Monday, August 28, 2006

Forget about it

Whenever my wife Kara and I venture into conversations about the expensive and stinky world of child-having, people who have already taken the sippy-cup plunge inevitably offer us some variation of this advice: “Go see movies. Go out to dinner. Go to the Eiffel Tower. Do everything you ever hoped to do before you die, and do it all before you have kids.”

This might sound like reasonable advice, but you have to keep in mind that it’s usually coming from people who have throw up on their shoulders. Besides, I don’t really understand why having kids has to keep you from doing the things you enjoy. Our ferret easily takes care of himself for long weekends when we’re away, and he doesn’t even have thumbs or Dora the Explorer DVDs. I just can’t imagine how a baby with a full water dish, a remote control and a big salad bowl full of apple sauce wouldn’t be good to go until at least Sunday afternoon.

Also, if you give a ferret a raisin and run out the door while he’s still chewing, he won’t even notice that you’re leaving. When taking off for the weekend, you’d probably have to do something like that with a baby, too, if you’re going to be a responsible parent.

I think people are advising us to do all of these things because there’s just no point in taking kids on vacation. They won’t remember any of it. When my sister Amy recently told my parents that she was finally going on her first trip to Hawaii, Mom said, “But we took you to Hawaii when you were a kid. Don’t you remember?”

“I was two!” Amy said.

“Well, you had fun,” Mom replied. I can kind of see Amy’s point, though. I bet a luau is much more fun when you can handle solid foods.

Not being a parent myself, I can only imagine the frustration of shelling out copious amounts of money for trips that, as far as your children are concerned, barely even happened. Kara’s family took a couple of Disney cruises when she was little, and she can’t even tell me anything about what they did or saw while they were there. All she remembers is her younger sister Sarah fleeing in terror from Mickey Mouse, which, to a three year-old, must appear to be the logical thing to do.

Traumatic events like that seem to be the most memorable, so I’ll have to be sure to work them into our future family itineraries. Kara may not remember meeting Goofy, but she sure recollects her cousin Doug stomping on toads in the Poconos, or the time she proudly held up a garter snake to show her parents, insisting that she had just discovered a really big worm.

If you’re unable to schedule in trauma to make sure that your vacations get remembered, sometimes fellow travelers will pitch in to supply it. While I just vaguely remember the scenes of natural beauty from our family trip to the Grand Canyon when I was little, I can still vividly recall this one man with a camera around his neck offering his infant a better view by picking the child up under the armpits and dangling him over the railing, with nothing under the infant’s bottom but a diaper and about a thousand feet of desert air.

Everyone in our group froze, watching, stunned, until the infant was safely back on our side of the railing, blissfully unaware of his father’s casual experimentation with Darwinism. My memory is a little spotty, so I can’t be positive, but I’m pretty sure that the kid’s father later went on to write several hit songs, invent the moonwalk and become an androgynous punch line.

You can cancel your babysitting appointment with Mike Todd online at


  1. I never had anyone that would watch my son. So we learned to even do dates with our child. I think the things we have done with him are better than any of them without.

    I hate assholes that talk like that. They shouldn' be parents, because they don't look at thier child as a gift, and addition to thier family, they look at them as a burden.

    On the other thing. I went the grand canyon for the first time when I was 21 (we live about an hour away from it) and my mother was so mad that I said first time, because she went when I was about 7 months old. Oh yeah, I'm sure I'll remember that.

  2. Burfica -- You're hard core! That's nice to hear that you can still rock out trips and dates with kiddie in tow. Can't wait to find a nice precipice to dangle my kid over.

  3. ROFL!!! I have engraved, in stone, the following quote from you.... " Besides, I don’t really understand why having kids has to keep you from doing the things you enjoy" I promise you that when you and Kara have kids, you will eventually eat those words. hee hee

    I think Gary and I said the exact same thing pre-Hannah. One day, we went to an amusemwnt park with her. We both wanted to ride the coaster but what do we do with Hannah? "Excuse me, ma'am.... could you hold my kid while my husband and I ride the rollercoaster? You see, we really enjoy riding it together and this kid is sudddenly making that impossible". See? Plus, when you add kids to the mix, new things become more enjoyable - like sleep and quiet time.

    My granpdarents took me to see the Ice Capades in Boston when I was little. I hear it was great fun and I enjoyed it alot. The only thing I can remember though is almost pissing my pants with fear in the elevator of the John Hancock building.

  4. People usually say that you cannot be as flexible when you are travelling with kids as you could be otherwise. But I talked to my cousin who recently came back from a months vacation in Europe, a real whirlwind affair, with two kids under the age of three, ran into trouble right at the start of their trip with their passports and other documents gettting stolen and still maintain that they had the best holiday ever. So I guess it is possible.
    And as for kids remembering stuff, I don't remember any of the holidays that my parents took me to in Europe or the US when I was a kid. The only thing I remembered was Disneyland and that I got to ride with Prince Charming in the parade. So kids remember things that leave a big impact on their minds. Otherwise everything else just fades away.

  5. I have to agree with Sheri on that quote of yours, Mike. You will eat those words one day.

    However, since my husband will only vacation in the woods with a gun and a 12-pack of beer, I never had any difficulties with vacations. I just never went on any.

    NOW, however, things are quite different. Me and the girlies do our thing, and leave hubster with the puppies, the mail, and his 12-pack. And I woulndn't trade my vacations with those bitches for all the camels in... you know, wherever it is that camels come from....

  6. The Grand Canyon incident is oddly reminiscent of one Michael Jackson dangling "Blanket" or "Comforter" or "Duvet Cover" (whatever that poor child's name is) over his hotel's balcony railing for his fans in Germany... only without the fans. Nor the crazy, glittering, gloved entertainer and veiled infant.

  7. Mike... how much can I pay you to name your first born Jered (if it's a boy)? I think it's a cool name, even if you decide to use the more popular Jared. How about Earl? That's pretty cool and unique.

  8. Earl IS a good name. Another good one is Carl. But Delbert is also good............

    And Delberts don't have noses that look like penises, I wouldn't think.

  9. Mike;

    you are the best commenter ever. I am the best baby namer ever... let's consult.

    Regardless of what you name your child, when you think it's time to leave the baby for the first time, you will quickly realize (as will they, and the police forces of the three surrounding counties) that someone is going to have to rip her/him from your cold dead hands first. I doubt there will be any takers.

    A decade later; when nobody else cares, we'll talk. And be prepared; I'm gonna ask you what kind of an uncle you've been!

  10. Hey Mike: Long time. I have finally migrated from your print form to cyber. You may remember, we already had this conversation. Perhaps this will remind you.

    Beware. Think twice. No, think thrice.

    Phil, as in "Phillin Me In".

  11. Sheri -- Funny you say that. Earlier this summer, I saw a couple try to ditch their kid with an amusement park employee so they could ride a roller coaster, but the employee was all, "Hells no, crappy parents!" Or something to that effect. Anyway, thanks for the reality check, and rock on.

    m -- That's why Dane Cook says you should smack a little kid's ice cream cone into his/her face and yell, "You'll remember me forever!" And congratulations on meeting Prince Charming.

    melodyann -- I think they come from Camelot. And if you just had some tobacco on those old vacations, you'd have had everything the ATF usually looks for. Sounds like a good party.

    Queen -- Duvet cover. That's frickin' funny.

    Jered -- Maybe I will go with Jered Earl. Then his initials would be JET, which is pretty badass.

    melodyann -- Delbert is one I hadn't yet considered. Wait a minute. Why is everyone trying to name my hypothetical child? But since we're on the topic, Maverick is a cool name, too.

    Anna -- I'll be ready for you, dude! Uncle? I'm confused. No need to clarify, though. I'd just be confused by something else in a minute or two.

    Phil -- Awesome to hear from you, man! No need to worry 'bout me anytime real soon. Thanks for the all the excellent advice. You are a wealth of frickin' information. And not too shabby for column fodder if I don't say so myself, except that I just did, earlier in this very sentence. Glad you found your way over here!

  12. Just cause I'm into clarity... you really need to start babysitting for your friends. And do it well and often because when you're ready, it'll be great to have all those favours (or favors, if you prefer)to call in!