Why Lazy Parenting Is Good Parenting

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Daddy Stories

I am a lazy parent. Well, maybe not a lazy parent, but certainly I am lazy-er than I used to be. I think back to when Malcolm was small and a typical day involved making baby food, changing diapers, feeding time, reading time, play time, tantrum navigation, trips to the park, trips to the store and then, to top it all off, a lengthy pre-bedtime ritual which involved bath time and redoing many of the other things before he would finally drift off to sleep. Phew! That is a shit ton of work, and I am frankly surprised we ever made it through it in one piece.

My approach has changed somewhat over the years, bearing little resemblance to the (some say hovering) presence I used to be. I trace this transformation back to one specific thing that Malcolm used to do: asking me to wipe his butt. Mostly, it was the way he asked: he’d scream, “Wipe!” but really I heard, “Wipe it, loser, and hurry up, I got stuff to do!” The whole transaction reeked of an impolite transaction between an over-entitled business traveler and a shoe shine guy at the airport. There is only so much indignity that a parent can stand, and one day, when Malcolm summoned me, I declined. Of course, he was incredulous, like it was some great honor for me to be involved in his bowel movements at all, but I held my ground and made that kid wipe his own arse. After a lengthy back and forth, he accepted the new truth and began caring for his own backside. That was seven years ago. (In another seven, he will probably start getting it right!)

I felt good for a number of reasons after refusing to wipe Malcolm’s butt, the most notable being the feeling that sometimes, when a parent doesn’t do something for their child, the child is actually better off for it. You will never learn to wipe your butt if your parents do it for you. So why do it then, unless you like wiping butts? In this age of helicopter parenting, could it be that sometimes the best thing a you can do for you kid is to stop doing the thing that you don’t want to do anyways? Wow! Over the years, I have been utilizing this principle to make Malcolm do the things that I don’t like doing, whether it’s putting away his  laundry, making his school lunch, or diagnosing his own communicable diseases.

I realized recently that I was feeling guilty about not being more proactive in certain areas of Malcolm’s life. A bit of reflection has allowed me to recognize that there is more going on than lazy parenting. Here is what is happening:

  1. Play dates.

Malcolm has been asking me a lot to make play dates with this or that person. I don’t like doing it, they require a lot of details and, more importantly, I have to figure out stuff for them to do. Plus I totally get all caught up in the soap opera-esque subtexts: Why this kid and not this other? What happened to fun with gal pals? What do I care? My parents may correct my memory on the subject, but I remember being in fifth grade and I don’t remember parent organized play dates at all. When I was a kid (D’oh! The dreaded words of parenting. Fuck it, I don’t care!) playtime occurred when child A got on their bike and went over to child B’s house. If child B was home and wanted to hang out, they would both get on their bikes and check out what child C was doing. Things continued to a small gaggle of kids had coalesced and adventures were had. Now, we are stuck in this parent controlled system where everything is pre-authorized, pre-planned, and pre-negotiated. Yuck! I hate it, both because it robs kids of their own invention and causes me extra work/mental energy. I recently started telling Malcolm to schedule his own time with other kids. It has had limited success; I am still involved in more of the process than I want, but Malcolm is making all the initial overtures. It would be a lot easier if all his friends lived in our neighborhood.

2. Summer Camp

I used to have Malcolm’s summer schedule planned out by mid-February. I was heavy on camps of differing interests, science camps, sports camps, cheap get dirty and tired city parks and rec camps, grandparent camps, with a few weeks reserved for he and I to engage in some shenanigans. I have nothing set up for Malcolm this summer. If he has some interests that he wants to explore in greater detail this summer, let him figure it out. I don’t feel like it is my job to tell him what he should find interesting and then spend a bunch of time and money getting him summer exposure to it. Oh, I’ll help him identify and plan anything he wants to do, but my days of overscheduling his summers are done. In practice, this means that if he wants us to fork over the cash for him to go to Minecraft Camp, he is going to have to do the leg work himself!

3. School

Malcolm’s preschool and kindergarten severely limited parental involvement in the classroom. At the school, students did all their work in the classroom and parents had little or nothing to offer to help with the kids’ learning (other than money!)  Malcolm has changed schools many times since then and certainly the schools’ cultures have changed as well. My approach hasn’t, though, and I don’t like getting involved in Malcolm’s classwork. If he can’t figure something out, he knows that he needs to ask the teacher about it. I am interested in his schoolwork, for sure, I am just not interested in helping him do it. I ask to look at his work once he is done with it, and rarely if ever, point out the all the wrong answers. He recently had a big science fair project and I can gladly say that the sum total of my contribution to it was going to the store, at his direction, and buying some poster board. Luckily, the project was not a complete disaster, as Malcolm’s partner’s family doesn’t hold the same “hand’s off” policy as ours. Lucky him!

