Raising Kids as a Detroit Sports Fan

It’s baseball season (or at least something resembling baseball season), and I can do something that feels like a right of passage – watch baseball with my kids. So far my kids exposure to me watching sports has been last year’s March Madness and football season. I don’t watch hardly as much sports as I did before I had kids. The most obvious reason is not having the time, but perhaps an even larger factor has been that I am fan of all the Detroit teams – and they have been a complete dumpster fire.

To this point the most sports my kids have seen me watch is during last year’s March Madness. This gave them the basic knowlege that dad watches basketball, which meant that ever since then if I am watching any sport, they say I am watching basketball. I once tried to correct my daughter that no, I’m actually watching football. This lead to a 20 minute back and forth of “Basketball!” – “Football!” To this day she’ll ask to play the game where we say “Basketball! Football!” It has been their biggest exposure to sports.

But with a new baseball season comes new hope and I am suckered back in. I watched a few innings with my son, but seeing as he is only 4 months old I don’t think he quite picked up on the nuances of the game. My 4 year old daughter however, did show some interest and askd some questions – mostly “what’s his name?” Apparently the what and they why are not as important to figure out as the who.

Though I wonder – once my kids are old enough to ask who I’m watching, should I give them the opportunity to watch somebody worth watching? If so, it certaintly won’t be any of the teams I follow.

The Tigers – I Just Can’t Help Myself

Honestly, the odds of me not pushing Tigers fandom on my kids is pretty low. Even though they have been bad for the vast majority of my lifetime, I just can’t help it. They are my team, and they will be theirs. I don’t even know what realistic alternative options would be. In most cases geography would be a factor, but I’m certainly not letting my kids root for another team in the same division. Being in West Michigan there is a descent amount of Cub fan spillover, but ever since they finally won a World Series they feel like too much of a bandwagon team. If I’m going to let my kids abandon the Tigers they better do it for somebody like the Pirates or Padres so they can be just as miserable as me.

The Pistons – Depends on the Year

I liked watching basketball when I was growing up, it was great time for the sport. Jordan was Jordan. Barkley was uncivilized. Larry Johnson was Grandmama. The Pistons were transitioning from the Bad Boys to the Grant Hill years. Their style of play of physical, the uniforms were teal, and the NBA on NBC had the greatest sports theme ever. What a time to be alive. But Grant Hill couldn’t do it all by himself, and my fandom faded. Until Ben Wallace came to down and the Pistons went work. They won and I watched. If they win again, I’ll watch again, but I’m sure not going to introduce my kids to the NBA as it is today without a rooting interest in the Pistons. Show my kids what basketball at the highest level is by showing them James Harden? I’d rather them watch me play pop-a-shot.

The Red Wings – Meh

Like everybody else my age, I went and saw Mighty Ducks when it came out and got into hockey for about 6 months. The Wings were consistenlty good for most of my youth, so watching a local team win the championship was fun. They even let us watch some of a game in school one time – when Yzerman beat the Blues in OT. A good time was had by all, and thus concluded my hockey watching. If my kids want to watch the Wings, neat. If they don’t, that’s cool too. If they find another team to follow, I don’t really care, but I think I would prefer for them to root for a Canadian team. I don’t know why.

The Lions – Not on My Watch

Part of being a parent is hoping that you are able use what you’ve learned from your experience and mistakes to teach your kids. You want them avoid the misfortune you’ve endured. You want them to not have to deal with things like misery and disappointment. Misery and disappointment have been the official sponsors of Detroit Lions football since the Eisenhower administration. I will not subject them to it. I barely subject myself to it anymore. For the last few seasons I watch only to the point where I am certain the Lions will lose. Sometimes that’s 4 quarters, sometimes that’s 4 minutes. Sometimes that’s 4 days before the game. If they want to watch other teams play football, I won’t stop them. But much like the NBA, if the style of play continues on the path it’s on I don’t think it will be worth watching anyway.

Ultimately, kids will like what they like. Maybe my girls will love the Lions anyway. Maybe the boy will like obscure Olympic sports. I could find a worse way to spend my time than hanging out with my son watching handball. But I do know this – no matter what their interest level in sports ends up being, if they don’t learn how to keep a clean scorecard at a baseball game, I have failed them.

