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UH-OH HO HO

PARENT: What do you want for Christmas?
CHILD: I dunno. Maybe a bike.
PARENT: A bike? We just got you a bike last year.
CHILD: No you didn’t.
PARENT: What do you mean? Of course we got you a bike.
CHILD: No you didn’t.
PARENT: I know for a fact we got you a bike because I’m the one who went to three different stores and then spent two hours assembling it in our unheated garage after everyone went to bed.
CHILD: No… you didn’t get me a bike: Santa did.
PARENT: Oh… uh… I must have been thinking of… of… something else.

STOCKING STUFFERS

KID: Santa brings toys to all the good girls and boys, right?
PARENT: Right.
KID: What about bad kids?
PARENT They get coal.
KID: What about kids who are a bad, but not quite as bad as they could be?
PARENT They get clean coal.

AL GORE’S REVENGE: HOW TO PUT UP GREEN CHRISTMAS LIGHTS IN 14 SIMPLE STEPS.

Step 1. Look for lights.
Step 2. Find lights in last place you’d ever think they’d be.
Step 3. Spend 45 minutes trying to untangle them.
Step 4. Briefly stop to consider how much energy lights waste each season, but then continue.
Step 5. Climb up on roof.
Step 6. Roll eyes and say “Geez, it’s not like I haven’t climbed a roof before” when spouse/significant other/neighbor says “Be careful!”
Step 7. Almost slip and fall.
Step 8. Hope spouse/significant other/neighbor didn’t notice.
Step 9. Put up lights and revel in sense of satisfaction at how easy it was.
Step 10. Climb down ladder.
Step 11. Plug in cord and check lights.
Step 12. Pour stiff drink.
Step 13. Spend balance of afternoon replacing bulbs, splicing wires, and doing everything you can think of to get the lights to come on before ultimately giving up and deciding to skip the stupid lights this year and go green.
Step 14. Curse Al Gore.

FIRST “CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS” MISSION FOR KIDS: CONVINCING PARENTS TO LET THEM BUY IT

TWEEN: Do you think I’m mature for my age?
DAD: I don’t know. Why do you ask?
TWEEN: Because I was just thinking about the way I help take out the trash, put my clothes in the hamper, brush my teeth at night, wash behind my ears when I shower, do my homework most nights without being told, and sometimes even go to bed early the night before I have a big test, and I wanted to know if you thought that was a reflection of how mature I am.
DAD: Uh… well… I guess if you put it that way, then “Yes.”
TWEEN: “Yes” I’m mature?
DAD: Yes, you’re mature.
TWEEN: Great.

5 minutes later:

TWEEN: Can you take me to the video game store?
MOM: Why?
TWEEN: I need to get “Call of Duty: Black Ops.”
MOM: You mean that ultra-violent first-person shooter a lot of parents have been concerned about?
TWEEN: Yes.
MOM: But isn’t it rated “M” for “Mature?”
TWEEN: It is rated “M,” but Dad just said I’m mature, so it’s okay.
MOM: Uh… No.

DO NOT PASS GO, DO NOT COLLECT $200, DO NOT EVEN ROLL THE DICE

6:23 pm

Mom and Dad decide to play a game with the kids.

6:58 pm

They decide on Monopoly, even though it’s not their first, second or even third choice.

6:59 pm

They look for the game.

7:05 pm

They find the game hidden away in back of closet and wonder what it’s doing there.

7:08 pm

They look for the dice.

7:19 pm

They find the dice.

7:22 pm

They realize the $5 bills are missing, too, but agree to just round up to the nearest 10.

7:24 pm

They roll to see who goes first.

7:28 pm

They decide rolling to see who goes first leaves too much to chance and choose to go from youngest to oldest instead.

7:29 pm

Dad tells oldest not to pout.

7:30 pm

Mom tells youngest not to gloat.

7:31 pm

Everybody starts playing.

7:55 pm

Mom reminds everyone it’s just a game and the point is to have fun.

8:07 pm

Dad remind everyone it’s just a game and the point is to have fun, but he uses “the angry voice.”

8:17 pm

Mom starts getting competitive.

8:18 pm

Dad starts getting competitive, too, but claims it’s Mom’s fault because she started getting competitive first.

8:19 pm.

The kids remind Mom and Dad it’s just a game and the point is to have fun.

8:20 pm

Mom and Dad tell kids they can quit any time they want to, otherwise shut up and roll.

