Is it me? When did little kids get such big attitudes? Look I love my five year old son, but sometimes the mouth on this kid makes Damien from the Omen look like Opie from the Andy Griffith Show. He fights me on everything. He talks back. He disobeys. He throws tantrums. I would blame it on my less than adequate parental techniques and I do tend to be inconsistent with my behavioral therapy and discipline at times, but I know it’s not just my kid. Apparently my niece has got a little mean streak when it comes to talking to her parents. And I’ve heard stories from other parents too. Is it the TV shows they’re watching? Has Sesame Street turned a dark corner? “Guess what Elmo’s thinking about today? YA TA DA DAA! Elmo’s been thinking about…manipulation tactics” I don’t know. Should I calm down? I mean is it a side effect of society today? Our children are exposed to more media with computers, the internet, and more shows on more channels so maybe that’s having more of an influence on their behavior. They’re growing up much faster now. Too fast. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to my 5 year old, “I HAVE TO DEAL WITH THIS DURING YOUR TEENAGE YEARS! I SHOULDN’T HAVE TO DEAL WITH THIS NOW!” Of course he just stares at me…and then sort of giggles maliciously. Sends shivers down my spine. Another problem is that his little protégé, my two year old, is starting to copy big brother, his hero, the way he always has. An angry frown and a “No, DADDY!” is a lot cuter coming from a 2 year old than a 5 year old…but he’ll get older. I’ve gotta nip that in the bud.
I know I sound like Old Man Loprete a la “what’s with these kids today?!”, but when I was the age of a kindergartener I wouldn’t DREAM of talking to my parents the way my kid talks to me. Now granted my father was 6’ 3” so a five year old talking back to him was somewhat frowned upon. Hell, a 40 year old talking back to him is somewhat frowned upon. My problem is that I’m 5’7” and my Amazon kid is already half my size. He’ll be taller than me by the 5th grade. Then I’m really sunk. I can just picture this conversation when he’s in high school.
Me (looking up at my 6’5” 17 year old): Son, you’re grounded.
Him (grabbing my hands and slapping my face with them): “Why you hitting yourself, Dad? Why you hitting yourself?
Okay now listen. My son is not Linda Blair from The Exorcist. He’s a wonderful, smart, funny, and mostly well behaved kid. We have a beautiful close relationship. No neglectful father Harry Chapin songs (Cat’s In The Cradle) or Springsteen-esque dysfunctional father/son stories (any Springsteen concert) here. If you watch Modern Family (and you should) the character of Phil Dunphy has a misguided parental approach called “peerenting”. Maybe that’s my problem. At times I think my son sees me more as a friend than a father. Not fair. I love teaching, playing, and spending time with my son…I just wish he would shut up and do what I tell him. I mean I waited a long time for this. Don’t you remember when your parents said “When you’re a parent you can tell your kids what to do.”? Come on, people! We’ve earned this! Let’s take back control! Occupy Our Kids!!!
Ah, October. The best month of the year in my opinion. The smell and feel of autumn is in the air. The leaves are exploding in vibrant colors turning the world into a dazzling, Disney-esque enchanted land. (Unless you live where I do. Thanks a lot, Southern California. Your only Disney-eque enchanted land…is Disney). Anticipation grows for Halloween, Thanksgiving and the joy of the Holidays to come. And it is the single greatest month if you’re a sports fan. College football Saturdays, pro football Sundays…and my personal favorite OCTOBER BASEBALL!
