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.
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…
The other morning when my wife was taking our three-year-old to the bathroom, I overheard a brief exchange that went something like this:
Toddler: “We can’t see grandma n’ grandpa right now cause a’ da carvana virus.”
Mommy: “Yeah, the coronavirus really stinks.”
Toddler: “But why does it stink? Did it poop? Stinky poo corazon-virus!”
It was something like that. Either way, yes, the coronavirus is stinky poo. Remind humanity never to do this again please. The kids have a cabin fever of 110o and are losing their little minds. For me, I’m an introvert, so it’s been great having a socially acceptable excuse to socially distance from people. It’s totally not weird now when I refuse to shake strangers’ hands or I ask them to please stay away from me (at least six feet of course).
The moral of the story? Don’t be like the coronavirus unless you want to be flushed down the toilet.
So, after posting a recent blog admonishing Huggies for their superior diapers, we were sent a generous gift of, wait for it… two separate $1 off coupons (that cannot be used simultaneously).
Preeettyy exciting I know. And honestly, it’s appreciated because I didn’t expect anything. But here’s what’s funny:
Just a week or so after, Pampers sent us a free coupon in the mail for $5—oh yeah, that’s right, 2.5 times more in diaper purchasing power! Pampers just declared war. Or I suppose it’s a diaper war that has raged for eons. (I wonder if we could get more free stuff by complimenting other company competitors…?)
In other recent events, our now totally three-year-old has figured out how to make purchases using Alexa. Now, her and Alexa go way back and have been conversing for some time, having become quite chatty friends and quite the fans of the Disney princess soundtracks. So what did she do with this newfound super power?
She ordered the Extreme Farts Extension Pack. She loves it and thinks Alexa’s medical-grade flatulence condition is hilarious. This lovely compilation includes the all-time greatest hits such as: crispy fart, cheeky fart, engine rumbler, wet and squeaky, quick and squelchy, short and gassy, ketchup fart, triumphant fart, happy birthday, Beethoven, farting around the house, machine gun, unicorn fart, dinosaur fart, shy fart, donkey fart, the dreaded pants ripper, and of course, my favorites, Sir Farts-A-Lot along with Farty McFartems. Yes, hundreds of on-demand wind breaks of which the combinations and permutations are infinite.
And just in case any of you were wondering, Amazon does not let you return digital purchases.
This is capitalism at its zenith my friends—both the light and the dark. A world where diaper design battles it out on the frontlines of bowel movements in a complexity comparable to Leonard Read’s famous “I, Pencil” essay, and a world where your toddler can order the ultimate farting album just by talking to a little, glowing hockey puck.
But first, a note about those diapers that I forgot to mention last time…
The other thing that I love about Huggies is that it’s called Huggies. So, it’s like a nice, warm hug for your most delicate regions. Especially during times like these with all the social distancing, it must be nice and comforting to be embraced by an absorbent cotton cloud 24/7.
Now on to other baby matters…
Listen, I know, pretty much everything a baby does is socially unacceptable for adults to do. But here are, I think, five uniquely and especially interesting baby habits that are total taboos for the all-grown-up:
1. Staring wide-eyed and never blinking
One of the most hilarious and creepiest things about babies is that they basically never blink. They just stare at everything like a deer in headlights. They stare at ceiling fans, lights, emptiness, and sometimes even you. When adults stare too much, the police are called. Also, babies will stare and study their own hands like some rare, archaeological treasure. But then hungrily try and devour their own fingers. Speaking of which…
2. Gnawing on… everything
Literally everything. Babies will go to town on whatever they can get their ravenous, unquenchable paws on. If they had teeth, they would gnaw your face right off. Yes, adorable, I know. But can you imagine if an adult came up to you and started chewing on your cheek bone like some kind of deranged zombie?
3. Laying around and waiting for someone else to tend to their every whim
Don’t take this the wrong way, but babies are sort of useless. Now I love babies, but still, they just lounge around like self-entitled royalty, ringing a bell so that their servants can come take care of all their needs and desires. They do this all while grabbing their toes, blowing bubbles, and rocking about in maniacal glee. Adults are typically encouraged to earn their keep; to actually do something and not just drool everywhere. Kid, get a job already. Child labor laws are ruining this country.
4. Randomly shouting, squealing, and squirming
With almost no perceivable provocation, a baby will start kicking and flailing about while screaming in ecstasy at the sound of their own vocal cords. What if when adults got so excited, they just started kicking everything? It’d be chaos. Insurance companies would have to create policies specifically designed for damages done by overly excited kicking fits and other emotional outbursts. The worst is when babies want to kick and roll while getting changed. What if adults did that while using the potty?
