Author Archive

New Superheroes That Gain Powers From…Vegetables?

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

Joe DeProspero has two sons and a wife, and he 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 also writing a parenting humor book. He posts twice monthly and his previous posts can be found here.  He currently lives in New Jersey and can be found on Facebook and on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

Speaking for myself (and likely 99% of the parents reading), getting children to willingly eat vegetables without bribery, blackmail, or an embarrassing combination of the two is a challenge, to say the least. It often feels like I’m trying to set one of my single friends up on a date. And the second they lay eyes on each other, there’s a palpable feeling of, “You’re single for a reason.” But the truly gifted salespeople are the ones who can get that friend (or kid) to move past that initial phase of reluctance, to take the plunge, set aside preconceived notions and just go for it. The gifted ones are able to convince children that vegetables are somehow “cool” and establish them as something children should clamor for! You’re one of those truly gifted salespeople, right? Yes, me neither. So let’s hear about someone who’s trying a different approach…

Through colorful characters Colby Carrot, Erica Eggplant, and Brian Broccoli, Super Sprowtz is an up-and-coming children’s multimedia program with one mission: get kids to associate veggies with superpowers. And to teach children at a young age that there’s more to life than chicken fingers and gummy snacks. Think “Muppets” meets “Popeye.” I don’t know about you, but seeing Popeye guzzle that can of spinach was the one and only reason I had interest in greens as a kid.

Premiering tomorrow (Thanksgiving) via YouTube at 12 pm ET on the biggest eating day of the year in America, the Sprowtz have already confirmed celebrity guests Shaquille O’Neal, New York Yankee CC Sabathia, and White House chef Sam Kass. The show will include singing, cooking, and, if the reel I saw was any indication, even some beat-boxing.

They’ve also received the support of a very special (first) lady you might recognize, who stopped by during s recent tour…

To see what Colby Carrot and crew have in store, check out their intro video below about their purpose and mission statement of these super-powered Sprowtz. It involves walking vegetables, so be warned.

Clearly, we all want our children to ultimately live healthy lifestyles, and that starts with the food they put into their bodies. And although there are no certainties with kids (mine change their minds 25 times a minute), one thing we know is that, children are more likely to listen if a superhero is doing the talking. Here’s hoping the next orange stick our children put in their mouths is a carrot instead of a Cheese Doodle. I know it’s something I’d love to see for my own sons.

Tune in tomorrow at 12 pm ET to Super Sprowtz RAW! The Super Sprowtz will air a new episode every Thursday starting Thanksgiving.

 

Thanks for reading. You can follow Joe DeProspero on Twitter by clicking here or email him at jdeprospero@gmail.com.

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5 Problems With “Frozen” That Leave Me Cold and Confused

Friday, November 7th, 2014

Joe DeProspero has two sons and a wife, and he 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 also writing a parenting humor book. He posts twice monthly and his previous posts can be found here.  He currently lives in New Jersey and can be followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

My friends who don’t have children relentlessly hurl sympathy at me like Angry Birds whenever the film is brought up.

“Ugh, I have no idea how you tolerate that stuff. I’d rather have my pockets stuffed with filets, be tethered and hung over a pack of hungry wolves.”

My friends can be pretty dramatic. But the crux of their argument holds water. They hate the idea of having to watch a movie written for children 200 times in a month. In fairness, who would want to do such a thing? But many of us do it to please our kids, despite how unnerving it can be to grow so familiar with a movie you can’t stand. It’s like knowing all the lyrics to a Ke$ha song. You know it’s nothing to be proud of, but it’s infected your psyche, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

With that said, I am going to admit something I probably shouldn’t…but I love “Frozen!” I love the songs, I love that cute little snowman Olaf, and I love that it exists in a “happily ever after” world when there is so much about the real world to bring us down. And my wife and two young sons love it even more. However, I’m crying foul on a handful of scenes that just make no sense to me at all. I realize it’s a movie. But bear with me as I go over some off-putting aspects of “Frozen” that I simply cannot ignore any longer. If you’re a parent of young kids who miraculously has avoided the film so far, this post will include plenty of spoilers. You’ve been warned.

  • Why doesn’t Elsa just TELL Anna that she has special powers that could kill her?

