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Dad up! I once thought to "man up" was hard. 



broken bart

Summer, you kicked my ass again. I thought this was going to be the year I finally beat my great nemesis. But after one broken arm, one murdered cat, excessive amounts of screen-time, and a blog untouched in six weeks, I accept defeat.  And, while some of you are flaunting back to school pics, I’ve still got weeks to go!

For a father blogger who is home days, summer break is my monster in the closet: I know it’s there. I know it will get me. But I inevitably pull the covers over my head and hope I survive to see tomorrow.

This year was going to be different. Or so I thought.

*Give me this short exposition and I’ll get to the failures I promised.

My annual season of hell seemed like it might finally change when my kid’s teacher offered the two greatest words I had heard since “empty nesters”; “summer school”. Yes, like you, I immediately thought this was punishment for not keeping up during the school year. However, his 2nd grade teacher explained that once the district fills its classes with students who are behind, they then offer the open spaces to those who’d benefit from extra practice. It’s only half-days for four weeks, they feed them, bus them and it’s all free. Who wouldn’t want that? Well, every kid who is old enough to realize the evil stigma of summer school, that’s who. But since ours is still unaware, we didn’t present the school-free option. Bam, one kid taken care of!

You can imagine my glee, when my youngest and most needy child’s kindergarten teacher offered us the same thing. Did I win the lottery? Who knew they even had summer school for kindergarten? It seems cruel and unusual. Yet it sure would make his older brother feel more normal about his having to go. So, bam, bam, that’s two kids taken care of!

My oldest will be visiting cousins while I bask in the sun and blog about kids who are not in my care. The remainder of summer shall be spent on the swim team and tennis classes I signed them up for, then some chillaxing at our neighborhood pool.  This Dad has finally planned the best summer ever!

It all went to shit in the very first week out of school.  My youngest fell out of the treehouse (not on my watch) and broke his arm. Cancel all swimming and sports. There goes half of our summer plans. Dang, strike one.

The beloved family cat witnessed the tree fall and didn’t come home that night. A week of posters and wishful thoughts ended when someone found his tag near some cat bones. Tragic strike two. It didn’t really affect our summer activities but it was an ominous cloud that hung over our season of doom.

But summer school was starting soon, right? “Honey, where’s the info packet for the youngest?” After desperate attempts to reach school staff on summer break, I finally learned the kindergarten teacher failed to mention that he was not approved. Maybe I shouldn’t have blown her off all those after-school discussions about his behavior. There goes the other half of summer plans. Crap, strike three. Plan B?


The following is a list of last-minute, half-assed, summer activities I completely failed with. For an actual helpful list of ideas there’s some links at the bottom. But for the unprepared, cheap, lazy father, here’s what I came up with when our summer became broken.  Consider it a do-not attempt list for the desperate parent. Enjoy.

