Happy Father’s Day – Special Recession Edition

June 21, 2009

“I see you everyday taking your daughter and dog for a walk,” the eight-year-old girl said while running her tiny right hand along the back of my Shepherd-Rotty mix, Kona, before continuing, “You’re a good daddy.”

“Thank you, Stephanie. We like our walks. We go on two or three of them a day.”

“You don’t have a job, do you.”

And there it was… It was more of a statement than a question.

“I have a job. I’m a daddy.”

“No, I mean a real job.”

In some weird way, I felt the need to defend my situation to an eight-year-old girl. I didn’t quite know how to explain to Stephanie that being a stay-at-home dad IS a job, and a very hard one at that. I decided to keep it simple.

“Well Stephanie, my wife works and I stay home with the baby.”

Not looking up from petting Kona, she responded, “That’s weird.”

I have been home with my Isabel since she was two-months-old (she is now almost seven-months-old).  My wife and I didn’t plan that I was going to be the one to stay home and care for our daughter. We had other plans that all fell by the wayside, and we were left with few other options.

What tilted the scales? The economy. Or to be more precise, the lack thereof. Like a broken record, let’s all say it together – THE RECESSION.

I know, I know, at this point we’re all sick and tired of hearing about “THE RECESSION,” but there is no denying that we are all in it together.

My 9-to5 job in the construction trade of seismic retrofitting was greatly affected when banks got stricter about handing out loans back in August of 2008. Ever since then, a 40hr work week was a rarity cherished by all on the crew. When Isabel was born I took one day off to get my wife and new baby settled in before continuing to work while there was work to be had. The jobs were sporadic right up until December 31st, and then they stopped completely.

Lucky for us, my wife was able to arrange working from home for the next three months, so at least we knew we had some money coming in. Our situation is different than that of most people in the U.S.A. We are in the entertainment industry, a very fickle business even without factoring in the current economic situation. She’s a freelance producer/writer and I’m an actor/writer. On any given day, only 2% of actors are working. Unfortunately, I’m usually on the other side of that percentage scale. Since I couldn’t count on me suddenly booking something as an actor, I had to rely on one of my many other skills. Throughout the month of January I got odd jobs here and there doing handy-man work.

“I need you home, Honey,” my wife said to me from behind exhausted eyes a month into her stretch working from home. Between working and caring for our newborn, she wasn’t getting any sleep.

We did some number crunching and figured out that if I worked a 40hr week (which the number of times I had since August of 2008 could be counted on one hand) and paid for child care, by week’s end I would have made $100 for the household. Twenty years from now was I going to remember that $100 a week extra I made crawling under houses all over Los Angeles, or the time I spent with my daughter? The decision was easy. From that moment on, I became a stay-at-home dad.

Here we are, first time parents, living off of one income and counting every penny. And we have never been happier.

In a way, the recession has made everyone know what it’s like to live the life of an actor; forced to live on a budget, constantly looking for work and rethinking career decisions. I’ve been living in a “recession” since I moved to Los Angeles in 1992.

“I have to go home now,” Stephanie said as she kissed Kona on the muzzle.

“You live in that house there?” I asked, pointing across the street.

“Yup,” she said, this time hugging Kona.

Since I became a stay-at-home dad, or a S.A.H.D. (such a misleading acronym if there ever was one), I have been taking daily walks with Isabel and Kona. One of the benefits of these walks has been the privilege of meeting my neighbors. For example, I have noticed a lot of different people coming in and out of Stephanie’s house.

“How many people live with you Stephanie?”

“My mom, my dad, my brother, a few of my aunts and uncles and some cousins, a few friends of my dad…”

I interrupted her because one individual in particular stuck out to me. “What about the man in the truck out in front of your house?” I had been dying to ask someone about him because I had noticed that if the truck was there he was always inside it or on the porch of the house.

“He’s a friend of my dad’s. That’s where he lives. I have to go.” And with that she crossed the street, walking in front of the truck parked next to her house, while the man who lived in it downed a beer and listened to the radio.

He noticed me watching Stephanie run home and he raised his hand up giving me a wave. I waved back and continued with my walk.

“We’re very fortunate,” I thought to myself as I rounded the corner and took one last look at the true victims of this recession.

