The Top 10 Reasons Why My Son Sucks

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Having kids is not all it’s cracked up to be.

For one thing, you have a tiny human being in your house. This is almost as bizarre as having an animal in your house, but at least animals have fur. All my son has is tons and tons of drool.

For the most part it’s fun to have him around, except of course for the drain on my finances, the stress on my marriage, the elimination of my social life, the inability to sleep, the constant threat of fecal explosion, etc. It’s actually very much like running a farm; at the beginning there was even milking.

I know this is old news; everyone’s already aware that kids are a drag. But not all kids are a drag in the same ways.

Here, then, is a list of things that make me hate my son, and my son only.

1. He makes everything more important. Work, money, food, health, free time. Everything means more now. I need to work harder to make more money to buy more food. More expensive, healthy food that won’t make him get fat and get diabetes. I have to eat healthier too, and I have to exercise so I don’t get fat and have a heart attack. Free time is no longer free, it’s time to spend with him, and I need more of it because he needs more of me, and I can’t go to the movies or to the bar because he can’t come and I can’t watch the stuff I want to watch when he’s around because it might make him kill people so I have to make sure he watches the proper stuff which just gives me a headache and I can’t let him watch too much because he has to go outside and oh my god there’s just so much to think about get out of my HEAD SCHWARTZ!

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2. He’s better looking than me. Which is funny, because everyone tells me how much we look alike. But it’s clear he blows me away, just by virtue of being younger and not having bags under his eyes or a scowl on his face. I’ve never in my life gotten as many compliments as this kid. I mean, the dude’s a chick magnet, and it’s a lot of fun to get all this attention from the ladies, but not that fun since I’m married and he’s a long way from puberty. It’s like having a superpower you can’t use. I feel like Mr. Incredible, except when he’s fat and hates his life.

3. My wife likes him more than me. Every husband knows this is true. Ask Oedipus.

4. He reminds me of my mortality. Everyone tells you that having a kid around teaches you to see old things as new again; reinvigorates your perspective on life; lets you experience things through a child’s eyes. All it has taught me is that I’ve wasted my life and I’m 35 going on 60 and apparently that’s gonna happen in the blink of an eye since having kids somehow accelerates time, according to every single parent I’ve ever met. Great. So I’m old, and I’m getting older, and he’s in my face with his wasted, idiotic youth all the time, AND soon he’ll be 25 and I’ll be dead. Parenting!

5. My parents like him more than me. He’s their only grandson and they don’t remember what he was like as a teenager because he’s only two. I, on the other hand, revert to being a teenager with every visit home. Advantage: grandson.

6. He gets terrible music stuck in my head. I defy you to hear “A Song About Elmo” and not be humming it all day long. And then there’s “Yo Gabba Gabba!” At first you’re like, oh, a hipster show for kids, maybe the music will be tolerable! And then you can’t stop singing “Try it! You’ll like it! TRY IT AND YOU’LL LIKE IT!” to yourself over and over and over and over. I don’t blame the shows themselves; they are what they are. I blame my son. He did this to me. Thankfully I got a little payback – he’s been humming “Call Me Maybe” for weeks. REVENGE.

7. Everyone likes him more than me. Honestly, this kid is a charmer. It’s gross. He has more social skills than I’ve ever had. I can barely go two minutes without insulting someone; this kid has gang members blowing kisses on the F train. The last time I blew a kiss at a gang member, well…let’s just say I’m lucky I was still able to have a kid.

8. He makes drinking/being hungover/going to the movies/going to dinner/sleeping everything harder. He makes every adult-based and/or private and/or quiet activity harder. I can’t get drunk when he’s around, and even when he’s not around, he will be the next morning, when the cure for a hangover is NOT his Elmo guitar in my face. I can’t sleep late when he’s around alive. I can’t go to the movies or dinner with him, which means I need a babysitter, and last week we scared off our best one when we came home drunk. He just makes life harder. More rewarding? More meaningful? Sure, whatever. I just want to get drunk in peace. Is that a crime?

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9. I like him more than me. He’s a better person. It’s just a fact. Even though he’s still stained with Original Sin! BETTER PERSON THAN ME.