Fighting Dad Stereotypes: Lawn Care

In the current social climate, it is more important than ever to call out stereotypes and address them head on. I know we’ve all seen the memes and spoof YouTube videos. The dopey dad with a pair of grass-stained New Balance obsessing over his lawn mower and prioritizing his lawn over all else. Even in the face of an oncoming tornado, a dad must tend to his lawn. To this notion of what makes a dad, I must say no.

This guy is a jerk.

Do I own a lawn mower? Yes. Do I mow my lawn? Of course. Would I prefer my lawn to be more green than brown? You bet. Is it some passion, some obsession, some ritualized activity that I’ve somehow intertwined with my dadness? Absolutely not. At its most enjoyable, lawn care for me is some time to put headphones on and get some uninterrupted time to listed to music or a podcast. At its least enjoyable, it is something that involves more than walking around my yard while the mower does the work. If mowing my lawn gives me a reason to get moving outside on a nice day, then sign me up. If it means doing things that could be categorized as landscaping, hard pass. And I don’t think that makes me any less of a dad. I might actually be in the majority.

For me, the obligation to maintain a tidy lawn is one of a homeowner who doesn’t want to have the worst looking yard on the street, not one of a dad. Lawn maintenance should be like an umpire in baseball, if the job is done properly, you don’t even notice it. Passers by will notice the lawn that looks professionally manicured, and the lawn that looks like the chimpanzee enclosure at the zoo. They will not notice the lawn that has probably been cut within the last week and isn’t completely brown. That’s the sweet spot to be in. To put just enough work into the lawn so it doesn’t make somebody wonder if you’ve died.

Now I am sure there are real life dads out there who reinforce this stereotype. With mowers that are finely tuned with freshly sharpened blades. Who’d rather put out a sprinkler at just the right time of day everyday than to sure hope it rains soon because the yard is really starting to get crunchy. And yes, dads who have turned a white pair of crappy shoes green. But I am not him. My mower is in good enough shape to get the job done, but probably not what you’d call “maintained”. My method for achieving green grass is mostly based on the weather report. (Though full disclose – during a recent hot and dry spell I did water my back yard where the kids play, but more out of wanting them to be able to play on actual grass and not a patch of scorched earth that looks like it belongs between two trenches. I’m just looking out for my kid’s feet here.) And I mow the lawn in work boots. There is no way I’m sacrificing a pair of my shoes in the name of my lawn, and if that’s not completely against this stereotype, then I don’t know what is.

I’m not here to judge the guys out there to are all about their lawns. You do you, buddy. You be that shining beacon on the block. As long as you don’t live right next to me. A C+ average looks much worse when directly compared to the valedictorian. But I am fairly certain these lawn care all-stars are not the norm. I have to believe that the average dad is just a dude looking to get out of the house for a little while and push a mower around. And really, isn’t the true dad move to not take care of your lawn yourself, but to make your kids do it?

The real lawn care dad stereotype should be a guy staring out the window and saying to his kid, “The lawn isn’t going to mow itself.” Now that is a stereotype I would gladly fit in. My oldest kid is only 4, so we aren’t there yet, but I am definitely going to do more lawn watching than lawn mowing. It might even be one of the best reasons to have kids in the first place.

Blame It On the Easter Bunny

There we stood, my daughtors and I looking at the lines of marker on the couch. I knew who did it. They knew who did it. And yet we stood looking at it, waiting for the guilty party to admit to it.

My kids are still generally amazed when Mom or Dad knows exactly who did what and when. Of course any given clue they leave is generally a dead giveaway. A page found ripped out of a book they were just reading…what possibly could have happened??? Yogurt fingerprints in the kitchen…better put on a pot of coffee, could take all night to crack this one. So imagine their shock in Dad’s sleuthing capabilities when the evidince of vandalism wasn’t discovered until hours after the act, with not so much as the mark cap left behind. Though she put back the marker, my older daugher singled herself out as the only suspect the moment she moved from drawing lines and shapes on the couch to a letter. The letter Y. Her name is Lucy. Book her Dad-o.