This is easily the part of the film I have the biggest problem with. Elsa nearly whacked Anna when they were children, so Grand Pappy, the magical troll, removes the ice from her head and also conveniently removes all memories of her sister Elsa’s magic. So, their parents’ solution is to keep Elsa locked in a room for years, away from anyone she might accidentally murder. Seems about right. Except for the fact that they could have easily told Anna, “Listen, honey, Elsa has this problem where she might inadvertently freeze your face off if you touch her.” Seems like a normal conversation between daughter and parent to me.

  • Why is Hans suddenly a sociopath?

He’s the perfect gentleman for 75 minutes, then all of a sudden…BOOM. He’s Christian Bale in American Psycho. I get it. They were trying to make him as detestable as possible, so viewers would know who the bad guy was. But if this movie was trying to move away from traditional fairy tale norms, they could have just had Anna tell Hans, “Look, we were drunk. It was stupid. I don’t know your last name. Thanks for taking care of Arendelle and all that crap. But it’s time to leave.”

  • How does Elsa not know Olaf’s name?

When Anna finally reaches the ice castle and approaches Elsa, everyone’s new favorite snowman, Olaf enters the scene. Elsa is perplexed by this. “Olaf?” she wonders aloud, as if she had never seen him before. SHE MADE HIM. And if you’re going to tell me that this is the same snowman she made when they were kids and that’s why she doesn’t remember, why wasn’t Olaf talking in that original scene? Did he only develop speaking skills later in life, like a baby? This is all very confusing. Elsa birthed Olaf and should damn well know his name. What kind of sorceress is she?

  • If Grand Pappy was taking a nap, how did he know about Elsa striking Anna’s heart?

For an old guy, Grand Pappy is quite mentally spry. He emerges from a snooze to tell Anna he can’t help her with the “ice in her heart put there by her sister.” How did he know about that? Did he just guess by looking at her? Or did he look in his crystal ball and was already aware? And if that’s the case, WHY WAS HE TAKING A NAP WHEN SOMEONE WAS DYING?! Grand Pappy needs to reassess his priorities. The guys sleeps way too much during crises.

  • So, Arendelle welcomes back a Queen who abandoned the city under duress, practices sorcery, and left them all to die in a tundra?

I know it wasn’t intentional and all, but I’d consider moving to a neighboring community if my head of state was throwing ice at people and suddenly changed the temperature from 80 to 20 degrees while I was wearing a t-shirt and cargo shorts.

In closing, yes, I understand that it’s a movie. And yes, that doesn’t change things.

Does anyone else have a kid’s movie with questionable storyline decisions that bug you? I want to hear them! Add your comment below, tweet me here or email me at jdeprospero@gmail.com.

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The Moment I Realized I Shouldn’t Force Football on My Son

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Joe DeProspero has two sons and a wife, and he 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 also writing a parenting humor book. He posts twice monthly and his previous posts can be found here.  He currently lives in New Jersey and can be found on Facebook or on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

We all do it. Every last one of us has interests, passions that we either hope our children will gravitate toward, or we flat out force on them. Family traditions, sports, fashion trends. All things we often unknowingly (or knowingly) push down the throats of our kids without consideration of their own preferences. But we still do it, because at our core, we are self-serving creatures with a relentless desire to recreate our own childhood, or to produce a new shopping partner or drinking buddy in 20 years.

I’m a New York Jets fan. It does not feel good to write that. Actually, it feels like admitting that I eat processed cheese out of a spray can. But like most dads, I bolted to pick up a Size N jersey when my first son, Antonio was born. “Look, he’s officially my child. He’s branded now,” I thought to myself. The fact that it was a Tim Tebow jersey made the moment that much more sadly fitting.

Over the next several years, he was given a Jets helmet, blanket, t-shirt, not all by me, but I certainly didn’t resist the continuation of the branding process. Then, this season started, and it became clear to me pretty quickly that my son was ready to be molded into a fan. When I turned on the Jets-Bills game last Sunday at 1:00, he joined me on the couch, and he seemed legitimately interested in the game, at least for a while. He predicted Jets to win 20-17 over our inter-conference foe. I was fairly sure he was wrong, but his clueless optimism was actually quite refreshing. He had no idea what he was getting himself into.

Any football fan knows the Jets’ season has been a complete and utter disaster, from top to bottom. And I’m one of those fans who lets it get to him. Moping around, grimacing, refusing eye contact. It’s utterly exhausting, and equally embarrassing. I’m a grown man who actually allows the outcome of a sporting event affect my mood.

