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Archive for March, 2011

Every year, Leigh Ann and I co-manage a fantasy football team. Fantasy baseball, however, is a Scott-only endeavor. It’s not that Leigh Ann doesn’t enjoy the game, it’s just that managing a fantasy baseball team requires a certain level of, well, obsession.

First off, your players don’t play just on Sundays; they play every single day, so you’re always setting your lineup and checking boxscores. And where as in fantasy football you have roughly 6 positions to fill (QB, RB, TE, WR, K, DEF), in fantasy baseball you have twice as many (1B, 2B, 3B, SS, OF, OF, OF, C, DH, SP, RP), so you’ve got to be semi-familiar with 300+ players. In short, fantasy baseball requires knowledge, skill, statistical analysis, and a screw loose in your head.

Which is why I frigging love it.

It is with great regret, then, that I announce, on Opening Day 2011, that I am hereby hanging up my fantasy baseball cleats. What’s that, you say? “It’s okay, Scott. You’re doing the right thing. You’re a Dad now. You’ve got a baby to take care of. Giving up fantasy baseball is the mature decision.” Yes, yes, it is. But before you go any further, I should probably tell you that I didn’t exactly “give it up”. More like got kicked out. That’s right, the league I’ve played in for the past 3 years decided not to invite me back this year. Why? Hard to say, but it might have something to do with our last three league champions.

2008: The Fuzzy Dunlops
2009: The Fuzzy Dunlops
2010: The Fuzzy Dunlops

You know how the saying goes. “If first you don’t succeed, kick out the guy who’s beating you.”

So, anyhow, here’s to you Fuzzy Dunlops. To Albert Pujols who made still my beating heart. To Billy Butler and Dustin Pedroia who were criminally under-rated in our scoring system and acquired on the cheap by me every single year. To Matt Holliday, Nick Markakis, and Shin-Soo Choo, who made up what I liked to call the “The Outfield of Doom.” And to Joe Mauer who inflated my team batting average as if it were a hot air balloon.

I’m going to miss you boys. Good luck.

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A few weeks ago we talked about how parents of boys get divorced less often and report more happiness than parents of girls. At long last I’ve figured out why. It’s because of crap like this:

That’s right, folks. Abercrombie & Fitch is now making a padded push-up bra for seven year olds. What’s that you say? “Seven year olds don’t have breasts to push up.” Well that’s what the padding is for, silly! Best of all, after you buy this top, all your little princess will need is some hooker pants (try Gap), and she’ll be ready for the sexual slave trade.

I hear Thailand is beautiful this time of year.

(Hat tip: Babble.)

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Apparently Mommy & Me groups do not always welcome Daddys. I was talking to a buddy the other day, another SAHD (pronounced “sad”), and the conversation went roughly like this:

HIM: I hate going.
ME: Why, what’s up?
HIM: Every time I ask a question someone rolls their eyes at me.
ME: Find another group then.
HIM: Really?
ME: Yeah. And stop asking when your kid will be old enough to play Halo.

Then, a day later, I saw a post on Baby Center about a guy who wasn’t even allowed to join a Mommy & Me group in San Francisco. San Francisco?!? Are you shitting me? San Francisco where Good Vibrations was founded? San Francisco where Harvey Milk was elected? San Francisco where they’re about to ban infant circumcision?

Is there another San Francisco in Kentucky maybe?

At any rate, I don’t have either of these guys’ problems. Mine is worse: Nate’s Mommy & Me group has officially accepted me as one of the girls. I know this for a fact because of what happened last Monday. I was standing outside the classroom making small talk with one of the other Moms when, suddenly, in the middle of our conversation about I don’t know what — probably how much poop a diaper can hold — this Mom pulled down her nursing blouse and shoved her nipple into her son’s mouth. I don’t think she even broke sentence, just kept talking.