10. He makes everything less important. Who gives a shit about going to the movies or watching Breaking Bad? I could sit and stare at my son all night long and that would be entertainment enough. I mean, ALL HE DOES is fall on his face. It’s hilarious. He has 100% ruined my life, yes, but that was my old life and this is my new one (a fact that is both pathetic and, frankly, kind of necessary). He is my new one. I honestly couldn’t care less about myself anymore. Like I said above, he’s Me 2.0 and he’s better in every. single. way. Which makes me have to try and be better too.

Which, in all honesty, is a major pain in the ass.

Related post: The 10 Most Annoying Things About Kids

A Letter to My Daughter on the Eve of Her Birth

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My baby girl, the time is almost here.

For 39 weeks you have been part of me and I have loved taking care of myself knowing that it is also taking care of you. I hope you’ve liked the cheese sticks and bananas, the long walks and cozy evenings. Feeling you flutter, then kick, then squirm, then really let the inside of my uterus have it as you try to make room that just isn’t there any longer has been awesome too. Amazement has turned to wonder and then to pride: such a strong, feisty daughter I have! And now the time is almost here for you to take the first step in becoming your own person, your own unique force of nature.

I will miss your constant presence, knowing that you are safe in the dark of me, but I am looking forward to meeting you.

From that moment on and with each breath and blink that follows, you will be more and more you. More and more responsible for your own happiness, your own destiny, your own success and failure. Of course I will be here. Of course I will do everything in my power to give you a good foundation, to teach you what I can, to be the best example I can be. But it will be up to you. I want you to learn that and learn it deeply: you have the power to make yourself happy in a way that no one can ever replace or take away from you. And no matter how much I love you, once you’re on the other side of my belly, I can only do so much.

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I don’t say this to you as an excuse, to imply that I won’t be the best mother I can be, take care of you in the best way I can. I will. I promise. I say this to you because I wish I had learned this lesson, had learned the magnitude of my own power in the face of anything or anyone that life might bring my way, my power to create the life I want, so much earlier. I am grateful that now, having learned it, I can endeavor to show you a life lived with grace, centered and sufficient in my own being. This is the grace I want you to learn, the strength I want you to grow in, the happiness I want you to see: all that is within your and only your control, no matter what.

Yes, bad things happen in life, often to good people. Bad things will happen to you, simply because, despite my best efforts, and it will be okay. You can choose how you react to the bad things, both big and small. You can choose to take a longer view, to see the good that swells up in response to bad things, whether it be in the support of helpers (doctors, teachers, first responders), in the outpouring of love from friends and family, in the kind smile of a stranger, or in the strength that it reveals deep in your own self. Strength that you’ll know from then on you can always count on.

But let’s not dwell on the bad things. Life has a way of turning into what you’re looking for. So let’s always look for love, and for light, and for beauty, and for hope. I’m looking forward to holding you. I’m looking forward to watching your daddy hold you. (He’s a good man, but you already know that from his voice and how he holds both of us, warm and close and safe. He’s looking forward to meeting you too.) I’m looking forward to watching you explore and grow and thrive.

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Together, let’s look with gratitude, with compassion, with peace. Let’s look for opportunities to laugh big rolling belly laughs and smile contented little smiles. Let’s look for moments to treasure up – moments just like this one, full of anticipation and peace and simple pleasures, like having the snow safely outside and your movement in my belly. Let’s look for ways we can both make the world a better place, ways we can use our skills and passions to add value to the lives around us. Let’s look for joy.

I promise to be the best example I can be for you, to love myself (at least almost) as much as I love you so that you can learn how to do the same. I promise to help you be you, from the moment you’re no longer part of me. And yet, in some way that I can’t fully understand yet, I know you will always be part of me. And I am grateful for all you have to teach me.

Related post: 15 Things I Want My Daughter To Know

Tipping Etiquette: Mom Edition

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Most people I know, but especially mothers with several tiny tots in tow, suffer from a uniquely American affliction known as “tip anxiety.” This causes us to question how many of our hard-earned dollars we should voluntarily fork over in any given situation. For example, you might think the bellman deserves two dollars for hailing you a cab but you only have a ten on hand, so you debate whether to give him anything, all of it, or ask for change (awkward!). We have been so pummeled into tip submission that the valet could steal your quarters and kick you in the shin and you’d hobble away, having parted with yet another five dollars. Here’s a purely suggestive guide to tipping in certain instances – depending on whether or not you’ve got the family with you.