Though I knew who it was, I wanted to see if she would fess up to it and/or if her little sister would rat her out. I called them both to the scene and asked if they knew who did that. The younger wasted no time in saying she didn’t do it, the culprit was silent. I asked her directly now if she did it. She said no. Using the younger again for leverage, I asked her if Lucy did it. She wasted no time in saying that she did. Such an adorable little snitch. However, still nothing from the guilty party.

Next I showed her my key piece of evidence, Exhibit Y if you will, the letter that only she could have written. Still nothing. I narrowed down the list of suspects right in front of her – I know I didn’t do it, I know Mommy didn’t do it because she was at work, I know Evie didn’t do because she can’t make letters yet, and I know Brooks didn’t do it because he’s only a baby. So that only leaves you Lucy.”

I had her. No way out of this one. Only chance was to confess try for plea deal. Or so I though. Turns out she had somebody else to pin it on.

“Maybe it was the Easter Bunny”, she said.

Every now and then when you are suppposed to be mad at your kids they go and do something incredibly cute or funny and you have to force your way though your discipline without cracking. This was one of those times.

“It wasn’t the Easter Bunny.” I quickly answered.

“Why not?” she pressed.

Uh-oh. Can’t go down that road. If intentional, what a genius move on her part. I mean, what’s my play here? Do I make something else up about the Easter Bunny, like I have some kind of direct line of communication with him? That’s a slipperly slope. Today it’s confirming with him that he didn’t put purple Crayola on my couch, and by next Easter its making sure he knows their preferred egg-shaped candy. And does it go on from the Easter Bunny? If I give any legitimacy to this accusation, what is she going to try to pin on Santa?

The truth was certainly not an option. I quickly pivoted back to pointing out the blame and explaining that I knew she did it and she needs to clean it up and go to her room. She cried, it mostly came off (thank you washable markers), and the law abiding reputation of holiday mascots was kept out of it. For now.

My ultimate hope is that she learns to admit when she’s done something wrong, but if she is going to try to deflect blame I guess I would rather it be on fictional characters than other kids. A he-said-she-said is going to be way easier to figure out if the he in the scenario is Captain Hook. And I guess I’m even a little proud that she wouldn’t even try to pin something on her little sister. Yet.

Though of course, the little sister is watching. A few days later I asked her what happend to her night light. The Easter Bunny was her prime suspect.

The Worst Disney Dad: Maurice

Before I had kids I had seen a lot of Disney animated movies. Now that I have kids, I have seen almost all of them. Multiple times. I never watched Beauty and the Beast growing up because it was girl movie. I could probably recite the whole thing by now. One thing I’ve noticed, and it bothers me more and more with each re-watching, is that Belle’s dad is a piece of crap.

In the vast majority of Disney movies, the father character falls into two categories: jerk or dead. There are a few exceptions – Marlin (Nemo’s dad) is alive, and not quite a jerk but not winning father of the year either. Sleeping Beauty’s dad (King Stefan) is alive, but essentially useless to the plot. Andy’s dad is a sperm donor. Then you have Maurice (Belle’s dad), who is an absolute buffoon and probably deserves to be killed off.

Let’s start from the beginning. He’s an alleged inventor, but it seems to me he hasn’t invented anything useful. His reputation around town is “Crazy Old Maurice”, not “Maurice the Inventor”, or even just Maurice. His latest contraption is the automatic wood chopping machine, which takes already cut pieces of wood and chops them into smaller pieces. Way to streamline the process by that last 5%. He’s also invent his own tools, whose only use it seems is to work on his own inventions. Also not super practical. Though now that I think about it, I assume that is how the Allen wrench came to be. Some dude named Allen invented half built furniture and the tool required to build the other half.

Anyway, it seems his best invention is completely glossed over as nothing more than the vehicle for a sight gag – his front door periscope. Crazy Old Maurice has invented the first smart home security system, but a wood chopping machine is what he brings to the fair? What did he do with his goose that laid golden eggs, turn it into sausage?

