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WHEN PRE-SCHOOLERS LEARN TO RHYME

PRE-SCHOOLER: Hit. Bit. Fit. Shit. Hit. Bit. Fit. Shit.
DAD: What?
MOM: Did he just say what I think he said?
PRE-SCHOOLER: Hit. Bit. Fit. Shit.
MOM: Sweetie, you shouldn’t say that.
PRE-SCHOOLER: Say what?
DAD: That word.
MOM: Especially around Grandma – God knows she thinks I’m a bad enough parent as it is.
PRE-SCHOOLER: What word? Hit? Bit? Fit? Shit?
DAD: That’s enough.
MOM: How are we gonna tell him not to say S-H-I-T without saying S-H-I-T?
DAD: Why don’t you make a different rhyme?
PRE-SCHOOLER: Mass. Class. Bass. Ass.
MOM: I have a better idea. Have a seat and let’s talk about this. See, there are some words you can’t say out loud.
PRE-SCHOOLER: Why?
MOM: Because they’re bad words.
PRE-SCHOOLER: Why are they bad? Did they do something to get in trou- ble, like leave their toys in the hallway?
MOM: No, the words didn’t do anything, they’re just bad.
DAD: And if you say them you’ll get in trouble.
PRE-SCHOOLER: Why are you using your angry voice?
MOM: Daddy’s not using his angry voice. He’s just trying to tell you there are some words that are bad and good boys don’t say them.
PRE-SCHOOLER: But Daddy says them when he drives us to school, and sometimes after he talks to Grandma.
MOM: Look… Let’s just take a break from rhyming and you and I will go play with your fire truck.
PRE-SCHOOLER: Okay – Truck. Duck. Muck. F –
MOM & DAD: NOOOOO!

THE FAMILY ROAD TRIP: THEN VS. NOW

  • Nobody wore seatbelts.
  • Babies, infants and toddlers sat on mom’s lap in the front seat; the older kids argued over who got to lie on a sleeping bag in the back of the station wagon.
  • If you were good, you got to stop at A&W. Otherwise, you ate bologna sandwiches wrapped in wax paper.
  • Dad spent most of the trip trying to tune in an AM station that was carrying the game. The signal would come in strong for a while then fade. Sometimes there was no signal at all.
  • If you were too loud, your mom would say you were distracting your father, and then eventually he would just reach back and smack whoever was closest in the head, even if they were the one kid being quiet.
  • This was one of the reasons the middle seat was the worst place to sit.
  • Your station wagon got eight miles to the gallon, but you probably didn’t know that because nobody cared.
  • If you were lucky enough to have air conditioning, you couldn’t use it on long trips because your dad said the car would overheat.
  • If you felt car sick, you were supposed to stick your head out the window.
  • “He who smelt it, dealt it.”
  • Dad would only stop for gas or Stuckey’s, so mom kept a pee jar under the front seat just in case you couldn’t hold it.
  • When you passed a truck, you would raise your fist and gesture for the driver to blow his air horn.
  • If your dad had a CB radio, he would listen to it to find out where the speed traps were. If not, he would try to follow a truck.
  • When another car passed you, a kid in the back seat would sometimes pull down his pants and stick his butt out at you. When this happened, you would say “Looks like the moon’s out early tonight.”
  • Sometimes it was a full-moon, other times it was just a half-moon.
  • After driving for six or eight hours, mom and dad would stop at a bar for a drink. They would leave you in the car in the parking lot to wait. After 45 minutes or so, they would come back out, get in the car and then drive for two or three more hours to a Holiday Inn.
  • You drove because flying was a luxury.
  • You spent 1/3 of your vacation going to your destination, 1/3 at your destination, and 1/3 driving back from the destination.
  • If it was Spring Break, the destination was Florida or Arizona. If it was summer, you would go to a cabin in the mountains or by a lake or on the river.

SPENDING $114.87 ON "RASHOMON"

Do you get Netflix? If you do, it was probably Blockbuster’s ridiculous late fees that got you to sign up. But as outrageous as they were, at least you could always say you lost the movie and just pay the replacement cost.

Not so with Netflix.

If you’re like most people, your Netflix queue is a mix of movies you want to watch and movies you should watch because they come up in casual conversation and you’re the only one who hasn’t seen them, which makes you feel stupid.

The problem is that your Netflix cue can’t monitor your mood, which means that when that red and white envelope arrives and you tear it open, there’s a better than 95% chance whatever’s inside won’t be what you feel like watching tonight.

Or the next night.

Or the next night.

Or the next night.

So you say “I’ll watch it over the weekend” and set it on the DVD player, where it sits for three months, picked up occasionally but never watched, until you finally admit to yourself that you’re just not going to get to it anytime soon and send it back.

(And maybe you even rate it, too, so your cue doesn’t think you’re a film loser, either.)

But then a few months later, you’re out somewhere and everybody starts talking about movies and, once again, the movie you didn’t get around to watching comes up, and you’re — once again — singled out.

THEM: You’ve really never seen it?
YOU: No. But I want to. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.
THEM: But it’s so good.
YOU: I know, I just don’t usually have time for movies.
THEM: But you told me last week you watched the entire Jim Carrey collection.
YOU: Uh…
THEM: Again.

So you add it back to your queue.

And then one day it arrives in your mailbox and, naturally, you don’t feel like watching it tonight, tomorrow, or the next day, so you stick it on top of your DVD player, where it sits for three months before you send it back, take it off your queue, and shortly thereafter find yourself — as usual — the lone member of the “I’ve never actually seen that” club.

Repeat this every 18 months or so for five or six years, and factor in the cost of even the most basic Netflix membership, and you end up spending $114.87 for something you could buy new at Target for $19.95.

