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Phil Slaght starring in “the greatest gift”

I recently attended my high school reunion and reconnected with many of my friends, recounting where we have been over the last few years, and where we think we are going. It was a great time and it reminded me how many great friends I made in high school. It also reminded me why I constantly strive to stay young in spirit. While holding a professional job and being a parent requires the utmost maturity and personal responsibility, taking time out of every day to act unequivocally immature is necessary, if for anything to laugh and retain just a bit of your youth.

Reader: “Where the hell is Phil going with this…ugh.”

So, back to the reunion. Sarah joined me at the party, and she did her own mingling with several people she also knew from over the years, and she met other too. Some of them discussed our arrangement with me staying home with the kids. Inevitably the comment of “it is really something for Phil to have quit his job and be a stay at home dad,” or “its really a great thing that Phil is doing, setting aside his ego to care for his family.” Now for all of you that have thought that or said it, I thoroughly appreciate your sentiments. And trust me, taking care of children is quite comparable in extent and magnitude of frustration, anger, and helplessness that I felt many times in my professional life. But with that being the case, I have to come clean: Its not all that bad. Yup. You heard it hear first. Again, I appreciate the kudos that people have bestowed upon me, but its not like I gave someone a kidney, or administered CPR to revive someone (however, the day is young and Brian is awake). Really, Sarah and I made a common sense decision, but because it is inconsistent with the “traditional” family model that has been expected since the beginning of time, people find it crazy, fascinating, intriguing, and perhaps inspiring. Jack Bauer breaking into a bunker of two dozen terrorists with an automatic pistol and a couple extra clips to rescue one person is crazy (sarah and I have recently gotten back into watching 24), me staying home…not so crazy. In fact there are some inherent perks that make staying home very palatable.

Anybody remember that show a few years back, where the masked magician showed everyone how to do certain magic tricks, and every other magician hated this dude? Well, I’m going to blow the top of off the secrets we SAHDs have guarded for centuries. I risk getting kicked out of the SAHD fraternity because I swore I would never reveal our secrets, but full disclosure is more important. Hold on to your hats:
1. SAHDs (stay at home dads for those of you who are not fluent in acronyms) don’t shower everyday. Now, I know plenty of dudes I used to work with that clearly did not shower daily, much less have a reasonable minimum limit of hygene. We dont have anyone expecting us to shower daily.
2. SAHDs more often than not wear their pajamas (or whatever they wore to bed) well into the day. In some case all day long. However, there are strict rules regarding wearing pajamas out of the house, especially to Wal-mart or Target. That is a big no-no.
3. SAHDs play video games with thier kids. Hey, c’mon, Madden 2014 has some redeeming educational qualities, not to mention building up thumb muscle dexterity.
4. SAHDs can eat whatever they want, whenever they want. Feeling a little hungry? I’ve heard that sometimes what you’re really feeling is thirsty. Well, better not chance it, have a big bowl of cocopuffs at 2:30, on top of the left over pizza and cheddar harvest sun chips you ate at lunch.
5. “Its five o’clock somewhere”…do I really need to explain this one?
6. While this one is gender specific, playing with your kids toys can definitely time warp you back to your childhood. My kids are huge into transformers right now…AWESOME!!!
7. Yard work sucks. Teaching your kids how much fun yard work is does not suck. “Oh boy, I’ve always wanted to cut the grass.” “Don’t tell mommy though (wink, wink).”
8. Swimming is an excellent way for children to stay healthy and burn energy. It is also an excellent way for daddy to catch a mean tan, and meet some new friends (mom at pool: “oh, you are a stay at home dad…aw, good for you. your wife is so lucky to have a husband who prioritizes his family”; me: “why thank you…and do you know where the cocktail waitress went?”).
9. SAHDs get to harass telemarketers. This has been a perk that I would have never thought of. In fact, when I first started staying at home, I hated these people. Then I realized, these people are just doing their job, trying to make an honest buck. I shouldnt just hang up on them. Their call statistics will be terrible. Instead, I strike up conversations with them:
TM:”Is Philip Slaught…er…Slate there?”
Me:”why yes, this is he”
TM:”how are you today sir?”
Me:”hey, where are you calling from?”
TM:”um, uh, Seattle”
Me:”does it really rain there like every day? I couldnt handle that man…forget about it.”
TM:”sir, Im calling from Chemlawn and we are setting up appointments for our fall aerating service, and I want to know…”
Me:”ha, ya know, I never get that aerating service.”
TM:”can I ask why sir? It has many beneficial effects on your lawn.”
Me:”I think it is a waste of money, plus it looks like a million little tirds on my lawn. Make me laugh every time I look at my yard.”
TM:(silence)
Me:”you know what I WILL get my yard aerated this fall”
TM:”great, just let me confirm your address”
Me:”sure, its 207…*click*
Now, you may think that is mean…I dont.
10. SAHD have plenty of time to write a blog. This can be tricky though. In the time I have been typing this, each of my boys has run up to me crying at least twice. No blood, no foul, I always say.

