This past weekend I had the honor of escorting our beautiful daughter to the annual Stepfordville Daddy-Daughter Dance, or Triple D as I like to call it. This is a first for both of us. And with she in her old flower girl dress and Me in my only suit, we head out for a night out under the Stepfordville lights. Just a Dad and his Daughter…
In Stepfordville, few things are bigger than the Daddy Daughter Dance. (The only thing bigger is the
annual luxury import vehicle giveaway…that’s the only way I can explain how everyone here drives one…maybe this is my year to win…) And due to the unrealistically large number of children in Stepfordville, the Triple D cannot simply exist as a single event held in an evening. In fact, there are so many little girls in Stepfordville that the Triple D must be divvied up like chow time in prison. Each age group (or cell block) gets a 1.5hr time slot for which to hold their dance.
We decide to surprise M and get her a pretty corsage to wear to the dance. This, of course, is met with indifference, if not disgust. (Perhaps we should not have opted for the corsage tattoo) After a quick guilt trip, she relents, and agrees to wear the flower…but ONLY until we get into the dance…So, donned with our pretty flower and a scowl, we are off to the Triple D! (After 400 photos…thank you, Mommy)
If I can describe the dance in one word, it would be, “Crowd”…or “Lines”…It starts before we even leave our vehicle with waiting in line to pay for parking. Once we have parked and make our way into the Stepfordville Conference Center and we find ourselves in line yet again. This time the line is to take photos, which, like the parking, cost money. Oh well, you gotta pay to play, right?
20 or so minutes into our allotted chow time…err, dance time, we finally make our way into the main hall. As you might suspect, we find ourselves in line for a third…and final time. This line is for refreshments. (Wow, we actually do get some chow! … the prison similarities are starting to pile up…Is that guy wearing an orange jumpsuit??) We load up our paper plates with tiny finger sandwiches, semi-fresh fruit, and stale cookies. This feast is not to be outdone by the airplane-sized servings of soda poured straight from the 2-liter bottle! Oh well, we ain’t here for the grub. Let’s dance!
We hit the floor with some fellow daddy-daughter cohorts and the dancing commences. As we approach the dance floor, a sea of suited-up middle-aged dads parts to allow us entry. These dads are busting some moves! I see the sprinkler, the running man, the cabbage patch, and even the robot. If not for the little girls, I would swear I am at an insurance seminar mixer! As they say, “When in Rome…” so I start working my magic on the floor with M. Soon, she is dancing in a group of her schoolmates and I find myself moonwalking alone. Now I know how Farmer Ted felt when Sammy left him on the dance floor in Sixteen Candles…awkward.
The rest of the dance continues in this manner except that the other “single” dads and myself make our way to the sidelines to watch our little girls having a blast…without us. It is at this point that I am thankful that the Triple D is so short. There is only so much small talk and little girl screams this man can take. (The loudest of the screams came when What Does the Fox Say comes on…I am still deaf in my left ear)
Before we know it, the time limit is up on our fairy tale evening and the DJ is ushering us out the door in order to prepare the mess hall for the next cell block. We take our girlies out for dinner and rather than cut our losses and call it an evening, we decide it will be a good idea to take them to Main Event (a mega-super-center containing bowling, laser tag, video games…and beer).
Main Event is anything but an event. As soon as the game cards are loaded up with dad’s cash, our girls are gone… So we do what any other man would do in this situation, we get beers and follow them around while they play games. If they were older, this would be equivalent to holding purses and coats while they shop. At least the beer is cold.
It takes roughly 1 1/2 hours for us to collect the girls and exit the mega-supercenter-gameapalooza-bar. The girls guzzle down the candy that they purchased with their winning game tickets on the way home while the dads ride in a silent, slightly beer-tinted reflection.
As I tuck my sweet baby girl in and looks up at me with those heart-melting baby blues and she whispers, “Best night ever” and then flashes an ear-to-ear grin (at which point she looks like a jack-o-lantern due to all of the missing teeth she has…or doesn’t have). It is at this point that I come to a harsh realization.
I have reached the pinnacle of fatherhood. Soon, this little angel will hate me. She will not snuggle with me while we watch cartoons. She will not throw her arms around me and ask me to pick her up. She will probably not even talk to me…She will grow up.
