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Friday, February 10, 2012

It's About Time

I love writing about my daughter. It's interesting for me to analyze what she does. I get to study her while I raise her. It's a nice set of goggles to see the world through sometimes. Other times, I think too much about the horrible things that might happen. That's not all bad, considering the fact that I'll be prepared to deal with anything that comes my or her way. What I do realize through all of this is that time is flying by, and I need to hang on to every second that I can.

The day I write this is my dad's sixtieth birthday. I left him a message, and I'm sure I'll talk to him in a day or two. That's a big number in some respects, but it's still young in the grand scheme of things. I'll be thirty-six this year. It'll be ten years since I hit panic mode and decided to do something that I always wanted to do. In the past ten years, I have written comic books, blogs and most of a screenplay. I have acted in a dozen movies. I have published a book, recorded a stand-up comedy CD and made music for a movie. I helped to create a popular movie review website and podcast network. I have taken time seriously. I need to continue that trend in other aspects of my life.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Hand Me Downs

I saw a picture today that made me think. It was a picture of my brother-in-law holding up a skateboard covered in Hello Kitty stickers. It's my niece's first skateboard, and he couldn't look happier in the picture. My niece is only two and a half, but he's ready to get her started. I know they'll both enjoy every second of it. It made me think about what I might hand down to Casey. Even as I write this, I'm not entirely sure.

I'm not even talking about genetic stuff. She has a sense of humor, and she's already an asshole, so I've passed that down. I'm thinking more in the realm of things we can do together. I never had that with my parents, but I have friends who have baseball with their dads, or crocheting with their moms. My girlfriend is in a roller derby league, and she wants to teach Casey how to skate. I finally gave in, and we should see the result of that soon.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

It's All SpongeBob's Fault

There was a recent report that blamed SpongeBob Squarepants for a rise in ADHD cases because the colors and images flash by too fast. I've been watching the show with Casey in marathon chunks, and I have to say that this theory is entirely bullshit. The problem isn't SpongeBob. It's what's going on around SpongeBob.

While we watch, Casey eats, plays board games, plays with her LeapPad, plays with her toys and really takes multitasking to a new level. It has nothing to do with SpongeBob. He just happened to show up at the right time. Look at the cartoons I grew up with. Woody Woodpecker was all over the place. Nobody blamed him for anything, yet I have ADHD, apparently, and so does my entire generation.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Second-Hand Boogers

The second I said the name of this blog out loud, I knew I had to use it for something. It's an odd title, but I really love it. It truly symbolizes what it is to be a parent. It shows the sacrifice you make in becoming secondary in your own life. It depicts the grossness you deal with as a parent. It's a testament to how many foreign bodily fluids will end up on you at one point or another. It is beautiful, no matter how disgusting it is. Just like your kids.

I was driving one day, and Casey sneezed. It wasn't bad, and she didn't have any danglers, which was nice. She picked her nose. She always picks her nose. I wish I knew where she gets that. I wish that last sentence couldn't be answered by looking in a mirror. Anyway, some of the time, she does it and eats it in front of me, just because it grosses me out. She gets a kick out of that. This time, she just yelled for me. She didn't know what to do with this golden nugget she just excavated from her nostril, and without thinking, I reached back and told her to give it to me. She wiped it right on my finger. That's when I said it.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Twas the Night Before the Night Before Christmas

...And all through this dump
If you couldn't enjoy this, you must be a chump
The kid's eyes were glued to old Spongebob Squarepants
As dreams of Dos Equis in my head would dance

My girlfriend was nestled up snug on the couch
And I in my chair with my usual slouch
As I scratched my head under my brand new Bears cap
I looked at the gifts and said, "Let's open this crap."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Bug

There's something that I've wondered about for some time. I've been curious to know whether or not Casey would ever want to be an entertainer. It's not something I'd ever push her to do. In fact, I'd me more inclined to discourage it, but I wouldn't really do that either. I just wish I knew if she had that bug. Today was her first live performance in front of an audience, and I think I may have gotten my answer.

