Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A drawing of Daddy!

The other night we were hanging out with some friends and the kids were playing in the kitchen, coloring. Suddenly Viva calls out to me.

"Daddy!" she says, "I drew a picture of you!"

I go to the table, take a look at the picture, and laugh. Hard. (No pun intended.)

A perfect likeness!
Might frame this one for my office...

Yes, that does look exactly like what you think it looks like.

It's a rocket ship!!!

Like they always say, you never know how much of a "rocket ship" you are until your three-year-old daughter draws you as one.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dear The Weed UPDATED

I'm basically Dear Abby now. Except I'm actually credentialed to give advice. And also my name is a drug.

Got this last week: 

Dear The Weed,
I just happened to read your blog from a friends phone and loved it!  I see that you are a therapist and I hope you are ok with me asking you a question (because I'm going to ask it anyway :). My daughter is almost 10. She is very bright, kind, social, and for the most part, happy. My daughter has been showing some aggression and cruelty to my miniature dachshund. She hits the dog, drags her behind her on walks, and has kicked the dog and has kept her 'captive' downstairs, not letting her escape. My daughter loves all animals (I know that sounds crazy). She is always very loving to any other animal... Except our dog.  I had no idea until today that she had been that mean to the dog. She isn't like that to the dog when I'm around. I am concerned and don't know what to do. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks for reading my ramblings... Sorry to be a pain :)


A Concerned Mother

Dear CM,

First of all, thanks a ton for asking me for advice!

Here are some thoughts:

1. Is the dog particularly ugly? Because I heard one time from a friend that they did a study once about babies and how if babies were uglier they got less sympathy from their parents which I think explains a lot about my childhood. And also the kid on Modern Family.

2. Is your daughter particularly ugly? 

3. Has the dog recently bitten your daughter?

4. Again just to clarify: does your dog look like this?

 Because that would explain a lot.

Photo attribution here.   

5. How did you raise your daughter? Did you give her frequent treats? Was she coddled? Did you use lots of reward charts and also waterboard her occasionally? Did you breastfeed her, and if so until what age? Natural child-birth? When you were putting her to bed did you make her go potty before or after brushing her teeth? What kind of toothpaste did you use? How often did she eat blueberries? What is the total of the sum of the numbers in her birth-date multiplied by 8 divided by the numeric equivalent of her middle name? Does she like mint flavored ice-cream? Given the sequence 4835798475394378594 what does she answer as being the next seven digits in the pattern? The answer to any of these questions might contribute to our understanding of her behavior.

5. Okay, I jest I jest.

My impression is that her behavior is pretty normal. Her relationship with the dog is one where she has total power, and as kids grow up, there is experimentation to discover what having "power" or control over other beings means and feels like. It's possible that she is simply trying on a new role, controlling the dog, "disciplining" the dog, in an attempt to learn how to manage that kind of responsibility. It sounds like most of her behaviors fall in line with the idea of "disciplining" the dog, and I suspect she is simply trying to exert some control. I actually see this behavior sometimes in kids with their younger siblings as well. 

If this is, in fact, the case then opening lines of communication about how to properly be "in charge" of a living thing might be helpful. I would probably avoid punishing her or making her feel "bad" for the way she's treating the dog in favor of simply framing it as "that's not the best way to take care of a dog..." That way she will avoid feeling unnecessarily that she is "bad" or "weird." 

It doesn't appear to me that anything more troubling than that is going on, but of course keep an eye out for injuries on the dog, as that would probably be reason for concern.  

Of course, I've never met your daughter. So that could all be totally off and she actually could be a sociopath. (Though that's highly unlikely.) 

Good luck!

The Weed 

UPDATE: I forgot to say: readers, do you have any insight or advice for CM? Feel free to share in the comments if you have any thoughts or happen to be a dog-abuse expert or whatever.
So, apparently this is "a thing" now. If you have any questions for the The Weed Advice Column, please send an email to joshua dot weed at gmail dot com.  I answer questions about relationships, deformities, genocide, sex and different types of salad. And pretty much anything else, but mostly relationships and family stuff.

