Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Very Special Halloween Pointless and Powerful Father/Son iPod Conversation

My 4 year old son and I engage in a special Halloween pointless and powerful father/son conversation without ever making eye contact as he plays on the iPod.

Boy: (Entering the bedroom at 7AM and sitting at my desk) I’m playing my new Spider-Man game.

Me: How about a “Good Morning Dad”?

Boy: No. I need to focus on my game.

Me: Maybe the game can take you and your sister trick-or-treating later?

Julia: (Popping into the room for a split second to mark her territory) I love you dad and we will be trick or treating right after school! Andrew can stay home.

Wife: Julia! Breakfast! Now!

Boy: You’re right dad.

Me: Can I get a “Good Morning Dad” and a hug?

Boy: No. I want the iPod to take me trick-or-treating.

Me: Why?

Boy: He won’t eat my candy.

Me: I won’t eat your candy.

Boy: (Game pause, eye roll, and resume game play) You’re lying.

Me: How do you know he won’t eat your candy?

Boy: Because he is a machine and they don’t eat food.

Me: Oh machines can eat food. They can do lots of things like travel back in time, take over the world, and turn everyone into zombies. It’s happened before and they made movies and games all about it. So you can never trust a machine, but you can trust your dad. So you wanna go trick-or-treating?

Boy: I’ll go with you dad.

Me: We’ll have a great time.

Boy: But first could you get me one of those zombies” take over the world and we have to hunt them down” games for the iPod? Zombies are awesome!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Barge Dad and Julia Discuss the Finer Points of Religion

Me: You look beautiful this morning. I like your Pumpkin shirt. You know the Halloween Walk is tomorrow.

Julia: I’m going, but it’s for children.

Me: You’re eight. You are children.

Julia: I’m more like 18. I’m only going for the candy. I’m an adult.

Me: Then I have to tell you that you’re grounded, I think your friends are a bad influence, and you will absolutely never do that thing you did again.

Julia: That’s not fair. I’m a good girl and I rarely swear except sometimes I say “Fuck”.

Me: That’s a really bad word.

Julia:  I know and I only use it when I’m really angry at home, but it’s not as bad as “Goddammit” because that is taking the Lord’s name in vain.

Me: Drop the F word in church and see how far that gets you.

Wife: Julia, what are you doing?! We’re going to be late for school!

Me: We’re just discussing the finer points of theology.

Mina: Did you tell Daddy that you memorized all your prayers?

Julia: I did. And I got an award.

Mina: Let’s go Julia! We’re going to be late!

Me: Don’t be in a hurry to grow up Julia.

Julia: Don’t be in a hurry to be a grumpy old man, dad.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Top 10 Reasons Why You Won’t Miss the Debate Watching the Bears Game

1.   Over/Under on combined smiles from Mitt Romney and Jay Cutler set at zero.

2.   Bears beat Obama and Romney on foreign policy with convincing “It’s my ball and I’m taking it to the house.” Plan.

3.   Romney believes that 47% are takers. Bears believe that 100% are takers and can score from anywhere on the field.  

4.   Obama bailed out Detroit. Romney tried to take credit. Bears crush them every year.

5.   Romney and Lovie Smith share the same great attention to detail in explaining respective team plans for the future.

6.   Referees or Moderators will be blamed by the losing team for changing the outcome of the game.

7.   Drilling a quarterback to cause a fumble from the blind side is a much better way to increase your “likeability” factor.

8.   Bears have a beat-up and old Brian Urlacher leading the defense. Obama has Biden.

9.   Cutler throwing a red zone pick is like sending Romney to a foreign land as an ambassador of good will.

10.               The Bears will cover. Obama and Romney will cover very little.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Another Pointless and Powerful Father/Son iPod Conversation

My son and I engage in yet another in a long series of pointless and powerful father/son conversations without ever making eye contact as he plays MegaJump on the iPod.

Boy: My new iPod game isn’t loading.

Me: Yes it is. (I make no effort to investigate the issue, but choose to solve the crisis by pretending it never happened. This not only works for dads, but politicians as well)

Boy: Why is it soooo slow?

Me: You got a new game downloaded into your iPod from millions of choices in 20 seconds. That device connects you to the largest game store in the world and it beams almost instantly from anywhere in the world.

Boy: It’s too slow.

Me: Don’t you have any appreciation of how cool that is? When I was a kid we had to go to stores (crazy hand gestures to explain the concept of “stores” to Kid Jetson) and we had to wait weeks for the latest games.

Boy: No. I’m a kid and I don’t care how long you waited. It’s too slow.

Me: I could make you care.

Boy: Why? (Most kids go right to How as in How will this affect my gaming? He said Why which scared the hell out of me philosophically.)

Me: Because it’s good to appreciate what we have.

Boy: Why? (The ruse is revealed and we have boarded the never-ending Why train making all stops on our trip to Frustrating Crazy Town. Well played.)