I only wish “chow time” lasted longer…
We have scratched. We have clawed. We have laughed. We have cried. Did we contemplate murder… and suicide? Daily. Did we cope by ramping up our discount box wine intake to an all-time high? Definitely. Are we stronger parents after having survived the past year battling our three year-old son? Debatable. And yet, there is something good to come of these trying times…I think I see it in the distance ahead. Is that…could it be? Yes, it is! There’s a light at the end of what has seemed like an eternally long tunnel, otherwise known as the Terrible Threes.
That’s right, folks. Lil b is turning four! I first notice it on the refrigerator calendar as I am topping off my 64 oz glass of fine boxed Merlot. Something on that calendar catches my eye, so I take a closer look and I can scarcely make out the hand-written scribble. “Benny’s B-Day” is scribbled diagonally across the symbolic date box in the Nell-scratch that is wife’s primitive form of written communication (She also points and grunts…and bites when she’s really mad). It was like a beacon of light guiding the lost ship that is my soul safely to shore. Lil b’s birthday…no more terrible threes…there is a God…I just overflowed my wine chugger…
I instantly drop to my knees and french kiss the kitchen floor. Mainly because I don’t want to waste any Jesus Juice. Once down there I also see several drops of gravy that I must have dropped earlier (and every good Texan knows that thou shalt not waste gravy…or chili, for that matter). Needless to say, while I kneel there slurping cheap wine and delicious cream gravy from the grout joints in my tile, I think back on the past year and how much we have actually overcome in our battles with three year-old Lil-b.
Over this past year We’ve endured what I would call a textbook case in your generic toddler parenting book. We have battled the “anger hitting”, where Lil-b will lash out and take a swipe at you if he feels he’s being wronged. Aside from the anger management aspect, the real problem with Lil-b hitting me, whether playing or not, is that he just happens to be at that height to where is right cross lands squarely in my junk. He affectionately calls it, “Tee Tee Punch”. At least he screams it out as he’s winding up his haymaker, which provides me just the fraction of a second that I need to protect the family jewels. Perhaps the silver lining is that he attacks with no mercy when I sick him on my buddies!
Lil-b also has a severe problem with authority. He doesn’t like to be told what to do. (So sometimes I have to check him into the wall and blame it on his clumsiness). Once he gets older, he can get some dark sunglasses and tell people he ran into a door just like mommy…(wink, wink). So, when Lil-b gets upset and he’s not sucker punching someone in the baby-maker, he simply throws an all-out fit complete with screaming, crying, and floor flailing. It is this, and this alone that I pray goes away with the threes. I need this for my own sanity…and he needs this if he doesn’t want to walk around like Verbal Kint the rest of his life.
Lastly, we have valiantly waged a violent war with bed wetting… and have suffered heavy casualties. In fact, we are currently in full retreat. Each night Lil-b is straps on a pull-up and we get to make it through a night that doesn’t involve a midnight sheet changing. We will take this loss (along with the extra sleep) and live to fight another day.
As I finish tongue squeegeeing every last drop of nourishment from my kitchen floor I glance up at the calendar one last time. A smile comes to my face and I start to chuckle just thinking about all of the things I have just ranted about above. It occurs to me that these are the very things that we are going to one day look back upon with fondness and warm fuzzies. This gives me hope for the future and it also reminds me that time flies. Before I know it, my babies will be complaining about me acting crazy and wetting the bed. You know what, Lil-b? You go ahead and throw that fit. You go ahead and wet that bed…and why not, throw in your best Tee Tee Punch while you’re at it. Daddy loves you just the way you are.
About 6 months ago the Wife and I somehow drink ourselves into the decision to take M to her first concert. Some of you may feel that 6 years old is much too young for a concert. We are on the fence, but decide to let it ride. I mean, how bad could it be if we are there with her? Hell, we have another few drinks and even end up purchasing a ticket for Lil B too. Some of you may feel that 3 years old is much too young for a concert. We are…oblivious. We are…drunk. All this being said, we are music lovers and like any good, strong, overbearing parents would do, we cram our personal interests down the fragile, noisy, little throats of our children.
