Category: lesson learned

True Colors – Dealing With Racism

The other morning,  while getting ready for school, B suddenly blurted this out to us:

“Did you know that they say the N word on Casper’s Scare School?”

dealing with racism

Now, if your kid said this to you, what would your reaction be? For me, I hadn’t had my coffee yet, but this provided quite the jolt!

B and J had recently watched some episodes of Casper’s Scare School on Netflix, featuring Casper The Friendly Ghost. As far as I could tell, it was a fairly tame show. So when B drops this bombshell on us,  it is confusing and disappointing.

Did they really say THAT word on that show?!

It goes without saying that the N word which I’m referring to is still a very powerful, controversial one in our language. Shoot, I remember the first time I heard it. It was my first time in dealing with racism. I was right around B’s current age, six or seven years old. I was playing in front of our house, when a bunch of teenage boys walked by, and called me it. Even though I didn’t understand what it meant at the time, the way that those boys said the word, with such laughter and disdain, it really did hurt me a lot.

The world kind of sucks sometimes, and there are a lot of haters out there. Fortunately, little children have this naive purity, in terms of their outlook on life. I can’t shield my kids from reality forever, I get that. I can at least do my best to delay certain aspects of reality from them, however. Let them be kids and worry about kid stuff. Dealing with racism is clearly not kid stuff.

With all that said, I was still confused about B’s comment.  Being multi-racial, my kids are ‘visibly black’, for lack of a better term. I do fully intend to one day sit down and talk about the N word to them. They should understand the history and meaning behind it, in case it is used in a derogatory fashion towards them.

But…..

I hadn’t had that conversation with them yet! As such, I wasn’t sure how B even knew what the N word was. I’ve never said it when he was around. We don’t listen to, or watch, anything profane around him, either. If he heard it at school, he probably would have told us about it. How soon is too soon, when dealing with racism?

So what was he talking about? Why was he so nonchalant? And what was Casper’s problem, to boot? Something didn’t add up.  More explanation is needed. I braced myself, and asked B to tell us what word he heard.

B’s response?

“Casper said…NITWIT!”

 

And like that, I instantly felt relieved. B meant a completely different N word!

I  guess I should have known better. There have been more times than I can count of me assuming something, and being way off about it. Sometimes, I’m not even in the same book as B and J, let alone on the same page as them. In this case, B’s book was full of N words, but not the N word, apparently.

So, in the end, Casper was just a friendly ghost, not a friendly racist in a white hood. And most important of all, my kids’ naive purity remained intact…….minus the fact that they watched a show which used such salty language.

Speaking of that, for the record, Casper also used the I word, according to B.

You know.

Idiot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bedtime For Kids WTF – Flaming Panties Edition

flame

One of the cool parts about being a parent is the never-ending string of learning experiences. Not just by your kids, though, but by you, too. It’s always something, man. Bedtime for kids is a common source of chaos, in our house.

Take the other night, for example, when my house was almost set ablaze by a pair of underwear.

Yeah. Some things you just can’t make up.

 

It all started off so uneventfully.  It was just me with B and J for the evening, as K was out. After doing our usual bedtime routine (I tell them that it’s time for bed, and they proceed to defiantly cause a ruckus. What? I didn’t say that it was a good routine),  the kids went off to their rooms, to get their pyjamas on.  I said that I would come back soon, to check on them. Now, on most nights, I usually head downstairs and do whatever. On this night, though, I decided to stay upstairs in our bedroom, to put some laundry away.

Five minutes later, a warm, sweet-smelling scent filled the air.

My initial reaction was that someone was making cookies. Nice!

My next reaction was, wait a minute. No one else was home….who was making cookies!!!!???

 

I may or may not have thought of ghosts.

I may or may not have thought it was the ghost of a Keebler elf.

I headed down to the kitchen, to investigate. The stove was off. No cookies. No scents, as well, which didn’t make sense. Confused, I realized that the smell was emanating from upstairs. I went back up, and narrowed its origin down to either B or J’s room.

The kids don’t have Easy-Bake Ovens, so I knew they weren’t creating any late night goodies. After taking a nice big whiff, I figured out that the odour was definitely coming from J’s room. I walked in, and found her sitting on the floor, doing a puzzle with her stuffed animals. I asked why her room smelled so delicious. She had no idea. I looked around and I couldn’t figure it out. I searched under her bed, in her closet, and in her ceiling light.

Nada.

It then dawned on me that the lamp on her bedside table seemed darker than normal.

Bingo!

I discovered the culprit:

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No, someone did not forget to wipe.

This is a pair of J’s underwear which were cooking on the light bulb in her lamp. See, when J was changing into her pyjamas, she took off her underwear and flung them towards her laundry hamper. However, they somehow ended up landing in her lamp (Breanna Stewart, your job is safe for now). Then, instead of moving them, she left them there to bake, because, well #kidslogic.

The messed up part is that these were the charred remains after just a few minutes on the light bulb. Can you imagine what would have happened if I hadn’t stayed up in our room? What if a fire had broken out? Scary stuff, dude. It’s amazing how the most random things can potentially cause serious consequences.

The end result?

A valuable lesson about fire safety was learned.  The importance of understanding flammable hazards in the house can not be understated, for real.

And yes, in case you were wondering, cookies were had by me afterwards.

Be safe, y’all! Hope your bedtime for kids are better than mine!

 

 

 

 

My Imaginary Friend Named Fingers

Today, I’d like to introduce you my imaginary friend.  This is an individual who, against all reasonable explanation, seems to be really admired by my children.

Are you ready?

OK, here he is!