8:26 pm

Mom puts hotels on the yellows.

8:34 pm

Dad puts hotels on the purples and the reds.

8:35 pm – 8:43 pm

One after another, the kids land on Mom’s and Dad’s properties, lose all their money, all their property, and are forced out of the game despite their please for compassion, pity, help, another chance, etc.

Mom and Dad ignore them keep playing.

10:49 pm

Mom and Dad finally remember why the Monopoly game was hidden away in back of closet.

Texting + _______ = ?

Teens, tweens, twentysomethings and everybody else with a blackberry, iPhone or Android seems to have a slang term for the specific type of texting they’re doing, so how about parents?

TERM DEFINITION
“Correxting” Pointing out typos and misspelled words in your kids’ texts.
“Incorrexting” Pointing out typos and misspelled words in your kids’ texts without realizing they’re SMS slang.
“Complexting” Trying to explain something in under 140 characters that’s impossible to explain in under 140 characters, usually out of anger, rage or frustration.
“Deflexting” Telling your kids to text their father/mother instead.
“Rejexting” Saying “No.”
“Disrespexting” Texting when you’re supposed to be listening to your spouse, children, in-laws, etc.
“Perplexting” Asking your kids to repeat what they just said in plain English because you don’t understand SMS slang.
“Tex-mexting” Asking your kids if they want tacos or burritos for dinner.
“Megaplexting” Telling your kids to text you when the movie is over so you can come and pick them up.
“Nexting” Trying to avoid unnecessary drama by promising to do something “next time.”
“Expexting” Repeatedly texting your teenage son or daughter to ask them where they Hell they are!
“Chexting” Randomly checking in with your kids to make sure they’re okay.
“Suspexting” Randomly checking in with your kids to make sure they’re okay because you suddenly have the feeling they’re up to something.

EXPLAINING DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME TO A KID

KID: What’s Daylight Savings?
PARENT: It’s when we set our clocks back an hour.
KID: What does that mean?
PARENT: It means what used to be 10:00 is now 9:00, so there’s actually an extra hour in the day.
KID: Which day?
PARENT: Sunday.
KID: That’s a relief – I was afraid it was gonna be Monday when I’m in school.

CHARLIE SHEEN: ROLE MODEL

KID: Are we gonna watch “Two and a Half Men?
PARENT: No.
KID: Why not?
PARENT: Because we never watch “Two and a Half Men.”
KID: But I want to see Charlie Sheen.
PARENT: Why? Because he supposedly trashed a hotel room with a hooker?
KID: What’s a hooker?
PARENT: Never mind. The point is: bad behavior should have consequences.
KID: It does: higher ratings.*

*If half of parenting is threatening kids when they’re about to act inappropriately and the other half is punishing them when they do anyway, what’s a parent to do when the specter of public shame and humiliation not only stops being a deterrent, but is a legitimate pathway to fame and fortune?

IT'S NEVER TOO EARLY TO TEACH KIDS TACT

4-YEAR-OLD: Is that women fat?
DAD: What woman?
4-YEAR-OLD: That woman over there.
DAD: No, she’s fine. And don’t say that kind of thing so loudly.
4-YEAR-OLD: She looks fat to me.
DAD: She’s not.
4-YEAR-OLD: She’s bigger than Mommy, isn’t she?
DAD: Yes.
4-YEAR-OLD: When Mommy looks in the mirror, she says “I’m fat!” So if that woman is bigger than Mommy, then she’s fat, right?
DAD: Look… nobody is fat. Mommy isn’t fat. That woman isn’t fat.
Nobody is fat. Now… LET’S TALK ABOUT THIS LATER!
4-YEAR-OLD: Why?
DAD: Because.
4-YEAR-OLD: Because why?
DAD: Because it’s not nice to say that about people in public.
4-YEAR-OLD: Why? Don’t they know they’re fat?
DAD: I’m sure they know, but sometimes people are self-conscious about their weight because they think other people will look down on them.
4-YEAR-OLD: I won’t look down on them. I don’t care if they’re fat.
DAD: That’s good.
4-YEAR-OLD: Do you think I should go over and tell that woman I don’t care if she’s fat?
DAD: No!
4-YEAR-OLD: But then she won’t be self-conscious!
DAD: Too late.
4-YEAR-OLD: Why?
DAD: See the way she’s staring at us? I think she heard everything we just said.
4-YEAR-OLD: Hey! Doesn’t she know it’s not polite to stare?