I am not always 100% comfortable with my take. I would like it if Malcolm were more social, pursued his interests more and was more diligent in the outcome of his school work. I mean, who wants their kid to have a shitty science project? Not me, for sure, but Malcolm is ultimately going to have to decide whether he is the kind of kid who will figure things out or just suck at stuff. I will only get in the way. Sometimes, the lazy approach is just what they need.

This is what's really going on in my mind...

This is what’s really going on in my mind…

Why I Can’t Write About Paris

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

We were really bummed to hear the news about the terrorist attacks in Paris. Paris is a magical city and we feel quite fortunate that we were able to live there, if only for a short period of time. We have a nice assortment of good friends there, and, while they are all safe, they must be a bit freaked out. Last weeks events will certainly change Parisian life, although no one is sure just how yet. Terrorism sucks.

I was going to write a post about how it all makes me feel. It was going to be insightful, comparing it to US gun violence and questioning whether a violent response will make things better or worse, yet funny, bringing an irreverence that would benefit a otherwise grim and uncertain time. Then, life got in the way.

On Friday, instead of writing this very important piece, I found myself racing across town trying to unload a few vials of Malcolm’s stool. Why? Why not! Talk about an adrenaline rush; you haven’t really lived until you have your son poop into a garbage bag, scoop some of it into small jars, shake those jars up like one of the bartenders in “Cocktail” and then drive speedily around, just hoping that you get pulled over and have to explain what that smell is. Actually, I wasn’t doing all that for fun, I was doing it in response from a certified letter I received from the county public health administration, requesting I prove my son didn’t have a contagion. Everyone gets those, right? Well, maybe not. Maybe we are special. Maybe one member of our household picked up some intestinal bacteria during one of our trips to Africa last spring, and it went undiagnosed for several months until it was finally noticed during a routine physical. Maybe. I guess the doctor ratted us out to the County and didn’t want us running around spreading African parasites all willy nilly, so they kindly requested proof that we had it treated. We did, but we needed to prove it to the relevant authorities. So anyway, Friday was taken up by fast cars, vials of human feces, racing against the clock to get the sample to the lab before it closed and avoiding storing said vials at the house over the weekend and being nauseated to the point of no return. (Can anyone sleep soundly knowing that there are jars of human waste in the house? Believe you me, I can’t even if they are in the fucking garage.) Luckily, I got to the lab before the doors were locked and the stool sample properly went to wherever such things properly go. While I was relieved, I didn’t get much writing done.

Saturday was Malcolm’s birthday party. He had five friends come over for a sleepover, turning our house into 85% jokes about butts, farts and balls, 10% eating junk food, and 5% screaming at one another over various Minecraft transgressions. (And, another 5% bad math!) We hid from them under a blanket watching the Warriors basketball game. Such an environment is hardly one that lends itself to writing, so I didn’t get anything done. I did, however, take solace in the fact that the boys were not able to play with two vials of poop we had lying around. We also smartly threw away the directions for collecting samples, not wanting to give the the boys any ideas. That would have been too much.

On Sunday, we went to a musical. Our friends’ daughter is into theater and we watched her production of Tarzan. Community theater productions are pretty engaging. On the one hand, there are some amazing people with amazing abilities who make you wish you were that good at something. Then, there are the “other” people in the production. These others seem like they are only there because they lost a bet. (Once, after a particularly unlucky March Madness, I had to play “Rum Tum Tugger” for an entire run of “Cats” at the Bakersfield Repertory Theater. Not pretty.) Watching someone young do a shitty job onstage is painful, mostly because you feel sorry for their parents, who are probably in the audience are squirming in their seats, wishing their kids knew more about sports. Sunday was a mixture of highs and lows, mostly highs. Our friends’ kid did great, which saved us from having to lie to their faces and tell them that their talentless stage sponge was in fact, Barbara Streisand. Phew!

Two things about this pic: 1- I heart Paris, 2- I suck at Photoshop

Two things about this pic: 1- I heart Paris, 2- I suck at Photoshop

I realized at the end of our weekend that my moment had passed. Like we do, we’ve moved on to the next thing, whether it’s preparing for Thanksgiving or watching videos of cats that are completely freaked out by the sight of cucumbers. It’s too bad, really, because it was going to quite sophisticated. Instead, I leave you all, including my dear friends in Paris, with stories about vials of stool sloshing around in my passenger seat and the imagery of what I would look like as a giant, stupid, cucumber-fearing cat.

You’re welcome.

Big Daddy Paul Is NOT An Accountant

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

As Malcolm would say, "Accounting is yucky!" Actually, Malcolm doesn't know what accounting is. he would say, "Brushing your teeth is yucky!"

Tax time is upon us, meaning I should be sending out 1099’s, preparing financial statements for our tax guy, and scratching off the names of restaurants from receipts so that the IRS doesn’t know that “Board Meeting for Wilson Insight” really means “Took Malcolm to Hooters.” All that stuff really hurts my head, though, for the mind-numbing intricacies of the tax code require patience and sharp attention to detail, which are not exactly my strong suits.

