The Labor and Ice Chip Delivery Man

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I read an article today about a New Jersey woman who was trying to legally keep the biological father out of the delivery room during her labor.

My first thought was to make a joke that he should be so lucky. Then I realized I was only kidding myself. I wouldn’t miss my children’s birth for the world. 

I’m sure there was some charm in our fathers’ day when men spent this labor and delivery time waiting at the nearby bar. But I can’t imagine not being there for the first moments of my child’s life.

I can’t imagine not hearing my daughter cry for the first time. Not being there when my son’s misshapen head first entered the world. Not holding that grimy tiny being against my weak heart and saying hello for the first time in the first minutes of his life.

And I can’t imagine not being there for the worry, either. When the baby struggles to escape the grasp of the mother’s womb. When you realize that the doctor realizes that this particular baby is a bit more stubborn than the average new  human being. When your infant son comes out quiet and still, and you can’t figure out why he’s not crying like his siblings did. And then you fear for your child for the first time in a lifetime of parental fears to come.

These are the moments, the memories that I can’t imagine not having as a father. That being said the other twenty-plus hours of labor and delivery are for the fucking birds, and essentially only exist as punishment for the father’s fertility.

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My Top 25 Parental Confessions

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Bless me child for I have sinned. It’s been your lifetime since my last confession and I feel like I need to come clean. I have lied to you, stolen your property and coveted your dinner, as well as your youth.

I am your father, but I haven’t always been a parent. I used to be just like you. I was an immature, unorganized mess of a human being skating on the edge of a downward spiral. But you made me. You made me a man who is responsible for another, and then three others.

There are four of you children and I confess that I am not always truthful about who I am and how I get by. There are things that I must do, discretion that I must make to get through my days as a parent. I will not share all of my secrets, but I will shed some light on some of what you do not know.

So here are the first 25 confessions that come to mind.

  1. I had sex with your mother in your bedroom long before it was your bedroom, but the memory still lives there.
  2. I pop your balloons when you are at school.
  3. I throw away your drawings, but I have saved every birthday card you ever made for me.
  4. I am the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. However, Santa Claus is real.
  5. Calliou has always been our go-to babysitter when Mom and Dad need some adult alone time. Because of that Calliou’s theme song kind of turns me on.
  6. I am not as strong as you think I am.
  7. I blamed my farts on you when you were a baby.
  8. I have nicknames for you, the kind of nicknames I can’t repeat in public so I won’t.
  9. I wouldn’t drink out of your glass for one million dollars.
  10. I sometimes steal the quarters out of your piggy bank.
  11. I have a favorite child, but it just changes by the day.So don’t ask. Unless you like playing Russian roulette.
  12. I sometimes wish I were eating your chicken nuggets and mozzarella sticks rather than my spinach and fish fillet.
  13. If you are looking for a Lego piece that you cannot find then you should stop because I threw that shit out weeks ago.
  14. The half-hour before your every bedtime I am not listening to a word that you’re saying because I am thinking only of a glass of wine.
  15. I know that it is you who is putting boogies on the wall.
  16. I take your excess Halloween and Easter candy and leave it on the break room table at work. And I don’t even like those people.  
  17. I only like to play with you when you let me make up the rules.
  18. You are a better student than I ever was. By far! It’s not even close.
  19. I watch you in your sleep.
  20. I eat your sugar cereal after you go to bed.
  21. I kind of like it when you wake up in the middle of the night and get in bed with me.
  22. I fantasize over having an empty nest.
  23. I have essentially met all my current friends through you. Without you as my crutch I am something of a social midget.
  24. I consider you my best friend, however you’d rather hang out with your best friend Christian.
  25. I lose sleep over your future. Sometimes it’s all I can think about……………………………………………………………………………………I am Kevin Harris, a father of four and husband to one very understanding woman. And yes, I know exactly what caused all those pregnancies! My home life makes me smile and I like to share that laughter with others. Find more of me herehttps://www.facebook.com/pages/My-Pathetic-Blog/201109276572306

Listens Attentively - A Progress Report

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I never really thought of my son as being a special education student. …That is until I received his first report card.

Okay, so they’re not called report cards anymore. They’re called progress reports. So when I viewed Alex’s first progress report, I realized that while he was receiving the same evaluation as his peers it may not be a fair assessment of his development as a student.

Technically, our kindergarten child is a special education student. Our five-year-old Alex has Apraxia, a neurological condition that hinders his speech development. No, this is not just a speech impediment or a speech delay. This is a speech condition. His mind knows the sounds but there is a disconnect with his tongue.

He lacks the words to successfully thrive as a child of five years old. His communication skills are functional, at best. He uses as few words as possible. He’ll point to an object if you let him. He’ll bring you to his problem if you follow. He’ll negotiate and manipulate as long as you play along so he does not have to reveal his secret speech.

This is his language.

When I looked at Alex’s report card I realized that most categories were related to communication. And my son, who struggles to form the words of a proper sentence, has little communication.

Actively participates, Recalls story content, Understands rhyming words, Indicates letter/sound correspondence, Demonstrates self-confidence, Works cooperatively in groups, Cooperates well with others, Attempts to solve problems appropriately,…and so it goes.

These are all categories where more social and vocal children will excel. The shy, the reserved, the quiet and the speech impaired will have an obvious disadvantage. These are all categories that rely on my child’s ability and, more importantly, his willingness to communicate with others. My child does whatever he can to keep from voicing his broken speech. While he may easily recall story content, he may not desire to share this recall with others.

Conversely, Alex excelled in areas were communication is not necessary. Alex scored high in Listens attentively, Works independently-maintains quiet, Stays on tasks/attention is focused. Ironically, it is best to keep your mouth shut to excel in these areas. And Alex does that well.

For those of you who do not know what it’s like to have child with Apraxia, imagine looking at your little adult five-year-old and hearing the speech of your one-year  coming out of their mouth. Those words and jokes that five-years-old say are not that easy for my child to deliver. Because of this Alex often refrains from communicating his thoughts.

There’s a whole world in his mind that has yet to be heard. Sometimes, I think I might as well be deaf.

This very thought makes my heart hurt. A friend once said, “when a child cuts, as parents we bleed.” When I initially read my child’s first report card my heart bled all over the dining room floor.

Let me be clear. My son’s first report card was not a bad one. He received mostly D’s as in Developing, which is the middle tier of the three-tier grading system.  This, on its own is not that bad. Add to the fact that Alex is challenged with communication his Developing grades were actually pretty great.

But as parents we like to compare. We compare to our first two children, who were and are still top-tier students. These kids are afraid to bring home B’s for fear of shame. (We’ve yet to explain to them exactly how good a B actually is). We compare to Alex’s friends, who are more social and vocally confident,  and undoubtedly brought home reports cards full of Secures, the top grade possible. We compare to our own expectations, who cannot comprehend having a child who is less than in any category.

This is not a call to the board of education for a special education report card, as I prefer my child to be graded with his peers as this is the scale he will have to face the rest of his life. However, this is a call to myself, to my wife and to everyone else who has a child, who is at times less than. This is a reminder that Alex is special. We will put less weight in his report card and more weight into his progress as a young man.