WHAT DO YOU SAY TO WOULD-BE PARENTS?

“So… what’s it like having kids?” the would-be parent asks.

“It’s great,” you say, “Having kids is the best thing that’s ever happened to us. They’re a lot of work, but when you see the way they smile and laugh and take in the world, it’s definitely worth it.”

And then maybe you chuckle and offer to let them stay over and take your kids for a weekend “test drive,” knowing they probably won’t but hoping they will so you and your spouse can get away for that “romantic weekend” you’ve been talking about since pretty much your kids were born (with the term “romantic” being parent-code for “getting some sleep and being able to watch pay-per-view movies all the way through, in one sitting, without being interrupted a dozen times because ‘I’m hungry’ or ‘I had an accident’ or ‘I spilled jam on the carpet,’ etc.”).

You may suggest these would-be parents pick up a movie or two, too. But while many recommend something like “Parenthood”1 for its funny and touching insights into the ups and downs of, well, parenthood, there’s another movie that gives a fuller and more complete picture: 1970s horror classic “The Exorcist.” Here’s why:

Demonic possession is just another name for a weekday morning.

As every parent knows, at random and unpredictable intervals, your little angel will wake up snarling and nasty like a beast from Hell. Foul-mouthed? Before you even get through the door to say “Good morning, I made you breakfast,” you find yourself assaulted with “GET OUT! Can’t you see I’m sleeping? You always wake me up like this. I hate you. I hate you. I HATE YOU.”

And their appearance? Definitely something unholy (though, to be fair, not because they’re suddenly sporting horns, scales and some grotesque demon pig-nose, but because nobody looks good when they don’t shower for three days – why is personal hygiene such a difficult concept for kids to get, anyway?).

As for being able to crawl across the ceiling? Well… maybe not the ceiling, but when you consider the gravity-defying ways kids flip around in their beds while they sleep, it’s not such a stretch to think they might some- how end up on the ceiling.

Green puke? How about orange puke, yellow puke and blue puke, too?

It’s not called “The Technicolor Yawn” for nothing, something parents usually find out fast. Often, these multi-colored hues can be traced back to two types of foods: foods consumed in excess, like artificially-flavored fruit punch, Halloween candy and birthday cake; and foods consumed under protest such as salad, non-breaded fish, and brussels sprouts (with the eventual volume of puke increasing exponentially if you happen to say something like “I don’t care if you don’t like it. Nobody ever threw up eating brussels sprouts, so finish your plate!” first).

You know a child’s head can’t spin completely around… but a 5-year-old doesn’t.

And no matter how quickly the parent dashes into the other room to get the phone or answer the door or shut the oven off before dinner burns, it’s five seconds more than the 5-year-old needs to twist the 2-year-old’s head around to the point where it’s about to snap. “But we were just playing owl,” the child protests.

You don’t need an exorcist, but a child psychologist might be a good idea.

What parent hasn’t thrown up their hands at some point and said “I can’t do this anymore!” before turning to an expert for help?

Whether it’s the therapist, the math tutor, the reading coach, the college placement counselor or even the pitching specialist, all these experts are trying to do is exactly what Father Merrin was trying to do to Linda Blair’s Regan: make the kid “normal” again.

There can always be a sequel because evil – like parenting – goes on forever.

Which means the moment parents think they’re done and their kids are on their own, they move back home. Or go into therapy. Or just stop calling. This can happen at any time, for any reason (though it’s often financial), and it’s generally a lot worse than the original, just like “Exorcist 2 – The Heretic,” “The Exorcist 3,” and both versions of “Exorcist – The Beginning.”

And if that isn’t scary, nothing is.

From “Why Chicken Nuggets are Better Than Prozac.”

1Is the TV version of this movie a reasonable substitute? Clearly the show has plenty of fans –  here, here, here and here, for example – but what if it gets cancelled? Imagine devoting hour after hour to something, getting attached and becoming emotionally invested in its well-being, only to have it suddenly just grow up and move go away? On second thought… maybe that’s even more like parenthood than the movie “Parenthood.”

BOY SOUNDS

Rat-a-tat-tat.

Ka-blaht ka-blaht ka-blaht.

Zhroooooooooooooooooooooosh!

Phft!

Grgrle-grgrle-grgrle.

Krrrrrsh!

