Monthly Archives: December 2010

Diaper Bag Dialogue: Christmas Shopping

Clearly, this couple does not have children. They're shopping together.

Now that Christmas is here, I give myself the day off (okay, well, the month off – I’ve had actual paid work) from the blog and borrow from the e-mail chat among the Baltimore at-home dads group.

Dad 1: Hi everyone,

I was just wondering how some of you have handled Christmas shopping this year? My wife wants to shop with me, but then what do we do with the kids? Paying a babysitter to go shopping seems a little counterproductive to me. Any ideas?

Dad 2: Commandeer a friend to watch the kids for a couple of hours and offer to watch their children so they can have their time shopping. Oh, and I am busy that day so I am out.

Dad 3: Leave them in the car and hope no one calls Social Services.

Dad 4: You could always just duct tape them to their beds…

Dad 5: You could always shop together online.

Dad 6: Dude i have a 2 year old, so it wasn’t hard at all! Well until he want to walk and play when i was ready to get our of the Mall. Pack snack and let them flip out or do like one of the other guys said and hit up a friend or neighbor to watch your kids while you shop and do the same for them. Make a choice! Screaming impatient kids or paying out money your gonna spend anyway to get what you need to get done! Good luck and Merry Christmas.

Dad 7: If you did not make it out tonight, I feel sorry for you.  I just ran out for a few last things and it is a mad house not only at Babies/Toys but also Best Buy.  I did everything I could to stay away from the mall.  Suggestion.  Dig deep into the pockets and grab a little cash or barter with a friend- You do NOT want to take the little ones out.  It is too crazy out there…

 Yup- We only have one more stop to make and it is Pet Smart- So that does not count.

Dad 8: Guys,

If you haven’t seen this yet it is great, especially this time of year when you want you packages immediately.

I signed up and the packages are coming very fast, sometimes the next day. So it’s not too late!

Don’t let the “Mom” name fool you, they are very clear that it is for dads too and other caregivers.

Also, yesterday I walked through theTarget toy aisles with my boys. Everytime they would check out a toy they might really like, I would discreetly use the Amazon App barcode scanner with my Droid and add the items to my Amazon cart. Bingo, shopping done (and no sales tax). Before you feel too bad for Target, don’t worry, they get plenty of my business the rest of the year.

Good luck and safe travels!

Now from The B-More Dad: I can’t remember the last time my wife and I went shopping together. Maybe for a house, which we kinda had to do together. Or to make faucet and knob choices when we renovated our kitchen.

But these days, it would be far too big a pain between whiny-hungry kids or steaming over paying a babysitter. I’ve learned to trust my judgment in the field (do I buy my daughter the purple sweater or the pink?) and that everything can be returned. Or I search the internet and narrow down the options, then I present her two or three to pick.


We shopped together.


Forcing Christmas

Christmas this year in our house is feeling a little forced. It’s like a runaway train that’s gaining speed, and I can’t find the brakes. And it’s been like this for weeks. I grew up Episcopalian, with a big Advent tradition of waiting in joyful expectation for Christmas. Now we go to a Presbyterian church, which we really like, but they had two 20-foot-tall Christmas trees up in the sanctuary weeks ago.

It started when we put up our Christmas tree the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It felt ridiculously early. It wasn’t even December yet! But we were having the neighbors over for a holiday party the next Saturday, and I’ve been married long enough to know that putting up your Christmas tree the day of your holiday party is A Bad Idea. And putting it up on a weeknight is equally foolhardy. Picking a tree in the dark one year, with cold-tired-hungry preschoolers in tow, we got a tree with a big bald patch we didn’t see until we got home. And then the kids’ bedtimes were all screwed up. Waaaah.

So up went the tree on November 27.

The next week, I shopped for presents online and congratulated myself for being so smart. No rush fees and time-crunch worries for me!

But then there’s writing the darn Christmas letter. I love receiving them, and I usually like writing them. During the year, I think, “Oh, that was funny. I should put it in the Christmas letter.” Then I promptly don’t.

We used to write a two-page, single-spaced letter, blathering on about I don’t know what. After kids came, we decided nobody wanted to hear that much from us. (I still can’t forget friends who prattled on about taking their preschoolers snorkeling in Belize.) So we scaled it down to a half-page front and back. This year, we’re chucking the whole thing and sending photo cards I ordered during my smarty online shopping week. Print the labels. Get the kids to stuff envelopes. I give up. Done.

Better luck next year.

Then came the problem of when to swap presents with my parents, who live 100 miles away. We’ll be in Atlanta with my in-laws on Christmas, so we’ll open their presents with them. But would we take gifts from my parents there, too? And when to open presents among my Lovely Bride and the children and me?

Starting to feel Grinchy.

We had already figured out that Santa Claus would not be stopping for our kiddos in Baltimore and Atlanta.

“How does he know?” asked one of the kids.

“He just does. He’s Santa,” I said. “And just in case, we’ll leave him a little note.” (We have already developed fairly advanced Santa-logistics explanations, because we don’t have a fireplace, so the kids seemed to buy that.)

So we invited my parents to spend the night this Saturday, and we would open presents then. But that’s an entire week early. Christmas will seem over before it even arrived. On the other hand, waiting until we get back from Atlanta on the 3rd would moosh Christmas presents into my daughter Carla’s 5th birthday on the 4th. (Augh! Gotta send party invitations before we leave for Christmas!)

Where’s the gentle feeling of quiet expectation? You know, the waiting for the joy part?

So, last night we decided to open only selected essential presents (like the dual-screen portable DVD player – which we need for the drive to the in-laws on the 23rd – darn well better get it to me before then) and bring the rest with us to open on Christmas proper.

All this fretting will be a distant memory before long, as my Lovely Bride and I are parking the kiddos with the in-laws for a few days after Christmas and jetting to an undisclosed Caribbean island. We never did anything for our 10th anniversary (in 2008) because my wife had just gotten promoted — as the Big Boss Lady, she couldn’t skip town two weeks into a new job. Then she got a really good review and a bonus this year – for the first time ever – and we opted for some marriage maintenance and R&R.

So we jet back to Atlanta on New Year’s Day, pack up on the 2nd and drive back to Baltimore on the 3rd. On Tuesday the 4th, it’s straight back to work and school. It’s going to feel like ripping off a band-aid.

With no post-travel recovery day (I guess we’ll pick up milk on the way home from the airport), that day’s gonna stink. Happy Birthday, Carla.

A Thousand Tiny Paper Cuts

The day my 4-year-old daughter dropped a glass and burst into tears, I just didn’t get it. Not just a little juice glass, but a big 16-ounce pilsner glass she was filling at the freezer-door ice dispenser to put on the table for supper.

My Lovely Bride was already home from work and tried to console her as I swept up the shards, which went all over the kitchen and into the dining room.

I had tried to tell my daughter in my gentlest voice, “It was an accident. You were doing exactly what I asked you to do. You’re not in trouble, sweetie.”

No luck.

She sobbed and wailed. And sobbed some more.

My wife finally clued me in.

“It’s not about the broken glass, Daddy.”


“It’s about all the other things that have gone wrong through the day. It’s like a thousand tiny paper cuts. And the broken glass broke it all loose. Right, Carla?”

“Uh-huuuuuuuh,” Carla sobbed.

I tried not to roll my eyes.

But I rolled my eyes.


Then I finished sweeping up the glass and put supper on the table.