It Takes a Village to Raise a Child, Especially When Their Real Parent is Slacking Off

Dec 22 2010

Let’s Talk About Death. Or Not.

Summary: Kids can handle the truth. They can handle death.  It’s adults than need happy stories to ease their discomfort.

When it comes to the big “D” parents just fall apart. They use euphemisms and abstractions when explaining it to their children. To complicate matters, most parents believe in some kind of life after death. Most think they will go to Heaven. I’m not going to argue about whether this is true or not.  Will your child visit grandma in heaven after they die? Perhaps, but you don’t know that and it’s not useful information. What you do know for sure is that grandma is dead because she got too old to live anymore. You can’t visit her and she’s not coming back. Death is forever. If you are dead you cannot enjoy any of things this world has to offer. This is good, helpful information that a child can process and act upon. Spinning happy tales to ease a child’s mind does nothing to help them grasp this simple concept. Children need to know that if they do something profoundly reckless and stupid it could kill them and if they are dead they will never see mommy and daddy again, they won’t eat ice cream, and won’t be able to see, feel or think anything. They will be gone forever. This is all any one of us know for certain. The rest is speculation.

This is how my daughter’s been raised. She has a simple and truthful idea about what happens when something dies. She doesn’t think it’s in a better place or that her dead pet fish is watching over her from the heavens. It’s dead. It’s not coming back. End of story. She also knows that should she die, it’s all over for her as well. She’s not coming back to visit us and she will never do fun things on earth again.

This is not mean. Only adults think this is mean. A child will readily accept the facts and just move on.

What if you told your child that if they didn’t brush their teeth that their teeth will rot and fall out, BUT, they will get them all back when they go to heaven and they will be able to eat ice cream all day and never have to brush their teeth again. Yippee! What wonderful and fantastic story to easy their mind about the consequences of ignoring proper oral hygiene.

I don’t think there is a single parent walking this earth who would think this is good advice. No one would say that because brushing your teeth is important and a child needs to understand the consequences of poor oral hygiene. Yet most people believe this to be more or less true. They will get all their teeth back, eat ice cream all day and never have to brush their teeth ever again. So why don’t they downplay the risks of bad brushing by telling their child that it ultimately doesn’t matter because they get them all back when they go to heaven?

“Well, because children need to brush their teeth. It’s important!”


Some people believe that god will provide. Not in a general way, but in a very specific, tangible and measurable way. When I was in seventh grade I would go to this Wednesday evening Christian event for teenage boys. I went because my best friend,  who was a Christian, went and I just wanted to hang out. We did an activity, listened to some god stuff and then did what we all really came to do, which was play basketball. One day the counselor is telling us a story about how his bank account was dangerously low. He wouldn’t be able to pay his bills. He prayed and prayed for guidance and support. At the end of the month when he balanced his checkbook he discovered that there was an extra $200 in his account. His conclusion? God put extra money in his account because he had faith. My conclusion? You did your math wrong, you always had $200 more than you thought, but you just now noticed it. I couldn’t believe a full-grown adult was behaving this way.

Now, for argument’s sake, let’s say his version of events was true. God somehow manipulated the data at the bank in a way that would make it seem as if an extra $200 did appear in his account. He changed all the data to account for this money somehow, including a paper trail of where it came from. Maybe he materialized a cashed check from a seemingly real, yet complete imaginary and untraceable account. Who knows, but god put the money there.

Now who would you want giving your child financial advice? Me, a twelve-year-old boy, who stresses good accounting and living within your means, or the Christian counselor, a full-grown adult, who teaches prayer as a means for balancing your checkbook. Every parent would pick me. Even the born again ones.

Why? Because being able to handle finances properly is important.

You see this every day, across the entire world. No matter what their faith, when the consequences are serious, people demand, as well as give, the hard tangible truth.

Most people believe in some sort of spiritual being that not only influences the world but will directly shape events for the people who have faith in his power. This is why athletes and armies pray for victory, Grammy winners thank god, and people pray for guidance and relief.

Yet, who do they go to when they are sick? A priest? A cleric? Nope they head right to the hospital and seek out someone who can implement specific treatments with tangible, measurable results- someone who deals in facts and reason and has the training and tools to help them. Sure, they may also pray on the side, but only after they’ve done all the other stuff they know should do.

Who fixes your car? A Shaman? How about your taxes? Do you go to H&R Block or a prayer circle to make sure they are filed correctly?

You can see where I’m going with this. When it’s time to actually accomplish something specific, people keep their faith in check and focus on what options are really available to them. You don’t turn to the Bible to figure out if your child is dyslexic or has delayed language abilities. You got to a speech therapist. You don’t  look to god for guidance to buy a new home. You look at your finances, check the interest rates and with the help of your mortgage broker you massage the numbers. If it’s financially feasible, you do it. If not, you don’t. There is no ambiguity to the process.

People of the most devote faith do this every day when they need to deal with real life. They save the god stuff for church or when it’s time to regroup and reflect. And they do just fine. They adjust and get on with it. They don’t mourn the loss of a fanciful tale that makes everything seem mystical. They don’t pout that buying a home is not cloaked in magic and mystery or that getting a cast for their broken arm is just not spiritual enough.

Children are the ultimate dealers. They handle things way better than adults. And unlike adults they have a very easy time accepting the truth. So Grandma’s dead. Yes, it’s sad. A child adjusts and moves on. It’s the adults that fall to pieces and have to come up with alternate realities to easy their pain. She’s in a better place. Everything happens for a reason. She’s watching us from heaven right now. I can feel her spirit. She lived a full life and it was just her time.

Kids don’t need this. So don’t justify your avoidance of the truth and cloak death in euphemisms for the sake of you children. The reality is you do it for your own benefit, not your kids.

This is not about abandoning your faith. This is not anti-god. This is about the right tool for the job. Religion is fine for discussing metaphorical and existential concepts. It can work fine for exploring issues of morality. It can provide guidance and strength in the darkest of times. The world’s most important civil rights movement was fueled by faith and faith has continued to grow and spread while great empires continue to crumble. But faith is not so good when dealing with situations where you need  immediate concrete information that you can act upon.

We all demand the truth every day. Whether it’s diagnosing your chest pain in the emergency room or just wanting to know what aisle the cheddar cheese is on, you want a simple, truthful answer.

So I ask you, why should death be any different?

File Under: Teaching Kids About Death – How to Explain Death and Dying To Children – Explaining Death from a Human Secularist View Point – Death, Faith and Religion

Dec 22 2010

The Curses and Blessings of The Human Male Mind

Summary: Male energy is a wonderful and silly thing. Well, at least I think so.

A couple of years ago I’m walking out to waves to go surf. It’s low tide so it’s a pretty long walk along rock reef that’s full of nooks and pits. I’m up to my knees when I see a two foot salmon dart across my path.

So what was my first instinct? Stab it with my surfboard. The impulse was clear and strong. I even cocked my arm back. It all happened within milliseconds.

Now here’s the funny part. I’ve been a vegetarian for 24 years and I’ve been allergic to fish for 27 years. So I have no interest in killing a fish nor any use for dead one. Not only that, to replace my surfboard should I snap the nose off, would cost over $400. Even with all these factors, my initial instinct when presented with a wild fish swimming across my path was to kill it – or more specifically, spear it with my surfboard.

Now of course, I didn’t stab the fish. But in the first fractions of a second that’s what my brain was primed to do.

