Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Unbearable Grossness of Boyhood

Little boys are gross. Always have been, always will be. Blood, poop, boogers - that is their realm. As a pre-teen I was briefly the publisher of Constipated Illustrated (it was not a journal of or about the movement.)

Kids today don't have to self-publish, today's boys are served by vast industries of grossness. (As always, I don't write out of contempt for today's soft generation - I write it of jealousy.) The exemplar of this realm is Dav Pilkey, creator of Captain Underpants. If I were seven or eight, I would be obsessed with Captain Underpants.

Pilkey's website has great little online games that my son plays. In general they are knock-offs of a video game classic (antique?) like Frogger or Space Invaders. Then there is the Booger Buster 2000. It is Tetris, except that the blocks are boogers sneezed out by a giant monster. There are sounds effects. It is disgusting. My stomach churned as I showed my son how to play. However, it is also Tetris so I couldn't stop playing. Except that it was disgusting. But it was still Tetris and it is so satisfying to line up those little blocks/boogers.

I'm just writing this to warn you.

Monday, September 24, 2007

My SuperPower

I have a super power, believe it or not. It isn't much, but it is mine. I can grow a beard extraordinarily fast. If this is compensation for the follicles rapidly evacuating my head, it is a very raw deal.

If I skip my Friday morning shave and go unshorn through the weekend (and most do) by Monday I've pretty much got a beard. This year, because of Jewish holidays I didn't shave for quite a stretch. So, without much forethought, I have a beard.

At first my daughter liked it. She saw me, touched it, and yelled, "Red!"

Through some genetic fluke (my hair is boring brown) I have a red beard. But then I kissed her and she yelled, "Ow, scratchy."

A friend of ours spoke well of it, saying the red highlights suited me and that the beard made me look distinguished and professorial. My wife noted, "She doesn't have to kiss you."

My son, however, is excited as can be, so we've been discussing how I should shape. He is caught between Obi Wan Kenobi (the young one, thank you very much), Wolverine, and Civil War General Ambrose Burnside popularizer of (you guessed it) the sideburn.

Any thoughts from readers? Really, speak up. I'll try one, shave it off and try another. I'll probably cycle through a dozen by New Years.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Pachelbel Bedtime: Great YouTube Video

This little video pretty much captures the essence of parenthood.

It was a small comfort to me to notice that in the background there were huge piles of toys and stuff pressed up against the wall. Just like my house - and pretty much every parent I know.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Power of Words

For a long time I looked forward to my son learning to read. It would open up vistas, introduce him to new worlds, and - most importantly - give him an engrossing, but silent, activity.

A child who reads is never bored.

A child who loves to read is a child who is not constantly shouting, "Daddy, play with me! Play! With! Me! Now!"

My son can now a read a handful of words, and one of them is "Sale!"

Now as we drive along he points out all the possible discounts we could get on the things he wants.

"Daddy, the bike store has a sale. I want a bike. That toystore has a sale, I want to go. We don't want to miss out on great savings."

Sigh. And yet again I learn the meaning of the maxim: Every solution lays the foundations for a new problem.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Back to School II: Education of the future Dr. Goof

The other day my daughter asked,"Daddy, are you going to a meeting?"

This was because I was dressed in something other than a hideous stained T-shirt and cut-off shorts.

"Not exactly, I'm going to school."

"Like me?" she asked, incredulous.

"Kind of."

She screwed up her face with concentration (like before she poops) and asked, "Who's your teacher?"

"Professor Danilovichski."

"Is he nice?" she asked me.

"Yes, he's pretty nice."

"Does he give you stickers?"

"No, he doesn't give me stickers," I told her.

"Maybe you should play nicer. Do I need to talk with him?" she said sternly.

"No sweetie. Grown-up schools aren't like that. He doesn't give anyone stickers."

"So what do you do on the playground?"

"There is no playground," I told her.

"Oh," she said, finally comprehending, "You were bad so you go to a bad school. You can have some of my stickers, to make you feel better."

What could I do? I'll be the only one in my class with Dora stickers on his economics textbook.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Back to School I: Goofboy meets PowerPoint

My son headed back to school. The day before starting, they had a brief orientation day and since Goofgirl's school was also on hiatus she came along.

Orientation, we were told, includes a PowerPoint presentation. My daughter got excited, "PowerPoint Daddy! PowerPoint. I like PowerPoint!"

Little did she know.

So the parents, the kids, the teachers, and a few random people seeking stale cookies (including my daughter) sat in first-grade desks while the teachers explained what our children would be doing all day. Then the lights dimmed.

The PowerPoint described our children's schedules in excruciating detail (10:11 - 10:13 AM, locate places for circle time, 10:13 - 10:15 laugh at underwear exposed as children sit on the floor...)

The Powerpoint presentation explained, The School's Philosophy of Education in approximate 208 points. The presentation broke these down into Objectives, Goals, Themes, Values, and Capabilities. All of this was punctuated by pictures of very cute children (who I did not recognize from school) hugging each other. This was in sharp contrast to the children before me who couldn't keep their fingers out of their noses and ears.

There was some detailed discussion of the school's facilities, including locker dos and don'ts (no drugs - no firearms, but nothing about porn.) The grand finale was a reminder of where we should send our tuition checks.

I don't know if this has been studied, but PowerPoint has pretty much the same effect on kids as it does on adults. My daughter, my son, and his classmates were snoring softly. A great way to make a bunch of first graders be quiet.

We'll add it to their bedtime routine: a 37 slide presentation on Why it is Bedtime Now.