One morning, not long ago, my kid approached me and asked for a bite of my breakfast Hot Pocket. I tried feeding it to her like one might a goat in a petting zoo (hesitantly and through a fence), but she demanded to hold it herself. In the end, I relented to her tiny, willful hands and persistent cries for "Bites! Bites! Biiiiiitessss!"
My daughter took my Hot Pocket, and she never brought it back.
Later, I found mangled remnants of the toasting sleeve littered amongst ruins of broken crayons and alphabet blocks. My 19-month-old had murdered an adult-sized Hot Pocket by herself. The tragedy being that, of course, it was the last one in the freezer.
(And before you go off thinking I'm a horrible parent for giving my toddler a Hot Pocket, I would like it to be known that the pocket of food in question was a Lean Pocket. And before you go off thinking I'm a horrible human being for purchasing Lean Pockets — one may wonder if there is a more blatant affront to our standing atop the food chain, and rightly so, but then, there is always tofurkey — I would like it to be known I only bought Lean Pockets because they were out of the fully leaded version.)
It became clear to me on that day my life had reached a turning point: I would now have to battle against the baby for my food rations. It was just like "The Hunger Games" (I assume, having never read or seen "The Hunger Games") — only my opponent was younger, faster and fueled with high-octane apple juice.
My daughter continues to grow in both intelligence and strength. I was warned that this would be the course of things to come, but I somehow fooled myself into believing she might stay a small, manageable blob of flailing limbs and baby chub forever.
She figured out how to bust out of her Pack and Play early in the winter, thus earning her nickname Jailbreak Jackson, and since then, it's been a whirlwind of pulling the kid off windowsills and out of cabinets — and moving our electronics to the highest surface area in the apartment, as if a flood of wild leprechaun mischief were slowly filling our living quarters.
And to think, there was once a time I could set the kid on the floor, go make a sandwich and be relatively sure that when I returned she would be in the same spot.
Perhaps the biggest change has been to my consumption of media. While I spent the first year of my daughter's life plowing through "Breaking Bad" and "The Wire," once my kid was old enough to start dropping F-bombs and ask when the next cook was, I had to switch over to PBS.
For the most part, it's been fine — I like to enjoy some "Curious George" with my coffee in the morning — but there is the occasional Barney land mine to sidestep and the masochistically catchy "Wild Kratts" theme song.
To all the parents of young children out there: Does it make me a bad person that every time I see "Caillou" I want to punch him in the face? That bald, Canadian freak of nature. He's like Charlie Brown with the personality of a killer ventriloquist dummy.
I can't pinpoint exactly what it is I dislike about Caillou — his enormous incandescent light bulb melon, the way he "tee hees" like a psycho when he talks — but I'm pretty sure it's everything. One thing that is certainly true is that "Caillou" has affected my feelings toward Canada. For every 10 Mike Myerses or Bryan Adamses or denim tuxedos it sends our way, all it takes is one "Caillou" to reset the scoreboard.
In other news:
— I tried to pull up my shirtsleeve the other day and punched myself in the face. February was that kind of month. But then, it usually is. I think St. Valentine and Black History should ask for a refund. February is the shortest month of the year, but that still doesn't quite make up for it. We should shorten it to a week and extend May or June.
— Earlier this year, the White House turned down a petition to build the Death Star, citing the mammoth cost of construction. There are fears that they will also strike down a similarly awesome petition to change the national anthem to R. Kelly's "Ignition (Remix)." That's a change I could get behind. Anyone who knows me will tell you I can sing at least 85 percent of the lyrics to that song when I've been drinking.
— I'm thinking of starting my own petition to legally combine the identities of Dylan McDermott and Dermot Mulroney, in effect making them, legally speaking, the same person. It will spare the world a lot of unnecessary confusion. Although, to be fair, Dermot Mulroney looks like the Appalachian version of Dylan McDermott, not an exact replica.
Ryan Jackson writes these column shirttails in the third person, and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.