(Though, of course, even if you did buy it at Target you still wouldn’t get around to watching it.)

——————————————

Movies you should watch but probably won’t ever get around to if you haven’t seen them by now:

  • 12 Angry Men (1957)
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
  • The 400 Blows (1959)
  • 8 ½ (1963)
  • A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
  • The African Queen (1952)
  • All About Eve (1950)
  • Annie Hall (1977)
  • Apocalypse Now (1979)
  • Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972)
  • The Battle of Algiers (1967)
  • The Bicycle Thief (1948)
  • Blade Runner (1982)
  • Blow Up (1966)
  • Blue Velvet (1986)
  • Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
  • Breathless (1960)
  • Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
  • The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
  • Bringing Up Baby (1938)
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
  • Casablanca (1942)
  • Chinatown (1974)
  • Citizen Kane (1941)
  • The Crowd (1928)
  • Double Indemnity (1944)
  • The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)
  • Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
  • Duck Soup (1933)
  • The Exorcist (1973)
  • The Graduate (1967)
  • Grand Illusion (1938)
  • In the Mood For Love (2001)
  • Ikiru (1952)
  • It Happened One Night (1934)
  • It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
  • Jaws (1975)
  • King Kong (1933)
  • The Lady Eve (1941)
  • Lawrence of Arabia (1962))
  • M (1931)
  • The Maltese Falcon (1941)
  • Modern Times (1936)
  • Network (1976)
  • Nosferatu (1922)
  • On the Waterfront (1954)
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
  • Paths of Glory (1958)
  • Princess Mononoke (1999)
  • Psycho (1960)
  • Raging Bull (1980)
  • Raise the Red Lantern (1992)
  • Rashomon (1951)
  • Rear Window (1954)
  • Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
  • Roman Holiday (1953)
  • The Searchers (1956)
  • Seven Samurai (1954)
  • Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
  • Some Like It Hot (1959)
  • The Sound of Music (1965)
  • Sunset Blvd. (1950)
  • The Third Man (1949)
  • This is Spinal Tap (1984)
  • Titanic (1997)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
  • Ugetsu (1953)
  • Vertigo (1958)
  • White Heat (1949)
  • Wild Strawberries (1957)
  • Wings of Desire (1988)
  • The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  • The World of Apu (1959)
  • Yojimbo (1961)

BBQ Tips

  • Beef + flame = BBQ.
  • Beef + flame + lots of beer = 2nd degree burns and a clip for “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”
  • A grill is the second best way to cook asparagus. But a blast furnace is the best way because it completely incinerates those terrible little stalks.
  • Don’t wear a “Kiss the cook” apron while you BBQ unless you want a drunken friend or neighbor to try to.
  • If a cup of hot coffee has to carry a warning label, why doesn’t a grill? And since it doesn’t, how long before somebody files a class action lawsuit claiming they were burned because they didn’t realize grills get so hot?
  • Not everything can be grilled — like pasta, for example. And although this may seem obvious, to 4-year-olds and drunken neighbors it’s not.
  • If a dog is man’s best friend, a grill runs a close second.
  • There is a difference between well-done and burnt, but only to people who like their steaks well-done. To everyone else — especially lovers of blood and pink — they are both the same: a waste of a perfectly good cut of meat.
  • If you’re cooking with gas, it’s important to the light the grill immediately after turning on the gas instead of running inside to get another drink first.
  • It’s also important not to use lighter fluid.
  • Anyone who says “everything tastes better when it’s grilled” clearly hasn’t eaten at my neighbors.
  • Men like to BBQ for the same reason they like to see stuff blow up.
  • There should be a mathematical formula for calculating the increase in LDL given a steak’s price per pound so that anyone with high cholesterol can ignore their doctor’s advice in an informed manner.
  • George Stephen, creator of the Weber Grill, should be sainted.
  • If there is ever another Civil War, it will most likely have something to do with Texas, Alabama and Missouri claiming to have the best BBQ in the America, and all the other states either taking sides or taking offense, except for Wisconsin, which will remain neutral because they have fish boils instead of BBQ.

KIDS, TV AND THE S-WORD: TIME TO BRING BACK THE NETWORK CENSOR?

One of the most popular feeds on twitter is “$#*! My Dad Says,” which is a collection of the irreverent, biting, very-funny comments 29-year-old Justin’s 74-year-old dad makes. It has close to 1.4 million followers and is being turned into a sitcom by CBS starring William Shatner.

Maybe.

A national family-advocacy group called the Parents Television Council is threatening an “unrelenting campaign” against the show’s advertisers and CBS’s affiliates if the show airs because they don’t like the idea of a show named “$#*! My Dad Says” being on at 8:30 pm.

(They probably don’t like the idea of the show being on at all, as well — these are the same gate-keepers of morality who don’t recommend the new Shrek movie for kids under seven because it includes “toilet humor, with Shrek’s children belching, farting, pooping their pants and urinating on Shrek,” which, as even the most conservative parents know, is exactly what kids under age seven think is funny1.)

It’s not like CBS is actually going to use the s-word in the title, of course; instead, they plan to substitute the all-purpose curse-word stand-in “$#*!”

Which means the problem is… what exactly?

