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Continued Recent Rantings of a Flabbergasted Father

You, sir, disgust me.

On practically a daily basis, I consciously take some time out of each day to connect with my wife by annoying her with my odd observations, random rants, mad monologues, and superfluous soliloquies.

For instance…

Our newly graduated one-year-old has recently mastered walking. By “mastered,” I mean like Jackie Chan kung-fu drunken boxing mastered kind of way. Sure, he’s more mobile than ever, but he’s also more dangerous than ever—a danger to himself and others, a menace to society. They require a license to drive on the roads. They should probably consider requiring a license to walk around. He’s like a waddling knee-capping ready to happen.

You know what else is a menace to society? Glitter.

I know I’ve complained ad nauseum about glitter before. But still. What demented, sadistic nihilist came up with this stuff? I take back every negative comment I’ve ever laid against stickers; just save me from glitter. Who can count them? For as the number of the stars of heaven and as the sand of the earth, so is the number of eye-irritating glitter specks in my house. If I’m cremated when I die, then the flames will probably sparkle from all the glitter I’ve inhaled and ingested over the years.

And one more thing…

Rubber duckies. I love the idea of rubber ducks. In theory, they work out great. You know what else sounds great in theory? Communism. In practice, both are dirty and fail miserably. But instead of the Red Scare and the threat of nuclear Armageddon, it is the Squeaky Scare and the threat of black moldageddon. All of those rubber bath toys get so disgusting even after one use. How hard is it to manufacture something that doesn’t grow the death plague inside of it and of which your children desperately want to gnaw on and suckle?

We’ve tried everything. Plugging the air hole, cutting out the bases, vinegar, blow torch, etc. All practices in futility; vanities of vanities. The only good rubber duckie is a dead rubber duckie. Sorry Ernie, but your friend makes bath time so much fun only as long as you have a hazmat suit and are fond of playing with weaponizable biological waste byproducts. It’s like some foreign intelligence agency’s (I won’t speculate as to which one) subversive scheme to undermine our citizen’s faith in bath time. Forget Covid conspiracies. This is the REAL plot to destroy America. Operation Duckie Dookie Drop.

Fair warning: if you ever got the bright idea of breaking into our home, prepare to be assaulted by an intoxicated baby, glitter bombs, and moldy rubber bath trinkets.

The Stickers Strike Back

Not long ago, I talked some smack about stickers. They have struck back with a vengeance. Let me explain.

My wife got caught up in this chainmail, pass-it-forward, multi-level marketing, pyramid scheme—involving stickers. It’s like one of those weird infinite, sourdough friendship bread things that everyone thinks sounds like a fun and dandy idea—“Oh, what a lovely new hobby to take up!”—but then quickly turns into deep regret and overwhelming dread—“Oh, what have I done‽ Please, make it stop!”

For the record, I had nothing to do with it.

Anyways, to make a short story shorter, we ended up with way too many sleeves of stickers and now our entire house is made of stickers. I mean, I believe the very structural integrity and load bearing weight of our home is now mostly stickers: plain ones, colorful ones, glittery ones, three-dimensional ones, fuzzy ones, animals, cosmos, magic, princess, emoji, and plant-based stickers, probably CBD. Because stickers are like potato chips. You can’t just eat one. And our three-year daughter cannot just peel off one sticker, or even one sleeve for that matter. She’s gotta tear through every sticker like they’re winning lotto tickets.

I have found stickers in places…

Places you cannot imagine. Places where stickers ought not to be.

There are stickers on chairs and doorhandles; on the floor and ceiling (not sure how they got up there); on the fridge and toilets and sinks; on mommy’s purse and throughout the car; in my pockets and on her baby brother’s face.

But it goes far beyond that. I keep putting on clean clothes from the dryer to then find stickers within them. The other day, in particular, was an especially tangible occasion. I had gotten home from work and was taking a shower (yes, I do that from time to time). As I was lathering and cleansing, lo and behold, what did I find? But a sticker where the sun don’t shine. Ironically, the sticker was of a bright, smiling sun. Initially, my discovery was alarming—I thought, “Do I have the plague or is that a tick on my derrière? Oh no, it’s just another sticker…” The jolly, yellow star gleamed up at me with a mischievous grin, as if to say, “Thanks buddy for the wash and spa treatment!”

I shall spare you some of the finer details. Suffice it to say, 2020 will go down in our home as the year of two pandemics: Covid-19 and The Great Icky-Sticky-Fluenza.

