Parent Judge: List the Offenses!

The Parent Court is now in session! The Parent Judge is now in session.

Opening Arguments in discussing the case of judging bad parenting begin!

One of the things you learn after having kids is that it’s pretty darn distasteful to openly talk about poor parenting.  The Parent Judge realizes this and sets it aside because the Parenting Court is now in order. Put good taste aside for one moment to talk about things some idiots do. Now, this excludes parents who solve their discipline problems with a switch, a leather belt or a karate chop.  Those people are the bad guys on the Lifetime Channel and we can all hate them (or pity depending on how open minded you are).  But when it comes to regular, run of the mill parenting that doesn’t involve a tall dramatic arc like The Burning Bed, we learn when our little kids run around that criticizing other people’s parenting is pretty gauche.  A fellow parent sent me a message about this sometimes trait and I thought about it and the politics of parenting.  Her code name/nom de plur is Wired Momma (no she didn’t pay me/send me products or invite me to BlogHer! because I mentioned her) but she brought up an interesting point. If you see if a parent doing something stupid, you can’t or shouldn’t in our society call them on it. Why? Because any idiot can be a parent in this country without a license, examination, test, prep-course or whatever else makes you somewhat improved in something you’ve never do in your life. It’s just “not done”.

Now, when is this really necessary, you know..to criticize other parents? Yes! The Parent Judge must list the offenses! Here is my abrievated list updated daily!!!!

  • Any child over the age of 3 stuck with a pacifier in their mouths out in public.  I can’t tell you how many 5 year-olds  (I estimate) that I’ve seen who have a pacifier in their mouths and are grunting, pointing and moaning. Why? Because the can’t frigging learn to talk with a piece of plastic in their mouths! OR they have this ghostly disembodied look to them as if they are trying to tell their parents something telepathically.  My kid still uses a pacifier to sleep for naps, not for nighttime, just naps.  She’s 2.3 years old and talks faster than Joan Rivers and more crazily than Pat Robertson but at least she talks.
  • Parents on their cell phones or texting while their kids are trying to talk to them, play with them or just generally need a parent.  Yesterday at this indoor gym there was a dad with headphones on apparently listening to something while his kids were coming up asking him to play.   Is Arcade Fire more important than you daughters? Hello, I’m still listening to the same shit I was in high school – it’s not going away.   Don’t get me started on the Blackberry, IPhone or probably now the IPad.  More ways for idiots to zone out at the park and avoid having any interaction with their kids.  The message sent: this small piece of plastic deserves my attention and you don’t.  Now, if your kid is 10 at the park you don’t need to monitor them, but younger kids need to feel like someone gives a darn about their playing. Do it.
  • The braggart who talks about how great their kids are and never dishes on their annoyances. You know the type, their kid is simply an extension of them and they are insecure boobs who need validation and eternal love, therefore their parenting is perfect and their children are perfect.  Listen, I think kids are great and they are taught to live as we teach them — what choice do they have? But on the other hand, they are fallible and their fallible nature causes chaos, destruction, sleeplessness and general pain-in-the-assness.  Don’t deny it.  People who admit their kids can be a pain in the ass (especially toddlers) understand that growing up is hard to do and it need not be done with parental pressure or fear of failure.   Failure is what makes us human rather than machines who end up with a first class ticket to the psychotherapist’s office because their parents never let them do something incorrectly.
  • Following that, it’s really the control freak who makes me want to kill.  They are the parents telling their kid how to play, how to talk, how to do this and how to do that.  They are always correcting, hovering and forever interrupting the play and joy that is childhood.  They fear bumps, bruises, crying, anger and especially mutiny! A control freak fears the child that turns on them the most, an independent child that wants to do their own thing rather than things “their way”.

