Posts Tagged ‘ santa ’

Ten Things Kids Get Away With…That Adults Can’t

Thursday, March 6th, 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.” He talks about the highs and unsettling lows of parenthood. Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be emailed at jdeprospero@gmail.com or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

It truly is remarkable how many atrocious acts children are able to get away with, under the guise of “they’re only kids.” And frankly, I don’t think it’s fair that age should determine social etiquette. I mean, do these cretins think they’re above the law? Anyway, here is a series of infractions where I think kids (and even babies) need to mind their manners and shape up!

Blatantly throwing food on the floor

Seriously? There’s a ball right there in your hand. Throw that instead! And it’s not like macaroni and cheese even makes a satisfying noise when it hits a tile floor. I see no logic behind this senseless, selfish act. Adults could never do this as there’d be no one to clean it up.

Touching someone else for no reason

This is something that kids do without consequence until they’re about 17. Babies, toddlers, and adolescents alike have been touching people’s butts and faces for centuries without a care in the world. Adults would definitely not be able to get away with this sober.

Saying dinner is “gross”

My son often tells my wife that the dinner she prepared is “gross” or “yucky.” However, when I say the same exact thing? Suddenly it’s this major issue. Adults clearly cannot get away with blatantly insulting a chef/spouse to his or her face.

Throwing a tantrum in the mall

It seems like kids save their absolute worst, most uncontainable fits for when you’re trekking through a department store with 12 bags, a stroller, four jackets, and zero patience. But imagine an adult acting in such a manner. You bring a sale item to the register, only to discover that item is now full price. So you start convulsing on the floor and knocking down clothes racks. You would probably be banned from the mall. But if your kid did the same thing, everyone would have a hearty chuckle and go on with their day. Fair?

Biting people

You’re a child, not George “The Animal” Steele. I mean, really.

Staring at boobs

If there ever were an activity that yielded either giggles or unrivaled anger, depending on the age of the perpetrator, it’s this. The rule seems to go: If you’re three, more breasts for thee. If you’re 38, here comes the hate.

Opening someone else’s gifts

We’ve all seen this. Little Emma is perfectly capable of tearing wrapping paper on her own, but Dylan is  blind to that fact, callously pushing her out of the way to open a present that’s not even his! Try doing this beyond the age of 10 and suddenly, no one wants you involved in their Secret Santa.

Refusing to get dressed

Has your kid ever insisted on staying in their pajamas when you need to be out the door to get him to school so you can be on time for an important meeting? If you said “no,” then your kid is probably in utero. Every child over the age of 18 months suddenly gets very specific about when and by whom they’d like to be dressed. Such Prima donnas. Then they demand exactly 2 ½ strawberries and ¾ glass of milk with their cereal. It’s like dealing with a self-important Hollywood starlet in diapers.

Climbing on countertops/tables

Kids are like mini, drunk adults when they’re misbehaving. No clearer example of this is their constant decision to do their impression of any and every four-legged animal on the dining room table. I tried being “cute” once and joined in. My head smashed into the hanging light fixture, my knees ached, and the looks on the faces of the other people at Outback Steakhouse were definitely not encouraging.

Crying when barely injured

My 4-year-old stubbed his toe on his dresser the other day and wailed like he’d been set on fire.  Incidentally, that very same dresser nearly brought me to tears a few years earlier (when I had to pay for it). But sometimes I think he’s exaggerating. There are times when he cries because his socks are too tight. He’ll make a terrific professional wrestler. Or a LeBron James.

You hear the term “double standard” thrown around quite often. But rarely is anything ever done to change it. All I’m asking is that we hold these children accountable for their butt-touching, food-throwing, gift-ruining ways. Then, and only then, will there be justice, and clean floors.

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How One Family Isn’t Letting Cancer Ruin Christmas

Monday, December 23rd, 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. Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is working on a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be emailed at jdeprospero@gmail.com or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.


The Internet, if you weren’t aware, is a pretty remarkable thing. It allows you to read this without walking to the newsstand and picking up a magazine or even so much as leaving the comfort of your own bed. It also spawned the onset of social media, allowing us the previously unheard of ability to seamlessly connect with complete strangers with a single click and to form bonds with them without so much as being introduced. And those people could change our lives. In the spring of 2012, I was about to find out how.