If I see a ball rolling or flying by, my instinct is to catch it. Rock in my path? Well of course I’m going to kick it. If I see a bottle sitting on a wall I want to knock it off with a stone.

I don’t always do it, but that is the very first thing that pops into my head and I can feel my brain and body instantly prepare for those actions.

I can no more stop my eyes from tracking a moving ball than a dog can stop themselves from following a stick. It’s hardwired into our most primitive brain structures.

My partner never feels these impulses. She can walk right past a rock in the gutter and not have the slightest desire to kick it. She can watch a ball roll right past her and off a cliff and not feel anything. Fast object are something to avoid, not track and catch. Fire doesn’t excite, nor do explosions.

Not wanting to play with fire? How can anyone not like to play with fire? If we’re in a restaurant with candlelight settings I always check to see how hot the holder is. Then I pass my fingers through the flames. Then maybe hold my hand over the top to see how long I can hold it there before I feel the burn. I don’t know why, I just do it. It calls to me.

My partner, however, never plays with flame and fire. It doesn’t even cross her mind. I know, shocking isn’t it?

Give me a firecracker and I immediately start thinking of all the things I could blow up. I’m forty-four years old, have a seven-year old daughter, I’m self-employed and been with the same woman for twenty-two years. Yet, I still get excited over a firecracker.

I like filling the kitchen with dry ice fog. It never gets old. Putting a chunk on a metal spoon and listening to it “scream” as it turns from a solid to a gas always cracks me up.

I like spitting off a bridge or cliff.

I like to bend something until it breaks. I’m actually not trying to break it. I’m just curious how far it can bend until it does break.

I like big industrial machines that perform little simple tasks. It cracks me up to see a  four thousand pound machine the size of a living room who’s only job is to put a paper label on a six-ounce can of tomato paste. It’s hilarious and also amazing. It’s ingenious yet wonderfully excessive.

I like watching guys hurt themselves doing foolish things.

I like the sound of a Les Paul through a Marshal stack and MMA fights.

However, these things do nothing for my partner. Right now she’s watching a Lifetime Channel movie about some woman who has a dad who thinks he’s Santa. I’m serious, someone made that movie. And someone’s actually watching it. Now if it was a Cohen Brothers movie about a man who thinks he’s Santa I’m sure it would rock, but Lifetime movies are basically after school specials for women. Everything about them repels me including, but not limited to, the lighting, the framing, the sets, the soft focus, the music, the editing, and the dialog. My sensibilities are offended by Lifetime production methods. I’m so disinterested I don’t even want to be in the same room as I can’t help but mock it – which would be very unfair to her.

So I wrote this blog post instead. Which is way more manly that watching a Lifetime movie.

Yes, male energy is a wonderful and silly thing indeed.

File Under: The Curses and Blessings of The Human Male Mind – How Guys Think – Men and Women Thing Differently

Dec 19 2010

Help, Is There a Smart Ass In the House?

Summary: Everyone needs a smart ass friend who will just tell it like it is.

This story takes place two years ago at Blue Ball Park. Yes, that’s a funny name, and no it isn’t the real name. The real name is Anna Jean Cummings. I know, not much better.

The common name is a slang term for vasocongestion of the testicles due to prolonged and unsatisfied sexual excitement, and the official name sounds like a James Bond girl or perhaps a humorous name to use for a crank call.

Either way, the county was doomed to have a name charged with sexual innuendo.

Blue Ball Park gets its name from the giant eight foot diameter blue concrete balls they installed all over the park. The park has some majestic hills and they scattered them around to make it look like they are moving downward. It’s a cool effect and it’s a signature feature of the park. Hence the name Blue Ball.

Anyway, back to the story.

My daughter loves dogs, but only the concept of dogs. She has a large selection of stuffed dogs and lots of extras including a dog dish, a couple of leashes, some chew toys and a dog bed. She frequently sets up elaborate pet shop scenarios and will dress up like a dog from time to time herself.

When she’s in dog character she’ll walk around on all fours, bark, eat from her bowl, play fetch, and will nuzzle up to you to have her head scratched.

However, she’s afraid of real dogs. Well, not so much afraid as uncomfortable around them. Anxious, you could say.

Now Blue ball park has a lot of dogs – some on leashes, some running free.

One day one comes up to my daughter pretty quickly the way dogs tend to do. She naturally freezes up and I step in to help her relax.

“Oh you don’t have to worry about my dog, she’s very friendly”

“I’m sure she is but my daughter’s nervous around dogs”

“Oh, but my dog is great around children. She would never hurt anyone.”

“That’s probably true, but my daughter doesn’t like dogs coming up to her.”

“It’s ok, you can pet her. She’s very friendly.”

As expected my daughter is still stiff and uncomfortable and in no hurry to pet her dog. I’m also losing my patience with this woman.

“Look, I know your dog is probably great, but my daughter is not comfortable around dogs and every child who’s had their face ripped off by a neighborhood dog has the same story. The dog is always friendly, has never hurt anyone in the past, but for some reason the dog just snapped this time and attacked. I’m not going to force my daughter to pet your dog to prove how safe and wonderful she is.”

At this point the woman takes this as a personal challenge. An affront to her dog’s benign character.

“My dog is the absolute sweetest dog. She’s grown up with all three of my children and I’ve never once worried about their safety. They’ve known her their whole life. They love her and she’s part of the family!”

Just then my surf buddy chimes in.

“So, did the dog breast feed your kids too?”

She stopped dead in her tracks. There was a few seconds of silence and then she walked away with her dog.

Everyone needs a smart ass friend who has the balls to just say the stuff most people only think.

Logic, reason, and politeness were the wrong tools for the job in this situation. She needed a good old fashioned smart ass remark to shut her down. A verbal beat down on the playground.

My buddy provided the honors.

I still smile every time when I think of that day and the image of her dog breast feeding her children.

File Under: Reason and Logic Versus Smart Ass Remarks – Choosing the Right Verbal Tool for The Job – Dealing With Overzealous Dog Owners  Who Can’t Separate Their Egos from Their Dog’s

Dec 19 2010

Girls Love Basketball Just as Much as Boys – At Least at First

Summary: How I became a parent PE volunteer for my daughter’s class and my surprise at how much little girls love basketball.

For seven years we (ie. my partner) had a rule. She gets to sleep in on Saturdays and I take care of our daughter and keep her out of her hair. Since Saturdays were also father/daughter adventure day, this meant that I couldn’t surf on that day.

Now you’d think that surfing six days a week would be enough. Well it’s not, especially when we get back to back swells that hit on a Saturday. One such Saturday was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. I got one text after another from my buddies about how epic it was. On Sunday I paddle out and the swell had already dropped by half and switched to the north.

“Dude, you should have been here yesterday. Can’t you just switch days or something?”

I just couldn’t take it anymore. I needed my Saturdays back.

I also felt the rule was out dated as my daughter is much older now and a million times easier to deal with. These days we’re generally well rested, our sex doesn’t get interrupted anymore, and my partner has plenty of time to relax and watch her favorite shows, read, and surf the web.

However, the bulk of my schedule is the same as I’m the sole income provider. All I really do is work, take care of my daughter and surf. That’s it. I don’t smoke, drink or do drugs. I don’t watch sports or hang out with “the boys”. I never take a vacation unless it’s with my family. I’m frugal and don’t squander money on dumb hobbies or gambling. I’m not into cars, motorcycles, planes, or any other time consuming and expensive passions. I’m a hard working, clean living family guy and I like it that way. So after seven years of skipping Saturday’s I’d had it. I should be able surf every day. It’s my one vice and it’s a very healthy one at that.

