Posts tagged ‘parenting’

May 7, 2011

Still the Same (Bob Seger, 1978)

aCS blog: Confessions of a Trophy DadKevin Rudge


Any similarities to actual events and persons in my family are not coincidental. This story took place on Tuesday, May 12, 2009.

“The quickest way to know a woman is to go shopping with her.” ~ Marcelene Cox, a woman

Like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, we sometimes find our heart’s desire in our own backyard — or like my wife Elizabeth, there, not even an arms length away, sitting right before our very eyes . . .

Having a bit of time before having to pick Lauren up from dance class, Elizabeth stopped in a local shop. She soon found herself at the sunglass display rack with not one, but two twenty-something sales girls attending to her every shopping need.

As she tried on sunglasses, Elizabeth received varying levels of approval from Sales Girl #1 and #2 — amazingly mirroring her every comment and facial expression.

“Those look so good,” said Sales Girl #1, referring to a pair of black oversized designer sunglasses Elizabeth had on. “I saw Angela Jolie with a pair just like them.”

Elizabeth studied the glasses in the mirror. “Don’t you think they are too wide for my face?”

“Yeah, maybe, like a little too big for your face,” said Sales Girl #1, nodding her head.

Elizabeth tried on a pair of light beige framed and brown lensed glasses. “What about these?”

“Ooooh, I like those a lot,” said Sales Girl #2.

“I don’t like the the color,” Elizabeth said.

“I was going to say, except for the color,” said Sales Girl #2.  “Yes, definitely do not like the color.”

This went on as Elizabeth tried on pair after pair.  Discarded and prospective sunglasses littered the glass countertop.  She had gone through a dozen or so before picking-up a two-toned brown lensed pair made by Izod.  Elizabeth looked in the mirror and said, “Wow, I like the black and brown two-tone.”

“Oh, those are cool! Yeah, two-tone. They look fantastic on you!” said Sales Girl #2.

“Do you think?” said Elizabeth.

“Love them!” said Sales Girl #1. “Oh yeah, like they are so you.”

Elizabeth lingered at the mirror a few seconds longer before agreeing, they did look good.  She took them off to look at the price, but there was no tag. Upon further inspection she noticed a small scratch on the frame.

She wasn’t concerned, all the sunglasses on the rack were priced generally the same and the scratch was not large enough to be a show-stopper. Elizabeth showed the scratch to the sales girls and being half-Italian, asked if they could take a percentage off the listed price because of it.

Sales Girl #2 was game, “Yeah maybe. Let me ask my manager.”

She paged her manager overhead and as quick as you can say  “Discount Designer Sunglasses, Great Choices for Under $100,” the boss woman was at the display rack.

With the backing of Sales Girl #1 and #2, Elizabeth again asked for an additional discount.  After studying the glasses the Manager announced, “These are not our glasses. We don’t sell Izod. Someone must have switched them.”

Sales Girl #2 gasped.

Sales Girl #1 stood motionless, her mouth open.  “We’ve been like so scammed,”  she whispered.

Elizabeth was also surprised. Surprised she had been brushed by an apparent crime — but also that the Manager said they didn’t carry Izod.  “You do sell Izod,” she said.  “I bought a pair here before.”

“If we did, we have not sold them for a long time,” said the Manager.

While the Sales Manager lectured Sales Girl #1 and #2 about keeping a closer eye on the store merchandise — reminding them that they were not to remove the tags on the glasses when customers are trying them on — a horrific thought entered Elizabeth’s mind.

She rummaged through her bag in search of something.  It was not there.  She looked again, double checking all pockets.  It definitely was not there — her worst fear materialized.

“Oh, you know what?” said Elizabeth, interrupting the Manager.  “Those are my sunglasses.”

“Excuse me?” said the Manager.

Smiling, Elizabeth said, “The Izod sunglasses.  They’re mine.  I bought them here awhile back.”

“They’re like yours?” said Sales Girl #1.

“Yes,” said Elizabeth, now laughing. “They are mine.”

“Oh my God,” whispered Sales Girl #2.