*Any and all advice is meant for entertainment purposes and you shouldn't take it like I'm a therapist even though I am a therapist. I'm just talking, all right? It's no big deal. We don't have a therapeutic contract. Unless you live in Washington. And you pay me. And sign some stuff. Which can be arranged.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Riddle me this...

When I quit my job at a local mental health agency, they invited me to stay on board as a contracted worker to do drug and alcohol assessments two days a week. (Another topic for another post. The assessment, called the GAIN, is insane.)

Naturally, when I quit as a full time employee, they had to relocate me into another less trafficked office. I was only going to be there two days a week after all.

So, they sent me to the dungeon. Seriously, my office is located in the farthest corner of the building, in the back of somebody else's office. (That piece of information will be relevant shortly.) Like you go into an office, and there's a door on the far wall that opens to another door two feet later with my nameplate on it. That's the door to my office.

Telling clients how to get to my office is the most ridiculous thing ever. "All right, go downstairs, and when you get to the hallway, turn right. Now go all the way to the end of the hall. The end of it. Keep going! Your life is not in danger here, I promise. No, no, keep going. *waves them further down the hall* Yeah, exactly, until it looks like you're about to run into the brick wall at the end. Perfect. Now turn to your right. There is a door. Go into it. You are now in an office. It's not mine. See that other door on the far wall? Open it. See that other other door two feet farther that says "Josh Weed"? That's my office. I promise I will not murder you and bury your corpse in there. Though if I did, probably nobody would notice." *shrugs*

Aaaalll the way to the end...
None of that is the weird part of this story/riddle.

Here's the weird part.

There was a sequence of disgusting phases, much like the plagues of Egypt, that has occurred over the last two months in the office "next to" mine. You know, the one my office is in, that I can't avoid taking clients through? That one.

I need you guys to help me figure this out:

When I first moved in and there was a shopping cart filled to the brim with rotting food that was supposed to be donated, which the person who occupied said office said he'd clean up multiple times yet did not, even though it was right in front of my door, there was no detectable odor. All smelled of roses in fact. My clients and I just had to trip on a shopping cart full of rotting food every day. No biggie.

When the shopping cart was removed one day and the office manager, Dee, apologized profusely to me and said she and the data administrator had to clean up mounds and mounds of rotting non-donated goods from local restaurants that the occupant of the adjacent office had hoarded? Still no smell.

When I saw the first "fruit fly" in my office, I thought it was because I often eat fruit and maybe the janitor got lost in the labyrinth that is my office arrangement and forgot to take out garbage. I let Dee know. She was awesome, and the next day, my garbage had been taken out. And there was still no smell.
When I noticed a few more "fruit flies" I tried to kill them one by one thinking they were stragglers. I had clients coming in for several-hour-long assessments! I had to get rid of those things. Somehow I still thought I had brought something in that was attracting them. And there was still no smell.

When several days had passed and for some reason the flies wouldn't disappear, I got over the idea that if I killed the flies they would eventually go away. The image of my clients and myself causally killing flies or brushing them off our faces while I asked about drug history became my new "normal." Many "fruit flies" were murdered. It was disgusting. I felt like I was on Survivor.  And there was still no smell.

Hello friend!
When I noticed a "fruit fly" upstairs in the staff room, I realized there was an infestation. The place was crawling with them. One landed on the cake my co-workers brought me because I had quit as a full-time employee. And there was still no smell.

When Dee called me into her office looking like she might vomit, she explained that the occupant of the adjacent office forgot he left a tray of now-rotten potatoes in a box for years, and that's where the flies had laid their filthy maggots and bred until the place was infested. She said the data administrator had thrown up as he took the cesspool of filthy fly excrement mixed with dead flies mixed with maggots mixed with rotten potatoes to the garbage.

And there was still no smell. .

 See these dead flies? Multiply this by 4,000. That's how many I killed with my bare hands. Because I'm a fearless killer. A fearless killer of gnats.

When Dee came into my office the next week white as a ghost and said that she had been digging around in the adjacent office and found a freezer full of rotting meat from 2008 that was supposed to have gone to needy families, but instead had been abandoned and forgotten by the office occupant, and that she was so sorry, and that she would get it cleaned up before my next client, there was STILL NO SMELL.

I know. Let's save this frozen meat and let the freezer turn off sometimes so it rots. That way we can solve hunger!

But now? Now the office has been totally purged. The rotten potatoes are gone. The freezer full of rotten meat that was dripping and oozing years-old cow blood all over the place is cleaned out. The shopping cart filled to the brim with rotten packaged food has long been removed. The infestation of flies was eradicated, and their sweet sanctuary was taken to the dump.

But every time I walk my clients down the long corridor and enter the adjacent office to get to my own, I am knocked over by the smell of death and rotting flesh mixed with Lysol.


I am literally afraid to discover the answer.

PS, Wife wants me to mention that this is freak-show sequence of disgustingness has nothing to do with my private practice, which is in a nice office located in Auburn, an entirely different city.

Photo attribution here and here and here and here.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Camping: a tutorial UPDATED

Are you nervous about going camping before winter comes? Don't worry. I'm here to help you.

If you're anything like me, you have gone camping very few times in your life because your mom was the type of lady that thought "roughing it" was a Motel Six with grungy bedspreads and your dad didn't have a dad. Not so much in the immaculate conception sense, but more in the he-was-an-abusive-drunk-that-my-grandma-left-when-my-dad-was-three sense.

I didn't mind the not camping thing. I'm about as handy with a hammer as a fish is handy with a Chinese finger trap. I mention a hammer because in my mind, you use a hammer to nail in some kind of stakes that help you prop up a tent or some crap like that when you're camping, but for all I know you don't even need a hammer when you set up a tent and I just made a fool of myself in saying that. That's how inexperienced I am at camping.

All of that aside, I recently camped, and I took some notes so that you, too, can camp successfully. If you follow these helpful tips I'm sure that your camping experience will be delightful and you won't be mauled by honey badgers.

1. Find the right site

One of the first things you need to remember to do when you're camping is to find an adequate site. It is important to find a place in a forest that isn't inhabited by people in houses, and that doesn't have sidewalks or very much pavement or restaurants or power lines. This type of area is called "the forest" or "the wilderness" or "a campsite" or "an especially large shoulder off the highway."

If you think you have come across a place to camp but aren't sure, there are a few questions you can ask yourself in order to not make the mistake of trying to camp on somebody's personal property.  Things like "is there a mailbox in my line of vision?" or "is that barking animal a domesticated dog, or a wolf?" or "if I were to start a fire here, who would notice?" On that last one, if there are pedestrians walking around that might notice the fire, you're probably not in a campsite. You're probably on a street. Or in a hotel lobby. And if you start a fire, you will be arrested or cause the fiery death of all the occupants of a Hilton or private residence. So be careful.

You're doing it wrong.

Photo attribution here

2.Make sure to figure out what you'll sleep in.

Camping can be cruel. Just ask the Donner party. Or Moses. Or this guy.

Because of this reality, it's important to know where to sleep when you camp. Many people camp places where you need to set up a tent or some crap like that. Like maybe you need to find shelter, or make a lean to to protect yourself from torrential rains or something. The problems with this are many, not the least of which is the fact that doing so requires physical labor. That's right. If you choose to camp, in many cases you have to build a freaking house for yourself made of cloth or leaves and branches. And that makes little to no sense.

I recommend that you go to a camp that has a bunch of tee-pees set up like I did. It was called Ensign Ranch.

Easiest way to set up camp is to make sure someone has done it for you. 
(Thanks for the photos, Crabtrees.)

If you fail to do this, you will be forced to put up your own tent (aka wrap yourself up in your disassembled tent like a giant sleeping bag and hope that bears don't attack you in the still of the night and eat your eyes out your face like plump, wet grapes.).

3. Food.

You've gotta be careful to bring the right food. Wife and I, fraught with inexperience, brought stale pretzels, one-fourth of a power bar, and an empty water bottle. So we were screwed. Fortunately, our friends the Warners brought dutch oven food which they made in pots and stuff and there were some coals or something--I don't really understand this very well. I was getting real nervous because the pots were covered in ash and looked totally disgusting and like I was about to eat dirt, but then--and I'm actually not sure how this works and I think it might involve Voodoo--but somehow this

Can I take another helping of coal, please?

turned into a bounty that included cobbler and potatoes and chicken and it was delicious, and I'm really sorry they didn't get any pictures of their meal, or that they didn't get to enjoy any of it by the time they were done taking their kids to the potty because I accidentally finished it all, but we did save them some of these:

Yes, these are Mickey nuggets on a stick.

 *starts singing* "That's what friends are for..."

(Thanks for the photos, Warners. Oh, and for your dinner. Mmmmm.)

4. Bathroom etiquette.

Here's the hard truth: when you're camping, you're going to have to go #1 and possibly #2, and sometimes you have to get creative. Easiest solution is to camp at a place like Ensign Ranch where there are outhouses all over the place. But even then, things get tricky. For example "occupied" means that there is somebody already in the outhouse. Please note, when you enter the outhouse, make sure to lock it, which is what enables the "occupied" sign to be seen. Otherwise you might have an unsuspecting person barge in while your wee wee is doing wee wee, and that's just embarrassing for everyone, but mostly for the older woman there to relieve her bladder. (Sorry!)

No outhouse? No problem! Just take a dump in the forest and clean yourself up with leaves. I've been there. Oh, oh, how I've been there...

Executive decision: I have decided not to look for a picture to supplement this section about feces and urine in a forest. You're welcome.  

5. Have some fun!

Suggested activities:

Uh, smores?
Other things you do outside....?

Yeah, I'm drawing a blank here. Why do we camp again?

Oh yeah, it's to become one with nature. So, nature walks are a great idea. Just remember, if a bear charges you on your jaunt, DON'T RUN. Play dead. Which won't be very hard to do if you've forgotten this tip and chosen to run, because you'll no longer have a face and you'll be dead.

If you happen to be with a group of people who, for "fun," decide to do a root-beer chugging contest, be on alert. When they ask you to represent your team of 10 people because you're so masculine *curtsies*, have a ready excuse at hand. In my case, I chose to opt out because--rational as always--I was terrified I might vomit.

I discovered that the best way to handle this scenario is, instead of explaining your "reasoning", just stand there awkwardly not participating for several loooong minutes while people wonder exactly where you fall on the autism spectrum until Tami Baumgartener shows she's got more cajones than you ever will by volunteering to go for you.

Way to go, champ!!!

Afterwards, when the chugging is over, ask her if she threw up so you can feel vindicated in your decision. When she says "no" tell yourself that the root beer would have made your nose tingle real bad, and so it was still a really good idea to wuss out in front of 30 people. Then go cry in your tee-pee and wait for the shame to give way to sleep.

Now remember, future campers, the root beer chug is just one of the four or five many things people can do while camping. Keep your mind focused and maybe you'll discover more!

6. Packing up

When your trip is coming to a close, it's time to pack up. It's important at this point to get lost in the forest on a nature walk so you don't have to clean or do any heavy lifting.  Shockingly, Wife was the one who employed this strategy on our camping trip.

Okay, okay, That's not exactly what happened unless when you say "get lost in the forest" you actually mean "took the girls to a huge slip and slide on the campground without you so you could pack up by yourself, mainly because you didn't have the right shoes."

I'm not bitter.*


Welp, there you have it! I hope you find this tutorial helpful. Now, get out there and go camping before winter comes! Otherwise you will probably die. From hypothermia. Whatever disease that is.

*Yes I am.

UPDATE: A helpful reader pointed out that I said cajones when I really meant cojones. This is not the first time something like this has occurred. (You should read that post. It was one of my very first humor posts from a year ago. So it has historical significance.) Aren't you pleased to know that I'm an official "near fluent" translator for the local school district? Who needs to remember "a"s and "o"s!?

Also, I am replying to all the comments on this post now. Days later. But better late than never. Heh?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Seriously, it's no big deal (or why I shouldn't have been allowed to procreate)

So, when you're sitting in priesthood meeting in church and your almost one-year-old is crawling on the floor of the gym, just let her roam. It's not a big deal! Babies are babies.

Then, when she crawls over to a metal cart that is used to transport hymnals, go ahead and let her pull herself up to standing by the shelves. Honestly, what harm is there in that? She's just learning to be independent.

Then, when you notice her playing with a loose screw sitting on the cart, make sure to take it away. You're a good parent! You totally just averted a choking disaster. Go ahead and bask in your proactive nature, and let her continue to play on shelves you haven't yet examined.

Next, when she starts choking violently, run to her aid and fish a second screw you hadn't noticed out of her mouth, and then watch as a third one falls to the floor. Consider yourself lucky for a milisecond that you were able to extract them before things got dangerous.

When she continues choking violently on what must be yet another screw stuck in her gullet, panic in such a way that instead of immediately doing the Heimlich, your attention focuses on the church meeting you are interrupting, and go ahead and just carry your daughter out of the room while she gasps desperately for oxygen, dying. Propriety first! The death of a child is a small price to pay to ensure that an entire room full of people doesn't have to be distracted for thirty seconds by your life-saving ruckus.

As you approach the door to leave, don't be alarmed when the choking noises shift into the sound of vomit pouring onto the gym floor. Babies vomit all the time! It's not a big deal at all! When you hear the loud clank of a screw smacking the ground, quickly bend over to pick it up and hurry out of the room. Maybe the entire room didn't notice that your child violently choked for twenty straight seconds until she poured vomit onto a gym floor and then upchucked metal. You're so good at not interrupting meetings!

In the bathroom, sweep your baby's throat to ensure there are not more screws threatening her windpipe, or that at least she swallowed the ones that were left. (Delicious!) Grab a bunch of paper towels so you can clean up the mess of milky vomit you left on the floor.

On your way back to the gym, casually talk to a few people as if nothing happened. It will make it feel a lot less like you nearly just killed your baby.

When you get back to the gym, go to start cleaning up, but then have someone say "Oh, no, don't worry, we've sent some of the Young Men to take care of that. You probably have a lot to deal with already." Realize at that point that there's no way anybody didn't notice your near-infanticide, and accept the fact that you are a horrible person. For interrupting a meeting.

When your friend Konrad comes up to you after the meeting to ask if Tessa "got her fill of screws," shrewdly ask him to take a couple of pictures so that you can document this triumphant moment in parenting.

She looks kind of not-traumatized, right?

There is a 78% chance I will find one of these in Tessa's diaper tomorrow.

Father of the Century Award? A winner! Yet again!

At least I can take comfort that I'm probably not the only parent that has had this type of thing happen. Right?


Thursday, October 6, 2011

How to kill the mood....

We here at the The Weed household have a thing with nicknames. Or, more accurately, Wife calls everyone weird names constantly. And they usually stick.

Early in our marriage, Wife started calling me Anthony. (This was one of many nicknames--the very first of which was Josey, which was short for Josue, which is Joshua in Spanish. I remember thinking "Um, I don't really want to be Josey" (pronounced Hozee). But that was irrelevant. Wife had chosen, and it had stuck.) I have no idea where Anthony, from the same time period, came from, but it also stuck, and was soon shortened to Tony. Tony became so prevalent that people at church started thinking my name actually was Tony. But it's not. I promise. It's Josey. I mean The Weed. I mean Josh. Yeah. That one.

(Side note: The most hilarious nickname she had for me at that time was when I was "Penis" for a while. I put the kibosh on that when she accidentally called me that in front of a bunch of people at the store.)

She even wrote her own blog post about nicknames. Check out her most recent post on our family blog. And when I say recent, I mean 2009, the last time she ever wrote (sad face).

Anyway, the nickname thing has truly gotten out of hand. The thing I'm about to tell you is very private and I will spare details other than to say that this has happened twice. Two different times.

So... here it goes. Wife and I have been engaged in Bizness Time activities and, without thinking, she has called me a name that has completely killed the mood. Because we couldn't stop laughing.

The name that, unbidden, has come out of her lips as we enter the throes of passion?

Toniferus Weedles.

I can tell you, for certain, that as you're putting the moves on your wife and things start getting hot and heavy, there is at least one name you never want to be called. And that name is Toniferus Weedles. (What does that name even MEAN????)

That awkward moment when your wife calls you Toniferus Weedles. Again.