Dad’s sex mumble

This is the story of how my father groaned his way through teaching me about the birds and the bees…

The other day my wife pointed out
that since we have three boys and no girls, she’s off the hook and it’ll be my responsibility to eventually have “the talk” with our kids.
I’m not dreading it as much as I thought I would be. Granted my oldest boy is only four so it’s still a long ways off. We’re pretty open and honest about things around here so I have no doubt that when the time comes to teach my kids about the birds and the bees it shouldn’t be too awkward. I only hope that it goes better for me than it did for my own father.

I remember the day when Dad gave me “the talk” vividly. We lived in a large two story house with vaulted ceilings that echoed so I wasn’t too surprised when I overheard my parents downstairs talking about me. Mom had decided it was Dad’s job to teach me the facts of life and was trying her darnedest to send him on his mission.

“Warren, you’re going to have to talk to him about it” Mom insisted.

“Mmmmm…” Dad grumbled (Dad was always big with the grumbling)

“You’re his father, he should hear it from you”

“Oh…. alright.”

“Well, are you going?”

“Now?…. um… alright”

Bear in mind, at this time I was a fifteen year old sophomore in High School. I’d already learned where babies come from long ago. In elementary school I had a friend whose parents were hippie types and they had told him everything. The next day during recess we had a huddle where he went into great detail describing the process. We were all fascinated, until one by one, each boy came to the realization that that is what our parents do to one another… ew gross!

A few years later I found my brother Dale’s stash of girly magazines which cleared up any lingering questions I might have had about female anatomy and everything else was covered in Mrs. Roberts’ freshman health class (I’m still a bit traumatized by the “miracles of birth” pop-up book she showed us). Knowing what I was in for, I waited for Dad come up to have “the talk”.

I was sitting on the top step when he reluctantly came up and sat down beside me.

“So… hmmm…” he said. After this there was a moment when neither of us said anything until finally, “Hmmm…”

“Mmmm hmm?” I mumbled back, wondering where he was going with this.

“So, hmmmm… ya know…” Dad rubbed his neck and paused again, not quite sure how to start.

“Mmmm hmm” I replied.

“Mmmm hmm?” he seemed surprised.

“Uh huh” I confirmed.

“Ohhhhh” Dad seemed slightly relieved.

We both sat there next to one another on the stairs for a little bit more until Dad finally piped up with “Hmmmmm… um, hmm?”

“Um hmm” (I speak fluent Dad-ese)

“Hmmmmmm…” and with that Dad patted me on the knee, got up and went downstairs.

I could hear my parents once again. “So did you talk to him?” Mom asked. “Yeah I talked to him” Dad mumbled, “See, now that wasn’t so hard now was it?”

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The Brainwashing is Working!

I’m a nerd, I’ll admit it. Playing the odds, with three boys there is a pretty good chance that at least one of my kids will follow in his old man’s comic book collecting, sci-fi watching, and D&D playing nerdly ways… but I’m not taking any chances.

Even though they are still too young to be exposed to most of the pop culture staples that I hold near and dear to my heart, that doesn’t mean I’m not trying my darnedest to sneak it in whenever I can.

They may be totally unaware of my influence, but from Zack’s Avenger’s underpants to Josh’s Star Wars ABC book, their Dad’s dorkiness is starting to take hold in their malleable little brains.

For those of you not paying attention, Josh was reading his Star Wars ABC book to his big brother (or as he likes to call it, his “Robot Book”), pointing out who he thinks looks like a robot, and he was able to identify Darth Vader despite never having seen a minute of a Star Wars movie.

Golly I’m so proud of my budding little nerds in the making.

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Our Snow Day!!

Zack was the first to sound the alarm "It's Snowing!!"

Zack was the first to sound the alarm “It’s Snowing!!”

I had plans for this last weekend, I really did, but those all went out the window when Zack uttered those magical words “It’s snowing!” Josh soon joined him and was quick to point out “Look daddy it’s snowing outside. I love snow!” (This is especially cute being as he’s only been out in the snow once in his entire life).

Hey Mom, this white stuff is awesome!

Hey Mom, this white stuff is awesome!

Living in western Washington we don’t get to see snow very often and it’s quick to turn into slush. We had to act fast, so Kat and I decided on a change of plans. Out was the shopping trip to Costco. In was bundling up the family and going out to play in the white stuff. I’m sure the boys thought that we were crazy when we dressed them both in footy pajamas and then started layering outdoor clothes on top of it, but any argument they may have had quickly vanished as they realized that it was leading up to the entire family going out to play.

