I thought it would be easy to travel on Thanksgivings if I planned accordingly. AAA estimates that traveling around Boston the Tuesday before Thanksgiving can take 2.5x longer if you leave between 5-7pm. This was fine with me because I was leaving the Northshore at 2:30 and traveling through Boston to the Southshore. Without traffic, it should have taken 50 minutes.
I picked up my daughter from gymnastics and then picked up my sister-in-law and my nephew on our way. Before departing from their house, I asked my daughter multiple times, like all parents, "Do you need to go to the bathroom?" and was repeatedly met with the same response, "Nope I'm fine." Here was my first mistake.
Maybe it was eagerness to get on the road, or my willingness to create a life lesson about going to the bathroom before you get into the car. I will say my daughter is good about being able to hold it until we get to a bathroom, so a 50 minute car ride should have been a walk in the park. But like most things related to parenting, it wasn't.
We got onto 93. We had the DVD player on in the back seat so everyone is content. My sister-in-law and I were bonding over the unintentionally funny things my wife says when my sister-in-law points out we can take the HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle ) lane. Fantastic! Traffic was starting to back up so I immediately weaved my way to the entrance of the HOV lane. Here was my second mistake.
Almost immediately after laughing at all the "suckers" stuck in traffic, the HOV lane came to an abrupt halt, and we start grinding our way between the concrete barriers that separate us from those "suckers.” I was feeling rather superior up to that point. About 30 minutes into the slow crawl down 93, I heard the dreaded words all parents hate from the back seat. "Dadda I have to go potty!"
Putting on my preverbal detective hat, I attempted to figure out at what emergency bathroom category she's currently experiencing, Category 1 being she might have to go, and up to Category 10 being I'm going to have to wash out the car seat.
The next few questions and answers come out like a "Choose Your Own Adventure” book. However, in this case, the adventure is chosen for you.
Me: "Ok honey, we'll be there soon."
Option 1: She says “Ok.” This means she really doesn't have to go. Turn to page 4
Option 2: She says “I really have to go.” This means we need to start to head toward a bathroom. Turn to page 7
Response: Option 2. Crap.
I was literally stuck between the Jersey barriers or waist high concrete barricades, with no exit options.
Me: "Can you hold it?"
Option 1: She says “I'll try.” This means she will buy us some time. Turn to page 5
Option 2: She grunts. This means she's been holding it for a while already. Turn to page 8
Response: Option 2. Damn it.
My sister-in-law tried to distract her.
Sister-in-law: "What do you want for Christmas?"
Option 1: She goes on and on about all the toys she's seen on TV and circled in her toy catalog. This means we might have a chance to find an acceptable area to pee. Turn to page 6
Option 2: She doesn't say anything. This means we are at Defcon 1 (meaning near nuclear war, or peeing pants inside a car). Turn to page 9
Response: Option 2. F*ck.
I couldn’t even pull over as the HOV lane is one narrow lane, NO pull offs! I'm finished. My mind immediately started to plan the inevitable clean up I'm going to have to do when we arrived at my in-laws. Then my sister-in-law saw a minor bump out in our lane. The barriers had been shifted wider in order to accommodate a bridge station. I went for it.
I squeezed out of the drivers door, pulling my daughter out of the back seat and carefully avoiding being run over by the cars passing me on the left. I brought her to the other side of the car where my sister in-law was waiting with her door open, attempting to create some privacy. We were literally in the middle of 93 with cars on either side of us, and no grass to go on. My daughter was wearing pants and a dress. “This should be easy,” I think.
Here was my third mistake.
Underneath her clothes she was wearing her gymnastics leotard. THE WORLD IS AGAINST ME!
Thankfully my sister-in-law had the patience of a saint, and was able to get my daughter’s complicated clothes off. Here we were with cars on either side of us, grinding through traffic, with a naked 4 year old squatting between the car and the barrier. It’s only because of an act of God, or my amazing sister-in-law, that I didn’t get peed on that day.
