Unrelated story: Did you ever hear the old joke about the mother who was having some of her friends over for lunch when her little five-your-old comes running in and says “Mommy, mommy I hafta go pee pee.” The mother, obviously embarrassed, talks to her son after her guests have left. She decided they should come up with a code word for pee pee and suggests the word whisper.


Fast forward two weeks, Uncle Billy is visiting from Vermont and sharing a room with the young five-year-old. In the middle of the night the boy wakes Uncle Billy and states, “Uncle Billy, I need ta whisper.” Billy groggily replies, “Wait until morning.” Two more times the boy tells Uncle Billy he has to whisper. Finally, Uncle Billy relents and says, “All right, but do it quietly in my ear.”


Whenever my youngest son, now four, wants to whisper (and I mean actually whisper) something to me, I lean down and rotate my head so my ear is pointing towards him. The unfortunate thing is he does the same thing and our ears meet. This not only tickles like crazy but closes up my hearing canal (medical term) so that his whisper is a barely audible breeze.




I have tried to explain to him the art of whispering a hundred times, but the entire concept escapes him. It is one of the multitude of things I take for granted, but it appears to allude the kids. There are others:


  • Being in a hurry: “Come on get your shoes on we have to get going…tell me in the car. No we don’t have time to play a game. Where’s your jacket? You hid it, but we are already late…”
  • Hunger: You’re driving away from a restaurant when your son informs you he is hungry. “But we just had dinner and you only ate half your pasta. What do you mean you weren’t hungry then it was five minutes ago?”
  • Potty: Driving away from your house, “Daddy, I hafta go potty.” “I asked you three times before we left if you had to go, I stood you in front of the toilet twice, you cried outside the bathroom door while I was going and you insisted you didn’t have to go.” “Daddy, I hafta go now!”
  • Silence: “Quiet in church now…shhhh…whisper…do you know how to whisper?” Child shouting “I think so, wanna hear me?”
  • Sunflower seeds: Do not try to explain this art form indoors! “All right son, put it in your mouth, bite it in half and spit out the shell. Not bad, let me go change my shirt and we’ll try it again.”
  • Getting to the point: The other day my three-year-old was desperately searching for his Superman figurine’s red cape. “It’s over there” I said nonchalantly pointing to the coffee table, barely looking up from the ball game, bottom of the ninth, tie score, two out, two on, Posey up with a 3-2 count. It wasn’t until the top of the twelfth I realized he was still searching, now frantically, and near tears. “Son, it’s over there” but as I watched his eyes, he took no notice of where I was pointing or nodding my head. It was as if “over there” was a specific place in the family room and if he went there, Superman’s cherry red cape would be waiting. “No, look where I am pointing and nodding,” I told him. In frustration, I took his hand and walked him over to get the precious cape just as the announcer was saying, “…Holy cow, it’s not often you see an unassisted triple play, and that will conclude our coverage for today…”




One trick I have found for surviving some of the more mundane or unpleasant tasks of Dadlands, is to modify songs. I pick a song I am fond of and adjust the lyrics to suit the situation, they become a very modified version of a kid’s song. This will do nothing for the children, especially if your singing voice is as torturous as mine, but it will make the task at hand more bearable.


Here are a few examples:


When changing a poopy diaper try this, sung to the tune of “Everybody Plays the Fool” from the Main Ingredient:

  • “Everybody goes poop, sometimes, there’s no exception to the rule. It may be flatulence, it’s definitely cruel, but everybody goes poop. Listen Baby…”


When feeding my child some form of inedible gruel, I will hum the Michael Jackson/Weird Al hit:

  • “Eat it, just eat it, don’t know what it is, wouldn’t want to try it, just eat it…”


When you are washing hair, try this classic from South Pacific:

  • “I’m gonna wash that dirt right out of my hair, I’m gonna wash that dirt right out of my hair and send it down the drain…”


And rounding out the bathtub medley try this one from The Rolling Stones

  • “Scrub me up, dododo dododo scrub me up, won’t you scrub me up. Ohhh you can wipe me down, wipe me down like you never wiped. Ahhh you make a dirty kid cleeeaaan, you make a dirty kid cleeeaaan, your hands are filthy, your feet are greasy, I’ll clean your grime like you’ve never, never seen…”


Whenever you notice the warning signs that your child is heading for a complete emotional explosion, you know the signs (lightning, pestilence, flood, volcanic eruption) I choose the Boz Scaggs number:

  • “Danger there’s a meltdown dead ahead, and I said maybe you’re in way above your head, I’ve been burned…”


If the diaper wrap you are using gets dirty (details omitted for decency standards) you can sing the Queen tune:

  • “Another wrap bites the dust, and another one’s gone and another one’s gone, yeah another wrap bites the dust…”




And for purely sentimental reasons I love to sing Carole King’s “You’ve Got A Friend” to my boys. No lyric tampering required; the message conveyed in that song is the way I would like them always to perceive dear ol’ Dad.


