Why I Am A Horrible Father

Why I Am a Horrible Father – Reason # 32 (AKA: A healthy smile is a beautiful smile.)

I’m driving home from a week long business trip, and I call my wife to see how things are. We talk for a little bit, and she tells me that she brought Jordan to the dentist while I was gone to get a consultation about braces. Jordan has been looking forward to getting them for some time now. 

Jenny decided to get Invisalign instead of braces. She explains to me all of the benefits of Invisalign, like they will fix Jordan’s teeth in a year, where braces take longer. She explains to me how Invisalign are created by taking a 3D scan of Jordan’s teeth, because she knows tech is kinda my thing, and I love to find out how things work. 

Now, I admit, by the tail end of the long drive home I was tired, and I didn’t bother to ask how much it cost. That’s when Jenny made the fatal mistake, because I’m not only a horrible father, but also a notorious cheap-ass:

“The nice thing Brian, is that even though they are more expensive than braces, they will be more comfortable for her when she’s cheerleading.”

Stop. The. Presses.

“Wait, what?  Why can’t we get regular braces if they’re cheaper?  Besides, I don’t see how they could be more comfortable during cheerleading, she’s not lifting anybody with her teeth, is she?”

“Brian, she gets knocked in the mouth all the time when she’s at cheerleading. You don’t want that to happen with braces, do you?  It will hurt less with the Invisalign”

I begrudgingly agreed. 

But I did read on the internet that some dude straightened his teeth by creating his own Invisalign-like teeth straightening system with nothing but a 3D printer and a can-do attitude. 

Now, if only I wasn’t too cheap to buy a 3D printer….so it looks like it’s Invisalign for Jordan. 

Happy Father’s Day 2017

My heroes have always been, in no particular order: Batman, MacGyver, Captain Picard, and Sherlock Holmes. It took years to realize the common thread between all of them: they all were clever. Comic book nerds (like myself) know that Batman is considered the greatest detective that ever lived, and he’s not just a guy who could throw epic beat downs on the villains. Everything I am today is because of those heroes.

My dad was a very clever man, with a particular set of skills that to this day I’m not sure how he acquired.  Electronics skills. Combat skills. Deduction skills. You name it.  He taught me to be a software developer before I knew I wanted to be a developer. I still don’t know how he learned.  He passed away nearly 20 years ago. 

He always came up with some unique and clever way to solve a problem.  Once, at a construction site, we finished building a cinder block wall, and had to clean up an entire warehouse.  He hands me a broom and says “Start sweeping”. I begrudgingly start to sweep the floor and he disappears. After 10 minutes or so, I’ve barely made a dent in this warehouse sized mess when he comes blazing through a dock door, driving a forklift.  On the lift is an empty pallet that he converted into a broom with some long rubber strips that he found just lying around. “Wow, dad that’s just like something MacGyver would build”. 


He also always knew when I was up to no good. Always. Like Picard he allowed me to make my own choices.  On the other hand, like Sherlock, he always knew when I made bad choices and never let me get away with them. 


One of my earliest memories of anything was from when I was maybe 4 or 5 years old.  Since my dad was a masonry worker, he would frequently have to leave for work early in the morning. Because of that, he would usually go to the local convenience store to fill the tank in his truck the night before, and I would sometimes tag along with him. 

One night as he’s filling the tank and I’m playing with some toy in the back seat, he quickly opens the door and says, “Brian, get down and don’t look.  If I take too long run inside and get Dale (he was the convenience store owner). I immediately listened to him, until he shut the door and turned around of course. Then I peeked out the car window to see what was going on. 

There he is, charging toward a group of people, 3 men and two women. The men here harassing the women, and one of the men was getting violent with one of the women, and she was on the ground.  My dad takes the man, turns him around, grabs him by the shirt and slams him against his truck, yelling something. The second man started to charge my dad, threw the first guy into the second guy which knocked him down, decked the first guy and turned toward the third.  Jackass #3 wanted no part of this, and kept the truck between him and my dad. The 3 men then took off after that. My dad helped the woman up, talked a little and they left.  I hid back down in the back seat and waited for him to get back in the car. 

“Did you see any of that?”, my dad asked me, knowing full well I did.  I just couldn’t contain myself. “That was so cool, dad! You were just like Batman!”

I used to think everything that I am today is because of those heroes. But that’s not true. Now I think they are my heroes because they are everything that I admire about my dad, and everything I am today is because of him. 

Happy Fathers Day, dad. You are missed. 

Why I Am a Horrible Father – Reason # 44 (AKA: As The Crow Flies)

My wife, son and I had to travel to pick up my daughter.  It was a short trip, only about an hour or so. On the way, I see a bird on the highway, pecking on a carcass.  It is oblivious that we are speeding towards it. 

“Move bird. Move BIRD!  MOVE!”  I yelled as I honked my horn. The bird looked at the car and flew away. 

“Did you see that?!?  Stupid bird.  I just saved his life!  He should be more careful, hanging out in the road like that!”

That’s when my son asked “Well, how do you know the bird was a ‘him’?”