It’s December. We are hungover…and the proud owners of 4 shiny, new Taylor Swift mega-concert tickets. These golden tickets are to be M’s Christmas gift from her awesome parents. Being such a media darling (excluding the endless stream of ex-lovers), one might be inclined to think that tickets to Taylor’s show are somewhat affordable. One also might be a dumb-ass. We have, quite possibly, the shittiest seats in the stadium and we have to take out a personal loan from local Craigs-lister, Eddie “Fingers” Grimaldi, just to afford the them. Not sure why they call him Fingers…He seems nice and even gave us some “special juice” or something like that…I wasn’t really listening…All I heard was, “Blah, blah, blah…40%…blah, blah, blah…I will cover all of your thingers.” Whatever, dude. Fork over the cash!
The “magical”Christmas morning ticket unveiling goes as expected. M gives us a half-hearted smile, a bro hug, and then bounds off to see her “real presents” from Santa. Wifey and I are a little booty hurt, but quickly cast our disappointment aside. “The real excitement will be when we actually go to the concert!”, we reassure ourselves. Who needs an aspirin?
Fast forward to May. Taylor Swift is in town and M is starting to get excited. LUCKILY, we have a G-Ma in the house (or “hizzy” if you prefer) and she agrees to keep Lil B. This solves the huge concern that we have. Once we sobered up, we quickly realized that we would be lugging a toddler around a pro football stadium amidst capacity crowds and unimaginable loudness. The likes of which, he is no way prepared to experience. WTF were we thinking when we bought him a ticket? (Note to self: Don’t drink rubbing alcohol again) Instead, we let M invite a friend and all is right with the world. Load up in the family truckster! It’s time to make our way west…into the waiting arms of sweet, cute, money-grubbing, slutty Taylor.
We arrive at the majestic Jerry World and it is gratifying to see the awe and excitement in the girl’s faces. By the time we park, walk to the stadium, and get the girls some grub (arm-length hot dogs…mmm) we have missed the opening act. We hit the seats, cram some cased meats down our gullets, and listen to the stylings of the remaining opening acts. It should be noted that the house lights are up and the stadium is fairly empty.
Once the last opener finishes, we decide that it’s a good time to run down and grab some T-shirts. We hit the swag shop and promptly plant ourselves in line with about 1000 preteen girls. The line moves slowly, but we make it to the small shop eventually. By the time we get to where we can actually put our hands on any merch, it’s picked over and we are pretty much left to fight each other for scraps. I felt like the kid from District 1 duking it out at the cornucopia. We manage to scavenge a few T’s for the girls and make our way to the cashier. “That’ll be $130 sir” WTF? “There must be a mistake. We only have 3 T-shirts and 2 light wands.” “No mistake. The T’s are $40 and the wands are $5″, smirked the teen cashier. I wanted to grab his greasy, pierced head and slam it through the countertop. (like I did to that little bitch that tried to grab my light wand. Nobody Effs with District 1!) Alas, I am with my girls, and I have severe indigestion from the baby arm that I previously consumed, so I reluctantly pay the little bastard and we scurry off to our seats. Taylor. Is. Coming.
We emerge from Jerry’s underbelly out into the stadium and are greeted with a much different scene from that which was there when we left. Now, the stadium is FULL. The stadium is DARK, and the stadium is LOUUUUD. We scramble up to our seats in the dark (thank you light wands!) and get seated just as Taylor takes the stage. The roars of 55,000 prepubescent girls is deafening. All four of us cover our ears instantly. (I feel like a Turkish protestor after a percussion grenade has detonated) As Taylor works her way through her first song, Wifey and I both notice that M is just sitting quietly in her seat. She’s not dancing, singing, or clapping along. She’s just sitting there…scared…almost tearful. (and quite possibly bleeding from the ears) We do our best to communicate with her over the ear drum-piercing squeals, but it’s tough to hear anything. I jokingly ask if she wants to go home and she stares up at me with her blue doe eyes and meekly says, ” Okay”. Are you effing kidding me? Of course, I don’t say anything…Instead, I simply hug her. Her Mommy does the same. Another Taylor number and M is up dancing, singing, and clapping along with her friend and the rest of the crowd. Hell, I even caught myself twerking!