Now that we’ve established he’s terrible at his job, let’s move on to him being a complete moron. On his way to the fair he starts getting lost in the creepy woods – despite the fact that he clearly has a map. And naturally, his response to getting lost in the creepy woods is to take an even creepier short cut. Makes sense. Even his horse is like, hey mon ami let’s stick to the road here. Congratulations Maurice, you’re dumber than a horse.

So of course he forces his horse down the dark and creepy short cut, and of course he gets more and more lost. Now here is the part that is really infuriating. Now this dolt has the stones to blame the horse. While still unable to read his map, he says “Where have you taken us Phillipe?” Where have you taken us Phillipe?! Yeah, go ahead and blame the horse who was trying to tell you all along that you’re doing the wrong thing. Dick. He absolutely deserves to get eaten by the wolves that come chance to to the Beast’s castle.

Let’s shift gears now to the live action version of the movie, where now Maurice also becomes a selfish jerk. After placing full blame for his failure on his noble steed, Maurice now picks a rose from somebody else’s garden. Which, sure, not a big deal, but c’mon guy have some manners. Now that we know he doesn’t value other people’s things, are we totally shocked when we walks into the castle and helps himself to somebody else’s food? Yep, just strolls right in, takes a seat by the fire, and gets down on some charcuterie. The Beast was right to throw him in the dungeon.

Of course the ultimate selfish move, letting Belle come in and take his place…and people think Gaston is the bad guy? Every bad thing that happens in this movie is set into action by something stupid that Maurice does. Hands down, the worst Disney dad – including the dog in 101 Dalmatians who had way more kids then he’d ever be able to support.

Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Like You

It has been a while since I’ve written anything new. Partly because time has been scarce with a newborn, but partly because I didn’t want to write about what kept popping into my head. I didn’t (and still don’t) want this to be about advice to parents or judgement of how other people parent, and I really don’t want this to be political. However, it is inescapable right now and something I saw on a trip to the store compelled me to say something.

First, let me say I am not starting an argument about wearing a mask. At this point, you either understand and trust the science and the need to put the common good above your perceived freedoms, or you don’t. It is what it is. Due to some emergency plumbing repairs I had to make a few trips to Lowe’s last weekend. I have to say, compared to the demographic of the grocery store the Lowe’s shoppers are much more likely to fall into the anti-mask camp. Mask compliance in the grocery store I usually go to is 99%, if not 100%. Mask use at Lowe’s was maybe 50%. Apparently there is some kind of correlation between the need for home repair equipment and a desire not to be treaded on.

For the most part the people without masks were 25-45 year old men, either they’re alone or with another guy without a mask. Almost all women were masked, and there were almost no children in the store. There were a few though. I don’t know everybody’s child care situation, I’m not in a position to say they should have left their kid at home. I will say, if you can’t leave your kid at home then maybe don’t go to the store – but hey, maybe they had a plumbing emergency too and weren’t just looking at lighting fixtures or paint swatches. At least the kids I saw had their little masks on. Until I saw one that didn’t. A father and his son, who was maybe 8 or 9, were walking around both without masks.

My first thought was this guy is terrible dad. But the more I thought about it, that felt harsh. Maybe this guy was a great dad to his son, I can’t really make that judgement in 10 seconds. What is more accurate to say, is this guy is a terrible teacher.

Politics and understanding (or lack thereof) of science aside, what is this guy teaching his son here? That the rules don’t apply to you? That’s a great message to send.

That it doesn’t matter what happens to other people, you do what you want? Good luck getting that kid to put on a condom.

That you should trust your gut over science and facts? I wonder if that applies to school? If this kid brings home a D in science, will the dad let it slide because who needs that bullshit anyway, amiright? Nerds.

That the government can’t tell him what to do? Oh, you mean like the laws that create an orderly society? Those pesky things?

Might seem like I’m taking this down a slippery slope, but kids learn from their parent’s behavior and if we teach our kids to be like us we are doing them a disservice. We need to teach them to be better than us.

I get that there is a bit of a conundrum there. If I knew how to be better, then wouldn’t I be better myself? If not, then how can I teach my kid something I don’t know? You do some learning yourself, that’s how. Examine yourself. Learn about yourself. Develop your sense of self-awareness and find the shortcomings that you’d rather not pass on. Being a parent means being an adult, and being an adult means contenting to learn and mature.

