Thursday, June 30, 2011

2 out of 3 ain't bad!

Have you ever had one of those moments that seem so perfectly timed that you swear your kids planned ahead of time and you are the one looking childish? I had one of those moments tonight at Tae Kwon Do.

So Lindsey went to get a new pair of glasses and said I should take the 3 boys to Zachary's Tae Kwon Do practice. Sure, no problem, what could go wrong, I thought. Of course, forgetting that I had 3 boys under the age of 6 that don't sit still or listen or obey. But besides that, it should be easy. Well, I came prepared with snacks, drinks, and the secret weapon. Zachary went in to practice and the two bleachers full of parents filled up to watch the practice. I sat down with my 2 little angels, we were watching Z, and everything was great... for those 2 minutes. Then Drew wanted the snacks. Out of the 45 minute practice, snacks were supposed to come in play at minute 18 on the "Distractability Timeline." Followed by drinks, play area, short walk, snacks again, drinking fountain, and then bounce up and down if there was still time left. We were way ahead of schedule! Well drinks were immediately asked for at minute 4! I should have known cause snacks were salty pretzels. Always plan your foods with your drinks, never separate. Know that with salty foods, drinks come sooner, but with candy and gum, drinks can be delayed cause they want the sugar taste to remain in their mouth as long as possible. Rookie mistake. Well after this, Nate, who I had been holding, wanted down. I thought he would stay right by us. I thought wrong. He thought, "how many times can I pass by these rows of parents and their well-behaved children until they start judging my daddy?" (The answer is 5, by the way.) So I now began the 'Great Nate Race.' Drew luckily was still following the timeline and had begun playing in the play area they have there. Still ahead of schedule but following it. And I say "play area" loosely. Its a partition behind the row of parents with 3 wall bead activity toys and 2 "map" rugs. Once I caught Nate, I brought him back from the rows of parents to this play area, which entertained him for 10 seconds until the race re-commenced. At this point, I am calling Lindsey to find out how she is doing and to do my job as a dad with all the kids: complain about it. But while I am on the phone, Nate runs into the bathroom and decides to check to check the water temperature in the men's bathroom's toilet. To which I say to Lindsey, "I gotta go." I wash his hands and arms up to the shoulders and find that the blower in the bathroom provides me with a good 2 minutes of distraction for him. Not on the timeline but you have to improvise. At this point, Drew decides he wants to have a race too. So with Nate in my arms, he begins to run around in front of these parents, to prove to them that its not my child who is the problem but it is the father! Oh and I had Lindsey on the phone at the time, and when Drew took off I once again said "I gotta go." I even had to count to Drew to come back: 1.....2.... and luckily he came back because he and I both didn't know what was going to happen at 3. I get them both to the play area to try snacks again and to call Lindsey back but Nate runs away around the corner and returns with some random mom's cell phone in his hand. I grab it and luckily return before she even notices. I see Drew is about to run again so I bring out the secret weapon: the ipod touch. Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple, confessed in an interview that the sole reason for the invention of the iphone or ipod was to distract children in public. Thats not true but I am sure it was a welcome side effect for Apple. Well Drew loves it and it works for him. But not for Nate. He continues his class on Parent Humiliation 101, by almost running into the dojo itself and joining Zachary's class.

Luckily the 45 minute class ended (in Parent Time it lasted 8 hours), and Zachary came out. It was at this point, the moment happened. The perfectly timed moment that was so seamless and precise, it had to be pre-meditated by the 3 of them. They were all at my feet, and all at once, they split and ran in 3 different directions! It was in this split second I think 3 things: 1) Oh my gosh, don't freak out, 2) Which one do I go after? and deep down, subconsciously 3) Which one is hardest to replace? So seeing that Nate is headed for the women's bathroom to check the pH levels in that toilet, I go after him first. Luckily Drew who ran toward the door, realized no one was with him. And he knows that doing something bad and disobedient is not worth it unless someone is there to witness it, turns around to get his witness and follows Zachary into the men's bathroom. So with Nate in my arms, Drew by the hand and kneeing Zachary toward the door, I declare, "We are leaving!" But of course, Drew wiggles out of my hand, Zachary takes off through the crowd of parents toward the front door and Nate begins screaming to let him down to run too. I am fed up at this time and just want to grab someone else's well-behaved children and head home. Because at this point, I am thinking "I came with 3 and if I can get at least 2 of my children home, then you know 2 out of 3 ain't bad." Well, I managed to get all 3 before we reached the front door and we all returned home in one piece.

So at the end of the day, we all learned something. Drew learned that Daddy is full of empty threats and he is all talk and no number 3. Nate learned that toilet water is 10 degrees colder than room temperature. Zachary learned that her prefers to have mom take him to class. And I learned that I agree with him.

Hoping you have an only child that can't conspire with their siblings,
The Joyful and Tired Dad

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"Quick. Get the camera!"

