Who’s Your Daddy (Blogger)?

Last week, Caleb Gardner wrote an excellent post entitled Dad Bloggers Deserve Respect. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend you do so, especially if you blog from a fatherly perspective.

In a nutshell, Gardner’s message is as follows: Cyber moms are a force as evidenced by the corporate courting they receive. The rapidly growing community of cyber dads deserves that same treatment, yet fails to receive it thanks to a real-world phenomenon Gardner calls “Being Daddy in a World of Mommies”—the commonly held notion that Daddy is nothing more than Mommy’s goofy and permanent apprentice.

The end result leaves dad bloggers in the awkward position of “fighting for a seat at the parenting table.” According to Gardner, that seat will be earned when “brands…acknowledge that dads have a role to play in the lives of their kids.”

Throughout his post, Gardner’s thread of logic makes alternate stitches—one in the real world, followed by one in the virtual world, as if attempting to sew the two together as one. But in my opinion, they’re not one. They’re related to be sure, but they’re ultimately different and deserve to be treated as such. So let me first address my opinion of Gardner’s take on the real world, namely that dads are viewed as second-class parents.

He’s dead on.

But what he fails to mention is that it’s our own fault. Dads have insisted on taking a parenting backseat to moms since the beginning of time. It’s only just now starting to change. So when Gardner references the “quiet condescension” he senses (presumably from moms) whenever he and his son spend an afternoon together without his wife, I understand what he’s talking about. Yet, if we want to change the perception that our own gender created, shouldn’t we spend more time parenting and less time trying to interpret unstated sentiments from a random cross-section of women?

Hell, I have a hard enough time understanding them when they speak in plain English, let alone when I’m left to extrapolate meaning from the blank looks on their faces. (Incidentally, if anyone can interpret unstated sentiments from a woman, email me immediately. That Lovie is one tough cookie…)

But, seriously, whenever I’m out with Pookie and the trips, I simply assume that anyone who’s paying attention to our dynamic sees me for what I am—an emotionally available, extremely involved, and thoroughly capable parent. And great parents should concern themselves with their children, not with myopic soccer moms armed with misguided notions that smack of reverse sexism. I ignore such simpletons because paying attention to them empowers them, not to mention undermines what I’m trying to do—namely, parent my children to the best of my ability. Besides, if we continually allow ourselves to feel slighted as parents, then we may never get out of the ditch that we put ourselves in.

So what about Gardner’s take on the cyber world, where, thanks to real-world disrespect, we find ourselves “fighting for a seat at the parenting table?” What about Gardner’s hope that corporate brands “acknowledge that dads have a role to play in the lives of their kids,” which would presumably translate to corporations courting us?

I write a parenting blog. Wanna read it? *image compliments of andrewgriffithsblog.com*

Maybe it’s just me, but if earning a seat at the parenting table means receiving free coffee cakes from Sara Lee in exchange for 500 favorable words, then I’m at the wrong establishment. When I joined the ranks of the daddy bloggers by starting my own blog this past November, it was initially to promote my book. But blogging quickly transcended that self-serving motive when I realized the strength of the incredible network of like-minded dads I had tapped into. Gardner’s thought-provoking post, as well as the insightful (and numerous) comments it generated, did nothing but bolster my already high opinion of our community and furthered the pride I feel for being a small part of it.

So I hope I don’t come off as disrespectful when I say that the very last thing I want for that community to become is a testicular version of mommy bloggers. “Testicular version of mommy bloggers.” Talk about an oxymoron—by merely typing those five words, I’m pretty sure I started lactating.

Lactation jokes aside, if the day ever comes when I care more about a year’s supply of non-dairy creamers from the friendly folks at Coffee-mate than I do about sharing my fatherly perspectives, I hope one of you will fly to Knoxville and punch me in the face. While I’m sleeping. I’ll pay for your flight.

It’s not that I have something against mommy bloggers–I don’t. In fact, I read many of them quite frequently. But they’re different from us, fellas. When will we learn that we’re not treated like them because we’re not like them? And, more importantly, when will we be okay with that?

Dad bloggers are a rapidly growing community, and thanks to many great sites like DadWagon, Dab-Blogs, DadLabs, and DadCentric, our voice is being heard. Our time is coming, but before it arrives, we have thousands of years of history to overcome in the real world, and over a decade to overcome in the virtual one. And little by little, we’re doing just that–overcoming history and changing perceptions with our emerging voice.

But we’ll impede that progress if we fall into the trap of parenting and blogging with an inferiority complex caused by a stereotype our own gender created. And we’ll never get anywhere by incessantly comparing ourselves to a demographic which is the complete opposite of ours. So let’s drop the insecure takes on who we aren’t and instead focus confidently on who we are—the new breed of badass dads who are soft enough to drink imaginary tea with a little girl while sitting in the tree-house we were man enough to build.

