Friday, October 21, 2011

What Are Those Kids Watching? Part One: Nickelodeon Shows

The next time you turn on the television, take a few moments to appreciate the plethora of confusing shows your children love watching. The Nickelodeon channel is a prime offender; they air some of the strangest, most senseless programs out there. In order to alleviate some of your bewilderment, here are rundowns for a few of the channel’s most popular shows aimed at young children.

“Team Umizoomi” This show is all about math. Yeah, math. I’ll wait until you work up your excitement. No? Okay. Me, either.
Much like your tenth grade algebra teacher, Team Umizoomi will attempt to convince you that math is cool and useful in everyday society. Unlike your tenth grade algebra teacher, Team Umizoomi won’t try to convince you to keep watch while he smokes a doobie in the parking lot.

Each episode, the Umizoomi gang comes to the aid of some whiny and helpless kid. They’re sort of like The A-Team, I guess. Watching is pretty unnerving, though, since the kid in question is a real-life actor and Team Umizoomi is animated. This results in a Who Framed Roger Rabbit? type series of odd and uncomfortable interactions against a green screen.

Anyway, the whiny, helpless kid always has something math-oriented for Team Umizoomi to help him with. The set-up is usually something like “Hey Team Umizoomi, help me find the eggs in this grocery store. They’re in aisle 12” or “Hey Team Umizoomi, my dad drinks too much and won’t get a job. Find his eight whiskey bottles” or “Hey Team Umizoomi, what’s this weird rash on my crotch? Math.”

Of course, Team Umizoomi always more than eager to assist the whiny, helpless kid with his addition and subtraction issues. The funny thing is, one of the team members is a talking, sentient robot. You would think that with that level of technology, Team Umizoomi would at least have built a calculator into the robot, since they do this whole math thing for a living. You would be wrong, though; the robot is just as moronic as the rest of the characters.

“Max and Ruby” Choose this show when you want your kid (and yourself) to fall asleep. “Max and Ruby” is the television equivalent of Simon and Garfunkel; its solitary mission is to chill you the *&^% out. Like Simon and Garfunkel, there’s probably some political agenda in there as well, but I can’t hear it over the sound of my yawns.

The premise of the show revolves around a pair of brother and sister bunnies -- Max and Ruby. These two boring-ass rabbits gladly embark upon the mundane tasks of human existence: everything from making the bed to flushing the toilet. Not only are their actions monotonous, but they stretch each singular act into a half-hour episode.

Max, the younger bunny, plays the foil in the show. His senseless and strangely hypnotic actions lead to gentle rebukes from Ruby, such as: “No, Max, our Netflix return goes into the mailbox,” or “No, Max, chairs are for sitting.”

Max will lead your children to a well-deserved sense of self-empowerment. They’ll think, I may not be able to wipe my own butt without help, but at least I’m smarter than these morons, and you know what? They’re right. It’s a genuine confidence booster.

“The Fresh Beat Band” If you’re one of the three or four people who read my overview of “Imagination Movers,” you’ve already got the gist of this show. If not, simply reading the title “The Fresh Beat Band” should prepare you for the lameness that will ensue after the opening credits.

This is actually a heartwarming program. “The Fresh Beat Band” is set up exactly how the simplistic title indicates: an overly dramatic group of idiots making crummy music about everyday experiences.

The actors are so diverse that you’d think the ACLU made the casting decisions. There’s a redheaded girl, an Asian chick, a black guy and a white dude. They all defy ethnic boundaries to come together and suck as a unified force. It almost brings a tear to my eye.

This show has real-world value. It will teach your children that skin color is irrelevant in choosing your friends. Obviously, the most important characteristics to consider are acting and singing abilities.

“Bubble Guppies” This show takes place underwater, like “Spongebob Squarepants,” only it sucks about ten thousand percent more. The Bubble Guppies are a group of mermen and mermaids who don’t seem to notice their abhorrent genetic conditions and simply go about their days learning how to recognize circles. This in itself would be commendable, but they’re just so freaking smug about it.

You’ll grow to hate the Bubble Guppies, even attempting to crap on their remedial educations. Apparently, there are no quality grade schools beneath the ocean water, because these douchey fish-people have to ask your children for confirmation on even the simplest tasks.