This may be a good time to inquire about my reader demographic. I call this blog the Daddy’s Den, but I honestly don’t know if it’s being read by more daddies or mommies? I try to write about topics that both parents can relate to. The subject of sports may be polarizing. I know it is in our house. I’m a sports fan. Not an athlete mind you, but a sports fan. I love the entertainment value. The excitement. The drama. The triumphs and yes even the heartbreak. There’s no better reality TV. I even wrote and performed a one man show about my obsession with sports (Philadelphia sports in particular). So I confess I’m a sportsaholic. My wife not so much. And something tells me that’s the case in a lot of homes. That’s not to generalize and say all husbands are sports freaks and all wives are not. I know men who couldn’t care less and women who are HUGE sports fans. I grew up with a bunch of them: My mom, my sister. Hell, my grandmother just turned 97 and you can bet that the TV at the assisted living center better be turned to the Phillies game this weekend or some poor attendant is gonna get a cane up their arse. For the most part though, it’s the guy who’s into it and the girl who has to put up with it. If you created a pie graph and labeled it “Reasons For Fights Between Couples”, I bet sports would have a large piece of that pie. So what’s the solution to this? Is there a common ground in a household where one partner is obsessed with sports and the other indifferent? Truthfully? No
Sorry. Because here’s the thing. You can’t tell a sports fanatic to stop being a sports fanatic. Professional sports aren’t going away any time soon and if a person has a favorite team, chances are they’re not gonna just stop rooting for them no matter how bad or good they are. So unfortunately the only solution in my opinion (and I realize I’m biased because I’m one of the aforementioned fanatics) is for the non sports people to get on board however they can.
I’m not asking you to turn on a game and instantly become a knowledgeable fan. But I think it’s important to try and understand the addiction. Especially since we can’t get down to the bar with the guys as much so we need somebody to talk about this stuff. My poor wife has had to endure 13 years of my endless droning about a subject she cares nothing about. Here’s a perfect example. The final day of the 2011 baseball season was arguably the greatest single day in the history of baseball if not all sports in general. No exaggeration. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, don’t worry. I won’t try to explain it here. It was nothing short of miraculous. So much so that I HAD to explain it to my wife. I tried to lay the whole thing out in a way she could understand. Bless her heart she hung in there, but I don’t think she truly grasped the unbelievable events that took place. But she tried and I appreciated it. So ladies do your best to understand your man’s obsession. And men do your best to understand that there are those who just don’t care and never will in which case you can do what I do. Pass on your fanaticism to your kids. I have two boys. My oldest son is starting to really get into watching these games with me. His favorite is basketball. I don’t have the heart to tell him there may not be a season this year. How do you explain the word “lockout” to a 5 year old? The 2 year old said the word ”baseball” the other day (actually it was more like “day dah” but I know what he meant.) So I’m slowly getting my “guys at the bar” back. Soon we’ll be trading stats over beers and juice boxes. Which is good news and bad news for my wife. She’ll be off the hook as far as caring about it …but the cheers and screaming at the television is about to increase by two.
It’s a moment we all have to go through. A moment that is profoundly sad. The moment that you realize you’ve had your last kid. My oldest started kindergarten this week. My youngest started pre-school. My babies are growing up. I cleaned out the garage last week and found a storage bin filled with bibs, tiny shoes and onesies. They had all been worn by my first born and been passed down to his baby brother three years later. I got a lump in my throat knowing as I put them away, they would not be worn by another child of mine. My wife and I have two beautiful children. We will not be having another…and I am soooo, so cool with that.
I’m done. I’m ready to move on. Don’t get me wrong. I really loved the baby stage and there are many things I miss and will always miss about it. I hate that I can no longer carry my 5 year old because he’s getting too big. I hate that his cute baby cries have turned into a not so cute whining sound. I hate that my two year old is starting to climb out of his crib on his own and will soon need a bigger bed. But, man, I love the fact that I’m about 6 months away from never having to change another diaper. And that everybody’s baby teeth have already painfully popped though their gums. And that when I go to sleep at night I’m not going to be woken up every two hours until dawn. Yes, I grew very melancholy when I packed away the baby clothes, but I would have grown melancholy no matter how many kids I had. There always has to be a last kid. Might as well be now.