The respect we seek is coming. But once it arrives, I hope we don’t instantaneously become mom bloggers with facial hair. Because I like who we are. Don’t you?

Props to Caleb Gardner for his fantastic post which really made me think. I tip my cap to you, Caleb, as well as to the rest of you. You can resume being a fantastic fathers now. Godspeed.

Singing With The Triplets

Happy Fatherhood Friday, everyone. Head over to dad-blogs and see what the rest of the dad-blog community is up to this fine day.

Lovie and Pookie went out last night which left yours truly to take care of the terrible trio. Bedtime has been a real issue of late, particularly with C, so I was a bit worried about how I would fare. After all, Lovie is the unquestioned star of our little show, and though that show must go on, I couldn’t help but wonder how smoothly it would run without her on stage alongside of us.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a solid understudy. Ready, willing, and able to take center stage at the drop of a hat. But for me to carry the show, I had to alter the script a bit. Especially given the bedtime drama that’s been going down. So I decided to turn that drama into a musical.

You’ve heard of “Dancing With the Stars,” right? (I know. I hate Kate Gosselin, too, but more on that in a future post…) Well last night, I hosted “Singing With the Triplets.” Actually, I did more than just host. I also got my vocal on during dinner and kept it going through potty time and bath time. I hoped that by doing so I would not only make my trio forget about Lovie, but I’d also wear them out to the point where they’d fall asleep with little resistance.

Act I: Dinner. Once A, B, and C were in their highchairs, I grabbed their milk from the fridge. Cue the lights. Start the music. The first selection? A tribute to that which held their milk, sung to the tune of Kiss’s hard rock anthem, “Lick it Up.”

“Sippy cup. Sippy cup.
Whoa-oh-oh.
The lid’s on tight, now.
Sippy cup. Sippy cup.
Whoa-oh-oh.
Oooh yeah. Oooh yeah.”

The judges weren’t amused. In fact, they were growing impatient. And who could blame them? With all the singing, I’d forgotten about their dinner which I was heating in the toaster oven. Luckily, the food wasn’t burned. But it was hot. Very hot.

Cue the lights. Start the music. Time for some Billy Idol. While dishing up their sizzling meal, I sang the following to the tune of “Hot in the City.”

“Hot dinny-dinny.
Hot dinny-dinny tonight.
Hot dinny-dinny.
Hot dinny-dinny, s’alright.”

The boys liked it, but C wasn’t feeling it. Or at least that’s what I gathered when she offered up the following.

“Stop it, Daddy.”

All right, then. Intermission. May as well give the little monsters some peace and quiet while they gobble their goodies. Besides, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was gonna sing next, anyway.

Once dinner was behind us, I got the triplets out of their highchairs and instructed them to take a turn on the potty, but B refused to go (could he have been holding out for another song?). That’s when the next selection smacked me in the face. I went all new-school and busted out an altered version of Lady Ga Ga’s “Paparazzi.”

“Listen to your dad,
it’s time for you to use the potty.
I’m the
Potty Nazi.”

Maybe I was connecting with my son through the magic of music, or maybe he was just trying to shut me up. Whichever the case, B dropped trou and wobbled to the bathroom where he discarded his cloth shackles and hopped up on the big potty. Only one problem. His, um, deal-i-o was pointing north which meant the hardwood floor was getting an unnecessary watering. So I cued up some George Benson and sang my next song to the tune of his 1982 classic, “Turn Your Love Around.”

“Point your pee-pee down.
I can show you how.
Point your pee-pee down.
Gotta do it now.”

B smiled from ear to ear and, indeed, pointed his pee-pee down. Aside from the initial splatter, the floor remained dry. Crisis averted.

After all three had faithfully obeyed the Potty Nazi, it was time for a bath. And when C started crying after getting soap in her eyes, it was also time for a little Deep Purple.

“Soap in the water.
The burn is in the eyes.”

By 7:15 all three were in bed. The drama I was worried about? There was none. Well, except a little bit from C. She wanted to sleep in the boys’ room. So I scooped her up and deposited her in the extra crib before telling the trio that I expected them to go to sleep without a fuss.

When Lovie got home, she couldn’t believe the song that greeted her. Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence.” It was literally the first time in weeks that everyone was fast asleep by 8:00.

“Oh, by the way,” I said, “C wanted to sleep in the boys’ room, so I moved her.”

“She’s asked to do that before, you know, and each time all hell breaks loose.”

“Well, it went okay tonight.”

“Really?” asked Lovie.

“Really,” I answered.

“What did you do?” she asked incredulously.

“I dunno,” I shrugged. “Just the same ol’ song and dance, I guess.”

