Monday, November 24, 2008

Guilt or Guilty?

One of my guilty pleasures in life has always been the slow, methodical dunk of the Oreo cookie into a tall, cold glass of milk. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of attaining the perfect texture and saturation. Yum, Oreos… Now, my guilty pleasure is the slow, methodical dunk of the Reduced Fat Oreo cookie in an 8oz cup of cold, Lactaid Skim milk. Blah. It sucks getting old…

Why does this matter? It doesn’t. Not for any practical purpose that is. But when has this blog ever served a practical purpose? Easy now… That was a rhetorical question. However, it does make me wonder about the meaning of the word Guilty as compared to the feeling of Guilt. Here’s one definition of the word Guilt:

In psychology, as well as in ordinary language, guilt is an affective state in which one experiences conflict at having done something that one believes one should not have done (or conversely, having not done something one believes one should have done).

I don’t want to get too deep here but is it possible to feel Guilty without being Guilty? I’m not quite sure. To me it seems like you don’t necessarily have to do something wrong to feel Guilty. All you have to do is have a conscience.

I personally feel Guilty ALL the time. This could be related to my upbringing. I’m sure some of you out there have been exposed to the “Guilt Trip” once or twice, growing up. I actually feel guilty writing this. I certainly don’t want my Mom, Dad or Grandma to think that I’m referring to them. I also wouldn’t want them to think that I would imply that the Guilt I feel is the sweet and subtle styling of “Jewish Guilt”. Ok I’m probably in trouble now.

I can honestly say that I don’t do a lot of things that would make me FEEL guilty. I’m not Guilty of anything specific or terrible. I live by some pretty high but simple moral standards. I think my problem is that I’m always feeling guilty about things that I should have done but didn’t or couldn’t or forgot or whatever… I don’t remember feeling all this Guilt before I had kids. It’s hard to feel Guilty when you have no real responsibilities. Forgetting to lift the toilet seat when I was single was hardly a reason to cry myself to sleep on my pillow.

Now it’s different. Really different. When you have a wife and two daughters, you ALWAYS forget to do something. You ALWAYS forget to say something. You ALWAYS manage to could’ve, should’ve and would’ve. Sometimes all in the same day. Half the time I don’t even know what it is that I’m feeling Guilty about. Sometimes when I’m not feeling Guilty at all, I start to feel Guilty about not feeling any Guilt. So it goes…

During any given week, I see my girls in the morning before I leave for the office. Its like clock work. I get up at 6am. I tip toe through the house in the dark. I close everyone’s door so they don’t wake up. I grab a low carb Monster from the fridge. I open the gate to the upstairs (a stark but accurate metaphor to the gates of hell). I climb the stairs. I work out like a zombie, while I watch ESPN or CNBC. Flipping channels and sweating. Flipping and sweating. Then I shower. Then I get dressed. Then I eat a low sodium rice cake with reduced fat peanut butter and a half a cup of Lactaid skim milk. Oh my god. I think I just made myself cry. Sometimes I tell my wife that I feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. My mornings are my routine. But the highlight of that pathetic and equally boring routine is the time I get to sit with my girls. Usually they are all snuggled in bed with my wife waiting for me to come down. I only get about fifteen minutes or so but it always does the trick. I think they look forward to it just as much as I do.

This past week was different. I had to be at work very early on Tuesday, so I skipped my routine and snuck out of the house before anybody was awake. That made me feel Guilty. On Wednesday I was flying to Chicago on Business very early in the morning so I had planned on getting home at a decent hour on Tuesday night to have dinner with my family and say goodbye. Unfortunately I got held up at work and missed my window. By the time I got home, both my daughters were asleep. This made me feel Guilty. The next morning I once again got up way too early to see my girls. I felt so Guilty that I wrote a note to my six year old explaining to her how sorry I was that I hadn’t seen her for a couple of days and that I had to go away on business until Friday. I taped the note to the sink in her bathroom so she would see it if she actually brushed her teeth. I thought this was a sweet way to tell her that I loved her and I thought it would make her feel special to get a note from Daddy.


