August 15, 2011

Note to Dads Who Have Daughters: Get Used to Fashion Shows

Dads have a lot of responsibilities. We set examples. We squash bugs. We coach third. We check the closets for monsters every night and assure our kids that it's safe to go to bed. These duties earn us love, admiration and respect around the house. They also earn us bonus points with our wives who are afraid of bugs—especially furry ones with dozens of legs and a face like this.

When you have girls, though, your responsibilities shift a little bit. Sure, you still coach third and check for monsters. But you also sit patiently while your daughters file your cuticles. You let them spend hours brushing your face with make-believe makeup and put bows in the few hairs you have left atop your head.

Basically, you let them make you look pretty.

Some days you aren't up for the physical demands of Beauty Parlor (if you've ever let a little kid brush your face with anything, you know what I mean), so you offer up the eight words that make every little girl's face light up brighter than an iPad: "Why don't you put on a fashion show?"


The other night my wife went to the New Kids on The Block concert (and by "other night," I do not mean "1989") and I was home alone with my two eldest daughters. I mentioned those eight magical words and, before I knew it, the girls had torn through the closet and found their bag of costumes. Tiaras, dresses and monkey hats now blanketed the room. Cinderella-slipper landmines hid under articles of clothing, quietly plotting to puncture my feet. They politely asked me to leave the "backstage area" because I wasn't allowed to watch as they chose their outfits (though I was summoned occasionally to help button and zip things). So I sat patiently in the "showroom," which also moonlighted as my bedroom. This was convenient because the Reds were playing on the TV in the "showroom," which gave me something to do while I waited. 

After 20 minutes, I finally heard a little voice come from the hallway.

"We need music Dad!"

I leaned over and hit our CD-playing clock radio and the CD started to play the song that had doubled as our alarm-clock-wake-up-song for the past 3 months.

"A-wee-muh-way, a--wee-muh-way, a-wee-muh-way, a-wee-muh-way, a-wee-muh-way, a-wee-muh-way, a-wee-muh-way, a-wee-muh-way."

The girls made their way into the "showroom," dressed in a lovely mishmash of princess outfits, dainty hats and their mom's flip flops. I had to announce each one of them as they walked in, like models on a runway—which, admittedly, was difficult to do with one eye watching the Reds blow the lead.

"How do we look?" they asked.

"I've never seen anything more beautiful in my—OH MY GOD, THEY ARE BRINGING IN THAT GUY? THAT GUY?! HE STINKS! GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF YOUR DIAPER YOU STUPID STUPID MANAGER!" Then I paused. Why was I wasting my time watching these bozos on TV when I had two little girls smiling, clamoring for my approval and attention? I quickly turned off the game and grabbed my camera, snapping glamour shot after glamour shot.

"You two girls look great. Why don't you change again and I'll snap more photos and then send them to your Mom. I know she'll love seeing them too."

For the next half hour they changed outfit after outfit, matching doctor scrubs with mouse ears, purses with baseball jerseys, fancy shoes with mermaid attire, and more. I captured all of them on my phone, documenting the event. The show finally came to a close and we all sat in the bed to look at the pictures.

"Want me to send these to Mom?"

"YES!!!!!!!!!!!!" they said. And yes, it did last for exactly twelve exclamation points. I hit a few buttons on my complicated phone, yelled at it and, after a few swears, the pictures finally sent.

"Do you think Mom will like them?" they asked.

"I think Mom will love them," I said.

My phone buzzed. My wife had responded, not with words, but with a picture of her own. And, telling from the smiles on my girls' faces, they loved it more than any response.

Apparently, 100 miles away at the New Kids concert, my wife and her sisters were also playing Fashion Show.

* Subscribe to The Life of Dad via email or RSS feed!
* Also, follow me on Twitter @BrianKlems. I promise to occasionally say funny things.

August 5, 2011

Why Twister is a Dangerous Game for Dads

Twister is a dangerous, dangerous game. Don't let the bright colors, the fun spinny do-hickey and the smiles on your kids' faces deceive you. Don't let the fact that it doesn't ask you to do impossible tasks like draw pictures or spell words or add up all those confusing little dice dots make you think this is an easy game. Oh no sir. Twister is the type of game that gets the person who bought it for your kids banned from your house for 3 years (I'm looking at you, Jennifer Brogan).

What's that? You don't believe me? You're thinking to yourself, "But Twister is a game made for kids. How could it be dangerous?"

Let me tell you the tale of an incredibly handsome Dad who, despite having the flexibility of an aluminum softball bat, thought playing Twister with his daughters was a good idea.

It was a dark and stormy night and I had to find a way to keep the girls entertained. They were tired of sitting on the couch watching me watch SportsCenter—which I didn't understand because that sounds like a very fun thing to do. So I decided to check the hallway closet, which is filled with coloring books, sticker bags and a dust-covered metal structure that my wife commonly refers to as a "vacuum cleaner." The top shelf is dedicated to games and that's the only thing that had captured my girls' interest.

When they first asked me to play Twister, I thought, Sure! Sounds Fun! After all, my childhood memories of the game were positive. I remember a time when I was young and could reach right foot red, left foot blue, right hand yellow and left hand green. I'd twist myself into a pretzel and, after winning, I'd chug a purple-flavored Little Hug fruit barrel in celebration. It was spectacular.

Now I know it'd been a few years since I'd played, but I thought I was still qualified to compete based on this criteria:

Athletic?1 Check!
Likes games? Check!
Knows the difference between my right hand and my left hand? Check and Check!

After explaining the rules, the girls and I were ready to play. We designated my wife as the official spinner and DJ. She appreciated this because, while she wouldn't say it, she was certainly afraid of losing to me. Or of me copping a feel. Or probably both.


Two of the three of us successfully placed our right feet on yellow. The other, and I'm not mentioning any names, decided to dance instead.2


My hand moved over to blue. Just like the good old days, I was proving my Twister dominance. This was easy.


This would be the last call of the game. It may have had something to do with my knee making a loud popping sound. It may have had something to do with my wife checking Facebook on her phone and forgetting that she was the DJ. Though the real reason we stopped the game was because only one of us was still playing Twister. The other two were playing "Let's Ride Dad Like a Horse." This game, as I've learned, is a subset game of Twister where the kids kick, poke, strangle, elbow, claw and bite their way to the top of you and then demand you prance around the house and deliver them to other rooms. Now I don't remember this part of the game from my childhood, but my wife, who broke from her Facebook voyeurism to laugh at my pain, said it was "most definitely part of the rules." She also asked the girls to ride me into the kitchen and get her a sandwich.

And that, my friends, is why you need to stay away from Twister. Or at least come equipped with a saddle and kneepads. Otherwise you'll spend days limping around the office, having to explain to coworkers that you hurt yourself on the craziest sexcapade weekend of your life.3 Other Dads will limp over to you and give high fives in support. They will whisper to you.

"Oh yeah. But it wasn't all bad."
"How so?"
"Well…I won."

Unfortunately I didn't have purple-flavored Little Hug fruit barrel to help me celebrate.4

I think being beer-league softball player qualifies me as "athletic." It also qualifies me as "awesome."

2 Spontaneous dancing is a common side effect of playing games at Klems Manor. Other side effects include excessive rock-bumping and making animal noises.
3 No one will believe this, but most will at least admire your lie.
4 Are you crazy? I'm an adult now. I celebrate with double shots of Vodka. 

* Subscribe to The Life of Dad via email or RSS feed!
* Also, follow me on Twitter @BrianKlems. I promise to occasionally say funny things.