Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Thursday, January 27, 2005 9:05 pm

Meet my son, Hooper Jeremiah

Filed under: Why, yes, I AM a bad parent. Why do you ask? — Lex @ 9:05 pm

Hooper’s new favorite greeting: “Daddy! You! Are! An abomination!”

I mean, duh, but does he have to say it so loudly?

Monday, January 24, 2005 9:39 pm

One of those awkward father-son talks, or, Life’s big mysteries

Filed under: Why, yes, I AM a bad parent. Why do you ask? — Lex @ 9:39 pm

Me: Hooper, where are your pants?

Hooper: Ida know.

M: Why did you take them off?

H: Ida know.

M (finding pants): Oh, here they are. … They’re wet. Did you have an accident?

H: No.

M: Yes, you did, buddy. That’s OK. It happens sometimes. But you need to get your wet underpants off, too.

H: They’re not wet!

M (checking): Oh … you’re right. (sniffing; grimacing) But this is pee-pee on your pants. How did you get pee-pee on your pants?

H: Ida know.

M: Did you take them off and pee-pee on them?

H: No, daddy!

M: So how did they get pee-pee on them?

H: I landed in it when I slid down the slide (from his bed, which is elevated).

M: You landed in — Hooper! Why did you pee-pee on the floor?

H: Ida know.

M: We don’t pee-pee on the floor! We only pee-pee in the potty!

H: I know. I sorry. I won’ do it again, Daddy.

M: OK. (pause) But why did you pee-pee on the floor?

H: Ida know.

M: And if you knew there was pee-pee down there, why did you slide down into it?

H: Cuz it was there.

Thursday, January 20, 2005 6:39 am

Male blindness, cont.

So Hooper looks at the back storm door this morning, turns and says to me, “Daddy! This door needs to be cleaned!”

Like he doesn’t remember putting the peanut butter on it himself less than 48 hours ago.

Geez. I don’t know where he gets it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004 7:34 pm

Pop culture

Filed under: Why, yes, I AM a bad parent. Why do you ask? — Lex @ 7:34 pm

So Victoria has been watching some Disney Channel lately and absorbing, as if via osmosis, its pap-pop teen prepackaging. The latest example: Hillary Duff, who, near as I can tell, is Britney Spears with less talent and more clothes. V. has been singing a Hillary Duff song, which her adoring, worshipping, emulating 3-year-old brother has rendered as:

Let the rain fall down and wash my jeans,
Let it wash away my Santa things.

Well, I guess it’s not as good as ” ‘Scuse me, while I kiss this guy” but more amusing than yet another round of the Wiggles.

Friday, March 19, 2004 8:44 pm

Scary

Filed under: Why, yes, I AM a bad parent. Why do you ask? — Lex @ 8:44 pm

I had a couple of fun years in Boy Scouts. My brother stuck it out even longer than I did and eventually made Eagle Scout.

So why do I not want my son to join when he gets old enough?

Here’s why:

June 26, 1995, was not a typical day. Ask Dottie Pease. As she turned down Pinto Drive, Pease saw eleven men swarming across her carefully manicured lawn. Their attention seemed to be focused on the back yard of the house next door, specifically on a large wooden potting shed that abutted the chain-link fence dividing her property from her neighbor’s. Three of the men had donned ventilated moon suits and were proceeding to dismantle the potting shed with electric saws, stuffing the pieces of wood into large steel drums emblazoned with radioactive warning signs. Pease had never noticed anything out of the ordinary at the house next door.

A middle-aged couple, Michael Polasek and Patty Hahn, lived there. On some weekends, they were joined by Patty’s teenage son, David. As she huddled with a group of nervous neighbors, though, Pease heard one resident claim to have awoken late one night to see the potting shed emitting an eerie glow. “I was pretty disturbed,” Pease recalls. “I went inside and called my husband. I said, `Da-a-ve, there are men in funny suits walking around out here. You’ve got to do something.'”

