Say Cheese…PLEASE

I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but if you are on our Christmas card list, we spent a bunch of time and money on lying to you. That family photo you are all complimenting? Totally staged. We only have to act normal and respectable for 1/100 of a second and it STILL takes us a dozen and a half tries to get it right.  We’ve been taking portraits since the early 1800s and while the technology of photography has advanced leaps and bounds since the camera was introduced into society, we have gotten worse at taking pictures.  There are photographs of pioneers that are more well-posed than the pictures my family takes.  Back in the day they had to set up a tripod and adjust the lens exposure; they had to load up flash powder and their blinds – the whole time, the subjects of the portrait were patiently waiting for the big POOF of the flash.  We’ve seen these pictures in history books and museums – there are children in them, there are animals, there are uncomfortable outfits.  EVERYTHING we have!  And yet, it takes us seconds to set up a photo and we can shoot a dozen pictures rapid fire in a matter of moments and we still can’t pull this off!

First of all, why do we make it tougher than it has to be.  Put up your tree, sit your ass down, CLICK.  We try to fit themes, make ourselves look more clever than we are, and contort our entire family into poses that have nothing to do with the simplicity of a family photo.  “Deirdre, turn to your left but look over your right shoulder at Chet.  Chet look back at Deidre, but don’t really look at her, look past her like you’re wondering what the future will bring – love, fame, security.  Todd-Maverick, lay on your back in the fetal position – yes, like you’re crowning.  Don’t worry what crowning means, I’ll tell you when you’re older.  Tina-Sue-Bob, perch yourself on Todd-Maverick’s knees like the soul of a Buddhist monk who was just reincarnated as a Great Blue Heron and be sure you hold up the baby Jesus and your Furbee.  Now where did the ferret go?  Is he still wearing his onesie?  Okay, I’ll just set the timer and grab my Stormtrooper helmet and we’ll be all set!”

We also put on clothes we never want to wear.  If my entire family left the house all color coordinated, I’d gag.  I once saw a husband and wife at a restaurant and they were both wearing the same Elvis postage stamp t-shirt.  I made a vow to myself and to my wife right then and there that I would NEVER let that happen to us.  And yet, when picture time rolls around, we are all digging through our closets looking for a red shirt and a Santa hat.

And you know damn well our kids never stay focused long enough to tell you what their names are, let alone hold a pose and a smile for an extended period of time (you know, like 30-seconds).  If you were to see all of the outtake pictures you’d see a small child shaped blur sliding out of my wife’s lap and dashing toward the camera.  Or a set of hands trying to pull the cat into his lap so he can squeeze her until her eyes start going in two different directions.  Our older son can sit still with a (fake) smile on his face for days; his problem is inside his head where the wheels never stop turning.  He’ll be thinking the most random things like a glove advent calendar, where you get one glove a day for 24 days, or a glove coat, gloves that look like coats (apparently he’s been thinking a lot about gloves lately for some reason) and as his mind wanders, so do his eyes.  We have so many pictures of him where he’s facing the camera and smiling, but he’ll be looking somewhere else – not that there’s anything there where he’s looking, he just seems to have forgotten we were taking a picture.

So for those of you who received our card, don’t fall for it.  We just didn’t want to spend money on a picture where the cat was getting shorn by the younger child who was about to bolt out of the room with a handful of fur in his hand, my wife in full-eye roll, me in mid-conniption, and the older boy deep in thought about how he could achieve making the world’s smallest pencil.

“I fell down the chimney and landed on a flaming hot goose!”
“You have all the fun!” ~ The Muppet Christmas Carol

TOP TEN HOTTEST TOYS OF 2017 (THAT MIGHT NOT BE ALL THEY’RE CRACKED UP TO BE)

Toys have changed from when my generation was writing letters to Santa. Video games were just getting started, Saturday morning cartoons made action figures and dolls rulers of kids’ Christmas lists.  Nowadays… well… kids are weird and the toys reflect the weirdness.  There used to be Barbies – now there are scrawny teen monster high school girls.  There used to be GI Joes – now there are little weird rubber pieces of trash (I’m not being cynical – the Trash Pack and Grossery Gang toys are literally characters modeled after garbage).  But one thing that never changes: every year there are toys parents rush to the stores for and channel their inner William Wallace as they battle for these hot holiday commodities.  Cabbage Patch Kids, Nintendo Entertainment Systems, Tickle Me Elmos, Furbies… but this year, I don’t know.  I don’t foresee myself risking life and limb for these things.