So I sat my partner down and started to explain the situation. Naturally she flew off the handle. She went into full defensive mode and then straight into attack mode.

“Wait and let me finish. I think you’ll like what I have to say. Listen first, then you can respond.”

“Ummm, ok. Go. I’m waiting.”

Her arms were crossed, her eyes were wild and dilated, and she looked like she was going to rip my head off. But she was going to give me the courtesy of fair hearing first. And then she’d rip my head off.

I told her that I couldn’t handle our arrangement anymore. I was very unhappy and getting resentful. I need to surf every day. That’s it. That’s all I do and I want it every day. In return I offered her a weekday instead. One day a week I would get our daughter ready for school, make her lunch, take her to class, the works. I would also pick her up from school. This would allow me to surf everyday because instead of doing dawn patrol on that day I would surf swing shift after I dropped our daughter off. It took her some time to fully understand what I was saying, and how superior a weekday sleep-in was to a weekend sleep-in, but she ultimately agreed. She picked Wednesday because every other Wednesday was laundry day and that would be a perfect day not to have to deal with parenting stuff.

So how does this tie into basketball?

Since I was now picking my daughter up every Wednesday at 3pm, I decided to show up early at 2:30 and be a parent volunteer for PE. This worked great all around because I got to help out a bit, get a more intimate view of how my daughter’s school works, and also beat the pick-up time rush hour traffic. I’d much rather play outside that sit in a caravan of cars.

At our school they have PE at the end of the day, which works really nice as the kids are less spazzy when they come home.

The second grade class is exceptionally large and composed of four and half classes with the half being a second-third combo. This size cluster was evident in Kindergarten and has continued to ripple through the school as they age.

The kids are dived into groups. My daughter’s in group one and every day the teachers rotate to a different group and organize that day’s activities. Unfortunately, group one’s Wednesday teacher is really into dance so that’s what I end up doing most of the time. It’s not so much the dance itself – though foot stomping square dancing is a bit tiresome – it’s that there is not a lot for me to do unless a kid is missing a partner.

Ok, it really is the dance mostly. It would be fine if we mixed it up a bit, but the teacher has a lifelong interest in this stuff and she wants to share it. The kids do their best to follow along.

“All right…now two steps forward…now two steps back…dos si do…now promenade…form a circle…now to the left…now back to the right..ok what’s going on here? Does this look like a circle? Every one spread out. Why are you by yourself? Who’s your partner? Ok everyone back to your original positions. Not that position, the one where we line up facing your partner. Do you remember who your partner was? No? Well somebody must be your partner or else someone else has two. Who has two partners? Ok, which one was your original partner? You don’t know. Does anyone remember? Excuse me I’m talking now.”

It’s much like herding cats and this folk dance is as silly to do as it is to look at. It’s also really hard. It’s pretty advanced stuff for second graders who didn’t grow up on a farm in the 1890′s. Even I struggle to remember the patterns and all the names for the moves. Of course, I suck at dancing all around, so maybe I shouldn’t say “even I”. I’m just better at faking it because I’ve got an additional 37 years life experience years on these kids. Now, add some thumping fiddle music on the boom box and it takes a toll on my psyche.

Anyway, on a few lucky days, either due to a substitute teacher or a switch in laundry day, we didn’t do dance and instead did basketball. Not a full game of basketball, just some free play basic dribbling and hoops.

Most of the boys take off and start shooting. Some are quite good.

The girls on the other hand, are struggling.

It’s clear they don’t have the upper body strength to even get the ball over the rim. It’s just one air ball after another. Their dribbling is really sloppy as well, but there is one girl who is completely lost. She’s very shy and petite and she’s off to the side slapping the ball as if she was spanking it. Whack, whack, roll away. Whack, whack, roll away. I’m surprised she didn’t fracture her wrist. No one can sustain that type of trauma for long.

“I notice you’re slapping the ball. I know that’s what it looks like when other people are doing it but they’re not really doing a slapping motion.”

I do a slap dribble to show that even an adult can’t dribble that way.

“See, even I can’t do it that way and I’m much bigger. Dribbling a basketball is really a pushing motion. You push the ball down. Then you follow it. See what’s happening? So I push and follow it down and then follow it back up. Then I push it down again. Down and up, down and up. My hand it right next to the ball the whole time. The closer your hand the better. Here, you try now.”

She nails it on her first try and does her longest and most in control dribble yet.

“Excellent! Perfect. Feels better on your wrist doesn’t it?”

She’s shy and introverted, and I’m only around one day a week, so she never answers me when I speak to her. But the big smile on her face, and the ah-ha twinkle in her eyes tell me everything I need to know.

“Do you want to try to shoot now?”

She shakes her head.

“Want to keep practicing your dribbling?”

She nods.

“Ok, I’ll be over there with the other girls if you need me or want to shoot”.

I walk over to the girls. They still haven’t made a single basket. Most of the time it’s a good foot below the rim and just rolls away into the grass.

“Ok, I’m going to show you a method that will allow to get the ball high enough to get in the basket. Take the ball in both hands like this. Now bend your knees a bit and swing the ball between your legs and then toss it up. This is called underhand. It’s a totally legitimate way to shoot a basket ball. Pros are allowed to do it if they want. So it’s not cheating or wrong. It’s just another way to shoot a ball. Here, you try.”

The first girl tosses it. Swish. She flashes a huge grin.

“I’m next!”

The next girl gets the ball up but it bounces off the rim.

“That was really close. Try again.”

The next one’s a clean shot off the backboard and it drops right in.

There’s five girls in the group and they are pumped. They start practicing right way. After using a better technique for their strength level, they went from hopeless air balls to hitting at least 25% of their shots in five minutes.

We don’t have enough basketballs for everyone one, so one’s using an old soccer ball and one’s using an asymmetrical red rubber kickball with the typical bulge on one side.

The tiniest girl is using a brand new huge thick-skinned basketball. It takes all her strength to get past the rim.

“Would you like to change to something smaller.”

She just shakes her head and keeps on throwing – which is what I expected. She may be small and quite but she’s focused and competitive and has no problems setting boundaries. Even if it means she spends most of her time chasing the ball into the grass.

So that’s it. A little bit of instruction and a group of girls kicked their high failure rate, thus ensuring that they will continue to enjoy basketball for as long as they choose rather than losing interest because they suck. Which would be most unfortunate because at seven years old, they are going to suck at a lot of things.

File Under: Basketball Teaching Techniques That Accommodate Different Strength, Coordination and Skill Levels Among Boys and Girls

Dec 18 2010

The Science Behind Children’s Appetites – The Multiple Stomach Chamber Theory

Summary: The shocking truth about why your child has limited room for broccoli but seemingly infinite room for desert.

So I’m feeding my daughter dinner.

“I’m full. I want some more pasta.”

“But you still have more broccoli left.”

“I’m just full for broccoli. I’m not full for pasta.”

Huh? How is this possible. It doesn’t make any sense, yet every kid I’ve met has the same problem. They get full very easily when eating vegetables but still have room for pasta. And when they’re completely full of pasta, they are still hungry for desert.