Today, however, I am procrastinating. I am dedicating this post to things I would rather be doing than stupid tax stuff. Here’s my list:

1. Thinking up things I would rather be doing than doing tax stuff.

2. Taking Malcolm to Hooters. Did you know that they serve kid’s meals on Frisbees there? That means when your kid is done with the grilled cheese sandwich, you can wash it off and have a really excellent frisbee to play with. I know, incredible value!

3. Have a colonoscopy. It’s probably not first on the list, but I thought it important to let you know the “scope” of my hatred for tax time. (For anyone who thinks that isn’t very clever word smithing, I welcome you to go perform a colonoscopy on yourself. Use a thesaurus, too.)

4. Clean the house. Malcolm made a tether ball court out of a game of Sorry, a vuvuzela, some string and a nerf basketball. It is adorable from a “parenting a creative child” perspective. Sure, every time he tries to play, he knocks over the vuvuzela, trips on the game of sorry and the string falls off the ball, but he designed it and made it himself. Props to him. While trying to avoid our office, all I can see is the pile of tether ball stuff in our family room. As charming as it is, my hatred of the tax code requires me to disassemble it.

5. Stare at the internet, blankly. I don’t really care about anything Yahoo thinks is news, but I check it 10 or 20 times a day. I mostly enjoy reading about which fast food meals are the most unhealthy. Sometimes I want to see what my favorite actresses wear on the red carpet (sadly, it’s never a Hooters uniform.) Right about now, I would read almost anything, including coverage of the Republican Primaries, to avoid the pile of receipts and forms sitting on the desk.

6. Figure out which of my Twitter followers are just porn websites in disguise. I have a lot of moms and dads following me, and sometimes it is difficult to determine whether the woman who has a “love of life” really just wants me to “message [her] for a date.” It’s like a little game show that unfolds on my computer each and every day. Actually, I’d rather go on a date with the porn girl then do the taxes. I know, shocking.

3. Did you see what happened there? Tax time makes me numbers stupid. Crapola!

8. Justify salami. I recently read some articles (thank you Yahoo!) about the effect of eating processed meats on cancer rates. To my shagrin, I learned that eating these meats every day substantially raises your risk of cancer. Malcolm has had salami in his lunch every day since he was about 4. I don’t want him to have cancer, so I have been looking into remedies for the situation. I have done searches on “Is it OK to eat salami if you eat broccoli too?” and “Will you get cancer if you eat the $25 a pound nitrate/nitrite free salami?” So far, we have cut his salami down to once or twice a week.

9. Play word games. I have anywhere between 8 and 10 Scrabble games going on at a time, challenging friends, their moms, their sisters, and their brothers. I don’t usually tell the people I am playing with that I usually make moves while pooping, but do I really need to? Isn’t that a given? They should rename the game, “Words With Friends In The Bathroom.” Want a challenge? Hit me up for a game! (Don’t worry, these posts are excrement-free!) (That joke barely edged out my other idea, which was, “All of my moves are crappy!”)

10. Ah, crap, I am out of excuses. OK, it’s off to the library for me. Stupid receipts…

Who Do You Blame When They Shit Their Pants?

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Malcolm Stories

It is a cruel fact of life that kids sometime shit their pants. It’s a shame the phrase is associated with human excrement actually presenting itself in unwanted situations because the expression itself is beautiful, almost to the point of poetic radiance. If not for the disgusting connotation, I would use it in almost every situation: “Don’t shit your pants! I’ll be off the phone in a minute.” or “That popcorn was so good I almost shit my pants!”

Shamed by the experience, Malcolm must now wear a disguise when going to the Rec Center.

Alas, kids do shit their pants, and when they do it sucks. I took Malcolm with me to vote on Tuesday, hitting the bathroom beforehand because Malcolm said he had to go real bad. While walking into the stall Malcolm gave me a surprised look, and when I saw a soft piece of poo on his shoe, I knew that he had indeed just shit his pants. The situation was ugly and immediately brought two issues to my mind:

1. What do you do with the underwear? Getting him cleaned up was a chore (let’s just say it wasn’t the firmest of movements) leading to the inevitable decision regarding whether I should try and save the underpants. I know that there are parents out there that would rinse off the soiled undergarments and take them home for a more thorough cleaning, but, not being one who roots around in feces, I ended up tossing the dirty drawers in the garbage. It’s not like I wanted to roll them up and stick them in my pocket while I voted, so I was quite comfortable in reducing Malcolm’s underwear cache by one. What would you have done?

2. Should I be mad at him? I don’t ask all that much from Malcolm. We have rules against fighting, biting and it would be nice if he ate a green vegetable every once in a while. I would say that “not shitting himself” is pretty high up on that list of rules as well, so I was a little ticked off when things unfolded as they did. When out in public, it’s often a game of chicken with your kid to see how much stuff you can get done before having to awkwardly stand in a stall while the kid goes to the bathroom. I probably could have let him use the bathroom earlier, but he never really let on that the matter was urgent. It’s hard to be mad at someone who looks at you with mild terror in their eyes while poop is sliding down their legs, but I was anyways. I’m not sure if he blamed me for getting him to the toilet too late, but I do know this: I hope it never happens again. (That way, I don’t have such a gross mental picture when I say, “Shit my pants! The Giants won the World Series!!!!”)

