How to Choose an Appropriate Name for Your Offspring

Names are important. Names are what you carry with you through your entire life. You can’t escape them.

In the exciting and terrifying first weeks of finding out that you are going to be parents, one of the biggest topics is what you will call your spawn. New parents will read name books, credits of movies, and, sometimes, just start stringing random words together to come up with some moniker that sounds decent.

Well, if you are stuck for a name for your new podling, here are some guiding questions to help you decide:  

1.       Do the letters look good in caligraphy?

2.       Are the letters mostly vowels, thereby allowing the sounds to roll off the tongue seamlessly?

3.       Is it a famous name?

4.       Do all the names come together in a glorious pun?

5.       Do the initials stand for some popular acronym such as SMH or WTF?

6.       Are there unnecessary letters?

7.       Are there more than six parts to the names?

8.       Will other kids mercilessly mock and make jokes about the name in the future?

If you’ve answered yes to any of the above, then congratulations! You have the name of your child. If you are still stuck with a few options, why choose? Mash those together into one name.

Happy Naming!

Azra

***Disclaimer***Azra has been around children for centuries. While not having any of his own, part of being an exiled angel means blending in on earth. As he traveled the earth, he picked up on a lot of parenting practices across the globe. This blog is meant to share his parenting wisdom with a new generation. And to win a bet.

*Note: any advice given is meant to be satirical and not to be taken literally. Please do not exercise it upon any living being, child or otherwise.*

Dining Out with Your Offspring; A Manifesto for Appetizers

Generally, other humans don’t like being around other people’s screaming offspring. Never has this been more obvious than when parents take their spawn out to eat in public. Ever so subtly, young families are shuffled off to the corners, often with other families with young ones. Sometimes they are even shamed out of the buildings. I’ve seen it happen over and over again.

Parents, why do you let this happen? Just because you have small offspring that tend to scream at the slightest little thing and throw food at unsuspecting strangers doesn’t mean you should be shunned. Everyone needs to eat.

Consider this a battle cry, my fellow parental figures! Take back your local restaurants and eateries! No longer allow yourself to be driven away from nourishment because of the actions of your little poop machine. Here are some steps you can take to reclaim your place at the communal table.

1.       Don’t allow you and your spawn to be seated in the corner or the back. Insist on an up-front table or, to make a bigger point, the bar. You may have to ask for a specific seat, and be insistent. Those hostesses can be sneaky. Case out the joint first and determine where the most customers are seated.

2.       Don’t bend over backwards to make your offspring behave. I’ve seen parents bring snacks and toys and newfangled technology to the table all in vain effort to make their little terror behave. None of it works for long on account of their gnat-like attention span. My advice? Don’t even try. Let them rage, let them throw food. They are a good reminder of the lasting consequences of not using birth control.

3.       If anyone looks at you and your spawn sideways, remind them loudly that they too were once screaming poop machines that people tried to shun. Judge not, and all. I recommend bringing a megaphone so the whole restaurant can hear you. If you make an example out of one, it will cut down on the amount of people attempting to shame you.

United we shall dine!

Azra

***Disclaimer***Azra has been around children for centuries. While not having any of his own, part of being an exiled angel means blending in on earth. As he traveled the earth, he picked up on a lot of parenting practices across the globe. This blog is meant to share his parenting wisdom with a new generation. And to win a bet.

*Note: any advice given is meant to be satirical and not to be taken literally. Please do not exercise it upon any living being, child or otherwise.*

Never Lose Your Offspring; Microchip Your Little Monster

For as long as humans have been having children, they have been losing them. It’s quite sad really. The scenarios change depending on the situation. The kid runs away, the parents run away, or something equally tragic. You humans are the worst at keeping track of your offspring. They could be getting into trouble, or dead in a ditch somewhere, or eating something they shouldn’t. What if they are in mortal danger with some rabid snail about to devour their pinkie toe? You just don’t know.

The killer part of this whole thing is that the answer is so obvious, so blatantly clear! Microchip your monster!

You’ve probably already done this process to a family pet.

Let me stop right there to point out how messed up that is for a moment. You are more concerned with the whereabouts and safety of your animals than that of your own spawn. For shame.

For those not in the know, microchipping is the process where a small microchip is inserted into the neck of the victim. This microchip contains important contact information such as parental units phone numbers, address, known allergies, and, depending on how much space the microchip has, a detailed log of their diet and bodily rhythms. For an additional fee, you could even get GPS tracking along with the microchip so you can monitor your ankle biter from your new smart phone. Can’t even begin to tell you how useful this will be when your monster is a teenager.

Humans have made great strides in this technology. It’s time to use it and time to stop misplacing your spawn.

Be the wave of the future,

Azra

***Disclaimer***Azra has been around children for centuries. While not having any of his own, part of being an exiled angel means blending in on earth. As he traveled the earth, he picked up on a lot of parenting practices across the globe. This blog is meant to share his parenting wisdom with a new generation. And to win a bet.

*Note: any advice given is meant to be satirical and not to be taken literally. Please do not exercise it upon any living being, child or otherwise.*

Ask Azra! Calling All Queries

Azra needs your help!

He’s dying to give you the advice you so desperately need via a new blog series “Ask Azra”.

With the unmitigated success of his parenting blog, Azra’s decided to stretch his wings, so to speak, and answer any and all questions you may have. He’ll answer anything, though he does want me to convey that he prefers either parenting issues or matters of the heart.

