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Wednesday, May 14th, 2014
Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is writing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be found on Facebook or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.
Oftentimes, the hardest thing to do for someone is to understand them. Unfortunately, the easiest thing is to judge them, to retroactively make a better decision for them than they made 15 minutes earlier. I know, because I used to do this frequently myself. Whether I was mindlessly mashing buttons in the mall arcade or reluctantly trailing my mother as she patiently shopped for a pant-suit, I took notice of how surrounding moms and dads were treating their kids, and I was often appalled. Of course, this was well before I’d spawned my own.
It used to be where I would scoff at the mother blatantly ignoring her son as he screamed maniacally for her attention in a department store. Now, I know that the boy is being given the silent treatment because he’s pushed mom to the brink of sanity with his nastiness and indecisive shopping decisions and wholly deserves it.
It used to be where I would be saddened to see a father not get fully into character when reading an Elmo book to his toddler daughter. Now I know that he’s been in character for 458 days straight and his soprano-level Elmo voice is resting.
It used to be where I’d get angry when I’d see two parents leaving their children in front of Nickelodeon while they share a meal in relative tranquility. Now I know that Team Umizoomi is allowing mom and dad to actually have an adult conversation after two weeks without one.
Before I knew better, I’d see parents struggling immensely as they carted three children, two strollers and 12 bags of groceries from the store exit to their car. And I’d think to myself, “They shouldn’t have so many kids if they can’t handle the responsibilities.” These days, I sometimes lose my patience just pouring a glass of milk. But I still wouldn’t trade the reasons for my impatience for the world.
Back when I’d just turned 21, I’d see older people at the bars, throwing drinks back like they were 20 years younger. And I’d think it was sad. Now I still sort of think it’s sad, but at least now I understand why they do it.
There were times when I’d see adults out in public with stained shirts, unkempt hair, and untucked shirts, and I’d judge the living hell out of them, wondering why they weren’t able to keep themselves together while in public. Today, I see those same people and I offer them some seltzer and a rag, because I can completely envision the moment that the juice box was squeezed straight onto their innocent, dry-cleaned blazers.
Admittedly, it still happens from time to time, no matter how hard I try to avoid it. I’ll see someone who isn’t living life exactly the way I would and I do the thing I loathe…I judge. But becoming a parent has taught me a tremendous deal about acceptance and understanding. Having children has caused me to wear a stained shirt, act disinterested when others are excited, lose my patience so fast it turns heads, and even throw back a drink or four at the end of a long, maddening week…at the dinner table. And I know there’s someone out there watching me, shaking their head and rolling eyes. Because that someone used to be me, before I lost my mind and reached the age of reason.
So, if you happen to see someone in public who looks completely unsettled, unhinged, unkempt, or even a little unsightly, cut them a break. It’s entirely possible that the reason for their appearance isn’t a lack of trying, but is actually a byproduct of trying harder than you could possibly imagine. You’re not perfect, and God knows I’m not.
Thanks for reading, and be good to each other.
* Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com
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Thursday, September 26th, 2013
Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” He talks about the highs and unsettling lows of parenthood while always being entertaining and engaging in the process. He has written the fiction book “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt” and is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey with his wife and two sons and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.
The kids in this picture are about 8 and 10. That’s how long you’ll have to wait for two simultaneous smiles.
No one ever said being a parent was easy…with the exception of sperm donors and essentially every celebrity with a nanny, of course #kanyewest. That said, people who aren’t moms or dads may wonder what the most difficult parts of parenting actually are. Well I’m here to tell you that it isn’t the loss of sleep. It isn’t even the dreadful music you’re forced to listen to. It’s taking pictures at a Godforsaken portrait studio.
It starts innocently enough. In fact, you think you’re doing the right thing and that it’ll go off without a hitch. You think you owe it to your children to dress them in their Sunday best and document their growth to film. But you’re wrong. You make an appointment for a random Saturday morning in September to have four-month pictures of your child taken. Next thing you know, you’re desperately striving to keep your children entertained and nondestructive because Buy Buy Baby overbooked and now you’re waiting for the family ahead of you to finish who, for reasons known only to them, are actually not losing their minds in this ghastly process. (The family ahead of you are off-their-meds crazy.)
Taking small children out in public and expecting them to keep their clothes clean, stand up and smile when prompted is apparently an insurmountable task. It’s like pointing to something you want your dog to look at. It seems like a completely reachable goal, but all they do is stare at your hand! So close, yet so far away.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’ve had some pretty terrible experiences with cameras. Because of this, I’ve established a four-pronged approach to survival:
1) Respect the nap.