In the end, a good time is had by all. M experiences the awesomeness of her first concert and then sleeps peacefully while Mom and Dad endure the 2-hour car ride home in an ocean of shitty traffic. All-in-all, I think we can put this event in the memory bank and we will eventually look back and share funny stories…If our hearing ever returns…
Three dads and four daughters go into the woods…Sounds like the start of a bad joke, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, this is no joke. It’s a tale of extreme weather…foraging…hunting… surviving in the wilderness…(for what amounts to as lest than an entire day) Enjoy the fail…
It’s Saturday. M & I hastily throw together a backpack with a few necessities and we are off to start an adventure together. First stop, Wal-Mart, the land of plenty. (Plenty of whack-jobs…at least we fit in). We purchase only the necessities that one might need to survive in the wilderness for almost an entire day. We buy hotdog supplies, s’more supplies, kid friendly drinks, and the rest of the cart is filled with chips, beer and beef jerky…okay, mostly beer. We checkout and we are off to meet up with our Sherpa’s at base camp.
The journey just to get to the campsite is daunting in itself. It takes an entire 10 minutes and we are already hot, tired, and frustrated…mainly because we don’t get to hear the end of “Thrift Shop” before we have to park and unload. (Now we will never know if he bought that broken keyboard…and what about the knee board?)
We opt to hold this years DDG at a local lake and one of the 3 dads just so happens to have a boat at said lake. It is our mission to hit base camp, throw the tents up and get out on the water post haste…Of course, this takes slightly longer than anticipated. Each dad brings his own tent. One dad is either smart, or just lucky and brings a small backpacking tent that is quick to set up. The other two of us bring tents that are sized to sleep a small village. While these tents are only slightly more difficult to set up for a single person under normal conditions. When coupled with 40 MPH straight-line winds, they are near impossible. We endure. Three tents are eventually erected…barely (we had to forego the rain flies on the two larger tents as the winds were just too wild to even attempt that mess.)
The girls manage to entertain themselves while we dads wrestle with the tents and the wind. They find a mother herring of some kind that is nesting. For whatever reason, this herring builds her nest out in the open in the sand on the lake beach. Of course, the girls see a pretty bird and they want to get near it…so they do. This mother bird does not like the site of 4 girls prowling around her nest full of eggs and she becomes rather hostile. After several warnings from us dads about messing with animal mothers, and several run-downs by the momma bird herself, the girls seem unfazed and eventually they run momma off from her own nest! The next thing we see is one of the daughters running up the beach holding an egg in her hand and cheering as she had just won the last golden Wonka ticket. Before we even have time to get to them, the egg has been dropped and one baby bird is lost. After violently explaining to this little girl that she is a murderer and a terrible person (I think one dad even kicked her in the ribs), we force her to wipe her tears away with the murdered fetus and oh look…it’s boat time! (Don’t worry about the girl’s psyche. We booked her an appointment with Dr. Kermit Gosnell…she will be all better soon)
We get out on the lake and find an awesome little cove that is shielded from the wind…and we have a blast! The girls take turns jumping off the boat into the frigid, murky water. The dads take turns shoveling beer and snacks down our fat, unshaven faces. Our time out in the calm cove has makes us forget the tornadic winds that we were battling at base camp, and for a fleeting moment, we fool ourselves into believing that the winds may have actually subsided.
We get back to base camp and somehow manage to get a sustainable fire going. I feel like Tom Hanks in Castaway. We quickly realize that the two house-sized tents are not doing so well in these harsh wind conditions, so we improvise multiple tie-downs and stakes to keep the tents, at least, somewhat upright. The girls have fun roasting hotdogs and marshmallows in the fire while the dads have fun swilling beer and keeping the girls from falling in the fire. Only one child catches flame and kudos to her school because she knows to stop-drop-roll. After getting her snuffed out and resuscitated, she gleefully rejoins the group around the fire. If you find yourself downwind from her you catch the sweet aroma of charred mammal flesh drifting with the wind. If this campout takes a turn for the worse, I know who’s getting eaten first…
After the great s’more cleanup, we get the girls into their jammies and let them attempt to all sleep together in one tent. Obviously this does not work worth a damn and we end up sequestering each of them in their respective dad’s tent. Slowly, One-by-one, they drift off to dreamland. Meanwhile, us dads sit around the fire drinking ourselves off to drunkland.
