April 26, 2013

The Stress Teasing Causes Parents

Like a lot of young kids, I used to get picked on in grade school. I know it’s hard to believe considering how awesome I am (I mean, I’m not insinuating that I’m as awesome as, say, George ClooneyI’m too humble for that ... though a Brad Pitt comparison isn't out of the question). But back in my younger days, a time so long ago that our video games systems used controllers with one direction pad and only two buttons (how did we survive!), I would catch grief. I was always one of the shortest in my class. I never got into trouble. I did well academically. And the teachers liked me.

Just lather up that “Kick Me” sign and glue it my back.

To be fair, I have a lot of wonderful memories too (and I graduated from grade school with several friends). But getting made fun of had a long-lasting affect on me, one I didn’t shake until adulthood. It’s something that I pray my own kids never go through.

Which bring us to the other day: Recently I was invited to help with my eldest daughter’s grade school Walk-a-Thon fundraiser. I agreed to help chaperone because 1) I like doing helpful things, 2) I completely underestimated how far they planned to walk and 3) my wife implied there’d be post-walk bacon treats, which I later found out was a ruse. Most important, though, it gave me an opportunity to spy see my daughter in action with her Kindergarten classmates.

As we left the school and headed out on our journey, I, along with the teachers and other chaperones, guided the kids along the path and reminded them of the rules:

·      Stay on the sidewalk
·      Stay out of people’s lawns
·      Wave to people in cars who honk at us
·      Don’t wave to people in cars who honk at other cars
·      Don’t mimic hand gestures from people in cars who honk at other cars
·      Wipe snotty noses on your own sleeves

My daughter, the sweetheart that she is, held my hand for the first 10 minutes of the walk. I’d like to think it was because she loved me, but in truth, I think it was because she forgot her gloves and it was pretty cold outside. I had forgotten mine too, so it was a bonus. Eventually, though, she broke away from my grip and trotted off with her friends. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but they were all giggling and smiling and having a good time. This truly warmed my heart (but not my handsseriously, it was freaking cold).

I talked with the teacher for a bit, who was very complimentary of my daughter, telling me how well she’s doing in class. I talked with the priest, who assured me that with enough prayer I’d be able to survive the walk even if there were no bacon treats at the end of it. I even chatted with several other Kindergarteners, all of whom claimed to be Spider-Man. This was ridiculous, of course, because secretly I am Spider-Man. (Keep that on the down-low, though. Don’t want to be mobbed by fans.)

About halfway through the walk I noticed my daughter was still laughing with her friends. I slowed down a bit to try and overhear what they were laughing about. I finally got close enough to hear what my daughter was saying to her friends.

“Don’t walk behind my dad. He’s stinky! And he has big feet too!”

My own little Judas was selling me out. She and her classmates weren’t making fun of each other. They were making fun of me. That’s how they were bonding. I know they were just being silly, but a little part of methat five-year-old with the lame video game remote controlwas crushed.

I contemplated saying something. I also contemplated giving them something stinky to really complain about. I contemplated a lot because I wasn’t quite sure how to handle this situation. On one hand, I don’t want her poking fun at others. On the other hand, we poke fun at each other all the time at home. If only I had a third hand that could tell me what to do.

That’s when the third hand I needed arrived: It was my daughter’s and she slid it back into mine.

“Daddy, I was just kidding. I know you’re not stinky. I love you.”

And with that, my worries started to evaporate. I know over the years most kids get heckled some. It’ll probably happen to my kids too. I just hope I’m able to teach my girls how to deal with it and not let it bother them, and how to be compassionate toward others and treat them with kindness. I can’t control the future but I can sure do my best to guide my kids on the path to be good human beings. And that’s what I intend to do.

“But you do kind of have big feet.”

If only there were post-walk bacon treats to drown my sorrows in. 

Oh Boy, You're Having a Girl
(A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters)

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* Also, follow me on Twitter @BrianKlems. I promise to occasionally say funny things. 

