Wednesday, April 30th, 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.
I work in an office building. A densely populated one, at that. Therefore, when I’m walking in late, it’s painfully obvious to at least 40 people. But the reason it’s happening certainly isn’t obvious. I assume most people just attribute it to laziness, lack of motivation, or an overall disregard for corporate policy. I only wish it were that simple.
While I take full responsibility for this, I find it necessary to explain the history. It all started the night before, actually.
With earnest intentions to get my sons to bed early (or at least at their regular time), I started the bath 15 minutes early while my wife, Sonia dutifully sat with them to finish dinner. I was ahead of the game, or so I thought. Have you ever been on a conference call where you’re convinced the meeting leader is purposely extending the call (aka stalling) so it reaches the scheduled end time exactly, no matter how useless the extra information is? Well, my kids do the same thing with bedtime. And whether we like it or not, we’re going to hear about last quarter’s financials. Translated: My sons decided to extend dinner just for the sake of extending it, refusing to eat a morsel until it was cutting into bath time. I came down and tried to help, ultimately causing the running bathwater to almost overflow like that scene in Fatal Attraction. So much for being ahead of the game.
Needless to say, the kids wound up getting to bed even later than usual (because, of course), meaning they’d most definitely wake up late the following morning. But them waking up late means us getting to school late, which means me getting to work late. So, this morning I opened my eyes and looked at the clock. It was earlier than I’d expected. And I should’ve started the process of waking them at exactly that moment. But I didn’t. Instead, I waited. I mean, the house was so silent that I could hear it settling. How could I mess with that kind of serenity? So I lay in bed and listened to the sounds of the birds outside, cars whipping around the corner, etc. Considering that the three days preceding it I had awoken to my five-year-old poking me in the throat, I embraced that rare, precious moment like it was a gregarious puppy dog.
I soaked in every millisecond of stillness and waited until the last possible second to wake the boys up, knowing I would essentially be peeing into a beehive. And, to be clear, they took that serenity and gruesomely murdered it. They flopped around like dying fish; they shouted angry words into their pillows. My one son even called me a cactus (I’ve figured out that’s his word for a**hole—clever boy). To be honest, I don’t really blame him. I mean, I’d call the person waking me up an a**hole too.
Getting my children from their beds to the breakfast table when they’re exhausted is not unlike getting my wife from the shoe store to the exit when she’s shopping. There’s some magnetic surge that renders the voyage near impossible. I then find myself going into what’s referred to in football as “hurry up offense.” The clock is ticking, time is slipping away, and with every daunting second, I am even more certain that losing is in my future. So, I tuck both boys under my arms like footballs and head to the table, while they’re crying. I’m pretty sure Peyton Manning has never faced this type of pocket pressure. And in case it wasn’t obvious, two weeping, exhausted kids don’t really feel like eating. Another thing they definitely don’t feel like doing is taking off their pajamas. I mean, you’d think their school clothes were made of fire.
The time was rapidly approaching for us to be out the door, so I took their breakfasts and dumped them into easily transportable Zip-Lock bags. Their tears had subsided and dried to their faces at this point, but they’ll be damned if they’re going to be happy about being awake and actually eat. I was still the “cactus.”
We were finally in the car. This is momentous. However, I left the bags of cereal on the aforementioned breakfast table. So I bolt back inside. It only took 30 seconds to do that, but those 30 seconds will matter very, very soon.
Because of the time I lost forgetting the cereal, I end up pulling off my street directly behind a yellow school bus. But not just any yellow school bus. The bus that has 18 stops to make…and they’re all on the one-lane street that takes me from my house to my kids’ school. So, there’s that.
I finally arrive at school and, because some jerk decided to walk their kid inside and leave their car in the loading/unloading area, the rest of us mere mortals have to helplessly wait in a line behind them. Naturally, when the driver finally emerges, it’s one of the parents who never RSVPed to my son’s birthday party.
A rushed minute later and we’re finally indoors. Out of oxygen from the 20 yards I just had to run, I give the boys a breathy goodbye and a kiss on the cheek. Then, as I’m walking away from them, I have this momentary epiphany where I become aware that I spend far too much of my time with my children simply getting them from point A to point B. I peer back and watch them disappear into their respective classrooms, as I wonder if I’m “present” enough in their lives. It is during this impromptu soul-searching event when the clock on the wall comes into view. I need to be at work in 20 minutes…and I’m 35 minutes away.
The rest of the story is likely a familiar one for those of you who have ever crept into work a little later than you’d care to admit. Most of us don’t try to be late. In fact, it’s entirely possible the co-worker you see sneaking in at 9:15 was detained because they simply overslept, or they had to change a flat tire. But in all likelihood, they are late because they had multiple mouths to feed that morning. And one of those mouths refused to eat and secretly called him an a**hole.
Thanks for reading, and feel free to join the conversation by tweeting me or adding a comment below!
* Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com
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bedtime, bedtime routine, fatal attraction, football, lateness, morning routine, oversleeping, parenthood, parenting, peyton manning, shutterstock, work | Categories:
Wednesday, August 14th, 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.
