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Applying New Skills to the Art of Parenting

Who knew that braiding and manicuring would be essential for a father of two?

Whoever said, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” stopped having kids by 25.

Since the “gruesome twosome” came along, I feel as though I am in a weird Freudian dream-boot camp in which I am forced on a daily basis to acquire new and bizarre skills while under the careful watch of miniature twin drill instructors.

I am proud to have mastered the art of braiding hair. Of course, now that I can do it blindfolded, they each insist on a French braid. They are 3! My wife has got to stop watching "America’s Next Top Model" in front of the girls. (Just in case she doesn’t, I am brushing up on my pattern making and sewing skills.)

I have turned into quite the manicurist too. Ironic, since I bite my nails…more so now than when I didn’t have kids…but that’s for another article. I can apply nail polish on their tiny little toes with the artistic and technical ability of the great masters….like Madge. (Does anyone get the obscure and dated reference or did I just prove that I am older than dirt?) And yes, I can hold my masculine, hetero head high when I say that I know my Purple Pronto from my Flashy Fuschia.

I put on my best Harvey Fierstein voice while I do the magic on their tiny digits. “So I says to him, I says…” The twins look at me bewildered. A look I am getting used to on a daily basis.

To be quite frank, I have so much useless crap jammed in my head that I didn’t want to learn anything new. I can tell you how Ralph Kramden and Alice met. I know why Steinbeck named his protagonist in "Of Mice and Men," Milton. I can name the starting line-up of the 1969 Mets. Who cares? This is why I don’t have a pot to pee in. Useless crapolla that now must make room for the names of each character of "The Backyardigans." Pablo is my favorite. Of course I am now becoming a huge "Bubble Guppy" fan and partial to Nonny. I just reread the last few sentences and wonder how it is that I consider myself a literary snob…which I am.

I have squeezed out the definition of endoplasmic reticulum to make room for proper tea party etiquette. I have dismissed the steps to solve *multivariable calculus and *linear algebra to be able to identify Sleeping Beauty, Ariel, Belle, and Snow White by hair color.  I have made room between Cantos 1 & 2 of "Dante’s Inferno" in order to distinguish capri legging from regular and to eye-ball an outfit from 500 paces to know if it’s a 2T or 3T.

Despite my M.A. in English and my M.F.A. in Creative Writing, there is one skill that I haven’t mastered that I fear on a daily basis…S.P.E.L.L.I.N.G. O.U.T. W.O.R.D.S. My wife does it effortlessly (and she’s only a math teacher). I am constantly saying to her, “Wait. What? Slow down. Spell it again.” I didn’t realize being a father meant that I had to take a T. E. S. T.

*Before my wife writes a nasty rebuttal, I have no clue what multivariable calculus is. I know what a multivitamin is…does that count? (No pun intended). As for linear algebra….I think it’s a straight line of that slimy green stuff in water. T. H. E. E. N. D.

Yankee Man June 11, 2011 at 06:37 PM
I dont think this anything to do with you age, but more to do with a guy suddenly having twin girls. Your a great dad to do the girlie things. The same can be said for moms who never played a singl baseball game suddenly knowing every rule in the game when they give birth to three boys . You either can interestd in with interests your kid or you miss out on their lives.
Rick Morgan June 11, 2011 at 06:48 PM
Your girls are lucky to have an older Dad. I am an older Dad myself so I can relate to the things you say. Terrific and funny too. I await your next cry of pain (& happiness)! Keep it up!
amy romano June 11, 2011 at 09:35 PM
As always, your words are thought provoking and you so beautifully articulate what all parents have felt at one time or another! Great read!
Dan Goldbeck June 12, 2011 at 12:35 PM
Great article. It sounds like you're having such a wonderful time. Let us know when you can braid both girls' hair at the same time. I know it's a skill you'll master soon.
Jenn June 12, 2011 at 12:52 PM
My husband can't spell either - I thought it was just him! =) Keep writing!
Barry H. Kaplan June 12, 2011 at 03:17 PM
Cute article. Thanks for sharing. G.O.O.D. J.O.B. Barry Kaplan
Carol M June 12, 2011 at 03:59 PM
Thoroughly enjoyed your story. I do love this type of writing. ....and to boot, I learned that crapolla has two lls, and not one! (Also remember Madge.....You're soaking in it!!!!!)
Todd Steinberg June 12, 2011 at 04:18 PM
GREAT! HA!
Todd Steinberg June 12, 2011 at 04:18 PM
I meant..... G.R.E.A.T.! H.A.!
Suzi Guardia June 12, 2011 at 04:55 PM
Glad I have boys....don't have to do the braiding, yet.
Michele timmons June 12, 2011 at 05:20 PM
Great article. As a mother of three boys who grew up in a family of 3 girls I relate on a whole different level. I leaned all the soccer rules and can even call offsides better than most dads! One minor correction so you don't get thrown out of the DisneyPrincess club... Its Belle not Bell. :)
Randy Levin June 12, 2011 at 07:29 PM
Yeah....my wife yelled at me about that mistake. Thanks
catherine June 13, 2011 at 02:33 AM
This gets funnier each week! Loved this week's article. And yes I can still see Madge's face....I think that makes me older than you!!! Big difference...I have a French grandaughter that not only did I have to learn how to french braid I had to learn FRENCH! They say it helps delay dementia. Think of all the brain cells you're saving!
Laura Silverberg June 13, 2011 at 12:40 PM
I think it's great that a Dad can be "hands on" with all the important things -- getting the clothing together according to the latest style and making braids and painting toenails. I think your girls will benefit from having a Dad who can do all those "girly" things. I hope they grow up to have men in their lives that will be there for them as you are now. Sorry to hear that there may not be more articles to look forward to. Laura
Marjorie M. Delmar June 13, 2011 at 01:37 PM
Always enjoy the wit and insight into behavior that you bring to various themes, Randy. Just great writing, demonstrating talent and creative spin on various topics. What we may think sometimes, but certainly never write down. I applaud you!!!!! I truly look forward to upcoming articles. And there will be more, right??? Margie, An Admirer
marc Lowenberg June 13, 2011 at 01:38 PM
Look forward to reading these articles every week--these days its one of the few things that make me smile.
V W June 13, 2011 at 10:12 PM
Best yet! May I please make an appointment for a mani pedi?
V W June 13, 2011 at 10:17 PM
Oh, no! Just read other comments. Is there a chance of no more articles? Need to have my weekly humor, and you do it so well. Is this publication having a "senior" moment and not realizing how much fun you put into so many lives? Are they reading the comments? We L.O.V.E. Y.O.U., Randy! Please don't stop. Let us know where you go if you leave here.
Legend of Zelda Fan June 18, 2011 at 07:57 PM
Too bad, but you are going to miss out on the joy of helping your kids with calculus and linear algebra. I'm still amazed that I remember any of it, but it's way cool to impress your teenager (and their friends who have come over for a "calculus party") when you remember how to integrate a shape rotated around the Y axis.

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