5. Falling asleep whenever wherever
Babies often fall asleep while eating like some kind of chronic narcoleptic. It’s like, yes please keep feeding me until I just pass out into a food coma. And then, while asleep, they splay out in starfish fashion with their little arms and hands that can’t quite reach the top of their heads. Restaurants would have an even more serious loitering problem if adults took involuntary naps after eating. Either that or they’d need to start charging a nap-booth rental fee.
Obviously, there are more baby antics that adults should avoid. Let me know of ones you’ve observed.
Now that we’re on our second child, we’ve obviously become baby-rearing champions. We know basically everything there is to know. Just don’t ask us any specific questions.
However, if there’s one thing we have learned over the past few years, it’s this: Huggies “Little Snugglers” are literally the only diaper worth it (by it, I mean your money, your carpets, your laundry, and your sanity. [Also, Huggies company, feel free to pay in diapers for this unsolicited endorsement!]).
Look, we’ve tried them all. Every variation of protective baby-bottom wear that you can imagine. We’ve done all the major and minor manufacturers. We’ve tried reusable and all-natural. And by the end of it all, only the Little Snugglers worked consistently at keeping the floodgates at bay and secured within the fluffy, absorbent folds of the package. In other words, they’re not as prone to leaking out everywhere.
There are few things more frustrating than going to all the trouble of putting a diaper on a spastic baby just for that diaper to not do its job. Our first child was like trying change a tornado. She squirmed, rolled, and rotated throughout the entire process. Our second, now he is like a broncing, bucking bull. He kicks and flares like he’s playing in the World Cup. Changing a diaper is like performing a medical procedure on a patient without anesthesia. Like playing the game “Operation” but if you lose, instead of a red buzzer going off, you get poo everywhere. It’s like disarming a bomb rotating in three-dimensions that even after you think you’re safe, it can still go off again.
But the real reason why the Little Snugglers are my favorite? Because they’re the Winnie the Pooh brand. Winnie, his friends, some balloons and clouds, and other happy designs decorate the plump potty pockets. The pun possibilities are just too perfect. The wordplay is whimsical. The innuendo is ingenious. The snuggly suggestiveness is simply stupendous. A paradox of pint-sized people-pollution packets.
In case you missed it. Let me spell it out. There are pictures of Pooh Bear on the diapers which are meant to contain baby poo. Pooh on poo. I can’t help but giggle like an immature middle schooler. For Huggies to obtain the rights to print Pooh on their poo pouches has got to be one of the best investments a company has ever made. It’s just the best.
It’s also, potentially, very philosophical. Where does one Pooh start and the other poo end?
So, whenever life feels weighed down by excrement, don’t be an Eeyore, be a Pooh.
For those that are familiar with the story: I now want to play Pooh Sticks. For everyone else, I leave you to the Internet.
Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them. – A. A. Milne (aka Winnie-the-Pooh)
Many have called the new strain of coronavirus “the great equalizer.” Historically, that title has been reserved mostly for death, as the true, ultimate equalizer.
But I’m not here to wax poetic and spew esoteric, philosophical jargon. No, I’m here to argue and advocate nonsense on the Internet.
You know what the real equalizer is?
Yes, McDonald’s—the world’s largest fast food chain, a behemoth of an industry and a poster child for capitalism with its nearly universally recognizable golden arches (arches that probably resemble the erratic bleeps on a heart monitor after eating too many of those eternally durable fries).
I know what you’re thinking: “How dare you sir, I would never be caught dead at such a place.” Maybe. It might kill you. But most of us are just deceiving ourselves. Look, the place serves something like 70 million people a day in over 100 countries; they bun up over 75 burgers a second. So… someone is lying. Someone is definitely eating it up at that joint. Some few million someones.
Hey, whatever, it’s ok. Judgment free zone. Like I was saying, Micky D’s is totally “the great equalizer.” It doesn’t matter if you’re rich, poor, young, old, foreign, domestic, male, female, big, small, republican, democrat, or imaginary. You probably have a McDonald’s on your block. I have literally witnessed every shape, size, color, affinity, and temperament of humanity imaginable over the years patronize the establishment. The Big Macualizer. They’re even more ubiquitous than memes and political ads.