Okay Dad, now that we made these, what do we do with them?

Okay Dad, now that we made these, what do we do with them?

Neither of the boys has had much experience with snow so this was all pretty new for them. First on our agenda was going for a walk and once I showed them how to scoop up snow into snow balls, both boys were fascinated with making “snow blobs” of their own. They weren’t quite sure what to do with them however,  so they just carried them around for a while. Josh soon discovered that these “snow blobs” were the perfect size to be thrown, and Daddy made a great target. After that it was open season on me.

As expected, they team up against me. I suspect this won’t be the last time.

As expected, they team up against me. I suspect this won’t be the last time.

When we got back to the house we started building the kids’ first ever snowman. Zack was very helpful, making us a scale model that we could copy for the full sized one. Lacking rocks and carrots for a face we improvised with a broken toy fire helmet and pine cone, but I think it turned out just fine.

The boys put on the finishing touches on our "Snow Firefighter".

The boys put on the finishing touches on our “Snow Firefighter”.

By now we were completely soaked so we ran inside to warm up. While the kids had grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup we dried our boots over the fire and threw all our wet snow clothes in the drier.

After our pit stop it was back outside for round two. This time we stuck to our own yard and set to building a snow castle. The boys had a great time bringing me snow and enjoyed instructing me on where to put each part of the castle. In the end their design with two “windows” in front somewhat resembled a face, so Zack had me give it nostrils and a smile. Once I was done he told me “I love my Dragon Snow Castle” and gave it a hug, so I guess that means I did pretty good on my construction.

"This is the bestest castle ever!"

“This is the bestest castle ever!”

We didn’t get many of our chores accomplished on this “Snow Day”, but I think it was more productive in other ways. We had gone on a family walk in the snow together, the boys had had their first ever “snow blob” fight (aimed at me), we built their first snow man, and created their first snow castle. These family memories are more important than any “to-do” list, Costco can wait until next weekend.

Our happy little guys in their Snow Castle.

Our happy little guys in their Snow Castle.

Zack gives a hug of approval on the final product.

Zack gives a hug of approval on the final product.

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My typical morning…

An actual conversation with my kids this morning:

Zack: “I want milk”

Me: “Okay, here’s some milk”

Zack: “I don’t want the blue cup Daddy, I want it in the pumpkin cup.”(The cup with pumpkins on it)

Me: “Fine, here’s some milk in the pumpkin cup. Josh, you can have the milk I poured in the blue cup”

Josh: (crying) “I want pumpkin cup too!”

Me: “Okay, here’s some milk in the other pumpkin cup.” (I pour the milk into an identical second pumpkin cup)

Josh: (now screaming & crying) “No! I want pumpkin cup!” (Points to the cup Zack is drinking out of)

Me: “Zack, can you trade cups with your brother? I know they look the same, but he really wants the cup you have”

Zack: “But it’s MY pumpkin cup!”

*Both boys are now screaming and crying.*

Me: (trying to be patient) “I know that one is yours, but Josh would really like to trade with you. Could you be a good big brother and let him switch cups with you?”

Zack: hesitantly “Okay”

I swap cups and give each boy the milk that their brother was previously drinking out of. Josh takes a couple sips and finally stops crying.

Zack: “I want juice”

*Screaming starts again*

They're always so pleased with themselves when they've worn Dad down to a frazzle.

They’re always so pleased with themselves when they’ve worn Dad down to a frazzle.

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I’m such a dork…

Zack: “Where’s Mommy?”

Me: “Where’d Mom go? She fled off screaming into the night just to escape you and your brother from driving her insane. Last I heard she was swinging from tree branches and howling at the moon at the top of her lungs. Either that, or she had to go use the bathroom.”

Dad, you're so weird.

Dad, you’re so weird.

Sarcasm is wasted on a four-year old.

Handy hints for helping “Helpers”

I’ve learned over the years that the boys absolutely love “helping” me whenever I work on a project around the house. It doesn’t matter if I’m cleaning the garage, building a fence, or just doing the dishes. Whatever it is that I’m doing they want to be involved in it. Since there is little to no chance of discouraging my stubborn little monsters I’ve come up with a few helpful strategies that I thought I’d share with other Dad’s out there.