My first thought was, “Cool, everyone has finally relaxed around me.” But a couple hours later it occurred to me that this was actually kind of depressing. What did it say about me that a strange woman thought nothing of whipping her boob out in my presence? Let’s say I really did look like George Clooney . . . or Brad Pitt . . . or that Neanderthal they’re basing the next Ken Doll on. Would she have done it then? I bet not. Which, despite my iron-clad marital status, is still a little depressing. It’s like you wipe your kid’s butt for a couple months and all the sudden you’re some eunuch who’s allowed to sleep in the same room as the virgins. “Nighty night,” the King is telling us. “If anyone is tired, Scott will give you a foot massage.”

I don’t know. I guess I’ll just keep my loin cloth pulled low and try to blend in.

Maybe no one will ever notice.

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Wednesday Pics

Behold my favorite photo of Nate thus far. It’s pretty much impossible to have a bad day after looking at this. Believe me — I’ve been watching cable news lately, so I should know.

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Word is the American Academy of Pediatrics is revising its car seat recommendations. I know your kid is Glo Worm cute and warms your frigid and uncaring heart every time you peek back at him, but he needs to be rear-facing until he’s 2 years old. Also, you should probably be watching the road.

From the article:

The AAP policy, published in the journal Pediatrics, was last updated in 2002, when it advised that baby should be at least 12 months old and 20 pounds before riding forward-facing. But research has shown it’s best to keep babies rear-facing as long as possible — certainly until they reach until they reach the maximum height and weight for their seat. A 2007 study in the journal Injury Prevention that found that children under age 2 are 75% less likely to die or be severely injured in a crash when in a rear-facing car seat.

Look at the bright side. You’ve got someone on the lookout for that ominous 1968 Dodge Charger R/T 440 Magnum that’s always following you around.*

*Warning: some allusions may be obscure.

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Want to know how the labor market is looking? Well, you could check the unemployment rate. Or the GDP. Or household income rates. Or (dramatic pause) you could sift through YouTube and see how many examples you can find of creatively blessed and technically skilled individuals spending their time re-cutting other people’s home movies as movie trailers. Like this:

I’d say it’s still looking pretty bleak.

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Wednesday Pics

My kid has a four pack. As if looking through Muscle & Fitness wasn’t damaging enough to my self-esteem, now I have to see the abdominal striations of a 4 month old every time I change him. Sheesh.

"Yo, Dad. Pass me the fat calipers."

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So far, I haven’t written much about s-e-x. But I hereby warn you that that’s about to change. Why? Because every time I spend a few hours wasting my life reading parenting forums, I see the same two questions: 1) Why doesn’t my baby sleep? and 2) What happened to our sex life? Then yesterday I stumbled upon a discussion of monogamy on the Daily Dish which included this heart-warming reader email:

I am someone in an 11-year marriage that has been non-monogamous (though, unfortunately, not yet in the open about it) for about seven years. It’s certainly not how I intended it to be. I had my fair share of short-term, recreational relationships prior to meeting my wife, and I reasoned that I had to give up my short-term term sexual behavior in order to have a successful, long-term marriage. What I hadn’t counted on, however, was that the quality of my long-term sex life would take such a dramatic turn for the worse.

During our dating period, our sex life was exciting, though it was exclusively one-on-one and short on experimentation. Because we were a bit older, once we got married sex became almost exclusively for making babies, which we both wanted right away.

The first thing to go in my marriage was blow jobs. She didn’t much like giving them in the first place and they pretty much disappeared after we got married. Our first child came after two years, at which time my wife’s breasts became “food, not for sexual pleasure.” Not only was I not allowed to fondle, kiss, or otherwise enjoy her beautiful breasts, I could barely comment on them anymore without a “tut tut” from my wife.

After our second child was born, however, things dramatically deteriorated. Sex became almost nonexistent; I think we had sex less than 10 times in that first year. By the time our younger child had reached the age of three, I’d already had sex with two different prostitutes while out of town on business and found another one locally. At home, sex was excruciatingly bland and too infrequent. The boundaries around what we could and could not do had grown so narrow that I was not enjoying it anymore.

On top of that, I’d been laid off, money was tight, and our younger child was showing serious signs of ADHD and was a complete handful. There was so much stress in our house that sex seemed completely out of the question.

