Brett Berk

Monthly Archive: April 2009

Thursday

30

April 2009

Nine Foolproof Methods for Protecting Your Child from Swine Flu

Written by , Posted in General & Random

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE NEW AND IMPROVED VERSION OF THIS HILARIOUS POST ON MOMLOGIC. WITH CAPTIONS!!!

  
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Friday

24

April 2009

Dial it Down

Written by , Posted in General & Random

liquid_large_gold_anti_soap3.jpgOne of the Gay Uncle’s colleagues over at MOMLOGIC recently posted a piece about why she washed her son’s mouth out with soap. Apparently, the boy wouldn’t stop saying things like “poop”, “poo-poo”, and “poopie”, and the mom wouldn’t stop letting this behavior annoy her–a perfect swirlie of immature brinksmanship. So once the kid inevitably crossed the line a final time, mother squirted some pineapple hand soap into his mouth and had him swish it around. The outcome? The boy pumped his fist and said, “Yes! I ate soap!”

Gunc would like to give this mom a piece of advice: Dial it Down. Why?

1) Stooping to your child’s level to engage in absurd and inane battles–and then allowing their behavior to incite you to perform irrational and potentially injurious acts–inevitably leads to nothing but further conflict.

2) Like using torture to acquire sensitive information, or employing the death penalty as a means of deterring future murders, extreme practices like soap-gargling may seem like they’re making an impact, but they are actually completely ineffectual. Studies prove it. (If you’re a doubter, just note the boy’s reaction.)

3) Getting so out of control that you are reduced to behaving this way demeans you as a human and undermines your authority as a parent. Your job is to model control, and to employ effective discipline that will help your child find their own center. Remember the G.U.’s mantra: “PRETEND YOU’RE THE GROWNUP!”

4) Soaping out a “dirty” mouth is both retro and metaphorical, neither of which means anything to a young kid.

So what to do instead? Well, for starters, Gunc would suggest that you not worry so much about your kid saying words like “poop”. (Ever heard the expression, “Choose your battles”?) Still, if you think its not appropriate, say so. But keep your invocations calm and straightforward, and then let it lie. If you lose your mind every time your child a word you don’t approve of, theyre going to quickly learn that this is an excellent way to get a rise out of you, and this will only encourage them to do it more. If youve already dug yourself into this hole, or find theyre cursing to accomplish this end, your best bet is to calmly tell them once that its inappropriate, and then ignore it. It may take a while, but I fucking swear it will go away.

Wednesday

22

April 2009

Earth Day: Solved!

Written by , Posted in General & Random

earth-thermometer.gifThe Gay Uncle hates Earth Day. Not because he hate our Earf. In fact, he loves it. (It’s his main habitat!) And certainly not because he hates holidays. Any excuse to start drinking in the morning is good for him. He doesn’t even hate all the downering attention-to-wanton-destruction associated with this celebration: the stats on how many cubic miles of rain-forest trees have been chipped into toothpicks or Chinese packing crates, the number of baby bald eagle skeletons that have been discovered in the stomach of a voracious invasive species in Nova Scotia, the miles of new natural gas mining pipes that have been laid under our pristine national wilderness. No, he hates Earth Day because of the smugness: the grotesque perfomative sensibility that says if you spend a few hours picking up a teensy fraction of the shit you throw out each year, you’re somehow a saint. You want to do something to really help the earth? Gunc has heard that there are warehouses full of paper products that will be pulped (using extra dioxins and rings and rings of benzene) if no one steps up to adopt them. Now that’s waste! So do your part: buy a copy of The Gay Uncle’s Guide to Parenting today. Links to booksellers–corporate and independent–over to the right, and an opportunity to purchase a personally inscribed copy right here. Honor your mother!

Tuesday

21

April 2009

Shameless Fraternal Promotion

Written by , Posted in General & Random

ode_cover.jpgThe Gay Uncle is all about families. So it makes sense that he would promote his own whenever possible. This is one of those times. His younger brother Derek is in a band called The High Strung, and they have a new record out today. It’s called “Ode to the Inverse of the Dude”. Why? Gunc has no idea. (Is it an acronym? A Leibowski reference? Some sort of gender-fuck?) He also has no idea what the cover art is supposed to represent, though it reminds him a bit of something from the Monty Python TV show, which is super. Anyway, the album is amazing. You should buy it and listen to it in your minivan. You should rock out to it while warming up organic chicken nuggets. You should play it for your baby (it’s melodic!) Click here or on the aforementioned cover to get to it on iTunes. It’s also available wherever music is sold.

