Monthly Archives: May 2015

6 Socially Unacceptable Things That Having a Kid Will Let You Get Away With…

Everyone knows how tough having an infant or toddler is. The late nights, tantrums, piles of bodily fluids, blah blah blah. However, there are also some hidden perks. There are things you get away with that you never could get away with before children. Most of these are viewed as either rude, awkward, or both. However, put a young kiddo in the mix, and you have your own built in excuse that nobody will question. So parents, don’t be afraid to take advantage of these while they last…

6 Socially Unacceptable Things That Having a Kid Will Let You Get Away With…
6) Being Late to Everything 

I actually have to say, for having a toddler my wife and I are pretty on time. That being said, if you have a young child (especially under a year), and you are late to basically any social event you don’t need an excuse. Just look at the people waiting for you, and mumble the word “Baby.” You will generally get sympathy from parents, because they know the struggle you just went through to get here. It probably included several diaper changes or potty trips, one costume change for each of you due to an aforementioned potty break gone wrong, and the pleasure of convincing a child that they aren’t a tiger, they are a child, and that child needs to be in the car seat (or if they are a tiger, they need to be a tiger in a tiger seat).  The non-parents will leave you alone due to the fact that you probably look like you just came out of a tornado (more on that under Number 5), they don’t want to hear the tales of poop and circumstance, and you have already ordered the strongest drink in the restaurant at 11 AM.

5) You Don’t Have To Look Nice

I used to like looking decent to go places. I would take time to get ready, and actually try and dress pretty sharp. However, now I’m happy if my polo has less than three visible stains. Parents are far too busy trying to dress their naked and streaking kid to worry about their clothes. What’s even better is that if you do end up actually putting yourself even halfway together people are overly impressed. Everyone’s standards become so low for you, that remembering to clean the toothpaste out of your beard is enough to illicit compliments on your appearance. 
I’m pretty sure my wife wore Yoga pants for a year straight. She claimed they were comfy after the surgery, and I buy that for the first few months, but after a while I could tell the concept of pants with buttons or zippers was just way too overwhelming, Frankly, I would have done the same, but finding Yoga pants in my size is a bit tough.
4) You Can Have No Concept of Current Events or Media
It can be hard to keep up with news, entertainment, etc. The good news is that when you have a new baby, ignorance is totally acceptable. The Avengers came out right when my daughter was born, and I’m pretty sure it went on to become the biggest movie of all time. When did I see it? Four months later on a plane to L.A. on a tiny screen with dollar headphones. If I hadn’t been on that flight, it would have been even longer. 
New parents have no idea what is going on outside of their home. Their current events are all based on when the last poop was, and was it solid enough to be called a real poop (future parents… you will have this discussion, I promise).
3) Get out of Jail Free Card

Remember the days of having to go to stuff you really didn’t want to go to, but for whatever reason you were obligated. Congrats, while you have a small child you have a get out of jail free card. It works on almost all social events. Party you don’t want to go to? Baby. Wedding just a little too far away? Baby. Last minute thing? Oh, I’m so sorry, I couldn’t get a sitter. We all know that you just can’t get up the energy to go, and are currently midway through some random Netflix binge watch, but we can’t call you on it.

One more note on this, for the first six months of having a baby any event you are invited to is almost done in jest. Nobody reasonable expects you to be at anything. If you do show up, you have absolutely no required time limit of staying. Just tell everyone it was good to see them, but you need to get the baby (or if the baby is with you, just tell them “the baby is getting done”). You will also quickly realize that you don’t know how to communicate with adults anymore, and the only topics you can think of are sleep cycles and baby poop.

2) You Can Eat Like a Child

There is an age where you society starts to look at you funny when you order chicken fingers or mac and cheese at nice restaurants. You are expected to get the weird French sounding dish with a funny tasting sauce on it. Once the kid is old enough to eat out, you get a free pass back to the awesome world of hot dogs and ice cream in a baseball cap. Just claim you are getting the meal to “split with the kid”, and you’re home free. My daughter doesn’t eat a lot some days, doesn’t stop me from chowing down on a kids size grilled cheese sandwich when she only has a little. Hey, can’t let it go to waste can we?

1) You Get to do Kids Activities
Being an adult can be pretty dull sometimes. Having to work, run errands, and do tasks around the house isn’t exactly a constant stream of excitement. That’s why it’s great when your kid starts to get old enough to do all the awesome stuff you can’t do anymore! Kids stuff is amazing… trampolines, ball pits, the dumbo ride, etc. If you are over 12 and making a macaroni picture alone, people will get a little confused. However, if you have a kiddo with you, anything short of actually eating the glue is not only acceptable, it’s encouraged. People will actually compliment you for doing this awesome stuff with your kid, like going down a slide at a playground is some sort of “taking one for the team” situation.

So remember, you only have a limited time for breaking social norms due to your kids. Make sure to take advantage of the benefits. I have to go though, there’s some finger painting that “my kid” wants to do.

