Take your kids to McDonald’s, or else…

This is what I get for not taking my girls out to McDonald’s for lunch:

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Yeah, book-case emptied, stuffed animals flung, toys and their respective parts strewn about. All because I didn’t take my girls to McDonald’s.

Well, that might not be entirely correct…

This whirlwind struck while I was making lunch. That would be a home-cooked soup and handmade egg salad sandwich lunch. So technically, this is what I get for making my girls lunch. If we had gone to McDonald’s, someone else would’ve worked on the food. I would’ve monitored their behavior and the storm would’ve never touched down here.

Now this isn’t some rant post about the destructive nature of a toddler (times 2). This is more of a notice to new Dads and potential Dads-to-be. The point of this post is to send home this message: sometimes you need to be away, you need to leave your kids “on their own”.

That’s right, sometimes you need to go downstairs to change over the laundry. Sometimes you need to hole up in a room to clean. Sometimes you need to go to the bathroom…without an audience. Sometimes you need to prepare a meal. So figure out how to do it wisely. Make sure rooms are as safe as they can be (like using outlet covers). Make sure you know the sounds of “normal” kid activity, and stay aware of silence (the telltale sign that something is going on). Try organizing an activity before stepping away. Try making a game where you can pop in and out of the room so you can keep tabs, but still accomplish a task in another area. And for goodness sake, try to keep your absence to an absolute minimum.

The seasoned parents out there will recognize that this room mess was not that bad. In fact, three minutes later, with the help of a few choice big-boy curse words and we had this:

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So again, to the new Dad or soon-to-be Dad, some parting wisdom: keep the messes in perspective, they come with the territory. So much of parenting is a juggling act, just keep trying and learn from the day’s adventures. And sometimes take the kids out for lunch.

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Random Thought for Thursday: Nose Hair

“Daddy, when I get older will I have hair come out of my nose?”

Sweetie asked me this question from the back seat and I immediately felt that I had to handle it delicately. She had been quiet prior to the asking, so I knew it was something she was thinking about. I didn’t want her thoughts to turn into worries.

Everyone knows that everyone has hair in their nose, right? Rather, everyone who is not 3 years old know this. I couldn’t tell her she already had hair in her nose. What if I made her feel silly for asking the question? What if this fact of nature freaked her out?

I am a fairly hairy guy (good Eastern European genes there), and I happen to be approaching 40. So I am losing hair where I want to have it (on my head), and growing it where I don’t want it (ears, eyebrows and nose). Any guy who is getting older can tell you this happens. So I know half of the population does grow more nose hair as they age. But is it the same for women?

 While I was weighing the best way to answer Sweetie’s question, she piped up:

“If I don’t, then all the dust and garbage and stinky houses will all get in.”

Yes, you read that right, dust and garbage and stinky houses. Maybe this was not such a concern after all. Maybe this was just part of their lesson plan of the week: learning about the senses.

“Yes, honey, I imagine you will.”

Question answered, on to the next one.

What can I ask next?

What can I ask next?

It’s the principle

“Ain’t the size [of the scratch] that’s in question here, it’s the principle.”

I was reminded of this quote when Sweetie made some bad decisions at a recent play date. She decided to bring a toy home from her friend’s house, but didn’t bother asking. That’s right – THIEF!

Obviously “life lessons” take all shapes and come from all places. We all know it’s cliché, but yes, even Hollywood can capture a lesson on the big screen. The above quote is from Pharaoh Joe, a character from George Lucas’ movie American Graffiti. American Graffiti is one of George Lucas’ earlier, sometimes overlooked, films. Set in 1962, it is Lucas’ ode to the 60’s, when he was a teenager living in California. The movie draws on his experience and tells a coming of age story involving girls and growing up, cruising and cars.

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One of my favorite scenes shows a heavyhearted Curt (Richard Dreyfuss) brooding in front of an appliance store. He’s sitting on a car fender staring at the window display televisions and listening to the Wolfman Jack radio program.

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Curt is ruminating about a mysterious woman in a white 1956 Thunderbird (Suzanne Somers). They shared a moment when their cars were cruising side-by-side and she looked over at him and smiled.

Who's that lady?

Who’s that blonde?

He’s so caught up in his infatuation (and singing along with the show) that he doesn’t notice three guys walk up on him until they join him at the car.

What are you doin', creep?

What are you doin’, creep?

There is some intimidating banter made by one of the guys, who is Joe (Bo Hopkins) the leader of the Pharaohs car club. He explains that Curt is sitting on a car owned by a friend of the Pharaohs. Curt tries to casually slide off the fender and walk away, but he’s stopped so Joe can show him a scratch across the hood. Curt tries to clean it off with his finger and some spit (very technical repair) and plays the scratch off as being not so big. And then the quote: An obviously frustrated Joe looks at the scratch and declares, “Ain’t the size that’s in question here, it’s the principle”.

Let’s get back to our crime. Sweetie’s friend, code name “Kevin” (he likes Minions) invited us over to play on a vacation day. We had originally met Kevin and his mother, Momstar, over a year ago, but it wasn’t until Sweetie started school that we re-connected with them and learned that they a few blocks away. The day went fine, with the kids making a mess and a racket and generally playing like kids. It wasn’t until we were loaded in the car (“we” also includes the Cricket) that Sweetie pulled a traffic cone out of her pocket. Given that Kevin’s has his train table near the door, I knew she had sticky fingers. Note that the cone is maybe one inch tall, and she has a Duplo cone just like it. So it’s not the size of the stolen toy in question here, it’s the principle.

You stole THIS?!?

You stole THIS?!?

I took the cone away from her and told her that she would be returning it to Kevin the following day after school. I figured this gave her a full day to stew in her guilt. And she immediately started peppering me with questions about the incident. When we got home I sent a “Thank you” text to Momstar, and informed her of the stolen toy. She laughed it off, but she backed my plan for a public return and apology. The next day at pick-up we stepped off to the side and Sweetie returned the toy with no hesitation. Kevin accepted his toy without any drama, and in a matter-of-fact tone told Sweetie, “Next time just don’t take any of my toys home with you.”

Despite feeling infuriated by Sweetie’s theft, I stayed cool throughout the entire incident. When I discovered the toy, I explained that you don’t steal from your friends. I told her that was a sign of disrespect and was not nice. Momstar supported how I chose to address the situation, and again, all was calm. I am well aware that children take things, and getting caught is often the best way they learn not to steal. All In all, I think I made good use of this teachable moment. In American Graffiti, Curt takes a ride with the Pharaohs, and through their misadventures they become friends. While my approach was not as cool as cruising around town in a chop-top ’51 Merc, I think Sweetie got the point. And I know it’s better to collect friends like Kevin who share their toys versus ones that steal quarters from pinball machines for gas money.

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