We reassembled the clothing ensemble, and I put my daughter back in the car. With the newly found relief, my daughter was now laughing, and thought it was really cool to pee in the middle of a highway. She was laughing so much she can't see the steam coming out my ears. I casually pulled back into traffic, and we slowly made our way to the destination.
Next time AAA needs to account for children's pee breaks while traveling.
There I was sitting at home when my 4 year old daughter came skipping through the door. In her hands she was carrying her pile of school work. Like most parents, I immediately took interest in her work while at the same time planning an easy way to throw it away without being discovered. Among her papers I found a booklet on veterans. Inside I found a few sentences from my 4 year old transcribed by the teacher. Here is what I found...
It starts off strong but then takes a wild turn at the end like a M. Night Shyamalan movie. I was never in the Army or other Military branch. I've never said or implied to anyone ever that I was in the military. Now my daughter, teacher and the probably the whole school now thinks I'm a military veteran.
I immediately looked up what happens to a military imposter. Short answer, nothing good... Stolen Valor Act of 2013 makes it illegal to false claim military service and carries 6 months to 1 year in jail. Great now I have to come clean or I'm going to jail.
Next day I went to the school to profess my innocence and use the stereotypical excuse that all parents use "I don't know where she got that idea."
I quietly took the teacher aside and told her "Just so you know I was never in the Army."
Teacher: "oh, what branch were you in."
Well this isn't going good.
Me:"I wasn't in any branch. I'm not sure where she got that."
Teacher: "You weren't in the military at ALL?"
Me: "Umm, no."
Teacher: "Wow. Yesterday you were the hero of the day."
Ouch. From hero to zero in one short day. I can only imagine what else happened that day. They were probably singing my praises as a war hero who single handily saved the world. Well it was probably better coming clean than facing my other options of going to jail or moving and changing schools, which my wife was not onboard with.
Parenting lesson: Read your child's school work or face the consequences.
I decided to stand tall, tell her that it was over our budget, and that it was mispriced on the shelf. The tears started to well up in her eyes, and the quivering bottom lip started to protrude as I hustled her outside like I was trying to surf a wave while balancing a crystal vase on my head. In an attempt to defuse the situation, I suggested we go to Toys R Us. This luckily worked to slow the 4 year olds fuse, but added another hour to our lesson.
As we walked into Toys R Us, I realized my fatal error. There were too many toys to look at, which means too many prices to discuss. We wandered about the store, my daughter like a caffeinated rabbit zipping from toy to toy, me like a zombie from The Walking Dead pushing a stroller with a half asleep child in it. We eventually rounded the corner and we found ourselves in the American girl doll section.
I read an article about a dad teaching his 4 year old about money through the creation of a lemonade stand. I found it rather fascinating. He went through the whole process of starting a business. They went to a bank to “borrow” money, went to the store to purchase inventory, then they figured out how much to charge customers in order to make a profit. It appeared to be a very sophisticated lesson. I don't know how it turned out, probably because I stopped reading before they started selling the lemonade.
There I was, minding my own business watching TV at my in-laws house when the most terrifying words from a four year old came up from the basement.
“Daddy, Nana gave me an American Girl Doll.”
Thanksgiving is all about being well, thankful. Adults are usually thankful for health, happiness, friends, family, food, and other various generic things. Children on the other hand are thankful for very specific things. My daughter is no different. She expressed these things in 2 separate “Thankful Trees”. The first one was assembled by my wife.
I had written this a couple months ago but my editor was unavailable to edit more "current" pieces this week. Hope you enjoy...
I took my daughter to the local pool over the summer and while we had fun I couldn’t help but notice the same cast of characters always appear at the pool. Below are some profiles to be on the lookout for.