My list grows as I see more parents in gym classes, at story times, out at the grocery store or the playground.  I’m not saying my parenting is the best way, hell, it’s probably a B- on a good day, but it’s far more humanistic to the way I think children need to be raised which is an acknowledgment that they are annoying and lovable little dough balls which need constant attention, love and appreciation for the trails and tribulations they undergo to be successful in life.  Life is a hard road to hoe, let’s not make it more difficult to by being lame parents.   I call upon a new age where we can call lame parenting for what it is: lame.   Would that lower the number of people who decided to have kids? I dunno but it would make for some great blogs! The Parent Judge is now adjourned.  I invite you to send in your examples of annoying parenting.

The Answer is NO!

This darling princess must have abusive parents! Note indications of sadness. NO!

My darling daughter is now 2.3 years old and smart as the dickens (can’t hide my pride Internet Readers!).  Yet I’m troubled by a continuing problem that comes up whenever I ask the sweet little thing a question — the answer is always and unequivocally no.   No Cheerios for breakfast, no jacket to go outside, no nap, no dinner, no bath no, no, no a thousand times no!  For those keeping score at home, that means no.

Punditdad has been doing this ‘lil old thing of staying home with the kid for 2.3 years so I’ve seen every poop, pee, scream and whatever else happens in her life up until this point.  I’ve been “available” if that is how you want to put it.  Now, to a person who has witnessed all this, it’s easy to be frustrated when you know that your child likes to dip her pasta that’s she’s eating for the trillionth time in ketchup and ranch dressing but refuses it for dinner even though she is hungry and tired.  Does Punditdad beg,  cajole and negotiate with the  daughter to convince her that eating her disgusting concoction is a great idea? Sometimes. But only when another parental or grandparental unit is on-site.  I abhor such negotiations.  Let ‘er starve. If she’s hungry, she’ll be back. I guarantee it.  Negotiations are for hostages.

But back to NO! It’s started me to ask less questions and make more “commands” as in COMMAND AND CONTROL. You know, the army jargon? Well it works wonders for your ego, but when it dissolves in the grocery aisle because you said no chocolate bars at 9:00 AM.   At that point, you really have to do a gut check. Did you mean it or do you give a sh*t what the woman with the beautiful and obedient daughter thinks of you while pushing her cart down in the aisle trying to find the ingredients to the Turkish EggPlant Frittata that her daughter JUST LOVES and eats every time?  Her daughter is an ANGEL and your daughter is clearly a mean-spirited spoiled brat (putting it nicely).  I’m just trying to set some rules and who really needs chocolate that early in the morning? Say yes to that and the next thing it’s a thong and a Mercedes for her 16th birthday.  No, the rules have to be drawn somewhere. Right? Are you with me?

More or less, discipline at this toddler age is an art rather than a science and Punditdad doesn’t beat himself up over the choices made (win or lose) that he makes and neither should you! Lift your head up even if your kid is drinking ketchup at the Denny’s or throwing his poop in the public restroom.  Someday you’ll laugh about it and feel so much better than you do now.  I know I can feel it coming any minute.  NO! No?

Tantrums and the Crying Couch

Our new house has a fab reading/sun room from which Punditdad can read the paper, drink coffee in the morning and survey his tiny kingdom while getting some inkling of the coming weather that day.  The room is suitable for the Bean’s toys, books and whatever other crap she has in those boxes.  This is where we read her books in the morning after breakfast.

Normally, we all get up between 6:30 and 7 AM, I feed the Bean, grab some food and coffee for myself while she eats, then we retire to the sun room for some books.  We are still trying to convey that we cannot read books indefinitely, that there can only be 5 or so books read every morning. Not 20.  I like to read the daily paper in the DAY that I get it.

Normally, when I bring the Chicago Tribune up to my face, this indicates that the books are done.  Yet a small hand grabs my arm and pleads “Peeeeezzzz” which is please in Bean-talk.

If a suitable breakfast has been consumed, then the tantrum simmers to disappointment and the issue is over.  We go about our business and I only have to wait about 20 more minutes before something else is demanded of me. If an insufficient amount of food has been consumed then a tantrum usually ensues.

I don’t get particularly upset over tantrums when we are home. I simply leave her on the couch and  go to the next room.  Tantrums are not encouraged, tolerated or in my case, viewed.  I usually move to another room and drink my coffee.  Hey, she’s screaming, I have warm delicious coffee, so what? At home, nobody can here you scream toddler!

