Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The News...

I’ll admit, I don’t watch or read the news like I should, but on Monday, for some reason I turned the television on. It wasn’t long before I regretted it.

First, there was the tragic shooting in my hometown. The suspects were teenage kids and my heart went out not only to the victim and his family, but also to the young lives that would be forever changed because of the violence. Then it was the regional news. The local government was haggling over a budget and threats of a government shutdown were swirling. Politics as usual it seemed, and again, I was tempted to turn it off.

By the time the national news began I was slumping. I sulked through reports of the fragile situation of Iraq, the rest of the Middle East, and the steady terror of the world in general. What can I say, I’m a sensitive guy. But then came the reports of a car-jacking in Houston. The assailant took off in a jeep with an eight month old baby in the back seat. When he realized the situation he simply pulled over and set the baby on the side of the road.

Rock bottom.  I turned the tv off. My chest tightened, and a sinking dread left me staring out at my window, dazed and reeling from the desolation of humanity. Maybe the world has always been like this, it just wasn’t so reported.

And just as I was down for the count, I heard the patter of footsteps down the hall followed by a familiar little giggle. My son stopped in the doorway, his bright eyes glazed with happiness and his cheeks rounded with a smile. I felt the stress evaporate.

Is the world perfect? Not even close. But when my son came running, arms outstretched as he fell into me for a hug, I felt just how beautiful and innocent the world can be. 


Friday, June 20, 2014

An Interview with Patrick

For this blog post I managed to catch up with Patrick, my son’s favorite stuffed animal. Let's just say that things didn't go as I'd planned. For one, we didn’t have long, as Simon was out with his mom at the grocery store. But the other thing was, well, you'll see...

Patrick is a bit edgy when I caught up with him, dabbing out a smokeland staring out of the front window.

Patrick, it’s great to catch up with you.  Hey, you smoke?

Yeah man, whatever, cut me some slack. I'm on break...

Uh, great. So, what’s it like sleeping with Simon?

He leaps from the window, grabbing me by the neck. We fall to the floor and things start off with a bang. 

Really, seriously? What do you think it’s like? Look at my face man, I’m covered in drool. My fur is all matted and my tail. Oh man, my tail….that kid of yours, yeah, he’s a piece of work.

He lets me go and I catch my breath. This is going to be a tough Q&A. I can tell Patrick has a lot on his mind.

Uh, okay. So, uh...

Let me tell you something else, too. While you and your wife are laughing, your kids a sociopath. Like the other day, when he was waterboarding me and—

Whoa, whoa, Patrick, do you mean when Simon dipped you in the dog bowl. I told him not to do that. It was just a little monkey business, that's all.

He shoots me a look that could melt a banana peel.

Oh man, aren't you a funny guy....want to catch me by the tail? We could monkey around some if you'd I need you to shut your trap and listen. I have a plan. You open this window, pitch me into the bushes, when that little crumb cruncher comes home, you just look the other way. Got it?

 I can’t do that, Patrick, Simon loves you. 

Yeah, love. I was in love once. I spent my days on the beaches of Barbados, sipping rum and watching the endless blue waves crash into the white sand. I had a girl, her name was….

Patrick, let's try to stay on track here.. it can't be that bad, hanging out in the crib, nice and cool in the ac. I mean, it could be worse, right?

This is bad man, just bad. And I’ve had some pretty awful gigs, too. I’ve seen some stuff, man. That circus in Guatemala, a petting zoo in Phoenix, I thought this was going to be cush man, but it I was wrong, man, wrong.

Hmm, that explains the accent. 

He’s a good kid, Patrick...

Pfft, good kid. Look at my face.

I take a good look at the loose stitching of his smile, the dark discolored patch on his face, he'smissing tufts of hair. I see the teeth marks on the pull string handle of his tail. He fidgets, the eyes darting about the room. He leans in close, his voice low and trembling.

Let me tell you something else. You’ve got that dog trying to nibble on me whenever I’m left on the floor. And by the way, can you not involve me with the diaper change, is it not enough that I put your kid to sleep night after night, you want me to wipe his little tush, too?

Geez, Patrick, I didn’t know you felt so...

Hang on pal, I’m on a roll. I’ve got yogurt all over my back, so yeah, I think I’ve earned it. First off, I’ve been doing a little research, and this little operation you got going is illegal pal. You think you can just lock me in here? I’ve been on the clock for oh let’s see, 24 hours a day for three months, you do the math, I’m done here...