What the men in the funny suits found was that the potting shed was dangerously irradiated and that the area’s 40,000 residents could be at risk. Publicly, the men in white promised the residents of Golf Manor that they had nothing to fear, and to this day neither Pease nor any of the dozen or so people I interviewed knows the real reason that the Environmental Protection Agency briefly invaded their neighborhood. When asked, most mumble something about a chemical spill. The truth is far more bizarre: the Golf Manor Superfund cleanup was provoked by the boy next door, David Hahn, who attempted to build a nuclear breeder reactor in his mother’s potting shed as part of a Boy Scout merit-badge project.

That’s why. Because the way Hooper’s going right now, he’d find a way to top this.

Monday, March 15, 2004 9:23 pm

She’d never make it in politics

Daddy?

Yeah, sweetie?

I’m sad.

How come?

Cuz all my friends at school are picking on me except C. and A.

Really? What are they saying?

They’re making fun of me because I’ve had tubes in my ears three times.

No kidding. How do they even know that?

I don’t know. They just do.

Hmm. Well, you could just ignore them.

But it makes me sad.

OK, how ’bout this: You tell ’em [affecting Sam Kinison voice], “Well at least I don’t have GREEN GOO COMING OUT OF MY EARS ALL THE TIME!!”

Are you kidding?

Nope.

But wouldn’t that be like making fun of them?

Sure. But that’s part of the fun. Besides, then maybe they’d leave you alone.

But I don’t want to make fun of them. It’s not nice. I just want them to stop making fun of me.

Corrupt AND inept

Filed under: Why, yes, I AM a bad parent. Why do you ask? — Lex @ 9:18 pm

Daddy?

Yeah, sweetie?

Can I play a computer game tonight?

No, sweetie. You lost that privilege last night when you kept playing after I told you to stop.

Daddy! You are evil!

Unfortunately, that’s quite true, sweetie.

You haven’t learned how to be a good daddy!

Quite right, sweetie. I’m pretty much making it up as I go along.

I’m going to tell Memie that she needs to put you in time out.

Sweetie, you do what you think you have to do and I’ll do what I think I have to do. No hard feelings.

OK, then.

OK, then.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004 10:08 pm

Courtesy

Filed under: Why, yes, I AM a bad parent. Why do you ask? — Lex @ 10:08 pm

Scene from dinner in “The Addams Family” (1991):

Wednesday: Pass the salt.
Morticia: And what do we say?
Wednesday: NOW.

Scene from dinner in my house (a little while ago):

Hooper (loudly): Daddy, go wash you [sic] hands.
Daddy: Hooper, what would be the nice way to say that?
Hooper (even more loudly; pointing): GO! DAT WAY!

Things I Know About Parenting (another in a continuing series)

Filed under: Why, yes, I AM a bad parent. Why do you ask? — Lex @ 12:36 pm

The problem with toddler zombies is that they eat the brains of the living just like grown-up zombies do.

Monday, February 2, 2004 7:14 am

Memo

Note to self: When the kids ask why you have to go back in to work after dinner, telling them, “Because news has reared its ugly head and I must beat it into submission” only raises more questions.

Monday, January 19, 2004 7:43 pm

Scenes from a Family Dinner, or Why we don’t eat out much

Filed under: Why, yes, I AM a bad parent. Why do you ask? — Lex @ 7:43 pm

Scene 1: The Artist’s Way

Dramatis Personae: Daddy, Victoria

Victoria: Daddy, look at this!

Daddy: Wow, sweetie, that’s pretty! It looks like a snowflake!

Victoria: It is! See, I folded the paper up like this. Then I cut it like this. And this. And this. And this. And this.

Daddy: Well, it sure turned out nicely.

Victoria: Yeah. But I had to give up a lot of playtime to do this.

Daddy: Well, sweetie, everyone has to suffer for their art.

Victoria: (sighs) Yeah, I know.

* * *

Scene 2

Dramatis personae: Victoria, Hooper, Daddy, Mommy

Victoria: I’m all done!

Hooper: I’m all done!

Victoria: I want a treat!