Morning comes too soon, but she is a welcome sight nonetheless. Groggy and hungover, we begin to tear down camp in the hurricane force winds. (That’s right, the winds never slow…never calm…never stop.) As we are breaking down our campsite I look to where the girls are playing and what are they doing? They are effing with that effing bird and her nest again! Rather than administer more beatings, I just sit down on the ice chest and smile as I watch them play a game of cat and mouse with that poor momma bird. The girls squeal with both fear and delight as the angry mom chases them away and this warms my stone cold heart to its core. It looks like breakfast is on Mother Nature today! “Girls, bring daddy those eggs!”
When I was a child (not all that long ago), I played soccer. I played every outdoor season, then played indoor soccer in between the outdoor seasons and sometimes even simultaneously. Let’s just say I played a lot of soccer growing up. (I played so much that my ankles are now about as useless as Nancy Kerrigan’s after a Tonya Harding crow bar session)
While I no longer play due to my competitive eating disorder, M is now playing soccer and I am truly loving it! Each Saturday the nostalgia comes bubbling back to the surface of the caldron that is my memory. The smell of the fresh-cut grass, the sideline chalk dust in the air, the overly loud soccer moms cheering on their little would-be Pele’s, and the list goes on. Suffice it to say, I love me some game day!
Even at the tender age of 6, the girls are quite competitive, M in particular. I don’t know where she gets it, but she has a wide competitive streak in her and a strong drive to win. (God knows it does not come from me…Hell, if I were out there, I would be swilling a beer and waiting for the ball to come in close enough proximity for me to fane a kick without spilling my drink. And all that running…Eff that! I get tired just watching them. Me, I roll up to the games with a dozen bear claws and go to town while my baby gets her soccer on…I kid, I kid…everyone knows I am a chocolate glaze kinda guy…)
Seriously though, as M’s games kick off, I start out calm and in my camp chair with the Wife and Lil b alongside the rabid soccer moms (& dads). As the action picks up, I find myself standing and starting to bark a few minor instructions to M. ” Cover #8!”, or “Get to the front of the net!”, or maybe “If she comes by you again, slide her an elbow to the temple!”, and occasionally “Shut-up, Ref! Or I will gut you like a fish!”
If we are not already pounding the other team into submission by this point, (we usually are), I start pacing the sidelines along with the coach at times. I start to give M more instruction. Mind you, I am not one of those yellers or arm wavers on the sideline. I am subtle…almost to a fault as M often does not notice me or hear me trying to get her attention. (I sometimes have to trip one of the opponent kids to get a dead ball so that I can get M into proper position) Needless to say, I am slightly involved in the game from a parent perspective, but not overly so like those crazy soccer moms. So, over the past couple of seasons I have been begged by M to coach and even been urged to assist by her current and previous coaches. Alas, I have held strong…until now.
That’s right folks, I am breaking the ole whistle out of retirement! And I must say, I am pretty excited. I have not coached since I was a junior in high school when I assisted in coaching a 5 year-old boys team to what I will now embellish to an undefeated championship season. (in reality, I was probably too hungover at the games to even know if we won…hell,did we even play? Was that all some bad dream?). Even if I am only going to be coaching in an assistant capacity, it is safe to say that I am not the only one who is a little excited. You should have seen (and heard) M’s delight. It totally made my day. (Now I am not regretting all of the threatening and coercing I had to do to get the current assistant coach to “step down”. I hope she regains the ability to walk again soon…)
I dropped the coaching news on M as she completed her final game of the season with yet another tick in the win column. I am quietly reflecting as the team huddles around the coach as he starts to hand out the hardware. And by hardware I mean the standard participation trophies that EVERY kid on EVERY team gets these days. I almost crap my pants (if you count sharting as crapping your pants, then yes, I did crap my pants) The size of these effing trophies is bigger than the largest trophy I ever received. Only, my team had to win a huge citywide tournament to get that trophy! We poured our hearts out on that clumpy dust bowl field to get that trophy! I will probably be buried with that trophy! (Just me, my trophy and that unfortunate Prince Albert jewelry) As M crams her participation loot into the family truckster, I am left to ponder what size trophies they hand out to the kids who actually accomplish something. If the size of these participation trophies is any indication, we are gonna need a bigger house…
Below is the transcription of a speech given just before the great spring clean of 2013 in Stepfordville, Texas. Go forth and be motivated!
