Category: lesson learned

A Beginner’s Guide To Shopkins

Recently, I found myself waiting in a long line with my daughter, to meet a giant talking strawberry.

What would compel someone to do this, you ask?

Shopkins, that’s what.

Now, for the informed readers, you are probably nodding your head, in approval. For the uninformed, however, I feel your confusion.  Truth be told, up until a few months ago, I was one of the ignorant. I had no idea these things existed…….. until J started watching Shopkins videos on YouTube. She then started to go on about how much she wanted them.  At that point, I had to find out just WTF a Shopkin was.

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Because when I wonder about Shopkins, I also want to know about Herpes, too. Thanks, Google.

While I still do not get the appeal, kids seem to really like them. The holiday season is fast approaching, as well, and I’m sure Shopkins are at the top of many a wish list.

If you don’t know a thing about Shopkins, then you gon’ learn today! I’m going to give you a quick beginner’s guide, based on my very limited knowledge!

Let’s get it on, FAQ-style!

 

You waiting to meet someone in an oversized strawberry costume is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard.

Well, that’s not very nice. It wasn’t a question, either. Hater.

Fine. What are Shopkins?

Basically, Shopkins are tiny toys. They are miniature, shopping item-themed characters.  Each character has a name, finish and a back-story, which reads like an online dating profile. For example, per their website, Chee Zee enjoys rapping with his BFFs and hanging out in the dairy aisle.

Oh. So what are you supposed to do? Read their profiles, and set them up on blind dates, according to who matches up best?

Uh, I don’t think many kids play with them like that.

Then what do you do with them?

As far as I can tell, you buy them, and then make a video of you opening them up.

What! For real?

Well, that’s one way to use them, yeah. There are other ways, of course. Essentially, you can buy them in different sized sets and packages (ie. Five packs, 10 packs etc).  Each character has their own ‘team’. The teams are based on which section of a store the character would be found in, like the bakery, homewares, shoes etc.

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Here’s a Shopkin.

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Here’s another Shopkin.

They even come with cute little shopping bags, to carry the Shopkins in.

 

Here is a Shopkin.

Some sets include a Shopkins list, which helps to identify/keep track.

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From what I understand, kids enjoy the idea of being able to collect them all. They also seem pretty fun to play with. Grocery shopping comes to life!

Sounds adorable. Explain the videos you mentioned before. Now!

Whoa! Simmer down, please.

Some packs are ‘blind baskets’. You don’t know what you got until you open up the packaging. The element of mystery and surprise is apparently a big selling point. There is also an apparent market for people watching other people opening stuff. YouTube is full of “Unboxing” videos, where people have filmed themselves opening up and revealing their Shopkins. J, for one, can’t get enough of these videos, for some reason, especially the ones with blind baskets.

I’m hip and cool. My toy game’s on fleek. How come I’ve never heard of these before? Are they new?

Your toy game’s on fleek? Who even says that? Anyway, yes, they are pretty new. They were released in June 2014.

I hate battery operated toys. Do they require batteries? Because if they do, I swear to –

Gosh, lemme cut you off right there. Batteries aren’t needed. They’re inanimate little things.

How many Shopkins are there?

As of this writing, there are three “season’s” worth of characters (December 2015 Update- there are now four seasons!). Each season has over 140 characters. Similar to card collecting, some Shopkins are more common and easily obtained than others.

Holy moly! That’s alot! Sounds way too overwhelming. And expensive. If my kid comes across these on YouTube and asks me to get them, should I just smash the computer to pieces, and tell them that Shopkins were a figment of their imagination?

No?

Then how would you recommend starting a collection, you stupid smartypants?

What’s with the name calling? Anyway, I’m not an expert on this. We’ve only bought J a five pack (which went down to a two pack within a week, by the way. They are easy to lose if you’re not careful. I probably ate Waffle Sue for breakfast accidentally, for all I know) and a couple of singles. I’m guessing you get more bang for your buck by buying the larger quantity packages, or the special edition bundles. If you don’t want to tread so deep initially, maybe just stick with occasionally buying the onesie or twosie packs.

You ate one? Are they gluten-free?

I….I wasn’t being serious. They are made of rubber or plastic. Not edible.

Which is harder to find? Cupcake Queen from Season 1 or Roxy Ring from Season 3?

Well...no, I guess not.

Man, I don’t know. Try one of the many sites dedicated to all things Shopkins.

 

I think you secretly have a weird obsession with Shopkins. Drop the act. Who’s your favorite, Mikey-Boy?

My favorite is Shut Up Juice, who takes people like you to the Smackdown Hotel. Is BFFs with yo’ momma.

Ouch. Who’s the hater now?! I was just joking around. But seriously, is there anything else I should know?

The only other thing would be, if you or your kids do get into this phenomenon, keep an eye out for Shopkins Swap events. At these, you’ll have opportunities to meet other aficionados/collectors and make trades to add to your collection.  A real life Shopkin might appear, as well.

Play your cards right, and one day, you too might able to stand in a long line to meet a giant talking strawberry!

 

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J, with Strawberry Kiss

 

 

 

 

What Do You Mean?

 

COMMUN

 

With my kids,  I’m realizing that you really can’t communicate enough!

Ever since B and J have been born, I’ve always forgone the baby talk, and instead spoken to them in the same way that I would to you. Now granted, this has resulted in many a blank stare when I’ve done things like try to explain why Kanye West is the greatest rapper of all time (OF ALL TIME).  However, the benefit of this approach has been, if I have to ask B and J to do something, I usually don’t have to dumb it down too much, for them to understand it.

Usually. Not always.

B and J are still very young. It’s not like they understand everything.  So, yeah, on occasion, if I’m not crystal clear in my communication, things go awry. Horribly, terribly awry.

Lemme give you some examples!

 

 

The intended outcome: B would learn an important lesson in moderation.

The real outcome: B had the most delicious feet in the world.