Screaming in public is different and usually she is better about that, only when pushed to the limit or starving like an Ethiopian vagrant.  I don’t blame her.  Ask Punditmom on a Sunday afternoon when I’m grumpy and hungry….I’m usually a few seconds away from crying and screaming myself. But at home, wandering around screaming and crying isn’t tolerated so I  have created the “Crying Couch”.  You sit there during crying and nobody bothers you but nobody is paying attention to you.  Scream all you want, my coffee is still hot and there’s  plenty of cream in the fridge.  Let’s see how the Sox did. Can you see I’m disinterested?

I try not to let tantrums affect me.  It’s only at mealtime that I go into a berzerker rage over an upset toddler.  My eyes roll back into my skull, my face turns fire engine red and my chest heaves like a epileptic.   This usually causes the Bean to dump her plate over the highchair.  I usually convulse all around, flopping like a fish on a dock.   She knows how to push my  buttons I’ll hand it to her.  But lately, my cold and sadistic side has won out.  The code word is “all done”?  If that is said, the plate goes away. Doesn’t matter if you had two bites or the whole thing.  Her word is law on this.  So if she is playing with her food or generally disatisfied with the choice and I ask, “All done?”. She is reticent to say yes.

Toddlers, though young and inexperienced, aren’t stupid.  They get hungry and want to eat.  If they know it’s going away or the rules will be enforced, then poof, they start playing by the rules.  Is it always black and white? No, but rules like All Done and the Crying Couch make my life a little clearer.  Crying and screaming? Do it on the couch.  Playing and yelling about your food? All done see ya later.   Makes my job a little easier each time.   Besides, my coffee is getting cold.

Throw Up Isn’t So Bad

As a kid I used to think that throw up was gross.  Then during college I realized it was the body healing itself and Gawd punishing me for my sins.  Usually the sin of mixing wine with tequila or wine with anything actually.  If I got the evil out of my tummy I would feel much better the next day instead of rolling in agony all night.  Just get it out and over with.  While my post-collegial life has had limited barfing sessions, when they have occured, they are a welcome respite to the awful feeling of nauseau, stomach rummbling and general malaise that the pre-vomiting condition entails.  It sucks.  As it stands, before I had a kid I was actually pretty ambivilent about throw up.  I didn’t necessarily like it at all but welcomed it when it was over as a natural part of the “cycle of life” and other B.S.

Since having a kid I knew she was going to barf eventually and I wasn’t necessarily afraid, it just hung omminssly in the back of my mind.  I’m not talking spit up or any of that “little stuff” either. Well, our darling daughter has been supringly healthy for the first 20 months of her life, so the other day, when she at a huge raisin bagel with extra cream cheese I thought nothing of it.  During her nap I heard several screams but figured they were just her talking. Then the tone changed and, since it was about 2 hours into the nap, I figured it was time to get up.  She lay covered in dried vomit and had a very sickly gross palor.  I felt guilty for being reading the NY Times while my kid was throwing up but whaddya going to do sit outside her door?

Well, I thought, her comes the vomit.  But that didn’t bother me, it was the not knowing what caused the vomit that bugged.  Was it overeating? Did she gag herself? Did she just have a sick stomach? Dunno.  Anyway, in attempting to clean her up, she started to ralph on her back and I realized I was about to have a Jimi Hendrix Experience if I didn’t turn her on her side.  Daddy saves the day! Baby doesn’t choke on own vomit!  She dribbled some more out and all over me and in the tub where I was tempted to spray her down with the shower but realized that might ingrain some Karen Silkwood memory in her that would never be fixed.  With towels, a change of clothes and some hugs, we re-constructed the baby and got into a good zone.   We ate saltines  and water for a snack later because you know how hungry you are after throwing up right? Mom always swears by saltines and so do I.  Carry them everywhere.

I know some stomach bug is going hit our house some day and we’ll all be bent over the toilets but so far we’ve been lucky.  I can confidently say  I will be ok with it.  I’m prepared to clean up, hold heads up and wipe mouths clean and give hugs appropriately when called upon to do so.   Throw up isn’t so bad.  It’s all how you approach it.