And then inspiration struck. Children must have multiple stomach chambers that are designed to hold only specific foods. As they get older these chambers combine until there is only one chamber left. This is why an adult can get completely full of broccoli and really be completely full. They will not be hungry for anything else.

Children are born with their skull in separate pieces so they can get through he birth canal without fracturing their head. The pieces slowly grow together as they age. Children also start out with no teeth, then get baby teeth, and then those fall out and are replaced by adult ones. So it’s entirely within reason that they are born with a fractured stomach that slowly grows together and is ultimately replaced with an adult one as well.

Below is a diagram outlining this theory.

multiple stomach  chamber theory chart

As you can see, a child has four stomach chambers – a small one for vegetables, a bigger one for pasta, an even bigger one for cheese, and a giant one which is for deserts. So a child can easily max out their vegetable chamber and thus be too full for broccoli, but could still easily hold more pasta. If a child doesn’t fill all of their chambers, they will still feel hungry.

On the other hand, an adult’s stomach is one chamber and doesn’t make a distinction on content. It can be filled with anything until it can’t hold anymore. At this point the adult will say “I’m full, I just can’t eat anymore” and they will really mean it.

However a child may only be full of one kind of food yet have ample space for other types of food.

I know, I’m shocked as you are.

File Under: Why Kids Feel Full But Still Want Desert

Nov 27 2010

My Disturbing Google Analytics – Search Engines, Pedophilia, and The Unexpected Consequences of Having a Parenting Blog

Summary – If you have a parenting blog you will most likely attract a few pedophiles. Sad but true. Plus bonus tips on how to reduce your parenting blog’s attractiveness to pedophiles.

There are unintended consequences to everything and blogging about fatherhood is no exception.

Now being a father with a daughter, I’m naturally going to use words like young, girl, child, kid and so on. But I also like to write about love, relationships, and sex. These subjects are about me and my partner. Adding to the mix is my use of salty language. I’m not shy about using the occasional fuck to make my point.

Taken in context these terms have clear purpose and are not easily confused with other meanings or interpretation. That is unless you are not a human being and instead a robot.

Search engines send out “bots” and “crawlers” to scan the text and code on your website. They collect this data and send it back where its is cataloged on thousands of servers. This is called indexing. Google has tens of thousands of servers spread across the world that enable it to return near instantaneous results to your search queries.

Now Google’s algorithm is incredibly sophisticated from a mathematical perspective but very primitive from a human perspective. It can’t understand irony or a good joke. It has no idea that a single web page may have three distinct essays on it that have nothing in common with each other. It doesn’t understand context or when you’re using metaphor or hyperbole. Basically, it’s a simple number cruncher.

Now, for everyday purposes this is plenty good for helping you find what you want. The market has anointed Google the clear winner on relevancy by capturing (judging from my own statistics) at least 90% of the search market.

So this is how it all works and most of the time it works well. But because Google is basically a number cruncher it lumps all my words and sentences together. This content lumping leads a few people, who are searching for some very disturbing subjects, to visiting my site. Below is a collection, in no particular order, of the fifty creepiest search terms from November 2009 to November 2010.

distrubing google analytics search terms

Now could some of these be academic/investigative research or normal curiosity? Yes. I know I’ve searched for some pretty fucked up stuff over the years. But some of these could not possibly fit in that category. Some of these are without a doubt searches by men who have a very unhealthy sexual attraction to children. Some may actually be currently molesting children at this very moment.

Now this is not my fault of course. It’s Google’s. But not really Google’s either as they can’t understand context nor control how people search.

Fortunately these people don’t hang out on my blog. In web analytics there is a term called bounce rate. If someone comes to your site and then backs out without visiting any other pages, that person would have a 100% bounce rate. Nearly all of these visitors had a 100% bounce rate which means my blog didn’t match what they were really looking for. Whew!

So I’m not going to change my writing style over this as it would defeat the whole purpose of writing personal blog as well as be pointless exercise as there is no way to predict how it will all come out in the end. Plus, my daughter is in no real danger. These are just lonely messed up guys with bad spelling trying to satisfy their needs through digital gratification.

So should I stress out even more about what photos I choose to show? I’m already pretty strict. A totally innocent picture of my daughter could be a turn-on for a molester. I can’t help that. Just as a women’s shoe catalog can be a masturbatory aid for a man who has a foot fetish, so can a parenting blog be a source of titillation for a person who’s sexually attracted to children.

So what’s a turn-on for a pedophile? Besides the obvious stuff that shows some skin, I have no idea. I also assume it’s as varied as normal adult sexual attraction is. I wish I could change how some people think, but I can’t. How any one person is going to interpret what I post is mostly out of my control. That’s just how it is.

Plus they also clog up my visitor stats with irrelevant data which probably bugs me even more than the predator stuff. Lay off my analytics assholes!

Here’s Three Simple Rules That Will Greatly Reduce Your Parenting Blog’s Attractiveness to Pedophiles. (I don’t personally follow these rules but as an SEO expert and web developer with over ten years experience I guarantee they will work.)

1. Use deceptive or anonymous file names for your images. A picture of your infant daughter taking a bath should be something like “image-0001.jpg” or “box.jpg” not “my-daughter-taking-bath.jpg”.

2. Use deceptive alt tags/image descriptions when inserting images into posts. A picture of your infant daughter taking a bath should be something like “a plain brown box” or “carton of eggs”.

3. Don’t use words like sex, fuck, fucking, nude, naked, shit,and shitting anywhere on your blog.

If you want to see who’s visiting your blog then install Google Analytics.
It’s free.

How to Install Google Analytics
If you want to install Google analytics on your blog then sign up for an account here. Then, if you have a WordPress blog, install the Google Analyticator Plugin by searching for new plugins in your admin panel then click install now. Just insert your Google account profile ( it will look something like this: UA-5555555-3) in the proper field and you’re done.

File Under: How to Stop Pedophiles from Visiting Your Parenting Blog, Mom Blog, Mommy Blog, Dad Blog, or Father Blog – How Search Engines Index Your Blog

Nov 12 2010

I Will Kik Yore Ass Dad!!!! – My Daughter Learns to Write

Summary: Hey, at least she’s excited about writing.

I will Kick your ass dad!!! Funny note from daughter.

I thought this was pretty darn funny.

My daughter’s making invitations to a small Halloween party we’re having at our house. It’s so small there is only one other person invited. Originally the annual get together was going to be at her friend’s house but in a moment of frustration, her mom cancelled the party due to her friend’s misbehavior.

We contacted the dad and suggested we have it at our house. That way they can technically stick to their punishment, but not punish our daughter in the process.

This is always a conundrum when punishments affect innocent bystanders like friends and family.

So I get her some construction paper, some pens, and write out what she wants to say so she can copy it. She starts working on the invitation while I go back to my computer and work. A little while later she announces it’s done and she’s going to make one more. I find this a bit odd because there is only one invited guest.

Ten minutes later she comes into my office and hands me a note. It says “I will kik yore ass!!!! dad.” Continue reading

Nov 11 2010

Millionaire Matchmaker is Fucking Boring – More Kids and Cussing and The Family Values That Really Matter

Summary: Profanity rules on broadcast television do not protect children because profanity is a normal experience in most children’s real lives and have nothing to do with real life threats.

So we’re watching Millionaire Matchmaker on Tivo while our seven-year old daughter holds an elaborate dinner party with her Littlest Pet Shop toys. As she gets deeper into it, her imaginary conversations get louder and louder.

