Donuts for Dads – Wait! It’s a trap.

Image result for donuts free use

This morning my daughter, now in fifth grade, informed me that tomorrow is “Donuts for Dads” day at school. I will pause a moment to allow for the collective “Uhhhh.”

I was taken a little by surprise because normally I’m on top of this. The reason being, it’s not really about having your dad come by your school and seeing your class. It’s really about getting your dad to come by school and, “Oh by the way we’re having our book fair so why don’t you grab a donut and head over and buy some books.”

And I love to read and have always wholeheartedly supported my kids’ desire to read.

The principal usually sends out an email to remind us all, but either she didn’t this year, or I’ve started ignoring her email after her last ridiculous-fest where she tried to play off her stealing two “learn from home” school days and forcing kids to come to school instead, calling it an “Opportunity.” I called her on her Public Relations-like bullshit, accusing her and the PTA of catering to the needs of the few (for the free meals) and ignoring the will of the many who would rather give their kids a break and let them be home a couple of extra days. She wasn’t thrilled with my rebuttal.

But, I’ve never really minded the book fair; though, I could do without the donuts. For one, I never eat one. But more importantly, it’s a bunch of guys, all dressed and ready for work, standing around a classroom that took all of two minutes to take in, killing time before the bell rings and we can all escape away to our day jobs. And in this day and age, isn’t it just a little sexist? Presumably, it was created as a way to get dads involved because, you know, we’re all NOT involved in our kids’ lives enough and thank GOD the school is making sure we are.

It’s surreal and uncomfortable. And I’m going to miss it terribly.

Of my three children, my daughter is my youngest. This is her last year in elementary school which means a lot of things, not all of them terrible.

On the plus side, it’s the last year I’ll have to walk her to the bus stop at 7am every day. When she moves to middle school, she’ll be able to walk with her older brother to the bus at 8:10. That also frees me up to not get up at 4am to go to the gym in the morning. I’ll be able to stretch it to 5 or 5:30.

But the cons far outweigh the pros. For instance, she normally gets home at 2:45 in the afternoon and since I’ve been working from home for several years, that means that most days I get “me” time with her every day. I know that as she gets older, her desire to do anything with me will wane and I will look back on these times as precious, even as I huff and sigh about having to stop working and walk the 2/10 of a mile up the street to get her every day.

She will be with her older brother one year in middle school, and then he will join HIS older brother in high-school for a year. She will then join him for two years in high-school, and so on and so forth.

And before I know it, she will be my only child still at home, and even shorter still, she’ll be gone.

I will be lost. I imagine I will dive into my work with a zeal I’ve not known for a couple of decades, just to kill time between my kids’ visits. I’m not sure what my wife will do. We aren’t social enough to fill our lives up with other people, which means me puttering around here, falling back on my solitary habits, and her doing…well, I’m not sure what exactly. Probably working as well, and neither of us talking to each other much.

Or maybe, it will be just what our 20-year marriage needs; sparking more “us” time. We’ll see. In the meantime, I’ll hit the gym at 4:30 tomorrow so I can get to school by 7:15  and hope it’s early enough to get a parking spot. I’ll smile and nod and talk about how great the classroom is. All the while, the Joker’s poem running through my head:

I’m only laughing on the outside; my smile is just skin deep.
If you could see me on the inside; you might join me, for a weep.

Daddies vs. Predators

It started out as this noise back in the back of his throat–not unlike the sound made by the “Predator” (just like this guy does it). He would do it usually while concentrating on something else, so I’m not even sure he realized he was doing it. Background noise tends to really get on my nerves, so after a while, I’d start saying, “Aiden, please stop making that throat noise.” Career-Mom who is normally quite stoic around such things, even succumbed after a while.

It has progressed.

Today, it’s not uncommon to hear any number of things coming from him, pretty much anytime he’s awake:

  • The Predator sound
  • Throat clearing
  • A combination of humming and gargling
  • Humming

This happens even when he’s eating. Imagine, if you will, a child with cereal in his mouth and humming at the same time.