#10 – THUMB CHUCKS

Screen Shot 2017-12-12 at 8.41.33 PM

One excited reviewer said this could be the next fidget spinner.  Oh can it, please?  Because nothing calms a fidgety child like toys that never stop moving.  Fidget spinners and fidget cubes do nothing to calm a fidgety child – you might as well give them drumsticks and Jolt cola!  Now they create this little doodad, that looks like someone neutered Tigger, and connect two little clackers together with a piece of fabric thus making it easier for these little “zen masters” to whap each other in the head with their calming tool.  Next they’ll come out with air horns with strobe lights to help children with anxiety issues.

#9 – MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES “THOR” MJOLNIR ELECTRONIC HAMMER

Screen Shot 2017-12-12 at 8.51.08 PM

This impressive looking bit of Nordic weaponry has a retail price of $100.  Why?  Because it is a solid 5-pound plastic sledgehammer with a die cast metal handle.  If you are a parent, there is no way you should ever buy this for your child.  Can you imagine your insurance premiums skyrocketing by Valentine’s Day?!!  You’d have to have a concussion protocol at the dinner table!  However, if you are an aunt or an uncle of multiple children, buy it for just one and then just wait and watch the chaos you have created.

#8 – SKY VIPER V2400 HD STREAMING DRONE WITH FPV HEADSET

Screen Shot 2017-12-12 at 8.56.04 PM

This drone is top of the line with ease of control, stealth motors, and the capability of streaming live HD video from built in cameras.  Recommended for ages 12+.  Now, if you were buying this for me, I’d think you were awesome!  This is a cool gadget with all sorts of bells and whistles.  However, stealthy aircrafts with high definition spy cameras in the hands of a pubescent boy (or Alabama senate candidates) is probably not the most comforting thought for your neighbors.

#7 – OONIES MEGA STARTER PACK

Screen Shot 2017-12-12 at 9.15.47 PM

“Oonies are the coolest way to create! Take an Oonies pellet, place it in the inflator and watch it magically grow into an Oonie! No glue. No water, no mess. Just air filled balls of amazing fun!”  Seriously?  C’mon people, they’re called balloons!  You’re telling me you’re going to drop $65 on the starter kit for an air pump, mini balloons, and glue dots?!  Tell you what, just give me $65 and you won’t have to have this hunk of plastic and countless deflated oonie creatures laying around your house after your kids get tired of this toy after a day and a half.

#6 – SHOPKINS BUBBLEISHA

Screen Shot 2017-12-12 at 9.21.17 PM

For all your little girls who love shopkins, there is now Bubbleisha, the girl who shops for Shopkins.  A Shopkins shopper?!  Can we just call it a day and admit the toy companies are officially out of ideas?  First you bought thousands of these little rubbery do-nothings (how does one actually play with a minescule purse with a face?) and now you have to buy this doll, who in all actuality is the epitome of irony because you are essentially buying a version of yourself because this doll likes to buy thousands of these little rubbery do-nothings that you have already bought.  How meta is that?!!

#5 – L.O.L. SURPRISE FIZZ FACTORY

Screen Shot 2017-12-12 at 9.27.37 PM

Actual Product Description: Make Fizz balls again and again with the L.O.L. Surprise Fizz Factory! Mix ingredients, include any surprise, add glitter and then press into a surprise Fizz ball! Surprise your friends again and again with endless surprise Fizz balls! L.O.L. Surprise Fizz Factory includes everything you need to make your own Surprise Fizz!  Plus, you can make endless Surprise Fizz balls with household ingredients!

