Crap and Sucks

When the girls were little, well I guess Bails is still only in 2nd grade, but we had a list of words that we didn’t want them saying. Naturally, the usual suspects were on the list…I also added Pelosi, Ravens and Francisco Cabrera. Our list included some words that I think there are varying degrees of parental intensity regarding their use by children. Normally, these are words that you likely use yourself and don’t cause convulsions among the masses. When uttered by your own children sound far worse than you’d suspect. Among those words: butt, stupid, fart and shutup. Recently, the girls have lobbied to revisit this list.

They wanted to know if they were officially cleared of any wrongdoing should they say “crap.” Before I could answer, Riley wanted to know about “sucks.”

After all, I never really formally added “crap” or “sucks” to the list. Mostly because they are among my favorite words.


This raises an interesting question. Are either of these bad words? If they are, then for whom? I mean what is the age at which you are able to utter these two staples of American lexicon? When I was a kid “sucks” was a bad word. Not like the f-bomb or even the s-word but there was definitely more jeopardy attached to it than “damn” or “hell.” But let’s face it, “damn” and “hell” are like the ’76 Buccanneers of curse words. They are low level curse words. But “sucks” kind of occupied a level somewhere between those two and the s-word. I mean it was really funny was somebody said it – like Al Czervik in Caddyshack. But you didn’t get grounded if you said it. By the way I did have my mouth washed out with soap for saying “fart” when I was in 1st grade. Didn’t really make sense to me then…although my folks did engage in the time tested parenting practice of inventing words to serve as synonym. Instead of fart, we’d say pookie – as in cookie.

Regardless, after some minor contemplation and reflection and a short but serious internal debate, “sucks” has officially been placed on the Do Not Say list for the girls. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Rye will still say it when she’s with her friends. But she won’t say in front of us or other adults.

Now, “crap” on the other hand, I don’t have a problem with. I had a friend in grade school who wasn’t allowed to say “crap.” Which, of course, was total crap. When I was a kid, my Mom even said “crapola” when she’d get mad. I’m not sure I could carry on a conversation without using “crap.” If it were an 80’s third down back, it would be James Brooks. If it were a WW II combat aircraft it would be the P-51 Mustang. If it was a TV show, it would be MacGyver. It’s versatile word that doesn’t require you to police your language.

To my surprise, there are a wide range of feelings when it comes to “crap.” Many parents simply see the word as same as the s-word. It means the same thing and it used the same way. Which naturally begs the response, “No shi…crap.”

I mean isn’t that the point? The s-word is a bad word. You can’t say it around your kids. So you say “crap.” Now don’t get me wrong, I say “freaking” all the freaking time as a substitute for the f-bomb. But I try and often fail to avoid saying it in front of the girls. I mean nobody wants their kids going through the cafeteria line at school and dropping, “Aw c’mon man, freaking chicken casserole again!”

So I guess if you are keeping score, “sucks” bad, “crap” good.

Published in: on February 27, 2012 at 10:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Night at the Mall

A couple Friday evenings ago we dropped Riley off at the mall with her friends. Then we did it again this past Friday. The mall, if I’m remembering the early 80’s correctly, provides you with access to food, Chess King and video arcades. Although I’m certain Space Invaders and Galaga is not what attracts Rye to the mall.

So we decided to stick around this time and take Bails and Kinz to see Journey 2 The Mysterious Island. Girls loved the movie. I’d much rather have seen The Grey. Anyway since the mall has a 20 screen theater attached to it, you kinda have the perfect storm for 12 year-olds through…and I’m just spitballin’ here… but 15 year-olds? All the pre-driver’s license dumbas…I mean kids.

We had to walk through a progression of what can only be described as puberty waves to get to the theater. It was just a relentless pounding of hormones and idiocy. Everyday that Rye creeps closer to teenagerdom, I absolutely shudder at the level of dumbassification to which I subjected my folks. I’m almost ashamed. But more accurately, I’m just stunned looking back at how skilled I was at making wrong decisions.

So with that in mind, we waded our way through the adolescent whitecaps, and the thought that immediately came to mind was that the level of disdain I have for them is probably only matched by the level of disdain they have for me.

Here is the first conversational excerpt I was able to hear clearly:

“Dude, c’mon! Sh*t might go down!”

