Archives for posts with tag: Parenting

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!)

A couple Fridays ago, Worm was oozing with double pink eye and a cold. It was supposed to be my working day but the little rat couldn’t wait until the weekend to get sick. I had a bunch of things to catch up on, but as I now know from loads of experience, it’s impossible to be productive with a kid at home, especially without incorporating duct tape and noise cancelling headphones. So Worm and I decided to get out of the house to run some errands.

Knocking about town on what was our first impromptu father-son day, we tackled a couple of parent/progeny hotspots: the Post Office, Home Depot, Target, and my bank. (Who am I kidding…Target is THE hot spot to see and be seen for parents and young kids…)

Anyhow, we were having fun and keeping tears to a minimum, all while working up an appetite. Lunch time came around and food needed to be hunted.

Surely, I wasn’t going to cook lunch! My meal motto is: If I didn’t kill it myself, I’m not cooking it! (Just kidding, Steph.) Since the Mushmonster was at daycare, I thought it would be neat for these two dudes to sit inside a fast food restaurant and chow down! Typically, I pick up lunch in the drive-thru when I’ve got both kids with me, because trying to dine in a public establishment when Mushie’s around is kinda like bobbing for apples with no teeth…you’re making a mess, people are staring, and even with all that effort, you’ve got nothing to show for it.

We go inside Wendy’s fine dining eatery. It’s already a treat. Worm gets excited when the lady behind the counter greets him. Then he clams up with shyness. So, I order nuggets, fries, and a couple of burgers. He scouts out a table and we sit down.

Another food connoisseur (besides us) comes up to him. She’s wired a little different mentally. (I can’t say she’s handicapped or disabled, because who really knows what’s going on in her head? Maybe she just can’t get certain parts of her brain to coordinate ‘appropriately’ with her actions and vocalizations. Anyhow, I digress.) She’s different. Either way, she’s very friendly.

“Oh hey, I love kids! How are you? What’s your name?”

“I’m Gavin.”

She looks at me. “Are you his daddy or his uncle?”

“Um…I’m his dad.” I answer.

“How old are you Gavin? Oh, I love kids! You’re so cute!”

“I’m Sil-ur-ee!”

She translates the toddler talk and confirms what she heard. “Three years old!” and she looks over at me again, still puzzled. “Are you his step dad or his dad? You’re his stepdad, right?”

“No, I’m his dad.”

“His real dad?”

“Yes, I’m his real dad.”

“Oh!” and she went away to eat her lunch.

This very honest, nice young lady looked at the two of us and couldn’t see that we were Worm and Honeydaddy, apple and tree. I’m sure that a lot of other people don’t see it either. I swear he’s mine. Maybe he wasn’t cooked long enough in the oven. I don’t know. Almost four years ago, I was as baffled as this poor girl. Nowadays, I don’t even think about it. He’s just my albino son.

I’m not the only one in the world who mixed brown and white and didn’t quite get the color they expected. These other parents (as well as myself) share some anatomical features as their offspring, but the different skin colors bemuse the casual onlooker. I’ve read a few blogs where parents are slightly insulted when asked questions about their off-color, mixed race kid. Some of these blog posts make me sad. So to remedy my sadness with some humor and cover up my true feelings by laughing over them, I’ll tell you how I deal with this situation.

Personally, I’d rather someone ask me directly if it was my kid instead of dreaming up all sorts of things behind my back. That’s just the way I am. There should be no shame in honesty and curiosity. That’s how we figure this life out.

So now that I fall into the category of “Who’s that guy with that kid?”, I’ve come up with some nifty responses for use at the playground. Feel free to borrow or quote them for yourself.

Here they are, in no particular order of usage:

Random Person: Hey dude, is that your son? (In California, everyone’s a dude…)


  1. No, I’m the painter. I’ve been working on these peoples’ house for a few weeks now. Me and the kid just started hanging out.
  2. Well, I’m the brother of the babysitter’s cousin. It’s a long story. I’d share it, but you can’t really tell anyone, ok?
  3. No, I’m the stepdad. I’m not really into the wife, but I’ve always wanted a white kid of my own. So I married into her family.
  4. No, I’m the boyfriend. I take care of him when his dad’s out of town.
  5. Not really. I was hired to be part of a clinical study called “Brown Daddy, White Laddy”. We’re collecting loads of data. He’ll find out I’m not his dad when the experiment finishes after he turns 18.
  6. Yeah, I’m the dad. That kid right there is proof that too many dental x-rays changed my body’s DNA. Doctors said my pigment chromosome was messed up!
  7. No, we’re just smoking buddies. “Hey Worm! You ready for a cig, yet?”