Quick related story: As I mentioned I am to singing what Keanu Reeves is to acting, but my wife has a beautiful voice and would often sing to our sons right before bed. One night she was out so after I read the boys a book, completed our prayers and tucked them in bed, I launched into “You’ve Got A Friend.”


With all the heartfelt, tone deaf emotion I could muster (“When you’re down,”) I began the song in a gentle quiet whisper (“some love and care.”) The song seemed to resonate from somewhere within the confines of my soul (“and think of me and soon,”) soaring, filling the room. And for once in my life I wasn’t flat and achingly off key! It was as if the gentle timbres of James Taylor had taken residence in my vocal cords. My confidence built (“you just call out my name”) and I was filled with…“Dad! Dad! You’re hurting our ears!”


Snapped out of my Grammy winning performance I stared in disbelief. “But I was singing you to sleep,” I replied innocently.


“Who can sleep with all that noise!”


“But every night I hear your mommy…”


“Daddy, Mommy doesn’t give us owey ears when she sings.”


Coincidentally, they were both shipped off to boarding preschool the following Monday.


Last week’s blog focused on the top ten joys of being a teen,  see link below. The information was based on my years of raising four sons, the youngest having just turned seventeen. Granted it was not a firsthand account from an actual teen, but a well-researched compendium culled from over twenty-six cumulative years of observation. I felt it was a thorough and genuinely sound record.


Well, my second son (the outdoors-man on the right) has apparently taken umbrage at my list because, even though he has always claimed to never read my blogs, he sent me an email yesterday offering a counter-list of his own. My first reaction was, someone read my blog! Then my wife suggested I am obligated to offer equal time to my son.


So, without further ado, here is a teen rebuttal. The 10 Worst Things About Being A Teen according to my twenty-four-year-old son. (Note: #4 I find especially painful.)


  1. Parents nagging
  2. No food in the fridge
  3. The internet is down
  4. Family outings and gatherings
  5. Curfews
  6. You forgot your headphones
  7. You have to take your brothers with you everywhere
  8. Your teacher calls on you when you didn’t even raise your hand
  9. Being asked the same three questions by every adult ever
  10. More Nagging!




The next time your eleven-year-old says they are sorry, treasure that moment because it is the last time you will hear it for nine years. The reason is simple. In their clouded, visually impaired, reality-skewed mind, they are never wrong.


It must be a joyous experience to be seventeen… it has been too long for me to properly recall. But imagine, the entire world is before you, dangling on a string. Unfortunately, your parents are the ones holding that damn string. If it weren’t for them the world, and all who inhabit it, would be so much better off.




Samuel Clemens circa 1907

Whenever I suffer from TMTT (too much teen time) I am reminded of my favorite quote of all time attributed to Mark Twain, “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in 7 years.” 


I believe that is how every teen perceives the world. They view parents exactly the way the Disney Channel portrays us in every teenage sitcom; brain addled, befuddled, incapable of coherent thought and depending entirely on the knowledge and wisdom of our teenage children to survive. So, without any additional preamble, here are the top ten joys of being a teen.


  1. You are never wrong! You are profoundly confident in every assertion you make and believe wholeheartedly in your unequivocal infallibility.
  2. Life is perfect when you are with your friends, without any parental interaction.
  3. Protein Bars – an instant meal!
  4. School is an unnecessary hindrance on my way to my first million $ before I turn thirty.
  5. Earbuds – “I can’t hear you, I’ve got the earbuds in.”
  6. See #1.
  7. twitch.com – if you don’t know what it is, you are in a worse situation than I am.
  8. Chores are for parents or people not as busy as I am. Yep, that would be parents.
  9. Magic – food magically appears in the refrigerator, my clothes are always washed and folded, there is always gas in the car, cable-Netflix-wi-fi are continuously up and running. If I knew who to thank for all this I would.
  10. You only remember the bad times with your parents (Remember when we ran out of gas on the way to Christmas Eve dinner?), never the good times!