Category: Parenting (page 2 of 3)

The Berenstain Bears and the Online Predator

Among all the book series my son likes to have read to him, he tends to gravitate time and time again to the Berenstain Bears. For those of you unfamiliar with the stories, they catalog the lives of the Bear Family who inhabit a tree house down a sunny dirt lane deep in bear country, a fully-ursine society.

Because my son loves them so much, I’m willing to overlook some basic Berenstain-related mythology that makes absolutely no sense. For instance, the Bear Family is literally named Papa, Mama, Sister and Brother. These aren’t cute non-descript names they call themselves in family-only situations, this is really what the entire town refers to them by. Other townspeople have pithy names such as Lizzy Bruin and Miss Honeybear and they don’t bat an eyelash while referring to someone as Sister even though she’s not a nun.

Another plot point that defies conventional wisdom is the ability of Papa Bear to support the family by making homemade rough-finished furniture while Mama gets to be a full time stay-at-home bear. Apparently the Bear Country currency is in firmer standing these days than the American Dollar.

Minor quibbles aside the stories are generally straight-forward and generally break down into a couple different categories:

Brother and Sister Bear overcome some sort of fear of going someplace new
The Berenstain Bears Go to the Dentist
The Berenstain Bears Go to Summer Camp

The Bear Family learns the value of moderation
The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Birthday
The Berenstain Bears Too Much Pressure

Brother and Sister (and sometimes even Papa) learn a new social skill
The Berenstain Bears and the Green Eyed Monster
The Berenstain Bears and the Blame Game

With an eye towards making the series a little more relevant to the modern day parent and pre-school child alike, I’m going to pass along the following title suggestions to Random House for the Berenstain series:

  • The Berenstain Bears and Inappropriate Public Nudity
  • The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Primaries
  • The Berenstain Bears Go on Behavioral Meds
  • The Berenstain Bears and Queenie McBear’s Two Moms
  • The Berenstain Bears Try to Destigmatize American Public Transportation
  • The Berenstain Bears and Sister’s Secret Shame
  • The Berenstain Bears and Too Much F****ing Webkinz

A Parent’s Primer for Children’s Board Games: Candy Land

Basic Game Play
In a turn-based game, players draw colored cards to determine how many spaces their Gingerbread men will move along the path to “Home Sweet Home”, along the way avoiding obstacles named for confections that were popular no less than 50 years ago.

Why Your Kids Love It
“Hey, I know colors! I know how to count to two! I CAN PLAY THIS GAME! It has been decided then, let us do nothing else before dinner for the next three months!”

Why You Hate It
Special candy cards (to which you have to return to the corresponding space on the board when drawn) will continually appear at the most disadvantageous time for ALL players, thereby extending the tedious game play to the point where adult participants view the sweet kiss of death as a more desirable option than returning to the Peanut Brittle House one more fricking time.

Cheat-Ability Factor
A solid 9 out of 10. And trust me, you will want to swing this game in ANYONE’S favor at some point. For children under 3 years of age, reshuffling the deck to strategically replace candy cards only requires a standard misdirection ruse. “Did your brother forget to wear pants again? Well, GO LOOK!”

Real Life Fun Equivalent
Wrestling a homeless Vietnam veteran for the quarter you just gave him because you realize you need it for the meter, then doing it again a half hour later because your time’s up and you still don’t have change.


Happy 2nd

Pickin’ Dandelions, originally uploaded by ranzino.

Happy birthday buddy. Two years can go by so quickly.

Your Dad



SOYLENT PINK IS PEOPLE!, originally uploaded by ranzino.

I’m willing to accept many things about the anthropomorphic animal residents of Richard Scarry’s Busytown at face value. For instance, I can overlook the fact that the only townsperson to wear a shoe is also the only one to not have any feet on to which he could insert said footwear (One Lowly the worm).

However, I cannot accept that in an idyllic village where cats, dogs, rabbits, mice and the occasional immoral gorilla can live together in harmony, the community would allow out and out cannibalism in the form of a pig becoming a hot dog vendor.


SpongeBob, Behind the Green Door… at the Krusty Krab

The following is the best dinner-time discussion my son and I have had in weeks.

Me: So what did you do at Gramma’s house yesterday?

Son: Pop Pop and I watched SpongeBob SquirtPants.

Me: (Choking back some grilled tilapia) I think you mean SpongeBob SquarePants.

Son: (In complete righteous indignation mode) NO! The song says SpongeBob SQUIRTPANTS!

Me: I think I’m pretty sure I saw that particular title in the restricted section of the local video store. Nickelodeon’s probably not adding it to their lineup until their demo really really shifts.


It Was a Quack Job

It Was a Quack Job, originally uploaded by ranzino.

Parenting Tip #3

A toy is NEVER out of batteries. It is always ALWAYS broken… as far as they know.

All parents know that getting a split second of peace and quiet is harder than trying to explain the appeal of The Hills to anyone over the age of 40. Knowing this, and subsequently wanting to punish us for similar transgressions from when they were raising us, grandparents find every opportunity they can to buy toys that endlessly emit songs, sirens, farting noises, etc. so forth and so on.