BBB-yowwwwl…

All kids play, but for boys of a certain age, it’s not enough just to use their imaginations, they have to use their mouths, too, to make sound effects.

How can you repel a mutant robot invasion with a pulse rifle if you can’t create the “peeeehw!” it makes when it’s fired?

Or when a rocket-car banks hard around a turn to escape the sinister band of ninja-commandos who are pursuing it, it has to go “ssssssssssssshhhhhhhwwww” or the whole thing just doesn’t seem real.

As alien as these sounds seem to adult ears – even the sounds of aliens themselves – to boys they are as distinctive as bird calls.

(And for non-boys, just as hard to mimic.)

There’s the rumble of an interstellar battleship positioning itself in orbit around a moon so it can attack a colony of space pirates, the blast of a hundred alien death rays, the slicing whoosh of a samurai master’s sword – an infinite number of sounds to match the infinite number of battles that must be fought to save humanity and the extraterrestrial alliance it’s part of.

Besides, if they don’t do it, who will? Girls? Not typically.

Which explains why boys seem to have no choice but to spend so much of their non-school, non-sleeping, non-chore time facing down foes with their boy-chirps and boy-caws.

It also explains why of all the things that come out of their mouths, these types of sounds are among the most frequent, ranking somewhere between questions that start with “Can I…” and the phrase “But that’s not fair” in terms of overall popularity.

Not that boy sounds should be judged too harshly, however.

In jazz, scat is an art form, and singers who can convincingly communicate without using actual words are thought to be among the very best. To put it another way, who could look down on musical icons like Cab Calloway and Ray Charles who surely owe their adult-success to all those hours they spent as kids bouncing around the house beating back bad-guys with a “ka-posh,” a “zowwwwwwww” and a “kgle-kgle-kgle”?

Or what about that guy from all those “Police Academy” movies: he’s made an entire career out of making sound effects with his mouth.

There are plenty of other real-world implications to consider, too.

Studies often show that girls are more verbal than boys, and therefore better at communicating. But maybe that’s because experts are measuring language, not sounds?

Every parent knows that boys are consistently discouraged from making strange noises in public because most people find them distracting, embarrassing and/or gross. Often, all three. But perhaps if boys were shown ways they could use their boy sounds in more recognizable and constructive ways they’d be revealed to be just as communicative as girls?

Plus, they wouldn’t have to rely as much as they do on shrugs, nods and blank stares, which would be really helpful:

PARENT: How was school?
BOY: [SHRUG]
PARENT: Did you turn your assignment in?
BOY: [NOD]
PARENT: Do you have any homework you have to do tonight?
BOY: [BLANK STARE]

On the other hand, if boys did utilize their sounds more effectively, it would put moms at a decided disadvantage because they don’t seem to be anywhere near as fluent as dads:

MOM: What’s that?
DAD: Junior’s downstairs playing “Star Wars.”
MOM: It sounded like he hurt himself.
DAD: No, he just severed Jabba The Hut’s head with a lightsaber so now he’s hungry.
MOM: How can you tell?
DAD: Hear that “beeeeeeee-ghewwww?”
MOM: Yeah.
DAD: That’s a light saber being turned on.
MOM: Oh.
DAD: And that “grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr”? That’s Jabba gasping for air through a slit in his throat.
MOM: Gross.
DAD: And that deep, prolonged sigh means “I could really use a peanut butter sandwich about now.”
MOM: That’s amazing. Especially since you never seem to understand half of what I say and I’m speaking English.
DAD: Uh…

Eventually, like the desire to play with action figures, wear superhero costumes outside of Halloween and collect Pokemon cards, the need boys have to make their own sounds begins to fade, to the point where they are mostly silent by the time they reach adulthood.

(Except when they’re watching sporting events or playing video games.)

And yet even though the need fades, it never really goes away entirely. Instead, it lays dormant, waiting – sometimes aging, sometimes festering – until it’s reborn as the need old men have to make old man sounds — the “glurps” and “pffts” and “grgle-grgle-grgles” that are as distinctive to them as they are alien and indecipherable to the rest of us.

FAMILY GAMES FOR THE GREAT RECESSION

The bad times may be over, but the good times aren’t going to return any time soon.

For many of us, that’s troubling. But it can also be inspiring – especially when it comes to finding appropriate ways to spend quality time with family.