And then, one night, my wife announced that she didn’t care if she ever had sex again. Like a good husband, I didn’t fly off the handle, but asked her what she’d like me to do with that information. After a brief discussion, SHE suggested I get a “girlfriend” for sex. But, like everything else sexual, there were some pretty ridiculous rules of engagement, and I wasn’t in favor of her arrangement, so she withdrew her suggestion.

But, in secret, after I found a new job and had an income, I was able to hook up with several women before I found one with whom I’d had a relationship for nearly two years. I can get blow jobs, enjoy their breasts, and experiment in every way. I’m so happy to be able to do this, and I find that my extra-marital activity enhances the way I show up in my marriage. Chiefly, it’s because I no longer have to resent the fact that my wife is just not that sexual. I didn’t marry her because she was great in bed, but at the same time, I didn’t expect to be in a virtually sexless marriage either. So, while it’s OK for me if she wants these tight little boundaries around our sex life, I’m not going to live like that and be happy. So I get what I need elsewhere, and then go home happy, attentive, and loving.

There are 28 sentences in this email and I would like to avoid approximately 35 of them. (Some of the sentences I would like to avoid twice.) If that means having an embarrassing conversation every now and again, I say let’s do it.

But maybe don’t read those posts aloud to the kids.

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Barring an afternoon suicide, I will have survived one week of taking care of Nate. If you’re a working dad, I will now share with you what I’ve learned. You know how you went back to your job last week and left your wife at home to care for the little one? And you know how you sit in a cubicle for 10 hours a day now, silently resenting her, thinking, “That b$%#@ gets to sit on her butt all day and play with our kid while I have to cold-call retirees in Florida and trick them into buying swamp land”? Well, my friend, I can now testify that there is an approximately 0% chance that your wife is sitting on her butt all day. Also, if your kid was born in the last 6 months, then “playing with him” really just means preventing him from swallowing a razor blade. Fun fun.

As for getting chores done, I’ve also learned that there are precious few that can be accomplished with an infant attached to you and that the ones that can require 3 times the time and 10 times the effort as usual. So that leaves you rotating your planet around the mythical afternoon nap — should your baby terrorist child actually take one. And even if he does, you get only about 60 minutes to . . .

1. Eat.
2. Sleep.
3. Shower.
4. Wipe your ass.
5. Brush your teeth.
6. Find clothes that don’t smell like curdled milk.
7. Install child safety latches on the kitchen cabinets.
8. Install outlet covers and corner protectors and toilet locks.
9. Attach the Baby Einstein Neptune Soother you just bought to your kid’s crib.
10. Fix the light switch in your kid’s closet.
11. Change the crib mattress sheet.
12. Go downstairs and smear anti-bacterial ointment in your cat’s eye infection.
13. Clean out the cat box.
14. Do a load of dirty dishes
15. Take out the garbage.
16. Hit yourself in the face with a hammer.

Feel like taking a shower this morning? Go ahead. Be selfish. It just means that the garbage is going to sit for another day and the cat box is going to stink and your cat’s infected eyeball is going to rot out. Your call.

From what my out-of-work-but-really-hip actor friends tell me, being a parent is a bit like being an actor — the camera is always trained on you, you can never flub a line, and you can never break character. Only your close-up starts shooting at the crack of dawn and the director doesn’t yell, “Cut!” until 6 PM. And what happens if you mess up? Well, that’s the good news. Because you’re going to get to shoot this very same scene again.

And again.

And again.

"Let's try that again, Scott. This time with a little more competence."

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You know how I was having a blast raising Nate? Like how after he was born I was suddenly full of hope and sunshine and had a reason to get up in the morning? Well it turns out there’s an explanation. I’m delusional:

Kid Crazy: Why We Exaggerate the Joys of Parenthood

A new paper shows that parents fool themselves into believing that having kids is more rewarding than it actually is. It turns out parents are in the grip of a giant illusion.

The paper, which appears in the journal Psychological Science, presents the results of two studies conducted by Richard Eibach and Steven Mock, psychologists at the University of Waterloo in Ontario. The studies tested the hypothesis that “idealizing the emotional rewards of parenting helps parents to rationalize the financial costs of raising children.”