Things I Would Rather Not Do With My Four Year Old

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Malcolm Stories

Hanging out with Malcolm is pretty cool, most of the time. We have adventures, play lots of baseball, and talk about things like, “John Bowker has a pickle for a head!” There are also times when, ahem, I like him less. Actually that’s a bit understated. There are times when I wish Malcolm was a dog we could chain to the fence in the back yard. Lately, I have noticed exactly when and where I feel this way, and I will relate them to you today.

First, I do not enjoy being around Malcolm when he talks about butts. I believe he knows this, and he brings out the anal chatter whenever he wants to push my buttons. The problem is, the more reaction he gets, the further down the gastrointestinal tract he goes. He’s like a stand up comedian in that respect. The absolute worst for me is when he tells me he is going to put me in his butt. I know that it’s a silly comment and I should not fear being shoved up Malkie’s pooper, but for some reason it really ticks me off. The worst part is that my diatribes sound so funny when I counsel against him doing it in the future, “If you EVER say that you are going to put me in your butt and fart me into a box again…..”

I also am pretty terrified of being out in public with Malcolm when it is past his bedtime. Like all kids, Malcolm is pretty rotten when he is tired and overstimulated. It won’t matter if you have been out and had the best day together, once his bedtime comes and goes and he is not in bed, he will turn into a bizarre alien, complete with him licking my arms, murmuring jibberish and every whine BECOMING APPROXIMATELY TEN DECIBELS TOO LOUD. He will also spend a lot of time talking about his butt, so it’s often a double whammy for me. The witching hour isn’t a time when a big bootied green lady is at her most powerful, it’s when a preschooler is out past bedtime.

I have considered your offer to change out of my pajamas and have the counter for you to consider: Eat my butt!

I have also realized that I find negotiating with Malcolm quite taxing. Most of the time, when you ask Malcolm whether he wants to do or eat something, he doesn’t just say “yes” or “no,” he brings a counter offer to the table. I submitted an offer to buy an investment property this week, and it was less complex and time consuming than negotiating with Malcolm over how many crackers he got to eat on the way home from his tee ball game on Tuesday night. Perhaps it is because the seller in the real estate transaction can’t whine and scream and throw things at you. Malcolm is an extremely hard bargainer, and he knows if he wants 10 of something, he better start the bidding at 20. As a former lawyer, I am impressed with his shrewd instincts and clever thinking, but as a dad, I am annoyed.  If you would have said that I would have a tougher time bargaining with my four year old than I did while negotiating contracts with multinational companies, I would have said you were crazy. Now, I am the crazy one.

Q & A, Week 5

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Q & A
Laurie from Big Sky asks: Any advice on making my teenager’s shoes smell better?

Yes. Every night, put the rotting carcass of a fish in our your own shoes. It will take some getting used to, but this is pretty much the only way to grow to accept the youthful smelly shoe problem. I suffered from it myself, with my shoes being described as “rank” and “unholy” and everything in between. Somehow the bodies’ PH levels change over time, as my shoes now smell like a wonderful apple orchard in fall. Don’t know why, it just happened. Keep tight, and in about 15 years, the problem will resolve itself. Then, and only then, should you stop putting rotting fish in your shoes every night.

You’re welcome!

Tony from Albany asks whether he should feel bad that his infant saves up a poop for when his wife walks in the door from work.

Absolutely not. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Parenting a child is not the mutual, supportive team oriented game that some make it out to be. No, parenting is war, and a no-holds-barred type of war at that. It is a constant struggle to see who can put in the least amount of work and still have the kid like them the best. You should be laughing out loud when you walk out of the room and say something to the effect of, “That’s funny, he doesn’t take a dump every time he sees me. Hmmph. Strange.”  Even if your kid has pooped 12 times while your wife was gone, lie to your wife and say that you never had to. You: 1, Wife: 0.

Big Daddy Bob (my very own dad) from Bakersfield asks: “Where did we go wrong?”

You had kids!

Never saw this one coming, eh? BTW, that IS beer in that baby bottle...

Never in a million years did you think one day you’d be reading the profanity laced silliness from your sweet little child on the internet. Well, kids are really good at surprising their parents. Most of the time it isn’t the good, “Hey, I washed your car for you!” kind of surprise, it’s the “Hey, I got arrested!” or “Hey, can I borrow some money?” kind of surprise. I guess it goes with the job. Whether it’s stinking up the car with nasty smelling sneakers, pooping on cue when mommy comes home, or creating shock and awe with a risque blog, kids make it difficult for parents to like them. And yet, parents find a way. I am not sure what your plans on sunday are, but maybe it would be a good time for you to give one of your parents a good kind of surprise. I know I am. So, to all you moms out there, I say to you, Happy Mother’s Day.