I can tell you for a fact that as my wife is reading this blog, she’s either welling up with tears or getting really angry. See she wants to leave open the possibility of a third kid (hopefully a daughter). In her head she knows that the family dynamic is perfect now, it’s not financially feasible to add another mouth at this point, and that we both have very busy lives and can’t handle the commitment it would take to care for another infant. But in her heart she is always hoping I’ll change my mind. I knew I was going to stop at two as soon as she sent me a picture of the pregnancy test confirming that another bundle of joy was on the way. By the way she sent that pic to me on my phone just before a callback for a major national commercial. No wonder I didn’t book the job. Plus I saw that commercial ad infinitum for about two years afterward. Never really forgave her for that one. Anyway I knew we were done during the her second pregnancy. We already had a three year old boy so obviously we were hoping for a baby girl to get that nice perfect sitcom family. When we were told we were having another boy, we shrugged and said “Oh well. Saves us money on clothes and toys and anxiety during the hormonal, “mother hating” teenage insanity years” Plus not having a daughter saved me the time and money spent on researching chastity belts and convents. At the time though, my wife didn’t want to close the door on a third child. I told her, “No, of course not, dear.” Meanwhile I had closed, locked, barred, and thrown a heavy bookcase against the door. A few years after the birth of our 2nd little boy, she began to realize that our family unit was perfect. She said, “By not having a daughter, I shall stay the most beautiful woman in the house.” That’s not an exaggeration by the way. She really said that. In fact she said it while standing in front of a magic mirror and holding a poison apple. But now the queen is beginning to change her tune a little and hinting that she may want a princess after all. Now I reminded her that in 7th grade health class they told us we don’t really have a say over if we get a princess or a 3rd prince, but she said it didn’t matter. She would be okay with another little boy. I then went on to remind her that raising two boys has so far nearly killed and divorced us (in that order) and it does in fact NOT get easier with a third. In fact a friend of mine said it best. She said raising another child is like adding a full point on the earthquake Richter Scale. Each point up the scale means the earthquake is exponentially worse. Going from 1 to 2 kids is like going from a Richter Scale 5 to a 6. Minimal destruction. Going from a 2nd to a 3rd (and another boy at that), well you’re talking a 6 to a 7. Now you’re looking at pretty extensive damage and injuries. Plus you should never let your kids outnumber you. Right now my wife and I can play a man to man defense. If we have another one, we’ll have to go to the zone and any basketball coach will tell you that’s a much tougher coverage. So I hate to tell my wife (and her mother), but I have now added another padlock, a couple of couches and an angry Doberman to that closed door.
I love my two boys. They’re my best friends. My 5 year old is watching sports with me and starting to understand satire and sarcasm. I’m starting to have conversations with my 2 year old. I am eager to continue on to the next phases of raising my wonderful family. I want to look forward and not start over. So barring any “accidents”, I’ve had my last kid. Oops. Shouldn’t have written that last sentence. I’ll bet my wife is putting the kids to bed, opening a bottle of wine and slipping into something more comfortable right now.
Chris Loprete, aka the father of Our Milk Money, began writing his experiences as a new father upon the launch of Our Milk Money, calling his work, appropriately, The Daddys Den. Chris is no stranger to comedy composition. He wrote and performed his one-man show You’re from Philly, Charlie Brown, having successful runs at Circle X Theatre, The Lonny Chapman Repertory Theatre and The Comedy Central Workspace in Hollywood, California as well the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. Chris has performed all over the country in theatrical productions, television and film. He is an alumni of The Circle X Theatre Company and The Groundlings Sunday Company. Currently, he is a writer/producer for the Comedy and Reality Promo Team at ABC Television. Chris lives in Stevenson Ranch, California with his wife Ally, founder of OurMilkMoney.com and his two beautiful sons, Braden and Henry.
We bought a minivan last week. Yup. I am now “that” guy. And proud of it. A few months ago I wrote a blog about turning 40. This is sort of a companion piece. I’m doing exactly what I should be doing at this age. I thought I was going to be old, fat, and miserable, but I’m actually only two of those things. The gray hairs realizing there is strength in numbers have become an organized fighting force and are now rebelling against the once proud monarchy of brown hair on my head. Luckily I’m half Italian so it looks somewhat distinguished for now. I’m actually thinner than I’ve been in years. That being said, I continue to be a fat bastard like I have been my entire life. No matter how hard I try to be depressed about being middle aged though (and I usually don’t have to try hard to get depressed), I’m really enjoying it.