When my mom passed away last April, I wrote a rather detailed blog about it and posted to Facebook. I realized pretty quickly how far-reaching an Internet community can be when several friends shared the blog on their timeline, and then some of their friends shared it. Before I knew it, hundreds of strangers were reading about my grief, and many of them had been through a similar experience. It was quite healing, actually. Easily one of the most remarkable people I met through this process was Matt Kabel. A friend of my brother-in-law’s and a parent himself, he and I became fast virtual friends, commenting on each other’s posts, making each other laugh with snarky comments, etc. I felt like I’d met a kindred spirit, and I always looked forward to Matt’s entertaining analysis of life.

Then, this past summer, I read a post from Matt that was anything but funny. His baby daughter, Sally, at only 10 months old, was diagnosed with Leukemia. As I read the words, I sat in stunned silence for a while. Like any parent would, I imagined receiving such news about one of my own children, and my eyes welled up with tears. And not only did he have to deal with his own sadness, but had the task (along with his wife, Nicole) of keeping it together for Sally’s two older brothers, Thomas (7) and William (4). I recently spoke with Matt about the situation, and specifically how he was planning to approach the upcoming holidays. But the overall tone was not one of defeat, but determination and hope. Here’s what Matt had to say about cancer, its effects on his family, and the resilient little girl known as “Sweet Sally Sunshine.”

 

The lovely “Sweet Sally Sunshine” striking a pose at home

 

How did you handle telling your sons about Sally’s condition?

MK: After we found out, MSK (Memorial Sloan Kettering) actually gave us a children’s book on cancer, so Nicole sat down with Thomas and explained it to him that way. He took to reading the book and actually knew more about cancer than either of us early on. William was too young to understand, and still is. All he knows is that Sally is “sick.” One time he was ill and asked if he was going to get a feeding tube, so we have to be careful what and how we communicate. The hospital told us not to use words like ‘medicine’ to refer to chemo as we have to keep a differentiation between chemo and the medicines the boys would take (Tylenol, etc.).

 

Thomas and William (top to bottom)

 

Do you feel that you’re keeping the spirit of Christmas going for your kids’ benefit, or your own?

MK: Both. We’ll never forget the day we arrived at MSK and a nurse told us that the kids with families who stayed positive and lived their lives are the ones that have a better chance of getting through this. Christmas has always been a big deal in our home, and celebrating it to its fullest is “normal” for the boys. It wouldn’t be right to not do it; it would feel like quitting. We have Christmas music playing in our kitchen all day and it adds a bounce to our steps.

 

The extremely festive Matt and Nicole as elves, Sally as a tree

How have Sally’s treatments stretched you as a family? And how important is it that you spend time together as a unit during the Christmas season?

MK: It’s hardest when Sally is admitted. Nicole and I vowed when this started that one of us would always be there with Sally at the hospital. At the same time, the boys need our attention as well, so it’s a constant juggling act trying to get them all the attention that they need. But when Sally is home, she requires more attention and maintenance. She has to take priority, so often the boys are told they need to wait when they want something.

Christmas is all about family, it is very important to Nicole and me that we are together Christmas week. Our hope is that we’ll be together as much as possible, and when we do have to separate, the boys are doing something Christmasy to enhance the holiday for them.
What would you like other parents to know who are dealing with a similar issue?

MK: Cancer is currently in the driver’s seat, and we’re often reminded of this. However, we can’t let that stop us from living our lives. We make mistakes like any parents, and do our best to learn from them. It’s our job as parents to give our kids a great childhood, and we simply can’t put that on hold while we deal with Sally’s current challenge. It’s also our job to remain positive and upbeat so that they will follow our lead. Cancer may alter our holiday, but in no way are we going to let it dampen our Christmas spirit. As Santa says in Miracle on 34th Street – “Christmas isn’t just a day; it’s a frame of mind.”

Days after this interview, the Kabel family received the gifts in the image above and a $5,000 check for Sally’s treatments from PS19 in Staten Island, NY, making Christmas that might brighter for Matt, Nicole and the kids. Also, a charitable organization known as Bay Ridge Cares has held a fundraiser for Sally Kabel, offer rides to and from the hospital for her family and have organized meal trains for them. It’s hard not to smile knowing there are people in our world doing this kind of selfless good for others.

If it isn’t obvious, I’m grateful to have crossed paths with a family like the Kabels. Whenever I’m missing my mother, doubting that I have the strength necessary to act as “ambassador of Christmas” for my kids, I think of the admirable manner in which the Kabels are rising up against adversity in the name of Santa for their children, and I’m that much more certain that it’s possible for all of us. I’ve never even met Matt in person. But he’s still one of the most inspirational people I’ve ever come across. In fact, he’s in many ways the father I aspire to be. And I hope that if you’re ever feeling overwhelmed by the holiday season, you will think of the Kabels and their tremendous example of perseverance and strength, personifying the true spirit of Christmas.

