Produced by Gary Drevitch
The FD.com kitchen is being reconstructed, which has forced the relocation of HQ to the In-law's Apartment of Solitude, aptly named since the poor online connections there make us feel as if we're all alone in the world. But we muddle through. One byproduct of the relocation, which was made sans crib, is that for the first time, Small Fellow and Tiny Girl are sharing a bed - grandma's pullout couch.
The first couple of nights went well enough, though Tiny woke up each night at about 3:30 am demanding a move to a different neighborhood with better schools. But last night, they made it all the way through the night, and at one point we checked on them, and there was Fellow's hand resting on Tiny's little shoulder.
For moments like that, yes, we will in fact put up with the two of them calling us "Stinky!" over and over and over again.
OUR COMMERCIAL SUGGESTION WAS REJECTED: A DAD AT A WENDY'S COUNTER DEMANDING, "WHERE'S THE POOP?"
Our friends at the National Fatherhood Initiative have produced a series of PSA commercials with the Ad Council, "to bring the message of involved, responsible, and committed fatherhood to the public." We have prescreened the spots, as you can here, and they're an odd mix.
Our favorite is the Godzilla and Son spot, in which The Big Fella helps his boy try to master the ancient art of breathing fire. Small Rubber-Suited Fellow can only manage a couple of smoke rings, but Gojira pats him on the back, offers a piercing shriek of encouragement, and as Junior climbs on Daddy's tail and they fly off to level Tokyo, you can't help but shed a tear.
But another ad, "Errand," is a bit odd. A big burly dad skulks about a large heath and beauty aids center, clearly embarrassed about what he's picking up. As he approaches the counter, you think, It's either condoms or maxi-pads, and neither exactly screams fatherhood. But no, it's a box of tampons. And not just any tampons, but the lamest generic package of tampons a prop department ever came up with - it's basically a bright yellow box with the words "20 TAMPONS" written on it in huge type, and nothing else. As the man brings it out to the car, we see his 12-year-old daughter looking grateful that he's made this purchase for her. All this ad does for us is raise questions like, Where's mom? and, No, really, where the Hell is her mom, or her aunt, or her lunch lady? Can't my man find any woman to get Sally through this? Maybe that's the point.
Overall, the ads are slightly amusing but don't make much of an impression. And the serious, challenging tagline, "It takes a Man to be a Dad," has no connection to the whimsical scenes in the spots.
We give it 2 stars.
HEY, THE ONLY M WE'D LIKE TO F IS OUR WIFE, SO KEEP YOUR DISTANCE, USA TODAY! YOU AND YOUR FOUL TEMPTRESSES WILL NOT WEAKEN OUR RESOLVE!
(OK, IS SHE GONE? GREAT. LET'S CHECK OUT THOSE TERI HATCHER PICTURES AGAIN.)
USA Today can always be counted on to catch up to a cultural trend within six or seven weeks of it getting old, so it was no surprise they've jumped on the "Desperate Housewives"/"MILF" phenomenon. Their angle, apparently, was finding inappropriately dressed moms in small towns around the country and asking them, What's it like to be a hot mother? The answers are edifying:
"I'm all about the low-cut (tops), the 3-inch heels, the tight clothes."
"You're handing your body and your life over to your baby, but you don't have to hand your style over to your baby."
"They don't have to have that 'I've had babies now I've lost my body' mentality."
"I'm still young enough that I shouldn't be in a bar with a turtleneck on, you know?"
We have nothing against moms wanting to look good, or dads wanting to look good, for that matter. Our Puritan background might lead us to ask why USA Today thinks that women who wear heels and open blouses are necessarily "hotter" than others. But we'll let it slide, because the article includes our FD.com Line of the Week, which comes at the end of this passage:
"There's a lot of competitive mommyhood right now," says Jane Buckingham, author of The Modern Girl's Guide to Life. "We're all trying to look the best we can, even if we have spit-up on our shoulder." Buckingham, 36, a mother of two who splits her time between Beverly Hills and Manhattan, concedes that on days when her cute clothes linger in the laundry and her not-yet-showered hair is in a ponytail, she's "too embarrassed" to walk inside her son's preschool to drop him off. So she lets him out in the alley.
Yes, she'd rather her boy was bludgeoned by a hobo in an alley than be seen in sweatpants. By all means, let's commend her.
WE DON'T KNOW ABOUT SPONGEBOB'S SEXUAL ORIENTATION, BUT WE DID OVERHEAR CHARLIE THE TUNA TALKING TO SIGMUND THE SEA MONSTER IN THE MEN'S ROOM AT THE CHINA CLUB SATURDAY NIGHT, AND HE SAID, "SIGMUND, QUEEN, YOU ARE LOOKING DANGEROUSLY HOT TONIGHT. YOU ARE LOOKING SPONGEBOB-WORTHY!"
