Thursday, February 08, 2007

This Day In History

Historically, February 8th has been a day of calamity. In 1587, Mary Queen of Scots was beheaded in England. In 1693, the College of William and Mary was established in Williamsburg Virginia, paving the way for future toga parties all across the United States. In 1904, the Japanese launched a surprise attack against the Russian Fleet in northern China, sparking the Russo-Japanese War. In 1915, D.W. Griffith’s cinematic ode to the Ku Klux Klan “The Birth of a Nation” premiered in Los Angeles. In 1924, gangster Gee Jon became the first person to be executed in a gas chamber in Carson City Nevada. Oh, and Anna Nichole Smith died. I’m speculating drug overdose but I guess we can wait until the body cools down enough for an autopsy before providing a final ruling.

February 8th also marks the birth of several notable hellraisers. Actor Nick Nolte was born on this day and would later make a name for himself playing disheveled anti-heroes in the 1980s. Nolte could likely be named as the most un-photogenic actor to find success in Hollywood based on several infamous police photographs. William Tecumseh Sherman was also born on February 8th and he is best known for reducing the southern United States to ashes during the Civil War. James Dean was also born on this day and is best known for starting the Tinseltown fad of celebrities killing themselves in car wrecks. Different Strokes’ actor Gary Coleman was also born on the eighth of February and would later build a career out of exclaiming, “Whachoo talkin’ ‘bout Willis?” He is now the shortest security guard in California.

And then of course I was born on February 8th, the same day that the Boy Scouts was founded. This mildly amuses me since the Boy Scouts is where I picked up most of my vices. I woke up this morning bummed that I have survived yet another year without suffering a mid-life crisis, which is kind of a shame considering I’ve been looking forward to quitting my job, moving to a hippie commune in Brazil, buying a sports car and getting a new girlfriend. Nope, this morning I woke up still very happily married with 3.5 awesome kids who tried to get me to go to work in my birthday suit, a job that still pays the bills fairly adequately and basically satisfied with my present lot in life. I would trade my beat up Pontiac Vibe for a Porsche convertible in a New York second though.

Oh well, maybe my mid-life crisis will hit me next year.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

My New Thursday Routine

Tonight my wife is dragging me to something especially heinous. Worse than “Swan Lake”. Worse than shoe shopping. Worse even than Lamaze classes. She’s dragging me to an alternative parenting course called “Love and Logic”.
Love and Logic is a parenting technique that stresses the application of predetermined consequences for unacceptable behavior. My parents used this as well though back then it was called “spanking”. L&L is supposed to provide “creative alternatives to corporal punishment” however. In my mind this would probably mean using cattle prods, thumbscrews, waterboarding or branding irons, which is fine since I have hurt my fingers while administering a good spanking before and am always open to new techniques that would be more comfortable to me.
Yep, apparently spanking has fallen out of vogue and is not considered an acceptable parenting tactic. In fact, there are some states where it is almost a felony on par with hunting Yorkshire Terriers out of season. On this matter my home state of Michigan is well behind the curve so from my perspective, my kids are still pretty well behaved.
My wife on the other hand begs to differ. She has attended Love and Logic two other times by herself and wants me to join her because she believes there are apparently several flaws in my parenting techniques that are causing our kids to act in an unacceptable manner. My response was that aside from the odd misadventure that is just an inherent part of childhood, I saw no real issues with our kids. In fact, I am often complimented on how well behaved and happy my kids are when we are in public and that she can not accuse me of making this up because she has been with me when it has happened.
In response, she informed me of several behavioral issues inherent to our children that I was completely unaware of. Apparently my daughter has to be told to do something several times before she will even acknowledge that my wife is talking to her. Then, she will outright refuse to do what she was told to do. She is immune to discipline because every time my wife informs her of what she privilege or toy she will lose for not obeying, she shrugs her shoulders and answers by saying she doesn’t care. How this is my fault I have no idea, since she does what I ask her to do and usually does it with a lot of enthusiasm. She gets good grades in school and her teacher reports that aside from her penchant for drawing stick figure pornography and the occasional rendition of Jimmy Buffet’s “Why Don’t We Get Drunk” in music class, she works hard, never acts up and is a pleasure to have in class. She has received three spankings in her six years of life, the last being well over a year ago. My rule is that I don’t spank often, but when I do I make it count.
My wife tells me that our oldest son is constantly getting into mischief and appears completely incapable of considering that there could be consequences attached to the behavior he chooses to engage in. There’s little surprise there since that is typically not one of my strong points either. She then listed off several items of trouble he had gotten into that day. None of them was something that he had ever done before and all completely original means of inspiring domestic mayhem. From my perspective, this is less a sign of misbehavior and more a symptom of ingenious creativity of biblical proportions. My son really does not have a mean bone in his body, is very popular among both the teachers and his friends at daycare and can read at almost the same level as his older sister. I think the issue here is less my son’s behavior and more my wife’s sense of humor.
My one-year-old apparently hits my wife a lot. I have been told he also kicks, pinches and pulls hair. He is prone to temper tantrums, will not sit still and judging by his determination to stick the index finger of his right hand, is considering a career in veterinary proctology. The cat will not come within twenty feet of that kid and quite frankly, I don’t blame him a bit. I will agree that our one-year-old is definitely a terror around the house, but as far as I can tell that is a one-year-old’s job. I do not recall the other two acting any differently.
So to sum it all up, my daughter will not listen to my wife, my four-year-old son keeps find new and exciting ways to get into trouble when he’s under her care and my one-year-old treats her like he’s practicing to be Mike Tyson’s understudy. According to my wife, all of it can be tied to MY faulty parenting techniques that will be rectified by attending a course called Love and Logic with her. Never mind that very little of this stuff actually occurs when I am around. I pointed out to her that she has taken this course TWICE and still has these issues. I have NEVER taken it and do not have any problems. I then asked my wife if it ever occurred to her that the folks at Love and Logic do not have the slightest clue about how to raise kids but have mastered the fine art of swindling $25 out of gullible adults every week for two months? That is pretty much why I slept on the couch last night. Its never a good idea to question the parenting skills of pregnant woman. I’m lucky I got out of there with my scrotum intact.
In the end, I do not know what pisses me off more about the whole situation: The fact that this thing is going to eventually cost me $200, the fact that I will waste 16 hours of my life listening to a group of child-rearing charlatans or the fact that by the time this thing is all over, I will have missed eight straight episodes of “My Name is Earl”.
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