Elizabeth had just tried to purchase her own sunglasses. She wore them into the store on her head and must have placed them on the counter, mixing them with the store owned sunglasses.

Elizabeth failed to recognize her own glasses; the sales girls and manager failed to recognize the humor in it all.

It was time to go get Lauren.  Elizabeth left the store wearing her two-tone, brown lensed, Izod shades — her heart’s desire — all along right there before her very eyes — and she didn’t have to pay a penny for it.

“Same as it ever was, same as it ever was, same as it ever was . . .” ~ Talking Heads, “Once In A Lifetime”

Kevin Rudge is a stay-at-home dad of three girls and practicing trophy husband.  He lives and writes from his home in suburban Chicago.  More of his humorous observations and confessions can be found at MyDadDoesNotWork.com.

Kevin’s Mother’s Day Note:  “My three daughters have an amazing mother, who lives her life with purpose, style, and grace — and an uncanny ability to lose things.  She is quick with encouragement and a side of fruit or vegetables.  Her love for them is infinite and her desire to cuddle — boundless.    She embraces their lives with happiness, and gives their days and memories newfangled reasons to smile . . . Happy Mother’s Day Elizabeth!”


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May 7, 2011

I made my sick kid cry

aCS blog: Mother Inferior (or, why I suck as a parent)–Connie Lissner

I made my sick kid cry.

No, I’m not a monster, it’s just that he was perched on the couch, ordering his third $4.99 pay-per-view movie in as many days, and I was beginning to feel a bit manipulated.

Lest you think I am totally clueless, he did start out with red, crusty eyes and dark eye circles and he was rather pale so I know that he had been sick. We even went to the doctor where he was given eye drops and I was scolded for letting him go to a water park (aka a giant Petri dish) where no one knows what diseases lurk around the edges of the pool. But that was day one. Even day two seemed legitimate, but by day three, I had my doubts. So, I decided to whip out my slightly rusty, legal skills and cross-examine my 11-year-old.

I started off well. I sat next to him, wiped the hair off his forehead and pretended to check for the fever that I knew was not there:

“So, I think you should go to school today,” I said very tenderly.

No response.

I stood up and blocked the TV. “Are you listening to me?” I asked.  “I said, that I think you seem a lot better so you should go to school today.”

He shifted on the couch to get a better view of Jack Black as Gulliver.
“You know, I don’t really think that you are sick enough to be staying home from school.”

Still no response.

(Here is where I start to pick up steam) “In fact, it seems that the only time that you are really sick is when I ask you to get off the couch. (Louder now) “I’m sure that if I told you that you could have a friend over, right now, you would suddenly perk up.”(Wait, it gets better…) “If you stay home today you don’t get to use the computer, or the TV or any video games, you can read a book. In fact,” (almost yelling now) you can sit in your room. If you were really sick you would be sleeping!”

I turned off the TV with a flourish and pointed toward the staircase to his room.

I knew I lost it. I mean, really? All sick kids take to their beds? What was I talking about?
I never did that – I spent the day on the couch and watched TV when I was sick just like every other kid.

So, here I am, knowing that I’ve gone too far (even the dog abandoned me by this point) when my son’s tears start to flow. “You never believe me!” he wailed.

And still I hesitated. My son is quite dramatic, you see, so usually the tears don’t clinch it right away. (I once found him lying on the floor, clutching his chest and gasping for air, howling that he couldn’t breathe in the winter coat that I insisted he wear– in February, in Chicago. So, yes, he is quite dramatic.)

But this time it was real: the shaking shoulders, the runny nose, the blubbering. He’s a good actor, but not that good.

So, after many hugs and many apologies for my outburst, I reached for the phone to call the school to let them know that he would be out for another day.  Just as I picked up the phone, it rang. It was the nurse calling from the doctor’s office to tell me that my son had strep throat and needed antibiotics.

So, like all people who suddenly feel very sick, I took to my couch to watch TV…just like my kid.

Connie Lissner is a writer, lawyer, wife and more importantly, the mother of two boys. She was once told that a child’s job is to constantly push a parent’s limits. She assures you that her boys do their job very well. She, in turn, is trying to do her job of not totally screwing them up. She navigates the slippery slope of motherhood one day at a time.

