Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Moosh Musings

Mysteries of baby T gather momentum with each day that mama T (and her belly) inch closer to delivery. Outwardly and inwardly, we and our loved ones have many questions about our future family addition.

Of course, our paramount concern is for the baby's health and mama's safety. When our thoughts turn less serious, the most common speculation is if we are having a boy or a girl.

Selfishly and perhaps inevitably, I wonder ... what about the baby will be like me? Will my genes give the baby a big forehead and a gap in the front teeth? Will he/she like baseball, memorizing world capitals, and Scrabble?

Or will she/he be more like her mom? Will her genes give the baby pretty, three-ring eyes and curly hair? Will she/he like gymnastics, "So You Think You Can Dance?", and facebook?

Only time will tell.

One tendency that I strongly hope does not pass by my DNA is a phenomenon that I encounter almost daily in my life. It's something that I call "moosh." Perhaps you have experienced it yourself.

For example, you walk into Dunkins for a medium hot regular and have a choice of two lines. One line has 5 people, the other has 2. Naturally, you choose the 2. The customer at the front of your line receives her coffee and leaves the line. Quietly, you chuckle at the 5th person in the other line because you know he'll still be standing there when you leave with your coffee in hand. You wait patiently and suddenly overhear the customer in front of you.

He's reading off of a list written on the back of a pizza box. Still wearing a hard hat and his Carhart overalls, you realize it's the construction rookie with the entire crew's 9 a.m. coffee break order. Frantically, your eyes dart to the other line and it's down to 3. Do I stay or go? You freeze hoping that the cashier is a pro who can bang out 10 coffees in 60 seconds. Peering your head around the carpenter's shoulder, you see a sticker above the cashier's name tag that reads "I'm in training." Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh! She hasn't even started microwaving the croissanwiches yet.

Not only has the 5th customer come and gone in the other line by the time you announce your order in .79 seconds to the new hire, the coffee maker almost definitely requires a filter change, or they're waiting for the manager because the register's out of ones. You've been mooshed.

Line moosh comes in many other forms: stop and go traffic (I always choose the wrong lane), airport security lines (I never see the family with 3 kids ahead of me until it's too late), grocery store lines (especially the self-service checkout - avoid this at all costs!), bank teller lines (I'm sure a hold-up is just around the corner), etc.

As for baby T, I hope for his/her sake that the moosh was a recessive gene that he/she does not inherit. I guess we'll find out when we pick an exit lane at the hospital's parking garage...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Dreaded Question

"What are the birds and the bees?" No, I'm not scared to answer that one. Many years of procrastination lie between now and then - plus, one of baby T's friends' parents are likely to leave their Internet unprotected so that should probably get me off the hook.

"Can I shave my legs?" Whether we have a girl or a boy, I'll likely refer baby T to mama T if confronted with that question. Then, I'll look to make sure there's some Jameson in the liquor cabinet.

"How many Super Bowls have the Jets won in your lifetime?" I hope the answer to that question is at least one by the time baby T is watching football and wearing green with me on Sundays. While I suspect the answer to that question will likely be zero, it doesn't make me nervous. Instead, I kind of foresee the following exchange:

Baby T: How did you get mom to go out with you?

Daddio: Well, baby T, I was at Uncle Noonan's 30th birthday party and I was dressed like Judge Smails from Caddyshack.

Baby T: What's Caddyshack?

Daddio: It's an awesome movie. Anyway, mom came to the party late because she was working as a bartender back then. I missed the chance to speak with her because Uncle Randy was mowing my lawn.

Baby T: What's mowing your lawn mean?

Daddio: Nevermind. Then, I saw that she was leaving to go. So, I ran outside after her. When I got outside the Seapoint, mom was getting into her car.

Baby T: Where's the Seapoint?

Daddio: It's in Southie where the 3 of us lived before we moved into the house. Anyway, we're standing in the parking lot and it was beginning to rain. I thought it was a sign. We started talking and I was feeling a good vibe so I decided to ask her out. She reached into the car to write down her number on a piece of paper, but then she stopped and said that she had a date the next morning. Brunch, actually. And then she said that she didn't feel comfortable dating more than one person at the same time.

Baby T: Bummer. That's awkward.

Daddio: Agreed, although it got much more awkward afterwards when I leaned in and tried to kiss her. She jolted her head back as I moved in lips first. I think she may have even gasped and said something like "What are you doing!?" I thought she was giving me the signal! I mean, she just had this great smile that made her eyes twinkle at me and ...

Baby T: (stunned) (shaking his/her head in disbelief) Why are your answers to simple questions so long-winded?

Daddio: (shrugging) Sorry, kiddo. Want to see if the Jet game is on? I think mom's done watching her Gossip Girl repeats.