I’m going to ignore the fact that the description said “Fizz Balls” way too many times for me to be comfortable and just move on to my confusion.  Fizz Balls have charms in the middle of this dissolvable thingy.  The Fizz Factory gives you what you need to make your own Fizz Balls out of whatever you’d like.  So basically you’re buying a toy that will encapsulate things you already own and then you can dissolve the thing you spent money on this Christmas to retrieve the thingy you imprisoned – like Han Solo in carbonite (so pumped to see the new Star Wars) – that you chose to stick in there in the first place.  How is this fun?

#4 – WHEN I GROW UP, I WANT TO BE…: THE ANNUAL CAREER POSSIBILITY JOURNAL FOR KIDS

Screen Shot 2017-12-12 at 9.35.53 PM

What is wrong with you?  Did you really buy your child occupational counseling for Christmas?  Are you a guidance counselor?  I get it, you want to record everything your kid says every year so you can look back on it when he’s living in your basement at 45 years old and tell him, “Hey, look, remember when you were 6 and wanted to be an astronaut?”  Yeah, well, maybe if you had gotten him a bike instead you wouldn’t be spending your golden years delivering Hot Pockets down to his “command center” where he apathetically beats the high score of every adolescent he can find on his Playstation.  Way to go.  I hope you’re happy with your choices.

#3 – BELLE DISNEY FILM COLLECTION DOLL

Screen Shot 2017-12-12 at 9.45.29 PM

What the hell is that supposed to be?!  I know, we shouldn’t judge books by their covers, but come on, that thing is frightening!  Disney can make an actor look exactly like a living candlestick but that’s as close as they could get to Emma Watson?  That’s what Justin Bieber would look like if he dressed up as Belle for Halloween.  How could a room full of executives look at that doll and unanimously go, “Yup, that’s exactly the look we were going for”?

#2 –Plush Holiday Animated Dancing Farting Laughing Poop Emoji In Christmas Santa Claus Hat

Screen Shot 2017-12-12 at 9.53.08 PM

The name says it all.  I’m just gonna leave this here.

#1 – WOWWEE FINGERLINGS

Screen Shot 2017-12-12 at 9.54.56 PM

Actual product description: “Her name is Rose and, along with her funky hair, she loves to grab onto things. Your kids will love monkeying around with this interactive finger toy.  She responds to sound, motion, and touch. It’s like having a friend right at your fingertips. Oh, and if you blow her a kiss, she might just blow you one back!”  I’m not even mature enough to talk to you about this one.  And, if you’re one of my B4P regulars, I know your mind is just messed up enough to see where I’m going with this one.

“And they’ll shriek squeaks and squeals, racing ’round on their wheels.
They’ll dance with jingtinglers tied onto their heels.
They’ll blow their floofloovers. They’ll bang their tartookas.
They’ll blow their whohoopers. They’ll bang their gardookas.
They’ll spin their trumtookas. They’ll slam their slooslunkas.
They’ll beat their blumbloopas. They’ll wham their whowonkas.
And they’ll play noisy games like zoozittacarzay,
A roller-skate type of lacrosse and croquet!
And then they’ll make ear-splitting noises galooks
On their great big electro whocarnio flooks!” ~ How the Grinch Stole Christmas

What Happened to My Parents?

I’ve lost my parents.  They’re gone.  Lost them both at the exact same time.  I lost them both in childbirth – when my wife and I had kids.  Now these two people who LOOK like my parents and sound like my parents are living in my old home.  And that whole “if it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck” thing is a bunch of malarky!

Let me preface this by saying I LOVE MY PARENTS – they’re my heroes and our boys are so lucky to have them in their lives.  But, let’s face it, they’ve lost their minds.

I remember growing up with these people who were workaholic homebodies.  My mother’s mantra was: “I don’t make plans because something always ruins them.”  My dad’s mantra was: “don’t get stupid” but that was for totally different reasons and has nothing to do with this post and I tried to abide by it…but, if you’ve been reading this blog long enough you know– things happen.  For the purposes of this post, my father didn’t say much because he was usually asleep in his chair by 6:00 p.m.  Even when I was in college, my mother called me almost every day, from home, because that’s where they were.