Her school put on a small Christmas show. Kids from three age groups learned several carols and even learned sign language for one of them. Casey sang one of the songs for me earlier in the week, but it was a little under her breath. There's no doubt that she has stage fright. I did at one point, but the difference between her and me is that once I'm on stage, I open up. She completely shut down today.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Muppets, Take Two

I waited a day for this one on purpose. Sure, this is late again, but I really wanted to follow up on the whole Muppet thing. As you may have read before, Casey came so close to being able to go to the movie, and she screwed it all up with bad behavior. I decided to extend the offer once again as a reward. Look, I just really want to go see it, and I don't need to look like an asshole going by myself.

It's seems to be working this time around. The threat of missing out on hilarious socks with eyeballs is very real. It happened once, and now she's not taking chances. Once again, a moment of levity went a little too far. I know it wasn't intended, so I gave her the chance to apologize. This time, she did it. I suppose losing out once was enough for her.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Collateral Damage

Punishment is a rough thing to deal with. It's not fun for me, and it's not fun for Casey, but it is a necessity. I handle it fine, but I prefer to not have to deal with it. I'd rather have a nice incident free day with her than have to find ways to lay down the law. I'm never too harsh, but I will raise my voice. Her mom will spank her, but I really don't have a use for that. My tone is all I need.

This is all fine and good, but now things get taken away when the attitude rears its ugly head. I will freely admit that my daughter can be an asshole, but it's genetic, so it isn't completely her fault. I don't mind taking away some things, like treats. So, she doesn't get ice cream today. No big deal. Maybe she doesn't get to watch a DVD. I can live with that, too. That means I get to watch something I want. Now we're at the point when I have to take away events, and sometimes it's something I want to do. That sucks.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanks, Kid

I'm never shy about how thankful I am for my daughter. I've said it a million times. I love being around her, even when she's being an asshole. Those are the moments when I know she's mine. Well, there's that and the DNA test, but let's not get into that right now. I just want to appreciate what I have. I often call Casey the bright silver lining on my darkest cloud. Let's face it, the single dad role is rough. Rough or not, it's always worth it.

I don't usually break down the little things that make our relationship great, but I will now. I'm thankful for the hug I get when I pick her up from school, building sand castles, getting licked on the cheek instead of kissed and the hilarity that she got me, high fives, making popcorn, Rapunzel, wagon rides, Tuesday zoo day, the giraffe song, defiant time outs, back to back carousel rides, devil horns, clean baby, Life cereal and a ton more.

I have plenty to look forward to, but I appreciate what I have right now. I hope you can all do the same.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Kids' Show Breakdown: Godzilla (1978)

When Casey was only a few months old, I took her to her first comic convention here in Phoenix. She came home with a nice souvenir, a small stuffed Gojira. It became one of her favorite toys, and it usually rode in the car with her. I would walk it toward her and make a crunching sort of stomp noise and pretend he was biting her nose. To this day, she loves that toy, so it was only natural to start exploring the movies.

When we searched Godzilla on Netflix to watch our first monster movie together, an interesting thing came up in the queue. It was a Hanna-Barbera cartoon version of Godzilla from 1978. I'd seen the post-Broderick version of the cartoon once, and it was bad, though also streaming on Netflix. Not that Hanna-Barbera has ever made a shitty cartoon, except for about eighty percent of their catalog, but we decided to watch it anyway.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Crank It Up

There's really nothing better than having your three-year-old scream defiantly in your face, except for when you knock that kid's dick in the dirt. Yes, I know she's a girl, but that's too good a phrase to pass up for a moment like this. Today was the first time this happened. It won't be the last. I've been ready for this battle since before she was born. There can only be one Highlander. Wait a second. Too far.

One of the best conversations I had with Casey's mom was short and simple. I asked, "What are you going to do when she's thirteen and she hates you."

"That won't happen."

"Really? You hate your mother sometimes."

"That's different!"