Seriously, we once inadvertently exited off the interstate near Disney World into one of those high-class, ritzy neighborhoods to discover perfectly manicured shrubs and a pristine, towering yellow “M.” A McDonald’s where you have the choice of having gold dust sprinkled on your fries instead of salt, your soda comes in an exquisite chalice, and your burgers are tenderly swaddled in fine imported silk linen. Contrast this with our McDonald’s around the corner which hasn’t changed out its grease pan since the days of horseback postage, your seasonings are most likely to come from human sweat, and you need to bring your own toilet paper if you want a napkin.
And then there’s the infamous Thailand trip in which when we first landed in Bangkok, and there was some sort of mix-up with our hotel reservation so that our first night was spent in the “red light” district, and the only place we felt safe enough to take a bunch of high school teens was the city square McDonald’s (a run-on sentence I know, but I’m in a hurry so give me a break, and this is obviously not some grammar blog, and who made you the grammar sheriff anyways?).
Three things are certain in life: death, taxes, and delicious artery-clogging, fried potato sticks that never decompose. When I eat them, I feel like I absorb their preservative powers of longevity and immortality. Or maybe that’s just indigestion.
We may not be able to agree on politics, the economy, or how to handle this global crisis. But there’s one thing I think we can all agree on: the Oreo McFlurry should receive a Nobel Peace Prize.
Maybe we’d all be a little bit nicer to each other if we just got a daily Happy Meal.
I have recently arrived at this terrifying realization. And no, it has nothing do with the new strain of coronavirus and how the world’s gone mad (or madder than usual I guess… maybe… actually it’s probably all about the same; the world’s always been nuts). No, no, this has to do with beloved anthropomorphized animal characters intended for children. Let me explain.
Our practically three-year-old highness loves to read, and one of her favorites is the Llama Llama Red Pajama series by Anna Dewdney. And look, don’t get me wrong, because they are genuinely great children’s books, and I would recommend them for any family.
But I noticed something, something rather quite disturbing to my constitution the other day (Note: I’m referring to the original books, not the cartoon). If you pay attention, you’ll notice that Llama Llama and Mama Llama both have an exorbitant amount of hair coming out of their ears. It’s like an exploding bouquet of spider legs. The quantity of fur and ear wax is nothing short of alarming. And I’m just thinking: why? What the what? Why in the world was this artistic decision made? At some point, the artist had to ponder this choice and land on the decision to illustrate the spindling threads protruding from the cute llama’s hearing orifices. It’s one of those things that once you see, you can never unsee. Now, every time I read one of these books, I’m constantly distracted by the frightening truth—unable to turn my gaze from the bushy ear brows.
It doesn’t end there either. There’s this other character, one of Llama Llama’s friends (by the way, what if we all had repeating, self-identifying names like Llama Llama? I’d be called, “Hey, you, Guy Guy!), and her name is Nelly Gnu. She’s an adorable little goat character, all except one very specific detail. She has such a prominently, well-groomed and conspicuous goatee that would make Colonel Sanders blush. The thickness of her facial hair makes me embarrassed to pass on my genetics to future generations. Again, I ask, “Why, just why?”
Sometimes, the world is a scary and confusing place. There are life questions too big for our small human minds to comprehend. Answers are elusive. As I muse on existence and my own mortality, I am haunted by the hair; oh, the hair. My only comfort and solace is the knowledge that in death the hair will finally stop growing (yeah, that whole “nails and hair continue to grow after you die” thing is totally a myth). Until then, I sleep with an eye open and a razor under my pillow.
I have this secret about me that I’ve always been hesitant to share for fear of the social consequences that inevitably come about at such a reveal. I’m ticklish. I mean, like, I’m very ticklish—arguably, unreasonably so. Like I have an unhealthy, debilitating fear of all things feathery and fluffy. I hate soft, cuddly things so much so that after a shower, I forgo the towel and dry off with sandpaper instead.
And now, I fear, that I’ve passed on this incurable condition to my son. I never thought being ticklish was genetic. But I also didn’t think newborns could be so ticklish. Alas, he has inherited my burden; suffering from generation to generation, which sin of the father I do not know. I pray that he will be strengthened in the years to come as others seek to take advantage of this ailment. Humans, after all, are anti-fragile. We must experience the purifying crucible of trials and tribulations if we are to become who we are meant to be. Stand firm and courageous, my son, as I have had to do…
Such was a time as this, years ago, in a faraway land of Pad Thai and spring rolls that I overcame a significant trauma: a full-body Thai massage (loud, ominous music plays in the background).
One summer for a college program, I led a team of high school students on a mission trip to Thailand. We were mostly in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, working with different student ministries, teaching English camps, and serving in mountain village orphanages. At the end of our monthly stay, the national missionaries that we were partnering with took us all out for a day in the city. We experienced many of the fun and joyous activities of both locals and tourists: riding elephants, haggling in the market, drinking Thai tea, eating locusts, finding pirated DVDs, and eating at McDonald’s. Don’t worry, I’m just joking about some of those. Of course, we didn’t eat McDonald’s—this was a mission trip after all.