May 5, 2011

Sex Talk



 aCS Blog: Mother Inferior (or, why I suck as a parent)  Connie Lissner

I’ve been thinking a lot about sex lately – sex education that is. My younger son is heading off to health class next week where they will hear, among other things, the “sex talk.” I just don’t know if he needs any advance prep. For all I know he’s quite knowledgeable about the whole topic – he does have an older brother after all — but I feel like I am shirking my duties as a parent if I don’t at least attempt to sit him down and discuss the birds and the bees.

Why, you may ask, would this job fall to me if I have a husband who lives with us? Well, as it just so happens, I am not the only adult in the house who sucks at being a parent. Maybe that’s not fair but, at the very least, my husband sucks at talking to our boys about sex, which means that that discussion falls to me.

That doesn’t seem fair either. I’m a girl and they are boys – a boy should be giving the boy sex talk. He’s already familiar with the parts and the stuff that boys do that, thank God, I’m not privy to. But, alas, he has failed.

Let me back up a bit. I had the discussion with our oldest son by accident, if that’s possible, when he was in 4th grade. I didn’t go buy a book and pick a time to have “the talk”; we were just sitting at the kitchen counter talking about nothing when he turned to me and said: “What does the “F” word mean?”

He explained that he wanted to know what it meant because if he wasn’t allowed to use it he should at least know why. I decided that if I was going to tell him what “filed under carnal knowledge” actually meant, in all it’s incarnations, then I should start with the most popular explanation. So, I launched into a discussion about eggs and sperm and all the technical stuff.

This was met with a fair amount of “icks” and “gross” and the uncomfortable question of “Have you done it?” But, all-in-all, I thought it went well. I just slid that discussion in and when he stopped asking questions I promptly stopped talking.

Fast forward three years.

My husband and our younger son were driving somewhere when our youngest (who was then 8 years old) asked my husband where babies come from. To his credit, he started out strong. He mentioned the egg but never really got past that. You see, at the mention of an egg, our son asked, “you mean like a chicken?” and like all cowardly dads faced with a long and embarrassing discussion about sperm and oral sex and wet dreams he answered, “yes! Just like a chicken.” And that was that.

So, here I am trying to figure out a way to start this discussion. I considered bribing our 15-year-old to do it (bad idea and a total cop-out); I considered buying a book and leaving it on the kitchen counter (“oh, where did that come from? Let’s talk about it…); but, finally, I’ve decided that the best way to handle this would be to let him hear about it first and correct it later. Bad idea, total cop-out? Maybe, but I won’t know until it’s too late. It could go something like this: “yes, there is an egg…yes, just like a chicken.”

Good thing he’s my last kid.

Connie Lissner is a writer, lawyer, wife and more importantly, the mother of two boys. She was once told that a child’s job is to constantly push a parent’s limits. She assures you that her boys do their job very well. She, in turn, is trying to do her job of not totally screwing them up. She navigates the slippery slope of motherhood one day at a time.

May 4, 2011

Do You Really Wanna Know (Papercuts, 2011)

aSC blog: Confessions of a Trophy DadKevin Rudge

Any similarities to actual events and persons in my family are not coincidental. This story took place on Sunday, April 17, and Tuesday, April 19, 2011.

“You fucking son-of-a-bitch.” ~ George W. Bush, yelled at a Wall Street Journal political writer in 1986

A simple rule of thumb regarding children and swearing: if you don’t want your kids to curse, don’t ask them to.

I speak from experience.

Last week, I walked in from the garage to the shrill voices of my two youngest natives; they were restless in a hopped up on Skittles kind of way.  In the few seconds it took to slip off my shoes and enter the kitchen, I gathered from their conversation with my wife Elizabeth that their excitement had something to do with Ira — my nemesis and our 5-year-old neighbor.

Lucy, my 5-year-old was the first to acknowledge my presence.

“Daddy!”

“Hey!  What’s all the excitement about?” I said.

Jessie, my 9-year-old daughter, ran toward me yelling, “Ira swore!  Ira swore!”