Before my daughter was born, I asked my friends who are parents for their best piece of advice. It was overwhelmingly the same piece of advice: Enjoy every moment. They grow up quickly.

And that is what I did – and continue to do – everyday.

This is a very special father’s day for me for a few reasons. First of all, because it’s my first one as someone’s dad. Secondly, I can honestly say that I have a newfound respect for my father and all his hard work over the years. Not only did he provide me with a roof over my head and food on the table, but along the way he also showed me how to extend both my arms and my heart to my children, as well as to those around me. He is the very definition of teaching by example.

Recently someone said to me, “You must be a great dad, Jason, because Isabel is such a happy baby. Don’t you ever forget the impact a father has on his children, and I’m talking right from the moment they are born. Know that whatever you’re doing, it must be working, so keep doing it.”

Stay-at-home dads are a rare breed, and it’s the toughest, most rewarding job that I have ever known. I was even fortunate enough to find a “Mommies’ Group” that has opened their elite club to Isabel and me. (I never realized that most mommy groups don’t allow men because of the whole “breastfeeding” thing.) I know that some dads get all “macho” and will refuse to stay home while their wives go out and work. I’ve never understood that mentality, and it’s their loss. My wife and I will do what has to be done for the benefit of our family. Believe me, she wanted nothing more than to be at home with our little one, but she knew that she had to do what was going to be best for our family.

This father’s day I want to celebrate more than to be celebrated. I am extremely lucky and grateful to be a stay-at-home dad, and I hope to make it last as long as I can. Through a true twist of irony, I have the current recession to thank for it.

During these unsure times when you think it’s tough, I want you to remember that at least you don’t have to live in your truck while you wait out the hard times.

Happy Father’s Day!
I am a Stay-At-Home Dad


Pooper Scooper

March 7, 2009

“Just take this in there and scoop the poop out of the diaper with the spoon provided.”

“Excuse me?” I said utterly bewildered with newness to daddy-hood.

Maybe I should back up a little bit. I know that I’m still very new to this being a parent thing, hell, our daughter is three months old but what this day held in store for me I didn’t sign up for when I agreed to impregnate my wife.

Earlier this morning my wife and I took our daughter to the doctors. I’ve never been a fan of doctors (what man really is?) but I like our daughter’s pediatrician.

“Hey guys, what’s going on today?” Dr. Sloan asked. As doctors do.

“Well,” my wife took control of the situation. As wives do. “Her poops have been smelling like ammonia for the past two days and we’re concerned.”

When she says “we’re concerned” she really means “she’s concerned”. I’m more old school and kept saying, “Whatever she’s got she’ll shit it out.”

“Does she have a fever?” Dr. Sloan asked.

“No.” My wife answered.

“How about a loss of appetite?”

“No.”

“Has she been fussy?”

“Nope.”

This is where I wanted to say, “See, for once, I’m right.” But as always, I wasn’t.

“Well, I’m going to write you a prescription.”

“For what?” I thought to myself. Didn’t my wife just say that our kids fine other than her poop smelling like ammonia? Well, it turns out that you need a prescription to have specialist examine your child’s stool sample. Only in America.

Scribbling on her note pad she said, “When she has her next stool sample, keep the diaper and take it to this address.” She tore the paper from her doctor notepad and handed it to us.

So I did as I was instructed. The next time baby pooped, I put the evidence into a gallon sized zip lock bag and took it to the laboratory. While signing in they place a large sandwich size zip lock bag in front of me. On it, in huge black bold capital letters read the word “BIOHAZARD”.

“Here you go.” I said, while attempting to hand them my zip lock bag full of soiled diaper.

“Ha, ha, ha…no Mr. Lassen. You have to transfer the sample from the diaper into a plastic cup. Just take this in there and scoop the poop out of the diaper with the spoon provided.”

“Excuse me?” I said utterly bewildered with newness to daddy-hood.

“Here are some plastic gloves for you. Bathrooms right there to your left.”

I felt dirty.

I thought to myself, “Let me get this straight. You want me to go and scrape the poop out of my daughter’s hour’s old dirty diaper with a spoon and put it in a plastic cup?” I know times are tough in this current economy but who knew that the first to be let go from laboratories were the “dirty diaper shit scrapers.”