Baby T: I hate that show.

Daddio: That's my boy/girl!

Advice from my cousin Sean

Thought you might like to look into the crystal ball and grab a glimpse of what lies ahead. I wake up every morning and come home every evening waiting to meet the 23 month old love of my life. She runs to the door and sings one of her twenty-five understandable words….”daddy!” I pick her up and give her a hulk hug and a huge kiss hello. She guides me into my room to make sure I take the tie off and put my business clothes in a safe place. We return to the kitchen for dinner with a plain white t shirt and the same pair of under armour shorts. Madison takes her seat and eats with a fork like an angel. Approximately 7 minutes into her meal, she gives mom and dad a great big smile, grabs her plate and flings it across the dining room. Madison gets a time out, mom and dad open a bottle of wine and the games begin….

Friday, November 21, 2008

Perpetuating Pet Peeves

As a master of both the obvious and the understatement, I present the following: a parent's influence over his/her child is amazingly powerful. It seems self-evident that shaping a kid's moral compass is paramount to proper parenting. Of course, teaching etiquette and manners must rank pretty high on the list, too. And don't forget about reinforcing the important lessons like "sharing is caring," "being a team player," "lending a hand to those in need," and other seemingly cliche but truly important values. Okay. I know. I sound like Charlie Brown's teacher. Moving on.

All of those child rearing fundamentals are clearly elementary, but I feel like one of the coolest areas of influence that a parent has over a child is the ability to brainwash them into co-hating mom's or dad's pet peeves. Granted not all parents are on the same page as me, but I guarantee there are a handful out there reading this that are quietly nodding in agreement.

I can tell you right now that I certainly plan on administering my own form of KGB propaganda in baby t's early years. Here's just a short list, in no particular order, of those pet peeves that boil my blood:

1.) the interrupter = if you speak over me while I'm in mid-sentence, you might as well just hock a loogie in my face.

2.) the crop duster = why oh why must you fart during your walk to the water bubbler while I'm on the treadmill? (side note - ever notice that gym farts are especially horrid?)

3.) the tailgaiter = I don't enjoy feeling like O.J.'s Bronco just came up from behind while I'm freeway driving.

4.) the "can't be bothered" = it's pretty much a miracle if the cashier at CVS near Downtown Crossing isn't on her cell phone when you're waiting to be rung up;

5.) mr. cool = radio D.J. teachers seriously need to teach their students that speaking over a song before the lyrics kick in is NEVER COOL - please, just stop doing this;

6.) the fast forwarder = usually a caffeine buzzed car operator who FF's a song when it's only halfway through - you know who you are;

7.) the contrarian = it doesn't matter if you suggest that a human needs air to breath, this person will find a way to disagree;

8.) Ron Jaworski/Troy Aikman = really, it's okay to say NFL instead of National Football League, even just once during a game - a strangely disturbing trend;

9.) the shameless introvert = is it really that difficult to ask just one question about what's happening in my neck of the woods?

10.) the odd urinator = it makes no sense to me when dudes pee on toilet seats in male-only bathrooms when urinals are also available - i beg you, please stop the madness for those of us who have the unfortunate need to use a public throne - it just prolongs the nest making process;

Wow, that was therapeutic. I feel better already. We could go on forever because God knows I'm perfect and I never breach such reprehensible mores. Rather than end here, I'd like to hear from you all. Leave me a comment about your pet peeves (or feedback on those aforementioned) and I'll post an uber-list next week...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Push Gift Mythology

A devious, conniving wizard behind a diamond encrusted curtain once concocted this idea about a "push gift." Do not be deceived, ladies and gentlemen - that unseen CEO of a jewelry company was not looking for a way to reward new moms for delivering their first baby(ies.) The idea of a push gift is just good old capitalism merged with advertising, urban legend, and exploiting a man's guilt for failing to pony up some bling (the engagement ring apparently doesn't make the cut.) Okay, I'll get off my soap box now.

By no means do I intend to belittle the physical challenge of delivery that lies ahead for my baby mama. If anything, I've got belly envy. Baby T loves to practice kung fu and play air drums, which mom gets to experience all the time but daddio only feels when we're spooning. The best part about my wife's belly in its current form is feeling it in between us when we hug. It's a warm reminder of February 1, 2009.

As for a push gift, Baby T's mama has not so subtly left reminders in the form of Barmakian catalogues around the house and seemingly casual comments like, "Oh wow, this is so pretty!" I know that she is kind of kidding but I know that she wouldn't mind if I "surprised" her, too. I was raised Catholic so clearly guilt is one potential way of effectively manipulating me. And adding fuel to the fire are dudes who broke from what should be an unwritten fellow man code by going ahead and springing for the bling. (Yo, you're making us simpletons look bad!)