*whispers to the audience*

The understudy’s a rockstar, y’all. Recognize.

Dear Elmo

Back when I liked you.

Dear Elmo,

You suck.

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t always feel this way. In fact, before I had children — back when I was merely “Uncle John” — I actually liked you. A lot. You were a funny and irresistible little monster. Plus my niece and nephew LOVED you. Remember that holiday season when you were in such high demand? Well, I was one of the lucky ones who actually managed to get his hands on your red ass, chicken suit and all. I’ll never forget what a hit you were that year. The kids played with you for hours. But what I didn’t realize then was that their parents must have hated every single minute of it.

C getting her Elmo on.

No, my furry friend, I wouldn’t learn that lesson for quite some time. But learn it I would, when I finally became a dad. I will admit, though, even after spawning the tiny trio, it took a while for the disdain to set in, likely because the triplets adored you so. It’s hard for me to dislike anything which brings such joy to my children.

But it’s not impossible, my misguided monster. Hearing your little chicken-dance song 5,412 times certainly proved that.

“Elmo wants to be a chicken. Elmo wants to be a duck. Quack, quack, quack, quack.”

Well, which is it, Elmo? Do you wanna be a chicken or do you wanna be a duck? You’re quacking, so I assume you wanna be a duck, yet you’re dressed in a chicken costume, which would indicate a poultry preference. Not to mention the fact that the package you came in? It didn’t read Duck Dance Elmo.  It read CHICKEN Dance Elmo. So why in the duck are you quacking? You’re setting a horrendous example for my kids who could very well be acquiring a sense of entitlement by witnessing such behavior. I can hear it now. “I wanna do this. No, I wanna do that. No, I wanna do this. No, I wanna do that…”

As much as I loathed you in your chicken-dance format, there was a simple solution–hiding you from the light of day. Once I did that, I figured you were behind us. Until long-ass car rides came onto the scene. That’s right. Seven-hour drives to the beach with three fussy toddlers is quite an experience. To keep the peace we tried everything. But only one thing seemed to work. Your Best of Elmo DVD.

Oh the irony, Elmo. Hiding you at home brought me great peace. Yet, on the road, from a monitor behind my head and well outside my field of vision, you still managed to wreak a hell-like havoc on the vacation commutes I haplessly executed. Back in the good old days, three hours on the road meant we were in the middle of Spartanburg. But suddenly, three hours on the road meant that we were in the middle of the SEVENTH showing of your mind-numbing collection of skits.

Do you have to use that high-pitched voice, Elmo? Or rap. Do you have to rap? You’re about as gansta as an imaginary tea party. With princesses. And do you have to rock the third person all the time? Hmm? Because John Cave Osborne doesn’t like that. It bugs him. In fact, it bugs pretty much everyone and everything on this planet.

Telephone, Elmo. It’s Fran Dresher. She wants me to tell you that her laugh thinks you’re annoying.

Speaking of annoying, Elmo, Whoopie Goldberg? REALLY? What, Star Jones all booked up? And how ’bout your deal with Julia Roberts? Just hearing the two of you trying to scare each other is enough to make me wanna throw an apple at the monitor. Don’t worry, though. Should I ever lose control like that, no one would actually get hurt. Any apple thrown anywhere near Julia Roberts would do nothing more than harmlessly lodge itself into the top row of her preposterously large teeth.

Oh, and I think it’s nice that you gave the Unhappy Honker your last drawing, but if you needed at least one to display at the Monster Art Show, why in world did you give it to him?

I smell a dumb dumb.

And then everyone’s supposed to feel all sorry for you and return the dozens of drawings you just spent the better part of thirty minutes handing out as gifts? Again, not a great example. Back to the entitlement deal.

Yes, Elmo, you do suck. But, honestly? I’ve kinda enjoyed disliking you so. The acrimonious fire you’ve set within my soul has kept me warm for nearly eighteen months now. And that’s the real reason why I’m writing you.

Sadly, it seems the fire is going out. You see, A, B, and C no longer wonder where your chicken-dance doll is. They don’t enjoy your DVDs anymore, not even the one where you selfishly insist that every day be Christmas. (You’ve GOT to work on that entitlement thing.)

 

Sorry, Elmo, but you’re yesterday’s news. In fact, you’ve already been replaced. And wouldn’t you know it–you’ve been replaced by something else that’s red. And what’s more, much like you, your replacement emits high-pitched noises capable of giving me migraines. And truth be told? I’m kinda sad about it. My new foil, though similar to you in color and sound, will be nowhere near as fun for me to hate.

But that doesn’t mean I won’t hate it. Because, rest assured, I will.

And I can also promise you this. That damn thing will NEVER be allowed in the car. EVER.

So long, Elmo.

 

Move over Elmo, for this God-awful thing.

