Thursday, January 7, 2010

On the Wagon

If you walk away from this blog having learned only one thing about me, it should be this:

I’m far from a perfect father.

I mean, I’m not the worst dad out there.


I let the Things watch waaaay too much TV and play too many video games.

I’ve failed to convince them that a vegetable exists besides the occasional raw baby carrot that they should cozy up to at meal time.

yelling And I yell.

Not to the point that my lungs cry "mercy,” mind you. I save that for game time with Thing 1’s soccer team.

Not so much that neighbors five houses away need to seek shelter indoors during warm weather and close all windows.

Enough, though. Sometimes at a volume that, while proved  to be handy at getting people’s attention for major announcements at parties, seminars and – at least once with the Things – a crowded subway station.

For a while, Thing 1 even joked that “Daddy needs anger management classes.” I replied that what Daddy really needed was two kids who listened to what he said and did what he asked when it was initially spoken at conversational levels.

The recipient of most of my vocal prowess tends to be Thing 2. He’s not a bad kid. Just a smartass, pain-in-the-tuchis at times.

Like father, like the nut falling near the tree. On its head.

One of his teachers told us years back that he was bound to be a lawyer because every less-than-agreeable request of him evolves into a bare-knuckled union negotiation session:

ME: Time to go to school. Go put on your pants.

THING 2: School is not for another 30 minutes. It only takes 10 minutes to walk there.

ME: I know, but it usually takes you 20 minutes and me repeating myself six times for you to do what needs to be done.

T2: No, it doesn’t.

ME: Stop it. Go put on your pants.

T2: Go where?

ME: Go upstairs and put some pants on. NOW!

T2: There are no pants up here!

ME: Where are you looking?

T2: In your room!

ME: Why are you looking in my room for your pants?

T2: You said ‘upstairs.’ You didn’t where upstairs.

ME: Look in your own room! I laid out a pair on your bed.

T2: There are no pants on my bed.

ME (grabbing the pair off his bed): What are these then?

T2: Those are jeans!

ME: Arrrgh! Jeans ARE pants!

T2: No, they’re not.

ME: Yes. They. ARE. They are a TYPE. Of. PANTS. Now put them on. … Take your pajamas off FIRST, doofus.

T2: But you didn’t say to take …


T2 (pulling up pants): Ha. You said you have to repeat yourself six times. You only said it fouuuur times.

If this was The Simpsons, it’d do the Homer “why you little …” and squeeze and rattle his neck until his eyes bulged out. Instead, like most good Northeast suburban white ex-Catholics, I just clench the anger away through my fists until it fills my insides, overflows and shoots out my mouth.

Like steam from a boiling kettle.

Like molten lava from a volcano.

Like the shock wave that follows a nuclear explosion.

Alas, this is who we are.

A couple weeks back, I went upstairs to kiss the boy good night as is our household ritual.

But Thing 2 didn’t want to look at me.

A few minutes before I had to use my rise-above-the-subway-rattle voice to stress the importance of nightly dental care over attacking another alien village on his Nintendo DS.

“You hurt me,” he said. His lips and eyes swelled with sorrow.

“Hurt you?” I half-laughed. “Where?”

He balled up his fingers. He placed the fist gently on his chest.

“In my heart.”

Then he rolled away from me.

So, friends, in 2010, I’m on the wagon.

The yelling wagon.

Because some days I truly suck at parenting.

But this year, not yet.


  1. Let's start a support group for people like us...with kids like ours. Let's do.

    and call in what, On and On Anon?

  2. Sounds like lawyer material to me - or maybe a politician. Good luck with your resolution but remember, a little yelling is good for them. You can always use my favorite line "If I didn't care, I wouldn't yell".

  3. Dude...He totally nailed you with that one. You sure you didn't played...just a little? He sounds like a pro to me.

  4. Wooooowwwww, He nailed you to the wall, didn't he? Poor Dad. I got it the other day from my 4 year old son. He walked into the room and said "Mom, I love you but I'm really really mad at you right now" and turned and walked away. Would have broken my heart if it hadn't sounded like "Mom, I wud you ut Iy'n way-y way-y madchu wii now"
    Consider yourself blessed, at least you can understand your kids lol.

  5. My cats never get hurt when I yell at them. Because they're cats, ya see.

  6. Ouch.

    Yes, my kids go around huffing and growling.

    Yesterday 5.5 cried "JeeZUSS" when something annoyed him.

    Not proud.

  7. "You hurt me." My oh my. I might cry when mine does something like that to me.

  8. Dude, I don't know how you do it. I'd've definitely pulled a Homer...

  9. Ouch, dude. That had to hurt. Here's to a great 2010 on the wagon. Off the wagon? I can never keep those two straight.

  10. I agree with minivan soapbox: I think you were played. And he's creating the yelling cycle by not cooperating. Make it a rule to ask twice and then start taking away privileges. And learn to become deaf to cries of boredom and complaints of being a meany.