So we bought a minivan. Now granted we really didn’t plan on it. I woke up last Wednesday and drove my son to summer camp in my old yet reliable car and then headed down the freeway to work. (deep breath) Then I got in an accident, totaled my car, rented another one, told my wife maybe it was time to buy a bigger family car, she was halfway to the dealer by the time I said the word “buy”, she bought a minivan, drove it off the lot, drove to get something to eat, hit a parked car and dented the front fender, drove it back to the lot, got it repaired, added a few hundred to the down payment check, picked up the car, took the rental car back and here we are. And then Thursday came around. Okay that’s a little white lie. This whole thing happened over a couple of days but it felt that fast. Then came the inevitable buyer’s remorse panic attack but other than that I feel pretty good about it. It seems like the next logical step in our lives. My wife is home with the kids all day and has been begging for a bigger car. Her 9 year old RAV4 just wasn’t cutting it. We never took the leap so I guess the Universe got tired of waiting for us and decided to intervene. That’s right, folks. The Universe caused me to rear end that car on the freeway. It’s a notoriously bad driver. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Yes, the final nail in my “young man’s” coffin has been nailed in the form of a tricked out Toyota Sienna minivan. My wife and kids love it. I have now inherited the RAV (or “the SUV for lesbians” as my coworker calls it. I have no idea what that means, but it’s funny.) Because of our minivan purchase I have been subject to some incessant teasing at work, but then again I work in the entertainment industry in Hollywood which means my colleagues are mostly young, hipster, cynical singles without kids. I love them and I don’t blame them, but that’s no longer my world. It was once and I enjoyed it, but moving to the suburbs and raising a family will do a lot to break you out of that phase. You’re only as old as you feel anyway. And believe me there are several parts of me that are no more mature than my 5 year old. How do I know? Because I still find fart jokes really amusing.
Okay, we can all agree that we love our kids, they’re the best thing that ever happened to us, they light up our lives blah blah blah. But to quote a friend’s response to a particular angry Facebook post of mine about my five year old, “We alway love ’em, but we don’t always have to like ’em” That made me feel so much better. So I’m here to let you all know. It’s okay. Everybody wants to kill their kids at one time or another. Those that say “How can you say that?!” don’t have kids. Those that have kids and say “Not me. My little angels are always good as gold” are either lying, in denial, or are suffering empty nest syndrome because their kids have moved away.
Our parents are loving this by the way. Montezuma could only wish he had this kind of revenge. I remembered telling my father how ungrateful my kid was after all of the gifts, trips to Disneyland, the zoo and so forth. With a sarcastic and unsympathetic tone he said, “Tell you what. I’ll send him the piles of thank you letters I got from you when you were his age. That’ll show him.” Touché and point taken.
I think we have it tougher than our parents did though. Seriously. With so much more media available to our kids like the Internet, video games, Smart phones, etc., there seems to be more of a sense of entitlement. Which brings more of an attitude. And at a much younger age too. I keep saying to my kindergardener, “I’m gonna have to put up with you when you’re a teenager, I shouldn’t have to put up with that mouth now!” To which he stares blankly at me and then asks if he can play with my iPad. So I know they’re too young to get it and on my end I’m probably making HUGE gaffes in discipline and parenting which may be partly responsible for his behavior, but it’s nice to know that parents for generations have gone through the same thing. It’s just taboo to talk about it for fear of being labeled a parent who doesn’t love their child with every fiber of their being. Yes, we do…as soon as they wipe that damn smirk off their face!
Author’s note- I never apologize for my blogs, but this one seems more grumpy than usual. I sound like angry old man Loprete who lives in the run down house next door. So I’ll write something happy next month. Now if you’ll excuse me, there are some damn kids playing in my yard!
I know that doesn’t seem like a very provocative title or interesting subject of a blog so let me raise the stakes a little. My wife is reading this for the first time too. When my wife and I have some domestic dust up, I’ve always been pretty good at turning it into a humorous story or blog. Even she gets a kick out of it. Well, I’m taking a chance this time and flipping the scenario. I’m confessing something publicly and hoping she laughs it off BEFORE we fight about it. Will the gamble pay off? Well if it doesn’t…on the bright side I may already have next month’s blog.