  1. Camp Costco: Perfect, they can eat lunch then fill hours stocking up while tasting a smorgasbord of free samples. Fail: Now my kitchen and garage is full of never-to-be-used family size snacks that I have to coax neighbor kids into eating while I pick-up a sea of CapriSun wrappers. 20140812_145055
  2. Lemonade stand: He can spend hours learning about commerce while selling those Costco snacks I can’t get rid of. Fail:  The 6-year-old needs constant supervision and help as strangers in cars are going to be your customers. We made almost enough to cover my Costco losses until big brother came home from summer school and showed us how the mafia operates. Big bro demanded half the money though he did nothing to contribute. He explained he could just take it or split it for “being nice”. The Godbrother and small businessman argued viciously until the stand was closed down.
  3. Library: Yes, great idea! They have events there to lure my kids to the magic of books. How delighted they were when they learned there was no limit to books they could take.  What a genius I am to get them to read all summer. Fail: Other than glancing through the pictures on the ride home, no books were read and many are still missing while my overdue bill is mounting. The next time we went to one of the sponsored activities for kids, they were showing a Disney movie with snacks for kids. And this week the library is hosting “Arcade Day”.  Isn’t that the antithesis of the library?
  4. $1 Movies: It doesn’t count as “screen-time” if it’s the big screen, right? The theaters offer recent years kid blockbusters at 10am for only $1. Fail: So instead of your kid watching the same movie you own at home while you get some writing done, go to the theater with 100 other screaming kids and miserable parents blowing more than $1 on sugar-filled concessions by 10am.
  5. Playdates: I used to spend my summer breaks at my friends’ house not bothering anyone’s parents. Fail: 6-year-old playdates have to bother some parent. You down with O.P.C.? (Other People’s Children) No, no, not me! Even if you are willing to chaperone, good luck finding another playmate not already booked. The responsible, cool kids are booked this late into summer. Playdates available are only the dregs of kindergarten who are usually at home with grandma, never say please, and still need help using the potty.
  6. Chores?: “Clean your room”- The first and worst idea all parents blurt out when their child demands, “What can I do?” Fail: Of course it never works so you sweeten the deal with the money. Of course you still have to spend the time showing them how to clean their room, or the yard, or the laundry. You’ve now done all the chores in demonstrating but they demand their payment. Junior mafiosos in training.
  7. Goodwill! Keep poppin’ tags! : Kill two birds with one hand-me-down stone. We’ll clean out all our old clothes, books, and toys and reward ourselves with some new old thrift toys. Fail: Nobody including myself can be convinced to part with that thing we never use but are sure we might someday.  We donate three things and come home with five older things that we’re interested in for the entire ride home. And then never again.
  8. Animal Shelter for possible replacement pet: Spend hours looking at all the cute animals and get over our fallen coyote food family member. Fail: Who am I kidding? No one goes to a shelter and leaves empty- handed. “Kids, are we going to get another pet that I end up caring for?After you promise and swear you’ll do it? Like the snails? And the last cat? And the treehouse? All of which eventually died. Forget it. Fool me once…”
  9. Video Games- Fine, if we can’t do anything else, even the doctor recommended video games for the broken and bored. Heck, primitive video games is how I filled summers as a kid and, these days, it’s more active than mind-numbing TV. Fail: No matter what two or multi-player game they’d convince me to buy, they all only play solo while the others scream for their turn, criticizes their choices, and fight non-stop while yelling for me to mediate.
  10. 80’s movies: Alas, TV, you win. If you can’t beat ‘em then let’s do it my way. Let the kids watch all the great movies I grew up on. They’re finally old enough. We’ll review and make a guide of 80’s movies for all parents to use on my blog. Fail? I can’t say yet. So far they’ve learned a lot of new curse words and inappropriate sexist behavior and I’ve got no written reviews. However, for the few hours of solace those pre- PG-13 gems provide, we are a happy family. And it’s not like my formative years of 80’s movies up turned me into a cynical adult who’s incapable of simple tasks like planning properly for summer. Oh.

Right now, in order to achieve one lousy post, I’m letting my youngest watch hours of Pokemon episodes. That video was the only thing I could convince him to check out of the library. Then we’ll go to the store for the fourth time this week.

Oh, and school is still weeks away. I hate you, Summer.

For a list of real helpful activities, here’s a few links.





Dedicated to our beloved cat that never got a proper funeral




I hope you appreciate, like “Voldemort”, I did not mention the name of the Disney song that must not be named. Please let us agree to never utter that three word title within an ear shot of any dad. Good.

Today I am super stoked The Lego Movie comes out on DVD. Maybe this time I’ll actually get to see it.

Yes, The Lego Movie is a bone of contention in my family.  I chose to watch football when my wife took the kids to Frozen. I didn’t mind skipping that one. But The Lego Movie was going to be Dad’s. I couldn’t wait. All three of my kids, even the girl, love building Legos. We also are fans of Lego Chima and the surprisingly funny, Lego Star Wars shows on Cartoon Network. When I first saw the trailer for a Lego movie, I was giddy as a schoolboy.