The brownest part of Worm are his poops. I don’t expect his skin pigment to ever match mine, even with the global warming in his future. This situation, though, was a reminder that we all still see color…and that a skin color match between parent and child is one of the first (and sometimes only) things people look at for resemblance between family members.

I’m going to have to live with this little white boy for the rest of my life. Does it change anything for me? No. He’s my son. Does it change anything for him? No. I’m his Honeydaddy. Of course, I will teach Worm to recognize skin color. It shouldn’t be discounted. But it’s not a big deal, either. It should really be about as important as the question “How many monster trucks do they have?” And for us, it is.




Mushmonster, how do I start? (7)

You lead with your head before your heart. (9)

“Gallop forward. Pick up steam.”

Such is your mantra. A battle scream!

Have you no clue of what you bring,

When bashing your head on everything?

Mushie, dear, your skull has won

Against Honeydaddy and his son.


Poor Worm. You football “speared” him,

Blackened his eye, and blued his soft skin!

Then you set sights (it was more like your steel forehead) onto me

Splitting my lips by jumping with glee.

“Use your head.” isn’t the same

As what you think, when playing your game.

“Who’s next?” I ask out of fear.

Mommy’s the last undamaged. It’s clear.

Your noggin, fit for a brawl,

Will, in a short time, destroy us all.

It’s formidable, no doubt.

If you’re in a pinch, your dome’s got clout!


Hear my plea! Use it for good.

Control your powers. I know you could.

I’ve said it before. Now, again.

When I say “Use your head.”, I mean your brain! Or wear a friggin’ helmet until you understand what I’m saying…sheesh!


Worm, when Mushie's around, keep your hands up to guard your face!

Worm, when Mushie’s around, keep your hands up to guard your face!

and I think it smiled back at me! I don’t know who’s happier about this, me, Mushie, or the poop in the mini potty. She said that she wanted to go poopie, so she was placed on the fake toilet thingy (whatever it’s called), and dropped a turdle.

It was amazing. Why? Because I’m starting to see it. A world without diapers and butt wipes and zinc cream and rubber gloves and hazmat suits. A world where I can leave the house without wondering how many poops I saw in the morning and anticipating what damage could happen while out in the field. It’s a future where a visit to the zoo doesn’t cover anyone’s backside, frontside, and sideside in excrement. A future where I’m not smelling butts before and between appetizers and dessert, patting the diaper sag every hour, or avoiding Mushie’s booty bulge in hopes that Steph will be “the first one” to notice that something’s amiss.

From what I’ve read about toddlers, girls tend to drop the diapers sooner than boys…something about boys just not giving a crap (pardon the pun) that a giant tootsie roll is hitching a ride. Though I can see how after a while, you just wouldn’t notice it back there…or that maybe there’s a possibility that it could just dry out and fall off on its own.

We didn’t rush the Worm into underwear. And he did take his time with it, until the peer pressure from schoolmates probably coaxed him into getting his shit together (another pun, sorry). So, I don’t really want to rush the Smushter. Studies say that it’s a sensitive subject and you can screw up children for life if you don’t potty train correctly. And there’s a fine line between letting them crap everywhere they please and forcing them to spend the better part of the day on the toilet waiting to experience the real thing. If Mushmonster was easy to change, I wouldn’t care so much. But having to wrestle and pin her down during changes isn’t fun anymore. We’re going on two years with the same flailing, kicking, and grabbing. She’s getting bigger and stronger…and I’m only getting older and slower.

Mushie, I'm just glad you didn't turn around and pick it up with your hands...

Mushie, I’m just glad you didn’t turn around and pick it up with your hands…




As I laid on my deathbed contemplating where I could find the most peace in my house to recover from this recent illness, I realized that none existed. I’d be more relaxed trying to dodge traffic on my bike in New York city while wearing a blindfold.

I’ve said before that my kids don’t let up. Their intensity hardly dips below 100% during their waking hours.  Their limbs (and vocal cords) are constantly in motion.

The kids have been sick since before Thanksgiving. Has that slowed them down? Nope. They’ve caught multiple versions of cold and flu. They hack up shades of yellow and green with little regard for where it lands. (We have a daughter that thinks every tangible object in the world is a potential food source.) It’s no big deal when they’re the only ones coughing and sneezing.  Since November, it’s been a daily contest of “Who’s produced the most nasal juice today?”, “Who’s coughed a phlegm ball the farthest?”, and everyone’s favorite “How many boogers can you wipe on someone else today?”. (Yes, my usage of punctuation makes logical sense.)