Mental bailout..but at what cost?

What's it worth to you? A mental bailout is priceless.

What

It’s 9:11 AM and I’m thinking about a mental bailout already. Mommy has been gone only 24 hours and already I’m feeling a bit tired and heavy with the weight of responsibility.  How the hell do people raise children on their own? I’ve known single parents–but to be alone and parent continuasly for a few days without a wingman, a backup player, a deep bench is to understand what it’s really like.  Those people are pillars of strength and that’s no bullshit. We don’t give single parents enough cred and we should.

Besides, I can’t complain, the weather is fine, the stroller is ready, the beer will be cold after bed time and the Netflix is waiting in the mail. What do I have to complain about? With the baby, nothing. She smiles all day long, takes huge naps and sleeps through the night.  But on other matters, Punditdad has some thoughts in no particular order:

  • Barack Obama is sealing the deal. I want the election to be tomorrow. There is too much time left.
  • I have to take a 4 hour plane flight with the Bean by myself on Saturday and I don’t know which baby will show up; the one who squirms, whines and hollers for hours or the one who smiles, sleeps and obeys.  Big mystery.
  • Talking about books is a great way to keep your brain active. People dis book clubs but a great conversation about the meaning of a book will keep you on your toes and hopeful about the human race.
  • The bailout out bill hubbub has me scratching my head. I don’t know if it will work, there are no clear winners if it passes politically and I’m mixed on the economic justice of it.
  • I made a mean meatloaf last night. Secret ingredients? Beer and lots of onions.
  • I’m going to watch the VP debate on Thursday and my  only hope is that Joe Biden doesn’t come off like an ass, a bully or a blowhard. My suggestion for him? Keep your answers short, direct and to the point. Let Palin talk until she fills ALL the airspace.
  • David Sedaris isn’t funny anymore. You can’t be funny when you live a nice life in Paris in a completely healthy relationship with money and travel at your fingertips. Humor only comes through in pain, suffering, dysfunction and loss of hope.
  • I may have jumped the shark on Facebook. ‘Nuff said.
  • Post-season baseball begins today. Both LA/OC and Chicago have two teams competing — both teams could have a Subway/Freeway series. Regardless of whether you like baseball, October baseball is worth watching.
  • Standing at changing table and reached down for another diaper. One left. One. Pack the bag and head to the store. Mommy had only been gone 12 hours and I was skirting disaster. I’m better than that damnit!
  • It’s going to be a scorcher today behind the Orange Curtain. I don’t like the heat. I like warm and sunny but not hot. Thanfully, the area pool might be just the ticket.
  • Sarah Palin is a religious extremist. Read this article and tell me you don’t agree. http://www.newsweek.com/id/160080/page/1

Finally, got my NaNoWriMo book in the mail. THat’s my answer to all challenges. Find a book on it and read it. Almost like buying instant credentials. Oh, I may not be able to tie some fancy sailing knot but give me a few weeks and I”ll order a book on it. What the hell did people do before books?

Let’s Get this Regret Party Started!

Hunt and Peck? Good luck.

Hunt and Peck? Good luck but bring the carafe of coffee, Pandora Radio, Jim Beam, daddy's going to need it!

Punditdad has an inner image of himself, much like you, the valuable reader has an image of yourself. We have visions of our lives–both in the future and in the past.  Although we live day to day, we see the possibility of many paths before us and our choices in taking them.  Sometimes we are happy about those choices, sometimes we regret them or put them aside for another day.  When we put those choices or dreams or goals aside for too long, what happens to them? Do they disappear or become disappointments? I’ve been thinking about those goals and maybe making a few new ones that have been sitting around in the shadows.

I started this blog to start writing and to help me think about the challenges to being a parent, and as a corollary, the issues that surround our policy to families and children as I began helping raise our first.  There is still a huge election in 40 days and the movement in Washington DC is furious. I don’t feel right now that i can tell you anything about the current situation except to watch the debates and you knew that didn’t you?