Crunch time fast approaches. I keep envisioning the delivery room with my baby mama and I holding hands in a hospital room. With a catcher's mitt on my free hand and a couple stogies in my pocket, I'll be chanting words of encouragement while Shell is loudly cursing me for having knocked her up. As for our push gift, the real present we'll be looking for on that day is the end of our wait for baby T. 10 weeks or less to go!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Drinking the Minivan Kool Aid

"Darth" was a black Ford Aerostar with a blue hood, which 5 of my buddies and I took on a road trip to Virginia Beach one summer in college during one of our annual adventures known as "Shaft Weekend." Each of us took a turn at the wheel beating the crap out of Darth while the others slept, farted, laughed, joked, and hazed the driver. In other words, we were having such a good time that I didn't consider how emasculating it was to be driving a minivan.

I thought of Darth last weekend while I was driving on I-95. The reverse image of a minivan caught my eye as I glanced in the rear view mirror and observed the driver in his attempt to mount my Honda from behind. I held my breath while pulling into the middle lane.

One might assume that an insecure 40 year-old driving a Hummer trying to impress his date or a drunken teenager speeding in his parents' Porsche is the most dangerous vehicle on the road. Not in my book. Minivans scare the bejeezus out of me. I pull over faster to let them pass than I do for police cars or ambulances.

Think about it. A parent behind the wheel of a minivan is probably more volatile than Elizabeth Hasselbeck before a presidential election. If kids are in the car, then chances are at least one of them is melting down, or the cartoon DVD playing is lulling the driver to sleep along with the kids. If no kids are in the car, dad temporarily believes that he's driving his Mustang from college and he's on his way to his girlfriend's house because her parents are gone for the weekend. In other words, stay far away from minivans on the highway.

I know what the dads who drank the Kool Aid are thinking. Some of them have tried to get me to drink from their minivan pint glass. "It's a really smooth ride." "The cargo room is great." Or maybe, "We can use it for road trips - if my wife lets me."

Not me, man. Driving a minivan would seriously cramp my male mystique. My prior wheels included hotrods such as a 1978 Chevrolet Malibu (the "Bubonic"), a 1989 Plymouth Reliant (the "K Car"), and a 1996 Ford Escort (the "Scrat.") Obviously, people's heads were always turning when my rides rolled through town.

However, we do need to buy a family car. If we take the plunge, it's got to be in style. (Contemplating) I wonder if Darth is for sale...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Clarking Out

Give me Jordan, Bird, or Magic at the peak of their careers - none of them could have beat my dad's go-to move in H.O.R.S.E. on our driveway hoop and wooden backboard. Clad in a straight brim mesh ball cap, shades, dungarees, and a v-neck sweater, the guy we affectionately called (and continue to call) "Clark" had a banking hook shot that never missed as long as he was smoking a cigar and holding a glass of wine in his left hand at the same time.

I can appreciate my dad's style and hoop skills now but my 13 year-old self was a little less tolerant. For me, public appearances with my parents as an adolescent were as comfortable as walking onto a stage during a school assembly with my fly down or toilet paper stuck to my shoe.

Waiting for Clark to pick me up from little league practice one day, I stood in horror when he arrived wearing a "wife beater" undershirt (way before it was fashionable) and dark socks (again before it was fashionable) with shorts. Hoping that the guys would not be around to witness me entering the family truckster, I ran back to the dugout looking for a batting glove I had not forgotten. Still, one of my teammates recognized my dad. Clark was waving and yelling to get my attention. My cover blown and my senses mortified, I slouched into the car and questioned Clark about his sock selection.

When does that switch flip when dads suddenly become so not cool? That can't possibly happen to me, right? I'm cutting edge. I'm a fashionista. I shop at thrift stores. Maybe I'm not a hipster, but I'm still pretty cool - I think.


Alright, I'm beginning to understand. While there are mostly positive side effects to a man's skill set that accompany fatherhood (old man strength, unquestioned sporting of mustaches, mastery of cooking breakfast), becoming uncool is just a momentary hiccup in the course of a dad's relationship with his kids. It's just a temporary stage. Like Madonna's British accent.

Fortunately, I have an expert whom I love and respect dearly to prepare me for the challenge. Hey Clark! Pass me the ball and lend me a v-neck. I need to practice that hook shot.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Keeping Up With The Joneses

JAMS were baggy shorts with loud pastel colors and patterns, which were knee length unless of course you were really rad and wore the 3/4 length JAMS that were called "clamdiggers." This fad was so revolutionary because we guys only previously wore shorts so short and tight that they could cut off circulation. (If you need proof, check out Jack Sickma and his blond fro or any other NBA player circa 1984.)