“Make sure to get as much as you can. I find that it’s sometimes better to use the cup itself to scoop up the sample rather then use the spoon.”

I rolled up my sleeves, looked them all in the eyes, “That sounded like a challenge. And I accept you challenge.” I grabbed my bags and made my way to the bathroom. I strategically placed all the items in front of me in order of their use from left to right. First up, the green plastic gloves, so that the shit sample doesn’t get contaminated. It’s odd when the priority is to not get shit on your hands for the shits sake. “Shit getting contaminated.” It just made me laugh. All of us men are really 12 year old boys at heart and I’m no exception. Juvenile moment over, back to work.

I struggled slipping the tiny green glove over my big paw that I call a left hand.

“RRRRIIIIIPPPPPPP!”

Fuck.

I popped my head out of the bathroom door. “Excuse me. Can I get another glove?”

They all laughed and I was handed another green glove.

Maybe it’ll go on easier if I place it on my hand as far as it go, blow into it and it’ll inflate it?

“POP!”

Nope.

Before I could open the bathroom door to ask for yet, another green glove, there was a knock at the door.

“Occupied.” I said prying the broken glove off my hand.

“Mr. Lassen, it sounded to us out here like you are in need of another glove.”

I opened the door and the nice man laughing handed me another green glove.

After some careful struggling, I got the gloves on.

The smell that wafted out of the zip lock bag with the grubby diaper when I un-zipped it was… well, it was not pleasant. And I grew up on a farm, so I know “unpleasant” smells. It didn’t help any that it had a few hours to ferment. I placed the plastic cup down, unscrew the cap and place it on a paper towel. I was not about to get shit all over the place except for in the cup or on my nifty green gloves. I unwrapped the spoon from its wrapper.

“What the fuck is this?”

It was a tongue depressor not a spoon.

“Great. Just great.”

While I was standing there in my tight green gloves, scraping shit out of my daughter’s soiled diaper with a tongue depressor I thought to myself, “Now, I know and have known many people with kids, and I have NEVER heard of anyone else EVER having to do this. This is the type of things parents don’t tell people thinking about having kids because if they did, those people would get a hamster instead.”

I came out of the bathroom, mission accomplished.

“Thank you Mr. Lassen.”

“Oh no, thank you for this experience.”

“Ummm, Mr. Lassen?”

“Yes.” I said proudly, expecting him to complement me on my immaculate shit scraping skills. I was wrong.

“This may not be enough. Did you get as much as you could?”

“There wasn’t much to get.”

He reached behind the counter and handed me another plastic zip lock bag with the word, “BIOHAZARD!” written on it. Inside it was a set of green plastic gloves, a plastic cup and a “spoon”.

“We may need you to collect more samples if this isn’t enough to perform all the test. We’ll call and let you know.”

“And that’s one call I’ll be looking forward to. Thank you kind sir.”

“Have a good weekend Mr. Lassen.”

“You to.” It’ll be best if I don’t have to treasure hunting in my daughter’s diaper anymore.

Oh, the things we parents do for our kids. I’m just finding out and I have a feeling that this is only the beginning.

I AM a Purple Dino Type


Halloween in Da “Wood”

October 28, 2008

I love Halloween.

Other than my birthday it’s one of my favorite holidays.

If your birthday is in October, more likely than not if you have a party it’s going to be a combo birthday/Halloween party. How cool is that? October is the one month out of the year when I’m not the only one putting on a costume for the party. Bring on the “Naughty Nurse” or “Slutty School Girl” outfits, mommies. It’s great when the mommies at parties get dressed up and try to prove to other mommies that they are a “MILF.”

Unfortunately, this is not true for all mommies.

I had a one-hour clown in Inglewood, i.e., “the Wood,” for a child’s birthday/Halloween party. I showed up and none of the adults were dressed up, unless you count having major attitude as a costume.

I did my usually thing and played with the kids. Halfway through the party the mom came stomping up to me and looked pissed off.

“You better do face paint. I paid for face paint, I’m gonna’ git face paint, god damn-it!” All this was said while she waved her fat finger around in my face.

