Category Archives: Dad Stories

Why Your Children Can’t Stop Watching Other Obnoxious Children Play Video Games on YouTube (via the Washington Post)

VenturianTale, I guess?

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On Parenting at the Washington Post — When I was 12 or 13, I busied myself with a range of pursuits, from the dumb to the very dumb to the hugely and galactically dumb. Every month, I purchased a new issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated. I memorized the entirety of Young MC’s debut album, which contained “Bust a Move” and 12 songs that weren’t “Bust a Move.” I got really, really into  “Dr. Mario” (but I stand by that one, as over time I became startlingly good at it).

When you’re in those weird culturally formative years, you explore a lot of weird culturally formative options. So I understand that it is a middle-aged cliche to say that my kids’ penchant for watching videos of bothersome millennials playing video games on YouTube is a remarkably idiotic waste of time.

There is a monster cottage industry of millennials who record themselves playing video games, and my boys, ages 13 and 6, have plunged into it. Mild-mannered on most days, my children, when presented with these videos, spot-mutate into glassy-eyed replicants who draw the shades, hide under blankets and watch as many as they can before I dramatically stomp in and do my impression of the dad at the beginning of that Twisted Sister video.

Here’s why, maybe.

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Several Very Good Reasons to Never Go to a Public Pool Again (via The Loop / Golf Digest)

(Illustration / Rami Niemi)

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The Loop / Golf Digest — It doesn’t matter if you’re at the pool in your city, neighborhood, hotel or vacation rental you snuck into because the gate was open — danger floats in every end. Well, sometimes it lurks at the bottom. But it mostly floats. Danger usually floats.

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Gangster Minivan Packing (via The Loop / Golf Digest)

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The Loop / Golf Digest — Today’s minivans are no longer stodgy, dad-approved cubes designed for the sole purpose of taking third graders to and from practice, but sleek, practical and fully modernized vehicles designed for the sole purpose of taking third graders to and from practice. But they also work for vacations, which is nice, because they contain an awful lot of stuff and, if there’s room, people. Here’s how to maximize space in your summer road trip vehicle:

Electronic device: Three hundred years ago, in the ‘80s, travelers were required to pack for road trips by bringing a Walkman, 24 batteries, 30 cassette tapes, a pallet of comic books, an extra set of headphones and myriad Garfield collections, and that was just to make it out of Indiana. Sure, electronic devices may be shattering our attention spans into fragile bite-sized fragments of their former selves, but man, they make packing for road trips a merry breeze. I have found that one game of Goat Simulator can get two children through Tennessee and Georgia, and Georgia is like 16 hours long, so that’s simply technology improving our lives.

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Good News, Everybody, We Are Raising a Future Polka Star (via On Parenting at the Washington Post)

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On Parenting at the Washington Post — Good news, everybody: We are the proud new owners of a baritone horn, a band instrument that’s big and brassy, and apparently not a tuba.

We’ve been renting it for my son’s band class for the past three school years, making monthly payments that — fun story — it turns out were actually lease-to-own payments that have ended with ownership of what is easily my family’s first enormous brass object with a spit valve. I am happy about this, in the way that you’re happy about suddenly owning a huge pricey object you weren’t planning to buy, and which will probably live in your basement, crawl space or attic for the next 40 years.

It’s a happy accident, and one that cements band as something that, in three years, went from a school-day hobby to a regular, if mysterious, part of my son’s identity.

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A Manly List of Masculine Father’s Day Gifts, For Men (via The Loop / Golf Digest)

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The Loop / Golf Digest — Father’s Day is thoughtful, appreciated and — without resorting to the kind of hyperbole I’ve been accused of using by every single person in the universe — the single most unfair thing about fatherhood ever. Mother’s Day takes place during the school year, so moms quite rightfully enjoy fridges full of hand-scribbed art projects and reverent tone poems written in English classes. Father’s Day is in midsummer, when school is well out, so it’s like having your birthday on Christmas Day, or sharing it with a “cousin” or “twin” or whatever. We get objects we already own, re-wrapped and delivered with a crayon index card that says, “School’s out, it’s 87 outside and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna sit in the kitchen drawing some stupid picture.”

Yet repackaged paperweights are leagues better than actual store-bought products for Father’s Day, all of which assume every man on Earth is a leather-skinned flannel-shirted Man’s Man who spends exactly all of his free time knocking back Glenlivet on the hoods of rusted-out pickup hulls. All Father’s Day catalogs are written in the voice of someone who’s spent years studying human males but has yet to approach one in person, so screw it, we wrote our own, and used lots of all-caps for extra growly masculinity. Send this to your wife/children/partner/hangers-on at once, and watch the joy roll in. .