“What birdie? You want to have a plate of spaghetti? Well you’ll have to wait because first we are having cereal.”

“But I want to have spaghetti now!”

“No you can’t. Doggie here is perfectly happy with her cereal so you can be too.”

“I’m really happy with my cereal too and I’m a little sheep.”

“Whaaaa…I want spaghetti now!!!”

“I’m sorry birdie, but no spaghetti until cereal time is over. Now go sit next to octopus, he doesn’t want cereal either.”

“Hello birdie, I’m octopus. I don’t eat cereal or spaghetti. I’m waiting for fish”

Now my partner and I have been getting bored with Millionaire Matchmaker and Patti specifically. The first season was decent but she’s got a foul mouth and a foul temper and her sexism is a bit grating. The endless parade of dysfunctional adults is getting old as well. Still, I’d like to watch the show in peace even if I’m not that stoked about it anymore. Continue reading

Nov 7 2010

No More Begging – The True Story of a Chocolate Lollipop, a Whining Child, the Pacific Ocean, and a Father Who Just Loses It

Summary: Kids beg because you teach them to beg. So don’t teach them.

I grew up in a house with a few simple rules, one of which was “no means no”. So if you ever wanted something, don’t keep begging or you’ll surely doom your chances of ever getting it. My mom never wavered on this rule so I grew up accepting what my mom said as the real deal.

However, in elementary school, my best friend next door had a different dynamic. If his mom or dad said “no” he went into full begging mode. Why? Because in his house no meant “keep asking and if you beg in just the right way, and you whine and whimper a bit more, we may change our mind”.

That wasn’t stated explicitly, but that what he was taught – and that’s what he heard – every time his parents gave in.

One day my friend asks if I can have a sleep over at his house. I said I don’t know so let’s go ask.

So we go into my mom’s room.

“Mom, can I have a sleep over tonight at Peter’s house”

“No. Not tonight.”

“Ok. let’s go”.

My friend stops me in the hall and tells me to ask again. I tell him no. If my mom says no it means no. She’ll get angry if you keep asking. Continue reading

Oct 5 2010

One-To-One Correspondence Despondent – Learning to Count, Or Not

Summary: Making your kid count jelly beans when they don’t understand one-to-correspondence is a great way to make yourself feel stupid.

It’s something we take for granted, and we can’t recall ever not being able to do it, but without it it’s impossible to do any sort of math or even tell time. I’m talking one-to-one correspondence of course.

In a nutshell, one-to-correspondence is the understanding that numbers correspond to objects. When someone says “one” you should have a clear picture of just one object. Not two, not three – just one. If you add another, you know that is now two and can clearly picture two and only two objects.

Now just because a kid can count to ten, or even a hundred, doesn’t mean they know what ten is, or they can count a hundred objects. You can recite your numbers from route without any understanding of what it means. This is generally how kids first learn their numbers – with route memory. Continue reading

Jul 27 2010

My Daughter Prefers Boy’s Underwear – A Tale of Star Wars, Pee Flaps, and Gender Stereotypes

Summary: If your daughter doesn’t want flowers, hearts and unicorns on her ass she’s out of luck. The shocking fact that there are no Star Wars underwear for girls.

boys star wars underwear

Recently my seven-year old daughter announced she wanted boys underwear. The idea was funny to her and she preferred the patterns on the boy’s underwear. So we got her a couple of pairs that had footballs, baseball and bats on them. The odd thing is she has no interest in these sports.

She proudly ran around the living room in her sports themed underwear and stopped frequently to see how they looked and to examine the fabric.

“What’s this part for?”

“Oh, that’s a little flap. Pull it open. It’s like a little hole.”

“Why does it have that?”

“Well, the idea is that a boy could open the flap and pull his penis through. That way he can pee in the toilet without pulling down his underwear.

“What?!! Is that for real?!!”


“I want to try that!”

“Uh, you can’t. You’ll just pee all over yourself. You need a penis to do it.”

“I’m going to try!”

“No you’re not. It won’t work.”


Shortly after we got the sports themed underwear her birthday came up. She was clear on what she wanted – more boys underwear – and preferably Stars Wars. The Star Wars part being the most important.

Now, one would think that Star Wars underwear would come in both boy’s and girl’s styles. Just about every kid I know, be they boy or girl, loves Star Wars. So why not market to both?

Apparently, the brilliant minds who control the children’s clothing market has decided that only boys want Darth Vader or Yoda on their butt. Girls, well they can drop $90 and get some vintage C3PO Underoos that look like a costume, but only guys get the real deal.

I was shocked.

Now, over the years I’ve gotten numb to the gender ghettoization of Toy’s R Us with their alternating pink and blue isles of girls and boys crap. I’ve even gotten numb to the over sexualization of children’s toys where the dolls look like whores or Lolitas in training and the action figures look like roid raging freaks who exist only to destroy and fight. But I was not expecting something as ubiquitous to post 70’s childhood as Star Wars to suffer the same fate.

How short-sighted and sad that they think my daughter only wants kitty cats and rainbows.

Shame on whomever deserves to be shamed on. Oh, and damn them all to hell as well.

File Under: They Don’t Make Stars Wars Underwear for Girls – Gender Prejudice in Children’s Clothing Choices

Jun 20 2010

Double Income No Kids to Stay at Home Mom – When Going Back to Work Doesn’t Work

Summary: The plan was for her to go back to work after four months maternity leave. What were we thinking?

My partner took about four and half months off from her job as a preschool teacher to have our daughter. One month before and three and a half months after. The plan was that she would go back to work and resume our regular lives.

She was only going to go back part-time so she would work a shorter schedule by coming in later at 10:30 and then working till the end of the day 2:30. She’d had the job for nine years, and for a preschool teacher was at the top of her pay scale in our area, but her take home pay was still low. About $850 per month for the part time schedule.

I, on the other hand, was self-employed. I had my own graphic design business and worked from home. The plan was that after she went back to work I would take care of our daughter and work on and off when possible. Mostly when she was asleep. When my partner got home I’d be free to devote all of my remaining hours to my job while she took care of our daughter.

Well the harsh realities of parenthood hit fast and hard. It was clear after one week that there would be no way to slip in a bit of work here and there. Perhaps answer the phone or handle an email or two, but that was it. Continue reading

Jun 14 2010

I Put Soap in the Toothpaste! – Dealing With a Child’s Bizarre Behavior

Summary: Sometimes your child’s behavior is so bizarre you simply don’t know what to do.

I’m taking care of the aquarium when my daughter comes out of the bathroom after brushing her teeth.

“I think it’s your turn to brush your teeth.”

“I will later.”

“I really think you should brush your teeth right now.”

“Oh no. What did you do?”

I walk into the bathroom and start looking around. It looks normal so I reach for the toothpaste. Just then my partner yells out from the living room.

“Don’t use the toothpaste! She put soap on it!”

“What, are you serious?” Continue reading

Mar 8 2010

Death to Santa Claus – Don’t Lie, Kids Can Handle the Truth

Summary – Who says it’s all right to convince your kids Santa Claus is real? Childhood shouldn’t be a hazing ritual perpetuated by their own parents.

santa is not real

Does she know Santa is not real and this is an actor. You bet. Does it make it less fun to get your picture with him. Nope. In fact, I think it's better because she's not all stressed out and crying like the other kids who think this guy is the guy who holds the fate of their presents in his cold weathered hands.