 

Our Pookie Gets Kookie–Lets Loose on Dr. Seuss

Pookie and her classmates paid tribute to the late, great Dr. Seuss in honor of his March 2nd birthday by creating their very own version of his 1974 classic There’s a Wocket in My Pocket. Lovie and I are usually well aware of Pookie’s various assignments, but this one caught us off guard. In fact, the first time we learned of it was when she brought the completed project home earlier this week.

How great is that? Seriously? I mean who doesn’t love Dr. Seuss? I couldn’t wait to read all of the nonsensical rhymes that these sweet children had come up with.

One girl depicted the mysterious presence of a JHOTTER on her FLYSWATTER, which was drinking her flavored WATER. Adorable!

Another child wrote of a SHAT on his CAT which liked his friend MATT. I kinda wondered if this kid wasn’t confused, though. I’d be willing to bet it was nothing more than a CAT who SHAT on a MATT, but, hey, it ain’t my book.

One boy detailed the presence of a WACKET in his JACKET which was making a lot of RACKET. Well, I suppose that one’s okay as long as he didn’t WACKET in his JACKET. Because that really would be a RACKET, you know.

Another boy reported a LONUT on his DONUT that was eating his COCONUT. Good effort, but probably my least favorite of the bunch thus far. I’d put it just behind the one about the cat that was taking a shit all over the place. And, hey, I don’t mean to pry, but you really don’t want anything messing with your DONUTS, especially if it’s eating your COCONUT for crying out loud. Plus, it’s a little early for the onset of a LONUT, don’t you think?

If I were that kid’s father, I’d be hauling his ass to the doctor post haste. What’s that? No appointments available? No problem. Me and Mr. LONUT, here, will be happy to wait. You know, just in case someone bails. We need to see you ASAP. That’s right. We don’t mess around when it comes to the parts down there. The last thing we want is for this thing to get worse and turn into a case of Green Eggs and Ham. I don’t care what Sam has to say about it. You do NOT want that.

I waited with bated breath until I finally came across Pookie’s contribution. It’s the second one on the page below.

“Lovie! We need to redo the password on the DVR. I’m pretty sure Pookie’s been watching Meet the Parents!”

Is it just me, or does that font make the “o” in “Focker” look a lot like a “u?”

“Look on the bright side,” I told Lovie. “At least the sport’s not called sucker. Then we’d have a real problem on our hands. Oh, and don’t forget to put that boy with the LONUT issue on the blacklist, okay honey? The last thing we want is for that kid to wind up taking Pookie to the prom one day. I’m not so sure about the one with the JACKET either. Better put him down, too. Just in case.”

Triplet Standard Time

The blurry red numbers looking back at me from the clock atop the bedside table weren’t the ones I was expecting. It couldn’t have been that late. The sun wasn’t even up. At least I didn’t think it was. If it were, our three little roosters would have been cock-a-doodle-doo-ing through the monitor. And they weren’t. I scooted closer to Lovie and buried my face back into the pillows before curiosity got the best of me, forcing me to groggily lift my head yet again. This time the red numbers were a little clearer, as was the reason why they seemed to be at odds with the environment around me. I’d lost an hour to that dastardly devil yet again. Daylight Savings Time.

“Honey,” I whispered to Lovie. “What are we gonna do about the trips?”

“What do you mean?”

“The time change. We lost an hour.”

“We didn’t lose an hour,” she answered. “We moved our clocks forward an hour.”

“Right. It’s almost eight, but it’s really almost seven which is why the triplets haven’t made a peep yet. If we get them up in a few minutes like normal, they’d lose an hour of sleep.”

“What time is it again?”

“Five before eight.”

“So it’s the old five before nine?”

“Honey,” I answered. “Do I need to make you a chart?”

Once Lovie had finally mastered the new-time situation, the question of which strategy to employ with A, B, and C still remained. What little peace we’ve managed to attain around the house is due to a strict schedule. For that peace to continue, the schedule could not be compromised, which meant that the time change had to be handled with great care.

If we woke them up too early, there’d be hell to pay thanks to tired, fussy toddlers. But if we let them sleep too late, we’d never get them down for their nap at one, or, even worse, for their bedtime at seven. The ensuing domino effect would spill into the next day, and the longer they were off their schedule, the harder it would be to get them back on it. Ultimately, we decided to split the difference and wake them up a little past the new eight, then put them down a touch later than usual for their naps, thus setting the table for a normal bed time of seven.

The morning was sheer hell. As it wore on, one thing became clear. A, B, and C didn’t give a rat’s ass about Daylight Savings Time. It was also clear they didn’t care that Lovie and I were coming off of a rare night out. A rare, late night out. Nope. No sympathy from them. If anything, they turned it up a notch.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like we thought they’d care about the time change, or the late night. After all, they don’t care that our dog’s name is Briggs. They call him ”Move, Briggs.”