Their hypothesis comes out of cognitive-dissonance theory, which suggests that people are highly motivated to justify, deny or rationalize to reduce the cognitive discomfort of holding conflicting ideas. Here’s how cognitive-dissonance theory works when applied to parenting: having kids is an economic and emotional drain. It should make those who have kids feel worse. Instead, parents glorify their lives. They believe that the financial and emotional benefits of having children are significantly higher than they really are.

To “test” this theory researchers took two groups of parents. To the first they showed statistics about how much it costs to raise a child (about $200,000 to age 18 – gulp!). To the second, they showed these same statistics, plus several more about the financial benefits that parents enjoy over non-parents (like having kids who take care of you when you’re Kirk-Douglas-old). They then had both groups answer questions about how emotionally rewarding parenting is. The results? Parents who saw only the financial cost statistics rated parenting as more emotionally rewarding than parents who saw both the financial cost and the financial benefit figures.

So what does that mean? That parents are delusional? That 2 + 2 = 7? That pro wrestling is real? Maybe all of the above. Look, I’m not going to argue that people don’t search for ways to rationalize what they’re doing or that they don’t sometimes switch to a second rationale when their first doesn’t work out (see: George Bush, Iraq). But what’s with the anti-parenting bent of this piece? Take a look at the closing paragraph:

Does this mean you shouldn’t have kids? Yes — but you won’t. Our national fantasy about the joys of parenting permeates the culture. Never mind that it wasn’t always like this. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, we thought nothing of requiring kids to get jobs even before they hit puberty. Few thought of it as abuse. Reformers helped change the system — and rightly so — so that children could be educated. But this created a conundrum. As Eibach and Mock write, “As children’s economic value plummeted, their perceived emotional value rose, creating a new cultural model of childhood that [one researcher] aptly dubbed ‘the economically worthless but emotionally priceless child.’” Or, as the writer Jennifer Senior put it in a New York magazine article last summer, “Kids, in short, went from being our staffs to being our bosses.”

Considering the URL of this article – “Why Having Kids Is Foolish” – I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. What bothers me, however, is that this piece never really addresses its thesis. Even if parents inflate the emotional rewards of parenting, does it necessarily follow that the decision to have a child is “foolish” and that parents are “delusional”? If so, the syllogistic legwork has not been shown in the margin.

I’ll tell you why I think it wasn’t. Because having a child isn’t economically foolish. It costs you money, yes, but economics is about more than just money; it’s about value. To prove that parents are foolish and delusional for having children, you’d have to show that the transaction – “I’ll have a kid for $200,000, please!” – is a net loss. Maybe you could do that, but I’m curious: what dollar figure are you using for the value of an 18-year-old child? $100,000? $150,000? Also, not to get too evo-psych on everyone, but this whole divide between non-parents who have money and parents who don’t seems pretty ironic considering that money is nothing really but a proxy for reproductive success. Why the heck do you think anyone tries to get rich? Because men who do end up with more wives and more biological children. If you think that’s merely an opinion, have a peek at this study. Or consider the lives of Rush Limbaugh, Larry King, and Newt Gingrich who between them have several billion dollars and, ahem, 16 wives (could be more by the time I press publish).

I don’t mean to drive a wedge between the “happy” non-parents who have cushy bank accounts and the “unhappy” parents who don’t. But I can’t help but remember this one time I went to Chuck E Cheese’s when I was eight years old. I spent the entire afternoon playing skeeball, skeeball, and more skeeball, and when I was through I had upwards of 500 skeeball coupons. I was the happiest kid in the joint. But I couldn’t decide what I wanted from the prize booth. Flavored candy canes? Tootsie rolls? A plastic dinosaur? And before I ever made that call my Mom showed up to take me home. So I stuffed the 500 skeeball coupons under my mattress and vowed to use them the next time I went to Chuck E Cheese’s. And then eight-year-old Scott forgot about them. I found them a year later and, with some urgency, rushed back to Chuck E Cheese’s but by that time they had changed coupon vendors and were no longer accepting the old kind. So instead of a plastic spider ring, a candy necklace, and thirty pieces of Bazooka Joe bubble gum, I had 500 skeeball coupons.

You know what I ended up doing with them?

Nothing. I threw them away.

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