10 Games to Play During Quarantine

If the shoe fits…

Note: Although these games are geared towards children, with a bit of imagination, they can be played by the most immature of adults.

As a family, we learned a tremendous amount during the quarantine. We learned things like how many different games you can play with Alexa (even she gets cabin fever), how precious a single square of toilet paper can be (count your blessings, count them one by one), and how viruses can only really spread in small businesses but you’re okay in giant, multi-billion dollar department stores. But to pass the time, we also came up with some of our own games. So, here’s a list of 10 games (minus a few because I was going to do a list of 10 to make a nice, even list, but then I started making the list and I was like, 10 is way too many things to think about!) to preoccupy your family in the case of any future lock downs.

Rock, Paper, Scissors, Shoe! – One day, my three-year-old came up to me and said, “Let’s play a game!” She held out one little palm and put her other fist on top saying, “Rock, paper, scissors, shoe! Umm… Daddy, how to make the shoe?” Rock beats scissors, scissors beats paper, paper beats rock, and shoe beats… cockroach?

Will It Hat? – Our one year old son, loves to put things on his Benjamin Button, bald head. Gotta cheese puff? Put it on your head. Will it hat? Gotta dead leaf? Put it on your head. Will it hat? Gotta shoe? A book? A cup full of water? An actual hat? Put ‘em on your head, and see: will it hat? The answer is always: most certainly, yes it will.

Dress Up – I used to think one shirt was enough for one day. But why only wear one outfit when you can change multiple times a day, and do loads of laundry everyday? Baby spit up, toddler nail polish, slime, boogers, the options and opportunities are endless to have a reason to change again. Or you could just not wear anything. It is quarantine after all.

No Mess Finger Paint – The game is that while you had a momentary lapse in sanity, you allowed your toddler to play with paint, and now, while she has fun painting, you spend the entire time just trying to clean and keep paint off of everything in the house.

Sharing is Caring – No matter how many toys you give to each child, even if they’re identical, they only want to play with what the other one has. I just keep telling myself that the screams and tears are watering the little seeds of maturity in their souls so they won’t covet their neighbor’s new deck and jacuzzi.

Sleep Over – The best part about a sleep over is getting to stay up late. Having young children is kinda like that except instead of staying up late to eat junk food or play video games, you stay up late to put one kid to bed just so you can then get the other back in bed who woke up because of a feral cat outside, so that you can then wake up early for the other one who seems to have no concept of a lazy weekend morning.

Hide the Biscuit – The biscuit can be anything. Cereal puffs, green beans, carrots, crackers, cheese, or even biscuits. Where do you hide them? Well, our son hides them in his chair, under his chair, in his pockets, in his diaper, in his armpit, on his head (refer back to Game #2), behind his ears, in his ears, up his nose, under his bum and around the corner, and within black hole-like interdimensional portals that confound the known laws of space and time in which you thought you found and cleaned up all those puffs just for them to reemerge later either fall from the ceiling, be stuck to an elbow, or be stepped on.

Hide ‘n’ Seek – No. Just no. Never play this.

Naturally Gifted

(Like Father, Like Son)

As an incredibly blessed parent, I try not to brag. I don’t want to be one of those parents who vicariously lives through their children, attempting in vain to supplant past failures, and overly boasts of their accomplishments as if they were their own. (Did I use enough ambiguous antecedents in that last sentence? I’m sure you can figure out who the unclear pronouns refer to. I’m not going to spend time rewriting sentences for clarity when that’s not what this is about. Do you realize how much time I could waste just going on and on and on about every little word and sentence. I could take at least some 87 words talking about it. Look, I’m just not going to overthink these blog posts. Okay? Hmm, maybe I should…)

Anyways, as I was saying before being rudely interrupted by the grammar sheriff, as a proud father, I try not to brag. But my son, soon to be one, is gifted at eating. Quite remarkable acutally.

It’s like we didn’t even have to teach him. He just figured it all out with almost no direction. Finger foods? Check. Fruit pouches with little slurp spouts? Check. Sippy cups? Check. Beverages with straws—obviously the decomposable, plant-based, non-marine-life-harrasing kind? Check. He just gets it.

But of course, greatest strength, greatest weakness.

With his prodigious penchant for food consumption also comes a few unsavory habits (see what I did there? “unsavory”). We’re currently trying to wean our kiddo off these shady lifestyle choices:

Eating leftovers.

