Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

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Planes, Trains, and Ryan

August 1, 2008

If you’re a Bill Cosby fan like me you’ll remember his famous stand-up routine where he talks about a little boy on an airplane named, “Jeffrey”. Now Little Jeffrey was “4 years old”, and knew his name not because the little boy told him, but because “his mother said his name all 2500 miles of the trip.”

Cosby’s genius style is creating comedy from actual real life. I have laughed again and again at his real-life situation with “little Jeffrey”…until I recently met Ryan.

I was on my way home from Dallas, Texas and after a 3-hour layover in Salt Lake City I was very anxious and prepared to board the little airplane that would zip me back to Portland. As I quietly sat in Terminal C working my New York Times Crossword and waited for my boarding time a mother, who I will forthwith call “the Marshmallow” because her body type resembled that of the Michelin tire guy, and her two young chunky mini-marshmallows blazed a trail of chaos down the terminal. The two young boys zig-zagged from one gate to another, running into passengers and literally bouncing off the walls. The Marshmallow barked commands at them that would make an army drill sergeant cringe.

Distractions are common in airports so I waited for the little brood to move their hubbub on down the terminal and was immediately distraught when they plopped down right beside me. Oh boy, I thought. This is going to be a fun plane ride.

I didn’t know the half of it.

For the next hour at Gate 07 in Terminal C the modest crowd of trapped air travelers were subject to listen to the crazy parenting style of The Marshmallow and her bizarre brood of chunky children.

“Mamma, why aren’t we getting on the plane?” asked the oldest.

“Because the plane is still in the air,” said the Marshmallow as she chomped on a King Size Snickers.

“Well how are we going to get on the plane if it’s still in the air?”

“It won’t be in the air for very long. Now shut up and have a snack.” She turned to her younger son. “Ryan,” she barked to her little 4 yr old as he nearly knocked over a hobbling grandma, “what did I tell you about bumping into people? Watch where you’re going!” Never said ‘sorry’ to the poor lady. I suspect that if she had tumbled to the ground due to her spastic son she still would have be oblivious to the poor lady’s screams of “help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

This family format continued until the plane taxied in to Gate 07 and I double and triple checked that I had my iPod & earbuds super-handy. I knew I was going to need the earplugs to filter out the barking of The Marshmallow and Ryan’s constant questioning. I boarded with the last group onto the plane. I drug my carry on bag through the narrow aisle looking for seat 13E. I found it. Then I spotted who was sitting right behind me…

…RYAN!

Ugh! I felt what little energy I had left from the day deflate out of me like a truck tire blowout on the sizzling Texas interstate. I stored my bag in the overhead compartment and casually took my seat against the window. The kicking started immediately.

“Ryan, what did I tell you about kicking the seat!?” The Marshmallow’s discipline techniques were unequaled. He stopped – for about 5 seconds.

Bump – Bump – Bump

“RYAN!” barked The Marshmallow so that everyone on the plane certainly knew at that moment that little Ryan was acting his age again. “Stop kicking the seat or I’m going to cut your feet off!!”

Oh, I wanted to turn around and say with a smile, “can I do it?” But I refrained. The seat kicking continued, without a single apology to me until the throughout our short delay and takeoff. I was absolutely gleeful when the nice-looking flight attendant gave us the go-ahead to turn on our electronics. Not only was I going to tune out with my trusty iPod, but I heard The Marshmallow offer her mini-chunks a choice of DVD movies to watch on a little viewer. Whew! I hoped that would keep them occupied.

Thankfully, it did. I sat the rest of the trip jamming with Meat Loaf and enjoying my complementary sip of beverage and a peanut. As soon as we reached Portland International I grabbed my bag and snuck out of the plane as fast as I could before the Marshmallow clan debarked.

Home at last, I vowed, like I do after every plane trip, to never to fly coach again. Thanks to Ryan and The Marshmallow it’s first class only for me from now on!

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Resting and Working During The Holiday Weekend

July 5, 2008

Is anyone else working this extended holiday weekend?  Is it only me?  “Why, Coffeeshop Pop,” you may ask, “are you working during this celebratory time when there should be only time spent gorging on barbeque picnics and enjoying the B-E-A-Utiful weather with your darling kids?”

Well, as is typical with the great Pacific Northwest it is cloudy and threatening to rain.  Even if I attempted a cookout on the grill and successfully avoided the rain, my 1st grader is a self-emposed vegetarian and wouldn’t eat my nummy smoked Kielbasa anyway.

In addition, I have two deadlines to meet this coming week so I must put the fingers to the keyboard in order to complete a couple of freelance projects.  While my kids are with me this weekend it does challenge me to find time and space to get the work done.  The young-uns do demand a lot of my attention but they also like to be entertained by the collection of DVD’s by the TV.  So while uncle Disney plays his feature films I sit at my comfy recliner with my laptop and type away, slowly edging closer to the finish of my projects.

So what are YOU doing on your holiday?

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Sparklers & Poppers & Snakes! Oh My!

July 5, 2008

So happy Independence Day, everyone!  At the homefront Daddy has his little girls for the Fourth of July weekend and we have LOTS of fireworks to fire!  Woo Hoo!

