May 26

This Is Your Brain On Children

My brain is fried. Thanks children!

The other day I had to google an age calculator to figure out how old I was.

I mean, I had an idea of how old I was.  I was only off by a year or so. The physical signs of parenting haven’t set in yet, unless you count the spit up stains on half my shirts and spaghetti sauce stains on all my pants. I haven’t found a gray hair or a fresh wrinkle yet, thank god. Can you imagine finding those at twenty-err…three?

Yes! Twenty-three according to this.

I never expected children to take such a mental toll on me. The partying of yesteryears never ravaged my memory like a toddler all hopped up on ice pops can. I feel like my life has turned into one long montage of me wondering why I entered a room and what I needed in said room. All day I draw blanks, punctuated by cups of coffee and dirty diapers.

I have to write lists now. LISTS! Not cool lists either. I am not creating awesome top five High Fidelity style lists here. These are lists that make me remember to do the day to day things. I wrote a list the other day that said “feed the kids” on it. FEED THE KIDS! How can you forget that?

But I have.

You know that red faced emoji? The one with the big eyes? Hopefully I remember to find a picture of it for this section. Anyways, ten minutes before bed time two weeks ago I had to rush around and make dinner because I forgot to make it. Let me tell you, I think I could do good on one of those cooking competitions! I would just make Raviolis with a side of I-hope-this-isn’t-expired bagged salad.

15-flushed-face

Yeah, three kids have knocked me off my A-game a bit. I couldn’t tell you what the latest is when it comes to pop culture. I just found out Honey Boo Boo is no longer on the air! Does that mean—OH MY GOD, where is Jersey Shore? Who the fuck are the Duggars? What happened to Jon and Kate?

I can tell you about the rift between Goofy and Toodles on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse! Or what evil witch is plotting to steal Sophia’s amulet this week. I am on top of all things Disney Jr.. Need a Doc McStuffins update? I am your go-to guy!

So, I have lost my memory and my cool in the know factor. Traded them in for lists reminding me to feed people and the latest Disney drama. What happened to me?

I will tell you what happened to me! The name of my afflictions. CHILDREN!

When my kids aren’t trying to spin me in circles or destroy all things expensive, they are trying to end up on a milk carton under the word missing. We were leaving a restaurant the other day and as I put one kid in his seat I turned to see his brother speed walking(Toddler running?) down the sidewalk. As I chased after the giggling sprinter I turned to see his brother climbing out of his booster seat.

Inside my brain some wires short-circuited and fried. My eye twitched slightly as wisps of smoke escaped my ears.

This is a daily occurrence.

By my calculations, I am looking at a lobotomy by the time I am twenty-seven. Which would be in…four or five years possibly?

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May 23

Deemed unfit.

I spend a lot of time reflecting. As any parent does, I go over the day and critique myself. Some days I am really proud of how I handled a tantrum. Other days I spend an hour calling myself a terrible parent in my mind.

I think, when it comes down to it, you HAVE to be that way. Parenting is the single most important thing there is in the world. There is nothing above it, as you are literally shaping the world. The future relies on parents to raise it right.

How do we do that? Well, you look to the figures who raised you.

Anyone else remember thinking or saying, “When I have kids Yadda Yadda Yadda!”? Now that we have the chance, we realize dessert for dinner was a great concept but after a long day we really would rather ply a kid with cough medicine, not sugar.

There are things the past generation did that we REALLY hated. Look at how it is now- If your kid is outside alone, expect a visit from the cops. If you leave your kid in the car unattended for any amount of time, expect a visit from the cops. If you discipline your child physically, expect a visit from the cops. Kid has an imagination and draws or writes something even remotely similar to weapons or violence? Who is that at the door? The cops.

Parenting is scary on so many levels without the added fear of someone ripping your child from your arms. It seems to me, in a time where everyone seems broke or barely surviving that we waste a ton of taxpayer money wrongly getting between parent and child.

It is absolutely ridiculous and serves no purpose.

You think taking a child from their parent is in the best interest of the child? I couldn’t imagine being taken from my parent(s) as a child and thrust into an unfamiliar environment. Oh wait, I can.

Even if the child ISN’T taken, they have to go through the motions of living with a parent living on edge. You know what the fear of losing your child does to you? I do.

This is where one self-righteous person will chime in and cite abuse and deaths as the reason all parents should be so heavily scrutinized and policed. I have news for you, this mentality that plagues us is also ridiculous and serves no purpose. Let’s zoom out on this for a second and see where this mentality has gotten us.