I’m proud to tell you that I resisted the urge to say “Because of it’s pecker”.  Well, at least not loud enough for him to hear it, anyway.  But I got a chuckle out of my wife. 

On the trip back, we see the same carcass in the road, with a new one near it. 

“Did you see that?  It was the bird I saved before!  Why didn’t it listen to me?  I don’t know why I bother. Poor bird. We should have a moment of silence for that poor, stupid dead bird who wouldn’t listen to what was good for him”

The car fell silent. Probably not out of respect for this bird, but because of my lunatic ranting about it. 

That’s when my son breaks the silence by singing, with all the seriousness he can muster because of the absurdity of a moment of silenc for a dead bird. 

“Oh say can you see, by the dawn’s early light”

Reason # 257 – I Routinely Fail As A Father Before 9am During A Typical School Week

Let’s face it. Mornings on a school day are stressful. Especially Mondays. And Tuesdays. Well, if I’m being honest, every morning, really. 

  1. Monday Morning: I’ve forgotten that my wife now has early shifts in the morning, which means it’s up to me to get our son ready and out the door for school at 9am.  I don’t realize this until 8:35.  I wake him up late. “Why did you wake me up so late, Dad?  Now I’m going to be late for school!”
  2. Tuesday Morning: I remembered Jenny now works early, so I wake up and got Logan up too. It was earlier than he was used to. He promised me that he would get up, so I go downstairs grab some coffee and get ready myself.  He immediately falls back asleep. I don’t realize this until 8:35. I wake him up late. “Why did you wake me up so late, Dad? Now I’m going to be late for school!”
  3. Wednesday Morning: Learned my lesson from yesterday. I grab some coffee and get myself ready. Then I go and wake him up.  I tryto wake him up with enough time for him to get ready without being rushed.  Then he realized that he has homework due. “Why didn’t you wake me up earlier, Dad? Now I don’t have time to get my homework done!” He rushes to get his homework done and gives it to me to check the answers. I receive a call from work and forget to give the homework back before sending him off to school. 
  4. Wednesday Evening: I just had to face it, waking him up in the morning is the equivalent of a rocket sled to Hell. So, I did myself a favor and got him an alarm clock.  I consider how to blog about the sheer simplicity and brilliance of the alarm clock.  Ellen or Dr. Phil will realize I’m the first person in history to win at fatherhood and invite me on their TV shows. What am I going to wear?
  5. Thursday Morning: I’ve seriously underestimated my son’s ability to utilize the snooze button.  “Why didn’t you wake me up, Dad?  Now I’m going to be late for school!”  Sorry to disappoint you, Ellen, but I’m not winning fatherhood.  I have nothing to wear to your show, anyway.  
  6. Friday Morning: Tired. Irritated. Don’t want to deal with his morning shenanigans anymore. I go into the kitchen for some coffee and he’s already awake, dressed, and ready for school. “Today is Dads and Donuts day! Did you forget?  Let’s go Dad, it starts at 8! Get dressed already!  It’s 6:35, why didn’t you wake up earlier, I don’t want to be late for school!”  He’s happy to bring me to school, so maybe I’m not as far behind in fatherhood as I thought. Or he really likes the donuts.  Come to think of it, I don’t remember ever giving him back the homework from Wednesday, either. 

Why I Am A Horrible Father – Reason # 89 – (AKA: It’s the car, right?  Chicks love the car)

It’s Halloween, one of my favorite times of year.  I love everything about it.  Scary movies, scaring children, and most importantly, trick or treating.  I love to see the kids walking around in their costumes, and on more than one occasion, have dressed up and gone with them.

For my son’s first time trick-or-treating, we went shopping to look for a costume for a 10 month old. We found dragons, lions, and various other cutesy type costumes.  Then a couple weeks before halloween, we stumbled upon a Batman onesie, and bought it immediately.

I am a huge Batman fan, and I have been since I was a young boy. I even dressed as Batman on more than a couple halloweens. It was a special thrill for me that Logan was going to be Batman this year. 

The day before Halloween I had an idea. We knew we were going to be pushing him around in his stroller, so I figured why not make the stroller part of his costume!  Genius!  I am going to make the Batmobile.  How cool is that?

So, with nothing but an idea and a childish obsession,  I ran out to the store.  I ran through the aisles, grabbing supplies I thought I’d need.  I picked up some black spray paint, black duct tape, and four metal pie tins.  I spent the night spray painting a refrigerator box black so that it would be dry and odorless by morning. I had a rough idea of how this was going to work.  My wife thought I was crazy. 

“Why do you want to build the stroller into the batmobile?  Seems like a lot of effort for a 10 month old’s Halloween costume”, she asked

“Because it’s cool, and he loves it” (Translation: I’ve always wanted the Batmobile and one way or another, I’m finally gonna get it!). 

“I mean, look at how excited he is!”, I said pointing to him. 

He squints at Jenny, and fills his diaper. 

The actual construction of this thing took much longer than I had expected. It was like trying to assemble IKEA furniture, but with no instructions, and you had to cut the pieces yourself. But I was determined. With three kids dressed in their costumes waiting impatiently for dad to finish duct taping a cardboard box and pie tins to a stroller, I finally finished. I duct taped the Bat symbol to the side of it and away we went.

