Dinner Party

Hello and Welcome to Daddy Cows Restaurant, my name is Daddy and I’ll be taking care of you this evening. How many are in your party? 3? Wonderful. If you’ll follow me I’ll just seat you right over here in our best booth. Close enough to the restroom for your mid-meal poop break, sir. And the TV visibility is sublime. Might I suggest a DVR’d episode of Bubble Guppies to keep the little lady here happy? Wonderful.

Now would you like to start the evening off with something from the drink menu? Milk? Some Wa Wa perhaps? Oh juice? I’m not sure if the kitchen is serving juice so early in the evening. Well, ma’am…..Yes, I understand…..ma’am please stop shouting. Ma’am please return to your seat, and please put down the fork. If you’ll just please stop crying ma’am….Yes, I understand, but our chef requests that we start off the evening with some water, and depending on how clean your plate is then we can discuss juice options. Ok? Fantastic.

So the chef this evening has prepared a marvelous made from scratch boxed macaroni and cheese with a delightful hot-dog garnish. It is served with a vegetable option or….Oh, no vegetable option this evening? Well the chef strongly recommends that you at least try the vegetable option….Ma’am please stop screaming. Might I suggest a fruit instead? We have a fresh…..ly packaged peaches served in a heavy syrup drizzle. Yes, we only ask that you exercise caution in opening the package as it will undoubtedly spill everywhere immediately. Our chef has gone to great lengths in preparing this meal for you this evening, and we ask all our patrons to show gratitude by not immediately attempting to order alternate items “off menu.”

Here at Daddy Cows we also strongly recommend that all patrons make their best effort to remember their manners. This is a Family Restaurant, and we would prefer if you would refrain from the following:

  1. Using the word Poop and or Fart excessively in the presence of others.
  2. Please remain SEATED until your meal is finished. We understand you may have the urge to play a friendly game of Musical Chairs as it were, or leave the table frequently all together. We urge that you refrain from this type of behavior.
  3. In addition to #2 We do not believe that relocating oneself on the floor closer to the TV is acceptable behavior. We will ask that you pick up the food that will have undoubtedly spilled everywhere and return to your table.
  4. We also do not recommend leaving the table and bringing several coloring books and crayons back to the table for an impromptu art show. Although here at Daddy Cows we fully support the local arts, however we do have a time and place for such exhibitions to be displayed. Might we recommend several pieces of scotch tape and (contrary to what management would tell you) any available wall space would be acceptable.
  5. As a friendly reminder we want to remind our patrons that although we have several staff members that have a long background in musical theater, the sudden bursting into song at the table is not recommended. In particular we ask that you refrain from the following: Party in the USA, the theme song to the movie: 9 to 5, and most church hymns. We ask that you simply allow our patrons to enjoy their meal, and save the performance until afterward.
  6. We recommend that Ranch not be used as a main dish.
  7. In the event that management allows a musical score for your evening meal, we ask that you not shout at our Musical Director: Alexa, to play the following: Baby Shark, the theme song to Super Mario Odyssey, or the Trolls movie soundtrack. Management prefers from the following selections: Smooth Jazz, Jazz Piano, or Soft Sounds of the Piano played by mostly Jazz musicians.
  8. For those of you compelled to use the restroom (closest in proximity to the dining room) during mealtime we will be implanting the following rules.
    1. 1st, please refrain from removing your shirt whilst using the facilities. We understand that the temptation to gain optimal comfort is within anyone’s best interest in your situation, but we ask that all shirts remain on at this time.
    2. Please refrain from excessive reading during this time. We at Daddy Cows want our patrons to enjoy their meal at the ideal temperature, and recommend restroom use be limited to, but not to exceed 47 minutes.
    3. We ask, (and can’t stress this enough) that all patrons using the restroom please refrain from having conversations with other members of your party with the door open. Our guests are trying to enjoy their meals, and this type of behavior may prohibit them from doing so.

We hope you will agree with management in refraining as best you can from the following that was just mentioned. In addition to the manner requirements we do have one final rule that is above all the most important rule here at Daddy Cows restaurant.

The most important rule is that you enjoy your experience with us this evening. We at Daddy Cows encourage laughter, conversation, and sharing of stories, feelings, and all that entails. If you’ve had a bad day, we want to hear about it. If you’re having a great day, even better! Spare no detail. We also want to remind our guests that we are thankful for the food that we have been blessed with. We want to emphasize how important a family meal time is, and by an extension of this our chef recommends that most meals the television will otherwise be unavailable. (However there may be exceptions made by the head waiter during the month of March as is customary during March Madness)  We like to joke, we like to be silly, and we like to remind all who dine with us to know that the time spent around the table with family is the best part of our day.

