Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Sleep Itch

Question of the day: Should I stop my son from playing with his mother's tampons even though he's having way mroe fun with them than he has playing anything else all day?

Right now though he has the Sleep Itch. For those without kids it means that he's so tired that he needs to take a nap. We'll be going off to get his sister in half an hour so I'm not going to bother helping get to the Land of Nod. Either he'll fall asleep now (in which case I'm waking him up in 25 minutes to go the bathroom), or he'll likely fall asleep in the car. It might only be a 4 or 5 minute drive but it gets him 50% of the time. But in the meantime there's an itch on his head (mostly on the top of his head and up his nose) that he can't get to that occurs every single time he gets tired. I've seen other kids afflicted by it too. Either there's something we don't understand about sleep at all, or he's basically rubbing himself awake.

It's also cacking it down with snow right now. My daughter announced it to me before lunch. I hadn't even noticed - as I was washing dishes and singing very loudly along to Tom Waits - but my daughter announced that the Whipped Cream Wombat was outside. I had called the snow that last week when we were all in a mood from fighting with each other last week to try and cheer us up. Back then she pretended she didn't like that name. Apparently she did. After checking on the snow (small flakes but coming down sideways) she said we had to hide in her fire engine and put a blanket on top so no one would know we were in there. Of course - I'm massive (as ascertained last blog entry, by the way) so my entire legs stick out. After a few minutes of hiding my kids went, "to get supplies." They didn't bring water, blankets, freeze-dried MRE food packs, flares and chocolate of soem kind (the most important thing, obviously). Instead they brought these things -:

So in the event of a unexpected blizzard-level snowstorm our supplies were apparently some binoculars, a meat thermometer, a plastic fork, a guitar capo (which I'd lost - so that's a plus), a small handheld mirror, a glow in the dark balloon and a book about process mapping to help improve business performance. Looks like we're more than ready for The Big One there. After awhile my daughter also came back declaring that the Chocolate Chip Chicken had also shown up and we'd have to lock ourselves in there for some time. I suddenly had images of the Brendan Fraser/Christopher Walken bland-but-cute movie Blast From The Past and briefly entertained the prospect that we may be locked in here for 35 years. Which is certainly more pleasant and warming than the Fritzl dungeon.

Needless to say I got out a few minutes later when I began suffering from the joint pain of leg cramp and not enough coffee inside me. Now though I have to suit my son up for today's potential snowpocalypse.

Kratt Attack

Girl cheese.

This morning I went upstairs after my daughter woke up to ie down and calmly wake up. My son usually comes upstairs right after me and that gives me some indication as to how it will go. This morning he sort of moseyed into the room half-arsed. He didn't charge us like a demented monkey. He didn't run in squealing, "HIDE!!" either. Nope - he sauntered in with an evil glint in his eye. This fooled my daughter into not hiding and not preparing herself for a a grunting lunatic to try shoving her out of bed. Which was what I was thinking when he climbed into bed and then went ballistic. But not in the usual way - instead he seemed to be trying to take this opportunity to one of his feet in my eye and then to use the other one to kick off my meat and two-veg. Not sure what I'd done to annoy him (if that was the case) or how he'd come up with it. I'm pretty sure he hasn't seen any Jean-Claude van Damme movies to copy that bizarre ninja-splits thing he tried out.

Needless to say it took me a good five minutes to convince him to stop being aggressive. My daughter had bee mute this whole time and relatively still. Then she I looked at her and she looked back and said cheekily, "I slept with Chris and Martin again." Chris and Martin are the names of two Canadian men who make a kids television show about animals called Wild Kratts. It's a pretty good show and she seems to pick up an awful lot from it. What I hadn't realized was that she'd also picked up the two main male protagonists in the show. Actually over the last week or so she's told everyone who'd listen that it was the birthday of one of the characters from the show. And she was always Chris and Martin. Late last week she woke up with both of them on top of her (she was pretending to be a bed) but it's okay because, "they're both sick." Quite.

Anyhoo I asked her if she was old enough to sleep with Chris and Martin. Her only response was, "aye aye captain." Fair enough. Quickly changing the subject I asked my son what he dreamed about lat night. He tried to show me with movement instead of words by wriggling in my gripped arms (I was still admittedly holding him down somewhat) like a massive captured marlin. My daughter then announced that her brother is "made out of worms." Which immediately reminded me of the nursery rhyme, What Are Little Boys Made Of? I wondered if my daughter knew it and htat not only are girls made out of sugar and spice and all things nice, but that boys are made of slugs and snails and puppy dog's tails. So I asked her what she was made of. Without even blinking she responded, "girl cheese." I didn't think it was prudent to ask what that tastes like. I moved on to quickly ask what boys are made of. She too a few seconds to think about that one. Then she said, "God's blood." She was giving me that look that suggested that she knew that was true and that I should be very impressed. Unfortunately at that point her brother seemed to get a ravenous taste for girl cheese and tried to squash it out of her by jumping on her. After that I couldn't get her back on track to concentrate on it. I might try again later.