Now let me be very clear, being a SAHmom may be much more difficult, as they may take a much different approach to caretaking than a SAHD. Please dont take this as some callous, irresponsible, insensative undermining of the struggles of a stay at home parent. That is not my point. But at the same time, I have not made up anything above.

Some may say that I am understating the stress and burden of being a stay at home parent. I am not. I am simply shedding light on the fact that it is not always so difficult. Let me offer a comparison to the professional world: a coworker stays at work until 8pm each night, and makes sure that everyone knows they work into the evening. However, that same person didnt volunteer that they came in late, took a two hour lunch, played on the internet for four hours, and talked on the phone for another two hours. So while they were physically at work for 10 hours, they actually only performed 2 hours of productive, useful work.

Well, now that the vatican has postponed my sainthood, I shall go make my children dinner…but first I will make myself a cocktail. It’s five o’clock somewhere.

Im a stay at home dad too…why cant I be on the Today Show?

It took me awhile, but I have realized that “Diaries of a stay at home dad”  is overused.  Unfortunately, caring for our three boys sucks the creativity out of me, so it is difficult to come up with a catchy blog title that unlocks my 15 minutes of fame (i’ll touch on this more later).  Clearly, it also sucks out my will power to exercise, blog, maintain current friendships, make new friends, and knit. I have been able to keep my binge drinking intact, which is good.

When last I blogged, I said you would hear from me in July.  Well, you’re welcome, its only June and I am back on the scene.  Early Christmas present.

The school year was a pain in the butt, with all the start times, drop offs, pick ups, etc.  i looked forward to the summer since January.  I forgot though how “demanding” the summer is.  Controlling the activities of three young boys is crazy, especially when one of them is two, and yes, terrible (aw, you cant be talking about cute little Keagan, he is an angel).  For whatever reason, Keagan picks on Liam.  Liam knows he is must not retaliate, and he does not.  Instead I hear a high pitched scream followed by “dad, Keagan hit me with ______________.”  Just a moment ago, the boys were having a slide show up in their room, looking at some viewfinder slides of Thomas the tank engine, Charlie Browns Christmas, and animals, and making up stories about old family reunions.  Then I hear the usual signal of a problem…Liam shrieking.  Keagan had (uh oh, Liam is crying again…apparently Go Diego Go just attacked him with assistance from Keagan) dropped a wooden treasure chest on Liam’s head. When I ask Keagan, he just drops his head in shame and answers “Yeaaaa…I sawwee Eeam.”  Translated, “Yes, I am sorry Liam.”

Keagan is rough.  He clearly does not want to be the youngest of the group, and he knows that he is at an age where he can get away with almost anything.  You see, he has “curly hair immunity.”  One look at his golden curly hair and people are hypmostized.  How could this handsome little boy bash his brother’s head with several chinese made toys?  his power is impressive.  I find myself falling into his trap often.  In fact, when I attempt to give him a time out, he often will give me a big hug on the way to jail…”Dad, I sawwee.”  He is good.  And he doesn’t pick on Brian as much.  He must see Liam as the alpha dog, and he wants to take his place.  Liam is unbelieveably patient with Keagan, and he heals quickly, which is nice.

So, regarding my 15 minutes of fame…there has been several stories lately on stay at home dads, or professional parents having to make a decision for one to stay home, or the difficulties of both balancing work and kids, or how one or the other spouse stinks at being equally responsible for the kids, blah blah, blah. Then I see a story teased one morning on the Today Show. A professional woman who regrets making the decision to stay home with her kids. I gotta see this. After like an hour and a half, at like 8:45 when most of the viewing audience has turned the TV off to feed their kids, which should have been a dead give away that it would be a bunch-of-nothing story, the story comes on and they interview this woman. Her regret was “my world got a lot smaller”

Uh, DUH! Did she make this decision the night before she resigned? Sarah and I mulled our decision for months, considering the impact it would have on me, her, the kids, me, me, um, me. Ha. How nieve could this person be? You didnt think through the impact of going from working with grown professional individuals, working in the high powered world of stock brokerage (I think), to instead having to wipe butts, prepare hundreds of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and attempting to explain to your kids why their favorite shows werent on every hour of every day? And the pisser…that was the whole story. “My advice to anyone considering leaving the workforce to care for their kids, be prepared for how small your world gets, and how difficult it is to get back into the workplace.” Sage advice my friend. Good God. Where do they find these people? I can only imagine what else surprises this woman…”I have to pay taxes EVERY YEAR?”…”Kids don’t inherently know how to use the toilet AND wipe themselves?”…”I cant drop my kids off at the pool and sit at the bar for several hours?”