Because CBS broadcasts its programing over the public airwaves, the FCC insists (more or less, depending on who’s in charge) that it and other broadcasters adhere to a higher standard of decency than, say, every other media outlet in the known universe, because there’s a reasonable (though infinitely small) chance some unsuspecting innocent will accidentally turn on the TV and be offended:

CHILD: I just saw something on TV I don’t understand.
OVER-REACTIVE PARENT: What was it?
CHILD: It was a promo for a new show called “$#*! My Dad Says.”
OVER-REACTIVE PARENT: You saw that on TV!?!?
CHILD: Why? Is that bad?
OVER-REACTIVE PARENT: Of course it’s bad: “$#*!” is a swear word.
CHILD: Really? I’ve never heard of that one before.
OVER-REACTIVE PARENT: Well… technically “$#*” isn’t a swear word, it’s a substitute for a swear word, but it’s still offensive.
CHILD: Which swear word is it a substitute for?
OVER-REACTIVE PARENT:That’s just it: it could be any one of ‘em — though usually if you think about it you can figure it out.
CHILD: Oh.. now I know.
OVER-REACTIVE PARENT:Exactly. Now you go wash your mouth out with soap while I write a letter to FCC to complain about the way the liberal media is corrupting our youth.

There’s nothing wrong with parents protecting their kids from what they feel are bad influences, but isn’t it kind of silly to make such a big deal out of something like this? If for no other reason than the fact that there probably isn’t a kid left in this country who doesn’t already know the s-word, the a-word and probably the f-word, too.

(FULL DISCLOSURE: I know my kids know them because (a) they are sometimes in the car with me when I drive and (b) I think it’s important they have a full and complete grasp of the English language, including words that are inappropriate, which is why I sat them down one night and taught them.2)

Besides, when you think about it, television doesn’t need to be censored because televisions come with a remote control and a power button.

Click.

Click.

Click.

Isn’t that easier than a national boycott?

(That said, remotes can be so confusing and complicated it is possible somebody somewhere can’t turn their TV off, change the channel, lower the volume or remove the annoying on-screen overlay because they haven’t managed to crack the secret combination of input/source buttons even this most basic level of functionality can sometimes require. But that’s the fault of the manufacturer, not the media.)

Rather than being bad, in fact, a situation like “$#*! My Dad Says” is actually good because it’s a potential springboard for a family discussion about the the way personal beliefs shape behavior, and how these truths help us decide appropriate from inappropriate, right from wrong and good from bad.

(Though, admittedly, given the time and effort that kind of thing would involve, a national boycott would probably be easier and less time-consuming.)

So what do concerned parents do about “$#*! My Dad Says”?

Just explain in clear and graphic terms exactly “$#*!” is:  punctuation — because if the fear is that exposed kids will suddenly start slinging obscenities willy nilly, nothing will kill that impulse more quickly than a long, drawn-out lesson in grammar:

PARENT: Have you ever wondered why they use “$,: “#,” “*,” “@” and “!” to denote obscenities instead of, say, a semi-colon?
WOULD-BE FOUL-MOUTHED CHILD: No more, please!
PARENT: Sorry, we can’t stop now: we haven’t discussed your reading assignments from The Elements of Style,  Eats, Shoots and Leaves, and The Mother Tongue yet.
WOULD-BE FOUL-MOUTHED CHILD: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

And as for the show itself, the only reason to ban, condemn or make it the focus on an “unrelenting campaign” is if it isn’t funny.3

Stay tuned.

__________________________________________

1 If anyone should be offended by this it’s parents, because they know from first-hand experience there’s nothing funny about pee, poop or puke, especially when it’s just been splattered all over you.

2 Given the current political climate, I’d venture that liberal households aren’t the only ones where kids are getting an education in vulgarities, either:

CHILD: Where are you going?
ULTRA-CONSERVATIVE PARENT: There’s a Tea Party Rally at the park.
CHILD: What’s a Tea Party?
ULTRA-CONSERVATIVE PARENT: The Tea Party movement is a grass-roots effort whereby patriotic Americans join together to save our country from Obama, Pelosi and the rest of those f-ing liberals.
CHILD: GASP! You said “f-ing.”
ULTRA-CONSERVATIVE PARENT: I know, but it’s not my fault — liberals make me so mad I just can’t control myself.
CHILD: You still have to wash your mouth out with soap though, right?
ULTRA-CONSERVATIVE PARENT: I’ll be glad to, too, ’cause everything that’s happening to our country right now leaves such a bad taste in my mouth, soap would be an improvement.

3 If anything should be banned, condemned, or made the focus of an “unrelenting campaign,” it should be ads for erectile dysfunction that air during shows kids probably shouldn’t be watching with their parents but do, because trying to explain that is really, really uncomfortable.

TEENAGER VS. POLITICIAN

Teenager? Or politician? Sometimes it’s not so easy to tell.

  • Both want your money.
  • Both will do anything to get it.
  • Both say you can trust them completely.
  • Neither understands why you won’t.
  • When caught in a lie, both initially deny the accusation, then claim they “misspoke,” and finally try to blame you, saying it’s really your fault because of something you did.
  • Both give out your phone number to fundraisers — with teenagers, it’s to the PTA; with politicians, it’s to the NRA.
  • Both can be lobbied.
  • Both trade favors.
  • Both have ulterior motives.
  • Both need you more than you need them.
  • Neither sees it that way.
  • Neither is very good at keeping a promise, but both always have what they think is a perfectly good excuse for why not.
  • When it comes to priorities, both believe the same thing: party first.
  • Both would do anything to be more popular.
  • No matter how innocent they seem, both are guilty of something that you won’t find out about until later.

OOPS

MY SON: What’s that sign say?
ME: Leinenkugel’s.
MY SON: What’s Leinenkugel’s?
ME: It’s a kind of beer.
MY SON: Is it new?
ME: No, Leinenkugels has been around forever — that’s the beer we used to drink in high school.
MY SON: Wait… you drank beer in high school? I thought it was against the law to drink beer in high school?
ME: Uh… It is.
MY SON: But you just said “that’s the beer we drank in high school.”
ME: Yes, but what I meant was… uh… um… what I meant was that Leinenkugel’s was popular when I was in high school.
MY SON: You mean that’s what other kids drank?
ME: No, because there was absolutely no beer-drinking in high school. By anyone. Ever. What I meant was that at the time I was in high school, Leinenkugel’s was a popular beer that legally-aged adults consumed in limited quantities in a responsible fashion.
MY SON: Oh. What a funny name for a beer.
ME: Yes.