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Fidget Spinners: Making the End of America a Little More Manageable (via The Loop / Golf Digest)

Whee

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The Loop / Golf Digest — It’s a fidget spinner! You hold it and spin it around, and it spins. It’s like an adorable little propeller/ninja throwing star. You know those prizes you won for crushing 20 straight skeeball games at Celebration Station in 1987? It’s like one of those, except it’s made mostly of Rollerblade bearings, costs $32.99 and will arrive via Chinese steamer in six weeks, after which, in due time, it will end up in a crate in your damp crawlspace making friends with the Tamagotchi.

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How We Briefly Sort Of Totally Lost Our Son on the London Underground (via the Washington Post)

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On Parenting at the Washington Post — One day, during my retirement, if there is still Social Security or whatever, I plan to write a collection of short stories called “Places I Have Lost My Son.” I lost him once in a state park, where, during a verdant and filthy family hike, he ambled ahead 10, then 20, then 500 yards, past a vigorous series of intersections and switchbacks. (We found him at the ranger station, making plans for what to do with his months-long iPhone ban.) I lost him once from his own bedroom when, at age 4, he let himself outside at 1:30 a.m. in a half-sleeping dream state, in search of the Polar Express. (We found him 20 minutes later a quarter-mile down the road, where he’d been discovered by two teenagers named Kevin and Brendan who were most assuredly not Tom Hanks.)

I’ve had to find him in zoos and museums, malls and airports, when something catches his imagination and instinct compels him to follow it. In my son’s brain, imagination is not some zingy, lively Peter Pan-type. It’s a 500-pound sumo wrestler who lumbers in and shoves aside all of the functions used for mindfulness and consciousness and “remembering to look behind him to see WHERE HIS DAD IS.” It’s both delightful, as there is no greater gift than childhood creativity, and god-awful terrifying, as there are few worse feelings than having to ask the nice security guards whether they have seen a 12-year-old in a blue hoodie. Twice.

Which brings me to how we totally lost him on the London subway.

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O Christmas Box, O Christmas Box (via On Parenting at the Washington Post)

High Angle View of Empty Cardboard Box with Open Flaps on Shiny Hardwood Floor - Moving or Shipping Concept Image

Sweet.

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On Parenting at the Washington Post — Generally speaking, Christmas trees arrive in one of two ways: 1. You pack a saw and rope and drive to a Cut Your Own Tree Farm, which makes you feel like a beefy, whiskey-swilling, red-bearded lumberjack army-crawling through dirt and pine needles and probably fire ants until you ask a 19-year-old to help you tie it to the top of your Honda Odyssey; or 2. You go to the attic and retrieve the Giant Box of Fake Christmas tree, which you purchased some years ago from, hypothetically speaking, a Kmart in east-central Indiana.

My family went with Option B. As I was fortunate enough to have both a Christmas-loving family and unusually tall ceilings, our fake tree was a goliath, a monstrous army-grade artificial Douglas fir Fraser pine (okay, I have no idea what it really was, I slept through college horticulture) that endured for nearly a decade. It was rich, plush and lifelike, even if it smelled less like evocative forest pine and more like the inside of a Kmart in east-central Indiana.

Mostly, it came in a box.

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The Adventure of Milo, The Daring Stuffed Cat Who Spent a Year on a Plane (via the Washington Post)

milo-andd-otis

Gonna take a walk outside today, gonna see what we can find today

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On Parenting at the Washington Post — Several Christmases ago, I found myself wandering around a deserted parking lot in San Francisco, clinging to the fragile idea of Christmas magic, but mostly just on the phone with airline customer service.

We’d just flown cross-country with the children, ages 9 and 2 (apologies again, Good People of Rows 13 and 15). The older one is deeply imaginative and inventive, just not especially good at paying attention or remaining in the real world instead of the one in his head, which is populated almost entirely by Percy Jackson and dragons. (Frankly it sounds like a good place to be; in that world sinks don’t leak and Percy doesn’t get Christmas Visa bills.)

Here’s how the cat came back.

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Someone Taught My Child About Jesus When I Wasn’t Looking (via the Washington Post)

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On Parenting at the Washington Post — My son, who at 3 years old was certainly a talking machine but not terribly comfortable composing verse and rhyme, sat down one night at the dining room table, regarded his cutup hot dog, looked at Mom and me, then looked down, folded his hands and intoned, and I quote:

“God our father, God our father

Once again, once again

Thank you for our blessings, thank you for our blessings

Ah-Amen, Ah-Amen

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. 

What’s his name? 

Jesus! 

Hallelujah!”

The first verse was deployed to the tune of “Frere Jacques.” The second he punctuated with a merry grin, one hand splayed in the air as if he had just drained a three-pointer at the buzzer in a teen sports movie from 1986. Then he dipped his hot dog in his “bar-de-coo” sauce and demolished dinner. He was delightfully oblivious to the fact that his mom and I were watching him, stone-faced, forks held mid-chomp, as if he had just informed us that he’d been working on a unified theory of physics and would soon be leaving to return to his home planet of Flthhhpbt.

Here’s what we did about it. 

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