The Kids With The Haul

For the month of January 2015, both of my books are only $5 each. Buy 2 of them and I’ll give you a free mystery mini print. After January they are GONE FOREVER

I am selling them at or below cost so they can go to Fancy Bastards that will appreciate them, rather than a bonfire. Grab them HERE. 


HEY HEY HEY, did I mention that I have a Patreon?

My daughter used to act like she felt sorry for us when my wife and I only had a present or two to open on Christmas day, compared to her dozen or so. I’d try to explain how our situations were different. A) We already pretty much have everything an adult of modest means can have. When we do WANT things, we save up for them over the course of a year or so, change our minds 100 times about buying them, and then eventually, probably buy it and IMMEDIATELY feel bad about spending money on non-essentials. THAT is grown up Christmas. B) Other people besides us buy presents for her. She’s young and cute and gives off a certain quality that suggests to relatives, “I am young and cute, buy me some stuff I don’t need.”

Some years, my wife and I will say, “No presents for us! We’re going to buy each other NEW SHEETS!” Then Kiddo gets sad because we are old and close to death and super happy about getting new sheets, which is the worst thing she can think of.” Other times my wife and I will get each other a modest present that is mostly sort of a surprise, or something off the other’s Amazon wishlist and not a surprise at all. We usually keep it well under $100 (and still feel guilty about spending our own money on things that aren’t life sustaining or government mandated).

We try to only get Kiddo one big (or rather MAIN) present, a couple of smaller things and a few trinkets for her stocking. We also don’t really every buy her random toys throughout the year. Mostly she wants books, and I’m not really keen on imposing limits on her reading. So other than birthdays and Xmas, she doesn’t really get a bunch of new stuff. At least not good stuff. Our house fills to the brim with plastic bullshit from McDonalds and the like at an alarming rate. Twice a year (before birthday and Xmas), Kiddo does a GRAND TOY PURGE. This is where all the McDonalds bullshit accumulated over the last 6 months gets thrown away, and everything she doesn’t play with any more or has outgrown gets donated to charity. It’s super important for me to make sure she A) isn’t too obsessed with material possessions, and B) understands that we are fortunate to have more things, food, house, etc. than we NEED and C) that anyone and everyone in that fortunate position should do what they can to help those who aren’t fortunate enough to have all their needs met.

I hammer these points home pretty hard because I was a selfish kid. I was completely obsessed with accruing more toys (CERTAIN toys. I was very particular and very covetous.), and with keeping everything I had forever IN CASE I NEEDED IT LATER. If I ever got rid of something, I insisted on selling it in a garage sale and getting to keep the money for myself. These are not things I am proud of and certainly not traits I want to pass on to my child. I worked hard to get over these issues, and now I figure I can engrain more altruistic behaviors into my daughter while she’s young so that by the time she’s an adult it will just be a part of her nature.

I look at parenting like the Nielson Corporation looks at people. Sample the behavior of one person and extrapolate the likely behavior of 100,000. If I can instill an innate sense of altruism in one person, then I’m doing what I can to fix the world; to fix the future. This kid is the message I’m sending in into space. She’s filled with the things that I think are important enough to preserve for eternity. She’s my emissary into the void, and her mission is to outlive me, be nicer than I was, and teach people to try and be nicer than she is.

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  1. I like my presents like Nicholas Cage: COVERED IN BEES

    Speaking of presents: Has Kiddo figured out to transform Arcee and Chromia yet? Brainstorm (aside from removing the super fragile Headmaster) is a total cakewalk.

    It was two weeks before I realized that I could stash Arcee's guns on her underside in vehicle mode.

  2. That last paragraph is perfect. Going to have it tattooed on the insides of my eye lids to remind myself whenever my kids start to get really annoying (again).