Except, my li’l girls are afraid of big booms.

So we have a supermarketbagful of easy to ignite sparklers, poppers and funny growing snakes that “look like poo!”  Yes, gone are the bygone days when I was young and me & my buds would set off bottle rockets (using actual bottles as launch pads!) over the Yellowstone River, and drop Cherry Bombs off the bridge and watch them explode just before they hit the water.  Small town Montana had nothing else to do in the summer, so when it came to fireworks we heartily entertained ourselves with the legal over-the-counter explosives!

Such dorks we were!  We even took our Roman Candles and aimed them at each other (from a reasonable safe distance of about five feet apart),  and played “dodge the flaming white ball.”  With A-HA and Mister Mister blaring from the powerful 2-inch speakers in our cool cars (mine was a ’79 Honda CVC – cherry red!) we jammed through the night at the beach by the river and drank be…er, rather consumed Kool-Aid and soda.  Yeah, that’s it.  I believe I went nearly deaf one holiday after we created a daisy chain of Black Cat firecrackers about that wound around trees and along the river rocks along the beach, trying to set some kind of record for “longest domino firecracker” ever.  Although we successfully did not destroy any property or lose any body appendages, we laughed the next day when we always heard the stories of some dorks that destroyed tons of piled hay bales, or caught the neighbor’s tree on fire.

Now, I’m a city dweller, a “slicker” if you will.  I’m turning crotchety in my old age and frown and make “ha-rumphing” noises when the punks outside light those noisy firecrackers.  My girls – 6 and 3 – like the fireworks, but only from afar.  Nothing that BOOMS, CRACKS, WHISTLES, or otherwise EXPLODES are ever set off in their presence.  Sparklers & snakes.  Why?  Because they sparkle and look like poo.  And THAT’S what Independence Day is all about!

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Where A Dad Can Be A Kid

June 17, 2008

Tonight I did what most parents dread: I took my kids to Chuck E. Cheese’s. Just mention the name and hear the unanimous and synchronous groans of all parents within earshot. Every mom and dad knows that a couple of hours spent at C.E.C. means loud screaming kids running between your legs, bright, blinding flashing lights, and horrible arrangements of your musical favs performed by Chuck & his gang. Not to mention the necessity to eat pizza with the consistency of a greasy tire. At least they give us all the soda we can guzzle to wash down the chunky bits.

No, parents dread the thought of an adventure at Chuck’s.

But…

Once the decision to embark has been made, a parent undergoes a change as we pass through the doors. Especially the fathers. We revert to little kids. The lights! The sounds! The games!! I noticed tonight dads who played air hockey with the enthusiasm of a dog chasing a stick. A beer-bellied 30-something with a long blonde mullet shot Skee Ball and collected tickets in a bucket which I’m sure he would redeem for a nice Nerf frisbee or something. Another dad was dropping tokens by the dollar in a Galaga game with the same intensity and frequency as dollars dropped at the local go-go girls wiggle tavern.

So regardless of the moans and groans when prodded by our kids, “Daddy! Let’s go to Chuck E. Cheese’s!” we secretly enjoy the experience and look forward to when we can go be a kid, too!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some Galaga alien ass to kick….

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Crayons vs Legos

June 16, 2008

Daddy FridgeMy parents were clever. Much more clever than I am as a parent. Growing up I never had the encouragement to indulge in creative visual artistic endeavors. Rather than sit me down with a box of crayons or colored pencils in which my final output would be a bunch of indiscernible scribbles, circles, and zigzags surely to end up on the front of the fridge at my request, I was given the array of typical little boy toys. I built cabins out of Lincoln Logs, spaceships from Legos, and raced cool cars on mini race tracks. All of which could be disassembled and stashed after I became bored with the monotonous activity. Clean. No mess. No clutter. Very clever.

But despite all the underhanded training and playtime activity to become an architect, rocket scientist, or redneck race car driver, I became a creative artist. And as a parent with a deep appreciation for all types of creative arts I am obliged to plop my daughters down at the table armed with a gigantic boxful of crayons, colored pencils, markers, and a ream of paper, and say, “get to work, draw me something.”

I have also discovered that this route to keeping children entertained is a whole heck of a lot cheaper than spending hard-earned dollars on overpriced toys that get opened and played with once or twice then stuffed in the closet for eternity – or at least until the next yard sale. But, whereas simple toys can be put away, thrown away, or just accidentally swallowed, there’s a ton of creative output from the drawing table. And every little page of scribble is a masterpiece in the eyes of my girls.

“Put this on the fridge, Daddy!”

“Hang this one in the hallway!”

“Do we have enough for an art gallery showing on First Thursday yet?”

As dutifully as my daughters spent their creative energies drawing their masterpieces, I dutifully display their art upon as many surfaces as are available. That usually means the front of my fridge looks like a telephone pole in a bohemian part of town; stacked with layer upon layer of fliers and posters and silly art.

But I wouldn’t change it for the Mona Lisa.