Hooper: I want a treat!

Victoria: Right now!

Hooper: Right now!

Daddy: Hooper, there are some things Big Sissie does that probably are not worthy of emulation.

(Victoria’s south end emits rude noises and exudes foul vapors. A choking miasma fills the kitchen. Mommy turns purple and collapses.)

Daddy: Well, like that, for instance.

You can run, but you can’t hide

Filed under: Why, yes, I AM a bad parent. Why do you ask? — Lex @ 6:14 pm

I try hard to protect my children from the more unsavory aspects of American culture. I really do.

And yet what to my wondering eyes should appear earlier this evening but Victoria and her friend C., playing “Mary-Kate and Ashley.”

Where did I go wrong? Or should I just give in and get “Mary-Kate” tattooed on the knuckles of one hand and “Ashley” on the knuckles of the other?

Tuesday, January 13, 2004 7:06 pm

Hooper and potty training

Filed under: Why, yes, I AM a bad parent. Why do you ask? — Lex @ 7:06 pm

Yeah, I COULD learn about potty training, but I'd rather take a nap.

I think this picture pretty much says it all.

(Thanks to Herb for the photo.)

Wednesday, January 7, 2004 6:08 pm

Dysfunctional parents

Filed under: Why, yes, I AM a bad parent. Why do you ask? — Lex @ 6:08 pm

I’m delighted to say that, compared to Mimi, neither my kids nor I know much about this subject.

… the real family-legend payoff is when your kids are sitting around the bong their freshman year of college and talking about the strange things their parents did to them. For instance, my mother once got fed up with us being all like “uhh…I don’t know” when she asked us to help her plan meals, so she made an All-Patty Dinner. Salmon patties, zucchini pancakes, and potato pancakes. Your classic suburban protein/vegetable/starch, only in futuristic dystopian disk format. And my father used to f— with me all the time, in particular by helping me prepare a contingency plan in case he was replaced by an exact-replica cyborg. We had a series of code questions and answers that could be used to determine that my dad was in fact my real flesh-and-blood dad, and all I have to say about that is I WAS FIVE! I WAS CONCERNED THAT THIS CYBORG THING WAS A REAL POSSIBILITY! JESUS, DAD!

**sighs** Memo to self: Never do this or anything like it. Because some most days the real possibilities are scary enough.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003 9:04 pm

Serpent’s tooth, meet my skin

Filed under: Why, yes, I AM a bad parent. Why do you ask? — Lex @ 9:04 pm

Hooper: “Daddy, turn on music.”

Me: “OK, buddy.” (singing along) “Tell me you will try/To slip away somehow/’Cause I need you, darlin’/I want to see you right now.”

Hooper: “No, Daddy!”

Me (singing along): “Can you slip away/Slip away/Slip away-ay-ay-ay ah,/I need you so.”

Hooper: “No, Daddy! Hurts my ears!”

Me: “What?? Buddy, people actually used to pay your daddy money to sing to them. Granted, most of ’em were higher ‘n paper kites, but still.”

Hooper: “No, Daddy! You make my ears sad!”

Me (sighs): “OK, buddy. I won’t sing anymore.”

Hmph.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003 11:21 am

A good reason

Filed under: Why, yes, I AM a bad parent. Why do you ask? — Lex @ 11:21 am

OK, let’s wash your face.

No.

C’mon, sweetie, we’ve got to wash your face.

No!

Sweetie, you can’t go to Safety Town with a dirty face. Now, c’mon, let me wash your face real quick.

Not with that washcloth!

Why not?

Because I wiped it with my bottom!

Oh. [Wonders whether he should pursue this line of questioning. Decides he really doesn’t want to know.] OK, then. I’ll get another one.

Oh-KAY, then. GEE, Daddy …

Wednesday, June 18, 2003 6:45 pm

Yo, dude? I mean, Dad?