We went out to eat at a restaurant. After dessert, B wanted some chocolates that were in K’s purse. I said no. He had had enough treats that day and he’d have to wait until tomorrow. After the restaurant, we had make a stop at a store. When we went to get B out of the car, we noticed that his feet had brown goop on them. Luckily, it wasn’t the usual brown substance that ends up on your shoes.  What he had done was put the chocolates in his socks, and they melted (#shocker).

Why, you ask?

B – “Well, you said I could have them tomorrow, but I didn’t have any pockets, so I put them in my socks?”

What went wrong: I should have said that you can have chocolates tomorrow…..but I’ll hold onto them, not you.

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And then after, we took the gunk on his socks and spread it on some toast. Wait, what?

The intended outcome: An opportunity to apply some newly gained knowledge

The real outcome:  I got hustled, yo.

While passing a snack shack. B asked for a sour key candy. He had been learning about money in kindergarten, so I figured it was a good chance  for a real life math lesson. The keys were 50 cents each. I gave him a dollar, and asked him to find out how much change he would get back. He took the dollar then gleefully skipped over to the shack. From a distance, I could see him talking for a bit to the clerk. He handed his money over, and the clerk gave him a friggin’ Ring Pop. B excitedly ran back over to me:

Me – “Where’s my money? What happened to the sour key?”

B -“Well, the Ring Pops were $1, and I had $1, so I didn’t get any money back!”

What went wrong:  I should have clarified that he wasn’t allowed to upgrade his candy selection at a higher cost.

no keys

The intended outcome: A simple washroom break

The real outcome:  Five uncomfortable minutes for me.

While driving, J had to go potty, so I stopped at a Tim Horton’s.  She needs help getting onto toilets, which means I have to help her with that. Timmy’s didn’t have a family/unisex washroom, so I walked towards the men’s room. J refused to go in, because she’s a girl. I tried in vain to clearly explain why I couldn’t go in the women’s room, but no dice. Eventually, she ran in the women’s room, into a stall. I panicked, ran in after her and closed the stall door. The last thing that I needed at that moment was for a woman to come in.

So, naturally, a woman came in.

The last thing I needed was for the woman to really need to go, for fear that she would hear some creepy dude beside her and call the police.

So, naturally, she really had to go.

Don’t worry, J took her sweet time. She happily talked to herself, tinkling away, while I stood deathly silent, nervously sweating profusely. After five painful minutes, the woman started to finish up. J then hopped down, too. A feeling of dread went over me, as I figured my gig was up . J then grabbed some toilet paper and made up ‘The Wiping Song.’ I finally caught a break, as The Wiping Song dragged on, while the woman washed up and left. No blood-curdling screams. No yelling “Get outta here, you pervert!” No cop calls. Nothing.

Phew!

We bounced out of there immediately afterwards.

What went wrong: We should have never potty trained J.

wash

The intended outcome: A fun day here and there, with mommy.

The real outcome:  A confused 3 y/o girl.

J told me that she was going to “Erin’s house with mommy”. This was odd, as I thought that they were hitting up Home Depot, along with a few other stores.   I didn’t know who Erin was, either. I asked K about it. After a minute, we realized the misunderstanding.

Me – “You’re not going to Erin’s. You’re running errands! Like, you’re going to go do stuff.”

(long silence while J digested this information. Then):

J – “Why do we have to run to Erin’s?”

I explained again, and she seemed to get it. Yet, later that night, when I was putting her to bed,  I asked how her day was. She started to pout.

Me – “What’s wrong?”

J – “We just went to stores. We didn’t run to Erin’s!”

What went wrong:   Next time, use a synonym for errands which doesn’t sound like a person’s name.

 

TASKS

The intended outcome: Putting my foot down, and showing B who’s boss!

The real outcome: B had the most delicious hair in the world.

A couple of years ago, it was supposed to be an uneventful dinner. B had another thing on his mind, however:

B- “Can I have a bath?”

Me – “No, you don’t need a bath tonight.”

A few minutes later, I looked over at him. He had smeared applesauce in his hair.

B – “Why do I need a bath for?”

Me – “You’re not having a bath tonight!”

B nibbled away on his food for a bit, then suddenly took his plate and dumped it all over his head.

B – “Do I need a bath?”

Giving in and giving him a bath at that point would have probably lead to daily dinner dumps in the future, right?  I decided to hang tough:

Me – “You’re not having a bath tonight!”

We still didn’t clean him.

Calling our bluff, B started wiping applesauce from his hair and eating it:

B – “Can I have some more applesauce?”

Me – “What? Are you going to eat it, or is it for your head?”

B – “I’m going to eat it……….and it’s for my head!”

A quick wipedown then straight to bed for his antics.

What went wrong:  The whole incident could have been avoided……if I told him beforehand that applesauce is not a very good shampoo.

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Anyway, I think that you get the idea.

When talking to kids, it’s always best to be clear as day, not clear as mud.  Or, uh, applesauce.

 

 

 

 

 

What A Creepy Old Dude Taught Me About Fatherhood

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Since it is that time of the year where we celebrate dads, I’ve seen lots of stuff written online, about fatherhood. I figured I’d chip in with my two cents. An encounter happened a couple of weeks ago, which reinforced some valuable dad lessons.  Lemme tell you the story.

See, it started off innocent enough.  J was invited to a birthday party, for one of the girls in her dance class, along with the other kids in the class.  Because J’s only three years old, it wasn’t one of those parties where we could drop her off and come back later to pick her up. We had to stick around for it.  As such, K agreed to take her. This was all good, on my end, too. The idea of spending an afternoon mingling with strangers and dance moms who I barely knew wasn’t super appealing to me. #sociallyawkward

So, of course you know what happened.

Because of something which came up last minute, K could no longer make it to the  party. J was really stoked to go, however. Not wanting to let her down,  I agreed to go, instead.