Now, I have no idea where they are!  EVER!  They are going places planned and unplanned constantly!  There is not an empty square on their calendar and yet they are still up for disappearing on a whim.  Especially if one of my little heathens wants to go somewhere.  Do you know that I have only gone to Chuck E. Cheese twice in my life and once was when I was 37 years old.  The time I went as a child, it was part of a separate vacation trip which also involved my aunt and uncle and cousin.  And I remember, ever since that trip, my mother talked about the terrible pizza, and germ-riddled games and attractions, and how it was too crowded with too many people who might be the embodiment of “stranger danger.”

My kids have also been there twice.  Once when we were driving by a city, an hour away from our home, when we were starving and were already engaged in a full-out day of family fun for our boys.  The second time was six days later when our boys spent the night with my parents and when asked what they wanted for dinner the three-year-old answered, “Chuck E. Cheese.”  Well apparently that was a convincing enough argument for my parents to pile them into the car and drive an hour away from home to have pizza.

Speaking of food, I knew what we were having for dinner weeks in advance because the menu didn’t change.  We ate very few microwavable things because that wasn’t “real food” – the good food is homemade and you needed meat and vegetables every day.  We had desserts in our school lunches (a Little Debbie somethingorother or a pudding cup) but actual desserts with dinners were treats like with a full Sunday dinner or a holiday.  NOW there are times my older son isn’t hungry for dinner because he stopped over to my parents’ house and he filled up on mini microwaved corn dogs, crackers and canned cheese, and ice cream!  They even fed him Kool Aid AND NOT AS A DRINK!  HE ATE IT FROM THE PACKAGE!

I remember being in SERIOUSLY deep trouble when I refused to eat what my grandmother had made for dinner one time (not from my grandmother, mind you, she ended up making me a grilled cheese – she understood I thought ham was gross) but now my kids have more multiple choice options than they give on the SAT!  “I made lasagna, but I thought some people would want ravioli, and Nathan loves spaghetti.  Andrew, do any of those sound good to you or do you want a hot dog?”  “No thank you, grandma, I couldn’t eat another bite after I just shotgunned this packet of pink lemonade powder.”

And I lived in constant fear of not liking something my mother made.  To this day there are things I don’t like that I eat and I never say a thing.  NO, I’M NOT TELLING YOU!  SHE READS THIS!  I’M IN ENOUGH TROUBLE AS IT IS FOR WRITING THIS AT ALL!!!  It was bad enough if I didn’t eat enough of something or didn’t eat something fast enough, I was accused of not liking it. But to actually push something away and say I don’t like it?! That was dangerous ground. My wife and I aren’t that hardcore, but we do make the boys try something before they decide they don’t like it.  I was in the process of telling my mother this when I made my younger son try something different he didn’t want to eat. Or at least I was trying to explain it to her – she was too busy howling with laughter until she couldn’t breath and had tears rolling down her cheeks because my 3-year-old took a bite and gave me the most sarcastic smile and “Mmmmm” he could muster. Needless to say in that battle: Dad 0; Nate and Grandma 1.

I suppose it’s a right of passage for grandparents to do outrageous things for the grandkids. They played by the rules and it was a hard job being a parent – now they can take it easy and let someone else deal with the tough stuff. My grandfather used to schlep gallons of water from his house for my sister to drink because she didn’t like how ours tasted (they lived 5 blocks away – it was the same water). I’m sure my mother and father would tell you how ridiculous that was if my dad could hear you over the sound of every musical Christmas decoration he let Nathan turn on simultaneously or if my mother wasn’t so busy making Andrew some iced tea – not like regular iced tea – like brewing a cup of tea like you were going to drink it hot, cream and sugar added, and then adding ice cubes to it to lower the temperature down to a cold drink…

“If I’d have known how wonderful it would be to have grandchildren, I would have had them first.” ~ Lois Wyse

Top Ten Places Where You Rethink Having Children

I promise, promise, promise it is not my intention to only do Top Ten Tuesdays.  My schedule WILL loosen up a bit soon and I’ll go back to my normal ramblings.  Things have been SO CRAZY lately and, the bright side, I am gathering so much more ammunition for this blog once I get back into the swing of things.  One of the things that has caused such a disruption in the writing schedule is the fact that I am still a parent.  I am still a parent because, apparently, we aren’t allowed to sell them on eBay. BUT they are good inspiration for things such as this week’s list:

THE TOP TEN PLACES WHERE YOU RETHINK HAVING CHILDREN!

