Sunday, July 28, 2013

I'm Turning Into My Dad: Volume #1,000,000

I've spoken here at length about how I'm turning into my dad. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I keep accidentally saying more things that sound exactly like him and it still surprises me.

My son currently has a thing with water: he won’t drink it, but he loves to pour it on the floor. I always say things like, “Drink your water. You don’t want to get dehydrated and get sick,” which is a fantastic waste of breath because everyone knows you can’t reason with a two-year-old. Then he gets a look in his eye that we have learned to recognize as the “I’m-going-to-pour-this-water-straight-onto-the-floor-the-instant-you-look-away” look.

So of course I say something stupid like, “Don’t pour your water on the floor,” and of course he does it two seconds later and I put him in timeout. We do this several times a day. “Don't pour water,” pour water, timeout, repeat. It’s like a time warp nightmare where every day is the same and I have to repeat it until I change my ways or whatever. As a side note: People say Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. However, I find that this also describes much of what I do as a parent day-to-day. Does that mean parenting is, by nature, insane? And if you want to be a parent, you are insane? I digress.

One day in particular began like any other: I told him not to pour his water out. He looked right at me and then poured out every loathsome drop on the kitchen floor. Before I could stop it, I heard myself yelling, “What did I just say? What did I JUST SAY?” Classic dad.

What I’ve realized over time is this: The kid obviously heard me. I know because: A. He’s had all his checkups and his hearing is fine, and B. He was looking me right in the face as he did it. It’s not a matter of him hearing me. It’s a matter of him not giving a crap. Asking him if he heard me is about as pointless as trying to extinguish the sun with, well, a cup of water.

He then proceeded to immediately slip in the giant puddle he had made, fall face first onto the floor. Then he had the nerve - the audacity - to lie there in the puddle of his own making and cry and look at me as if this whole thing was my fault.

I wanted to say, “This wouldn’t have happened if you had just listened to me and drank the stupid water like I told you!”

But what would be the point?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

I strongly dislike The Man with The Yellow Hat

I want to salute all those who raised children before television was invented. Those are the real parents.

I don’t know what parents did back then. No matter how good a parent you are, there eventually comes a time where you just need 30 minutes to get stuff done, and TV is the perfect solution.

When I set my son in front of the TV for a few minutes, he really likes to watch Curious George. If you don't know, the eponymous Curious George is a little monkey who lives with a guy who has no other name than “The Man with The Yellow Hat.” Curious George is similar to a young child in that he is always curious and it frequently gets him into trouble.

What irritates me about Curious George is this: The Man with The Yellow Hat is annoyingly patient. In every episode George innocently wreaks havoc and generally makes TMWTYH’s life a waking nightmare. However, at the end of each episode TMWTYH inevitably says something like, "It's ok George, I know you were just trying to help. It's ok that you flushed all your toys down the drain, flooded our apartment and our whole building, and the plumber had to come out three times. The plumber's bill and the bills for all the water damage in our apartment and throughout our building are going to cost me a fortune and I don't really seem to have a job, but I know you're just being curious."

He never yells. He never raises his voice. He never sends George to time out. He never even gets frustrated. The most reaction Curious George ever gets out of TMWTYH is a gentle sigh and it drives me insane. I dislike TMWTYH so much because I wish I could be like him and have infinite stores of patience. He is the ideal parent and I hate him for it.

TMWTYH also seems like he'd be a drag to be around at school functions or parties. All the other parents would be griping about their kids and he’d just be like, “You know, they’re just exploring their world and I think it’s wonderful blah blah blah.” That’s why TMWTYH spends his time exploring the jungle because no adult wants to be his friend. Nobody likes to be around somebody who is unflaggingly patient and optimistic.

They make you feel terrible.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Cows and fireworks and the best Independence Day ever

Last year we moved from a relatively large city to a small town. The local economy is primarily agricultural, and almost everyone in our town is in the dairy business. We are surrounded on all sides by dairies, cows and cow manure. Cows outnumber people by a factor of 30 to 1. Whenever the wind kicks up, which is always, it stirs up a fragrant mixture of hot desert sand and cow manure and blows it across town. Then the wind changes and blows it back across town from the opposite direction. The amount of cow manure in the air is 999,999 ppm. You can smell our town from several miles away. I once heard someone liken living here to living on a “giant cow pie,” and I find that to be an accurate comparison.

What I’m getting at is this: The people here are either locals who have been here for generations and love it, or people who are here by unhappy circumstance. We are unfortunately the latter, but I have enjoyed watching the locals and the unique way they do things.  

For instance: the Fourth of July is two days away and the Locals are going nuts for fireworks. School is out and there’s nothing for the kids to do here. Fireworks stands have been open since, like, March and the local teens have just been using every spare cent to buy fireworks. And of course they can’t wait until the Fourth to light them off, so they’re lighting them off about as soon as they buy them. Nonstop. All through the night. Every night.

The other night I was driving to the store as fireballs of teen angst and boredom exploded above me. A truck passed me and backfired with a deafening bang. For a split second I thought that I had been shot. But I wasn't, it's just all these fireworks, plus everyone here has guns in gun racks in their trucks and concealed carry licenses. It's like we're living in a warzone.

Our town is nothing if not patriotic. And I just realized that all this complaining makes me sound really old, which, I guess I am.