You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many years. The eyes of this house are upon you. The hopes and prayers of clutterless-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the Clutter war machine, the elimination of toy tyranny over the oppressed parents of Stepfordville, and security for ourselves in this house.
Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well-trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.
But this is the year 2013! Much has happened since the Clutter triumphs of 2011-12. The United Parents Nations have inflicted upon the Clutter great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our recent offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the playroom and their capacity to wage war on the ground floor. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting parents. The tide has turned! The clutter-free rooms of the world are marching together to Victory!
I have full confidence in your courage and devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!
~Dwight D. Parent
A couple of months ago I am putting Lil b to bed and I start doing a random character. For no real reason, the character that I jump into on this particular night is an old Jewish grandmother, or bubbe. To become a bubbe, I hobble around his room like any elderly woman might while I talk about my day. In my best Jewish old lady accent of course. This is supposed to be a spur of the moment, one-off type thing to ease him into bed one night and never mentioned again.
For whatever reason, the character resonates with Lil b and he starts to ask for “Boobie” the next night and the following night, and so on. Now it’s to the point where I have to practically become this old broad every night when I put him to bed! Don’t get me wrong, Boobie is great. She tells stories about growing up in New York. She tells Lil b all about her day at the beauty parlor, or the butcher shop and the choice cuts of meat…and how big they used to be compared to what you get now…and how everything is so expensive. The best thing about Boobie is that she gives super wet, sloppy kisses, which I think is what stuck with Lil b in the first place. (you perverts get those dirty thoughts of Boobie outta your head right this minute!…sick bastards)
This is all fine and good and only happens for a few minutes each night…no harm, right? My ass…Since Boobie is now an official family member, I am strapped with the task of coming up with new material for her every friggin’ night. I feel like one of those shitty standup comedians that travels the country telling the same jokes every night and then binge drinking himself to sleep in his budget motel room. (the only embellishment there is the comedian part) Needless to say, playing Boobie gets old. Especially on those nights where I have had a bad day and all I want to do is drink myself in to an autoerotic dream world. You try getting off when you’ve been portraying a crotchety old Jewish lady…(Now I know what Howard Stern feels like…)
Needing a break from Boobie, I have had to come up with an acceptable substitute. I sometimes become Slim Jim, the crazy cowboy that yells his own name every 30 seconds. I have a French chef character when it comes time to feed the kids. They call him Chef Daddy and he snobbishly serves them processed foods for breakfast on the weekends. There is “Ze German”. He comes out rarely as he and Boobie don’t seem to get along all that well for some reason. And finally, there is Frank The Tank, my personal favorite.
FTT is a fairly new character. He talks in a Gomer Pyle voice, but acts like the Will Farrell character from Old School just after he does the beer bong. Only, I take it a few steps further and I actually pin Lil b down on his bed and punch the life out of him. (Ease up CPS dorks, I don’t hit him in the face where you could see the bruises…body blow!, body blow!) The first time I did FTT, Lil b loved him. I don’t know what happened, but the next time I broke into character Lil b was having none of ole Frank and he went into instant fit mode. Me being me, or Frank being Frank, this only eggs me on to take it up a notch… to the point that Lil b is huddled in the corner of his room sucking his thumb and quietly rocking himself into a happy place.
It is about this time that Mommy rescues him and bans FTT from upstairs in an effort to keep Lil b from developing a few personalities of his own. That being said, FTT still comes in very handy when I need to get Lil b to quiet down or get back into bed…All I have to do is fire up the ole tank and start the fist guns in motion and he squeals with delight…or terror…yes, it’s definitely terror as he sprints back to his room yelling that he hates Frank…silly kid…I am probably causing some kind of psychological damage…Guess I had better get my cane out and put on my grandma dress…my baby boy needs his “Boobie”.