Kick The Can(didate)

Family members divide up into two groups: Democrats and Republicans. Democrats try to prevent Republicans from kicking the can, just like in the classic childhood game, but have to put on blinders and argue among themselves, making it very easy for a lone Republican to come out of nowhere and kick the can.

Alternately, family members don’t divide up into Democrats and Republicans at all, but just play as a single group of Democrats who work against each other to both kick the can and prevent the can from being kicked, turning the whole game into an ugly, shameless, ultimately un-winnable waste of time.

Liar’s Dice, The Wall Street Edition

In the traditional game, players roll a handful of dice and then try to lie about how many 1’s, 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, 5’s and 6’s they have. If one player doesn’t believe another, he or she says “liar.” If the accused is actually lying, he or she loses a die; if the accused is telling the truth, the accuser loses a die.

The game continues until there’s only one player left.

This version is played the exact same way, except that whenever a player lies and loses a die, he or she gets to replace it with one provided by the Treasury Department for as long as the government has adequate dice reserves, or can borrow dice from China.

Tea Party

The point of this game is to pretend to spontaneously gather around an imaginary table drinking imaginary tea from imaginary cups until the media believes it’s real, and then form a grassroots special interest group to force everybody to move to the right.

Duck Duck Goose

Each player pretends to be a homeowner and sits in a circle with the other homeowners. One player – representing a soon-to-reset adjustable rate mortgage, crushing equity line, further decline in housing prices, prolonged period of unemployment or other form of bad luck – walks around and taps each of them on the head, saying “Duck… Duck… Duck…”

This goes on for an inordinately long time, with all the anxious homeowners hoping the bad luck will just go away.

It doesn’t.

When bad luck finally says “goose,” the player he or she just tapped sits there quietly in a complete state of denial, then wanders off leaving an empty spot in the circle.

This goes on for an inordinately long time, too, until even the remaining homeowners are too depressed to continue.

What’s my party line?

Throw a blanket over your TV set and then randomly tune it to Fox News, CNN or MSNBC and see if you can tell what party’s talking points the supposedly non-partisan/independent/”fair and balanced” experts are secretly touting.

I Spy

Just like regular “I Spy,” only with the more apropos subjects: “I Spy, with my little eye, something that begins with F… a foreclosed house.” Or “I Spy, with my little eye, something that begins with O… a one-term president.”

The Telephony Game

Start with any of the promises Banks made when they needed to be bailed out – to take fewer risks, not put profits first, learn from their mistakes, help homeowners modify bad loans, etc. – and play the telephone game to see if any of these phrases end up making any sense at all.

Pin The Tail (Of Blame) On The Donkey

Much like ‘08s most popular game, “Pin The Tail on The Elephant,” this one substitutes a donkey and uses a much, much bigger tail.

Don’t Be Afraid Of The Big, Bad Wolf

Players divide into three teams, and then each team builds a house.

The first uses straw, which represents a “no-doc” loan, the second uses wood, which represents a zero-down, adjustable-rate mortgage, and the third uses brick, which represents a 30-year fixed-mortgage with 20% down that will never, ever cause problems.

They then wait for the Big Bad Wolf to huff and puff and try to blow their houses down.

Obama Limbo

How low can President Obama’s approval rating go? Put on “The Limbo Song” and see.

Republican Hokey Pokey

You put your right foot in, and then instead of putting your left foot in, you put your right foot in even farther unless you want the Tea Baggers to knock you over.

Ghost in The Graveyard Shift

Similar to the classic childhood game, except when word gets out you’re playing, 10,000 people show up.

(To see family games from last year, click here.)

MEMO TO SCHOOL PARENTS

TO: PARENTS

FROM: YOUR SCHOOL DISTRICT

RE: 2009/2010

Greetings.

As we kick off the new school year, we thought it necessary to take a few moments to discuss some of the challenges we’re facing this year. As many of you know, the economy is still struggling and we have been hit particularly hard by state budget cuts.

Again — wasn’t Obama supposed to have fixed everything by now?

As a result, we have undertaken a series of steps to deal with this unfortunate situation, and ask for your understanding in this difficult time.

The first and most obvious change is a slight reduction in the total number of days school will be in session this year. In addition to usual holidays, we will also be observing Halloween, All Saints’ Day (in a non-denominational way), Dia De Los Muertos, Guy Fawkes Day, the Winter Solstice, The Great American Smoke Out, Pearl Harbor Day, World Religion Day (again, in a non-denominational way), The Day The Music Died Day, Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day, Good Samaritan Day, The Ides of March, St. Patrick’s Day, April Fools’ and Arbor Day.