Q & A, Week 3

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Q & A

So, the pickens are getting a bit slim around here. That means you all need to figure out what about your lives is bothering you and fire me a question. (The link is on the left.) If you don’t, I’ll start answering Malcolm’s questions, and trust me, no one has the time for that.

Amy from Oakland asks: At what age do children wipe their own butts?

I really care about this question. Why, you ask? Every time Malcolm poops, he screams as loud as he can, “DADDY WILL YOU COME WIPE MY BUTT?” Then it is my duty to stop whatever I am doing and then go clean up his dirty bits. I am not fond of either performing this act, or his ordering me to do it. I would love for him to start cleaning himself and give me a small amount of dignity back.

He can't wipe his butt, but he sure can milk a plastic cow!

Having done some internet research and found that there are seven-year-olds who aren’t wiping themselves, but three-year-olds that are, I have determined that it is not the age of the child that is important, it is the desire of the parents. (By the way, never do a google search on “old butt wiping,” and never, ever click on four or five of the links. You’d be shocked at what’s on the internet!) Armed with this knowledge, I am going to teach Malcolm how to wipe himself and then be done with it. I am squarely behind any parenting technique that involves me having less to do.

Anonymous asks: Why do I take out my ear buds when I want to ogle women at the gym?

Good question, Brad. Although I haven’t seen the inside of a gym for a few years, I am a relative scholar when it comes to the subject of ogling women. Men are simple creatures, and when a beautiful female is present, straight men are capable of performing only one task. Thus, if a man is ogling, he cannot do simple things like listen to music, read or even finish a sentence. Hence, your ear bud removal. If you plan on ogling regularly, please review my rules for engagement in this post.

Scott in Reno asks: Can we attach a picture to a comment?

No, this is mainly because my throngs of adoring fans would constantly be sending in pictures of their children wiping their own butts. For some reason, my fans like to stick it to me. I have heard, though, that a picture is worth a thousand words, so instead of inserting a picture into the comment, draft a thousand word essay on the pictures and post it as a comment. It will get the job done.

At What Point Is Your Child No Longer Potty Trained?

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Paul is a Dork

There comes a special time in every parent’s life when their child becomes potty trained and you can officially tell the diaper companies to go screw themselves. For us, it happened when Malcolm was about 3 years and 2 months old. If that seems a little late to you, it is because we don’t like touching feces and did not want to push Malcolm into anything he wasn’t ready for. We (Amy) decided that we would wait until he told us that he was ready to wear big boy underpants and use the potty. To entice him into this transformation, we slyly inserted questions into conversations that he had positive associations with: “What’s your favorite ice cream flavor? Do want to wear your big boy underpants?” Or: “Let’s go eat donuts, wanna go potty first?” For the longest time, his answers were almost always, “No!” until one day he said, “Yes!” His answer was, “Yes” every day after that, and we had a grand total of one accident during the transition. Both Amy and I were happy that the road to potty-trainingville was not soiled with human waste.

Chief among Malcolm's reasons for wanting to be potty trained: scalp irritation.

Until recently. In the past week, we have had two incidents whereby Malcolm has soiled himself. The first took place at school (luckily!) and involved Malcolm pooping all over himself in what his teachers referred to as a slight case of “heat stroke.” The second incident occurred when we conducted a little experiment to see if Malcolm would feel safe if we turned off his nightlight. (He woke up shrieking bloody murder and then pissed himself, so it’s safe to say that the nightlight will continue to burn brightly in his room for some time to come.)

I am not concerned that he is regressing but I still wonder whether we can honestly say he is potty trained. The reason I ask is that he will attending camps this summer and a new preschool next year and I wonder whether I need to disclaim his recent mishaps.

Q: How old is your child? A: 4.

Q: Is your child potty trained? A: Yes, except when having a heat stroke. Or, when scared shitless. (Literally!)

I guess this level of honesty could be quite refreshing. Sure, there have been times when control over my own bodily functions is a bit suspect, and I guess those around me deserve to know what they might be in store for. (The best advice I can give is to not stand near me whenever I am in the great state of Nevada.) I could also see the utility around old people, who might do a service to others by wearing large buttons that say, “If I have been eating popcorn or eggs, stand back!!!” Then again a little discretion might work too. I’ll probably just mark, “Yes” on the applications for summer camps.

To Purell Or Not Purell, That Is The Question

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Soap Box

It is a fact. Kids get dirty. Oh, you can try to stop them from picking up goose poop and then jamming their tiny little fingers in their nose (and then eating the whole mess, something we call the “Canadian Boogie” in our house,) but the truth is, kids are going to explore the world. Sometimes that means getting dirty. The real question is, “How do you deal with it?”

A growing group of parents are dealing with it by sanitizing the shit out of their kids. Each contact with germ laden materials is immediately met with a visit by the hand sanitizer fairy with the hope that a cleaner child is somehow a healthier child. In this world, there is no five second rule and touching anything at the doctor’s office is a strict no-no. Forget about play dates with the snotty kid from school. Germs are the enemy of the people and must be eradicated by any means necessary.