Me: Because when we appreciate what we have, we use our gifts better and share them with other people.

Boy: Why?

Me: Say Why one more time! I dare you! (In my Samuel L. Jackson PG voice)

Boy: Why?

Me: Because I know the iPod password.

Boy: I love you dad. Thanks for getting me the iPod. I appreciate it.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Always Pack an Extra Iguana when Bearing Gifts

My parents came back from a week long vacation in Mexico with presents for the kids as well as gifts for my wife and I. There were assorted T-shirts, maracas, loose pesos, and neatly folded trouble lurking within the luggage.

Approximately one week prior, the following transpired…

My Dad: What would you like for me to bring back for you from Mexico?

My Daughter: It doesn’t matter to me. I’m sure it will be wonderful and it’s the thought that counts. (She is a giving and caring girl who knows that taking an adult approach to small presents could pay off big later for the Birthday and Christmas gift bonanza)

My Boy: Optimus Prime (And the boy looked at his Grandpa with the steely gaze of Clint Eastwood looking for A Fistful of Dollars.)

My parents were whisked away to a magical land were the food was spicy, the soda too sweet, and the booze was just right. They returned to tell us fantastic tales about getting lost, the Spanish version of CNN, and 4 foot iguanas that freely walked down the road. And they came bearing gifts.

My Dad: We brought back presents! (He hands each child a T-shirt and a set of maracas.)

My Daughter: It’s just what I wanted! Oh thank you! (Well played young Julia who turns 8 at the end of the week.)

My Boy: (Looking for an uncomfortable amount of time at the T-Shirt like it was toy kryptonite.)

Me: Isn’t that a nice T-Shirt? Say thank you. (I find it best to use prompts when either child is silent for too long. The same methodology applies to trying to calm any wild animal with an “Easy Boy” reference.)

The Boy: No. I asked for Optimus Prime and this is not Optimus Prime! If he brought home an Iguana that would have been cool too! And I don’t like T-shirts!

Me: Say thank you.

The Boy: I’m going to my room! (Storming off and slamming the door as only a 4 year old can while looking like a 40 year old who just got downsized.)

Was the girl better behaved than the boy? Should we be more appreciative of what we have instead of what we want? Should we buy toys from our neighbors to the south to encourage free trade? The answer of course is yes (unless you are in the 1% who doesn’t believe in that sort of thing) but the true fault lies in the gift giver who broke the three most fundamental rules of giving kids gifts.
1. If you ask and they answer under $20.00, it’s go time.

2. Surprise gifts are always the best return on investment.  A SpongeBob pencil eraser can make you a hero for the day.

3. Big Iguanas are the unwinnable situation that even Kirk could not defeat. The Kobayashi Maru test was never designed to account for a 4 year old who wants a miniature dinosaur. Do not ever bring up iguana ownership in any parental conversation.

Don’t ask, don’t tell, and stay away from iguanas. It’s a crappy social policy, but it works wonders when you’re forced into battle at Toys R Us.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Birthday Party Invasion & the Goody Bag Horde

Me: What are we doing for Julia’s birthday?

Wife: She wants to have a costume party?

Me: Here?!

Wife: Where else?

Me: I’m pretty good with anyplace but here.

Wife: It’s a small group of her friends.

Me: It sounds like work.

 Wife: It’ll be fun… and not so much work.

Me: What?

Wife: Fun!

The house was spotless, all the leaves bagged, and enough Halloween decorations displayed to make the neighbors question family values. I donned my pirate hat and held the door open for 28 children from the 2nd grade to invade my home on Sunday during the Bears game.

As a parental rite of passage, we all understand party invasion etiquette which constitutes dropping the child at the door, handing over a gift, making small talk while expressing grave sympathy with the eyes, and sprinting away to suck the marrow of life from the next 120 minutes of childless freedom. Yesterday was no exception to the rule except that I was expecting Grenada and blindsided by the storming of the beaches of Normandy.

We navigated from Pin the Smile on the Pumpkin to Pictures of a Monster High back drop to Make your own Taffy Apple to the Mandatory PiƱata to Eating Cake to Opening Presents to Rescue Operation behind Enemy Lines or Child Pick-Up. It was a precision operation orchestrated by my wife and our friend Tom who ran games while I worked crowd control. My job was to make sure the sh*t didn't hit the fan or in this case the cookie dough ice cream cake or caramel taffy apple wrapping.

The kids were great, I kept my cool, and we didn't get any surprises in the couch cushions! Dad didn’t embarrass himself, his daughter, and did not once mention that he was missing the Bears game. My daughter had a wonderful time and I’m pretty sure that her friends enjoyed the party as well. The invasion was a success as they left smiling with clutched goody bags to parents who wistfully reminisced about the last 2 hours.

