Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Nut Job

"I drilled your belly open to let the germs out. It was a nice dream."

Sometimes I regret asking my daughter what it is she had been dreaming about. I quickly said, ".....and...?" and waited. While I was mulling this over (and frankly wondering whether I should keep going to see what happened next) my son started screaming, "Spaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!" Which is his word for spider. There wasn't one. There had been one a few days before and he was so pleased with himself for not only noticing it but also knowing it's name that he randomly breaks out the act again. So my daughter then claimed that after she had drilled by belly open spiders came out. Which is actually pretty terrifying.

Then she asked to play the Spider In Your Ear game. It's fairly simple. She puts a spider in my ear (not a real one - we aren't demented) and then pretends to get it out. I have to say that whatever she got out is something else. Like, "no, that's a bucket filled with horse nipples" or, "how did Jim Lehrer get in there?" Eventually I just calmly say that she pulled out a spider and then we hide under the blanket. No idea why we do the last part. I'm going off that game though because having a four year old jab their jagged razor-like fingernails into my soft inner-ear gets sore rather quickly.

I have to get the Christmas guff out today. I was delaying it until December but then that's in one day now. We have wreaths and calendars and whatnot that will look nice and not get thrown all over the place if I get them out now. I've already pulled out a few things. My daughter remembered a cheap plastic cup of Santa's head that she liked last year. It has a straw that plummets right down into the top of Santa's skull. Consequently my daughter has been running around claiming to be drinking Santa's brain. When asked what it tastes like (she should have said milk seeing as that's what it was) she said, "my old parent's brains."

Good Lord child stop being insanely psychotic about imaginary old dead parents. I've tried interrupting her and telling her it's okay to say, "they're on vacation" when she's pretending to be another child in her own empty big house. That doesn't work. Because that's where they were when they were killed. I hope this game ends very quickly. I've even tried pulling out Sophie The onion Sniffer and The Potato Monster last time and instead of that distracting her she showed them around her dead ex-parents house. Sigh.

Right - time to decipher my wife's handwriting. She's made a list of what's for dinner and I can't make it out at all. That is unless Tofu q/swutaks7 is an actual thing.

View From A Mentalist: Nov 30

I've started a new project with my daughter. Everyday I give her my camera and (pray that she doesn't drop it) let her take pictures of whatever she likes. Frankly 95% of them are way out of focus and unclear. The first fifty or so -yep fifty - looked like this -:


Just to note that's my son asleep. It does look a lot like a fuzzy dead-kid-in-a-coffin but it's a lot more banal than that. But with a few practices she has actually figured out a way to get images that make some sort of sense. I'm hoping it will give psychologists an inside view of what a kid/potential serial killer (you just never know) finds interesting enough to take a photo of. Sometimes she tells me why she's taking/taken a photo so I'll include that too.

First up, this. My daughter claims this is a picture, "so my bum can know what it looks like underneath."


This flat out hurts. This is what Hunter S. Thompson's CAT scan looks like.


She called this one, "resting." I call it Jackpot.


I'm actually really impressed with this. It's in focus, relatively centered and kinda interesting.


My daughter wanted to take a photo of her Christmas lights (outside the house) to show other people. I suggested taking a nighttime shot. She said then you wouldn't be able to see them and took this. She was adamant this was a good way to photo this.


Lastly she wanted a picture of her money-pig. She even "decorated" the chair so that the picture would look pretty.


More tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Gypsy Moth

Based upon the flagrant mockery rained down upon me for posting that photo of me in lederhosen I thought perhaps I should point out the other nightmarish gash I was dressed up in. It should give a window into what the future holds for my son. First up a stranger in a foreign land. Or more accurately the World's Nobbliest Knees on display in Weeze, Germany. You can't even buy sweaters like this anymore.


Next one. Just remember - you know where you are with brown. In case you aren't sure where that is it's apparently 1974 Sarajevo.That would be my twin sister there too.


And the coup de grace for the finale - all three siblings dressed as Ukranian peasant children.


Evidently my family pioneered the Gypsy-Chic Hipster look years before all the nob-ends waltzing all over the place these days did. I particularly like the way the photographer has clearly demanded that we be stood in front of a wall smeared in what looks like human poo just to add to the ambiance. Note not only my fetching color combination of a brown knitted tank-top over a grey hessian large collared Oxford shirt, but also that my hair seems to have been cut with one of those guillotine paper-cutter things they had in art class to cut A3 size paper up with. If I wore that out to a nightclub today I'd be knee deep in Grade D muff within thirty minutes. Except I'd also have that unusual deformity that protruded out the top of my head. Seriously what is that? And why don't I have it any more?

And lastly to cleanse the pallet our fully grown dog. He's a Cocker-poo. I actually have to say that to people when they ask.

Charlie Brown's Christmas = FAIL

"But our chimney is behind that wall, so Santa can't get out of it. So he'll probably hide in the basement with the other monsters until Christmas. Because if he came down the chimney he would get stuck and die. Right Daddy?"

My daughter has been talking a lot about Christmas this morning. She's been teaching her brother all about it. This seems to be based upon a conversation at dinner last night where I was pointing out I would put a carrot on the roof for Santa's reindeer. My daughter looked at me puzzled. Then - like a lot of four year old kids - merged together a variety of things into a confusing blob. She factually stated that carrots are really good for eyesight in the dark so presumably I'm leaving it on the roof for Santa with a glass of milk. I said Santa could have a cookie and milk in our kitchen and the carrot was for the reindeer. At which point she laughed hysterically at my ridiculous suggestion. I could literally see her brain process of, "why would I give my carrots to a reindeer when they can't pick them up to dip them in Ranch dressing?! Sheer madness!!"

So to counter my ridiculous propaganda she's been telling her brother that at Christmas time you get to drink out a snowman's head and - if you're really good - Santa will give you a massive pencil. All of which is true (in our house at least) but isn't really selling him the fun of it all. In a couple of day's we will bust out the Advent calendars. And I might start leaking out some other Christmas stuff too just to build it up. But I'm not decorating for a few weeks. Obviously I'll have to watch National Lampoons and Bad Santa as soon as I can. To get into the Christmas spirit and all that. None of that Charlie Brown crap though. "Oh it's traditional. It's old fashioned." Yes - so is casual racism and polio, and I'm not busting that out for Christmas either. And I have to steer my way through the bad Christmas music as well. That Bruce Springsteen song is abhorrent to the Nth degree. And Dominic The Italian Christmas Donkey is vastly unpleasant for all kinds of reasons. A faux-nationalist Christmas song is just weird.

This year I'm not sure what gifts to get for them either. Last year my daughter modestly asked for some straws and pencils. And that is what she got too. This year she has developed her desires a little more and asked for a toy reindeer that talks and a Newton's Cradle desk toy. When pushed to make a list last week she included a toy snowflake (not a clue), a pogo stick and a hula hoop. My MIL told her other granddaughter to ask for a pony - which is just setting up abject misery for that kids seemingly whine-proof parents. I thought that a hula hoop and a desk toy was somewhat okay considering we have tried very hard to steer her away from angrily demanding this years Big Thing. Which according to an episode of Fox and Friends I caught last week is apparently compulsory unemployment for white people and scarily inappropriate guff about Reagan and fridge magnets about abortion (I'm actually telling the truth here). Actually one thing they really recommended was this actual real item of patriotic clothing.


I like how it is grammatically incorrect and seemingly a warning to parents everywhere at the same time. Who thought was a good thing? Imagine how disappointed that six year old girl would be after opening their, "If Unborn Babies Could Vote They Would Un-Elect Obama" fridge magnet and their, "Fight The War On Christmas With An M1 Garand Rifle" poster, only to get that shitty t-shirt from Grandpa. It doesn't bear thinking about.

Needless to say I won't be getting that stuff. I am happier beyond words that my kids have - so far - not succumbed to the viral marketing blitz that seems to be everywhere telling kids that they definitely need an in door radio controlled helicopter or their lives are so pointless that they should just kill themselves. I may - and this is a very weak may - buy a train set thing I saw at a local consignment type store. It seems weird for me to buy a bit of a train track and a train for my son for half the cost of all the track and trains he could ever enjoy. But then I might be falling into the trap of needing to buy him loads in the hope the sheer hugeness of it all will be impressive. My wife - obviously - told me what she wanted. And then told other people to get it for her. She does that every year. So now I have to think of something else. Seeing as we are notoriously cheap and don't blow loads on crapola we don't really want I'm sure I can pawn off some 25 cent tat I find at the thrift store. She'll never know that's where it came from. Ever!

Actually I was briefly considering having someone make this absurd outfit that I sported during my younger days. It's one of many amazing outfits my parents subjected me to wearing in an effort ot make me look like a gay wandering gypsy.


Calm down ladies - I don't wear stuff like that anymore.

But only because you haven't asked nicely....

Monday, November 28, 2011

Wee Bap Bap Bad-Ap Bo

This is the book my son has had me reading all day long.




My daughter calls the last one, "The Pencil Pooper." Which is actually quite mild considering the psychotic guano-gaze bat-shit thousand-mile stare that girl has due to contracting raccoon-leukemia.

