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Why I Was Late to Work Today

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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Why I Chose My Son Over an iPhone App

Wednesday, October 16th, 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 is the author of  the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt” and 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.

There’s an app for that.

You’ve heard it time and time again, both as a serious suggestion and as a punch line. Want to track your daily caloric intake? There’s an app for that. Want to get locations and ratings on all Italian restaurants within a 20-mile radius? There’s an app for that. Want a constant distraction from your daily life that will serve as both a healthy mind-stimulator and immeasurable impedance on your parenthood and overall productivity? Unfortunately, there are several apps for that. Most are free, but can be quite costly in other ways.

For me, that app is ultra-popular, Scrabble-inspired Words with Friends. Now, before I go any further, I have to be clear that I’m not criticizing or trying to discourage use of this addictive app. I happen to love the game. In fact, I’m obsessed with it to an unhealthy degree. And that obsession got to be too much one particular day while reading a book to my son. Rather, trying to read a book to my son. At the time, I had 21 active games going, and frankly that number would’ve been higher had the app allowed it. And as it turned out, my kids’ bedtime always seemed to correspond with when my opponents were at their most prolific. Naturally. So, I was right in the middle of Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons book when I looked over at my iPhone to check if any plays had been made in the past 45 seconds. Antonio, my son, frustratingly asked, “Daddy, do you ever put your phone away?”

I did put my phone away. That very moment, in fact. I was completely surprised by the question. More importantly, though, I was embarrassed and ashamed of myself. My son had playfully tried to grab my iPhone out of my hand in the past while I was playing my turn in WWF, but this was the first time he’d verbally expressed disappointment. And it was clear. He thought I cared more about playing some game on my phone than reading to him. That night, after the kids were asleep, I resigned from all my current games and deleted the Words with Friends app from my phone. Considering how addicted I was to it, I even surprised myself at how I was able to do it without the slightest bit of hesitation. But considering how it was starting to make my kid feel, the decision to eliminate it from my life wasn’t difficult in the least.

I won’t lie. I miss playing. Like any part of a daily routine, it had become ingrained in my psyche to the point where any idle moment (and sometimes, not-so-idle moment) was devoted to punishing my opponent with a Triple-Word score. I know there are plenty of people out there who are perfectly capable of striking a healthy balance between their responsibilities and hobbies. But when a hobby becomes so consuming that it’s affecting how your boss, spouse, friends, or especially your children view you, it’s time to walk away. For me, the time had clearly come.

It would be foolish for me to believe that I’m completely in the clear when it comes to distractions. In this day and age, if it isn’t Facebook, it’s Twitter. And if it isn’t Twitter, it’s Instagram. And if it isn’t Instagram, it’s some other social app that’s as attractive to a wandering mind as a fire hydrant to a urinating dog. As parents, our minds need relief more than anybody. But I’ve learned that seeking such relief while your children are awake and in your care is as selfish as it is dangerous.

So, if you have a similar distraction that’s taking you away from something far more important, know that there’s somebody, maybe even one of your children, that have noticed it. And no matter how tempting a Triple-Word score is, no point total is worth ignoring, even for a moment, that very important somebody.

Do you have a habit you’re looking to break? Know someone who does? Let me know about it by leaving a comment below! Or tweet me with the hashtag #appaddict!

And if you are looking for fun activities to do with your kids, check out our free Activity Finder.

* Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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