When I landed in Chicago, I called my wife to tell her that I wasn’t dead. This is basically the only news she wants to hear when I fly. Not, how was your flight? Not, how do you feel? Just, “I’m not dead. Talk to you later.” But before I could let her know the good news, she interrupted me and let me know that my six year old was so hysterical when she saw my note that she cried for almost an hour. She didn’t want to go to school. She didn’t want to eat breakfast. All she wanted was her Daddy. She couldn’t understand why I didn’t tell her that I was going away or why I didn’t come home the night before or why I didn’t wake her up to say goodbye. That stopped me dead in my tracks. I felt Guilty. I was Guilty. I didn’t even need a trial. Just hang me. Fuck. Why didn’t I come home the night before? Why didn’t I tell her I was going away? Why didn’t I just wake her up to say goodbye?

Life is why. Every day I try to do the right thing. I go to work for my family. I exercise so I’ll stay healthy for my family. I eat the shitty reduced fat Oreos so I’ll be fit enough to play with my kids for a long, long time. But even though I do all those things for my family, it is still the things I DON’T do that make me feel Guilty. It’s hard to be a perfect dad. It’s hard to be a dad, period. But it’s the Guilt that let’s you know that it’s worth it every single minute of every single day. You’re not always Guilty when you feel Guilt. I know this because when I came home early on Friday, I was greeted with a running hug and showered with kisses from all of my girls. I was also given a note. This is what it said:

Daddy I miss you soooo much. I miss you soooo much. I want you now. I can’t wait for you to come home on Friday. You are so funny and nice. I love my daddy.”

As if that weren’t enough. Let me leave you with this parting gift from wikiHow:

1. Obtain a box of Oreo cookies from the local grocery store or gas station. Make sure they are the original cookies and not the new vanilla Oreo's. While at the store, pick up a gallon or half gallon of milk. (2 L - 4 L) If you think you are going to spill much of the milk, go with the gallon (4 L), but if you are a neat and tidy eater, go with the half-gallon (2 L).

2. Once you have safely arrived at home, place the Oreo cookies on the table. Grab a tall glass from the cupboard and fill the glass with milk to about a half an inch (12.7 mm) from the top. This is the optimal height for dunking the cookie.

3. After the milk has been poured, open the box of cookies. Pick one cookie up gently so as not to break or chip it. Raise the cookie until it is positioned approximately 1.5 inches (38.1 mm) from the rim of the glass.

4. Lower the cookie gently into the milk until about half the cookie is submerged. If you submerge the whole cookie at once, air will become trapped inside the cookie and will not allow the milk to soak in.

5. Be patient! Do not swirl the cookie around or move it around in the milk. You could risk breaking the cookie and losing it forever in the depths of your glass of milk. After exactly 6 seconds have elapsed, slowly remove the cookie from the milk.

6. Once the cookie has been removed from the milk, gingerly raise the cookie to your mouth, careful not to break the soggy cookie in half. Place the cookie on your tongue, chew, and enjoy!!

Why is it that the Guilt always makes the Guilty pleasures feel Out-Numbered?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Follow my blog...

Ok so this isn't a real post but a plea. If you enjoy reading Out-Numbered, why not scroll down a tad and on the left hand side, click "Follow this blog". Show the world how much you love to be entertained and educated by my musings. Also, don't be shy. Leave a comment if the posting gets you going... But if you're like me and you're lazy, you can check one of the "Reaction" boxes and give your feedback in a much simpler, slothier way. Let's turn this into an open forum where we can share advice, stories and experiences about our pain in the ass kids. Or any one's kids for that matter. I appreciate you and your loyal readership. Man, that sounds stupid. Oh well. Rock on! - Jay

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Heaven No’s…

This week, in fond memory and admiration, I find my inspiration for Out-Numbered in the strong spirit of Jordan I. Lane, affectionately known to my girls as PJ.