The night I saw his report card for the first time I allowed myself to lament his speech struggle, but was soon reminded of his progress. As I sat at my desk studying this report card  Alex brought over to me a Christmas toy catalog.

“This is awesome!” Alex said clearly as he pointed to a toy set. This is awesome is not a phrase that Alex has ever used before and it came out oh so clearly.

“Yes, Alex,” I said putting down his report card. “This is awesome. And you are awesome!”

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I am Kevin Harris, a father of four and husband to one very understanding woman. And yes, I know exactly what caused all those pregnancies! My home life makes me smile and I like to share that laughter with others. Find more of me herehttps://www.facebook.com/pages/My-Pathetic-Blog/201109276572306

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Finding His Voice

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My third child speaks his own language. It’s a cross between Mandarin and Spanglish.

This was somewhat amusing when he was eighteen months old. Now that he’s entering his fifth year, the humor is gone as we’re still having a hard time understanding his words, his spoken thoughts.

This, as a parent, breaks my heart. It breaks my heart when he desperately tries to tell me something. It breaks my heart when he stomps off with frustration. It breaks my heart when he rolls his eyes instead of opening his mouth.

Alex has been in Early Intervention Speech Therapy for two years and we’ve seen some amazing results. We sat by, worked his phonics and his patience, and have watched him grow. He still cannot say most consonants. But he can say, “Daddy, can you pick me up?” And how can I say no to that?

Alex has a long way to go as there are complete sentences, paragraphs and entire stories that come out of his mouth that I cannot comprehend. Any parent who has ever experienced slow speech development with a child understands the feelings that coincide. There are frustrations, fears, pain, and uncertainty.

Our Alex is the sweetest, little four-year-old boy you could find on the map. He has the looks of Paul McCartney and the heart of George Harrison. He’s gentle, intelligent and sweet. He has all the smarts in the world, just not the words to prove it. And most times he doesn’t need these words, because he has the kind of face that says it all.

My wife knew early on that Alex was behind his peers in verbal communication. I accused her of being reactionary and told her not to worry. Sadly, I played it off thinking that eventually his tongue would find its way and we’d be talking baseball by his fourth birthday. I have a loose parenting theory that babies become children, and children become grown people without much intervention from parents. In this case, I was dead wrong.

It’s hard not to blame yourself as a parent anytime any kind of success evades your children. And I am ready to take on the blame.

We did not raise our third child in the same capacity as we raised our first two babies. I read to our first child in utero. And did flashcards with our second child before his first birthday. Our television was rarely on in those early days, but when it was on it was Baby Einstein and Elmo DVDs. I used to sing to our children, and play the guitar, and do all the things that new parents do.

And then I changed with child number three. Perhaps, I spent too much time writing My Pathetic Blog. Perhaps, I should’ve read more when he was a baby. Perhaps it has nothing to do with me at all.

Right now the teachers are treating his condition as Apraxia, which in a child has no known cause.  Children with Apraxia struggle with the muscle movement needed to perform proper speech. Children with Apraxia leave out sounds and have trouble with longer sounds. Their speech is rushed. Their tongue just doesn’t cooperate with their brain.

Let me say that through all this we are lucky. We are fortunate to be part of an Early Invention program with some patient, amazing teachers who care for Alex and his growth as much as we do. We have neighborhood friends whose children have been through this program and who have succeeded.  

There are things that Alex says perfectly. Then there are things no one can understand. I don’t know if Alex’s speech has gotten better, or if I have gotten better at understanding him.  I posed this same question to his speech teacher after she told me what a great first year he had.

“Are you sure it’s not just you?” I asked.

She paused for reason, hesitated and said that it was him. And this made me feel good.

What saddens me is that I know we are missing some of the most precious spoken words. The things children say from the ages of three to five years are unmistakably brilliant. I know this because I have written down every lovable, funny, fantastic thing any of my children have ever wondered aloud….However, I have yet to write down a single thing Alex has said.

Kids say the darndest things, but I can’t understand what darndest things my third kid is saying. I can tell he’s making a joke. He flashes a devilish look on his face, sheepishly looking away, grinning as if he just stole a shot of gin from the family liquor cabinet.

Last month, I was helping Alex go potty when he decided to chime in about my penis. “Daddy, you have a ‘hbhusau’ penis.”

I caught the first and the last words, but I missed the adjective. When Alex starts a word with the ‘h’ he might mean to say ‘c’, ‘k’, ‘p’ or even ‘h’.  Now, all I can do is to begin the guessing game.

I have a happy penis? I have a handsome penis? I have a hungry penis? I have a caring penis? I have  sharing penis. I have the bravest penis…?

This went on for another five minutes, which I’m sure exceeded the appropriate time for a grown man to talk about his penis to a toddler. Sometimes, it’s best just to move forward.

Standing on the border of the playground other parents will ask us about Alex’s speech. The conversation turns to brain scans, ear tubes, spinal taps, autism, etc. Shared stories of friends of friends all come with well intentions. But frankly, I don’t care to hear them.

My biggest concern through it all is that Alex’s failure to speak properly will consume him. My fear is that this failure will become his personality. My fear is that he will eventually shut down. That he will lose friends, and his social standing. My fear is that people will think that there is something ‘wrong’ with him. And I assure you, there is nothing ‘wrong’ with him.

So far, this is not the case. Children are far more resilient than adults. Alex’s development hasn’t hurt him socially or academically. He is developing in school.  He can count. He can write. He can play. And Alex always gets the invitation to the birthday party.

And he continues to amaze me with his smarts…Perhaps, at times he’s too smart. Last week Alex was having a hard time stating something to my wife.

“Mommy, I am hjuahty,” Alex said with little success. My wife asked him to repeat this over and over again without success. Eventually Alex figured out a different way of saying the same thing. In fact, he posed it like a riddle.

“Mommy, do you know when you’re hot? Mommy, do you know when you come home from running? I’m that, Mommy.”

“Sweaty? You’re sweaty, Alex?”

“Yes, Mommy. I am sweaty.”

When my wife told me this story over dinner I teared up. I got lost in emotion and was amazed at his creativity, at his persistence, at his will. I am amazed at his voice. And was something I was sure to write down.

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For more of my with my Alex I suggest you visit… http://mypatheticblog.tumblr.com/tagged/alex

Like My Pathetic Blog, damn it! Just click that Facebook thumb already.

I am Kevin Harris, a father of four and husband to one very understanding woman. And yes, I know exactly what caused all those pregnancies! My home life makes me smile and I like to share that laughter with others. Hopefully, you can find a bit of your home life reflecting in my pathetic blog….. 

'Bickering' Named Cause of Death For Local Couple

Associated Press

RIVERTON, NJ — In a monumental ruling, authorities believe they found the cause of the unexplained death of a married couple found lifeless in their Riverton, NJ home last Thursday.

Toxicology reports came up clean for the Kevin Harris and wife Stacianne Harris, both 37. The initial autopsy showed no signs of struggle, physical trauma or force. There was also no element of outside disturbance. However, after talking to the couple’s neighbors, friends, pizza delivery driver and mailman authorities believe that the cause of death was due to ‘bickering.‘

This is the first time in the history of the world that ‘bickering’ was determined to be the primary factor of a death in a human being. On two prior occasions ‘nagging’ was determined to be the cause of death, once in Indiana in 1988 and more recently in Alberta, Canada in 2008. In both of these cases husbands were the victims.