Here’s how my recent trouble started. I try to go to other blogs and leave funny, snarky and playful comments and compliments so other bloggers will come to my site and send some of their readership my way. It’s also helpful to see what people are thinking about parenting though most have children older than the Bean.  The other day I left some brief comments on Mr. Lady’s site Whisky in My Sippy Cup when she talked about writing a book here. She mentioned the term NaNoWriMo but I didn’t click on the hyperlink so I didn’t really understand what the hell she was talking about. You know, you read a word but it doesn’t register and you don’t think about it.  In fact, though I read her blog entry, I didn’t UNDERSTAND it.  I had thought about writing a screenplay recently and was starting to read movie screenplays and their “inner workings” but her novel idea went WHOOSH right over my head. Didn’t care, didn’t notice. Move. On.

Yesterday somehow, in that serendipitous way the internet works, I found my way to THAT NaNoWriMo site through another link and was entranced. You can see it here. I swear the friggin Internet gods have a plan man!

What’s the point of NaNoWriMo? All those lazy asses out there who say they have one good book in them need a way to get it out of them and put it to paper in 30 days. To unleash the shackles of all the “could have’s” and put 50,000 words down no matter what. Doesn’t have to be Cormac McCarthy or even Jackie Collins, but it’s gotta be the length of a novel.  I love it. Fuck. Yes.

Aside: Wednesday I went to the doctor as a regular checkup. Because I have a specific condition that needs consistent monitoring so it’s pretty normal for me to see the Doc about every 4 months. I came through with flying colors and left elated. Not only was I doing great but I was thinking about how much better physically I had/could become, even better than I am now (which is the best shape I’ve been in my life).  I’ve recently started thinking about running the San Diego Rock’n Roll marathon next spring. It wouldn’t be my first marathon, in fact it would be my 3rd! My other times were sucky but when you run a marathon, it’s usually 26.5 miles further than a lot of other people have run and it’s something you never forget…and certainly never regret.

So here I am at NaNoWriMo after thinking about running the San Diego marathon. Could I write a novel in 30 days? Could I run a marathon in a few months? Fuck ya. The novel wouldn’t be worth the .txt file it’s written on but for the rest of my life I would be a novelist just like I’m a marathoner.   My marathon time, if I ran a good race would be over 4 hours.  Good enough. In the American way, I tried to solve my obstacles through purchasing–I bought some crap to help me out. Already have the marathon books somewhere.  I ordered the book they suggest on Amazon for NaNoWriMo entrants, a week by week accounting of what to do and how much to write. They suggest 20,000 words in the first week. I can do that. This blog reads at 500 words and it’s taken me 20 minutes to type.  Glass half full you know?

Am I fooling myself that I can do both?

Do we set goals to keep us going or do we really believe in ourselves? Follow through is the critical step right sports fans? As a the Butthole Surfers say, “it’s better to regret something you have done, than to regrets something you haven’t done.” Let’s get this regret party started!

I have an idea, a plot and a storyline. Just need scenes and to construct how the characters think. I need to start running and get some new New Balance shoes. There’s a lot of work to do and little time to do it. Thankfully the bean sleeps 4 hours a day and 12 at night straight through. I’ll keep the 2 or 3 people who read this blog updated on the book, the training and the bean as it continues. Thanks for reading my blog. If you would like your blog on my blogroll, email me at punditdad@gmail.com.

So a SAHD and a baby go to a store…

Bean sits in the Ikea return lounge -- just another stop in the life of a SAHD and a baby.

Bean hangs in the Ikea Return lounge -- just another stop in the life of a SAHD and a baby.

SAHD life includes a considerable amount of shopping. This is compared to the pre-SAHD life that many noble gentlemen have led in the past — an existence relegated to the 7-11 for supplies and cold beer.  But SAHD life is dramatically altered.  The SAHD must go to the store because the breadwinner is at friggin work and not sitting around in their PJ’s while the child sleeps.  SAHDS, can’t say; “Sorry honey, I can’t pick up any fresh fruit today, I have to go to the pool and I have an afternoon playdate.” That goes over like a lead balloon.

