Thursday, August 28, 2008

Welcome Back Mr.Green Jeans

As a kid I remember waking up every Saturday morning and catching the latest episode of everyone's surrogate grandpa Captain Kangaroo. Although I don't remember specifics of the show I do recall that groovy mustache the Captain was sporting and some type of kangaroo hand puppet that looked like it was made from a baseball cap. Another part of the show I remember is the one and only Mr. Green Jeans. Again I'm a little fuzzy on the details, but I'm pretty sure that it was Mr. Green Jeans's job to keep the Captain's garden nice and ...uh green I guess.
Well after 25 years, the late Mr. Jeans is now back in my life and showing me the path to keeping the planet clean. No I'm not talking about the Captian coming out on DVD (although that would be soooo awesome), I'm talking about Fred and his dislike of wasted energy. For some reason the kid hates to have the lights on. It doesn't matter what you are doing or who's in the room, if there is a light to turn off he's the man who'll make sure it's off.

This is great and all until you finally find those ten minutes of privacy you have been begging for so you can curl up on the couch and finish the last and most crucial page of your new book, only to left in the dark the moment you get comfortable. So you get up,tell him you were using the light, get seated, open your book, and the dark once again. So you get up, tell him you were using the light, get seated, open your book, and the dark once again. Pretty soon you find yourself in a constant loop involving sitting, standing, telling him to stop, cutting on the light, and attempting to sit again, only to guessed it..... left in the dark once again.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Brothers Blockhead

Broccoli's getting married in a couple of months and as the Best Man I'm responsible for giving a speech, just as he did when he was the Best Man at my wedding. I know I've still got a couple of months but I've been kicking over ideas.

The whole process has gotten me thinking about our childhood together and how we were close once....then the 5 year's that separate out ages intervened and left us strangers. The Broccoli I remember will always be this buck toothed kid who scurried under a recently parked car to get a tennis ball and suffered 2nd degree burns on his leg as it came into contact with a very hot catalytic converter all because I sent him after it. He'll be the guy who to this day laughs every time he sees me holding milk because in his mind's eye he's looking at a teenage Charlie who busted three gallons of milk on the way back from a simple walk to the store (the third one I help over my head and actually screamed aloud "Bet I won't drop this one"). Broccoli was the kind of brother that tried to tell mom that the 2 inch bleeding wound on the top of his head happened at school and had nothing to do with me throwing a rock at him as hard as he could (I still say he zagged when he should have zigged).

Of course all of this was before cars, girls, fraternities, jobs, college, family, and way before Fred. Somewhere amongst all that life, Charlie, he....I.....we lost touch. Sure we still saw each other when our common denominator brought us together (mom), but long gone were the days of playing hide and go seek at granny's or walking up to PJ's corner for a hand full of Jolly Rancher sticks.

The result is that now with me being 32 (at least for another month) and him at 27, we tend to be more like pen pals at times. Neither of us understanding just how we came to be the person we are or what makes up the inner workings of the other's day. While I'm busy researching tomorrow's article, struggling to make it through the 8-5, and teaching Fred to poop in the potty....I assume he' I a life I know nothing about.

My opinions are different, the pages of our shared history seem to written in my own hand writing, and the things I remember about growing up (Cody the 3 legged dog) , he can't recall. Though we will always be brothers, at times it seems we are friends out of circumstance rather than choice. As he prepares to recite those words that lock two souls together like an invisible (and hopefully invincible) pair of handcuffs, I too am making promises. And while I can't help but think he's still out there zigging while I'm zagging, I know that as our lives progress every once in a while our paths will cross and once again we will be those same two kids who used to spend all weekend in our rooms under a homemade tent of sheets, chairs, and clothes-pins watching old Godzilla movies.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Multiple Choice Existence

I remember being part of the "Married With No Child" club and being amazed at how long it took my "Married With Child" friends to get anywhere. They would bring their kids over, we'd let them run around the house for hours at a time, and as we were turning off the lights to go to bed we'd see them out there still trying to load eveything back into the car after spending a half hour in our driveway.

I thought the reasons behind this had to do with the amount of baggage that constantly swirls around a kid like the moons of some chaotic planet. Now that I have a two year-old I understand that it's got more to do with a power struggle taking place than a simple inventory check. Fred has decided that Mommy/Daddy's way is not always the only way to do things. Suddenly the phrase "I Help!" though it may flow from the tongue in a mere micro-second, can lead to tens of minutes staring into a dark closet searching for that elusive shirt of choice.

That shirt doesn't have Blue's Clues on it, this shirt isn't green, that's shirt just isn't up to his standards, that one doesn't appeal to what his sense of Casual Friday's should consist of. Everything is a multiple choice question and more times than not the correct answer is D) NONE OF THE ABOVE. And while letting them make their own decisions is inevitable and good for them, it does get very frustrating trying to find out where the thin line between "Let me make up my own mind" and "Just do what I say so we can move on to the next thing" is located.