“Ok. I can do that.” It’s the least I could do since you asked so nicely.

So I painted faces, god damn-it.

Once I was done I started to put my paints away when the mom came over and plopped herself down in the chair in front of me.

“You ain’t done yet, clown!” She exclaimed as she put her fat finger back to work and pointed to her face.

“What would you like me to paint on your face?” I asked as nicely as I could because that’s my way.

“I WANT you to put a fucking red heart on my left check. And don’t make it look all stupid and stuff. It better be fucking cute or I ain’t payin’ yo’ ass. You got that, clown?”

“One very cute, red heart coming up.” You stupid bitch.

“And once yo’ done wid dat, I WANT you to paint my baby daddy’s name on my arm. Right here, clown. Do yo’ hear me?” And she stuck out her tremendously huge arm. If she had asked me to write the Declaration of Independence on her arm I could have, her arm was that big. And yet her arm was dwarfed by her ginormous attitude.

“I can do that.” I should’ve gotten an academy award for my performance that day as, “The Patient Clown.”

“Yo’ betta’ not fuck it up either. Or I ain’t payin’ yo’. Yo’ got that, clown?”

Someone took her “I’m a bitch” pill today.

The baby daddy came over to watch me immortalize his name on his baby momma’s arm. Lucky guy.

“Hey, clown. Do you know how to do anything with helium balloons?”

“No.”

He didn’t need to know that I once worked at a balloon store and could make balloon sculptures that would blow his mind. If they had been nicer to me I would’ve most likely done something small, yet impressive.

I’m a pushover that way.

Too bad his baby momma was such a bitch to me. I feel sorry for the guy.

Note to self: Don’t knock up a crazy bitch.

I AM a Purple Dino Type


A Father’s Love Has No Boundries…Or Does It?

May 5, 2008

I hate being late to work.

I may have up to four parties in one day but to the clients it’s their ONLY party of the day. I’ve made it a habit to treat every party I work as if it’s the only one I have that day. Some don’t appreciate my thoughtfulness and still feel the need to bitch. On this particular day I was running fifteen minutes late.

At least I wasn’t a Purple Dino. I was dressed as my clown character, “Sleepi,” so it was nice that I could arrive, park, get to work, and not have to worry about changing and being even later than I already was. Did I mention that I hate being late?

I parked at the first space I found; oddly, it was closer to the house than one would think considering that there was a party going on. “Maybe a lot of the guests are late and the client won’t mind, or even notice, that I’m late? Excellent!”

As I got closer to the house I could see a bunch of kids behind a chain link fence playing and running around in the front yard. They all looked to be older kids, from seven to thirteen-years-old.

“Strange,” I thought to myself, “The party is for a two-year-old girl named Kim, and from what I could tell she was the only one in her age range.”

As I got closer, one of the older kids saw me approaching and pointed me out to the birthday girl.

“Look Kimmy! It’s a clown!”

She was petrified.

Kimmy hid behind one of the older kids, not even peering around him to gawk at me curiously. I prepared myself mentally for what looked to be the beginnings of a very looooooooong two-hour gig. What kind of kid doesn’t like clown?

I opened the gate and let myself in. I started to open my mouth to introduce myself but was stopped by a car racing down the street honking its horn. It drove slightly over the curb and stopped right next to house. Inside the lime green convertible Cadillac were three men covered in tattoos and wearing the same brand of dark sunglasses. If I had to guess, I would say they were around twenty-years-old.

“Hey clown! Come over here.” The guy in the back seat yelled over to me as if I were way down the street and not just five feet to the side of him. To emphasize his need to speak to me he motioned to me with his hand to come over.

I thought maybe they wanted directions so I went over to the fence to explain to them that I wasn’t from around here.

“No man, come here.” The guy in the passenger seat said and pointed down next to the passenger side door.

Isn’t this how some bad news stories start? “Clown abducted. News at eleven.”

I went over to the car anyway. What can I say? I like to live life on the edge. Like my cousin James always says, “If you’re not living life dangerously, you’re not living.”

“Hey clown dude. I’m Kimmie’s fatha’. Where da’ udder clowns at?”

“There are no other clowns. Just me,” I informed him.

The guy in the front passenger seat chimed in.

“How’s it goin’ so far?”