A muslim man devises an attack that kills scores of innocent people. All muslims are terrorists.

A cop shoots an unarmed man. All cops are bad cops

A black person steals something from a store. All blacks are thugs.

The mentality that you can class whole groups based on one individuals actions.

This mentality has sent the world reeling backwards. I am not interested in talking about the broken ways of the world.

There is a very real fear that someone may deem you unfit. You do something they disagree with and have no choice but to sit down with child services or the cops before spending the next weeks and months of your life unable to sleep because you fear someone coming between you and your child.

I know it. I lived it.

Out of all the things that can get you in trouble, I never thought a post on my blog would be one of the. The piece, From Partying to Parenting, humorously (in my opinion at least) connected the two opposites. From pee soaked clothes to handing off bottles to stop crying, all I tried to do was draw far-fetched similarities and make people laugh at the thought of it. Somewhere someone misread it and misinterpreted it. The person in question (and if that person is reading this, I still say Fuck You!) was actually a family member of my wife.

So, I was told to pull the post, which you can find here. My response was simple. No.

Why would I censor myself? Why would anyone? You should be yourself and never ashamed to be that person.

Well, child services was called and an investigation was opened up. All because of a post drawing similarities between taking care of party goers and raising children. When the case worker called and wanted to set up a “visit” the following week, I demanded an immediate visit. As my children’s guardian, if they are in trouble I am the first person that wants them to be safe. If you are going to say you need to look into my children’s welfare, you better do it immediately because they are my number one priority. He came, to find a clean house and sleeping children. An hour is all he spent here, most of it talking about fantasy football. I spent weeks unable to sleep and ready for someone to knock on my door and remove my children, even though I was told nothing was found to raise suspicion. I was warned about what to post on my site and that it could cause problems.

Side note here- I have spent so far around $1,800 on my site, I will post whatever I fucking please and I will post with absolute honesty my views as I deem fit. If there are people out there who think it inappropriate then they can start their own site and move on. There is plenty of internet out there for everyone, here I write free, motherfucker. 

After a  series of voicemails and no return calls I had enough. A very strongly worded message was left for the case worker that said something about calling supervisors until I reached the president if need be to get information on my investigation. A flustered case worker told me my case was closed and I told him next time I had to talk with him or child services it would be through a lawyer.

I dedicate an unbelievable amount of time to Punk Rock Papa, a page and site I created out of the love for my children and wanting to share with other parents. I would think my love for my kids shines through, as does their importance to me.

Someone deemed me unfit. It crashed my whole world for a while.

Here is what I think should happen. As parents we should respect each other. We should acknowledge there are simply different ideas people have when it comes to this. If you are worried about a child left in a car, don’t call the police and pat yourself on the back as you drive off. Stay around, tell the parent that with the news of children dying inside cars has you nervous anytime you see a kid in a car alone. Don’t judge, don’t deem unfit. Go along your way with a  “Have a nice day!”

It has reached a point where publishing a post about my kids has me sitting by the door with my phone on loud waiting for cops or child services. Don’t you think this has become a bit much? Don’t answer that, someone may deem you unfit.

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May 17

I can parent my kids, can you parent yours?

One thing I know I am really good at is parenting. Parenting my own children that is. I have no clue how to parent someone else’s kid, at all. I couldn’t even begin to tell you what I would do in someone else’s exact situations because I would rather not pretend to know. I think that people don’t realize that similar situations don’t equate to the same reactions. How do so many sit there comfortably spewing out opinion as fact when it comes to parenting?

Here is what I know. I know my children. I know their day to day routine as well as each and every cry they throw out there. I know what they need and what they want. I know they best way to deal with a tantrum and I know when they might just need a cuddle and a show. Up until two years old, I know EXACTLY how to raise MY children.

I have no clue how to raise someone else’s child. I don’t know their ticks and subtle behaviors. I could go along with it, in a babysitter position I am sure. When your child is melting down in the supermarket or acting like a precocious ass in the car, I don’t know their needs. I don’t know what is going on with them because I don’t have that familial bond.

That’s why I don’t sit here hiding behind a screen telling a single mother how horrible she is for deciding a punishment for her child.

As  a parent I like to think that when punishing my child, I know how to properly do it. Yes, person in the back bringing up child abuse, there ARE people out there who don’t. There are people out there who do horrible things for no apparent reason. That is not the majority. As there are not ONLY good cops or crooked cops. There are not ONLY bad parents disciplining their children.