Six year old: “Daddy?”
Me: “Yes baby.”
Six year old: “Do people go to heaven when they die?”
Me: “I think they go to some place nice.”
Six year old: “Do they go to heaven?”
Me: “I’m not sure if they go to heaven but it’s definitely a place that’s nice.”
Six year old: “When people die, can they talk to other people who are dead?”
Me: “I don’t see why not?”
Six year old: “Is PJ going to talk to everybody in heaven?”
Me: “Sure. He’s probably going to talk to a lot of people. Anybody that will listen, I’m sure.”
Six year old: “If my best friend and I die at the same time, can we talk to each other in heaven?”
Me: “That would be terrible sweetheart.”
Six year old: “Whatever. Will we be able to talk to each other?”
Me: “I suppose so. Knock on wood though.”
Six year old: “What does that mean?”
Me: “You’re supposed to knock on wood when someone says something bad that you don’t want to happen.”
Six year old: “Why do you have to knock on wood?”
Me: “Never mind.”
Six year old: “If I die, I’m going to be really chatty up in heaven. I hope all of my friends die with me so we are all there together.”
Me: “That sounds like fun…”

Death is one of those things that you don’t plan on talking about with your kids. It’s not that you want to avoid talking about it. It’s just that you kind of hope to avoid death in general. It’s kind of not fun. Sometimes you try to throw a little life lesson in there along the way. Like when you win one of those Beta fish at the local carnival. The only thing that those miserable fish are good for is teaching your kids a little mini lesson about death. It’s pretty much a lock for heartbreak most of the time. The kid is so happy when they bring that fish home. Kids don’t really think about the circumstances. Like the tiny little bowl it comes in or the freezing cold water with no filter or heater or the lack of oxygen or the insufferable loneliness the fish must feel hovering in that sad sack of a studio fish apartment. You get the point. It’s inevitable that the thing will die within a few days. So you spend this time prepping the kid for the death experience, in the hope that it will come in handy down the road. It goes something like this:

Day One

Kid: “I love my new fish.”
Parent: “Great. He loves you too.”
Kid: “I hope he lives forever.”
Parent: “Nothing lives forever sugar plumb.”
Kid: “My fish will.”
Parent: “I wish that were the case but it’s not possible.”
Kid: “I think it is.”

Day Two

Kid: “Daddy, Daddy!”
Parent: “What is it pumpkin?”
Kid: “I think my fish is dead.”
Parent: “I think you’re right baby. I’m sorry. You see, it’s…”
Kid: “Can we get a new one?”
Parent: “But…”
Kid: “I want to flush it down the toilet.”
Parent: “Ok. Get your mother.”

You see, I always thought it was going to be a heart wrenching conversation. Maybe we’d be sitting on a rock by a lake somewhere. Kind of like my “On Golden Pond” moment. I’d touch my daughter’s shoulder and tell her about the Loons. We’d both cry and then hug. Not going to happen. Kids, like adults have their own ways of dealing with things. Death is one of them. I feel kind of inadequate talking about it with my kids. I think it’s because as a parent you’re supposed to have answers for your kids. But death is not like math or science homework. It’s about sadness and mortality. It’s about suddenness and faith. It’s about God and truth. It’s easy to tell them “Grandpa was sick” or “Grandpa went to sleep and he’s not going to wake up.” But those answers aren’t good enough. Little kids can be very literal. They don’t think like we do. The last thing we want to do is have our kids develop acute phobias of sleep and sickness. We need to be honest with them. We need to be open and truthful. It’s totally ok to not have all the answers to all of their questions. Kids are perceptive by nature. They can sense when you’re pulling the wool over their eyes. It’s ok to talk to them about faith. As long as we encourage openness and let them know that it’s ok to feel different things, they’ll feel comfortable and secure.

I remember when my oldest daughter was four years old. She asked me if we could get a pet dog. I said that we couldn’t because Mommy is allergic to dogs. She then asked, “If Mommy DIES, can we get a dog?” I said, “I suppose we could but hopefully we’ll have to wait a little while.” Kids are living in the moment most of the time but that doesn’t mean they don’t understand. They just have their own way of processing things. Not every emotion will be textbook.

This past week my wife’s Grandpa passed away. When we told our oldest daughter the news, she didn’t seem very upset. We asked her if she was sad that PJ died. She said, “I’m not sad.” We asked her why? She said, “We still have Nana.” We told her that was very true and a good way to look at things. She went on to tell us that she didn’t want to care that PJ died. When we asked her why she didn’t want to care, she said, “If I don’t care, then I won’t be sad. So I don’t want to care.” We told her that it’s ok to be sad and that she can care if she wants to. There’s no reason to hide the way she feels.

