Monday, January 31, 2011

(Father) Male Bonding

A few days ago Daisy decided she was going to Target to pick up a few things. She said, "I won't be more than an hour" as she was heading out the door. Then she stopped, turned around, and said, "Are you guys going to be ok?". It was as if an internal force had jerked her back into the house to ask the question. Almost as if asking the question would rid her of any responsibility if something were to go terribly wrong.
I can see it now. Daisy drives down our street and sees ambulances, fire trucks, and police surrounding our house. She gets out and runs toward the yellow tape only to be rebuffed by the policeman standing guard.

"I need to get in there!" she screams. "My family needs my help."

"Maybe you shouldn't have left." he replies.

"What are you talking about? They were going to be fine."

"Well let me ask you one thing. Did you ask if they were going to be fine before you left?" Stunned silence.


"Then how did you know your husband felt entirely comfortable with the situation."

Again. Stunned silence.

"I'll tell you what ma'am. Why don't you go to your mom's house, get a little rest, and we'll go ahead and clean up your mess."

Back to the story. I said yes, relieved her of any future guilt, and she was on her way. We had bought a cardboard gingerbread house for Christmas that was big enough to fit the both of the boys inside. They had played in it, ripped it up to the point of reinforcing it with plastic coat hangers (thanks dad), and it was beginning to fall apart again. We had been playing "fort" with other couch cushions when I became bored. The gingerbread house needed to be put out of its misery.

"Let's jump off the couch onto the gingerbread house!"

"Yeah!" they shouted.

We launched ourselves off the couch, set the house back up onto its wobbly foundation, and then jumped on it again. We then used the cardboard to slide down the couch cushions. Once that was over Beast looked at his cherished possession. I could see the look of regret on his face. After all, this was the gingerbread house he had wanted to keep "forever". I had to think of something quick.

"Let's light the gingerbread house on fire!"

"Yeah!" they shouted.

We went out to the backyard where I set up a traditional tepee fire arrangement. The lighter didn't light on the cardboard as well as I had liked and the boys seemed to be loosing their enthusiasm. I ran to the recycle box and got a couple of cereal boxes and an egg carton. I carefully positioned them into place and it wasn't long before we had a raging inferno. As the flames licked up into the night sky I had a horrible feeling this wasn't a good idea. Our backyard can be seen from a main road and if the flames were going to get any higher my a-- was grass. Speaking of grass. Our lawn (which was substituting as a fireplace) wasn't looking too good either. I began to worry about the fence and the smoke going toward our neighbor's house. Then I looked at the awe and wonder on my children's faces and worried about what they might tell their future parole office when asked how they learned how to set fires. I quickly got the hose and sprayed down my creation.

Then the boys ran into the house. "What are they doing" I thought. Well, they are like dogs when they hear someone at the front door. Let me repeat. They are like dogs when they hear someone at the front door.

"I'm home!" Daisy said in a sing song voice.

"We may fire!" Fire said

"On the gingerbread house!" said Beast

Silence. I kept my back to the house and continued my hosing. The back door opens. The silence was killing me to the point where I had to look to see if she was still there. She was. And she was staring at me through the cross hairs.

"" She pronounced each word very carefully, slowly, and methodically so as to make sure she was understood. I started laughing. And when she didn't laugh it made me so anxious that I started laughing even harder. "I'm going to go apologize to our neighbors" as she walked back through the house and out the front door. A couple of minutes later she came back and didn't speak a word to me.

"Well." I said.

Begrudgingly, she said, "Michael said he thought it was funny."

I was relieved. I even went as far as to think, "Deep down, Daisy thinks I'm pretty cool."

If you haven't yet drifted off into a coma then let's transition into chapter 2.

A few days later Beast came down from his room and saw me out on the front step of our home. It was a sunny day and the perfect temperature to sit and drink 7 up. Beast asked if he could join me. He sat down and propped his back up against the house. I propped my back up against a brick pillar so we faced one another.



"I think I'm going to get some fresh air." He calmly took off his shirt, sat back down, and stared out onto the street again as if it was the most natural thing to do. We sat silent for a couple of minutes.



"I think you should take your shirt off too." I searched his face for a smile to let me know he was joking. It didn't happen. Then I waited a little longer.


"Yeah. Um. Uhhhhhhh. Sure. sure. yeah. Let's uh. Let's take my shirt off for a minute." I was speaking as if to convince myself this was nothing to be scared of but it didn't have the desired effect. I took my shirt off and cradled it onto my lap to cover up my belly. I looked at him to see if my shirt was sufficiently "off". Satisfied, he returned his attention to the street. This was not turning out to be the relaxing experience I was hoping it would be.