What if you knew a parent who told their child Star Wars was real. Like real as in a historical document. That Darth Vader patrolled the galaxy in a giant Death Star looking for rebels. People fought with real light sabers and The Force could absolutely be controlled by both the good and the dark side. To further trick the child the parent would periodically point to the sky and shout “I think I see the Death Star, I hope it doesn’t destroy our planet!” Continue reading

Feb 4 2010

Quit Whining – If You Are Single and Have No Kids I Don’t Want To Hear Your Complaining

Summary: Parents have no patience for listening to their single, childless friends complain about their life.

At a recent family gathering my sort of brother-in-law (I say sort of because my partner and I aren’t married) and I started talking about parenthood and how it just completely obliterates your pre-child life.

“I just have no patience for single childless people who complain”, says my brother-in-law,”they can do what ever they want, whenever they want!”

“I know, before I had a kid I used to think I was busy. Ha! What a delusional fool I was.”

“It’s so funny. They come into work on Monday and complain about how tired they are from partying all weekend, or about how the two movies they saw sucked, or how crowded the plane was on their way to Vegas. Partying? Movies? Vegas? What are those things? I haven’t had an unscheduled minute that didn’t revolve around work or family in over 6 years! Do you hear me complain? No. There’s no time to complain! I just do it because it needs to be done.”

And that was just part of the rant. He was clearly on a roll and it was a joy to watch. And he’s completely right. Childless single people have no scale. They’re like teenagers. Everything’s a crisis. Continue reading

Jan 1 2010

My Daughter Wants to Be Ripped – Helping Young Girls Develop Self Esteem and a Positive Body Image

Summary: My six-year-old daughter wants to be strong and ripped. Good for her! Hope she still thinks that way when she’s thirteen though.

caption here

"Look at my muscle!"

A couple of weeks ago me and my daughter head over to Monterey to check out Sharks 3-D at the Imax theater. It was the 11 am showing and there were only four of us in the whole theater. Pretty sweet seating wise, but I’m a bit bored with the anthromorphised sea turtle with the British accent. He’s our “tour guide” on this adventure. They string together a bunch of nondescript scenes and try to make  a story out of it. It just doesn’t work. The photography’s decent enough, but how many times can you see the same whale shark pass slowly across the lense before you start to doze off. Plus, there’s no explanation on how this little sea turtle manages to travel thousands of miles in what appears to be one day. They tease and hint at danger throughout but nothing really happens. I was hoping for at least one “shark kills sea lion” scene but no luck. Not even a bruised dolphin. However, my daughter totally get’s into it. She’s getting in and out of her seat, bouncing around and grabbing at the 3-D projection as the sharks and jellyfish float past her face. Great fun. Continue reading

Jan 1 2010

Super Salad Smackdown – Competing Theories on Portion Control

Summary: People’s lives will expand to their available environment. Whatever you are doing, it will expand to fill the available space. My lunch time super salads are no different.

this is a caption

My lunchtime super salad. Women and children should not attempt to eat this salad. It will crush them as it is far too Herculean for their little bodies. Luck would have it, all my favorite stuff was available this day including the blueberries, the pomegranate and the corn. The mess begins when you actually dig in and try to eat it.

Every day for lunch I make a monster salad. I mean it’s huge. It’s on steroids. It’s a manly salad.

I start off with a bed of mixed baby greens, some sunflower sprouts, buckwheat sprouts and a bit of shredded cabbage. That’s the foundation. Depending on what’s in season I’ll then add sliced grapes, pomegranate seeds, fresh blueberries, sliced strawberries and whatever other interesting fruity type things I can find. I may also kick in some heirloom tomatoes, beets and fresh corn sheared right off the cob. I top it off with a fistful of walnuts, a sprinkle of fresh shredded parmesan and cracked pepper. Nutritionally it’s off the charts and delicious as fuck. I know that’s a weird way to talk about a salad, but I can actually feel my body becoming energized on a cellular level from eating the salad. Continue reading

Dec 1 2009

Tic-Tac-Toe Trauma – Dealing with a Child’s Frustration with Mastering a New Skill

Summary: Sometimes explanations or assistance won’t do it and they just need to work it out themselves. Dealing with a child’s frustration with mastering a new skill.

Damn you foam rubber Tic-Tac-Toe game, damn you straight to hell!

Damn you foam rubber Tic-Tac-Toe game, damn you straight to hell!

It’s Wednesday morning before Thanksgiving and my daughter is out of school today. She’s been showing an interest in Tic-Tac-Toe lately so my partner breaks out a game board. It’s soft foam rubber material and you place the pieces on the board.

My partner beats her once again.

“You need to look at what I’m doing too. You just can’t focus on getting three in a row. You need to stop me from getting three in a row as well.”

They repeat this over and over until my daughter starts to figure it out. More often than not, the games begin to end in ties.

You’d link she’d be happy but my daughter get’s so frustrated that she starts crying because she’s not winning. Continue reading

Dec 1 2009

Who’s Your Daddy? – Calling a Parent by Their First Name

Summary: My daughter calls me by my first name. Oh well. At least there’s no mistaking who she’s talking to.

It’s me, my daughter, my buddy and his daughter, and we’re figuring out what we’re going to do. My daughter is the first to speak up.

“Clay, are we going to the park soon?”

Dude, she calls you by your first name?”

“Uh, yeah. It’s always been that way.”

“Weird. That wouldn’t fly with my kids. No way they’re calling me by my first name.”

“I think it’s kind of funny.”

“Clay, are we going to the park soon?”

“Yeah, in just few minutes OK.”

“Dude, that’s trippy.” Continue reading

Dec 1 2009

Introverts are Not Retarded or Anti-Social

Summary: The world is full of extroverts and reflects their extroverted ways. This is hard on introverts. The Dos and Don’ts of working with an introverted child.

My daughter making a pet store in her room.Don't bother her while she's working on it. She'll let you know when it's done.

My daughter making a pet store in her room. But don't bother her while she's working on it. She'll let you know when it's done and then gladly give you a tour.

If you’re an introvert you’ve heard it all. Extroverts think you’re rude, arrogant and anti-social. They think if you just tried a bit harder you’d really love going to parties and engaging in hours of directionless conversation. They feel sorry for the way you isolate yourself. There’s clearly something wrong with you. Do you hate people? How could you be happy by yourself? Don’t you get bored just sitting in your room reading? Where’s the excitement?

Well this may come as a shock to most extroverts, but we introverts are just not that impressed with you. We also carry our own stereotypes. Your constant need for interaction and social validation comes across as shallow, desperate and needy. Your preference for small talk and your impatience with complex thoughts and feelings makes you look a bit dumb. Don’t you have any in depth opinions about anything? Do you ever reflect? Can’t you focus for two seconds and take a subject to its logical conclusion rather than just bailing as soon as it gets hard? Do actually have any close friends that you share a deep bond with or is everyone just interchangeable. Do you even care who you hang out with or will any warm body do? Do you have any standards at all?

Growing up that was my impression. Extroverts were like little puppies; spastic, needy, directionless and socially indiscriminate.

I know better now, but when you see someone constantly seeking social interaction and validation, when you see them just blab on and on about nothing, when you see them get bored when the conversation becomes more in depth and reflective in nature, it’s easy to dismiss an extrovert as being somewhat of an idiot.