By leftovers, I mean the food that has fallen off the table and onto the floor. Some people have a dog. We have a baby. He’s like a weird, squishy little vacuum cleaner. One of his favorite after-dinner pastimes is to try and crawl under the table and sample the variety platter of crumbs and collateral. When eating in his highchair, he often eats one, and then throws one down on the floor. I believe this is all part of his master plan to have readily accessible, self-selected hors d’oeuvres for later.

Eating dirt.

It’s not that he necessarily “loves” the taste of dirt and sand, but they’re also not really good deterrents either. The other day when we went to the beach, he tried a generous handful of sand, and then made the face of confused trepidation that you would expect. So, he was good, he wasn’t going to just eat more sand for the kicks and giggles of it. But then it was also the day he first tried potato chips. I personally have a weakness for those crispy, golden, fried spuds of nirvana myself. Perhaps it’s genetic. Either way, if a chip were to fall in the sand, he would do a quick cost-risk-benefit analysis and then determine that the right course of action was to push through and munch on. The chip was totally worth a little garnishment of sand.

Eating garbage.

By garbage, I mean basically anything and everything he can get his grimy, little paws on. Paper of all assortments and colors. Sticks, mulch, and grass. Carpet fibers. His sister’s polyester princess dress frills. Seriously little dude, you gotta stop doing that. Sometimes, opening up his diaper is like unwrapping one of those dollar store mystery bags. We’re really trying to set realistic goals for our children. Keep it simple ya know: try to stop eating random trash. We’re totally setting them up for success!

Eating people.

There’s always that one kid at the preschool who’s a biter. Look, we’ve really made some progress here so don’t worry too, too much. I’m sure by the time our son is ready for school he’s not going to want to gnaw on your offspring. But just in case, I’d send your child with some extra snacks. Think the “Sandlot” movie when the kids need to try and bribe the guard dog with a tasty beef treat. Did something like that happen in that movie? I don’t know; sounds about right.

Scars are there to remind us of the love.

At Home All These Past Years

(On Our Anniversary Today)

If home is where your story begins,
Then I don’t recall a chapter before you.

There must have been no prologue;
At least not one worth mentioning.
Perhaps, the editor removed it for clarity.
All the better,
For the story worth telling
Must be the one that starts with you.

So, if home is where your story begins,
Then my story began here with you.

And if home is where the heart is,
Then my heart was stuck far too long
In the pages of the lonely flyleaf and the dull copyright.

Was I homeless before my heart found you?
I can’t remember. I don’t want to.
Perhaps, the realtor was banking on a better market.
All the better,
For the home worth sharing
Must be the one that’s here with you.

So, if home is where the heart is,
Then my home is forever with you.

Who’s on First for Toddlers

The following is based on a truish conversation and ongoing inside joke that I have with our 3-year-old daughter:

“Hey, Gracie girl, what’s under there?”

“Under where?”

“Under there?”

“Under wheerree?

“Under theerree.”

“Under there or under here? Under where?”

“Right there. Under there.”

“Oh… underwear!”

“Over there, under there.”

“Underwear is under there.”

“Wait, under where is there? Where is where? Here? Is where here or there?”

“No, here is underwear. Under there.”

“Under where?”

“Under there!”

“Under where?”

“Underwear!”

“Under where, under there! Ohhh… I see. Underwear is over there, under there.”

“What did you say?”

“I don’t know…”

The moral of the story: there are no monsters under your bed, just certain timeless mysteries about when hidden, delicate garments were last laundered.

A Spoonful of Ginger Helps the Medicine Taste Even Worse

Step right up! Guess what’s in the jar, and win a prize!

My mother recently visited and was finally able to meet her grandson. It was a very special and loving time. But I know that none of you are really interested in all that mushy stuff. In regard to my dear old mum, what everyone is really always wondering is: what crazy thing did she stow away in her luggage this time

More chestnuts? More rocks with included botanical garden? A pumpkin for the fall? Small, endangered animals? What‽

Well, this most recent visit did not disappoint and included the pleasant surprise of a somewhat large, plastic grocery bag, doubled, and filled with some kind of liquid ginger root soup concoction… Yes, you read that right. A bag of liquefied ginger potion, the purpose for which witchery I can only have night terrors about.

She told us that it was this homemade healthy ginger tea and that it both prevents and cures the coronavirus. So, of course, she made us all drink it; me, my wife, my sister, even my in-laws. (Don’t worry, I did not allow her to give it to our children.)

