Monday, April 26, 2010

If you don't have anything nice to say....

This entry is dedicated to all the moms and dads out there that have to go grocery shopping. I can't even begin to express my displeasure of this chore. I think it all started when I worked for Peapod. So, I will do a flashback here.

I was a personal shopper mostly because at the time I was thinking how easy a job would it be to pick things off a list for someone that is too lazy or unable to do it themselves? The only drawback was that some patrons REFUSED to allow substitutes. People are loyal to a certain brand, I get that. But in this particular instance, I was a post college 20-something responsible for picking out feminine products for an old lady. Let's see, the ticket read: Always Maxi Pads, Fresh Scent with Moisture Block, Dry Weave, size Large. I wasn't even sure what all that meant but I did know that it meant trouble. I went to the feminine products area which really was an entire wall and tried to find this product. Sometimes they had Fresh Scent sometimes Tropical Breeze (Tropical Breeze? I guess if you need a Tropical Breeze down there you have bigger issues) but never in the same combination as the ticket. So since I couldn't find the exact product I had to call this woman and explain why I couldn't get it for her and give the other 25 different combinations I could find. Long story short, is that everyone knows this frustration and if you are looking for something in particular you definitely won't find it. Especially when you only have an hour window with two kids in tow.

Now if you are going to the grocery store with kids I give you even more kudos. So, someone at the grocery store actually asked me the other day when I went there without the kids. "How do you like shopping without your little helpers?" My little helpers? Clearly lady, you weren't with me when I HAD to bring them along. I freakin' LOVE shopping for groceries without them and here is why. I don't have to use the ridiculously long cart with the steering wheels which if you have had to use in a crowded Wegman's is like driving a 16 wheeler through a retirement home. I don't have to bribe them with cookies to keep them occupied. Wegman's, I know I am only supposed to take one cookie per child but one little cookie isn't going to last me 20 minutes in this joint. I don't have to use the double wide checkout lane (although I usually do because the cart can barely fit in there) to prevent little hands from grabbing every candy bar on the shelf and asking me if they can have it.

My final point is that people need to learn control when commenting on your parenting while in a store. My kids think wide open spaces and brightly lit stores mean they are at some indoor play place and they act accordingly running like I have left them caged up in the basement. Comments I have heard before are "Boy, you have your hands full with those two" or "I remember how difficult it was for me" People, please there is no need to comment in this way. It's kind of like when someone tells you "You look tired" which basically translates into "You look like spit" It may seem like a nice way to mention that I have bags under my eyes but really, it isn't helping. I look tired because I am probably tired and I would rather you say "You are doing a great job with your kids" or "You look like a great dad/mom" If you truly remember what it was like to stay at home with the kids then you know that it is not easy and a little encouragement goes a long way and if you don't we might accidentally run you over with our 16 wheeler.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Leave no man (or child) behind

So, I start thinking about what three is going to mean and I realize that I only have two hands to hold. Holding a baby carrier in one hand and Sarah’s hand in the other means that Adam will have to walk ALONE, in the parking lot, with cars all around! I mean, I will be there but I have spent most of his life protecting him from unseen dangers and trying to predict others wild behaviors to prevent said injury. I was at the Y the other day and saw one of the moms that I regularly see there with her gaggle. She has three or four but I noticed that some kids were just left behind. I felt like I was watching an old war movie like Platoon when William Dafoe is running in slow-mo from the enemy to the chopper and the jungle is exploding all around him and they cue that sad music. I guess that at some point you have to let the baby birds fly but dude, that is scary. That also means that the car that I love, our Mitsubishi Endeavor, is going bye-bye and that the swagger wagon is on the horizon. The mini-van is an eventuality but with the addition of a third baby means that a Trifecta of car seats is not going to happen in our second row. I am convinced that this swagger-wagon advertising with the bald guy is aimed directly at me.

And now, the positives because what kind of stay at home dad would I be if I didn’t focus on the upside? One more kid means one more kid to love, one more kid to watch grow. It also means that my time as a stay at home dad is definitely extended. I am like Morgan Freeman in Shawshank Redemption in that I am close to parole and wondering if I can go back and re-enter society without a hitch. To go back through and experience what it is like to care for a baby again would be a ride for sure. But one that I am willing to take provided I still get to go to a picnic every once in awhile.

Monday, April 19, 2010


We have two beautiful kids ages 5 and 2 1/2 at this point. I say this point because there has been the question of whether we would have another one. Adam was so easy going. He was around babies at day care so was always so gentle. When Sarah came along he was so sweet to her and still to this day is pretty good despite the occasional big brother agitation that comes with the territory. Sarah, on the other hand, HATES babies. It’s not that irrational fear that she is going to be mean to the baby and stick her fingers in the baby’s eyes but that real fear that I have witnessed in person around kids that are younger than her. Truth be told, a two year old LOVES their personal space. For the longest time Sarah wouldn’t allow hugs or kisses to either my wife or me. I have literally seen the rage in Sarah’s eyes as she has bonked a smaller kid on the head and pushed babies out of her way when they touched her old toys. She’s like a grumpy old man stuck in a two year old princess’ body.