Kids are so freaking smart it KILLS me. Ok, not a great choice of words but it’s true. There is so much we can learn from our children even in the most troubling situations. There is no right way to act for a child. That’s the beauty and the gut twisting experience of being a parent.

This week was tough for my wife and her family. We all miss PJ. One of the things that made it bearable for us in our time of loss was the sights and sounds of all the kids running around the house. Even in death there is always life. It’s times like these that we should cherish the spontaneous dialogue we have with our children. If we listen to what they have to say, we just might find the answers that we were so desperately hoping to provide for them.

Surrounded by the memories of a loved one and my family, this time I was truly Out-Numbered.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dreamers, Discoverers & Dynamos, Oh My…

I took the day off from work today. I was thinking about planting myself at a neighborhood Starbucks with my laptop and start this week’s Out-Numbered but then I remembered I have no such flexibility in my schedule. I have a full plate of Daddy activities to partake in. First, Music Class with the little one, then off to school to pick up the big one and finally, Ice Skating lessons to finish up the day. I’m always jealous and yet suspicious of those people sitting in the Starbucks with their laptops and sketchbooks, passing the time away. Don’t they have stuff to do? Can’t they get their shit done at home or at work? Or are they so efficient with their time that they can’t even relax with their Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino without multi-tasking? Whatever. I’ll just have a cup of Folgers. It’s the best part of waking up, right?

Last night I started to read a book called “Dreamers, Discoverers & Dynamos – how to help the child who is bright, bored, and having problems in school.” Aside from being the longest title in the history of modern literature, you’re probably thinking, “this can’t be his choice for the book of the month club.” Bingo! It’s not what I would call light reading. I’d much rather be sifting through an issue of Captain America. Some Judy Blume, “Forever” would be pretty awesome right about now. But I don’t have much of a choice. My daughter’s first grade teacher suggested that my wife and I read this Lucy Jo Palladino, Ph.D. masterpiece. I’m sure this sounds awful. But I’m not totally sure if it is just yet. Not the book, the situation I mean. It all started a few weeks ago. My wife and I began receiving notes home from our 6 year olds’ teacher. We are well aware that she’s not a perfect little angel at home so it would probably be a fair stretch to assume that she magically transforms into “Gabriel” at school. Parents can dream though, can’t they? Anyway, it seems as if she has been acting out and at times, disrupting the flow of the class. I’m not sure what constitutes “flow” in a first grade class but I can’t imagine my daughter has the almighty power to disrupt it. On second thought… Divine intervention or Act of God sounds like a fair analogy.

At first the notes didn’t concern me all that much. I remember the same exact thing happened to her in Kindergarten. Usually it was just an argument with another kid or a hissy fit of some sort but in the end, it worked itself out. You see, my oldest is, how shall I say this… authoritatively challenged. She’s basically a three-foot tall ball buster. Kind of like Danny Devito in Taxi except with Crocs and a ponytail. She’s never been a bully and she’s never been rough or violent. She’s just always had a knack for “negotiating” and “influencing” people in certain situations. Back in Kindergarten I read, “Parenting the Strong Willed Child”. I also had a nice relaxing read through, “Raising Strong Daughters”. Although those books had substantially shorter titles than the recent suggestion, it still left me pretty much clueless about how to curb my kid.

I remember when she was in day-care; she was showing very clear leadership skills early on. When she was three it was pretty clear that it wasn’t just because she was a Leo. Why does everyone always ask what sign a kid is if they are causing some sort of trouble? It’s like the kid’s personality is all preset and packaged neatly in the Leo section of the wacko store. It’s funny though because here’s what they say about The Leo:

Element: Fire (She does have a Hot Temper…)

Ruling planets: The Sun (Is the sun a planet? I thought it was a star. Shouldn’t a freaking Astrologist know this, of all people?)

Symbol: The Lion (This makes total sense. King of the jungle, right? She’s exactly like a lion. I know this is freaky but if she were a boy, her name was going to be Simba…)

Stone: Peridot (I don’t even know what that is. I’m pretty sure it’s a typo.)

Life Pursuit: To lead the way (This is pretty on the money. She could definitely lead a horse to water AND make him drink.)