So, we have recently decided to grow our first garden. We are doing this for several reasons ranging from something to keep the kids occupied over summer to us trying to become a little more self-sufficient. This being said, we load up the family truckster and roll on over to Gebo’s. Let me just tell you that this store is exactly the same as I remember it from my childhood. This particular store is even more impressive in that it originally must have been out in the country a bit, but now has an entire shopping center built around it. All of this, and yet, when you walk through those doors you are instantly transported to Small-town, TX. The same line of John Deere toys, the same standard feed store fare, the same live chickens for sale for $2. Watching the kids with the baby chicks was worth the trip alone. Alas, we are here for one thing, and one thing only. We are starting a garden!
Rather than tear the hell out of our yard because, let’s face it, we are amateurs and this garden may not last the summer, we opt for a less permanent option for our garden. We peruse the outdoor section of the Gebo’s until we find exactly what we are looking for in a livestock water tank. But hey, if this keeps me from digging up my yard, I am willing to take on the added cost of $12o “que cash register noise”
Next stop, Calloway’s!
Calloway’s is a less-than-affordable gardening mecca to which the local affluent flock. Unfortunately, we were unable to find veggies for sale this early at our local generic hardware super center, so we are forced to shell out a little extra…again. 4 tomato plants, 2 cucumber plants, 2 water melon plants, 1 jalapeno plant, 2 cilantro, 1 basil, 1 mint and various bags of vermiculite, soil, peat moss, and human feces (at least it smelled that way!) leave us with a full truck bed, less $150 “again with the noise”
But hey, were are moving toward self sustenance here, so what’s a little (or lot) of cash up front, right? “Onward and upward “, like some overly peppy scout leader once said. So, we make the actual garden assembly a family event as to involve the kids from the beginning.
Surprisingly, this goes well and without incident. However, when it comes time to water everything in, we end up with two soaked kids. Somebody please tell me why the hell a kid is incapable of working a garden hose without ending up on the wrong end of it and completely drenched??
Needless to say, our first garden is planted! We are stoked and ready to get those thumbs turning from brown to some form of green. Yes, this is the part where you, the reader, starts to wonder about this story being too good to be true. You must be thinking, “How could those idiot bastards pull off a successful garden on their first try?”. Well, fear not because your instincts have not failed you.
On a whim, we decide to check the forecast. Whoa Nelly! Are you kidding me? We are at the end of March and the forecast calls for a hard freeze…and not just one night! No, it’s going to freeze for the next 3 nights! Being the prepared boy scout that I am, I spring to
action and find some cloth tarps to cover the garden with. I can do nothing more this night other than funnel wine down my craw and feel superior to those poor bastards on Shameless.
Wouldn’t you know it…all of the effing plants are effing dead…eff my green thumb! Eff this oversized tin of dirt in my yard! and eff gardening! I am already in the hole a three hunny and now I have to re-buy most of the plants again! Maybe those hippies at the commune aren’t all that “far out” after all…Oh well, it’s off to Calloway’s for round two. I guess this thumb ain’t gonna turn green on its own. Now, if I can only find one of the kids’ green markers…
I don’t know about all you other football fans out there but, at my house, Daddy doesn’t miss his games. Of course, for day games this is fairly easy to manage because the kids can be sent out to detail Daddy’s truck, or simply locked in a closet while Daddy straps on his football rig and lets the sporty nectar send him into a pigskin-induced coma. However, evening games have proven more difficult for Daddy to get some “Me time” (not the me time you fellow porn addicts are thinking, but I like where your heads are)
Needless to say, after seasons of experimenting I have come up with something that gets those frisky kids to bed by kickoff so that Daddy can get his fix. I call it Emergency Football Drill. The EFD is a complex combination of skilled parenting moves that has taken a couple of years to perfect. In a show of good will towards my fellow football folks out there, I am going to share with you my secret formula.
The Emergency Football Drill
Step 1) FEED THE LIVESTOCK: Getting the kids fed, and fed quickly is essential and this single event can make or break whether you are seeing kickoff or reading Goodnight Moon . The recommended dinner for the kids on game night is fast food (easy to grab on your way in from work and no prep required) Of course, this is not the most healthy option for your livestock, so any foods that can be prepared quickly will also work (grilled cheese, mac-n-cheese,etc). The point is to get them fed quickly. This is also where you start to set the tone for the next step.
