Friday, September 29, 2006

PC for Children

At the park one day with my son, we encountered a family and the mother was wearing a hijab. My son, then three, called out, "Look Daddy, Muslims!"

"Ha ha," I said wanly, "I guess he shouldn't be watching so much CNN."

Fortunately, the mom handled this with aplomb, saying to her family, "Did you hear what the little boy said? He's right. We're Muslims."

Of course, this could have been much worse. When he sees slender African-American women he is apt to shout, "Daddy, look - it's Condoleeza Rice!"

Ha ha, I shouldn't have let him watch the 9/11 Commission hearings with me.

Sometimes I make things worse. We were discussing Spiderman's enemies - one of whom is "Hydro-Man" who can turn into water.(?!?) I am teaching my son sarcasm and began joking, that you don't need Spider powers to fight Hydro-Man, a paper towel would do. I told him about Rosie and Bounty (the quicker picker upper) and how maybe Hydro-Man could be her archenemy.

Than I got a little carried away, and though of the perfect hero for an epic battle with Hydro-Man - Towel Head Man.

"Ahem," my wife said, "Was that a good idea?"

"Ha ha," I smiled wanly.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Kitchen Design for Dads: Part I

The Goofs live in one of those blessed municipalities where increased property values have made home improvement not merely popular but mandated by law. I voted for a soundproof glass playroom, my wife opted for a new kitchen (it was the original kitchen and apparently she was tired of cooking over a hearth.)

At the kitchen design showroom I was awed by the vast expanses of gleaming granite countertop and the sleek new appliances. I envisioned myself standing by the island, my dome gleaming under the recessed lighting (I use a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil for a special sheen - thanks George Costanza) issuing commands:
Left burners on full! Oven, 450 degrees! Dishwasher, complete cycle! Engage!
However, I should warn you, the bridge of the Enterprise is a terrible model for kitchen design (your wife won't let you do it anyway). My friend Milton did use the bridge of the Enterprise as the template for his kitchen. Bad traffic flow, and surprisingly little counterspace (although he used the original series.)

Still, Milton's wife let him do this - he may be the luckiest man in the world.

But definitely get a pull-out faucet head, you can pretend it is an intercom and issue commands to the whole house (at least until your wife grabs you by the ear with the salad tongs.)

Monday, September 04, 2006

G'Bye Mate: We'll Miss the Crocodile Hunter

Steve Irwin, better known as "The Crocodile Hunter" died as he lived, shouting about wildlife.

A little "Crocodile Hunter" went a long way and it was easy (and fun) to overdose. I remember my son's first exposure. He was home sick from school and when I got home from work and sat with him on the couch he attempted to "trap" me. First he covered me with a red and yellow afghan my grandmother had made for me and then he tried to haul me away with his "Li'l Builder" crane. I asked him what he was doing and he jumped on me (sick no more apparently) and said, "Quiet, ya big croc! I'll get ya!"

Irwin was a big man, who's calming whispers would have been a bellow coming from a lesser bloke. I envied him. During the 2004 brouhaha over his holding his son near a crocodile I could only think how cool for the little Croc kid. His dad was famous and played with cool animals. The closest equivalent for my son is when I bring him to my office and let him use the stapler - he might staple his sleeve to my desk calendar.

My mom only exacerbated my envy. A retired social worker, her professional call was that Irwin was the best judge of whether a crocodile posed a danger to his son and would have let it go at that. On the other hand, she has opined that my letting my five year old watch Seinfeld reruns is child abuse.*

If there is an afterlife, I hope it has cable. Because the outsized, blustering Irwin could team up with the sagacious Fred Rogers for an eternity of the greatest children's programming of all time.

Meanwhile, all of Australia is in mourning. Suddenly they are short of international celebrities (Paul Hogan proving to be a washout and Mel Gibson just being too weird.) Hopefuly the Australian government is taking the appropriate measures to protect the Wiggles.

*I may have brought this maternal judgement on myself. I taught my son to greet his grandmother by narrowing his eyes to a slit and saying, "Hello Newman." (My mom's name isn't even Newman.)