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Be Careful How You Argue With Your Spouse… Your Kids Are Watching

I don’t want to stun you all, but couples argue. Some couples argue more than others, but I don’t know a single long term couple that hasn’t gotten into some big arguments. When you spend as much time with someone as you do with your significant other, it is inevitable that you will have some pretty major disagreements. Once you have young children the arguments increase. First off, when the kids are real young, you are both exhausted, emotionally drained, and just a bit more on edge overall. Furthermore, the amount of important discussions you have to make increase exponentially when child care is involved.

Just remember, your kids see you interact in both your positive and negative interactions. It’s important to set examples of how loving adults treat each other. Here are some things I’ve picked up along the way. I am not saying they are all perfect, and I am definitely not saying I don’t break my own rules from time to time, but I think these are some good guidelines. Even if you don’t have kids, I think these can be helpful.

1. Remember What You Are Arguing About, And Stick To The Topic

When discussions turn into arguments (I really don’t like using the word “fights”, it’s just over the top negative and has a violent connotation) everything seems to come out. The argument may be about doing the dishes, and before you know it you are talking about the time one of you left the diaper bag at the zoo. I firmly believe in a one month statute of limitations on 99% of relationship issues. If you didn’t bring it up in a month, don’t save it for 8 months down the line. You decided it wasn’t important enough to discuss (and you were probably right), so it definitely isn’t important enough down the road. There are some exceptions, but overall it’s a good policy.
So, keep it relevant, and if you find yourself drifting into that realm of unrelated material, try and come back to the main topic. You cannot discuss all the issues at once, and adding more fuel to the fire just makes people angrier. The angrier people get, the less productive discussion becomes. People tend to do this when the old “Give Me An Example!” line comes out. That line is generally pretty inflammatory to begin with, since it’s never a legitimate request once people are upset. It’s just a very roundabout way of claiming that “I don’t do the thing you are accusing me of”.
2. Don’t Make It Personal

Ok… this one is really hard when you are married or in a long term relationship. This is because everything is personal between you and your spouse. Still, there are lines you shouldn’t cross. Be careful with the use of the word “you” as in “You always do this!” or “You don’t care about…” Once the accusations start, it’s really hard to be productive.
Try and talk about the situation in general, and why the situation, not the person is upsetting you. It’s a lot easier for people to talk about topics and not directly about themselves. Even if their behavior needs addressing, that’s really hard to do when both people are upset.
On this same topic, do not insult each other. I hear couples say things to each other I wouldn’t even say to people I disliked, let alone people I love. Don’t call each other names or use other insults. You have taken a discussion and made it a direct personal attack. Nothing is getting done after that point.
3. Don’t Yell

This one is really big to me. Nobody likes to be yelled at. I especially have a hot button for it. I don’t know why exactly, but if someone yells at me, I shutdown or get very angry. Once I’ve been yelled at there is pretty much no way I am going to bend to your request in any fashion. In return, I really do not raise my voice to other people (anyone who knows me, knows I am naturally loud on a pretty absurd level to begin with). When people get passionate about certain topics they are inclined to yell about them. The problem is that once people are yelling, the discussion falls apart.
Keep a civil tone, try not to cut the other person off, and you’d be amazed how many discussions that could have been blow outs just stay as discussions.
4. It’s Not About Winning

The idea of “winning an argument” in a relationship is laughable. Seriously, what was the last argument you “won” where both people changed for the better and/or decisions were made in the most productive way possible. The old adage for men as it pertain
s to women is “You can be right or you can be happy.” I don’t quite think it’s that much of a one-way street, but the sentiment has some merit. It’s not like I’m in a great mood either if someone proves me wrong.
For the most part, discussions in a relationship shouldn’t be about who’s right or wrong. They should be about figuring out what is best for you, your spouse, and your family as a whole. Some topics are binary, either you do it one way, or you do it the other. However, the vast majority of topics are not, and have plenty of room for compromise. If both people feel like they got parts of what they wanted, then nobody has to feel terrible when it is done.
5. Sometimes It’s OK to Leave for a Little Bit

OK, confession time. This post was inspired by my wife and I having one of our “We haven’t had a good argument in a few months, so let’s just go for it!” evenings the other night. We were both pretty upset with each other. While my daughter was awake we sat quietly with slightly more tension than American/Russian relations in the 1980’s, but after I put her to bed, I left for a bit. There was no productive talk that was going to happen with me as upset as I was.
I told my wife I loved her, and I went out for half an hour or so. I just needed to not be in the house. When I got back, we were still upset, but at least we could talk and start to work things out.
6. Remember You Love Each Other

There are some couples out there that don’t love each other. They should have split up years ago, and are only together for any of a multitude of reasons. If you aren’t in one of those relationships, then you love your spouse. So during those days (or sometimes weeks) where the two of you just can’t seem to get on each others good side, just remember you love each other. Say it at night, in the morning, go do something you like together, or maybe just do something a little extra nice after things cool off. The important part is that the arguments should be temporary bumps, and not massive craters in your relationship.