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I Miss You Too

No, this isn't about my missing a week. I do appreciate my readers, believe me, but this is about my daughter. My heart was broken for the millionth time. I was driving Casey to her mother's place, and she and I started talking about me missing her when we weren't together. I told her that I missed her very much and that I was sad when I didn't get to see her. Casey started bawling.

This was no mild lip out eye watering. She was howling. It was horrible. I reached back and held her hand. I asked her what was wrong, and she said "ow." Ow, but nothing was really hurt. I knew exactly how she felt. When I was about nine or ten, we had a Great Dane that had to be put to sleep. She was old and sick. We all went to the vet. I was in the back seat with the dog, and her paws were across my lap. I kept petting her, knowing what was about to happen. I couldn't hold it back anymore. I just started crying. When I was asked what was wrong, I said that the dog's paw scratched me. I was just sad.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Can't Be Here Forever

One thing I always want my daughter to know is that I'm always here for her. She's young, but I think she's aware of that. If I don't see her, I call her on the phone almost every day. In the last few days, I've had some trouble. It started with muscle pain in my right arm. It eventually surfaced in my left, and then my legs. Last night, I started to feel numbness in my arms. They were not functioning well this morning. I needed two hands to turn a doorknob. I could barely open my coffee can.

Without health insurance, it's not easy to see a doctor. I went to work, which took me two and a half hours longer than it should have. During that extra time, I started to think, "What if I'm stuck like this?" Now, obviously, I can type. That hasn't been a problem. My legs feel better, and my right arm is a little better. I was able to turn a doorknob with my left a short while ago, so there's improvement. It's still not perfect, but it's something. It also, unfortunately, makes me worry.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

She Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth

I'm a guy who believes in free speech. I'm not talking about yelling fire in a crowded theater or other such nonsense. That's not free speech. That's mayhem. I don't care how funny those commercials with Dean Winter are, mayhem isn't a good thing. I believe that a person should have full use of the English language or any other language he speaks. This makes me think about the age restrictions we put on swearing. I don't know about you, but sometimes nothing feels better to me than uttering a well placed "fuck" or "cunt."

I know some of you are thinking that this is a blog about my daughter, and it should be wholesome. Let me remind you that this is a blog about MY daughter, and I come from the school of comedy. Every word has its own special meaning when used properly. It can emphasize a sentence or stand alone. It can make an entire conversation meaningful. When you string these words together, you can create magic, music and poetry. Words define the essence of being. That's why I won't limit what my daughter can say.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Add Motivational Speaker to the List

A dad has many jobs. I'm sure I've been through them at one point. Teacher, protector, chef, monster hunter. I've also been a cheerleader for my daughter. I praise her when she accomplishes things. I show her how proud I am when she does something nice for someone else. Today, I took a little different spin on that job. I had to be a motivational speaker.

I'm not big on taking her out for fast food, but about once a month I take her to get chicken nuggets and fries. It can be at any of the fast food places. Today, I took her to one down the street that has a play area. We sat near the crazy plastic jungle gym that resembles a Habitrail for children. It has no steps. Instead, there is a tube with a net for the kids to climb. We faced this beast once before and lost.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

But Dad Let's Me Do It!

When a kid is raised in two different houses, there are bound to be two different sets of rules. For the most part, Casey's mother and I are on the same page. We picked out her daycare together. We're both on board with her learning to swim (drownings are common in Arizona with a pool in every back yard). We both believe in signing her up for classes that will help her learn things and become more social, such as dance or sports. When Casey is in trouble with one of us, she's in trouble with both of us.

That's all great, but there are things that we don't always agree on. Her mom feeds her more processed food than I like. I know we can't avoid it completely in the real world, and yes, that means I don't see the vegan lifestyle as being relevant. Sorry, but tofu tastes like a hunk of oatmeal that somebody sucked the flavor out of. On top of that, when you're flavoring your food to taste like meat, you're just lying to yourselves. The point is that sometimes you can make homemade meatballs and save a ton of sodium. That's good for a kid whose dad suffers from kidney stones. I don't want her to suffer through that.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Taking Care of the Old Man

My job as a dad is simple. I have to take care of my daughter. The definition of that is not so simple. That could mean many things. It means dressing and feeding her. It means playing games with her. It means teaching her things. It even means wiping her on the toilet. It's not all fun. I do a lot for her, and it can be pretty tiring. I think she knows that.