Once they grow old enough to realize that they’re being used, your children will lose interest in helping the Bubble Guppies. They’ll remain silent in a curious hope that the failure to find a triangle will result in the genocide of the merman race, as if their civilization rested upon baiting kids into talking toward television screens. It’s a futile experiment, of course; somehow, the Bubble Guppies keep getting renewed, no matter how hard your kids try.

“The Penguins of Madagascar” If you’re anything like me, your second question upon hearing the title of this show was “There are penguins in Madagascar?” (Your first question was “Madagascar? That’s a thing?”) This series is a spin-off of the movie -- you guessed it -- Madagascar, with the quartet of penguin characters serving as the focal point.

The penguins spend their time trying to escape the zoo or something, I guess. It doesn’t really matter what they’re doing. Whatever they’re trying to accomplish, they’re doing it badly because they keep showing up in the same setting every week, then complaining about it for half an hour.

My main problem with this show is the character voicing. The penguins feature a hodgepodge of dialects that don’t make any sense at all within the context. It’s almost a New Jersey-type accent. Granted, I’ve never actually been to Madagascar, but I’m pretty sure the locals don’t all sound like Snooki.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bill Murray Was Right

I wouldn’t call myself an “animal lover,” but I’m reasonably close. I’m a “cat person” and everything, but I just wouldn’t go so far as to file myself in that category.
To me, the phrase “animal lover” conjures mental images of tree-hugging hippie douchebags throwing buckets of fake blood on fur-wearing celebrities.
The throwing things at celebrities part of that is cool (stupid celebrities! That’ll teach ‘em to be successful at their craft!) but I’m not so comfortable with the tree-hugging hippie douchebag part of it. But I digress.

My feelings about other animals aside, I’ve got issues with Groundhog Day. Lots of issues. Who was the paint-chip-eating moron who came up with this holiday? Hey, here’s a great idea: Let’s pretend that a sorry excuse for a beaver has omniscient control over the seasons! Who cares if it makes no sense whatsoever, it’ll be fun!
If the groundhog sees his shadow, there’s supposed to be six more weeks of winter in store for the country. If he doesn’t, spring will come early. How about we forego all the groundhog crap and just look up at the damn sky? If it’s cloudy, then no shadows. If the sun is out, you’ve got shadows.
Wow, that was easy. Letting alone the fact that this logic has absolutely no bearing on predicting the weather, it does prove that bringing a freakin’ groundhog into the mix is not only unnecessary, but completely insane.

If you’ve ever seen the movie Groundhog Day (which is an awesome movie, and the only good thing to come from this holiday), then you’re aware that there’s actually an annual ceremony devoted to this nonsense.
Every year, thousands of easily amused douche-holes descend on Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to partake of the festivities. Everyone gathers at a place called “Gobbler’s Knob”—a phrase which brings so many crude jokes to mind that every time I consider it, I fear that my head may explode.
At Gobbler’s Knob, the crowd eagerly watches to see what kind of weather the “official” groundhog will predict for the rest of the season. Yes, there’s an “official” groundhog, if you were unaware. His name is Punxsutawney Phil.

Punxsutawney Phil is treated like some sort of hairy deity at this ceremony, even though he’d probably much rather be somewhere else giving people rabies or eating his own poop—you know, normal groundhog stuff. The following information was taken from a news site, just to show you that I am not exaggerating any of this:

The groundhog's full name is actually "Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators and Weather Prophet Extraordinary." It was so proclaimed by the "Punxsutawney Groundhog Club" in 1887, the same year they declared Punxsutawney to be the weather capital of the world.
For most of the year, Phil lives in a climate-controlled home at the Punxsutawney Library. He is taken to Gobbler's Knob and placed in a heated burrow underneath a simulated tree stump on stage before being pulled out at 7:25 am on Groundhog Day, February 2, to make his prediction.

Wow. He lives better than I do, and he only has to work one day a year—just like that lazy bastard Santa Claus. I’m in the wrong line of work.

These people need a new hobby. I don’t have anything against groundhogs in general (there’s a very large groundhog who splits his time between my neighbor’s shed and his vacation home beneath my porch. To his credit, he‘s never called the cops on me or anything), but this just goes to show how easily cold-climate people can lose their minds during a long winter. You don’t see people in Arizona standing outside in February. They’re too busy putting on sunscreen and thinking about how awesome it is to not have frostbite.