In closing, I’m happy to report that Matt and Nicole have been told by the nurses that they should be able to have Sally home for Christmas Day. But whether at home or huddled together in a cancer ward, I know for certain that the Christmas spirit will follow the Kabels, no matter the location. And if for whatever reason you still doubt Matt Kabel’s relentless devotion to his family’s happiness, check out his very public tribute below…

Matt competed in a triathlon in August, donning this tutu in honor of Sally.

That, my friends, is love.

For more information on Sally, go to www.facebook.com/sweetsallysunshine or for regular blog updates on her progress, go to www.sweetsallysunshine.com.  Also, you can make a contribution directly to Sally by clicking here.

For those who celebrate it, have a Merry Christmas. Hug often. And God bless Sally.

As always, feel entirely free to join the conversation by adding a comment below!

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A Message to Everyone Missing a Parent During the Holidays

Wednesday, December 18th, 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. Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be emailed at jdeprospero@gmail.com or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

 

This needs to be written about. Not because it’s a topic I enjoy bringing up, but because this is a time of year when, despite the inherent joy of the holiday season, people are hurting more than we think. The reason I know this is because I am hurting more than you think. And I know I’m not alone. For reference, here’s my back story.

If you’re going through your first holiday season after the loss of a parent (or anyone you were especially close with), I don’t need to tell you that it’s practically unbearable. And for me, it was after seeing the Christmas lights strung up on banisters around town that it hit me—whether I liked it or not, life was going on without my mother. And I had absolutely no choice but to deal with it. In the grand scheme of things, the conveyor belt of life continued to operate, and I felt like I had two choices: Stay on and force a smile, or jump off and pout.  You’ll probably find yourself doing a little bit of both. Especially during the month of December.

I’ve also learned that, despite the support we get from our close friends and families, how we cope with these losses is something we must decide completely on our own. In other words, it’s our cross to bear. So I’ve assembled a list, a defense strategy against the inevitable sadness that can and will overtake you over the holidays. I’m certainly no doctor, but I hope it helps. It has for me.

  • Take care of you

This is absolutely crucial. Don’t over-work yourself. As parents, we have a tendency to forget about our own well-being completely, but in grief you’ll realize that this tactic will backfire.  So, take days off. Surround yourself with only people who bring you up, not down. Get a massage. Go to the movies. Don’t be afraid to pamper yourself. After what you’ve gone through, you wholeheartedly deserve it. And if anyone dares question your new-found affinity for taking care of yourself, feel free to be blunt with them.

  • Remind people you need them

It’s not easy. I’m well aware of that. We all want to be perceived as being strong, a rock. But that strategy works against you in grief. For me, picking up the phone and calling my 87-year-old grandmother or a friend to let them know I still need their support certainly didn’t feel natural. But the people in your life who truly care for you will respond in kind. As I’ve discovered,  as soon as the funeral ends, most people will go on with their lives assuming you’re fine unless you speak up. And if talking to friends and family doesn’t help, don’t be afraid to seek counseling. There’s no shame in this game.

  • Remember the parent in your own way

I’ve gone through phases of holding onto my mother’s possessions for dear life (keeping her cell phone in my sock drawer, storing her social security card in my wallet) to shutting her image completely out of my mind. I’ve gotten to the point where I feel comfortable having pictures of her up around the house, and on occasion bring her up to my older son so that she seems “present” in his life. And during Christmastime, while every other window is illuminated with a single white candle, I leave the candle in my bedroom off, in memory of her. That might seem odd to some, but it gives me a small bit of peace when I need it most. It doesn’t have to make sense.

  • Focus on your greatest blessings

If you have children, hug them tighter. If you have cats, hug them tighter. If you really love chocolate, don’t hug it tighter. That would be weird. But you see where I’m going with this. I’ve found that accentuating the strongest positives in life helps enormously. It reminds us that there’s still plenty of good left in this world to enjoy, despite what we’ve lost.

  • Don’t feel guilty “moving on”

I think there’s a tendency to stay “stuck in the moment” of losing someone, especially a parent. Your life grinds to a halt, and it almost doesn’t feel “right” to move on without them. I mean, how can we simply keep living like everything’s fine when it clearly isn’t? I’m incredibly guilty of clinging to this perspective. But what I (and anyone dealing with grief) need to know is that moving on does not mean forgetting. It does not mean we don’t care and it does not mean we’re not in pain. It simply means that we’re choosing to embrace the light rather than the dark. There will be days when the dark wins, but if we put ourselves in situations that enable happiness (for both us and our children), I think we’ll find ourselves smiling more often than not.

