Every now and then I find that my kids are absorbing the things I am telling them. There are germs on that doorknob you’re licking. Sharing with your sister lets both of you enjoy the same moment. Don’t run with scissors. Be kind to others. Mostly, I feel like I’m talking to a couple of quacking ducks waiting for me to throw bread at them. There’s no “I understand, Hondaddy.” or “That really makes sense to me.” or even “Wow, you’re the smartest person in the world, Honeydaddy!” I don’t get feedback to reassure me that my sentences aren’t falling out of their ears once they lay down for bed.

Occasionally, the kids astound me and in some way, shape, or form, they show me that I’m not just their personal butler and chauffeur.

We’re in the car and singing radio songs the other day. (Yes, they asked for it. No, I didn’t bribe them!) The kids enjoy hearing me sing. I suck, but they’re young, so their limited experiences set the bar very low. My performances have all gotten applause, even when I string random words together that make no sense. I digress.

Adele queues up with her new song “Hello” which up until last month was owned by Lionel Richie in my memory banks. I start singing as if I’d heard the song thrice daily on every local station from the minute her CD released. I belt out the line “At least I can say that I’ve tried to tell you I’m sorry for breaking your heart…” All of a sudden, Wormie says “You know, Mushie. It’s not nice to break someone’s heart.” and I lost it.

My eyes welled up with tears as I choked myself on his words. How could Worm interrupt me in yet another spine-tingling vocal rendition? And how does a four and a half year old see the heart as anything other than a blood pump in the body? Somehow, he’s pieced together a metaphorical concept that even grownups have a hard time with.

Worm asked me for confirmation. “Isn’t that right, Honeydaddy?” I quickly wiped away the tears and swallowed my pride for him. “You’re right, lovie.” was all I could assemble with my eyes dripping as we continued the drive to the post office.

The way he spoke to Mushie was so matter-of-fact, it was as if he was giving a college lecture on the subject.

It shook me up.

Worm and I have never discussed heartbreak. I think it could be a somewhat complicated topic, so it hasn’t been on the table. We talk about planetary orbit, instead. Really though, we have conversed many times about simple things like friendship, love, kindness, and generosity. He pieced together this idea himself, kind of like he’d do with one of his lego cars.

Worm is wise beyond his years. Sure, he cries over a toy that he can’t have and fights with his sister over gummy bunnies. But, he is seeing human interaction at a deeper, more emotional level than other kids his age. He’s compassionate. Maybe it’s because his mind hasn’t yet been clouded by ego and negativity. Maybe, it’s due to pure curiosity. Either way, that day made me feel more substantial as a parent, more influential. I’m not just a pizza slicer, grape dispenser, butt wiper, dish washer, lego builder guy to him. I matter. Worm’s not just listening to me when I’m singing, but also when I’m yelling, consoling, and whispering in his rubbery ears. Maybe this “being a dad” thing is becoming a pretty important job. Or maybe it has always been. Now, I wonder if I’m getting through to the Mushmonster…

Teaching boys to become men.

I’m in California dreaming…

Gavin – 40; Honeydaddy – 26 (Worm, I’m starting to get the hang of this whole dad thing…)


The reason is not what you think it is.

I don’t need to shed pounds. With their antics, the kids make sure I burn enough calories every day.

Sure, some of their meals look tasty after I prepare them and I’ve been standing for 30 minutes serving and spoon feeding both kids while my own stomach is eating itself and the thoughts line up in my head of “It would be nice if I got to eat my own dinner before 8pm…Mushie’s arm kinda looks like a chicken wing from this angle. What smells like a burrito? Eww! Did you just fart Worm? Geez, I’m so hungry I can’t smell the difference…When are you guys going to start cooking for yourself?”

Sometimes the kids eat the meals I prepare for them. Sometimes they rub pieces of it over their bodies while chanting in tongues. Occasionally, I can leave their plates in front of them and return much later to see their food looking absolutely untouched.

Still, I won’t touch it. I could be on the verge of starvation and I wouldn’t take food from their plate.

I hate to waste food, but my kids are disgusting. The main reason I’d rather toss the mac & cheese than make my belly happy?


I tell the kids to wash their hands before they sit down to eat. They run towards the bathroom like it’s a theme park ride. Sometimes they use soap. Sometimes they think the toothpaste spittle from the night before serves the same purpose. I’ve witnessed spit bubble boats being happily pushed back and forth in a sink full of water. Yep, even green ones.