So, how do you Ask Azra?

There are so many easy ways to send your question in:

1.       Comment on the Ask Azra! Calling All Queries blog post on www.fivesmilingfish.com/kiras-blogs

2.       Send your question to fivesmilingfish@gmail.com

3.       Ask directly on social media via facebook, or twitter under five smiling fish.

Help an angel out, let Azra give you his two cents.

Smiles,

Kira

Puberty Part 3: Adjusting to Adolescence

Oh, the most dreaded time in every parenthood: Puberty.

To be clear, it is the offspring that goes through puberty, not the parents, but the parents still have to deal with it.  It’s the time where your cute, adorable offspring morph into irrational, ridiculous, terrors that are new teenagers. What should be a time of rejoicing (it signifies the near end to your 18 year responsibility) is really a time of frustration, attitude, and acne.

Over the last two weeks, I’ve described the several ways to spot the happening of puberty in both male and female spawn. This week’s blog of parental wisdom is about how to survive the change in one piece.

There is not a word in the human tongue that can accurately convey the sheer horror of this time in your species growth cycle. This is the tipping point where your offspring can go one of two ways, either down the path of righteousness and light or along the underbelly of civilization in utter darkness.

Remember that the kids won’t pay the slightest bit of attention to you during this time; they’ll be purely self-absorbed through this whole process so feel free to go all out and do what you have to do in order to survive.

1.       Use indirect communication channels. The last thing you want to do is actually talk to your offspring during this fragile, yet volatile time. Hire someone to do it for you. Preferably some sort of unfeeling monster. Or a terminator.

2.       Understand that your spawn will do anything and everything to push your boundaries and your limits. Once you accept that, it’s easier to imagine or guess what their next move will be.

3.       Become more creative with your punishments for misbehavior. Remember, your spawn is extra sensitive about their changing appearance. Between that and their erratic emotions, you’ll have plenty of ammunition for creative punishments. Example: forbid them from using face wash or deodorant. If they can’t keep their room clean, then they should reflect that same slovenliness in their outward appearance.

4.       Take this opportunity to take a vacation from parenting. Let your spawn figure out this puberty stuff on their own. It’ll be less intense if you only have to deal with the aftermath.

However you deal with the dreaded puberty, know that this terrible time will pass. When it does, you’ll be one step closer to the end of your 18 year sentence for procreation.

Is that a zit on your face?

Azra

***Disclaimer***Azra has been around children for centuries. While not having any of his own, part of being an exiled angel means blending in on earth. As he traveled the earth, he picked up on a lot of parenting practices across the globe. This blog is meant to share his parenting wisdom with a new generation. And to win a bet.

*Note: any advice given is meant to be satirical and not to be taken literally. Please do not exercise it upon any living being, child or otherwise.*

Puberty Part 2: Girl Spawn

Oh, the most dreaded time in every parenthood: Puberty.

To be clear, it is the offspring that goes through puberty, not the parents, but the parents still have to deal with it.  It’s the time where your cute, adorable offspring morph into irrational, ridiculous, terrors that are new teenagers. What should be a time of rejoicing (it signifies the near end to your 18 year responsibility) is really a time of frustration, attitude, and acne.

How will you know your little monster is going through “the change”? Never fear, I will be going through not only how to spot these changes in your spawn, but also on how to deal with them.

Last week we discussed the changes that occur in male offspring. Now, we are going to shed some light on the pubescence of girl spawn. While there are striking similarities between human female and male puberty, it would be a mistake to point that out to each of them. So, to avoid the sullen grudge-filled death glares, here is how to spot puberty in girls.

1.       The most obvious change is the development of mammary glands. Usually this happens on the front of the chest.

2.       Similarly to the boys, girls also start growing more body hair. While it isn’t as all-encompassing as the male body hair, it is noticeable.

3.       In addition to growing more during puberty, girls often gain weight and their body changes shape. It’s not to the extent of being a shapeshifter, but it is close.

4.       Like their male counterparts, girls also get acne, however they are more adept at camouflaging their blemishes with makeup.

5.       Now, for the real difference; puberty is when girls learn how to bleed for days on end without dying. The exact mechanics of how this works is a complete mystery even to modern day science. To keep up this practice, girls must go through this event at least once a month for the next forty years or so. During their “time” it is best to keep down wind and off their radar as much as possible.

6.       Along with the whole bleeding and not dying, naturally come mood swings. If you thought the ones with boys were bad, you haven’t seen nothing yet! Girls perfect mood swings to an art form. Puberty is when they learn this. You have been warned.

Now that we’ve gone over the signs of change for both parties, next week, we will discuss survival tactics that you can employ to ensure you make it out of puberty alive.

Proud Puberty Survivor,

Azra

***Disclaimer***Azra has been around children for centuries. While not having any of his own, part of being an exiled angel means blending in on earth. As he traveled the earth, he picked up on a lot of parenting practices across the globe. This blog is meant to share his parenting wisdom with a new generation. And to win a bet.

*Note: any advice given is meant to be satirical and not to be taken literally. Please do not exercise it upon any living being, child or otherwise.*

Puberty Part 1: Boy Spawn

Oh, the most dreaded time in every parenthood: Puberty.

To be clear, it is the offspring that goes through puberty, not the parents, but the parents still have to deal with it.  It’s the time where your cute, adorable offspring morph into irrational, ridiculous, terrors that are new teenagers. What should be a time of rejoicing (it signifies the near end to your 18 year responsibility) is really a time of frustration, attitude, and acne.