The Harris couple, who met in elementary school and have been married for eleven years, were found dead by their neighbor Peggy, a retired kindergarten teacher who decided to check in on the couple after their usually loud house went silent for almost twenty whole minutes. The couple’s four children continued to play and watch television unaware that their parents had died right before their eyes.

 “There wasn’t any shouting or screaming that morning,” said Peggy in a phone interview. “It was more a constant streaming of continuous argumentative banter. When both partners were home together I could count on an extended verbal back-and-forth assault creeping out of their windows and into mine. When I didn’t hear any words coming out of the house that morning I knew I should investigate.”

Mr. Harris was found face down on a laptop computer at the dining room table. His Facebook account was open and it appeared that he began typing a new status. “My wife thinks I’m an idiot because jjjjkkkkkkkkk…..” This status was completed by Mr. Harris’ forehead.

Mrs. Harris was found in the back of the house just outside the power room with a dust cloth in her hand.  Authorities believe a bickering session may have started over some unexplained splatter surrounding the toilet.

Authorities found evidence of bickering throughout the couple’s home. Passive aggressive notes found left on countertops and pinned to bathroom mirrors revealed a strong partnership in married altercation. One note found on the couple’s refrigerator told the whole story. It read, “find your own fucking ketchup, ass hole! Did you even think to look behind the milk?!”

Records of the couple’s electronic devices also concluded that their vocal wrangling was not contained within their home. Text messages on both accounts show a lengthy history of terminal squabbling. Their Facebook accounts were also riddled with shared reproach. The husband also wrote a blog called My Pathetic Blog that appeared to chronicle his long, slow death by domestic torture.

“I have never seen anything like this,” said Riverton Police Chief. “I have seen hundreds of domestic disturbances and this one by far is the most disturbing. Most couples kill each other over violent, alcohol-fueled arguments. This case reveals two slow deaths over the course of many years. It’s unprecedented. However, it really makes you take a long, hard look at your own life.”

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Like My Pathetic Blog, damn it! Just click that Facebook thumb already.

I am Kevin Harris, a father of four and husband to one very understanding woman. And yes, I know exactly what caused all those pregnancies! My home life makes me smile and I like to share that laughter with others. Hopefully, you can find a bit of your home life reflecting in my pathetic blog….. For more of my writing I suggest you visit my favorites page….http://mypatheticblog.tumblr.com/tagged/favorites

The Big Vasectomy, Part III - The Procedure

                                       

As we were lying down for bed the evening prior to my vasectomy my bride asked me a question that I just didn’t have an answer to. I’ve done all the research and the mental preparation. Shit, I’m fairly certain I could do the vasectomy myself. But after she asked me this question I was afraid that I didn’t have all the answers.

“What happens to all the sperm?” she asked. And for the next hour I cried myself to sleep thinking about about those future dead sperm.

You see, a vasectomy snips off the passage of the sperm to the ejaculate. But the sperm remain alive, still active and very intent on finding an egg and becoming a person. However, after a vasectomy the sperm kind of just gets captured like a suburbanite who wandered down the wrong urban city dead end left to die, dreams and all.   

I fell asleep very sullen thinking of this. Have you ever seen that Sarah McLachlan animal cruelty commercial with all those snapshots of beaten down, dying cats and dogs? Well, this is the commercial that played in my head as I fell asleep thinking of the future death of all my future sperm. And that song, it just kept playing in my unconscious. You know the song.

In the arms of an Angel far away from here …From this dark, cold hotel room, and the endlessness that  you fear.  You are pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie. You’re in the arms of an Angel; may you find some comfort here .

                           

See full commercial here….http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gspElv1yvc

And then as I finally feel asleep some twelve hours away from my vasectomy I had the following dream. Sarah McLachlan was to me talking through a television screen. Only, it wasn’t animals that she was looking to save. It was my sperm. It was specifically Kevin Harris’ sperm.

Hi.  I’m Sarah McLachlan. Will you be an angel for an innocent sperm? Everyday innocent sperm are abused, beaten and neglected. They’re crying out for help….

It’s not at all that I was lamenting my vasectomy. In fact, I’ve have been on cloud nine all week thinking of the process. I just on occasion misdirect my emotions and this evening I was morning my sperm.

Read Part I and Part II of this Vasectomy Blog Trilogy. (Links below). In short,  I am ready for Chapter 3 of my life with my lovely bride.  Chapter 1 was our newlywed stage. Chapter 2 was an eight-year stint with four successive infants. And Chapter 3 will be the growing family, weekend getaway, throw the baby junk away stage.

I have been thinking about this vasectomy for the better part of the last two years. And this week couln’t have come quicker. I was prepared, both mentally and physically. I was more prepared for this than anything in my life.

Doctor Fallick (yes, his real name)  told me where to shave my area, but didn’t quite tell me where to stop. So I eagerly shaved all the way up to my nipples and all the way down to my shins. I wanted to be thorough in my role. I did, however, offer this chore to my bride. As this kind of grooming was something I did for her almost nine years to the day when we were expecting our first born. I figured that she might want to return the favor. Then again. I can see my privates over my belly. She, at nine months pregnant, could not see hers. So I let her off the hook.

My next measure of preparation was proper identification. The written instructions suggested that I needed to bring two forms of I.D. I, however, brought close to twenty forms of I.D. to ensure that this vasectomy would happen. Along with my driver’s license, my passport, my social security card and my health card, I also brought a notified letter from my mother, my 1993 high school yearbook, aged headshots from the days when I wrote for the newspaper and a dozen or so images of me from My Pathetic Blog.

My third and final step of preparation was the happy pill. Dr. Fallick prescribed me one lone Valium to calm my nerves prior to the procedure. I popped this sedative in the driveway leaving for my appointment as I took the wheel of the car. My wife showed some concern of me driving under the influence to the doctor’s office and offered to takeover. My concern with of my wife driving was that she’d drive past the doctor’s office to some sleazy motel room and demand that I impregnate her one last time….So I took the wheel and we floated to my vasectomy, or at least I did.

That smile on my face on the way to the procedure had little to do with the Valium and more to do with my future. Men driving themselves to get their balls snip should not be this happy. But I am not your average man. I am a tired, father of four who has been awaiting this day for months. As I drove down Route 73 I thought of all the beautiful things that I will come with this certain sterility.

First, I told my wife, we are booking a weekend getaway to Chicago next spring to make up for the one we didn’t take nine years ago when we got ourselves pregos with Child No. 1. Next, we are cleaning the house up. Selling, trashing, burning any Fisher Price® infant toy, BabyBjorn ™ baby seat and every Purely Simple™ Nipples that I find. Lastly, I will be a better father. Knowing what will come with our definitive family. I will relax and enjoy every single upcoming second with my four precious children.

     

As for the actual procedure? It went swimmingly. And you’re god damn right that’s a pun! It was over in just thirty minutes, and honestly I was enjoying it so much that I didn’t really want it to end. I was comfortable, talkative, inquisitive and enjoying the company. Dr. Fallick and his assistant Shannon worked together like Lennon and McCartney.