The Ball Bashing Tunnel Stuffers

"I'm the champion of Ball Bashing!!"

Let me back up a little. Lately the kids and I have been ball bashing an awful lot. As you have probably guessed this involves the little sponge balls I use for carpet football demonstrations in my living room. Originally we used to just run around after the balls (one each to avoid rage) and try and kick them in the "goal" (under the horse/at the couch). Then my son unleashed his inner feral wolf and started running around with the ball in his mouth. Obviously my daughter followed suit (also inexplicably mumble-screaming the word "banana!" from behind her ball). That day Dog Boy and Wolf Girl were born. I wasn't all that fussed on slobbering all over one of my own balls. So my son - the giver that he is - insisted on running at me with the ball and "delivering" it into my mouth. Thereby also giving birth to Dingo Dad.

As fun as that was he seems to have less dribble control than I do, so I relented and started running around with my own mouth-ball. This lasted a few weeks until my kids started just running as hard as they could directly into each other so that their balls would bash together (have fun with that Google you heartless bastards). Imagine those crash-test-dummy tests for airbags where two vehicles smash into each other head-on and you are in the right ball park. For good reasons my daughter demanded to only have the red ball. This is because ball bashing is much much funnier to my son leading to him smashing his ball into her and then dropping it laughing hysterically. Thereby allowing my daughter to yell, "I bashed so hard my ball turned red!!" It's all in the planning you see.

My pride cannot be measured. Here's a photo of my son trying to, "pass the torch" so to speak.


And just to prove that we don't only play games that involve shocking innuendo and inappropriateness here's my son shoving his little Thomas into a tunnel.



Now, I'm off to dip my drumstick in my wife's gravy.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Password

"I'm afraid you've got William Shatner stuck inside you."

Before bed last night to calm my daughter down we broke out the doctor's kit and treated each other for various ailments. Mostly having animals and fruit stuck inside each other. She obviously had the obligatory octopus problem. She also self-diagnosed herself as having a giant pickle and our own dog inside her. Unpleasant moments I can assure you. So I prepared a vaccination shot of Tickle Pickle Juice and Woof Woof Away and injected it directly into her bellybutton. After she diagnosed my foot with a headache (and with dirty ears after looking through her ear scope) she set to wailing on it with her reflex hammer like Kathy Bates in Misery. Unsurprisingly it actually started to feel an actual ache. So I went back to suggesting that various things were stuck inside her. Before I'd run out of ideas we'd been through a donkey, a book about spinach, Santa's carrot (she suggested that one - I'm not that happy with the notion of it myself) and William Shatner. Thankfully she calmed down after that.

She was so wound up because prior to that we apparently played a game called, The Password. Which involved her and her brother covering me in a blanket , repeatedly jumping on me and randomly farting - also known as, "saying the password." For the sake of detail I'd point out that both my kids and my wife knew the password quite well (and my wife wasn't even playing) whereas I seemed unable to come up with it. My son demanded that I cover myself with the all-blue blanket and pretend to be a lake, whereas my daughter demanded I use the other South American blanket and pretend to be Plaid Mountain. Anyway during the whole smothering/human sandwich thing my son did a thing had does sometimes and that was a desperate attempt to show affection. Basically he tries to lie on top of your head/neck area and cuddle as closely as possible whilst making out with a different part of your face. It's equal parts unpleasant and loving at the same time. If he didn't get completely covered in a blanket and at least have a go at licking my cheek he would get slightly annoyed and desperate. Which just motivated his sister even more to encourage him with her new name - that being "King Of The Babies." I tried to correct her and point out that's probably someone like Willis McGahee but she shrugged that off.

And my daughter was still psycho-wound up from before that from playing this game.


So one of those cup and ball games where you press a trigger and it fires a ping pong ball and you or someone else has to catch it. She was particularly giddy because - as you can see - it's a snowman. Meaning that because it's after Thanksgiving now I've started to leak out the Christmas guff. So far three snow globes (one small one and two massive ones) and these things. And my daughter insists on having Christmas music on now if we are in the car. Add she did meet Santa the other day (this would be him telling her to put one carrot on the roof by the way).


So all in all she's giddy as a goose. All we need know is for the snow to actually start chucking it down and all will be well. We've only really had two (maybe three?) snow periods so far. And only one we were driving through could be thought of as a blizzard of some kind. Actually my daughter and I use that opportunity to pretend we are, "stuck inside a lizard." It seems far more interesting to one minute be driving along and the next to find yourself magically transformed into the body of a lizard.

Right - I'm off to limber up for Thanksgiving Two: The Quickening. We aren't having Thanksgiving with anyone - but just cooking the whole meal for ourselves. This way we guarantee ourselves leftovers. We didn't get any because we visited someone else. This will also probably mark my last day of The Fattening as well. I just can't be bothered this year. That might sound daft but it's true. I had plummeted down to an oddly svelte 153 pounds. And had then, through hard work and fistfuls of chocolate, managed to climb up to a respectable 163 pounds. But unlike most Winters I just don't feel any interest in gorging on anything (scotch eggs aside obviously). Normally I'd be begging my wife to make gluten-free cakes drenched in custard. Or worse - acres of no-bake chocolate oatmeal cookies (we call that Splodge). But I just have the desire at all. So I guess I'll just go back to eating apples and whatnot and see just how fit I can get in the house this Winter. Maybe I'll even use the weights that everyone leaves in the corner untouched for years.

After this weekend obviously. I've got turkey skin and egg nog to munch.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanks

I guess I should start putting up the Christmas decorations then.

We went up to the in-laws for Thanksgiving. Hold on....

I suppose I should preface things at this point to remind everyone that I didn't move to the US so that I could wantonly parade through a Walmart pepper-spraying middle aged women in order to fight them off whatever Next Best Thing Ever electronics item is all the rage come this Black Friday sales event. Well I kinda did, but maybe 2% of my being cares about that. And if you're British and watching crap like that from the outside please don't extrapolate the behavior of a handful of windowlickers to explain the rest of the 300 million people in the US. Or I'll point out the ridiculous numbers of people in the UK who's weekend is spent dribbling on each other and desperately searching for a woman/man/kebab to have unprotected sex with. And by weekend I of course mean all the time. A few "morans" (sic) out of three hundred million Americans is actually comforting to me because then I know where they are. Back home you couldn't wander the streets at night for fear of someone leaking some Chav on you. And I know which one I'd rather be around. "Oh but your morons have guns" I hear you say. Yes well, so do I.

...Anyway, I live in the US so that my kids can grow up in this area. Nice house and land. Four seasons. Huge open spaces. The Adirondack Mountains. Dual Visas. Access to the in-laws midlife crisis toy collection. A direct escape route to Canada. It's pretty simple. I sort of ran an equation in my head after my daughter was born and figured I was more comfortable being able to give her all that and an owned family home and she'd just have to miss out on cheese and onion pasties and The Daily Sport (two great gift ideas for your four year old girl this Christmas) in order to get it. I did also not want to have to live in a place that oftentimes seemed like it was a nation-wide seedy pub. I'm sure you've been out somewhere for a big night out when you were sick or as a designated driver and didn't drink. Almost every other person to a tee behaves like a pillock. So as someone who hadn't had a serious night out in a very long time - and had actually stopped drinking the demon drippings almost entirely save a few random moments - life was a lot like that at times. Moving away from a country besotted with pub culture at least allowed me to indulge my idiotic belief that I could educate my own daughter into a different mindset than the usual 18 year old slappers I would hope to come across (literally) of a night out. Of course college is college and once my kids (hopefully) go to university here they will have to as adults meander there way through it all hopefully seeing it all for what it is - temporary silliness. As long as they see the jock behavior epitomized by Penn State football fans (which seems to be, "Don't Take Our Rape Away!") as vulgar and grotesque then I'll be happy.

But that equation had one fundamental part to it as well that was somewhat shaky. And that was that the quirks and foibles of family on this side of the Atlantic wouldn't spill out and splash my children also. I'm not even talking about feet here either. But I strongly believe that you can and should be allowed to hold whatever beliefs you want. Even if they are puerile and I think lesser of you because of it. Just don't go telling my kids about it. And frankly this weekend the number of bigoted small minded prejudicial offhand comments started to piss me off because my kids had to hear it too. My four year old can comprehend almost everything. So when someone complains that they thinks it's patently ridiculous that NBC insists on putting Muslims on television (Racism Disclaimer: They were actually Latino, but that seems to magnify the point even more) on an American day like Thanksgiving - well that pisses me off. And snide they-all-look-and-act-the-same comments and African Americans on a show like Judge Judy is fine if you want to say it by yourself or when someone like me is in the room who knows you're an idiot for thinking that. But don't do it when all four of your grandchildren are in the room. And don't act all high and mighty about it either - you're watching Judge Judy for goodness sake. But that 1% of prejudicial twatness almost overcame the other 99% of kindness and family warmth this Holiday. And lately it seems to be happening all the frikking time.

