Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category
You’ll find it in the “Parenting” section of your local bookstore, but I’ve seen it listed as self-help and spiritual, too. Everything has a label, and my book is no different. After all, how do we know how to judge a thing unless we know the context upon which said thing is to be judged? We like to compare our words to our actions and contrast our thoughts against apples, oranges, and the next big thing. We are those that deem things worthy.
That being the case, I fear The Parents’ Phrase Book is on the wrong shelf. It isn’t a parenting book.
Yes, I said it. And yes, technically, it is a parenting book, in that it was created in hopes of helping parents communicate openly and effectively with their children, but I like to think that it is bigger than that. The Parents’ Phrase Book was written as a love letter to empathy and imagination, the comfort of self, the appreciation of others, and the wonder of wonder. It is about striving to be the best person that each of us could ever wish to be, to celebrate the differences between us and to make a difference when a difference is needed. It is an ode to love and ceaseless encouragement for ourselves, our children, and those around us.
Perhaps it aims too high and leans too far toward quixotic attempts and idealistic implementation; but if we are set on being better shouldn’t we reach for those aspirations that are hardest to reach, rather than settle for those already within our grasp? Shouldn’t we search for inspiration while always hoping to inspire?
I like to think so.
Which leads to the question, who am I to offer suggestions on parenting and life? What the hell do I know?
I know what not to do, the things I wish I did, and those I long to achieve. I know hope and regret, and the gray between. I know what I have done wrong, and I trust that sharing it will help people, myself included, avoid such mistakes, or at least provide some assurance that such mishaps may be overcome, learned from, and built upon. I know what makes me happy. That is why I have written this book, and that is why it is as open as only a book can be—let us be better to ourselves and more excellent to each other.
It’s like Wyld Stallyns, but with less Keanu.
The Parents’ Phrase Book is perfect for parents, but it is also great for non-parents and anyone else that has ever talked to another human being. It is for the future in the nicest way possible.
I wrote it for you, specifically.
If I were to tell you that the sky was falling you might call me a chicken and look up just to mock me. In which case I would probably hit you in the back of the head with a shoe or a phone book because failing to do so would only reward such behavior and we pamper our assholes far too much as it is. I’m talking about congress, not flushable wipes, but I’ve heard it both ways. Also, what else am I supposed to do with a phone book?
The point is, you don’t listen to a damn thing I say, and when I ask for another drink don’t think of it as a request but a compromise. You pour another and I’ll sit here a little while longer even though I’ve heard this story about a dozen times and it fails to get better. If you’re going to be so damn boring the least you could do is embellish it a bit. Life is so much more interesting when there are lies dancing through it. Everybody knows you have to break rules to tango.
Last night I was up well past this morning and I have nothing to show for it but circles under my eyes and squares in a glass that are clear and slowly melting. That is the shape of things and those still to come. You said you didn’t sleep at all, which is probably true despite your lack of sagging souvenirs. To suggest otherwise would imply that you have listened, or you are lying about it, and that is exactly the same thing. Just pour a damn drink and get to the part where you laugh too loud.
You say the sky is blue and stretches taut like skin across a memory. I say that it is falling, and I dare you to look anywhere but at me.
This post is sponsored by Kimberly-Clark, and you should read it because it took me a long time and it’s almost kind of funny. Also, your bum wants you to.
Our house was in a lull. We were floating somewhere between the kids growing out of their diapers and me growing back into mine, and as such we made the mistake of thinking ours a wipe-free zone.
I blame Dora: “Wiper, no wiping!”
Or in this case, the cheap knock-off DVD I bought on Hollywood Boulevard. Don’t worry, Nora has been worth every penny, all fifty of them.
Then the days rolled into nights followed by morning constitutions. Again and again. We are nothing if not regular. The montage had your favorite song in it! And still we spared square after square, never thinking about better ways and slightly less chaffing. We never knew how clean we could be.
Enter Cottonelle and some wipes right behind them. Get it?
Butt seriously, folks…
The Cottonelle Care Routine is the real deal, and if you think that’s too fresh you are absolutely right. It’s fantastic.
