Archive for September, 2009

COUNTRY VS. CITY: WHERE TO LIVE?

September 30, 2009

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(We put up a tee pee – that was fun – what now?)

I’ve always said kids should be in the city til they’re about 4, then move to the country where it’s safe, then go back to the city when they’re teens so they don’t die of boredom.

New York exaggerates this need because not only is it way more dangerous than most cities (despite gentrification we’re still at a murder a day) education is near impossible to get right. If you go private, you’re looking at $15,000 a year from the very beginning. Even if you can afford that, do you really want your kids hanging out with kids who’s parents can spare 15k for fucking kindergarten? Manhattan private school kids make British private school kids look like the Cockney Rejects.

At the other end of the spectrum, you have public schools. Today it’s near impossible to get into them but the few “lucky” ones are treated to no education at all. When I asked a teacher from PS 131 if life there was as bad as I think it is, she said, “I didn’t teach anything all year.” After a sympathetic laugh from me she goes, “No, you’re not getting it. I didn’t teach, like, the verb, I didn’t ‘teach’ for one second of one day. 100% of my time was telling people to sit down and stop yelling and please put that down etc.” Great. So it’s either spend 15k a year to surround your kid with assholes or fight like hell to get him into the zoo.

So move the country, right? There is a Montessori school upstate we visited that is so unbelievably perfect, it’s like an SNL parody of a good school. “Oh what’s that strange cubby hole with the ladder leading up to it?” I ask. “That’s a reading nook for when the kids feel overwhelmed and just want to settle down with a book,” the ridiculously dedicated teacher replies. They take classes in the woods. They build ceramic tiles and sell them to raise money for the rain forest. They tend to their own farm animals. They stay with the same class for 6 years. Above and beyond all that hippiness they still teach math and sciences in the most traditional formats. Oy motherfucking Vey. And it costs about $4,000 a year. Done. Argument finished.

Only, we lived upstate all summer and although I enjoy my office there and my little workshop with all my tools in the right place, I couldn’t help but notice the rest of my family was rotting. My wife’s reading material went from “The Time Traveler’s Wife” (pretty good book – well respected) to “The President’s Wife” (Some Oprah’s book club shit) to “Us Weekly” (Oh Jesus) to “People Magazine” (Which I would argue is worse than “Us Weekly” because the latter is kind of just kidding but with “People” you’re actually reading about some fat guy who saved a baby from a burning tree and you’re giving a shit).  The kids were also going stir crazy. They liked going outside but only because inside was getting pretty fucking boring. We felt the same way. Our house was an oasis but as soon as we stepped off the property, we were in fucking idiot central.

Take music class for example. In New York they sit around and sing original songs written just for the kids like, “Beep beep honk honk can you spare a dime? / Have a bagel with a smear and we’ll see the Guggenheim / From the Bronx to the Battery, it’s all mine / I’m a city kid!” The parents are our peers and when Emily makes a “kill me please – I am so bored” face to a mom she doesn’t know the mom rolls her eyes and mocks blowing her head off with a gun made of fingers. Upstate music classes are the opposite. They wear fucking tye dyes (it was Woodstock’s birthday this summer) and prance around listening to boomer music like our kids give two fucks. The parents are so thrilled with themselves for not being hillbillies and actually taking their kids somewhere, they are not bored and instead have smiles that go into each ear hole. They too were wearing tye dyed t-shirts.

Take that fucking Janis Joplin record off you stupid cunt. My daughter does not want a Mercedes Benz. She doesn’t even want a fucking car. She’s 3.

When we first got to the country we did what we do in every new place. We find the 1%ers, the weirdoes who feel just as uncomfortable around normal people. We dug up some punk fags, some misanthropic Europeans, family friends of A-Ron’s, and three comedians. The rest can go fuck themselves. Call me overly ambitious but I want more out of life than hanging out at WalMart and cluttering the aisles in my pajamas on with a Big Mac in my hand (I’m not kidding – people up there do that for fun).

So do we move into Idiotville just so our daughter can have a good school? What about our son? He’ll have to spend two years wandering around the house going stir crazy before he’s ready for the SNL school. Does he have to suffer? I don’t think that’s good for his brain.