“I just got here like a minute ago. Kimmie’s afraid of me.”

“Meet us up round da’ corner,” Kim’s dad said.

Once again, isn’t this how some bad news stories start? “Clown abducted. The stupid bastard went around the corner. News at eleven.”

So I followed them around the corner. I’m a sucker for anything out of the ordinary.

The dad was out of the car by the time I caught up with them. The better to grab me I guess.

“Yo, check dis’ out. I told da’ dude on the phone tha’ I wanted three clowns fo’ two hours.”

“I don’t know about any other clowns. My sheet shows that it’s just one clown for two hours. I don’t know what to tell you.”

“Dat’s cool. Tell ya’ wha’. You tell ya boss tha’ we all cancelled it and shit.”

“If that’s what you want…I can do the party. It’s not a problem.”

“No, no, no, check it out. I’m gonna give you dis’ here fiddy bucks. And yous gonna go back fo’ just fifteen mo’ minutes.”

“Did you already discuss this with the mom? Because I haven’t met her yet and no one told me anything.”

“I can’t do tha’ man. That bitch’s got a restraining order on me. I can’t go within one hundred yards of the house. I can’t go to my own baby’s party. Isn’t that fucked up?”

“Completely.” I agreed.

“We cool clown?”

“Yah, no problem.”

“I don’t think you understand clown. I SAID… we cool right?”

“We cool.” I said, as ‘cool’ as I could say it while being dressed as a clown and having make up on my face.

“Thanks man. Give ma’ baby anythin’ she want.”

I walked back to the house and was greeted by one of the children.

“Where da’ fuck you bean clown?”

Excuse me? When I left, these kids seemed happy to see me. While I was gone they turned into filthy mouthed little monsters. They must have abandonment issues, or else Kimmy’s not the only one whose daddy got a restraint order for Christmas. If you think about it, deep down inside don’t we all have daddy issues?

I decided to spend my fifteen minutes making balloon animals. With every passing second the children exponentially got more and more unpleasant. It was like the plague. One kid would get it and pass it on to another. Before I knew it they were all dropping the “F”-bomb on me. The two boys who started it all were the worst, AND THEY WERE EIGHT AND NINE YEARS OLD!

I’m glad I was only staying for fifteen minutes. I thought about leaving earlier but I could see Kimmy’s dad one hundred and one yards parked down the street. So that thought went right out of my head. It’s a long walk to my car. Long enough to get shot a few times.

“Ok, who’s next?”

One of my “shit starter” nine-year-old boys spoke up, “Me man. I’m next.”

“What do you want?”

“Make me a pussy, man.”

“Why do you want a pussy cat?” I asked knowing what he really meant.

“No man. I said a pussy. So I can fuck it.”

What do you say to that? “OK?” I don’t think so. I didn’t say anything and just shot him a disapproving look. Then he changed his request.

“Make me a woman.”

I tapped him on the head with a balloon and said, “Poof, you’re a woman.”

All the other kids laughed at him. The boy didn’t like that too much. One of the other boys spoke up.

“You’re my old lady, man.”

What does that even mean?

“I’m fuckin’ talkin’ to you clown.”

Am I on candid camera?

I gave them lollypops but they couldn’t care less. I was done with them. My fifteen minutes were way up. I glanced down the street and saw “Daddy” hold up a thumb to me and drive away. I kept my promise. I told them I was leaving.

One of the girls said to me, “You can’t leave until we say.”

“You’re wrong. I’m leaving NOW.”

As I was packing away my balloon pump to leave, the mother finally made an appearance.

“Where you goin’?” She asked.

“I saw Kim’s father and he told me he wanted to cancel the show.”

“That mutha’ fucka’!” She turned around and ran inside the house.

So that’s where the kids learned how to use the “F”-bomb.

The kids were all yelling obscenities at me as I was leaving. I closed the chain link fence door behind me, turned, and addressed the children. And by this point when I call them “children” I use the term loosely because it implies some sense of innocence. A quality lost on these little ones.

“By the way, you’re all a bunch of little foul mouthed brats.”

“Fuck you, clown.”

Oh, no…. Fuck you. “Have a nice day.”

I AM a Purple Dino Type.