The Real Joe

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Let’s face it. You guys reading this, those of you not related to me by marriage, if you know what I mean, you know my agent, not me. You know the guy teasing out bits that, while true and genuine, are also curated. I edit out the nose picky parts of me. Of course I do.

Many of you say very nice things to me in comments that I LOVE, please keep doing this. However, I feel it only fair to share with you the, well, um, challenges one might find sharing a life with me. My wife is far too kind and wouldn’t ever write this list, so allow me…

  1. I can only commit one ear to my family – My wife is amazing and endlessly patient with this issue. I can absolutely hear out of both ears, but I can only hear the people in the room, talking to me, with one of them. This is due to the earbud that is permanently present in my right ear. It’s normalized now, this ever present distraction. I’ve had serious conversations, regarding very serious topics, eaten dinner (most nights) and gone to bed (every night) with them in. It’s bad form and it will never change. My wife has accepted this shortcoming because she is a saint. My kids have yet to see the issue, though I’m quite certain it will come up as early as when they are asked to draw a picture of their family and will remain through the years of therapy they will doubtlessly require later in life.
  2. I’ve got some real physical limitation due to my strained neck, injured from repeated eye rolling –  I am one seriously judgmental dude. I play the results and then I act as if I’d have never gotten myself into the trouble I’ve nudged others into. It’s terrible. I’ll say things like, ‘Don’t ever ask a 3 year old what he wants.’ Only to meet my crying 3 year old and ask endlessly loving wife, ‘Well, did you give him options?’ Yep. I’m that dude! Don’t all jump at once, ladies. I’m taken. Lucky girl.
  3. I’m moody  – I can’t speak for all writers, but for me it’s pretty bad. I can be all up in her business, asking all about her day, listening thoughtfully (even with one ear listening to baseball or a podcast) asking questions, connecting. Then out of the blue I find myself thinking about something. An idea. Perhaps a list of my personal flaws made funny so as to ‘apologize’ to my wife for my shortcomings without having to speak them, take ownership of them or ever really having to say I’m sorry and like that, I’m somewhere else. Aloof is accurate but to anyone outside my brain it can look dismissive at the least and hostile at its worst. I don’t deserve her. Don’t tell her I said that.
  4. I’m a yeller – It’s terrible. I am not at all one that feels like yelling is good role modeling. Particularly for a dad to two boys. I don’t like it. But they are 3 and 5 and there are times when it’s necessary, which is fine. But I can come to rely on it too much. It’s effective in the short term. To be clear, in general this is a trait that is only used with the boys and often when they are in imminent danger of things such as getting yelled at. Still, it’s a small house and it’s not pleasant.
  5. I have an iPhone and an addictive personality  – Seriously.

I think I’ll stop here for now. As my shortcomings continue to determine my future I’ll try to check back in from time to time to update and add (and delete?) from this list from time to time.

Until then I’d like to say thank you to the greatest gifts of my life, my family, for seeing past all the rough edges and loving me anyways… I love you…

What? What did you say? I can’t hear you, the Mets are on.

The Dumb Dad’s Guide to Holiday Travel

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Yep, it’s ‘The Holiday’s’ once again…

This season will be our fourth traveling with small children. This year we’d classify them as a toddler and a pre-schooler. but the parameters are fuzzy. In any case there are a few mistakes we consistently make as evidenced by our recent holiday travels. Be smart and don’t do the doo-doo that we do so well!

  1. Start Early – Get those motors running early. We like to start talking about Christmas and all it’s excitement as we are eating Halloween candy. That way they can perseverate on it’s arrival for nearly 2 full months. It is a sure fire way to induce at least one if not several moments of disappointment a day for nearly 60 days! Talk about efficiency!
  2. Make Promises – Especially if they depend on several things working out a particular way. Like cousins who are also toddlers being receptive to playing with them and sharing their toys. Or hotels being ready for you to swim in pools. Promise these things even before checking if they have a pool or if it will be open Christmas eve. I mean, I’m sure everything, including health, will break in your favor.
  3. Pack a Weeks Worth for Every Day of Travel-This will ensure that you can’t find anything you need when you need it. But it’ll be there. Somewhere. Unless you forgot.
  4. Separate but Equal – Sure, it hasn’t worked historically, but you know, I’m sure your tired, overstimulated, constantly competing for attention toddlers will understand that you’re doing your best. If you have one of anything make sure you give it to one child in view of the others. A bag of M&M’s, one bag of Pirate Booty, any toy that beeps and flashes lights.
  5. Be a Sweetie – That is to say replace all calories with candy and treats. This is the most effective tool for compliance known to man for exactly one usage. Once spent, usually getting them into the car to leave your home, you are now contractually obligated yourself to provide junk for any and all compliance. Pack sweets generously.
  6. Get The Most Out of Every Minute – For us this means be sure to arrive at the end of your long journey right at the times when your children who nap might naturally go to sleep. This will ensure that they do so upon arrival. Or it will ensure that they don’t nap and are sure to have epic, sugar-crash-fueled melt downs in front of the entire family.
  7. Cat Naps are Just as Good – Catch some Z’s on that trip to the store to grab some milk (and more M&M’s, who’s kidding who) to make sure they are overtired come bedtime. Surely this 20 minutes rest will allow their bodies to calm naturally for an early bedtime. That or they will miraculously turn this 20 minutes of rest into 4-6 hours of fuel that will kick in right at the moment you begin the treacherous march to sleep in a new place.