When they find feral children they always discover the same thing: You can’t teach a dog new tricks. This is not a metaphor. A kid who was raised by dogs may learn to walk upright but he will never learn to speak. Know why? Because his brain has literally rotted. They’ve done cat scans and the fucking thing looks like a smoker’s lung. When you don’t stimulate a brain it goes bad. Therefore, isn’t it logical to assume the converse would apply? As in, the more stimuli a brain gets, the healthier it becomes?

In Brooklyn Sophie will go meet Dora at the Brooklyn Museum in the morning, then she’ll go to Bounce U and play in some bouncy castles for an hour, then she’ll fly her kite at the park, then she’ll go to the library where they read her books, then it’s a puppet show, then finger-painting, etc etc. During this entire process she’s being bombarded with sounds and colors and people laughing at jokes. The country is safe and I love going on nature walks with her but it’s also a fucking void. The city provides a wet shit for an education but every member of my family seems happier living here. When we pulled in to our street after 2 months upstate, Sophie started crying tears of joy and said, “I’m laughing because I’m in Brooklyn” about ten times.

Next September she starts school full time. What the fuck do I do?

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Kids Today Think They Know Everything 2/2

September 27, 2009

Okay so someone gave him little Michael Jackson shoes. So what? Doesn’t mean he knows anything. So someone put on some Michael Jackson music and he does “facial expressions.” Still knows nothing. So he figured dancing on the table out. So!

Kids are such show-offs.

Kids Today Think They Know Everything 1/2

September 25, 2009

Okay so someone sent her a half-sized guitar.  So what?  Doesn’t mean she knows anything.  So someone sent her a pocket amp.  Still knows nothing.  So she figured “feedback” out.  So!

Well, the girl and I are off to Ann Arbor for tomorrow’s IU v. UM game.  I didn’t go to either school but neither will she.  Oh, what?  Now she’s going to throw spirals.  Oh wait…she already can.

Kids are such show-offs.

Every Day is Father’s Day

September 19, 2009

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One of the best feelings in the world of late is blindly reaching into the clothes dryer and pulling out a matched pair of socks.  That is one-handed, one-grab perfection!  It’s like finding an unopened box of penne when you believed you would be stuck with rotini.  It’s as emotionally uplifting as spotting MILF-nipple at the pool.  This is where I exist.  I am a haus herr, the “man” of the house.  Laundry.  Cooking.  Cleaning (well, remembering to write the check for the people who actually do the cleaning).  Sure, I paint, fix, and escort bugs out, but I know when it’s time to wash towels too.  There’s a schedule.  There’s an order.

A major part of my working-from-home deal is I also have majority responsibility for our daughter’s school affairs: drop-off and pick-up, meetings, field trips, classroom and workroom volunteering.  All the stuff traditionally done by mothers.  Apparently I live in a “traditional” community because I’m the only father with an all-access backstage laminate at the school.

In the three years I’ve been affiliated with the girl’s school, I have become a bit of an enigmatic legend.  I’m known as “the dad.”  I know the staff, teachers, and administration.  But mostly I know Moms.  Lots and lots of mothers.

I know the older career-guilt moms as they come and go all hosiery and furrowed brows.  They worry if they’re giving their children the attention they need.  Are they getting enough face-time?  What conference room is my 10:00 in?  I love ’em for real.  They like Volvos and BMWs and anything convertible.  They are in tune with the economy, world events, and politics.  But they don’t know shit for what’s going on at school.  Nothing.  But I’m there for my girls who leverage systemic solutions for corporate America.

I also know the young stay-at-home moms: the haus fraus, as I call ’em.  Women who are fairly narrowly-focused on rearing and domesticity.  Women who last tuned into world events over half a decade ago.  They still, obviously, drive Yukons, Sequoias, Expeditions, and Suburbans and idle them for the A/C in the kiss-n’-ride if the temperature warms past 70 degrees.  They don’t get global warming but they know who is sleeping with whom real and conjectured.  They sing Collective Soul like that shit’s cool.  Sorority girls.  But the young moms are really bored, lonely, and lost.  Soulless and without bankable skills (except having babies and drinking coffee).  I see the haus fraus all over the neighborhood.  We are united!  And I’m there for my girls who fancy themselves Desperate/Real Housewives who believe in Sarah Palin!