Cottonelle has a new campaign called #LetsTalkBums in which British filmmaker and comedian Cherry Healey travels across American and embarrasses people who poop. There are more than you think.
A group of awesome dad bloggers (and me) are also on-board, but instead of doing the obvious thing (wiping workshops, crowdsourcing, breakdance fighting) we are doing what bloggers do best: poetry. Hence, haiku.
That’s right. We are sharing the awesomeness of the Cottonelle Care Routine 17 syllables at the time. And so can you!
For the next six weeks we are having a contest on the Twitter in which you, the public, can submit your own haikus about the joys of wiping, freshness, and the wonders of the Cottonelle Care Routine in order to win fabulous prizes. All you have to do is write your haiku (three lines of 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables, respectively, all divided by one of these things: /) and use the hashtags #LetsTalkBums and #Haiku to enter (that’s all the hashtags you need, or #things could get ugly).
Here are a few of my examples:
Cold seat warmed by youth / If it is brown, flush it down / The wind cries, “Daddy”
Can you smell that smell / The smell that is around you / Wipe up when you’re done
Wipe the day away / Flushing takes a memory / So fresh and so clean
Obviously this is advanced stuff, so don’t hurt yourself trying to be this clever right off the bat. You have six weeks to perfect it (enter as often as you like). Besides, I’m not eligible to win and that increases your chances by almost onefold.
After you submit your entry you can visit wipingpoetic.com and look at it again. This is also where you can size up the competition.
It’s going to be a lot of good, clean fun. That’s my way of saying be clever, not crude. You can do it.
So what can you win? Check this out:
Every Sunday, our team will select the best haiku submission of the previous week.
On Monday mornings, we’ll announce the winner, who will receive a $200 gift card and be eligible for the Grand Prize: An “Epic Experience” trip to the 2014 Dad 2.0 Summit in New Orleans!
Package includes: Airfare to New Orleans, a two-night stay at the J.W. Marriott, and a complimentary ticket to attend the 2014 Dad 2.0 Summit!
We’re not messing around, people, and to prove it we’re having an old-fashioned Twitter Party on Monday, September 30 at 8 p.m. EDT with trivia, discussions, prizes, and haiku fun to kick-off it all off. Be there or be somewhere else and missing it. Trust me, being there is better. Watch for the #LetsTalkBums and #Haiku hashtag tandem on your favorite Twitter station.
I’ll be there a bit early for some tailgating, because I just can’t help myself.
The childhood of Atticus and Zane, it was often said, covered all things from A to Z, and as such the phrase would provide the friendly punchline to many of the adventures that the brothers shared. The parents of the two Honea boys were nomads by nature and tended to wander from places like Agoura to those like Zelienople, and along the way they stopped often to smell the roses, let their dogs use the ground, and seize the day accordingly. Mrs. Honea often said things like, “Let’s make something of this life,” and Mr. Honea would often take a sip of his coffee, give her a nod, and push play on the soundtrack to their story, which, to be fair, was more than heavy with the assorted works of The Beatles. Atticus and Zane would run through the sun and shade of the respective seasons and laugh at the jokes that the world was telling.
So it was on a Sunday morning when the day was still stretching and Mr. Honea was yawning with coffee on his breath that Mrs. Honea turned to the boys and told them that she had heard a symphony of sidewinders in the night and suggested that they wear two pairs of woolen socks over their normally one pair of feet. Also, she clarified that the sound of a rattle in the desert was not an invitation to curiosity, but rather a warning to the contrary. They had lost too many cats that way. Cats are notorious for not wearing socks.
Atticus and Zane bundled their feet per their mother’s request and opened the door to the RV that they called home. Their view was one of pine trees and snow-covered mountaintops. There was no desert to speak off.
“Oh,” said Mrs. Honea, “what a strange dream that must have been.”
And so the boys put on second layers of everything else, including an extra set of underpants which may or may not have been on the wrong side of the laundry pile, and they jumped down onto the frozen tundra in search of very cold rattlesnakes or maracas packed with chilly beans.