I hope these hints are helpful and that you and yours have a truly wonderful trip!

 

12 Honest and Unflattering Headlines About Me As A Dad

  1. Local ‘Dad Blogger’ Who Writes Often Of Committment and Love Will Do Any Chore To Be In Different Room Then ‘Beloved Toddlers’
  2. Remarkably, 41 Year Old Man Honestly Believed Bathrooms Only Needed Cleaning Annually
  3. Kids Cry Inconsolably When Its Dads Turn To Put Them To Bed
  4. Depsite Assertion That Its Not A Problem, Local Dad Can’t Unclench Teeth So He Drinks 8th Coffee of the Day Through Straw
  5. Dad Repeatedly Responds ‘No’ To 4 Year Old’s Requests For Him To ‘Play with me?’
  6. Despite Near Constant Grumpiness Family Still Harbors Tender Feelings For Patriarch
  7. He May Say He Is a Man, But Fathers Skill Set Does Not Support Such a Claim
  8. Lacking Any Self Awareness, Dad Claims He Could Still Run with Guys In NBA
  9. Impressively, Dad Maintains Vanity Despite Having Developed Classic ‘Sitter’s Body’
  10. ‘Man of a Thousand Jokes’ Discovered to be Man of Merely 4 Jokes Told and Retold Thousands of Times. Two of Them are Puns.
  11. One Man’s Journey To Truly Alarming Personal Hygeine Habits
  12. Watching Television Constantly is One Family Tradition This Dad Intends to Pass On

7 Ways Having a Dog Totally Prepares You for Parenthood

You skeptics. Seriously. You think that nobody without kids can understand how hard it is. That’s just crazy. Sure, having kids, caring for them and raising them is a challenge. We all empathize. But you don’t have to get so superior about it. I’ve even heard some people dismiss the attestations of pet-owners, dogs cared for since puppy-hood even, as not fully preparing one for the experience of having kids. Well, I say phooey to you. As skeptics I know what you need is evidence. Allow me to enumerate my argument.

  1. Love – Until you’ve had a puppy, a precious baby dog, look up at you with those beautiful eyes expressing trust in you to care for her in ways that melt you, you can’t know love. Plain and simple. The full weight of love is only felt with a puppy and can’t be replicated by anything else. And as anyone who has seen a Nicholas Sparks movie adaptation knows, love is painful, guys. Seriously.
  2. Sleep – I totally think this sleep thing that so many parents talk about is SO OVERDONE. It’s a naked and frankly embarrassing cry for attention. As a friend I try to be sure not to indulge it. It doesn’t take a lot of looking to find out that science has shown that babies sleep like 15-18 hours a day. You want to talk about sleepless nights? Yeah. Has your kid ever chased down a porcupine and had quills stuck in it’s gums? No? Well, there we have it. You don’t know sleeplessness my friend.
  3. Worry – You parents act like the world isn’t totally designed to help you. You wring your hands over your child in daycare all day. You know what you can do? You can call. You can ask a qualified professional how your child is doing. How your child who’s been playing with friends and snacking on healthy food and being tended to at every turn, how they are as they nap peacefully. Not me. All I can do, ALL I CAN DO is worry.
  4. Cost – Okay. I’ll grant you college. But the likelihood of that out of control scam known as higher education being fixed by the time it’s an issue for you is pretty good, so let’s not overstate it here. Meanwhile, I have an animal that can need everything from mental health therapies (don’t laugh, you have no idea how big a deal this is) and complex surgeries to prevent any number of ailments that are likely to compile and none of that is covered by any ‘family’ insurance plan. I mean seriously, if this dog isn’t family than I don’t know what family is.
  5. Strain on Your Relationship – Do you have any idea how hard a dog is to incorporate into your life. I mean really. It’s like the hardest thing you can do. A baby, that’s a strengthening of your bond, born of your shared DNA it can’t help but bring you closer. Dogs are so  SO needy. It’s like you hardly even have time to spend with your significant other. In those early days, and we’re talking easily 6 months here, I don’t think we had our ‘alone’ time as a couple more than 4 or 5 times a week. What the hell is that? Baby’s don’t do that, puppies do. Am I right!
  6. Potty Training – I’m to understand this is unpleasant for you. Now imagine your baby naked and unable to wipe. At least unable to wipe without doing so with your carpet. I rest my case on this one.
  7. Guilt – One word. Kennel.

I think I’ve made my point here. Don’t be so sure I’m not ready to be responsible for a human life. To raise it and care for it. To love it and set it up for success and fend off the wolves at the gate. I’ve had a puppy, so I ain’t scared!