Let me just say that it was Jessica who first turned me on to funny guy blogger Jason Good. And while that sounds like it might have been a super-salacious threesome, I can assure you that the only time the panties came off was after I peed them, laughing so hard at his posts Approximately 3 Minutes Inside The Head Of My 2-Year-Old and 46 Reasons My Three-Year-Old Might Be Freaking Out. Those babies went viral and landed him on the short-list of Must-Read Dad Bloggers. Now the former New York Times business development dude turned standup comedian turned humor blogger has a new book out — today! Called This Is Ridiculous This Is Amazing: Parenthood in 71 Lists it captures the utter charm and total chaos of playing Dad to sons Silas, 6, and Arlo, 4.
Jessica and I grabbed him — platonically, of course — in a rare chaos-free moment in his Minneapolis home.
Norine: Ridiculous … amazing. That is pretty much parenthood in a nutshell. What do you find amazing? What do you find ridiculous?
Jason: That someone as irresponsible as I am could be in charge of two human lives. No, that’s the ridiculous part. I guess that’s both the most amazing and the most ridiculous thing.
Norine: When you and your wife were leaving the hospital the first time, did you feel like Holy crap! Someone’s letting me take these kids home, and I really don’t know what I’m doing? That’s certainly how I felt leaving the hospital.
Jason: You know how when you’ve passed through the Frenetic Stage of anxiety, and you’re on to the I’m Numb And Can’t Talk To Anybody Stage? That was pretty much where I was by the time we left the hospital. It was an evolutionary defense mechanism. I just shut down and couldn’t let anything else in.
Jessica: Well, with Silas, you’re entering the Really Smooth Sailing Phase. From 6 till they’re preteens, it’s remarkably stable. Everything is very nice for a while.
Jason: Silas is getting very independent. He can do more things on his own. Of course he has moments of meltdowns. But then, so do I. Adults just learn to do more healthy things with our anxiety and anger. We grab ice cream instead of having a tantrum.
Jessica: Yeah, it’s hard to scream when your mouth is full of delicious ice cream.
Jason: Unless you’re screaming Holy shit! This is good! That seems to come out just fine.
Norine: Are you a Haagen Dazs or Ben & Jerry’s guy?
Jason: Ben & Jerry’s is way more fun. I went there the other day … instead of crying.
Norine: You’re basically living the dream of all creative people — you quit a day job that you didn’t love to pursue your twin passions, writing and standup comedy. At what point had you simply had enough?
Jason: I think the 9-to-5 drudgery can eventually drive you to not really have any choice. I was 37 years old, and we were lucky enough to be in a financial situation where I could be income-less for a couple of years. So I just did it. There wasn’t any one moment; it was more a million tiny moments stacked on top of each other. I was feeling midlife-crisis-y. I’d been at the New York Times for three years. It wasn’t going to get any better than that, so I thought, if I don’t like this job, I don’t like this line of work.
Jessica: I came into your blog about halfway through your self-imposed year of blogging daily. What inspired you to set that challenge for yourself?
Jason: I started my blog Jason Good a month after I quit my job. I said I was going to write every day. I was gonna publish it so people knew. And I was going to commit to it so people expected it. I’ve never been good at self control, so I had to set a very strict rule for myself so I could get to where I wouldn’t need to force myself to write. A lot of times, it was really hard to do. But I did it every day. And stuff happened. People started asking me to write books. That’s what I’m doing now, trying to finish my third one [a memoir about his relationship with his father; a second book, in production now, is a children’s book called Must. Push. Buttons, based on Approximately Three Minutes Inside the Head of My Two-Year-Old.]
Jessica: I loved when new posts were coming out daily. You knew you were getting something good, every day. It was a guarantee.
Norine: Your big break came when Approximately Three Minutes Inside My Two-Year-Old’s Head went viral. That was the one that went nuts, right? I could see why. It’s a big favorite in our house. The first time I read it, I was laughing so hard, my 8-year-old came to see what was so funny. I read it to him, and now it’s his favorite. All I have to do is say “Cheddar Bunnies,” and he’ll start cracking up.
Jason: That was the first one. But 46 Reasons My Three-year-Old Might Be Freaking Out was waaaay bigger.
Norine: I love it! Reason #7: He’s not allowed in the oven. #22: I gave him the wrong blue crayon. #35: The cat won’t let him touch its eyeball. We’ve all been there. But probably mine and Jessica’s favorite list in your book is the list of supplies required to defend yourself against a toddler attack. Have you ever needed the falcon gloves? Or those extra kidneys on ice?
Jason: No. But the chapter about parenting injuries, that’s all true!
Norine: I can completely relate. Our son was sleeping between us one night, and he flung out his arm and his little fist landed squarely in my eye socket. I woke up in agony, seeing stars!
Jason: I’ve definitely had someone get a little too excited and punch me square in the nose.
Norine: Is that how the chapter “Games To Play When You’re Lying Down” came about? You got walloped and needed to lie down? I mean, these are great: Put All the Sunglasses and Hats on Daddy; Pull Daddy Around On a Sleeping Bag; Put Daddy in “Sofa Jail”; Pretend We’re Sleeping Cats. I want to play these games.
Jason: That’s just the end of the day when you’re so tired and they want to do something with you so you have to figure out how to make both things happen.
Norine: I gotta say, we could have used that list when my son was a toddler and my husband and I both had the flu. When he’d cry, we’d both look at each other and go, Your turn! I would’ve loved to have been a sleeping cat or stuck in sofa jail.
Jason: If there’s a 24-hour bug going around, your kid will get it and you get it from the kid. But you won’t get sick for another 24 hours. By the time they’re feeling better, you’re just making yourself comfy on the bathroom floor.
Norine: That’s pretty much how it goes. So what was your worst injury?
Jason: I had my gum cut when my kids were trying to pry open my mouth. And I hurt my lower back pulling them around our house in a laundry basket by an extension cord. I turned funny and Owwww! I couldn’t sit, stand or walk in comfort.
Norine: Being a parent definitely merits hazard pay.
Jason: I need worker’s comp.
Norine: Given that we play math and science geniuses on the blog, we were really taken with your chapter “Arithmetic of Parenting.” You developed a complex equation to determine at what point a parent actually has to get off their ass to prevent their child from severe bodily injury. Could you walk our readers through the math?
Jason: It’s the Likelihood of Injury multiplied by the Severity of Injury divided by the Current State of Comfort equals Kinetic Concern.
|(LI x SI)||= KC|
Here’s where it came from: I was lying in a hammock and Silas, who was about 3 at the time, had gotten on top of the monkey bars and was trying to crawl across them. I was very comfortable and needed to determine whether I should get up. I figured there was about a 2 percent chance he would fall. But if he did fall, there was a 35 percent chance he’d get really hurt. But I was 80 out of 100 in comfort. If you get a Kinetic Concern score of more than 1 you gotta get up. But if it’s less than 1 you can stay where you are. I think if Silas could understand this math, he’d have approved of my decision not to get up.
Jessica: If he fell, and your wife got mad, you could say, in your defense, Look! The math! Numbers don’t lie!
Jason: Right. Look at this equation I made up to prove I didn’t have to do anything.
Jason Good’s new book, This Is Ridiculous This Is Amazing: Parenthood in 71 Lists comes out TODAY. Order it at Amazon.