Arguments happen, and they will continue to happen. However, there are productive and less productive ways to go about them. Your kids watch you interact with your spouse, and it will be a huge influence on how they treat and allow themselves to be treated by their partners in the future. So do the best you can to show them how two adults who love each other behave when they have completely driven each other up the wall.

5 Dad Lines I Hated… But Finally Understand

Sorry for the post delay, I was in New Jersey visiting my mother in order to avoid the “It’s fine, I didn’t want you to come home more than once a year anyway” guilt trip. When I was in New Jersey, I saw my dad (briefly, between him trying to avoid all the family in the house), and it made me think of some of the things he used to say when I was a kid. He didn’t use all of these, some are just classic dad lines from the vaults of the English language. However, these are sayings that annoyed me as a child. Now I understand…

5 Dad Lines I Hated… But Finally Understand

5. “Look It Up”

This is only number five because my daughter is a little young to be asking the questions that would get this response. However, I can already see myself saying it. When I was a kid, look it up meant going to the encyclopedia, and finding the appropriate article. If I was lucky, there would be a good amount of info so I could fill seven pages of whatever report I was writing on some life changing topic like Stingrays or James K. Polk. If I was unlucky, I would have to scavenge through whatever source I could find for the needed info.
Looking it up is different these days. Wikipedia and other internet sites have made piles of information readily available. Even President Polk has hundreds of pages about him as opposed to a three page article in an out of date World Book from the early 80’s (pretty sure it referenced the Cold War as “current affairs”). It’s still an important lesson though, and kids need to learn to research questions properly. So, sorry kiddo, you have a new task. In this world looking it up is easy, but figuring out if is a credible source is your generations harder job.

That, and I am sure I won’t have a clue about whatever it is my daughter is writing her reports on in their tech driven future world. I can barely turn on my toaster without starting a fire.

4. Stop Playing With Your Food!

I always had a pretty vivid imagination… and a really odd sense of humor. When I was young, I would take the meatball from my spaghetti and a few of the noodles off of the plate. Then I would dangle the noodles from the meatball. I dubbed this creation “Squid Man” and would narrate his adventures. I did this with basically any food that could be morphed into a squid head and tentacles. I was pretty convinced this was the highest level of comedy that could be achieved by man. My father was not.

Now as an adult, I know that he was probably correct. Imagination is great, but it probably should be kept away from the concrete idea of meatballs. Now, my daughter has begun playing with her food. Sometimes nuggets start to dance, or bread becomes building blocks. I don’t stop this behavior immediately, but at some point it is time to stop playing and start eating.

However, if she reincarnates “Squid Man”, all bets are off.

3. Dad Jokes

OK, so this is cheating a little. There isn’t one clear line here, but the idea of Dad Jokes in general. For those who don’t know, Dad Jokes are one liners that dads cannot resist. They are usually so corny or bad that they illicit way more groans than laughs. My dad did these from time to time, and I swore that they were the worst and least funny things ever. I knew that I would never sink to this level.

I tell Dad Jokes as often as I can, and I am never less than thrilled when I nail one. When my daughter was wearing her duck towel, I told her she was “reduckulous”. When my wife got her a tu-tu for her third birthday I remarked that it should be called a “three-three”. These are awful, horrible puns that I could not be prouder of. Sorry kid, these won’t be stopping anytime soon. I just can’t wait to embarrass you in front of your friends with them.

2. Because I Said So!

I don’t know why certain things are rules, and maybe some rules aren’t needed. However, those are the rules, and kids create so much chaos that certain rules must be followed. So, you try to explain reasons, but kids love nothing more than poking holes in reasons, or asking “Why?” so many times that you cannot break something down anymore. You have already broken down why they cannot play drums without pants on the front lawn to its core molecular level.

Sometimes, and I despised this as a kid, it’s just because you said so. I admit this is a really bad reason for a rule, but on occasion it is all you have. So, I don’t encourage using this often, because reasons really are better than declarations, but kids are completely unreasonable sometimes. You cannot reason wi

th the unreasonable. At least you have a decision in this one, unlike number one on the list…

1. Go Ask Your Mother.

Your kids have a ton of requests. They want every ridiculous thing they can think of. Some answers are easy.  Asking for a jet pack is a pretty easy “no”, and asking to use their crayons is a pretty easy “yes” (before you realize they meant use their crayons on the dogs… seriously, the easy yes answers are so rare that whenever you give one you worry about what they are plotting).

However, there is this whole subset of questions that as a dad we really don’t know the answer. It’s 2:30 PM on a Saturday and my kid wants a cookie. I have no idea if you can have a cookie. I really don’t have a clue if it’s cookie o’clock. If I give the wrong answer, who knows what could happen. Can a kid turn into a gremlin if they get a cookie at the wrong time? I don’t know… this stuff isn’t in the manual. However, somehow mom knows (or covers up not knowing way better than dad).

Mom knows if it is cookie time, or if you can watch Frozen right now. Mom also knows the secret of which nights are “stay up a little later nights” whereas dad gets that one wrong 97% of the time according to mom. Mom just knows the answer to these gray area questions. So go ask your mother… and see if I can have a cookie too.