Obviously after this the family ritual of weighing ourselves began. My daughter has been enjoying the notion that show can grow over a 30 second period. As in I'll weigh myself (and I'll have to exclaim how impressed I am with my own weight). My son will weigh himself - after getting the error message (a giant E appears on the display) that my daughter says stands for English Evelyn. Then my daughter will weigh herself. Then she'll run off to the bathroom - remove whatever bodily waste she seems to think is weighing her down - and then come running back in to see what she weighs now. She will then obviously sing about how much the urine/poo weighed. Except she doesn't quite get the whole concept and thinks that she has grown heavier and taller since weighing herself the first time. It would be very unseemly if she hadn't been able to form the rhyming song that, "I had a pee and poop and now I weigh more than me and you-oop."

Actually her, "I'm English" spilled over to ridiculous levels last night. She was having some kind of snippy talking-back problem before bed. Which ended up with me and her mother flat-out telling her that being mean and then saying, "oh - you wouldn't understand because you're not English" is a terrible thing to say. Especially annoying to my wife as an American living in the UK who had often witnessed British people openly being spiteful, smarmy and arseholish only to then defend themselves by saying that as an American she can't recognize sarcasm or subtle humor. So I poorly explained that to my daughter - who then reflexively turned around to her mother and said, "you can't possibly understand because you're just an American." Wrong of the stick there by a long way. After more explaining she shut up about her bloodline superiority except to point out to me (lovingly) that I'm an alien. Both in the sense of a resident alien in the US and secretly a superhero alien sent from the Planet Cheesestick to save the World.

Later this morning I also have to do something I am somewhat ashamed to do. I have declared to my household that we are abandoning (actually I actually said, "aborted" which my wife said was overly dramatic) the toilet paper we purchased almost two weeks ago. We still have maybe 10 rolls of it left. But it's useless. It appears to be made using a chemical compound that disintegrates when it comes into contact with a child's anus (in particular). It's not even multi-purposed (I know that's not actually a word but it's the right sense. Besides the spell-check wants me to replace that with "mufti-purpose" which is actually quite fantastic) like the weird tracing paper rolls they had at school when I was a kid. At least you could joke with your school-mates about how the shockingly sharp-pointy edges of the tracing paper poo-roll may accidentally stab your sphincter and you'd have to go home and miss English Literature with the teacher who - despite obvious physical evidence to the contrary - was rumored to only have one boob. Anyway - I can't take it any more and shall be buying something with more substance to it.

Right - time to get some fruit into my kids. Apples and midget-bananas to start. The bananas are devilishly cute by the way (and not red at all). I'm assuming it's just a banana that's tiny. Here, my daughter photoed one while Iw as cleaning up the kitchen this morning  -:

I had attempted to initiate a Princess Bounce and The Tiny Banana story about how we had become all massive, but my daughter gave a dirty look and told me I wasn't massive at all. "You're not massive. You're English."


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Princess Bounce And The Human Snowball

"Underpants and doughnuts."

That's what my son said when I asked him what he dreamed about last night. At least I think so. He's of an age now where he's supposed to not only start having lucid dreams, but also to be able to recall them sometimes. So I've started asking him what he remembers. In the very least he might make up random nonsense that is funny. Which is what the doughnuts and undies comment sounds like. It sounds ridiculous initially.  But on reflection those are two things that he likes quite a lot. If he's going to dream about anything it's likely to be those two things, Thomas the Tank Engine, pajamas and sitting on people's faces.

My daughter saw a song on a show called Dinosaur Train last week where one of the characters names dinosaurs for every letter of the alphabet. My daughter can't really remember all of them alphabetically - although she can remember a surprisingly large quantity of them. But I figured I'd ask what her favorite dinosaurs were anyway. I was confident she wouldn't plump for the obvious T-Rex. Or for the wasn't-really-ever-a-dinosaur name of Brontosaurus. I would certainly have been shocked if she'd pulled Denver the Last Dinosaur out of the bag. Although checking Wiki (I need to stop that) I did have to laugh that they hilariously describe the entire premise oft that show as Californian teens who taught Denver, "the finer points of skateboarding."  Cracking stuff. Still - she might rub her dinosaur knowledge right into my nose by pointing out the "dinosaur" family on aforementioned Dinosaur Train aren't dinosaurs at all - but are actually pterosaurs, which are reptiles. I've heard this explanation more than once too by the way.

I needn't have worried though as she revealed that her very favorite dinosaur is actually Apple Sauce. Followed closely - as you can imagine - by Tomato Sauce. Which - while linguistically sort-of clever - made me think slightly less of her than I would have done if I hadn't been expecting a lecture on the Cretaceous geological period beforehand.

Oh - my daughter has asked that I show you this too - it's Cowboy Foot and he went with us on vacation.

My son though has gone in wholesale for the simple game of Cheek Squashing. Any parent has surely played this game. It pretty much involves either puffing out your cheeks and daring a child to squash them (at which point you blow as hard as you can into the child's face whilst making a loud farting raspberry noise) or going for the more subtle, "wandering lump" tactic. This more nuanced game involves sticking your tongue into one cheek and presenting it to a child to shove in. Once this is done the lump then wanders over to the other side of your face and dares the child to squash it over there. The chain of events here usually is that my son - giggling like a lunatic - will follow the lump around a la Wackamole. After three or four switches my son will then squash both cheeks ("I've got you now you bastard!!" he will seem to be thinking...) and I'll stick my tongue straight out at him. At which point he'll laugh hysterically. This is a pretty standard game that - in my experience - entertains most children, menopausal women and old people in care homes. Feel free to try it out yourselves.