There is one, long lasting, nagging memory of which I will never forget. Prior to the procedure Dr. Fallick offered me some mood music. “Would you prefer Clapton or classical,” he said as he held up two compact discs. “Clapton,” I agreed.

It was Clapton’s Unplugged album, and it set a rather sterile, non combative, peaceful mood.  I enjoyed the first three tracks but then found myself sullen again when Track #4 came on. Clapton wrote his 1991 classic hit Tears From Heaven as a love letter to his four-year-old son who accidentally died after falling out of a New York City apartment window.

This song left me with two persistent thoughts.  No. 1…When I hear this song for the rest of my life I will be reminded of Dr. Fallick’s gentle hands and my half-hour spent spread eagle in Voorhees, NJ. And No.2… More morosely, I thought of my own millions of future dead sperm that never will have  an opportunity to fall out of a 53rd Floor window in New York City.

Would you know my name…If I saw you in heaven? Would it be the same…If I saw you in heaven? I must be strong…And carry on…’Cause I know I don’t belong…Here in heaven.

For actual performance go here…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSbqm7ZK_9s

       

And then it was over. Before I could shed my first tear Dr. Fallick was helping me put my pants on, and telling me to return eight weeks later with a sample cup of ejaculate to test. “Looking forward to it,” I said to him awkwardly.

On the way home my bride bought me an ice cream cone. This made me think of when I was child and my mother would buy me GI Joe figurines after those particularly harsh dental visits.  In general, I don’t feel that middle-aged men have any right to enjoy an ice cream cone on some random Friday afternoon. Quite indulgent and self-serving, I have always thought. But damn it, this middle-aged man deserved ice cream on this day. One custard cone of chocolate-vanilla twist, complete with rainbow jimmies, stitched testicles, weightless shoulders and without four children asking for a lick.

My only wish is to have a vasectomy every day.

See Part I and Part II of this three-part vasectomy series here….http://mypatheticblog.tumblr.com/post/6760384248

I am Kevin Harris, a father of four and husband to one very understanding woman. And yes, we know exactly what’s causing all these pregnancies! My home life makes me smile and I like to share that laughter with others. Hopefully, you can find a bit of your home life reflecting in my pathetic blog. Like it. Seriously, you know you want to. Just click the damn thumb already. For more of my writing I suggest you visit my favorites page….http://mypatheticblog.tumblr.com/tagged/favorites

Little Boxes on the Hillside, Little Boxes Just the Same

Two weeks ago my wife and I looked at a real estate listing in our neighborhood. Somewhat for need, but mostly for want.

Despite the fact that the house was mess… Despite the fact that it needed $100,000 of work to meet our needs…Despite the fact that we would be starting over…we really wanted this house to be our home.

I even drew a picture of what it might look like if we poured every dollar we had and every minute we owned into it over the next ten years.  But what would be the real cost?

We looked at this house three times. Each time with a realtor. Twice with a tape measure. And one last time with a general contractor who told us what it might really cost to make this move. In the end and over two pitchers of beer at the local tavern my wife and I came to our senses.

We already had a home.

This isn’t the first time my wife and I seriously considered moving our family. Once to a different state. Another time to another town. This time it was in our own neighborhood. We are a large family of six and certainly have our needs. However, I often wonder if these needs are really needs or are they just wants. I wonder sometimes why we always have a need for bigger, better and more. Not just my wife and I, but all of society focuses on bigger, better and more.

I blame TLC, HGTV, DIY Netwwork, House Hunters, Cribs, Property Virgins, Bravo, Million Dollar Contractors and that doochebag Canadian Mike Holmes on Homes.  

“Hey Holmes? Did you ever think we hire shitty contractors because real people cannot afford the good ones? Huh, Holmes? Ever think of that?”

We watch these shows in the comfort of our own home and for some reason we want more. Only television could make me think to myself, “Why don’t we have a bidet? You know, I’ve always wanted a bidet in my bathroom? We should get one. But I don’t want to wash my anus with public water. So we’re going to need a water filtration system to feed into our bidet.”

Whenever my wife and I feel this need to want, I stop and look around at what we already have. Once, I even took pictures of our house, rooms, yard, etc. and created a slideshow that appeared like an internet real estate listing. This always results in a new perspective. I urge you to try this yourself with your own home to remind yourself what you already have…. But clean up the toys first.

I love our house. It’s our home. We’ve been here for twelve years. My wife and I came here as kids in our twenties, and now we’ve filled it with our own kids. Our home fits us. It conforms to us. Over the last dozen years we’ve crafted every nook and cranny to shape our family. Every square inch of this place has been improved to make our life even better.

We built an addition, finished a basement, fenced a yard, replaced appliances, painted every wall, and finally built that bookshelf that I always wanted. (Oh, FYI…stalkers. We’ve also installed a security system.)  

So why move? There are things we want like central air conditioning and sidewalks, and there are things we need like a fourth bedroom and another bath for our shit-ton of kids. But to get this do we really want to sacrifice what we already have?  

Side note, if we moved I’d have to dig up and transplant that big ole’ money tree that we have in our backyard that apparently is going to pay for all these needs and wants. How else would we pay for the new siding, attic addition, closet installations, basement renovations, fence, porch, sod and landscaping for the new Money Pit around the corner that we want to buy?

I haven’t bought a new pack of underwear in over five years, but something in me thinks I can afford $100,000 in renovations in a house that I do not need to own.

Can I tell you a little secret? Perhaps, my wife and I are just a bit lonely here. Our kids too. We live in an old neighborhood surrounded by old people. Our next door neighbor on the right of us is a retired kindergarten teacher. Our next door neighbor on the left is a retired high school principal. Imagine the block parties on Cedar Street!

I grew up surrounded by children. My wife, too. We both walked out our front doors as children to a gallery of friends. Now, my wife and I have to gas up the car to execute a play date. White-people problems, I know…

The alternative to the daily play date is to open up the backdoor and let the kids play out back. We have a large backyard, a privacy fence, and enough room for a two-on-two kickball field. But sometimes I watch them outside with each other and think that they’re going to have to get themselves some friends before they kill each other.

I often think of that opening credits scene of Showtime’s Weeds with the suburban landscape of like-houses for miles and miles. …Little boxes on the hillside, little boxes just the same. ..

When I was twenty-something I loved the idea of living in seclusion, away from other houses on a dark road, in a wooded yard, hidden from neighbors and the rest of the free world.  Now, all I want is one of those little boxes on the main road, perhaps even on a cul-de-sac, surrounded by like-minded people with like-minded children riding big wheels in the street and barbequing on the weekends.

We haven’t buried to idea of finding another house that fills our needs and manages our wants to meet our lifestyle, but for now I will continue to suppress my wants and turn a blind eye to my needs. I will continue to blame HGTV because not everything needs to be stainless steel or topped with granite. I will continue to blame DIY Network because not everything needs to have curb appeal or added equity. And I will continue to blame TLC and Bravo because not everyone needs a walk-in closet or a master bathroom.

After all, there is a certain intimacy to walking in on a family member on the toilet. It creates character and awkward moments that will last forever. And it also creates strong, patient bowels.