Really? Like what? Like the scene from Taken when Liam Neeson personally dismantled the Albanian mob? Cause that was some real sh*t that went down. Or maybe that part from Weird Science when Ian and Max dump icees on Wyatt and Gary? That kind of sh*t? Is that the kind sh*t that might be going down? Or is it like when Bobo from Finding Bigfoot walks into the woods to simulate a squatch shaking a tree? Is that the sh*t that’s going down? Because that’s some pretty innocuous sh*t.

Utter disdain.

Anyway, we’ve now reached that point where going out on a Friday, whether it is dinner or a movie, sounds like too much work. Especially when you have to deal with large numbers of youth between the ages of 12 and 15. But don’t get me wrong, I like going to dinner. I love going to the movie theater. Especially on Fridays. Hell, I don’t even really feel like its Friday unless I’ve gone somewhere to eat. But, um, well…while I like the whole somebody else making my food part of it and I even like the being at the restaurant part of it, I really don’t like the toil and drudgery inexorably linked to the kids arguing with each other. We find that part of going out to dinner less than pleasing.

To be clear, its not like they just started arguing with each other. I’m mean the girls and arguing go together like Vanilla Ice and the high top fade. It’s just that it has reached a level of noise and aggravation that I’d rather it just go away than attempt to fix it. And listen, I’m a dude, and we’re genetically predisposed to want to fix problems or at the very least find the source of the problem, point it out and then bask in our coolness. Plus, I got that sweet power drill for Christmas so I can fix everything now. Seriously. EVERYTHING. Not that I know what I’m doing but still…

Nonetheless, the idea of having to face all of that arguing drains us so much that we have to overcome that exhaustion just to psych ourselves up to go out…then of course there is the exhaustion that comes with actually having to deal with the arguing, and sarcasm and you know – be a parent and stuff.

They all have their different styles too. Bails has to be heard. She’s the youngest so she’ll just keep talking through and over and during other conversations unless she’s acknowledged. She’s like Cosell in the MNF booth with Frank and Dandy Don. While Kinsey gets emotionally hurt if she’s interrupted or cut off or otherwise feels as though she’s been pushed aside or ignored. Her strategy to deal with this hurt is to hit and then quickly transition to pouting. It isn’t infuriating at all. Not to be forgotten, Riley has perfected over time an inability to let other people finish thoughts or sentences if she believes she knows what they are going to say or, as is more often the case, what she thinks they should say. Then, and I’m sure you’ve seen this before, she displays that 12 year-old look of astonishment when confronted with idea that she may have done anything remotely inappropriate.

As a reward for their behavior, I think I’m going to force them all to give up french fries for Lent. Either that or I’m going to let each of them wear something from one of the other’s closet. Forced sharing and a lack of french fries has to get their attention.

Published in: on February 17, 2012 at 5:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Things I Miss About Saturday Mornings

You know what I miss? The Far Side. And Calvin and Hobbes. Whole new perspective on Calvin since we had Bails.

I also miss Saturday mornings. Specifically Saturday mornings in the late 70’s and early 80’s. So do you…especially if Schoolhouse Rock, Bigfoot and Wildboy and the the Laff-a-lympics are buried somewhere in your melon.

Getting up on Saturday morning now and then aren’t the same. You really don’t realize Saturday morning is slipping away from you until you have kids and realize that cartoons don’t rule the world during those television viewing hours anymore. Now there are 17 channels running cartoons 24/7 – thank Christ by the way for Boomerang.

It starts getting away from you in high school and then for a few years in college it doesn’t even exist. It emerges again in a completely different context in your 20’s and then you get married, have kids and realize that Saturday morning’s level of awesomeness is difficult to replicate as a grownup. Although Sunday morning NFL pregame shows do run as a strong, strong substitute to Scooby and Thundarr.

I miss getting up first and heading downstairs to the couch, grabbing a blanket and flipping on Godzilla Super 90 with Johnny Quest reruns. Is there anything as awesome as Johnny Quest? It’s a Saturday morning cartoon with automatic weapons and actual casualties. Now there is so much niche programming that you can find pretty much anything you want to watch at any time. Back then there just a small window of time, once a week, where kids ruled TV. Plus you could get your Dad to make you some pancakes or cream of wheat while you watched The Challenge of the Superfriends.

And then you’d sit there watching cartoons until it was time to go outside and well, I guess, be a kid. Which, in case you forgot, was pretty damn fun.

Minor Things

Best new show on TV? Person of Interest. Tough not to like Jim Caviezel, tougher not to like his character in this show. Plus Ben from LOST in it. So not being awesome was a tall task. Funniest new show? New Girl. Not close either. Maybe it’s because I like making fun of twenty-something singles, maybe it’s just good writing, who knows. But this is a freaking funny show. But when talking about the most hilarious shows on TV, you can’t go long without mentioning Archer. Yes, it’s in its third season but seriously, if you haven’t watched it, find the Rampage episode from last season and watch it. I couldn’t breathe I was laughing so hard.