C doesn’t care to distinguish between ma’am and sir, constantly calling me “ma’am” no matter how many times I correct her. She also doesn’t care that her “no, ma’am” sounds more like “snowman.”

B doesn’t care that 70% of all his bathroom efforts end with a stream of pee on the floor. Little things like urine trajectory simply haven’t hit his radar. I guess you could call him our whiz kid. Don’t worry. We’re working on getting him to point that thing down.

And A doesn’t care that he’s not supposed to climb out of his crib. He also doesn’t care that he’s not supposed to play in the toilet, regularly parlaying these forbidden activities in one fell swoop. Once apprehended, he’d just assume go right back to bed. Why? Because he doesn’t care that both pajama sleeves are soaked all the way up to his shoulders.

Once we got them down on Sunday night (at seven) we knew that the extra effort we had exuded all day to combat sixty missing minutes (not to mention fatigue), went completely unappreciated if not unnoticed altogether.

A, B, and C don’t care about stuff like that. They don’t care that minor inconveniences for singleton parents are head-scratching riddles for us. And they shouldn’t care.

That’s our job.

And we’re good at it.

I’m Not Not Superstitious

“Are you serious?” asked Lovie on a cold December night in 2007.

“Well, kinda,” I admitted.

“You’re blaming it on that?” Her question gave me pause. I knew it sounded ludicrous, but still.

“I don’t know if I’m blaming it on that, but I’m not ‘not blaming’ it on that, either.”

“You’re king of the double negatives, you know that?” Again, pause. She had a point.

“I’m not ‘not king’ of double negatives,” I offered.

The issue? Tennessee’s loss to LSU in the SEC championship game. The cause? My brother-in-law and his wife.

“And what, exactly, did they do, again?” asked Lovie.

“They popped the bubble.”

“You’re a joke,” she said as she stormed out of the room.

Maybe, but that didn’t change one simple thing. Whenever you’re watching a big-time ballgame and things are going well for your team, it behooves you to keep the viewing environment as similar as possible until the conclusion of said game. Any modifications could instantaneously change momentum.

Which is exactly what had happened. UT was battling valiantly against a heavily favored LSU squad–all knotted up at 14 midway through the fourth quarter when my brother-in-law and his wife came over to catch the end of the game. By popping by, they also popped the bubble and I knew it, but I tried to shrug it off. Minutes later, Erik Ainge threw a pick six that gave LSU the deciding score.

I know. You think I’m an idiot. And I’m good with that. But guess what? Over a year later, it happened again. I was watching the Tennessee men’s basketball team trying to win their first SEC tournament championship in over twenty years when, with just seconds left to play, my brother-in-law texted me his optimistic belief that the Vols would, indeed, pull it off. The next instant? Tennessee turned the ball over on an in-bounds play and was forced to foul with just seconds remaining. We lost by three.

For those of you who think I’m hating on my brother-in-law, nothing could be further from the truth. He’s not the sports freak that I am, so it’s not like he knows about the bubble. Plus, I had a part in the debacle, too. Had I simply ignored the poorly timed text, my bubble would have remained in tact, and Tennessee would have won their first SEC tourney since the Carter administration.

Still think I’m crazy? Maybe this’ll help. Early in the 1998 football season, I sensed that Tennessee had the intangibles needed to run the table and win a national championship. I got this notion from a gutty road win against a Donovan Mcnabb-led Syracuse team coupled with an aura given off by an orange Tennessee pen. For the rest of the year, I kept that pen with me at all times, never actually using it, only clicking it neurotically during each and every game. It came to be known as the PNCP—the Potential National Championship Pen.

On a cold and drizzly afternoon in November, I sat in Neyland Stadium, soaked to the bone, and watched despondently as Tennessee’s title hopes seemed to be falling by the wayside. We had been down 21-3 and mounted an impressive comeback, but, barring a miracle, that comeback would fall short. With less than two minutes remaining, Arkansas was up by three and had the ball. The Vols had no timeouts left and were unable to do anything other than watch the Razorbacks run out the clock. I turned to the PNCP.

Click, click, click, click.

Click, click, click, click.

Arkansas quarterback Clint Stoerner rolled out for a naked bootleg, and did something every Vol fan will remember for the rest of his or her life. He stumbled to the ground, fumbling the football in the process. Tennessee recovered the ball and scored the winning touchdown four plays later.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNsT8k4mBNA]

Six weeks after that, the PNCP and I were in Arizona proudly watching Tennessee win the first ever BCS National Championship.

How you like me now, huh? RECONGNIZE, bitches.

I know. You still think I’m an idiot. So does Lovie.