So in the meantime, I have proposed a television program for HGTV to run 24/7. Let’s call the show STAY HOME. The entire hour will consist of a happily-ever-after family gathered around the dining room table playing board games in their own warm home. Sure sounds like shitty TV and won’t pay for much advertisement, but it will cure the souls of a lot of people’s wants and needs in their own little boxes.

And when we do decide to finally buy again and sell our home, we’ll be ready to go with the pictures. Now, the words…. Our Home For Sale. 3½ bedrooms, 1½ baths, small room can be used as a nursery to nurture beautiful children or an office for unpublished authors, finished basement furnished with toys, child’s growth chart already on pink bedroom wall, big fenced in yard complete with two dogs (that may or may not be buried in the backyard because that kind of thing may or may not be illegal in this town), and a home security system for stalkers.

For extra credit follow this link to listen to Malvina Reynolds’ original version of her song Little Boxes featured on Weeds…. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_2lGkEU4Xs

I am Kevin Harris, a father of four and husband to one very understanding woman. And yes, we know exactly what’s causing all these pregnancies! My home life makes me smile and I like to share that laughter with others. Hopefully, you can find a bit of your home life reflecting in my pathetic blog.

Like it. Seriously, you know you want to. Just click the damn thumb already. For more of my writing I suggest you visit my favorites page….http://mypatheticblog.tumblr.com/tagged/favorites

Overrun by Children Everywhere

I was at the funeral of a friend’s father when I bumped into a very old, dear childhood buddy.

In our boyhood we spent thousands of hours together. We were then, in fact, best friends. Since entering manhood we no longer share anything. We are now, in fact, strangers.

He is single. I am a father of four.

It took just seconds to catch up. He was still single. I was still a father of four. Sure, there is more to both of our lives. Though standing in that church aisle at that moment our lives were defined by these roles. Then he shocked me with the following statement.

“So, you have four kids now?” he laughed. “What? Did they, like, overtake your life?”

It was the most negative statement anyone has ever attributed to my life. More negative than the time that woman said, “you can afford four kids working here?” More negative than that time that strange woman counted my family as we walked into Wegmans.

Ironically, we were at a funeral of a man with six grown children. Grandchildren were everywhere. The church was filled with hundreds of friends and family members whose lives were touched by this man. The line to praise this man was out the door and into the parking lot.

What more can a dead man ask for?, I thought.

So to answer the question, “Did they, like, overtake your life?” ….…..FUCK YEAH THEY DID! AND I LOVE IT!

In truth, I did not set out for this large family. It was just slowly handed down to me over a decade. Pregnancies test sticks, delivery rooms, well visits, PB&J, movie night, little league and parent-teacher conferences are the terms of my life. Someone out there knew I needed this. Someone out there knew I could handle this. Someone out there knew someone else out there needed me.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to get these children to the finish line.

MISSION ACCEPTED!

There are perks to this life, of course. My calender is so full that I hardly have the time to lament what my life could’ve been. I am starting to realize that I will never be rich, or famous, or both. But I am starting not to care, fulfilled with my own big-cheese-status at home.

I am more than just a household name at a certain home on Cedar Street. I am a goddamn celebrity! I walk in the door and there’s a parade of people pushing at each other trying to get to my toes. I’m like a movie star strolling down the red carpet as one of the kids is snapping photos. I’m like a sports hero walking out of the locker room into the arena as my wife is urging me to put me autograph on something. I’m like a politician promising ice cream after dinner and kissing babies hello.

I am surrounded by people, by love. Everyday is a house party. Isn’t this what we always wanted in our college years? I dropped out of college because I couldn’t sit in my dorm room by myself and do work, constantly gravitating to any room filled by others. And now I cannot find a room in my house that doesn’t have another heartbeat in it.

My house is like an eternal party. People everywhere. My living room is lined wall-to-wall with little bodies and plastic red cups, loud music and constant conversation. Someone is always looking to play a game. Inevitably, there’s a fight between two others. Surely, someone else will throw up. And at the end of the day someone is running around naked. My life is a constant Thursday night frat party.

“What? Did they, like, overtake your life?”…..YOU ARE GOD DAMN RIGHT THEY DID! AND I LOVE IT!

This statement was made almost a year ago, but still haunts me. Not for what it says about me now with a family, but for what it says about what I could’ve been without my family.

I think about what it might be like to not have someone, anyone to hug at any given moment. There is always someone on the couch to cuddle. There is always someone to talk to at the dining room table. There is always someone to have a baseball catch with in the backyard. Some nights I shout, ‘ice cream run’ and I’m joined by a handful of people. Other nights I scream, ‘beer run’ and my wife understands!

I have created my own little empire where everyone looks to me for leadership. Yes, I am overtaken by these kids, overruled by care, overrun by love and occupied by these little heartbeats…and my heart beats because of it.

I don’t know any other way.

One month ago I had the opportunity to spend the night away from my family alone in some far off city down the shore. I was bored to death. Okay, so there was the eight-ball of cocaine I shared with some strangers at the strip club. And there was the hooker-party at the house later. But at the end of the night I felt so alone.

Actually, it wasn’t like that at all. Perhaps, I’m just not that fun anymore. I went to dinner by myself and sat alone. I watched a movie on my laptop on a sofa bed.  I spent a lot of time staring out the window expecting the minivan to pull up any minute. It never did. So I slept off the loneliness. Boy, did I sleep! (This part, is definitely recommended.)

I don’t know what it’s like to be a single man. I’m not sure that I ever truly knew what that was like. It just might be fabulous. I don’t know? But I do know that I never want to find out.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

I am Kevin Harris, a father of four and husband to one very understanding woman. And yes, we know exactly what’s causing all these pregnancies! My home life makes me smile and I like to share that laughter with others. Hopefully, you can find a bit of your home life reflecting in my pathetic blog. Like it. Seriously, you know you want to. Just click the damn thumb already. For more of my writing I suggest you visit my favorites page…. http://mypatheticblog.tumblr.com/tagged/favorites


Do You Think Like a Neanderthal?

                              

Do you have defined roles in your household? Is it clear who buys the milk? Is it clear who repairs the appliances?

The roles in my household are somewhat set, but they were never truly and clearly defined. Sometimes this leaves me lost like a child without his wubby. One day we just woke up after a dozen years living together with a handful of assumed roles. We never had that moment when we sat down and divvied up chores like some kind of Fantasy Baseball Draft. But perhaps we should have. 

In Round 1, he gets the full time job and she gets the grocery shopping. In Round 2, he gets the grill cooking and she gets the breastfeeding.  And the draft goes on.  He gets the lawn. She gets the laundry. He gets the heavy lifting. She gets the heavy pushing.  He gets the fixing matters for birthday presents.  And she gets the mixing batters for birthday cakes.

Last week I found myself alone in the kitchen like a child without his wubby again. I wanted to make myself a grilled-cheese sandwich before work, but discovered that the house was out of bread. And I didn’t know what the hell to do. So I did what I do best.  I threw a husband hissy fit wondering just how such a cataclysmic event like being out of bread could happen in this house! What kind of planetary alignment… what kind of plate-tectonic shift…. what kind of tsunami of horror could cause us not to have bread and every given moment?

