Thursday, October 27, 2011

This One is for Babble

I didn't make your best bloggers list, but thanks for the opportunity to nominate myself for a runner-up award! Actually, I'm compiling a list of the best parenting sites. You didn't quite make the Top 100 list, but feel free to send your buddies to vote for you (daily) in the prestigious Not Quite Made the Top List category!

And this one is for Klout. For telling me I'm influential about goldfish.

And this one is for--

Silly me... For a second I forgot what this whole thing was about...

Friday, October 21, 2011

My Daughter is a Psychic

Pick a number! 

Any number between 1 and 10! 

Prepare to be AMAZED!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Stop me if you've heard this one before: So this dad goes into a PBS event...

A few weeks ago I was invited to an event PBS was holding. I didn't know anything about the context of the event, but after realizing my boy was going to have a day off school that day and after realizing Arlington, VA wasn't that far from Baltimore, I gave the only logical answer: "Sure, why not?"

An email days before the event indicated I've made the right decision. There were going to have high-end technology product demonstrations of PBS Kids games. And life-sized PBS Kids characters wandering about the place. In my head, I was holding my kids' hands as the three of us entered a large room filled with Curious Georges, cakes, and sexy robots.

Don't ask me what the sexy robots did there. I guess they were serving the cakes? My imaginary future is catered by sexy robots. Sorry, I don't make the rules.


So we reach Arlington and I recognize the logo on the PBS building, which gets me a little star-struck for some reason. Funny that you don't need to look at stars to be star-struck; it's enough to face a logo. Funny world we live in.

I get into the building, and it looks like I was right: It IS futuristic. All glass doors and glass stairs and high ceilings. I go up and sign here and sign there... What is that? Consent form? Sure, whatever. And what's this form? Day care? Sure I'll sign that...

Wait, what?

And before I get to stop and think, I've already abandoned my kids in a baby-sitting room and moved ahead to the event.

Now, the thing about me abandoning my kids and continuing to the event is that--

Well, I don't know about you all. My guess is that some of you are social animals. You go to these type of events and you mingle and you schmooze and you sometimes even booze, and you leave the room an hour later with two hundred new Facebook friends. However, as someone who uses his kids as a shield to defend himself from social interaction, I now feel naked. And when more parents get into the room, I realize that not only am I the only socially awkward person there, I'm also the only dad, and my only defense is in the other room, running away from a giant Curious George.

But really, I'm overreacting for COMEDIC EFFECT. The PBS people couldn't be nicer and more welcoming, the babysitters were awesome, and as far as I could tell, the mom bloggers didn't bite.

And as for the event itself--

PBS Kids has just launched dozens of new games on The games are all free, all smart, all very interactive, and all featuring the great imagination and playfulness of their creators. So the games are fun, but more importantly, they have the PBS seal of approval, by which I mean you can let your kid play alone (or against a friend) on a computer, an iPhone, or an iPad, and you know your kid is in good hands and that he might actually learn some age-specific basic math in the process.

The games are also meant to be played in classrooms and in libraries using touch screen technology, whether on computers or using interactive whiteboards. Some games use your computer/iPhone/iPad/Whiteboard camera or mike to put you in the game, which means you see yourself on the screen, jumping or clapping or doing whatever Curious George tells you to do, and George reacts according to your movements. It's all very neat and very engaging, and judging by the early reactions of some of the bloggers who got a chance to test the games at home, a great success with the target audience.

Being a demanding adult who used to play in the endless worlds of Grand Theft Auto games, I did find some of the characters' reaction in the games to be repetitive, but I also feel that kids won't mind that, and even the opposite may be true. In a world where so many things make very little sense, a little repetition can be reassuring to a child.

When it ended, I went back to the other room to pick up my kids. The three of us waved goodbye to the babysitters and to the PBS people, and even to the giant Super Why dude and Curious George who were waiting by the glass stairs.

I was encouraged. "See? They're not scary. They're nice. Maybe you want to take a picture with them? That'll be fun, right?"

But my girl turned her head away and my boy ran down the stairs. Now, I would have tried to get a picture with Curious George myself, because, you know, why not, but being the only dad there, I felt I was representing all dads throughout history, so I had to act like an adult...

I hope I got you to check out the site. It's free, so you should really just do it. And if I got you to the PBS site and you like the games and feel you should let your school or library know about them, then that's even better.

And let me know if you have any questions. I won't necessarily have answers, but I'm pretty sure I'll know where to get them, so ask ahead.

Monday, October 10, 2011

In Which I Suddenly Remember What It's Like to be a Child.

The other day we went to see some friends. My kids went into their 8-year-old girl's room while we stayed in the living room. After a while, I went to check in on the kids. They were watching Little Monsters, where Fred Savage finds monster Howie Mandel under his bed.

First of all, a sidenote: even with a blue face and pointy horns, Howie Mandel is less creepy in the movie than he is nowadays.

