Ugh, Big Important Parenting Milestones Are Just the Worst

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Pictured: A horse, definitely

Island Packet — I sing to my 2-year-old every night at bedtime. Usually it’s a combination of one or two or 18 songs from “Frozen,” a Jimmy Buffett song about a house party gone awry (role models, people) and “Goodnight Sweetheart.” Now, I am not what musicians or artists or humans with ears would call “a good singer,” but I’m apparently especially lousy at “Goodnight Sweetheart.” The other night, midsong, my 2-year-old stood up in his crib, leaned toward me, put his hands gently on each side of my face and said, “Stop.”

That was 8 p.m. At 7 a.m. the next day, he requested a shower, asked for diaper cream, told me he didn’t want to wear a diaper (thanks, but not your choice, Poops), announced he wanted a waffle and fetched one from the freezer (we eat really healthy), got a chocolate milk box, put the straw in and waddled out to the porch table to await his warm waffle. In the span of a few hours, he developed an ear for pitch and also grew up.

He’s doing other helpful things now too, like talking in complete sentences (“No, I want Daddy to do it”), remembering where he lost things (“My baby blanket is in the pool!”), and using the same words to describe things as the rest of us. That doesn’t work all the time; last night we argued for 10 minutes about whether an animal in his ABC book was a zebra or a horse. I went with zebra, because it was black and white, it was on the page labeled Z and also — this part is key — it was a zebra. The 2-year-old, with enviable sincerity, looked at me with cold gunfighter eyes and said, “Horse.” This went on two and a half million more times. I actually just gave up and let him believe ungulate-related lies, because I was tired of losing an argument to a person who eats Pop-Tart frosting with a spoon.

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How the World Cup Turns Even Non Sports Nerds Into Foam-Fingered Face-Painted Bar-Trashing Maniacs

THIS LOOKS SO DANGEROUS, DON’T YOU GUYS HAVE ANOTHER GAME TO PLAY?

GateHouse — You win, soccer!

I learned something in the World Cup in 2010: Turns out that if you furnish a scorching last-minute sudden-death winning goal, and add the subtle, unrelenting pressure of most of my friends and all of Twitter, I turn into a dynamic, perspiring World Cup fan! At least for a few days, or weeks, or years, or however long this thing goes on. I haven’t the foggiest idea.

But that’s OK, because I’m still new to this soccer thing, this severe, rash-fueled case of World Cup fever that makes me want to occasionally punch random strangers in the throat. But I confess to being baffled by my sudden enthusiasm, and by “enthusiasm” I mean “the fleeting brush of elevated interest I feel because everybody else is watching it and I’m a unrepentant meerkat who wants to know what the group is talking about.” Because, like all of America, and despite what the more self-satisfied portions of America might claim on Facebook, I don’t generally pay the remotest smidge of attention to soccer unless a soccer game is interrupted by a camel invasion, Alison Brie photo shoot or velociraptor attack, and even in the case of the latter I’d probably just watch the highlights (“Just look at the way those raptors are using cooperative hunting to distract the American goalkeepers, right before slicing them to pieces with their sharp, slashing claws! Amazing, isn’t it, Jim?” And then the camera would cut to Jim, and we would see that Jim has just been sliced to pieces by velociraptors. I am pretty sure it’s paragraphs like this that made me not get the callback about that ESPN job.).

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Here’s Why You Don’t Let Cat People Babysit Your Human Children

Don't_Tell_Mom_The_Babysitters_DeadIsland Packet — Everyone agrees that running is dumb, even people who run a lot. Especially people who run a lot.

I run for two very simple reasons: 1. “Exercise is important” or whatever, and 2. I’m a joke at all other sporting activities. Seriously. I’ve tried them. Running is the only one that I have not completely botched, owing to the fact that it’s extremely difficult to screw up putting one foot in front of the other 12,000 times. Well, I guess you could run smack into a water tower, or into an open sewer drain, or the waiting open mouth of an alligator. Real talk, though, I’d take an activity with potential alligator chompery over having to shoot a free throw in public.

There is one major problem with running, though: It takes FOREVER, especially how I do it. Anyway, as such, I need a baby sitter. And weirdly enough, I’ve been helped out by a friend named Hadley, who is someone I’ve known for many years, not one of which has involved me thinking of her as a “kid person.” More of a “cat person,” really. Well, now she has a dog, I guess, but you don’t have to change cat or dog diapers, if you’re lucky.

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App That Claims to Cure My Fear of Spiders Is a House of Spidery Lies

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LIES. LIES. LIES.

GateHouse — I fear only two things in this hard cold world: Heights and spiders. That’s it. Well, I’m also sort of afraid of whales. Because they’re monstrous, and they live in the hard cold sea. I know everyone’s all like “But they’re harmless filter feeders who live on krill and plankton and sing songs to each other and occasionally save the Starship Enterprise,” yeah well that’s what the liberal media wants you to believe. What if they’re actually eating dolphins and cows and old pirates? You just don’t know about whales, is what I’m saying. (I’m also afraid of opening tubes of cinnamon rolls, because you never know when that POP is coming. Oh, and clowns, God, how did I forget about clowns? And the Incredible Hulk. And hot air balloons. Riding on a hot air balloon, are you kidding me, it’s like climbing into a basket containing your own death and then sending it 5,000 feet into the air. I’d rather swim around in a clown car full of whales.)

Anyway, apparently I’m not alone in these fears — well, at least one of them — because there is a new app designed to help people squash their arachnophobias.