The world any of us were raised to live in no longer exists. Change is constant and inevitable. We can’t teach our kids the same things we were taught, and sure as hell can’t teach them things our grandparents or older generations were taught. Yes, some lessons are timeless – respect, work ethic, honesty, compassion. But there are things that our kids will need to learn to thrive in the world they’ll help shape – social justice, environmental consciousness, emotional intelligence, the connectedness of a global community.

Never in the history of the world have things gone back to the way they used to be decades or even years ago. (Unless you’re Amish. I guess you could raise your kids to be Amish and you can be as stuck in your ways as you want.) Not only do we owe it to our kids to set them up for success, but we owe it to society to create people who will help in its advancement. There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow out there, please prepare your kids for it. Let’s start by putting on the damn mask.

Children’s Movies: So Much Death

The other day I came upstairs from the basement and could hear the kids were watching a movie. As I got close enough to hear what was going on, I could hear the frightened, desperate plea of a character – “I don’t want to die! I don’t want to die!” I trust my wife’s judgement in what is appropriate to show our kids, but what hell is she showing them? The Green Mile? Brian’s Song? The Passion of the Christ?

It turns out it was Charlotte’s Web, which apparently is some sort of sadistic “classic.” Nothing says great kid’s movie like a pig struggling with his mortality and begging not to be slaughtered and eaten. I had always known this book and movie existed, but I had gone through my entire childhood without actually reading/watching it. Either that or it was such a traumatic experience that I surpassed the memory. Luckily, I didn’t have to deal with any questions from the kids on this one. Up to this point the most awkward questions I’ve had to answer about movies were who a Native American was and why those other guys were being mean to him. I’d gladly sugar coat manifest destiny than explain where ham comes from.

I am aware that death is present in almost every kids movie, but it’s almost never right there on the screen with a character begging not to die. Gaston falls down, so does the mean lady in Tangled. Bing Bong gets forgotten. Anna and Elsa’s parents’ boat crashes. There are understandable actions, but no conceptual consequences. The actual death occurs somewhere off screen or in some abstract way. The mean lady in Tangled doesn’t die, she just disappears, and before tiny minds can consider this there is something else happening and we’ve moved on. That is until we we watched The Lion King. Now we’ve got a dead lion right there for all to see.

We’ve watched clips of The Lion King before and my kids already know all of the songs, but we’ve never sat and watched it beginning to end. And not by accident, but precisely because I didn’t want them to see Mufasa die. But now that they’ve had to watch a pig plead his case not to be breakfast, why not?

So we watched, and there were questions.

“Does he have a boo boo?” – Yep, he fell and got a boo boo.

“Where is his boo boo? Does he have a bleed?” – His boo boo is inside of him. No, he’s not bleeding.

“Is he sad?” Yes, he’s sad.

“Why is he sad?” – Because he got a boo boo.

This line of questioning of boo boos and sadness continued until Scar tells Simba to run away, at which point questions about where he was going and where everyone was going started. Is Simba going home? Why not? Is he going to see his daddy? Is his daddy going home? Why not? I pivoted all my answered back to the boo boo.

Thank God for Hakuna Matata. That happy-ass jam stopped all the questions right in their tracks. They knew exactly what they were doing when they made this movie. What to do when you deliver the most traumatic thing a child has seen up to this point in their lives? Singing pig! They eat bugs, they fart, they sing, a good time is had by all. And just when the trauma is pushed from our minds, Mufasa shows back up in the clouds.

“Why is he in the sky?” – So he can watch Simba.

“Did he go home?” – Yep.

“Why is Simba sad?” – He misses his daddy.

“Does he have a boo boo?” – Yes.

Questions about Mufasa in the sky when on for a little while, until Simba got back to Pride Rock. Then it was explaining that Simba was not Mufasa. Pride Rock was home, so if Mufasa went home, then that lion must be Mufasa. But Mufasa is in the sky. Why?

Ya know what’s good for breaking up the dead Mufasa line of questioning? Scar trying to kill Simba! When Simba hangs off the edge of the rock before Scar confesses to killing Mufasa, my kids said “We already saw this part!” Well, good to know the death of Mufasa is clearly etched in their minds. That’s one childhood milestone accomplished.