But before the night was done, my team asked the local missionaries if there was one more thing that they should all do before leaving the country. One unique Thai experience to take home with them in their cherished memories forever. After thinking for a bit, they said, “For the time and cost, you should all get an authentic Thai massage and/or pedicure!”
Immediately, I protested, “No thanks! Y’all enjoy that and I’ll stand guard outside to make sure no one steals our bootlegged merchandise.” I should have known better. The team of irritating teenagers immediately started to taunt and bully me. Sometimes, being a leader means doing inspirational and sacrificial things. But in my experience, most of the time, being a leader means doing ridiculous and embarrassing things.
Eventually, I coalesced and accepted my fate. I cannot exaggerate when I say it was pure torture. It was supposed to be on the condition that I just got a normalish back massage. I didn’t want someone touching my feet or putting weird oil on me or anything. But oh, how self-deceived I was. The whole team was so excited. Some of them got full pedicures and some of them tried other bizarre spa treatments. Afterwards, they all expressed such refreshing delight at the pampering and relaxation they received.
But me, the horror, oh the horror. Mind you, this was one of those institutions where you weren’t allowed to wear your own clothes. Everyone had to change into these designated pajama uniforms. It felt like prison clothes. As I walked with a few of my team to one of the massage parlors, I thought we’d all be in the same open room with chairs. Looking back on it all, I believe it was a cruel conspiracy against me arranged by the missionaries. As my team was seated, I was coaxed farther into the depths of hades to a back hall and then a back room where I was instructed to lay down on a mat. Just moments later, a sadistic employee of torment entered the room of which the cruelest war interrogators would cringe. There was no escape from the five foot, ninety pound executioner with her iron, spear nails and torture death hands (and feet, oh yes, and they stand and jump on you). I’ll save you from anymore imagery. Although the imagination is probably the most terrifying. I shouted for help. I cringed and flailed like a fish suffocating on a sun-beaten concrete slab. I pleaded for mercy but there was none as I was twisted into a pretzel and contorted into an abomination of humanity. It became one the most spiritual moments of my life as I sought God’s forgiveness for any and all of my transgressions.
I literally could not stop laughing for the entire thirty minutes (felt like thirty years). And the lady—well, she just thought it was hilarious. Half-way through, I don’t even think she was trying to massage anymore. I think she just switched over to straight-up tickling. I could hear from the other rooms my teammates laughing as well. Death by a thousand cuticles.
But I have survived to tell the tale. My son, listen to me, heed my warnings: never, ever under any circumstances repeat your father’s errors. Never get a Thai massage… so that you may live a long, prosperous, and blessed life.
I had a birthday a little while back. I don’t know, sometime ago or something. Some people are all about birthdays. They live for it (I guess literally, they live because of it). Like my wife: she doesn’t have a birthday—she has a birthweek. And then she also has a half-birthday and extra special celebratory milestone birthyears like when numbers match or add up in some weird way. But me, I’ve never been really big into my birthday. Most years, I completely forget until someone else reminds me. When I was a kid, I couldn’t remember when my birthday was. It always made for a nice surprise.
Like this one year, when my grandparents took me to the toy store to just “look around.” I asked them if they could please get me this action figure for my birthday. They then proceeded to put the toy in the buggy (shopping cart for those of you linguist sheriffs out there).
I said, “No, no, it’s okay. You don’t have to get it now—for my birthday.”
They replied, “Oh yes, fine, well we’ll just get it now and save it until then.”
Later that day when we arrived back home my extended family was all there waiting, and it looked like there was some kind of party or gathering. I asked, “What’s going on? Why is everyone here?”
“Umm, Finley… today is your birthday.”
“Ohh… wow. Cool.”
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have anything against people who love their birthday. And it’s not like I hate birth or days or fun. I just, I don’t know, I never really got into it. For one, I hardly even remember being born. It’s pretty hazy, so how am I supposed to properly celebrate some occasion that I don’t recollect. It’s not like I have all these fond memories of exiting the womb and entering the cold, chemically disinfected hospital air. For two, I don’t like having so much attention on me and everyone being soo excited that I’m another year closer to death.
I have heard though, that those who have more birthdays tend to live longer. So that’s a thing.
And I do love all the free coffee and donuts I can get on my birthday. Makes it worth staying alive for another year.