April 19, 2013

Passive Aggressive Lunchbox Notes (For Moms & Dads)

There are 5 different types of notes you can write on your kid’s lunch napkin. They are:

1.     The Affectionate Note
(Have a great day! I love you!)
2.     The Reminder Note
(Don’t forget, Grandma is picking you up from school today!)
3.     The Educational Note
(5 + 4 = 9)
4.     The “Dad Fact” Note
(Did you know the Designated Hitter was added to baseball in 1973? #dadfact)
5.     The Passive Aggressive Note
(This sandwich looks delicious. You should try eating it today.)

I’ve been leaving notes on my daughter’s lunch napkins all year, a practice I picked up from my wife who left the inaugural “Have a great first day of school!” note on my daughter’s very first school lunch napkin. It’s a morning tradition that I’ve not only embraced but also thoroughly enjoy—plus I’m awesome at it, just like I’m awesome at inventing hilarious Twitter hashtags (#biebersmellslikebutts) and growing a mustache (check out this reflection perfection).

My plan at the beginning of the school year was to rotate which type of note I wrote. If I wrote an Affectionate Note on Monday, I’d be sure to write a Dad Fact Note on Tuesday, and so forth. I also promised myself that I’d reserve Passive Aggressive notes for only the most necessary of occasions, such as my daughter forgetting to do her homework or teasing her sisters or leaving a trail of toys that would most certainly cause her parents to suffer a bad case of Lego Limp. 

Lately, though, I find the Passive Aggressive Note is sneaking its way into all the notes. I blame this on my daughter who, for all the straight A’s that she gets and all the academic achievement awards she wins at school, can’t seem to find time at lunch to eat her sandwich. She makes all sorts of excuses, including she “got caught up talking to her friends” and “they don’t give us enough time to eat sandwiches,” which we all know is absurd because it only takes about 14 seconds to eat a sandwich (#dadfact).

Now this may not seem like a big deal to you, but this is terribly offensive to me for three reasons: 1) My wife spends precious time every night making my daughter’s sandwich, time that she could easily use doing something more fun for herself like rubbing my feet; 2) The grocery store deli counter is a miserable land where souls go to die, and yet I enter that war zone each week to provide supplies for that sandwich; 3) Sandwiches are DELICIOUS. Not eating one is like spitting on a rainbow. I mean, who does that?

To demonstrate how the Passive Aggressive Note has sneaked it's way into each of the other types of Lunchbox Notes, here’s a recent set of notes I wrote in an attempt to get my daughter to eat her sandwich, not that any of them actually worked.

Monday: The Affectionate Note

Tuesday: The Reminder Note

Wednesday: The Educational Note

Thursday: The “Dad Fact” Note

Friday: The Passive Aggressive Note

OK, so most of my notes aren't really like this—in fact, most are loving notes or dad facts that my daughter actually looks forward to (and we discuss at night). But every once in a while I think it's OK to vent a little frustration in a funny way, especially when your kid is wasting a perfectly wonderful sandwich. Seriously, child: #EatTheSandwich

*Even Buzzfeed appreciates the Passive Aggressive Note -- Check out #17!

Oh Boy, You're Having a Girl
(A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters)

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

April 1, 2013

It's Opening Day, Which Means 3 Things

I LOVE Opening Day. It's my favorite celebration (sorry, Christmas). There are many reasons Why Opening Day in Cincinnati is the Best Day of the Year and it's important that leading up to it you read How to Ready Your Kids for Opening Day: The 7 Spring Training Drills They Need to Learn. But nowafter months and months of terrible weather called "the off season"Opening Day is finally here, which means 3 important things:

1. All meals will be eaten out of small, replica batting helmets.

2. Break out the bobbleheads: They are ready to party! (They are also fully aware of the gratuitous product placement and are 100% OK with it).

3. There's a hope in the air that every day, every night, every game something magical will happen and we're able to share it with not only friends, family and people that we love, but also with an entire city. Here's to hope, and to hoping that our season ends just like this:

Happy Baseball Season Everyone! GO REDS!