Fact is men, that if there has been a “discussion” about a third child, your wife has already decided that she wants one more. Maybe you think “Well, my wife just wanted to put it on the table for further discussion at a later date” This is no community meeting buddy, she’s already decided that she is going to have another and you are along for the ride. Now it is time for the good news. First of all, kids are a blessing and if don’t have trouble getting pregnant you should go for it. The other good news is you will again be having regular, for the sake of this blog being PG, we will call “it” picnics. Let’s face facts men; the rumor that you have less and less picnics when you are married is all true. You can’t shrug it off and say “Ah, that old man is just bitter, that’s what old guys do, they complain about stuff they don’t have anymore.” Maybe they can’t make it through the night without peeing three times, maybe they can’t eat the spicy food they once did, and maybe they can’t buy anything for a quarter anymore but the one thing they all know is what we have realized too. Married + kids + career = less picnics.

So, if you and your wife have had this discussion the best news is that you are going to have a whole lot of picnics to go to. Not just planned picnics but spur of the moment picnics! Picnics in the park, picnics at home and let’s just face it…it’s going to be one doozy of a picnic for you. My wife and I saw a mother traveling through the Buffalo airport with two toddlers and one baby BY HERSELF! All my wife did was shake her head and she said later “Maybe I can just volunteer in the nursery at church and get my baby fix that way.” I said “Yeah, maybe you could.” But inside my head I was thinking “does this mean we are not going to have a picnic later?”

Friday, April 9, 2010

When birthdays go wrong....

We had a birthday party for Adam last Monday, it was his fifth birthday. We still think that an all class birthday party for a 5 year old was a bit more than we could handle so we invited some of his friends over after school. My wife had grad school the weekend before the party so it was up to me to prepare for the event. I got the party favors, cupcakes were made by my wife, and I cleaned the entire house before the guests came. My wife asked me if I had any games planned. I figured that they would all just play for a few hours in between play, pizza, play, cupcakes, play, presents.

Then, it seemed the kids got bored so I had a game up my sleeve. We had done something similar in youth group with a straw and M & M's. I had recently got a package with packing peanuts in it and thought that the kids could use the straws like an elephant to suck up the packing peanut and run to another cup and deposit the packing peanut.

Well, I guess I underestimated their little lungs' ability to not only suck up the peanut but then run across to the other cup. So there I am, cheering the kids on with some kids desperately blowing through the straws with spittle flying through the straws into the cup. And there I am yelling "Suck it, suck it, don't blow it! Suck it like you are drinking from a juice box." Meanwhile my wife is laughing hysterically and I realize after 10 minutes of coaching them through this game what I am saying.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Let's Hear it for the Boys AND Girls

Like I said, being a stay at home dad (SAHD) was a little daunting at first but luckily I had a resource at my disposal that helped me out tremendously. When I was trying to find parents’ groups that I could join so my kids could socialize I found that Rochester had a website called I emailed a few of the people that ran the site looking for groups that included dads but most of the time women said that they wanted the group to be all moms because of the similar shared experiences. Now, if you know me I was a teacher for 9 years. I first worked at a K-8 school and then a high school.

Predominantly, I am around women and although I can’t hang with the hair salon conversation or the problems with my lazy husband conversations, believe me; my teacher friends at Morton had discussed it all. Ladies, don’t worry about talking about your period with me. I am not grossed out and I am not a pre-pubescent boy who is going to run away screaming COOTIES! Maybe it is because I am hanging out with all these women all the time but sometimes I get a little witchy too and that’s not because I am PMSing, it’s because I am aggravated and you are too. All kids drive parent’s crazy and I hate to admit that sometimes even my kids can drive me to a 100 Grand every now and then. The good thing being around all these women is obvious…I am a guy who sometimes hangs with 1-10 women depending on the Thursday night but it’s not because I run a street walking racket in Rochester it’s because they are fun! We share kid stories, tricks of the trade, we even discuss the best equipment out there for getting the job done. Ask the Y Mommies how many of them have a Shark and you will see…the power of testimony is huge!

So, my saving grace has been two things. First, the Y Mommies. It started with Andra and Shea. Both of them were so willing to hang out with a guy and not be weird about it. I’m just a guy like you are just a girl trying to do what is best for your kids and raise them right and be well adjusted and social. If they are not around other kids they will never learn how to interact with them one on one. It continued with Michelle, Melissa and many others who were/are so accepting of me and who included my kids in things like parties and playdates where my kids have learned what friendship really means. Not to mention getting me out of the house for some quality ME time. And if it just happens to be at a bar with 7 other women, so be it. What guy is going to pass that up? The YMCA in Rochester has been integral in the development of my kids. The programs and people, especially at the Southeast branch have made me feel like I am a family there. The teachers and staff genuinely care about my kids and the great thing is, they don’t hide it. They usually just come out and say it, and for that I am grateful.

Secondly, my homies. The other dads I hang out with and have found by the grace of God has been one of the best experiences in my life. Dave and Steve, you guys help balance out that other end and I value your friendships. When I just need to be a guy and eat subs, shoot some guns, talk about Star Wars. Ladies, this is where some of you will say…Hair Salon conversation is to Me as The A Team debate is to Chris. I LOVE that I can be both things as a Stay At Home Dad. So, if you are a stay at home parent and you are looking for a way to get your kids involved and socialized, try the YMCA. I’m Chris Bernholdt, not only do I feel like the president but I am also a client.