Okay, Patrick, you’re obviously a little worked up here, so let’s just...

Worked up? Hey look, I just want you and that wife of yours to start pulling your own weight.Try raising your kid without me for a change. Oh, he’s crying, toss in old Patrick. When he's in that crib and can't sleep, guess who's being ripped apart like a coffee cake at book club. Now, look, open the window...

We're all done here Patrick, back to the crib....


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Take A Vacation....From Your Problems....

That's a line from What About Bob. The 1991 Bill Murray movie I still love to this day. My wife teasingly calls me Bob, because well, I guess I can be a little "special". And I didn't help my case when I mentioned that I kinda wanted to find my doctor's facebook page. (Just to say hi of course).

box head
But enough about me. The dog days of summer have begun, and for my wife and son, this means whimsical mornings loafing around the house followed by wet and wild afternoons at the pool. Toss in a nap somewhere in between and you have yourself quite the day.

Being a teacher, summer for my wife eases in without deadlines and lesson plans. It’s a glorious time of year, where Sunday evenings unwind with the crickets and fireflies.

With summer comes a change in my wife, and it's amazing to watch her transformation as school ends. Not that she's, uh, not always lovely and all, or doesn't care about the children. And as much as the children are the future, the future can wear you down over the course of a school year.

But just as soon as that last day of school is over, it's all about relaxation. All of that end of the school year stress just melts off of her shoulders and slides down her back. At least until that one random morning in August when she will leap out of bed with the realization that it’s all about to crank up again.

But the living is easy for now. Without daycare, we can all sleep in for a few months, and my wife can pretend that she doesn't have a job while my son, well, he can just resume being a maniac.

Summers are interesting at my house though. It’s not all R&R. That's because my wife's idea of relaxing usually involves power tools, I never know when I’ll come home to a construction site. Take yesterday, the very first freaking day of summer vacation, when I came home and found boxes of old tiles from where she’d ripped up in the sunroom. She’ll look at me with an innocent smile, the errant swipes of paint on her arms and legs, my kid’s hair with some combination of yogurt and oatmeal spiking his hair, making him look all mug shot crazy.

The Fam
So that’s summer for me, sure it's technically spring, but I'm already creeping down the street after a day at work, waiting to see a dust cloud hovering over my house, never quite knowing just what I’ll find. Enjoy it teachers, you've earned it. Here's to the crazy days of summer, and to my kid being home with his Mom all day. Oh the trouble they'll find!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Backup Plan...

So we're still on this monkey thing.  And my son is really, really attached to his stuffed monkey. To the point of separation anxiety. The other night he tried to bring him along for his bath and a full on meltdown ensued. Crying in the tub is no fun, I mean, you can't even wipe your face. But a soggy monkey is no fun either.

My son marches around the house, barking and talking to this thing like a pet. And not far behind them is our husky, stalking, waiting for my son to drop the monkey so he can savor the sweet fuzzy delicacy he loves so much.

But we're one step ahead. Because, really, we're geniuses, and where other parents fail, my wife and I have taken preemptive steps to ensure that my son will never miss a beat.

We bought a backup monkey.

Yes, I know, so simple.  Yet, so cunning.  So as Mason,  crouches and tracks his prey, licking his chops and patiently biding his time, we've prepared.

What's that old story? About the grasshopper and the tortoise? Or maybe it was a beetle, I don't know, but that's us, we're beetles. And in the meantime I’ve been good about remembering to keep Real Patrick off the floor out of reach of danger, but just in case, we can go to the bullpen.

It was my wife’s quick thinking really. After all, she came home with him. Women are good about that stuff. But, like all great plans, there are a few kinks to work out. Like for example, #2’s hiding spot. I wasn’t thinking the other day when I slid open Simon’s closet door and he got a good peek at the clone lying in wait. We scurried out of there, and I hoped it didn't mess with his head too bad stuffed Real Patrick into his arms. Hopefully he can just chalk it up to a good milk drunk.

And there may be uh, a few other bumps in the road. Real Patrick smells like kid drool and old bananas, a hint of oatmeal, some yogurt. Maybe a spot of, well you know, sometimes he’s there for a diaper change, but all of that can be arranged.

So there you have it, two very bright parents looking ahead. No hitches in this plan. So if one little monkey falls off the bed....well, you get the idea.