We had planned to observe Cinco De Mayo as well, but since the last day of class will now be April 15th, school will already be closed.

Our vacation schedule is undergoing some adjustments as well: Thanksgiving Break will now go through the end of the November, Winter Break will last until the day after Martin Luther Kind Day, and Spring Break will be March.

We will also be closing the school February 16-20 to give all parents a chance to take part in — depending on your situation — either a “Take Your Child to Work Week” or a series of field trips to The Unemployment Office, Health & Human Services, and various shelters and soup-kitchens.

We apologize for any inconvenience this might cause, but would like to point out that because these additional closure days will be unpaid, all teachers and administrators will be available for babysitting at the standard rate of $9/hr if your child is well-behaved, $25/hr. if he or she is not.

(If you’re not sure which category your kid falls into, ask the principal or one of the teachers to check the secret “trouble-maker” list in the office, or ask your child directly — though if talking to your child is not something you normally do, just go ahead and assume you’ll be paying the higher rate.)

In addition to schedule changes, we have also been forced to make adjustments to what we call “non-core classes,” or what most students refer to as “fun.”

Where we used to offer music class and after-school guitar, violin, flute and coronet lessons, we will now just have an iPod filled with classical music in the library that students can check out.

Art class will continue, thanks to the generous corporate support of Exxon, but will consist solely of students painting pictures of happy animals frolicking among oil derricks and pipelines in a global-warming-free world. And not with pastels or water-colors, either, but only oils.

The biggest change will be to shop class, which will be mandatory for all students, and will focus exclusively on offering them practical, hands-on experience, beginning with re-tarring the gymnasium roof, which was supposed to be paid for with federal stimulus funds, except the governor rejected them.

In light of all this, we are also revising our official “Back to School” supplies list to include the following:

  • Work gloves
  • Hard hat
  • Safety goggles
  • Notarized liability waiver

We have also changed the required quantities of the selected items.

Instead of:

  • 1 roll of tape

Students will now be required to bring:

  • 10 rolls of tape so the old torn-up text books that were pulled from the incinerator just before they were scheduled to be burned can be taped up and used for one more year

Instead of:

  • 2 oz. bottle of Whiteout

Students will now be required to bring:

  • 120 oz. bottle of Whiteout to correct any outdated information in the above-mentioned text books such as references to the 48 states, the U.S.S.R., American economic dominance or The Great Depression — not because this type of information is incorrect, but because we don’t want students reading about it and freaking out that it still might happen again

Given increasing concern about Swine Flu, we also recommend each student bring:

  • Medical-grade hand sanitizer
  • Rubber gloves
  • A hospital mask or filtered respirator

And where in past years we have discouraged students from brining an apple for their teacher out of food-safety concerns, we now not only encourage it, but suggest canned goods, cereal, grains and shelf-stable dairy products as well, as their pay has recently been involuntarily de-raised by 20%.

We appreciate your understanding and ask that any parents who are able should join us next Tuesday for a bake sale, where we’ll be offering a wide variety of donated cookies, cakes and pies all starting at $172.50 each.

Signed,

Your School District

P.S. We are also looking for unpaid volunteers, specifically five parents who just happen to have teaching certificates and can commit to spending five days a week from 9:00 am to 3:15 pm with between 20 and 30 students for the rest of the year.

PARENTS VS. NON-PARENTS

Everybody says having kids changes everything, but how?

It’s not like you suddenly wake up in some alternate reality (even if it sometimes feels that way) or discover the days of the week have been completely rearranged (which isn’t to say that chronic sleep-deprivation isn’t sometimes disorienting), it’s mostly that everything you did before you had kids gets replaced with some other activity.