What did it taste like? Hmm… let me try… how can you explain something that tastes like equal parts moonshine, herbal tea, hot burning coals, iceberg lettuce, and dirt with grass roots still attached? This stuff simultaneously clears out all your sinuses with the force of a fire hydrant, starts a bubbling party in your gut causing a chain-chemical reaction that makes you believe you can breathe fire, and feels like it is cremating your brain cells to the point that you start hallucinating pink, flying unicorns in tutus sliding down a rainbow of licorice. I mean come on, usually the unicorns are not wearing ballet clothes. That’s just ridiculous.

“But wait!” I hear you asking, “How did your mom get through security at the airport carrying a gallon of what looks like corrosive bomb-making material in her extra-large carry-on purse when you’re only allowed containers of around 3 ounces?” Well, my friend, you don’t know my mom. And neither do I apparently, because if I could answer that question, I would probably be a millionaire and one step closer to uncovering all the mysteries of the universe.

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t have anything against ginger. I just hate the way it tastes. Oh, also I despise its texture and overall appearance—that ugly root rope thing—and everything else about it. But that’s all; it’s nothing personal really, and it’s not like I have anything against those who like ginger either. It’s a free country and everyone’s entitled to like whatever disgusting thing they want to. Savages.

Also, if you’re surprised by the ginger tea-n-tea my mom was packing then here’s a short list of the other essential items she brought along: dried anchovies, octopus jerky, pickled cabbage, hot chili paste, approximately 50 garbage bags, a half dozen cooking aprons, two dozen old-man plastic clip-on phone cases, multiple packages of Baby Shark face masks, an unnatural and confusing quantity of socks, wallets, and hair bows, what will now forever be known as “the infamous magical paper towel” (an item which defies the laws of physics that I persistently attempted to throw away in the garbage but my mom swore that it was reusable and ergo the soggy napkin continuously reemerged like a phoenix from the ashes or perhaps better compared to one of those movie monsters like Freddy Krueger or Jason Voorhees that just won’t stay dead because there needs to be a hundred sequels), and also other assorted unknown herbs and spices (I’m pretty sure my mom stole Mary Poppin’s magical black hole hand-bag that can fit an infinite number of items).

Anyways, my mother drank this stuff every night like it was a religious matcha ceremony. She would say, “It’s good. It makes me healthy. Makes me strong.”

And I’m thinking, “Well yeah, of course, duh. You’d have to be superhumanly strong to consume and endure that stuff every day!” You see, my mom is actually She-Hulk. Soon to be available for streaming on Disney+. Subscribe today with this imaginary link and save nothing on your first purchase.

Kids Are Weird

Hmm… that’s odd…

What is it with kids?

They are so weird. Brain-scratchingly odd. And I have some questions:

What is it with kids and stickers?

We have a book with stickers, and our child loves it. But here is what she’ll do: she will take the stickers off one page, and then… simply put the stickers on the adjacent page. So now, it just looks like the previous sticker page except worse. Is it a metaphor for life? Sometimes, it feels like I’m just moving stickers from one page to another. Like in doing yardwork where I’m just moving dirt from one place to another, or at work where I’m moving paper from one pile to another. But let’s be honest, we all love stickers. They are the best even if we can’t explain why. Part of my reason for having is kids is so that I have a socially acceptable reason to still use and wear stickers.

Why do babies want to eat literally everything?

Seriously, how long should it take a baby to figure out that something is not food? I’m like, dude, haven’t you realized yet that those carpet fibers, that door post, and all those plastic doll faces aren’t food? No, those random specks of dried leaves are not food. No, those shoes are not food. And no, mommy’s earrings and daddy’s beard are not food. And yet, try, try again our child must. I have to give it to him; at least he’s not a quitter. Resilience is important. But so is recognizing when it’s time to let go and move on, like when it’s time to stop gnawing on electrical cables before you turn into a barbecued squirrel on a power line.

Why won’t kids just go to sleep?

The struggle is real. The FOMO is real. How can I possibly be so tired and want to sleep so badly, and yet, these kiddos are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, wide awake, and wired like they’re hooked up to a drip coffee IV? Just go to sleep; please, for the love of all that is good and sane in the world, please just go to sleep. Currently, our nighttime routine is roughly around 12 hours, and it begins at approximately the moment that they wake up in the morning. Woe to you if you do anything to upset the delicate balance of their sleeping schedule causing us to stay up an extra untold number of hours trying to get them to fall asleep. If anyone ever figures this one out please let the universe know.