The other games my kids have gone bonkers for are the classic Pig Hunting and Icicle Munching. Long time readers of this humble blog may remember that Pig Hunting is simply walking around in my back yard way up in the woods.  Except what with this being February we do it full kitted-out in snow clothes and is finished off by sledding down the hill to Woodchip Mountain (whilst screaming - for no apparent reason. This particular hunting activity can now only be completed after we have fully inspected the drip-line of our house for any icicles that may have formed. My son isn't able to hold them after they've been snapped off as of yet - what with the thumb on his mitten being entirely useless at this point. My wife claims to be able to put his mittens on and get his thumb into the right spot. Not me. And not really worth the effort either seeing as he can't grip with mittens on anyway and they'll likely come off after fifteen minutes anyway. So my daughter will select the icicles she wants. I'll hand her hers, give the dog his and then sit with my son's held up to his mouth and they'll all munch on icicles. My daughter genuinely announced last time we did that that she loves tasty icicles so much that she has renamed them Tasticles. Possibly the most dubiously named secret treat we find erect around my home that I can think of.

I'm glad to be home from vacation for two main reasons. The first is so to have a dog around to vacuum up anything I've dropped. Apparently having a living-breathing crumb-sucking beast with you makes you far more careless than normal people without dogs. Because without him to eat it all up you'd assume we eat by throwing our food into the air and hoping to get as much of it into our mouths as possible. The second reason I'm glad to be home is to eat home-cooked food. We had decent food out  but I like my own dinner. We had some Greek thing delivered to our hotel over the weekend as our last big meal and it was a really big let down. Just tasted like a salad with flavorless meat and crap Tzatziki sauce. As we had it sent to our hotel we we're watching out the window for it to arrive. After 45 minutes a black SUV pulled up into a handicapped spot right outside. Cars had been pulling in for the prior 45 minutes and neither of us paid much attention to them. But for no particular reason both my wife and I are certain this must be our Greek food. Nope, just a disabled person. No idea why we both assumed otherwise.

Anyhoo - home-cooked food is what I was pining for. The other night for dinner we had some chick-pea/cauliflower Jalfrezi curry thing. I bought a whole bunch of curry stuff at a grocery store last week and we've steadily plowed through it. I was cautious about buying a whole jar of mango chutney and handing it to my wife without her just spooning the entire thing into her gob. Actually knowing how she feels about mango chutney I wouldn't have been too surprised to found her spooning it in bed either. My daughter announced to us that she was going to "sabotage" her rice. Which apparently just meant flattening it out. The kids didn't care for the curry so much. My wife practically molested it.

Yesterday for dinner though I made a pork roast, roast potatoes and carrots, mustard cream sauce and stufato fava beans. Wonderful stuff. I had employed my daughter as a companion bean peeler (which frankly sounds vulgar even though it isn't remotely) in the hopes she would embrace the whole meal. Nope - she liked, "the chicken" but nothing else. Actually she really wanted to like the beans because she really likes beans and because she'd helped with them. Actually she stopped helping with them after I had asked her to stop telling me they were special English beans and she was way better at peeling them (took nearly 90 minutes to do that) because she knew a special secret English way to do it that a loser like me couldn't possibly understand. We thought that dinner was ace though. First meat we've eaten in ages as well.

Lastly speaking of games my daughter is currently obsessed with a new but very simple one we play outside. It's fairly basic (as they all seem to be). It evolved after playing sledding last week and me unable to control the urge to just deck her at one point. She thought it was somewhat funny after I'd done that but wasn't entirely sure that I hadn't just simply lost the plot and had set upon her like a deranged wolf. So to save myself I loudly bellowed that we were in the middle of the Adventures of Princess Bounce and The Human Snowball! For the next half an hour she would then run at me full-pelt and leap into me. I would then have to try and catch her and roll dramatically along in the snow chanting like a wrestling announcer that we had become The Human Snowball. She then incorporated her brother (I'm sorry - I obviously mean Dr. Bonk) into it and he bounded into my arms as well.She carefully explained that no-really knows why when Princess Bounce, Dr. Bonk and Captain Cheesestick collide that they become The Human Snowball - but that it definitely cannot be stopped without candy being eaten. Very clever.

Since then she's brought it up frequently - mostly when we aren't even outside and normally in bed in the morning. I'll be trying to calmly lie around with them steadily waking up only for her to very enthusiastically yell, 'Oh no!! Here comes The Human Snowball!!" And then she and her brother will jump on me. At some point she did remember that her mother was also tenuously involved in the Captain Cheesestick franchise and tried to remember her superhero name. I seem to remember it was the very very naff Super Lady. Which just sounds like one of the worst superheroes of all time. As in an ordinary woman accidentally swallowed radioactive polonium-210  but instead of succumbing and dying she just became very very female. No flying or superhuman strength. No - Super Lady simply obsesses endlessly about curtain/carpet color combinations and menstruates exceedingly heavily for 14 days a month (I realize - by the way - that my definition of "very female" probably doesn't show me in a very good light there).