Don’t be stupid. If your kid is usually asleep from 1:00-3:00 p.m., don’t be daring and schedule your photography appointment at 12:30. You’re just asking to have your glasses snapped in half.
2) One at a time.
Think of a photography session like a subway turnstile. Try to sneak in two at a time and you’re taking a shot in the pelvis and maybe even paying a fine. If you manage to keep two small children happy and photographable at the same time, you should be President or something. Asking two children to smile simultaneously is like asking for two good John Travolta movies in a row.
3) Bribe reasonably.
If you’re going to bribe your kids, now is absolutely the time. But don’t get crazy and offer something you can’t produce, like college tuition at an ivy league school. Just point at anything in the store under $20, and odds are they’ll smile for a chance to destroy it.
4) Go local, not loco.
Whether you know it or not, you have a connection to a photographer via your friends or social networks. Most of them will come to your house, give you more time than a portrait studio would, and since your kids are at home, they’re more comfortable and far more likely to smile. If you’re in the New Jersey area, I highly recommend Brandon Murray Photography or Julie Fleming Photography. Both terrific with kids and have that inherent skill of capturing the perfect moment that you miss because you’re busy downloading the new IOS on your iPhone.
As far as my own experiences at studios go, this brief tale should sum it up…
Over fifty years ago, when the movie Some Like it Hot was being filmed, writer/director Billy Wilder insisted that Jack Lemon and Tony Curtis nail each scene that included Marilyn Monroe on the first take. Why? Because Monroe was such a train wreck (pardon the pun, if you’ve seen the film) that whenever she successfully got through her lines, that was the take they were going with. So, in this case, my wife Sonia and I were Jack and Tony, and our son Antonio, well, Antonio was Marilyn. The only difference was the blonde hair and unabashed alcoholism. All he had to do was smile once for 2-4 seconds. Hell, I’d even take a portion of a second. But no sooner did the cameras point at him when he looked like he’d been given socks as a Christmas present. True to our roles, Sonia and I kept iron-clad grins on the entire time. It was like the Miss America pageant, with no hopes of a crown to follow. I mean, tickling, a tap-dancing Elmo, that weird vibrating tongue drum roll noise that all the store photogs seem to think works, even a whispered promise (read: begging) to get him a toy and a Swedish massage if he smiles. No dice. I desperately tried to conjure up an image or action that would wipe the stoic wall off his face. So I came up with a mental list of things Antonio had laughed at in the past:
- Me getting hit in the face with a flying shoe
- My wife getting hit in the face with a flying shoe
- Himself peeing on the bathroom floor
- Shouting the word “penis”
None of these were viable options in that moment. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the photographer (who I’m pretty sure was Tempestt Bledsoe of Cosby Show fame) worked Antonio into submission. She got the shot! At least she thought she did.
“Oh. No. Dad, it was you. You blinked,” groaned Tempestt.
First of all, I’m not your dad. I’m not sure why all photographers think this is acceptable.
So, ultimately it was I who ruined the one good shot. Fortunately for me, once Vanessa Huxtable broke the smile seal, she was able to squeeze out a few more mild ones. Of course, this was coupled with me intermittently tickling him and then quickly getting back into position, causing me to appear in a weird, hunched position in the final shot, making me look constipated. Not that I cared at that point. I would gladly appear incontinent for generations to come if it meant us getting the hell out of there.
And we did. Right to the nearest liquor store.
Thanks for reading, and feel free to share your own photography experiences by adding a comment below!
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billy wilder, brandon murray photography, cosby show, Elmo, jack lemmon, john travolta, julie fleming photography, kanye west, marilyn monroe, miss america, parenting, pictures, portrait studios, some like it hot, tony curtis | Categories:
Thursday, November 29th, 2012
Could it really be this easy? Or did I just get über-lucky? Did something that I have anticipated (and dreaded) having to do for 3 years just come and go without a fuss or protest? I was envisioning sleepless nights, Fia calling out to us, begging for her pacifier back. I pictured me begging Phil to just give in. I hate to see my baby sad. (Yeah, I know, get over it. At least when we are talking about a piece of plastic that has long worn out its welcome.)
None of my fears came to pass.
Maybe it’s because her lip rash gave us such a good out. “Honey, the doctor says you can’t use your pacifier anymore.” Maybe it’s because she’s going to be 3 on Sunday. “Fia, you’re about to be a really big girl. And only babies use pacifiers.” Or maybe she was just ready to let go.
On Sunday we watched the Elmo episode for the 103rd (and hopefully last) time, about Bye Bye Binky.