Filed under: Why, yes, I AM a bad parent. Why do you ask? — Lex @ 6:45 pm

Mimi Smartypants reminds us of something that, as a daddy, I need to remember more often: Sometimes it just flat sucks to be a kid. (Scroll down to graf beginning, “I feel sorry … “)

Monday, June 2, 2003 9:36 pm

Hooper’s new nickname …

Filed under: Why, yes, I AM a bad parent. Why do you ask? — Lex @ 9:36 pm

… is Tim, as in “I don’t think so, Tim.” The latest iteration of this phrase came this evening, as Daddy had to bring the van to a sudden stop to avoid colliding with someone who turned left in front of us a good three seconds after his light had turned red. (Let me take this opportunity to offer this uncompensated testimonial: The van’s antilock braking system appears to have worked as advertised.)

Hooper’s reaction: “Dat was fun! Do it again, Daddy!”

Daddy’s reaction? Say it with me, kids: “I don’t think so, Tim.”

Saturday, May 17, 2003 1:54 pm

Overheard in parental hell:

Filed under: Why, yes, I AM a bad parent. Why do you ask? — Lex @ 1:54 pm

“Your attention, please: Will everyone here for MacKenzie’s third birthday party please report to the showroom for Chuck E. Cheese and cake!”

“I bet they’d come if they said, ‘Chuck E. Cheese and icing.'”

Wednesday, April 30, 2003 12:54 pm

Raise a child up in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not stray from it.

Filed under: Why, yes, I AM a bad parent. Why do you ask? — Lex @ 12:54 pm

Hey, Hooper?

Yah?

Guess what?

Ida know.

Mommy and Sissy are going to the beach this weekend. They’re going down to Mims’ beach house for the girls’ beach weekend and they’re gonna see Aunt Kathy and Meg and Aunt Susan and Taylor and Jordan and Whitney and it’s gonna be just girls.

Yah.

Except when Pop comes down for his friend’s 75th birthday party. But Mims says she’ll keep him in the closet the rest of the time.

OK.

So, you know what you and Daddy are gonna do while Mommy and Sissy are at the beach?

What?

We’re gonna have a boys’ weekend right here at the house!

Yah!

Except for when we’re sleeping or shooting hoops or playing at the park, we’re gonna sit on the couch and eat junk food and drink beer — well, you’ll drink milk — and watch baseball games and DVDs and snort and scratch and [pass gas]! It’ll be fun! Whaddaya think?

YAH!

Thursday, April 24, 2003 6:25 am

Not only can he talk, he tells the truth

In barely a month, Hooper has progressed from single words to compound sentences. Among them was this morning’s gem at the breakfast table:

Aw, man — I pooped!

And aw, man, he was not lying.

Thursday, April 17, 2003 10:33 pm

Dinner conversation

Filed under: Why, yes, I AM a bad parent. Why do you ask? — Lex @ 10:33 pm

VICTORIA’S FRIEND K.: What are you doing?

ME: Squeezing a lime into my beer.

K: Why?

ME: Because it tastes good. Ask your dad.

K: I think it tastes yucky.

ME: That’s OK, sweetie. You can go on thinking that right up until you turn 21. Maybe longer.

K: Are you 21?

ME: Oh, yeah. In fact, I’ve been 21 twice. And I’m working on my third time.

K: How old are you?

ME: I’m 43.

K: That’s old.

ME: That’s older than dirt.

K: You’re older than dirt?

ME: Ayep. Now eat your chicken fingers.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003 10:26 pm

This might be the best parenting I do. Which is scary, I admit, but still.

Filed under: Why, yes, I AM a bad parent. Why do you ask? — Lex @ 10:26 pm

“I hate you, I hate you, I hate you! You’re not my daddy! I don’t love you!”

“That’s OK, sweetie, I love you.”

UPDATE: Bzzzzzzt!! Wrong answer, says my friend Janet, who adds:

“The correct answer is — ‘If I died tomorrow you’d feel pretty sorry that you said that!'”