And it's a large chunk of the family too. I have heard (and these are just a few of many many instances) someone tell me in all sincerity and with warmth in their voice that they liked working in the same field as I used to (insurance) because, "there are no blacks in it." What. The. Fuck? I've also head someone tell another person that they walked into an auto-parts store and, "there was a black guy in there behind the counter." That was it. Cue smirks and amused looks from three people about how that is inherently ridiculous on it's face. Astounding stuff.

Now obviously I don't think my kids will somehow absorb just those instances over all the other ones my wife and I teach them. After all in this family there are plenty of people who find that repulsive. The stark difference between the older generation and most of the current one (one small intensely-bigoted holdout aside) could not be greater. But I am almost at that point where I will have to say something. My wife and her cousins have said it plenty of times. But I'm an outsider and I don't have to talk to these people if they piss me off.

Anyhoo - the food was good and we, in general had a good time. Even watched a chunk of the parade, part of the dog show and my wife even watched a movie (her one for the year, I'm guessing) that she liked. I was going to say that was odd because it didn't have horses in it, but now I think about it it did. We also took a short train ride that is put on for kids to go and see Santa Claus. Thanksgiving is very nice to have a starting-point for the Christmas period. Add it was an oddly mild few days too so escaping outside for a breather wasn't bone chillingly painful either.

I did find it hard to stomach being around other people's children for two straight days mind. Most of that is just me. My own prejudice is exemplified in that way in the sense that I don't like other people's children, but oddly the one's I've met have been okay. My wife's friend's kids have all been fine. Outside of that though my skin starts to crawl. It is weird how I can fob off my own kid's whining and fits because I understand them. But one warble from another kid and I start to understand infanticide just a little bit. Not a whole lot - but I get how the argument forms in someone's mind at least. Actually as far as fits go it's almost an unwritten agreement between all parents that you all just let it go. It's a really tough thing to deal with when your kid just loses it and has a meltdown. This weekend that happened with the other child and they went nuclear. Think of that iconic photo of the naked Vietnamese girl after a napalm attack and you're on the right track.

But that's par for the course. That didn't get to me at all and shouldn't. My kids have done the same. But the incessant whining and shocking rudeness was a bit much. I don't recall my daughter having what seems like a three year slow-leak tantrum. I have my own feelings as to why that is the case, but I just couldn't take the constant fake whelping. I am in the very uncomfortable parenting position of believing deep down in my core that if this wasn't family then they would not be mingling at all.

My kids had a great time though on the whole. So while I was ecstatic to be back in my own house with my own massive bed, my own comfortable temperature (why would someone want a house at 75/76 degrees?) my own rectally-comforting toilet paper (their stuff was like wiping your arse with a laminated map) and my own couch to splodge onto last night, I know that my kids had a good Holiday.

And at least I'm thankful for that.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Children Of The Corn

"I'm eating all your babies!!!!"

My daughter hysterically laughed that at me yesterday whilst eating a cheese stick. She has as point I suppose. It certainly makes a total mockery of my ridiculing of Thomas the Tank Engine. It has bothered a little too much because I have refused to give one to my son this morning.

So we all went to her school party yesterday. It was nice. My daughter loved having us all there. She had made a turkey-feather crown and a Thankful Plate the day before to show us all. On the Thankful Plate she had told her teacher to write what she was most thankful for and she picked her brother - which strikes me as the sort of thing that makes mothers cry. While we were there she and her grandparents made a turkey craft out of cut-outs and paper plates. Pretty cute. After the craft we were all directed to eat from the table of everyone's favorite Thanksgiving foods. At least that was the point - all the kids had to get their parents or grandparents to bring something like that. After getting a plate of food to eat my daughter and son noshed down on some sweetcorn, a slice of cake, a mini blueberry pie, some popcorn chicken and actual toffee popcorn. Not to worry - there was iced tea and Kool Aid to wash it down with. That is one seriously odd Thanksgiving menu.

Then all the kids sang a bunch of cutesy Thanksgiving sons. I don't claim to be The World's Most Awesome parent (that's for other people to say) but my thoughts during this were suddenly thrust into how I feel about American network TV and their Olympic coverage. I remember the very first time I was present in the US for the Olympics. I lived in western NY state right up near the Canadian border. Therefore I could actuall get coverage on NBC, a Canadian station and, for some reason, BBC coverage via Canadian TV. I immediately noticed that the differences were hilarious. For example during the 200 meters the US coverage was a tight-close shot of the only American in the heat. There was absolutely no context to how well this guy was doing because the camera didn't pan out at all to see anyone else running. He could have been running all by himself for all I know. All the stories on NBC too were saturated with stories of hope and triumph a la American Idol. They'd always pretext each event with film of an American athlete cooking in her house or walking the dog and talking about how when they were six their father crashed his car and lost the use of his left arm. I mean it didn't ruin his life - clearly he was doing very well for himself based upon the MASSIVE log-cabin mansion and 90 acres he had in Boulder, CO. But they'd batter you with that narrative. Best of all was my astonishment at one interview when Bob Costas asked a track athlete what went wrong when they finished third in the finals. Third! In the whole freaking World!

In direct opposite was the UK BBC coverage - usually the channel that would linger on the narratives about athletes from Liberia who had only learned to swim two weeks ago so God damn it we all should cheer the underdog to defeat the clearly arrogant cheating Americans/Australians. Or openly cheering on the English athlete trying to qualify in a very long distance race only to do a 180 and point out that they suck when they don't qualify. The Canadian coverage was the funniest though based solely on a five minute angry whine from a journalist after a swimming race wherein they moaned about how none of the athletes will talk to Canadian TV.

Anyhoo - that came to mind when the teacher asked all the parents to move back and allow everyone to watch the singing performance and take photos. Two parents flatly refused to move and held their massive LCD screens up to their own perfect child. You could see from the back of the room where I was sat that they had zoomed in to only focus on their own child. No context. No performance at all. Just their own off-key awkward child apparently singing in a big group that will never be seen.

One other cultural thing I was somewhat glad to miss was the recital of The Pledge of Allegiance. Now I love some of the small gestures of nationalism and love of one's country in the US. But that's when it's done by adults who know what they feel and mean. But there's still something a bit odd about watching a small room of kids being told to stand up, put their hands on their hearts and clumsily recite a Pledge that they cannot understand the words of, let alone the concepts. It seems very Children Of The Corn to me. Which coincidentally is how the painting of the very same thing looks that's hanging on the wall.


That is beyond disturbing.

Right - I have to figure out a decent creamed spinach recipe and then teach my son to dance to Daft Punk.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Stockholm Syndrome and The Gorgonzola Worms

Yesterday my daughter said about our one remaining cat, "she's gone outside to play with her dead friend." Which considering how animals are might not be that far from the truth. It's fairly well known (I think) that sometimes when the elderly pass away at home that their dogs stay with them - and then sometimes start eating them. There's a, "awww it's so cute, OH GOD NO IT'S NOT!" meme going around right now showing puppies eating various dead animals. It's not exactly outlandish to suggest that might be happening here as well.

Obviously I didn't discuss that with my daughter. I'm not irresponsible and disproportionately garish. And by that I obviously mean I'm not my wife. I may joke and goof around with my kids in ways that many people think is silly. But my wife seems to be able to interject horrifying reality into any situation. I certainly do not believe in molly-coddling my kids. They know the cat is likely dead. And they know that those animals in the field are things we eat. But I have heard my wife casually ask my daughter, "can you imagine what it's like to stab a pig?" I think this explains why my daughter excitedly whelped last night, "oh Mommy!! Tell me the story about when you were a little egg!" Stockholm Syndrome obviously. It probably explains why she's been hiding all morning.


My wife - sadly gloating about this whole egg/omelette/serial killer story she tells - also asked my daughter to choose who tells better stories again. Why would she knock her own self-esteem like that? Obviously my daughter picked me. My wife even tried to make my stories sound lame by saying, "do you like my amazing egg story best, or Daddy's story when he's a little......whatever." She picked whatever. Awww diddums.

Continuing down the road of uncomfortable and disturbing truths did you know that Fruitloops come out just as bright and unnaturally shiny as when they went in? My daughter coined the word, "Fruip" to describe the oddly green, yellow and bright blue sausage that she birthed over the past Saturday. I'd forgotten about until coming back from the store. Which reminded me of a store we were at this weekend that I swear was selling a children's snack food called Gorgonzola Worms. I've Googled it and can't find anything so I'm assuming that my on brain invented it. Whatever it is it's made my bottom itch.

Other than that I've been fobbing off parenting responsibility to Thomas The Tank Engine. I have to pack a travel bag for my daughter (staying with the in-laws tonight and we go up tomorrow evening) and also get a few jobs done before she heads off to school. I have now come to the firm conclusion that Thomas is mental. I've detailed some of the weird monomaniacal aspects of the whole thing previously. And I've also briefly noted the shockingly relaxed attitude to health and safety conditions that have resulted in untold collisions, accidents and even catastrophe's involving a rowdy elephant. Honestly - the number of accidents and mass screw ups make British Rail look like a model of excellence.