Well, I am here to tell you today that this is all nonsense.

I need a name for this drink

Sure, it’s handy to have a high-alchohol gel on hand to take quick nips from when you desperately need some hair of the dog to combat last night’s festivities, but it’s just not worth it. A recent Slate Article interestingly found that what this 100 million dollar a year industry doesn’t want you to know: these hand sanitizers won’t stop you from getting sick. Worse yet, a recent study found that pervasive use of these products will actually make you sicker later in life. The theory goes: if you expose yourself to germs early on, your body learns how to deal with them. When you don’t, your body struggles with germs later in life (in the same way that people who take up golf later in life suck at it.) Consider early childhood germs the equivalent of locking your child in a closet with a box of cigars so that they will think smoking is a disgusting activity. The kicker is that, since sanitizers can’t kill all of the bacteria, the bacteria that survive become resistant to anti-bacterials and become something totally frightening called “super bugs.” There’s only one place in this world where “super bugs” should be allowed and that’s in a smash up derby.

In light of all this, we have made a conscious decision to expose Malcolm to as much filth as possible. In China, we smiled when he grabbed a lollipop from a local kid and licked it, and smiled even more when he dropped it on the ground (in Tianenmen Square, mind you) and then plopped it back it his mouth. If he starts licking the backs of seats on an airplane, we call it, “character building.”  We don’t have a five second rule. In fact, we slow cook meals on the hood of the car. If it’s true that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” Malcolm will become a bodybuilder (until he dies of E.Coli exposure.)

Oh sure, we tell Malcolm to wash his hands after pooping in the middle of dinner, but we don’t sweat the small stuff. Germs are everywhere, and each disgusting lollipop he eats is one bug that won’t get him later in life. One day he’ll figure out on his own that there are places his tongue doesn’t belong, but only because it’s embarrassing and not unhealthy. So let your kids give eskimo kisses to the snotty kid and at school, and if one day your kid’s  sandwich accidentally falls into a homeless person’s shoe, let it slide. They’ll be better off for it. We don’t carry around a diaper bag anymore, but, even if we did, it wouldn’t have Purell in it. No need to, it’s in the flask!

Why Is This So Hard?

Posted by admin in Daddy Stories

I used to be a full-time stay at home dad.  Before he went to pre-school, he and I spent almost every minute of the day together.  I knew what time he pooped, exactly when he fell asleep for his naps, and when he had each and every tantrum.  Then, he went off to pre-school.  For those of you with jobs, pre-school for stay at home parents is like Christmas morning, every day.  Your child gets to learn, have fun with other kids, and is completely safe, and all of it happens with you not there.  The time that your child is at pre-school is the time when you get to look at your email, wander around the grocery store, and, gasp, exercise.  It really is quite nice.

And then the summer comes.  For some reason, school stops during the summer.  Actually, I am told that school stops in the summer so that the kids could help harvest crops on the family farm.  I don’t really believe this, as it based in rationality and our educational system is so backwards and stupid that it has no rational basis to it. Anyways, when school stopped in June, I became a full time stay at home dad. Again.  That means I am around all day when Malcolm wants to build legos and have them march in a parade.  I am around all day when Malcolm wants to play “days and nights,” his words for playing pretend school, pretend library or pretend anything else that he can conjure up.  I am around all day when Malcolm goes poop and then charges me $5 for the privilege of wiping his butt.  I used to do this every day, but now I can’t seem to keep up.  I have definitely started to notice that I am losing it.

I have begun to stress the importance of “alone time” when I work on a project (like this blog posting) and he plays by himself.  I have taken to playing scrabble on my phone while locked in our bathroom, hiding from the boy’s energy.  (He has figured out a pretty nice little solution to this one; he goes to the bathroom himself, and then yells that he is finished and needs me to wipe his butt, cutting short my bathroom private time and making my pretend wallet $5 lighter.  A double whammy!)  I tried feeding him a relatively healthy meal last night, cheese quesadillas with broccoli on the side, and after he finished seconds and wanted more, I told him he needed to have something else to round out the meal.  Then I fed him a hotdog!  I now consider he and I watching the Giants’ game on TV “Quality Father Son Time.”

School starts in a few weeks, and I am ready.  I am ready to have him learn in a structured environment again. I am ready to start exercising again. I am ready to go grocery shopping and make some outrageously good weekday meals.  I am ready to use the time off to figure out how to best spend the time we are actually together.  Either that, or I am ready for Malcolm’s teachers at school to pay the butt wiping fee.