How will you know your little monster is going through “the change”? Never fear, I will be going through not only how to spot these changes in your spawn, but also on how to deal with them.

First up though, how to spot puberty in your boy spawn.

1.       Excretion of bodily fluids. Around this tender age, boys will start to leak in unexpected ways. Whether it be through copious amounts of sweat or nocturnal emissions, be prepared with lots of towels and fabric soap.

2.       Oh the smell. Boys will start to stink. They won’t necessarily have to do anything to waft their newly formed noxious body odor. From what I can tell, they just have to be in the general area and their smell will knock you out. Arm yourself with lots of deodorant, spray air freshener, cologne, and nose plugs.

3.       Body hair increases. Before you worry about your son becoming the legendary Bigfoot, understand that an abundance of body hair happens around puberty. How you suggest they handle it is up to you; teach them to shave or teach them to braid.

4.       They grow... a lot. Puberty is the time of the most growth your child will ever do in their lifetime. They compensate for it by sleeping and eating a ridiculous amount. Between the hair and the sleeping patterns, it is easy to mistake your offspring for a bear. Don’t worry though, this is normal. If you are worried though, you can abandon them in the woods and let them wander home when they are through the worst of it.

5.       This is the time where their voice cracks. Try not to laugh when it happens. It only enrages them.

6.       Mood swings are a common occurrence. They will also have bouts of low self-esteem, aggression, depression, and insecurities, which, if you play your cards right, and know how to effectively use guilt (see previous blog post), you can make these emotions work for you.  

Next week we will delve into the mysterious girl spawn and the signs of their pubescence.

Proud Puberty Survivor,

Azra

***Disclaimer***Azra has been around children for centuries. While not having any of his own, part of being an exiled angel means blending in on earth. As he traveled the earth, he picked up on a lot of parenting practices across the globe. This blog is meant to share his parenting wisdom with a new generation. And to win a bet.

*Note: any advice given is meant to be satirical and not to be taken literally. Please do not exercise it upon any living being, child or otherwise.*

Literacy as a Fallacy

There is a modern notion nowadays about the importance of literacy in the young. It’s like this generation thinks the ability to read is important for the ongoing state of humanity. I can firmly attest that this is not the case.

Here’s a truth bomb for you: knowing how to read is not vital to survival.

That being said, why is there such an obsession about teaching your offspring to read? It’s a waste of time, honestly. Why would you sit there for hours upon hours staring at words on a page that may or may not have pictures when you could spend that valuable time teaching your rugrat common sense, outdoor survival skills, or discovering their mutant abilities?

Reading encourages them to use their imaginations. Reading transports them to a different world. Reading is a lifelong obsession that will only result in incredible debt, an avalanche of tattooed tree carcasses all over their domicile, and hours and hours of wasted time staring at pages. Reading will ruin lives!

There have been movements throughout history to stop the spread of reading. The Library of Alexandria? It was arson. The Protestant Reformation? Combated by the Catholic Counter-Reformation. Book bans and burnings are a regular occurrence to stamp out the plague of written words. Not to mention the entirety of the dark ages.

By teaching your monster how to read, you are undoing centuries of hard work. You are pretty much saying that it is ok to blow off all responsibility and pick up a book. It is ok to blow millions of dollars on books. It is ok to give indie authors hope that their writings will make it to the mainstream.

I am here to tell you that it is NOT alright.

Think before you read,

Azra

***Disclaimer***Azra has been around children for centuries. While not having any of his own, part of being an exiled angel means blending in on earth. As he traveled the earth, he picked up on a lot of parenting practices across the globe. This blog is meant to share his parenting wisdom with a new generation. And to win a bet.

*Note: any advice given is meant to be satirical and not to be taken literally. Please do not exercise it upon any living being, child or otherwise.*

Talking To Your Teenager About Hallucinogens while Battling Narwhals On The Porch

Drugs are everywhere. Legal, illegal, semi-legal and even some moderately legal. They are pretty easy to obtain as well. I bet in most cities every other person you run into is a drug dealer.

So how is a parent supposed to keep their offspring from partaking of drugs?

It’s easy. Don’t.

Seriously, don’t even bother trying to keep your kid off of the magic marshmallows or dank ferns or bath sponges or whatever they are calling it these days. If you do try, then the only natural thing your spawn will do is go out and immediately try all of them.

However, if you don’t give drugs any sort of attention around your ankle-biter, then they are less prone to paying attention to them, ergo the less drugs they do. There is still a chance they will take them up, though, so you must be vigilant.

The best way to make sure your offspring doesn’t die while on drugs is simple; do them with your kid. If there was ever a chance for bonding and to show off your own knowledge of one of the most utilized past-times on earth, this is your chance. You can be the example your kid needs.

Medicinally Yours,

Azra

***Disclaimer***Azra has been around children for centuries. While not having any of his own, part of being an exiled angel means blending in on earth. As he traveled the earth, he picked up on a lot of parenting practices across the globe. This blog is meant to share his parenting wisdom with a new generation. And to win a bet.