BLAME MOM

Now that Mother’s Day is over, it’s time to get back to blaming mom.

While this might seem harsh, research indicates it may actually be justified: according to experts, “the way mothers talk to their children at a young age influences their social skills later in childhood.”

In other words, children of mothers who explain things – specifically other people’s feelings, beliefs, wants and intentions – are better off socially than those whose mothers dismiss their budding curiosity with “Because,” “Because I said so!” or “Because if you ask me again you’re going to bed for the rest of the day!”

Not that being more socially advanced is the key to a trouble-free childhood – researchers pointed out that kids who are more comfortable and confident expressing their emotions and opinions are much more likely to actually express their emotions and opinions, usually in complex and sophisticated ways, especially when they are contrary to yours.

But while some authority figures might consider this “bad,” “inappropriate” or a reason for detention and/or counseling, researchers downplayed this implication and pointed out that, in a perverse way, these bile-filled diatribes are actually a good sign. And that when a teenager erupts in rage and frustration and screams “You disgust me!” “You’re the worst parent ever!” or “I have complete and utter contempt for everything you stand for,” it’s not proof he or she is possessed, it’s proof mom created exactly the kind of positive, loving, supportive environment her child needed to feel comfortable acting like an ungrateful little shit.

FATHER: Why are you crying?
MOTHER: Because Junior just told me he hates me.
FATHER: What!
MOTHER: No, it’s fine. I’m not crying because I’m sad, I’m crying because now I know I’ve raised him right.
FATHER: Huh?
MOTHER: According to experts, his ability to express himself with confidence and authority proves I’m a good mother.
FATHER: Was there something on Oprah I should know about?
MOTHER: Just hold me.

If mom gets the credit, however, she also gets the blame. Which means that when a child is sullen, moody and silent, it’s probably because mom messed up years or even decades ago, and can now add that to the long list of things she feels guilty about but can never make up for, no matter how hard she tries.

MOTHER: My kids are grown, so what am I supposed to do now? Go back in time and try to explain everything to them more thoroughly?
PSYCHOLOGIST: Is that something you can do?
MOTHER: What?
PSYCHOLOGIST: Go back in time?
MOTHER: Of course not.
PSYCHOLOGIST: So that’s the problem: you need to go back in time to save your children but you can’t.
MOTHER: Exactly.
PSYCHOLOGIST: And who do you need to save them from? A terminator?
MOTHER: Huh?
PSYCHOLOGIST: Or maybe aliens?
MOTHER: I can’t talk to you.
PSYCHOLOGIST: Why? Are the aliens monitoring us?

Before us Dads get all superior and start pointing fingers, we should keep in mind that researches were only able to study the relationship between mothers and their offspring because fathers and their offspring didn’t spend enough time together to make enough of an impact, leading many to conclude that if we’re going to blame anyone because Junior is socially inept, we should probably blame dad, too.

Though not until after Father’s Day.

LOAD OF CRAP?

Rumors are swirling around that Pampers new, reformulated Swaddlers and Cruisers lines of diapers are causing rashes and chemical burns. But is this true? Has anyone come forward with conclusive proof that this is actually happening? Has anyone come forward with conclusive proof it’s not?

According to P&G, these allegations are “completely false.”

This response makes sense because we live in an age where misinformation gets passed off as gospel, and large, multi-national corporations like P&G have to act decisively.

On the other hand, we also live in an age where large, multi-national corporations spin just about everything, so who’s to say that 25 years from now, after some kind of “Jane Doe v. Pampers” class action lawsuit has been filed, all appeals have been exhausted and 150,000+ boxes of research, focus-group results and internal memos have been subpoenaed, cataloged and read in search of a smoking gun, P&G won’t pay a nominal fine and admit that while they didn’t lie, intentionally ignore some data, or make a critical error in judgement, they are sorry their long-since-reformulated product might have caused a limited number of cases of diaper rash all those years ago.

What strikes me as really silly is that P&G didn’t stop at denying the rumors were true, but went on to claim they were actually part of some giant conspiracy.

“These [diaper rash] rumors are being perpetuated by a small number of parents, some of whom are unhappy that we replaced our older Cruisers and Swaddlers products while others support competitive products and the use of cloth diapers,” said Pampers Vice President Jodi Allen in a statement.

A cabal of disgruntled former customers, Huggies families and the cloth diaper mafia?

Seriously?

(In the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that we are Huggies family and have been for 10 years.1 That said, I don’t personally have anything against Pampers, and can’t honestly remember why we chose Huggies over Pampers in the first place, though I suspect it was because the supply of newborn diapers the hospital gave us ran out at 2:40 am some night, and when I went to the nearest all-night drug store to find more, I grabbed the first box of diapers I could find, which happened to be Huggies.)

While it’s possible that P&G is right, and eventually some hidden camera footage of the secret meeting where the plot was first hatched between the aforementioned groups will emerge, but until then, do they really want to handle the concern parents have for the health and well-being of their offspring this way?

CONCERNED PARENT: Your diapers gave my pride and joy a rash.
FICTIONAL P&G SPOKESPERSON: That’s a lie.
CONCERNED PARENT: Then why was my little angel, whose life I care more about than even my own, crying in pain?
FICTIONAL P&G SPOKESPERSON: We don’t know. But let us ask you a question: Are you now, or have you ever been a member of an anti-Pampers organization?
CONCERNED PARENT: No — but I guarantee that I will be in the future.

However this all shakes out, one thing seems clear clear: just because Pampers is in the diaper business doesn’t mean they can handle a big mess.