10.  Sporting Events

You’d think a place where things are supposed to be loud and obnoxious is the perfect location to bring your little minions without worrying.  You thought wrong, Hoss!  First of all, a hot dog costs a small fortune and I believe you need to give up a kidney if you want to feed the whole family and, let me tell you, the pickiest eaters end their hunger strikes as soon as they walk into the stadium.  You could be convinced that your child is the next Gandhi until the food venders walk by your seats and all of a sudden they’re as dangerously expensive as having a seizure at an auction!  Hot dogs, popcorn, peanuts, cotton candy, ice cream, drinks in a collectable spinning glow-in-the-dark wearable gallon jug with free refills to guaran-damn-tee that they will have to go to the bathroom during all of the best plays of the game forcing you to take them to the most vile bathrooms on the planet where you explain why everyone is peeing in the same metal bathtub while simultaneously playing a game of “don’t stare at that.”  When you finally give up and head for the car, your child will have an aching stomach, an armful of souvenirs you had to remortgage your house for, and a fresh set of vocabulary words courtesy of your seatmates whose only coherent bits of drunken ramblings contained four colorful letters.

9.  Disney World

I went to the Magic Kingdom when I was a senior in high school.  It was AWESOME!  My sister and brother-in-law went after they got married and didn’t want to leave.  What did we have in common?  We went without children.  It is certainly the happiest place on Earth…unless you’re a parent.  Then it’s expensive and hot and full of things that make children cry.  According to a survey that I’m completely making up, the things that make small children cry are being uncomfortable, being too hot, being hungry, waiting to do things, wanting things you won’t buy them, being tired from a hectic day, and hearing other children crying because of all the aforementioned reasons.  And, thus, we realize the magic of Disney is powered by children’s tears and parents’ broken souls.

8.  In Bed

Get your minds out of the gutter.  I’m talking about good ol’ comfy sleepy time goodness!  Bad dreams, bed wetting, strange noises, monsters in closets, thunderstorms, or no freaking reason at all and all of a sudden you have a mini-tyrant squeezing under the covers and taking up twice as much room as you do even though they’re a quarter of your size.  Now this little tyke with whom you’ve tried endlessly and unsuccessfully to perfect their aim and timing to kick a soccer ball or swing a baseball bat can catch you with a punch to the throat or a kick to the groin LITERALLY with their eyes closed!  I remember when I was little and sought refuge in my parents’ bed, it was the best sleep I had in my life…now I know why.  I might need to bunk with them again for a while.

7.  In the Car

No, we’re not there yet.  No, we’re not stopping for snacks again.  Of course we can listen to your music, especially that one annoying song and I wouldn’t dream of not putting it on repeat.  No, we’re not there yet.  We have three and a half hours to go.  No, I don’t know how many seconds that is.  Please don’t count until we get there.  Which one of you…oh God, roll down the window.  We just stopped for the bathroom and you didn’t have to go!  No, we’re not there yet!  About two minutes closer than the last time you asked.

6.  Work

There are few experiences more humbling than bringing your children to where you work.  This is the place where you get paid to come across as a person who has their act together.  You might even be the boss!  And then they come in.  Remember that vocabulary from the sporting event or the time you told them you weren’t pulling over at the rest stop and they had an accident or what your pajamas look like?  Now is their time to share all of this information with your coworkers.  Things you don’t even remember happening will all of a sudden come into light.  And, let’s face it, kids are cute and always have your coworkers’ attention – so they have a captive audience ready to absorb every excruciatingly embarrassing detail.