Sunday

19

April 2009

Control Issues

Written by , Posted in General & Random

hosey.jpgThe Gay Uncle was recently in Chicago for work, driving around the city for hours each day, and then spending even more hours inside the homes of average consumers, prodding them to explain how they make decisions–about EVERYTHING. Well, being in “traffic” in Chi-Chi allows for lengthy conversations, as nearly every destination requires an hour’s drive through endlessly repeating low-rise neighborhoods. (A friend of Gunc’s once referred to the Windy City as, “New York turned on its side.” The Gay Uncle prefers his own description “600 square miles of Williamsburg.”) But the commutes were great, only because the G.U. got to hear many embarrassing stories from one of his favorite colleagues. The mother of two boys–Adam, 9 and Joshua, 5–this woman is full of anecdotes. (Loyal readers may remember her from this piece, Room For Sex.) Apparently the other week, the younger boy was urinating, and though he’s fully toilet trained, when he finished, he somehow required a change of clothes. “What happened?” his mother asked. The boy shrugged. “I got pee in my underpants.” The mom cocked her head. “Really? Again? How? I pee all the time, and I somehow manage to do so without getting my clothes sopping wet.” The boy looked at her as if she has sixteen heads. “Mom. Everyone knows that penises are hard to control.” Gunc hopes he gets a new line before he begins dating. (Or summer camp.)

Wednesday

15

April 2009

Admit One CONTEST

Written by , Posted in General & Random

truemomconfessions.jpgThe Gay Uncle’s most excellent pal Romi Lassaly–founder of the hilarious, shame-divulging site True Mom Confessions–has an equally hilarious and shame-divulging new book out. Culling the half-million embarrassing, humiliating, cruel, and disgusting anonymous admissions she’s received from mothers all over the world, she’s created a compilation of truly incredible one or two line disclosures, called True Mom Confessions: Real Moms Get Real. The G.U. has been privy to a number of them in the past, in his role as snarky commentator on some of these revelations, but the sheer mass and horror of the ones collected in the book is transcendent. (And it makes great bathroom reading.)

Are you interested in finding out more? Well, you can! It’s time for another Gay Uncle book contest giveaway. Gunc has three copies of TMC:RMGR that he would like to give to you, his loyal readers. All you have to do is confess to the most humiliating thing you’ve ever done to, with, at, or around your kid in your role as parent. Points will be given for originality, grotesqueness, and sheer chutzpah. The contest will run through the weekend. So submit your admissions in COMMENTS below, and the G.U. will run an announcement of the winners on Monday.

Monday

13

April 2009

Narrative Arc

Written by , Posted in General & Random

bigbaby.jpgThe Gay Uncle was happy to visit with some parent friends upstate last night, and while the butch-er members of his posse got the grill going, he retreated into the bedroom at the end of bath time, to talk to the mom and her naked one year old son during the night-time nursing session. He’s found that this is often a good opportunity to get in some grown-up catch-up, because the child is a) relaxed b) sleepy and c) has their otherwise noise-making mouth fully engaged. While the kid sucked, Gunc and mommy caught up on important topics–fiction writing, music, celebrity plastic surgery. But as soon as feeding time ended, the boy sat upright, smiled, and, as if calling attention to his perceived centrality in the world, let loose an arcing stream of pee that dampened the bed on which they were seated, and barely missed the knee of the G.U.’s favorite pair of Helmut Lang jeans. This was no big deal; Gunc’s been pissed on by kids nearly as often as he’s been pissed off by them. What was a big deal was how the mom responded, which was to simply say “Whoops”, grab a damp towel and pat the urine away. No losing her shit, no major apologies, no tears or shame. “We used to kind of freak out when he did that,” she said. “But then we realized, that probably wasn’t healthy. He doesn’t know about toilets or anything like that yet. So on the rare occasion that it happens, we just dry it up.” The G.U. couldn’t believe it. Perhaps his friend is on a mega-dose of Dilaudid (and isn’t sharing!?!)? Perhaps Obama’s promised course of change has already filtered down to the parental level. Or maybe his friend just happens to be a good mom. Whatever it was, Gunc offers kudos to all those folks who don’t run around as if their iPhone is on fire whenever their kid does something marginally odd, but un-problematic.

Thursday

9

April 2009

Greased Palms Sully All

Written by , Posted in General & Random

bribe2.jpgThe Gay Uncle loves to be right. Fortunately, given his astounding expertise in things child-related, this happens with some frequency. In fact, just today, he received such a testomonial. It came from one of his favorite moms, the parenting columnist for the Chicago Tribune: Heidi Stevens. She and Gunc are in frequent contact, as she attempts to manage her daughter June, 3.5, and he mines her experiences for new source material. So he was pleased to see her note praising my patented opposition to using bribes to get kids to do whats expected. (e.g. If you get dressed, Ill take you to Jamba Juice on the way to school, etc.)