1. Restaurant Server. On the rare night out without your kids, you may dine at an actual restaurant ordering exotic things like “wine pairings” and “multiple courses.” By the end of the meal you should be in high spirits – maybe even tipsy – so you think nothing of tipping the absurdly standard 15-20%. On the other hand, when you’re dining out with your kids, the situation is remarkably different. The server has had to repeat the specials four times within 15 minutes and already replaced your toddler’s spilled milk, which is now marinating in the carpet. Spilled salt and ripped sugar packets cover the table. Then you realize your kid has graduated from coloring on the paper place mat to scribbling vigorously on the table. The baby is weeping. You deliberately order the cheapest, quickest dishes on the menu, lamenting the decision to go out to dinner in the first place. If you ever want to return to this restaurant you’ll probably want to leave a few bucks above 20 percent – assuming they’ll ever welcome you back.

2. Bellman. If you’re traveling solo and arrive at a hotel, you will likely wave the bellman off with a polite smile. Your small rolling suitcase is perfectly manageable on your own, especially considering what you usually deal with (if he only knew). There’s no need to tip at all! But when your family is traveling, you might need a little help: the poor bellman has no idea how much stuff you’ve managed to cram into that Odyssey. He opens your trunk and gasps; you place your hand on his sagged shoulder and gently suggest he call for backup. He’s going to need a little more manpower and another cart. I’d suggest you generously give $10 after all is settled in the room. He may need a chiropractor after this.

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3. Hotel Housekeeper. If you’re lucky enough to occasionally travel by your lonesome, you probably use your hotel room to sleep, shower for no fewer than 37 minutes, watch whatever YOU want on television, and then sleep some more. The effect on your room from these activities is minimal, so you can tip your housekeeper $2 per day, depending on the size of the bills you have on hand. Then there’s the epic travel occasion when you have your entire family crammed into one hotel room. Even though you specifically reserved a room with two beds, you’ve been given a room with one bed, one cot, and a rolling crib so stark it reminds you of a petite prison on wheels. You no longer have any floor space as your suitcases apparently exploded upon entry; the only evidence that this was an intentional detonation is that the toiletries made it to the bathroom and cover at least 96% of the sink’s surface area. Diapers occupy the trash cans, crumbs are blanketing the bed, and at least one child is roaming the hallway. There is sand on the bathroom floor, and you’re not even near the beach. Tip suggestion: $5 per day – and maybe $10 on the last day. You know from personal experience how hard housekeeping is.

4. Restroom Attendant. I’m the first person to admit that I have no idea why this job exists. I can make dinner while talking on the phone, holding a baby, and being “assisted” by a toddler all at once, so I don’t know why I’d need someone to hand me a paper towel or a breath mint in exchange for a dollar. However, if you’re attending a wedding or are in the rare restaurant that employs a restroom attendant and you have your kids with you, get ready: your kids will look at the bounty of tampons, lotion, mints, maxi pads and mouthwash and exclaim, “You mean these are all freeeeeee?!” Before you know it, your child’s two minuscule hands will have somehow made off with enough stuff to obligate you to a $3 tip.

There are so many situations in which a tip is expected that without realizing it you’re handing out 8% of your annual salary as gratuities, and the more kids you have, the higher the percentage you’ll have to pay. But ultimately, another dollar here and there is a drop in the bucket considering having a family means you’re bleeding money most of the time anyway. Your generosity is appreciated – and expected!

Related post: Your Child Is Acting Like An Asshole And It’s Your Fault

10 Birthday Presents Guaranteed to Piss Parents Off

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You didn’t ask for this.

You could have had a perfectly relaxed weekend afternoon. Or you could have done any of those 600 household chores looming over your head. You could have gone to Target, or taken a hike, or returned that sweater you’ve had sitting on your dresser for two weeks. But instead, you’ve hauled your brood to some sports complex/bouncy house nightmare/Chuck E. Cheese’s. Or even worse, you’ve driven to someone’s oh-so-perfect house with a telltale balloon bobbing from the mailbox. 