I never watched the Bears game because it was too much fun sharing the day with my daughter. We watched a movie, ate dinner, read stories, and went to bed early. It was a perfect day. On the other hand, it’s a shame that the boy was born in January during the play-offs. We all have to make sacrifices.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Another Pointless and Powerful Father/Son iPod Conversation

My son and I engage in yet another in a long series of pointless and powerful father/son conversations without ever making eye contact as he plays MegaRun on the iPod.

Boy: Dad, You’re Fired!

Me: Why? (I don’t argue because I’m sure there is a good reason.)

Boy: You’re being mean to me and I only had 5 minutes to play Mega Run on the iPod.

Me: You played for almost an hour and we are going to do something different.

Boy: You made my guy die! You’re fired and I don’t have to listen to you! Jon Lester is my new dad! (I worked with Jon a year back to produce his mobile game.)

Me: Why Jon Lester?

Boy: He has his own game. That’s cool and he would let me play! (I can’t speak to the parental techniques of Jon Lester but the boy makes some valid points.)

Me: OK. We have to start packing to send you off to Boston.

Boy: I don’t want to leave. Can’t he come here?

Me: OK. I need to start packing.

Boy: Where are you going?

Me: Jon Lester is your new dad. I have to go.

Boy: You know if you leave, the police will get you and throw you in jail. It’s against the law.

Me: It isn’t against the law if you fired me. That’s called a contract and you made a promise. (Two can play the legal unjustly fired parent game.)

The boy hits the rarely used pause button and makes eye contact.

Boy: Dad, you’re not fired. I don’t want you ever to go dad.  

We share the big hug from the soundtrack of every “Hey Dad, wanna have a catch?” soundtrack.

Boy: But if you do, would you leave the iPod?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Julia, the Theater, and Harvey Fierstein

My 7 year old daughter is a big supporter of the Arts. She draws, paints, and writes stories as well as enjoys film, theater, and the latest adventures of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Who doesn’t enjoy the fascinating tales of Gregory navigating between a life of multiple abuses from his older brother Rodrick and a black hole of parental affection caused by his younger brother Manny?

Julia: Why don’t they act like adults and talk out their problems?

Me: Because they’re not adults and adventures of kids behaving well doesn’t sell books.

Julia: Why does Gregory hate homework and why does their dad do Rodrick’s homework?

Me: Because Rodrick is a stupid boy with no future and evil parents. If you don’t do your homework, you’ll end up living at home and having to listen to your parents forever.

Julia: I love school and homework. But why can’t Rodrick make money being a rock star in his band?

Me: You’re never allowed to ever date anyone in a band. I think its bed time.

She’s dabbled in acting, but her true talent in direction surfaced at the age of five. The first and last time we re-enacted a scene from the classic film, Beverly Hills Chihuahua.

Me: As Papi –“My name is Papi. I am descended from an ancient line of proud warriors. My ancestors went into battle and we will find you my princess! I am a Chihuahua! “

Julia: That’s not how it goes! Do it again!

Me: –“My name is Papi. I am descended from an ancient line of proud warriors. My ancestors went into battle and we got the hook up and we won’t rest rest until we find you! I am a Chihuahua.

Julia: No! This is Papi’s line! “My name is Papi. I am descended from an ancient line of proud warriors. My ancestors went into battle, alongside Aztec soldiers. Today, we move within the inner circles of the wealthiest and most powerful people on the planet. Who am I? The question is... What am I?  I'm a Chihuahua!

Me: Did you memorize the lines of the movie?

Julia: Just the important parts about Chloe. Daddy do you remember when you were an actor on that Disney show where you carried a monkey?

Me: Yes…

Julia: Next time, do it like that.

After getting a line reading from my daughter, I decided that we should break for rest of the day. She may be a budding director, but I’m still executive producer until she turns 18.

Last Sunday, Julia went with my wife to attend the Sunday dress rehearsal of Kinky Boots at the Bank of America Theater in Chicago as guests of her friend in the show, Eric Leviton. (Big thank you to Eric.) Julia was beyond excited and the event turned the tide on the “I can’t do anything because I have a broken arm!” blues. They left at 4PM for the city and returned around 1130PM.

Me: Did you enjoy the show?

Julia: It was great! I loved it! I met Eric, we ate dinner, I talked with Harvey Fierstein, and the show was wonderful!

Me: You talked with Harvey Fierstein?

Julia: He asked me about my arm and told me I shouldn’t fall down when I’m playing soccer. He wrote Kinky Boots. I also met someone named Cyndi Lauper.

Me: You should get ready for bed. You have a lot to tell your friends tomorrow.

Julia: My friends don’t know these people, but I’ll tell my teacher. She’ll know who they are.

She asks the right questions, demands perfection, meets the right people, and knows how to network. By the time she hits the teen years my Executive Producer parental credit will be reduced to the time honored fatherly role of Associate Producer awarded for putting on pants and smiling in pictures.

As long as I’m working, it works for me.