5.  Family Gatherings

You’d think you’d be safe with family…you’re not.  Even if you have awesome kids and you think your parenting game is strong – this is the place where your reality gets body checked into the boards!  Because, now, there are probably more than just your kids there and they’re related so their powers are amplified!  So.  Many.  Children.  All the parents are huddling in fear as this mini mob, hopped up on juice boxes start chucking frisbees and water balloons all over Pawpaw and Meemah’s backyard.  And they think they are just “so adorable” and “kids will be kids” and “you were a handful too.”  Well, that’s all well and good, but they have to come home with ME after YOU washed solid bricks of red dye #5 down their gullets with a bath of Jolt Cola!

4.  Church

I’m sorry Lord, it’s not you, it’s me.  Actually, no.  It’s not me, it’s them.  I can’t remember ever going to church when there wasn’t a screaming child testing the building’s amazing acoustics or yelling out that they have to go potty during a moment of silence (yes, I remember, this is a little pot calling the kettle black situation seeing as what I did during a moment of silence).  And there is so much for them to trip over and bump their head on which leads to a cringeworthy echoing thump which resonates for a moment of shocked silence from the child before the wailing starts.  There are also SO MANY people that your child can “tell the truth about.”  I know it’s a church and there’s the whole “thou shalt not lie” thing, but it’s not a lie if we just don’t talk about that man’s funny looking pretend hair or that lady’s wiggly arms. Churches need to make drive through blessing stations for parents…we need all the help we can get.

3.  Movies

First of all, you will have very few opportunities to see any movies that don’t contain singing woodland creatures.  But, once in a while, you’ll be interested in something your kids want to see.  Lego Movie?  Finding Nemo? AWESOME FLICKS!  But it’s almost better to force yourself to go to the awful movies, because you won’t be able to pay attention anyway.  You’ll also have issues seeing because NO CHILD ever says, “Hey let’s sit toward the center so that we have the best position.  No, it’s either front row or back row.  And, like the sports outings, they’ll want armloads of snacks, but they’ll use your arms as the snack caddy.  So you’ll be passing and taking back popcorn, candy, nachos, and slushies for the film’s entirety. You will also be questioned like a crime’s primary suspect about who someone is or why they’re doing what they’re doing or what’s happening. Haven’t they watched as much of the film as you have?!!  You didn’t direct it!  If they would just keep shoving popcorn in their mouth and paying attention they would know!  And, hopefully, there isn’t a surprise at the ending, because that’s when the inevitable potty break will occur.

2.  Restaurants

Your little one would probably eat a hot dog for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day if you let them.  But if you order them a hot dog at a restaurant it’s like you’re asking them to eat eels.  They only want to eat one thing…whatever it is you ordered.  And YOU KNOW they don’t like what you ordered but they insist it’s what they want, so you share and they hate it and you try to hold back a massive “No &$#*, Sherlock! That’s why we ordered you a hot dog!”  And I think restaurants challenge each other to see how many projectiles they can put on their tables – sugar packets, creamers, salt and pepper shakers, jellies, crayons, silverware, and on and on and on…and on the floor they all go.  They’re volume inexplicably goes up a few hundred decibels and you can feel the eyes from other tables turning your way.  You swallow your food so fast that you forget what you ate by the time you make it back to the car but you’ll be sure to remember what your little minion ate because they shoved some in their pants to be found later.

1.  Grocery Stores

To be honest, I don’t like going grocery shopping even WITHOUT kids. But having them with is a whole new challenge.  You put on cartoons and they turn into catatonic lumps on the couch.  You bring them to a grocery store and all of a sudden they have ninja-like reflexes and everything within their reach is coming off the shelves.  And everything is liquid in glass or millions of pieces of dried goods in easily opened boxes and the poor pimply-faced high schooler hasn’t finished your clean up on aisle 3 before aisles 4, 5, and 6 are in need of his attention.  And WHOEVER thought up the grocery cart with the car on it is the antichrist!  It’s irresistible to children and impossible to drive through the store!  And the checkout lane designer who loaded it with balloons and candy?  OH HOOOO – there is a special place in Hell for you, my friend!  Do you know who designed these things?  Grandparents!  Because they remember what we were like and they are silently adding obstacles to our daily lives as payback!  Very sneaky, Grams and Gramps, very sneaky indeed…but remember, when we ship you off to the retirement home, we’re sending the grandkids to spend time alone with you and there is nowhere for you to run!  Game on…