Clueless Grandfather- This guy is typically wearing JORTS (Jean shorts), a large hat, and a T-shirt from a place he vacationed. Now the “clueless” part of the description isn’t from his wardrobe choices, but the fact that he is walking around the wet zones with a high end camera hanging off his neck and cellphone hanging on for dear life from his belt. He is trying to capture the “precious” moments of his grandchildren when children carelessly splash near his Best Buy purchased equipment. But I guess if he stayed far away taking pictures, he might be arrested. Either way I think I’ll visit Branson, MO. The T-shirts are killer.
My wife suggested I take both kids to look for a costume for my 8 month old son. This is how it unfolded….
12:15pm Put son and daughter in car seat. Drive out of driveway
12:16pm Drive back to house, put stroller in trunk. Leave for iParty.
12:30pm Arrive at iParty and stare at the wall of costumes for what seemed like hours.
12:50pm Find a business man costume which could made into a gangster costume (because you have to be creative).
12:51pm Take a picture and send to wife. Wait for hours for a response.
12:56pm Purchase the costume.
1:00pm Get in the car and start driving to Spirit Halloween, get a text from the wife saying she doesn't like it. “Too late, you took too long to respond. And it's going to be awesome.” you text back.
1:10pm Make it to the mall, park in the back, put one child in stroller, hold hands with the other one, navigate the endless cars.
1:15pm Get inside the mall and try to find the “pop up” halloween store that took over the failed Brookstone space, thanks Amazon…
1:28pm Walk into the nomadic Halloween store. This naturally triggers the “ I have to go to the bathroom” request from your 3 year old daughter.
1:45pm Wander aimlessly looking for the mall directory to find a bathroom because the mall owners apparently have a sick sense of humor. Decipher the color coded map. Sprint to the bathroom. My daughter holds herself and my son stares wide eyed as we swerve through slowly walking, carefree shoppers.
1:55pm Arrive at the bathroom. Family bathroom is occupied. Go into the dreaded men’s bathroom with both children. Calmly shriek out instructions “Don’t touch anything!”, as you try to disinfect any part that she could potentially touch. End up cleaning the entire bathroom.
1:59pm Leave the bathroom while lightly spritzing everyone in purell
2:05pm Return to the store and start looking for a mustache binkie and toy gun that will tie this costume together (in the name of creativity).
2:10pm Daughter says “I have to go to the bathroom again”. In complete shock and unwilling to negotiate with a 3 year bladder, we return to the bathroom.
2:15pm Put her on the toilet and wait for hours.
2:17pm She announces she doesn't have to go now. My head explodes.
2:22pm Return back to the store and search like you’re searching for food on the Oregon trail.
2:40pm With no luck you ask a “cheerful” goth clerk if they have any mustache binkies, her dead eyes said it all. “No”. You die from dysentery.
2:42pm Pull out your phone and find one on Amazon and order it.
2:43pm Come to the realization that Amazon must have been invented by a parent so to never have to take your kids shopping.
3:01pm Get back to the car. Load kids into car. Put stroller in trunk. Daughter starts to demand a snack. Remember you left it on the kitchen counter. Obscenities fly in my mind as I dig through the diaper bag looking/praying for something. Crushed pretzels, perfect.
3:10pm Now I need to find a gun... a toy gun!
3:30pm Drive to the dollar tree store and actually find one! However it's the wrong color, damn it. Babies carry black guns, not desert sand colored ones. Buy some glow sticks and other unneeded things because everything is only a dollar.
3:45pm Leave store, put kids in the car, load up the stroller. Feels like Groundhog Day every time I get back to my car.
4:05pm Arrive at Lowes to get some black spray paint. Pushing my luck now as I've blown through nap time and my sons 4 o'clock bottle (which is sitting next to the snack).
4:10pm Unpack stroller and kids, roll into Lowes. Blow by the greeter because speed is all that matters now. My daughter looks at me but my new goth glare tells her not to ask for the bathroom. Get the paint, finally a easy win for me.