The Straight Poop

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Malcolm Stories

We have a bunch of new babies in our lives. Seeing what life is like with a newborn makes me think of when we were new parents, and what life was like back then. I remember we had our friends Austin and KC over for dinner as our first night of socializing, and after dinner, I suddenly burst out, “Oh my gosh, can we just talk about Malcolm’s poop for a little bit? I really got to get some stuff off my chest!” I have no idea what it is about being a parent makes you so obsessed about your kids poop, but I had it bad. Now, Malcolm is obsessed with poop (his poop, your poop, the dog’s poop, the cat’s poop, the zoo animals poop, horse poop, fly poop, bird poop, and the list goes on and on) and I know where he gets it from: us! With so much poop on the brain, I give you my favorite Malcolm poop stories. Enjoy!

First poop on the potty

Malcolm was rocketing up the potty training charts, when one day he decided to take a poop on the potty. Amy said that he seemed genuinely proud of his accomplishment until he looked down and recoiled in terror. He completely freaked out at the size of the object that had just came out of his body, much in the same way that I freaked out when Malcolm popped out of Amy’s lady business. He erupted into tears and wouldn’t go near the toilet for months. Eventually, he accepted jelly bean bribes to start using the toilet again, and now diapers are happily a thing of the past.

I have had it with these motherfucking poops on this motherfucking plane

On a plane ride to Florida, Malcolm once pooped seven times. Seven times!!! We had packed six diapers thinking that should be plenty for the four and a half hour flight. The first couple of poops we thought, “Strange, he usually only poops once a day at home.” Then we started rooting for more, thinking we might back door our way into the Guiness Book of Records (Get it? Back door!). When we had finally put on the last diaper, we turned towards each other with concerned looks on our face, not having to say, “what do we do if he does it again?” Then, he did it again.

I got some pretty strange looks on the way up the aisle to the bathroom for the seventh time that day, and people seemed question what the hell we were up to. Once inside the bathroom, I had to do one of the grosser things I have done as a parent: I scooped poop out of malcolm’s diaper, scoured the diaper with a wipe, and then put the diaper (still stained with the remnants of yesterday’s lunch) back on Malcolm. I returned to the seat with him, and Amy wrinkled her nose at me and then wouldn’t make eye contact again until we had landed and were able to access our auxiliary diaper supply. I called Guiness, they hung up on me.

I’m Proud, he’s a comedian

The first time that Malcolm pooped in a public place was a proud moment for me. We were at a pizza place for lunch with my dad’s group when Malcolm said that he had to go poop. I brought him into the bathroom, and without incident, he pooped in the potty. I was exhilarated as I had heard it can be quite traumatic for kids to go in public. We wiped, I flushed and then took a turn going pee in the crowded bathroom. When I started to pee Malcolm shouted, “My neenee is bigger than yours. Daddy has a small neenee!!!” Needless to say, I waited for the room to clear before heading back out, no sense in showing your face to the world when such things have been said.

The grossest 5 minutes ever

I went to an Oakland A’s game with some friends of mine once. Malcolm was about eight months old, and made a very large, very stinky deposit into his diaper. None of my friends offered to change Malcolm, so I went to the men’s room to do it. At first, I was outraged at the fact that they had no changing tables to work with. Then I realized that the members of the Raider nation would probably have used a changing table to pass out on, so I got over it. There being nowhere else to clean him up, I had to make the change on the floor. I threw up in my mouth a little when I got down on the floor and the floor smelled worse than Malcolm’s diaper did! I threw up a little more when I visualized the things that had to be done to the floor to get it to smell that way. I then took Malcolm out in the hallway and changed him there, amongst the hustle and bustle of the ballpark crowd. Next time you are at a sporting event, compare the smell of the bathroom to the smell of the hallway. You’ll see why I did what I did.

Peanut Poop

This one is my favorite. We were in France several years ago. While there, we went to a steakhouse with our friends and Amy’s parents. Malcolm was a bit fussy and needed quite a bit of attention. This was similar to the night before, in which we solved the dilemma by feeding Malcolm a constant stream of peanuts, a few at a time. That allowed us to enjoy ourselves at dinner, and gave Malcolm a wholly unbalanced meal. Well, those peanuts eventually worked their way through malcolm’s body and needed to be freed. Malcolm started to grunt. His eyes turned red and watered. He moaned. This continued for close to ten minutes, with Malcolm eventually grunting loud enough for others in the restaurant to hear. We, of course, let this go on and actually enjoyed ourselves a little, because he wasn’t crying when he was grunting. Malcolm finally won the battle and passed 50 or so peanuts, in different stages of digestion, into his diaper. Yes, that’s right, some of them were whole. His diaper looked like a Planters Candy Bar. We toyed with the idea of washing some of the more presentable peanuts and giving them to our neighbors (sort of a “Ta-Da!” moment) but in the end, just threw out the diaper. At least, on this night, we had a spare.

Care to share any poop stories of your own?

In the Blink of an Eye

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Malcolm Stories

Malcolm is potty trained! This is one of those milestones in a child’s life that is worth noting. Some, sadly are not. The first erection, eating the first booger, and throwing the phone in the toilet for the first time are all firsts, but they don’t really change life much. Like learning to crawl or talking though, becoming potty trained is something that affects who Malcolm is, and how we live our lives. Now, we have to ask Malcolm whether he has to go to the bathroom before we go anywhere, driving to the grandparent’s house takes twice as long, and Malcolm can no longer take a dump in the middle of the grocery store. Well, he better not anyways. I am also relieved to say, that we are creating about half as much landfill as we used to.