Thursday, February 6, 2003 10:49 pm

If you give a sick puppy a cookie …

Filed under: Fun,Why, yes, I AM a bad parent. Why do you ask? — Lex @ 10:49 pm

If you’re a parent and you’ve sometimes thought you were going to drown in the saccharine that passes for toddlers’ literature, you’ll definitely want to check this site out. Put the kids to bed first, however; this is definitely rated NC-17.

Thursday, January 16, 2003 11:11 am

Stupid parent tricks

Filed under: Why, yes, I AM a bad parent. Why do you ask? — Lex @ 11:11 am

Here, sweetie, let me put a couple of pillows under your head so you can sleep better.

How will that make me sleep better?

It might keep you from coughing so much.

Why am I coughing?

Because you have congestion in your sinuses, and some of it is running down the back of your throat while you sleep and making you cough.

How is it getting down the back of my throat?

Because there’s kind of a tunnel from the back of your nose back down to your throat, and that’s where the goop goes. In fact, I could run a string into your nose and back through that tunnel into your throat and then back out of your mouth.

Really? Or are you kidding?

Really.

Can you do it now? Please, Daddy? PleasepleasePLEASE?

Uh, no, sweetie. When I said I could do it, I meant a doctor could do it. If he needed to. Which he probably wouldn’t.

Oh. (pause) Hmph. OK, well, goodnight, Daddy.

Goodnight, sweetie.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003 4:35 pm

The lord of discipline

Filed under: Why, yes, I AM a bad parent. Why do you ask? — Lex @ 4:35 pm

Sweetie, let’s talk.

OK.

Now, Hooper put his finger in your mouth, right?

Yeah.

And then you bit him, right?

(…)

Sweetie?

Yeah.

You bit him, right?

Yeah. But it was an accident!

No, it wasn’t an accident, was it?

No.

So you not only bit your brother, you also lied to Daddy and Memie, didn’t you?

Yes.

OK. Now let’s think about this. Let’s rewind. When Hooper put his finger into your mouth, what could you have done differently?

I don’t know.

Could you have moved his finger out of your mouth?

Yeah …

Could you have asked him not to put his finger in your mouth?

Yeah …

Is there anything else you could’ve done?

(shrug)

OK, so the next time he sticks his finger in your mouth, you have two choices. What are they?

I can move his finger.

Yes.

Or I can tell him not to put his finger in my mouth.

Yes. Or you can do both.

Yes.

Now, do you understand what you did wrong?

I shouldn’t have bited him.

That’s right. You hurt him. But you know what’s even worse, sweetie? You scared him. You’re one of the three people he loves more than anyone else in the world. He adores you. And you hurt him on purpose. Can you imagine how scared he must’ve been? That’s why he was crying for so long — it wasn’t just because of the bite. It probably never occurred to him before that one of us could hurt him on purpose. How do you think he felt?

( … lower lip trembles … )

So, sweetie, promise you’ll never do that again?

I promise.

Shake on it?

OK.

Now, you also lied to Daddy, didn’t you?

Yes.

Sweetie, lying is very bad. If you lie, that means we can’t trust you.

So?

Well, let me tell you a story about what happens when you don’t tell the truth. (Daddy embarks on the story of the boy who cried wolf, but as he approaches the end of the tale he realizes that saying the wolf ate the boy up might induce nightmares, and so he concludes … )
… and the wolf really was there, but everybody figured he was lying again so no one came to help him.

Did the wolf bite him?

Uh, yeah.

Did he die?

(In for a penny, in for a pound.) Yep. The wolf ate him right up and he died.

Was that real or just pretend?

(Sigh. Busted.) Just pretend. But, sweetie, you see my point. If you don’t tell the truth, people won’t believe you. OK?

OK.

So. What do you think should happen because you told a lie?

Lose TV for … um, nine days.

OK.

No, seven days.

Uh, no, nine it is.

DADDY!

OK, seven.

Thank you, Daddy.