Oh wait,that last one was me.

So on the way home from this evenings festivities at my parents place (we kept them up way past their bedtime…my parents, that is), I hear Liam and Brian talking about kindergarten, and of course riding the bus. Brian says “The best part of riding the bus is that you dont have to wear seat belts.” liam responds “but you cant fool around or the bus driver will get mad. One of the drivers i had didnt even let you put your leg in the aisle. He got really mad once when someone got out of their seat.” Brian queried “but what if I put my head in the aisle…do you think he would get mad?” to Liam’s very reasonable response “Brian, how would you put your head in the aisle?” Which led to…
“Liam, when I am in kindergarten, I will get be the fastest at taking tests.” to which Liam responded “No Brian. That is not the way to get an O or an S+. You need to concentrate and focus on each question, and review each one before you hand it in. You never want to be the first one done with a test.” I kid you not, that is VERBATIM what I told him in the middle of the school year when Liam asked me about taking “tests” in kindergarten. I’m telling you, this kid retains everything. Brian on the other hand only retains things that have some comedic value. For example, a couple weeks ago Sarah is putting the boys to sleep and stubs her toe or something, exclaiming “SHOOT.” Brian, in his cute, matter of fact way, says “Mommy, you know its not really SHOOT, its SHIT.”

Uh oh…I guess I need to watch my mouth.

I’m gonna make a concerted effort to blog weekly from now on…don’t hold me to that though. I got some great topics I have to write about before I forget though (tease).

Later

Diaries of a stay at home dad

Where am I?  What am I doing here?  Last thing I remember, it was mid-September, the trees were beginning to change color, and Liam and Brian had just started school.  The laid back, no routine of the summer was over, and I was settling into a “normal” day to day routine.  I don’t remember anything since.  Routine has ruined my life.  This whole school thing is for the birds.  I wake up around 6:30, and the next thing I know its 9pm.  I didn’t sign up for this.  I signed up for the summer schedule.  Waking up around 8, hitting the pool at noon, cocktailing at 4.  So much has changed.

So, what has happend since my last post back in September?

Well, Brian has not fallen out of any windows…knock on wood.  Liam is reading, and very well I might add.  I cannot take any responsibility for this though.  In fact, I likely have slowed his reading advancement by having him attempt to read words and sentences that are well over this head.  As I have posted before, I hold him to a standard that likely aligns better with a 20-25 year old, perhaps a recent college graduate, or newly hired staff person.  I think there are two equally plausible outcomes to my approach with him: 1) Youngest President of the United States, ever, or 2) a semi-professional adult who, when not in a professional setting, acts like he is still 15, plays video games in his off time, and is still afraid to swear in front of his parents.  Oh, wait, I just described myself.  Well, lets hope for #1.

Since our last episode, the boys have discovered the undeniable and unending humor in burping and farting.  Unfortunately, it has become so ubiquitous (definition:Present, appearing, or found everywhere) that I, of all people, am really annoyed by it.  You must understand:  My attempts at holding back the process of aging consists mostly of laughing at sixth grade toilet humor, and playing my playstation.  So, making these crude and rude noises, whether naturally or artificially, should be in my funny sweetspot.  However, my boys have taken all the fun out of this chapter of juvenile humor.  Its like the Uncle everyone has, who when you see him that one time each year at the holidays, tells the exact same joke he has told since you were a wee laddy.  Ugh.  Painful.  I find myself swimming in hypocracy though when I yell at them about being rude and gross, as I know there are so many times when I would gladly condone such behavior.  They have simply overdone it. Whoever said “everything in moderation” must have had sons who could not get enough of fart noises when they coined that phrase.  I can’t help but think this is some sort of karmic “you reap what you sow” moment for me though.

In some strange way though, when Keagan rips one off voluntarily, I find it extremely amusing.  I don’t think so much because of the actual act, but because of the sheer joy it brings him to be able to fart when he commands his little tushy to speak.  In fact, it is almost like a dance for him:  He looks a me very sternly and stoicly; his body tenses up; he straightens out his body; his belly tightens up…and toot toot toot!!  He breaks into a laughter that is simply contagious.  I cannot get angry with him, nor hold myself back from laughing.  And the pride in his face after realizing that he just did something that his big brothers can do is priceless.