Anyway the point here is that we played this game around other people this weekend. It's always fun and cute to us. I often think that if I had any illustration ability (and I have zilch on that score) then it could be a very entertaining cartoon/comic book. But just audibly uttered out loud around other people we just all sound mental. Especially when my daughter stands atop a mound of snow and yells, "Put that icicle down Captain Cheesestick! Princess Bounce is here to save the day!!" And then charges me like a rabid bighorn sheep leading to us dramatically rolling fifteen feet around in a geometric circle whilst I loudly yell like a carnival baker, "THE HUMAN SNOWBALL!!" Although it was fun when I went inside and my daughter insisted  other people completely oblivious to Princess Bounce be as enthusiastic and they felt very uncomfortable with that level of silliness as we are.

Right - time to clean that kitchen. If only I had super powers to do that.

Lion Bar In The Pool

I know what a lot of you are wondering. "Was there really a poo in your swimming pool?"

First off - my family enjoyed our mini-vacation. The kids had a fantastic time at the Museum of Play in Rochester, NY - which was the narrowly focused point of it all. We went there over two days - a Friday and Saturday - and just followed them around as they played around with everything. On the Friday the museum was insanely busy so we took the advice of a friend and headed right to the back of the whole place and worked our way around from there. We ended up leaving in the mid-afternoon when my son ran out of gas and it was simply impossible for the kids to do anything else without having to wait for the unwashed masses to get out of the way first. Oddly on the Saturday there was nary a soul there. For those of you who have been there this will make sense - it was so quiet on Saturday that the only people in the play Wegmans grocery store was us. Even though it was very busy on the Friday I would recommend it to anyone in the area as a place to take your kids wholeheartedly.

The hotel itself was nice. I won't bore you with details about or reasons for getting a suite, or a review of the breakfast (actually quick one - it was very good) but I'll dive right in, as it were, to the pool. Outside of the museum one of the things we really intended to enjoy was just being somewhere else that had a pool and a hot tub. It was very nice on the Thursday. Clean, warm and lots of towels. Not only that but there was no-one else in there. It was as if everyone had been scared off somehow. We hung around in there for a good hour swimming around and then enjoying the hot-tub uninterrupted. Early Friday my daughter and I rushed down and met another family down there who had similar aspirations - except they intended to spend all of their time just sitting around in the pool. The pool was on our way down to breakfast and out to the lobby and each and every time I went past there they were - swimming alone in the pool. I'm guessing they were trying to achieve some sort of endurance challenge based upon the way the Dad kept challenging his kids (the boy was maybe 9 and the girl around 12, I'd say) to various activities - only to then not assuage them in any way with the hope that they could beat him in those challenges. He was the Competitive Dad from the Fast Show in that sense in every regard. Very nice though.

Friday morning I learned two things. Firstly I learned that three feet and six inches is the drowning point for my daughter in a pool or hot tub. She was quite eager to show me repeatedly how if she stood on the marker line for this depth that the only thing sticking out of the water was her mouth protruding up like she was trying to blow a vuvuzela. Except really everything above her chin was up out of the water and her spacial awareness was all to cack that she seemed to genuinely believe only her mouth was sticking out. I'm glad no-one else was there to see her gurning in the water - her cross-eyed duck-mouth face protruding upwards while she made some odd harpooned-whale noise to show me how she can swim in water that deep, "because I'm English."

The second thing I learned is that even though I thought I was an efficient bathroom user that apparently there are others who are at least expected to be as quick as I am. I learned this by observing the dad of the other swimming family waiting about 10 seconds after his daughter went into the bathroom before going over and banging on the door and loudly asking what she was doing in there. So either she had taken an abnormally long length of time comparatively to her usual charted times (and they did seem the kind of family that would keep some sort of shitting time-chart as well) or he was just overtly curious as to what she was doing in there. I really do mean it was ten seconds as well. He gave her such a short amount of time to go do whatever was needed doing that it actually frightened me to think how quick the whole family actually is when on the ball.

Friday night was a whole other story. We sauntered down to the pool after dinner. The pool water was oddly cold. In Biblical times that would have been a sign of some sort - a harbinger of bad times and evil about to occur. Still, we got in the water and tried to endure. At least I did with my son - my wife and daughter buggered off to the hot-tub for a pre-swim warm-up. While they walked over to that around twenty people in one group all showed up. The only real way I an describe them is like a feral band of hyenas. They swarmed the whole place with little regard for us. Which in one sense is fine - they weren't doing anything wrong per se. They just crossed a whole bunch of social boundaries and seemed to have no grasping whatsoever about personal space or decorum. As in they sat on my clothes on the chair I was using by the side of the pool and nicked my towel. Then they kept bashing aggressively into my son and I and in the water. It's a little pool that you can't really swim in like a lane-pool. It's more of a dipping and relaxing thing. But nope - they came in and just started bombing in and out of it as if they were actually trying to displace the water out of it in the most violent way they could think of. One of the teenage boys then complimented me by saying, "you have awesome hair!" Which was nice - but slightly unnerving as I have very normal hair. A good bunch of them started splashing us (as in stood a foot in front of us and tried to soak us continuously until we couldn't see anymore) and laughing away and then oddly started grabbing at us when bashing past or to get us to join in with their game. Which was apparently an attempt to drown at least three member of their party before the pool was emptied.