Anyway, I ask the girl what the movie is about, because it's obvious she's seen it many times before, and she tells me

This monster lives under this kid's bed, and he takes him with him under the bed to the Monster Land, where it's really cool, because there are no parents and no homework, and you get to eat candy . . .

But I already stopped listening because I'm stuck on that first thing she said...

It's "really cool" because there are no parents? But... but we're so much fun! I mean, sure, we say, "Don't do this" or "that," and we say things like, "I will NOT tell you again," and, "Go to your room," and, "I told you if you do this one more time we're going straight home, so now you can only blame yourself. And no screaming in the car. It's dangerous," and, "Sure you can have a cookie. After you finish your couscous," and--

Sometimes I get so involved in this role I'm playing, that I don't even stop to think... I wouldn't change any of the things I say, don't get me wrong, because it is my often-unpleasant job to turn my kids into good people. But on the other hand, if a blue Howie Mandel crawled out from under my boy's bed and invited him to a fun-filled parent-free land, I'd understand if he took his hand and crawled back in without even saying goodbye.

Friday, October 7, 2011


You know how they say everyone has a book in them, waiting for the right opportunity to come out? Well, if you don't have a topic in mind, all you have to do is get your other half pregnant, and the pregnancy-from-a-male-perspective book writes itself! Pretty much. I guess you need a writing talent too. And a sense of humor. In fact, you need a sense of humor to be a good parent. I learned that by watching the von Trapp family's story.

Ben, by the way, probably doesn't know what I'm talking about, because he refuses to watch The Sound of Music. Sad, I know.

Here's what some people say about Goodbye, Pert Breasts: The Diary of a Newborn Dad:

I peed myself a little reading this
As usual your post has left me running to the loo

But really, the blog is more than simply a pee-inducer.

According to his About page, the blog was mainly cut and pasted from his second book (about his experience as a new dad). This was a way to let more people know about the book and also a way to engage with people in a way a book couldn't do. It looks like the blog has now moved beyond that, taking a wider look at the writer's world. There is, however, a common thread in many of the posts: maybe the greatest gift you get with the difficult job of fatherhood is the ability to experience childhood again. You read the blog and you get the sense Ben is reliving his best years while determined to give his kids similar memories to chase when they become adults.

It's a funny blog, and it deals with many diverse subjects, but beyond that it's honest and touching.

And now I'm going to steal a picture of his boy from his blog.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

In Which I Try to Understand the Haters

Here's a year-old cut-and-pasted post from my previous blog. I haven't finished reading The Blogger's Manual: 101 Dos and Don'ts Every Blogger Should Know, so all I can do is hope you don't mind me doing that, and that maybe you even end up liking this post.

There are websites devoted to people who hate parents.Well, there's everything on the Internet. It's like that parallel universe theory. If the universe is infinite, then there's bound to be another planet just like this one, only a little bit different. Like, rainbows smell bad different. I'm trying to say that everything is on the Internet--including a site devoted to people who call parents breeders. It doesn't mean the Internet is full of haters, just that it's infinite and that infinite things contain all the beauty of the world and all its ugliness.

Thing is, it could have been me. I could have been the one complaining I had to work on Halloween because my co-workers' two-year-old kids wanted them around for trick-or-treat. I could have been the one saying fertility drugs should be banned. Maybe I would have been the one calling an online discussion between mothers a Moofest.

It's all there. And it could have been me.

I understand people who choose not to become parents. There are many good reasons not to be parents. Maybe you had bad parents and you're afraid of making the same mistakes. Maybe you heard "a child changes everything," and you want no change. I understand.

And I know it could have been me.

You go to a restaurant with a couple with babies. In the car, all they talk about is the kids. At the restaurant, the kids do all the talking, because it's exciting to be in a restaurant. And then the parents go to get a soda refill, and you give their kids a chip. When they come back, they say, "You gave him a chip??? Now he won't eat anything else!!!"

So I understand. You get older, and everyone you know is making babies. And you can see them losing their identities to their new glorified Parent identities, and just when you think they're about to regain some of what it was they had lost in the delivery room, they go and make another baby!!!

So I understand. Because it could have been me. I didn't want to become my parents, and I didn't want my life to change, so why make babies?

And yet, of course I was going to have babies. They're fun. And they allow you to relive your own childhood. And they cuddle. And they learn and they teach.

I understand the haters. I wish they didn't hate, but I understand them. I wish they didn't care about what I choose to do with my life, but that means I shouldn't care what they choose to do on the Internet. The Internet is infinite, which means I can avoid the ugly parts.

Oh, and there's a punchline. Earlier tonight, a friend (with no kids) and I went with my kids to Chipotle. We sat down with the food, and I went to get drinks. By the time I came back, my friend had already given Liam a chip, which meant Liam would eat nothing but chips. And as soon as I told my friend that Liam now wouldn't eat anything else, I realized I should have kept it to myself. Parents are annoying, I know. But look, he's reading my favorite book!


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