Tag Archives: parenthood

There Is a Tablecloth On My Battlefield

If there is one thing that might make me snap as a parent, causing me to fly through the house punching holes through walls and tearing down wallpaper with my fingernails, it will be my daughter’s eating habits.

My 6-year-old wonderful, artistically gifted, verbally advanced, sensitive darling who is the pickiest damned eater I have ever had the misfortune to live with and be unable to employ threats of violence against.

If she had her way, her diet would consist of the following, and probably only the following:

  • Milk, chocolate milk and orange juice
  • Strawberries, blackberries and raspberries
  • Bacon and hot dogs (occasionally supplemented with chicken or steak)
  • Green apples, grapes, mandarin oranges and the occasional banana
  • Annie’s Shells & Cheese
  • Tootsie Roll lollipops and gummy anything
  • Ranch Dressing
  • Processed cheese sticks and extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • Hot fudge sundaes
  • Yogurt
  • Corn, but only sweet summer corn and only on the cob, heavily salted
  • Gravy (mashed potatoes are considered an inefficient delivery device that merely impedes her ability to drink the gravy)
  • French fries
  • Salt or soy sauce, with or without food that requires it, and preferably deposited thickly enough that you cannot see the food beneath it

Now, of course, I give her credit for eating fruit. More power to her. But she’d still rather eat her weight in bacon instead (with the exception of fresh summer strawberries). Also, she occasionally has good taste in cheese and likes yogurt. But as you might notice, the emphasis is on grease/salt/sweets and there is nary a vegetable to be found except for the corn, which is available for only a month or two during the year.

I get that kids can be picky and might eschew veggies. But this is a child into whom we must struggle even to get “normal” kid foods sometimes.

She eats hot dogs, but without any bun or condiments. She will grudgingly eat a hamburger, but just the patty. She hates spaghetti.

This is a girl who recently dipped her French fries into her chocolate milk and declared it delicious, yet won’t eat pork cooked in a sweet mandarin orange sauce even though she likes both of those foods, too, individually.

We can’t get tacos in her. Or sandwiches (except for the occasional jelly sandwich). A banana chocolate chip muffin is acceptable, but rarely is blueberry, and never is a cinnamon-crusted one, much less anything that trends toward pretending to be healthy. She professes to like scrambled eggs but I suspect that’s just an excuse to have something on which to pour salt so that she can hasten her arrival at gross hypertension before she reaches college, because she always picks at them and dawdles when eating them. She’ll eat pancakes, but mostly to get the maple syrup, which she will try to scoop up as often as possible while avoiding the pancakes.

This is a girl so stubborn about eating that if you give her a meal she doesn’t want to eat, she will feign being full or ill and go to bed starving rather than eat a single bite.

It’s maddening.

And to top it all off, if you give her food she adores, she’ll beg to eat it in the living room while watching TV rather than sit with her family.

So many parents wish their kids wouldn’t eat them out of house and home.

Me?

I’d give my left nut for her to make us go broke buying her organic zucchini, Brussels spouts, mixed greens, broccoli and green beans.

But for now I’ll settle for her eating her hotdog with a bun or shoving some spaghetti in her craw.

Conversations with the Kiddo

Little Girl Blue, soon to be clocking her sixth year outside the womb, is an amazing little girl. She’s a charming human being, full of love and curious about the world. Her verbal skills and eloquence are amazing—easily a year or two ahead of most of her peers. She can memorize and perform entire scenes from Scooby-Doo movies and Eloise episodes. She’s a talented little artist at times, too (although she really needs to work on her gluing skills and effective use of mixed media).

But sometimes, she just makes me say to myself, silently but firmly: What the fuck?

Today has been one of the more interesting days of bewilderment on my part, as exemplified by three conversations that each represent a hellish archetype to which I and Mrs. Blue are regularly subjected.

The I Can’t Effectively Manage Time Conversation

Not that I expect Little Girl Blue to be an effective time-manager, but this kind of conversation is one she has been routinely coached against pursuing, yet she refuses to heed me. I estimate I have lost at least four years of productive time due to these kinds of conversations with her, and she’s only turning six this month.

Daughter: “Daddy?”

Me: “Yes, Honeybunch?”

Daughter: “Can I ask you a question?”

Me: “OK”

Daughter: (long pause)

Me: “Ask the question, Sweetie. Please.”

Daughter: “Well, I was thinking…you see…[insert out of context transitional clause here]…what I was thinking was…you know how [insert situation with possibly relevant role in conversation but probably not]…So what I wanted to know was…[insert actual question here].”