What failed me most was not the lack of bread, but the feeling of prehistoric hunting-and-gathering-entitlement that flushed over me. I couldn’t help myself but to point my finger at the bread drawer and grunt like some caveman….URGH!….  NO…WONDER… BREAD!… Why was I out hunting for a paycheck if my wife not out gathering a loaf of bread?

Sure I wanted bread. But I also wanted to not feel like a Neanderthal.  I tried explaining this feeling to my wife, but it fell on deaf ears. Then later in the week I discovered this little fact: the Neanderthal was not an ancient ancestor of the modern human being, but a sub species that disappeared some 25,000 years ago. There are currently three theories for their extinction … 1). Human Conflict; 2) Human Interbreeding; 3) Volcanic Eruption. But I’d like to add a fourth possibility of their extinction. Perhaps they just ran out of bread and faded off to nothingness. Meanwhile the wives just ran off with some other, more enlightenment species.

My wife and I do this life well together. We are good teammates.  We escape days and weeks without  nagging and bickering. We support each other. We assist each other. But we also clash in our most precious moments of weakness. And then we bounce back.

After a decade together we have our roles. I work a full time gig….five out of seven days…every week…every year until the day I die.  I eat shit from the outside world in exchange for a weekly paycheck and medical benefits for my family. I accept this role, not for want but for need. And because I accept this role my wife allows me a little mental escape like blogging, running, drinking too much beer and an occasional playdate with my brother and my father.  

I admit however, that my wife’s role is blurred. She is the mother of four (five including myself). Some months my wife works a freelance fulltime job giving us a nice extra paycheck. Other months she has zero outside job responsibilities whatsoever and can afford this family her complete, undivided attention (I-phone planted firmly in hand notwithstanding). But I can confidently say that if there was an I-phone App for running a household then my wife would be in the conference room to perfect it.

And this led to a conversation between us. What is my wife’s mommy status?

   A) Stay-at-Home-Mom?

  B)   Housewife?

  C)  Homemaker?

  D)  Working-Mommy?

But wait. There’s one more option. And it’s a very obvious one.

  E)      All of the Above

My wife does just about everything around here with only an occasional finger lifted by myself. She balances the checkbook and the calendar. She balances our moments and our moods. While, I just manage to roll out of bed in time to take the kids to school.

I truly believe that if something terrible happened to me, she and the kids would get by just fine without me.  After all, the life insurance money could buy her a landscaper and eventually the children will learn how to drag the recycling bins to the curb.

On the flipside, if she would leave me early in this life I would be lost in a mountain of household chores, school lunches and medical well visits. Instead of doing laundry I would just buy new clothes.  This theory would work out just fine until her life insurance money dissipates. Eventually my house would get a visit from the Child Protective Services …followed by the crew of the local evening news.

TONIGHT at 11…FOUR CHILDREN REMOVED FROM A HOUSE OF FATHERLY FILFTH. AUTHORITIES BELIEVE THERE MIGHT BE MORE CHILDREN INSIDE BUT CAN’T SEEM TO SIFT THROUGH THE PILES OF DIRTY LAUNDRY AND BEER CANS. MORE ON THIS STORY FOLLOWING THE WEATHER!

It’s these kinds of self-reflective thoughts that allow me to realize just how good I have it. I know that I am a lucky man. But these thoughts escape me when I have my Neanderthal moments….When I have an important work meeting and my lucky underwear is not cleaned….When I come home from a long day of work and my dinner is not steaming on a plate…When I want to send my mother a card in the mail and there is not a stamp to be found…These are the moments when I revert to prehistoric thinking. Not by choice, but by instinct.  I know it’s not fair.

It’s these moments where I get lost in my own large Neanderthal cranium. It’s these moments when my bearded jawline spews out the dumbest homosapiens neaderthalensis-words.  It’s these moments when my large Pleistocene hands cannot grasp my own Cedar Street modern reality.  I can make fire, but sometimes I have trouble making sense of these modern times.

Insert prehistoric grunt here.

But I am not alone. When I have these moments I inevitably think back to my all-time favorite television moment. It was a Wonder Years episode that still kicks my heart’s ass every time I see it.  First aired in February 1989, episode 12 titled Pottery Will Get You Nowhere still has me shedding tears. It kicked my ass when I first saw it as a fourteen-year-old boy and still kicks my ass today.

The mom in the episode takes a pottery class and receives no support or encouragement from her family, especially not her husband Jack. The apex of the episode is when the parents have a fight in front of the children about the lack of Pepsi…and Jack shouts my all-time favorite television sentence…. “This family doesn’t need an astray for 200 people! This family needs Pepsi!”

Like most of my blogs this one is filled with more questions than answers. But I’m okay with that. Because I know questions are My Pathetic Blog’s specialty. If you want answers then go to Google.

However, if you have read this far then you shall be rewarded. Watch this clip. It will make your week. I promise.  I implore you to watch this entire five-minute segment here and challenge you not to feel something. I challenge not to find yourself somewhere of this segment.  I challenge you not to cry a little. Now enjoy…

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAGXdpXljm0

My Marriage is My Home

 

My marriage is my home. It all started with two naïve bricks, and now it continues to grow.

Everyday another piece is layered in. Another window to the soul added. Another color painted to the interior. Each additional building material supported by the strength of those two original bricks. It just keeps growing. Those bricks draw more strength by the weight of those joists above it.

Marriage is one long construction project with no deadline,  no defintive blue prints and no date of completion.  It needs not to be complex, though complexity will certainly find it. It needs only to stand and grow. It’s only objective is to keep building on. Not to be the biggest, or the best, or the shiniest. But to be strong enough to stand up to the winds and the rain. To be strong enough to keep its residents warm when the lights go out.

My marriage’s cornerstone is the simplicity of its design.  Two young lovers standing at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay waiting to see what the tides may bring. Two little bricks rooted in suburban soil for one joint structure. We added concrete to our basement, paint to our walls. We’ve added rooms to our home, children to our rooms . We’ve added understanding and empathy.  We’ve added wallpaper and mousetraps. We’ve added support. And we added more support.

I’ve been married for ten years and I still feel like this house is still in the planning stages. I never think of what my marriage is. I think of what my marriage could be, in all its potential. Time is its mortar, memories are its texture.  I know not to take for granted what is perfect now. And I know that what is not yet perfect will be perfect in time.

A home, a marriage needs constant maintenance and weekly inspection. It needs payment in care and keeping. It needs to be taken care of, in order to take care of those in it.

My marriage is my home. And I am its architect still learning the trade. And I know that I am not alone.

   

   

"What I like most as a father…what I like very most in the whole world is knowing that my children are sleeping safely in their owns beds. What I like least is trying to get them into those beds."

He’s Not Cheating…He’s Just Disgusting

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It was just an innocent shower.  But it turned out to be so much more.

After a particularly unfresh, unsanitary, rather unkempt Wednesday at work I came home and immediately took a shower.  I arrived downstairs like a new man ready for some wholesome family time. However, my bride wanted to know why I took a shower as soon as I got home from work.