This significant development feels like it happened over night, although in reality it was the final step in a journey that began almost a year and a half ago. We got Malcolm a small, plastic potty long ago, and told him all about how big kids go potty in the big kid’s toilet, and little kids go in their diapers. When we told Malcolm this, he looked somewhere between betrayed and dazzled, much in the same way a child would look if you handed them a shotgun and said, “This is what killed Bambi.” (What is it with Disney and gun violence, by the way?) We buttressed our efforts by reading Malcolm books about using the potty, until he finally realized that the future did indeed rest in evacuating himself into something other than his clothes.

Eventually, he started going pee in the little potty after brushing his teeth and before taking his bath. He really enjoyed peeing in the bathtub, though, and it was hard to break him of this habit. On many occasions, Malcolm stood up in the bathtub and let the golden showers rain down, proud that he had tricked his mommy and daddy into thinking that the small yellow pool in the potty was the full extent of the contents of his bladder. Mostly, though, Malcolm enjoyed going to the big boy potty and was proud of his accomplishment.

This only lasted until Malcolm decided to try and poop in the potty. Amy was there, and I wasn’t so I only heard about it second hand. The results were terrifying. After about 15 minutes of pushing, Malkie heard a loud plop, and immediately stood up to see what happened. He shrieked when he saw the poop in the bowl, and started pointing and crying about what had just come out of him. His reaction was similar to how I would react if, after pooping, I looked down and saw a large tarantula crawling around in the toilet, “That came from me?” Amy tried to explain that this was normal, and in fact the very same thing that happened when he pooped in his diaper, but Malcolm was convinced that the toilet itself had some mystical powers that altered his feces. For months afterwards, Malcolm refused to go near the potty, and didn’t even take much joy in peeing in the tub.

Slowly but surely, Malcolm returned to his nighttime ritual of going pee in the potty, although far less frequently, and never with his mommy, who must have played some role in the poop episode (poopisode”). During this time, I would occasionally ask Malcolm during the day if he wanted to go pee in the potty, and would ask at the beginning of the day if he wanted to wear big boy underwear. This time was a struggle, as Malcolm was nearing three years old and I saw most of his classmates wearing their underpants, signaling haw far Malcolm was falling behind his classmates. I wanted to engage the sink or swim method, and cut Malcolm off from diapers cold turkey during what was sure to be an exhausting, humiliating weekend of parenting struggle. Amy was flatly opposed to the idea, insisting that the long term damage to Malcolm’s psyche wasn’t worth it, and reminded me of how easier it was to put Malcolm in a diaper and remain blissfully ignorant of whether he had to, or had recently gone, to the bathroom in his diaper.

So there we were, at about 3 years and 2 months of age, considering diaper changes only when Malcolm stunk like a port-o-potty at a rock concert, or when his diaper was so full that it dragged down his pants, revealing a considerable amount of butt crack. One morning, though, I asked Malcolm whether he wanted to wear big boy underpants. I was so shocked when he actually said yes that I didn’t know what to do. After coming to my senses, I sounded the horn, set security levels to defcon 1, and ran around the house desparately trying to find some underwear. I eventually found them, slipped them on Malcolm, and we headed upstairs to show mommy the latest in Gerbers training underpants fashion. Mommy was very excited, Malcolm was very proud, and he hasn’t wanted to go near diapers ever since. I must have asked him 20 times a day if he had to go pee, and when he did, he excitedly ran to the toilet to pee. He stands up at the big toilet, arching way back putting his nee nee over the toilet like Kate Winslet in Titanic yelling “I’m on top of the world!”

The real test of his new found status was his first potty poop, for which I announced would immediately result in the delivery of one very yummy chocolate chip cookie. As hoped, Malcolm said that he had to go poop, sat down on the little potty, and pushed and pushed (with me near him in the bathroom imitating Bill Cosby shouting, “Push it out! Shove it out! Waaaaaay Out!”) He eventually did the deed, and when he stood it up and looked, it was pride that shone in his eyes, not fear and disbelief. As promised, he got a cookie. We continued down this path of trading cookies for poo, until a week or so later, when the event wasn’t such an exciting ordeal, and no cookie was necessary.

He still wears pull diapers to bed, but they are no longer called pull up diapers, they are just “pull ups.” He has only made one mistake, that being a fountain of urine that erupted in the middle of the kitchen, as Malcolm announced, “Daddy, I am peeing.” This accident did not scare him into a setback, and neither has the handful of times that he has wet through his pull-up at night or during his nap. So now, he is potty trained, and our lives are different because of it. It is certainly less convenient for us out in the world, but you just can’t beat seeing the joy in your kid’s eyes when they have tackled something scary, and come out ahead.