 

#1 A flexible time schedule

Whenever you do any task it's important to have close supervision.

Whenever you do any task it’s important to have close supervision.

What this means is that I’ve learned that anything done with kids hanging around is going to take much, much longer than planned. Interruptions have a way of doing that. Even if the boys are actively “helping”, there is constant stopping to break up fights, put shoes back on, change butts, and kiss boo-boos. What I had thought was going to be a weekend long job, could stretch out over several days. There’s no way to predict how much additional time will be needed, so it’s best to plan for the worst and then be pleasantly surprised if it didn’t take weeks to finish something that could have been done in an afternoon. 

 

#2 “Decoy Tools”

The boys "help" me disassemble our Christmas fence. Zack is ready to jump in with his toy drill if I need a relief.

The boys “help” me disassemble our Christmas fence. Zack is ready to jump in with his toy drill in case I need a relief.

When I work on a project and I know the kids are going to be underfoot (which is pretty much every project) I make sure to have plenty of extra screwdrivers, tape measures, or whatever else I’m using handy or better yet, toys that look like what I’m using.

Inevitably I’ll reach for something only to discover one of my little kleptomaniacs has run off with it or is by my side happily playing with that one crucial tool that I needed. Having toy facsimiles or extra “stunt” tools lets them have fun while helping me keep my sanity.

The boys have amassed quite a collection of miniature tools, vacuums, brooms, and other household items. As an added bonus, this has made huge difference with Zack’s sensory disorder. This kind of play demystifies the sounds that these items make which helps him cope with noises that may have previously frightened him.

 

#3 Distraction… Er, Involvement

Zack mans the full size swiffer while Josh has the kid sized version. As an added bonus, they may accidentally get the floor clean too!

Zack mans the full size swiffer while Josh has the kid sized version. As an added bonus, they may accidentally get the floor clean too!

While my little guys are still a bit too young to offer much real help, that doesn’t mean they don’t want to. When I plan a project I try to find things that they can do to feel involved.

It’s amazing how excited they get just doing a small task like dumping the dustpan, handing me screws, or putting loose nails in a jar. It can be tricky because the novelty of actually helping wears out quick and they’ll start entertaining themselves by just getting in the way.

 

#4 “Stunt projects”

Josh shows off the plastic hammer he uses "pulling nails just like Daddy"

Josh shows off the plastic hammer he uses “pulling nails just like Daddy”

Having a little project of their own goes a long ways towards keeping kids happy. If the kids see me busy pulling nails for instance, I’ll make sure that they have a few boards of their own (minus the nails of course) to pound on with toy hammers and pretend to pull out their own nails. Josh loves to “help” me do dishes, which in his case involves standing on a chair next to me endlessly pouring water from one cup into another while I scrub all the dishes.

 

#5 A Backup Plan

The guys take a Play-Doh break while helping Mom & Dad clean and organize the garage.

The guys take a Play-Doh break while helping Mom & Dad clean and organize the garage.

No matter what their level of fascination is with what Daddy is doing, they are bound to eventually tire of what I’m working on and want to be entertained (by me). This can get awkward, especially if I’m still knee deep in the task at hand and I can’t break away from it.

Having a backup plan ready can be a life saver. Just about anything qualifies as a “back-up”. The only rule is to make sure it’s something the kids really enjoy, doesn’t need lots of direct supervision, and will keep them in the immediate area (Play-Doh, coloring books, snacks, sidewalk chalk, etc.). A few well timed granola bars and a magna-doodle can be a real life saver.

Zack decides to "help" by filling one of my work gloves full of fencing nails.

Zack decides to “help” by filling one of my work gloves full of fencing nails.

I would have put “Patience” and “Sense of Humor” on this list too, but I think it’s a given. As with everything involving kids, having a lot of patience and a sense of humor is a must. Try not to stress out, appreciate the ridiculousness of the situation and enjoy the chaos that is unfolding around you.

Even when we have big equipment the kids have to get in the action. Don't worry, the landscaper was shut down when Josh ran in to "help"

Even when we have big equipment the kids have to get in the action. Don’t worry, the landscaper was shut down when Josh ran in to “help”

What the heck is a “Dadism”?