Is SpongeBob really gay? If you've seen the enormous media coverage this week, you know that's not the issue. The issue is that Sr. Squarepants has gotten himself mixed up in a music video promoting tolerance and that has the WWJD crowd in an uproar. FD.com predicted weeks ago that this all-star kids-show recording of "We Are Family" would come to have little impact on society. Guess we were wrong.
EARLY NOMINEE FOR FD.COM QUOTE OF THE MONTH
"If Vermont Teddy Bear had produced a bear with a noose around its neck saying, 'I'd love to hang with you,' and called it a Ku Klux Klan teddy bear, the response would be overwhelming disgust and horror," said Anne Donahue, a [Vermont] Republican state representative.Well, yes, we suppose she's right. But happily, the R&D boys up at the Vermont Teddy Bear Company did not create a Grand Wizard bear. They did, however, create the new "Crazy for You" Valentine's Day bear, which comes wrapped in a straitjacket, with a "commitment tag" reading "Crazy for You." The cuddly kook has drawn fire from all four corners of the state and from national mental health organizations. However, VTBC will continue offering the bear, which has so far been a top seller, partly due to the controversy. What we love is how the promo copy on the company's Web site almost goads its critics. "Trust us. She’ll go nuts over this Bear!" the site says, then does not go on to exult, "She'll run with scissors! She'll foam at the mouth! She'll take a school bus hostage!"
"FREELANCE DAD, YOU'RE A PARENTING EXPERT WHO HAS HELPED MILLIONS OF MOMS AND DADS MAKE THEIR CHILDREN SMARTER, HAPPIER, AND HEALTHIER. BUT WHERE DO YOU GO FOR ADVICE?"
The other morning, we tuned into "Caillou," enjoying as always the shockingly tame exploits of the bald French-Canadian Fellow. When we joined the episode, already in progress, Caillou was pretending to be a toddler like his little sister Rosie, making a mess with his food, speaking in baby-talk, and otherwise annoying his mother. So she came up with a brilliant idea: If he was going to act like a baby, he would have to be treated like a baby, and that meant he'd have to take a nap, even though he didn't want one. As he so often does, Caillou said, "I don't want to," but his sage mother responded in a firm but soothing tone, "Oh, yes, Caillou, I really think you should," and he immediately acquiesced - and soon enough learned a valuable lesson about acting his age.
Now, Caillou is 4, the same age as Small Fellow, so we thought this strategy would succeed for us as well. So the next time Fellow acted like his troublesome toddler sister, we tried the same approach, and requested that our "big toddler" take a nap. At first, he said, no, just like Caillou, but we were prepared for that, and we said, "Oh, yes, Fellow, I really think you should." But he continued to protest, and, thrown off our script, we were thoroughly stymied.
Were we really inferior as a parent to Caillou's mom? This was truly a crisis of confidence. But then we realized that there must be an awful truth behind the TV family's placid French-Canadian facade. We know how Caillou's mom always gets him to do what she wants - put on his shoes, take his medicine, clean up his room - without ever having to ask three times. Back when Caillou was 3, before his show went on the air, he regularly protested about the things he didn't want to do, for hours on end, just like other three-year-olds. And then, one day, his mom put out a cigarette on the back of his hand. And he's never done it again.
We don't think we can ever watch the show again. . .
HE WAS DELIVERED BY CAESAREAN? NO KIDDING?
A mom in Brazil just gave birth to a 17-pound baby boy, and the Associated Press goes inside the story to tell us how the family feels:
The boy's father and four sibilings were reportedly surprised at the news.
DID YOU JUST HAVE A 17-POUND BABY? NOW, YOU CAN ACTUALLY TELL SOMEONE
The Journal reports this week that hospitals are easing their policies against using cell phones on their campuses, as the current generation of digital phones have been found to radiate less power, making them less of a (potential) threat to sensitive hospital equipment. Which is wonderful news for new dads who have too often been forced to keep the biggest news of their lives to themselves - at least until they can leave their wife and baby's side - or to tell friends and family from inside bathroom stalls.
And no matter how many studies they roll out about the risks cellphones were believed to pose in hospitals, FD will always be convinced that the ban was in place solely to drive patients to use hospitals' own exorbitantly priced in-room telephone networks.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT, THESE ARE THE BOOKS THAT WILL HAVE THOSE OVERISIZE GOLD-AND-SILVER-FOIL STICKERS ON THEM THIS YEAR
The American Library Association announced the winners of this year's Newbery and Caldecott Medals earlier this week at their convention in Boston. Cynthia Kadohata and Kevin Henkes took home the prizes, respectively, for “Kira-Kira” and “Kitten’s First Full Moon.” As with any prize, the top winners may not be to everyone's taste, but it's worth using that first link and scrolling down for the list of runners-up, which includes fan favorites like Mo Willems, author of past Caldecott runner-up "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus," and the new honoree, “Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale." New York City parents, by the way, can meet Willems this weekend at the JCC in Manhattan.