Whether it be going to the grocery store for food or picking up some baby-proofing equipment at a department store, the dynamic SAHD is a roving “can-do” machine ready to knock off errands with vigor. So what do you need to be properly equipped? Knowledge my friend. Knowledge.

The SAHD shopping experience, in all its varieties, is different than mommy shopping.  Mommy shopping is quite frankly, pedestrian.  We’ve seen 10 million moms out with their babies or kids. It’s nothing to raise and eyebrow over or take a second glance at. But a grown man with an adorable baby or toddler? That’s a sight that doesn’t fit the normal paradigm. So where does a SAHD shop and what retail establishments are the most SAHD friendly? Punditdad has done extensive research and created a simple algorithm based on 3 major factors:

Family Friendly: Does this store have decent looking carts that are covered in grime? Does the cart have a suitable restraining device so baby doesn’t do a nosedive into the pork chops? Family restrooms or diaper changing stations? This stuff is only important until it matters MOST.

Femininity: Some stores are so overwhelmingly female that a less-confident SAHD can be intimidated or uneasy in the shopping experience.  Are you going to purchase tampons or deodorant for your wife if there are 3 ladies in the aisle? No, you’re going to go to the meats or beer section until the area clears! It’s important to be prepared before you enter.

Customer Service/Efficiency: The hallmark factor for any man’s shopping experience; how fast can I get in and out. Long lines or crowded checkouts? Maze like aisles or confusing product arrangement? Punditdad dad views this as one of the most critical factors.

Now that we have the criteria set, let’s take a look at our stores.

Your local grocery store: In my case it’s Albertsens here in California.  Most stores are one of 3 major chains (Punditdad has shopped in most) in America; Kroger, Safeway or Supervalu stores.  Some are cleaner than others and some are newer than others but that doesn’t change the SAHD factor.  Undoubtedly, an active SAHD will go the grocery store at least once every week so finding the best SAHD friendly store is critical. My Albertsen’s is the one place I go where the Bean is a star; the checkout ladies coo over her, the other patrons smile and wave at her, hell, even the manager told me how cute she was the other day.  Why? Again, they see hundreds of moms with babies but much fewer SAHDS.  The grocery store takes a punch in the area of efficiency: Punditdad takes a list EVERY time but still finds himself backtracking like a lost drunk wandering home from the pub.  Albertsens and other take a hit in the family friendly factor too, though most have changing tables, I’ve found the buckles on the carts destroyed or frayed (like some baby Hulk went on a rampage) which causes Punditdad endless headaches. Safety is rule one daddies!

Babies ‘R Us: The granddaddy of all baby/kid retail experiences!  Thankfully, trips to BRU are rare for Punditdad. Why? Fear. Many patrons there are “extreme” pregnant — ready to go at any minute. I can’t bear to see them teetering around, I’m afraid I’ll be witness to a live birth in the diaper bag aisle! The rest of the patrons are new mommies/new daddies (realizing their bachelor days have been burned to a crisp)who had their baby yesterday and already are buying the expensive Bob strollers and BPA free bottles. Unfortunately, BRU has some items that might not be available except over the internet.  That said, BRU has excellent bathroom facilities! Big doors, great diaper changing tables. Also, since most other kids are screaming, it doesn’t matter that yours is too. Nothing is out of place. Finally, the efficiency is low — it’s nearly impossible to get in and out without a troublesome line or even worse, the dreaded return.  Punditdad tried to do a return just yesterday on an item mommy kept for 8 months expecting to get a full cash refund (it was a gift). No chance. Bring your crap back within 90 days with your receipt or you’re screwed. Overall, the BRU experience is like chocolate fondue, too much will make you go insane and watch out for that lady in the sippie cup section, she could go at any second.

