Ignore parenting is the best parenting

Here at No Strike That we believe that children should neither be seen nor heard, because we’ve got a box of wine that isn’t going to drink itself.

Without question, the best place for children is grandma’s house boarding school. Unfortunately, although I am very well endowed in many places (ahemI drive a Mini Cooper), I come up a little short where it really matters– in the wallet. Since blogging isn’t paying much these days I have to settle for telling them to bugger off go away.

Sure he LOOKS harmless enough... but the dog knows what's up. He's a 36 inch Draco Malfoy in the making.
Sure he LOOKS harmless enough… but he’s actually 36 inches of Satan’s Spawn in the making. Check out the dog– she knows what’s up.

Too much of a good thing

Some time in between Roosevelt and Reagan (I can’t place precisely when it happened) parents decided it was important that they spend Quality Time with their kids. Lead their children in play. Mold their minds. Get involved!

This turned out to be a horrible idea.

50s Dads

Article after article makes the case that over-involvement in the lives of our children deeply and profoundly injures them up for a very long time. My completely unscientific theory that validates my own awesomeness is that we confused us with them.

Us vs. Them

Ever since the Rhesus Monkey Experiments, as a culture we have been trying to be the cuddly monkey all the time. We have succeeded beyond our wildest imaginings, and in doing so a generation of parents have completely gimped a generation of children.

I am personally ecstatic, because while my kids are handicapped by my unfortunate DNA I can raise some lean mean machines who will eat lesser children for breakfast as they hunt each other down Hunger Games-style for minimum wage McJobs.

I don’t think the kids from District 1 had their parents write their Hunger Games application essay, do you?

They’ve gotten to be this way because I’ve done my best to ignore them. On purpose.

As adults, we have figured out most of the necessary elements of life. For example, I am a master at:

  1. Transporting food into my mouth with over 99% accuracy (assuming alcohol isn’t involved)
  2. Sitting in a chair without falling out of it (assuming alcohol isn’t involved)
  3. Not pooping myself (assuming alcohol isn’t involved)

You know who’s not good at these things? My kids. The oldest, who’s 11, still occasionally, and for no apparent reason, falls out of his chair. I thought it might be an inner ear thing at first, but no… he’s just 11. According to his teachers, this is quite common for kids his age.

WHAT.

THE.

ACTUAL.

MRRRGL.

It makes no sense to me. Even though I was (at least on paper) a child at some point the “Why” of so much of what my kids do escapes me. I need peace, quiet, and my box of wine. My kids need to be loud, rowdy, and strapped in to their chairs at dinner because I SWEAR ON THE HOLY BIBLE IF YOU TOUCH YOUR SISTER ONE MORE TIME YOU’RE EATING BY YOURSELF IN YOUR ROOM. Ahem.

The best God is an absent God

Consider this scenario. It’s Monday, you’re late for an important appointment. You’re stuck in traffic and you mutter a prayer. A screenplay breaks out.

“Please, oh Lord, let me make it on time, because rescheduling this one will be a real bear.”

Suddenly, the Lord Almighty is in the passenger seat.

OF COURSE, MY CHILD. LET ME PART THE TRAFFIC.

“My God is an Awesome God!”

You make it to your appointment on time, and then you come back and the Lord Almighty is still sitting in the car.

“Hey God, what are we going to do this afternoon?”

WHATEVER YOU WANT.

“Yay! Let’s eat fried chicken and get really fat!”

SOUNDS GOOD TO ME.

6 months later…

[You’re 50 pounds overweight with Type 2 diabetes and God is still here.]

“Hey God, this has been fun and all… but when are you going to leave?”

WHEN YOU ARE LEADING A HAPPY AND PRODUCTIVE LIFE, OF COURSE.

“Oh… thanks God. I guess. Can I have some more fried chicken?”

OF COURSE, MY CHILD.

10 years later…

[Scene: Therapist’s office. There is a sea-foam green couch, which you and Him are sitting upon. The Therapist is sitting in a worn brown swivel chair. The rhododendron needs watering.]