The Gay Uncle believes that kids should follow your instructions implicitly: because they make sense, because they’re presented in an accessible and age-appropriate fashion, and because YOU’RE THE GROWN UP and you know more about the world than they do. But while Heidi vigorously supports this practice, she occasionally slips up (see the aforementioned Jamba Juice example). And with these backslides, shes found a new reason to agree with Gunc: if you use bribes to get your way with your child, eventually your child will turn this on YOU. “June has started telling me, Ill get dressed IF you get me pudding for breakfast or Ill go to bed IF you read me four books and get me an orange juice.

This is infuriating. But as The Gay Uncle always says, it’s never too late to make a change. If you find yourself playing Lets Make a Deal with your kid in order to get them to accomplish routine tasks, you can follow these three steps to turn the situation around:

1) Sit down with your little Mussolini, spell out the pitfalls of the current practice (something like, I call b.s. on this!), and work together to create a consistent replacement paradigm. Make a list of the non-negotiable tasks for which you expect your child to be responsible, without inducements.
2) Eliminate ad-hoc incentives. Instead, tie behaviors to your expectations and the situation at hand, spell them out in advance, and be sure there are negative disincentives if your child doesnt conform. (e.g. You can pick out any one item in the supermarket, but if you whine about getting others were putting it back. or If youre able to get yourself dressed, make your bed, and eat breakfast each morning, youll have time to watch the last few minutes of Handy Manny. If not, you wont.)
3) Stick to your guns. When you cave, you totally undermine your authority. This may catalyze a few rounds of tears or tantrums, but your choice is between a couple of these and a lifetime of negotiationsand these will definitely worsen as your child ages (e.g. Ill stop smoking weed in the house IF you buy me a Mini Cooper.)

Monday

6

April 2009

Plane Spoken

Written by , Posted in General & Random

images.jpgThe Gay Uncle is down in Key West this week, visiting his family for the annual Pesach by the Pool celebration. Which means two things: 1) loads of new material from his four nieces, and 2) loads of new material from his flight down. Air travel somehow brings out the worst in parents, a fact that was proven yesterday on the ride from New York to Miami, during which a toothless little five year old brat shrieked and kicked at the back of the G.U.’s boyfriend Tal’s seat incessantly for two full hours, while his mother sat beside him doing exactly nothing. Moreover, it was further proven during the short flight from Miami to Key West. A pair of adults entered the plane with four children, ranging in ages from 6-16, mom sat the two older kids at the back of the plane, and the younger two at the front, then returned to the rear to take her place beside her husband right behind the Guncles. “This couple up front asked if we wanted to swap with them,” she told her spouse. “Why?” the father asked, befuddled. “So we could sit next to our little kids.” Mom giggled loosely, as if she’d partaken heavily of the Bacardi Mojito bar for which Miami International is famous. “I told the couple, Are you crazy? We put them up here on purpose.” Nothing like the unconditional love of a parent!

Friday

3

April 2009

Stipperific Dad

Written by , Posted in General & Random

stripclub.jpgThe Gay Uncle is headed to Chicago yet again, which means he had to call his special soon-to-be-parent friends John and Mary. You may remember them–or at least Mary’s vagina–from an earlier piece.. Well, they’re now just a couple weeks away from having their baby, which–as you know–means it could begin forging its way outside at any time. This means that, when John–who is currently unemployed–is called at 9:30 at night by a good friend who has just been laid off and asked to go to a bar to drown their collective sorrows, Mary nods with anxious understanding, clutches her enormous belly, and says, “I don’t think I’ll join”. It also means that three martinis into the proceedings, when John and his friend decide to go to a strip club–which just happens to be a BYOB strip club–and they pop by John’s house in order to pick up some booze just as Mary is getting into bed, she delivers a tangibly scolding look. “O-kay, John,” she says with inordinate calm, “but please do me a favor and keep your phone on vibrate, just in case I have a baby while you’re out.” Finally, it means that when John proceeds to get drunk enough at The Pink Monkey to tell this story to anyone who will listen, he eventually works his way through the entire patronage and staff and finds himself delivering his monologue to the bathroom attendant, who doubles over with laughter and–in a stunning role reversal–nearly has to have cold water splashed on him. “Whoo-ee,” the attendant finally manages. “When your wife has a baby and you’re in The Pink Monkey, you know you’re not gonna’ be a good daddy.”