Something Savory to Save the World

Hmm… what do I want for lunch…?

Ten months—our little guy has hit double digits (well, technically in four days, but I’m writing this now so whatever for technicalities)! Somehow, by the grace of God we’ve kept him breathing. And now that he’s crawling around the house even more, he is that much more like a puppy making little yelps, trying to eat off the floor, and drooling everywhere. He drools. A lot. He leaves a trail of drool everywhere he goes like some kind of abnormally large slimy slug in diapers. He’s a regular old honky tonky wonky donkey jibber jabber jocky slobber wockey.

You know what gets me drooling? Dunkin’ Donuts snackin’ bacon. I wish I could meet the employee that pitched selling a bag of nothing but bacon to the executive team. He or she is a genius and one of my heroes. That is what it means to make a difference in the world, and I want their autograph. Because the egg, cheese, and bread are really just garnishments and excuses to have more bacon on something. A bag of bacon is simply cutting out the middleman. It’s the most prudent and economical thing to do.

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to state that I have a fondness for and close relationship with bacon. I grew up with bacon, and bacon has always been there through the highs and lows of life. Bacon is my spirit animal.

Sometimes when I can’t sleep, I just imagine that I’m being swaddled within a luxurious bacon weave quilt, nestling between the folds of salty grease and squishy fat, reminiscent of a warm hug and smooch from my great-aunt Bertha. Like licorice meat candy, it takes me to the gentler times of childhood as nostalgia washes over me with its equally crunchy and chewy gristle texture.

Bacon reminds me that there is still beauty and goodness in the world despite all the craziness happening. Bacon transcends culture, borders, and politics. In fact, I’m pretty sure the reason our son drools so much is simply that he is salivating over the future day when he can finally enjoy the simple pleasures of eating sodium-cured strips of pork belly and fatty back cuts.

Soon, my son. Soon.

The Pursuit of Happiness

Now, where did I leave that mother of mine…

There are some mysteries of the cosmos too great to be understood by mere mortal minds. From the deep fathoms of infinite knowledge there exists an immeasurable chasm between the gray matter of our awareness and the dark void of the beyond.

For our newborn, that mystery of all mysteries lies within the realm of one of the oldest, most cherished past times of humanity: peek-a-boo.

Yes, peek-a-boo, I see you! Where’s baby? There he is! Peek-a-boo! Philosophers have engaged in this very discourse of reality and existence for millennia. What is real? What does it mean to be alive and to exist? Questions that haunt our temporal beings. And then at the moment of bleakest thoughts, a bright light shines forth to illuminate our hearts and cast away the cobwebs of the corners of our minds. Peek-a-boo! Oh, there you are Mommy! Where’d you go? You sneaky, sneaky mommy. What is this dark magic? I know where you are; you can’t hide forever… gotcha, peek-a-boo!

What once was lost, now is found. And there are few things that can make our baby boy more giddy than by slyly covering our faces and then popping out like a jack-in-the-box. Like a fox in socks jumping out of a box, or so said Mr. Knox.

The only other thing that can calm and soothe the fears and frustrations of my son is a nice shiny, sharp object. He loves them. Interior fire sprinklers, hanging light fixtures, and freshly polished cutlery. All his favorites and perfectly, suitable educational toys for a baby. My parents gave me my first hatchet when I learned to walk. I was so proud when our newborn held his first Cutco knife.

But his absolute favorite is this little eye-and-hook latch that we use for our sliding barn door. Whenever he gets upset, I just walk him over to that little piece of pointy, protruding metal, and he immediately starts to grin with devious delight. At first, he simply stares and glances, not wanting to be too forward. Then as he warms up, he just barely reaches out towards the lock, careful not to touch yet; only to flirt and tease. He’ll play hard to get and shyly look away with a blush. Finally, after the courtship, the moment of waiting comes to fullness as he starts—not to caress tenderly—but to slap like a whack-a-mole hyped up on pixie dust the dangling lock with squeals of laughter and raptures of pure ecstasy.

Don’t even get me started on ceiling fans. Every baby loves them. I assume, it is because ceiling fans seem to have an awfully close resemblance to the Bible’s depictions of angels. So, babies must be remembering the beautiful sight of singing angels that they knew before knowing while their souls were formed and knitted by the Great Artist outside of time and space. Or something like that. What do I know?

Our daughter says that Pikachu’s last name is Peekaboo. What a missed opportunity to have named our child…