For example:

Non-parent activity: Hanging out with friends
Parent activity: Hanging out with people you don’t really know – and might not even like – because their kids are friends with your kids

Non-parent activity: Making plans
Parent activity: Canceling plans because somebody threw up

Non-parent activity: Sleeping
Parent activity: Three 24 oz. Lattes, a half-case of Diet Coke and five Red Bulls per day

Non-parent activity: Being on time
Parent activity: Explaining why you’re late (for a while anyway, until everybody stops inviting you to things, or says it’s “adults only”)

Non-parent activity: Going to a 4-star restaurant
Parent activity: Going to McDonald’s

Non-parent activity: Going to a 3-star restaurant
Parent activity: Going to McDonald’s

Non-parent activity: Going to a 2-star restaurant
Parent activity: Going to McDonald’s

Non-parent activity: Going to a 1-star restaurant
Parent activity: Going to Chuck E. Cheese, because if you have to go to McDonald’s one more time you’ll go insane

Non-parent activity: Finding the perfect handbag
Parent activity: Finding the perfect babysitter (who is likely to be just as expensive and “sold out”)

Non-parent activity: Working out in the morning
Parent activity: Working out for 15 minutes before everybody gets up, stopping, getting everybody breakfast, going back and working out for 5 more minutes, stopping, getting clean socks and underwear from the dryer, where you accidentally left them last night because you fell asleep before you could fold them, trying to work out for a few more minutes before realizing you’re out of time

Non-parent activity: Working out at night
Parent activity: Laughing at the thought of working out at night, because after a day like this who has the energy?

Non-parent activity: Yoga
Parent activity: Mommy & Me

Non-parent activity: Seeing movies
Parent activity: Seeing movies you hate, over and over again, because kids love repetition

Non-parent activity: Biking
Parent activity: Taking your kids to the emergency room for stitches after they crash

Non-parent activity: Going shopping
Parent activity: Going shopping, not getting a chance to get everything, then having to go shopping again (and sometimes again and again and again, depending on how tired and disoriented you are)

Non-parent activity: Sex
Parent activity: Naps, but not with anywhere near the same frequency

Non-parent activity: Being in a hurry
Parent activity: Being in a hurry but having to stop at a gas station anyway, because somebody forget to pee before they get in the car

Non-parent activity: Organization
Parent activity: Reluctantly embracing the chaos

Non-parent activity: Date night
Parent activity: Prom night – as in the one your kids go to, since that’s how long it will be before you ever get to go out again

Non-parent activity: Vacations
Parent activity: Going to Disneyland (which can be fun but is definitely not a vacation)

Non-parent activity: Relieving stress through exercise, meditation, deep-breathing, etc
Parent activity: Drinking

Non-parent activity: Modesty
Parent activity: Answering the door in a towel because even though you told the kids “Don’t get it!” they did (which is also the reason you sometimes spend 25 minutes talking to telemarketers)

Non-parent activity: Going to a sporting event and booing the ref
Parent activity: Not booing the ref because you now realize being fair and impartial is impossible and that no matter what the call, somebody will throw a fit (and whether it’s a professional athlete or a child, the screaming, yelling, stomping and fist-pounding all looks exactly the same)

Non-parent activity: Buying new furniture
Parent activity: Buying new furniture because — your kids “swear” — the old furniture just fell apart and/or got stained all by itself

Non-parent activity: Turning off the evening news because their coverage of the latest public health “crisis” is ridiculous
Parent activity: Turning off the evening news and taking your kids to the emergency room because now you’re worried they might have been exposed to it

Non-parent activity: Cleanliness, basic hygiene
Parent activity: The five-second rule

Non-parent activity: Wiping your nose with Kleenex
Parent activity: Wiping their nose with your thumb and forefinger, then flinging it on the ground

Non-parent activity: Getting a facial
Parent activity: Getting a facial of vomit

Non-parent activity: Doing things when you want to
Parent activity: Doing things when you have to

Non-parent activity: Deciding you’re ready to have kids
Parent activity: Realizing you were wrong (but trying to make the most of it, anyway)

STRESS

KID: Can I ask you something?
MOM: Sure.
DAD: What is it?
KID: Promise you won’t get mad?
MOM: What makes you think we’d get mad?
KID: Just promise.
DAD: Fine.
MOM: What’s your question?
KID: What’s “stress?”
MOM: Stress?
DAD: It’s a prolonged state of mental and emotional strain.
MOM: It’s like you’re being pulled in two different directions.
DAD: At the exact same time.
MOM: You’re stuck.
DAD: But you can’t get unstuck.
MOM: Until you feel totally and completely overwhelmed.
DAD: And irritable.
MOM: And short-tempered.
DAD: And impatient.
MOM: And you can’t sleep.
DAD: Or focus.
KID: But it’s not contagious, is it?
PARENT: No.
KID: Good — ’cause obviously the only thing you can do about it is drink, and I’m not old enough.

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.

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.

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.