Its a good thing that I never read any parenting books or went to a parenting class.  If I did, I probably would be seriously questioning my effectiveness as a parent.  But, as it is, I don’t have time to worry about it…so I am doing great as far as I’m concerned.  Moving on…

So, for my  New Year’s resolutions, I am resolved to lose 20 pounds, and I am going to quit drinking until St Patricks Day, being the good Irish (German, Dutch) boy that I am.

I am sticking to the diet, but I am struggling with the booze thing.   As I type, I am enjoying a nice glass of kentucky bourbon on this cold and snowy February afternoon.  You see, Liam was home from school today because his tonsils are the size of golf balls, but he doesn’t have strep.  It has been a stressful day.  At least that is the excuse I give myself in order to partake in this early afternoon cocktail.  Mid-February and I would say that the boys and I have a serious case of cabin fever.  We get out of the house quite a bit, but it is clear by the boys sprinting up and down the hallways that more activity is needed. I need one of those wheels that gerbils run on.  I could hook it into an engine, then hook it into the grid and make some money off of their energy.  I will write that one down as entreprenuer idea number 43.  If I ever find the time and motivation to act on one of my ideas I will be a very rich man.

Well, as I remember or observe other cute and/or disgusting behavior by the boys, I will attempt to be more disciplined about blogging about it.  HA Ha.

See you in July!

Diaries of a stay at home dad

I have actually found some spare time to reboot my blog.  Ironically, when I sat down 20 minutes ago, my mouse would not work so I had to reboot my computer, click on the “connect button” and swear at the gald-dern computer several times before it laughed at me and began to work as designed.  Personally I think the government is attempting to suppress my right to free speech, as they must know that I am up to 5 followers, not to mention all my adoring fan(s).

I have bumped into several (three) people recently who have asked me if I have given up on the blog.  Tee hee hee…no, of course not.  It’s the blog that has given up on me.  I thought that I would have exponentially more time to memorialize the daily exploits of my sons (and my wife) attempting to drive me insane, now that the boys are in school.  Wrong again.  come to think of it, I have not been correct since I left my job.  When you go from working with adults (and I use that word loosely when considering some of the people I worked with (and they read this blog too, so now they are trying to figure out if I am talking about them or someone else, haha)) to “working” with your children, you quickly realize that while you may be right in your decision-making, relative to common sense, the kids have this magical way of over powering you.  Actually they have many ways: Nagging, ignoring, blatantly defying, delaying, filibustering, begging, crying, screaming, kicking, and did I mention nagging?

I remember when I announced that I was leaving my job.  Women congratulated me and said something like “that’s great Phil.  You will really enjoy having that time with your kids, but its hard work.” Conversely, most of the guys said “wow, I am so jealous.  I would love to stay at home with my kids.  It would be a nice break from the stress and craziness here at work.”

L-OH-FRIGGEN-L.  For all of you guys out there attempting to convince their wives to stay at home with their kids, make sure you consider your options carefully.  I did not have any preconceived notions that this would be something like sitting on my couch playing my PS3 while the kids played nicely upstairs.  No sir.  But I will tell you that there are certain options in the professional world that I wish I still had the opportunity to take advantage of:

1. Cancelling meetings, or simply not showing up due to some “emergency” – Unless I was running a meeting, or meeting with a person who had an acronym behind their name.  I didn’t do this a lot, as it drove me crazy when I organized a meeting, people would accept, and then not show.  Now this is not an option.  You see, if I decide not to take the kids to school, the school will freak out and i will waste money spent on tuition.  If I don’t pick them up, well let’s just say that child services would eventually find me, not to mention Sarah would not be very happy with me.  Its amazing, in a sense, I must be more responsible in my role now, than before when I was working for a large publicly traded company, pulling a salary.  Scary.