4:18pm Back to the car, pack up the kids and stroller. Leave the parking lot in silence.
4:19pm My son starts to cry. He continues for hours
4:43pm Arrive home. Realize why so many people “go for it” when crossing the river on the Oregon Trail, especially when there’s a baby crying in the wagon.
4:45pm Unpack car and take in the kids inside. Leave the stroller in the trunk because it doesn’t have to eat.
4:53pm Feed the children, everyone (the children) is happy.
5:01pm Look for some whiskey, none found. Head explodes again.
5:30pm Wife comes home, casually asks “how’d it go?” I show her my goth glare that I’ve perfected.
On Halloween I put my son into his costume and took his picture, many times. This is the best one….
You might have thought there is only one way to change a diaper but you’re wrong. There is the Regular Way and the Man Way. The Man Way is much more in depth and takes considerable planning. If done correctly, you will be a better person, and will have a sense of accomplishment when it is all done.
Prep: Make sure there are multiple people in the house, if not skip to the end.
Step 1: While holding your baby you notice a familiar, unpleasant smell coming from them. No matter how pungent, don’t make a face indicating you’ve realized the brown train has arrived in the station and is assaulting your nose. The baby will think it's got you in it’s brown trap. A lot of first time fathers make this mistake: They say “oh my god you smell” or think there is something unholy in that diaper. This is the equivalent of a crocodile spooking a near by antelope with a loud splash, putting all eyes on the crocodile. If all eyes are on you it makes the next series of steps very difficult.
Step 2: Causally look around to ensure no one noticed that the child has pooped. Much like the game of hot potato the one holding it last loses. Then put the child down somewhere on a playmat...but not in anything that could help create an escape hatch through the diaper. You may consider trying to pass off the baby immediately to your wife: Complete rookie mistake. It might work a few times, but your wife will catch on and then forever be suspicious whenever you try hand her a baby. Not worth the look you’ll get. Trust me.
Step 3: Some dads might try and leave the room, house, or state after bailing on the mini human time bomb. However the child probably will develop a complex and have major daddy issues… So you must say something to another person in the house like “Oh, the baby has this HUGE smile on their face, you’ve got to take a look” or “I think the baby just said your name” or my personal favorite “The baby can do subtraction when you pick him up”.
Step 4: Now that you’ve set the pieces in motion for your master plan, you can’t stay around for the potential fallout. You then decide to accomplish your “honey do list”, thus creating an escape route out of the room and into the Base Of Operations (garage/basement). As long as it's away from prying eyes you’ll be fine. If you’re really talented, you can snag a beer on your way but don’t be greedy. That’s an expert level move that requires months sometimes years, of practice. My skill level only allows me to snag a juice box running at full speed to the Base of Operations.
Step 5: Regroup in the Base of Operations for as long as it takes for the person changing the diaper to the open Pandora’s brown box. The bigger and smellier the diaper, the longer you need to stay away. While you kill time, you might want to start the “honey do” list, because if you don’t nail the next step you’ll need something to fall back on. This is up to you, I don’t want you to be overextended.
Step 6: When you come back into the room and the recent poop event is shared with you, you’ve got to reach into you acting bag and nail this performance, (if not, you will never get to leave the room without being put on Poop Patrol). The basics of a good performance- eyes widening, mouth hanging open (hopefully the smell has dissipated) and saying something like “Really? I thought he/she just did that a little bit ago,” or “Ok, I’ll get the next one” (knowing full well you can repeat these series of steps and always be on the “next one”). Feel free to get creative here. If you give a mindblowing performance you could be interviewed by James Lipton on Inside the Actors Studio for a Father’s Day Poop Special.
Digest these steps, Study them like a college final, internalize them like Bible passages, to the point you can do it with your eyes closed (sometimes the smell is that bad). Follow them and you will successfully change a diaper the Man Way.
Or simply tell your wife you’re leaving the room because the smell is so bad that you need to write a blog post.