Tuesday, April 28, 2009

That new baby smell

When The Boy was born a lot of mothers looked at him sadly and said they missed when their own kids were that age. At the time, and for a couple of years after that, I thought they were crazy. I figured it would be much better once the kid was walking on his own, because I spent 90% of my day carrying The Boy around and was ready for a break. Little did I know that when I picked up my cousin's newborn boy the other day I would look at his wrinkled grinning face and suddenly realize that I spend much more energy chasing after my toddler than I ever did lugging him around in a sling.

Those women were probably talking about some kind of sentimental emotion thing, but for a guy it's all about the caloric requirements of parenting. I shall watch my son play Little League with a smile on my face, enjoying the fact that he's out there working up a sweat while I can finally sit on my ass and eat chips.

Let's get ready to Roomba!

The Boy's favorite toy at the moment is the Roomba, a small robotic sweeper that putters around the room cleaning the floor. While I agree that the way it zips around can be mesmerizing, with The Boy it practically becomes a nightly religious rite. He'll point with glee when the recharge light turns green, then we'll bring it to the middle of a room and turn it on. And when I say 'we' I actually mean me, since The Boy at that point has scrambled onto a bed or couch or whatever is around. This is because it's firmly believed in our household that the Roomba is a deadly killing machine, despite the fact that the worst it can do to you is lightly bump against you. Even if, somehow, you managed to get a body part under the chassis and near the sweeping brush the worst you'll get is some minor tickling.

There have been times when The Boy has found himself in the middle of the room with the dreaded machine steadily coming towards him and, instead of moving away, he'll freeze up and start bawling. But Daddy has consistently come to save him before he loses any limbs, so the risk of death is a small price to pay for the privilege of watching Roomba work. For me, the risk of childhood trauma to my son is a small price to pay for clean floors.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Religion and politics

A guy at work just had a baby, and I'm avoiding him like the plague.

The problem, you see, is that I'm sure he's doing countless things with his child that I don't agree with, so it's easier to just keep my mouth shut by not talking about babies at all. I've learned over the years that child rearing falls under the same category as religion and politics, topics that just piss people off. That's because people can't help but listen and feel that it's a slight against them. Either you take offense to how you raise your kids or you take offense to how you were raised, claiming that you turned out okay so what makes me think your dear old mother did you wrong?

Well, let's ignore the fact that the number of Americans depressed and/or on drugs is rapidly rising, so the odds are good that you're not as emotionally stable and secure as you claim. Let's also ignore the steady increase of physical illness and autoimmune disorders in children. While we're at it, let's gloss over child obesity and the lack of effort put into studying baby's nutritional needs and food sensitivities. Plus the fact that cribs, strollers, formula, and vaccinations go against a million years of evolution...

... So yeah, I'm not going to ask him how his baby is doing.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Let's make a deal...

The Boy has become quite the little bargainer. At some point he learned what "little bit" means, and now every demand for candy or television is punctuated with "little bit!" I'm pretty sure it's never actually worked, so I have no idea why he thinks this'll help his cause.

I thought this was just some automatic response, but the other day I was fortunate enough to watch his brain in action. The Wife was making deviled eggs and had scooped a spoonful of mayo out of the jar. The Boy, thinking that mayonnaise was now fair game for anyone with a spoon, toddled over to the silverware drawer and opened it up. The part that impressed me was that this master negotiator, after a moment of contemplation, passed over serving spoons, soup spoons, and even his normal cereal spoons and picked up one of his old baby spoons. He knew there might be some disagreement about allowing him to stuff mayo straight into his mouth so he picked the smallest utensil he could find in order to meet us halfway.

It showed more forethought than most adults so it was tempting to actually let him get away with it. But you have to draw the line somewhere, and even I balk at eating mayonnaise without even the pretense of other foods.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


One of the cool things about being a dad is that to a youngster you can do anything. Broken toy? Superglue makes it good as new! Skinned knee? A band aid saves his life! Ball stuck on roof? Behold the power of the ladder! Add to this the near-mystical properties of duct tape and you practically reach godhood.

I was pondering this very topic when the fellows who write Penny Arcade, a comic strip about computer games, started talking about it in one of their podcasts. They were bringing up stories of their childhood when their dads seemed so badass, running power tools one-handed and taking battery acid in the face without so much as flinching. Then one of them mentioned how he recently got around to using his circular saw for the first time and spent half an hour actually reading the manual. On a circular saw.

Now, I'll freely admit that I lack many "guy" traits, but the ability to use power tools is encoded into our very DNA. I mean, you pull the trigger and the blade moves. From there the male brain can pretty much map out the required steps. It made me feel pity for the poor cartoonist's son, but in that household the console game reigns supreme so in all likelihood the kid will grow up idolizing his father for being able to do a double-flip jump flip jump that allows Mario to save the princess once again. At least, I hope so.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Potato wrath

When The Boy hit exactly two years of age we prided ourselves on entering the Terrible Two years without a problem. Despite his... precocious behavior he wasn't too bad to deal with, and we were smug with the certainty that attachment parenting had actually paid off.

Unfortunately, they should really call it the Terrible Two-Point-Fives. If he had embraced the dark side before, now he had built the Death Star and was blowing up planets. Planets inhabited by cute, fuzzy kittens. He embraced any chance to do mischief, and would melt down given the slightest provocation. Food has become a major source of contention, since he seems to only want tater tots and french fries now, and while getting over some kind of stomach virus we had to put the kibosh on anything remotely tasty.

I didn't realize how much resentment was in that adorable little head, though, until the other day. He had acquired the extendable card key that clips onto my belt for work and he was swinging it around. The clip part was heavy enough to whip out on its string with enough force to make it a deadly little whip, as The Wife had discovered just the day before.

I calmly told him that what he was doing was dangerous, and that he had already given Mama an owie by doing that.

"You don't want to give Daddy an owie, do you?" I asked.

"Yeah," he replied.

Not thinking he understood the question, I asked, "now why would you want to give Daddy an owie?"

To which he bellowed, "Tater Tots!" and came at me with murder in his eyes, swinging the card key like mad.