2.  Getting some “fresh air” when I become frustrated, or mad – hahahahahahahahahahaha…yea right.  Back at the jobby job, I would go for a walk in Tower city, or actually around the city if the weather was nice.  I could vent to other adults, who would tell me that everyone is crazy, and I was right to be upset, blah blah blah.  But now, I am out of timeouts, in fact, I never got any time outs at the beginning of the game.  I can’t just go for a walk on my own if I get frustrated (uh oh, there’s those child services people…again).  I often wonder how people take care of multiple kids in apartments, or locations where they can’t, or choose not to, get out of the house easily.  Dont misunderstand me, I think my kids are great.  They play together great and play independently just as good, and I still find myself pulling my hair out at least once a week.  Case in point:  I was tending to Keagan a week or so ago, and it was a hot day.  I told the boys they could play with the hose to cool off.  I am inside for about 15 minutes, and when I come outside to check on the dynamic duo I find that they have used the hoses to make a water slide on the swing set.  Now, at first it looked pretty cool, and I was impressed.  Then I watched them go down this slide.  Holy toledo, this has multiple compound fractures written all over it.  Both of their football careers could be destroyed before they are ever started.  So I told them “no more.”  They cry and moan, but reluctantly take the hoses down.  Now the yard is a mess, and all muddy, so I tell them to turn off the hoses and clean up for dinner.  I forget who it was, but as I turned my back I was on the receiving end of a water ambush…not nice, and I had no place to go to vent my frustration.  Thank God for Sarah.  She walks in the door and I usually, immediately get her up to speed on the happenings of the day.  She laughs, pats me on the back and tells me to make myself a drink…don’t mind if I do.

3.  Calling in sick – I never called in sick unless I was truly sick.  Funny story:  My ex-boss once told me and one of my co-workers (I’ll call the co-worker “McLovin” to protect his identity) that calling in sick was for sissy’s and that he never calls in sick.  I stated that was rather silly, as the risk of getting the whole office sick was much more important that showing everyone you could work through an illness.  A couple of weeks after that exchange, he got sick but came into work anyway and got half the office sick.  We got behind in our work as a result.  He then asked me why we were behind?  Awesome.  Now I have not gotten sick yet during the new gig, but I dread the day I do, because I know I have no alternatives, aside of Sarah staying home to care for me.  Probably worse though is the fear of waking up with a hangover and having to take care of the kids.  Now, I didn’t drink a lot during the week (do you like how I left that open to interpretation??) when I was working full-time, but there was a couple of times I called in sick due to a hang over, during my younger days.  Not anymore.  And as any parent who partakes in a drink now and then will tell you, attempting to care for children while nursing a hangover may be the closest thing to capital punishment without actually committing a crime.  In fact, if scientist could somehow duplicate the effects of a hangover, which then could be given to prisoners on death row, while forcing them to care for children (I’ll have to think about how that would work), I think crime would go way down.

4.  Long lunch – I wish.  Sometimes I would take a 2 hour lunch if work was slow, maybe have a “working lunch” with other people from work at a nice eating establishment, discussing happenings at work, strategies for completing our current tasks, or simply gossiping.  Now-a-days, I spend my lunch discussing how Fireman Sam, yet again, saved Norman Price from some crazy situation in the small Welsh town of Pontypandy.  Who comes up with this stuff?  And why do my kids love it?  Well, its got to be better than the stuff I watched as kids, content-wise as least.  I mean Voltron and Transformers are still awesome, but they do not have redeeming qualities of “Fireman Sam,” considering the boys are asking me to confirm that the smoke alarm batteries have been tested properly, and we have plenty of fire extinguishers around the house, especially in the kitchen.  You never know when you might burn a porkchop sandwich (inside joke, kinda).

5. Lastly, complain about my boss or other people I worked with – considering I am the boss (when Sarah’s not here, then I am the co-boss), and I would never complain about my kids because they are little angels, this option is not possible.  It’s not like I have an outlet for my frustrations that would allow me to memorialize the trials and tribulations of being a Mr. Mom, while allowing other people to follow my new career via the world wide web.  By the way, I hate when people call me Mr. Mom.  Please stop calling me that.  Michael Keaton is Mr. Mom.  You can call me Phil, or Philly, or Philbert, or one of the several other derivations of my name, but please don’t call me Mr. Mom.

With all that being said above, I wouldn’t change a thing.  I mean, look at all the stories I have formalized in the stupid blog, in only four months.  And I have been absent for the last month.  I gotta find more time to write these blogs consistently.  Eventually I am want to turn this thing into a book.  I have ways to go though, so I guess I will have to stick with this stay a home thing.

Wow, that was therapeutic.

Don’t worry Sarah, I still love staying home with the boys.  I need to go make banana bread now…never did that in my last job!

Diaries of a stay at home dad

It’s 3 pm on a Saturday. My lovely wife has taken the energy sucking parasites for a trip to the store, although Keagan is napping like an angel. I have a chance to take a nap similar to him, but I cannot fall asleep. I got real close…you know like when you start dreaming, then you realize you are about to fall asleep, then your stupid brain starts worrying about yard work, or the blog you have not written in weeks. So frustrating. So, without any other option, I grab a glass of red wine on this wonderful fall-esque day, and I get back on the horse that is blogging.