Y’all can say what you want, but I’m not gonna change. If I were gonna, it would have already happened. But it hasn’t. Which means I’ve gone through more lucky hats than you have pairs of shoes.

Thanks, JCO. We'll easily take care of Ole Miss now.

So why am I telling you this? Simple. I had a dream last night that Wayne Chism asked me to write a post about superstition because he thought it would bring the Vols good luck in today’s SEC quarterfinal match-up with Ole Miss. And who am I to turn down big Wayne Chism?

So, if we win today, will it really be because I put up this post? I don’t know that I’d go so far as to attribute the win directly to my blog.

But I’m not gonna not attribute it to my blog, either.

And by the way, if you think this post is unbelievable, it’s NOTHING compared to the Great Vol-Burger Debacle of 2003 which I write about in my book Tales from the Trips.

Whiz Kids

A little nap-time mishap leaves me wondering what in the world is wrong with my boys. I documented the situation via the one-minute video below. The quality is not the best, as it was shot with my phone.

Pappy Campers

The triplets start preschool in the fall, and Lovie has decided to send them to one that’s associated with a nearby church. It has an excellent reputation, but it’s also notoriously difficult to get into.

“So how’s this gonna go down again?” I asked Lovie.

“I’ll get there Monday morning and–”

“Wait,” I interrupted. “I thought registration was Tuesday morning.”

“It is. But to make sure they get in, we need to be first in line. To do that, I have to get there on Monday.”

“So you’re gonna spend the night?” I asked in disbelief.

“No, honey. Don’t be silly.”

“Oh, good, ’cause I was gonna say–”

You’re gonna spend the night.”

*record scratch*

Lovie would establish our place in line, then I would relieve her after work. Which meant that I would spend a cold February night camping out in a church parking lot (alongside several other overzealous suckers) in hopes of getting Monster, Biggs, and Peanut into a highly coveted preschool.

Honestly? I’d rather mud wrestle with Adam Lambert. Or watch a slow-motion replay of the bronze-metal, Olympic curling match. With Rosie O’Donnell. In Afghanistan. Or maybe even pull a one-hour stint as Roseanne Barr’s thong.

All that said, I had heard several wonderful things about the program–enough to convince me that it really was a great choice for our trio. Plus, I’m a team player. So I was willing to take part in the silly charade, but that didn’t mean I wouldn’t bitch about it. Lovie provided me with my first opportunity when she called me around noon on Monday.

“Some lady told me that I needed three chairs–one for each child, and I only brought one.”

“Chairs? What are you talking about?” I asked.

“Chairs. To mark our spot in line.”

“I thought there was a sign-up sheet that marked our spot.”

“There is,” confirmed Lovie. “And since I got here first, Monster, Biggs, and Peanut are at the top of the list. But you’re supposed to put up chairs to confirm your spot on the sign-up sheet.”

“Are you supposed to rub your tummy and pat your head, too? Or sing The Wheels on the Bus in F minor? Honestly, honey, this is so stupid. Who is this lady, anyway? Another parent?”

“No. She works for a doctor who’s got a two-year-old and a four-year-old. He sent her over here to wait on their behalf, and she was told she needed two chairs.”

I wondered if the woman was questioning our legitimacy because she feared that the triplets would make it impossible for her boss’s two-year-old to get in.

“Did you tell her about the ‘Blood Only’ rule, which states that only blood-related relatives can wait in line?”

“Is that a real rule?” asked Lovie.

“Every bit as real as the bullshit ‘Chair Clause’ that Ms. Nosey Nurse threw at you.”

Ours is the one up front.

By the time I arrived at the church, Lovie had gotten to the bottom of the chair debacle. Nurse Betty was wrong. One chair was all we needed. Relieved, I collapsed the back seat of my Chevy Tahoe and prepared my make-shift bed–a camping cushion, my sleeping bag, and two pillows from home.

I spent the next couple of hours surfing the internet on my phone, wondering if one could actually perish from boredom. Until, that is, I noticed a man walking up to the sign-up sheet on the door. He looked put out. Moments later, a woman approached him. The two engaged in a brief conversation before the man abruptly walked away. Soon, several other folks were all huddled together, prompting me to see what was going on.

“What’s up, y’all?” I asked as I approached the group.

“That guy just left,” answered the woman who had been speaking to him.

“Why?”

“I don’t know. He said he was thinking about leaving, and I told him that if he did, his name would get crossed out. He said he’d like to see someone try it. Then he drove off.”

The process of elimination told us the man in question was number nine. Everyone agreed that he should be marked out, and just like that, number nine was no longer. Though the right decision was made, the preceding debate on whether or not it was fair for a grown man to temporarily vacate his spot in a twenty-four-hour line left me wondering who, exactly, the preschoolers really were in this scenario.