*Note: any advice given is meant to be satirical and not to be taken literally. Please do not exercise it upon any living being, child or otherwise.*

Mourning Our Heroes; When Tragedy Strikes the Artists That Influenced Us

               I was at work when I read the news about Chester Bennington’s suicide. At first I didn’t want to believe it was true. Maybe it was a cruel joke or a really messed up example of the “fake news” that we’ve heard about so much lately. What brought the truth of it home to me was Mike Shinoda’s tweet: “Shocked and heartbroken, but it’s true. An official statement will come out as soon as we have one.”

                That tweet made Chester’s death real.

                Now, let me clarify something. I love Linkin Park, but I am not by any means a super fan; I don’t live and die by their tour dates and I don’t have their lyrics or faces or album art tattooed on my skin. I wasn’t really into Chester’s other projects such as his band Death by Sunrise or his stint as the front man of Stone Temple Pilots.

                So then why am I so broken up about his death?

                With Chester’s passing, I did what most do when they are in shock and mourning: I began bringing up things I’d almost forgotten about them; in my instance, the memories I had of him and his music. Hybrid Theory came out when I was in high school. The entire album was the anthem to those confusing, hectic years. Linkin Park was the voice that expressed the emotions I buried deep inside. They were the outlet I and so many others needed to express what was in our hearts. They had the courage to say what we were all afraid to say. They made us feel not so alone.

                The real tragedy was that we could not return the favor.

                There have been a lot of celebrity deaths lately. 2016 was notorious for its body count. 2017 has also had its fair share of devastation. There are varying degrees of mourning for each one that leaves us. For some reason, Chester’s is registering pretty high with me. The only other time I’ve felt this way about a celebrity death was Robin Williams. There are still some of his movies I am not brave enough to watch because I know I will just break. Robin also was a victim of suicide and the world mourned his passing.

                The question remains. Why do celebrity deaths impact us so intensely?

                I have a theory. These artists, these actors, personalities, singers, songwriters, authors, all of these glorious people have been there for us during the most pivotal times in our lives. We’ve built lifetimes of memories around their art, their songs, their movies, their stories. So much so that they’ve become part of us. What they created rang true in our hearts— like an echo of ourselves mirrored in someone else. Something like that makes you feel connected, makes you feel not so alone.

                It’s natural then, when tragedy strikes and the worst happens that we mourn. Yes, we are sad that they have passed, but we are also mourning a part of ourselves.

                With Chester’s passing, I am mourning the passing of someone who was there for me when I was an emotional wreck of a teenager. I am mourning the part of me that identified with and was saved by his music. When someone affects so many lives, it is hard not to feel something at their death. It’s hard not to remember a certain song, a certain part, or a certain phrase that they created that rang true in your soul. My deepest condolences to his family, his friends, his band mates, and to all of his fans. I share in your grief.

                If you are struggling with depression, if you are about to give up, please talk to someone. The national suicide hotline number is: 1-800-273-8255. You are too precious to lose. 

Dealing with Know-It-All Parents— A Rant

It’s come to my attention that raising mini humans into fully grown versions is a ridiculously competitive past time. Parental figures are cutthroat when it comes to style and technique. The animosity towards others who are also rearing ankle biters manifests in the most interesting ways.

I’ve seen mature women screech louder than banshees about whether or not to breast feed. Adults have gotten into fistfights at the insinuation of feeding their spawn anything but pure organic, non- GMO, whole grain wheatgrass. They’ve haughtily declared that they would never allow their offspring to watch television. Their mantra is always the same; “Well, not MY child!”

As a parental figure myself, I have done a fair amount of research on this phenomenon. All of the above behaviors evolve out of one common belief that these parents share. It’s that their style of parenting, their judgements, and their opinions on how children should be raised is the one and only correct way. All other opinions, judgements, styles, what have you, are merely varying degrees of blasphemy that must be eradicated.

They use whatever tools are at their disposal to assert their dominance on the world of parenting. Here are some tell-tale signs that you are dealing with a parenting fanatic and how to handle their over-parenting:

1.       The Correctionists: These people will challenge anything you say about the subject of raising small humans. They must have the last word on any and all subjects. Often, they will take a contradictory stance to make themselves sound more credible. Be careful with the people who tend to do this; most of their advice is meant to sabotage your journey as a parent and it is obvious with just how ridiculous their stances are. You can easily combat this by doing the exact same thing they do and make them seem as ridiculous as they intended to make you. It’s incredibly satisfying to watch someone dig their own hole and then bury themselves.

2.       The Snobs: They will openly mock or stick their nose up at you and will probably not allow their little monsters near your spawn. Their snobbish behavior is designed to make you feel like you are an outsider and that your way of parenting is frowned upon in most civilized societies. I’ve experienced this many times. The best way to combat this is to become very friendly with them. Encourage your offspring to play with theirs. Then, when they tell you their deepest, darkest secrets, expose them for the horrible people they are. Let them become the ostracized ones.

3.       The Concerned Ones: Out of all the fanatics, these are the most dangerous. These are the ones that will try to take your offspring and impose their parenting style on them any chance they get “for the good of the child”. These parents are what some teachers call helicopters. Except they don’t just hoover over their own spawn. Oh no. These took the “it takes a village” saying to heart. They will disagree with your parenting by making your spawn conform to their idea of behavior. If they really don’t see eye to eye with your ways, they will actively try to steal your little snot goblin. Be particularly careful with these overachiever parents. They will truly go to any extreme.

I cannot stress enough how wrong these people are. Parenting is a sacred duty and when you’ve been around as long as I have, you will understand that MY methods are the best, not theirs. My style and parenting techniques in child rearing are flawless because it is derived from centuries of trial and error.