The forest was deep and equally wide, and there were rinks of ice scattered around where ponds should be. The Honea boys, thanks to their parents, park rangers, and countless viewings of It’s a Wonderful Life, knew better than to walk upon frozen bodies of water without their safety having been confirmed by someone that knew how to do such things, and so they avoided them as a rule. However, the current sheet of ice under their feet had appeared without warning as they had been too busy looking up in trees for sleeping bears that must surely fall like very large pine cones, and had managed to miss the difference between cold ground and colder water as they made their way from the comforts of family and home into the depths of what was clearly wild.
“I suppose,” said Atticus, “that we would have noticed the difference had we only one pair of shoes on.”
“Oh,” said Zane as he looked at the awkward feet of his brother, “I was wondering where my shoes went.”
Zane looked down at the boots of his father, which were currently on his own little feet and had been filled with the aforementioned two pairs of woolen socks, but also with an entire roll of tissue paper and part of the Seattle Times that he assumed his parents were finished with. Then he looked at the ice and wondered how something so big and clear could just appear beneath two little boys who were nothing if not diligent in observation and whatever other skills were deemed necessary for a life like theirs, being one full of adventure.
“Atticus,” he said to his older brother, “I really have to poop.”
It was just then that Mr. Honea opened the door to the portable outhouse that served as a public restroom in the campground where their RV was parked and rejoined the morning. His feet were freezing, hanging as they were halfway out of his wife’s fuzzy slippers, and he could not find the sports page anywhere. Everyone knows that a sports page is best read while taking a personal moment upon a seat of porcelain, and even though this particular seat had been more plastic and the moment more public, Mr. Honea still expected a certain level of civility in times when the deeds that must be done were having their doing. Also, someone had used every last square of tissue paper and not bothered to change the roll. Needless to say, Mr. Honea was not in the best of moods when he opened the door to said portable outhouse to rejoin the morning and saw his two sons standing in the middle of a large rain puddle frozen over by winter in the night.
“Hello,” he said in a firm voice that implied much more than a casual greeting. And he meant it.
The two boys looked up at their father and smiled broadly. They were, in addition to many things, saved.
“Good,” shouted Zane. “Daddy’s done pooping!” and he ran past his father into the restroom. He could feel the tissue paper grown warm and soft between his toes.
This isn’t a typical post, so forgive me. It also isn’t entirely true. It’s part of a project I’m working on that has been getting mixed reviews, so I thought I’d put it out here to get some public reaction. What do you think, Mom?
Blogging is all about ebbs, flows, and being too busy to maintain one’s personal space. It happens. I’m sure you are over it.
It’s not that I haven’t been writing anything of substance — I have. I’m just writing a limited supply of substance, so I have to put it where the paycheck is.
To that end, I would be thrilled if you took the time to read the posts below:
“I’m not even sure that I would want my kids to be popular. Yes, I want them to be liked by their peers and to have good friends, but there are a lot of trappings to popularity that I would rather they not deal with. First world problems? Maybe — but, and I’m painting with the stereotype brush here, I wouldn’t want them to feel that they had to be something that they are not. I want them to be, first and foremost, comfortable in their own skin. I’m basing a lot of this on Glee and various Disney Channel movies, so forgive me if my grasp of stereotypes is a little rusty.”
“What happens is that a sweet, sensitive boy becomes a monster. He yells and screams at those that play with him or those that tell him it is time to stop. He talks in quick, sharp daggers of hateful speech and he whines when we mention it. It is ugly.”
“The right for all people, in this case, all tax-paying citizens of the United States, to marry the person of their choosing is such an obvious thing that to fight against it is well beyond the bounds of politics and commonsense. To suggest otherwise is to declare an ignorance of history and to put oneself squarely on the wrong side of it.”
“…for every single note was a child’s wish, grown from whispers and wandering thought, written down with careful hand, and tied somewhat gingerly to the hopes of the wild.”
There are a lot of other things to do on the Internet, and I appreciate you taking the time to read the words that I fling on it. Also, I would like to thank BlogHer for naming me one of their 2012 Voices of the Year. The post that made it happen is “When Stuffed Animals Die.”