“Be nice to children, for they will choose your rest home.” ~ Phillis Diller

Top Ten Things You Can No Longer Do Because You’re an Adult

I’M BACK!!!  I know, I know, it’s been two whole weeks since my last post and BELIEVE ME, I would have much rather been here writing to you guys instead of all the garbage (in some cases, literally) that I was dealing with. It seems as though I have survived a whole week of Mondays and I found my way back to you (a whole week of Mondays sounds like a good future topic…hint, hint).

One of the things that found its way into my email inbox was an article a good friend sent me (which I encourage you ALL to do – email, tweet, or Facebook me if you have anything cool or have an idea on something you want me to write about – I’d love to hear from you).  In this article, a high school football player is in a ton of trouble for exposing his junk during the team photograph.  The photo was used in every program during the season but went unnoticed until the yearbooks came out.  Now, it should be punishment enough to know that no one noticed it in hundreds and hundreds of copies until almost a year later (now THAT’S a real shot to the ego) but on top of that he now has a slew of criminal charges pending – 69 to be exact…yeah…I noticed.

So it got me thinking – this is TOTALLY age-ist!  Most of us have baby pictures that our parents took of us in the bathtub or some other random fit of nudity when we were youngsters.  But, at some point, these photos ceased to be acceptable.  So – nearly 300 words later – that brings me to the topic of this week’s Top 10 Tuesday: things we are no longer allowed to do now that we’re no longer children.

10. Wear Velcro Shoes

Yes, there are some exceptions, if you’re going through some sort of physical therapy or when you’re too elderly to get your fingers to function properly.  But, on the whole, where are all the cool velcro shoes?!!  If I was a betting man (which I am, I’m just not very good at it – seriously, why would I bet on a horse whose name sounds like a codeine-laden cold medicine?!!  Whodathought THAT horse was fast?!!) I would wager that there are more adults who tie new shoes a few times and then just slip them on and off without worrying about the laces any more.  Just because our shoes have ties, doesn’t mean we tie them!  So give us back our velcro…and, while you’re at it, the cool cartoon characters…and the flashing lights.

9.  Go to Restaurant Playgrounds

Come on, when we were kids we never went to McDonald’s or Chuck E. Cheese for the fine culinary experience.  We went there to choke down their borderline edible food as fast as possible so we could swan dive into the disease-riddled ballpit!  You wanted to crawl through the oversized hamster tube maze and slide down the staticky slide and then release the charge by poking the first person who ran by you and your newly vertical wisps of hair.  But now look at you.  Sitting on the bench, holding onto hoodies and stinky velcro fastened sneakers…with the cool cartoon characters…and the flashing lights watching your kids have all the fun. You can’t join them because you “exceed the legal weight limit” or something stupid like that.  And GODFORBID you go by yourself or else you “scare the children” and become “the creepy guy.”  The man is keeping us down.

8.  Hang Out with Random Strangers

When we were allowed to go to these restaurants or to actual outdoorsy playgrounds and parks, we didn’t worry about other kids being there.  You went over to what you wanted to play with and started playing.  If the kid who was there was pretending to be a pirate, you turned into a pirate too. It was no big deal to walk over to the sandbox, plop down next to a total stranger, and ask them to be your friend.  Try that now, I dare you.  Go to a bar, walk up to a group of strangers sitting at a table, join in on their conversation, and say “wanna be friends?”  I TRIPLE DOG DARE YOU!  Uh oh…now you HAVE to do it!

7.  Sit on Santa’s Lap

Again with the “creepy guy.”  It’s either you or Santa.  If you’re male, it’s you.  If you’re female, all of a sudden Santa looks like the creeper. Christmas is still awesome and you still have a list of cool things you’d like to get but you now know the value of money and know that your family and friends probably won’t be able to give you the big ticket items. So it’s natural to get the urge to ask “the big guy.”  But, just for a moment, try to picture the look on the mall Santa’s face as he sees you standing in line, with you looking him dead in the eye with the smile of someone who wants to have a serious Christmas present talk, and he realizes that none of the children in line are with you.  For bonus points, pay one of his elves for the photo package.