At this point the third of the group who didn't have bathing suits on just figured that they'd get in the pool and hot tub as well. So my wife was now in a hot tub with around 4 or 5 other people making it socially cramped to be that close to strangers. But even more so as the largest woman in there didn't have a bathing suit but rather a white tank top that was now practically invisible. Being friendly enough she chatted away to my wife and daughter completely uninterested in the fact that her ample bosom and seemingly somehow bigger nipples (I swear she must have taped two wagon wheels to her chest) were bobbing and swaying about 12 inches in front of my wife. For my part I was stood in the pool wondering why the young girls of the party had decided to just walk into the pool fully clothed. Three of them just got in and - like the older woman in the hot-tub - expressed not one concern about the absolute transparency of what they were wearing. My son had had enough by this point and wanted out. At least he hadn't until one of the full-clothed girls noticed us and tapped him on the back and asked," is he yours?" On its face that's a pretty innocent question. But considering we were the only other people there and I am clearly old enough to have kids it was a bit odd. Especially as she had tapped him on the back as if she was asking him and not me. So I did that very English thing initially of trying to excuse myself from the a pool filled with convulsing hyperactive kids (young teens mostly) and practically naked young women without it seeming as if I was being rude. Then I thought bugger it and just got out, rescued my clothes and door-key from underneath the oldest man there and we all left. I wouldn't call their behavior wrong but much more-so rude. Although I would think there is some sort of hotel guideline to not go into the pool in denim and whilst wearing sneakers. I'd certainly think there was a decency rule that stated that if other patrons can actually see your pubic hair then you're probably wearing the wrong outfit.

Early Saturday morning my daughter and I rushed down to get some pool time in before the hyenas showed up. We figured they'd be later risers than us. The pool was deserted. It was also an absolute frikking shambles. Whatever state it had been in when the feral family had left - it was still now in. It was as if they had all left very quickly for some reason. Towels were everywhere. Oddly there were clothes from a variety of people just left around the room. In the hot-tub were a few towels, a white shirt (though not Wagon Wheel's) and a shoe. The pool had a similar look. Except there was only one towel, the other shoe, a pair of jean-shorts and lots of general detritus floating about. I cleaned all that stuff out and then climbed in. It was too cold for my daughter thankfully - because after a few seconds I noticed this :

That might not be the greatest picture but I'm sure you get the sense of it. My initial thought was that it simply couldn't be a turd. That's too cliche surely? It's a Brittas Empire storyline for one. But I was positive it hadn't been there previously. It wasn't just a suspicious stain. At this point I did the inexplicable silliness that people do in every hackneyed horror movie - I moved toward the strange object to check it out. When I was about a foot and a half away I waved my foot toward it hoping that the underwater wave would move it. Uh oh - it seemed to move as one. My wife had arrived at this point and was clearly in a state of shock at the mess of the place. She articulated the first point that was - why close the pool if no-one is actually going to clean it up? Then I waved her toward the shape. She looked at me with the, "that can't be a poo - that's just ridiculous." She then articulated that it was probably just collected dirt in one spot. Sounded like wishful thinking to me. My daughter was now knee deep in the water now but still too cold to get in. So we persuaded her out of it and we all rushed upstairs for a very vigorous shower. Very vigorous.

I came back down afterwards to mention it to the front desk. On my way past the pool I met Competitive Dad. He mentioned that he'd already complained to the front desk (he's a big muscular fella too so clearly isn't one to be messed with) and they'd fobbed him off and just told him not to go in there. So I didn't bother. I thought about trying to use a loud posh English voice to frighten them (I read Hugh Laurie once saying that he could put the absolute terror into Americans before he became famous over here on the show House simply by being very very posh and loud) but decided it wasn't worth it.

The good news about this is that my daughter has happily summed up her vacation to anyone listening as being excellent, except for the fact that some had left a poo in the pool. Sometimes she just comes out and says that. Sometimes she teases people into the story by actually saying, "but we couldn't go swimming again because there was, a special delivery in the water," then waiting for them to try and decipher that before plowing on by telling them someone had crapped in the pool. That's how she explained it to her in-laws and cousins anyway. And she went to school yesterday where she evidently told everyone else there too that her swimming excitement had been cut short by the swine who dropped a Lion Bar in the pool.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Foolish Fish

"Would you like some foolish fish Daddy?"

I'm lying in bed this morning while my kids wake up properly when my daughter says, "you smell a lot better than me Daddy! You smell like a washing machine!" Intrigued I asked her what she thought she smelled like. "I smell like a peregrine falcon!" So according to a website I checked (amusingly it was the Ohio state FAQ on peregrine falcons) she smells like a dead pigeon that a falcon is eating. I got up quickly after that when my daughter genuinely used the phrase, "do a fight" when I asked her what she was tying to do by shoving her head into me.