All of this makes me want to start my own senseless holiday tradition. On Presidents’ Day, I’m going to dress my cat in a fake beard and a stovepipe hat. Then I’ll pull her out of a suitcase and have her predict the winner of “American Idol.”

Yeah, that sounds like a plan.

Here, kitty-kitty…

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

1987: It Was A Good Year

1987 was a landmark year for popular culture.

Moviegoers were astounded by the Shakespearean acting talents of Tom Selleck, Ted Danson and Steve Gutenberg in Three Men and a Baby.

George Michael was shaking his denim-clad booty in up-close camera shots in the “Faith” video. (And still no one accurately concluded, “You know what? I think he might be gay.”)

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” premiered on TV, and somehow a quartet of crime-fighting reptiles and their rodent sensei seemed like a perfectly reasonable set-up for a show.

All of these pop culture phenomena pale in comparison to Nintendo’s release of The Best Game Ever in the History of Recorded Time on This Planet or Any Other. I am referring, of course, to “Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out.”

If you were one of the three people alive on Earth in 1987 who didn’t own a copy of “Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out,” you missed out on the perfect video game. In “Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out,” you play as Little Mac, a plucky seventeen-year-old boxer from The Bronx. Your goal is to guide Little Mac through a series of boxing matches and work your way up to the world championship fight against Mike Tyson.

In your corner is your trainer, Doc, who probably isn’t an actual doctor since he looks like he weighs about 280 and has been munching PCP for the last three days.

Sounds easy, right? Well, it’s not. Standing in the way of your journey toward a world championship belt are some of the most colorful characters in the history of video games. Here are rundowns of your opponents:

Minor Circuit:

Glass Joe:
To begin your quest, the game offers up Glass Joe, who is a complete and utter pussy. There’s little strategy involved in beating him; just wail away until he falls.

Von Kaiser:
This guy’s a little tougher, but still kind of a pussy.

Piston Honda:
Ahh…your first real challenge. Piston Honda is a huge, badass-looking Asian dude who will happily turn your face into a spattering lump of Hamburger Helper. This is where dodging and counterpunching really come into play.

Major Circuit:

Don Flamenco:
Also kind of a pussy.

King Hippo:
If you were a kid playing “Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out” in 1987, King Hippo was likely a thorn in your side for weeks. That is, until you figured out the key to beating him, which was a well-placed punch in the mouth, causing his pants to fall down. How did Nintendo know that the sight of a fat dude in heart-print boxers would be so hilarious?

Great Tiger:
After the frustration of King Hippo comes the frustration of Great Tiger. This dude looks like some kind of gypsy-terrorist with his turban and douchey facial hair. Come to think of it, he sort of resembles “Cigar Guy” from that Tiger Woods photo.

Bald Bull:
After the frustration of King Hippo and Great Tiger comes the aggravation of Bald Bull. There are dudes out there who started playing this game in 1987 and still haven’t beaten Bald Bull.

World Circuit:

Piston Honda:
Wait a minute, didn’t I already fight this guy? Yes you did, and you have to do it again, only this time he’s more difficult.

Soda Popinski:
Ya see that, kids? Drinking excessive amounts of soda pop will make you big and strong. It will also make you a Polock, though, so it’s a trade-off.

Bald Bull:
Wait a minute, didn’t I already fight this guy? Yes, you did, and you have to do it again, only this time he’s more difficult.

Don Flamenco:
Wait a minute, didn’t I….ah, you get the idea.

Mr. Sandman:
This dude freaking sucks. He’s quick, he’s strong, and he’ll mop the floor with you and laugh over your dilapidated body. He’d probably spit on you too, if Nintendo had possessed that sort of pixelation capability in 1987.

Super Macho Man:
This dude also freaking sucks, only not as badly as the last guy. Super Macho Man is a Jersey Shore-style arrogant, over-tanned douchebag, so beating his ass is pretty darn fun.

The Dream Fight:

Mike Tyson:
Welcome to the ultimate fight in “Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out.” This bout features a pre-rape-allegation Tyson in all his gap-toothed glory. If you’re not careful, this fight will be over in three seconds. If you are careful, it will be over in five seconds. Either way, you’re toast.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

How to Give Your Child a Bath

In order to ensure the harmony of your household, you must only bathe your children when absolutely necessary, or once every couple of months. Of course, there are exceptions, such as when you’ve got company coming over, or if the government sends a representative by the house to question your parenting methods.