 

 

 

 

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A picture of a hand?! #anticlimatic

To most people, that is just my hand. But to B and J?

It’s Fingers!

You see, one day, when B was three years old, we were watching Sesame Street. Well, B was watching, anyway. I was bored, to the point that I began to stare at my hand. I then started to think about how funny it would be if, instead of a puppet, a character was just a plain hand who talked.  And from that idiotic idea, Fingers was born.

Fingers is literally just my fingers. His voice is my normal speaking voice. He’s just a goofball.  B immediately got a kick out of it, and Fingers has come in handy (no pun intended) ever since. B would come up with all sorts of crazy, imaginative scenarios for them to do together.  He would confide in Fingers stuff that he didn’t even tell me.  Man, if B hurt himself, sometimes “Dr. Fingers” was there, to cheer him up with a silly diagnosis, or prescribe a dose of tickling (laughter really can be the best medicine!).

I assumed Fingers would only be a thing for a few weeks, and then he’d be ghosted.  However, B’s six now, and he still likes to play Fingers on car rides, when it’s just the two of us. On top of that, J’s picked up on it now, too.  Any drive that I take with her isn’t complete unless Fingers is present.

J  also doesn’t treat Fingers the same way as B does.  Whereas she still sees him as a friend, B’s evolves him to the point that he is a friendly rival.  They both come up with really far out situations, though, which require my imagination going into overdrive.

Let me give you a couple of recent, seperate examples, both occurring on drives home:

J, WITH FINGERS:

  • J asked Fingers to help build a treehouse. They decorated it, in specific detail.
  • J invited their friends over to a party. The friends were Curious George, John Cena, Princess Elsa, Princess Anna, and Swiper The Fox from Dora The Explorer (note: I had to play the roles of all of these characters, complete with ringing the doorbell, so J could ask who was there, to let them in).
  • An evil witch pretending to be a pizza delivery girl arrived (note: I was the witch).
  • Despite everyone individually warning him not to, Fingers went to get the pizza.
  • The witch turned Fingers into a pizza.
  • J used her superpowers to throw the witch into the ocean. The crocodile from Peter Pan with the ticking clock (note: yes, this was also yours truly, tick tocking away), arrived, to scare the witch off.
  • J turned Fingers back to normal.
  • Everyone watched a movie.

B, WITH FINGERS

  • B wanted to play “Basketball Fingers”.
  • They took turns picking 10 players each, to their NBA teams. B was the Golden State Warriors; Fingers was the Phoenix Suns (note: 19 of the 20 players were voiced by me. The other player was B).
  • Without listing them all,  the notable picks by B were Steph Curry, Kobe Bryant, me (note: I’m not a baller!) and Will Smith, because he was the best player for Bel Air Acadamy on The Fresh Prince.
Sorry, Carlton.

Sorry, Carlton.

  • His last selection was a little boy named Ben.
  • Fingers coached, but did not play. His notable picks were Lebron James and Kevin Durant. His last pick was someone of equal skill to a little boy, in B’s mind……”the worst player on the Philadelphia 76ers”.
  • Before tip-off, B and I ran back to the locker room, to put on our magic shoes (if you’ve seen the movie Like Mike, you’d understand).
  • Fingers mocked Ben, and laughed as he missed shots before the game. Ben then went to get his ball autographed by Kevin Durant. While doing this, Durant and Ben accidentally switched basketball talents (if you’ve seen the movie Thunderstruck, you’d understand).
  • Ben was now amazing, while Durant sucked, much to Fingers’ disbelief. Fingers kicked Durant off the team. B signed him. Ben gave Durant his skills back, making him amazing again, much to Fingers’ disbelief.
  • B and I kept doing high-flying, highlight reel plays of the day.
  • B – “Pretend Fingers gets mad that we’re good, so he tells Kawhi Leonard to hurt me and he gets technical fouls, but the referee (note: a ref? Nice. Another person for me to be!) heard Fingers tell him, so he kicks Fingers out.”
  • After getting kicked out, B called Fingers’ mom (note: keep the people coming). She told him that he was in big trouble for his naughty behaviour. B and Steph Curry took Fingers home.
  • Fingers had all of his toys taken away, except for his radio. He sadly listened to B hit the game winning, buzzer-beater three point shot.

While your car rides with your kids probably involve conversations about politics or world affairs, mine involve me doing more impersonations than the cast of Saturday Night Live.

Combined.

I’m not complaining, don’t get it twisted.  Hey, I know that all weird good things come to an end. One day soon, my fingers will stop being so interesting to my kids. Then they’ll go back to being just a boring part of my hand.

Until that day comes, Fingers lives on. And all things considered, that’s pretty cool. Right, Fingers?

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Right!

 

 

 

 

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.

shopkins

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.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/30/Chocolate_spread.png

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Father’s Day Stories: 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. Father’s Day stories galore!  Anyway, 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 is 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 brush this off, too. The weather is being iffy, so maybe they move 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, with a resemblance to 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 ask him if anyone else was here. 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. This isn’t turning out to be like one of those happy Father’s Day stories, however.

I hear these are good with liver.

I hear these are good with liver.

Anyway, it turns out that my GPS is 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.  It makes for one of my most random Father’s Day stories. 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 (Stories For Dads)

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.  This is one of the nicest stories for dads (and moms) that you’ll read today. 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.

captain awesome

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!

NES-Console-Set

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.

stories for dads

Custom onesie, holla!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Robot

 

robot

 

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

screan

 

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).

Barack_Obama_with_artistic_gymnastic_McKayla_Maroney_2

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

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