From the moment we’re conceived, we’re instantly identified and divided according to our gender. If the sonogram shows a penis, blue blankets are dutifully draped upon rocking chairs, the quickest route to the local Boys & Girls Club researched and mentally stored for later. If the sonogram lacks a penis, baby shower attendees will come equipped with (and ready to unleash at a moment’s notice) any shade of pink that exists as of this typing. These two paths are typically followed like GPS directions when you’re in the bad part of town: You don’t dare try to “do it your own way” for fear of serious repercussions.
And we’re all guilty of “genderizing” someone, as I like to call it. I’ve certainly done it. In fact, my wife and I just picked up a flowery dress and a doll for my soon-to-be 2-year-old niece’s birthday party. I mean, it would be rude if I showed up with a Matchbox car and a whiffle ball bat, right? That’s most definitely how I’d feel walking into the party. And I’m not saying giving a girl a doll or a boy a toy car is a bad thing. But where I do have a problem is when it goes beyond gift-giving and becomes a close-minded, limiting philosophy about what our children should be exposed to and where their interests should or shouldn’t lie.
While I see myself as far from the perfect parent, this is one area where I feel like I’m doing the right thing- giving my kids the freedom to explore their surroundings and establish their “favorite things” independent of my input and potentially misleading influence. After all, who am I to impede their happiness?
Well, regardless of the child’s contentment, I’ve known an embarrassing amount of people who force their preconceived theories on their kids quite liberally.
“Put down that doll. It’s for girls.”
“Isabella, you can’t be Batman for Halloween. Only boys can be Batman.”
It happens everywhere, and you’ve seen it happen, too. I think we’re far too quick to label a toy as “for girls” or “for boys” when, in reality, there is very little actual difference between the two. And really, when I think of the toys I “borrowed” from my sister growing up, many of them would raise an eyebrow with the traditionalists out there (not to mention my undying affinity for The Golden Girls). Let’s go through them, one by one, so maybe we can determine what’s so “girly” about them.
Barbies: Growing up with one sibling, a sister, getting intimately acquainted with Barbie was inevitable. And like any kid (girl or not), I thoroughly enjoyed playing make believe. And in fact, Barbie was where I first realized my fascination with taking women’s clothes off! Not much “girly” about that.
Kitchen: Some of the most famous chefs in the world are men! And I’m sure they started by making their moms fake blueberry pies in their fake oven.
Baby Stroller: For whatever reason, pushing a stroller is always seen as a feminine act. But any father will tell you that we spend just as much time behind a stroller than behind a grill.
Dolls: Perhaps the most traditionally girly toy of all. And you’ll almost never see a boy given this as a gift. But I’ve got news for all you traditionalists out there. Boys play with dolls all the time. We might call them “action figures,” but they’re dolls. They are toys designed to appear like a living thing, allowing children to create fictional scenarios and fantasize about them being real. They’re dolls. Even if they’re wearing a helmet and carrying a gun.
The color pink or purple: I’m not necessarily suggesting that you adorn your sons in hot pink Juicy sweatpants, but my 4-year-old came home from camp the other day and grumbled that another kid told him “purple is for girls.” It should be noted that purple is Antonio’s favorite color and has been at least since he’s been able to speak. I was infinitely proud when he followed that up with, “But it doesn’t matter.” He’d heard that phrase from my wife. And that’s exactly the kind of thinking I want to instill in my sons. I firmly believe that allowing children to be themselves instead of forcing them to be like everyone else yields a happy kid who won’t resent his/her parents for stifling their creativity.
This leads me to a post I recently came across on the NFL Facebook page. It was a photo of a woman, donned in standard referee stripes, with two simple words: Coming Soon? It was about Sarah Thomas, who is in line to become the NFL’s first ever full-time female referee this season. I’m a massive NFL fan, but I knew immediately that the comment thread would include a significant dose of close-mindedness (read: barely literate ignoramuses). However, even I was surprised by what I saw.
Since I was seeing exponentially more of the top two comments than of the bottom two, I decided to chime in and have my voice be heard.
Turns out I wasn’t alone. As of this screen-grab, 465 other NFL fans agreed. But some…did not.
What I’ve highlighted above is exactly the type of ignorance I never want my sons to exhibit. And yes, my “brilliant observation” comment was strictly sarcastic. Not that its recipient was aware of that.
Clearly, not every football fan is prepared for female involvement in their male-dominated game of choice. But maybe, just maybe, they’d be a little bit more prepared if they were raised to retain the open-mindedness they were born with, encouraged and not discouraged to try new things, and instilled within them respect for the opposite sex.
If you disagree, I’m sorry to hear that. But as a parent, I feel that it’s my responsibility to enable my kids’ happiness, not restrict it.
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batman, dolls, facebook, female ref, football, gender roles, golden girls, joe deprospero, nfl, parenting, sarah thomas, sexism, toys | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Joe DeProspero