This type of sporadic bathing is an ideal situation for all parties involved. Kids love being stinky and dirty; it’s a status-symbol for them. To a child, being dirty is a sign of life experience and maturity, kind of like iPads and gourmet coffee for us, only less pompous and douchebaggy.

Sometimes visitors just drop by the house though, and those without children probably won’t understand the social complexities of your filthy two-year-old. In these cases, lying is necessary. If a houseguest comes by your home unexpectedly and mentions anything about the smell emanating from your children, don’t panic. Just smile, nod and blame it on the dog. If you don’t own a dog, you should adopt one solely for this purpose.

When you’ve had enough of your stinky child and decide that it’s bath time, make sure to do some preparations first. Fill the tub with water heated to exactly 99.48 degrees. This is absolutely crucial to a successful bath. If you deviate from this number at all, there are dire consequences: too cold and your child will go into hypothermic shock; too warm and your child will spend the entire bath peeing on your arm.

Once you’ve got the bathwater at the correct temperature, you’ll need to load the tub with toys, and I mean LOAD it. Get enough toys in there so that you’ll actually have to make room for your child. Children won’t bathe in a tub that isn’t the exact equivalent of a Toys R’ Us aisle, so just roll your kid’s toy box into the bathroom and dump it. It doesn’t matter that none of these toys were actually “designed” to be put in a bath, and for that matter are probably “dangerous” if they get wet. That’s what lawyers are for.

It’s usually not difficult to coax a child into a tub full of water. Kids are genetically programmed to be attracted to any substance which they can use to make a colossal mess. Once you’ve got him in there, the fun really begins.

Trying to bathe a child is not unlike trying to bathe a cat. He’ll scream, he’ll cry, he’ll claw you, and he’ll try to climb the walls in a desperate attempt to escape the shampoo lather. By the time you’ve got him reasonably clean, most of the water from the tub will be in your clothes and you’ll have intelligent mildew colonies living on your bathroom walls.

It’s a law of Nature that your children will become dirty again after you’ve bathed them, usually within about twenty seconds. As a responsible parent, you should cover your children’s skin with Armor-All or Thompson’s Water Seal after every bath. This way, you can simply hose them down whenever they get dirty.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Traveling and Vacationing with your Children

When you’ve got kids, will lose your mind from time to time. This is a given. It’s also understandable. Your house is never clean, your child is never sleeping, and you haven’t bathed in three days. Mother Theresa herself would have given up long ago.

During these periods of insanity, the best course of action is to remove yourself from the situation—which means getting out of the house for a while (or ingesting rat poison, but I’m assuming you’re not quite that desperate yet). What you need is a vacation.

Vacations and day-trips are palette cleansers for the soul; welcome refills of your internal battery juices. A stress-relieving getaway can be just what you need to conquer your case of the crazies.

You’ll probably be bringing your children with you when you take that stress-relieving getaway—even though your children are likely the source of your stress. To combat this wicked irony, you’ll want to make sure you’re suitably prepared before you walk out the door.


When it comes to packing a child’s suitcase for a trip, it’s important to remember this one simple rule: More is always better.

Overdo it. Go nuts. Pack everything you can think of that is, has ever been, or might someday have any sort of association with your child. If you find yourself debating whether or not to pack that stuffed teddy bear that your kid hasn’t so much as glanced at since 2006, you’d better put it in the suitcase. If you don’t, your child will want it.

And scream about it.
At a very inopportune time.
Like when you’re changing lanes in rush-hour traffic.
Bring the teddy bear.

The next areas of packing preparation you’ll need to think about are food and drinks to be consumed during the ride, which are a necessity if you’ll be in the car for any period of time longer than fifteen minutes. Staples of “travelin’ snacks” include juice boxes, crackers, chips and anything else that your child can wedge between the seat cushions of your car.

As a matter of fact, your child probably won’t even eat any of these snacks because he’ll be far too busy squashing them into crumbs which he can then mash into the floorboard.

That’s okay, though. The important thing is to keep him occupied. Just keep repeating Parenting Mantra #48 to yourself: “At least he’s being quiet.”