As it turns out Frequent Showering is the No. 1 sign that a man is cheating on his spouse according to Every Woman’s Magazine Ever published in the history of women. Who knew?

I laughed, flattered that my wife might actually think that a 37-year-old, middle manager with four kids and three dollars in his pocket is marketable on the dating scene.

“I’m not having an affair, Honey. I’m just disgusting….Oh, and I had to burn another pair of underwear. Now, what’s for dinner?”

But this got me thinking. What other random acts and false signs am I putting out there that’s telling my wife that I’m having an affair? So I went online. And apparently everything I do is a sign that I’m cheating on my bride. According to online polls and women’s magazines, I am one unfaithful son of a bitch!

So here are the signs…But hold on, Ladies. Your man is not cheating. He’s just disgusting. Let me explain.

Changing Grooming Habits…Great! It’s bad enough that every time I do a little manscaping down under my bride makes me clean the entire bathroom with Clorox wipes, but now I have to also assure her that this grooming is for her benefit. Well, it’s not. Once again, men are disgusting. We grow hair in the strangest, darkest of places. Ladies, if the vacuum cleaner ever breaks all you have to do is roll your naked husband all over the carpet and watch how much lint and dirt his body hair collects. Then just pick him up, take him out back and shake him off the deck like a welcome mat.

Yesterday while changing my shirt my bride pointed out a collection of lint wrapped up in bellybutton among my own hairy welcome mat. “Hey, not a single thing in this house still belongs to me anymore accept that little, empty space in my bellybutton,” I demanded. “That empty space belongs to me and I’ll put whatever I want in there. Mind your business.”

If your man is grooming it doesn’t mean he’s cheating on you. He’s just trying to gain a little self-respect back. He knows how disgusting he is.

Protectiveness of His Gadgets…This is a common one, and I understand it. I do. But listen, I have no friends. As in zero friends. Not one friend! So when my cell phone rings once a month I want to be the one who answers it. As a father of four, I am so desperate for contact with the outside world that when my cell phone rings I am hoping to God that it’s not a wrong number, that it’s some telemarketer who I can spend five minutes chatting up….“No, I’m not interested in upgrading my credit card to a premium account. But hey, what are you doing later? Wanna meet up for a drink? Go play some darts or something. I can drive to Delaware in like two hours. No big deal…. Hello…Are you still there? …Hello?…”

Change of Smells…I’m getting older now. Which means at some point I’m going to start to get that old-man smell. And I’m going to have to mask that smell with some sort of perfume or cologne. Better transition now, I say.

I’m sure the smell that old people have is probably a product of daily medication and an all-bran diet, but some of that smell is likely to be just the natural digression of a rotting body. At 37, my body is about halfway rotten. Even I can smell it on me. Now where’s that bottle of Drakkar Noir I had in high school. It’s probably still good, right?

He is Distant…Really? If it seems like your man is only halfway there in the house it’s because mentally he’s on vacation in some far off distant place. Do you want to know why I’m so distant? It’s because I’m thinking of baseball. Yup, that’s right. Baseball, or something like it. Opening day is just 86 days away.  Oh yeah, I’m also thinking about what it might feel like to be an 11-year old boy again. Oh yeah, I’m also thinking about my retirement and sitting in a lawn chair on my driveway and watching people drive by and doing nothing all day long.

If it seems like I’m distant, like I’m not truly engaged with the needs and day-to-day operations of this household it’s because the day-to-day operational needs of this household are physically killing me and I’m not going to let those obligations take out my mind as well. I may have sore knees and an aching back, but mentally I’m an eleven-year old boy running a deep rout in a two-hand- touch football game.

Increased Sexual Desires….Decreased Sexual Desires…Initiates Sex…Freaky in the Bedroom…Not Responsive in Bed…Wow, according to the internet these are all signs that your man is cheating.  Ladies, your man has sexual needs, desires, frequencies, hang ups, bang ups, memories, expectations and scenarios running around that head of his that you won’t ever be able to comprehend so do not even try. Accept the unacceptable.

There are nooks and crannies in your man’s head that you do not want to visit. Even if you have a Google map, and some sexual GPS system, and a PHD and years of schooling in the male mind. There are places in that man’s head where you’ll get lost and confused, hurt and dehydrated, scared and scarred for life.  Don’t try and decipher your man’s sexual signs and don’t ask any questions. This is a no trespassing zone. Enter at your own risk.

Unexplained Behavior … So you found a coupon to the strip club in his glove box.  He’s not planning on using it, as it has since long expired. This was given to him in the parking of the last sporting event that he attended. He and about two thousand other men received this coupon.  He’s just keeping it as a reminder of the very last time a twenty-year-old girl made eye contact with him….Ask him, he’ll tell you… It’s been 521 days and counting…

There are things about your man that you just don’t need to know. There are things about your man that you don’t want to know. You think you do, but trust me you don’t.

You don’t need to know about that strange ointment in his sock drawer. You don’t need to know why he drives around with an extra pair of underwear in his car. You don’t need to know what he’s doing on the internet all day, because it will embarrass you both equally to find out that your man, an adult man can spend sixty hours per week on fantasy football.

Your man is not cheating. He’s just… well…he’s just a man, a desperate, disgusting, lonely adolescent man. But he is your man…So you better take care of him

A Drunken Christmas Carol

“Let me tell you a thing or two about Santa Claus, children! You think he loves you? Na, he don’t love you.”

The father knows that he has already said too much. He knows that he already caused enough damage with his opening statement. But he had enough. This was his And Justice For All moment, and damn to hell he was going to have his time to speak his truth, to shout his voice. So what if his audience was his four children, ages eight and younger. So what if it was Christmas morning.

“Santa Claus only comes around once a year and drops off a few hundreds of dollars worth of gifts. He’s just trying to buy your love. Then splits like some absentee father. But you know who stays around? Huh! I said ‘DO YOU KNOW WHO STICKS AROUND?’ It’s me! I stick around.”

The father thinks this last sentence has some weight on his four children. It should, but it doesn’t. All the children want is more toys. It’s December 25th and they are only four sweet, little innocent children. All they want to do is play with all their new toys under the Christmas tree. But that will have to wait until later, until after their father’s holiday temper tantrum.

It was a harmless statement, really, made by the oldest child that set the father off.  The father handed his children four small wrapped packages after the kids had demolished the sleigh load of presents given to them by Santa on this Christmas morning. “These are from Mom and me,” the father said proudly. 

After opening the gifts the children looked to their oldest sibling as a spokesperson, and she delivered their concerns. 

“That’s it?” the eight-year-old girl said with a bit of self-indignation. “All you and Mom got us was a puzzle, a board game of Sorry and some books. You’re our parents! You should’ve gotten us more. Santa got us all this, and you only got us this small pile.”

That little statement was enough to light the father’s ignition. Like any other time of year, the father had a short fuse and anything innocent could get him going. It didn’t matter that these were his children, his flesh in blood. It didn’t matter that it was Christmas morning and this was the celebration of the Lord. Anger and self pity does not take a holiday.

Is it okay to be jealous of Santa Claus, of a fictional character?  Is it okay to allow your children to think less of you to keep up with tradition of lying about the North Pole? Is it okay to allow children to be so self-righteous, so self- indulgent on such an otherwise perfect morning? The father didn’t think so.