"Quick. Get the camera!" In parent speak, it means, "The kids just did something so funny or unbelievably cute and we must catch it on film to share with everyone." But in kid speak, it means, "Stop whatever it was you were just doing, forget the last 15 minutes, and whatever electronic device they bring into the room, stare blankly at it and for goodness sake, do not repeat anything you just did!" The next greatest invention would be an invisible implant video recording device implanted into the head of a parent, so at a click of a button, it would begin taping whatever you are watching without the int eruption of running to grab a camera or letting the child see the recording device. For some scientific reason that has not been proven yet, a certain hormone is released in a child whenever they see a recording device. A child will first stop all previous activity that said device was trying to capture and 2 things will happen: 1) their brain goes numb and they will stare blankly into the camera like a deer in headlights or 2) they will kick into an ultra-annoying voice/action/scream that seems funny to them but only causes the parents to roll their eyes, regret grabbing the camera, and begin thinking of how they can record over this video. Because your intentions to record something for posterity has changed into documenting how annoying your kid can be.

The reason for recording has changed over the years. It used to be a great way to document your children growing up, watching them change through the years so you never forget these moments, and it was something you could send to distance grandparents. You know, perpetuating the lie that their little grand-babies are the most darling, well-behaved children they have ever seen and debunking the stories you tell of how horrible they were at the restaurant or church. Not their sweet angels they see on the cute video! Now a days, when a parent grabs the video camera, the only thing they are thinking is "I can't wait to upload this to YouTube and facebook." Its a digital age people. Now they have documented evidence on how cute/funny their child is and to show off to all their family/friends/past classmates/mailman/pre-school teachers/pastors/rabbis/ex-boyfriends/brother's friend's sister's cousin you met at a party in December who you didn't like at first then they made that funny joke you shouldn't have laughed at but it was funny if you think about it but then they spilled that drink on the dude's carpet and you felt so bad for them that you accepted their friend request the next day. All parents want to show their funny/cute video to that one classmate who checks his facebook after pulling into his multi-million dollar house in his $200,000 Ferrari to sit down to eat his bald eagle con fit and blue whale risotto dinner personally prepared by Wolfgang Puck as he eats off his solid gold china from China and for him to watch your video and think, "Man, I wish I had kids and was struggling financially. Then life would be perfect!"

But in the days of facebook and YouTube let me be honest: Parents, not all your videos are 'online worthy'. I would say 9 out of 10 videos should be saved for family videos, straight to DVD only. Just like Disney's Swiss Family Robinson 3: The Bloody Massacre in the Trees, in 3D. Most people on facebook don't want to sign on and see how your kid can now say the word dog. Its not riveting entertainment by today's standards. Why post a link to your video when most people want to spend their time on facebook wisely by seeing how many comments they got on their "my day was tiring, how was yours?" post and taking the latest "Which Harry Potter character are you?" They also need to switch over to and check out who Justin Timerlake is dating now. I mean, lets be honest, there is only 24 hours in a day and only 14 hours of those can be devoted to facebook and People. Priorities, people! Did that one hurt stay-at-home moms? Hit a little too close to home? Well take an unnecessary trip to Target and you will feel better. You always do. So the mediocre facebook video is really only good distance grandparents who don't get to see your children very often. But even then, sometimes Grandma just wants to jump online check her farmville account and go back to following Justin Bieber's tweets. She can't be wasting time on your kid's "spaghetti face."

But once in a great while, when the stars align, and your child's anti-video hormone is suppressed by an overload of Easy Mac and Gold fish crackers, you will capture on video that hilarious moment that makes you laugh every time you see the video. And its worth sharing with the world, because its quality. Well tonight we captured such a moment with our 3 year old Drew. This was totally unprompted. He just started doing this face/dance over and over, to a point that his eyes hurt but it gave us enough time to get the camera and record it. What was so funny, was when the 6 year old was going to do his funny face, Drew kept up his move in the background, again and again. I kept thinking "That's an old wives tale about how if you make a funny face it will get stuck like that, right?" Well that was only the first part of that old wives tale. The second part says, "But if it is truly funny, keep doing it and ignore the first part. Risk future public ridicule and therapy for the thrill of making people laugh right now." Anyway, the video speaks for itself. I hope you can take time out of your mafia wars to enjoy it. Keep watching Drew.

I was laughing so hard, I couldn't breath. I hope you enjoyed watching it as much as I forced him to keep doing it.

Hoping Drew makes it to community college, but realistically setting our sights on a GED,
The Joyful and Tired Dad

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Put the attitude down and no one will get hurt!

I have recently come to this realization after just taking our boys out to a nice restaurant and as we prepare to try our luck at taking them to a wedding. Taking children into public is a lot like a hostage negotiation. There are many stages that the the parent will go through when attempting to deal with their own little terrorist in public, trying to maintain the peace and make sure everyone makes it home safe. But in most hostage negotiations, it never goes as planned and someone ends up getting hurt or going to jail.