When these soulless playthings finally succumb to the great Duracell recycling center in the sky, never never never put in fresh batteries. Just claim you have and then launch into a discussion about trade imbalance, unions, price points and quality workmanship until your 4-year-old finds something better/noisier to play with. Repeat as often as necessary.

Under no circumstances should you teach your child how to change batteries himself. Not because of the safety hazards, but mostly due to the fact they could reveal your ongoing ruse, and, quite frankly, it’s information they just don’t need.


Such a Good Dad

As a male, I know I get certain historical advantages over the fairer sex by default. Dressing business casual couldn’t be easier, opening jar lids never seems to be an issue and, as anyone who’s ever been to the State Fair can attest, the ability to pee while standing cannot be underestimated. Compassionate parenting, however doesn’t come in to play on that list. Most women have that down cold.

My patience and understanding comes to an abrupt halt when someone who is old enough to speak in complete sentences and wears big-boy underwear “accidentally” pees on the carpet… in the living room… and neglects to tell you until several hours later… after you feel it seeping through your sweatshirt while lying on said floor.

Knowing these types of shortcomings in my parenting repertoire, I’m always surprised at the double standard I’m exposed to in public when I’m out and about with the children during the day. Whether I’m dragging a screaming toddler away from the counter of Auntie Anne’s at the food court (because I promised a cinnamon pretzel and I damn well better produce if I know what’s good for me), or hastily throwing the Curious George, Berenstein Bear, Arthur potpourri into my canvas bag at the library, I’ll often have random people come up to me and comment on my parenting skills.

Amazingly enough, it’s always a compliment.

The gist is generally in the, “You’re so good with them,” or “You look like such a good Dad!” vein. To which I generally respond, “Thank you,” instead of, “Really? Because you should have seen me ten minutes ago in Sears when I was letting this one continue to lick the lollipop he’s still eating after he dropped it in the aisle of the hardware department because I was in the process of a China Syndrome type meltdown with that one because we couldn’t come to an amicable understanding on why he shouldn’t continue to kick the bottom of the particular bandsaw I was perusing at the time.”

Who am I to dispel complete stranger’s pre-conceived notions? Why clue them in to the fact that I’m a broken diaper fastener away from being a Developing Story alert on

Crazed Dad Takes Baby Gap Employee Hostage, Holed Up in Sbarros.

So what’s the double standard I mentioned previously? I could be wrong, but I can almost guarantee that these same people who feel compelled to tell me what a great job I’m doing with my kids, never tell the vast majority of Moms out there how well they’re doing. I asked my wife, and it doesn’t happen for her, and she is imminently more prepared and on top of things when she’s out with the kids. As an example, my wife brings along snack bags for the kids in case they get hungry. Me, I make an emergency stop at BJ’s and hope the sample ladies are out in force.

Now I grant you this particular double standard is in my favor, but it’s an imbalance nonetheless. The people who are throwing compliments my way are generally from the Donna Reed generation, or thereabouts, so it may still seem like a novelty to them that I’m taking care of the kids and haven’t devolved into a whimpering pile of old-spice scented goo in the corner. This underlying doubt on their part is usually revealed with their follow-up question, “Are we giving Mommy a break today?”

To which I generally respond, “Yep, it’s just the boys out today,” instead of, “No, Mommy is just way way smarter than me, and if she could only open her own jar lids, I would be replaced by a body pillow in a heartbeat.”



What?!, originally uploaded by ranzino.

Easter [ee | ster ] – noun

  1. Christian celebration of the Resurrection of Christ; celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox.
  2. To the day, the date candy companies have collectively calculated to be the precise moment of the final portioning out of the last bit of valentine’s day sweets to your children.

Happy Easter everyone.


Mr. Evans, Your Back Acne Medication is Ready

Another thing you wouldn’t want publicly announced while waiting for your prescription at CVS…

“Dad, Jacob just pulled his pants down and is running down the magazine aisle.”

Which leads us to:

Parenting Tip #2

No matter how quick you think an errand is going to be, ALWAYS (as in the “remembering to take your birth control pill” variety of always) bring along the stroller.


Parenting Tip #1

Because I’ve spent a lot of my time child-rearing and what-not these days, I thought from time to time I would pass along to you, lucky reader, some of the hard-earned wisdom I’ve gleaned since having my wonderful, wonderful children. Through these tips, I hope you too will be able to avoid incarceration, insanity and the unfortunate personal hygiene neglect that are all too often the hallmarks of unprepared parents.

Parenting Tip #1

Being an effective parent has less to do with how loving, nurturing and compassionate you are and more to do with how adept you are at psychological warfare.

No amount of parental reasoning, patience and love will ever convince a 4-year-old that he should once, JUST THIS ONE TIME FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, wear jeans to pre-school instead of wearing the sweatpants that make him look like the homeless version of Justin Timberlake.

On the other hand, a calm thinly-veiled threat to throw no less than two, but no more than three, Backyardigan’s DVDs in the trashcan because he’s the one being unreasonable is a surprisingly effective motivator.

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