You know that bitch has Pinterest. You know that party has an oh-so-twee theme, complete with banners and hand-iced cupcakes. You’ll be forced to socialize with people you’d never pick as friends, simply because your kids are the same size, and this will last for at least two hours of awkward, forced conversation. And even if the party is the drop-off variety, your kind hostess will return to you a child cranked up from overstimulation, hyped up on red dye number 4, and clutching a goodie bag full of junk you’ll step on in the middle of the night.

Basically, birthday parties suck. Repay your hostess with these birthday presents from hell.

1. Nerf Gun: This present is guaranteed to annoy siblings, pets, and parents alike. But you can’t pick just any Nerf weaponry. You can go for the one with the tiniest, most dartlike foam arrows. These will scatter throughout the house and get lost, piece by squishy piece. Or you can be a total asshole and buy the gun that only comes with three arrows, virtually guaranteeing the dog will immediately chew up two of them. How important were those weekend plans?

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2. Kinetic Sand: Nothing says “I want you to die” like a $24.95 indoor sandbox, complete with molds but without any form of containment. Oh yes, kinetic sand’s fun to play with. But it sticks to everything. It gets into every crack and crevice you didn’t know your table had. And when you buy the colored kind, you’re promising that their house, like a subway station bathroom, will never really be clean again.

3. Fake swords: Swords are good for one thing, and one thing only: hitting people. You can make rules about swords only hitting other swords. But that rule will be broken, and quickly, leading to tears and possible bruising. The other parent will be forced to confiscate it. Total meltdown will ensue. If you’re feeling really mean, buy one of those lifesize double-bladed Darth Maul lightsabers, which are approximately seven feet from end to end and made of hard plastic. It’ll barely fit in the living room. 

4. American Girl Doll: You have to really hate that other parent to shell out this type of dough. This is a good passive-aggressive present for that bitch sister-in-law who always humble brags at family gatherings. The doll seems like a magnificent, amazing, oh-my-gosh-you-shouldn’t-have present. Until their daughter starts begging for all the super-expensive, crazy accessories. Dolls need outfits. And beds. And doll-sized ponies that cost only slightly less than real ponies. They’ll have to dip into the college fund to pay for the damage you’ve wrought.

5. Things that Beep Loudly: Take your pick. Target’s full of infant and toddler toys that make loud, repetitive sounds at the touch of a button. You can even disguise your hatred in the form of a hug-demanding Elmo. One can only withstand the chipper, monotonous tones for so long before insanity sets in. That parent will curse you as soon as the present’s opened, perhaps aloud.

6. Musical Instruments: Not into plastic electronics? Go old-school with a harmonica, an ocarina, or even a recorder. Or try an electric drumset. Buy that Casio keyboard you pined for in 1988. The sonic results of your present can drive an entire household bonkers. And they can’t very well get openly bitchy, because it’s educational. Don’t forget the wooden drumsticks!

7. TOOBS or other plastic collections of tiny stuff: They’re small. They’re legion. And they’re both impossible to clean up and agony to step on. Pieces will get lost, possibly leading to meltdowns. If you’re looking for a cheap way to vent your rage, this is it.

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8. WWF/WWE Masks: What do you do when you dress up as a wrestler? You wrestle shit. Probably younger siblings, pets, or random passersby. You work on your bodyslams with the couch cushions. You leap off furniture while roaring insults. It’s like handing kids a mask of antisociability.

9. Ball pit and balls: Another your-house-will-never-be-clean present, these doom parents to constantly leaning over, picking up, and throwing countless flimsy plastic balls into a never-deep-enough enclosure. Balls aren’t just for lounging in. Balls are for throwing! Balls are for dumping! Balls say, “You ruined my weekend, jerkface. Now pick up another made-in-China plastic sphere.”

10. Art sets with beads and/or glitter: Beads spill everywhere. No matter how careful you are, no matter what precautions you take, you end up sweeping them. They’re a panic-inducing choking hazard if the birthday child has younger siblings. And the glitter … they call it craft herpes for a reason. Glitter’s the gift that keeps on giving. They’ll be finding glitter while they’re paying college tuition. Best for parties where the gifts are opened after the guests leave, or else you may be preemptively punched in the face.

Related post: 10 Awkward Moments Parents Experience at Kid Birthday Parties