Stage 1: The Appeal
This is the first stage because it is the most harmless and always works for those "good parents" who have little angels that listen and obey everything their parents tell them. When the child begins to act out, the parent makes an appeal to the child to really look at their behavior and make the right choice. Much like the negotiator will appeal to the criminal to re-evaluate his decision to commit the crime. "Come on, now think about this. Do you really want to do this? Think about what grandma would think. What would Jesus do?" And for lesser crimes and wonderful children, this strategy works. But not for my boys.

Stage 2: The Negotiation
When the appeal process breaks down and your child non-verbally answers you, "Hell yes, we are doing this. Its go time!" Then the negotiations open. This is the strategy when you have to give something to get something. Much like a negotiator will ask for a hostage in exchange for food. It usually follows the "if, then" pattern. "Ok, if you sit still at dinner, then you can go home a play Mario Kart. But if you get up, then no Mario." "If you will stop screaming, then there is ice cream in your future." "If you quit hitting your brother, then you can hit daddy all you want when we get home." This will work part of the time depending on how sweet the deal is. They must give very little and receive a lot. They wont trade in 'not screaming' for a sticker at home. You had better have that sticker in hand, it better be Spider man shooting webs and not just hanging on a wall, and there had better be a sticker book included with 50 other activity pages including but not limited to: tic tac toe, word search, mazes, and find whats wrong in this picture; and it better not have a lot of coloring pages because you only brought 8 crayons and he prefers markers anyway, but if it is crayons you'd better have at least 64, at least. Because if he want to color something brown, he'd better have the option of maroon and deep brick because sometimes you just need to switch it up. See, gain a little, give a lot.

Stage 3: The Threat
Sometimes when the negotiation fails and the criminal is not going to play give and take, negotiations descend into the threat. You can see that the perp is being unreasonable and nothing is getting through to them despite you best efforts at being a rational, Dr. Dobson-following parent. The next option is to threaten without offering them a reward to stop their crime. Hostage Negotiators will threaten like, "Alright, you've got 5 minutes to come out with your hands up or we are coming in after you." This is also the time when Moms will sick the Dads on the kids, much like the police. "If you don't come out, Swat is coming in." In these situations, I have my wife refer to me as "Swat." I have the helmet, riot gear and its not only a name but its what I do with my hand to their butts. "Just wait till your father gets home and hears what you did at Kroger." The threat also sounds like, "If you keep mouthing off to me here at the restaurant, you'll be in Time Out so long people will think you work here." "If you keep yelling at each other in the car, I hope you have good shoes on because its a long walk home from here." The threat usually works if the criminal knows you are not bluffing and will follow up with your threat. But if you are bluffing, or he has got nothing to lose, you move to the next stage.

Stage 4: The Plead
When all threats have fallen by the wayside and no amount of promised torture is affecting them, one of the last options is the plead. Its when all hope is gone and they are about to win. They have been screaming for last hour, the waiter has brought you 20 bags of crackers, 15 different crayons, 10 sets of silverware, the old couple in the corner has judged and sentenced you to being the worst parent they have ever seen, the manager is debating about asking you to leave or call the cops for disturbing the peace, and Children's Services is dialed into your phone because you are about to turn yourself in for a little piece and quiet. You then turn to the bandit and plead, "please, please, why are you doing this to me? I have been good to you. I have given you food and a place to sleep at night. I've tried my best to raise you right. So why do you hate me? I will do anything to make you stop. I am begging you. I would get down on my knees but the floor is covered with cracker crumbs, silverware, and crayons and I am already paying more in the tip then the actual meal because of the mess you have made. So please stop, PLEASE!" Of course this usually does not work. At least it doesn't with my boys because they want to see if in one day they can make daddy grow grey hair in front of them or cause a spontaneous stress ulcer, which ever comes first. If all else fails, you enter the last stage.

Stage 5: The Give Up
One side has to give up at one time or another. In a hostage situation, both sides never both win. There is no win-win. Like the Highlander says, "There can be only one." It is in this stage when the hands go up in defeat, the parent says that final word, "FINE!" and either the meal, wedding, grocery trip, concert, bah mitzvah, playdate, playground, or church is over and you leave. Or my favorite, the parent shuts down, closing his ears to all outside noise, stares forward and goes to his happy place. That happy place when the world was young, when it was just you and your wife, where you had no kids and if there were unruly kids you could freely judge those parents for being bad parents and the only noise you could hear was silence.

So if you are a cop, be brave out there. Its a cruel, crime infested world where danger lurks around every corner, ready to take advantage of the innocent. So be safe and everyone will make it home alive. (Translation: So if you are a parent, stay strong out there. Its an unfair, children infested world where your rugrats are with you all day everyday, ready to make your life miserable when you didn't do anything wrong. So be patient, they legally have to move out by age 18.)

Hoping all your hostage negotiations end in stage 1,
The Joyful and Tired Dad