Step 2) LIE TO THEM: Let’s face it, small children literally have no sense of time. It is easy to hurry them along by telling them that it is late and that they need to get a move on. This starts with Step 1 and continues through Step 5. Always keep them rushing. If you let them get sidetracked with cartoons or toys for even a few minutes, then you are putting yourself at risk of missing that first snap!
Step 3) CLEANLINESS IS NEXT TO…: Bath time with toddlers can be the ultimate time waste if you are not diligent. When possible, put them in the shower. We have trained our toddlers to shower (with our aid) and this saves many precious game night minutes. Showers are genius in that they do not offer the opportunity for kids to play. There are no bubbles and no toys…and no time is wasted…efficiency by definition…If you are really pressed for time, take a hose to them out in the yard…you can almost hear that national anthem now, my friend.
Step 4) STORY TIME: Ahh story time…yet another sand trap that is easily played into by unsuspecting parents. Do not let the squid pick the bedtime story(s). You know the short ones, don’t act like you don’t…this is the time to use those short books to your advantage. Close all curtains so that the kids time awareness remains “in the dark”. This step should not be completely rushed through as this is some good quality time with your little ones. Read the short stories, snuggle and tickle…but be mindful of the time…can you feel it? You are sniffing the goal line of kid-free game watching buddy…soak it in…
Step 5) DISCIPLINE: Game time is minutes away and your kids are calling your bluff. They are in and out of bed, crying for water, wanting extra hugs…you name it, they are gonna throw it at you. You have to maintain discipline. Be stern, be strict…hell, if it’s your favorite team, be mean, but you must get them in to stay in those beds…It’s okay to mildly beat them in this circumstance…
Good work! In addition to your Father Of The Year nomination, you have just secured yourself an evening of uninterrupted football watching. Give yourself a pat on the back, open that tall boy and kick those feet up on the coffee table. You have earned it my friend…What? What’s that? Fold laundry? Go to the grocery store? OMG…we forgot to check the wife…This is where a step 6 would come in handy…I’ll be hiding in the garage…good luck boys!
Looking back, I have quite fond memories of the first day(s) of school. What’s not to like from the kid’s perspective? You get to rock new clothes, new backpacks loaded down with supplies (which sucked ass for kids that walked to/from school), and new super hero-themed lunch boxes. Properly supplied, the Sis and I would climb into Mom’s Cutlass Supreme, she would crank up the Queen, and we would roll straight 80’s pimp-style to elementary school. And yes, my mom rocked the perm…
Throughout junior high and high school the first days only seem to get better. Super hero lunch boxes give way to designer shoes and jeans, and the selection of the perfect jacket/coat plays a more important role in ones wardrobe (so long velour-lined jean jacket, you will be missed…then burned). As for the backpacks, they remain an unfortunate necessity. The story remains the same in that we as kids provide our list of demands and hold our folks schedules (and wallets) hostage until all demands have been met…
Throughout all of those years I never thought once about the stress or the cash outlay that was placed on my awesome parents, nor did they throw it in our faces like they could have…should have. Hell, Sis and I were so spoiled that if we didn’t get to go out-of-town-school-shopping you would think the world was ending…such little assholes we were.(Don’t worry, we gave the folks a break eventually…I took to dealing drugs and robbing liquor stores and Sis took to whoring to pay our way through college…)
Fast forward to the present, the first day of Kindergarten for my baby girl, M. With a closet full of designer clothes (I looked for iron-on shirts, but apparently these are a thing of the past); a personalized/matching backpack and lunch box set (super heroes are not cool enough for this diva) and new shoes (that blink and flicker enough to send an epileptic scrambling for a tongue depressor). All topped off with her first missing tooth, lil miss thang is ready for school…Like her mom and dad, she is oblivious to what we have gone through over the past couple of weeks to ensure her first day happiness…In fact, she had the nerve to bitch because we didn’t send the proper snack in her lunch box! (I know someone who is about to be snacking on the back of my hand!)
Needless to say, my feelings of first day nostalgia are quickly being replaced with feelings of unappreciated tiredness…and it’s only Kindergarten…WTF are we gonna do when she’s a junior in high school? (hopefully my backhand still packs a wallop by then as I fear I am going to need it…)
Happy First Day to all of you unappreciated parents out there…Now go fix your kids lunch…and iron some effing clothes while your at it you worthless bastards…