But what I hadn't realized before is that Sir Topham Hat/The Fat Controller has clearly laced the water supply for the entire island with LSD. I know this because at one point there's a quick onscreen shot of Farmer McColl asleep in a chair in his kitchen. Except he's resting his feet on a sheep, which is also eating a birthday cake. There are quite a few things like this throughout. I've perused online and nobody seems to have latched on to this so I might have to be a saddo and take pictures. Add that the core principle of the show is that the trains are alive in some manner. So what are we all supposed to make of an episode where one of the trains plows headlong into a lake and gets stuck after the coal fire goes out in it's engine. Thereby leading the insane murderous Godhead Sir Topham Hat (I might be dabbling in a touch of hyperbole here....) insisting that the train's fire be kept alight by ripping up and burning the floorboards of the train coaches. In case you didn't know the coaches are also alive - and oddly mostly girls. One can only imagine the screams as the railway men amputated part of her and then forced her to watch as her engine ate her. Sheer madness.

Later today we're off to a school Thanksgiving lunch. All the kids have to bring something to serve that is actual food so my daughter wanted to take some corn (her grandparents are bringing it and attending too). I presume this is to make up for the fact that as the Letter of the Week is, "I" that the snacks the kids have had so far have been cupcakes and icing and an edible waffle cone thing filled with a marshmallow and covered in (you guessed it) icing.

That aside I'm excited for Thanksgiving. A holiday based around eating great food is always a winner. And it will mean that the countdown to Christmas can officially begin. I won't have to apologize for listening to Christmas music - even if it is the awesome Sufjan Stevens stuff that everybody should like any time of the year. It will also mean not having to hear the words, "Turkey Day" for an entire year again. I have no idea why but the usage of that to describe Thanksgiving grates me badly.

Balls to it - I'm drinking some egg nog.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Arse Crack, Sodor and Jesus In A Towel

I've been meaning to post a few photos from some books my kids have. One because it's unnecessarily gratuitous, another because it's so PC it misses the point of the story and lastly just something that is somewhat cool. So here goes -:

First up, right in the middle of a book called A Tree Full Of Pigs the illustrator chucks in a surprising shot of a farmer's arse. I get the intent of the picture, but it just seemed odd.


Next is a kids book about Easter. Right in the middle of the story of Jesus washing the disciples feet (John 13:3-30 if you're interested) this picture is included. Now the entire point about this part of the story is that Jesus strips right down to his bundies and washes his followers feet - shocking them by doing so and teaching them a little about humility and love. He does not do this ridiculousness -:


That looks more like he wants that bloke with the anchor-shaped beard to try some of his onion dip and still has on his pinny apron.

And lastly here's a picture of the Island of Sodor in a cool massive Thomas The Tank Engine book I found at a Thrift Store. You can see the Isle of Man to the West of Sodor.


Marvelous.

Fanny Scabs

So we've done it.

My daughter has finally hit that age where I can't do stuff on the sly and get away with it. So I can't sneak a snack in the car without her noticing. I can't tell her she can't have something and then try and sneak it for myself. And I certainly can't say anything about anything assuming she doesn't have a clue what I'm talking about. I know this because in the space of one morning my daughter asked me if her mother had gone back into the store, "to buy lady-plugs," and had earlier repeated the beautiful phrase, "fanny scabs" back to me playfully. Now I don't remember why I had come up with that. Let's just assume it was to describe something wonderful and was an innocent thing. The point is I thought I could just throw it out there with impunity. Then I would bask in my awesomeness because my daughter wouldn't say anything. Sadly a full three or four minutes later - and in an entirely different room - she sweetly turned to me and smiling said, "fanny scabs!"

I had a quick word obviously. Being the sponge that she is should mean I can't say anything I like. Or - even better - I can subtly slip in facts and truths about things that will be the building blocks of her understanding of the world around her. So I can read quietly out loud from the Protocols of The Elders Of Tierra del Fuego (the infamous written penguin plan for achieving global domination, which I believe is now available on audio book narrated by Morgan Freedman). Or I could completely litter my language with as many regional English forms of pronunciation as I can muster in an effort to have her avoid saying some words in a way that makes my skin crawl. As in how people around here don't pronounce the whole of a word like, "nothing" but rather say something like, "nuh-hnnn." I can't have my offspring uttering the word, "burglarized."

Mostly though I should use this opportunity to teach her as many native slang and swear words as I possibly can. I'm often asked by Americans what the fundamental differences are between Americans (as a whole) and English people (usually meaning British people, as a whole). They want to hear about culture, or politics of even societal upbringing to explain how our two societies can be so different. Instead I carefully explain that the main striking difference is that in the UK we have a lot more slang words for penis than they do. Sure there are other things, but mostly what defines me as different from you is that I know the phrase, "spam-javelin" and you do not. And on a larger scale I obviously mean that English-English is inherently littered with slang and euphemistic naughtiness in a way that American-English (which according to Microsoft Word really exists) seems devoid of.

This is what I wish to teach my daughter. Because while many of my American friends can happily watch a TV show like 24 and not flinch at the barbaric torture, the over-glorified celebration of violence or bizarre assertion of American hegemony over the globe due to some purported divinely attributed exceptionalism, they will baulk and switch off if Jack Bauer says the word, "fuck." Because swearing is wrong and corrupts society. Guns and murder, Yes. Potty mouth and apparently nipples on TV, No Way. Us cheeky British people can cheekily dance around that with our plethora of naughty words that - when actually examined - are not only oddly quite innocent, but don't actually make sense. This ranges from low-level commonly used words like, "twat" and "minge" all the way through the word, "arse" (an infinitely better word than "ass" ever will be) and arriving at the long complex lengthy phrases employed by every civilized adult British person. Because frankly I don't want to hear my daughter tell me that she's fell over and hurt her boo-boo. No, I want her to point out that she's fallen arse-over-tit, made a dog's-dinner of it all and now has a sore arse. Sadly being in the US the common use of sweary insults as a way to be affectionate to your friends will never happen. So she will never be able to warmly turn to a friend and say, "you daft fucking muppet" without causing untold offense. Oh well - she can do that with me.

Of course that will come. What I don't want though is for my little girl to just repeat mild naughty words that all adult Americans find offensive. Which may happen sooner rather than later. That's because my had her first play date yesterday. As in had another kid over for ninety minutes to just goof around. Not a Mom's Club meeting. Not a designated after-event child-mingling. Not playing with family or friends children during a visit. No - some kid from school who's parents we do not know was dropped off so that the two of them could actually just play without needing parental relationships in place beforehand. It was her best-friend in school. And by that I mean the real one. All the kids are bad with names so they say to whoever is sat next to them, "hey Best Friend - could you pass me the bullets?" Or something along those lines. But when it comes to the crunch this guy is her real best friend. I had exchanged letters via school to this kid's parents and arranged for them to get together and do mayhem yesterday. His father brought him over - I explained it was not a problem for him to take off and not have to do small-talk for an hour - and he explained that his kid also hadn't done this before so let's see what happens

And it went well. The other boy was a bit spaced out to start. A new house filled with toys he'd never seen and not surrounded by people he knows would be odd. It was helpful to me too because it really highlights all the weird crap you teach your own kids in normal that everyone else thinks is weird. So he thought it was really weird that we have a bouncy horse in the living room. And he thought that all the riding toys were pretend lawnmowers. And best of all when they played doctors and nurses (which made my wife feel weird) my daughter looked in his ear and told him that the problem he had was that there was a tomato stuck in it. He looked at her like she was possibly mental. But - God bless him - ten minutes later when they came back to playing it he diagnosed her problem as having a banana stuck in her eye. Hopefully he'll take that home with him.

Helpfully too he has older siblings. So he's been taught that when he doesn't really want to be led by the nose that he doesn't have to. My daughter likes to be the leader of everything, so it was very healthy for her to hear him say, "no, I don't want to." It wasn't intended to be upsetting - he just didn't want to. Which she took pretty well too. Although sometimes this also meant that he'd say no - we're doing this instead - and she would go for it a bit too easily. But I've seen her in big groups - nobody tells her what to do after a certain period. Outside of that he said a few odd things. When he saw the guitars in the house he kept yelling, "let's jam the house!" And when he saw a toy that he thought was phenomenal (I forget what it was) he just exclaimed, "Damn!" Which she will not be learning. No sir.

Because when she sees something cool she'll be saying, "now this - this is the dog's bollocks."

Friday, November 18, 2011

Squeal Of The Robot Cow

Right now my daughter is showing her brother how if he holds a magnifying glass right up to his eye, and then she runs at him from across the room with her mouth wide open then, "it looks like you're falling in a cave!"

At noon everyday the local volunteer Fire Department honk their noon-call fire horn. My daughter insists on going outside to wait for the school bus around this time so we always hear it. At which point she'll exclaim, "Daddy the electric cow is mooing!" No doubt mentally disturbed due to her mother's horrifying graphic torture-stories yesterday she whelped, "the robot cow is screaming Daddy!!"

Not today though. No school. Instead we've been enjoying the two - maybe three - inches of snow. The very-local weather doesn't have it's own radar, so uses a combination of the National Weather Service (one would hope) and reports from locals. The local number from my little town had us down for "six to twelve" inches. Which was not only way off but also involves two numbers that are so far apart that one of them is twice as big as the other. Nevertheless we strapped on some boots and waddled around in it for five minutes before heading out to the Thrift Shop. My mechanic had told me earlier to check in to see if he had finished up and could get my snow tires on.