I don’t care what my nephew has to say about how wrong all of my advice is. As far as I am concerned, Ryan has new parent syndrome. For those that aren’t aware of this insufferable condition, it’s where a first timer learns that they are going to be responsible for another life and they go overboard reading all sorts of parenting books and who knows what else on the internet.

New parent syndrome is that time, before they even have a baby to hold, where they commit to the kind of parent they envision themselves to be. This is the information gathering stage that shapes parents into the monsters I’ve described above. This is the time where they proclaim their determination not to parent the same way they were raised.

In most cases, the parents don’t turn out like the fanatics I’ve described. It only takes a few years with the wailing, soiled, attention begging spawn for them to come to their senses.

Yes, sir. Give it a couple of years and Ryan will come to understand that my way is the best way. I can wait for my apology.

Parent of the Year,

Azra

***Disclaimer***Azra has been around children for centuries. While not having any of his own, part of being an exiled angel means blending in on earth. As he traveled the earth, he picked up on a lot of parenting practices across the globe. This blog is meant to share his parenting wisdom with a new generation. And to win a bet.

*Note: any advice given is meant to be satirical and not to be taken literally. Please do not exercise it upon any living being, child or otherwise.*

How to Infect Your Spawn with Deadly Diseases So They Can Live

One of the biggest parenting controversies of this day and age is whether or not to vaccinate your offspring.

For those of you that don’t know what vaccines are (I’ll be honest, I had to look it up too), it is injecting babies with weakened versions of serious diseases so their tiny immune systems learn how to kill them. It’s like building up an immunity to iocane powder. Take a little bit at a time until your body can handle it.

There are two sides to this whole concept. Either you are for shooting up your child with science created magic disease water or you are willing to let millions of unvaccinated kids (as well as your own) die along the way.

Science has created an impressive amount of vaccines, such as for measles, mumps, the flu, polio, and scarlet fever to name a few. Some suspect that along with these lifesaving medicines, they have also inadvertently caused problems such as autism, Down syndrome, and gluten intolerance.

It goes without saying that you humans get quite impassioned about the subject. I’ve rarely seen anything more divisive in the parenting world.

So what is a conscientious parent supposed to do? It just so happens that there is a middle ground between two very extreme answers to the vaccine question. It’s something that has been done for centuries with mixed results.

Infect your child, but not by giving them shots of lab generated chemicals. Oh no. Infect them the way nature intended by exposing them to all sorts of ill people. Here on some tips on properly infecting your offspring:

1.       Make them be around sick people— a lot. The more exposure they have to the ill, the more diseases they will contract and then become immune to.

2.       Don’t let them wash their hands. Washing hands kills more germs than anything. If the goal is to infect them, best not to let them at the soap.

3.       Take a trip to the CDC and snatch some of the more infectious diseases. Let’s face it, most people nowadays only get the flu on a regular basis. To make sure your child is vaccinated against the most deadly and infectious diseases, go right to the source and rub them all over the kid.

4.       If the hospital or the CDC won’t let your little terror in with the super sick people, there is an alternative; let them play with biohazard waste. I’m not saying let them romp in the sewers, rather, let them fiddle with old band aids, used tissues, or cough rags from the infirm.

However you infect your child, be sure to give them plenty of time to build up those antibodies. It may also be a good idea to keep a cure for all the diseases, just in case your little walking snot rag is defective. Also, remember all of that hand sanitizer I suggested you get? Make sure you use it yourself while you are vaccinating!

Vaccinate!

Azra

***Disclaimer***Azra has been around children for centuries. While not having any of his own, part of being an exiled angel means blending in on earth. As he traveled the earth, he picked up on a lot of parenting practices across the globe. This blog is meant to share his parenting wisdom with a new generation. And to win a bet.

*Note: any advice given is meant to be satirical and not to be taken literally. Please do not exercise it upon any living being, child or otherwise.*

Bribery for Behavior: Using Their Need for Parental Attention To Your Advantage

One of the reasons why parenting is so exhausting is the sheer amount of attention your rugrat requires. What’s worse is that they know you are obligated to pay them their attention and they use it every single chance they get.

However, this obvious weakness of theirs is by far one of the best weapons in parenting, if used correctly. While I am not saying completely abandon and neglect your spawn (not unless extreme measures are called for), I am saying if you teach your offspring that your attention is a reward delivered for certain behaviors, then they will pretty much mind you until they reach their teen aged years (and that is a whole separate battle).

Here’s how it works. When your mini human starts acting like an entitled monster, tell them they are being little horrors and then ignore them. And not just ignore them; blatantly remove yourself from their vicinity. Tell them that until they start acting like more civilized creatures, you don’t wish to be around them and then just get up and go. However long enough you keep this up is depending on the severity of their monstrosity and how much of a break you need from their constant yammering. Some parental units will leave their offspring for days or weeks at a time.

Now, some have raised the question of “what if they follow me?”. Simple. Tie them up THEN leave them. If you don’t have suitable ropes, duct tape will work in a pinch. You can even have a designated spot for your child when they are being ridiculous. This can be an oversized dog kennel or a bare, no-nonsense room.

Taking this approach will do one of two things to your spawn:

1.       It will teach them what behaviors are acceptable and which are not. It will also terrify them into behaving for fear of losing your attention/ presence. This means they will behave more often than not.