And even the washing hands thing wouldn’t be that bad if the kids used their utensils to eat. But cleanliness is boring. Fingers are fun, even if they were just inside a nostril, mouth, or scraping something crusty out of the corner of a bedroom. We’re at the age when picking noses happens as frequently as breathing. Both spelunkers have taken to digging in secret to avoid my disdain.

Now for the best part. I’m always interested in my kids tasting food before they say they don’t like it. That means they have to put it in their mouth. The etiquette for a normal human would be to gently spit the food out into a napkin or discretely slip it under the table for the dog. Instead, mine like to bury pre-digested food back into the plate. Why would a licked cucumber not want to be reunited with its friends? And so it goes.

It’s cold and flu season and even with everyone coughing and dripping with fluids, I’m still not sick. Thus far, I’ve avoided a phlegmy cold and pink eye. I’m hoping my immune system can get me through the holidays unscathed. Now, if I could only get the kids to stop coughing into my face! Ho! Ho! *COUGH* Ho!

Germ Exhibit A and Germ Exhibit B

Germ Exhibit A and Germ Exhibit B

Gavin – 40; Honeydaddy – 25 (Worm, I’m becoming impervious to your bacterial cloud!)

I began reading at a very young age. My mom says that by 3, I had grasped quite a few words. My wife on the other hand, didn’t start reading until later. We both ended formal schooling with roughly the same level of education, and the only difference between us is that sometimes I have to speak slowly so Steph understands me. And in rare instances, I am forced to spell out words such as “N – O!” (That may have less to do with comprehension and more to do with stubbornness, but I don’t care…I’m just stating the facts!)

Naturally, I thought that Worm should have been reading at 3 just like his youthful, debonaire dad. I mean, if he’s MY son, he shouldn’t veer away from my clear path towards awesomeness. Over a year ago, night-time reading turned into a spelling exercise. That evolved into a word finding exercise. Then, we started moving into recognizing vowel and consonant sounds. I was eager. Worm started off in the same boat, but quickly jumped ship for the safer shore of “Ughs” and “Grunts”. (I jest, I jest…)

We both became increasingly frustrated. The bedtime story had turned into a nightmare. So, I dropped the opportunity to make a learning experience out of that part of the day and begrudgingly let it go.

Visions of Worm and I hashing out Dostoyevsky and Hemingway disappeared. My son was going to be illiterate for the rest of his life. His elementary schoolmates would render him a laughing-stock after his 1st grade teacher who’d asked him to write a certain sentence on the board, turned to find this instead:


He would be doomed.

I haven’t since pushed for Worm to focus on reading. These days, I don’t really think about it. Though, he is starting to be curious about various letter combinations found around town. If he asks me what certain words are, sometimes I just make stuff up.

“Honeydaddy, what’s that blue sign on that door? What’s M-A-N say?”

“It says ‘Monsters inside’. You want to go in?”

I’ve finally taken the steering wheel back from my ego and accepted that even though Worm may not be reading right now, he is still learning. That is my key takeaway from all the prior frustration. I must say that I was reassured when I came across an article about illiterate Finnish children and how at an early age, the teachers and kindergartener don’t focus on reading, but on playing and exploring. Yet, by the age of 15, these children are testing on the same level or higher when compared to other children around the world, many of whom have forced reading curriculums during early education. (Ahem…United States.)

Children are sponges. They are wired for learning. But that learning, especially early on, must come from play activities where they get to engage and interact with objects, people, and TVs. (just checking to see if anyone was still reading…) Having a child try to drill and memorize stuff when they’re not interested is difficult at best. Hell, it’s difficult for adults to do!

Worm is almost 5 years old. Can he read? Hell no. But, am I afraid? Not anymore. We’ll try the Finnish approach and see what happens. There will be plenty of time for academia later in life. Right now, I’m not going to force him to unwillingly spell and recite words. If he’s interested, then I’ll engage him. But otherwise, I will save the effort for a few years later. For now, I’m going to enjoy the Worm’s playful curiosity…in whatever he wants to indulge in!

There’s a lot of interesting perspective in the article I read here: The Joyful, Illiterate Kindergartners of Finland. I encourage any parent of youngsters to read it. It was eye-opening for me and helped me to reevaluate my expectations for my child!


Even though he can't read, he knows how to work the system!

Even though he can’t read, he knows how to work the system!

Gavin – 40; Honeydaddy – 24 (In this parenting experience, I’m learning just as much as you, Worm!)


Jookiedaddy, I can't tell if you're smiling...

Jookiedaddy, I can’t tell if you’re smiling…

We’re closing in on another Halloween. I can’t wait! It’s my favorite time of year and I love it even more than National Cherry Turnover Day, which is saying quite a lot!