The girl’s parents were having the party at their house, so I plugged the address that was on the invitation into my GPS, and off we went.  Here’s the thing, though, which I discovered after the fact – in Hamilton, there is more than one of that address. For the sake of protecting the innocent, let’s say the address was 123 Sesame Street. In Hamilton, there’s 123 Sesame Street East, 123 Sesame Street West, 123 Old Sesame Street, and 123 Sesame Street in a town near Hamilton that isn’t Hamilton, but is considered Hamilton on maps.

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Makes sense, don’t it?

We eventually arrived at our destination, per the GPS.  I immediately thought something didn’t seem right, but stupidly ignored all of the warning signs.  First, there were no cars in the driveway. I brushed that off, though, as people parking in the strip mall lot, across the street. Second, I didn’t see a bouncy castle in the backyard, and there was supposed to have been one. I brushed this off, too, as the weather being iffy, so maybe they moved everything indoors. Thirdly, the house was dark. In another moment of brilliance, I blew this off as the party probably being held in the basement.  Despite these red flags, I parked across the street, got J out of her car seat, grabbed the present that we bought, and strolled up to the house.

The walkway had a bunch of weathered looking plants along it. The whole place was eerily silent and had a Bates Motel vibe. When we got to the door, I scooped J up in one arm, and rang the doorbell with my other hand.  After a few seconds (which felt like 10 minutes), an older hobbled man emerged, and opened the door slightly. He must have been in his 70s. He kind of resembled Paul Newman.  He glared out at me, so I said in a meek voice “Hi! We are here for the party?”

Upon hearing this, his demeanour immediately changed. He straightened up, smiled, and pushed the door open. “Come on in”, he said. He started to wave his arms, to invite us in.

Woohoo!  Guess I was in the right place after all. What a relief!

Before entering, I asked him if anyone else was there. He shook his head. I then asked if he knew who Ellie (the birthday girl) was.  “No”, he calmly replied.

Aw, snap!

This was not the right place! Even worse, we were about to be the guests of honour at this guy’s impromptu party! I quickly told him that we had the wrong address and scurried off.  As we ran, I turned around, to see if had gone back inside. He was still in his doorway, grinning like the Cheshire Cat. Or Hannibal Lecter. Maybe he was thinking about what else he could have with his fava beans and chianti. I don’t know. I don’t ever want to know.

I hear these are good with liver.

I hear these are good with liver.

Anyway, it turned out that my GPS was incorrect (it didn’t tell me how to get to Sesame Street).  I made a quick call to the birthday girl’s parents, to get the real directions to their house. We made it there not long after. To top if off, J and I both had a good time at the party.

Looking back on that day, I realize now that there are some lessons to take from it, as it pertains to fatherhood.  For one, even though we won’t always like the things that our kids do, we still need to suck it up, and support them, regardless.  Also, when it comes navigating anything (directions, your kids through their lives etc), sometimes you’re going to make some wrong turns. Don’t sweat it; what you do after you make those wrong turns is really all that matters.  Most importantly, we owe it to our lil ones to always protect them. When a creepy old dude tells you and your kid/kids to come on in, never come on in.

Happy Father’s Day, y’all!

 

 

 

Why My Son Is Awesome

Yo, don’t judge a post by its title! This isn’t a ‘Buzzfeed’-style deal, where I do something like list off 10 reasons why my children are so terrific.  You see, one of my kids, B , really is awesome.  He is. Lemme give you the story why.

Like most good ideas, it all started drunkenly one night at a bar, many years ago.  Before children, before marriage. On this particular evening, a controversy emerged. Two of my buddies (let’s call them CA1 and CA2) discovered that, even though they didn’t work together, they had both come up with the same nickname for themselves, at their respective jobs: Captain Awesome.

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Someone beat them to the personalized license plate, though.

 

While the unwritten rule of giving self-imposed nicknames was clearly violated, this was trumped by another unwritten rule of two people in the same clique not being allowed to have the same nickname.

What?

I bet that there’s only one T-Swizzle in Taylor Swift’s posse, and that’s Taylor Swift! Amirite, Tay-Tay?

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Shut up, Mike.

 

Sorry, T-Sweezy.

Anyway, it was decided that a challenge needed to happen, to determine who could hold the singular title of Captain Awesome. Not just any challenge, however; A monumental event! So, the first AwesomeMania was set.

Place: My house.

Date: Many weeks later.

Event:  A winner-takes-all game of Blades of Steel on Nintendo!

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Yes, old school Nintendo. Did I mention this happened in like 2008?

 

At the inaugural AwesomeMania, CA1 beat CA2, to earn the right to the name of Captain Awesome.

Aight, aight, you probably think that this all sounds like a stupid waste of time.  I counter with some paraphrased words from a great modern character of this century: Ted Mosby of How I Met Your Mother:

That’s the thing about stupid decisions. We all make them, but time is funny and sometimes a little magical. It can take a stupid decision and turn it into something else entirely.

From that point on, things only got worse better. For years, the name of Captain  Awesome was treated like a championship belt, without the actual championship belt. Whoever had the title would have to defend it, usually in a ridiculous manner (ie. paper, rock, scissors). Among this group of friends, it was like the name carried some prestige behind it. Bragging rights, too. For example, CA1 was a groomsman at my wedding. No joke, he was introduced at the reception as ‘the longest reigning Captain Awesome in recent memory.’

Shoot, when yours truly won the title, I renamed my competitive dodgeball team “Captain Awesome and the Awesome Express.”

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Best believe the T-Baggers were one of many teams who got steamrolled by the Express that season.

Let’s fast forward a bit, then, to not long before B was due to be born.  Once again, the setting was a night at a bar, with CA1 and CA2. At the time, I was the current, reigning, defending and undefeated Captain Awesome.  We started to discuss what the next AwesomeMania should be. We kicked around some ideas. For some reason that I can’t remember, the conversation turned to my impending fatherhood.

It’s weird, man. Over the course of our lives, we have a lot of titles. Some are important; others seem important at the time, but, in retrospect, probably weren’t.  I was about to add a whole new title which was way more important than any that I had ever had before, or since:

Dad.