My moms style suits and heels, designer sweatsuits and big ass shades, and some inexplicably “style” Tevas and capris.  Sigh.  Not judgmental, just observant.  I love my moms.  I really do.

But the fathers are driving me fucking crazy.  I know, what is my problem?  I have the world of MILF at my fingertips and I’m even giving a god damn shit-fuck about non-Homie fathers.

But today was the annual Dads & Donuts event.  I’ve been attending since 2007 [clicky] so I’ve lost all of my neo-hippie idealism.  Now I just outright hate motherfuckers.  I have nothing but disdain for all these…men.  They are invading my space and I hate that the (other) mothers are doting over these Blackberry slaves for fucking visiting our school one time all fucking year.  Dorks don’t even want to be the fuck there.  You can see it.  Bored, annoyed, and mostly just lost.  Sperm donors so bossy-whipped, niggas getting all sweaty and fidgety when the principal walks by.

The only joy I possibly could have received from Dads & Donuts other than the insane endorphin high that comes with sociopolitic superiority, is if the cops would have raided the All Purpose Room in a donut-baited child support back-tax sting.

And my kid knows it too.  She’s all preening like queen of the disco as we navigate around clueless fathers in neckties spilling coffee all over their shifty-eyed, porn-surfing selves.  Fuck ’em.  I even cut the coffee line because my “girls” were serving.  “Will ya’ look at these tools!” Big laughs, ladies.

Alright I have to go now.  The dryer just buzzed and I don’t want the sheets to get too wrinkled and my wife might call.  Has anyone seen my dick?

JUST DRIVIN’ THRU

September 16, 2009

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I usually try to be quite nice, very efficient, and very, very clear with my drive thru orders; I always have, it’s how I was raised. But, now that I have a kid who eats this garbage, these interactions usually go like this:

McDonalds® Drive Thru: Can I take your order?

Me: Hi, I’d like to buy one six-piece Chicken Nugget™ Happy Meal™.

McDonalds® Drive Thru: Drink?

Me: Apple juice.

McDonalds® Drive Thru: Boy or girl?

Me: Huh? Uh, I’ll Have the Legion of Superheros™ toy, please.

McDonalds® Drive Thru: Huh? Boy toy or girl toy?

Me: I’m reading this right off your menu, we want the “Legion of Superheros™” toy, thank you.

McDonalds® Drive Thru: Do you have a boy or a girl?! Is it for boy or girl?

Me: What does that matter? Your menu indicates that for this promotion period we get to choose either the Build-A-Bear™ workshop or the Legion of Superheros™ toy with this Happy Meal™. My daughter wants the Legion of Superheors™ toy. It’s completely irrelevant what sex child I have. In fact, maybe I don’t have a child, maybe it’s for my elderly grandmother, or maybe it’s for me. Maybe, get this, a boy might want the Build-A-Bear™ workshop and a girl could possibly, just possibly, want the Legion of Superheros™ toy and not go to Smith. In fact, my child was really excited that you had the Legion of Superheros™ toy. We don’t roll that way; boy stuff and girl stuff. She can play with or be anything she damn well want!  If I had a boy, he’d wear a dress!

McDonalds® Drive Thru: Hold on….

McDonalds® Drive Thru: What kind of drink?

Me: Apple juice, please.

McDonalds® Drive Thru: Anything else?

Me: Yes, we’ll have one Fruit & Walnut snack™, please.

McDonalds® Drive Thru: Fruit salad?

Me: No, I’m reading this verbatim from your menu, one “Fruit & Walnut snack™”, thanks.

McDonalds® Drive Thru: Five thirty-seven, next window, please.

Invariably I get the Build-A-Bear™ workshop and have to start all over. Once I cited “research literature” and “social trends” before getting flustered and shouting, “go to college!” The best is when I give the lecture about branding; how they would benefit in a multitude of ways by having the person who spoke the BEST English at the drive thru window. Oh, I’ll hold up the drive thru for as long as it takes for me to go all Skip-Gates-takes-you-to-school on the McDonalds Drive thru people.

I’m the world’s worst dad.