So I’ve been ridiculously busy at my job this last month. Lots of late nights and weekends. My department is always busy this time of year because of a big annual presentation the president of our company gives to advertisers and media buyers in New York. Once the presentation is over, we can all breathe a sigh of relief on a job well done. Well, the presentation was given on a Tuesday morning and it’s tradition for our team to take the rest of the day off. Now my wife had an important meeting with her literary agent that night. She was going to take the kids to the supervised play at their preschool and I was going to pick them up. No problem. So I thought…”What would be the harm if I just went to a quick matinee? I haven’t seen a movie in so long. I don’t know when I’ll get to one. I’ve worked very hard at work as well as at home with the kids on the weekend (including giving my wife Mother’s Day weekend off)…why not just go to a movie and I’ll be home to take care of the kids tonight?” Now I’m pretty sure my wife would have preferred that I come home even earlier and help her with the kids. So why didn’t I call my wife and let her know that I was heading to the movies? Um…please save all questions until the end.
I drive to a movie theatre about 5 minutes away from our house. That way I can pick the kids up faster than if I went to a theatre near work. In fact I’ll still get them earlier than I would have if I worked the whole day. Am I a great Dad or what? I pay my ticket, grab my 3D glasses and head in. The movie begins and I’m usually vigilant about turning off my phone because I can’t stand when people talk or text during a film, but this time I kept it on vibrate…just in case. Good thing too. Sure enough because the Universe loves to screw with me, at about the half way point of the movie my phone begins to vibrate in my lap. It’s her. I started to perspire as I did something I would never dream of doing before. Pushed the “ignore” button. If it’s important I’m sure she’ll leave a voice mail and I’ll duck out of the theatre in a minute to check it. BZZZ. BZZZ. She’s calling back. Ooookay she’s looking for me. Duck out the theatre NOW. I scamper out of my seat. Luckily the theatre was mostly empty because most people were working or home with their families. I’m starting to hate myself as I write this. I hurry out to the lobby so she won’t hear the obscenely loud sounds of Thor saving the planet. “Hello?” “Hi” Oh God. She’s been crying. “Is everything okay?” “I’m sorry to bother you” she says. “You’re not bothering me at all” I say. (TELL HER!)”What’s up?” (YOU FOOL!) She then goes on to tell me about what a miserable day she’s been having and she’s thinking of calling off the meeting with her agent. I ask her if she wants me to come home. For the record I meant it. I would have left the theatre right then and hurried home.
Of course it would have confused my wife because I would have been home about 40 minutes before I usually get home from work. “No”, she said. “I just need a pep talk.” Now I’m REALLY good at breaking my wife out of her funks so I go into my best spiel. Please believe me when I say that I wasn’t b.s-ing her just to get back into the theatre. I really meant everything I was saying and I was telling her everything she needed to hear. I was even ignoring the curious glances from the people in the lobby. I’m sure they were impressed by this man who must be a motivational speaker. Not so much. Turns out they were looking at a lunatic having a very animated conversation on his cell phone…who had forgotten to take off his 3D glasses. I can imagine how many dinner conversations that night that started with “I saw the strangest thing in the lobby of the movie theatre today…” It worked though. My wife stopped crying, she said she felt better and she thanked me. I hung up walked back into the theatre glad that I had cheered her up, but feeling like pond scum. I watched and enjoyed the rest of the movie but I was obviously distracted. You gotta understand. My wife and I don’t lie to each other. We don’t know how. On the few occasions we have been deceptive it tears away at both of us like Poe’s Tell Tale Heart. In my case the heart beat under the floor boards was as loud as Thor’s hammer.
May I just interject here and say that last month Arnold Schwarzenegger confessed to fathering a child over a decade ago with his maid. I went to the movies. Just putting it in perspective. Okay back to the story. The movie ended, I picked up the kids, fed them, bathed them, and put them to bed. My wife got home from the meeting and told me it went well and she was glad she didn’t call it off. I considered telling her right then, but it seemed a little soon. No. Best to do the most cowardly thing imaginable and wait two weeks to tell her in a blog. So there it is.
This is my warped way of apologizing. I’m sure a therapist would have a field day. They say the truth will set you free. I am about to seriously put that theory to the test. You may not even be reading this. I have to send it to my editor first…who is also my wife.
So if you are reading this, one of two things has happened. Either I’m right and she is laughing this whole thing off…or I’m dead and she has posted this posthumously as a warning to other husbands out there. We shall see…