So after swinging by there (no luck - a leaking truck was very much in the way) we went to see if the Thrift Store had any decent small stuff for Christmas. For 75 cents we walked out with a set of small tree ornaments that look like wrapped boxes (that came in a solid-silver Christmas tree dish that was pretty neat), another ornament that is a bear in a car and one of those stuffed scented trivets with a Christmas pattern on it. Not too shabby. My daughter wanted to go nuts and buy all the stuff they had. And they really do have a lot of very cool stuff. But we have lots of ornaments already and I want to go back to a tradition of actually giving an ornament each to the kids on Christmas Day. It probably won't mean so much if they just bought one hundred of them for $2.50 the week before hand. They also had these actual baubles there too which I was tempted to get for amusement value alone.


I met have let the cats try and smash those ones. Speaking of which Bodmin - my black cat - hasn't come home since Monday. I think it's likely she's done for. Nine years, two continents, seven houses and only one urgent vet visit (the most horrifying case of arse-worms he'd ever seen, apparently) isn't bad mind you. She was a good cat. That's not to say that she's definitely gone either, but she's never been gone like this before. We haven't told our daughter yet and aren't sure how to do that. She get's all the brazen truth and honesty if she sees dead squirrels, possums or pets on the side of the road. But then as this is my cat it is de facto her cat.

A relative of ours had a cat that left for six months in the Adirondacks. No way that thing should have been alive. It came back riddled with fleas, ticks and pure evil and was astonishingly let back in the house. I say that because as nice and well put together this person is, their house could technically be called a revolting shit-hole. Dog and cat waste all over the place. That awful cat urine smell permeated the entire place for awhile, and the basement was so noxious with piss-fumes you genuinely couldn't go in it. Add she's a hoarder. Those people you see on those TV makeover shows who are involved in an intervention because their house is appalling? Not even close. I remember watching Animal Cops or Animal Rescue (I think) years ago when an old lady died and when the authorities were clearing out her house they found a dead horse in a bedroom. That's not as bad as that obviously, but if her dog died on the couch it might not be moved for some time. Lovely woman though - and she owns some fantastic stuff. Anyhoo - the point is that once she gave us a waffle maker because she clearly didn't need four of them. We scrubbed it and foolishly tried it out only for it to absolutely reek of cat piss. Straight in the garbage.

But yes - Bodmin is likely gone. She's very friendly so maybe she just went too far and has inserted herself into someone else's life. They'd like her. She's not afraid of anything. When my father-in-law used to use a circular saw in the basement she'd sit right on the huge pieces of plywood he was cutting because she seemed to know that as long as she didn't fart about all would be well. But n all honesty I know that if a cat doesn't come home it's usually because either it was killed or knew it was dying. But instead of thinking the worst I've decided to imagine that the Beast Of Bodmin myth will take up root here. Slowly over the late-Fall more and more people in this community will call the Police and Animal Control insisting that they've seen a black panther wandering about.

I may even have to go out in the cold and molest some cattle just to give the story some weight.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Little Omelette

If you've been reading this for a decent length of time you'll know that part of the routine of putting my daughter to bed is that I have to make up a story based around the same simple principles. Essentially these are her asking, "tell me about the time you were a little...." and then she'll think of something. Usually food. Which she then eats. And then shits out. It's delightful. Lately I've tended to be not-food items - like a Teddy bear or (most recently) a light bulb.

This is going to sound unlikely but it is actually quite mellow and cutesy. For example, if I was telling her about the time I was a little banana I would breezily move through the eating part like this -:

"And then, much to my surprise she peeled me and ate me all up in one go! Just like that!"

So you see how nice and almost cheeky that is. Even the part later on where I'm defecated and flushed away is of such cuteness that if it were made into a movie kids all over the world would eagerly snuggle up to giant three-foot post-banana turd plush-thing that the movie marketing department had pushed as the big Christmas toy this year. Actually I even had this idea to have two scratch-and-sniff tags on it - one a Before tag and one and After tag.

Anyway, yesterday my daughter flat out told my wife that my stories are nicer. She used the word, "nicer" specifically. My wife heard the word, "better." While I have no doubt that they are actually better, my daughter was focusing on the word "better." And here's why.

Yesterday it was my turn to put my daughter to bed. And she really wanted me to. She had descended into a raging whirlwind of excitability (I'm sure you all remember the, "YOU ARE THE PARTY POOPER" football-style chant she bellowed at me) and wanted nothing more than for me to cuddle her to sleep to show that everything was all okay. My wife though was desperate to do so herself. Her only experience of her daughter yesterday was the end of the hysterical fit. Which pretty much involved my daughter seeming to calm down, suddenly bursting with insane sadness and wailing. My wife even tried an old trick of asking her to cry quieter and then describe how she felt. Unfortunately this led to my daughter screaming, "MAMA!!!!" over and over again for fifteen minutes. Which seemed to make my daughter want me to put her to bed more, and for my wife to want to do it even more so. So, I intervened and told a very sensitive girl that her mother was going to. She welled up. "But don't worry! Oh no!! Because tonight your mother is going to tell you about the time she was a little.....omelette!"

Her eyes lit up. You could see that she thought that might be cool. To seal the deal I even pointed out that it's really two stories in one, because in the beginning it's a story about a little egg. She bought it! Go Team go!

This is where it apparently all went to crap. Now, she did go through the bedroom routine and go to sleep. No problems there. She slept the whole night too. And this morning was sunny and delightful. I even askedm y wife how bedtime went and she said it was good. But the important point is that when my wife came downstairs and settled down to finally get some rest after a long day, then said, "good" as a summary to the bedtime, she then chose to say, "man - those stories are really violent." Which is really weird because a) she said it like even though she told the story that night somehow I was still culpable for making it somehow violent, and b) that even though she knew what she was saying was disturbingly violent she went ahead and told it anyway.

Violent? okay I kind of get it. But as can be seen above I managed to make it breezy and light. So I asked what was so violent. "Well, first I had to tell her that a little girl picked me up as an egg and then smashed my body aggressively against the side of a bowl until my egg-blood could fall out. In fact she whacked me so hard that a little bit of the egg-blood just shot out all over her hand. Then she ripped my entire body into two parts and dumped my guts, organs and mushed up smashed brains into a bowl, and stabbed them with a whisk and shook my bits quickly into a tornado to make sure I could never ever be reassembled if such a thing could be done. Then, if any part of me had any consciousness left I was viciously thrust into a burning volcano-hot frying pan. While I was literally having my insides burned my crushed useless body was then thrown violently into a garbage disposal, drowned and then annihilated after a little girl ("named Evelyn!!!" she gleefully cried!) pressed the garbage disposal button.

And then, much to my surprise she ate me all up in one go! Just like that!"

What. The. Fuck. So I explained to my wife that this is precisely why my stories are, "nicer." She countered with, "you literally crap her out every night." To which I counter-countered with, "Yes but I crap her out tastefully."

And that, after all is what I want you to take away from this entry. That being that using all your parenting smarts and child-rearing skills you too can avoid filling your little ugly children with horrifying nightmare-fuel, and instead tell stories where you shit them out in an age-appropriate fashion.

The Stick In The Mud

Fun: Telling your daughter the hilarious fact that someone who ruins things - like the play-party she's pretending to put on right at that moment - is called a, "party pooper."

Not Fun: Trying to put your child in time out five hours later whilst they yell angrily, "No!! I WON'T!! YOU ARE A PARTY POOPER! YOU ARE THE PARTY POOPER!!!!"

I've noticed a physical thing with regards a child's development that I'm sure is common to those who study this sort of thing. I call it, "Mustache finger." And yes, that is how Americans insist upon spelling the hairy man-lip. I have a whole bunch of twisty stick-things that you'd describe as a pipe cleaner. I'm sure they're not actually pipe cleaners, but you know what I mean. For a period of time yesterday my daughter pretended to be me by holding a blue pipe cleaner between her nose and top lip in the same way you'd hold a pencil there (whatever - it's just a fetish - let's move on). Apparently that was Captain Cheesestick's special disguise so that he could evade detection and blend into the general population unsuspected by other superheroes and master-criminals.

Anyhoo - this morning it was missing so I tried to spark up the game again by just pretending my index finger was a mustache. My son - not yet two - tried to replicate this by hiding his eyes. My daughter - four years old (and, I remind you, someone who demanded/threatened, "Daddy - we have to make a cornucopia or Mommy will never come home....") tried to replicate it by curling her finger over the top of her nose. No matter how many times I asked her to do it again - whilst explaining where the finger should go - she kept doing it that way. Apparently that's how her brain processes it. Bizarre.

For much of this morning my daughter has been playing The Trampolining Window Washer. She used to take a small yellow squirty-bottle and a rag and clean stuff all the time. Mostly it was windows. She hasn't done that in a very long time. But yesterday it was found under the sink and she's been running around all morning cleaning windows. Unlike when she used to do it we now own a trampoline. And she has decided that the best way to clean up high is to bounce on the trampoline and squirt randomly into the air. And then - because no activity is a one-man-show - get me to wipe up everything she got wet. Then as quick as a flash she gave up cleaning and started covering everything in blankets so that she could, "jump off it without it knowing." Like this -:


Right - I'm going to try and convince my daughter that yelling, "don't be a stick in the mud" at her brother every twenty seconds isn't big or clever.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Or Else It Gets The Hose Again

"Look Daddy! I've hidden Owen's finger!!"