So two weeks ago we were on vacation. I didn’t wanna blog then for the same reason I never “check in” anywhere on my facebook page. I am convinced someone is going to break into our house and attempt to steal something. There is not a whole lot that they could take worth value though. The computer is from 2005; the TV is nice but it has weird lines running through the right side of the screen. In fact, I wouldn’t mind if someone came and took that, so I could get a new one (right Ryan?). It is more likely that someone would break into the house, trip over Keagans scale-size fire truck that he rides constantly, hit his/her head on the pack and play, slip on legos while attempting to get up, hit the floor, and lie unconscious until we get home. At which point Keagan and Brian would give him or her a big splash, thinking it must be one of their uncles or aunts. Then we would get sued, blah blah blah.

So anyway, we went to Cedar Point with Liam and Brian, and they had a blast. They did not stop moving until we got in the car at 9pm. Liam was able to ride his first roller coasters since he hit the magical 42 inch height. On the crappy side, he could only ride Disaster Transport and Iron Dragon. Now, there is a reason Disaster Transport is currently being disassempbled…it sucks. He hated it. Iron Dragon was a different story. He rode it 6 times. Couldnt get enough of it.

Brian was relagated to the non-coaster rides, but he still had a ball. In fact, he got onto two rides he should not have. How do we know that? well, he got on the first time, then when we got on the next time, like 5 minutes later, the “operators” said he was too short. While he was very disappointed, we assured him there are plenty more rides. So we walk a few minutes and as God as my witness there is the same ride, different paint, different name, and this one will allow little guys on as long has they have a responsible adult with them. Makes sense.

Then we hit the new dinosaur exhibit. $5 per person to get in. Ok, the boys really wanted to see the dinosaurs. “we get reentry, right” I ask. “No sir, you must pay $5 each time.” Well as my family’s old friend and pastor Father Cullen used to say “What a crock!” It was kinda cool. The boys loved it, but the no in/out privleges is bogus.

Rest of vacation was great. Spent some quality time with both sets of parents, hung with nephew Justin (who I beat in Madden not once but twice…its the little things in life), hit Kelly’s Island to spend a day with Kate and John, and dreamed of owning a vacation getaway someday. I asked the boys where they want to buy a place: Liam-PIB, Brian-Kelly’s, Sarah-Catawba…I guess I am the deciding vote, well until Keagan can talk.

So last week was the transition week to normalcy. Normal, was not a word I would use to describe last week. With all the fun we had on vacation, I really did not feel refreshed. In fact, I don’t think I have been right since my bro-in-law and I hit the midnight showing of Dark Knight Rises. When I woke up in the morning after only 3 hours of sleep, it brought back memories of college when we thought it would be cool to stay up drinking all night and hit the bars when they opened in the morning…not good.

My patience-o-meter was dangerousely low all week. Stress seemed to be all around, personified in my three beautiful little cherubs (look it up). For example, Liam has gotten into this mode of repeating his requests perpetually until I respond. Sometimes he will continue on even when I respond with a “No” thinking that I will fall under his spell and change my mind. It got so crazy that I sat him down, spelled out the word “NAG” on a piece of paper, always thinking constructively of course, and I defined for him what a nag is, and why they are not well liked in this or any world. Subsequently, while he seems to lower how loudly he would reiterate his requests, he still continued to berate me. And for some reason, making or purchasing cotton candy was the most often request…weird.

Brian…let me keep this simple. Brian walked to the edge of our porch deck, which does not have a railing, and decided to jump from there onto my hammock. Wow. I watched the whole think in horror. It is only a couple feet down, but good gracious. I think he thought he would bounce on it like a tampoline. well he didn’t. the hammock flipped him around and he landed on the grass. Luckily, without a scratch. I need to get this kid into gymnastics class.

Now for Keagan. He was napping when Brian took his leap, so I cannot blame this next stress inducer on Brian. I was applying sunscreen to Liam and Brian. Keagan, also on the porch, all of a sudden sprints to the edge and then stops on a dime. I leap from the stairs to the edge, maybe 10 feet and grab him. Place him in a pack and play, and then take the mobile heart defribulator off of the wall…CLEAR! Ahh…there it goes, heart is pumping again.

All this during a week when we all were trying to get back into our routines. I chalk this week up to transition. From now on I will see this one coming, I hope. On the bright side, Keagan learned to go down the slide, with the help of dad spotting him.

Did I mention that I watched Jurrassic Park with Liam and Brian. They loved it but I think they were both a bit freaked out. Poor decision on a “transition week.”

Keagan has regained consciousness from his nap, so I must bid you farewell.