  3. 2 years ago, my husband and I instituted the rule of four for X-mass gifts for the kids – 1. Something you WANT, 2. Something you NEED. 3. Something to WEAR. 4. Something to READ. It really cut back on the toy glut in the house. #2 is the hardest to shop for since #3 usually dovetails into it. My boys are obsessed with "trading" card games for the last few years now anyway. Yu-gi-oh, Digimon, MTG, Pokemon, etc. and are happy with a couple of expansion packs – even the 13 yr old. Fortunately Bakugan's star has finally faded and I don't have big 'exploding marbles' being thrown at the appliances anymore.
    Kudos on teaching your daughter not to be obsessed with things. We're working on that ourselves.

  4. I have soon to be 7 yo twin boys. In order to avoid the toy glut (remember I get 2 of everything) in the middle of Summer we have an "un-birthday" party where we do exactly what as you said, we throw away broken toys and donate the rest to charity, keeping only those that are special to either them or me (I'm never getting rid of the Star Wars Power of the Force sets). They can invite friends to help and we try to have a cake or some other treat. It's pretty fun.

    • We also have the "BUT I LOOOOOOOVE IT!!!!" rule. She won't part with any stuffed animal, no matter how long she's had them so we don't force her too. I don't want the toy purge to be a traumatic experience. Pick your battles and what not.

  5. Joel, I continue to be impressed by your family life. As I said when you told the tale of quitting your job to become a full-time cartoonist, you seem to have the best wife in the world, and you're doing a pretty fine job of being exactly the kind of father I wanted to be when I still thought kids were in my future (i.e., when I was an unmarried guy in his 30s, as opposed to the unmarried 51-year-old I am now).

    • Thank you for the kind words. I would suggest that rather than the "best wife in the world", I have the "best partner for me." We want the same things so we work together to achieve them. We want each other to be happy, so we find ways to make that happen.

  6. This is the one bright spot to growing up lower middle class. My brother and i each got one present for Christmas so we cherished the shit out of what we got even if it wasn't what we wanted.

    One year when Star Wars still a big deal (82 or 83) I got two presents that year cause my mom found two Star wars figures for the price of one. Never-mind one of them was Lobot, the other one was Darth fricking Vader!

    I loved both of those toys more than you can imagine.

    Also as an avid reader growing up, while I couldn't afford to buy new or even used books to keep up with my reading habits, the best day was when I turned 8 and my mom took me down to our local library to get me my own library card so I could read as many books as i ever wanted to.

    • I have that same Vadar. It's missing the cape and the light saber. For most of my childhood he had a red toothpick for a light saber and a black piece of felt my mom cut out for the cape. The weird thing is the original cape was more like a vest made of plastic. We must have bought them at a garage sale, because I would never have lost parts to my toys.

    • Geez, do we ever need new towels. Still have the ones we got for our wedding 10 years ago. They are… less towel than they used to be.

  7. My family were great with supplying me with books as I was growing up, but eventually reached a point where they refused to buy me any more books because I went to the library so much anyway. Now I just buy my favourite books and try to borrow others from friends/the library.

    Also, your daughter is seriously adorable.

    • We've instituted a similar rule. Kiddo is in 2nd grade but reads at a 5th or 6th grade level. If we buy her a new "chapter book" she's done with it in a day. It's impossible to buy $15 books brand new as fast as she goes through them. We've taken to only buying larger books like Harry Potter, or comic books like Calvin and Hobbes collections or Adventure Time trades. Everything else comes from the library. Our library charges $50 a year since we are outside of the city limits (total bullshit), and we haven't re-upped for 2015. We need to soon, though.

      For Xmas I got her the Hogwarts Library collection, and a set of Minecraft guides. She usually spends her own money at the school book fair, but we try to limit how much she spends to about $20 because otherwise she'll spend $50 (money she's earned from me selling her prints at conventions) on 6 books and read them all in a week.

      • My sister (God love Aunt Moneybags!) gave each of my boys a Kindle Fire for Christmas. That Kindle Unlimited (borrow as many as you want for $9/mo total subscription) is a nice option. If I can get the boys off minecraft long enough.

      • I'm a voracious reader (been reading books since I was 2), so I can relate. A huge chunk of my money has gone towards books, and I practically live in my local library. It's great that you're encouraging her love of books.

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