We're off on a mini-vacation today until Saturday afternoon. Pretty much we've booked a hotel across the state (back towards western NY where we used to live until we moved back to England 6 years ago or so) so we can behave like we're somewhere else entirely. As far as my kids are concerned it'll be the same vacation as if we'd ensconced off to the west coast or down south. We'll be going to a kids museum (a darn good one at that), seeing some old friends and taking a breather. My wife could do with it, that's for sure. I'm hoping she doesn't just nap for most of it. I've promised to take my daughter swimming at least once. Obviously she'll swim - I'll flail about when I realize that I'm deeper than I'm comfortable with. I have such little ability to swim that when my son - not quite two years old yet - is invited to these sorts of things then I want nothing to do with it. I can't be trusted to keep other people from drowning.

Anyhoo - we're staying in one of those hotels that has a kitchen in it as well. Actually we're behaving like giddy nerds at the notion we can go to a decent grocery store that we used to shop at and buy stuff to eat, take it back to the hotel and cook it. Living the life, man. So for the trip I went down the street and bought some car-snacks. Basically some cooked sausage and a few treats for my wife to pretend are for her and the kids. My daughter insisted that the Swedish Fish I'd bought are actually foolish fish. Obviously she explained that, "foolish fish" is the English name for whatever ridiculous name I just claimed these candies are called.

Actually after blathering on yesterday about kids on leashes and rigging your teenager with a tracking device I had a few people message me elsewhere that I'll change my tune. They hadn't read what I'd written here - but rather commented on something I'd written on a parenting forum somewhere else. Pretty much I posted the Youtube video and made a comment that it seemed overprotective and prevents actual learning about listening, rules and all the good things about not being staked to another moving object that. This inevitably led to defending the, "protecting kids at any cost" arguments for all the other guff that I mentioned. They gave me the mocking, "oh you'll see...." tone. As in one day I'll find out that my kids are downloading alcohol and smoking porn or whatever, and I'll fit them with hardware to only allow approved foods and fluids into approved orifices. I was given sage advice on how I'll not only go this route somewhat, but that the sanctuary of the kids' bedrooms will become a problem in and of itself. As in - I'll convince myself that if they're in there then they'll be shielded from it all and unable to desperately try and rub themselves in all the filth that teenagers seem to want to rub themselves in. There was some comment about it not being just a case of questioning them having a TV in their room - because in 10 years phones will be so advanced that there will be nothing I can do as a parent to prevent them from the absolute mayhem of it all (leading to an hilarious diatribe about webcams being more dangerous than weed). All of which stemmed from me saying I thought kids on leashes is weird.

First off - balls. No amount of waffling on is going to convince me to literally tie a dog-leash to my kids. Secondly - a television in their room? That's where you went wrong. Thirdly - I don't know anything. Why argue with me? Parent the way you want and leave me to mock you for it if I think it's weird.

I ended up being asked to justify how I could justify letting my kids run into traffic or have sex with boys when they're fifteen years old. All I'm saying is if you think that your kid is going to have unprotected sex at fifteen because you didn't check their email (presumably the one with the subject line: My Mom Is Never Going To Know We Are Going To Have All That Sexiness Tonight) then you're deluded. Acting like the home-version of a TSA agent isn't actually going to do anything in my mind. Instead it seems like every bit the overreaction as telling some grandmother you've just fondled in an airport that she can't bring the snow-globe on the plane that she bought for Christmas because it may be a weapon. By the way - the only time that is appropriate is if you actually work for the TSA. Mind you people donning a yellow work-vest and fondling grannies at JFK sounds like the sort of thing the Today show tries to scare the shit out of Americans with every morning.

Look - I get that you want to protect your children. And I get the logic behind watching them in case they get hurt somehow. But seriously - there is absolutely no link between your four year old being unruly in a grocery store (therefore you needing a leash) and software that checks keystrokes on a computer in order to stop your kid from being abducted. None. That's not the same thing at all. Because if there was you be damn sure that the people who sell those kid-leashes would stick right in the commercial that their product is a great way to prevent kidnapping. They'd have some silly statistic they made up wherein their leash, "reduces unwanted rapings by 400%!" (presumably verified by Liz Trotta of Fox News.) I know this because most of the Internet child-safety websites that I checked through (like this one) have cut-and-pasted entire paragraphs from the The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. As in they took very useful and altruistic text en masse from a website about the tragedy of missing and abused kids and applied it wholesale to suggest that if your teens use the Internet without total supervision then they are in very serious danger of, "abduction, endangerment, and sexual exploitation."

I recently read a book by Steven Pinker (Harvard Psychologist) called The Better Angels Of Our Nature. It's a fantastic book. In which he writes a great part about how so much fear is exploited (generally by fluff-media) to sell a product in spite of how far-less dangerous the world really is. Pages 441 -447 pretty much cover the total unlikeihood statistically that your child will be whisked off. It reads, "[T]he annual number of abductions by strangers has ranged from 200 to 300 in the 1990s to about 100 today, half of whom are murdered. … The writer Warwick Cairns has calculated that if you wanted your child to be kidnapped and held overnight by a stranger, you’d have to leave the child outside and unattended for 750,000 years.”