I know it seems strange, but I get the sense that Casey thinks she needs to take care of me. She shares her food with me. When we hide from monsters in my bed, it's an excuse for me to lay down and rest. She seems to get that, because she tucks me in and kisses me on the head. She even tries to make me laugh sometimes, and she's always successful. She's been trying to do that since she was only a few months old. I'm not kidding. I remember getting her settled in her bouncy chair one day. She looked me in the eyes and made a goofy move that made me laugh. When I laughed, she smiled. Mission accomplished. It struck me immediately. This kid had a sense of humor.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Already Lying About Her Age

I'm pretty sure every parent does this. I know that I was twelve at the movies until I was fourteen. That saved my dad three bucks at a clip. I just bought a yearly membership to a local aquarium for my daughter's birthday present. It's one price for adults, and another for kids aged three to twelve. When I walk into this place tomorrow, she'll still be two. Thirty bucks in my pocket. Excellent.

Why do we do this? I'm not sure. On some level, I feel like I'm beating the system. I like to justify it by thinking that I can buy Casey fifteen boxes of her favorite Life cereal with the money I save. I'm doing it to feed my kid. Reason enough. I want to feel bad about it, but I really don't. I do what I have to do in order to survive and to make it look to Casey like there is no struggle. Not every parent can do that.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

She's Three Already?

I've been hearing that often lately. Three. It's a big number. Today was supposed to be her birthday, but due to a person beyond my control, Casey was born on good old 9/11. It's okay. I'm sure the kids born on Pearl Harbor Day had to deal with some headaches for the first few years. To me, it's a way to put a bright spot on a dreary day. It's what she tends to do anyway. I always say that my darkest cloud brought me the brightest silver lining.

It hasn't been easy. That's a definite. I suppose it never really is. Four of my friends became parents this year, and each couple has their own fears and struggles to deal with. In a way, it's exciting to see them learn the way I am. In the end, they'll all be the best parents that their kids could ever hope for.

I don't need to make this long or drawn out. It's a simple thing. I'm lucky. I have something special. She's smart. I guarantee that she'll outsmart me by the time she's eight, and I'll be proud when it happens. She's funny. She knows how to make me laugh, and her timing isn't too bad. She's beautiful. That means I will have a crazy eye twitch once she's in high school. It's worth it. She's the best part of me, and I'm looking forward to year four.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Kids Movie Breakdown: Sleeping Beauty

One thing kids tend to do is watch the same movies over and over. I think it's because their worlds are so small that when they like something, they stick to it, and they don't realize that there's so much more out there. I remember my sister doing that. I swear, if I ever have to sit through Big Business or Kevin Costner's Robin Hood again, I may slash throats. She may as well have watched those movies on a loop.

Casey has a few standards in her movie watching holster. Shaun the Sheep, Wallace and Gromit and a few Disney flicks top her list. One of the Disney favorites is Sleeping Beauty. She has claimed more than once that this is her favorite movie. I saw it a few times as a kid, but when you watch it a dozen or more times in a few short months, you really start to notice things.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Accidental Parents

Some people decide to become parents. I don't mean that they say, "You know, I'd like to have kids one day." No. They PLAN to become parents. They schedule sex around ovulation. They take prenatal vitamins and exercise and eat specific foods and do all kinds of things that most people would find annoying in the attempt of having a baby. I'm sure this excites every potential father. There's nothing like scheduled mechanical sex that has a life changing purpose behind it. Oh, boy!