I want to say JAMS cost something like $30, which my parents sanely refused to pay for a piece of clothing they knew I would outgrow within months. Instead, I got JIMS (or were they WAMS?) from Montgomery Ward. Once everyone with true JAMS discovered my fraud, the playground fashion police ridiculed and scorned me. I felt like a pariah.

Other fads and frauds came and went. Swatch watches, Reeboks, and CB winter jackets for the elite haves. Casio digital, Pony, and whatever was on clearance at Rich's for the lowly havenots.

It burned me up inside sometimes. Most frustrating was simply not knowing what the new "in" thing was until it was already happening. Where did my peers learn this shit? Were they on some kind of distribution list that didn't come to 2 Bert Street's mailbox?

Eventually, I caught on, pegged my pants, wore a Coed Naked t-shirt under my J. Crew rollneck that didn't fit properly, and survived through high school. While attending college in Vermont during the peak of Pearl Jam and Nirvana, I read a little Thoreau and Gandhi, grew my hair long, donned some flannel, and finally stopped caring.

Now standing on the precipice of parenthood, I learn to my shock and horror that our baby registry contains not one, but something like four different strollers all with prices in excess of $25. The "Just Like Us" page in "Us Weekly" showed Britney dragging on a Parliament Light as she pushed one of her boys in a stroller that might as well be some kind of off-road, miniature Cadillac. I think we're getting the same one.

At this point in my life, I'm content with my philosophy of product selection when it comes to materialistic stuff. Basically, I lean towards purchasing the functional, affordable, and generic but every once in a while a splurge is okay.

So here's the rub - my philosophy may work well for me but does that mean I can impose the same angle on my kid? In other words, if the wife and I don't get the Juicy Couture of onesies for our infant, does that make us bad parents? Will four month old Audrina/L.C./Heidi-types at day care gossip about Baby T's outfit behind his/her back when he/she goes down for a nap? Are we depriving him/her of toddler self-confidence if we opt for Mar-SHALLS instead of Baby Lulu?


Screw it. I'm off to T.J. Maxx for Baby T's first pair of JIMS. I'll deposit what I save on price for Baby T's college tuition, which should only be about $100,000 a year by 2028.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

So you've got swimmers...

Perhaps it's hypocritical of me to launch a blog when I heckle the wife for obsessively checking facebook and discouraging her from posting information that ruthless identity thieves or creepy strangers could use in some way to destroy us. Notwithstanding (or "irregardless" if you're from Mass.) I realized that I need an outlet to memorialize my thoughts in anticipation of a particularly important event in our lives.

Around 6 months ago, I came home on a Sunday afternoon. Observing the remote unattended, I seized control and dialed up ESPN. The wife disappeared immediately to the back of our place and reappeared carrying a white plastic thing. I knew before she said anything.

She had seemed a bit antsy for me to get home when she called my cell earlier that day. The week before, she declared that her boobs felt weird. Half listening, I dismissed her comment as wishful thinking.

At 33, we were a bit behind our contemporary friends and family members in babymaking. Based on the experiences of many of our loved ones with children, we appreciated that conception was much more difficult than was advertised in our high school health classes.

We were only in our first month after pulling the goalie for the empty netter. Like someone transported from 1915 who learns about the Internet for the first time, the wife explained the concept of an ovulation kit to me. On the two days of that month when the planets were in alignment, she ordered me into bed after confirming her calculations. Afterwards, she laid on a pillow with her back arched like they do in the movies - that is, the movies about couples trying to have a baby, not other kinds - okay, moving on. I was cautiously optimistic we'd conceive by the end of 2008.

Back in our living room, I contemplated skeptically in silence: "It couldn't have happened on our first try, right?" When she showed me the two pink lines, I was encouraged but still not convinced. We'll know for sure when she goes to the doctor for the blood test or whatever they do to make it official. Becoming annoyed that I was not contemporaneously experiencing her elation, the wife orated passionately about the pee stick's accuracy percentages. Still, I had my doubts. I mean it was a generic Tar-zhay pregnancy test. How much could I trust it?

Eventually, I came around. My wife and I shared that special moment when you realize, "We are having a baby!" and then "Nice, I've got swimmers!" followed by "Holy shit, are we ready for this?"

In the 5 or so months since that day, I've had a lot of other thoughts building up inside my head. By far, the majority of my feelings about becoming a father have been happy excitement. But, I've also had the occasional anxieties, fears, and trepidation of the unknown creep up on me, too. Hopefully, this blog will be a good medium for airing those thoughts. I hope you enjoy it.

Questions, comments, observations, or other feedback welcome.