That night, we came to a mutual decision. After B was born, we would retire the dopeness that was Captain Awesome, and all of the shenanigans which went with it. There was one condition, though – I would pass the title onto B, for him to hold onto, forever.

And that, my friends, is why my son is awesome.

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Custom onesie, holla!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Robot

 

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It was a lazy Sunday afternoon at home, with just me and the kids. B and J were quietly playing together.  Even better, the NFL playoffs were on TV. It was looking like I would be able to watch a football game in peace!

So, of course, B uttered these words:

“Hey daddy! Can you make me a robot costume?”

Son of a Bender!  Halloween was sooo two months ago. Isn’t it against the law to dress up in costumes after October 31, unless you plan on fighting crime in Gotham or Metropolis?

Now, luckily, my kids are young enough that they still hold me in pretty high regard. This is in spite of me being borderline incompetent at a lot of things (parenting, parallel parking, simple household repairs, blogging, etc…) However, I’m still capable of making stuff from scratch for them sometimes, that they don’t hate on.

But robots???

Yo, that was a tricky one.  Nonetheless, we were able to pull it off – our own, homemade, kid-approved robot costume! Lemme show you how we did it.

First off, you need a phone. Or a laptop. Or a tablet. Basically any device with the internet that lets you Google ‘homemade robot costumes.’  Y’all been warned, though. The results ain’t pretty……..

They’re freakin’ awesome.

Pages and pages of people humblebragging on their blogs and websites about their clever, amazing robot creations. While impressive, it eventually becomes disheartening if you’re a simple-minded homey like yours truly. Shoot, I would never be able to easily replicate any of them!

Side note: don’t worry, dear reader. Here at daddyrealness.com, you won’t catch me bragging about anything. I’m all about honest struggles. No need to toot my own horn. It’s not like I own a lot of dope stuff, either, that you want to hear about. I mean, I have an autographed Ken Griffey Jr picture. It’s probably still valuable.  But that’s about it, and it has nothing to do with the topic of this post. Yep. No reason to talk about that.

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Oh. Who put that there? #toottoot

 

 

 

While trying to find an easy robot online, to make out of material that I actually had in my house, I came across a sweet looking picture of Plex, from Yo Gabba Gabba. This lead to me getting distracted, and looking up old episodes of Yo Gabba Gabba. You know, so I could see who the musical guests were on each one. I don’t know why I did this, man. That’s just where my thought process went. Logically, this evolved into me gettin’ my Wikipedia on, to find out who some of these artists were, and what they’ve done lately.

As I was researching Biz Markie’s career after “Just A Friend”, B came up to me and asked if I could cut some holes out of an old diaper box, for his robot body. I had been so focused on screwing around on the internet, I hadn’t noticed that B  had gathered up a bunch odds and ends from around the house, to use for his robot costume! Not gonna lie, I felt relieved, because the pressure was now off of me.  I gladly hacked some holes out of the box. B put on his costume pieces, and I slipped the body on him.

TA DA!!

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The end result? One happy boy.

How about that, eh? You really don’t need the fanciest or most sophisticated stuff, to make something that a little kid will love. Their wide-eyed innocence can turn a combination of boxes, noodle strainers and sunglasses into a pretty cool robot.

Never underestimate the power of a child’s imagination. Sometimes, that’s all you need!

 

 

Role Model

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Try as you might, you can’t force role models onto your children.

No doubt, you can expose them to different individuals, and even exude model behavior yourself. However, if they ain’t feelin’ it, then they ain’t feelin’ it. You can point them in a direction, but it’s all up to them whether they look that way or not.

I would love it if my kids acted as dope and awesome as me, for example, so I constantly try to project dope awesomeness (What? It could be true).  Nonetheless, while I’m sure that B and J respect my awesome dopeness, I can’t hold a candle to other people that they’ve seen. I don’t have any magic powers, or possess  super-human strength, or wear a funky costume. It’s way cooler to run around acting like Batman or John Cena or Elsa than it is to act like my 9-5, office job working butt.

To a point.

See, it’s one thing to just admire and pretend to be like someone. It’s another thing to actually think you are that someone.  And you don’t want to be the parent of that kid.  You know what I mean. The boy in a cape who seriously believes he’s Superman (one wrong move among the wrong people, and that child will learn real quick that he’s not impervious to pain).  The girl who watches the Olympics and then thinks she’s really McKayla Maroney (one bad landing on the monkey bars, and she’ll actually have a reason to look unimpressed).

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I gotta keep it real with you, though. For a while recently, I did have that kid.

Over the holidays,  our family watched a bunch of Christmas movies. Well, not me so much, but K, B and J did, anyway (No network showed my personal favorite, Santa With Muscles, so I silently protested watching other Christmas films. See what I mean, about me being awesomely dope?). Unfortunately, B, bless his five year old heart, took a particular liking to two of them – Home Alone, and Home Alone 2: Lost In New York. Granted, there’s a bunch of stuff in both that went over his head. The stuff he got, however, he really got. B somehow could totally relate to Kevin McCallister, the main character. Consequently, he started to behave like him.

The problem was, when the act goes on 24-7, it’s not an act any longer, right? In B’s words, when I told him to cut it out, “I am KEVIN!”

Ahhh, how cute, you say?

No way, Jose!

Have you seen those movies? Kevin is a bit of prick. As a result, our “Kevin”:

– On Christmas Eve, was full of sugar adrenaline, so he spent most of the evening running around, waving his arms, screaming at the top of his lungs, emulating Kevin when he did this in his house.

– When I would try to talk to him, would give me random, sassy replies ie.

Me: How many more days until Christmas?

B: 1….2…..10! HAHAHAHAHA!

Or:

B: Come here, daddy, you big horse’s mass!

Me: What did you call me??

B: Nothing.

I should mention here that he doesn’t know all of the swear words yet, so to his ears, Kevin said ‘mass’ in the movie, which made mass a perfectly acceptable insult. Before you think of kicking my mass, please note that he was reprimanded accordingly, for the salty language.