As expected, the Jets lost, and lost big, their record falling to a dismal 1-7. If you don’t believe me, ask Mike Francesa. I sat there, despondent, silent. Antonio asked if the Jets lost, and I told him they did. Then, I saw something that made me feel physically ill. He slumped down in his seat and grunted, “Oh maaaaaan.” He was noticeably disappointed. Most people say that he resembles my wife, but in that moment, he looked more like me than he ever had before. And it made me sad. Very sad.

“Come here, honey.” I said to him. “It’s okay if you like to watch football with daddy. And it’s okay if you don’t. But one thing I need you to know is that we shouldn’t let a silly game make us sad. Daddy won’t do that anymore, and neither should you.” He nodded solemnly, I turned off the television, and we preceded to play “store” with his cash register.

I made two mistakes here. For one, I unabashedly thrust my own personal interests on my son, hoping he’d develop an interest and football would be something we could bond over in the coming years. Secondly, I showed him with my actions that the outcome of a game can and should affect you personally. I tried my best to quell that assumption, but we’ll see if he listens.

Later that night, when the subject of football came up once more, as much as it pained me to let go of the dream of sharing a fandom with my son, I encouraged him to find his own team (assuming he continued to have interest in the game), and that it could be whichever team he wants. He chose the Pittsburgh Steelers. While I’m not thrilled it’s an AFC team, at least it’s not the Patriots. That would break my heart. But what would break my heart the most is if I condemned my son to the same miserable, hapless allegiance that I’ve fruitlessly clung to all these years.

So, if you have a hobby or interest you’d like your child to get involved with, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with introducing them to it, as long as the downside doesn’t outweigh the good. And they don’t turn out to be bitter Jets fans.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to contact me at jdeprospero@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

What's Your Parenting Style?
What's Your Parenting Style?
What's Your Parenting Style?

Image: Football photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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The 5 Important Things I Realized While Trying to Fit in “Adult Time”

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

Joe DeProspero has two sons and a wife, and he 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 also writing a parenting humor book. He posts twice monthly and his previous posts can be found here.  He currently lives in New Jersey and can be found on Facebook and on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

As parents, we’ve all been there. Wearing an undersized Spiderman mask or princess tiara and throwing on the best character voice we can muster after an 11-hour work day, we silently count the minutes till bedtime when we can finally unwind and enjoy a moment of silence (with a few glasses of something to accentuate the silence). Then, it happens. You’ve reached the point in your day when it’s so quiet, you can hear the hum of the air conditioning unit, a car honking its horn two distant blocks away. And you just breathe. Maybe you flip to your favorite TV show or set your fantasy football lineup (speaking for myself, personally). But after a while, something doesn’t feel quite right. You find yourself instinctively changing the channel to Nick Jr., using words like “poop” and “silly goose.” You come to the frightening conclusion that, like it or not, parenthood has invaded your psyche in every imaginable way. But then you realize something else; you realize that spending time with your kids yields more smiles than the time without them.

Here are some of the most significant reasons I’ve noticed hanging out with my kids is often more rewarding than “adult time.”

Children ask innocent, sometimes insane questions.

While poker with the guys is fun, do any of your friends ever ask you deep, eyebrow-raising questions like, “What does 4:00 mean?” or “What do squirrels do when they’re bored?” Doubtful. A child’s mind is a cornucopia of wonder and curiosity. They want to know things, ALL the things. And they keep us on our toes. I can guarantee you I’ve laughed harder and longer at one of my son’s questions than at any of my friends’ fart jokes.

They make you feel smart, even if you’re not.

I can list a great number of positive outcomes of me hanging out with friends, but “they make me feel smart” is not one of them. My kids, on the other hand, look to me like I’m the gatekeeper of all wisdom. They seek my guidance on everything from the creation of the ocean to the science behind fogged-up windows. While my sons will certainly become aware of my intellectual limitations once their math homework evolves beyond 10 + 4, it’s a hell of a confidence booster to be looked upon as all-knowing, even when we’re making half of it up.

When they eat ice cream and throw balls around, so do you.

Before I had kids, my days of devouring Ben and Jerry’s and playing with balls were at least a decade behind me. Now? Almost every day, there’s an opportunity to partake in one of the two. And really, who doesn’t want those kinds of opportunities? That goes double for bouncy houses. I can’t see one without “accidentally” tumbling into it.

Kids aren’t jaded yet.

There are no bills, no wars, and no stress other than determining which pair of pajamas to wear to bed. Children haven’t yet been exposed to the evils of life, and they see every day as an opportunity to cram in as much fun as possible. You can’t say the same about most employed adults.