Parenting Mantra #62 is also useful in this situation: “I’ll clean that up later.”

Getting your child into the car:

When leaving for a trip, the most effective (and maybe the only) time to get your child into the car is approximately three a.m. There is a small window of unconsciousness in a child’s sleep cycle at this exact time, and it’s possible to move him without waking him up.

In order to pull this off successfully, though, you’re going to have to make some preparations. If you shower and pack all of your suitcases the night before, you’ll be able to set your alarm for 2:55.

When you wake up, pull yourself up off the floor (because if you followed my earlier advice, you packed your bed and everything else in your room), scoop up your child and toss him into the car before he has any idea what’s going on.

If you must get your child into the car while he’s still awake, there are a few methods by which this can be accomplished.

The Slingshot Method:

1. Using high-tension springs and duct tape, fashion a crude slingshot across the inside of your car door.
2. Place your child in the slingshot.
3. Pull back and let go. Your child is now in the car, and likely needs medical attention.

The “Go Fetch” Method:

1. Find your child’s favorite toy.
2. Dangle it in front of him, repeating “Nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah.”
3. Throw the toy into the car.

The Mountain Lion Method:

1. Get a mountain lion. You can probably find one on a mountain somewhere. Or on the internet.
2. Position the mountain lion behind your child.
3. Yell “Look out! It’s a mountain lion!” and open the car door. If the mountain lion gets in the car and your child doesn’t, go back to step two. If the mountain lion and your child get in the car, call it a draw and just take them both.

Keeping your children occupied while driving:

Your kids will try to distract you while you’re driving. Children love seeing just how crazy they can make their parents. It’s like a sport to them, and since they’re too short to play basketball, it’s all they’ve got.

While you’re in the car, there are several things you can do to try and keep your children occupied. Here are brief rundowns of a few:

The license plate game:

This is an old standard that’s been around since the horse-and-buggy days. Your kids can pass the time by seeing how many different states they can identify on the license plates of neighboring motorists.

The fun won’t last too long, though. Your kids will only be able to spot a few different plates because your state sucks and no one wants to come there. It’s a real let-down.

The “Get a semi driver to honk his horn” game:

Another go-to pastime in the annals of kid travel. Every time you pass a semi on the highway, your kids make furious pumping motions with their arms, signaling the driver to honk his horn. It’s an entertaining game, but realistically there are only two possible outcomes:

1. The semi driver honks his horn.
2. The semi driver gives your kids the finger.

The “Let’s see who can be the quietest” game:

Kids are wise to this one, and you’ll be lucky if you can convince them to participate for more than a few seconds. This game involves you saying “Let’s see who can be the quietest!” like it’s the freaking greatest-sounding idea in the history of recorded time. Your kids will then pick up on your enthusiasm and give it a try. You’ll have approximately .0072 seconds of peace until they realize that it’s a stupid game and start yelling again.

The “Let’s see who can drink the most vodka” game:

Here’s a fun activity that you can participate in with your children. As an added bonus, since your body mass is much higher than your children’s, you’ll always win. Just make sure to hide the vodka bottle if you pass a cop.
Warning: This might be illegal. I’m not sure.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mountains and Molehills

I mow my lawn as infrequently as possible. I’ll “let it go” for upwards of three months, until the point that I see tigers and rainforest tribesmen taking up residence within my grass. Then, with much reluctance, I’ll fire up the ol’ tractor and speed through the chore as quickly as I can.

I’m not sure where this lack of enthusiasm for mowing the lawn originated. My best guess is that it all started back when I was a teenager. If I was in need of spending money, and my parents weren’t in the mood to give handouts (which was always), I was relegated to “earning” cash by doing “work,” which “sucked.”

As a naïve teen, I normally elected to get money by mowing the lawn. The idea seemed simple enough: All I had to do was ride a mower around the yard for an hour while daydreaming about what I was going to do with my whopping five-dollar payout. Easy, right?


There were several factors that hindered the completion of my lawn-mowing chore. First of all, our family’s mower had only four speeds. Fourth gear—the top velocity possible—wasn’t any faster than the swift pace achieved by an elderly woman with orthopedic shoes and a walker. One—the lowest speed—was roughly equivalent to glacial movement. Needless to say, by the time I finished mowing the lawn, the grass had fully grown back to the height it was when I started.