– Gave J a snack, and told her to ‘keep the change, ya filthy animal.’

– Got caught thinking of climbing into a storage bin, and riding it down the stairs (reminiscent of the scene in the first Home Alone, where Kevin does this with a sled). After being reprimanded, he settled on putting a stuffed animal in the bin instead, and pushing it down the stairs. The animal went flying out of it and crashed horribly. It probably died.

– Got a hold of a roll of ribbon, and unwound it around various objects in the kitchen. In his words, he set a terrible trap.

The worst part?

The trap worked, and I tripped on it!

– Had the following conversation:

B: What would happen if burglars came into our house?

Me: Our house is pretty safe. Burglars can’t get in.

B: But what if they knocked on our door at night and said “Excuse me, we need help. Can you please let us in?” And then you let them in, but they were really burglars! What do you do then?

Me: That wouldn’t happen. We don’t answer the door at night.

B: What if they tried to get into some other houses?

Me: Maybe we’d hear them, or we’d see them, and we’d call the police.

B: What would they be wearing?

Me: I don’t know. Dark clothes and gloves.

B (shocked voice): But I wear dark clothes and gloves sometimes! What if people think I’m a burglar?!

Me: No one will think you’re a burglar. You don’t creep around people’s houses at night, and try to sneak in.

B: That sounds so cool! I wish I was a burglar!

Me: NO, YOU DON’T!

Anyway, you get the idea. Living with Kevin McCallister kind of sucked. Luckily, he didn’t last too long with us, and B went back to being himself.

Take it from me – you can’t force role models on your kids.

However, you sure can filter out candidates, which I’m going to be more diligent in doing, going forward.

Also, little massholes in movies make horrible role models.

5 Tips For Getting Your Kids To Clean Their Rooms

 

MPD

Mr. Perfect Dad (MPD): Greetings! I’m Mr. Perfect Dad. The last time that I was here, it didn’t go so well. However, I am a parenting EXPERT. My methods are proven and I’d love another opportunity to show you all!

Mike (M): What’s up!  It’s your boy Mike here. I’m always open for help, even from this guy, so I invited him back.  See, one problem I’m having is that my kids are slobs. B and J love making messes, but they hate cleaning them. It’s a huge pain in the-

MPD: But of course, Mike! Don’t worry, you’re not alone. A lot of parents have issues with tidy up time. However, if you take my advice, soon tidy up time will be your children’s favourite part of the day!

M: Really? No lie? Sweet! B and J are upstairs reading some books. Wanna put your tips to use?

(Mike and Mr. Perfect Dad go upstairs and see this):

 

 

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MPD: Great. Googly. Moogly (heavy sigh).  Let’s get to work.

 

TIP 1

MPD: Make cleaning up fun! I like to create  silly little songs. Haha. Hoho. Do you kids know “Faith” by George Michael? (starts singing) Because I got to just clean, clean, clean! 

M: I don’t think many two and four year olds know that song, or who George Michael is.

J: George? (she picks up a stuffed monkey).

M: Ha! I wonder if Curious George’s last name is Michael. Hey B, did you like that song?

B: I don’t like George Michael, I like Shawn Michaels (starts singing) I’m just a sexy boy! Sexy boy! I’m not a boy toy!

MPD: What….

M: Shawn Michaels. The wrestler. It’s his theme song.

MPD: I’m not quite sure how I feel about little boys calling themselves sexy.

M: Let’s go with emotionally conflicted. And I’m not quite sure how I feel about this tip. What else you got?

TIP 2

MPD: Try to instill a sense of pride and ownership in your kids, so they’ll be more inclined to want to clean up their rooms! I’ll show you.  Ms. J, come pick up these books. Don’t you want your room to be so spiffy that Cinderella would love it?

J: No. I’m scared.

MPD: Scared of what?

J: A mouse! (She runs off and hides in the playroom)

MPD: You neglected to inform me of a rodent problem.

M: You know what they say….when in doubt, blame the mouse.

MPD: No one has ever said that!

M: Oh.

MPD: OK, B, how about you pick up some books? I’ll even let you choose which shelf to put them on.

B: No thanks. This room is too dirty. I’m going to mommy and daddy’s room. It’s cleaner there.

M: Good call. Let’s go.

MPD: EVERYBODY GET BACK HERE!!

TIP 3

MPD: Children can be too smart for their own good. Some good ol’ reverse psychology can alleviate that.

M: Reverse psychology! Ygolohcysp

MPD: Huh? No. Just……no.  B! I bet that you can’t put 10 books away. You’re not strong enough to do that, are you?

B: I think that I need to think about that first, by watching some TV (Leaves room).

MPD: Fine! At least J is here. She’s just a baby girl, though. She can’t tidy up like a big kid. Right?

J: I’m sleeping! (Immediately drops to the floor, starts to snore).

MPD: Is she really asleep? Wake up! Putting books away is easy! Look! (starts placing books on the shelf)

M: Uh, El Perfecto, I think that they flipped the script and got you to clean up for them.

MPD: Silence! I am the expert!

M: Right. Expert book stacker. Nice job. Are you a librarian?

MPD (now sobbing): What happened to me?

TIP 4

MPD: Deep breaths. Compose yourself, Mr Perfect Dad. We’ll win them over yet.

M: Who are you talking to?

MPD: Next tip. Children get overwhelmed rather easily.  As such, I recommend breaking up tasks into chunks so they don’t seem too taunting. I’ll demonstrate. B, can you pick up the books off your bed? Only those ones?

B: But she made that mess, not me! Let her go first, tidying up!

J: Let go?! (Starts dancing and singing ‘Let it Go’)

MPD: BLARGH!  I HATE FROZEN! Please, J, just put one thing away. Can you do that? Then after that, put one more-

J: One? OK! (Puts a book on shelf). All done! (Dances off, singing ‘Let It Go’)

B: Well I’m just putting one book away, too. There!  Can I have a snack now?