These are people that forget about the fun part of making a baby. There are some people that plan to have kids and just let it fly. If it happens, it happens, and you'll have fun trying. That sounds like a good way to go. If I was a person to plan that sort of a life event, that's the way I'd want to handle it. I'm sure it's a lot more fun, and it probably helps the couple's sex life in many ways.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Fight for Your Right to Potty

I'm pretty sure that the most glorious moment in a toddler's life is when he or she is potty trained. It's not necessarily glorious for the toddler, but it is for the parents. I can't tell you how happy I am that Casey is potty trained before she turns three. I have to give most of the credit to her school. I don't think we'd be this far along without them. Her mother and I really had no idea where to begin. One day after school, one of her teachers told me to start sending her to school in underwear. I didn't know what to say, so I agreed.

At first, it's rough. There will be accidents. They will happen at home, in stores, in bed and even when you're so close to home that you almost... oh no. That happened once in the elevator of my apartment building. We we're almost home after getting groceries. She screamed out, "Daddy, I have to go peepee!" She didn't even finish the sentence before the pee hit the floor. There were several moments like that until I had the sense enough to just make her go every couple of hours.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Kids Show Breakdown: Blue's Clues

I like shows that introduce problem solving to kids. While they need to learn reading, writing and math, it's also good to know how to get yourself out of a jam. It's something I'm usually pretty good at doing. I'll give an example. Many years back, I was part of a group that would bowl once a week. Actually, Ken and I would drink a case of beer in the parking lot (30 cans of Busch or Michelob Golden, a whopping $6), wait for Chris to show up in his Suburban, drink his beer, wait for the rest of the crew to show, and go bowl $1 games all night while I made fun of everyone's love of Metallica, who had just taken their nose dive into a shitty little album that was appropriately titled Load.

Anyway, Chris' family left town one weekend, and he had us over for a party. His room was in the attic. Ray, well known for bowling a flying strike on the wrong lane, was coming down the stairs and fell, putting his ass through the wall. Chris panicked. People were freaking out. Not me. I silenced the room. All eyes were on me as I pieced the situation together. I finally spoke.

"Here's what you do..."

Thursday, July 28, 2011

It's Your Fault

There are plenty of parents living their worst nightmare in Norway right now. Just thinking about burying my daughter is causing me to choke down tears. I know people who have done it, and I can't imagine that any of them will ever completely recover. I don't know how I'd get to my next day. I suppose if I had to deal with a situation like the parents in Oslo, there would be enough anger and pure hate to keep me fueled. Norway's longest prison sentence is twenty-one years, and when Anders Breivik walked out of those prison gates after that minuscule period of punishment, he'd see me waiting and ready to serve to coldest dish of revenge there ever was. I can be angry at Anders all I want, but I'm also mad at Jens Breivik and Wenche Behring. Why? Because those are his parents. This is their fault.

Wait a second. Jens and Wenche didn't pull that trigger. They didn't kill any of the 90 plus victims. No, they didn't, but absolving them from blame is like absolving the Catholic church of any responsibility for their priests. They created this monster. They raised him, or didn't. I don't know how you want to see that. Jens lost contact with his son when he was a teen. How do you just lose touch with your own teenage kid? Believe it or not, I'm about to sympathize with a horrible killer. I know, I know, but just hear me out.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Toughest Part

Every time I say goodbye to her, it's with a hug and kiss and an "I love you." As she sits in the car before her mother pulls away, I smile and wave, and we even blow kisses to each other. As soon as the car is gone, I let out a heavy sigh, and I hold back a few tears as I walk back to my apartment. They're man tears, dammit! Just those Indian crying about litter tears. For my little knucklehead, I don't mind. I miss her as soon as she's gone. You would too.

That's the thing about being a dad. You can't show that stuff to the world. By myself, I let it out now and again. It really sucks. I'm not one for touchy feely talk about your hopes and dreams kind of shit. I know that's how we have to be. Our kids need some sort of example of strength. Sometimes I struggle to keep that stuff in when my daughter's around. One day she told me I was her best friend. I thanked her and gave her a big hug so she wouldn't see my eyes starting to water. Sometimes she just catches me off guard.