I admit that the constant ticking sound in my head reminding me that my day is often timed down to the second, gets so loud at times that I forget that the life of toddler is more "This is what I'm doing now" and less "Look at all I've got to do today". In my defense telling my boss that I'm late for the second time this week because I suddenly found myself in a twenty minute debate over whether or not wearing your pajamas to school even if it means taking them off, getting a bath, and then putting them back on isn't something that I wish to share though simply blaming it on traffic only results in his retort "Should have left sooner"

As much as it pains me (and my schedule) to admit it though maybe turning over some amount of control is a good thing. Deciding what you want can be difficult at times even at the age of 32. So maybe by letting him make his own choices while still maintaining a certain level of control, Lucy and I are actually preparing him for a future of in which the correct answers aren't always A,B, or C. Sure to some it may seem like we are spoiling the child and sparing the rod, but then again when it comes time to make the hard choices in life he potentially could be more prepared to make the correct choice due to years of practice all leading back to that day in August of 2008 when he was allowed to pick out the T-shirt of the day.

Monday, August 18, 2008

What Does Disney Have Against Parents?

In case you didn't notice (and thanks to all those that did) I took a week off last week due to some freelance stuff I was trying to get a handle on. I'm currently writing for and so that's about 10-12 articles I'm doing plus a couple posts here every week. Before I get into today's rant about how Disney hates parents, I want to also mention that my buddy Jim over at Genuine is back to posting regularly so give him a click (not that he needs more traffic than he already gets) and check him out. He's been through some stuff and is busy adding a new coat of paint to his life. Now on with the show.....

Why is it that Disney hates parents and insists on tormenting our children with the thought of Mommy or Daddy biting the big one? Fred's at the age where TV isn't just a bunch of pictures flashing across the screen and instead he's aware of a story or idea that is being protrayed on screen. So lately Family Time has included several Disney classics. While he doesn't typically sit through the whole thing his attention is captured for an hour or so at a time and this allows us to split the movies up into 2-3 night segments.

The more I watch these so called classics the more I getting the feeling that Disney seems to think that the only way to produce a children's classic is to kill of one of the parents in order to jump start the plot. Think about all those great cartoons and then think about how they really get going.

In The Lion King, Mufasa is killed by heynas. Bambi's mom kicks the bucket in a forest fire. Nemo's mom got ate by a bigger fish. Aladdin's mom is dead and you don't find out until the second one that his dad is a con artist who ran off like a gypsy. No word is mentioned about Andy's dad in Toy Store and Buzz's dad turns out to be the nefarious Zorg destroyer of the universe. Oh and where is the Little Mermaid's mommy? She's dead of course.

I mean what is the deal? And on a side note why does everybody remember The Fox And The Hound as this cute little kids movie? We just watched it last week and the hound is out for blood as he chases the fox through the woods. That's not cute that's violent. So what's the answer you ask? Simple. The Fast Forward button.

Sure this will someday have us answering Fred's questions as to why Bambi's mom abandoned him when he needed her the most and how come Simba's dad never came back from that walk they took, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it....maybe they were still there in the background all along and couldn't help their children because it was their destiny to grow into the animals they are by the end of the movie. Sure it's a lie, but it's better than Dumbo's mom got locked in a cage for protecting him.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Who Rock's The Potty? I Rock The Potty!!

We've been trying desperately to get Fred potty trained and finally our efforts are paying off. He's excited about it, he feels a bit guilty when he forgets to go, they are helping out at the hill, I dare say we are just months away from being a pull-up free household.

After two years of changing, wiping, holding my nose, covering my eyes (mostly when they get rang up at the check-out line) we may be just about to move to underwear. AAHHH underwear....washable, reusable, relatively cheap underwear. Nothing says I AM MAN like holey worn out barely there underwear. Wear them like a hat, put them on the cat, keep them on for days, I don't care I love underwear.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Screen Doors And Spinning Monkeys.

We are at the point in our parenting adventure where you truly never know what Fred is going to do next. Whether he's getting in trouble at school for putting a chair on a table, climbing up on the table, and then standing in the chair or yelling "Get in the hole!!"whenever he gets within 100 yards of a golf club, he always seems to be up to something. As a kid we all had those miniature wind-up toys with the little white gear on the side you twisted till it clicked. That click was the universal signal that meant it was time to put the jumping football, flipping monkey, or chattering teeth down and watch it go Willie-Nillie all over the place.

A two year old is like that in a lot of ways. Except that instead of turning a white plastic gear, you give him gummy bears. Oh and instead of a two inch flipping monkey, you end up with a laughing, crying, kicking, squealing manic who knows the word NO only in the sense that he expects you to listen to him when he says it, but looks at you like you're quoting Othelo when you say it.

This past weekend somebody wound our monkey up and sent him crashing through a screen door at his Uncle Broccoli's engagement party. While nothing was hurt and nobody left the scene bleeding, in the midst of the sideways glances and looks of horror from those who were dressed as if future President Obama himself were about to make an appearance, I couldn't help but laugh at my like boy as he dusted himself off and shrugged his shoulders as if to say "Ok, now that I've broken something let the real party begin!!"