Diaries of a stay at home dad

Instilling discipline is both an art and a science.  There are many suggestions out there ranging from felony assault to “boys will be boys.”  Establishing the correct balance of discipline has clearly been the most difficult part of my new career.  I have tried many approaches across the spectrum of discipline, and I have observed many other approaches applied by strangers, usually to my amusement.  For example, we were at the pool yesterday and a daughter asked her father if she could get an ice cream cone.  He said “no,” she started walking towards the ice cream stand, he said “No” (notice the one capitalized letter, representing a louder tone being used), she didn’t change her course, again he said “NO” and still she continued until he sat up and screamed ‘Katie, NO!!! Get back here, NOW!”

There was no audible record scratch, but I heard one in my head.  Everyone in and around the pool turned towards this “gentleman.”  Not too humiliating.  Did I mention he was sitting down the whole time and did not move until the last  warning shot?  Even better, when we all turned to look, he said “Uh, sorry…”  I filed that approach in my “ineffective” file.

Speaking of ineffective, I have definitely had my own issues.  Before I started staying at home, sometime last year, Brian and I had, lets call it, a disagreement.  I don’t remember what he did but I remember being unhappy.  I decided to pull out the big guns.  [Sarah, if you are reading this, please skip down to the next paragraph].  I spanked Brian.  Now who’s the boss?  Who is in control?  Time to shape up and listen to daddy, right?  Nope.  It must have been close to bed time, as Brian had his pull up on.  More than likely he was doing his nightly routine of not staying in bed, and staying up late.  Boo.  Anyway, I spanked him with the pull up on.  He laughed at me.  Literally.  I got nothing left now.  so, I sat him down and pretended to cry, telling him how much it hurt daddy’s feelings that he would not listen to me.  He laughed at me again.  Ugh.  So, I turned off the lights and closed the door.  Nothing like running from your problems.

Fast forward to last week.  I have been training hard on my Jedi mind tricks, and I think I may have figured this whole thing out.  there are certain subtle tactics that must be used so that you don’t embarrass yourself, your kid, or literally make the situation much worse than it even needed to be.  Case in point:

Me and the boys hit the grocery store last week.  Usually they are better in the morning hours than the afternoon, but this time clearly was different.  Brian and Liam were both bouncing off the walls, aisles, displays, etc.  I stopped the cart and gave them their one and only warning.  “If you don’t control yourself, and act like big boys, you will not get special lunch.”  “Oh, what’s special lunch Dad?” they ask.  I say “You have to be good the rest of the time here, then you will find out.  But, I know you will love it.”

The special lunch was hot dogs wrapped in crescent roll dough, or as it is known in our house a “pig in a blanket.”  Delicious, and a meal my boys absolutely love.

Well, Brian was not able to uphold his end of the bargain.  He was running up and down aisles, knocking food off shelves, being somewhat embarrassing, etc.  Ok, so I don’t want to humiliate him or me in public.  That is counter-intuative.  Kids don’t understand humiliation, and if they do I think it is more damaging than corrective.  So I continue to correct him, and let him know that he is going to miss out on the big “carrot.”  Still, no cooperation.  Metafor: His brake is not working and his accelarator is stuck to the floor.  So I am only left to one option.  I put Brian in the cart.  Now he is subjected to Keagan smacking his head, a la the Chinese water torture.

So we get check out, with still some problems from B.  Ugh.  Keep in mind, I have not told him what the special lunch is, nor that he is not getting it.  We get into the car, and I latch him into his seat.  Now he is under my control.  I announce what’s for lunch, but also that he is not getting it.  He must choose between a peanut butter, or a bologna sandwich.  Can you say meltdown? He is freaking out.  we get home and his legs apparently have no feeling or muscular coordination, as I must drag him out of the car.

Keep your wits about you Phil…this is all part of the challenge.

And yes, it is a challenge.  It was now me versus Brian in a proverbial staring contest.  he is screaming, crying, kicking, blah, blah, blah.  I just keep asking him “peanut butter or bologna” in a very calm voice.  Meanwhile, I am making Keagan and Liam their special lunch.  Brian notices I made three.  He asks why I made three.  Smart kid.  I tell him that I made another in case Liam and Keagan were still hungry.  That made him mad.  This goes on for 45 minutes…I stay calm, he continues to freak.  This is new territory for me.  By this point I usually lose my cool (see my second post for an example).  I  take him upstairs to his room and tell him to settle down and nap if he is not going to have lunch.  He continues on his fit.  I continue to talk to him about why he is in this conundrum.

Then, all of a sudden… “OK!” Brian says

“OK, what?”  I respond.  “OK, I will take bologna for lunch.”