Vibration: Radiant Energy (Radiant my ass. If she radiates anymore, my town will be like Chernobyl.)

Leo's Secret Desire: To be a star (She does love to sing and look in the mirror a lot. I bought her a microphone for her birthday a few years back. Aside from being a little bit “pitchy”, dawg… she’s pretty good.)

No matter what level they have attained, all Leos are trendsetters, leaders and adventurers. Their weakness is their pride. This is one sign where the saying "flattery will get you everything" applies, but be warned criticism will slam the relationship door right in your face.

Well, it’s very nice that people are able to quickly and easily tag my kid as a Leo. It’s also kind of fun to point out the similarities, but it doesn’t come with a Leo owner’s manual does it? I didn’t think so…

Back to the notes from the teacher. We decided to give the teacher a call and find out if there was anything we could do to help remedy the problem. She told us that when we come in to meet with her for Parent / Teacher conference, we could discuss it further. She also told us that maybe we could make an appointment with the school guidance counselor as well. Screw that! My kid is six years old. She comes from a solid family environment. She’s super bright. There’s no divorce, no history of mental illness and certainly no need for a guidance counselor! I was pissed. Instead of making a stink, we decided to make an appointment and approach it with an open mind. It is our child’s well being after all. I also thought that it was about time I started putting all those tax dollars to work for me.

We went in to talk to the teacher and spent a good thirty minutes with her. She apparently cleared her morning to devote the proper amount of time to the parents of her arch nemesis. It would have been like Lex Luthor meeting Jor-El or John McCain meeting Barack Hussein Obama Sr. It was kind of awkward at best but she seemed nice enough. She did that, “let’s concentrate on the positives” routine. The good news was that my daughter is extremely literate and engaged in her curriculum. She is just having a problem relinquishing her apparent lust for power. It all started to make sense once we hashed it out a bit. Ever since she was little, she’s been the star child. She was the first kid in our little family unit. She was the first grand daughter. She always loved attention and she had no problem hamming it up in front of who ever was willing to indulge her. She was extremely verbal early on and never had a problem expressing herself on any level. Heck, she even has a little sister to boss around now. As parents, we were enabling her to take control over any situation she found herself in. We always thought this was a good thing. After all, don’t you want your daughter to be assertive, out-spoken and independent? I thought I did.

The long and the short of it is that my daughter isn’t in a free for all Day Care anymore. She’s also not role-playing her leadership skills in the playroom at home. She’s in a class with 18 other children that all need attention from one poor sap teacher that is a “No!” away from a restraining order. She needs to respect that authority and learn to adapt to her new environment. How do we teach our little drill sergeant to obey the rules without crushing her big spirit? I have no idea but I’m certainly going to give it my best shot. I don’t know if I’ll find the answer in any one book but I’ll read as many as I can to try and piece together a plan. I’ll also try and use some of my own instincts, as unpolished as they may be. They tell me that the Leo and the Sagittarius are extremely compatible.

Let me leave you with a bit of encouragement I found from the book, “Dreamers Discoverers & Dynamos”:

“Your child’s Edisonian mind gives him a distinct advantage in the business world of today. He can handle abundant incoming data, and scan it for opportunities, like new markets. He can turn innovation into profit, which is exactly what he needs to succeed in our accelerated, entrepreneurial twenty-first-century workplace.”

I’m screwed. Judy Blume, where are you when I need you? This is one Sagittarius who is astrologically Out-Numbered…

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Misty Water Colored Memories...

