Posts Tagged ‘fatherhood’

It Should Have Been Obvious

February 7, 2011

I was upstairs this morning, trying to put away some laundry, when I head blood-curdling screams coming from downstairs where the kids were playing. Fearing some horrible scene awaiting my discovery, I bolted down to the living room.

Edvard Munch's "The Scream"

From Wikipedia.

To my surprise, the kids both had huge grins on their faces as they ran back and forth across the living room, shrieking at the top of their lungs all the while.

“What are you guys doing?” I asked.

“Playing screaming,” our three year-old answered matter-of-factly, as though this should have been completely obvious.

The kids promptly resumed their “game,” apparently commencing the lightning round.

Einstürzende Cosgrove

January 4, 2011

The kids had dueling stereos playing in the living room this morning. In the one corner was Sparks Fly by Miranda Cosgrove, and in the other corner was Halber Mensch by Einstürzende Neubauten.

I swear I am not making that up. They were also perfectly content to have both playing on repeat mode for several hours.

The overall effect of the aural clash was the impression that Dieter from Sprockets had been tapped to run Nickelodeon (which, now that I think about it, would do a lot to explain how much of the humor in shows like iCarly and SpongeBob SquarePants somehow makes it in there).

Dieter from Sprockets, from Wikipedia.

We all know who SpongeBob's real creator is.

The Cosgrove CD was a Christmas present from the grandparents to our three year-old son, while the Neubauten album is something I’ve had in one format or another for many years.

That a couple of preschoolers would enjoy listening to treacly tween pop isn’t the least bit surprising, but their enjoyment of Einstürzende Neubauten is only surprising until you stop and think about it for a moment:

  • What do toddlers and early preschoolers enjoy doing? Banging and scraping stuff together loudly, especially if they’re metal pots and pans, with occasional random screaming.
  • What has Einstürzende Neubauten made a career out of doing? Banging and scraping stuff together loudly, with occasional screaming.

Add the two together, and of course little kids are going to like avant-garde German industrial music from the mid 1980s. They haven’t had the chance to form a preconceived opinion that it’s strange yet; all they know is that it sounds kind of like what they like doing anyway.

Add processed pop music targeted at kids to the mix, and they’re all over it — which is how we ended up with Einstürzende Cosgrove playing in the living room, over and over again, all morning. To them, that isn’t weird at all. I, on the other hand, was ready to curl up into a little ball muttering, “Can’t sleep – clowns will eat me,” by lunchtime.

I can’t help but wonder what a DJ mashup of the two albums would sound like, if only for the entertainment value provided by potential track titles like “Kissin’ Yü-Gung” or “Shakespeare Brennt.”

Anyway, now is the time on Sprockets when we dance.

We Have To Watch Out For That One

September 22, 2010

We’ve been able to tell for a very long time already that our daughter, now 20 months old, is going to be a handful when she gets older. Even when she was an otherwise totally helpless infant, she became surprisingly good at smacking her brother upside the head whenever he annoyed her a little too much. Now that she’s older, she enjoys tackling him, even though he’s three years old and much larger than she is.

Her first word, as far as I can gather, may very well have been “Ow” or “Ouch.” When she was a baby, she would say this and immediately follow it by yanking our hair as hard as she could and giggling. In other words, she knew exactly what she was doing whenever she said “Ouch,” and she thought it was funny.

The instant she was able to crawl, she began breaking into the place where we kept the alcohol, something her brother never bothered trying to do. Her favorite thing was to break in there and try to sneak away carrying the lone single-serving miniature bottle of Wild Turkey Rare Breed that we had. It was always the hard stuff she’d try to run off with, never the wine.

Now at 20 months old, it’s becoming obvious that she has some very clear tastes in music. She loves stuff like Raw Power by The Stooges, Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols, and Let It Bleed by the Rolling Stones. I’m also not sure how she mastered the heavy metal Cookie Monster vocal style, or where she even picked it up, but she did.

We’ve been working on getting her to identify facial features and body parts, but she never made any indication that she was aware of where any facial features were or what they were called — until last night. Then, out of the blue, she jammed a thumb in my eye and said, plain as day, “eye.” She then jammed her other thumb in my other eye and said “eye” again, indicating that it wasn’t a coincidence. She followed that by smacking my cheeks and saying, “cheek,” and then she punched me in the mouth and said, “wouf.”

This is pretty much true to form for her — she’ll demonstrate that she knows something or can do something strictly on her own terms, when and how she wants to do so (usually in the roughest form possible), not when one of us asks her to. Another thing she did completely out of the blue last night was look at the ceiling, say “ceewing,” look at the floor, say “fwoor,” and look at the walls and say, “wall.” We’ve never attempted to get her to identify those things and have no idea where she picked them up. All we can say for sure is that if we’d tried to get her to identify them, she wouldn’t have done it.

Always contrarian, physical, and rough — that’s our little girl . . .

I Don’t Know Whether I Should Be Proud or Ashamed

September 3, 2010

Our 19 month old daughter climbed onto the sofa, grabbed the remote control from the top of the sofa, and flopped down on the couch.

She then proceeded to press the correct button to turn on the TV and put the remote down. The satellite receiver was off, so the screen just showed snow. She then picked up the remote again and pressed the right button to turn on the satellite receiver.

Luckily the receiver was set to a Sirius music channel rather than actual television. All the same, she tossed the remote to the floor and proceeded to lounge back on the couch with her head on the armrest.