30 seconds later our neighbors turned into their drive way. My back had been turned toward that end of the street so I didn't have any warning. And God knows Beast doesn't have a clue to the shame I'm experiencing. I was going to make a joke when they got out of their car because they had obviously seen me. Except they didn't get out of the car. I kept waiting. The anticipation was killing me. Were they talking about me? Did they decide this was a good idea to talk over tax preparation? Do I outwardly admit to my stupidity and put my shirt back on? No. I wasn't going to cave. I looked at Beast. Totally and completely relaxed. She got out.

"Great day huh?" I said.


"Beast said we should take our shirts off."

"That's nice" What I would rather have had her do was make fun of me. Instead, she was trying not to embarrass me which made me even more embarrassed. I turned my attention to Michael. Yes. The Michael who calmed Daisy's wrath with the gingerbread house fire.

"Want to come over and take your shirt off too?" I said. And yes, Michael saved me again. He didn't take off his shirt but he did the next best thing. We bantered about how our shirts being off was either attracting beautiful females or repulsing them. Either way it didn't matter. My anxiety turned into laughter. He went into his house.

I looked over at Beast. He was looking at the clouds in complete serenity. Male bonding at its finest.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

(Father/Husband) Hurry Up and Rest

Daisy, I, and the boys went to a beach house for the weekend with my dad, step-mom, sister, brother-in-law, and their 3 boys.  8 guys and 3 girls.  Luckily the 3 ladies are strong and independent. 

Well, packing drives me absolutely crazy.  I hate the process of finding the right clothes for every occasion you might run into.  I hate packing the car to the gills and then realizing you need such and such packed way into the back under layers of other bags.  Where is this?  Where is that?  Do you have this?  Are you sure you need that?  Why don't you have that?  And when I'm packing the kid's stuff I'm at even greater loss. 

I have a hard enough time dressing myself let alone a 4 and 2 yr old. If I don't bring the right coat, and am cold, I curse myself and suck it up for the good of the group. I can only guess with the boys so I end up trying to be over prepared.  But when the occasion comes to go down to the beach I am still at a loss for how to dress them.  Obviously I can't rely on the boys because they often think it's a good idea to go outside naked in 20 degree weather.  Only when I see sweat running down their face do I know they are hot.  Even then they may lie and say they are fine because they don't want to go through the trouble of having me take the jacket off.  Now that the jacket is off the wind begins to blow and their sweaty body is frozen solid and I regret having made the decision.  Now they are thirsty because of dehydration and do not want to build the sandcastle anymore.  And guess what?  All of this could have been prevented had I simply put on the right kind of jacket for the occasion.  And further, if I had not brought the jacket at all it would not have been an option in the first place.  Therefore, leaving me the only correct choice of the fleece sweater rather than the winter coat.  But I wanted the winter oat because it had a hood to protect them from the wind.  But what I didn't know was Daisy had already brought hats for them. 

A neurotic person should not be allowed to pack.  In fact, I often will tell Daisy to pack my stuff for me so I can blame her for not bringing something rather than myself.  Because if she didn't bring something then we find a way around it.  Beast has on a T-shirt in 20 degree weather?  I wrap him in my jacket and carry him.  Forgot diapers for Fire?  Tie a pillow case around his hips and legs.  If I forget I feel as if I need to be wrapped up in the Judas Cradle. 

I like the way Daisy avoids a certain task.  When we were first married we followed traditional male and female chores.  After a while I realized one task Daisy would positively avoid.  Garbage.  So I asked why this was. 

"Because you are the boy.  Boys are the people who take out the garbage." She replied.

"But sometimes I cook, do the laundry, vacuum, and do the dishes."

"Exactly!  The key word being "sometimes".  You have ONE job.  Garbage." As she pointed to the bag.


So a few years passed and the chores became equally shared.  But the one thing that remained was garbage. 

"So why don't you take out the garbage?"  I asked

"Because I don't."

"Yeah I know.  But, when there is a chance to do it, you choose not to."



"Because you do it."

"But what if I didn't?  What if I chose not to anymore?"

"The garbage would pile up and our house would stink."

"That's insane.  Why don't you do it?"

"I just don't."

"AAAAARRRRGGGHHH" (like a vicious pirate)

Any suggestions on packing for children and then the implementations of such clothing? 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

(Father) Deathly Wishes

A few days ago I was shifting my weight toward my right side and had moved my right butt cheek down about two inches when I heard, "dad?" behind me.  I turned around to see Beast in the doorway. 

"What?" I said

"What are you doing?"