Oh Boy, You're Having a Girl
(A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters)

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

For Sale (House, Not Kids)

It's finally time. After 8 wonderful years in our lovely house, we've decided it's time for a change. This is somewhat heartbreaking for me. I love our houseit's filled us with nothing but amazing memories. It's where I started this blog. It's the only place our kids have ever called home. It's the first place my wife was ever able to use the phrase, "If you don't cut that grass soon you'll be sleeping on it!"

I also love our neighborhood and cul-de-sac street. St. Bernard is one of the quiet gems in Cincinnati. It's close to everything (thanks to easy access to 75 and the Lateral), is minutes away from XU, UC, Good Sam Hospital (my wife was thankful for that all three times she went into labor), Rookwood and downtown (Go Reds!). It has its own gym for residents (only $10 a month, no contract) and the St. Bernard swim club is cheap ($80 a year for a family). If we're lucky, we'll find another house in the area.

So if you are looking for a wonderful house in a quiet neighborhood that's close to everything and has amazing neighbors, then I have a house for you (or if you know someone looking for all of those things, send them my way). Here's a sneak peek.

This is the living room, where my wife and I once argued about what size TV it could handle. I'm happy to say that I won that argument (one of only 5 I've ever won with my wife) and our 50-inch TV, Stephen, has rested comfortably in the corner ever since.

While we normally host our family of 5 in this formal dinning room, we've fit upwards of 15 in here for dinner before. It's an excellent place to eat ice cream out of mini-Reds helmets (I'm willing to throw in a few for the buyer!)

Those kitchen counters are always that clear and never have anything on them like mail or art projects or the lunch that I packed for work and somehow completely forgot.

Here's the breakfast nook that sits right off the kitchen. I have to be honest, we eat a majority of meals in here because of its convenience to the fridge and stove.

The downstairs bathroom was pretty ugly when we moved in, so we updated the floor, replaced the awful medicine cabinet with this full mirror and added some decorative elements. 

The master bedroom is pretty big and has a nook with a large closet (in fact, you could probably close off the nook and turn it into a walk-in closet-->no idea why we never did that. I don't know. We really liked the nook.)

We also redid the floor of the upstairs bathroom and recently had the tub reglazed.

The second bedroom is actually slightly bigger than the master suite, which worked out well for us. We were able to fit two twin beds in there and still have plenty of space for dressers and toys. It also provides an excellent number of hide-and-go seek hiding places.

The third bedroom started out as my "Reds Room," an office filled with Reds bobbleheads and other memorabilia (which explains the red and white striped walls). But for the past couple of years it's served as a nursery for my youngest daughter (and still had enough space to fit a full size bed).

Here's the back of the house. We have a one-car garage, though we use it mostly to store the ridiculous amount of bubble-blowing liquid we've accumulated over time. The driveway wraps around the house and is big enough to fit several cars, which is nice for parties. It's also a wonderful canvas for kids (and some of us grown ups) who love to play with chalk. And there's a nice little patio that we have used for a table, chairs and our grill. My favorite is to sit out there on beautiful summer nights, grilling some burgers, listening to the Reds game on my tiny radio and watching the kids as they kick a soccer ball in the grass.

So there you have it. This house has been the perfect fit for us for so long; now we're hoping someone else finds it a perfect fit for them. We've been so lucky to have such amazing neighbors and the day we move the last box out of the house, I'll be incredibly sad. But with our family complete it's time to find a house that fits us a little better (and one that has enough closet space to accommodate the mountains of shoes that come with a wife and three daughters).

Check out the official listing to see all the specs and share with family, friends and anyone else you know who may be looking for an affordable house in a lovely, quiet, cul-de-sac neighborhood. I know there's someone out there who is ready to fall in love with it like we did. 

Thanks everyone! -BK

Oh Boy, You're Having a Girl
(A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters)

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