Therapist: “This is a safe place. We can all feel free to express ourselves here. Why don’t You go first, O Lord?”

ALL I EVER WANTED WAS FOR MY CHILD TO BE HAPPY. NOT SIN. LIVE FOREVER. IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?

You: *weeps silently*

[fade to black]

The key to a successful human existence is that we have to believe we have choices. Free will. Deny our children the opportunity to make meaningful choices and all that we leave them is meaningless choices.

Nikes or Sketchers?

Applebees or Red Robin?

For so much of our children’s lives, we are their God. We control when they rise, when they sleep. What they eat, what they wear. I can fix anything and my wife’s kiss can heal all injuries, at least according to all of my kids at a young age. The temptation to never stop, though, can be overpowering. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

We never allow free will.

The truth, the real Truth, is that freedom is horrible, because when you are truly free you are truly responsible.

We can’t blame anyone else for our miserable lives, because it’s our miserable life.

Yet at the same time, when we triumph, it’s ours. When we master ourselves, it is ours. When we are redeemed, it’s because we had the strength all along.

Happiness is autonomy. While we all want a nice soft mommy monkey to cuddle, we still all want to be able to go off into the world and screw up as we see fit. So when you see me at the playground, and I’m looking at my phone, feel free to raise an eyebrow, but don’t help my kid on the jungle gym. I’m mostly ignoring him mostly on purpose.

Deprive your children of autonomy and you deprive them of happiness.

It’s really that simple.

Shout out to my visitors from cameforthebargains.com! Who I understand are a lot like the mafia, but with sippy cups. And vodka.

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The hidden dangers of Minecraft (not what you think!)

There’s a pretty good chance that if you’re reading this, you own a computer, and as the saying goes, if you own a computer, eventually your child is going to bug the high holy bejezzus out of you to buy them Minecraft.

In it’s simplest form, Minecraft is a lot like virtual legos.

The only drawback is that virtual bricks have less defensive capabilities against nocturnal barefoot intruders

Where we get into trouble is that there’s more to Minecraft than just Minecraft.

By that I mean Minecraft mods.

Mod?

A “mod”, for the non-gamey types, is a home-grown “modification” to an existing program. The act of modding games has been around almost for as long as the games themselves, and some game companies have decided to build their games in such a way as to make this easier. This, by and large, is a good thing. Games get longer lifespans because fan communities find ways to extend the game, and generations of new programmers are born by creating the mods. So far, so good.

Minecraft has a large, devoted following, including many talented adults (and more than a few teens) who have lent their free time to developing mods. Some of these mods are very simple (like giving your in-game character a pet dragon), and some are very complex (adding new game modes like capture the flag that are not in the base game). Your child will hear about mods from a friend, because if you combine any group of pre-adolescent children together, they will talk about Minecraft eventually. Then your child will Google “minecraft mods”, and be completely and utterly entranced by having a pet dragon. They will download a mod.

And your computer will be well and truly hosed.

Like losing a knife fight to a leprechaun

Mods are hosted on aggregator sites, and those sites make their living off advertising. The number one kind of advertising on these sites are scummy adware downloader crap.

Yes, it improves your ability to download. Their crap.
Yes, it improves your ability to download. Their crap.

This is an actual screen grab of a download site. Now I am a fairly technically-savvy person, but I have to stare at this page for a few minutes before I realize I shouldn’t click a SINGLE DAMN THING on the page. Your average minecraft-addicted child? Not a chance. It’s like a sketchy van with a sign on it that says “Free candy”.

Before you know it, your computer has turned into a truck stop bathroom complete with glory holes and feces wallpaper.

Your pop-ups have pop-ups.

Then, to rub some salt into the already nicely lemoned wounds, the little ingrates complains that “The computer doesn’t work”.

STOP FORNICATING ANYTHING THAT BLINKS BOY! ANY GIRL THAT SAYS SHE’LL MAKE YOUR DOWNLOADS FASTER IS A WHORE!

