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Springing back: 7 tips for helping your family re-acclimate to tolerable weather

This week’s blog post is by WDP co-host Matt Rocco, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood of Chicago with Professor Foster (his “Brown Mom” wife), and their daughter Viva, who has forgotten what plants, birds and smiles look like.

Whenever something long and terrible ends, like a work week, one of our daughter’s tantrums, or the movie “Gone Girl,” my wife always sings a lyric from the last song of The Wiz:

Everybody look around –

’cause there’s a reason to rejoice, you see –

Everybody come out,

And let’s commence to singing joyfully …

Can’t you feel a brand new day?

Can’t you feel a brand new day?

She’s been singing it a lot this week, because the winter of 2014/15, while not quite as Hoth-tatious as last winter, but still exceptionally awful, is finally on its way out. (Cue snow.)

Trouble, is we’ve forgotten how to behave when we’re not shivering, shut-in and miserable. We’ve forgotten what outside is like, where the window buttons to the car are located, what restaurants are in our neighborhood, what grass feels like under our feet and how to love.

We are merely hollow-eyed, soulless wraiths driving in dirty cars, ordering dinner from Grubhub, and swearing at traffic cameras. Chicago Winter is like the walls to Shawshank – first you hate it, then you get used to it. Enough time passes, you get so you depend on it. That’s Chicago Winter. Well, friends, to continue on the Shawshank jag: It’s time to get busy Springing, or get busy dying.

Here are my tips to getting your family re-entered into a world that’s less Elsa’s palace and more … Tiana’s swamp.

Dig out from under the avalanche of filth

The city is disgusting right now – a cesspool of road salt, cinders, soggy litter and dog poop. Ohhhh, the dog poop. At least, I hope it’s dog poop.

Everything is dirty, wet and smelly – and that’s not even accounting the frat boy body fluid clogged streets of Wrigleyville after St. Paddy’s weekend.

You won’t be happy until your crib doesn’t look like Yoda’s crib, so treat yourself to a car wash – inside and out. Hose off your deck. Wash your windows. Reseed the slough of despond that used to be your little yard. Get all your gray smudged coats and pants cleaned. Rent a backhoe and take your dog’s poop to the river.

And if you’re in Wrigleyville, don’t worry, the tears of the fans of woefully overrated Cubs will soon douche the broham puke from the gutters.

Remember where you stored the wheels

Do you vaguely recall that prior to Thanksgiving, your child always slid past you like Gumby? That’s because they were always on skates, or heelies, or a scooter, or a skateboard, or a bike. Find where you stored those, tune them up, and give them back to the little ones.

It’s time to stop going to urgent care for the flu and time to start going for minor head trauma.

Scotchgard your kid and head for a park

The first few trips back to park are going to be more than a little messy. Somehow there’s road salt on the swings, and the slides are so muddy they look like “Double Dare” pudding troughs. The only way the clean it all off is by using the young people of our city as flailing little Swiffers. Dress them in the Christmas outfits you never liked, and let them enjoy the jungle gyms – they’ll be doing a public service.

Eat something that isn’t brought to you in a bag with sauce packets and sporks

Perhaps something that once grew in the ground? Perhaps something without 50 times your daily recommended salt intake? Perhaps something unaccompanied by a cookie that tells the future?

There are few problems Chicagoans have that losing 100 pounds per capita wouldn’t help.

I’m down 65 already and it’s just from putting away my giardiniera trowel.

Get reacquainted with the neighbors you don’t like

You moved to the city to be closer to people. Time to go out and embrace that stupid choice.

Say hello to the lady who hates your tree branches, to the guy trying to talk you into his hippie charter school where this kids make their own hummus, to the shifty-eyed loner you fear might make this the year to get stabby. Now is a great time for you to tell the people who dumped all THEIR garage snow in front of YOUR garage about the alleged proclivities of their mothers.

It’s spring – insulting people is no longer just for Facebook!

Remember that car refrigeration season is over

Let me stick a PSA in here – don’t leave that clandestine Harold’s chicken or that furtive Al’s beef in your ride anymore – you’ll end up with a belly full of sea monkeys. It’s inconvenient to have to start bringing your leftovers indoors, but the good news is, you’ll no longer run an errand and come back to a 20 ounce Intelligensia-sicle in your cup holder.

Stop drinking because you are sad – Start drinking because you are happy

I was on a playground this weekend in an upscale Chicago neighborhood and saw a klatch of dads openly drinking craft beers from Belgian tulip glasses while their kids played soccer and climbed. And I say to them, “God Bless you, you dissolute, scofflaw, borderline alcoholics – you’re living the good life!”

Stop clutching a whiskey in your trembling hand as you look for something you haven’t seen on Netflix and the snow falls outside your window. Head out to a beer event with the family and defile yourself socially and with the sun on your face.

Enjoy the end of winter, everybody! Just a few more days until we can once again commence with bitching about the heat, road construction and how much we all hate The Taste!

Can’t you feel a brand new day?

If you’ve enjoyed this Parenting Media Association Award Winning blog, subscribe to the WDP podcast (One of Podbean’s 10 most downloaded Parenting Podcasts worldwide and an iTunes staff pick for best Parenting humor) for free on iTunes, or listen at whitedadproblems.com. (Do note that the show has a potty mouth and is definitely for Over 17 Only.)

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