You get a Toy and You get a Toy!!!

I can't be sure if I bought their love or their temporary silence.

I can’t be sure if I bought their love or their temporary silence.

On Monday, I’m an enthusiastic parent who has the best of intentions. By Friday night, I’m exhausted and my parenting skills have eroded to the point of, “You want to play in the middle of the street? Whatever, just take your brother with you.”

This week has been particularly exhausting for a number of reasons. When I picked up the boys from each of their schools, I thought I had enough energy to cook them dinner. After five minutes of Justin telling me a story in his loudest voice possible and Garrett screaming for Elmo (“MELMO!!! MELMOOOO!!!) while kicking my seat, I thought – “Maybe I’ll order in.”

For the next four minutes, I was hammered with questions from Justin: “Can we stop at Target and get a toy?” No. “Can we eat at Burger King?” No. “Can we just see if there are new toys at Target?” No. “Can we get a small toy from Burger King?” No. “Does mommy need anything from Target?” No. “Don’t you like Burger King?” No. And like a parrot, Garrett kept yelling “YEAH!” after Justin asked each question. (He’s too young to understand what Justin was asking, but it didn’t matter. He understood that it was them against me.)

On the fifth minute, they broke me. I don’t know if it was the barrage of questions or the yelling or the crying out for “MELMO!!,” but they successfully performed a Verbal Waterboarding. My intention was to feed them good food and reward their great week without gifts, but by simply playing with them. That’s not how the evening ended.

The evening ended with new toys from Target, Kid’s Meals from Burger King, and yet another notch on my Parenting Failure list.

You Need A Real Job!!

I found this in Justin's backpack. Clearly, he's put some thought into this!

I found this in Justin’s backpack. Clearly, he’s put some thought into this!

While driving to school three weeks ago, Justin asked me a question: “Daddy? Does mommy have a boss?” I replied, “Yes, she has a boss.” After a few moments, he asked a follow-up question: “Daddy, do you have a boss?” I replied, “No, buddy. I don’t have a boss. I am the boss.” His eyes got very wide as he repeated, “You’re the boss?!?!?!” (I wasn’t sure if I should have been offended or not, but I just accepted it for what it was.)

As I looked in the rearview mirror, I could see him processing the information. I could also hear him mumble to himself, “Daddy is the boss” a few times – as if saying it out loud would make the concept more acceptable. And then, that was the end of the conversation. Or so I thought…

Last week (once again on the way to school), Justin stated, “Daddy, I need to talk to you.” I lowered the radio and gave him my full attention. “Ok buddy, what’s up?”

“Daddy, I think you need to get a real job.” I smiled and replied, “But I have a real job.”

“No, daddy. You need a REAL job.”

I was curious to see where he was going with this, so I asked. “What’s a real job?”

Clearly, he had given this a great amount of thought since our last conversation. “Daddy, I think you need to work in a restaurant or a coffee shop.”

I’m assuming that my new guidance counselor came to this conclusion because I make him a tasty breakfast every morning while complaining that I can’t get my morning coffee hot enough.

It also quickly dawned on me that this line of questioning was coming from somewhere. I couldn’t figure out if this had become a topic in the classroom or if during recess the kids were asking each other “What does your mommy and daddy do?”  I know many of the parents from Justin’s school. One is a dentist, another is a writer for a television show, one is a coach and a teacher, and another sells houses. I think these were easier concepts for Justin to understand than “Daddy is a Talent Manager.”

I tried to give Justin the simplest explanation I could think of. “Well Justin, my job is to help other people get jobs.” After a few moments of silence, Justin decided that my answer was not acceptable. “No daddy. You need a REAL job.”

I mockingly gave up. “Ok buddy. I’ll go get a real job.”

I hope he remembers this exact conversation when he’s 16 and it’s time for him to get his first job. I’m sure he’ll enjoy his REAL job of asking people, “Do you want fries with that?”

Are We Having The Sex Talk Already?!?!?

JustinWhile on the way to school, Justin decided to ask the following question: “Daddy, why is ‘sexy’ bad?” After choking on my coffee and swerving into oncoming traffic, I was able to quickly re-compose myself. I calmly and eloquently replied, “WHATTHEHUH???”

Mentally, I began preparing for, “Well….when a mommy and daddy love each other…” – but I was saved at the last minute from having that conversation when Justin finished his thought – “Daddy, we were singing a song in chorus and the teacher changed the word from ‘sexy’ to ‘pretty.’ She said she changed it because ‘sexy’ was a bad word.”

Two questions immediately came to mind: 1) What the hell were they singing in chorus?!? And, 2) How do I explain “sexy” to a 6 year old?