I’m a big fan of Chris Pratt and was excited to see him in a leading role. His character’s name is Emmet like my youngest. Also Will Arnett has been my favorite comedic actor since Arrested Development, and, unlike Ben Affleck, he’s perfectly cast as Batman.  I had a friend involved in the movie too, so for plenty of reasons, I was pumped to take the kids to one movie this year.

The only problem is the movie came out the week of school’s midwinter break. If you’re like me, you’ve never heard of a midwinter break until you moved north. As everyone knows, the best way to keep people from losing their minds through winter is to close schools an extra week and force parents to entertain their restless children. My wife had taken off work this week even though we had no plans to go anywhere. On day one of the break, the claws were out and she was scratching at the door to escape. I had only this one day to work and then the rest of the week off to do nothing with family. Leaving for work, I pleaded with the wife to wait one day for all of us to go see Lego Movie together. Well, let’s just say, I understand when a parent with a house full of children must do what they must do to survive.

She felt bad but intended to make me feel better by telling me how awesome it was. From my cynical pre-teen daughter to my six-year-old scaredy cat, everyone loved it.  The wife apologized and insisted I just take the kids to see it again. Good idea.

The next week, I took the kids to the theater anxious to learn why everyone was singing that “Everything is Awesome” song. In line to get tickets, my dreams met an insurmountable force; pre-teen girls. All my daughter’s friends were in line to see the new Peabody and Sherman movie. Where they went, my kids wanted to follow. With Dad’s movie wish now up for debate, the youngest made his whiney pitch to see Frozen again. No way. I compromised by napping through Peabody. Oh, well.

Three months later now and everywhere I go some boy is singing “Everything is Awesome!” Like the song that must not be named I missed out on this cultural phenomenon. Yet this time, I care.

Today could be the day I am let in to the club. But fate has once again dealt me an unforeseen obstacle. The whole family except me is sick. They all are home on this Tuesday that The Lego Movie is finally out on DVD and, uh oh, pay per view?! Will they wait for me to watch it tonight? We know if everything is awesome then no need to wait for Dad. I better wrap this up.

grinchIt came without sports. It came without a “hall pass”. I spent Dad’s Day with my family and I still had a blast.

Since I’ve been so vehemently opinionated about how I wanted to be celebrated, I must tell you how it went down after all. Let’s just say, like fatherhood, it may not have been what I expected. It may not have been the perfect ride I dreamed up. But if you try sometimes, you just might find…you get what you need.

Am I still talking about Father’s Day? I got distracted by the radio. Right, well you might remember from such posts as last week’s Daddy Dilemma: Ditch the fam on Father’s Day?, that I wanted to use my earned “hall pass” and watch the all-you-can-eat buffet of sports the dad gods granted us this rare Father’s Day. Well the gods giveth and they taketh away. Through an unexplained act of fate, nature, karma, or something, weather knocked out my satellite broadcast.  I tasted only a morsel of sports before the weather reduced my holiday to just an average Sunday with amped-up kids and not much to do.

After we opened school-made gifts and brunched, my wife offered to take kids away to movie. But I chose to spend the afternoon with the reasons I’ve been included in this holiday. While waiting for weather to give us a chance to play sports, I showed them my favorite flick as a lad: Rocky IV. Reliving it with them was a blast as they cheered for bloody vengeance from Rocky’s stereotypical foe.  After that we put on some Otis Redding and grooved around the kitchen playing board games and barbecuing hotdogs for dinner. (Wife and daughter did the traditional dad barbecuing while I drank white wine like a traditional Kathie Lee Gifford.)

It was perfect.

If you’re wondering about the gifts from my other post last week, Scarymommy.com/fathers-day-gifts-dad-doesnt-want, I can tell you we did end up brunching at a restaurant but not an over-priced one. We got stink-eye from the older couple on the table behind us as our children fought, misplaced their inside voices, played video games on our phones, and then were rewarded with ice cream so I could finish my Bloody Mary. I didn’t get the nap nor the peace and quiet but I also didn’t get a card that sings or farts. I’ll take it.

I did get a funny T-shirt that I’ll never wear. But I don’t mind because they had it made for me. It has the title I eternally and annually seek.

best dad T Now I’ve got 364 days to earn it again next year.