"I was about to sit down at the computer to write a blog entry.  Thousands of people depend on me to provide them with up to date information on my incredibly interesting life."  Actually, that is not what I said.  Too much information begets too many questions and I'll be damned if I am going to have my son exercise his curiosity muscle.  Along with questions comes my effort toward teaching him things and I can't have that either.  We pay school teachers for those kinds of things.  Besides, the, "thousands of people" part would have been a lie and we don't encourage that type of behavior.  We don't discourage it.  We just don't encourage it.  Like my dad used to say, "the world's got teeth".  That means you have to lie and manipulate people in order to get what you want and I want Beast on the cutting edge of this cut throat world without saying that at any point I encouraged such a thing.  That was a big 'ol fatty tangent.  Onward.

So I say something like, "I was going to get on the computer".  Let me fill you in on a little something regarding Beast's question.  One, if I am doing something that is more fun then what he is doing he will want to be a part of it.  Two, if it is not something he wants to do he will ask me to be part of the fun he is involved in.  He chose part two and it happened to be coloring a picture.

The way he asks is painful for me to watch and be a part of.  My expectation and desire is to write a blog.  It's fun and something I had tried to find time to do.  His expectation and desire is for me to color with him.  It is fun and was something he did not try to find time for us to do.  But he asks as if we had been planning on it for a long time and that he has gotten his hopes up.  Like our coloring a picture together has been on his mind right before sleep for the last week.  The hopeful anticipation on his face as if my answer held his little world in its orbital flow in space and time.

So I said yes.  I even went further to say, "You are more important than my blog."  This is where the applause sign come on and everybody turns to each other with a nod saying, "he made the right choice."  But does it matter that what I said was the opposite of what I felt?  In fact, I had to say it several times in order to convince myself of its truth.  Beast even gave me a look as if to say, "Enough already". 

After a half hour of play I said I needed to wake Fire from his nap so we could get on with the day.  Beast looked crushed and said, "But we didn't get to play anything.  No fair."  So I said, "NO FAIR?!?!  My coloring this picture was no fair because it sucked!!!"  So was my time a waste?  You bet it was.  Unless somebody realizes your sacrifice, and thanks you for it, consider the effort  pure garbage.  That is why I remind Daisy of my sacrifices on a daily basis.

"Hey Daze.  Did you see what I did just then?"


"I put my dirty dish in the sink."

"Um.  wow."

"You're welcome."

In a quick instant I will tell you what my blog was going to be about.  Beast and I were playing legos one morning when he said,

"Hey dad.  Notorious (cousin) and I were talking about how we wish we could die and go to heaven and then ask God for whatever we wanted and then live in a cabin in the woods and have new parents."


A couple of minutes later he said, "Maybe you can come too."

"Thanks"  With that kind of compliment I didn't think anymore needed to be said.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

(Father) Misunderstood

This morning Fire was having a difficult time putting on his shoes and was throwing a bit of a fit.  Strike that.  Daisy was having a difficult time putting on Fire's shoes and he was having a tantrum.  And so jokingly.  JOKINGLY! I said, "Looks like you need a good 'ol fashioned butt whoopin'"  I immediately heard Beast's heavy footsteps running from his room screaming, "I want a butt whoopin'! I want a butt whoopin'!".  Fire decided if Beast wanted something he had every right to demand it as well.  "I want a butt whoopin' too!"

"Guys, guys, guys, slow down for goodness sake. Nobody is getting a butt whoopin'"

"AWWWW, but it's not fair!" said Beast

"Not Fair!" said his parrot little brother.

"Guys, a butt whoopin' is not something you want."

"But I do." said Beast.  And do I even need to say it?

"I do too." said Fire.

"(Sigh) How about a graham cracker instead?"

"NOOOOOOO" they both said in unison.  Christmas candy has warped their brain into thinking the world revolves around it and a butt whoopin' is filled with sugar.  Beast has had a habit of trying to get my attention, and once getting it, begins searching for what to say.  Sometimes it's, "Um um um um......I love you" which is great.  Now it is, "Um um um um......can I have a treat?"

I always try to think about how our family conversations might be retold to others and have learned explanations do not alwayss help.  In fact, it tends to confuse them and gives them more ammunition.  For instance, Scooby Doo had a mechanical scorpion that chased Shaggy and Scooby around until it broke.  That night Beast asked if all machines were bad.  Daisy would have done the smart thing and said, "No. Machines are good.  I love you and goodnight".  Beast would have said "I love you too.", laid his unconcerned head on his pillow, and slept soundly. I explained how dishwashers and bulldozers were good but some machines could be dangerous if used in the wrong way.  Beast looked at me and said, "I'm scared".  

So, in case you were wondering, I ignored their pleas for a butt whoopin' (with no explanation as to what it was) and gave them a graham cracker which was met with utter disappointment and a wish for what could have been.  I told Daisy I thought I needed a good ol' fashioned butt whoopin from her.  If you want to know what that conversation was like then refer to the dialogue above with I acting in the role of Beast and Daisy acting in the role of me. 

Happy New Year