Ira swore? Yawn. Unfortunately, this in itself was nothing out of the ordinary; it was not the first, nor would it be the last time this cute, curly haired, year-round Croc wearing, sailor mouthed, little boy swore.

“Oh, really?  Where?”  I said, hoping the crime took place across property lines — giving me at least some jurisdiction in the matter.

“In our backyard!” Jessie said with a hint of glee in her voice.

Excellent.  Okay, then. So, what was it?  The “a” word, “s” word, “b” word? Or maybe even the queen-mother of obscenities, the “f” word; a possibility and not unprecedented.

“What did he say?”

Jessie took a deep breath and began to answer aloud, “You . . .”

Not wanting to further pique my 5-year-old’s fascination with the forbidden alphabet words, I stopped Jessie.  “Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Whisper it to me.”

Jessie came closer as I bent down to allow for this very sensitive exchange. Jessie’s lips were lightly touching my ear as she whispered, “He said, ‘You. Fuck-ing. Son-of-a-bitch.’ ”

Oh Nelly! I wasn’t prepared to hear the actual words coming from Jessie’s mouth.  Where was the alphabet filter?  What happened to saying the “‘f’ word” and the “‘b’ word”?  Or, the more sophisticated and learned “f-dash-dash-dash” and “b-dash-dash-dash-dash” words.  Hell, a simple rhyme would have been perfectly acceptable as well.

“Jessie, don’t say the actual words!” I said, lightly scolding her.

“I didn’t! Ira did.”

“I know, but you repeated them.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Yeah, you did.  You just said exactly what Ira said.”

“But, you asked me to.”

Bucking son-of-a-stitch. The kid had a point.

“Okay, I know.  But, I expected you would have said, you know, the ‘f’ word,’ or ‘b’ word, or something, without actually saying the ‘f’ word and ‘b’ word.”

“Ohhhhhh, okay,” She said smiling.  I think realizing she had just gotten away with the kid equivalent to murder.

You would think I would have learned my lesson. Fast forward approximately 48-hours . . .

Having a twenty-minute respite from having to taxi Lauren to-and-from dance, I sat at the kitchen table eating leftover Chinese.  In the family room and out of sight, but not sound, or mind, Lucy and Jessie watched the reality dance show, “Dancing with the Stars.”

Although personally not a fan, sadly, it is one of the few family oriented shows on primetime television.  So I thought, that is until I heard a female voice — Chelsea to be exact — from the show say, too loudly and clearly, “I have to go work my ASS off.”

Whoa! Holy @#%$&! Batman!

I addressed the situation swiftly and succinctly.

What?” I said.

Now, I clearly meant this “what” as a rhetorical you-know-what-I’m-talking-about-so-we-don’t-need-to-spell-it-out what.  Unfortunately, the nuance of the rhetorical question was lost upon my five-year-old.  She felt obliged to spell it out for me.

Lucy screamed, “SHE SAID ‘I HAVE TO GO WORK MY ASS OFF!’”

Damn. Okay. Yeah, I knew that. Really.

I chuckled to myself and thanked Lucy for the clarification.  I then gathered myself and in my best stern dad voice said, “You know that’s a bad word, right?”

“What’s a bad word?” she said.

“You know, the ‘a’ word.”

Ass?

Dammit, she said it again.

“Yes, and don’t say that word.”

“Okay,” Lucy said. “But you know she said ‘ass,’ not me.”

Oh boy, there’s that hairy word again.

“I know, but you just said it.” I said.

“No I didn’t.”

“Yes, you did.”

“No. I didn’t . . .”

“Okay, I know, I know, I know. Just don’t say the word she said again. It’s not an appropriate word. Got it?”

“I know Dad.”

“Good. Thank you.”

Cheese and Rice. (Jesus Christ)

Lesson learned.

“There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on  — [pauses] — shame on you. Fool me — [pauses] — you can’t get fooled again.” ~ President George W. Bush

Kevin Rudge is a stay-at-home dad of three girls and practicing trophy husband.  He lives and writes from his home in suburban Chicago.  More of his humorous observations and confessions can be found at MyDadDoesNotWork.com.