1Yes, we should be using green diapers, or at least cloth diapers, but we don’t and to the extent we are ruining the planet, we are sorry.

MOTHER’S DAY

KID: Mother’s Day is coming up.
MOM: I know.
KID: Do you want us to get you anything?
MOM: Only if you want to.
KID: Or course we want to, we just don’t know what you want.
MOM: Surprise me.
KID: With what?
MOM: With something I’d like.
KID: A present?
MOM: Sure.
KID: But what kind of present?
MOM: How can you spend so much time with me and not know a single thing I like? Just think about what I do every day.
KID: Okay.
MOM: Does that give you any ideas?
KID: It does — we could get you some plastic bags.
MOM: Plastic Bags?
KID: For making our lunches.
MOM: No.
KID: Okay, what about some dish towels?
MOM: No.
KID: Pencils you could use to help us with homework?
MOM: No.
KID: A mop?
MOM: No.
KID: You already have an SUV you like to drive us around in. How about one of those cool toilet bowl cleaners I saw on TV?
MOM: No.
KID: New laundry basket?
MOM: Do you think I do all those things because I like to?
KID: Why else would you do them?
MOM: Because I’m a mom and that’s what mom’s do: stuff they don’t like doing, but needs to be done.
KID: Oh.
MOM: Yeah, “Oh.”
KID: If that’s the case, then I know exactly what you’d like for Mother’s Day.
MOM: What’s that?
KID: To be like Dad: ‘cause there’s lots of stuff he needs to do, but usually he just watches ESPN instead.

Editor’s Note: While not entirely true, there’s no doubt the sentiment expressed above often feels true.

XBOX VS. DIGITAL THERMOMETER

Just because kids say they’re sick doesn’t mean they actually are sick.

Which means for parents, trying to decide if a child should stay home or go to school can be quite a challenge.

(And even though teachers and principals almost always say keep kids home if there’s any question about how well they feel, that isn’t either practical or fair – for many of us, the fact that our kids learn something at school isn’t nearly as important as the fact that somebody else has to put up with watch them for a few hours each weekday so we can catch our breathes.)

So how do parents figure out if their kids are nauseas because they have the flu or because they have to turn in a 10-page report they completely forget to even start?

While medical electronics can be helpful, they’re not nearly as accurate as consumer electronics: all parents have to do is ask the child who complains about not feeling well “If you stay home sick, what are you going to do all day?”

ACTIVITY % CHANCE SICK
  • nothing

    99%

  • watch TV1, listen to iPod

    80%

  • play Nintendo DS, Gameboy, PSP, games on cell phones, check e-mail2

    50%

  • play XBOX 360, Playstation 3

    25%

  • play Wii, text friends3, play online multi-player game

    5%

  • Do any of the above while electronically linked with a friend (or friends) who just happen to be home “sick,” too

    0%

1This mostly depends on what they watch — a Cartoon Network Marathon would raise suspicions, CNN’s The Situation Room would not.

2Though given the rate at which most kids check their e-mail, actually checking e-mail might be a sign of some kind of fever-induced delusion.

3With the chance they’re sick dropping one percent for every 5 texts they send and/or receive.

BABIES IN BARS

Is there anything worse than bringing a baby to a bar?

Judging by all the anger that’s being vented online, this seems to be among the most grievous sins any parent can commit.

But why?

To begin with, it’s more than likely the lonely, bitter, child-hating singles who seem to be so put out by this are in the minority, and that the majority of bar-patrons either don’t care, or accept the fact that there’s really no getting around the situation because babies need to be with their parents and their parents need to relax and have a few drinks before they completely lose their minds.

(Though I might be more than a little biased about that.)

On the other hand, if the baby-haters are in the majority, then… well… at least they’re in a bar where they can just order another round to numb their senses, right?

But forget that for the moment.

It seems like the primary objection to babies in bars is that they do a lot of things that ruin it for everyone else.

Maybe that’s true, but is a suckling newborn any more off-putting or “obscene” than two semi-intoxicated singles groping each other in a back corner of the bar that’s not nearly as dim as they think it is?

If spit-up is the problem, it’s important to keep in mind that when babies do that — whether in the car, or in a bar, or in a country called Myanmar  (sorry, too much Dr. Seuss) — they usually do it on themselves, their mom or their mom’s childless, single friend who suggested they meet for a drink in the first place.

The same can’t be said for the just-turned-21 winner of the “Let’s see how many shots of Jack Daniels I can do” contest.

(Though he, too, may spit up on mom’s single, childless friend:

JUST-TURNED-21-YEAR-OLD: You ever watch “Cougar Town?”
MOM’S CHILDLESS, SINGLE FRIEND: I do, actually.
JUST-TURNED-21-YEAR-OLD: Me, too. I… I…
MOM’S CHILDLESS, SINGLE FRIEND: You want to come over and watch it with me some time?
JUST-TURNED-21-YEAR-OLD: No, I think I’m gonna be sick. BLA-AAAAA-A-A-TCH.

Think baby spit-up smells bad? It’s nothing compared to the stench of half-digested bar nuts and bourbon.)

So what about drool?

Any two geezers who’ve spent the entire day knocking back $2 PBRs produce a lot more than an infant.

Ditto for diapers, and the whole Huggies vs. Depends thing, too.

Which leaves what? Crying?

Sure, that can be loud, grating and unstoppable, but even a 5-month-old with a bad case of colic can’t compete with the sobs and wails that ring out when those same two semi-intoxicated singles run into each other a few nights later and one claims to have absolutely no memory of the other, let alone the passionate night they spent together where they pledged their mutual love and promised to be soul mates forever.