Me: “Whoa. You’ve completely lost me. Try that again.”

Daughter: (raises voice to a near shout) “WHAT I’M ASKING IS…DO…YOU…KNOW…[insert actual question here, more clearly and succinctly stated than before, but presented in loud one-word increments separated by one full second between each word, thus causing me to quickly lose comprehension.]”

Me: “I could hear you before. Could you try just speaking normal speed and normal volume and just ask the question without giving me all the backstory?”

Daughter: [insert totally intelligible and articulate question here]

Me: [insert appropriate answer here.]

Daughter: “Thanks, Daddy.”

Me: “You’re welcome, Honey. You know, we could save a lot of time if you at least didn’t keep saying ‘Daddy’ and then waiting for me to respond and then saying you have a question and waiting for me to respond to that. You could just come right out and ask the question right off the bat. It would be way more efficient.”

Daughter: “OK, Daddy.”

Me: “Thanks.”

Daughter: (somewhere between one and ten minutes later) “Daddy?”

Me: “Yes, Honey?”

Daughter: “I have a question…”

P.S. The above kind of conversation most often occurs, and with more intensity, when I am driving and trying to concentrate on us not dying in an impact with one of the many clueless local drivers or, worse yet, the even more clueless out-of-town tourists.

The Please Drop the Subject Already Conversation

This conversation is about as close to verbatim as I can manage from today’s actual experiences. Refusing to drop a topic that is annoying to me is a common feature of life with Little Girl Blue, and many of them follow the same pattern as the one below.

Daughter: “Daddy, did you and Mommy say you liked that restaurant we just passed?”

Me: “No. In fact, about every second or third time we pass it and you ask that question, we’ve told you we couldn’t stand the place.”

Daughter: “Oh, I thought you liked it.”

Me: “You always say that. But we’ve never said one good thing about it, and you ask about that restaurant more and more often when we drive down this road. We don’t like it. At all. Not one bit.”

Daughter: “What don’t you like about it?”

Me: “The food is garbage and the service stinks and it’s not even all that inexpensive so it’s not remotely worth visiting.”

Daughter: “So you and Mommy don’t like eating there?”

Me: “No. I’m sure someone must like it, because they’re still in business after all these years, but we’re probably never going to go there again. So, there’s no reason to talk about it.”

Daughter: “What if someone forced you to go eat there?”

Me: “What?”

Daughter: “What if someone made you guys go eat there?”

Me: “Why would someone do that?”

Daughter: “Because…I don’t know. They need to pass a test? Or they’re really mean?”

Me: “Well, the chances of someone doing that…look, why do you always imagine these crazy scenarios? I mean, I like imagination and all, but why every time I give you a simple answer you have to counter it with some really off-the-wall scenario that doesn’t even make sense or just tell me the opposite of what I said is true even though it’s clear that I know what I’m talking about?”

Daughter: “I just do.”

Me: “Well, even if someone did try to force me to eat there, what makes you think I’d let them? Do you think I do things every time someone tries to force me?”

Daughter: “No.”

Me: “OK. Good. Look, we don’t like the food there, we’re probably never going to eat there again, and no one’s going to force us to. End of story. Cool?”

Daughter: “OK, Daddy.” (a few seconds pass) “Daddy, do you think the cooks there are bad cooks?”

Me: “No. They might be good cooks. But they have to cook the way the restaurant owners say to cook. And the owners probably buy crappy ingredients and don’t have good recipes and make the cooks rush to get stuff out instead of doing it right. I mean, if I buy a frozen meal from Trader Joe’s and cook it according to the directions and it ends up sucking, that’s not the fault of me. I know how to follow the directions and I know how to cook well from scratch. It was the meal in the box that stunk. The restaurant could have people who know how to cook when they’re allowed to use good stuff. But I don’t know. Frankly, I don’t care. I want to stop talking about that restaurant now. In fact, I don’t ever want to talk about it again.”

Daughter: “OK, Daddy.”

Me: “Cool.”

Daughter: (one minute later). “Daddy, what do you think I would think of the food at that restaurant?”

Me: [insert possibly inappropriate frustration-induced language followed by a fervent plea to just drop the subject already.]

The Zero Information Conversation

In this kind of conversation, absolutely no useful information whatsoever is conveyed to me, and I cannot for the life of me imagine how Little Girl Blue even imagined for a moment I would have any need to hear about the non-topic of conversation. In fact, some of these conversations impart so little information that I think it’s a “negative information” conversation and that information is being sucked out of my brain instead of inserted into it, increasing my chances of early onset Alzheimer’s disease. The conversation below occurred as I was trying to wash Little Girl’s Blue hair before bedtime tonight.