Speaking of which my son has been upstairs hitting things for the last twenty minutes.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Princess Bounce And Tooting Karmoon

Yes that really is as cheap and childish as it reads. My daughter is home today. I was wandering about the house with my headphones in - stand-up on so I could hear both the talking and the kids - and doing laundry. Then I heard my daughter running through some crazy story about how Princess Bounce needed to take photos of a man farting so that she could arrest him for "being criminal."and prove to the world that he was the reason that, "there's a weird smell."

Obviously I obliged in the role of world-famous Egyptian chuffatron - Tooting Karmoon.

Not exactly an Olivier performance, but got the job done. I shall have to pull back from this easy, crass character before this whole enterprise turns into something overtly silly, like a Dav Pilkey plot-line. Except he can draw and I can't.


Walking The Dog

I saw this happening yesterday afternoon.

The kid I saw tethered to his mother was older - maybe 3 to 4 years old. I can't get my head around that. I probably should point out that they were walking around a store. So the Mom was pushing a cart, walking her canine-child and therefore free to not think about what the kid was getting up to. And there was that handy snapping-back of the leash every time the kid was at maximum circumference away from her. Good doggy. I'm presuming that this is a safety thing that caused a parent to buy a synthetic umbilical cord. I get the train of logical thinking behind it - the "safety is the most important thing" process that must have been traveled along to get to this. But it's just otherworldly to me. If you really have no idea what it looks like this is pretty indicative -:

It reminded me actually of someone I used to work with casually telling whoever was listening about their kids at home. They told a cutesy story about how they were sat in the living room casually reading late at night when they glanced down at the night-time video monitor and saw the cat climb out of the kids school bag and onto the bed right onto the child's chest. Other people went, "awww" and the like.  I blanked out. First off - if that kid is in school why do you have a monitor? I get why you might want a monitor for babies. But for a child in school? Unless newly-made shoes are showing up every morning in your kids room, and you're trying to rule out elves having anything to do with it then I'm not understanding why a school child needs monitoring while they sleep. And a night-vision monitor? This is a 6 year old's bedroom - not Helmand province. Are you keeping look-out for insurgents? I can imagine a parent deliberate playing an extra hour of Call of Duty just to improve their ability to spot out-of-the-ordinary movements on night-vision. And no mention of night-vision in the dark can pass by without mentioning Buffalo Bill in Silence of The Lambs. He seems like the kind of person who drags other people around on a leash as well.

Of course my opinion on how you raise your kids is meaningless. Whatever works for you. It's not like I'm right. I remember how people would look at me when I rode the bus with my daughter strapped on my back in an Ergo. I heard the, "he's literally suffocating that child..." whispers. Couldn't care less what was said. Or the horrified look a mother gave me when I handed my son a whole carrot when picking my daughter up at school. They even felt compelled to point out that he may choke to death. Sorry - but not taking advice from a parent who thinks carrots are life-threatening to a two year old but thinks they're being conscientious as a parent because they don't smoke in the house. Almost all the parenting I do in public is immediately questioned by others. Not because I'm flagrantly careless. But because people without kids have absolutely no idea what they're talking about, and other parents reinforce their own parenting choices by deriding others. I still recall listening to one parent I worked with passionately begging another parent to reconsider their choice not to read their own child's emails, text messages and the like. Not out of genuine compassion for the other parent's child - but because they know that lots of people think child monitoring bracelets and software to track keystrokes is a little bit too Enemy Of The State.

I'm not tethering my kids on a leash, putting a GPS chip on them (and not telling them), giving them a cellphone at 8 years of age "for their safety" or watching them through a CCTV camera in their room. I think I can teach them trust and to follow rules appropriately and assume they'll only get up ti as much trouble as I did when I was a kid. My wife will probably interject here that I at least consider also teaching them the responsibility of good old honest farm-work, to take up a vocational college degree and the inherent value of compound interest. Fine. -Although the photo of the kids tied to the mother above makes me wonder if I shouldn't enter myself and my kids into the local harness-racing at the horse-track up the road. We shall have to practice pacing correctly in the driveway while he drags a deadweight behind him until the season begins.

Anyhoo - I should probably let my son back in. I can hear his dog-collar clinking on his empty water bowl. So either he's run out of water or it's frozen due to it being 20 degrees Fahrenheit out. He get's so thirsty when it's this cold!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hygieia Is Reborn

There are decaying testicles dangling from my bedroom ceiling.

Yesterday I took a video of my son goofing around in my bedroom. The original intent was to just photo or video us looking out the window at the sun coming up. But after that I started doing laundry and thought he looked cute pointing at squirrels and goofing around so kept taking the odd picture. Then when I looked back through them and I realized what an utter cackhole the room is. It desperately needs a proper cleaning up. I think I'm going to have a go at that this morning. I've put it off because my kids get antsy and want me to come back downstairs if I'm up there too long doing laundry. Then they come upstairs and decide that bouncing on the bed and making the laundry rain down on them would be a fantastic game. So I usually just go up there in quick short spurts until my daughter is in school and my son is napping.

