Tag Archives: Cleaning

A Robot That Does Everything For You

I don't recall Andrew wiping any butts in "Bicentennial Man." But I might have to watch it again to be sure.

I don’t recall Andrew wiping any butts in “Bicentennial Man.” But I might have to watch it again to be sure.

“Hey dad,” my five-year-old son said. “Wouldn’t it be cool if for your birthday, I got you a robot that would do everything for you?

“Like, you could say: ‘Hey robot! Clean those dishes,’ or ‘Hey robot! Pick up my toys,’ or ‘Hey robot! Give me a bath,’ and then the robot would just do it for you.”

I smiled. Funny kid.

“Yeah, bud. That would be amazing. I would love a robot just like that,” I said.

My desk is a disaster zone. Bills. Things that need filed. Photos.

A total mess.

A metaphor for my entire life from an organization standpoint.

I still have some Christmas decorations in my bedroom that need put away. It would literally take me less than two minutes. A few boxes sitting right next to the storage doors.

I have a pile of laundry by my dresser. It would literally take me less than 20 seconds to pick up the pile and carry it down the hall to a closet where a laundry basket lives for that very purpose.

Both my son’s bed and my bed are unmade. I had strep throat this past weekend and haven’t washed my sheets yet. It would literally take me three minutes to make both beds.

There’s a pretty disgusting fish tank sitting on my kitchen counter right now. I intend to clean it tonight, assuming I don’t drink myself into a nerve-wracked stupor.

Several months ago, a little girl who was at the house playing with my son dumped an entire bottle of water-treatment bacteria into the tank. (There were no fish in it. It’s the Tank of Death™.) The water got really cloudy and gross.

I just left it there to run every day until two nights ago when I took it downstairs to my kitchen.

It’s a freaking miracle we don’t have SARS or bubonic plague or scurvy.

I’m glad it’s there, because it makes the stack of dishes seem less unsightly.

Can robots get scurvy?

“Hey dad!” my son yelled from the bathroom. “Wouldn’t it be cool if we had a robot that would wipe our butts for us?”

He thinks things like that are hilarious and it’s totally my fault.

“A butt-wiping robot? I don’t know, man. That sounds dangerous,” I said.

It was bath time.

Every time we had a new task, it was: “Dad. Wouldn’t it be cool if we had a robot to do…” whatever it was we were doing. Scrubbing with soap. Washing and rinsing hair. Drying off. Brushing teeth. Combing hair.

A butt-wiping robot? This boy is displaying subtle signs of laziness.

I worried for a minute. I’m a worrier.

I stepped into the living room to shut off a couple lights before taking my son upstairs to tuck him in.

When I’d last left the room there were plastic and rubber reptiles and dinosaurs scattered everywhere.

He had picked up every single one without me asking and put them in one of his toy bins.

Good boy.

I worried less.

Today, I had to take my son to school for the very first time. Usually the day care lady manages this process.

Somehow, we didn’t have any of his shoes at the house. They were all at his mom’s or at the day care family’s.


Snow boots weren’t going to cut it. It was gym class day, he said.

I called my ex-wife. She was kind enough to leave her office and run home to get us a pair.

Thank you.

Maybe a robot could have made us a cool pair of shoes or run to my ex-wife’s house for us to pick them up.

I drove to the school.

When I was in school, things were simple. There was a building. And when you arrived at the building, you could just go inside of it.

Now, thanks to shitbags and psychos intent on harming children, there are all these rules preventing such convenience.

And it became obvious right away: I was doing it wrong.

I was waiting in a drop-off lane.

One lady two cars back was VERY disappointed with my choices. I could tell by her honking her horn.

She pulled out of line and drove up next to me. I thought she was going to say something to help point me in the right direction because clearly I looked like someone who didn’t know what he was doing.

I rolled down my window with a smile on my face eagerly awaiting her helpful advice.

“There’s a whole fucking parking lot right there, asshole! Why don’t you try parking in it?!?!?” she yelled, not very nicely.

And because I’m REALLY tough when I’m safe in my car and firing back at bitchy soccer moms, I was preparing to retort: “Yeah! Cool! Yell at me! I’ve never been here before, you mouth-breather! Thanks for the help!”

But I didn’t have the satisfaction, because she drove away like a coward after verbally abusing me.

“Why did that person yell at you, daddy?” my son asked.

“Because I’m parked in a very bad place and because she is a very bad person,” I said.

Maybe a robot could have gotten out of the Jeep and robo-punched her in her stupid face.

I am getting better.

I am.

At managing my life. The adjustment is a gradual one. And I’m a talented procrastinator even in the best of times.

I was joking with a few guys at the office about how I need to invite people over to motivate me to keep my house in tip-top shape.

“So THAT’s why you don’t have parties anymore,” one said.

There might even be a little truth there.

Another guy said all will fix itself once I have a woman back in my life again.

I half-snorted.

“I have enough trouble getting dates as it is,” I said. “Maybe I should throw in the all-enticing offer to help clean my house.”

That does sound nice, though. Right, single people?

Someone to talk to?

Someone to sit with?

Someone to wake up next to?

But maybe the kid’s onto something.

I wonder what Johnny 5’s up to these days?

"When you gotta go, don't squeeze the Charmin." Johnny 5 seems uniquely qualified for my son's unusual request.

“When you gotta go, don’t squeeze the Charmin.” Johnny 5 seems uniquely qualified for my son’s unusual request.