On Monday night, 6 days before her birthday, we packaged up her “Bagdee,” wrote a note saying that Fia hoped the baby on the receiving end would find comfort in it, and sent it off. To, well, my mother-in-law’s house. I didn’t know where else to address it. Knowing her, she’ll keep it and someday when Fia is really a big girl, we’ll show her the note and the pacifier that gave her parents such angst (and even made our former nanny pissed at me).
She came down with a stomach flu and fever on Wednesday. “She’s really uncomfortable,” I said to Phil. “Should we give it back to her?” I got an emphatic NO. And further pointing out that she hasn’t even asked for it. So why would we offer it up?? Um, right. Good point. I don’t know…because I’m a mom and want to do anything to make my child feel better???? Maybe I need a pacifier.
At any rate, I have written at least 11 blogs about the pacifier and posted many a picture with Fia and that thing. I’m happy to say, I think those days are over. (At least until Emmett has his turn. But so far, he doesn’t seem to be as attached.)
This is one milestone I’m not overly sentimental about. In fact, I’d much rather see her smile…and now I will. Even at night.
The picture above was when she was about 18 months old. I always wanted her to have one in reach.
This pic from Halloween. Such a pretty mouth.
Why cover it up?
Pacifier picture at top via Shutterstock
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binky, dentist, Elmo, fever, milestone, paci, pacifier, smile, stomach flu, teeth, travel | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Milestone Monday, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Must Read
Monday, January 2nd, 2012
Author’s Note: Join me every Monday as I share Fia’s ongoing milestone (mis)adventures–from potty training to talking to everything in between. Mayhem and mischief guaranteed on Milestone Monday!
Eating her Arm, While Distracted by Computer. Whatever Works!
I think we’ve turned a food corner. I’ve written a few posts about how frustrating it is to feed Fi
. And how I’ve just given in to Sesame Street. She watches while I shove food in her mouth. But lately–dare I say–it’s been getting better? In fact, the TV is rarely on when she eats.
Let me first back up: A few days before our move to LA in October, I took Fia to the pediatrician. I thought Wayne had accidentally scratched her eye, though nothing too severe (apparently a corneal scratch will take a 500-pound man to his knees, fyi. She was just a little whiny and occasionally would point to her eye and say “hurts”). Turns out, her eye was fine. But while I was there, the pediatrician asked about some other things, including Fia’s eating habits. I love Dr. Gold because she is a straight shooter. And her advice seems pragmatic.
I proudly told her our television was in transit and how I’ve turned to circus performing during meal times. I dance, I sing. I do anything to distract and shove food in. But I don’t turn on the television. This seemed a huge milestone to me. She shook her head. Uh-oh, I thought.
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circus performance, distraction, eating, Elmo, food, food dilemma, meals, mealtime, milestone monday, Pediatrician, Sesame Street, television, toddler television, toddlers, Wayne, Wayne Sanchez | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Milestone Monday
Wednesday, November 30th, 2011
I Love Traffic
Author’s Note: Join me every Tuesday or Wednesday for “Moving Mid Pregnancy,” to read about my ongoing search for a new “everything” (from nannies to mom friends to health providers) while pregnant and living in a new city.
You hear so much about the traffic issues in LA. Everyone gripes about it. When I was getting ready to move from NYC to here, that was what most people warned me about. Well here’s my dirty little secret: I dig it. Ya know why? Because I love sitting in my car—ALONE–not hearing Elmo. Obviously, I’m talking about the times Fia isn’t with me. I never take her on a long stretch. No way I’m risking a replay of the barfing baby. My time in the car=time to myself. I listen to NPR or Satellite radio. I talk on the phone (on a Bluetooth, never phone to ear).
And the more traffic the better. It gives me the perfect excuse to be late. “Honey, traffic is terrible,” I’ll say to Phil. It’s always the truth.
I think as a mom you cherish your alone time far more than you ever did. I mean, isn’t a nice, long, hot shower—uninterrupted– a true pleasure now? Even cooking has become kind of fun. I can listen to a podcast as I chop away.
What gives you guys your dose of serenity? Maybe you do something I need to start indulging in. Like grocery shopping. I still dread that, but maybe if I look at it as alone time, I’ll have a different perspective. After all, that’s what parenthood does.
Image: Traffic Jam via Shutterstock
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alone time, Elmo, LA traffic, mom time, moving mid pregnancy, moving to LA, pregnancy, serenity, traffic, traffic jam | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Moving Mid Pregnancy, Moving to Los Angeles