My dog is a Son of a Bitch (Literally)

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Rocco, married less than three month and already acting like a dog.

Let’s not mince words – my dog, Rocco, is a punk.

There. I said it. He’s wild, uncontrollable and has little to no regard for anyone other than himself. In essence, he’s exactly the kind of character I want my three daughters to stay away from.

Oh daddy, look at his pretty eyes!

Sure, I suppose that’s where it starts with Rocco (and perhaps future boyfriends). The eyes will draw a person in, the same way Rocco, the con artist, fooled us. As a puppy he didn’t just look at us. He stared into our souls, gave us visions of love and laughter for our children. It’s as if he spoke to us, Take me, I’ll be a puppy pal like no other. Rocco totally fooled us, of course.

He even fooled the puppy trainer when we enrolled him in a 6-week course. There we learned to have him obey basic commands, like sitting and lying down. The catch to all of this was that we needed to reward him with treats. So naturally, Rocco figured it out pretty quickly that he wasn’t into being a good boy unless he got something out of it. The class should have been called Puppy Bribery 101.

Sure, Rocco “earned” a certificate for passing his course, but there’s been no retention of what he was supposed to learn. It’s as if he just went through the motions, like some scoundrel. He can be deceptive, too. During the day when nobody’s around but me, Rocco can be an uncontrollable nightmare. When the kids are home from school he turns into a lovable plush toy, eating up all the attention. The other day, as my daughters were doting over him, Rocco turned to me and winked. True story.

But he’s just so cute, daddy!

Rocco is kind of a metaphor for some of the would-be suitors my daughters will face. And as is usually the case with fathers that have to size up said suitors, I’m the only one that sees what kind of a jerk Rocco can be, mainly because I did some dating in my past life. I know how boys can be, what we want (no matter the age) and what we’re willing to say or do in order to get it.

You see, girls, boys have the potential to be a lot like your dog, I’d tell them. They might be cute and lovable on the outside, but they have the potential to make a huge mess of things. Some of those messes can be pretty filthy to clean up. But you’ll do it anyway. And then they’ll say sorry while looking at you with those puppy dog eyes and make a mess all over again.

I know. Some of you reading this right now are probably thinking that I’m looking waaaay too into this whole thing. And perhaps you’re right. But ask any father of daughters and they’ll tell you that there comes a time when we really start thinking about this topic. We think about how we’re going to protect them. Because let’s face it, some boys can be, well, dogs. They have the ability to draw a person in yet stray to the person that gives them the most attention, forgetting the most important qualities that make for true relationships, like friendship, respect and loyalty (and before you start yapping about how dogs can be loyal, just give me a steak and I’ll show you how loyal your dog can be). Like dogs, boys will run away, never to be seen or heard from again.

A few weeks ago I ran into a girl that married a childhood friend of mine, a friend that I had not seen in years. When I asked her how he was doing, she had no idea.

“I don’t know where he is or where to find him,” she said. “He just disappeared.” The girl was with their son, a spitting image of my friend, and both just looked at me, waiting for me to break that awkward silence.

“Why would you need him when he left you the best piece of him?” I responded to her, referring to their boy.

Fast-forward to last weekend when I caught Rocco digging up a hole I had just filled in for, like, the thousandth time and it hit me. You have to be the example. In some weird way I have to be the example that my daughters see and learn from. It’s in the way I communicate with them, how I treat their mother, even the relationship I have with my own mother. My daughters have to see that and learn from it.

Now, I realize I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself here. We’re talking about a guy who, quite frankly, can be a moron for large chunks of the day. And I was certainly no saint when it came to dating. The scariest thing would be for me to open the front door and find that my daughter was going out with a guy that reminded me of… me. Maybe if I play my cards right while they’re still young, this won’t be such a scary thing after all.


I love visiting schools and talking to kids. I’m currently writing a collection of short stories and essays called Your Poor Mother: The trials of raising 5 sons. My next children’s book, Pancakes For Dinner! will be published by Waldorf Publishing in 2017.

Crouching Father, Rolling Poop: The Joys of Potty Training

Photo courtesy of bakersfieldmom.com

Listen, I can go back and try to explain the why and how my daughter’s turd ended up in my hand but at the end of the day absolutely nothing was going to change one simple fact: my daughter’s turd ended up in my hand.

And I was at work.

This, of course, wasn’t supposed to happen. I simply thought that bringing my daughter back to the office for the last hour of the work day would be an opportunity to create a special memory for her, something she could look back on with fondness one day.

“You want colors and markers?” I’d ask, knowing how much she’d light up with excitement. “Now draw daddy a nice picture, baby!”

She’d then get to see her daddy talk on the phone, compose a few e-mails and hear some Pandora; I’d create a station of songs straight out of the Nick Jr. catalog. And if she got tired she could fall asleep on my couch.

It didn’t exactly turn out that way.

“Uh, oh, daddy…”

When my daughter utters these words I go into check down mode, scanning the vicinity for anything broken, spilled, knocked over, torn, ripped, in pain or unconscious. This time, I knew exactly what the “uh-oh” was before she could say the word “daddy.” Because I could smell what she was talking about.