As fun as those games sound, they’re surprisingly not. The kids don’t wash their hands often enough and we adults don’t wear Hazmat suits in the home. I’m constantly wondering whether the wet spot on my face, hands or clothing is water or a bacterioviral mutation of a disease destined to have me spewing liquids from every orifice of my body. (Yes, that’s gross.)

I finally succumbed. With a 103.1 degree fever and chills that three layers of winter wear couldn’t quell, I could barely hold my own head up for the past few days, let alone my body. While I couldn’t see straight or stop shivering, Worm still HAD to climb on my neck and treat me as his human horse. He didn’t care that my brain cells were frying inside my head. My punishment for not carrying him? Asphyxiation by his oddly effective chokehold and a severing of our best friendship. My punishment for carrying him? Mushie’s NEED to hitch a ride, too!

Being sick is not what it used to be. It’s misery now. The days of being able to rest and recover are over. Now I know what other parents mean when they say “We’re in survival mode.”. I get it now. I’m John Rambo in First Blood. Maybe I should go sleep in the woods…

The Midnight Plot to Keep Honeydaddy Sick Forever

The Midnight Plot to Wake Honeydaddy Up and Surprise Attack Him with Germs

Gavin – 38; Honeydaddy – 22 (I’ve survived the onslaught of your microbial attacks, Worm! Thank you garlic and oranges!)

I started this blog as a way to chronicle my children’s lives in the early years. It was a tremendous undertaking considering that I had other things I’d rather be doing (like sleeping, eating, and exercising). But, I was determined to leave a trail of digital memories behind. It worked for two years or so, but the once abundant flood of monthly posts have all but dried up.

The excitement of writing about new adventures with the kids has become less than exciting. (Getting them out of the house to have said adventures is a monumental task in itself.) It’s a lot of work trying to force my children to enjoy themselves at the park, the zoo, Disneyland, etc. Then, I’m propping them up and jabbing them with a long stick so that I can capture at least one looking at the camera before they zoom off in opposite directions.

They’re also at a point in their lives where they feel like happiness comes from the simple things…that they’re NOT doing. So they cry a lot. In recent months, outings as short as a trip to the post office has the potential to leave everyone in tears. It wears me out mentally and emotionally. And I don’t get any good blog material out of the trip to the post office…unless I push the Smush down the mail chute and chronicle the event.

My stats show that I barely release two posts a month now. The hundreds of thousands of folks that months ago would sit in front of their computers anticipating the release of my next blog post are now lost in to Kim Kardashian’s buttocks. Now, the only one that stares at the computer drooling for every Me vs. Gavin blog is my dog. And I’m not quite sure if he’s drooling over my writing, the chocolate bar on my desk…or if he’s telepathically asking for a walk around the block.

Worm and Mushie are busy. No, it’s not like let’s run in circles for an hour. That’s too safe and calm. They run in circles to warm up, then:

  • climb up and down on the furniture
  • smother each other with couch pillows
  • see who can squeeze who between the front door and screen door
  • push each other in the doll stroller until someone falls out
  • play toy tug-of-war til someone has all the toys and the other is sobbing profusely
  • push each other down without a parent noticing and run away
  • go outside to the sandbox and come back inside to pour sand on the carpet
  • jump around in the bathtub screaming until someones ears start bleeding or until someone slips and falls
  • see how many sheets of toilet paper can come off the roll before mom or dad see
  • dig through the garbage bin for useful items (like a crunchy, candy wrapper) until I catch them

And that’s before breakfast. Then they do it again. It never gets old, either. For them. So, I play all-day damage control by chasing them from here to there and shooing them away from danger and demise. When I’m not saving their little lives, I’m swinging them on my various limbs like little primates in the jungle. My neck and arms ache by sundown and I get a killer workout from it. When they’re finally tucked in bed at 8:30pm, I’m not really interested in writing. I’m catching up with a missed meal or two, emailing my adoring FB friends business contacts, walking the dog, doing dishes, or falling asleep at my desk wondering what it was like when I had that precious little gem called time.

They consume so much of my day now. But, I’m determined to get back on the wagon and rejuvenate this blog! I’ve also got some reinforcements now….ha ha ha!

Kids! Hey! Wait a minute! Let's Talk About This Over Lollipops, OK?

Kids! Hey! Wait a minute! Let’s Talk About This Over Lollipops, OK?

Gavin – 38; Honeydaddy – 21 (Worm. If you and Mushie destroy my blog, then no one wins…I think.)


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