Target: My god, is there a woman in America who doesn’t shop at Target? Back in ’92, Punditdad worked at the Olympia, WA midtown Target —  there were no stylishly designed clothes or expensive “student friendly” furniture.  Our number one seller was motor oil and Coke.  Swear. Place was dirty, loud, bright lights with harsh fluorescent coloring and in-bred coworkers from the forest (present company exempted).  A universe away from the happy, red paradise that draws women in like crack.  The actual retail Target experience is fine, friendly and efficient, with many checkouts, and clean family bathrooms.  If you’re a single guy, you definitely want to go to Target on your lunch hour and check out the scene — I suggest the greeting card aisle and toothbrushes (you want someone with clean teeth right?).  Unfortunately, Target rates high on the feminine scale, so to ensure the SAHD maintains his “dude” image, it’s important to check out sporting goods and electronic gizmos with every visit as well. Overall, Target rates the highest with this SAHD for overall shopping experience.

Costco: Home of the 54 pack of toilet paper and the 20 lb. roast! Who doesn’t love walking amongst the sample trays staffed by rejects from the Manson family central casting department.  Delicious cheeses and sausages await.  Hurmph! For SAHDs, Costco is a loud, cavernous, inefficient and daunting experience best conquered with mommy as a wingman rather than solo.  The bathroom is miles away from the shopping. Always scrounging for your card, your receipt and whatever “papers” they demand is a pain.  The Bean survives Costco in short, brief visits only. It’s just too crazy in there.  Thank god for the cheap ‘dawgs! You can’t beat a huge Hebrew National with all the onions piled high. None of that crap at Target.

Whole Foods: Ahh, the 7-11 of Orange County.  I used to think that Whole Foods was the exclusive domain of long-haired 60’s sociopathic candle freaks who practiced twice daily colonics and ate only locally grown organic figs.  This coming from someone who graduated from a serious hippy college. Nevertheless, that vision has been shattered after frequent visits to the local Whole Foods. While quality is high here and the Bean has a number of soy/organic yogurts to chose from, the prices and attitudes of the patrons is sky high. Never have I gotten a smile from another customer. These people take their organic foods far too seriously, not in a health way, but in a competitive way. The OC mentality (I’ll blog on this further in other installments) is more about being seen making purchases at the appropriate establishments, not because you actually believe in what they are selling. Thus, this cycle drives up costs for those like myself just trying to feed my daughter some food that doesn’t cause her to go into puberty at 7 or get diabetes at 13.  I have to hand it to Whole Foods though, they have great sample stations, friendly checkout people and few long lines.  Their bathrooms are usually too far away and set back in such a way that you can’t bring a cart in.  Whole Foods provides a negligible SAHD retail experience — not bad enough that I avoid it, but I’m constantly looking for other organic stores to fulfill the Beans’ needs.

IKEA: If you want to furnish your home for few dollars and have it look half way decent, I can’t think of anything better than IKEA.  Great products, a wide range of products and most aren’t THAT bad to put together.  Shout out to the 5 drawer Malm! That said, Ikea trips must be carefully planned. SAHD team members must be well fed, well rested and first and foremost, have a laser-like focus on the goal. Going to get a throw rug? Don’t dawdle in the poster section. Like that recliner? Move along. Ikea gets high marks for it’s good bathrooms, well constructed carts (omnidirectional) as well as multiple checkouts with plenty of employees.  Unfortunately, I’ve found that the Ikea floor plan is specifically designed to send you to all the departments you want to avoid.  OC Ikea is a maze that puts as much product between you and the checkout – especially if you have a cart and must use the elevators as opposed  to stairs or escalators.  That said, what Ikea has lacked in some areas, like Costco it makes up for in food. Can you beat the $.99 breakfast with another buck for a bottomless coffee. Playground equipment in the food court too. Hell no. Can’t touch this.  From one SAHD to another though, avoid Ikea at all costs on weekends when the hordes descend. Weekdays are fine, even during lunch. Parking is easy and all the other people there don’t have jobs either so everyone’s in good mood. Enjoy!

Do these descriptions seem accurate? I’m looking for more ideas on which stores are the most family friendly and SAHD friendly. Do you have a grocery store chain or local establishment that you think scores high on my criteria? Let me know and the Bean and I will put together a crack investigative team to check it out.