Daughter: “So, you said that someone you trust said ‘Zookeeper’ was a bad movie?”

Me: “Uh, yeah. I mean, I saw some reviews and some people I know online have said it was a totally worthless movie.”

Daughter: “Oh. You know someone I trust said there was some new superhero movie out and that no one should waste their money on it. Captain American something.”

Me: “There’s a Captain America movie that just came out. A lot of people say they don’t like it and a lot of people say they do like it. So it’s not a movie like ‘Zookeeper’ where most folks say it stinks.”

Daughter: “So some people like it and some people don’t. Well, there was a real person on TV who said we shouldn’t waste our money on it.”

Me: “TV? The ‘person you trust’ is a movie reviewer or something on the television? (long pause) Wait, wait…where would you have seen a movie review on TV? None of the channels you watch have movie reviews.”

Daughter: “I don’t know. I just did.”

Me: “When? And what channel were you on?”

Daughter: “At the beginning of July.”

Me: “Honey, the beginning of July was like three weeks ago, and the movie wasn’t even out yet at that time. So that couldn’t be true. Are you just making this up?”

Daughter: “No.”

Me: “So when did this happen and what were you watching on TV?”

Daughter: “The middle of July.”

Me: “Honey, the middle of July was a week or so ago, and the movie still wasn’t out then, so no one could have known whether it was a good movie or a bad one. The month is almost over. So could you please tell me once and for all when this happened and where you saw it and what it was about?”

Daughter: “I don’t know.”

Me: “So, you’re telling me that at some point in time you can’t remember when, you were watching some channel you never watch but can’t remember what it is now, where you saw someone say ‘don’t waste your money’ seeing a movie that you don’t know what it was. You basically started a conversation based on absolutely no information I could possibly make use of or make sense of. Are you trying to drive me insane?”

Daughter: (shrugs)

So, if you wonder why I might seem snarky or even slightly insane at times, now you know why. But if you have a kid (or kids) yourself, you probably understood that already. Guess I’ll keep Little Girl Blue, though. She’s personable and has lots of potential, she makes pretty pictures for me, she’s really nice to her teachers and friends and she gives great hugs and kisses.

Besides, the hospital doesn’t seem to have a return policy and I doubt Mrs. Blue has the original receipt anymore for the darling (and maddening) little girl.

Pre-Father’s Day

So, tomorrow is Father’s Day. If my little girl wasn’t frequently mentioning that she and Mommy need to work on my secret gift, I’d probably not even realize it was coming.

That isn’t to say that I don’t think it’s a fine day. It’s a good excuse to call my own Dad, since he isn’t the most talkative sort and weekly or even once a month phone calls would probably be stretching our conversational material. Much better to interact with him in person, where long silences can be comfortable instead of awkward. I mean, silences on the phone have got to be the most awkward of all.

Also, it isn’t that I don’t like being appreciated myself as a father. I really do.

But I guess I just feel a little weird, and even guilty, at having a whole day that is supposed to be about me, simply because I have highly motile sperm (with the rapidity of which Mrs. Blue has conceived on the couple occasions we went off the birth control options, I could have myself a very old-school Catholic-sized family apparently…apparently, fertility is not one of the problems we face.)

I mean, I love when my wife recognizes me for good fathering (she also has been known to lambast me about some things, too, so don’t go sending me a “perfect father” trophy). I adore when Little Girl Blue tells me I’m a great daddy or when Son of Blue gives me his honest and loving admiration and respect, just because he feels moved to do so. Those things warm my heart. They are honest and can move me almost to tears sometimes.

But at the same time, I don’t feel like a fantastic provider right now because, frankly, I’m not. Career changes and economy have not been kind. So, when I think about all the things I couldn’t do for my wife on Mother’s Day…or her birthday…or Valentine’s Day…or our anniversary, I feel a strong sense of guilt that Mrs. Blue and Little Girl Blue are working so hard to give me things and bake me things and cook me things. (Son of Blue is away at a political science-style camp, so he’s not involved in all this.)

In the tradtion of Wayne and Garth from “Wayne’s World,” I just want to shout, “I’m not worthy!” Maybe I am, but I don’t feel like it. Not worthy enough for a day to be devoted to me.

Maybe that’s my own Dad in me. He never really cared that much to celebrate his birthday or Father’s Day or anything. He’s a humble guy, and that’s probably rubbed off on me.

Anyway, Happy Fathers’ Day, a day in advance, for all my fellow dads out there.