Thankfully Scar’s death is classically just off screen and no explanation other than “The hyenas got him because he was mean” was needed. Being “got” is a great explanation. Nobody is trying to kill or eat anybody, just trying to get them. Kids understand this.

The movie was over. The questions stopped. Play time had begun. My two year old jumps up and says “I’m Scar, you be Simba. I’m gonna hit you!” Oh good, we’ve moved on from the death right into the violence. Frickin’ Lion King.

This Pretend Restaurant Is Terrible

When my kids make pretend food, most of it is pretty silly. The pizza has gummy bears, almost everything has chocolate chips, and their milk or water is often coffee. Where these eating habits have been modeled for them is a discussion for another time.

My two-year-old was playing with some toy ice cream and came running over insisting that I have some. Who am I to turn down pretend ice cream? I took a few fake bites, make the required “nom nom nom” sounds and thanked her for the treat. “Do you want some more?” she asked. Calorie free ice cream? You bet! She took the plastic cone back from me, took a few steps then turned back around and said “I’ll get you another one, this one has pee on it.”

Excuse me? Pee on my pretend ice cream? So many questions here. First, what? Second, where did this come from? How would the idea of pee getting on ice cream enter her little brain? I get that with little kids there is a lot of talk about bodily functions and the proper place to have them, but never has on top of a frozen treat entered the equation before.

After being taken aback, it didn’t take me long to answer some of my own questions.If I could look inside my daughter’s imagination, I’m sure there were a lot things swirling around in there and the “ice cream topping” idea and the “pee” concept crashed into each other and tumbled out of her mouth. So while this is weird, kids are weird and I get that.

However, the more I thought about it I had more questions for this imaginary ice cream shoppe. (I assume this is an imaginary shoppe rather than shop – she’s got whimsy like that.) How did the pee get on there? Was it served to me normally then somebody peed on it? Or is this the kind of establishment that would serve me pee ice cream? I sure hope not. I would like to give my kid the benefit of the doubt that she wouldn’t serve me pee ice cream in the first place. But maybe she did. Maybe this was a whole set up to get her dad to eat pee? Diabolical.

Do I need to start placing special order at the pretend restaurant and sending food back should it have not enough cheese or too much pee? Should I start asking to speak to the imaginary manager? I really don’t want to be that imaginary person. But if i get pee on my pretend ice cream on a normal day, what would she do if I don’t leave an imaginary tip?

Don’t Waffle On Discipline

I thought I had such a good idea for a punishment. I was ready to stick to my guns, to settle in for a long battle. I underestimated how many waffles my daughter can eat.

Like most weekend mornings, we made waffles for breakfast yesterday. Apple cinnamon don’t ya know. The two older kids each got half a waffle and some fruit. I usually have two waffles, but I knew I was going for a run later in morning and didn’t want to be weighed down by breakfast. I had one and half leftover. After eating their halves and their strawberries, both kids then asked for an orange too. Sure, no problem.

While they were sitting at the table eating their oranges, my wife went to go feed the baby and I went to the bathroom. Upon returning form the bathroom I find my three-year-old has taken the rest of the waffles, ripped them in to smaller pieces, and put them on her plate. “I was just putting them on my plate,” she tells me.

I know she had to rip them by hand, and I could see she had already dipped some of them in syrup. There was no way these were going to be salvageable leftovers. I asked her why she took all of the waffles, she didn’t really have an answer. I asked her what if somebody else wanted to have more. Clearly that possibility had never entered her mind before that instant. And then it came to me – she was going to sit there and not leave the table until she ate all of the waffles she took.

At first she looked confused, so I explained again that because she was selfish and took all of the waffles and now nobody else can have any, that she would eat them all and not get up play or do anything until they were all gone. Realizing that I was angry about this and not just encouraging her to take a few more bites, she looked like she was going to cry.

I prepared myself for a fit. I poured a cup of coffee and braced for a long morning. I pictured her taking a bite every few minutes while constantly asking if she can go play. Her crying when her little sister was allowed to go play. Long periods of screaming. In my mind, this might last all the way until lunch time.