An hour and a half later, number nine came back, only by then, he had earned a new name. Number twelve. When he learned of his numeric demotion, he was none too happy. Thirty minutes later, he got out of his vehicle and marched briskly toward the door, marked his name off the list (yet again), and grabbed his chair. Within seconds, he had pulled out of the parking lot, never to return. Part of me was sad for him. Another part of me was proud of him for taking a stand. I drifted off to sleep, ultimately uncertain as to how I felt about the entire ordeal.

the scene mere minutes before the 7:30 registration.

Until I woke up. For that morning, I saw things from a different perspective. I had endured an unpleasant night (with the help of a bourbon drink courtesy of number eleven), and was suddenly mere minutes away from our ultimate goal–procuring three spots at a fantastic preschool for Monster, Biggs, and Peanut. The other parents and I engaged in jovial conversations as we waited for those final minutes to pass — conversations which were accentuated by energetic tones that belied the dark circles under our eyes.

The unpleasant night was over, and it had suddenly transcended into a badge of honor–one that my love for the triplets had compelled me to earn–one which I wore proudly for the rest of the day. Don’t get me wrong. I’ll never be good with that process. I feel strongly that it needs to be changed. At best, it’s childish. At worst, it has the potential to turn ugly. But if enduring such a process benefits my children? I’ll do it a hundred nights in a row.

That still doesn’t mean I won’t bitch about it, though.

Rash Talking Fool

I was slammed last week and didn’t have any time to write. So today I’m posting a slightly modified version of my first post ever. I had zero readers at the time, so you probably haven’t seen it. Hope you enjoy.

*  *  *

I’ve been under a lot of stress lately. I won’t bore you with the details, but it boils down to having way too much on my plate. The last time I felt this amount of pressure was back in July. Whenever I get stressed, my body reacts in strange ways. So when I noticed a series of small red bumps near my right armpit during that trying time, I didn’t think too much of it. I should have, though. Within a week, the bumps had spread to both sides of my body, covering a significant area of my torso. They had also begun to itch. Badly.

Lovie begged me to see a dermatologist, but I was so slammed at work, I refused to take the time, choosing, instead, to throw every type of over-the-counter ointment imaginable at my red enemy. Sadly, the only thing these various salves seemed to do was make the damn thing spread. My regular inspections revealed drastic growth that conjured up images of kudzu.

Eventually, the itching reached the point to where I could no longer tolerate the sensation of anything brushing against any portion of the sensitive areas, which by then was virtually every area—the tops of my feet, my ankles, my calves, behind my knees, the inside of my thighs, my waistband, up and down both sides of my torso, under each of my arms, on the backs of my triceps, in the folds of my elbows, and even on the tops of my fingers.

So at night I resorted to sleeping completely nude and on top of the covers. During the day I turned to baggy clothes, like loose-fitting shorts and knit shirts that were a size too big. But such garb still brushed against my rash, so I turned up the legs of my shorts to minimize the contact, which exposed most of my thighs and gave me the appearance of a grape smuggler. I also rolled up the sleeves of my shirt, ala Schneider from “One Day at a Time,” only it wasn’t because I needed a place to park my smokes. It was because if I didn’t, I’d scratch my arms until they bled.

I think it's getting better. (and no, this is NOT actually me!)

Once discomfort (and humiliating fashion statements) became my twenty-four-hour-a-day companion, there was no sense in denying it any longer—I was a man with a full-body rash who was in desperate need of medical attention. If I had just gone to the dermatologist when the rash first appeared, it wouldn’t have turned into such a big deal. But it had turned into a big deal, and in so doing, it had also turned me into a walking raspberry–one who finally broke down and called the dermatologist.

“I’m embarrassed,” I said to Lovie on the morning of my appointment.

“Why?” she asked.

“Because these jeans make me look fat. Oh, and this five-and-a-half foot skin lesion I’ve been rocking for the past fortnight isn’t helping either. It’s so disgusting that I don’t even want the doctor to see it.”

“Honey, it’s not that bad.”

“Please, Lovie. You said yourself that you’ve never seen anything so nasty.”

A quick glance in my bathroom mirror that reflected the image of colossal red bumps covering the better part of my entire upper body provided confirmation of Lovie’s original assertation. Soiled Depends thought that thing was gross.

“Honey, relax. I guarantee this guy has seen worse things than that.”

That may have been true, but later that day I still fidgeted nervously as I described the situation to the dermatologist.

“Let’s have a look,” he said with a reassuring smile.

“It’s pretty disgusting,” I warned.

“You don’t have anything to worry about. Trust me—I’ve seen it all.”