Two-fer Tuesday: Kids by Deacon Blue

colors-of-the-worldSince Miz Pink went and got all sappy with her kid story on Saturday (actually, it was a cute story), let’s make our Two-fer Tuesday topic “Kids.” I’ll start.

No, not going to talk about sparing the rod and spoiling the child.

Not going to go over that stuff about honoring our mothers and fathers.

Already talked about Jesus telling us to “suffer the little children.”

OK, Bible down. I have no doubt I could expound upon spiritual stuff related to kids. Instead, let me give you some real advice, and this is mostly aimed at people who don’t yet have kids, or are about to have kids for the first time soon. But I’m sure even existing parents can get a tickle out of this, too.

Checklist

  • Before you have a child, think really, really hard about how hard you think raising a child will be.
  • Double that.
  • Then add on the stress of working for the world’s most demanding and least flexible boss (for at least four years).
  • To that, add the idea of serving in an extended sleep-deprivation experiment (for at least a year, possibly two).
  • Now imagine being denied regular access to the forms of entertainment you have come to rely on (movies, sex, clubbing, etc.) for roughly five years, give or take.
  • If you are having your first child and you are in your late 30s to mid-40s, increase that total amount by 50%, because you are already getting set in your ways even if you don’t think so.
  • Finally, if you are having your first ever child at the age of 55 or older, and you are doing this on purpose, please check into a mental health facility now.

All that being said, children are a joy, and the first time you get an honest “I love you” or a wet sloppy kiss on the cheek, your world will change forever, and for the better. There are few, if any, jobs more rewarding than being a good parent—at least trying to be a good one.

But oh, do those kids work the nerves sometimes. 😉

Can’t Win For Losing

offended-angryMaybe it’s the lack of sleep over the past few days and I’m feeling a little touchy.

But can someone tell me what I said, in my first comment to this blog post, if anything, to invite a thorough critique of the idea of raising my children with my religion?

I thought it was nice and simple. In my first (and what I intended to be my only) comment, I sympathized with the author’s opinion, noted that I thought it was impractical to think a parent wouldn’t raise children with dearly-held values and beliefs, and then added that I thought it would be shitty to shut that child out later on if they reject those values and views.

And then I get a comment saying, this post was about “religion” not “values,” thus prompting what I felt was a need to clarify my position and the fact it didn’t matter what term you used, which prompted at least two comments that are aimed at me and (a) the supposed ridiculousness of adding religion to the pile of things I pass down to my kid and (b) suggesting that I said people without religion have no values or weaker values.

All too often, Christians get panned for being “holy rollers” and getting all judgmental. I defend the drive to pass down religion and focus on the need to love and embrace your child even if they reject those values, and I still catch shit.

If anyone non-Christian out there wonders why sometimes Christians feel a bit persecuted even though this is still a largely Christian nation, that is why. It gets tiresome to gently mention my faith and be supportive of dissenting beliefs and encourage that we love everyone, and still get painted as being closed-minded and shallow and supersitious.

Yes, I’m ranting. And if you see this, Votar, I still love you, man (in the platonic, I-only-know-you-online-anyway kind of way). But shit, I wasn’t aiming to debate religion, just encourage acceptance of different parenting styles with regard to religion and urging that we cannot reject our kids if they do choose to reject our values.

Eyes of God by Miz Pink

pink-baby-gazeNah, I’m not talking about Gods Eyes, those little yarn and stick projects. I’m talkin about the pair on my new little girl Mini Pink Model 3. I’m reminded of the first two kids as I look at her face and how those big, moist eyes suck you in. I don’t think God’s eye (if he has any) are that innocent because Lord knows he’s seen everything. They’d be deeper and more complex. But still I can’t help thinking of God when I look at Mini Pink 3’s eyes. They are so open. So inviting. So utterly lacking in malice.

It’s the purest most untarnished thing that any of us probably get a chance to look at.

I know that we’re “born in sin” and we start early with the desires to keep things and take things and sometimes hurt others. But a newborn or an infant or even a toddler is for the most part so devoid of malice and scheming and nastiness that its a joy to look into their faces.

It gives me a bit of innocence I think. I think that when I look into my little newborn girl’s eyes that the love in my eyes must increase. My heart is filled and I am made a little better.

It’s one of those wonderful little gifts God gives us that we often don’t appreciate and that we too easily forget later on in the press of life.

It’s my third time and I’m sure I’ll forget how wonderful it is again when she’s saying “no” a billion times in a row or screaming becuase I won’t turn the TV on or something.

But for now I’m just goin to revel in those eyes.

(And no that’s not my baby girl. Just like I don’t post pics of me I don’t post pics of my family.)