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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!)

It was another quiet Tuesday morning…until the kids woke up. I thought I’d be a nice Honeydaddy and fix the kids some slow-cooked homemade apple cinnamon oatmeal with the apples we picked last weekend. (That post hasn’t been written yet! Oops!) That was my first mistake…making a nice breakfast, not writing the apple picking post. Cooking oatmeal means being able to stand over the stove and making sure it doesn’t burn. The little apes ones were on full throttle as soon as they opened their eyes. Once set free from their pens, neither would stay anywhere within eye and earshot of me. Since Mushie is a magnet for trouble, I kept having to run back into the bedrooms to drag her out (kicking and screaming) to the living room, where I could better gauge her wandering curiosity.  (There is a reason why some parents, such as myself, love and cherish highchairs with chains, er..constraints, I mean…safety buckles…)

After 45 minutes of this type of multitasking, the food was done. I was not-quite-so-happy to be able to corral the feral chickens sweeties and give them a tasty, healthy meal. And before he even got the first spoonful, Worm wailed about how much he didn’t like it. I’d never made this apple cinnamon version before, but Worm was certain that my oatmeal was disgusting and worthy of a bucket full of tears. He refused to sample it and thwarted my attempts to pry his raptor claws hands from over his mouth. It was only after I distracted him with moving pictures on the TV, that I was able to shovel some gruel into him. He then asked for more and gobbled up the rest of his serving. Ridiculous. After filling his belly, I asked Worm if he had learned anything from his folly.  I drew a blank stare.

In an effort to cheer up the children, I thought to myself “Hey, wouldn’t it be a great idea to take the kids to the zoo?  We could discuss how eerily similar raising children are to keeping wild animals!” So we tried to get dressed and leave.  Now in our house, it takes anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes to get the kids and myself ready to go anywhere.  This time it was bordering on 60. Lots of whining about putting on clothes.  Mushie didn’t want a clean diaper. Worm forgot how to dress himself. No one wanted to wear shoes. I wrangled one slippery weasel child to get it clothed while the other one paraded around the house leaving a trail of toys behind. (A stun gun would really help maintain the order. My guess it that with a couple of short, but powerful zaps, I could dress the kids, pack snacks, and pile everything in the car in less than 20 minutes.)

The trip to the zoo was less than lovely. I’d hate to give the impression that toddlers cry for no reason whatsoever. So, I believe Mushie was overwhelmed by the whole ISIS crisis. She cried until she was out of tears…which just so coincided with the entire ride there…

I buckle Mushie and Worm to the wagon and by the time we get inside the zoo, it was hot!  So, more whining and crying ensued. I explained to the kids that when it takes almost 3 hours to eat breakfast, get dressed and leave the house that the day doesn’t wait for us. I drew two blank stares.

The third mistake was entirely mine. We had a brief moment of proverbial sunshine when Worm told me he loved me and that he wanted to ride the Skycar. I fell for it hook, line, and sinker. I thought it was a breakthrough and that the tides were turning! We rode the Skycar and it was actually a smiling, 3 minute event for all of us. But then we landed.

I can summarize the rest of the zoo trip below. This is immediately after we landed the Skycar on the other side of the zoo:

  • Worm screamed in tears “Hold me! Hold me!” until I carried him. There was no other choice.
  • Mushie screamed “Ho we! Ho we!” which means the same as “Hey, lanky asshat! I’m not interested in walking around anymore. Hold me now!” So now I was carrying both kids and the diaper bag. (In case you were wondering, the kiddie wagon was parked at the other side of the zoo, where we got on the Skycar. It was too big to fit inside.)
  • We stopped to see the elephants. I put both kids down. Tears. “Hold me! Ho we!” played in the background as I mentally twisted the words into a lovely melody. The song lasted until other people started staring. I picked them up and walked on.
  • We stopped to see the tapirs. I put the kids down. I could barely feel my biceps, but the Worm didn’t care. More tears. “I’m hungry! Eat! Eat! I don’t want that! Noooo!” I explain to Worm that I left my magic wand at home and couldn’t make his requested foods jump out of the diaper bag.
  • We stopped to see the camel. I ask Worm to walk a bit because my arms needed a break. He said HIS legs were tired and proceeded to scream, cry, and jump around me in circles to get me to carry him further. It was the oddest display of toddler fatigue I’d ever witnessed. I picked him up again and trudged on.
  • I decided to go for the trump card and offered both children lollipops, but ONLY IF THEY WALKED PART OF THE WAY back to the wagon. It worked for the Worm. But I spoke too soon and retrieved only a single pop from the diaper bag. Smushter felt like she got the short end of the stick. So now it was her turn to scream and cry.
  • I flipped that damn diaper bag inside out hunting for a second lollipop all while questioning why I left the house, why I try to care for children without my liquor flask, and why I had children in the first place…
  • I found a second lollipop and all became right in the world with each of them…and I began to feel the sensation in my arms coming back to me.