    His heart hurts for being yelled at? Your heart hurts from his continual non-cooperation and disobedience. Time to nip it in the bud. You are the parent and you are in charge, period.

    My kids did, and still do, fear me some (as do their friends), but I kid you not, I had no problems with brushing teeth and going to bed on time. They knew I meant business (and, no, spanking was never a consequence for non-cooperation) and they toed the line.

  11. I wish you much like with this. Cause there's no way I could keep my temper at the exchange you've posted here. I am my father's son.

  12. Emotional terrorists...
    Every single one of them.

  13. Your Thing2 will go a long way in life. He's got you by the kohones...

    BTW. Nice teeth no plaque! Awesome dental hygiene...

  14. But hooray for you trying to change, and even noticing.

  15. Wake up calls suck! Man. I have this feeling, though..this will be my kid in a few years and I'll be the one getting on the wagon...again.

  16. Your boy! He's eight, right??

    Does he live at my house too????

  17. Take it from a third grade teacher...if you give them an inch, they WILL take a mile.

    I agree with Pop and Ice, ask only twice. It will be UNBELIEVABLY hard in the beginning. But it will be worth it. Trust me.

  18. They aim the arrow well, don't they? By the way, a little yelling isn't bad. Sometimes I think kids try to get parents to lose their cool just to see them yell.

  19. I think my boy and yours would get along splendidly! My boy drives me nuts with his belligerence. But, he also makes me proud because it'll serve him well some day (with someone else other than me that is :-)

    Oh, and yours sounds like he might have a knack for the dramatic. That's the nail in the coffin right there! He's got you dead to rights! HAHAHAHAH.

  20. Dood ... your kid is clever ... tricky tricky clever. You should give 1 deep breath and a 'fine ... go to school naked' line a try. Heh ... how ANNOYING!!!

    Annoying but super witty!

    Good luck!

  21. Postman raised an eyebrow at me through glass of front door this morning as I was yelling at daughter to stop arguing about putting her coat on and just frickin' DO IT - ho hum. Clever clever boy tugging at your guilt gene like that too. Adoption - it's the only answer!!!!

  22. LOL. I'm glad I have a dog. That said, I wish my parents would have let me watch more tv when I was a kid.

  23. Oh, Thing 2 is good! Just record that conversation because you will have it again when Thing 1 hits Middle School. Yes, your pride and joy, the sweet angel, the responsible one will suddenly become dippier than artificial ice cream dots..... And she'll start talking about boys (not to you of course). This is Dante's 7th Circle.

    Let me know how the wagon ride goes. I keep having to climb back on.

  24. You should be proud to have such a smart kid. If he doesn't make it as a lawyer, there's a career in public relations for anyone that good at manipulation.

    Best wishes with the yelling. I've been trying to cut back as well, or just yelling at the dog instead.

  25. So I ask Studley to put on his pants and he answers "you forgot to say it's the last time you're going to ask me."

  26. Yep. We all suck. My 9 year old is now going through a "I thought you'd get mad at me" phase. So she sneaks candy into her room because she's "hungry", doesn't fess up when she forgets to bring her homework home, etc. Instead, as soon as she's busted, she's all "I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry" with her big brown eyes brimming with tears that she tries to bravely hold back, until one lone tear slowly rolls down her cheek.

    Yep. I suck.

  27. um. I am not one to give parenting advice. REALLY i don't like when parents give advice. but.

    how I solved the morning shuffle of getting my two kids 7 and 3. because they don't have a sense of HURRY UP. I mean, what do they need to hurry for? Are they going to miss snack time?

    I got my daughter (then age five), an princess alarm clock. She layed out her outfits the night before. She was then required to get up by herself and get dressed before oatmeal.


    Toys get taken, computer games get taken, she gets no breakfast. She will be sent to school in her jammies.

    All this was done with calm demeanor. No negotiating. Because kids don't get to argue or decide things. Cause I'm bigger and in charge.

    And if there is whining/arguing?

    Toys get taken, computer games get taken etc..

    hope that helps. ;)

    deep breath fellow blogger!


  28. alright then. just know that if he has the capacity to logically argue he has the capacity to understand the logic of cause and effect.

    use this strength of his. ;)

    and you stay warm too!

  29. If you should happen to swing past my place in that wagon, would you mind picking me up? There's been some days where I should have been racing across the hills on one of those.

  30. Wait...if I leave a comment does that mean I'm uncool???? I feel so cheap....

  31. Now I see what I have to look forward to. Thanks.

  32. If it makes you feel any better, my son (2 1/2) told me that the people in other car were "stupid mother effers" when they cut me off. Guess who he got that from?

  33. Um yah, I need you to pit stop and pick me up on that wagon too. My oldest son's first(deliberate)cuss word(around 4)was .dumbass. Directed at his father. I got on that wagon real quick but I musta fallen off again somewhere in the last 6 years. I think somewhere around the time my second became a toddler and my first became a prepubescent.


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