2.       Your child will also learn self-sufficiency and self- soothing which means that there will be less actual parenting for you to do. 

On a side note, if you have more than one offspring, it may be beneficial to start giving one more attention than the other. Play favorites and make sure everyone knows. To keep them on their toes, switch up your favorite based on who is being good. This will up the sibling rivalry and make each of them strive for your approval even more.

Happy Parenting!

Azra

How Routine is Killing Your Kid

All of the parenting books these days make a big deal about getting your spawn on a routine. These misguided authors insist that kids need to do the same mindless tasks (like brushing their teeth, napping, bathing, making their beds, and eating) day in and day out. Supposedly this will help them build good, healthy habits that will last them until they are legally able to take responsibility for their own actions.

I cannot tell you how much I disagree with this tactic.

Routine is an enemy! It will lull your ankle biters into a false sense of security! When they are least expecting it, there will be no bed to make and their routine will be completely out the window. Your now adult spawn will be completely broken and not have the faintest idea of how to function. There will be whole asylums filled with sad, broken humans unable to cope without their pre-established routine.

Not to mention all of the bad habits that are out there, lurking, waiting for your offspring to fall into them. No, it is best to keep the little germ incubators away from habits and routine all together.

Now, we’ve already agreed that the point of parenting is to ensure the continuation of the human species. In order for that to happen, the generations to come must be adaptable. Routine is the opposite of adaptable.

So, how can we prevent our mini humans from falling into the false sense of security that is routine?

1.       Make the very concept of habits as horrible as possible. Be creative in convincing that if your offspring should be so unlucky as to fall into a routine or develop a habit, they will expire in an incredibly gruesome way. Use images of robots or extinct animals to drive the point home.

2.       Shake up daily activities by not doing anything at the same time. In fact, it’s best to disregard all notion of time. It is a social construct that is centered around building routine. Resist! Being random at all hours is one of the best defenses.

3.       Reject any attempt to schedule your child. This includes schooling, play dates, and doctors’ appointments. If you can have walk-in appointments you can maintain a random lifestyle.

4.       If you see your snot-eater starting a routine, stop it as soon as possible. This can mean depriving them of their habit tools (tooth brushes, washcloths, beds, watches, etc.), taking them on a spontaneous errand or trip, or even punishing them for their habit building.

Keep it random, fellow parental units!

Azra

***Disclaimer***Azra has been around children for centuries. While not having any of his own, part of being an exiled angel means blending in on earth. As he traveled the earth, he picked up on a lot of parenting practices across the globe. This blog is meant to share his parenting wisdom with a new generation. And to win a bet.

*Note: any advice given is meant to be satirical and not to be taken literally. Please do not exercise it upon any living being, child or otherwise.*

5 Lessons from my first reading as an author

I’m interrupting Azra’s parental broadcast to address something I am really proud of.

The other day I did something that I’ve never done before. Something that I’ve seen many others do, but that I’ve been terrified to do myself.  I got up in front of people- some I knew and some I didn’t- and I read part of my book out loud.

That’s right. This author did her very first reading and survived.

Writing isn’t really a spectator sport. It’s very much a solitary activity. Putting your words to paper, transcribing your thoughts is intimate, so reading them out loud to an audience is a terrifying prospect.

Doing the reading at our latest book signing was my idea. I thought it would be good for us, educational, if you will. Well, I certainly learned a lot. Here are the top 5 lessons I learned during my first reading.

1.       Practice what you are going to say and how you are going to say it. People can tell if you haven’t practiced.

2.       Give a short intro to the piece you are reading. Let the audience know a bit about what they are listening to. Don’t just jump in.

3.       Be picky about your selections. The scene should draw attention to the story. It should make the audience feel something. I’ve found that humor is a good choice. If you can make people laugh, it helps to know that you are doing a good job, both with the reading and with your writing.

4.       Make sure you can be heard. Triple check your audio connections. Make sure you project your voice really well.

5.       Keep a good attitude. People are more likely to remember how you reacted to mistakes, criticisms, etc rather than those things themselves. If you focus so much on everything that went wrong (and things will go wrong), then it will cast a negative light on the experience not only for you, but for your audience as well.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to readings. I have a lot more to learn and a lot more experience to gather.

Would I do it again? Absolutely.

Fostering Responsibility Part 2: The Importance of Pets

Learning how to be responsible takes time and a lot of practice. What better way to get in that practice than providing your little snot machine a life form of their own to care for?

Giving underage humans some sort of pet in their formative years is a tradition honored across the globe among many different cultures. While the type of creature varies, the intent is the same: don’t let the thing die and or mistreat said thing. It’s not unlike humans who decide to procreate or those who choose to raise adopted offspring; it’s just a different species.

It’s important to match the correct type of creature with the right type of human. When mismatches happen, disaster soon follows. That’s why it is so important to go through a vetting process with any potential pet. Note: do not just ask your child what sort of animal they want. Their answers will be horrible and not at all the best suited animal.

The two best methods of discovering the right type of pet are:

·         Consider what attributes your spawn lacks that an animal can teach or influence upon them. This goes hand in hand with knowing your child- a topic we’ve already covered previously. In this case, let’s say your little terror is short. Like miserably short. Get them an animal known for its height: the elegant giraffe. The kid will either develop an intense height complex or they will grow to match their pet. It’s a 50-50 chance here.