It awakens your imagination.

Perhaps the most important benefit of all is that there are truly no limits to your imagination when you’re in the company of a child. Could that Batman action figure be riding your iPhone like a car to get to the kitchen to stop The Joker from stealing Batman’s meatballs (which are played by marbles, by the way)? Sure, why not? It sparks your creativity and forces you to flex mental muscles you never knew you had. Try using personification with your drinking buddies and they’d likely cut off your supply of beer and dial up a psychiatrist.

Does anyone else have a perk of engaging with their children rather than adults that they’d like to share? If so, please add it in the comments section below or tweet me! And please check out more parenting articles I’ve written for the Huffington Post.

If you haven’t seen it, check out my “Parental Guidance” video where I show you what it would look like if I behaved like my son! It’s rather outrageous.

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Are You Ever Truly “Done” with Your Job as a Parent?

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Joe DeProspero has two sons and a wife, and he 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 also writing a parenting humor book. He will be posting twice monthly and his previous posts can be found here.  He currently lives in New Jersey and can be found on Facebook and on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

I was asked this question during a recent interview about my work as a writer and father. I sat silently and fidgeted with my pen as I searched for some poignant, poetic line to say. “Use an analogy. No, no, a movie quote!” I thought to myself. But still, nothing came to mind. Then, it came to me. And very much like the time I was searching for my eyeglasses while they were on my face, the answer was right in front of me.

“I anticipate that my job as dad will be done when I’ve breathed my final breath,” I said with a devilish grin. The more I thought about it, the more it became obvious.

There’s a piece of dialogue from the 1989 comedy “Look Who’s Talking” where the George Segal character claims he isn’t interested in being a father to his child with the Kirstie Alley character because he was past that phase of his life and had already “raised his kids.” To which the Kirstie Alley character replies, “Raised them? They’re 11 and 9! Don’t tell me they’ve moved out and gotten jobs!” And it fits right in with what we’re talking about today. At some point, at any point in your parenthood, will you feel like you’ve completed your mission? Will you feel like you can label the job as “complete?” I’m anticipating the answer is no, and here’s why.

When your child is a newborn, your job as a parent is to feed them, clothe them, put a roof over their heads, and provide care for them 24 hours a day. That’s the part of the job that’s the most physically demanding, but also often the least complex.

When your child is a toddler, your job is to teach them the basic differentiators between right and wrong, encourage them to start using a toilet instead of their diaper. You also are tasked with ensuring anything remotely dangerous is out of their reach, and assuming one is needed, scout out the appropriate daycare center. Oh, and also to feed them, clothe them, and put a roof over their head.

When your child has reached school age, your job is to guide them through their homework (without helping too much), teach them the importance of socializing and forming bonds with friends, without letting that socialization distract them from their work. This is also the time you are tasked heavily with refereeing their language, choice of entertainment, and the clothes they venture into the world with. And of course, you’re still responsible for every drop of liquid, every bite of food that goes into their mouth. Oh, and the roof over their head. Can’t forget that.

When your child is a teenager, he isn’t a child anymore, and he starts to make some of his own decisions, for better or worse. He likely will start to firmly believe that he has all the answers to life’s questions. It’s your job to either tell him the real answers, guide them to find the answer on their own, or simply allow them to fail and learn from their mistake. He will probably begin venturing into the dating world and start forming actual opinions. They may not believe it, but your role in their life is perhaps more vital now than it ever will be. And of course, there’s the food, clothes and roof.

When they become full-fledged adults, there’s debate on whether or not the parents are still “on the hook” for raising them. I may feel differently when my children are grown, but I believe your job as a teacher, nurturer, and friend goes on. And I know this because I still look to my father for advice. To me, he remains the unimpeachable, larger-than-life entity he was when I was six. I still seek him out to discuss health insurance, career decisions, family history, etc. I will always be his boy,  he will always be my protector, and I will always sit atop his proverbial shoulders.

That said, I don’t believe I’ll ever be able to say the words, “I’ve done a good job as a father.” I might be able to say, “I’m doing a good job,” or “I’m on the right track.” But as a parent, my job remains perpetually unfinished, with that check box in the complete column happily and appropriately untouched.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Please add your comment below! Or follow me on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

Parenting Style: Positive Parenting
Parenting Style: Positive Parenting
Parenting Style: Positive Parenting

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Image: “Son-set” photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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