Of course, they’re not idiots, it can just seem that way to an introvert. Especially when you’re young, reactionary and trapped in school.

Fortunately as you get older, you get wiser. You also have more control over your life. You tend to move away from the irritants and gravitate towards what makes you happy. So rather than slamming into each other and driving each other crazy, introverts and extroverts  start socializing with each other.

Which brings me to my family.

My partner is introverted and shy but has good social skills. I am introverted but completely uninhibited and somewhat klutzy socially. My daughter is most definitely introverted and so far she she’s shy as well. Socially, unfortunately, she also seems to be a bit klutzy like her dad. I say unfortunately because accidentally offending people or confusing them by not reading or honoring social cues well is not an advantage in life. Fortunately, they are learnable through example and practice.

However, introversion is a character trait. You don’t grow out of it. It may lesson or increase overtime, but the basic predisposition will remain. It’s also unrelated to shyness, which often lessens through life. Introversion doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll also be shy. You can be both introverted and unabashedly confident. A confident introvert simply doesn’t care what you think about them, has no problem taking the lead when they feel it’s necessary, and is self-assured when dealing with other people. They just don’t require a high degree of social interaction to be happy like an extrovert. Continue reading

Nov 24 2009

An Apple, a Scrotum and a Bit of Baby Sign Language

Summary: Using baby sign is pretty awesome and can give you insight into what your pre-language child is thinking.

Baby sign for "what the fuck, dad"

Baby sign for "what the fuck, dad"

My daughter was never one much for baths. Even as an infant she preferred a shower. However, that is not what this story is about, which is baby sign.

Back in 2003, after our daughter was born, we decided to use baby sign as a communication bridge until she could talk. You can start anytime from birth, but you really won’t see any results until they are developmentally ready. So for a while it just seems like your spinning your wheels. The bummer is, you kind of have to go through that phase were you sign endlessly and nothing happens for your child to actually be able to implement it when she’s ready. Continue reading

Nov 20 2009

The Day I Discovered Unconditional Love

Summary: I love my partner deeply and would do almost anything for her…but she’s still my equal. My daughter, on the other hand is in another category of devotion entirely.

My daughter trying out her new face. I had no idea that a newbord will show such a complete range of human emotion straight out of the womb. I figured it took a week at least.

My daughter trying out her new face. I had no idea that a newborn will show such a complete range of human emotion straight out of the womb. I figured it took a week at least.

Would I risk my life for my partner? You bet. Would I give my life for her? Well, that’s a bit more complicated. I would do whatever I could to keep her safe, to help her achieve her goals, to provide everything she needs to thrive, but if one of us has to die I’d prefer it was her instead of me. Sounds harsh, but she feels the same way about me.

Though we are devoted to each other our love has its limits because we view each other as equals with our own agendas, desires, and dreams. We could also survive without each other just fine. Not to say that it wouldn’t be devastating and sad for a while, but we’d move on and the pain would subside with time.

Our daughter is a different story entirely. If she were to die tomorrow,  it would leave a permanent whole that would never heal. Continue reading

Nov 17 2009

Not Cheating, Just Leveling the Playing Field – Morals, Children, and The Politics of Arcade Redemption Games

Summary: Is it cheating when you bend the rules of a system that is inherently unfair? The politics and economics of arcade redemption games and a couple’s differing opinion on the ethics of manipulation.

Bounce-a-Rama in San Jose. The bounce houses are totally killer and one of the best values for your buck anywhere. However, the redemption games will bleed you dry.

Bounce-a-Rama in San Jose. The bounce houses are totally killer and one of the best values for your buck anywhere. However, the redemption games will bleed you dry.

It’s a Saturday afternoon and we’re playing the Skee-Ball machines at Bounce-A-Rama.

My daughter has yet to figure out how to roll the ball up the ramp. She understands the basic kinetics, but her style is frighteningly awkward.

She picks up the ball and then locks out her right arm so it’s perfectly straight. Then she curls her wrist tightly inward as she clutches the ball. For good measure she raises her shoulder up next to her ear, arm tight against her body and rounds her shoulders and tilts her head to the right

She looks like a hunchback with cerebral palsy. Continue reading

Nov 16 2009

Self-Employed Work at Home Junkie – Help, I’m Addicted to Flextime!

Summary: If you’re up for it, working from home can be the best thing in the world. The pitfalls and triumphs of managing a home based business and family simultaneously.

My partner often says you can’t have it both ways. Most specifically she says that when I complain about the frequent interruptions from my daughter while I’m working. Meaning, I can’t just pull the “I’m working” card when it’s convenient for me and at the same time stroll out of my office whenever I need a break and hang out with her and my daughter.

“This is the compromise you made by deciding to work from home and not getting a separate office. If you don’t like it, then get an office.”

It pisses me off when she says this. Mostly because it’s true. You really can’t have it both ways. I have to admit though, I like it that way.

It’s a summer day, I’ve been working full blast since 4:30 in the morning,  it’s now 2:30 pm and the sweat is tripping off my forehead on to my keyboard.

“Fuck I can’t handle this anymore! I can’t even think straight with all this sweat in my eyes! Get on your flip-flops, we’re going to the beach.” Continue reading

Nov 14 2009

I’m a Father, Not a Babysitter – Debunking the Mr. Mom Stereotype

Summary: It’s insulting to both dads and moms to call it babysitting when a father is taking care of his children. Breaking the stereotype of dad as substitute parent.

When I’m out and about with my daughter I hear two typical comments. One falls in the “you’re such a good father” category. The other falls into the “so you’re babysitting today?” category. Moms never hear these. Ever.

Underlining these two statements are the same concepts. Women are just expected to devote their lives to their children, therefore any praise or acknowledgment is redundant and unnecessary. Fathers on the other hand are either inept or just have more important things to do than parent. Therefore any contribution to the raising of their own children is to be praised and acknowledged.

Both are insulting to men and women. Why is a man called a Mr. Mom when parenting his own children? It’s simple really. When raising children is classified exclusively as women’s work, any contribution from a man is considered an anomaly and a feminization of his manhood.

This is, of course, poppycock. Yeah, you read that right, I said poppycock! Continue reading

Nov 13 2009

Teaching Your Kid to Read Sucks! Thank God for Public Schools or I’d Shoot Myself

Summary: If your child is hella smart I suppose teaching him or her to read could theoretically be fun. For me, it’s straight up torture.

I don’t rely on schools or anyone else to teach my child anything that is important. But to be honest, without the support of public schooling, I think I’d go crazy. I just don’t have the patience to handle this all on my own. My partner will second that.

Though she’s now over the hump with many sight words, for several months this was our evening reading routine. It’s getting better every day, and she is clearly learning to read, but some days it feels like someone’s playing one  big practical joke on me.

And no, I’m not one of those overachieving parents forcing useless Baby Einstein videos down my kid’s throat and testing her with flash cards while she’s trying to eat snack . She’s six years old and in first grade. She loves books and we’ve been reading to her every night practically since she was born. She’s just taking what feels like an eternity to catch on to this whole reading thing . It’s mind numbing to experience this on a daily basis. Continue reading

Sep 18 2008

Birthday Party Season – A Simple Guide on How to Throw a Good Children’s Birthday Party

Summary: Birthday Party Season – A Survivor’s Tale

Ah yes, Birthday party season. It generally kicks in around May and winds down around August. During the summer months we go to about one party per week and sometimes two…occasionally in the same day! After going to so many birthday parties over the last four years some common patterns emerge. The first have to do with party invite etiquette. On the child’s first birthday party it’s really about friends and family. The child has no idea what’s going on and this is generally where they get their first unrestricted taste of sugar. It’s wild to watch their eyes light up like a crack addict taking a hit. There’s no turning back at this point, so if you’re a strict “no sugar” type parent, don’t give the little one any cake. It corrupts their taste buds forever.