·         Take your child on a spirit quest. Drugs are optional, though peyote does make the experience a bit more intense and resonating. On this spirit quest, they will encounter some sort of animal. Whatever it is they see on the spirit quest that should be their pet. They see a slug, get them a slug. A penguin, invest in a lot of ice or move to Antarctica. A lion, get a REALLY big ball of string. Spirit quests are the best guide for pets. It’s scientifically proven.

Remember, don’t cop out and “rescue” animals either. It is known that the more money you pay for something the better it is. Besides. Rescues implies someone didn’t want them before. Why would your kid want someone’s rejects?

Happy Spirit Questing,

Azra

***Disclaimer***Azra has been around children for centuries. While not having any of his own, part of being an exiled angel means blending in on earth. As he traveled the earth, he picked up on a lot of parenting practices across the globe. This blog is meant to share his parenting wisdom with a new generation. And to win a bet.

*Note: any advice given is meant to be satirical and not to be taken literally. Please do not exercise it upon any living being, child or otherwise.*

Family Portraits: To Theme or Not to Theme

One of the biggest perks of being a parental figure is the ability to make your spawn dress up in specific ways in order to document the growth of your family unit. I am talking, of course, about the time honored tradition of family photos.

For those of you not in the know, family photos became a thing once photography really took off. Before that, it was only the rich people who could afford an artist to come and paint them (and what a horrendously boring time that was! All the interesting poses were too hard to maintain. That’s why old portraits are so dour looking). 

The fun part about family portraits is the ability to make it seem that you and your offspring (however many there are) are succeeding at life. After all, the family portrait is how the success or failure of your family unit is judged. They are the cornerstone of all small talk with other humans. They are proof that you are one of them and that you have bred. These are the images with which you decorate your home, your office, your wallet, your desk, and, if you can get the photo made in to a vinyl decal, your vehicle. Therefore, it is absolutely vital that these yearly images are of the highest quality and themed appropriately.

Yes, themes are definitely the way to go. It guarantees your photo will look classy and that your offspring are obviously yours because of the matching pastel jumpers you are all wearing. Decide on a theme as early as possible. I have a running list of themes for years to come. This way, I can prepare realistic props and costumes well in advance (this is a budgetary lifesaver!). Whatever you decide, go all out. Simply matching shirts is not going to cut it. The other humans will sense your insincerity for this ritual and shun you for it. Don’t half ass your family portrait because it will show and your perceived success/fail score will suffer for it.

Here are a few common themes that will get your family started on the path to family portrait success.

·         The Old West: for when history and the economy are important to you and your spawn. Little Jimmy can be a sheriff, little Alice can be a saloon girl, you can be the old crotchety prospector . . .  you get my drift. Bonus points for locating a mining town and having the portraits taken there. Be careful of which locals manage to make it in the shot, though. They may be ghosts.

·         Music Moguls: for when you want to show off what riches you (don’t) have. For this one, do your research and watch as much MTV as possible. Wear absolutely impractical outfits with lots of fur, feathers, gold, and shiny things. Have stacks of money ready to “rain” down on you and your offspring for the best effect. If you can somehow show autotune in your portrait, bonus points.

·         Country Club Sell Outs: this is a classic configuration that is meant to convey old, established wealth and stature. Everyone should have white sweaters draped over their pastel polo shirts and skorts. Decoratively arrange tennis rackets and tennis balls around the family. Action shots are encouraged, but notoriously difficult to pull off.

·         Outdoors Fun: for proof that your family can survive anything. The preferred look is camouflage and face paint. If you can identify the family members from the surroundings, they aren’t really that good at it, are they?

There are millions of other ideas, so don’t feel limited by this list. Remember. A picture is worth a thousand words so make your family portrait use all of them.

Say Cheese!

Azra

***Disclaimer***Azra has been around children for centuries. While not having any of his own, part of being an exiled angel means blending in on earth. As he traveled the earth, he picked up on a lot of parenting practices across the globe. This blog is meant to share his parenting wisdom with a new generation. And to win a bet.

*Note: any advice given is meant to be satirical and not to be taken literally. Please do not exercise it upon any living being, child or otherwise.*

When to Let Your Kid Dress Themselves and How To Responsibly Avoid Them In Public

Fashion is finicky. Clothing choices transform a lot for the human species. With garb drastically changing not only from culture to culture, but also time periods and human ages, it’s so hard to get it right.

As a parent, you are obligated to ensure your offspring is properly dressed. Or are you?

Consider this: allowing your spawn to decide in the manner they are dressed teaches self-sufficiency and boosts confidence. Which, if you have read my previous blogs on the subjects, are great things for your rug rat to have.

A good fashion sense takes years to develop, though in many cases, it doesn’t develop at all. That would be all well and good, except for one tiny thing. Society judges you on your appearance and nothing else.

So, for the sake of creating a self-sufficient and confident human, you are left with letting your undeveloped monster choose the striped tutu over the dinosaur costume with the mismatching cowboy boots and ugly sweater vest. Which would be fine except you have to be seen and associated with them.

                What is a parent to do?

                Avoid them. Avoid being seen with them until their sense of fashion either comes out of hiding or until it is socially acceptable for them to be in public by themselves. Here are a couple of tips:

·          Keep them locked up and out of the public eye. This approach is what I like to call the Rapunzel tactic. It only works for so long before they want to be let out and your counter measures (locks, towers, vague threats of the outside world, etc) fail.