“Well, it does look cool, Brian”, Jenny said. “And now you finally have your Batmobile”

 

Why I Am A Horrible Father – Reason # 1023 (AKA – This isn’t a democracy, it’s a Ricktatorship)

and you thought I was a horrible father, Carl

Ahhh…..The Walking Dead.  The greatest show on television returns on Oct 23rd, and we cannot wait.  Brianna and I have bonded over this violent, grisly, bloody show more than anything else.  “Surely there are more appropriate things than a zombie apocalypse to bond with your teenage daughter”, you might say.  Don’t forget, there is a reason this blog is called “Why I Am A Horrible Father” and not “The Chronicles of Fatherhood Perfection”. 

Brianna and I have talked about The Walking Dead for hours.  Who will Negan kill?  Will Glenn and Maggie have a boy or girl?  Will Morgan take out Negan’s group with some Homemade Walking Stick Bad-Assery?  What would we do in a zombie apocalypse?

Brianna’s big plan is to make it to the Mississippi River with her family and friends and somehow acquire a barge. We would all live on the barge and be safe because “Walkers can’t swim, Dad”.  Of course, if someone gets unruly, turned into a walker, or otherwise does something she didn’t agree with, she would throw them off the barge with a simple hand gesture. I have been kicked off that hypothetical barge several dozen times over the years.  Of course, I do stuff like this, so she isn’t completely unjustified. 

Over the years Brianna and I may not always have seen eye to eye on a number of things.  Some weeks, we only spoke to each other to talk about The Walking Dead.  But we always had that little common ground every week to keep us communicating.  Rick makes a bad decision?  We were talking again. Why didn’t Lori’s car crash kill the baby?  Ooh, I hope it turns to a walker and tears itself out.  Carl’s out roaming again?  Keep calm and eat pudding. 

But the point is: find something to bond with your kids. It doesn’t matter what it is, just that the lines of communication remain open.  Even if those lines are used to communicate that you both wish a certain asshat character meet a gory demise, only to be kicked right in the feels that his death ultimately redeemed him (looking directly at you, Merle). 

Why I Am A Horrible Father – Reason # 52 (AKA: You’re not the boss of me)

Once, when Brianna was about 9 years old, we had a disagreement.  I think I had asked her to unload the dishwasher or to stop watching tv because it was time to get ready for bed.  Something along those lines. She didn’t like whatever I had asked her to do, so she told me she wasn’t going to do it. 

We argued for a little, each of us getting more frustrated with each other, until she finally says, “You can’t make me do anything I don’t want to do. You’re not the boss of me!”

That’s where I nearly lost my cool. 

“You go to your room!”, I yelled.  She turned around and started to go to her room. 

“Wait a minute, come back here!”.  She turned around and started to come back. “Never mind, I’m so mad at you that I don’t want to talk to you right now.  Go upstairs”.  She turns around and walks toward the stairs.

“Wait, come here”.  She turns around and walks back to me. “Never mind.  I’m still mad. Go to your room.”

I let her get a little farther this time before calling “Wait!  Come back here”. 

By now she is furious. She stomps all the way back downstairs, comes over to me and yells “WHY DO YOU KEEP MAKING ME COME BACK DOWN HERE!!!”

And I calmly say to her “I thought you said I’m not the boss of you”

Why I am A Horrible Father – Reason #43 (AKA: This kid is making me look bad)

Yesterday was Jenny’s birthday. We were not able to properly celebrate it because we both work (she was closing), and the kids had school.  Jenny would get home pretty late, and because of that Logan fell asleep before she got home.  He barely got to see Mom on her birthday, and I think he felt a little bad about that. 

This morning we woke up to him playing Disney Infinity. Not unusual.  Until he said “Mom, look what I made for you”, and showed us this.  It’s a world he built, and saved it under the title “I love you mom”. 

We’ve always had a playful competition about who loves Mom the most, but there is no way I can compete with that. 

My boy and his Birthday Card for Mom.

Why I Am A Horrible Father – Reason #23 (AKA:Wash my mouth out with soap )

No matter how hard you try to avoid it, your children will hear you swear at one point or another.  It’s unavoidable. Especially when you are a Horrible Father. My children had two rules when growing up: 

  1. Don’t touch Nana’s hair
  2. Don’t repeat anything dad says

Looking back, my potty-mouth really couldn’t be helped. It started when I was very young, no more than 3 1/2 years old.  I blame it on an undiagnosed and never-before seen speech impediment that I was the only person in history to have.  I would, under very specific circumstances, pronounce the “sm” sound as an “f”.  And my Grandpa exploited that speech impediment, because it only occurred when I tried to speak one simple, specific little phrase: “Smucker’s Jelly”. 

“Hey Pal, I don’t remember…what was the name of that grape jelly you like again?”, and I would answer him…oblivious to what I was saying. But he sure would laugh, which of course would make me laugh. 

So, it should have come as no surprise the day my 4 year old son exclaimed in public “She is being a crabass!”

Flabbergasted I turned around and asked him “What did you just say?”.  That was a big mistake. Because he told me. Again and again.