Yesterday, I think I said, “Aiden, mouth noises!” at least 15 times and that was after ignoring it as long as I possibly could. I’m told that several of CareerMom’s nieces and nephews do the humming while eating thing, so I blame her naturally.
And at any rate, I only had facial ticks when I was a kid (like licking your lips so much that it created a half moon raw spot above and/or below your lips) rather than audible ticks.

Whatever the cause, clearly my fussing at him isn’t working. Here’s to hoping he outgrows it.

Raised On Demand

There is a part of me that is both horrified, and gratified, by the knowledge that television is a big part of my kids’ lives. I honestly don’t know what my kids would do at the end of a long day without it…or what I would do without it. Image

There are days, that one or more of my children will come home from school or daycare, and pretty much watch TV from the moment we come in, through dinner, and until we put them to bed. Now granted, often that’s really only like, two hours, but still…right?

And as much as it makes me want to gag admitting this, there are many a day when I’m more than happy to relegate my parental obligations to our 46” family friend. He’s a good friend.

But I don’t know…Lord, I watched a lot of TV when I was a kid and I’m pretty OK. I get as much exercise as my schedule will allow. I don’t eschew my job, family or other responsibilities in favor of watching “my show.” So I don’t know…I guess as long as your kids aren’t lard-arses and when you do pull them away from the tube to interact with other people, they aren’t complete Asbergers, then it’s OK?

Why it takes a village

To say that mental problems run in my family, is like saying the Obama administration is moderately disliked by Republicans. That is, we have a bevy of problems, ranging from the debilitating, to generally just being an annoyance for everyone around us. There are probably a couple dozen people in this world outside of my immediate family who are familiar with my story in-total from having been adopted at an early age, to living through two divorces; an abusive mother; and any number of a dozen other things that alone, might explain some of the problems I have.

If I had ten thousand dollars for every time I’d heard someone say to me, “It’s a miracle you turned out as well-adjusted as you did,” I’d have at least…I dunno…a hundred thousand dollars! Though perhaps after blogging all this, I’ll hear it more often. If I’m being honest though, my problems pale in comparison to others. My problems don’t require medication. They don’t cause me to completely withdraw from the people I love for long periods of time. And they don’t make me want to act out on the society at-large, so generally speaking, I’m doing alright.

But there are times. Oh yes, there are times.

For instance, parenting. Parenting has been a challenge as I’ve discussed on numerous occasions and it continues to cause personal problems for me. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, parenting is not for everyone. There is a line that each person much recognize within his or her tolerance and they must adhere to that line, for when you do not, THAT’s when you make the morning news.

My personal “line” was crossed the moment I found out we were having a third child (and yes, I’m probably going to hell just for saying that out loud). But I’m not going to spoil the literary moment here by telling you how much I love my children and how I wouldn’t trade a moment of it for the world, because frankly, that’s a bunch of crap.

After 11 years of marriage, my wife has learned the tell-tale signs of my having reached a point, which manifests itself in one of two ways:

– either via a sudden, violent outburst at one of the children in the form of a “STOP IT!” or a “SHUT UP!”

– or more often, the tightening of my jaw, the narrowing of my eyes, and an obstinate will to keep perfectly quiet. Don’t try and draw me out of it. Don’t ask me what’s wrong. Just leave me…the hell…alone for a while.

I think one of the failures of the human race is our desire to compare ourselves to others. I do it; I’m sure you do it to. We each hold ourselves to this impossibly high standard that’s based solely on the public persona shown to us by others who are privately just as screwed up as we are. I’m sure, to that divorced lady who lives up the street and who only sees me when I’m outside playing with the kids, that I embody everything a good father should (perhaps with the exception of Ryan Reynolds-like abs). Because all we see of people is what they want us to see.

But I do wonder how I compare. Oh, I know that I could search Google right now for, “Fed up Dads” or “My kids make me want to just walk away” and I could find thousands of people who have expressed similar feelings. But, we’re still in the minority when you consider how many parents are out there.

I look at people like “Father of Five” and that dude just makes me feel A) ashamed and B) proud all at the same time. Ashamed because he has way more kids than I do, plus works crappy hours (on second thought, maybe that’s WHY he’s such a patient dad…) and Proud because it’s nice to know we’re not all as screwed up as me.

So, my hat off to you FoF and all you other Fathers and Mothers out there who make having families bearable for the rest of us.