6.  Run Naked Through Sprinklers

Nope.  The word naked has a whole different connotation once you’re all grown up.  Gone are the days when you could throw off your Pampers and run through the sprinkler in your backyard or skinny dip in your kiddy pool.  It starts out with your mother calling your father to get the camera, then one day it becomes your neighbors calling the cops.

5.  Have Someone Wipe Your Nose

My sons recently were simultaneously fighting nasty springtime colds. The eleven-year-old suffered pretty much independently.  But the three-year-old would yell “tissue” or “snots” and my wife and I would thoughtlessly grab the kleenex and take care of the gelatinous muck that was protruding from his face.  I’m pretty sure you’re not going to find many takers when you’re in your 30s and you’re yelling for a tissue while you stand in the middle of the room with “boog-boogs.”  I don’t remember when I gained this independence or even when I cut my older son loose from this privilege, but I’m guessing it comes as a real shock to the system the first time you are abandoned and expected to wipe your nose (or other areas for that matter) for the first time.  “You want me to do what?!!  No way, that’s gross, that’s why I have you do it!!”

4.  Formally Introduce Yourself as Informally as Possible

When we meet some one new now, it’s pretty basic.  There’s a handshake, steady eye contact, and the exchanging of names and possibly a “nice to meet you.”  That’s it.  No one gets to really know you, not like when you were a kid.  Next time you meet someone for the first time, don’t shake their hand.  Just look them in the eye and say, “I’m Jim.  I’m 40.  How old are you?”  Now you can either wait for them to answer or interject something about how you have a dog, or don’t like tomatoes, or what you got for your last birthday, or that your mom drinks from a hip flask whenever she thinks you’re not looking.

3.  Randomly Dress Up

Why do you dress up now?  Halloween?  Costume party?  Theme night at the ballpark?  Random, stupid, office team building blahdy-blah?  Why did you dress up as a child?  BECAUSE YOU FOUND THE COSTUME!  You’re digging through your toy box and voila!  There’s your cape and you decide that for the rest of the day, you’re Batman.  We totally need more costumes in our regular wardrobe rotation!  How cool would it be to just see some dude walking down the sidewalk wearing goggles, a Spongebob t-shirt, and a clip on tie that barely passes his collarbone?!  And, ladies, c’mon, you know you want to randomly pair a fairy princess gown and a lightsaber with your froggy rain boots before heading into work.

2.  Ordering from the Kids’ Menu

Our food has the calorie counts and fat content listed on the menus now, but, let’s get down to the important issues.  Where’s the toy?!!  Is there any way we could have a turkey club with the crust cut off?!!  It’s awesome that we have so many more choices when we go out to eat, but c’mon! Would it kill someone to arrange the food on our plate like a smiley face? We’re the ones who tip, people, not the youngsters!  Maybe I want my food cut into stick form; maybe I want pudding as a side dish; maybe I want to help the dolphin find his way through the coral maze on my placemat!  Did ya ever think about that?!!

1.  Making People Happy by Napping

I feel like a schmuck for never appreciating my naps.  It’s so true that you never know what you’ve got until it’s gone.  Furthermore, back in the day, other people were brought joy by your napping!  Your parents would tiptoe our of your room with smiles on their faces.  Now blaring alarms and vibrating phones violently yank us out of our dreamland.  Back then your loved ones would peek in on you and whisper to themselves how you looked like an angel while you slept.  Now your significant other lies awake as you snore, staring in disgust at the drool faucet coming out of your slacked jaw and wondering about the insurance money and the pillow in their clenched hands. Back then you were encouraged to get your rest so you could grow big and strong.  Now when you tell them you took a nap, they either wonder if you’re sick or why your lazy ass wasn’t busy working.

Enjoy it while you can, kiddos, the ugly double standard sneaks up on you.

“If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun.” ~ Katharine Hepburn