#2 dadIt’s two days till Father’s Day and I feel like Rocky in most of the Rocky films. I’ve lost my title. My dad mojo took a dive and there’s no 80′s montage to pick me up. It hurts. I have to look back, way back, to when I wanted it. When I had the eye of the tiger. Now…let’s get it back. (cue music)


No, Governor Chris Christie nabbing Father of the Year is not the title I lost. When Bill Clinton was awarded the trophy last year with his adult daughter, I suspected it was a sham. And now that the Tony Soprano look-alike governor of the mafia capitol of the world has won, I’m positive that title can be bought with a severed horse head.

However, there was a time I believed my “World’s Greatest Dad” coffee mugs, buttons and cards. Of course I didn’t really believe it. But those first few years of fatherhood, I felt inside that I may just be the greatest.  And maybe my family believed it too.

Those days when I was stay-at home Dad with my toddler daughter were both trying and terrific. I had to wing fatherhood and learn on the fly. In my glory days I would take her to the park full of rambunctous kids and their old chatting nannies. I was the hero dad who played with all of them. They shrieked with joy as I chased them up the slide pretending to be the monster. They cheered when I freed their ball from the tall tree. I was dad to all and the greatest one around.

Sigh. Now I’d much rather sit on the park bench with my smart phone and hope some other young dad will be the lava monster. As all three kids get older I hope they need less from me. I wonder when I last saw that glimmer of pride in their eye like when we all believed I was Dad #1.

I can sit here and think about how the good ol’ days have passed. Or I can get off my ass and get my World’s Greatest Dad title back!

By get off my ass, I mean sit on my ass and write a meaningful list. I’ve got two days before the main event. Here is a list of why I deserve or don’t deserve the title of World’s Greatest Dad. All of these parenting shortcomings could be argued as either a knock against a dad or as approval for his title.

  1. I complain about them publicly. knock against -I kind of have this anti-children parenting blog.  True, most of my posts are cynical and I’m constantly bitching to the entire world about my “little terrors”. Or approval for – My honesty makes other parents feel better about their own imperfect parenting and they see they could be much worse at it.
  2. I let Mom take over any chance I get. knock- Just like with cleaning the toilet, I exaggerate my incompetence at parenting until my wife takes over. approval- I will always sacrifice my free time to give her a break. Especially if there’s a chance for her to do something fun.
  3. I scream at my kids often. knock- Seriously, it can be as terrifying as spanking to them and the people around me. approval- It’s not spanking and there have been numerous times if I hadn’t screamed alarmingly they would have run in front of a moving car.
  4. I avoid all volunteering. knock- Schools and extra-curricular groups need help but I will make-up excuses, hide and hope they don’t find me. approval- They always find me. Then cornered, I reluctantly sign-up. It always turns out to be the most rewarding experience of my week.
  5. I say “no” to kids way more than “sure”. knock- We all know I’m winning this one, but it still hurts when you have to be the bad guy and your child tells you, repeatedly, how “mean” you are. approval- obviously if they got their way, they’d be eating candy in front of the TV 24/7 while sticking foreign objects into electrical sockets.
  6. I don’t help them with homework. knock- I’ve never had the patience for teaching. I admire those who do. And with my 6th grader I have no friggin memory of how to do any of her lessons. approval- By me not helping, they learn how to do it themselves. Amen.
  7. I lose my temper. knock- I always wanted to be the sweet, calm dad that never loses his cool so my kids would do the same. approval- Impossible. Everybody loses their temper. It’s important they see the 95% of the time I don’t, but also that nobody’s perfect. And show them you can lose it without doing anything stupid.
  8. Often I long to fly the coop. knock- Sure, my kids can drive me absolutely batty and I frequently have the thought of running away to a care-free, kid-free dream life far away from anyone who will need something from Dad. approval- I don’t. I stay. Through poop and tears, yelling and never-ending worry, I try to be the best father a kid deserves. I make plenty of mistakes but I never want to give the job up. I try to remember to show them love. I’m there for them everyday. Isn’t that really the job description?