On Saturday night, my old lady and I hit the town... Levittown that is. We met some friends at the Diner and had a quick bite to eat. The Diner is a very tricky place. It's like an island filled with the mythical Sirens and a bunch of fat people. The Sirens just sing their sweet melodies, calling you and whispering sweet Tuna Melt temptations, luring you with the waking dreams of Gyros and Mozzarella Cheese Fries with Gravy. Evil I tell you. I myself am a fan of the Triple Decker Turkey Club Sandwich. I even had a little WTF moment and partook in the Matzoh Ball Soup. Dee-lish! Also, against my better judgement, I had a Corona to boot. No I don't need no stinking glass, thank you kind sir. The white trash meter was running high indeed. Anyway, you're probably thinking, why so fancy schmancy? Wasn't it your anniversary a couple of blogs ago? Yes mine kinder (Yiddish for small children - Shout out to all the Bubbies in the house, say yeah!). Be patient. Let the story unfold. This was a special night. After the Diner, we hurried over to the theater to catch the 9:00pm performance. Well not exactly a theater. It was a local comedy club. That's a pretty huge night out for us these days. The comedy club is such an under rated activity. I've only been to them a few times but what's not to like. There's booze and hysterical people that have only one intention: to make you pee your pants laughing. My wife got the tickets a while back. Kudos to her. Such a good call. The headliner comedian was Louis CK. He's the dude from the short lived show Lucky Louie. It was on HBO for about a nano second and then got canned after a most memorable season one. In a nut shell it was like The Jefferson's with white people, cursing and full frontal nudity. I'm pretty sure that sounds like the worst piece of garbage on TV but it was truly brilliant. Season One is on Amazon. I ordered it on my phone in the car after six pints but I'm glad I did. I swear there is a point to all of this gibberish somewhere in here... Oh yes, Louis CK. One of the reasons I love his comedy is because he has two daughters. Just like me. His girls are almost the exact same age as my angels, so it's particularly amusing to hear him rant in mostly Rated R mode about the trials and tribulations of parenting. Turns out he just got divorced, so on this night, he was in rare form indeed.

I'll let you pick up the DVD and check out Lucky Louie for yourself but there is one thing he said that got me thinking pretty good for most of the night. While kvetching (Yiddish for Whining. Sorry it's a theme. I get like this every year around Shavuot) about his divorce and his kids, he warned everyone in the audience that once you have kids, your whole life is pretty much over. He went on to say that when you have kids, you can basically forget about everything that used to be fun. Forget about all the things that you used to love doing. Just forget it. Done. He also said that all that's left is to basically follow around your kids and try to enjoy the things that make them happy. But that sucks too so screw it all.

Ok, so I don't exactly make Louis CK sound hilarious but he had me going pretty good during that schtick (Yiddish for bit, piece; comic act; eccentricity). I actually agreed with him one hundred percent that night. Maybe it was the beers and the euphoria from the Triple Decker or maybe it was kinda true, sort of. I mean, seriously. I can think of about a hundred things I used to love to do but can't, now that I have kids. For instance, I love Italian Zombie movies (I know, I'm a total loser). The bloodier the better. I love the cheesy Italian accents and creepy 70's music score that accompanies it. I used to watch them all the time. I'd stay up until all hours of the night, just laying there like a total burn out, watching away. But now, I NEVER watch zombie movies. Heck, I hardly watch anything that doesn't have dialogue that rhymes. If you can't sing along with it, It's probably not playing in our house. Zombies just aren't conducive to a kid friendly environment. Although I do fantasize about decapitating Caliou and feeding his intestines to Zombies. Another thing I used to love to do was read the paper on the weekend. New York Times, Wall Street Journal, didn't matter. I'd read them all. Cover to cover. It was so damn relaxing. Chillin' on the couch all day. Maybe even drink a Bloody Mary or two. I actually think that since my kids have been born, I've slowly become illiterate. It's hard to read the paper when little kids are jumping on you, ripping the pages right from your hands. I actually think my oldest daughter used the business section to paint with this weekend. It's probably for the best any way. You don't know your losing money if you can't read about it, right? There's one thing in particular that I used to take great pleasure in doing solo. How about going to the bathroom? No, really. I need to go there. This can't only be me. I can't remember the last time I went number one or number two without some sort of meeting or kid conference happening right in front of me. This morning, I played Miss Mary Mac with my boxers around my ankles, while my youngest kid wrapped me in toilet paper like a freakin Mummy. Seriously, I felt completely degraded. I'm worried that my kids don't have a sense of smell for god sakes. I want to take them to the pediatrician just to make sure but I can't bring myself to explain my concern to the doctor. I can't even take a pee without my little one sneaking up behind me and poking her tiny pea head through my legs. "Daddy making sissy?" Holy cow, I always thought I was King of my castle but now even my throne has been taken from me.