The fact is we have gotten to a place where we want everything to be cookie cutter. Every kid should be raised this way, parents should act this way, etc. Etc. That is absolutely, completely cannot stress this enough, wrong. It is wrong. There is no standardized parenting because these aren’t standardized children coming out of the womb. These are human beings. These are not machines to program towards one purpose in one fashion. These are individuals. Individuals needing and deserving of their own special upbringing towards becoming their own special being.

I could go on for days about individuality and non conformity. They are important to me, as a person and as a father of twins, I push individuality like it is dying. And it is. Individuality is dying. We train our kids like monkeys to make sure they fill in the correct bubble on a piece of paper. Their is no abstract thinking or creativity in millions of children with number 2 pencils filling in the B bubble.

We want cookie cutter, and it is blowing back on the parents. If you are not raising your children to the standard protocol, you can be meeting with the child services, worried that at any moment your kids could be ripped out of your hands and put with strangers, who don’t know how to raise your child. All because a stranger who doesn’t know how to raise your child made a phone call.

I have been through the system. There was a piece I wrote actually, that got child services in my life. As a parent I am not supposed to admit that I partied and enjoyed it? I am not allowed to jokingly and humorously draw connections between days of drunken debauchery and child rearing? Before becoming a father I partied. Hard! Sorry, not sorry.

It’s not cookie cutter. It’s not okay.

I am in the wrong era to raise a child. I don’t need help raising MY child. I need people to actually back off, from trying to kill my child and create another brick in the wall. Not my child. Back the fuck off.

Too many people think that parenting comes with a doctorate to let others know how to do it. I missed that course, was probably partying. I managed my way to this point, a proud father of bright young children. I am not ready for others to impose their systems on them. I am not ready for them to try and indoctrinate me.

I hate going out with my children. I don’t feel safe parenting in public. My kids enjoy doing the limp body when they get upset. Last thing I need is someone to think I am ripping my kid’s arm out of his socket dragging him along because he had a fit over me not letting him eat the gum someone else’s child stuck under a table.

So where do we go? Do we collectively agree that maybe, just maybe, we have gotten into each other’s business a little TOO much? Could we back the fuck off and parent our own kids for a change? Parenting is difficult enough without the worry of ire from your supposed peers. Here is what I know, I know how to raise my children. I am going to assume you know how to raise yours. Let it be.

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May 9

Husband of the Year Every Day, Not Just Mother’s Day

I am arguably the greatest husband in the world. I wasn’t always though, and along the way I found a special way to tick off my wife by pressing her buttons like I was smashing out a fatality combo in a fighting game (FINISH HER!). Every so often I will see my wife needing me to show her I still care by doing that shit that absolutely pisses her the fuck off. Here is the definitive list of my  usual shenanigans doting and thoughtful ways of showing the wife that I still care.

  1. Putting a dish in the sink right after she has washed all the dishes, followed by the words, “Looks like you missed one”
  2. Leaving my clothes in the bathroom after taking a shower, only to later bitch about how I can’t find my favorite T-Shirt.
  3. Losing my glasses and complaining about clutter only to find my glasses in the bathroom where I took them off to shower.
  4. Refusing to take out the trash, citing that the only thing I did all day was dirty one dish and lose my glasses, not throw something away.
  5. Taking out the trash but refusing to reline the can because I didn’t feel like it.
  6. Feigning an urgent bathroom break only to shout as I close the door that the baby needs a fresh diaper.
  7. Telling my wife that I don’t feel good because she wants to go shopping for curtains.
  8. Telling my wife that I don’t speak Spanish when she tells me to do something I don’t want to do.
  9. Yelling at the top of my lungs, “Baby, less you talk more me talk!” when she tells me about something she saw on Facebook.
  10. Laying in bed for an hour even though we have a twenty minute window to get somewhere, then throwing on clothes in ten seconds and bitching about how my wife isn’t ready and takes forever.
  11. Actively ignoring my wife asking for the remote that is right next to me because I don’t want to listen to SVU in the background as I play on my laptop.
  12. Responding with “food” when asked what I want for lunch after dropping passive aggressive hints that I am “starving”
  13. Saying “No” to every option listed for lunch.
  14. Go in for a kiss and at the last second lick my wife’s face.
  15. Asking my wife is she could grab me something to drink and while she is gone changing the channel to sports.
  16. Shouting “BONER PALACE” and considering it foreplay.
  17. Shouting “BONER PALACE” as she talks on the phone to her mom.
  18. Demanding we go to Walmart, only to leave immediately because it is too crowded
  19. Sending her back to Walmart to get what we didn’t get.
  20. Asking her why she hates me, because I have been starving since three.
  21. Telling her to, “surprise me” with food from some place.
  22. Responding to her “What do you want from _____?” with “send nudes”
  23. Painting the kids with homemade face paint I learned how to make (sorta) on Pinterest.
  24. Painting the kids with homemade face paint that stains the kids, making them look like they need to go the doctor.
  25. Painting the kids with homemade face paint an hour before church.
  26. Texting my wife the words “BONER PALACE IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS” while she sits at church with green hue kids.