Anyway, that really has nothing to do with anything. But since I writing about things that really don’t have anything to do with anything, I do have some additional thoughts.

First, Mom has a weird, almost maniacal dislike of Katherine McPhee. She can’t see an ad for that new show Smash, without the words “stupid” or “gross” leaping from her piehole. Its weird. I mean if you are going to have irrational dislike of someone, why Katherine McPhee? It’s not like she called a “blarge” in the 2000 Elite Eight killing Iowa State’s shot at the Final Four. It’s not like she took a great movie like Clash of Titans and remade it into a CGI’ed video game. I’m starting to like movies that have less special effects.

Second, am I the only one who thinks Jessie J’s “Domino” is really just a remake of Kathy Troccoli’s “Everything Changes?” Only me? Alright, but you gotta admit, in that video, she’s a dead ringer for Ashton Main in North and South. Video kinda reminds me of that Cathy Dennis video from way back in the spring of ‘90. It is just isn’t it? Whatever.

Third, teaching your daughters the everyday street smarts and cleverness needed to operate in the real world is key. For example at work we have several pop machines. They do not, however, operate with same rules. And only one of them stocks cans of Diet Pepsi. It also, like Run DMC used to say, is tricky.

There’s a certain protocol most folks follow upon approaching a pop machine. Ascertain the flavor of pop you’d like, check the price, walk away or buy. Done. Pretty straight forward. But not with the Diet Pepsi pop machine at work.

This machine displays no prices. Anywhere. Best way to figure out the price? Hijack Jonesy’s sonar from the USS Dallas in Red October. Second best way? Slide a dollar into the dollar slot. No way a can is more than a dollar right? You may or may not be right about this…however, this pop machine won’t take dollars. Ever. Without Matthew Broderick’s sweet decoder abilities, you ain’t getting a pop using a dollar out of this machine.

Let’s, for the sake of time, assume you guessed correctly and deposited 80 cents into the machine. Ahh, just seconds away from enjoying your Diet Pepsi right? Nope. Despite the fact that cans cost exactly 80 cents and you’ve deposited 80 cents into the machine housing the 80 cent pops, you remain popless.

This is where you need the everyday skills only Dad can teach. Up to this point, you’ve succeeded on your own by locating a pop machine with Diet Pepsi’s, you’ve determined how much the cans of Diet Pepsi cost despite the maddening lack of labeling. And finally, you’ve learned that this remorseless machine won’t take dollar bills. As mentioned, now is when you need Dad. How do you get that magical can of Diet Pepsi? Well, naturally you put exactly 85 cents into machine. Press the correct code and get your pop. And then you grab your 5 cents in change.

How does Dad know all of this? Because he’s like Clint Eastwood in Heartbreak Ridge! He adapts, he overcomes, he improvises.

Fourth, you need to take the time to cultivate the emotional investment in your teams within your daughters. If you don’t, you could be sitting around 15 years from now trying to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner while your daughter’s fiancé has her convinced its no big deal to root for the Cowboys or the Ravens or the freaking Patriots. Worse yet, she’s shows up with some witless tool who thinks its perfectly acceptable to be one those bandwagon a-holes who cheer for Nebraska in football and Kansas in basketball. And pretty soon you’re the bad guy for making the fiancé eat his turkey on the back deck and drink out of the hose.

Its more than buying them a sweatshirt. It’s more than waking them up when Ben hits Santonio with the game winner and reenacting the catch so they fully understand the context. You gotta tell them stories. You gotta explain how the battle between the Empire and the Rebellion is similar to the rivalry between the Hawkeyes and the Cyclones. You need to explain how you learned about the true existence of good and evil in the world through watching the George Atkinson clothesline Lynn Swann back in ’76. You gotta take them to games and display the genuine joy you take in your teams. We took Bails to the ISU-KU basketball game a couple Saturdays ago. This is among the most important things you can do as a father. Plus, if you want to cultivate Cyclones, Hilton Coliseum with KU in town is a pretty good place to be. Not to mention getting a gigantic Clone Cone for her. Yeah, it was like 8 pounds of soft serve ice cream. By the end of the game she was standing on her chair with both arms raised every time we hit a three. Tear to the eye, I tell you , tear to the eye.