So I think that's what Louis CK was talking about. You do kind of lose your personal space. But then... Bam! As usual, I have a moment of clarity that always seems to come on Sunday for some weird reason. What happened was, I was thinking about it all wrong. I was thinking about it from a really far out perspective. What I didn't take into consideration is all the little things that my kids make me realize every day. Let's look at the flip side for a moment.

Today I got to spend some time alone with my two year old. She's so damn cute. I sometimes can't even stand it. She might be the most polite and gentle human being on the planet. Everything is a please or a thank you or a "Yes Daddy" or "OK Daddy". I'm not sure why God sent her to us. You'd think Charles Ingalls raised her. I really can only screw her up at this point. But I digress. Anyway, we did our favorite thing. We took a walk to the Pizza place. It seems like we do it every weekend. It's a great time passer and kids LOVE Pizza. While we were sitting in the Pizza place, I noticed two kids walk in. They looked like they just got finished playing football. They were wearing their Jets jersey's and bandannas on their heads. It made me smile. I instantly thought about all the times I used to ride my bike to the local Pizza parlor with my best friend and order the "Special". The "Special" is always two slices and a small soda. Still is today. Then I realized that before I started taking these walks with my kid to the Pizza place, I had not actually sat in one in years. As an adult, I'd always order Pizza in. Most of the time our nights are filled with Sushi or Chinese food. If it hadn't been for my little Laura Ingalls, I wouldn't have remembered how much I used to enjoy ordering and eating that two slices and a soda in those Orange / Red booths. Ahhh, misty water colored memory number one. Later in the day, when both of my daughters and my wifey were all home, we went outside into the backyard to let the kids run around and play on the swing-set. Usually, this is a good time for me to relax and watch the girls have some fun but today I felt compelled to join in. I got my fat ass on the swings, hung out in the tree house and even hit the slide a few times. The kids loved it. I loved it! It made me remember the swing-set I used to have in my backyard when I was a kid. It was the aluminum kind. It made so much noise that you thought the thing was going to collapse on top of you. It was red, white and blue and covered with rust. I think it was rusty out of the box. I'm surprised my mother didn't have to administer tetanus shots to my brother and me every time we played on that thing. I don't remember a ton from my childhood. As a matter of fact I don't think I've thought of that swing-set in thirty years. There was something about running around today with my girls that triggered that one. A doozie for sure. Last but not least came the trifecta. In some kid circles if you experience all three in the same day, you are guaranteed entry into the Kid Hall of Fame. This Sunday happened to be a bye week for my Chargers, so my football viewing was quite discretionary. In the middle of watching one of the other games, I heard the girls laughing hysterically. I popped my head up to see what was going on and I noticed the little one perched on top of her older sister. She was giving her the business and good. An all out, good old fashioned tickle fight. I couldn't resist. I rolled off the couch and crawled over to them and attacked! I definitely think that tickling little kids is the single most amazing activity in the history of fun. My parents got divorced when I was about nine. I don't have a lot of fond family memories. Certainly not with my Dad around. But the one thing that sticks out in my head is the uncanny knack he had for tickling. He'd get me really good in that spot on the knee. All he had to do was apply a little bit of pressure and I would lose it. Tickling is truly good for a kid's soul. Today it was good for mine as well. One thing led to another and before I knew it, we were playing hide and seek. Man, kids can play for hours at a time and never lose their enthusiasm. Again I realized that all of these things my kids love to do were things that I loved to do!

There I was drinking beers and listening to Lucky Louie bitch about how shitty his life was because he had kids. To think I almost fell for it hook line and sinker. Maybe his problem is he spends too much time thinking about all the things he can't do now that he's a Dad and not enough time allowing himself to dig just a little bit deeper and let his kids open up a place in his heart that most of us haven't been to since, well, since WE were kids. They say it takes one to know one. I say we all have a fair amount of Kid buried inside of us. Sometimes it just takes our kids to let it out. All we have to do is listen and pay attention.

The last part of the trifecta came after bath time. All of us got into our PJ's and snuggled on the couch. My wife had Tivo'd a program I hadn't seen in ages. "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" came on the TV and I think I almost cried. My two munchkins lying on me after a long weekend, like big fluffy marshmallows. There are a lot of reasons to love being a Dad. I might not be a comedian but I certainly knew at that moment the Pros had the Cons Out-Numbered...