Why is it - after four years - that my daughter cannot follow the logic that if her stomach slightly aches in the morning, then she needs a poo? She tells me with genuine worry in her voice. "Daddy, my tummy hurts." It's almost a daily statement of purpose now. Then I tell her to go to the bathroom, she refuses and then I explain that it's probably a poo trying to come out the wrong way. You know - like John Hurt with that alien baby - except with a poo. But every day she'll look at me like that's crazy and then bounce around the room for five minutes. Only to come to a sudden stop when she realizes that she has to go to the toilet rather quickly.

My daughter has been doing her magic tricks again all morning too. Which, on the whole, has involved stuffing as many balloons into her pants as possible and then asking me to guess what she's got in there. Disturbingly she then removed most of her clothes, wrapped herself in a blanket so it looked like a cape and told me she was going to do a, "new cool trick." She then asked me to guess what she was hiding. While I was trying to figure out what she was going to do I suddenly noticed she was stood with her legs half-crossed like Buffalo Bill in Silence Of The Lambs. I then actually, for split-second, pledged that if she suddenly reveals at age four that she's a boy then I will just run until I cannot run anymore. She then giddily yelled, "Look what I ate for breakfast!!" and squatted on the ground. The stinging shock of the dichotomy that was presented to me was particularly strong. On the one hand I was hysterically pleased that the original appearing-wingwang trick was not going to come about. Yet on the other hand I did now have a new burning fear that she was literally going to show me what she'd eaten for breakfast. Devoid of any ability to stop what may happen I just tried to avert my eyes. Luckily she had just clamped a Little People Farmer between her legs and now dropped it to the ground. Sensing absolutely no discomfort on my part she then tried to show me another new trick where she puts her brother's finger in her mouth, thereby making it "disappear." It was then that I decided we needed to go for a drive. Not to go anywhere in particular, but just so I could completely change the situation. I think I even mentally yelled, "Safe Mode!! F8 F8!!" and then grabbed the car keys.

Driving around we then noticed that quite a lot of people in my neighborhood still have some Halloween stuff out. Not just Fall stuff - but the inflatable ghosts and witches. Each time we'd drive by a house still decorated for it my daughter would yell, "look Daddy that house is haunted!" The most astonishing was one that had a grave stone out front with a baby doll sticking up out of the dirt. Oddly there were no other discernible Halloween decorations save for the entire front porch had the biggest pirate skull and crossbones flag I've ever seen pinned to it too. So either it is a hold-over from Halloween or someone is just completely mental. My daughter also tells me that Scary, Spooky and Ted (the massive inflatable ghosts we drive by regularly) have changed into snowmen. And that in fact all snowmen are actually ghosts. Which is somewhat cool and cute. But she ruined all that by then pointing out that, "snow is also ghost blood from when they've cut their legs off." Might as well just go home then.

Anyhoo - I have to clean up for the delivery of a new dishwasher. My wife is super-jazzed about it. Me - I'm more meh. I quite like spending twenty minutes blasting some music and washing the dishes in the sink. A dishwasher has always just seemed like a cupboard to put dirty stuff in. Of course I say that as someone from a working class home. I don't think I even knew anyone with a dishwasher growing up. But that's probably because British kitchens are so tiny (generally) that trying ti stuff a dishwasher in there would be absurd.

So in lieu of anything wothwhile to say, have some pictures -:





Nb -: Years ago when I had not long started working for the evil that is insurance my line manager asked for one of the new hires to take over duties on report writing. It was to fill out actual paperwork each shift to send to a temp agency that had hired us to say who had shown up. I volunteered even though my handwriting is generally messy. Needing to ensure that the agency could read the reports my manager asked me to write a sentence on a piece of paper to see if I had what she called, "serial-killer handwriting." At which point I wrote the above, "It puts the lotion in the basket or else it gets the hose again." Yep - I got to write the reports.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cover That Which Cometh From Thee

Daddy my granola fits in my ear.

I got up at Stupid O'Clock this morning. Sleep wasn't fun so why bother to keep doing it? If you've never heard of it then you've never been up that early. All of us who are often up (not stayed up - that doesn't work) at that time are told by the Magic Morning Pixie about the Secrets of Stupid O'Clock. It's quite something. But unless you're in the Sleep Sucks Club you can't be told about the secrets. Quite honestly you aren't even really supposed to know about it so I'm risking my premium membership just by talking about it. Note that this is not the same as Silly O'Clock, which occurs around 5pm every day. This is the time when my kids are most in danger of stabbing someone or making a dirty bomb.

Of course when I get up that early I adhere to the short list of special rules I've come up with. Such as -:

- No heating on before 5am, no matter how cold. Because that adds up over a long Winter. And by, "adds up" I obviously mean when the bill comes and the wife flat out asks, "how are we using this much heating?" you won't be able to make the perfectly reasonable point that even though you keep the heat at 63 degrees and she cranks it up to 73 when she walks through the door, that because you turned it on once when it was 47 in the middle of February you personally raised the heating bill by 13% this year.

- No pooing until the Sun is up. That's just wrong. This isn't a religious thing, by the way. Whilst it might be true that people who worship the Sun God might make a sacrifice in this manner, Jesus doesn't want your offering (please don't email Deuteronomy quotes here). Nobody should be in a position that they go to bed "loaded" and then fire one off first thing. That's unhealthy and evil. But not as evil as those people who get up at 2am to, "bake some fudge." Those people are secret terrorists.

- No matter how awesome an idea it is, do not eat ice cream, cakes or chocolates. Yes, there are apparently loads of reasons as to why lots of people are unhealthy that aren't solely based on them chubbing it up all the time. But a guaranteed way to be a Chunker is noshing on ice cream at 3am every morning whilst watching videos of cats and taking a sneaky look to see if those naked photos of STD Failure Sponge Lindsey Lohan have made it online yet.

- Don't do anything useful. Those two-three hours before anyone else gets up would be ideal for getting work done. Obviously this is how all your friends seem to keep their houses clean and much nicer than yours. Don't do all that reading you've been meaning to do. Or learn to do all those other things you claim you'd like to learn. No - just sit in front of the computer and literally waste all that time until other people get up and take that away from you. (Disclaimer - I used to go running every morning for 60-90 minutes. This was fun. At the moment it isn't so this is also banned)

- Don;t go to a 24-hour grocery store and get all your shopping done. While it may seem like a great idea to do this overnight without squealing children or the annoyance of stopping to take them to the toilet, it's just not a good idea. College kids do this - that's fine. Adults do not. Because the only adults who do a weekly-shop overnight are either divorcees (the guilty ones - the innocent party still manages to do it in daylight), criminals, Twilight fans or people with a crystal meth problem. Worse, while this isn't actually true the two people working at the grocery store will decide as fact that all four of these are true. An nobody wants to be judged as a Twilight fan by people who are paid minimum wage to sell things to junkies and vampires at 2am. Once years ago I went to a local grocery store at 3 in the morning to buy eight of those massive drinking water bottles for work. As innocent as that was the cashier still gave me that judgmental look of, "your going to put your willy in these aren't you?"

Regardless, this morning I went back to bed half an hour later. I didn't really want to - and mostly I think that's gross - but over the last few days if I got up then my son got up. And there was no way he was getting up when there was a three in the number. So I went back to bed and lay there until my wife got up for work at 6am. Which is a long time. Obviously my son got up then. My daughter did her usual and waited for us to go downstairs first before yelling for me to come back up and lie down with her. As she didn't do much other than roll into me I just lay there for five minutes. She fell asleep and got up at 7.45.

Which is when she should be getting up every day while she still has the chance to. And going to sleep easily. My son, the little genius, is the complete opposite of her as far as going to sleep goes. He reads a book or two and then actually points at the light switch to say he's ready to lie down and nod off. Which he then does in about two minutes flat. My daughter required three years of trial and error before coming up with a 40 minute plate-spinning balancing act to convince her to go to sleep. Which she at least once every three weeks tries to sabotage in some way. Now I'm telling her that she has to get up early as well she's beginning to think that because I hate sleeping maybe I've got a point. She recoiled in horror yesterday when I told her that kids go to school at the same time as when she normally gets up. She pointed out that this was stupid because, "all the kids will either be asleep or mad at being awake." Which is the best summation of that I've ever heard.

She was particularly worried about missing breakfast. This morning she's chowing down on some home made granola. Or, as you've probably figured out already, putting it in her ear. She now thinks she has to eat extra big breakfasts and hide food for the future in easy to reach orifices (don't even let your mind wander) for the times when she has to go to school at breakfast time. I told her a half-lie that if she goes to bed with food in her ear then wolves and bears might break into the house because they know there is food that they can lick out of the families' ears.

Now go ahead and guess what game she wants to play right now....