When I set up this blog I had little idea what I was doing (and still don’t), but I did already have a name for it “Random Dadisms”. So where does this term come from you might ask, or you may not. Regardless, I’m going to explain it anyways.

Whenever I find myself saying something ridiculously bizarre to the children, the sort of sentence I never in a million years imagined would come out of my mouth; I refer to it as a “Dadism”. Beginning about a year ago whenever I uttered this nonsense I started writing them down in the notebook app on my iPhone. The file is named “Random Dadisms” and hence, so is my blog and nifty new Twitter feed where I started posting them.

*Warning*… That’s the short version. Question answered, Dadism = incoherent Dad rambling. A further, long drawn out nonsensical explanation now continues. Proceed at your own risk!

Still there? Well alright, don’t say I didn’t warn ya…

Of course I didn’t just come up with “Dadism” on my own, I’m not going to try and pretend that this was my original thought or anything. It’s a term that was handed down to me by my own father, and I’m sure he heard it somewhere else too. Although in his case, what he referred to as “Dadisms” were just examples of his corny sense of humor disguised as advice. A few of his favorite gems were:

“Keep your mouth shut and let people think you’re a fool, or open it up and prove it.”

“The definition of ‘Expert’: an ‘Ex’ is a has-been, and a ‘Spurt’ is a drip under pressure.”

“If at first you don’t succeed, practice sucking seeds.”

“Necessity is the mother of contraption.”

You can see now how I came to know the term “Dadisms” as pretty much any insane thing that is said by a father.

A bit of background on the man my Dad, Warren Husted, was:

My father was from an older generation. Born in 1920 he was an army veteran who served his country during World War II, fell in love with a nurse, married her, raised two sons, and then when he was almost fifty he started a whole new life. He remarried, this time to a woman with four children of her own, had a “surprise” baby (me), became a civilian, and traveled the world.

The reason for this tangent about my Dad (but can it really be a tangent if I never developed a cogent thought to begin with?), is to show a bit of my inspiration for being a Dad. Or I guess I should say more accurately, my inspiration for the kind of Dad I want to be.

Four generations of Husted men.

Four generations of Husted men.

My Dad tackled fatherhood all over again late in life. In this picture the goofy looking kid on the left is me in my Dad’s lap, my grandpa Husted is in the middle and the man on the right is actually my big brother Dick. The little boy in his arms is my nephew Chris, just a few months younger than me.

While I recognize that Dad may have had his faults, he could be a bit of a dork sometimes, and great many of the things he “fixed” never worked quite right again, he will always be an example of the man I strive to be. To my little kid eyes he was a Super-Hero. He always took time to encourage me when I needed it, to help me wholeheartedly however he could, and offer up a cheesy joke whether I wanted it or not. I honestly can’t remember a time that Dad wasn’t in my corner. Granted, there were a few times when he was even a little too enthusiastic in encouraging my participation in some activities (The subject of future blogs I’m sure), but never a time when he wasn’t there to help.

Dad and Me

Among my fondest memories of my father will be his laughter and yes, that cornball sense of humor. Its funny how at the time, listening to his bad puns and his “Dadisms” used to drive me bonkers, but now those are some of the things I miss most. Dad passed away four years ago today and there isn’t a day that goes by since then that I can’t imagine his distinctive “chortle” and wish that he was here to see his grandsons grow up or to give me advice on how to be a better Dad. Zack was seven weeks old when Dad passed, so I’m thankful that he did get to see me as a father for a at least a little while.

Dad and Zack

Warren & Mary Husted with baby Zachary (1 day old)

I know that, like my father before me, I can be a bit of a dork at times (or in my case, a lot of a dork most of the time) and I might not always get it right. But I’ll do my best, and hopefully I can live up to the example that my father set for me. There are a lot of things that I never planned on as a Dad (like you can “plan” much of parenting to begin with), but I kind of enjoy the fact that I catch myself over and over spouting the same kinds of wacky things my father did before me. Sure they may not be his well-rehearsed corny jokes, but I think he’d appreciate the humor in my own brand of “Dadisms”.

So did any of my ramblings actually define the term “Random Dadisms”? Well, maybe not, but it did tell you a tiny bit about the incredible man I’m glad I got to call “Dad”. As for the whole “Dadism” definition thing, just scroll back up to paragraphs #2 & #3 in this post. Hey I did warn you about the whole meandering thing didn’t I? Oops, sorry… I’ll try to do better next time.