Children have a way of ruining experiences that leave an indelible mark on your psyche. Now when I hear the words “Do you want to go to the zoo?”, I cringe and think to myself “I wake up inside the zoo every day. I just open my eyes and I’m smack dab in the middle of the chimpanzee exhibit.”

I can’t believe you read this far…or maybe you just scrolled down to see the pictures. (Mom, I’m talking to you.)

A Picture of the Beau...Um...Special Children in My Life.

A Picture of the Beau…Um…Special Children in My Life.

Gavin – 35; Honeydaddy – 21 (Why do you want me to suffer, Worm? Why?)

The cheeks are gone, nowhere to be found!

They must have escaped without any sound!

Last night, I’m sure I put you to bed

With two squishy mounds on each side of your head.  (Well, face.  But bed doesn’t rhyme with face.)

This morning without so much as a clatter

Two chubby cheeks vanished and thus left you flatter.

I’m in shock and awe.  Why gods?  What knife

Dost remove from this baby, the sweets of my life?

I’ll remedy this trouble by feeding you more

Milk and then Haagen-Dazs, fresh from the store.

Give me a week and I reckon you’ll get

Those plump, luscious cheeks back.  Don’t worry, nor fret.  (I’m telling myself more than I’m telling you, dear.)

And then you shall find me joyful.  Amused!

From squeezing and kissing your face until bruised.

Smushie, you’re sweet and a lovely delight

Don’t stretch out and grow up!  Stay little, alright?

Smushie, You'll Always Be My Baby Girl!

Smushie, You’ll Always Be My Baby Girl!

Given the deterioration of the human race (due to television, I presume), the question above seems very plausible.  We watch way too much Kim and Kanye and too little Bill Nye, the Science Guy.

I guess this isn’t so much about Worm being smarter than a piece of iron than it is about the problem solving skills of his old man.  Occasionally, I’ve got to check to make sure my neurotransmitters are still firing (as my own dad used to say).  And I’m happy to report that there is still some brain activity!

Humans are problem solvers by nature.  It’s what got us to invent things like the SnuggieTM (the robe worn backwards), the Instant Arm Lift (clear duct tape for securing flabby arms in place), and The Backup (a gun rack that attaches to your mattress to shoot intruders quickly without you getting out of bed).  See what watching too much television nets you?

Our problem is that Worm is two years old.  He’s starting to put his eyes (and subsequently, hands) on everything.  And our two-year old is discovering problems that I just don’t see.  For example, when it’s hot as Hades inside the house, I open the front and back doors to let air circulate through.  Worm, thinking there could be a possible security breach, takes it upon himself to close all the doors and secure the perimeter.  We’re safe from the outside world…but left to bake our brains as the inside temps climb.  So, I turn on the ceiling fan to, you know, blow some air around the living room and maybe cool off a bit.  Worm is concerned that the fan may overheat on such a hot day and gleefully turns it off.  (Does Worm work for the city gas and electric company?)

In these situations, I could either chase him around until I overheat and faint, or I could lay on the couch and try to stay cool by nary lifting a finger.  I chose the latter.  And the latter worked for quite some time until one day it got to 93 degrees inside (yes, inside) the house and my brain cooked up an idea.  Literally.

Worm = 28lbs.  Dumbbells = 35lb.  The strength to weight ratio of a toddler is less than that of an adult.  I can lift my own bodyweight, but I’m pretty certain that Worm can’t yet lift his.  Hmm.  What if I blocked the doors open with the dumbbells?  Fresh breezes, cool air, and I won’t have to stick my head in the freezer to stay alive.  I gave it a shot and Worm proved my theory correct.


Pull Up Your Pants Worm! Crack Kills!


I Admire Your Creativity Here, Worm…


Worm, I Think Some of “The Crazies” Live in Our House…

This was so funny to me.  Even as I was dripping in sweat and dizzy from heat exhaustion, I managed to snap a few pics.  Worm’s face in the third pic is priceless.

Gavin – 25; Honeydaddy – 16 (I’m hot, baby!  But not as hot as I was earlier.  Wormie, one day you’ll be able to throw that dumbbell at my head, but until then, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!)

I knew I should have pre-viewed those sign language videotapes my parents sent us before I showed them to Worm.  I didn’t understand why the box said PG-13…until today.

The Video Told Me to Put My Index Finger and Thumb Together Like This...

The Video Told Me to Put My Index Finger and Thumb Together Like This…

July 2011

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