 

Sorry if you were expecting my “lighter side” today, but frankly, the weight we feel on our shoulders (specifically as parents) can feel unrelenting at times. People need to know they’re not alone in their most personal stresses. I hope this provided even the slightest bit of relief for them. So this is Joe DeProspero, guest blogger for Parents.com reminding you that we’re all in this together. Happy holidays, everyone.

On this topic especially, I’d love to hear from you. Simply writing about your personal experience could provide more relief than you’d think. Feel free to add a comment below.

 

* Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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The “Weight” Santa Carries…and How We Throw it Around

Thursday, December 12th, 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. Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be emailed at jdeprospero@gmail.com or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

* If you’re under the age of 14 or extremely gullible, do not read this blog.

I remember when I unintentionally discovered the truth about Santa. Everyone (who celebrates Christmas) remembers the moment. For me, I was about 10, waiting with my sister in a salon while our mother got her hair done. It was early December, and snowflakes began dancing out under the streetlights.

“I can’t wait for Santa to come,” I said, with a broad smile, staring into the night sky.

Then, with the sensitivity of Andrew Dice Clay, my older sister, Nicole barked, “There’s no Santa Claus, stupid.” If you’re one of those people who likes to know what word or syllable was emphasized so they can imagine it being said, know that full, emphatic emphasis was placed on the word STUPID. And that’s exactly how I felt. I mean, how could I not know? How could I be taken for a fool for 10 whole years? Does everyone else know about this? And more importantly, by what supernatural force have gifts magically been appearing in my living room?! I had plenty of questions, of course. And few answers. But looking back, it’s clear to me why I was so easily fooled—I assumed my parents were honest, trustworthy people. But it turned out they were big, fat, deceptive liars. Like serial killer-level liars.

As an adult with my own children now, it’s a much different story, of course. For one, I completely and utterly embrace the art of deception regarding Christmas. In fact, my wife and I use the power of Santa to our advantage with our kids on a daily basis, starting around July. And we’re not alone. From what I’ve heard from friends and readers, parents have gone to great lengths to preserve the “Santa is real” concept with their poor, out-witted offspring. Some use it as a behavioral tactic.

One friend of mine told his kids that the leak in their bathroom was caused days earlier…by Rudolph stomping on the roof too hard on Christmas Eve. The same friend took crumbled pieces of his own driveway and “had an elf deliver them” to his misbehaving son’s bed two weeks before Christmas as a warning to “straighten up or get more of the same.” He bought it. It wasn’t made clear to me if the driveway was ever repaired.

But some parents maintain the magic for as long as possible in order to keep their children innocent. One friend, Jim, hand-wrote a note from Santa and even went as far as scenting it with peppermint oil so it would smell like a candy cane. His daughter bought it. Another friend, Vanessa, covered the bottom of a boot in flour and made “snowy footprints” around the tree. Her son was too young (and naïve) to even notice the “snow” wasn’t cold…or even dry. I’m telling you, kids will pretty much believe anything.

Some not only preserve the image of Santa, but get double-use out of it by creating a solution to a problem. Another friend, Lynn, was having trouble getting her son off the bottle. What Lynn did was wrap the bottles like presents and told her son that, “Santa was going to pick these up for a baby who needs them and will leave you a gift to replace them.” To this day, that is the most ingenious and practical use of the Santa name I’ve ever heard.

Those of us who celebrate Christmas have used the Santa name to invoke joy, excitement, fear, and downright panic. When I was a child, I was perplexed that “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” included the lyrics, “He knows when you are sleeping; he knows when you’re awake” and “You better not pout.” But now, as an adult, I completely get it. The holiday classic was written by an adult who constructed the song lyrically to scare children into listening to their parents, being quiet, and not crying. Couple that with strongly worded threats to take a toy off their Christmas list if they don’t eat their carrots and you’ve got yourself a behavioral plan for your children. The only real downside of this is, aside from trying to maintain order in the spring and summer, Santa gets all the credit for your hard work and you barely get eye contact on Christmas morning. It’s the sacrifice we make, I suppose. But I don’t have to be happy about it. I need the credit, man.