Conclusion: Baby-haters 0, Babies 1

In fact, maybe more than “1″ when you consider that to singles, a baby in a bar might not just be a reminder that they should enjoy themselves while they can still get out of the house without hiring a sitter, but that they should be careful, too, lest some intoxicated encounter take an intimate turn and they find themselves having to do that way too soon.

Now… if there’s anywhere babies should be banned, it’s coffee houses, because nothing makes every coo, burp, squeal, shriek or sob more irritating than a whole lot of caffeine.

(Note: to be fair, of course, if we ban babies from coffee houses, we should also ban loud talkers, people who yell into their cell phones like they’re stuck in a hurricane, anyone with an iPod who sings along to whatever’s playing through their earbuds, people who push three or four tables together to have a staff meeting, teenagers who spread their textbooks out across all the tables but then sit there and text their friends instead of studying, anyone trying to sell anything, promote anything, or affect any kind of social change, anyone coming from, or going to yoga, because who needs that kind of guilt, politicians, dog walkers who leave their dogs outside, nannies who leave their strollers outside, and, of course, anyone trying to write anything on a laptop — especially if it’s a post like this.)

Links to the many online articles and rants:

“Babies in Bars”/New York Times Blog

“Babies in Bars”/CNN

“Babies in Bars”/Luke Constantino

“Babies in Bars”/Brownstoner

“Babies in Bars”/New York Blips

“Babies in Bars”/The Nervous Breakdown

“Babies in Bars”/Parent Dish

“Babies in Bars”/Gothamist

“Babies in Bars”/New York Times

EARTH DAY GUILT

For a lot of parents, Earth Day is a time to feel guilt and shame for driving an SUV and having too many flat-screen TVs. For kids, it’s a time to learn that the psychological problems they’ll have later in life because of the way mom and treat them are nothing compared to the environmental problems they’ll have later in life because of the way mom and dad treat the planet.

(Assuming, of course, life is still around later.)

KID: Thanks for ruining the earth.
PARENT: It’s not my fault. Blame grandma and grandpa, too — they started it.

The good news is that thanks to most Americans grudging acceptance of climate change, a renewed government-focus on conserving natural resources and developing alternate energy sources, and the fact that it’s cool to drive a Prius, there’s hope for the future.

The bad news is that kids are still kids, which means they can turn just about anything to their advantage, especially environmental tips they come home and claim to have been taught in school:

PARENT: How was school today?
KID: We learned how to help the planet for Earth Day.
PARENT: Great.
KID: They said we should all conserve water and turn off lights when we don’t need them so we don’t waste electricity.
PARENT: That’s right.
KID: Which means I shouldn’t take a bath tonight, or probably even this week.
PARENT: Huh?
KID: And you know how you always bug me about reading in the dark?
PARENT: Yes.
KID: That’s actually good because reading in the dark doesn’t waste electricity.
PARENT: Uh…
KID: We’re supposed to recycle everything, too, so wearing the same shirt, pants and underwear all week isn’t gross, it’s green.
PARENT: I think you’re taking these tips the wrong way.
KID: How could I take them the wrong way?
PARENT: I don’t know but I guess we’ll find out: what else did you learn?
KID: Eat local.
PARENT: And?
KID: Just that: eat local.
PARENT: That seems pretty straight forward.
KID: It is — and since that McDonald’s is just down the street, I was thinking we should go there as much as possible.
PARENT: Are you serious?
KID: We don’t even have to drive. We could walk!
PARENT: I don’t even know how to respond.
KID: I know eating local like that isn’t always practical, so we learned that when we can’t eat local, we should at least eat less.
PARENT: Let me guess: starting with vegetables?
KID: Especially carrots.
PARENT: Right.
KID: We should also try to use less.
PARENT: Which means?
KID: No more boring, stupid trips to Target! Hurray!
PARENT: Anything else?
KID: Americans waste 5.8 billion gallons of water each year flushing their toilets.
PARENT: No.
KID: But you don’t even know what the tip is.
PARENT: I can guess. And I don’t care how good it is for the planet, you have to flush.
KID: Wow. You know, when they said some people didn’t want to help the environment, I never thought they meant you.

Happy Earth Day.

INVITATION DECISION-MAKING TREE

Do you need to go? NO decline
YES
Do you want to go? NO decline
YES
Can you think of anything bad that will happen if you don’t go? NO decline
YES
If you lie and say you can’t go because you already have plans, will anybody find out? NO decline
YES
Will you really care if that happens? NO decline
YES
Will there be an open bar? NO decline
YES
Can you leave early if you are having a terrible time? NO decline
YES
accept

THE ANGRY VOICE

KID: Why are you using your angry voice?
PARENT: I’m not using my angry voice.
KID: It sounds like you’re using your angry voice.
PARENT: This is not my angry voice.
KID: Oh. Is it your totally-stressed-out voice?
PARENT: My what?
KID: If it’s not your angry voice, then it must be your totally stressed-out voice.
PARENT: It’s not my totally stressed-out voice, either.
KID: Is grandma coming?
PARENT: Why do you think grandma is coming?
KID: Because if it’s not your angry voice or your totally stressed-out voice, then it’s probably your grandma-is-coming-to-visit voice.
PARENT: I don’t have a grandma-is-coming-to-visit voice.
KID: No, you do – you definitely do.
PARENT: Well… grandma’s not coming to visit so it can’t be my grandma-is-coming-to-visit voice.
KID: Did you get a bad email from somebody?
PARENT: No.
KID: Are you tired?
PARENT: No.
KID: Do you have to wait around the house all day for the cable guy to show up?
PARENT: No.
KID: Hmm… if it’s not your bad-email voice, your I’m-really-really-tired voice or your I-hate-waiting-for-the-cable-guy voice, then what is it?
PARENT: Maybe it’s just my normal voice?
KID: If it’s your normal voice then why haven’t I ever heard it before?
PARENT: What’s that supposed to mean? Are you suggesting the only time I ever say anything to you I’m angry, stressed or irritated?
KID: Uh-oh… I think I know what voice it is.
PARENT: What?
KID: I don’t want to tell you.
PARENT: Why?
KID: Because I think it’s your if-you-say-anything-else-I’ll-get-upset-with-you-and-make-you-do-chores voice.
PARENT: I don’t have an if-you-say-anything-else-I’ll-get-upset-with-you-and-make-you-do-chores voice!
KID: Okay.
PARENT: But go clean up your room anyway.
KID: I knew it.