Honestly, I was unprepared for this question and I did the best I could with what little I had. “Well, Justin – ‘sexy’ is not a bad word. It’s a word that older people use to feel good about themselves and their friends. It’s only meant for grown-ups. And most importantly, you won’t ever have to worry about that word on your spelling tests.” He actually looked relieved when I said that.

IRONICALLY, as I pulled into the driveway at his school to drop him off, James Brown’s “I Feel Like Being A Sex Machine” started playing on the radio (from my iPod.) I cranked it up, began doing “The White-Man’s Overbite” dance from my seat and (with some help from the Godfather of Soul) I told him to have a great day (“HIT ME!”)…to learn a lot (“GOOD GOD!”)…and to leave the ‘sexy’ to me! (AAARRGHHHHH!!!!)

Doo Doo Binkey

DarthFor my birthday, Uncle Ethan bought me a funny book called “Darth Vader and Son.” It was a timely purchase because Justin and I are in the middle of playing “Lego Star Wars III: Attack of the Clones” on XBox 360. To him, this might be the greatest game ever created because it contains his two favorite things: Legos and “Star Wars.” Ironically, he has never actually SEEN any of the “Star Wars” movies. But, he does know all the main characters!

I realized that I would not be home in time to share this book with Justin, so I left it in the bathroom where I knew he would discover it. Sure enough, when I got home – the book had disappeared.

This morning I found Justin in bed reading this book. I asked him if he liked it and he told me that it was very funny. Quietly, he continued to read it while he was eating breakfast, getting dressed, and even putting his book-bag together.

Finally, out the of blue, he announced, “Hey daddy!! It’s Doo-Doo Binkey!”

“Huh???” I thought…praying that he had not discovered one of Garrett’s binkies covered in poop. I quickly walked over to him while he kept excitedly pointing at something in the book  “Doo-Doo Binkey!! Doo-Doo Binkey!!”

I looked down to see what he was pointing at. “Hey buddy?” I said, laughingly. “That’s not Doo-Doo Binkey. His name is Jar Jar Binks. But, I kinda like Doo-Doo Binkey better!”

Jar

 

It’s 4 O’clock Somewhere

410Have you ever wondered what goes on in your house at 4:10am? Neither did I. However, I found myself wide awake and quietly sitting on the sofa in my den while dealing with a bout of insomnia several nights ago. Everyone else was asleep (I assumed) and I was hoping that after a few minutes, I would be tired enough to return to bed. Little did I know, my house is a cornucopia of activity and entertainment at 4:00am. Here is what I heard/witnessed:

4:10 – I’m sitting quietly on the sofa watching The Golf Channel (no volume.)

4:15 – The neighbor’s cat jumps onto my roof and nearly scares the piss out of me. I thought we were about to be robbed.

4:20 – My 6 year old’s bedroom door opens. I crane my head over to the hallway just in time to witness Justin exit his room. His eyes are shut, he is no longer wearing his Mario pajamas (or underwear), and he “shuffles” over to the bathroom. I hear him go pee pee (no flush) and then I see him return to his room with his eyes still shut. The door closes. He never saw me.

4:23 – Justin’s door shutting must have woken up the 1 ½ year old. I can now hear Garrett yelling “DA-DA!! DA-DA!! DA-DA!!” His bedroom door is slightly cracked and I can’t tell if he sees me or not. Regardless, he excitedly keeps yelling “DA-DA!! DA-DA!! DA-DA!!” I decided to stay perfectly still. He’s like a bear in the wilderness. If he senses your movement, he will attack.

4:30 – The neighbor’s cat is now lying across the skylight in the den and looking down at me – judging. Garrett is still yelling “DA-DA!! DA-DA!!” and he’s added percussion by banging on the wall.

4:35 – I hear “BLOOP” from the kitchen. That’s just our fish – “Fred the Undead” trying to escape the aquarium again. After 8 ½ years in that aquarium, I understand his need for a “Shawshank Redemption.”

4:40 – I hear a “THUD” from Justin’s room. I can only assume that he shifted in his sleep and banged his head against the wall…again.

4:41 – The “THUD” has reignited Garrett’s “DA-DA  Drum Circle.” I swear there is only one kid in that crib, but he makes it sound like his stuffed animals (Mickey, Chica, and Elmo) have joined his band.

4:45 – I realize that I have about an hour and a half before I have to be up again. I attempt (for the second time) to go to bed.

As I found myself in bed staring at the ceiling, I began to wonder….what else happens in the middle of the night when I’m asleep???