We will follow some of the usual rituals, such as feeding high fructose corn syrup to everything under 5 feet tall, laughing at things that resemble the undead, pretending we like our neighbors, and concerning ourselves with how many ways to cook/eat a big orange pepo.

Since we’re not usually over at the grandparents’ around All Hallows Evening, we have to entertain ourselves. One part of entertaining involves creating family traditions. (Oh, the pressure to make memories!) Steph ruled out sacrificing baby lambs, so I had to think of something else.

I want to say that this custom was one that my great, great, great, grandpappy started in the 1800’s before he sold himself into indentured servantry and hopped onto a boat headed for the New World. But, it’s not. We started it last year once the stores began shelving Halloween supplies. The Worm had an eerie affinity to dead, scary things. (I hope it’s a phase…I hope, I hope.) Any decoration resembling bloody, gory death and dismemberment made him shriek with delight.  (Maybe he wants to be a doctor…yeah, that’s it.)

So we bought some plastic skulls. And we set them up in the house, one on the dining room table and the other in the living room. They were part of the Halloween decor, so I thought nothing of them. Every other day, Worm would go and touch (more like pet) the skulls. Worm was so intrigued by them that I asked him to name one of the skulls.

Jookiedaddy was born. (It’s hard to get a straight answer from a 3-year-old, so I didn’t ask why. I just went with it…)

That turned into a great opportunity to teach my children about ‘big brother’ and how the government watches every move we make, especially the bad ones. The best way to teach any child a lesson is to make up a story about how they will perish if they don’t follow the rules. And at this age, they will believe just about anything!

Jookiedaddy observes child behavior. He watches them in the daytime from the best spot in the house. He doesn’t move when everyone is awake. So, an adult or child has to put him in a place where he can watch much of the play activity. Unlike some silly elf, anyone can touch him and he won’t lose his magical powers. Jookiedaddy is the real deal.

He takes mental notes (Since he’s a head, he still has a brain…sort of) of all the good and bad things that little ones do. Then, at night, Jookiedaddy flies through the air (using his legitimate magical powers) and kisses the children while they sleep. (So they’re more like toothy nibbles. Jookiedaddy does what he can with what he’s got, ok?) Plus, he whispers into their ears all the good things that each child did that day.

The real charm for the rugrats is that this bodyless marvel generates treats whenever the kid does something sweet or nice for their sibling(s) or parent(s). The treats magically appear in Jookiedaddy’s head, of course!  (NOTE: The parent has to put the treats into the skull when the child isn’t looking. It isn’t really magical. Not for $24.95 anyhow…)

Then, the parent tells the child to see if Jookiedaddy thought they did something good. The child can walk over to Jookiedaddy and shake his head. When they find a treat inside, the child can rejoice and revel in the moral idea that GOOD DEEDS DON’T GO UNNOTICED! (Then, parents can watch their child fight over the candy with their siblings and see how quickly they forget the moral.)

Anyhow, it’s been such a hit with our kids that Jookiedaddy lives in our living room year round! We stuff miniature chocolates into Jookiedaddy’s head at random times (but not before bedtime!) and when we think the kids have done right, we have them check the head.

Now that you’ve got your next holiday tradition, please send me $24.95 and I will mail you a plastic authentic replica of Jookiedaddy for you to train your children with build lasting memories with!

Here’s a little song that I wrote for you to sing with your precious little ones:
Rubber Ducky Jookiedaddy, you’re the one!
You make bathtime playtime lot’s of fun!
Jookiedaddy, I’m dreadfully fond of you!

Jookiedaddy, girls or boys
Will be happy when you make noise!
Jookiedaddy, you watch everything I do!

Jookiedaddy, you are mine!
Kiss me at night when I’ve been fine!
Jookiedaddy, you make my dreams come true!

Jookiedaddy, you’re divine!
You tell me when I’m out of line!
Jookiedaddy, I’m dreadfully fond of
Getting treats when I’ve been delightful and
There’s no need for you to be so frightful and
Mean! Jookiedaddy…I
Love you!


Every day
When you watch me at play
You really don’t have much to say.
But, I tell ya
You can make me sad fella,
Or give me candy today!

My favorite phrase:

My favorite phrase: “Hey, what is going on??”

Gavin – 39; Honeydaddy – 24 (Now I’ve got an extra set of eyes watching you, Worm! )

Rest in Peace - Unknown - 9/21/2015

Rest in Peace Frodo (Rescued 9/14/2002 – 9/21/2015)

First, there were three.  (4)

Another soon came,  (5)

For us to adore.  (5)

Long walks. Dog parks.