She didn’t cry though, she picked up her fork and got to eating. With a little more syrup she pretty quickly finished all the little pieces she had torn up and moved onto the larger chunks she could pick up and eat by hand. A little more syrup for dipping and she was making excellent progress. I thought, surely she must be getting full. Surely her pace will slow and she’ll say she’s full and can’t finish the rest. Too bad! That’s what I’ll tell her! Better start getting my dad voice warmed up.

But she just kept eating. Frankly, I was impressed.

Without so much as a pout, she finished the remaining waffle and and half, bringing her total breakfast intake to two waffles, a few strawberries, and an orange. More than double what I ate. If I ever catch her smoking I’m sure as hell not making try to smoke the whole pack. She’ll see that punishment and raise me a Macanudo.

I wondered, did I stumble upon a talent? Could my daughter be the next great competitive eater? Watch your back Joey Chestnut, here comes a three-year-old who wants to show her dad what’s up. Today, spite waffles. Tomorrow, sarcastic hot dogs.

Now that I know making her eat them all is not an effective punishment, I guess if something like that happens again I’ll have to take whatever it is away and eat it myself while she sits and watches. I have a feeling that would end up being worse on me. Is gaining a few pounds worth teaching my kid a lesson? These are the tough questions nobody prepares you for when you have kids.

My Daughter Hates Pants

It is interesting to see what traits of yours show up in your kids. Will they have blue eyes? Will they like mushrooms? Will they like sports? Things like eye color you find out pretty quickly, while others take years. As soon as my daughter turned two she started taking after me in her hatred of pants.

Don't you hate pants

It started with her being able to zip and unzip her own jammies. After getting her diaper changed she’d ask to zip them back up herself. It wasn’t long until she realized that the skills needed to zip up are remarkably similar to those needed to zip down, and her legs were suddenly free. Every time we’d put her to bed in zip-up jammies we would find her in only a diaper in the morning, greeting us with an enthusiastic “I’m naked!”

At first we thought it was the novelty of her newfound mastery of the zipper that encouraged her to take off her jammies, and we started putting her to bed in two-piece shirt and pants style jammies. It was quickly confirmed that it was not the zipper. She had experienced the unencumbered freedom of sleeping without pants and there will be no going back. Every night and every nap time for the last few weeks she ditches the pants within minutes of getting put down. I couldn’t be prouder.

It took me into my twenties before I freed myself from the confines of pajamas, and this little smarty no-pants has figured it out in two years. At first I was a little worried that is would become an all day thing. Kids will be kids, but it would be strange for her to develop the habit of depantsing to go on the swings. Though now that I mention it, that sounds absolutely fantastic. So fill that scenario in with some other odd place to not have pants. Anyway, she has kept her pants-free lifestyle to sleeping only. Not once has she even tried to take them off anywhere else. She understands the joy of an unrestrained lower half and the importance of boundaries. How soon can you test for Mensa?

The majority of parenting is telling your kids not to do stuff, but this is one behavior I will certainly encourage. I have the chance to develop a trait of mine that has manifested in my child, I can’t pass this up. This must have been what Ken Griffey Sr. felt like the first time he watched his kid take batting practice. When it comes to hating pants, my girl is a natural.

The only obstacle I can see coming is nap time at school. Then again, every class has a little kid that shows his butt, so is a sans pants nap time any worse? I don’t think so. Compared to kid who shows their butt, kid who picks their nose, or kid who eats glue, being the kid who understands the proper way to sleep isn’t a bad thing to be at all. Class role model if you ask me.

Having a Baby During the Coronavirus Pandemic

If you were able to pick the best time to have a baby, during a major public health crisis would not be at the top of the list. Higher than while being in high school maybe, but definitely in the bottom three. This wasn’t something we could have planned for nine months ago, and as we got closer to the due date and the virus spread a lot of people asked me what our plan was now. Honestly, our plans were exactly the same – have a baby.

When we were having our first child we went to all the birthing classes and heard about creating your birth plan. Popular suggestions we heard were to create a custom play list, bring a calming scented candle, bring pictures of your loved ones as a focus object. Popular responses we gave were eye rolls. My wife’s birth plan for all three kids was this: she was to have a baby with the help of medical professionals, and I was to refrain from touching her face in any and all circumstances while she was doing so. And you know what, its a great plan. Worked every time.