YOU CAN'T SPELL SHIH TZU WITHOUT S- H- I- AND T

HOUSEGUEST: Mind if I bring my dog?
HOMEOWNER: To our house?
HOUSEGUEST: He’s not any trouble. You won’t even know he’s there.
HOMEOWNER: Is he housebroken?
HOUSEGUEST: Of course.

When it comes to pets, there seem to be two kinds of people: those who believe being housebroken is an either/or proposition — either a dog goes outside when he needs to do his business, or he’s not housebroken — and those who favor a more Zen-like interpretation, where “housebroken” is more journey than destination, a path to potty enlightenment that every dog must travel at its own speed, peeing and pooping along the way as the need arises.

As you would expect, the latter position is most often adopted by those who think of their dogs as their children, and they are usually as unapologetic when their “baby” has “an accident” as a real parent is when the same thing happens to their child.

The problem is that when a child poops or pees, it’s in his pants; when a dog poops or pees, it’s on the bedspread in the bedroom.

HOUSEGUEST: Sorry.
HOMEOWNER: I thought you said he was housebroken?
HOUSEGUEST: He is.
HOMEOWNER: Then why didn’t he go outside?
HOUSEGUEST: Everybody has accidents. He probably just got excited.

How do you react to this kind of situation?

There seem to be two kinds of people in this case, too: those who understand that “shit happens,” and when it does the only thing you can do is grab some paper towels and clean it up, and those who want to know who’s gonna pay for the new mattress.

(And, unfortunately, you won’t know which camp you fall into until it happens to you.)

A NOTE FROM THE IRS

To: All Taxpayers

From: IRS

RE: Replacement for IRS Form 1040 EZ for taxpayers experiencing economic hardship

In light of economic conditions facing the country, we are temporarily replacing IRS Form 1040 EZ with a new form that more directly addresses taxpayers financial difficulties. Anyone who has been recently (or not-so-recently) unemployed, who has lost their entire savings in the Madoff scandal or because they invested on Wall Street, who works for a Detroit auto maker, or who finds themself in a position where they owe more on their house than it’s worth, should now request IRS Form 1040 F.U. — because no matter how bad your situation is, you are still required to pay your taxes, and you will be penalized if you don’t.

TIME MANAGEMENT TIPS? OH, PLEASE

As a parent, time is precious. So how do you make the most of it? Time management experts offer the following advice:

1. Prioritize.
2. Delegate/outsource.
3. Set time limits for tasks.
4. Establish routines and stick to them.
5. Don’t waste time waiting.

At first glance, these suggestions seem simple and straight-forward, but when you actually try to implement them you quickly realize they are better suited to some kind of parallel “self-help dimension” where the laws of time, space and sibling in-fighting don’t apply.

1. Prioritize.

In theory, yes. In practice – forget it.

Take, say, the tasks of treating an injury versus giving a toddler a bath. Typically, bleeding kids come first, unless they’re bleeding because they did the thing you told them not to do five times, in which case the toddler would get the bath. If the bleeding kid is bleeding on furniture, however, then the furniture needs immediate attention.

On the other hand, if there’s only a little bleeding and it’s not on any furniture, then that might not be as important as preventing the toddler from trying to bathe himself.

2. Delegate/outsource.

Which means what? Parents are supposed to ship their kids off to India to get help with their homework?

3. Set time limits for tasks.

Okay. But what is the appropriate time limit for a temper tantrum? And if getting everybody ready in the morning takes 15 minutes longer than whatever amount of time you set aside – whether it’s 40 minutes or two hours – how are you supposed to limit that? Or if you make reservations for that one night out a year you get a leisurely three hours to eat, what happens when the babysitter is 20 minutes late and the restaurant gives up your table?

4. Establish routines and stick to them.

Most parents already do this, but it doesn’t seem to help. For example, a typical morning routine would be telling the kids to get up, get in the shower, get dressed, get some breakfast and get in the car, then repeating this three or four times over the course of 20 minutes before threatening them with some kind of bodily harm if they don’t do all of the above RIGHT THIS MINUTE!

This is followed by the nagging suspicion that something that was supposed to have been done last night wasn’t, and the sudden realization that this “something” was making lunches for all the kids.

Oops.

As there is now not nearly enough time left to do everything and still get off on time, vows that “This will never happen again!” must be shouted so that all in the house can hear, spouses must be silently cursed for not helping, and God must be asked “Why me? What have I done to deserve this?”

5. Don’t waste time waiting.

Clearly this was not written by anyone living in a small house with kids. How else is a parent supposed to get into the bathroom?

From “Why Chicken Nuggets are Better Than Prozac.”

THE RETURN OF ROB AND LAURA PETRIE?

Network censors demanded separate beds for “The Dick Van Dyke Show” because they felt it was inappropriate for the married couple portrayed by Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore to sleep together.

(Raising the question of exactly how son Richie came about, but never ad- dressing it.)

It seemed silly at the time, and even more silly when the 70s hit and the sexual revolution took hold, but now more and more couples are starting to think “Hey, maybe those network censors had it right after all!”