Confounding Rampant Genderism, Then and Now

July 21, 2010
Cover of "Bob the Builder: Let's Find Shapes"

From Amazon.com

Right now my 18 month-old daughter is in that stage where she wants to have the same book read to her over and over, and over and over, and over and over . . . The book of choice is Bob the Builder: Let’s Find Shapes, which isn’t the least bit surprising considering her favorite toys have always been things like dump trucks and toy construction equipment.

The book is a little unsettling, though, due to the context in which the only clearly female character in the book appears. I realize that on the Bob the Builder TV show, many of the construction vehicles have female voices, but we don’t normally watch the show, and you can’t tell the machines’ genders from the book. Instead, the only woman, Wendy, appears holding a tray of cookies with the caption, “Wendy has star-shaped cookies for Bob.”

It’s flabbergasting, considering the book was published in 2002. As bad as that is, the book isn’t nearly as cringeworthy as some of the older things we have around the house.

Take, for example, the series of 25 pamphlet-style cookbooks I somehow wound up with from my parents that were published in the early 1960s. They’re littered with such gems of statements as, “Here are 250 recipes gathered . . . to help the hostess increase her repertory and add variety to her family’s everyday menus,” and “Sunday night suppers . . . give Mother an opportunity for training the children in the entertaining of their own guests.” Throughout the series of books, the person for whom the recipes are compiled is always assumed to be a woman, a mother, and a “homemaker.”

Better yet, the recipes in question are always for things like “Chicken á la King with Ham Rolls,” “Paté de Foie Gras,” “Chicken Pie de Luxe,” pies, cakes, cookies, and even candy made from scratch, because the female homemaker and parent in question clearly has nothing better to do than spend all day cooking an absurdly complicated evening dinner. There’s even a category of “After Sports Suppers” to be made when, you guessed it, the men are all sitting around watching sports on TV. My personal favorite is a recipe for something called “Chicken Calcutta,” because adding a pinch of curry powder and a pinch of chili powder to something apparently makes it Indian (it’s part of a “Cosmopolitan” recipe section of “Oriental” food).

I can’t help but wonder what a person who helped compile that crap would think of our household today, where I stay home with the kids while my wife goes to work, and our daughter plays with toy dump trucks and rugby balls when she isn’t busy trying to wrestle her two year-old brother to the ground. To top it off, our son likes to pretend to go to work. When he does this, he says, “Go to work,” and puts on one of my wife’s necklaces, rather than a tie.

I hope that individual could withstand passing out from shock just long enough to hear me to say, “Welcome to the 21st Century, dickhead.” It wouldn’t matter if the cookbook author in question was male or female; you don’t need to have one to be one. This is the 21st Century, after all.

That’s How We Roll Around Here

April 6, 2010

Our two year-old is dancing around the living room like a maniac to Lodger by David Bowie while wearing a steel bucket on his head and talking into the splash guard from his potty, which he likes to pretend is his cell phone.

Adventures In Lousy Parenting

December 24, 2009

The two year-old and I are fencing with empty wrapping paper rolls. I’ve taught him to say, “En garde!

This Day in Stay-At-Home Parenthood

December 22, 2009

I only now noticed that I’ve been wearing my shirt inside out all day. It’s now 1:57 p.m. I’ve been wearing this shirt since I got up this morning at around 6:40 a.m.

If this seems familiar to you, odds are you’ve simultaneously had a 27 month-old and and an 11 month-old at some point in your life, too.

How To Make Preschool Hellraisers

November 30, 2009

Now that our son is 27 months old, he’s been getting curious about a lot of things around him. It’s definitely a good development, but it can also be a bad thing, especially since I have a tendency to give straight answers to questions.

For example, the area above our kitchen table is covered by my collection of African folk art, which I’ve always been drawn to, for reasons I’ve never been able to understand. They’re mostly woodcarvings, with a painting and other sculptures thrown in, and while some were made to be purely decorative, others are religious art, like representations of various Orisha (in oversimplified terms, Orisha are aspects of Olodumare, the supreme being in some West African and syncretic Western Hemisphere belief systems).

So today, the kid was pointing at one of them and asking, “WaDat?”

“That’s a wooden mask of an Orisha,” I said.

“Ur-sha?”

“Yup. It’s like a deity from West Africa.”

“KA!!!” he shouted, happy about recognizing the word (his grandparents got him a talking globe a while ago, which he loves playing with. He’s become able to identify Africa, Asia, Japan, and North and South America by name without our help at all, and he seems to know that Canada and Mexico are somewhere in North America, and that China and India are somewhere in Asia. Somehow, he ended up knowing more world geography than most Americans before he turned two.)

“That’s right,” I said. “Orisha are in some American religions like Vodou and Santería, too.”

“Fuh-doo,” he said.

It was at this point that I realized, given the general mentality of our area coupled with the fact that most of the preschools around here are run by and/or in churches, we should probably not be having this conversation right now. It’s a shame, really. I can all too easily picture our kids getting thrown out of preschool in a couple of years for trying to do something like explain the tenets of Voodoo to other kids in a completely even-handed and non-hysterical manner. Either that, or a scene like this unfolding:

Churchy Preschool Teacher: (holding up a cross) Can anybody tell me what this means?

One Of Our Kids: Legba and Ghede!!!!

Churchy Preschool Teacher: IN THE CORNER!!! NOW!!!!! (squirts the kid with a spray bottle of holy water)

Good times . . .

Something You Never Wanted to Envision

June 8, 2009

Q: What’s grosser than infant cradle cap?

A: When your cat, which for some reason feels a strangely tight attachment to said infant, tries to groom said cradle cap from the infant in question’s head.


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