Let’s stop there. I don’t want to sell away all my secrets! Let’s just say that anytime you shout boner palace at your wife is a great time for her and you. I try to go above and beyond for Mother’s Day, by doing a little breakfast in bed BONER PALACE, before and after church.

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May 8

Mother’s Day Times Two

One of the hardest things to accept is the loss of a loved one. Compounding on that pain are holidays, much like Mother’s Day. I lost my mother at the end of January. It was sudden and fucked me up. Only weeks before we had talked about her taking a trip out to meet her grandsons. A meeting that never got the chance to take place. It is something I still struggle with, a lot. I penned this, whatever this is, for the Original Bunker Punks and Say It With A Bang Mother’s Weekend. #OBPWITHABANG

 

The world still turns and it doesn’t seem fair sometimes.

You still come crashing through my mind.

Halting everything I do.

I can’t help but need days to lay there in sadness, forever missing you.

Losing you was like no pain I have ever felt.

You never realize how many words are left unspoken in this world.

I would give everything for one last “I love you”

There is a voicemail box filled with messages I don’t ever dare to delete.

Countless “call me backs” or “I miss you”s

Times I deemed sleep or work or whatever I was doing to be too important.

Times I made mental notes to check in before the week was over.

I can’t listen to the voicemails, although I long to hear your voice one more time.

You come crashing in

And I can’t breath, but suddenly memories of you are filling me.

I see you in my kids did you know?

How could you, I never told you.

Your eyes had that shine, they inherited your glint.

They are growing so fast! You should see and hear them!

You should, but you won’t.

Why do we let the day to day sweep us up and swallow us whole.

Why does a job take precedent over love?

I wish I had known better.

So many wasted moments and lost chances.

And you are left on Mother’s Day writing about all the things you wished you said

Before it was too late.

And it isn’t too late.

My mother taught me love

She taught me compassion.

Her lessons shine through and are imparted on her grandchildren.

That love I learned to give freely and openly is showered upon my family.

This year my wife will get a Happy Mother’s Day, times two.

One from me and one for you.

I love you mom, forever and for always.

To the moon and back.

Your boy, who misses you every day.

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May 7

How to Neglect Your Infant, Properly.

Let’s face it, babies can be high maintenance. If your child is anything like my latest installment, needy, then you have your hands full. Hands full of baby can get tiring! I pride myself in how big my biceps have gotten thanks to this child constantly wanting to be held. In order to give my arms a break I have set up an obstacle course of sorts for the littlest. This set cycle can give a baby the illusion of having your full attention, while you get your hands free to clean or catch up on DVR’ed shows.

The baby swing

This is stop one in our routine. We bought ours at the local mart of walls for really cheap. You can also find them fairly cheap at consignment shops (I am thrifty, Hey-o!). You can usually get a solid amount of time out of the swing too. I get at least enough time to brew a hot cup of wake me up and shovel some sort of unhealthy food in my mouth. It is perfect for a little morning me time. Our baby swing came with a music option, but I prefer the gentle soothing tunes of Dropkick Murphys to fill the room instead. Eventually the baby will probably get tired of the swing, and you will have to move him to the next stage of handy baby neglecters.

The baby gym

A baby gym is G-R-E-A-T. What really consists of nothing more than a mat and some dangly stuff turns out to be super entertaining for an infant. Like those groovy tye-dye throws your college dorm mate and you use to look at while burning incense, these baby gyms have the ability to hold an infant’s attention for a long period of time. There are cool things to grab! You can have them practice tummy time! (Warning: It is hard to neglect your child and do things for yourself during tummy time. At least for me. My kid LOATHES tummy time, lots of whining when he does it) The baby gym provides ample opportunity to give the living room a quick once over, and brush those spilt cheerios into the bottomless pit of the couch.

