Friday, January 26, 2007

Grown Up Dream

The other night I had an elaborate dream. I had driven my car to Baltimore and parked on Charles St. (this is not strange – I am originally from Baltimore.) I walked around town, with Nancy Pelosi (also not that strange, she is originally from Baltimore too.)

When I returned to my car it was gone but there was a street festival. So Nancy Pelosi and I were eating chocolate* at the street festival as I tried to find out what happened to my car. Finally I found out it was towed and was trying to read the ticket (it can be very hard to read in your dreams). Then I woke up to my daughter yelling, “I want milk, Daddy-Mommy, Mommy-Daddy!”

I went downstairs and warmed up my daughter’s milk, which I gave to my wife to give to my daughter. Then I went back to bed. My wife gave me a withering look (she was outnumbered, in addition to wrestling the little girl our son was running around in his underwear singing, “Jailhouse Rock.”)

I murmured, “I need to get my car back.”

While I did want 15 more minutes of sleep, really I needed closure.

* In a weird premonition I later read that Pelosi keeps her energy level up (she puts in 14 hour days of constant motion – while always looking impeccable) by eating lots of high quality chocolate.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Father Goof's Favorite TV Shows

Since the passing the patriarchal heyday of "Leave it to Beaver," TV dads have pretty much been portrayed as dopes. This casual dismissal of the parenting capabilities of fathers has reached such a point in popular culture that a friend of mine worships a "Swiffer" commercial because it portrays a positive, father figure. Ask him about it, he will discourse on it for a period that exceeds the actual length of the commercial by a factor of twenty (the man needs cable.)

Dads could rail against this, claim discrimination, start pressure groups, and develop complex conspiracy theories about the liberal (Communist) media elites and their secret plot to emasculate the American dad and thereby destroy what makes our society great.

Or... we could use this in our favor. My favorite shows, by far, are "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "Supernanny." Why? Because no matter what I do, I am a way better dad than Ray Barone or the Dads in the dysfunctional families requiring the help of Supernanny (it is always a long-suffering, disorganized mom who isn't getting the help she needs from her self-centered husband - always.)

Often I feel a little guilty for not playing with the kids or being a little short with them (or lying to them that their favorite - read: noisiest - toys are lost, when in fact I buried them in the backyard so I would no longer have to hear the endless warblings from a Wiggles guitar with a key jammed down on "Big Red Car"*). But the feeling passes as I watch Ray Barone lie to his wife so he doesn't have to take his kids to the park or the dad on Supernanny who thought spending time with his daughters was having them watch him ride an ATV around the backyard.

Better, I watch them with my wife. Good to remind her how good she has it.

* Here is a question. The batteries in the children's toys can generate loud noices continuously for weeks on end. I put the same battery into my PDA and it immediately loses power and eats all my contact info. Why do electrons hate me so? Are they sub-atomic children, constantly trying to run away from the nucleus to make trouble while the weary protons and nuetrons are busy trying to generate a weak atomic force to keep atom intact?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Married Man Makes his Move

“Hey honey, Saturday Night Live doesn’t look any good this week.”

Actually the guest host is Jake Gyllenhaal, and Father Goof can’t hope to compete with that.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Economics of Babysitting

Let's get right to the point: there is no reason to feel guilty about low-balling when negotiating payment with the babysitter.

When I was a teenager I had no life, and was desperate for cash. I babysat (even though I didn't really like kids) and all my friends babysat. This was twenty years ago and I was paid one-fifty an hour. As soon as I was old enough I got a job at a pizza place (and free pizza when I misread orders and made it wrong) for the lordly sum of $3.35 an hour.

Now, baby-sitters in my neck of the woods charge $8 an hour (I was in my twenties before I made that kind of money - although I am employment-challenged.) I don't know why the price of a teenager's time has gone up so much - they seem about as useless as I was at that age. It probably has something to do with MySpace.

Do the math, a nice dinner for two ($40 and 90 minutes) and a movie ($20 including snacks and two and a half hours), add in transit time and you owe the baby-sitter $40. A modest night out suddenly costs a c-note.

And $8 an hour is not the high end. When we took the kids to an out of town wedding the baby-sitter was $12 an hour.

You have one advantage here, teenagers aren't much for market research. The kids already in the business know the prevailing rates. But the ones who haven't babysat before do not. You need to find fresh meat (bar mitzvahs have been particularly rich veins to mine - although not the kid being honored, he is rolling in gifts that day.)

This is a good start, but it could be counter-productive. If every parent is seeking new blood, soon the kids will get wise. Bidding wars, and possibly fistfights, could ensue. We need to form a cartel, before they start one (possibly through networks of friends on MySpace). As a cartel we can set prices and, if necessary, lobby congress to set a maximum wage for babysitters.

Also, if they are going to charge these prices we should make them take credit cards.

One important note - however desperate you are for a night out, do not compromise on your child's security. One kid told us how smart our son was, explaining, "He even beat me at Connect Four." He won't be back.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Kickboxing Confusion

Little Dragons is doing a kickboxing unit. When we told my son he began to cry, so I asked him why and he said, "I don't want to go in a box. What if I can't kick out of it?"

"They don't put you in a box," I told him.

"Oh, so you kick boxes until they break?"

"No, there are no boxes, it's just called that. It is just like karate but with a lot of kicking."

The next day in carpool he told his carpool buddy, "Next time at karate, we do kickboxing!"

"What's kickboxing?"

My son told his friend, "They put you in a big dark box, and you have to kick your way out!"

Carpool buddy started to cry.

Karate Class Etiquette

When my son's Little Dragons class is sparring it is apparently very bad form to cheer. The moms gave me looks when, during a match, I started yelling,"Tumbalo! Tumbalo!" (Spanish for "Knock him down!")

Maybe they were mad because it was two little girls sparring and I forgot the appropriate gender form ("Tumbala," I looked it up when I got home.)

Too bad, it looked like it could have been a pretty good bout.

Wagering is also frowned on. But that curly-haired kid was a sure thing, he moved like a seven year old Jake LaMotta.

I was hoping to get a pool going (although my plans of having my son throw matches proved redundant - he gets his pugilist skills from me.) Anyway, you really make your money on the vig...