MPD: Did all of that hard work make you hungry?! What about the rest of these books? WHAT ABOUT THEM?

M: Uhhh…. yeah, what about them? What do you suggest, now?

TIP 5

MPD: Bribery time! You guys want snacks? If you clean this room up, I’ll take you to the fair! You can eat all of the candy and junk food you want, and then you can stay up and watch the demolition derby after! Does that sound good?

B: Well……….junk food is not healthy and I like healthy snacks. The derby would be past my bedtime, too. So no thanks.

MPD: Are you serious? You gotta be freakin’ kidding me! That’s it! I’m out of here! I’m going to the fair. I’m going to drink some beer and eat some deep fried pickles. Then, I’m going to ride the Tea Cups until I barf, hopefully all over some kids who look like they’re two or four years old.

M: That’s harsh, dude. Can you bring me back a candy apple, though?

MPD: Because of my last visit here, my reputation has been ruined! I don’t have children. I don’t even like them. That’s right, my career is a lie. And I would have gotten away with it, if it wasn’t for your kids!

M: Dang. Sorry about your luck. You sound like the bad guy in those Scooby Doo cartoons, who just got caught. Now about that candy apple –

MPD: No apple! Goodbye! (runs out of the house, slams door, gets in car, squeals off)

M: See ya.  Thanks for the tips! Man, that guy is not happy.  Whatever. Yo, B and J, go pick those books up. I’ll make some popcorn and we can watch Frozen after.

J: Yay!

B: OK! (starts singing) I’m just a sexy boy! Sexy boy! I clean up my toys!

Note: while mainly a fictitious post, the actions depicted by B and J, when asked to tidy up, have actually occurred at various times in our house.

MPD2

Thank Me Later

Back in the day, my Mom would always complain about how ungrateful me and my sisters were. I was a good lil dude, though! Always polite and well-mannered, yo. Or….. I think I was, anyway. It was a long time ago, I don’t really remember.

Regardless, now that I have kids, I get what my mom was talking about.  As a parent, you do so much, and give up so much, for your children, but man they can be sooo unappreciative.  However, I’m realizing that, sometimes,  it is because they honestly don’t know any better.

Take last year, around Thanksgiving, for instance. B’s kindergarten classmates were doing projects on what they were thankful for. When his teacher asked him what he was thankful for, B said…….juice.

Not you, OJ. Wrong juice!

Not you, OJ. Wrong juice!

Yeah, for real, juice. Even a few days later, K asked him again, and he said ‘I told you three times already, orange juice!’

Stupid delicious juice took priority over his fam, friends etc. When I heard that, I went all old school lecturing grump on him:

“When I was boy, we couldn’t afford juice. We drank purple Kool-Aid. I  had to walk 30 miles to the store  there and back, uphill both ways, to buy some. I was up at 5:00 AM every morning to do my chores, and I used the money to buy my own Kool-Aid. It wasn’t given to me. I had to mix that sugar, water and purple up, too, with a wooden spoon that I made from a tree that I chopped down myself!” 


OK, you got me, I didn’t drop that on  B.  I did feel pretty lousy, though. Clearly, he loves us, but way to communicate that appreciation, buddy.  I was honestly  questioning whether I was doing a good job instilling the right morals in him.

 Then, one night,  he came running down the stairs, freaked out . B said that there was a scary wolf in his room and that I needed to come get him. I figured that it was typical Bedtime WTFness, but I went to check anyway (with him behind me, because he was terrified). When we got there, he pointed across his room.  I walked over, and there was a book on his floor with a freaky looking, creepy eyed wolf on the front (no, it wasn’t a picture of Kevin Garnett from his days in Minnesota. ZZZZING!) Anyway, it was  just a horrible choice for a cover.

However, to chill him out, I told him that  the wolf wasn’t bad, and I read the book to him. Turned out that the wolves in it didn’t eat any kids in their sleep. I hid it afterwards, out of his view, just to be safe. B was then cool after that.

 

 

Look, I have no idea if B really understands gratitude at this point. 

All I know is that juice won’t save him and his sister from wolves. I got their backs for that. And even though they won’t say it now, I’m sure they’ll thank me later.

 

 

P.S.

Thanks, Mom.

 

 

 

 

A League Of Their Own

Small kids need to be kept active and engaged. This is especially true when they enter toddlerhood. So, as soon as we were able to, we signed B up for as many sports and sport classes as we could. We’ll do the same for J. Gotta get their participaction on, yo!

That's B, playing catcher at a t-Ball game.

That’s B, playing catcher at a T-Ball game.

The first team sport that we signed B up for was soccer. I honestly didn’t know what to expect.  I asked around before he started, and the general consensus that I got was to expect a lot of dandelion picking. I thought that sounded dumb….until about halfway into his first practice, I saw B sitting on the ground, plucking dandelions. This trend has continued throughout the years. Not just at soccer, but into other sports, too. I swear, in the middle of basketball one time, in the middle of winter, he somehow found a flower. Luckily, everyone was right, and other kids do have the same gardening interests. I can’t hate on that. However, I’ve also been around enough games and practices with B to make some other observations.  See, when it comes to sports, I’ve noticed that children tend to fall into one of the following categories:

THE FLIRT

Now, most kids fall into this group. They dutifully show up, and, despite your constant encouragement, spend more time goofing off than actually playing the sport. Then, just when you feel the same way that you felt at the end of the series finale of Dexter (annoyed, frustrated, regretful etc. Or maybe that was just me?), they’ll do something competent out of the blue, like score a goal or hit a nice shot. As a parent, this gets your hopes up, that perhaps your child ‘gets it’ now, and the rest of the season will be more productive…..but then they go right back to goofing off.  Aww, kids. They’re such teases.