The car seat

Okay, everyone has one of these. If you don’t have a car seat how do you transport your kid around? DON’T ANSWER THAT! Let’s pretend no one answered that. The car seat is one of my favorite places to put the baby. Babies don’t know any better, they don’t know it’s just a transport device. You can set a child up in their car seat with a blanket and rock them with your foot as you write about putting them in the car seat! My baby loves his car seat. Sometimes I will stick him in it multiple times throughout the day. Sometimes I will cover it with a blanket and make car noises to give an illusion that we are going somewhere and I am not just ignoring him to play on the internet.

The baby bouncer and the baby jumper

The baby bouncer has been losing some time to the jumper lately. Usually this kid only likes one OR the other on a given day, so it is a crap shot. A bouncer is a good babysitter when you are cooking. It is small and fairly easy to drag room to room. Smaller kids like to sit in them and ponder important life issues like, I don’t know, formula? While he rocks out, you can scramble around trying to decide whether you have enough milk left to make Mac and Cheese and also give the kids milk before bedtime.

The jumper is new, we haven’t used it much and it has very little in terms of time. Our baby is a little guy still. We actually have to put more work into putting him IN the jumper than him staying in there. We put a pillow platform under him and such. Don’t waste your time with the jumper until your kid can enjoy it (touch the floor with his feet or not sway around like Ray Charles playing “Hit The Road Jack”) Older children get a bigger kick out of this contraption and you might even be able to sneak a cat nap because of it.

King of cushions

At the end of our neglect circuit is a little DIY project. On a corner of your couch position two intersecting pillows. Prop your child in the middle and use a boppy as a seat belt of sorts (No one wants their kid to tumble forward suddenly!). You should still sit next to your child also, unless you want to explain the infants fancy new black eye to your spouse. This is one of my son’s favorites. He sits there awkwardly watching me tap away at the keyboard and giggles. STOP JUDGING ME KID! Can you guess where we are in the circuit right now?

These are the ways, in my house at least, that I get away with ignoring my kid. Without these magical devices I really would never get anything done. We run this circuit a few times a day, stopping for meals and when daddy feels guilty about forgetting he put the baby in the baby gym and the baby totally passed out (which is a win of sorts!) What works in your house to get away from the feeling of indentured servitude to your child?

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May 2

Pass the Torch

I talk a lot about parenting. Almost too much I am sure some would say. I love it though, so why not be all about it. Parenting should be fun! Not just for the child, but for the parent too. How can you raise something up with anything but love? I don’t see it as possible. I think as parents we get too worried about the fine line between being a parent and being a friend. No one goes into parenting with the hopes to screw up their kid indefinitely. At the same time, no one wants to be the bad or mean parent. Sure, over time some of us have accepted a more disciplinary figure role. We still want our kids to love and accept us. As we should love and accept them. Unconditionally.

Parenting should be passing the torch. You take that fire that burns inside you for whatever reason and you give a little ember of it to your children. Through gentle guidance and accepting that you can’t absolutely control the way the flame burns you start a fire in their soul. All we should ever want as parents is to provide kindle for that fire. Stoke it. Love it. Care for it. How else can you raise a loving and compassionate person without passing love into their heart.

From children we can draw so much. There is so much our kids can teach us! About purity. Children don’t see the greys that ruin love. There is no level of complexity in feelings and emotions to them. Their emotions, at a young age, remain unbridled and beautiful. If you ever want to see joy, watch your child play a game. Take from that. Want to see love? Watch how your child interacts with their other parent, and emulate that sort of pure form of love. Emotions in their purest form are wild, scary, and, above all else, exhilarating.

We are blessed, us parents. We have spent all of our lives gathering and gaining new experience and have a chance to shape and mold the future. We have studied our own parents, saying things like “When I have kids, I will NEVER do that”. There have been the growing pains, the mess ups, the lies, the lust, the love and the heart breaks. Our stories are How to and How Not To guides for our children. Every trick in the book and every “right” way to handle a situation. Our kids are not going to pull fast ones on us! And our kids, yeah they are gonna get that love and affection in the time they need it.

What about the mess ups? The days we feel like asses and subpar? Those are the days WE learn from. The days we will talk with out kids about when they call late at night at wits end. “You used to do that same thing, hahaha, we would just ignore you and you hated us for it! It gets better sweetie don’t you worry.” Our lives have been up to even this moment right here, a training and preparation to pass the torch of humanity onto our children. Parenting shouldn’t just be fun, it should be beautiful. For when you think about it, it is nothing short of breathtaking.

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