MEN WITH A CERTAIN FETISH WERE VERY EXCITED ABOUT THIS CONCEPT, UNTIL THEY FOUND OUT THAT THE EXCHANGE TOOK PLACE ONLINE
"Moms Sharing Breast Milk Online Causing Concerns"Sharing breast milk is apparently more widespread than we imagined from the earlier item we linked to; here, a Denver outlet looks into the clear liability issue for those peddling nature's perfect food.
YOU WANT TO PUT YOUR TEEN IN REALISTIC, DISTRACTING DRIVING SITUATIONS? PUT A HOLOGRAM OF OUR MOTHER, CIRCA 1987, IN THE FRONT PASSENGER SEAT NEXT TO THEM
This driving simulator for teens in training has been getting a good deal of press in the new year, and appears to be a brilliant innovation to make teens more attentive on the road. The simulator distracts the teen with honking horns, ringing cell phones and subliminal images of Jennifer Garner in her "Elektra" costume.
YES, AS AN ADVOCATE OF HUMAN RIGHTS FOR CHILDREN AROUND THE WORLD, WE'RE VERY PLEASED THAT QATAR IS GOING TO STOP THIS EXPLOITATIVE PRACTICE. STILL, THIS ARTICLE BURIES THE NEWS:
ROBOT JOCKEYS ARE COMING!
Qatar will ban the use of children as jockeys in its national sport, camel racing. The move is a response to human-rights protests against the poor treatment of these children. But it's also being made because, as the president of the organizing committee of camel races in Qatar, Sheik Hamad bin Jassem bin Faisal al-Thani, says,
"We are in the last phase of readying the robot jockey."Wow! This requires some follow-up from the Times Qatar bureau. We need to see robots racing camels. It has, in the span of a few moments, become our new life-long dream.
HELPING OUR TROOPS OVERSEAS - AND MAKING YOU BITTER THAT YOUR KIDS DIDN'T THINK TO DO SOMETHING LIKE THIS, INSTEAD OF WASTING AWAY THEIR POTENTIAL IN FRONT OF THE NINTENDO
THANK YOU FOR COMING TO LOEWS, SIT BACK AND RELAX - WATCH OUT FOR THE ESCALATOR!
Several Brooklyn schoolchildren were injured in an escalator malfunction at the Loews Cineplex Lincoln Square on Manhattan's Upper West Side, as they entered the theater for a 10:30 a.m. screening of "The Polar Express" on January 13. One child's baggy pants became hooked on a protruding screw, leading to the incident.
All of which is really a shame. Except -- just why was a group of 176 schoolchildren from Brooklyn on the Upper West Side to see a poorly reviewed, Christmas-themed movie on a school day in the middle of January? What, THAT didn't raise any eyebrows, New York Times?
There's no proof behind the science. The article even begins, "No hard evidence exists to show mobile phones damage health." But if you're looking for something new to worry about, step right up, we have a table waiting for you in the "Cellphones Will Kill Your Child" room.
HALF OF OUR PLATE AT EVERY MEAL SHOULD BE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES? BETTER BE A BIG PLATE.
The feds are ready to release their new dietary guidelines - eat less, don't eat so much, put down that eclair, yada yada - although a revision of the famous Food Pyramid is still to come, amid much speculation about its potential new shape and how it will affect the lifestyles of, well, virtually no one.
Freelance Dad steps into this vacuum with the Tiny Girl Food Trapezoid: A narrow bar of broccoli at the top, a second narrow bar of chicken at the bottom, and a vast center bar composed entirely of rice.
IN SEARCH OF . . . CHILDREN RAISED BY WOLVES
"Today" show contributor Dr. Gail Saltz wants your children to be better mannered - any we're completely on board with that. So during the course of a normal day recently, we tried to elevate Small Fellow and Tiny Girl's behavior through the prism of Dr. Saltz' checklist. Let's see how it went:
"If you explain the importance of manners . . . and that you want them to show you respect at the table as well (by not eating with fingers, chewing with their mouth open, etc.) you are much more likely to help them acquire the manners."
FD: Fellow, why don't you use a fork? Your fork is right there! Look, we brought you a fork! OK, now put your legs in front of you. No, Fellow, that's not how a big boy sits. Sit with your legs in front of you, then you won't make such a mess with your food!
Small Fellow: Daddy, come on!
Tiny Girl: Daddy, I want more rice.
Daddy, more rice, please.
Daddy, I want some more rice - RIGHT NOW!
Dressing appropriately and respectfully for the place you are going is a valuable skill. . . This has nothing to do with expensive clothes, but rather looking neat and appropriate.