Even if I did attempt to push the mower into fourth gear and achieve the breakneck speed of 1/8 MPH, my parents would always freak out. They’d burst out of the house screaming, “That’s way too fast! Don’t go over ‘glacier gear’!” and I’d have to dial it down. It was like that movie Speed, only the exact opposite. And no fun. (Okay, never mind. It was the same.)

Fast-forward to last week. I was mowing the lawn, with my usual unabashed enthusiasm, and I noticed that the yard looked…different.

Exactly how “different” I can’t say, but I can tell you that the yard contained far more dirt than it should have. As a matter of fact, certain sections of it had abandoned the classification of “grass” and moved into “scorched earth.” These sections were crisscrossed with mounds of torn dirt stretching miniature trails around my lawn.

Upon closer inspection, and after several hours of exhaustive ecological research (which is the kind of research consisting of drinking a beer, staring at the ground and scratching my head), I determined that the hilly paths of dirt were mole burrows.

At first, I was overjoyed. No grass means no mowing, right? Thanks mole, feel free to dig up the rest of the yard. Now if I can teach you to perform rudimentary plumbing repairs, we’ll be all set.

Then something came over me.

I became angry with this mole. He had encroached upon my territory, defiled my property and hadn’t even bothered send me a check for his share of the mortgage. What a jerk. I felt violated.
It’s on, mole. It’s on.

I declared war on this mole, resigning myself to the fact that I would not rest until he was banished from my yard forever—or until I got tired. I thought of all the great military men in American history: Ulysses S. Grant, George Patton, Lieutenant Dan, Cap’n Crunch. What would they do in a wartime lawn crisis such as this?

The answer was obvious: They’d ask the internet.

My Google search of “getting rid of a mole” yielded 502,000 results. Unfortunately, most of these referred to the “skin mole” variety. Many of the rest catered to the “organized crime mole” category. After spending a considerable amount of time sifting through unrelated pages (and pausing to do some “relevant research” on a fantasy football site), I found what I was looking for.

A mole’s sustenance comes from earthworms and grubs. The tunnels they dig come as a result of their search for these creepy-crawly treats. Apparently, large sections of my yard are veritable buffets of invertebrate goodness.

So, the most straightforward solution to a mole problem is to rid the yard of its food supply. The mole will leave the area in search of more bountiful property (which is to say “the neighbors’ yard”). There are several lawn fertilizer products on the market that will kill earthworms and grubs. All I would have to do is buy one and spread it over my yard.

Executing this, however, requires actual work—work that I didn’t really feel like doing—so I ultimately decided against it. Besides, I like my slimy lawn bugs right where they are; I might need them someday. They could come in handy if I ever decide to pull an earthworm-themed prank on one of my kids.

I checked out some of the other options for getting rid of moles and eliminated them one by one. They were either too time-consuming, too expensive, or required me get up off the chair. Also, none of them involved explosions or the cast from “The A-Team.” Bummer.

Considering the fact that it’s almost October, I’ve decided to let the mole problem go for now. I’m pretty much finished mowing until spring (hallelujah), and my lawn is about to receive the monumental pimp-slap of Midwestern winter. I would imagine that my mole will soon be passed out for the next six months anyway, dreaming sugarplum visions of hitting Vegas with Sonic the Hedgehog.

I’ll confront the problem again when the weather gets better. Maybe by that time the guys from “The A-Team” will have dropped by and given me a few pointers.

Until then, sweet dreams, mole. Sweet dreams.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Dudes Can Be Fairies Too, Right?

Here's an older blog entry I found. I wrote it when my oldest daughter lost her first tooth.

I’m sure I had conversations with my parents about the Tooth Fairy, but I don’t remember what was said. As a matter of fact, I don't remember anything before the Who Shot J.R.? episode of “Dallas.” I must have killed those particular brain cells with beer.
As a result, I was quite unprepared for the intricacies contained in being the father of a child losing her first tooth, and the doors to adulthood that it would open.

As soon as we became aware of our daughter Taylor‘s first loose tooth, my wife and I began offering support and advice.
"Just keep wiggling it," we'd say. “It will fall out and you can put it under your pillow. The Tooth Fairy will come during the night. She'll take your tooth and leave money. It's totally a win-win situation for you."