Yes, I believe that is what it takes. Therefore, I do win. Cheers to me and all the dads who doubt themselves daily but trudge on. I deserve my children’s respect and whatever gifts and proud titles they are forced to bestow upon me but once a year. I am the Greatest.


ditch kid

Oowee! Three days till Father’s Day and I’m more excited than a kid before Christmas sneaking off to devour all the chocolate in his advent calendar. (Every year he promises us he won’t do that. Then he does.)  Anyway, this year is uniquely special for Father’s Day and I want your opinion if I should exploit it.

If you’ve read my campaign in the menu above, you know I have a beef with Father’s Day. The short history is President Dick Nixon designated the third Thursday in June to be our day. The only problem is that there is little choice of sports at that time of year.  Either Nixon was oblivious or wanted to force dads to share family time without our favorite distraction. Either way, I think he’s a crook.

Well this year the Father’s Day gods have granted us a unique calendar event. This year June 1st landed on a Sunday meaning we get Father’s Day on the earliest possible -June 15th. That translates into giving us a pivotal game five of the NBA Finals. But, wait, there’s more. If you haven’t noticed all the unrecognizable flags waving, as it happens only every four years, the Soccer World Cup started this week.

From golf to Lebron to soccer, now dads of all ages and ethnicities have to deal with the dilemma: Is Father’s Day for fathers or families? If it’s truly for us, then most dads will choose to watch the “all you can eat” buffet of men chasing balls. (Wait, that doesn’t sound right.) Heck, even if you’re a dad who could care less about sports, then maybe you want a day to yourself to play with your toys in the garage. (That doesn’t sound right either.)  I mean to say, is this day for us to do what we want? Or is this day about letting our children and wives shower us with adoration? Depending on the age of your children, that may last thirty seconds tops.

I wonder if Mother’s Day coincided with The Oscars’ Red Carpet Special, Real Housewives finale and a royal wedding, would Mom be asking for a “hall pass”.

Personally, my dilemma became serious when I saw that my favorite baseball team was coming to town for a Father’s Day afternoon game. The first thousand dads in the door get a special grill gift. I love my children and I love going to baseball games, but these two loves do not get along.  Perhaps in ten years we can all watch a game together but, for now, there’s not enough sugar in the stadium to get my kids to last through four hours of baseball.


To makes things more complicated, my childhood friend invited me to go to a beer festival the Saturday before Dad’s Day. This is my friend who’s married with no kids. He is constantly testing our thirty year bond by inviting me to events like this and guys weekends away which seem easy to the jerk with no kids.

My selfish inner-child shined bright as stadium lights when I imagined a family-free weekend full of sports and beer. But it’s Father’s Day. That inner-child often has to listen to the outer-father.

What should I do? What would you do? My poll question is there to the right. It’s anonymous. Who with and how should we celebrate our day?

In the end, I can’t find another dad willing to ask for the hall pass and join me at the game. And my wife wanted to meet a visiting old friend for lunch on Saturday while I take the kids somewhere that is not a beer festival. Don’t cry for me, Argentina. I intend to revel in my day still. I will watch as much sports on my phone while I see how good my kids are at making Bloody Marys. How about you?

Six days before Father’s Day and I just found out about the “conference” the White House hosted today for working dads. *

obama guinness

I’ll check my mailbox again but I don’t think I got the invite. Darn, I love talking about kids. Especially with other adults far away from kids. All cynicism aside, I’m glad that our leaders are on this trending topic. I was going to make a joke about the many issues they really should be discussing, but that’s too debatable. Let’s stick to the topic where no opinions differ: how we raise our children. And our leaders are on it.

From USA today -”The White House, which is preparing a summit on working families later this month, sponsors an event Monday devoted to working fathers. Business leaders, administration officials, and other working fathers will ‘explore the breadth of roles dads play today at home’ and ‘the new challenges dads experience balancing career and family,’ says a White House announcement.”

