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Other People’s Children are Adorable

Last night we had some good friends over for dinner. Before they had even had the chance to close the door my five year old boy bounces out of his chair at the dinner table and runs into his arms laughing and screaming and shouting “Yah!”. I mean, common, that is about the best welcome you could ask for. I felt bad that his wife didn’t get the same welcome only because she entered our house second and I considered for a moment imitating my son’s response with her, but I was afraid it might end in an awkward embrace. So I passed on that. My son continued to climb on him and giggle and laugh and be cute. Well, cute to them. To me, it wasn’t so cute.

When we have people over for dinner, depending on what I am making, I sometimes have the kids eat first. Since this night was Thai curries that tend to the spicier side of life, I had my two youngest dine early so my oldest and the adults could eat together. So when they walked in and he jumped out of his chair, the only thing that went through my mind was the fact that I had just told him to sit down and eat. Not cute. And when I reminded him to eat his dinner he promptly ignored me and giggled and tossed his curly haired head back in a laugh. No. Not cute.

Some other friends of mine have a four year old girl and twin boys under two. They all have blonde hair and blue eyes and are always smartly dressed for church. I was at their house for dinner awhile ago and walked in to have all three of the kids want me to play with them. How adorable! They would laugh and giggle and hand me trains to play with and come up to me with their arms raised in the air like they were worshipping me, or that’s how I like to imagine it at least. Maybe they were wanting to be held, but I just let them stand there. Anyways, they were so adorable. To me. To their parents they were people who needed to be put to bed. Not cute.

Yesterday my five year old was drawing pictures. He has just developed the ability to appropriately configure people to have bodies and eyes and hands instead of the pumpkin people he normally draws. While I was conducting school with my daughter, he was out at the kitchen table composing various pictures. The picture below is of a fireman. I love the happy face, the two toned fireman’s hat, the hose, and the little fire he is putting out. Very cute.

Steve's Phone 062


The next picture he drew was of a man driving a truck. I asked him why he chose to draw such a random subject and he replied that he thought I should get a job. He thought that I should be a UPS driver so I could get more money and buy more unspecified stuff. I replied that my job is to take care of my kids. I then let my guard down and asked him if he thought I was good at my job.

Steve's Phone 061

Not cute. Ok, a little cute.

“No.” he replied. “You need a real job.”

Not cute.

At the zoo the other day other people’s adorable kids are running around being amazed by all the animals. Small fingers pointed in amazement, cute baby noises, eyes wide with amazement. My kids on the other hand are misbehaving by not listening to my commands to stay by my side and to stop running. Isn’t it adorable how excited those children are to see the giraffe? Oh, look at the little one running to see the lions! Ah, the baby is yawning….isn’t that cute! My kids on the other hand need to stop trying to touch the tiger by climbing over the wall. I’m glad they’re excited but they need to relax a little. And, oh, your yawning? Ya, get your butt to bed earlier tonight. Not cute.

I try to stand back from my children on occasion and see the cuteness. The way they giggle and play with each other. Their small fingers and wide eyes. They are cute. They are also work, a lot of work. I think panda bears are cute too but I bet if I had to clean up panda bear poop all the time I wouldn’t think they were that cute. I bet if I did get a real job I might think my kids are as cute as other peoples kids, but then I would miss them because of their enhanced cuteness. What am I to do? I’m not sure, but I don’t think it involves delivering boxes.

Happy FO Day!


We all know that Valentine’s Day has very little to do with the man whose name graces the day. So let’s move on from that topic and talk about what this day should really be called. FO Day, as in Fake Orgasm Day. I know at first it is a little shocking but give it some time to sink in. Valentine’s Day is about the managing of someone else’s expectations about what constitutes a good time on this particular holiday. You hope to manage their expectations so that no one gets hurt. It’s not that you want to be fake or disingenuous; in fact you’re hoping to communicate that you love them. Its just that putting so much hope in a single day puts a lot of pressure on it and, well, sometimes faking it makes everyone happy.

If you choose to rename the day as I have suggested I think you will find FO Day both lowers and raises your expectations in ways that are both pleasing and beneficial. It lowers you expectations by implicitly acknowledging that, yah, it’s not going to be as good as you hoped it would be. Our secret expectations could never really be met and so we should start to mitigate those desires now. But that doesn’t mean it’s not going to be fun. Pleasure is found in many ways and just because we may act like we love the flowers and gifts more than we really do doesn’t mean we didn’t enjoy the ride.

FO Day also raises our expectations by remembering that, hey, we’re still going to get something out of today. Someone is trying to say that they love you, that they care enough to put themselves out there like that. They are concerned enough about your feelings to, metaphorically speaking, close their eyes and scream that you’re the best thing they have ever had by the way they bring you chocolates and paper cards. And I’m ok with that. In fact, I really don’t mind. It’s better than just laying there, right?

FO Day should be a celebration. It’s not an embarrassing thing to be loved in that way. And at the end of a long day, when everyone is finally in bed, and all the gifts have been exchanged and the cards open, faking it just helps to put it all to bed.

I Am a Human Tampon

human tampon

Today I shuttled my youngest off to a daycare for the day because I was having problems with my internal absorber. We have had a lot of snow days recently and he has been home for hours and days on end. Hours and days, I say. On end. Inside the house. People always talk about how you need a lot of patience to raise children. Well, they’re right. Children require, at least for me, a lot of absorption. It’s the ability to soak up all the random shit they throw at you. You have to soak it up because you can’t simply give it back to them or let it bounce off of you and on to one of your other kids. It makes you look, well, like them.

All three of my children have now gone through the phase where they say “Dad” a hundred times in a day. It happens around the ages of four or five. Suddenly their little minds start to expand and become aware of things they had never thought of before like how do we get oranges?, why do zebras have stripes?, and why does that woman have a mustache? (yes, out loud). I don’t mind answering any of these questions but the sure pace of them tests my ability to think on my feet. And to make things worse, sometimes they call me and have nothing to say. The other day in the car my youngest says “Dad?” and of course I answer “What?”. He sits there a bit and then says “Umm”. He didn’t have anything to say. He was simply sitting there and spontaneously said my name like spontaneous human combustion but with words. And, even if what they say isn’t directed at me the things they say are still within my field of awareness. Yesterday, out of the blue, I hear him say “Fluffy unicorns!”. What? Where did that come from?

The stress of being the sole adult for the majority of the day goes beyond being the only one to answer questions. The ubiquitous squabble of siblings is in itself an unpleasant fact of life. The sibling relationship, that fertile ground of mutual understanding and protection, is forgotten and discarded at the hint of misunderstanding. Words are shouted, faces are curled in anger, and blood is shed as the house descends into chaos. In the middle of these daily, sometimes hourly, events I am to remain calm, cool, and collected. I am supposed to absorb. I am the family’s sanitary napkin.

I think the not often talked about reality of parenting is that sometimes these people in my house are really annoying. On a human to human level. Annoying. I can’t say that to them because they are my kids and I would hurt their soft, little, brutal hearts but the truth of it is they bother the shit out of me sometimes. They say dumb things and chew gum in my ear and leave crumbs in my bed and smell and spill their food. Since I cannot say these things to them what are my options? Absorb, absorb, absorb, drink wine. I added that last one just to throw you off a little. And I like wine.

So as a human tampon I spend my day soaking up all the yucky stuff. And since these kids did come out of my wife’s who who I think the metaphor of being a tampon is really clever. But I can’t tell them that either. There is no way I could explain how it is that there are people who bleed for five days and don’t die. I don’t think they are old enough to absorb that yet.

Well, someone is calling (absorb) for their (absorb) father (absorb)