What to do

If you haven’t already, install the ad-blocker extension for the browsers on the computer the kid uses. Your virus detection probably won’t help you much here.

With Ad-Blocker installed, the spammy stuff never loads and instead your child is presented with this:

This will not give you computer AIDS.
This will not give you computer Ebola.

Ad-blocker is a wonderful thing. Get it now.

The other thing you can do is make sure your child has their own account on the computer, and it’s set up for kids. Mac users have an advantage here over Windows, because Mac OS has much better user-level security controls than Windows. Even with Windows 8, which has the best family safety controls of any Windows version to date, it’s still very possible for a user to inadvertently install an application.

Here’s a good article for how to do this on a Mac.

Here’s a good article for how to do this on Windows 8.

If either of these articles are beyond your technical abilities, find yourselves a good high-school nerd and flash them some side boob/leave out some booze as appropriate.

With these measures in place, you are going to filter out a lot of the bad stuff before it ever gets to your computer. There are still bad guys taking advantage of Minecraft’s popularity to insert viruses into popular mods, but here your more old-fashioned virus protection stuff can help you. I prefer Kapersky, because the company was founded by an Ex-KGB spook, which is pretty badass.

Just keep digging…

As a parent and a gamer, I tried to get into Minecraft but I think the part of me that could build anything other than a house with four walls died somewhere around age 16 so I could never get too into it. All of my kids who are old enough to operate a mouse, however, love it, and it’s fascinating as a parent to watch how each child interacts with the game.

My 6 year old is constantly starting over- building from scratch is part of the fun for him. My 9 year old daughter is stereotypically obsessed with the virtual cats and dogs and horses that populate the game, and my 11 year old has figured out how to connect to other computers so he can swear at other people over the Internet in competitive Minecraft (sometimes called PVP, or player versus player). Overall, it’s been a net-positive for the kids.

There has been some coverage in the media about whether or not it’s an “addiction”, but these are the same old arguments that have been rehashed since I was a kid in the 80s and 60 minutes did a story on how Dungeons and Dragons would cause your kids to commit suicide, or some bullsh**. The world of children only occasionally intersects with reality, and that’s always hard for parents to deal with.  Video games are freaking awesome, and they’ve killed off a lot of competition in the entertainment universe.

Sorry puzzles, you're fucked.
Sorry puzzles, you’re hosed too.

Like anything else, it just comes down to good old fashioned, low-tech parenting. Turn off the screens, kick them outdoors, and ignore them to the best of your abilities. However, taking a few steps to bubble-wrap your kid’s adventures on the Internet will go a long way to cutting down the amount of PC repair you have to do and prevent any long term damage that might come up.

Shout-out to the Lunatic Autism Mom for the blog post inspiration!

5 New Parent Quote Gifts Unquote

In the history of cons, the baby product market is the greatest 67 Billion dollar con in the world. Any first-time parent with a household income above the “Pork and Beans” level is data-mined and then bombarded with inducements to buy the most amazingly worthless shit in your choice of either pastel or primary colors.

Exhibit A: Baby Bath Hats.

It's a hat. For the baby. In the bath.
It’s a hat. For the baby. In the bath.

A quick Google search reveals that this is, in fact, a real thing and not just one demented person’s “invention”.

There are multiple manufacturers of baby bath hats.

I will let this sink in a minute.

(I’ll be over here humming “God Bless America”, let me know when you’re done.)

I’m not even going to get into the whole “Starving Kids in Africa would like to eat your baby or their bath hat” thing.

In fact, there is just so much baby stuff out there, how are you supposed to know what you should buy for your exercise in chromosonal vanity what you absolutely need? Or, even better, how do you know what that family member who waited to have their first child and laughed at you while you raised yours will need? WHAT WILL BE THE PERFECT GIFT? I may also be nursing a grudge.

Fear not! I have successfully reproduced four times, and have representative children of each gender.

You Can Trust Me, I Have A Blog.

1. Anything that plays music

Via The Bump Blog

Gimme some sugar, I am your neighbor!
Gimme some sugar, I am your neighbor!