THE PRODIGY

This is that naturally gifted, athletically advanced phenom who is waaay better than everyone else, and loves it. The 5 year old who easily goes end to end, and scores 25 goals a game at will. The 4 year old with the killer crossover and picture perfect jump shot. When you watch them, you picture a mini Gretzky/Ronaldo/Lebron…until you hear their parents screaming at them to stop picking their nose and eating it. Regardless, if you happen to have a PRODIGY on your child’s team, force your kid to befriend him or her. Teach them that being in an entourage is a lucrative profession. What? The PRODIGY is clearly going places in their life. One of their childhood buddies needs to drive them there, right?

MR/MS. CONGENIALITY

This kid has the same positive attitude as a prodigy, but lacks any of the required skill. They are the ones you see constantly tripping on their feet, or running head-first into other CONGENIALITIES. Despite their suckiness, they still happily follow instructions, and try real hard. If you have a FLIRT, you might as well point out a CONGENIALITY to them, because they could learn a thing or two about being a good sport.  Actually, that back-fired on us with B, at soccer. He would see the other go-getters raising their hands at whatever the coach asked, so he started doing it, too. Sometimes even before the coach finished his thought. It was like buzzing in for Jeopardy, before Alex Trebek had said the answer.  Anyway, B became that kid who was always the first only one to volunteer to sit off.  Good times, spending my Saturday mornings watching B gleefully sitting on his butt.

THE CRYER

CRYERS are like little walking time bombs. They show up, clinging to their parents. Eventually, they build up some courage to venture out onto their own. But then, something sets them off (ie. the grass is too green, the ice is too cold, the PRODIGY won’t pass to them), and the waterworks start flowing. They then spend the remaining time on the sidelines, quivering messes, clutching mommy or daddy. Until treat time, of course. Then the tears suddenly stop and they’re good to go again.

THE (WRONG) GAMER

This is the child who would much rather be playing anything else. They are probably there against their will, so they act accordingly. The soccer player who hates soccer. The T-ball player who likes to play video games only. You get the idea. They’re the only kid who knows what ‘non-refundable’ means, since their parents are trying to get their money’s worth for the all of the league and equipment costs. A (WRONG) GAMER will exert as little effort as possible and play with a constant scowl on their face, like their mean muggin’.

Yeah, that's the look right there.

Yeah, that’s the look right there.

Unlike the FLIRT, where there is a ray of sunlight behind the screwing around, with a (WRONG) GAMER, sorry mom and dad,  there’s no hope here.  They are also known as a ONE AND DONE, since they won’t be back next season.

THE DANNY ALMONTE

Uh oh! Somebody check the birth certificate!  Whereas a PRODIGY is head and shoulders, skill-wise, above the other kids on the team, a DANNY ALMONTE is literally head and shoulders above them.  Named after the dude who killed it in the Little League World Series one year, but was actually 14 years old, and not 12 like his parents said, they are not necessarily PRODIGIES per se.  They just appear to be bigger and older, which is used to their advantage. This causes you and the other parents mutter to each other about why this kid who is supposed to be six years old is wearing a training bra. Or has a mustache. Or something like that. Nonetheless, until discredited, they are there for the same reason as your child, so you have to be nice to them. It’s not their fault they hit puberty while in pre-school. Unless,  of course, you’re their parent and you did lie about their age. In that case….really? C’mon man.

I think that covers it.

Which category does your child belong in? For me, in my own totally non-biased opinion, B and J are definitely PRODIGIES, no doubt!

What?

They are!

Probably.

I’m accepting resumes for their future entourage members, by the way.  There’s only one job requirement, too – must like dandelions.

Ill Communication

At what point is a situation considered an emergency?

Seems simple enough, right? You get the sniffles, you probably don’t need to seek medical assistance. Your buddy shoots you in the groin with a potato gun from a close distance, you probably want to go get your groin checked out after.

As adults, we know enough about ourselves that when something is seriously wrong, we can take the appropriate course of action. Kids, however, until they reach a certain age, they ain’t like that. They are totally dependent on you. So when something is wrong with them, like an illness, they can’t communicate to you what needs to be done. It’s up to you, as a parent, to figure that out.

I’ve come to realize, that unless you’re a trained medical professional,  trying to take care of your unwell child is a lot of guesswork.  You analyze the symptoms, maybe talk to someone, Google some information, and attempt to take care of the situation.  At the end of the day, though, all you can really do is trust your parental instincts.  You’ve probably noticed by now that I’m learning this parenting stuff on the fly. My instincts are pretty sorry, no doubt, but luckily enough for me, K has enough for  both of us. So when something is wrong with B or J, we’ve guessed right more often than not. There’s really only been one instance where our instincts were wrong, and we should have went to the doctor sooner than we did (that’s a story for another day. Don’t worry, everybody was just fine).

But back to my original question – when is a situation an emergency then? Now that is always a tough call.  One time, with B, when he was less than a year old, he had a fever that kept skyrocketing.  K and I remembered some advice for fevers from our prenatal class, so we followed that. When his fever reached a certain level, like 104 degrees, we decided that we needed to go to the emergency room.  Turns out that the advice we got was apparently wrong, and we got a ‘WTF? Why did you do that?’ reaction from the nurses. That’s the besides the point, though (Do you mask a fever, or let it ride? No really, I have no clue. I’ve gotten conflicting answers).  That situation reached a level where it was an emergency.

On the other hand, there’s been a bunch of times where the kids were sick, and K and I had to debate whether a trip to the hospital was warranted, but ultimately decided against it. There’s no easy way around it. Every illness is different, and requires a different judgement call.

I can count on one hand the number of times where we’ve had to take B or J to the emergency room. The good thing is that each time, we didn’t walk out of the hospital feeling like we wasted the doctors’ and nurses’ time. That’s the other part of the equation; when you guess wrong, and your kid’s situation isn’t at the emergency level, so then you feel like a guilty, stupid burden on the healthcare system.  When we’re talking about your kid’s well-being, that obviously shouldn’t matter. It still sucks when the doctor pats you on the back and says to go home and make sure your child gets lost of rest, while they roll their eyes at you. And you definitely don’t want to get to the point where you are on a first name basis with the staff, due to your frequent visits at the slightest cough.