The father has a hard enough time in this life comparing himself to the real people in the world, to the other parents and the kids’ teachers. He can’t possibly measure up to Santa Claus’ fictional philanthropy. The father was the one that worked overtime to afford that new bike for the toddler. He got a second job to purchase that Lego set for the six-year-old. He’s the one who stained his neighbor’s deck for Justin Bieber tickets and backstage passes. And he took a second-mortgage out on their home to pay off that Wii console.

And that fat, bearded, bloated son of a bitch from the North Pole wants to take all the credit. The father didn’t think so.

The father slammed down the basketball-sized ball of wrapping paper and quickly retrieved a can of beer from the kitchen. It’s only 8:30 am, but he has already downed two homemade ventis each with a double-shot Baileys Irish Cream. This coupled with his drunken Christmas Eve binge from the previous night and the father already has a Christmas load on that would make Dean Martin proud.

“Santa doesn’t care about you,” the father slurred. “ He’s just using you to make his name bigger. But listen to me. Listen to your father when I say, ‘If it wasn’t for me there’d be no god damn Santa Claus!’ If it wasn’t for me Santa Claus would be just another fictional name in one of those storybooks you’re always reading. You understand me?”

The father stops to wipe some foam from his the corner lip. He thinks for just a second trying to figure out if the foam is from the beer can or from his tirade. A good anger fit of rage demands a good timeout to gather one’s thoughts. This was his timeout. Standing above his children the father scans their faces for enlightenment…but he only sees fear. And that’s his next queue.

“You think you’re scared? Try fighting for your job day in and day out with a large family to support and Christmas right around the corner. You want to know fear? Try swiping your credit card at Toys R’ Us in the third week of December waiting to hear some teenager tell you that you’ve been declined. You think Santa Claus has to worry about bad credit? You think Santa ever runs out of money? You think Santa ever gets seven dollars worth of gas in that sleigh of his because he can’t afford to fill it up? Well, he doesn’t. And you know why? Because he’s not….”

The father stops right before he says the word real. The father catches himself in his children’s eyes and stops to think. He takes another drink of his can and surveys his audience. He catches his wife’s eyes. She looks at him then quickly looks to the beer. She raises an eyebrow and the corner of her lip in unison.

‘“Oh, come on? This little beer. What, Santa doesn’t drink? How about that red nose of his? How ‘bout that belly full of jelly? More like a belly full of whiskey sours!”

With this, the father takes the last sip of his beer can and crumples it with his fist. He tosses the can into the pile of Christmas wrapping and scans the living room landscape for another point of interest to shout about. He feels his tirade coming to a close and doesn’t yet want to let it go.

The father has always said that trying to reason with his children was like arguing with a bar full of drunks.  Now with his alcohol-soaked spree this comparison never seemed so real. Only the children were not arguing back. These children stopped listening to their father long ago and are more concerned with protecting their new toys from their father’s anger. They knew from history that one wrong move might mean a toy could be ripped out of their grasp and tossed into the nearest wall.

“See what happens, guys? All you had to do was be grateful for what you got and it would have been a great morning. Now look what you’ve done. Look what you made me do.”

The father knows even the youngest of his children, the baby, could see through his self-pity. The father knows that his reasoning has hit a wall. The father knows that this little angry monologue was coming to an end and running out of fuel. The children’s silence has woken the father up and his anger has subsided.

The father paces in his house like a beaten tiger walking from room to room. He intently stops in the kitchen making another quick stop at the refrigerator for another drink. The father returns to the living room and sits on the rug with his quiet family. He sighs as he cracks open another can of beer.

The silence in the room is broken up only by the beer suds foaming to the top of the can and each revolution of the cho-cho train ornament on the tree. The father succumbs to this silence and sighs again.

Credit. That’s all the father wants. Credit. That’s all any parent wants. Sure, the excitable smiling faces brought on by these Santa-bought gifts touches a parent’s heart.  But what any parents really wants is an adolescent thank you, some gratitude in the form of a tiny hand patting on a parental back.

Nowhere in any Christmas story does it mention the hard work of the parents. Nowhere is it mentioned the sacrifice, the sweat, the overtime, the long nights, the packed lunches, the over worn parental shoes and the aching feet.

Couldn’t some author, some illustrator somewhere magically weave into their Christmas story that Santa brings all these magical gifts on Christmas morning as a reward to all the parent’s hard work throughout the year. Is it too much to ask that Harper Collins Publishing partners with Rankin & Bass to whip up some fictional account that shines on both Santa Claus and the parents? Is that too much to ask? The father didn’t think so.

The father watches as the baby crawls along the carpet pulling at each torn pile of Christmas wrap. The father knows this story could only end one of two ways. Either he mans up and apologizes for ruining yet another Christmas morning with his selfishness, or he comes clean about the truth about Santa Claus. That’s when he realizes that there is only one way to end this. And it’s the truth. It’s about time for some real truth.

“Santa Claus is ….,” the father pauses and takes another swig. “He’s just not real, guys.” The father said it. He said it and finishes off the second half of his beer with one long gulp.

“Father!,” the mother abruptly shouts. Yet it was too late. He is committed to the truth and he cuts her off to continue.

“Santa Claus is just some made-up jerk, a mythical show-off,” the father goes on. “Santa Claus is just a charlatan. Fugazi, kids. Santa Claus is a big fucking fake!”

“Daddy! Daddy!,” the eight-year-old bravely interrupts pointing to the corner of the room. “Daddy, there is another gift under the tree.”

The father wipes his mouth of his last sip, and looks up to see another package peeking from beneath the dried, pine branches. He stumbles on his knees and crawls to the bottom of the tree pulling this last gift. In somebody’s best calligraphy there is a label attached: To: Father. From: Santa.

The father looks angrily, yet humbly at his wife. She shakes her head claiming nothing to do with it. The father knows his wife and knows she’s telling the truth. The father puts down his empty can of beer and begins to open the package searching for an answer. His face is illuminated by the shine of his eight-year daughter, who intently watches her father’s every move with a grateful glow to her smile.

At first rip of the wrapping the father immediately sees the words….BEERS OF THE ARCTIC. Another pull at the wrapping allows the full unveiling. It was a six-pack sampler from the North Pole.  There was a bottle of Santa’s Ale Suds, a bottle of Snow Wheat and a bottle of Blitzen’s Buzz.

The father looks up and reveals a drunken tear trickling down his swollen red cheek. He looks up humbly at his children for their forgiveness. And he knows all too well that these children are full of forgiveness. Someday, he knows, this forgiveness will run out. But he is happy that today is not that day.

“Daddy, Daddy. Santa didn’t forget about you!” the eight-year-old says as she hands over a bottle-opener to her father. “See Daddy, he is real! His is real, Daddy!”

The father accepts the gift and pulls his daughter to his lap. He takes that bottle opener and rips off the cap of a Sleighbell Lager. He takes it to his lips and it is magical. This little elf-potion is steaming his palate and pours over him a new life. Stillness arrives back to the family.

“Yup, Honey,” the father repents. “Of course, Santa is real. He is as real as they get.”