The first time I saw this, I clicked past it because it looks like ordinary primary color plastic drek. As the next page was loading, my eye caught on “Hey Ya”. Because Ludacris has not done enough harm to this world, now he has to molest the ears of newborns. As a new parent, you can’t go wrong with anything that makes music, because it helps muffle your quiet sobbing.

2. A Clock

Again, Via The Bump Blog. I can totally do this blogging thing.

Make sure your little superstar learns it’s never too early to be early, early.

For my children, all of the spots on the clock are numbered "NOW"
For my children, all of the spots on the clock are numbered “NOW”

If there’s one thing children immediately understand and value, it’s time. Snigger. For example, when you’re trying to leave the house, your toddler appreciates the time necessarily to take off the shoes you put on him because HE didn’t put them on ALL BY HIMSELF. Or that 4:30 AM is an inhuman time to be awake unless your name is preceded by “Sargent”. Kids totally get that. So get a clock to help them out.

 

3. A Shopping Cart Cover

via thisisnext.com

My mommy hates minorities!

If you ever see a woman with a child in one of these in a grocery store, I can tell you that it is safe to assume she’s horrible in bed (unless your idea of a good time is lots of Lysol and Latex).

You will never, ever see a man use this, unless his wife is standing right next to him. This has nothing to do with manliess and everything to do with evolution.

Going all the way back to our hunter-gather days, men filter out both colors and small things, because they’re not saber-tooth tigers. Sending your husband to the grocery store with a child and one of these fluffy things is a great way to make sure you end up  less children, and less sabertooth tigers, than you started with.

4. An espresso kitchen

Via yoyo.com

Mommy mommy! I made a Quinoa and organic arugula salad! Can we go back to Whole Foods today for my fair-trade alpaca cheese?

It is horribly unfair that her kitchen is both larger and nicer than mine (although her backsplash is from the Home Depot in-stock section and not special order or anything). Not that I’ve looked.

Also, I don’t see an espresso maker.

For reasons I cannot fathom, mommies all over still feel compelled to buy their little girls kitchen sets. Yes boys play with them too, but I double dog dare you to find me a mom who bought a mini kitchen for her firstborn son.

I think it’s safe to say that having a high-end replica kitchen says something about the family, and the mother, that purchases it. Such as, she’s never turned on her stove either.

5. Anything that says sensory

Via Teachersupply.com

This is almost, but not quite, brilliant. Putting the kid inside buys you just enough time to run to the can, squeeze out the poop you have been holding in all day, and running back in time to find little precious asphyxiating upside down and face first in the adjacent dog.

After four kids I have a great appreciation for baby-crap marketing speaking. It’s like Fine Art:

  • It evokes emotions in the audience (O cruel Fate, how I long for a Baby Bath Hat!)
  • The more money you have burning a hole in your pocket, the more of it you will collect

In this rarified atmosphere, the phrase “stimulates baby sensory development” is an Andy Wharhol-inspired pop commentary on the magnificent banality of parenting.

Look at my baby, drinking in colors and music like some sort of hippie cyborg baby Jesus on acid… and … what’s this? It seems to be a  miniature version of The Last Supper in his post 3rd nap diaper. Must be all of the stimulated sensory development! I am an amazing parent! When do I sign him up for Mandarin lessons?

In reality, the phrase “stimulates baby sensory development” means “This is a real thing, and not an imaginary thing.” If it exists, the baby will probably try to put some part of it in his little toothless mouth, thereby stimulating their sensory development.

Les Miserables

There is an astounding lack of common sense in this world today, and I am pretty sure the folks who possess it are (quite wisely) hoarding it from the rest of us. I do not know any of you well enough to confess to some of the inanery I have bought in my sleep-deprived new Dad coma– but I did tell my priest and that was a lot of Hail Mary’s thank you Jesus. Of all of the horrible things about being a new parent, this is the silver lining: everywhere you look, there are parents who have clearly screwed up far worse than you could ever imagine, so what’s the worst that could happen from putting little baby Miley into a shopping cart cover anyway?

On second thought…