It’s pretty easy and sort of fun for my wife and I right now. Our kids are both under the age of five and (generally speaking) blindly accept the idea that Santa is real, and gleefully anticipate his imminent arrival. But in a couple years, we face a dilemma. How do I explain to my (then much wiser) 7-year-old why there are “Santas” on every street corner with cheaply made fake beards, wreaking of Jameson and shame? He’s already started with his minor suspicions, asking how Santa could possibly fit down the chimney, being as portly as he is. And he’s only four! I can only imagine the level of paranoia that will set in by the time he’s reached Kindergarten.

When I finally learned the truth about Santa as a kid, cruelly from my sister at age 10, I slumped down into a chair and started feeling sorry for myself. Later that night, I was approached by my father, who’d heard about my revelation.

“Son, I know what your sister told you. I’m sorry you had to find out that way. Are you sad?” my father asked, sensitively.

“Well, yes. But at least I still have the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy to look forward to,” I glumly replied.

“Yeah…about that…”

What kind of reputation does Santa have in your house? Ever gotten caught in the act trying to “keep it real?” I want to hear about it! Add a comment below and join the conversation! Follow me on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

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* Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com.

Tabletop Tree
Tabletop Tree
Tabletop Tree

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The Most Common Lies I Tell My Kids

Friday, December 6th, 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. Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt” Joe is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be emailed at jdeprospero@gmail.com or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

I lie to my children. Pretty much daily. You probably do, too. It’s not that we do it maliciously. We don’t wake up every morning thinking, “Today, I will lie through my teeth to my children.” But we do it anyway. It just happens. In fact, we lie to everyone, most of the time with good intentions. For instance, just this morning a co-worker asked what I did for Thanksgiving and I answered, “Just sat home.” That’s totally not true. Hell, I wasn’t even in my home state. I just didn’t feel like explaining it. Technically, I lied. But frankly, this is nothing compared to the blatant mistruths I spew at my sons.

I’m going to venture a guess that most of you have said these at some point. But here’s a list of common phrases I tell my kids that stretch the truth a bit, or a lot.

I’m not gonna tell you again.

I say this regularly. And immediately regret it. Because I most certainly, absolutely, no-doubt-about-it am going to tell him again. Pretty much immediately after I tell him I won’t. In fact, I say it about 16 more times, on average.

I will totally stop this car and leave you on the side of the road.

I mean, that would just be crazy, and definitely illegal. Just to keep them guessing, though, I start slowing down and look towards the shoulder, so they think I’m serious. But the fact that I’d never be evil enough to actually do it makes this a lie.

I’m in charge here.

I wipe their butts, change their diapers, feed them appetizing meals according to their personal taste preferences like they’re czars….and I’m in charge?

I don’t care if you cry; you’re not getting it.

Crying always changes things. Even if we try to resist. Try, just try, not to bend a little bit when a child cries for something. I have a son with a soy allergy. I refused to give him a cookie because of it. Then the waterworks started and before you could say “chocolate chip,” he had a mouthful of soy.

I’ll give you to the count of 3 to sit in that chair.

Okay, let’s get something straight. Counting to 3 by saying “1….2………2 1/6….2 1/3…..I’m serious here….I will totally say it…..okay, here it comes…..3!” This is not counting to 3. This is counting to 15, taking the scenic route.

Santa is watching.

If Santa is watching, and can hear and see everything we’re doing, why do we need to send him a list of things we want him to bring us? Is he just not paying attention? Is he hard of hearing? This is a clear plot-hole. And sometimes I tell them, “I’m going to tell Santa and make sure he takes a toy off your list!” Is he watching or do I need to inform him of things? I need to get this one straight.

I’m never letting you _______ again.

Talking in absolutes with children is never a good idea (see what I did there?). Saying you’re never going to let them play with a specific friend of theirs or take them to a certain restaurant because he acted like a complete goon there last time you went is incredibly unrealistic. And it makes you look like a tool when, inevitably, you go back on your word. So I’ve started to say things like, “That’s it. We’re never eating ice cream in the winter on a Tuesday again!” Narrows the scope and makes lying about 70% less likely.

You probably didn’t realize you were such a liar. Trust me, I didn’t either until I compiled this list. But don’t worry, the real silver lining here is that the vast majority of these lies are told to our children before their long-term memory is fully formed. So the only ones who will remember the lies will be us! And I can live with the guilt if you can.

I’m sure there are more to add to this list. So share some of yours! Add a comment below with your standby phrases that end up being lies! And follow me on Twitter for more conversation @JoeDeProspero and to let me know a topic you’d like written about in a future blog. Tweet me with the hashtag #blogtopic. And, as always, feel free to share this blog with a friend who you think would enjoy it!

* Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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