You’re welcome, sweetie.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002 3:02 pm

Limping toward the close of the year

Filed under: Why, yes, I AM a bad parent. Why do you ask? — Lex @ 3:02 pm

Blogging has been lighter than usual the past few days because we just staggered through an action-packed weekend. My mom and stepdad came up Friday night for a birthday dinner in her honor and spent the night. Good time had by all, including kids. Went to Chapel Hill Saturday for goddaughter Tiny E’s seventh birthday party. More good times, if by good times, you mean, “Fifteen sugar-fueled, screaming first-grade girls running through the house at high speed and high volume.” We came back afterward just in time to leave the kids with a sitter and go out to dinner. But there was no movie playing that we really wanted to see and started early enough so that we could be home before midnight, even though we went to dinner at 5:15. So we went shopping instead — and those of you who know me well know I am all about the shopping — and went home.

I took the kids to church on Sunday while Ann prepared to have her staff over for a little get-together, which was delightful. After that, we braced for Victoria’s Christmas party, delayed from last weekend because of the ice storm. Nineteen toddlers, plus one 9-year-old brother, showed up, as did Santa Claus (actually a co-worker in costume). For the record, 4 is the perfect age for kids to interact with Santa: They’re old enough not to be intimidated yet still young enough to be enthusiastic. All in all, it was good times, if by good times you mean, “Nineteen sugar-fueled, screaming 4-year-olds running laps around the first floor of the house.” Fortunately, there were adult beverages, and, yes, I had a large one.

While tending to various party-host duties, I overheard a number of conversations, the most interesting of which — and this isn’t saying much — went something like this (some identifying details withheld):

Dad1: Where’s (your wife)?

Dad2: She took (younger daughter) over to a session meeting at the church.

Dad1: Session?

Dad2: Yeah. You know, the elders of the church. Hey, you’re a (denomination), too. They’ve got a session at (your church).

Dad1: Yeah. OK. Just that around my house, “session” means something entirely different, and it is NOT something you take the kids to.

Well, OK, then.

Ann finished her course last week and is class-free ’til late January, if by “class-free” you mean “going to Europe for two weeks in January for a global-management credit and totally leaving me with the kids.” (Actually, I volunteered to stay, not least because we can’t afford to send both of us; besides, I’d get no academic credit.) And now that Sunday’s parties are over, we get to coast the rest of the way into the holidays, if, by “coast,” you mean “obtain appropriate gift for spouse and take the kids to shop for presents for spouse also.”

It’s crunch time at work — our already-early production schedule moves up even farther during the holidays — so I’m a blaze of editing activity this week. The good side is, next week and the following week I’ll have more time to twiddle my thumbs as we return to a regular schedule, if, by “twiddle my thumbs,” I mean “edit one or 1 1/2 days’ worth of copy per day instead of 2 to 2 1/2 days’ worth per day.” Wasn’t it Socrates who insisted on defining one’s terms? Or maybe it was Trent Lott. Whichever.

Thursday, December 5, 2002 5:19 pm

From the mouths of babes …

Filed under: Why, yes, I AM a bad parent. Why do you ask? — Lex @ 5:19 pm

My daughter, now almost 4 1/2, has had a friend named Alex in her day-care class ever since she started going there shortly after her first birthday. We think the world of Alex, and his parents think the world of V., and we’ve had dinner together as families not only at our respective houses but also at a local Italian restaurant. All four parents have joked about the possibility that Alex and V. could get married someday, so we were particularly tickled to overhear this exchange while we were awaiting our meals at the restaurant the other day:

Alex: Victoria, will you marry me?

Victoria (giggling): I will if you don’t be silly!

Thursday, October 3, 2002 10:17 am

Raise a child up in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not stray from it.

“Hey, buddy, what does a dog say?”

“Wack.”

“Nah, a duck says quack. What does a dog say?”

“Ruff.”

“Right. What does a cat say?”

“Wack.”

Nah, a duck says quack. What does a cat say?”

“Mau.”

“Right! Good job. What does a duck say?”

“Wack.”

“Excellent. What does a Panther say?”

“Tuhdown!!!”

“That’s right! A Panther says ‘touchdown’!”

“Wack.”

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