·         Watch them from afar. Keep a certain amount of distance from your child while in public. When they call for you, look away and ignore them. Soon, they will learn not to address you when other people are within eyesight.

·         Hire someone to be seen in public with your offspring. Depending on how much they charge, you can also have them dress like your child, thus absolving you of your public parental image. Problem solved.

Fashionably yours,

Azra

***Disclaimer***Azra has been around children for centuries. While not having any of his own, part of being an exiled angel means blending in on earth. As he traveled the earth, he picked up on a lot of parenting practices across the globe. This blog is meant to share his parenting wisdom with a new generation. And to win a bet.

*Note: any advice given is meant to be satirical and not to be taken literally. Please do not exercise it upon any living being, child or otherwise.*

Phoenix Comic Con and the Struggle of Independent Creators

Azra is taking a break from his parenting blog this week to allow me to speak about something that is near and dear to my heart: Independent Creators.

Phoenix Comic Con is this week. It is the biggest show we (Five Smiling Fish and Hellbat Publications) do all year. We worry, we prep, we stress about having the right product and enough product to sell to the hordes of people turning out for the event.

It’s really hard to do when you are an independent creator. You have to somehow capture the imagination and the attention of passersby enough to make them stop and take a closer look at your wares. That’s why so many people do fan art: popular characters and stories already told have a HUGE fan base. That ironic picture of Harley Quinn and that reimaging of Stitch is what draws people in.

But what about your own original ideas? What about your original characters and story lines? In all the madness of pop culture today, it seems that originality is only good for twisting what is already popular into a new product or image. It’s disheartening when your original creations are passed over for yet another super hero logoed item.

So many creators that attend Phoenix Comic Con and other events like it hoping to build their fan base. They want to connect with the public and have their work known and appreciated.

It takes a lot of work and even more courage to put your creations out for public consumption. Believe me.

I tell you this to highlight the struggle these local artists and businesses go through. In our instance, the crafts we make, the plush, the perlers, the tails, the ears, the keychains. . .  all of it was a way to pay for our real dream: creating our own publishing company and getting our books out.

Now, we are fighting to get our original content out there and create a fan base.

It’s almost like screaming into the void.

 So while you are out having fun with your friends and showing off your elaborate and impressive cosplay design, stop by artist alley and take a look at some original creations. Compliment what you like, maybe even buy a piece. Most importantly, go and look and recognize all the work and all the guts it takes to make something original and put it out there to see.

                Happy Hug an Indie Creator Weekend!

                Kira

                PS- Five Smiling Fish and Hellbat Publications will be at AA529 and AA531. Stop by and say hi!

Controlling Your Child Part 2: Parental Guilt; The Double Edge Sword

The key to being a success at parenting is knowing how to control your offspring. There are several effective methods of control and we will, over time, explore many of those throughout this blog series.

Today, we are going to discuss the mother of all controlling mechanisms. It’s the time honored, most effective means of making your kid do what you want- Parental Guilt.

If you are a human and had parents, it is likely that you have been a victim of parental guilt and you have done something you didn’t really want to do because your parental unit made you feel terrible until you did it. The Guilt is a masterful stroke of childrearing. The best part is that it’s a universal tool for controlling your child. No matter what the situation, the Guilt can be used to make it go your way.

Learning how to execute the Guilt is a whole other ballgame than being the recipient of it. Now, since I am neither human, nor had a parental figure micromanage me enough to try the Guilt, all of the tips I am about to dispense are from my years of observing human interaction. You humans are ingenious for thinking up such a tactic as the Guilt. I salute you.

1.       The best instances of the Guilt are when the victim doesn’t even realize there is a guilt trip happening. The insinuations are so subtle and the guilt so pervasive that it almost seems like it is the victims make up their minds themselves. To achieve this is truly an art form. You have to be subtle. You have to be crafty and not make it fully apparent the thing you want your victim to do. You have to make it seem like it was their own idea. This level of ingenuity is usually attained the older the human gets. Grandmothers are the masters.

2.       The shame motivated Guilt. This is one of the more easily achieved forms of parental guilt, though it does require the victim to be a little older so that they “know better”. Usually that is the key phrase to evoke the trip: “You know better than that.” If you add in a disappointed face or a strategically placed tsk, it really adds to it.

3.       Making it all about you. More specifically, making the choices your offspring make directly affect you, even if they don’t. This is the classic form of parental guilt. Example: “How could you do this to me? You know that everything you do is a direct reflection on me! Why do you want to treat your family in such a way?”

4.       The silent guilt. This is perfected when all you have to do is give your offspring a certain look. the hardest part is to maintain your silence, though, depending on the verbiage you use, it can help your case. Refuting your obvious upsetness and also stating over and over again, “I’m not saying anything.”

If you want to get ambitious, you can also combine these techniques to customize the parental guilt experience for your spawn. Just be careful; kids are quick and they will use your own techniques against you. Be prepared to battle as much as you dish out.

                Remember, if it isn’t going to cost hundreds in thousands of dollars in therapy for your offspring later on, you’re not doing it right.

                Happy Guilt Tripping!

                Azra

***Disclaimer***Azra has been around children for centuries. While not having any of his own, part of being an exiled angel means blending in on earth. As he traveled the earth, he picked up on a lot of parenting practices across the globe. This blog is meant to share his parenting wisdom with a new generation. And to win a bet.

*Note: any advice given is meant to be satirical and not to be taken literally. Please do not exercise it upon any living being, child or otherwise.*