Tag Archives: dads

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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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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No, We’re Not Worried About the Exchange Program, and Please Stop Asking (via Scary Mommy)

Scary Mommy — “Aren’t you worried?” people seem to keep asking us when they learn that our 13-year-old will spend two weeks in France this summer. “With all the…” and here they pause, fumbling for the way to say “gun violence” and make inferences about Muslim terrorists in a manner appropriate for Saturday soccer.

And here we pause, searching for the appropriate way to say “Well, duh,” which, it turns out, is pretty much just “Well, duh.” (Happily, that term translates wherever you go.) I like to think we’re worried about our son every day, when he boards the bus, when he baits his own sharp pokey hook, when he comes sprinting down the stairs, when he walks home from his buddy’s down the street, when he skates down the driveway without a helmet because he doesn’t listen, and when he goes to karate class, where as a rule, they kick and punch at other children. The question is doofy. We exist in a state of low-level concern; we all do.

But are we worried about shipping him overseas, because of all the…?

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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)

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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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Welcome to the Real-Time, Live-Updating Portal Matrix For Tracking Your Child’s Grades Obsessively (via the Washington Post)

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On Parenting at the Washington Post — “Welcome to the new school year, parents. This year, we’ve made some changes to our grading process. This 12-minute video will briefly summarize how we’re using online resources to allow you to monitor and evaluate your child’s progress on a real-time, 24/7 basis. Please click below to begin.”

So we’re not getting report cards this year? Weird. Okay. (click)

“Welcome to PowerSuccess School MetricsSolutions, the convenient online portal for tracking your child’s successes at a glance. You’ll notice the page opens into Classic View. Click the button marked List View, which will be easier.”

 List View, got it. (click)

“List View expands into Grid Views for all eight of your child’s classes, listed here in reverse order. Over time, this Grid View will auto-populate with live evaluations of your child’s potential success metrics potential.”

 Wait, does that mean grades?

“Sort of. We don’t use grades now, we use evaluations of standards relative to your child’s individual talents and the aggregate performance of students in his or her age group, potential earning category and hair color, merged with bar-graph spreadsheets that determine within three significant digits whether your child will ever attend college. Those are also live-updated, just FYI.”

 Wait, so there are grades, or…

“Pay attention, we’re not even two minutes into this video.”

The rest of the video at On Parenting at the Washington Post.

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Here, My Child, Let Me Help You Open That Complicated CD (via On Parenting at the Washington Post)

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More complicated than it looks

On Parenting at the Washington Post — I just watched my beloved, treasured, magical, sharp and thoughtful 12-year-old struggle to open a CD case for a full 20 seconds. He stared at it, fidgeted with each edge and then fought with the wrong side. He pushed on the black spine, trying, I’m guessing, to activate some secret spring-release mechanism. He flipped it over, inspected it, scowled, then flipped it back over for further scowling.

When he caught me watching him, an unmanageable smirk playing on my face, he made his movements more furtive, exerting pressure on parts that did not move but trying to play it all off like, “Pfft whatever, I’m just absently fidgeting with this thing. I don’t even know why you’re looking at me.” When he caught me fumbling with my camera to try for a surreptitious video, he warned, “If you post this to Instagram, you’re going to need an insurance policy for your face.”

I’m not in the business of humiliating my children online in video form, so I’ll just use words.

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