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Back to School

It's back-to-school time for my son. And it's back-to-school time for me. The excuses must stop.

It’s back-to-school time for my son. And it’s back-to-school time for me. The excuses must stop.

Today was my first day being a single dad on a school-day morning.

This meant dressing my five-year-old son a little bit nicer.

This meant worrying about whether he can effectively manage the hook fastener and zipper on his shorts to avoid stressful trips to the bathroom.

This meant wondering whether kindergarten teachers assign homework.

This meant revisiting when boys and girls started liking one another.

I want my son to do well in school. Both academically and socially. I worry about how much I’m not doing to foster his development on both fronts.

It all feels a little too big and too scary sometimes. With no one to talk to about this stuff. With no one there to read books to him while I fold laundry. With no one to clean up the kitchen while I give him a bath.

There aren’t enough hours in a day.

But that can’t be an excuse for lazy parenting.

School at Home

I finally feel like I’ve turned a page. Like I have finally arrived at a place where I can begin the process of growing accustomed to my new reality.

Half the time, I’m a dad. Half the time, I’m a middle-aged bachelor.

And I need to figure out how to achieve balance with all of that.

I’ve only cleaned my house twice in five months. Gross, right? I know.

I keep the kitchen tidy. I wipe the dining room table each night. I never let the bathrooms get disgusting. And I certainly spot clean if something is amiss.

But still. Twice in five months? It’s pathetic.

My garage door opener bunked out on me about three months ago. All I have to do is get the model number off the unit and call a local repair shop. Probably won’t cost $50 to fix. I have issues.

I still haven’t established a financial budget for my life.

That’s right. I bought a brand new vehicle without budgeting for it.

I. Make. Bad. Decisions.

I’m still not working out. It might be a figment of my imagination, but I think I look even worse when I get out of the shower than I did two months ago when I was feeling sensitive about it.

Do you know how hard it is to wake up an hour earlier, do a little cardio and lift a few weights?

It’s not. I have all the equipment at home in my basement. I used to be down there every morning.


Yet, something stops me. Mental exhaustion? Depression?

I think it is simply a lack of discipline. For example, I’m at work almost every day. I do what’s needed. I don’t forget to pick up my son, or pay the day care lady, or to post as often as possible here.

I don’t want to be undisciplined. It’s no way to live. Because when you lack discipline, your responsibilities start falling through the cracks. And the consequences begin to pile up. And the stress emanating from all of those dropped balls is not something any of us need.

Moreover, there is a direct correlation between my reduced waistline and toned arms, and my self-confidence.

If I don’t get better at anything else, I MUST resume regular exercise. I must.

Because I’m a viable male companion when I look how I’m supposed to look. And the trickle-down effects of that could be tremendous.



Increased energy.

Heightened mental aptitude.

Better sleep.

Enhanced confidence.

Improved attractiveness.

These are very good things. Things I crave.

What am I waiting for?

I honestly don’t know.

To Be a Man

What does it take?

To be a man?

To be a father?

More than what I’m doing.

I can keep the wool pulled over my son’s eyes for a little bit. He’s five. He’s easy to con.

But it won’t be long before his powers of observation are keener than my ability to justify inaction.

I am that boy’s best chance to follow whatever path leads to success with life management, with health, with friends, with girls, with extracurriculars, and whatever else.

It has never been more important for me to walk the walk than it is now.

One of the things I miss most about marriage is that I genuinely like doing things for others.

I used to enjoy keeping the kitchen spotless or dusting surfaces because it made my ex happy. It lightened her load. I was serving a purpose. I was serving her.

I used to enjoy cooking meals. Large, made-from-scratch meals. I’ve made two meals I’m proud of since she left. Two. Both for guests.

The rest of the time, I’m whipping together quick things like breakfast or tacos or salads or mac and cheese, or something worse.

He deserves better. He deserves more. He deserves a father who never takes the lazy way out.

A father who does things the “right” way—the difficult way—in virtually all situations.

To see me walk the walk. All the time. Every day. In all I do.

What does it take for someone who knows what should be done to actually take action and do it?

What’s worse?

The lazy and ignorant person who doesn’t know better, or the person who’s well-informed, has a blueprint for success, and makes shitty choices anyway?

Me, right? I’m worse.

I think so.

I want to help people. I want to help people very much. But I can’t help anyone if I can’t figure out how to help myself.

People keep telling me I’ll be fine. That I’ve been through a hard time and should cut myself some slack.


When it gets hard is when character is formed. Perseverance isn’t just about surviving. It’s about thriving despite the odds.

My son couldn’t work that little hook fastener on his shorts this morning. Instead of being cool and just finding him some different shorts, I chose to sort of let him sink or swim when he goes to the bathroom today.

He had trouble working the mechanism. I got frustrated with him because he quit when it got hard. Because he didn’t keep trying. Because he didn’t overcome.

What a hypocrite, I am.

But I feel bad about it. Which is why I know there’s hope.

I won’t quit trying to be better today than I was yesterday.

And I hope that’s an idea everyone can get behind. Just trying to be marginally better today at anything than you were yesterday. Constant improvement. In all areas of life.

Because children need us. Not just ours. All that look to us for guidance.

Not to spout off a bunch of hot air at them.

But to lead by example. To blaze the trail. To be someone they can emulate and be proud of.

Could anything be more important than that?

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