So between the guesswork and the totally justifiable irrational worrying about the nurses and doctors making fun of you, assessing what constitutes an emergency, isn’t easy, for real. I’ve mentioned before, that one of my fears when I’m by myself with B and J, is something bad happening to them.  It’s that fear of the unknown, just not knowing what I’d do, or how I’d react, or handle the problem.  It’s the fear of making the wrong decision, and what the consequences would be.  Situations can turn tragic quickly and easily.  Just scary thoughts, man.

Unfortunately, my parental instincts were put to the test a couple of weeks ago.

It was a routine Saturday. K had dinner plans with some friends, and I was just going to stay in with the kiddos. B and J were playing nicely together,  but then around 4:00pm, B barfed on the floor, out of nowhere. Awesome. I cleaned him up, then started to work on the floor, but then not long after, he barfed again. I figured it was something he ate, as he was acting like his normal self. Anyway, we threw him in the tub. K asked if she should cancel her plans. My decision? I told her nope. Go out, he’s probably fine, I’ll just keep an eye on him, I said. Anyway, we cleaned B up, got him dressed then told him to rest in his room. He proceeded to throw up again.  More cleaning up, but this time, I plopped him in our room. K again asked if she should stay home, and I again said nope, so she was on her way.

B drank some water and was watching TV on our bed, while I sort of entertained J.  Suddenly, he threw up again, all over our bed. I replaced the sheets, and grabbed a toy bucket, and told him to use that if he felt sick again. Within seconds, he threw up into the bucket. And then he did it again. I was super confused and worried by this point. He was whiny, but he was still talking to me coherently. He wasn’t burning up or anything like that, either, so I was still going with the idea that he must have eaten something that didn’t sit right.

J, however, was also starting to whine. Not because she was sick, but  because she was hungry. I quickly rushed to scrounge up something passable for dinner for her, and when I came back, there was more puke all over the bed.  While J happily sang and ate her food, I cleaned up B again, and replaced the bed sheets.  He threw up again into the bucket while I was doing this. I ran to get him some ice chips, which he refused to eat. Don’t blame him. From his perspective, the water I gave him didn’t go so well, so why would he trust me with anything else?

Not going to front, I had an overwhelming sense of panic come over me. This was bananas. Why was he throwing up so much? Where was it all coming from? My next (stupid) decision was that I needed to put J to bed, so I could worry only about B for the night. First, though, I figured that I’d call Telehealth (Telehealth is a service that we have in Canada, where you can call and talk to a registered nurse, and ask for health advice). While I was on the phone, I went to get PJs for J.  When I came back to our room,  B, who had been flat down on his stomach, bucket by his head, dry heaving into it, started rolling his eyes into the back of his head, like the wrestler the Undertaker. WTF! So between the eye rolling, and the Exorcist-level vomiting, I was freaked out to the extreme. B was not even making any sense. He was too sick to communicate clearly. He was just mumbling incoherently between the throwing up. His vomit also was changing colour. I cut the Telehealth nurse off and told her that I needed to get to a hospital.

But more decisions! How do I get to a hospital? I quickly estimated that by the time I called for an ambulance, and it got to our house, I could make a decent chunk of the way there myself, if I drove. So I scooped up J, put her in my car, scooped up B (who threw up all over me, and in the garage) loaded him up, and we were off.  I’ll tell you what, man,  alone with my thoughts, flying down the dark country roads, I was thinking of the most messed up things.  I was trying to figure out what was wrong with the poor kid, and all I could think of was maybe organ failure from dehydration, or maybe he was possessed, or maybe he caught some rare incurable disease. I was retracing my decisions and what I could have done differently. Just craziness. My heart was pounding like I don’t remember it ever pounding before.   I tried to converse with B, but he was barely audible. J was having the time of her life, go figure. Obliviously laughing and chatting away. And then she fell asleep randomly. I couldn’t get to the hospital soon enough…

I did call K, and filled her in on what was going on, and she met me at the children’s emergency entrance.  I took J to K’s mom, and hurried back to the hospital. Didn’t even notice my pants were covered in barf until K told me. The staff talked to us, ran some tests, gave B some medicine for the nausea and hooked him up to an IV, to get some fluids in him.  I’ve never simultaneously felt total relief but also like a failure, until seeing B with tubes sticking out of him while the IV machine beeped away.

The end result was that he caught a bad case of the flu, And was dehydrated.  We went home later that night, but had to come back the next day, as a precaution. That was it. Not the most dire situation, but still an emergency situation to me. Funny thing was, two other families with small kids were admitted and sent home within minutes, while we were at the hospital, in the rooms beside us. One with a supposed allergic reaction, one because their baby was a bit sick. Hey, better to err on the side of caution, I guess.

I can honestly tell you, though, that from that experience, and my questionable decision making, I’m a better parent because of it.  Clearly, the lesson learned is that K should never……eeeeever leave me alone with the kids again, right? Right?

Well...no, I guess not.

Well…no, I guess not.

Final note – the next day, yours truly was chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin’ all cool, when,  suddenly, I  felt ill, and had to spend some quality time with the porcelain pool.  I stumbled back to our bed, where B was still on the mend, watching TV.

B – ‘Are you sick, daddy?’

M (moaning) – ‘Yeah, buddy, I threw up a lot just now.’

B – ‘You need a stuffy! That will make you feel better! Let me go get you one! Which one do you want?’

A stuffy is a stuffed animal. He took off to his room, and came back.

B – ‘Here daddy!’

He gave me his stuffed horse and Buzz Lightyear. And then he lied down beside me, holding his toy bear. Two sick homies,  in bed, watching Disney Junior, cuddling stuffies. Not gonna lie, as bad as I felt, I did feel a bit better then.

Yo, that answers my question. At what point is a situation an emergency? When even a stuffy can’t make it any better.

 

 

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