Ok, so how was everything this evening? Wonderful. Sir, I couldn’t help but notice that you somehow managed to convince the kitchen staff to allow you a few more cookies for dessert? Well I want to thank you for dining with us this evening. I also want to thank you for volunteering for the mandatory clearing of plates and bussing your own table. I know management has been very happy with how this practice has been implemented into our dining experience. And so now who is going to be handling the check this evening? Ma’am? Sir? You? Miss? The one who has made your way into our adjacent game room several times throughout the course of the meal. …..Oh, I see. Put it on your tab. Very well then. Well thank you for choosing Daddy Cows, and remember to tip your waiter…..or at the very least a hug would be nice.

Fatherhood? It’s a Mess.

When given the opportunity to share some of my thoughts on what it means to me to be a father I found myself coming back a television show I frequented in my own youth: the Nickelodeon show Double Dare. If you’re at all familiar with this show then you will hopefully agree with me in deeming it an appropriate metaphor for the daily tasks that await you as a Dad.

You will be put on the spot and asked a lot of questions. A LOT of questions. You will have some sort of physical challenge that will most likely involve you being on all fours interpreting some sort of barnyard animal. This could either be a horsey, bucking bronco, or in my case….a cow. (It is also my hope that this unfair classification has no bearing on my physical appearance and/ or stamina of this animal. In fact I have yet to determine as to why my children found it appropriate to assign the cow as my spirit animal in the first place.) And most importantly, just as the final challenge of Double Dare undoubtedly involved the contestants going through a barrage of challenges all the while becoming more and more…messy.

Yes, fatherhood is a mess.

A mess in every sense of the word. Physical, emotional, financial, spiritual, and everything in between. It’s that mess of toothpaste that the kids seem to leave behind after they “brush their teeth.”  You know the kind. The kind that has had some time to quickly harden to point of a fossil stuck in the sink.  Now you are charged with the task of digging into your bag of paleontology tools and find the right chisel for the job. Wondering did any toothpaste actually make it on the brush? It’s the mess of you genuinely trying to be as gentle as possible when brushing your screaming daughter’s hair. Certain that she is mentally setting you on fire with each yank, and pull of the brush. All the while screaming “This isn’t how Mommy does it!!!”

It’s the mess of having it look like a Toys R Us just threw up what was left of their Barbie inventory in your pew at church. Not to mention the antsy, disinterested 2 year old is not very good at keeping those slippery Cheerios in her hand, and 87% of those Cheerios are now littering the floor in a manner that will ensure that you are only able to find 6% of them.

Yes, it is a mess. But it is also a beautiful, amazingly awesome mess that I would not want to change one tiny bit of it. It’s my mess, and I love it. -( At this point I should remind you that in Double Dare the contestants are not facing these challenges alone, no they are side by side slipping through the slime with their teammate. So am I.  My wife Shannon, being the amazing, patient soul that she is usually finds herself not only playing the part of the game show contestant, but also the director, and more often than not the janitor that has to clean up the stage after the show has been filmed.) -It’s me being there for my kids every day in every way that I can. It’s me being their bodyguard, their psychiatrist, their coach, their personal chef, their back-up singer/ dancer, their proofreader, their audience, their Uber driver, their protector, their friend, their hero.

I am here to be all those things. (Let me clarify by saying I try to be all those things to my children, sometimes I fail miserably) Trust me, there are days when we most certainly are flipping each other off behind closed doors, but again it’s a mess. One that I find myself enjoying more and more each day the older my children become.

So for those of you just starting out in your journey of Fatherhood, or those seasoned veterans that are further along yet. Please allow me to offer my own few anecdotes or pearls of wisdom-ish that I hope helps you along in your journey.

1. Even if you can’t carry a tune you need to have a “go-to” song to sing to your child at bedtime. Any song from any genre is acceptable. (Within reason) In the severe case that you’re singing may cause a screaming baby to become more agitated humming is acceptable as well. (Later revealed to me in my adult years my own Father chose Kenny Roger’s, The Gambler, simply for the fact that this was the only song he knew all the words to.)

2. Fathers of daughters, you will have to (and this is non-negotiable) allow your daughter to paint your toe-nails at some point. Come one. It’s just your toe nails. You hide them in your socks every day. And no matter what color scheme is chosen, and how it may appear as though it was applied during an earthquake, the only acceptable reaction is, “Oh, I love them!! So pretty! ”

And 3. There is no wrong time or place for a dance party. Sorry Big Lots. Maybe next time don’t play so much Earth, Wind and Fire and we won’t have to stop traffic on aisle 6.

Fatherhood is a mess. It’s a M. Marvelous E. Exciting S. Sometimes S. Slimy , Mess. Speaking of which. If you’ll excuse me I need to find my helmet and elbow pads because the 2 year old that hasn’t pooped in a week is working up a sweat, hiding in her room denying entry to all. Which usually means we have lift off!