However, by the time their second birthday rolls around they’re starting to get a grasp of the idea of presents and special occasions. At this point your invitee list will expand a bit to include a couple of parents you see regularly during play groups or daycare. Your child may have a favorite friend or two, so make sure to invite them as well. Continue reading

Nov 27 2007

Vegetarian Children – Raising Kids in a Vegetarian Home While Allowing for Choice

Summary: You became a vegetarian by choice. Perhaps your children should have that same choice.

I first tried being a vegetarian during my senior year of high school in 1984. I was living in Mesa Arizona at the time: a place of extremely wide, straight, flat streets punctuated by strip malls with names like “Poca Fiesta”, “Fiesta Village” and “Fiesta Mall” (I swear I’m not making this up!) I lived in a planned community called Saratoga Lakes in the Dobson Ranch area which was literally a cattle ranch back in the day before it was paved over with suburbia. So just about everything around me (my home, my school, shopping centers, parks, streets, etc) was less than twenty years old and most of it less than ten years old. My entire neighborhood and school district was less than 7 years old.

We had very few “local” businesses. Pretty much everything was a chain store. Natural food stores just simply didn’t exist anywhere in the valley. Same with vegetarian restaurants.

My reasons for trying vegetarianism were not related to any moral or ethical issues about killing and eating animals. I didn’t then, and I still don’t now, have any ethical problems with the killing of animals for food as long as the animals are raised in healthy humane conditions and their deaths are as quick and trauma free as possible. No, my reason for trying vegetarianism was a quest for better health. Over the years I had noticed a pattern. Eat meat, get heartburn. Not always, but it was the only food that repeatedly caused problems. So why did it take me seventeen years to notice this pattern and do something about it. Conditioning is the culprit. Continue reading

Oct 28 2007

Kids and Cussing

Summary: If you don’t like the way your child cusses then stop cussing yourself.

They are certain conversations you’ll just never have with another adult.

Daughter: “Do cats like milk?”

Father: “Yes they do, but you shouldn’t give them too much or they might get diarrhea.

Daughter: “I want them to get diarrhea. I like poop a lot.”

This was a little conversation I had with my daughter last week as we were getting into the car after eating lunch at a Thai food restaurant. I have no idea what inspired her to ask the question in the first place. Kids just say some crazy shit from time to time.

You and your partner will be your child’s first role models in life. From the time she’s born she’ll study you intensely. She’s sizing you up, looking for clues as to what is expected of her, pushing boundaries to see how you react and basically testing everything on a daily basis.

So it’s no surprise that she’ll pick up your language patterns fairly quickly. Including your more colorful phrases. Continue reading

Oct 27 2007

Poop Aint So Bad After All!

Summary: It may seem impossible to comprehend before you have a kid but changing diapers is going to be really easy.

Like most first time fathers I had zero previous experience changing a baby’s diaper. Since I had no experience, my imagination was filled with thoughts of diapers full of giant stinky man-sized turds. Or something at least as bad as dog poop. So naturally, changing diapers was at the top of the list of things I dreaded doing.

Well much to my surprise baby poop turns out to be nothing like I had feared. It’s hard to even call it poop really. It’s just some lightly colored mushy stuff with a vaguely unpleasant odor. Seriously, cleaning up after a gerbil is far more worse than changing a baby’s diaper any day. Continue reading

Oct 26 2007

Vasectomies Rock! – How Getting Snipped Can Make For An Amazing Sex Life

Summary: It’s liberating to know that no matter how hard, long or often you come there is no chance it will result in a pregnancy. This makes sex more spontaneous and enjoyable.


Don’t want more kids but don’t want to wear a condom? Then get a vasectomy you wuss!

After about fifteen years together my partner and I decided to start a family. It’s not that we couldn’t get around to it sooner; it’s just that my partner is a highly organized person and this is where she had put pregnancy in her 20 year planner. Never seen one? They’re about two feet thick with ring binders the size of bicycle rims. You can special order them from Staples.

Now my partner had been on the pill since we started dating. Before that I’d only had a couple of partners, both whom were also on the pill. So basically I have gone most of my adult life without having to wear a condom.

When my partner stopped taking the pill about a year and a half before she was planning to get pregnant we thought we would just switch to condoms as our birth control of choice. How bad could it be right? Honestly, it was much worse than I had expected. Besides being a mood breaker, it was just kind of a numb feeling. I’ve experienced greater sensations dry humping through clothes. Continue reading

Oct 17 2007

Some Basic Parenting Theorems

1. You Will Judge All Children Relative to Your Own

Kids smaller than yours feel ridiculously light. Kids bigger than yours feel super heavy. Likewise, kids shorter than yours appear tiny and kids taller than yours appear huge. This goes for behavior, body types, skin color, everything. You can’t help this bias so just keep it in check and try not to become a judgmental pain in the ass.

2. All Kids Are Special Needs Kids

At various times in their life all young children appear to be retarded, bi-polar or insane. No one escapes this so take comfort that you are not alone.

Some toddlers cry and fight you when their diaper is changed because you are taking their poop away. They don’t yet understand it’s a waste product and instead treat it as a part of their body. Would you want someone to break off your thumb and flush it down the toilet? Of course not! For a brief period in their lives, some toddlers just think about their poop that way. This is a good example an “appears to be insane” moment.

Some bang their head on the floor when they’re upset. Some refuse to drink certain beverages unless it’s in a specific cup. Some are deathly afraid of butterflies.

If you meet a parent that thinks their kid is perfect they are delusional or just lying to hide the painful truth that their kid is, at least occasionally, a basket case. Continue reading

Oct 7 2007

Nope, Not Married

Summary: There are many ways to define commitment. A marriage certificate is just one of them.

No matter how many times I explain to someone that my partner and I aren’t married, most married people still revert to calling her my wife and refer to us as being married. It’s really bizarre.

Seriously, if I told you I was an accountant you wouldn’t keep saying I was biologist just because that happened to be your profession would you? How about if I told you I was Jewish? Would you keep calling me a Catholic just because you like to go to mass? I hope not.

I used to spend more time pointing out to people who thought we were married that we weren’t. But after nineteen years I’m just kind of tired of the whole thing. Especially the follow-up question of why not? It’s not that I don’t mind explaining why we’re not married it’s just that I’m tired of the people who asked in the first place getting all defensive about it. Usually they follow-up with “oh well, it’s just like you’re married anyways” Well no, actually it’s not. And if you believe it’s true that my nineteen year relationship is just like being married, then your marriage must be just like my relationship. So in a way it’s practically like you’re not even married yourself!

Here’s the theorem: If A equals B, then B must equal A.

Of course that person would quickly point out that being married is different. I would agree; although these differences are largely legal or symbolic. The actual work that you need to put into a committed relationship to make it successful is the same. If just getting a wedding ring could make somebody love and honor you, then the world would be a very different place indeed. Continue reading