According to experts, the main benefit of a couple having separate bedrooms is they both get more sleep because neither gets awakened by the other’s snoring… getting up every hour to pee… tossing and turning… general inabil- ity to tip-toe… and so on.

On the negative side… well… when you’re getting more sleep, is there really anything negative?

Note: While there is concern that separate bedrooms could impact intimacy and romance, that’s only for couples without children, as couples with chil- dren almost certainly gave those up shortly after their first child was con- ceived, and now fully embrace the idea of separate bedrooms if for no other reason than when you both sleep in the same bed, both of you wind up with no room to move around when your kids file in after dark because they had a bad dream or heard something scary in the closet.

From “Why Chicken Nuggets are Better Than Prozac.”

STATISTICS SAY FATHERS BETTER THAN MOTHERS

As this week’s New York Times points out, “Working parents perpetually agonize that they don’t see enough of their children. But a surprising new study finds that mothers and fathers alike are doing a better job than they think, spending far more time with their families than did parents of earlier generations.”

Take that, grandparents.

But if “time spent with kids” is an indicator of overall parenting success, it raises the question: who does a better job? Mothers ? Or fathers?

The answer: fathers.

Because when you compare the amount of time spent with kids today to pre-1995 amounts, fathers are up an impressive 102 percent, while mothers are only up 77 percent.

Sorry moms.

(As with all statistics, there is an alternate interpretation. Click here to see how the same statistics indicate mothers are better than fathers.)

STATISTICS SAY MOTHERS BETTER THAN FATHERS

As this week’s New York Times points out, “Working parents perpetually agonize that they don’t see enough of their children. But a surprising new study finds that mothers and fathers alike are doing a better job than they think, spending far more time with their families than did parents of earlier generations.”

Take that, grandparents.

But if “time spent with kids” is an indicator of overall parenting success, it raises the question: who does a better job? Mothers ? Or fathers?

The answer: mothers.

Because when you compare the amount of time spent with kids today to pre-1995 amounts, mothers are up an impressive 9.2 hours per week while fathers are only up 5.1 hours.

Sorry dads.

(As with all statistics, there is an alternate interpretation. Click here to see how the same statistics indicate fathers are better than mothers.)

TIME DOESN'T FLY WHEN YOU'RE FLYING WITH KIDS

How can a two hour and 20 minute flight take five hours?

Electronic check in:

17 17 minutes

Manual check-in after electronic check-in can’t find everyone’s name:

34 34 minutes

Airport security:

37 37 minutes

Pat down, additional questioning after dad was randomly flagged as a potential terrorist (which the kids thought was funny, but the parents couldn’t believe):

11 11 minutes

Flight Delay (cause unknown, but “kid in control tower” incident suspected):

40 40 minutes

Actual flight:

140 2 hours 20 minutes

Wait on tarmac (after pilot announces “We’ll be taxing to the gate in just a few minutes”):

17 17 minutes

Wait at gate:

7 7 minutes

Wait at baggage claim:

34 34 minutes

Wait at baggage claim “lost luggage” department:

19 19 minutes

Time-out for deep, calming breaths:

6 6 minutes

Finding car in long-term parking after losing slip of paper with level and section number:

22 22 minutes

Explaining why there won’t be any more family trips until the memory of this last one has faded away completely:

Forever Weeks

THINGS ONLY PARENTS UNDERSTAND

“Why do my kids always need to tell me things when I’m going to the bathroom?”

- from 140characterparenting.com

WHO'S THE FOOL NOW?

KID: Dad! Dad! You gotta come quick!
DAD: Why? What is it?
KID: Just come with me.
DAD: Wait… is this an April Fools’ prank?
KID: A what?
DAD: An April Fools’ prank — you know, where you play a practical joke on somebody and then when they realized it, you yell “April Fools!”
KID: I’ve never heard of that. Is it new?
DAD: No, April Fools’ Day has been around forever. In fact, it used to be one of my favorite holidays. One time when I was a kid, your uncle and I put black food coloring in the milk, and then when your grandpa poured it on his cereal he screamed. Another time we let the air out of one of his tires and told him he had a flat. And then there was this time we switched the morning newspaper and tricked him into thinking it was still yesterday, so he got dressed and went into work.
KID: Didn’t you get in trouble?
DAD: No way. That’s what’s so great about April Fools’ Day: it’s the one time of year you get to play practical joke on people and not get in trouble.
KID: Not even a little bit?
DAD: Anybody who gets mad at you for an April Fools’ prank is a bad sport.
KID: Cool.
DAD: Hey… where are you going?
KID: To the garage: I need to get a bucket, some duct tape and the hose.
DAD: Why?
KID: If I told you it wouldn’t be an April Fools’ Day prank, would it?

WANT A LATTE TO GO WITH THAT SIX-SHOOTER?

Advocates of open-carry gun laws are targeting Starbucks, but how will the coffee giant respond?

It’s likely a team of lawyers will spend a few hundred billable hours developing a 100% defensible non-position, but what if Starbucks decides to embrace the situation instead and use it as an opportunity to put its customers first – even the ones who are packing heat?

Pairing Suggestions

Beverage Weapon
  • Plain black coffee
  • Classic Wild West six-shooter
  • Chai
  • AK-47 (because it’s what the rest of the world uses)
  • Single shot of espresso
  • Derringer
  • Red Eye
  • .357
  • Red Eye with an extra shot
  • .44 Magnum
  • Caramel Macchiato, Mocha Frappuccino
  • Anything with pearl handles or engraving
  • Cappuccino
  • .22 with a silencer
  • .96 oz. coffee traveler
  • Assault rifle
  • Clover
  • Antique, gold-plated flint-lock musket originally owned by the 17th Earl of Cornwall
  • Double Shot
  • Decaf
  • Any of the above, but w/out bullets