HOMOPHOBIC STORYTIME

September 15, 2009

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So I’m reading this story to my kid the other night and I can’t help but think, “Wait, what the fuck is this book about?” I mean, it’s literally about a baby train that dares to go off the tracks but what’s that all about? From almost the very first page, we are told the most important thing for a train to learn is never, EVER go off the tracks. Problem is Tootle enjoys it. So, they trick him into thinking life outside the tracks is a living hell by planting red flags all over the countryside (trains can’t stand red flags because they mean stop). Eventually he ends up “back on track” and grows up to be one of the manliest locomotives ever. Is this book about not straying from the path of conformity or does it go a step further and tell kids not to stray from heterosexuality?

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The metaphors are not exactly an Easter Egg Hunt. The protagonist’s voice is “A gay little Tootle” and there’s nothing he loves more than prancing around the garden. One day, after a particularly dainty prance session, a daisy is discovered on his person back at the shop. The horror!

How can this book not be about being gay?

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The whole thing is, as the boss of the trains put it is, “very queer.” So I’m sitting there telling my kid how evil it is to be gay and I feel the same way the authors would feel if they found themselves reading a kid’s book on how to be gay. The red flags they planted in the field must translate to real life “red flags” like your friends asking, “Why do you hang out with hairdressers so much” and “What’s with the Marc Bolan poster?” What the fuck kind of book is this? Even if it’s not brave enough to go the whole gay hog, I don’t want to be telling them some story about how awful it is to step out of line and do your own thing.

Dear kids, if you’re gay that’s unfortunate, I guess. Things are complicated when you’re gay and it’s tough to have kids of your own etc. However, if we ever see some red flags pop up, we’ll both have to shrug our shoulders and say, “Them’s the breaks.” There is no way we’re going to rip you out of the forest, drag you back to the station and say, “Never EVER go off track!”

Make Believe

September 4, 2009

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I guess this about the only age where someone could reasonably believe that Noah gathered all of the animals on earth and crammed them into a boat he made.

CUTE THINGS MY DAUGHTER SAID

September 3, 2009

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One of the number one rules of conversation is: Don’t talk about your kids. Don’t talk about yourself, your job, or your dreams is up there too. However, what if your child was extraordinary? What if what she said actually IS special? Well, in that case you make an exception. I think the rule has just been amended to: YOU shouldn’t talk about YOUR kids.

Here are some unbelievable quotes that came out of her mouth.

WHILE LOOKING AT HER SHIT

1- “My poo isn’t gray. It’s brown like a muddy mountain.” I know this sounds too cute to be true but I think muddy mountain is a Dora reference.

WHILE LOOKING AT A BOOGER

2- “My boogie isn’t green. It’s pink like a ham snadrich.” Her word for sandwich. She also calls animals “amalos” which is too cute to correct.

AND THE WINNER IS…

She’s started noticing her half-eaten food looks like something. When she bit into a cracker recently she pulled back and said, “It looks like a man in a rocking chair” (photo above). The next day she took some bites out of her toast and noticed it looks like a man in a boat. I love reminding her of shit like this. Not sure why. Maybe I want to tell her which things hit the cute button so she does more of them. Maybe it’s because I think these observations are artistic and I want her to be an artist so she can live out my unfulfilled dreams.

So I go, “Remember today when you said your toast looks like a man in a boat?” And she says, “Rocking chair.” “What?” I ask. “She’s chewing her food and staring at me but she’s not in her booster seat so her chin is below the edge of the table. She looks like a Kilroy Was Here and the fact that she’s trying to be tough is too much. “It was a rocking chair” she says matter of factly. She seems annoyed so I can’t resist feigning indignance. “NO! It was a man in a boat. YESTERDAY was a rocking chair.” Then she comes out with the most amazing thing I’ve ever heard.

3- She says, “Oh, is that how it goes?” like she finally understands who’s boss. I say “Yes” very confidently. Then she snaps, “No! It doesn’t go like that! It was a rocking chair!”

I fucking scream-laughed so loud it scared her. Can you get over that bait and switch? She lured me in and then hit me with a one-two punch. If that isn’t going down in the National Cute Archives then I’ll be a nephew’s uncle and if you can do cuter than any of these, I’ll pay you $9.