Tiny Girl: Look, Daddy, I took off my Pull-Up!
FD: Tiny, you have to have a diaper on.
Tiny Girl: No, I don't WANT to! . . . Look, Daddy, I took off my Pull-Up!
FD: Ok, can I get you dressed then?
Tiny Girl: No, I want Mommy to get me -- DRESSED! . . . Daddy, I want yellow.
Speaking to others
The art of talking to other people is important. . . . Remembering to say "please" and "thank you" also demonstrates a respect and appreciation of the other person.
FD: Fellow, will you please put your shoes on?
Small Fellow: Daddy, stop saying THAT! Come on!
FD: Well, you need to put your shoes on or you won't be able to go to school.
Small Fellow: I think that tonight, when you get home from work, you have to go to a different house, and then after tomorrow I will call you and tell you you can come back here with us.
THE FD.COM QUOTE OF THE WEEK
The Web site www.edge.org recently asked scientists from a variety of fields this question: "What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?" About 120 have responded so far, and a while back the Times excerpted some of their replies in the Science section. Our favorite was from Alison Gopnik, a Berkeley psychologist and co-author of the parenting must-read "The Scientist in the Crib":
I believe, but cannot prove, that babies and young children are actually more conscious, more vividly aware of their external world and internal life, than adults are. I believe this because there is strong evidence for a functional trade-off with development. Young children are much better than adults at learning new things and flexibly changing what they think about the world. On the other hand, they are much worse at using their knowledge to act in a swift, efficient and automatic way. They can learn three languages at once but they can't tie their shoelaces.
For the rest of her reply, look here.
IF ANYONE AT "LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT" READS ESPN THE MAGAZINE, EXPECT TO SEE THIS RIPPED FROM THE HEADLINES BY FALL
According to ESPN the Magazine, 2 Live Crew frontman Luther Campbell just coached a Pop Warner football team to the kiddie-football national finals, by preaching discipline, hard work, and study. In fact, "Coach Luke," part-time rap provocateur, First Amendment poster child, and adult video and club impresario, has become a father figure to his young charges from Miami. As for his Captain Nasty persona? "That's his adult life, and he keeps it separate,' said the mother of twins who play on his Warriors offensive line.
But occasionally the old Luther comes out. Asked about his offensive scheme for the championship game, Coach Luke reportedly said, "Me so confident. We gonna run the ball - long time."
PREDICTION: THIS WILL BE THE YEAR'S WORST-SELLING PIECE OF IKEA CHILDREN'S FURNITURE.
Excuse me, Sigrid, does this work bench come standard with a can of Lysol?(via Fark)
No, sir, a book of matches is standard. The Lysol is an option.
THOUSANDS OF THEM? JUST FOR US? WELL, THAT HARDLY SEEMS FAIR TO THE REST OF THE SUCCESSFUL PROFESSIONAL BACHELORS.
From the Freelance Dad Mailbag:
"At Destina Japan, we specialize in hand matching successful professional bachelors like you with thousands of sophisticated Japanese ladies seeking a serious relationship."
The Journal the other day reported on the brisk business in mother's milk that has sprung up on the Internet and elsewhere. And with the stuff getting as much as $3 an ounce, it makes us think we're in the wrong business.
WELCOME BACK. HERE'S SOME HOMEWORK
The New Yorker yesterday ran the first piece of Required Reading for Parents for the year 2005. Jerome Groopman's brief but devastating Annals of Medicine article, "The Pediatric Gap," details the many ways in which the pharmaceutical industry and the FDA shortchange children through their failure to properly test important drugs on children, and their failure to enact pediatric drug regulations with any teeth, respectively.
Groopman's initial focus is on anesthetics and other hospital/surgical treatments, but he goes on to discuss the surprising risks in more common drugs like albuterol, which Tiny Girl and many other toddlers and older kids take regularly for asthmatic symptoms:
Michael Shannon, the director of the Children’s Hospital Boston emergency room and an expert on pediatric toxicology, told me, “We don’t know the safe limits of dose and frequency of modern inhaled asthma drugs like albuterol, and so when we give children inhalants we sometimes make them sick.”
But mostly, articles like this one make us think that maybe the "crazy parents," who spend all that time making demands on their pediatricians to defend their treatment choices, may in fact be on to something.
AND IN OTHER NEWS: DON'T FORGET TO BREATHE
Moms and Dads on Manhattan's West Side, especially the stay-at-home kind, would do well to stroll over to the Barnes and Noble on Broadway and 82 Street on Tues. Jan. 18, for a reading by Tom Perrotta, author of "Little Children," one of FD.com's 10 Best Books of 2004. (The competition wasn't so tough - we only read about 11 - but we still recommend Perrotta's book without reservation.)