Some people are into home births. Some people are into putting ketchup on a hotdog. People are weird. I’m not here to judge the crazy things people do, but home birth was never going to be an option. I get that people used to give birth in their homes for much of history, but I’m going to go ahead and put hospital births in the same column as indoor plumbing – a positive advancement that there is no going back from. Though our plan did not change, there were some noticeable differences with this birth.

I Didn’t Know What Anybody Looked Like

Everybody had a mask at all times. All I saw of the nurses and doctors that came in our room was there eyes and ears. I grew slightly suspicious when the eyes of the doctor who would be delivering the baby in no way looked like they belonged to the full-faced person on her ID badge. If there is suddenly an outbreak of stolen babies during this pandemic, I know who my top suspect is.

Light on Staff

Maybe it was due to the time of day (baby was born at 2:00 a.m.) and the hospital just staffs a little lighter for the overnight shift, but there were less people attending to my wife this time around. With our first kid it felt like there were people in and out of the room constantly – a nurse, a doctor, a different doctor, a medical student there to observe the doctor, the anesthesiologist – but this time there was one nurse and one doctor for the majority of the time. A second nurse came in just for the birth.

We also didn’t get a ton of attention. Again, perhaps the time of day, but maybe they were actively trying to limit the amount of time we were actually with other people. Also, once the nurse found out this was our third kid, I kind of felt like she assumed we had it all under control, showed us where the remote for the TV was, and assumed we could take it from there.

Though she was much more present than the doctor, who I am pretty sure came into the room twice – once to introduce herself and once after the baby was born.

Wait a second Pat, did you say after the baby was born? Yes, yes I did. The nurse was allegedly monitoring my wife from the nurses’ station, but as the contractions intensified nobody seemed to be in any big rush to come into our room and have a look-see.

Let me take a minute here to give a shout out to my wife who has had three kids naturally. An absolute trooper. Nevermind not getting an epidural, she didn’t even so much as buzz the nurse to ask for ice chips.

Having said that, because she isn’t needy and didn’t want to be a bother, we got to the point of the baby being seconds away from coming out before she asked me “should you ring for the nurse now? I feel like they should be in here.”

When the nurse got there (after what had to be the longest 10 seconds ever), my wife was ready to push and the baby was ready to come. Noticeably un-ready was the doctor. The nurse was catching the baby while the doctor was still getting her gloves on. Not that I would have cut it anyway, but I thought it would be a nice gesture for me to let the doctor cut the umbilical cord so she could feel involved too.

After mom and baby were all settled the nurse let us know that this was the first baby she ever caught. What a terrifyingly charming anecdote!

No Visitors Allowed

Responsible social distancing does not lend itself to cramming grandparents, aunts, and uncles into a hospital room. This was communicated to us as soon as the hospital made the policy change that only one designated visitor was allowed, so its not like we had to leave disappointed relatives on the other side of a highly sanitized velvet rope desperately trying to explain to a hospital security guard that their name should definitely be on the list. “Are you sure it’s not there? Check under Nanna.”

This affected us most in the fact that I was technically a visitor. My wife was a patient, she needed to be there. I was non-essential personnel. I’d argue that water cups don’t refill themselves, but I was a visitor none the less and therefore was subject to the stricter set of rules. The biggie was that once I was in, there was no leaving. With our first two kids I would leave to go get food from the outside all the time, but now I was subject to hospital food.

Speaking of hospital food, given the fact that I was held a culinary hostage we were told that my food would be included at no extra cost. Which felt like getting a free keychain when you buy car. But hey, free food is always good. Except when it isn’t free. Upon placing our first order for food delivery we were informed that a meal for me would be $8. I understand that cost of food is relative to the location, but there was a zero percent chance that anything I could get off the hospital menu would be better than a Hot and Ready. This is my measuring stick for all value-based food purchases.

For us, I’d have to say some things were more inconvenient, but not drastically different. The birth plan worked fine. A baby was had. No virus of caught. Crappy hospital food was shared.