Weekends were idle,

For two legs and four.

Love was unbound,

Yet home, incomplete.

One child. Then, one more.


Our hearts were full.

This clan was intact.

Together, we’d band.

Year after year

Blurred. Struggles, pleasures,

Both, slipped through time’s hand.

Frail. Weak. You’re spent

And steadfast in bed.

We did understand.

Ready to sleep.

Our eldest’s chest stopped,

No more to expand.

We watched you go.

And held you. And cried.

One day, we will stand

…together again.

Frodo, you reside inside each of us now, where you will forever woo and stomp. Your voice will live on as part of our own and we will carry your memories with us until we see each other again. Thank you for the time you shared with us.

We love and miss you dearly.

It’s great to see parents at the playground with their little ones. I love to go with mine and watch them run, climb, slide, giggle, and most importantly, wear themselves out.

There are different types of playground parents. Of course, most are welcome…and all are judged. I am missing a few types, such as creepy spy guy that watches every other kid’s actions but their own, the iParent who’s cell phone is the real baby, and feeder mom…you know, the one that doles out enough snacks for an entire elementary school and you’re perplexed because she’s only got one kid. There are others, but I’ve listed the most common.

The first kind of playground parents are the foreigners. They’re the ones that don’t bat an eyelash watching their toddler climb to the top of the swing set and do a triple pike somersault onto the sand below…head first or not. It’s not that they don’t care. They just think that lessons learned can best be had through experience. It’s a tough kind of love. They randomly yell one or two words at their child in the native tongue, and never seem overly concerned when no response is received.

The second style of parents are the squatters. Similar to the foreigners, squatters watch their progeny a bit more closely. They’re the parents that fill up the seats near the merry-go-round and relax while their kids are jetting through the playground burning off the morning’s banana pancakes. These parents don’t get too worked up and are very keen on sitting through all play activity save for a little one’s loss of tooth or limb. I used to wonder why these parents wouldn’t engage much with their kids at play, but now I get it. It’s not that they don’t care about spending every waking moment with their cubs. They do. These parents seize the opportunity to replenish their energy stores. And the tot lot is a good way to rest big feet while simultaneously exhausting little ones. Squatters are always on the lookout for a path of least resistance…or a path to an empty park bench. Often, members of this group will be squatting while iParenting their phones.

The third kind of playground parent is the helicopter variety. These parents tend to position themselves less than a hair’s length away from their delicate offspring. At. All. Times. To the untrained eye, these parents are so lovingly attentive to their hatchlings. With smiles plastered on their face (which could be easily mistaken for grimaces), these adults not so forcefully jockey other moms and babies away so that contact between themselves and their fragile halfling is never lost. Sure they’re laughing with their child to the casual onlooker, but internally they’re terrified that contact with the rubber mat or mulch pit will render their toddler snafued.

My wife thinks that I’m the helicopter dad. She’s told me that multiple times. It used to get me upset, until I really started judging watching other parents in action.  I’d just rather have a trip to the ice cream parlor than to the hospital. (Does anyone say parlor anymore?) If I can get both my kids to double digits without either one breaking a bone or losing a limb, it’s the basketball equivalent of never dropping a pass or losing the ball. Ever. If I could do it for 10 more years, I’d secure my spot in the record books for the greatest dad ever.

I’ve got friends with damaged kids under 5 (i.e. broken bones, lost teeth, severed tendons, etc.), but I’ve been blessed with big hands and the agility of a flying cockroach. I can be a child preserving (term used not in the taxidermal way) champion. My mind’s not quite right, but everyone must trade something for superhuman athleticism…and I followed suit. I say “Show me a brain that can hit a half-court jump shot? Exactly! It’s all in the hands!”

Early on, my game was protecting Mushie and Worm from harming themselves. Now they’ve almost completely changed strategy to work on maiming each other. On the plus side, I can stick to my kids like Elmer’s glue to carpet. My footwork and child handling skills have improved tremendously. I’m heading for the record books…anyone want to bet against me?


Jumping and Falling can  be seen as the same dangerous act…

Is this what they mean when they say "Catch the Baby?"

Is this what they mean when they say “Catch the Baby?”

Gavin – 39; Honeydaddy – 23 (My dad skills are growing! Ha ha ha!)

I wanted a Mini-Me. That plus the desire to have someone take care of me in my twilight years were my two primary reasons for procreation. (I know, selfish…) I passed on quite a few genes to the Worm, but surprisingly (only to myself) he got some not-so-good ones.