Happy Fathers Day

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I’m Hungry – I’m Full

May 13, 2008

Goonie gets smarter every day. She has learned the artful dance of negotiation, she reads like a 12th grader, and she even composes improv songs on hilarious subjects such as excrement and throw up. She gets her smarts (and humor) from me. However, sometimes logic floats away like a helium balloon and becomes an airhead. She gets that from her mother.

Last night after a meal of two forkfulls of Mac & Cheese she proceeded to ransack my kitchen in search of snack booty.

“I’m hungry”

“Then eat your dinner”

“But I’m full”

“???!!!??”

Even after six and a half years of parenting I’m still trying to plug in to kid logic. They obviously understand that to get out of eating any more of the ca-ca that is set before them all they have to do is feign fullness. But their strategy to get up from their dinner and go straight for the kitchen pantry, well, I’m on to that scheme like Pooh Bear to hunny trees.

But I take the cue and run with the ball and say, “I’d be happy to get you a popsicle – as soon as you finish your meal.”

“But I don’t want any more.”

“Then obviously you don’t want any popsicles.”

“Then can I have potato chips?”

“No.”

“Popcorn”

“No.”

“Cheez-its?”

“Uh uh.”

So off she goes to play and dance, forgetting that she’s hungry. But near bed time she can’t stand the hunger any longer and eats her cold cheesy noodles. And after reading stories and hugs and kisses, and getting her cups of water and milk for her bedside, she walks into the living room 10 minutes later…

“Can I have a popsicle now?”

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Sausage Monster

August 1, 2007

My little Bobo is a true born carnivore. Takes after her dad. That’s me! Yes, Bobo the Klingon has a craving for animal products. She and I can enjoy a heaping stack of babyback ribs, a plateful of greasy bacon, or extra raw horsemeat burger if we ever travel to Hungary.

Goonie, however, takes after her mother. She’s a self-taught vegetarian and prefers to dine on fresh vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Ok, I know I can’t get that one past you. She actually prefers deep fried okra, fruit roll-ups and Kraft Mac & Cheese, and please do not make it the Sponge Bob shape!

I took my girls to eat at kid-friendly Dennys, where they offer delicious and nutritious meals for kids consisting of rocket shaped chicken planks, happy face pancakes, and colored sugar additive that turn water blue, red or green, as well as providing one hell of a sugar rush lasting the entire meal. Not to mention kids eat free on Sunday! SCORE!

The girls decided to order identical meals: cheesy pasta noodles (c’mon it’s mac & cheese!) and a side of grapes. I ordered the meat lovers scramble. Goonie’s quick vegetarian response was, “eeewwwwww!!!” To which little Bobo mimicked and cried, “eeewwwwww!!!” Goonie is so proud to be training little Bobo to become a vegetarian just like her.

Our server placed our food before us on the table about 10 minutes later. By that time the sugar squad duo was in high gear. Goonie stuffed grapes in her mouth, creating chipmunk cheeks. Of course, little sis had to do the same. Yup, you guessed it…one laugh and the grapes flew all over the table.

I noticed, however, that Bobo seemed indifferent to her cheesy mac and was eyeing my plate as I shoved gobs of meat-filled scrambled eggs into my mouth. I knew her secret desire for salty bacon so I offered her a piece. Bobo tasted the bacon, shoved it into her mouth, dropped her fork and walked around to my side of the corner booth and sat very snuggly next to me, looking closer at my plate.

“Do you want some more bacon, Bobo?”

“Mmm hmmm” She says ‘mm hmm’ to just about everything. You could ask her, “are you an alien from Mars,” and she would respond in the affirmative, “mmm hmmm.”

So I give her an entire slice of bacon. Gone.

I’ve only been provided two slices of bacon and the same amount of sausage. I’m already running low on meat products.

“How about a sausage, Bobo?”

“Mmm hmmm.” She took the sausage link, savored a small morsel just to be sure, then I kid you not, she shoved the rest on the link into her mouth, grabed the other link with both hands and gobbled it just like Cookie Monster, “mmmaaarrrhhgghhhmuaahharrrghgghgh!”

After a few chews she swallowed the Tyrannosaurus size bite and said, “Uuuuuurrrrrppp! ‘Coo me!” Which, of course, is ‘excuse me’ in Klingon dialect.

Well, Goonie got a big kick out of Bobo’s production and laughed and giggled with delight. Then did it herself. “Uuuuuurrrrrrrppp!! ‘Scuse me!”

“Uuuuuuurrrrpp!!! “Coo me!!” repeated the Klingon

“Urrrrrrpppp!!!! ‘Scuse me!!!” parroted Goonie.

Oh boy. Despite my attempts to subdue the belching chorus of these two rugrats fueled by a super sugar high, they continued a crescendo of stomach noises until we left, which was pretty promptly after the beginning of the impromptu performance. Meantime, the nice older couple nearby attempting to enjoy a plate of grits & a bowl of prunes gave me the double stink eye. But as we departed said, “they’re so cute.”

“Thanks,” said I. “I taught them everything I know.”

Then without hesitation I provided the coda to the chorus with my signature Daddy fake belch, “UUUUUUUUURRRRRRRRRRPPPPPPPPPPP!!! Oh!! ‘Scuse me!”