“Okay,” I said as I began to peel off my shirt. “I just wanted to give you a heads up because…”

“Good God, that’s horrible!” he interrupted while recoiling in shock. “I’ll be right back,” he said as he abruptly left the room. I fully expected him to return with a photographer to conduct an impromptu, rash-inspired photo shoot that would forever immortalize me as the subject of one of those disturbing, skin-condition brochures that were shamelessly displayed on the shelf to my left. Instead he returned with a two-inch needle which he used to inject me with a double dose of steroids before handing me a prescription for an ointment originally concocted for the Elephant Man.

“By the way, John, the shot I gave you has been known to cause some minor side effects.”

“Like what?” I asked.

“Acne, but it’s extremely rare. Less than a one-percent chance. I’m sure you’ll be just fine.”

Guess who went on to get acne on his back, or “bacne” as Lovie insisted on calling it?

It turned out that my rash was an extreme case of eczema, which had likely spread so quickly due to stress. The weird thing is, I am prone to eczema, but I had never once gotten it during the summer–only during the winter when my skin gets dry. As a matter of fact, I have it right now. It’s a little worse than normal, but I’m not too concerned. You see, I’ve had a really tough stretch, and whenever I get stressed, my body reacts in strange ways.

Wait a minute. You don’t suppose… Oh no. I better go see if I have any of that Elephant Man ointment left. On second thought, maybe I’ll just call my dermatologist. I think I’ve got him on speed dial.

A Matchbox Made in Heaven

A special happy anniversary to Fatherhood Friday, a wonderful weekly event brought to you by the talented folks over at dad-blogs. For those of you who don’t know, dad-blogs is a wonderful community of clever people (and me). I strongly encourage you to take a visit by clicking here.

Lovie and I constantly ask ourselves one simple question. How can three kids who shared the same womb for thirty-six weeks (and one day) turn out to be so different?

A’s a daring, wiry little monkey who’s been known to climb out of his crib, literally disassemble the child-proof handle of his bedroom door, open said door, and (after successfully negotiating the child-proof gate) waltz downstairs in the pitch-black night. Once on the main floor, he’ll nonchalantly tip-toe into the kitchen, startling Lovie and me, while cleverly concealing his mischievous grin with the thumb he’s temporarily parked in his mouth.

C’s the vocal one, continuously muttering to herself, often singing along to songs with nonsensical words she’s made up on the spot. She effortlessly parlays her good looks (which she inherited from Lovie) with her precocious command of the English language to further whatever cause happens to be hers at the moment.

Which brings me to B. He’s the sensitive, inquisitive one, content to simply watch events as they unfold, his mouth slightly agape, his almond-shaped brown eyes wide with wonder. Whether he’s on the playroom floor witnessing A and C fight for control over Elmo, or at the living room window watching the UPS man become Briggs’s slobber-covered bitch, B absorbs it all with the same stoic expression.

If A is not afraid to push the boundaries, and if C is not afraid to express herself, then it’s safe to say that B is not afraid to be his own guy. Not only is he a voyeur of all things mundane, he’s also extremely content to play by himself. This, we’ve discovered, is both good and bad. It’s good because he’s easily entertained. It’s bad because he’s a little young to be playing with himself. (Sorry.) Actually, it’s bad because since B is perfectly content to play by himself, he’s decided that no one else should have access to the toys that entertain him so.

As a result, he’s taken to a mild manifestation of hoarding, cramming whichever toy(s) he currently covets into any one of several secret hiding places. Recently he raided Lovie’s bathroom drawer and pulled out a bunch of pony tail holders. Dismayed that A and C wanted in on the action, he found just the right spot to safeguard his loot.

I bet they'll be safe in here.

Yes, there was urine in there. You can’t see it, though, because it got soaked up by his elastic buddies. Thank goodness he hadn’t laid one down, right?

Of all the toys, it’s the matchbox cars he fancies most. Seriously, we must have fifty such cars, and B could be happily playing with forty-nine of them, but as soon as A or C so much as even looks at the lone remaining vehicle that’s somehow managed to escape B’s grasp, he loses it.

His remedy? Stashing them in other, larger toy vehicles and parading around endlessly with them–a mobile, matchbox car monopoly, if you will.

I know. I'll throw 'em in here.

Am I crazy? Or am I light on Ford Mustang?

In B’s mind, he’s protecting his metal pals from the clutches of A and C. As he makes his rounds, he’s continuously on the lookout for new and improved hiding places, places where the rolling objects of his desire will go undetected until he’s able to swing back by and pick them up again.

They'll never think to look under the ice machine.

Honestly? His preoccupation is starting to make Lovie and me feel like we’re one of his coveted cars. Why you ask?

Because he’s driving us up the wall!

But most of the time, Lovie and I feel like we are B and that B is one of the cars. Because whenever we see our little introvert staring back at us with those big, brown, curious eyes?

All we wanna do is snatch him up and keep him all to ourselves.

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