The Worm’s allergies have been pretty bad from about the age of 2. He’s 4 now and I can’t remember a day where he didn’t sound stuffed up.

The constant congestion means that Worm’s immune system is reacting or possibly overreacting to stimuli, possibly stemming from his environment or diet. (Or both.) He hasn’t been allergy tested yet, but it’s on one of the multiple lists of things we have to do in the near future.

I think food plays a part in allergies and immune system function, so we’ve made Worm’s diet fairly clean. We eat mostly organic, moderate dairy intake, lean towards low sugar foods and hormone free meats. We keep an eye on artificially sweetened and dyed foods as well. We aren’t rigid about it, but we do the best we can. (Sometimes the gift of a sweet treat can quell screaming, whining and crying…and I’m guilty of contributing to the kids’ sugar intake to feel that small pinch of sanity and quietude.)

Sinus congestion doesn’t always equal fluid in the ears and otitis media, the inflammation usually accompanying it. But, the adenoids (not the same as tonsils) can be swollen so much from allergies that they block off the Eustachian tubes. Then, when the child gets sick and snot gets pushed up the tube into the ears, the fluid may not drain back down. I can’t imagine walking around with liquid in my ears, but Worm had been doing it so long that it’s normal for him.

The downside of fluid in the ears is temporary hearing loss. (This is different from the similarly named teenage ear disease, selective hearing loss.) Worm couldn’t hear me whispering in his ear, and the TV always needed to be on full blast. It was quite bad as for months, he not once flinched at my storytellings of boogeymen chewing children’s toes off at night while they slept. (On the plus side, I could tell him the same bedtime story over and over again without him knowing…) He could barely hear me speaking at a normal “inside” voice. I must say, though, that Wormie was adapting well and getting good at reading lips, an important skill for spies and double agents.

We visited the doctor a couple times, tried allergy meds and an oral antihistamine that did not improve his lot. The last resort was surgery. The doctors suggested adding ear tubes and also removing the adenoids. Not wanting to be so aggressive right off the bat, we figured to try the ear tubes first. It would buy us about a year or so before the tubes would fall out on their own and make a nice pair of waxy Tic-tacs for some lucky cat’s mouth.

Worm, I promise that is a helmet!

Worm, I promise that is a helmet!

Ear tubes are a comparatively easy job next to quadruple heart bypass surgery. Step 1. Apply bubble-gum flavored general anesthesia. Step 2. Slit eardrum. Vacuum out fluid. Step 3. Slide in tubes. Step 4. Repeat for other ear. Step 5. Wheel Worm to the recovery room. It sounded easy in my head for the weeks leading up to the surgery. But as we got closer, I was losing my cool…

To me, nothing really is ever easy, until it’s finished. I started overthinking: What if Worm is allergic to anesthesia? What if he doesn’t wake up? What if the doctor didn’t have enough coffee that morning? What if under the fluid, there’s irreparable damage? Will Worm be able to hear us? What if the doctors get the wrong paperwork and accidentally remove his adenoids? Or a leg? Should I ask the doctor for his credentials? I didn’t run a background check on anyone at the hospital! What if the recovery room popsicles cause Worm to go into shock! Has anyone done a study on this? Maybe I should learn how to do the surgery myself! I’m pretty good with my hands…

We survived! The entire experience was much more traumatic for me than it was for Worm, who strangely enough, was giddy with excitement for surgery day. Does Worm have Munchausen syndrome? What if he starts making up diseases for himself so he can have doctors fix him? Is he a budding hypochondriac? When should I start worrying? Let me search the internet for clues…

In the short time we spent at the hospital, I got to see what looked like to me, children (and parents) facing much more difficulty than what our family was going through. I was eating lunch and witnessed another family crying and consoling one another. I shoved my face deep into my cheeseburger to keep from being overwhelmed by the emotion of what they could possibly be dealing with. A hospital can be a tough place. No, it IS a tough place.

I would have done anything to switch places with Worm just so he wouldn’t have had to have surgery. He’s my son and, understandably, I don’t want anything bad to ever happen to him. I want to be there for him and protect him from as much as humanly possible. But I couldn’t do anything about the situation and I felt quite helpless. That afternoon, my little Worm rode the plasma car into the operating room. I learned what it’s like to love a child so strongly that you’re willing to give yourself in exchange for it. It was apparent.

I am a parent.

Well, Worm, sort of...

Well, Worm, sort of…



Gavin – 39; Honeydaddy – 22 (You held up better than I did, Worm. Kudos to your courage! And you can hear me now!)

%d bloggers like this: