Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

Parenthood and suburban life  §

Had the discussion with my wife again about suburban life. I’m convinced that it’s much more time-intensive than urban life, and that this is why urban areas are vastly more “productive” in economic and social and intellectual capital measures.

She absolutely doesn’t buy it.

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Spent much of today fighting with cars, mechanics, and swamp coolers.

This is a car-mandatory area, and there are four of us, and our only car is in the shop for complex repairs. This means negotiating with a mechanic and doing research to find out whether or not he or she is scamming you, as well as (we’ve decided) trying to find an additional car that we can afford and that won’t leave us stranded somewhere. No easy task.

A few years ago, living in NYC, we didn’t even have (or need) a car.

The rest of the day was spent on the roof, jostling with a swamp cooler. The HVAC guys want hundreds just to turn up and do basic repairs, but it’s been hundred-degree-heat off and on over the last few weeks, so we need the cooling system working. Replaced the blower motor, the cooling pads, the water tree, the pump, and the switch, and redid some bad wiring. Back online.

We also didn’t have this issue in NYC.

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Things you’ll do as a parent that you never imagined you’d do when you were younger:

(1) Talk through your kids to other people. For example, you’re in a restaurant and you turn to your children and say loudly, “Be patient guys. Just as soon as that couple over there finishes cleaning up their table, we’ll be able to sit down.” Translation of the message, addressed to the couple: “I can see that you’re done. Do you not see that I have kids? Stand up and go, please. Oh, and don’t leave your trash behind, I can’t cope with that as well.” Or, how about, “Wow, little boy, are you still pooping? I think you’re working on a poop!” Translation of the message, addressed to your spouse: “Don’t get annoyed that I didn’t change his diaper yet, please. Either I’m disinclined enough to wait and see or I really do believe that he isn’t done pooping.”

(2) Get up early. When kids are up, they’re up, and they’re going to keep you up, too, period. They’re pretty much biologically wired to be really good at doing so (no doubt to ensure their survival in the company of dozy early-morning parents). You never though you’d get up every day at six. Of course, you don’t; you get up every day sometime between four and five-thirty, and pretty much knock half the house down stumbling your way to the coffee maker as you also try to keep your (inexplicably energetic) morning-oriented offspring from knocking down the other half.

(3) Use your bare fingers to wipe up disgusting messes. Kids get goopy stuff on other stuff. Some of this stuff is unsanitary. And at the same time, they are curious and excited about everything in life. Very curious and very excited—and very fast with their hands. In the interest of insuring that goopy stuff of whatever variety doesn’t get spread across walls (and some of the varieties of goopy stuff really, really need to be kept from being spread across walls), you’ll find yourself using a finger or three to scoop as much of it away as possible as quickly as possible to prevent your kid from getting there first, or at least to try to minimize the mess until you can find a disinfectant wipe.

(4) Act like an uncool idiot in public. Who doesn’t love to skip through the mall singing Old Macdonald at the top of your lungs, then buy a hot dog on a stick and a lemonade and watch Barney on the television set above the food court? If only my friends could see me now!

(5) Forget to take care of basic personal hygiene. You tell yourself you’re going to get a two-minute shower in ten minutes, once things settle down a little and the kids are safely engaged in some activity or other. You tell yourself this all day. Then, you finally find the moment—aha!—and realize that it’s 9:30 in the evening and you’ve gone all day without a shower.

(6) Afford everything but what you yourself need or want. The $3.00 juice bottles at the convenience store? Two, please! Got thirsty, irritable kids out here in the heat! Diapers are how much here? Oh well, gotta have diapers and gotta have them now. Thousands per year for kid classes? Can’t be helped, they need the time, stimulation, and learning experience. A dollar for dental floss so that you can get breakfast out of your teeth? Can’t afford it. I’ll just pull on that piece of thread that’s been hanging off of my shirt for a month and use that.

(7) Become completely disconnected from the adult world. What happened in Egypt today? Fracking? What’s fracking? You got what kind of car? I didn’t even know that was a car brand. They found what out about the plane crash last week? I didn’t even know that a plane had crashed. The election? I have no idea who’s running. Wait, Michael Jackson is dead? Do any of these things have anything to do with Curious George or The Cat in the Hat? I can list every episode of Curious George and The Cat in the Hat by heart, does that get me anything?

(8) Lose touch with life-long dreams. I really want to be a tenured professor at a research university. What have I done in the last year to make that happen? Well, let’s see…I have consistently bought hypo-allergenic bubble bath and taken care to ensure that all eggs, dairy, poultry, and vegetables were organic. Also, I cleverly remodeled the playroom so that it holds 20 percent more toys than used to fit in it. Oh, and tomorrow we’re going to go to story time at the library. That ought to help me get there.

(9) Get excited about chores. I love washing dishes (with my daughter). I love mowing the lawn (with my son). It’s super fun to take out the trash (with my daughter). It’s a blast to wash the bathroom (with my son). Go to the latest action blockbuster? My kids can’t come. How can this possibly be considered “fun?”

(10) Collapse at 9:00 in the evening. An hour of work after they go to sleep? Are you kidding!? Fahgeddaboudit. Most I can manage is a couple hours in front of the tube watching something random. Okay, an hour. Okay, half an hour…Oh, thanks for waking me up. I must have fallen asleep getting ready to watch—I mean, I’m just gonna watch one episode of—OHMYGODIT’S2AMHOWDIDISLEEPTHATLONGIHAVETOGETTOBEDTHEY’LLBEUPATFOUR!

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The originally-less-than-one-inch feeder goldfish that lived in a 5 gallon aquarium (with ample room) are now all over six inches and living in a 55 gallon aquarium that is rapidly getting tighter.