The app is called Phobia Free and before you ask, no, of course I haven’t downloaded it. This is for two reasons:

  1. It’s like four bucks, and I don’t know how much you think newspapers pay these days, but I assure you it’s less than four bucks and
  2. That would indicate I want to cure this fear of spiders. I don’t. I’m comfortable with it. It and I have made it 38 happy years, we see no need to go “improving ourselves” now.

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Welp, Here We Go With the Night-Night Death Talks Again

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Sometimes I wonder if that weekend we spent playing in a graveyard had anything to do with this.

Island Packet — When you have kids, death comes up a lot. If you have pets, for instance, death is a bracing, occasional reminder of the fragility of life — except if you have goldfish, in which case death is something that happens every six days and can be mostly cured by a trip to the pet store.

So a few nights ago, as I was reaching for the lightswitch, my 10-year-old announced that he’d like to spend the day before he dies looking at pictures from the course of his entire life.

As you might expect, when you’re readying for the usual bedtime-delaying tactics involving glasses of water and additional blankets, that’s a pretty serious punch to absorb. One minute you’re reading Percy Jackson and mentally plotting your laundry strategy in the unlikely event bedtime ever ends; the next you’re being plunged into existential coldness by an unseen force reminding you that despite your best efforts one day you’ll die, as will your son, as will your other son, as will everyone you’ve ever known, and you have about two and a half seconds to come up with a response that’ll calm your developing child’s mind, allow him to fall asleep in the next two days and prevent yourself from shattering into tiny slivers at 8:30 p.m. on a Tuesday.

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That Store-Bought Smoothie Could Have 1,446 Calories (GQ)

smoothie-gq-fitness-blender-strawberry-workout-gymGQ — Prior to writing this piece about smoothies, I knew precisely two facts about smoothies: 1) The Merrillville, Indiana shopping mall that I frequented on more lively nights in 1992 contained a terrific Orange Julius, and 2) In 2014, smoothies are expensive. Very expensive. For the price of two large smoothies at one of my many local purveyors, I could purchase a Vespa.

I did not understand why this has become the case, or why these days Big Smoothie is, if not running the world, at least giving it the squeeze. You can’t swing a decorative celery stalk without hitting an ad for a $400 juicer or a severe-sounding cleanse of some kind, and my lonely Orange Julius by Camelot Music has become an entire universe of smoothie restaurants, juice bars, organic drink-houses, and Gwyneth Paltrows.

So I set out to explore this squishy world, reporting back to you, the GQ reader, with everything you need to know about the suddenly ubiquitous and disconcertingly Wall-E-like practice of consuming your calories through a straw.

Read the full story at GQ.

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The 38 Steps to Enduring a Massive Water Leak in Your House

Noah

I looked exactly like this.

 

1. Pipe bursts, flooding living room, kitchen and rest of downstairs with a half-inch of water

2. Realize house is largely underwater

3. Hurriedly shuffle wife and children outside, lock door, panic panickedly, wish you’d selected a different god, one who’s less of a jerk

4. Sweep sheets of water out of open doors of house with pitifully inadequate squeegee

5. Call House Unwettening People

6. Watch helplessly as House Unwettening People move everything in your house out of the way to make room for 300 high-speed fans

7. Wonder how much this is going to cost

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The Perpetually Tired Man’s Guide to a Good Night’s Sleep (GQ)

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GQ — We all know we’re living in a world that is deeply unrested—please join us in rolling your eyes at the phrase “eight hours a night”—but the statistics are overwhelming. One in four Americans suffers from a sleep disorder, says M. Safwan Badr, M.D., president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, adding that sleeplessness is linked to a higher risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and general dying. “The return on investment of good sleep is incalculable,” he says.

Even if you’re stuck with less sleep than you’d like, there are shortcuts to boost quality if not quantity. And no, bourbon before bed isn’t what we mean.

The full story at GQ.com.

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How Are Rotisserie Chickens Not The Only Things People Eat?

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NickMom

9. They’re already done.

8. Seriously, they’re done. You take them home, and dinner is done.

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Read the full list over at NickMom.
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Fourth Grade is the Year We All Turn Into F-R-E-A-K-S

Basically what I looked like in fourth grade, except my shirts were more colorful

Basically what I looked like in fourth grade, except my shirts were more colorful

Island Packet — Fourth grade is the worst. Don’t get me wrong. It’s the best. My son is in fourth grade now; his school is great, and his teacher wonderful. But it’s also the year an invisible switch flips, when new neurons in kids’ brains connected to previously undiscovered power sources, where you, as a parent, begin to realize, sigh, now I have to start shaping decisions and perspectives. This is obviously a lot harder than teaching baseball and Scrabble, which I am also not good at.

I’m biased, probably. A lot of things happened to me in fourth grade. We moved to a new town, a tiny cluster of houses, gas stations and precisely one stoplight in a sleepy and farmy corner of Indiana. At the time, this represented abandoning everyone I ever knew in favor of — and this is my real memory — a house that had mice on a road with no name. I got glasses that year, but when I say glasses, I don’t mean “the things you’re wearing to read this newspaper,” I mean “optometric dinner plates that Harry Caray would have rejected as too subtle, even in his current state.” I had my first encounters with bullies, school discipline and crushes. The combination of these things drop-kicked me into some new level of life, some invisible maturity bracket I mark, pretty arbitrarily, in fourth grade.

It’s also the year — at least in this house — that the construction of the rules of life begins, the year my oldest son is beginning to discern what is right and what is wrong and, most importantly, that stories can be malleable and dependent on point of view.

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