Huh? Wha?  I won!  I won!  Dad has prevailed in this battle.  And that was it.  Brian calmed down almost instantly after that, came down stairs, and we talked over what it will take for him to get a piece of that third piggie.  I told him that I will wrap it up for tomorrow’s lunch, and if he is a good boy, he can have it then.  Talk about incentive.  He was an angel from then on.

If I have not mentioned it, I think Brian is an exact DNA match of me.  I remember acting the same way, and being a silly little goose just like him.  I guess I owe my parents a big apology for what I put them through, based on my two months of experience.  Life has a funny way of teaching you lessons you can never learn in school or even the professional world.

So after reading my blog a week or two ago, Sarah asked me “do you think your stories are too much about Brian’s shenanigans?  Your stories are clearly weighted towards him.”  So true.  Let me tell you why.  Liam is my executive officer.  My right hand man.  My consigliere.  My Robin.  He is always by my side, analyzing situations and giving his professional opinion.  He is a rule follower to the highest degree.  So when I correct him, I don’t have to do much more.  For example, lately when I am cleaning up or organizing or stuff like that, he will come up and ask me “dad what can I do to help?”  How refreshing?  I just need to be careful and not push him too fast.  For example, I was cleaning the toilets this week (pathetic, I know, but it needed to be done).  Liam asked…I so wanted to have him clean the toilets, but I looked at my WWSD bracelet and decided against it.

“what would Sarah do” for those of you who don’t get my poor attempt at a joke above…and for those of you following my blog that don’t know me, Sarah is my beautiful, smart, and wonderful wife…who sometimes is baffled by my parenting decisions.

So speaking of cleaning the toilets…the best part of this “job” is discovering how funny the kids really are.  So I use this bright blue lysol stuff on the toilet bowls and it has to sit for like 15 minutes.  I did it right before the boys started thier bedtime routine.  This routine includes going potty, of course.  So Liam and Brian are brushing their teeth, and they see the toilets are blue.  The look at me and say “So, ah, Dad.  Where the heck are we supposed to put our pee’s now?”

Life is good.  I have lasted two months…shame on you, naysayers!

Diaries of a stay at home dad

I guess this is going to be a weekly blog. Honest to goodness, I think about writing almost every day, but clearly my ability to translate thought into typing is weak, at best. Not sure why I feel compelled to apologize to my blog, but I guess i have an overactive sense of guilt.

So last week was clearly a shot across my bow by the “stay at home” gods. Keagan came down with “hand foot and mouth disease” which i thought was a eradicated with polio, but apparently not. And it is nasty. Little red rash on the feet and hands (duh), sores in the mouth, high fever for a day or so, and puking. Excellent. Little dude must have a high threshold for pain, though because he barely cried or was grumpy. He cried more today because he didn’t get his afternoon nap. Well as we were getting over that “disease,” Liam comes down with strep. And it should have been obvious, but in my quest for fun down at the pool I played the “he’ll be fine” card. It didn’t help much that i had other family members telling me “he doesn’t have a fever, he’ll be fine.” the first sign was when he jumped into a pool where the water was like 90 degrees and started shivering. Uh oh.
Then he just started wimpering. “I’m ok.”

Not good. I knew he had a problem. But we were waiting for fireworks at 9:45, and its only 8. Well I have snacks and pop and stuff like that. So being a great father I get him some ice cream and stick him in the cart I brought for him and B. Now he is totally zoned out. So I give him the iPad to watch a show. When that didn’t work, i knew I was in big trouble. Ok, time to go home. Missed fireworks, but now i am more worried about melted ice cream and Marachino cherries spewed on my van.
In an effort to not be ignored, Brian told me that he needed to puke too. His performance was worthy of a Oscar nomination, but not a win.
After what seemed like a three hour drive, we pulled into the garage, Liam ran upstairs and barfed. Poor dude. Again, Brian, in his own cute little way, requested a bucket just like Liam’s, just in case.

Finally by Saturday the boys had beaten their respective illnesses, albeit Brian’s is still undiagnosed.

Now that we are well, let’s hit the pool.
Sarah and I decide to make a huge life change and have me stay home with the boys, and most of the US gets hit with the hottest summer…ever. Winter cabin fever sucks. Summer cabin fever blows. Thankfully we have access to a pool (with a full bar. NICE!). Liam has shed the water wings and is diving, constantly. Problem is he won’t get more than 5 feet away from the stairs. Then we have Brian. He likes to do flips in the water with his floaty..right next to the stairs. Ugh. I just stand there waiting to either call 911 or give some parent the name of my attorney so that we can figure out a settlement quickly from whatever damage my aqua men do to their kids.
DRINK PLEASE!