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Jack-O-Lantern Massacre

Knock knock. (We'd just returned from the grocery store and my daughter ran inside insisting we play that game where we pretend we are visitors to her house.)

Daughter: "Hi, I'm Pevelyn. Would you like to come inside?"

Me: Sure.

My Wife: So Pevelyn, who lives here?

Daughter: Oh, just me. My parents died.

My Wife: Oh? How did they die?

Daughter: They were taken away by soldiers.

Me: Umm....

Daughter: They were at the grocery store shopping and then they suddenly fell asleep. You should never fall asleep at the grocery store. That's when the soldiers killed them.


What the Keith Chegwin is going on? Last time I checked my daughter was born in Bristol and not Sarajevo. Where did she get that from? That's absolutely terrifying. It's like those bizarre stories you hear from people who swear their kids are reincarnated because they keep talking about the time they drowned in a lake. You see them on TV specials where their little innocent four year old won't shut up about when their Mommy held them under the water until the angels came. Of course this is way more terrifying because -:

a) My daughter said it.
b) This sort of thing actually happened in the 90s. Which is difficult to stomach considering we are always blathering on about how different we all are these days.
c) My daughter then asked if we wanted some crackers.

She's been keeping this up all morning too. She keeps getting shirty when I refer to her and her brother by their actual names. Or hint that this is my house. No, this is Pevelyn and Bowen's house and I'm just visiting. And as a visitor I need to make honey sandwiches and get them cheese slices when they demand it. Because they are too small to reach these things, and oh - did you forget that their parent's were brutally murdered?

As disturbing as that is it still isn't as worrisome as some of the other things that my daughter gets up to. For example the amount of finger she can ram into her nostril is as amazing as it is frightening. I'm almost convinced she can touch her inner ear. But more than that is that some things she gets excited about are things that fill me with dread. Not necessarily because of what they are, but because I was the one who got her involved with the whole mess in the first place. A parent begins to see that a simple slippery-slope escalation of almost every activity is possible, even if the original activity was innocent. Everything can evolve into something deeply nefarious.

For example I showed my daughter how to destroy an old Jack-O-Lantern the day before it snowed. We didn't need it any more after Halloween. Seemed like fun too. I figured standing on it wouldn't be all that exciting so I suggested she hit it with something. What ensued was her smashing the living shit out of it while I pictured her as Vinnie Jones in Lock, Stock twatting someone with a car door.


Yesterday I also showed her something that totally revolutionized what she thought the Meaning of Life is. For a four year old television is a shocking way to reveal things to her that really should not have been. Case in point being over a year ago I idiotically showed her an episode of Wipeout. For the few months after seeing it she made me design and lay out an obstacle course in out living room and then race her around it. Which pretty much just involved her trying to break my living room floor and then beat me up. A little while later I naively showed her PBR Bullriding. It's never on network TV, but when it is it's staying on.  And after seeing it she made me design and lay out a bull riding ring in our living room so that she could ride me around it. Basically again nearly breaking the living room floor and trying to beat me up. By the way, if I'm ever in the odd position of being asked to spitball potential television shows for US networks I guarantee that I will instantly reply with, "Bullriding Wipeout." That is saturated with WIN. Imagine the Pamplona Bull Run crossed with all those demented lunatics trying to run around the Wipeout course. It's Gold Jerry, Gold!

You'd think I'd know better then, but yesterday my daughter caught sight of a television atrocity called Fashion On Ice. So a fashion show presented by amateur and professional ice skaters. Which, from what I could tell, meant ice skaters dancing around in just their knickers to Aretha Franklin. So for two hours yesterday afternoon my daughter tried to copy the inhuman gyrations and spins of these aforementioned ice skaters in the living room. She wasn't half bad actually. Except for the numerous times she collided with furniture and walls, and severely twisted limbs and digits and then howled in pain. And then, oblivious to the concepts of cause and effect, would insist on trying to hold her leg over her head and do a triple-jumping-twist off the couch onto the pile of trains and toy cars on the ground. It is only a matter of time until she appears from upstairs dressed only in pink underpants demanding that I design and layout an ice skating rink in my living room so that she can ride me like a bull around an obstacle course that somehow involves doing upside down spinning.

I give it 30 minutes.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

You've Been Inside A Giraffe

It's Sausage Saturday!

This morning my daughter has been my doctor. I have The Cold. And last night's Chinese Takeout is doing all sorts of unpleasant things to my body this morning. But that's not why. About six months ago we found an old doctor's kit at the Thrift Shop. It's this exact one -:


It had lost it's charm for awhile but is once again a big hit with her. Initially she would pretend to be the doctor and give me the once over. She'd always end up with the prognosis that there was some sort of animal stuck inside me. I'm not entirely sure what I was doing to get it stuck in my leg or ear. Quite often it was an octopus or an elephant. Then she'd give me Octopus Medicine and I'd be all better. Then one day I tried to occupy her by both of us pretending to be doctor's and all her animal/people toys needing treatment. That ended up being kind of annoying though because it was endless. She would expect me to treat every last thing that she owned using every single doctor's tool. This would include taking blood pressure, testing reflexes and most of all - trimming their toenails.

But she stopped doing that. Randomly she'd take my blood pressure but she's been on such a big Thomas The Tank Engine kick with her brother that all other toys have been out for awhile now. But a few days ago I was cleaning up and put back together the doctor's briefcase. I was feeling guilty that this thing had remained completely intact since it had been bought in the 1970s, and yet now in my house had been hung, drawn and quartered with it's remains strewn all about the place. So I'd put it back together and this alone had prompted my daughter to jump back on the doctor bandwagon.

So this morning's sneezing and whining about things being much better going in than coming out (curried beef and onions, if you were wondering) prompted her to grab the briefcase and get to work. So she gave me a shot - which seemed a little presumptive considering she hadn't actually checked me over yet. Then she took the stethoscope and pressed it into my stomach. Then she wisely proclaimed, "I see....the problem is that you're too honky." I do hope that isn't true. She also used that tool doctor's use to look in your ear to discover that many of my cavities (the ones on my head anyway) are filled with tomatoes. That will make you sick I suppose. After taking my temperature (don't panic - it went in my mouth) she determined that I'm too cold and need some hot chocolate. But instead she demanded that I pretend to eat a sponge baseball and then poop it out. Obviously I did.

Then, very much like Gregory House she completely changed my diagnosis and treatment. Now she realized that, "you have been inside a giraffe." I tried not to look too guilty and said, ".......yes the idea is called the 9 9 9 tax plan - that's 9 percent income tax, a 9 percent sales tax and a 9 percent business tax." She then insisted I wear a necklace that looks like a pig to get better. I secretly snuck some DayQuil at the same time so that she'll later think she did the right thing. Got to keep her confidence up.

What this has done though is prompt me to force my children into vocations in later life that they have no choice in. So they are going to be a dentist and a GP. I don't care what they want - it's been decided. Because this silly country is never going to fix it's health insurance problem. Too much money swilling around influential people to have them actually be honest and admit that if government should be building roads and drilling for oil then there's at least an ideological case that be involved in national healthcare for all. I'm not about to file a case before the Supreme Court citing that all Americans should be allowed entry into a mass Medicaid/Medicare system under the Equal Protection Clause. Nor am I about to mount a legal challenge for people in the US to be allowed to buy medical care from Canada. Because after all - it's the argument of people opposed to national healthcare that it isn't a government service at all but rather just a market product. You know - like jeans, MP3s and potato chips. So if I can buy food from Canada surely I can buy that.

So yes, I should groom my children to be a dentist and a GP. It's freaking genius. We'd all get free check ups and access to samples. It's filled with win. Particularly as after I just sneezed my daughter told me I need to eat sausages.

Sausage. It's going to save us all.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Snow

I don't have any videos of my son going completely bananas at the snow when he first realized something was happening. I had no camera battery power then. And by the time it charged enough to take this one he had calmed down. Still, it's better than nothing. And he's got six months of much much more snow to come, so I'm confident there will be better stuff later. 120 inches of the beautiful white stuff too. 

Captain Kick-A-Dick Versus The Lilliputians

"Quick!!! Hit Babytrash with the shovel before he gets away!"

This morning has been all about playing. We haven't been this ridiculous in a long time. From the moment I realized my wife wasn't home it's been gangbusters. Speaking of which, my wife had left for work very early. In the middle of the night she had gone over to my son's room to lie down with him in the vain hope he might go to sleep (he has The Cold). So when I got up to the sound of my son throwing shoes over the stair-gate it was still before 6am (very late for me) I thought she was catching a sly extra hours sleep in my son's bed. I went up to get her at 6.30 and discovered she was already up and gone.

Anyhoo everyone was up and bouncing off the walls at that point. My daughter was electric with excitement because the morning weather had forecast snow. I'm not sure why but this triggered the creative part of her hyperactive brain and she just started ranting off stories. She wanted to play Princess Bounce and was trying to set the scene. But she'd get bored or over-excited and quickly change it to something else. Mostly though she wanted me to crawl along the living room floor while her and her brother attempted to knock me over. Imagine a giant Wooly Mammoth being attacked by cavemen. Or the Lilliputians attacking Gulliver. Same thing.