Funny that the men conferring on this issue are all dads too busy to spend ample time at home. I’m glad they are taking into consideration the change in gender balance at home and in work place. I just wish I could go to the after-party.

My wife, along with other working moms, have already begun strategizing in this way. Inspired by Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg’s Bestseller about balancing work and home, my wife has begun hosting a “Lean-In Circle”. I’m not sure what they do, but it involves wine, chatting with other working moms, and me watching the kids while they lean somewhere out of the house on a Friday night. Well played, ladies.

Does anyone want to start a Lean In/working dad conference with me? Please.

*(editor’s note: This is yesterday’s important news. I’ll try to be more current but at this news network sometimes Dad is following around the youngest child with a vomit bucket all night while Mom changes sheets repeatedly. Then Dad stays home the following day with kid and vomit bucket and blogs about it. I think it was the lemon aoli he admits he ate by the spoonful. Like Father, like son. He vomits, I blog. We’re both regurgitating for all the world to see. If you want more up to speed news, I suggest Comedy Central. I’m counting the days to Father’s Day! Let’s hope kids get healthy so we can keep talking about Dads all week.)

If you’re like me, you screwed up Mom’s one day. Now you’re wondering if she’ll forget by Father’s Day. She won’t. I suggest you share this cautionary anecdote with her and beg for mercy. If I’ve learned anything from shopping for greeting cards, it’s that wives are comforted by the thought that all men are insensitive, lazy, oblivious fart machines. Whether it’s true or not, we still buy the cards to remind her it could be worse. Six dollars to say we are still slightly better than the lowest common gassy denominator. Like a bad card, I share this so you can laugh, judge and feel better about yourself. Just like all those times you watch dads change a diaper with no wipes.


Dads, heed my warning and learn from my mistakes. Read your kids’ cards before they give to their guilt-ridden working Mom. And consider editing to avoid spending Mother’s Day with multiple trips to the florist, the chocolate store, and to the closed bedroom to ask, “Honey, are you done crying?”

Like all sweet Mother’s Day scenes our tale begins in the bedroom. My loud snores are drowned out by my wife’s weeping. Before I could plan my half-assed attempt at spoiling her with breakfast in bed, she was already holding the card from our 6 year-old baby of the family.


Let me translate as I am fluent in kindergarten verse. (continue reading…)


TKH’s first song! Pharrell called me and said he wanted to put out a song for all the dads. I told him I was too busy watching “24 hours of Happy”. At the 19th hour of Happy I told him I’d do it for the dads and for my sanity. We came up with this just in time for Father’s Day. Press play.




Share with a daddy you know. Here’s another link –  https://soundcloud.com/thenkidshappened/daddy


In case you missed any of the lyrics, here they are:


It might get crazy, is what I got to say

Sunshine she’s here, that means my kid’s awake. (continue reading…)


Today he said the wisest thing I’ve heard from a child or any aged philosopher. He later said the dumbest thing and then the weirdest thing too, but we’ll get to those in a bit. It inspired me to get back to trying to inspire with our occasionally inspirational tales.

Leave it to the youngest to figure it all out. Like him, I’m also the youngest of three. That means I can identify with him. But usually I identify with what I put my Dad through by being a big wuss. As the “baby of the family” we are coddled the most, but anxious to grow up fast to play with the olders. The youngest are often the most creative and the most expressive. With less pressure and expectations than their elders, we youngest are allowed to be introspective observers of life. WTF am I talking about? My point is I’m writing this so if he ever grows up to doubt himself and give in to the pessimistic thoughts, then he’ll have this post to remind him that at age six, he figured it all out.

Don’t ever tell my wife this or I’ll hurt you, but sometimes (continue reading…)

It turned out even better than I envisioned. Amazing work, Ransom Cosper, despite what that old Hollywood adage says; never work with kids, animals, Seattle sun or pregnant wives. (no, that’s not my prego wife. Thank doctors.) The response has been great. Please keep sharing before Dr. Dre pulls the plug. Thanks!


Here’s the original we’re spoofing: