Aug 31, 2011

A Single Dad's Dating Diatribe - 1, Daycare

Prepare to use your keyboard as an instrument of revenge.  I'm 93% certain this series of posts will steam a few most of you.  Blow rage in the comments if you want, I don't really care. 

I sloshed out of my mother's loins in 1976 and have been a single dad since I was 27.  Not where I expected to be at this phase of my life.  Dating at 35 with a kid in-tow is a wretched idea.  I'm not 16 and this isn't high school.  I've been raising my daughter alone for the last 8 years, we know no different than for it to be just the two of us. 

The majority of women my age are married, divorced or single cat ladies.  I'm a traditional dad that would feel more at home living in 1951 than 2011.  Most women live in 2011, not 1951.  My recalcitrance in finding a mate will become clear as you continue reading.  I've got a long rant to uncoil, so let's cut this mother up and poke at daycare this day.

I do a face palm when taking a general look at modern American family dynamics.  Two parents working full time is something I want no part of.  The common theme is often chucking child in daycare to be raised 10 hours a day by a person scarcely making minimum wage.  Many parents don't blink at this.  It's a "work/life balance", after all.  

Why is full time daycare for a baby three months old through preschool okay with a good chunk of the population?  Damn.

Before Pigtails was born, my ex worked a daycare.  It was a high dollar center on the ground level of a large corporation, the place had a solid reputation.  Wife came home from work telling me wrenching stories about what goes down while mom and dad are working.  Workers were trained to not tell parents when they witnessed a toddler taking their first steps.  They wanted mom and dad to think they were the first to see it.  Parents not showing up for class picnics when they promised they would, causing their kid to sob inconsolably in a corner.  Biting tots from hell, one gnawed on another's ear until blood flowed.  The workers didn't have the authority to do anything about it, other than to "write a report and notify affected parties".  A child was left behind on a field trip.  

It's a sad situation, I feel sorry for these little ones.  A person paid to watch a child will never love them to the same degree as the parent.


Disclaimer:  I understand some folks must use daycare.  They don't have a choice.  This was true for me.  Pigtails was just under age 2 when her mom left, so I placed her in an in-home daycare out of necessity.  Hated it, tore me up.  I cried in the car every day that first week I drove from work to pick her up.  Being forced to put Pigtails in daycare is what bothered me the most about my wife leaving. 

Finding a lady friend that has similar thinking as me on this subject is a difficult thing.  It's 2011, you know.  Who wants to be a stay-at-home mom?

Maybe it's time for me to get a cat.  Or 10.

-Beard 

Aug 27, 2011

Follower Freebie - Pay the Piper

I haven't forgotten about my looming Follower Freebie debts.  Pass the word to friends and help me get three more entered for the $20 Target Card.  Three months of trying to hock this thing.  For the love of God, let's close the door on this.  

Thanks to the 17 of you that have signed up so far.  Leave a comment below or shoot me an e-mail if you'd like to be added to the drawing.


BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!  CALL NOW AND...

Do you remember the other stale Follower Freebie dating back to January?  I promised to toss out 50 bones to a random reader when we hit 50 Followers.  We are currently at 51, but someone (won't name names here) is listed as a Follower three times (no idea how she did that, impressive).  So we need one more person signed up to nail 50.  Up on the right corner of the blog, click the "Join this site" button to register and I'll add you to the drawing.  Hate mail here if you can't get the Follower thingy to work.

Winner gets to choose between an iPod Shuffle, $50 Target card, $50 Amazon card or a 5-gallon bucket of toothpaste (with or without baking soda, you pick).  Thank you for reading, commenting and riding the Beard and Pigtails coaster with me.
- - - - - - - - -
Pigtails and I attended Mass tonight so we can enjoy a summer dog day of waterpark (think Euro Speedo) on Sunday.  One of the Scripture verses hit home on why I blog.  So many words in my heart, as a burning fire shut up in my bones.  Release.

"But His word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones." - Jeremiah. 20:9

-Beard

Aug 25, 2011

3rd Grade Phantom Zombie


Third grade bell gonged this week, time to slough off the summer slacking and hit the books and playground.  I'm praying for three more years of Pigtails gagging at the mere thought of boys and Bieber.   

Come March 2012, I'll snag an iPad 3 to digi-HD Pigtails so you can experience her face lighting when she records these blog clips.  She was literally jumping around in front of the Mac's mic' when recapping her first day of third grade.  I grabbed two takes.  Told her to simmer down on the second one, but my suggestion had the opposite effect.  I couldn't decide which clip to run, so I'll put 'em both up.  There's a random Phantom of the Opera tune in there, no clue where she pulled that from.

Take one, link:

Take two, link:

After school, the neighborhood gang sidewalk chalked their faces into Zombies.  Helmet and all, no doubt the safest mutants this side of the Mississippi.  Pigtails looks like a midget Batman Joker with mascara.


-Beard

Aug 22, 2011

Bubble Gum on My Beard: The Plunge into Single Parenting

Cari over at Bubble Gum On My Shoe invited me over to spew rubbish on her blog.  She's a Single Mom of two cute kids and asked me to provide a Dad's cut on solo-raising a runt.  We decided to tap out a duet and share a couple of different perspectives on this topic.  This post is a steaming slice of deluxe. 
- - - - - - - - - - -
 
Cari's on deck, hit it:

Does a Single Mom have it easier or harder than a Single Dad? Same challenges, different genetic make-up.  Does that even make a difference?  The great thing about blogging is that even in a community, i.e., Single Parent, Mom, Dad, Special Needs, Cooking, Gardening, stalking boy bands, etc., the circumstances may be similar, what makes it intriguing is the differing perspective. So I, with a little help from fellow blogger, Beard, am going to offer a little {long-ass} three part series; sharing our perspectives as a Single Mom and a Single Dad.

There is so much to say we had to break it down:

Part I-The Plunge into Single Parenting

Part II-The Journey

Part III- The future of a Mom raising a son and a Dad raising a daughter

That is a big ol’ can of worms friends, promises not to be dull.

4-1=Family

There are not many people in this world who willingly choose the life of a single parent {plate of crazy if you do}. Sometimes the transition is long and slow leaving you a Single Parent mid-life. Or in my case, it sneaks in and life changes in the blink of an eye, and when I say blink, I mean overnight. My sweet title of stay-at-home-Mommy had been reluctantly revoked and the term Single Mom, was being chiseled into my very being fast and furiously.

Only just the night before I was most concerned with my children’s emotional well-being, cherishing
my job as primary hugger and boo-boo kisser, book reader, bath giver, chauffeur, and caring for my
household. Those things still remain, and still are my most cherished. Now the responsibilities for caring for my children’s basic needs fell to me as well. How would I provide for them? Where would we live?  How am I going to do this all by myself?

I’m a pretty stubborn chick, and wasn’t about to let Ex or fear get the best of me. I would not settle for less therapy for my Autistic son, which meant working a lower paying job to gain flexibility to work around his sessions. And every time a roadblock appeared without warning to crush my perfect plans, God answered my prayers and I found a new way. God answers prayers in the form of dear friends, family and co-workers who won’t listen to you when you say, “I don’t need any help”. Thank God they didn’t listen to me.

The single parenting gig wasn’t in the plan, but it is my reality. Daycare wasn’t supposed to be raising my kids for hours a day, I was never going to live with my parents ever again {really!!}, I was never going to have the “why doesn’t Daddy live with us” talk. I was also suppose to have a partner to bounce ideas off of {I talk to myself a lot} and have someone to grow old with and spoil our Grandbabies with.

Indoctrination into Single Parenting is a tough and lonely road. So far it hasn’t gotten any easier, I’m sure it never will. You develop thick skin, and continually one-up your exhaustion level. Parenting alone can make you guarded and doubtful. Don’t let it.

Guess I should thank the little people; my two precious gifts. Really, I’m the lucky one. I get all the hugs, all the kisses; I get to see all the “firsts” and don’t have to hear what I missed. Hard as it may be, the rewards outweigh the trials. But anything rewarding or amazing in life will always be hard; that’s what makes it worth it.

Beard's turn, go:

Beard and a Baby Bjorn

So what's it like for a dude raising a dame? Well, I guess the story morphs as Pigtails grows. And a few chapters remain to be written. For now, we'll rewind time back to the cold plunge into single parenthood.

I was a helpful husband and father even as the bread popped from the oven. But when ex-wifey lobbed me a bye-bye grenade and vanished when Pigtails was a babe, it was an entirely new level of hands-on parenting.  As in a poop-smearing-pee-spraying-diaper-disaster-while-baby-grunts-and-grins level of involvement.

Our household shifted from stay-at-home honey calmly managing our casa to me fumbling around praying for a tag or something pointing me in the right direction of the front/back of the crap-catcher.  Perhaps 1 in 4 diapers were bolted on incorrectly, which likely explains the frequent hot messes. I quickly discovered that wet wipes, not dogs, are a man's best friend.

Early days were a mad hustle combo'd with fear that I'd mess something up. What the heck and when and how much was I supposed to feed this hungry beast as she molted from baby into toddler? Would grilled ribeye and garlic taters fly for a 2-year-old? I was alone, my family was mute. Thanks Google, you got my back.

Lined up daycare (boo!) and doc appointments to inject booster shots. Quietly consoled Pigtails when she roamed the house confused, asking "Mommy, where's mom?" Tried to ignore gawking neighbors as my toddler wailed while strapping her to stroller and parking it on the porch so I could mow the grass.

Oh yeah, one more thing...tossing the tot a live vacuum does the trick of keeping 'er quiet and the floors clean. Win.

Thanks to Cari for co-posting with me!  She'll help answer questions/comments below, so leave a note and we'll rattle out some responses.

-Beard

Aug 15, 2011

State Fair Pork Puzzle

* 8/20 Update - DSMama takes the clue/pic crown.  Congrats! *

Sucked up 14 hours and 100 photos of State Fair fun last Saturday.  Powdered donut clouds and 75 degrees, with fried cheese curds, 12" poncho dogs and liters of lemonade shake-ups fueling the Tour de Pork.  Speaking of pork, the idea of a young lady being crowned the Pork Queen never fails to crack me up.

Light your curly detective pipes and arm the keyboards...time to match Fair clues with their photos. 

Leave a comment below listing the clue number with the letter of the photo it matches with, e.g.:  1 - G, 2-F, etc.  I'll update the comments with occasional helps if we fizzle into congress-style gridlock.  First person to correctly marry all clues with photos wins a heaping plate of jack squat $10 Target gift card and a friendship bracelet handmade by Pigtails.   

DQ to anyone reading this that attended the Fair with me.  
Don't be a tool and attempt this game on a tiny smartphone.  Boot up the big screen.  
One entry per person per day.
You have a minute to win it...er...go!
  1. The Crystal Calving Cathedral
  2. $2.50
  3. M&D 
  4. Flyin' Fido 
  5. Wilbur 
  6. Belt Buckle/Wife Beater Fail
  7. Kilowatts 
  8. Cow Gutters
  9. Ridiculously High
  10. Esac
  11. BluBlockers
  12. Crazy Mouse
  13. Pot of Pretty
  14. Armless Bandit
  15. Pigtails Powered
  16. Spotted Sooie
  17. GigaGourd 
  18. Stomping Mad
  19. Treats of Rice
  20. Dork not on Pork
  21. Belgian Waffles
A. Pot of pretty
B.  - GigaGourd in dire need of a diet

C. Spotted sooie, mmm...bacon

D.  Armless bandit
E.  BluBlockers and loads of other Fair freebies

F.  Powered by sticks o' Pigtails

G.  Cow gutters, that's what she calls udders

H.  Treats of rice and other free sweets for the kiddos

I.  Belt buckle/wife beater fail; he also had tat's on his bald scalp ~ begging for attention

J.  Crystal calving cathedral, awesome architecture and live animal births inside

K.  Flyin' Fido, these mutts have some crazy jumping and agility skills

L.  Wilbur from Charlotte's Web

M.  $2.50 for burlap sack screams down the Big Slide

N.  Esac, Case spelled backwards and a 1920 beauty

O.  Kilowatts of breeze

P.  Dork not on pork, 'nuff said

Q.  Ridiculously High Standards is the header if you zoom out

R.  Belgian waffles, the breed of these beasts of burden

S.  Crazy Mouse, mirrored

T.  M&D, Mom and Dad bopping to Jay and the Americans

U.  Stomping mad, both the grapes and the pissed-off girl in the foreground

-Beard

Aug 11, 2011

Varmint Vomit Loafers

What's the deal with kids and shoes?

Today, I picked through Pigtail's shoe cache to donate/cremate the duds.  How can a tiny punk barely 46 pounds inflict more hurt on a set of Targo-clogs than does Zeek at 390 crushing Crocs to Richard Simmons Sweatin' to the Oldies at a Weight Watchers hoedown? And why do they smell like a sick hamster crawled inside, heaved varmint vomit, then curled up and died?  What exactly goes down at the school playground? "Ouchie daddy, I stepped on a landmine again...my toes feel funny."


Guess what Pigtails' cheap-ass dad gifted her when she turned 9?  Yeah, that's right, a $14 pair of size 3 pink sneak's from Target.  What you can't hear in the picture, but can almost see it if you squint, is:  Oh daddy, shoes, you are the best, thank you so much!!

Hugged them for minutes and carefully sat them next to her bed before zonking out.  They'll be destroyed within 3 days.

Does your kid posses a wretched pair of moccasins that burn on contact?  Send me a photo at BeardandPigtails@gmail.com and I'll post 'em up.  

Thanks!
-Beard

P.S.  Free to good home:  Lovingly used pair of shoes, blue, girls size 2, slight odor.  Free or I'll pay you to take them. 

Aug 10, 2011

Vote Now and Help a Brother Out

Looks like someone tossed B&P into the ring for the Parents.com Best Daddy Blogger contest.  It wasn't me, I promise.  Please click here to vote and help a brother out.

Thanks!
-Beard

Aug 8, 2011

Beard's Back, Pigtails Poofed

Writer's respite expired.  As a bored monkey flings its poop, so shall I resume throwing fistfuls of steaming posts.

Going on week two of three without Pigtails.  This dad has primary custody (as it should be), so our decree stipulates three continuous weeks of summer with her mom to help level the scale.

You are probably thinking:  Lucky, living the dream!  Kidless for weeks, YEE HAW!!  Bust out the booze, babes and bottle rockets!!

I admit, that feeling lasts for a little while, maybe two days.  Then the empty house sours into a quiet liability.

In a given year, my daughter's with me close to 90% of the time, so this apart thing's tough.  She sobbed on the phone yesterday when I buzzed her.  I had a knot in my throat, must be summer allergies or something.

Taking advantage by wrapping up a couple small house projects.  Worked till 7:00 Friday night since I wasn't looking forward to coming home to crickets.

Don't tell Pigtails, but this is also prime time to infiltrate her room, cleaning out all the crap she won't let me get rid of when she's here.  That girl is sentimental and hoardy, clinging to junk for years.  When I do throw something of hers away, I must bury it in the bottom of the trash can, lest she finds it, carefully retrieves it, then holds it high and scolds me for tossing her "special paper towel roll she's had since she was a baby."

For you mom and dads that share custody, do you enjoy your free time when junior's away?  Or are you miserable?  Maybe somewhere in between?  Did any of you give birth to a hoarder?  Let me know in the Comments.

Time to go fire bottle rockets or something.


-Beard