Taylor seemed pretty intrigued about the idea, but she had made it abundantly clear that she would not try to force the tooth out. She wanted to wait until it fell away on its own. I was somewhat dejected upon hearing this, as it had been my plan to tie her tooth to a gasoline-powered rocket made from my lawn mower engine and “see what happened.” Eventually, I relented and let nature take its course.

Things went on rather uneventfully until Taylor’s tooth finally did come out one night as she was brushing. It bounced across the porcelain of the sink, nearly sliding into the drain. I snatched it up just before it tumbled into oblivion.

Once the tooth was securely in our possession, I made big deal out of the occasion, congratulating Taylor and making sure not to mention that she now bore a striking resemblance to Mike Tyson. After all, losing your first tooth is one of those iconic childhood moments that a person never forgets. I didn't want her to be working this out in therapy at age forty:

"Well, doctor, my life started to go downhill when I lost my first tooth. Daddy didn't seem to care too much. Then I tried heroin."

That evening at bedtime, I took Taylor through the usual routine. I tucked her tooth beneath an extra pillow (making sure to put it close to the edge of the mattress, as to facilitate an easier retrieval) and everything was set.

I was coasting through the bedtime process, thinking that this whole “fatherhood” thing was pretty easy to master. Then Taylor started asking a lot of questions that I wasn't quite prepared for:

"Daddy, How big is the Tooth Fairy?"
"Oh, she's about this big,” I said as I held my hands six inches apart.
"How does the Tooth Fairy get into my room?"
"Umm...she flies in through the window."
"But how does she get through the window if it’s closed?"

It was then that I realized she had inherited my imagination as well as my penchant for rational thinking. We are all doomed. Especially me.

"I don't know, honey. She just twinkles her nose and junk. She's magic."
"We need to open up the window so she can get in!"

Of course, by saying “We need to open the window,” she meant “You need to open the window,” resulting in twenty minutes spent fumbling through the blinds and coaxing the locks open.

Once that was done, I turned around and gave her forehead a goodnight kiss, trying desperately not to think of the money wasted trying to heat the house all night with an open window.

My wife had given me a five-dollar bill to place underneath Taylor’s pillow for her “Tooth Fairy money” (I think I only got a quarter or a Home Depot coupon or something for each one of my teeth, but I'm sure the current price of oil is also affecting the tooth market), and since I was “The Man," it was pretty much a given that I'd be sneaking the money in there once I confirmed that she was asleep.

Around ten o' clock, I got up to go to the bathroom and peeked into her room. She was out cold.
Clutching the fiver in my hand, I tiptoed inside.

There I stood in the threshold of the doorway, facing a slumbering five-year-old and a very curious cat who had been watching my every move since entering the room. I was immediately reminded of the opening twenty minutes of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Everybody knows the scene: Indiana Jones emerges into the main hall of a forbidden temple. He places cautious steps around all the booby traps and other assorted deadly stuff on the floor. His eyes grow wide beholding the treasure before him: a small idol made of pure gold, no doubt worth millions. Maybe even billionty-millions.

Indiana tiptoes his way up to the idol and strokes his sweet five o' clock shadow as he decides how to make the exchange. He pulls a bag of sand out of his pocket (because everyone carries a bag of sand in their pockets) and, measuring with his eye, gauges the weight of the idol so that he can quickly switch them out.

After a heavy breath, he swaps the bag of sand for the idol. He exhales in relief as he realizes his calculations are correct. Then he runs the hell out of the room, chased by stones and poison-tipped arrows.

I had to go through the exact same thing.

Instead of booby traps, I had to silently make my way around the sea of Barbies and My Little Ponies that littered the floor. Once I arrived at Taylor's bed, I did a very smooth exchange of tooth for money. It was freaking ninja-like. I was beaming with self-worth until the cat started meowing, which was my signal to run.

I turned and hop-scotched my way out, checking over my shoulder for any poison-tipped arrows that may have been following. There was none, and I collapsed in the hallway, breathless and wondering just what I could get on Ebay for a “slightly used” tooth.

Taylor never woke up.

All in all, things went pretty smoothly. I was quite proud of myself until I realized that I will have to do this another four hundred times for all of her and my two other daughters’ teeth.
From now on, maybe I'll wear a pink dress and some cardboard wings just in case.