We now cut to the bathroom scene; there I am kneeling atop the bathroom floor, clutching the pungent turd like a savage holding a still-beating heart in some Indiana Jones flick, the runaway piece of crap that almost made its way under the next stall.

There’s my daughter, staring at my hand and frozen in disbelief and disgust (as was I) before turning her attention back to me. Her big brown eyes taking pity on me, she broke the silence by repeatedly asking, “Daddy, what happened?”

“You have the audacity to ask me what the hell just happened? You didn’t give me so much as a grunt much less a warning that you wanted to take a dump in my office,” I wanted to say but clearly didn’t given the fact that she’s just shy of her third birthday.

“Daddy wasn’t prepared, sweetheart,” I muttered. Now whatever you do, don’t…move…a…muscle.”

It’s true; I was unprepared, thus confirming the notion (my wife’s really) that for good amounts of time during the day I am a moron. I had no baby wipes; those were left back at daycare. We’re smack dab in the middle of potty training, but ask me if I had an extra pull-up handy? That, too, would be a resounding “no.”

Imagine you’re the guy walking into a men’s room only to hear the following:

“Poop is for the potty, sweetheart. Big girls don’t poop on the floor.”

What goes through my mind during a situation like this, you ask? Was I going through the litany of excuses to tell my boss for the chaos that was the company bathroom?

No, that would have been the logical thing to do. Instead it was a damn song I couldn’t get out of my head from one of my daughter’s favorite cartoons, Ni Hao, Kailan.

What can we try? It’s up to me and you. We’ll figure out (clap-clap-clap) what to do.

In MacGyver-like fashion, I separated a small stack of paper towels into three categories: wet and soapy, wet and dry. By the time I was finished cleaning up that crime scene, Dexter himself would have been impressed. Ava and I exchanged no words; it was understood that we wouldn’t talk about what had just transpired.

Glimpsing in the rearview mirror on the way home, I saw Ava staring out the window at passing cars. It was that magical moment kids go through when the excitement of the day has caught up to them and they begin to fall asleep. As she continues to grow and develop, well, so do I as a parent. It’s highly debatable that she’ll be looking back on this day with fondness.

But I will.

Baby Names and Strippers: A Father’s Dilemma

A nugget of knowledge you’ll never find in any of those baby names books or parenting manuals: When choosing a name for your baby girl, never, not under any circumstances should you ever, give her a stripper’s name.

Just as important to the above rule: do not pretend to think that I do not know what I’m talking about, no matter whether if this is your first child or you’re at Octomom status. The fact is that we all go through our own filtering process when it comes to naming our children. And women, I think it’s important that you understand that us guys have a slightly different filtering process than you do, especially when it comes to naming our daughters.

My wife and I are expecting a baby girl, which in itself brings about a plethora of challenges that I wouldn’t have had if we were having a boy. But naming her requires more care and scrutiny than Lindsey Lohan’s psyche. Now, I know some of you ladies might think this sounds crazy but consider the male species for a second. Exactly.

Name her after my mother? That could cause an imbalance in The Force, leaving my mother-in-law feeling hurt, thus, causing an emotional trickle-down effect that merely wings my wife but then hits me square on the chin (amongst other places). And that’s not a good thing for me.

Suggest or agree to a name that happens to belong to an ex girlfriend? Suicide. Some guys have to go through a long “do not call” list, if you know what I mean. It’s imperative that we check that list twice.

And that leads me to strippers. Names like Trixy, Roxy, Candy and Puma are no-brainers. But it gets more difficult the normal the name, which is why any guy who knows what he’s doing has to – in private or mentally if the opportunity to be alone doesn’t present itself – give it the old Strip Club DJ test. That’s right, it’s exactly what it sounds like, simply utter the following phrase: GENTLEMEN, FOR YOUR VIEWING PLEASURE ON STAGE # 1, SAY HELLO TO (insert name here)!

Go ahead and do it. Use the name, Delilah. See what I mean?

And as long as a guy is going to do his due diligence when naming his baby angel, ladies, it’s important to ensure that your daughter doesn’t have a porn star name. This, of course, requires extensive research, something you can do together! Or not. I heard a rumor that the Internet has a wide variety of resources available, especially from Japan.

Taking all of the above into consideration, I have no idea what the hell we’re going to name our daughter. And given the fact that I will at some point cause her embarrassment as she gets into adolescence – I think about how my dad tucks in his sweater into his shorts – I most certainly don’t want to screw it up right at the beginning of her life by giving her a name that will make her the laughing stock amongst her schoolmates. And we most certainly know how cruel kids at school can be.

I knew a girl named Gina whom everyone dubbed Va-Gina and that was Kindergarten! OK it was college but still. I don’t want that kind of cruelty applied to my daughters.

God I hope that this isn’t what my friends and relatives meant when, after telling them that we were having our third girl, that payback was a bitch. But it was, wasn’t it?

Man, I’m so screwed.