More importantly though the kids were very happy. I wasn't about to chase that away. So when my daughter finally settled on the storyline of Captain Kick-A-Dick (that's me) and Officer Squash-a-Squirrel (her) I didn't have the heart to point out that my name was not only inappropriate, but was also probably already claimed by that Scottish cab driver who kicked the on-fire terrorist in the spuds at Glasgow airport in 2007.

Anyhoo, my daughter framed the story as me - Captain Kick-A-Dick and his trusty sidekick Officer Squash-A-Squirrel were crawling around looking for their arch enemy - Babytrash - who was being played by my son. You knew he was Babytrash because he was wearing a flimsy plastic fireman's helmet we got from the bank in a promotion. Everyone kept being stuck inside the Clumsy Cloud that Babytrash "released" (I'll give you two guesses as to what that means) and would accidentally end up jumping on each other and then tickling the nearest person. Wanting to contribute myself to the storyline I kept fishing for more information. Apparently Babytrash had two weapons. One was The Clumsy Cloud, which really is an astonishingly powerful weapon that cares not for collateral damage. But his biggest weapon seems to be that he's, "quite pokey." This is because my son has very boney feet and knees, with which he likes to jab right into your body when he's ninja-slamming into you. Luckily though Officer Squash-A-Squirrel has enlisted the aid of The World's Tiniest Man. Who, luck would have it, always carries a tiny shovel with him (it's actually a tiny plastic shovel about the length of your thumb that I found in the backyard last Spring). I tried in vain to have her call it The Shovel Of Shazam!! (the exclamation marks have to be in the name as well) but she didn't go for it.

In the end though it was snowing too hard for even my tickly fingers to maintain their attention. My son has no idea what snowfall is - he was too little last year. So after his sister made him look out the window he stood there astonished yelling, "Rain!!" over and over again. A much better reaction than she ever gave by the way. When she was younger we all woke up to a gargantuan snow fall and we took her out to marvel at it. We put her in snow clothes, put her on a sled and she literally didn't give a shit. She really could not have behaved less excited. At was as if she didn't even notice and was irritated to be in stupid immovable clothes on a tray in the backyard. My son though was completely apoplectic. He was behaving like it was possible that this had never happened before. In his repeated, "Rain!!" I could hear, "Stop being so bloody nonchalant and look outside - THIS IS HOW IT ALL ENDS!!" My daughter helpfully pointed out to him that he needn't worry. After all all that was haoppening was that tiny marshmallows were falling from the sky.

Being Friday though we went out to the Thrift Store. Came back with a ridiculous Christmas cardigan for her and a tree ornament. The place was swarming with parasitical old ladies because there was a bag sale. I'm told by the Thrift Store people that some Friday's we are it - no one else shows. Usually though it's about 10 people. Today there were a good 50 all breaking the simple rule of, "it starts at 10am." When I got there at ten-to-ten they had burst through the doors and hoarded all the good stuff for themselves.

After hitting the Thrift Shop my daughter continued a long running game she plays sometimes when we come back to the house. She runs inside while I'm getting her brother out of the car. Then I have to knock the door and she pretends that she lives in the house by herself. She then shows me around and tells us we can live with her. This morning she pointed out that she has a magnet made out of a CD and that, "there's lots of mayonnaise in the cupboard." Then she told us there were two extra bedrooms upstairs but we can all share one big bed to keep warm. Then worryingly she said, "I let anyone sleep there - I don't even need to know their names!"

It's like having an inside into what she'll be like in college. Ick.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Things I Have Never Done

- I have never watched my children sleep. Because I am not a serial killer (*disclaimer - if I was this is hardly the place to let that slip - it seems much more like a Reddit kind of thing). This is classic television schtick and total and complete nonsense. When you don't have kids and you have no free time you don't actually realize that you have TONS of free time. Then you have a child and they eat all your free time up. All of it. I have two children. So why in God's name would I be wasting my precious tiny morsels of free time watching them do absolutely piss all?

- I've never looked at a baby and thought, "oh he looks just like you!" Because that would imply that you also look like a fat-headed shirtless toothless weirdo dragging your legs around because you can't walk. I've heard people tell mother's their son looks like them. That doesn't even begin to add up. All that can mean is, "You have absolutely no tits but seemingly thirteen wrists." People have told me for years that my son looks like me. He has only very recently started to look like a human being. Therefore every time someone expressed that opinion I have marked it down as a meaning that I look pudgy and haven't wiped my nose. So yeah - screw you.

- I did not have the epiphany at the moment of my first child's birth that my life would never be the same. Because that's true for hundreds of moments. Almost everything people do dramatically changes their lives. More importantly having kids is life changing, but I'm not stupid enough to suddenly figure that out the same hour that my child is being born. How can that sneak up on someone? "This is the last time we will be alone..." is such a cliche. You aren't alone now - there are two of you. And her whole family. And all the other annoying idiots that you meet every day. Having a child around actually gives you a more polite reason to not be nice to all of them. You see someone you think is a total muppet and pint at your kid as to why you will not be talking to them. Think of it this way - my father-in-law tells me a story about how his father lived without electricity. He fought in a world war. By the time he died he could watch satellite television. Pioneer to Clash of Civilizations to sitting in a house in the middle of nowheresville watching magical pictures beamed from Outer Space.

- I've never been out and desperately needed to call home to find if my kids are okay. Granted we've never once hired a baby sitter. So every time the kids have not been with me they've been with family. Who have demonstrated that they aren't carefree and stupid enough to lose a baby or accidentally kill it. In fact my wife and I have probably gone out alone without the kids less than most people seem to have done - and not through fear of anything but rather just through circumstance. Therefore when we leave them with the in-laws (99% of the time) I'm not fretting about whether they are coping.

- I've never gone, "Ooo a goog goo goo!" at a child. Certainly not my own. That isn't a language used by anyone who isn't being paid to wear a diaper and crap themselves for your pleasure. Still, a worse sin than that are parents who say, "do you love Mommy!?" to a 5 month old baby. How devoid of sense and dignity do you have to be to ask a mute uncommunicative baby a question like that? I've heard my mother-in-law tell my daughter to say, "tell Grandma you love her" when she was just starting to say three and four word sentences. That's borderline insane.

- I've never said to anyone that all my kid does is eat, sleep and shit. Ever. Firstly that suggests they sleep. Which is patently absurd. My daughter's every fiber of energy for her first two years was spent on not sleeping. Secondly, they shit a lot less than they pee. The quantity and shocking frequency of urine that comes out of a child probably outweighs the Brown Bomber 100 to 1. Thirdly it suggests that there is an even three-way balance. Ask 99 parents of a four year old if their kid eats. They will all say no.

- I've never been scraping fecal matter of my children and thought, "I do this because I love you." Because the reason I'm doing it is because they are covered in fecal matter. I don't want poo on either of us. And they can't get it off. And if they tried they'd get it on everything. Add that I know all sorts of people whose entire job is pretty much feeding old people and then cleaning fecal matter off them, and for minimum wage too. Quite what that says in this context doesn't bear thinking about.

- For most kids I've never thought, "woah you are so big!" Obviously there's the odd freakish lump who is suspiciously gargantuan. And some kids have body parts that seem to be growing at a rate completely unrelated to the rest of their body. Those poor children with planetoid heads being a case in point. But in the vast general sense kids are not, "so big" at all. They are tiny. Because you know, they're kids. I'll also throw in, "wow she's growing sooo fast!" Well, no. She's growing at the expected rate. In fact she's still only 43 inches tall after over four years.

- I have never truly thought that my child's development was special and that they might be a genius. My daughter was very strong and walked very early on. I actually half-wondered (actually more like 75%) if she was a superhero/evil superbeing. But I didn't co-opt that to boost my own pride. No - instead I genuinely wondered if I should notify the authorities about her before she destroyed us all.

- I have never dreamed of my child being a future quarterback or the Michael Jordan of the 2020s. Ever. Firstly I've been to college in the US. I knew a whole bunch of guys who were jocks. To a man they were all complete turnips. Drunken borderline racist dunces is a bit harsh, but not a million miles off is it? Secondly, American sports are ridiculous. I don't want my child excelling at a stupid activity like basketball. All basketball games end with a two-point difference. What kind of lesson is it for a young adult to learn that the entire activity was a complete waste of time and it's just pure luck as to who gets to take the last shot before time runs out? Or to have people lie to them that "wow that was great defense" when there ate over 100 points already scored? Add, nobody in American football can tackle, hold a ball or avoid acting like an overblown ego-maniacal dick at all times. Make a tackle - dance for three minutes and boast about how awesome you are. Dude- you're supposed to tackle them. The other 30 times you didn't really highlight how inefficient and bad at this you are. Add calling 300 pound fat steroid-stuffed losers "athletes" is pushing the truth to an astounding new level.

More importantly though is that all my sporting-hero energy is still focused on the fact that even though I'm in my mid thirties, have only ever played for one season on an amateur pick-up team, and I live 3000 miles away from my home country that I'm still certain that if Fabio Capello just happened to see me playing carpet-football in my living room he'd see that I was just the sort of man to fill that Rooney-sized hole for Euro 2012.