But other than that - it's also just a horrid room. It's the only room in our entire house that we haven't touched in any way as far renovating goes. Actually we replaced the windows, ripped the heating units off the walls, filled the holes in that they left and built some inner walls to create a laundry room and a hallway of sorts - but the room itself is untouched. The ceiling is still made from those nasty polystyrene ceiling tiles. The walls are still that odd unnatural pink color that deep fried sausages are in chip shops in the UK (the ones that look like a massive scaly-pink scabbed willy). Except it's old and not well cared for, so the walls have pock-marks and clumps notched out of them. The paint is peeling off in places. And the walls themselves are so poorly put together that the seams between the paneling have a good 1/4 inch gap between them. The window frames are scraped off - intentionally to remove the old probably lead-based paint that was on there before. In the video I didn't see my son hiding under the blanket and happy at all - I just saw the mess.

I had put the camera on my dresser originally and tried to take a photo of us doing laundry. But a pomander we had made was in the shot and the angle was all wrong. Pomaders are wonderful, fragrant, delightful things. People should make more of them. But not when they are this old and dried up. So instead all you could see was the sorry-state of the room along with a three year old Christmas decoration that looked like a decaying testicle blocking a shot of my son staring out the window. At least you can't see the other one as well. Actually I'm not doing this justice. Here's a photo.

Oh that's horrendous. Please try and remember how nice the rest of my house looks and put that in context of what an utter dilapidated dump this place was when we bought it. So my only recourse for now is to clean the room properly and be satisfied with that. I probably should get a lot of cleaning done today. It's not just that it's easier to just ignore my son than both my son and daughter. Which it is. But he's entertained just being around me while I clean in weird places (stop imagining whatever it is you think I'm washing right this instant...) and I really don't have any reason to not do it if I can. So in a minute I'll stick on some good music and get cleaning the kitchen, then head upstairs to do the laundry. After that I'll see if my motivation is still intact to try and polish the turd that is that room somewhat. Although knowing me I'll feel all puffed-up and proud that I've washed the dishes and folded laundry and will award myself time to sit down and look at The Institute Of Official Cheer and gag at the insipid photos of food from the 1960s.

So I'll need something to help me stay motivated. I have my coffee. I have some loud music. Maybe there's something else? Quick Internets! Reveal that which I need!

Oh nice imagery there Big Pharma. I don't think today you'd see the stereotypical 60s/70s housewife chained behind her jail-bars of mop, broom and duster. I'm assuming by the language in that ad that this is aimed at the medical industry as opposed to husbands looking to medicate their wives into getting the oven washed and the Meatloaf done. Let's hope anyway. Certainly it's not aimed directly at women who feel imprisoned by their lot in life. Because the slogan, "Got to mop the kitchen floor? Then take a bump before getting down to it." is somewhat questionable. Actually in this country I'm somewhat uncomfortable with the free-and-easy notion that there is a pill for everything. Mind you back home every just gets pissed instead.

Actually that ad reminds me of a commercial I saw as well. It's not even subtle about it either.

Crap. All that's reminded me is that I need to clean the bathroom as well. Bah. Maybe I will (that means I won't - but I'll make myself feel better by pretending that I at least considered it). So to keep me working I've uploaded this to my MP3 player. Let's get to work!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Always At War With Eastasia/Eurasia

This morning I accidentally snorted dishwasher soap.

Before any of you jump the gun - no this isn't me admitting that I have an addiction problem. And no - I wasn't ripped off by a dishonest local coke dealer. It was much more mundane (but infinitely smarter than snorting coke) than that. I was just filling up the dishwasher and over-filled the little tray with powder. That meant that I couldn't close the tiny door on it so had to get down on the floor and try and blow the excess off. But I blew much harder than I intended to and it went up my nose, into my eyes and all over my face. I looked like Bronson Pinchot in that scene in the movie True Romance before the cop busts him for possession. I took this as a sign that I shouldn't betray my Luddite sensibilities and wash them by hand. Except now I can still taste the chemicals in the back of my throat and it's given me a headache. I'm tempted to squirt a jet of water up my nostrils to flush them out. But that has Hospital Visit written all over it. I am bound to injure myself in some horrifying way by doing something like that. And my son has demonstrated already - with my foot injury - that if he were to wander into the kitchen to find my unconscious, bleeding from a head wound and with soap bubbles blubbing out of my nose that he will definitely be able to pretend that he's harpooned a whale and is now riding it (very slowly) around the kitchen floor.

My son hasn't played any different games today either. We played trains more than we usually do. Amusingly though at the time my daughter usually gets her stuff together to go wait for the school bus my son demanded we go out. I told him that - as his sister wasn't here - there wasn't really a good reason to go outside in 20 degree Fahrenheit weather to wait for a school bus that won't be showing up. But then he gave me the, "oh we only do things when the Princess wants to..." look, so I suited him up in snow clothes and we wandered around the back yard for 45 minutes. Which was enjoyable and all, but then he stuck his boots on and started bleating about going to pick his sister up from school at 2.45. I told him again that she isn't here and we don't need to go out. He didn't like that - I'm breaking routine and that's not on. He genuinely seemed - for five minutes - to think that I'd just decided not to bother bringing her home any more. I managed to reign in any urges to just tell him, "yeah - we decided she's to mental for us so I dropped her off at the SPCA last night when you were asleep. We have to have you tested tomorrow to see if you have the rabies as well..." He still is a little puzzled even though I've told him she's up at the grandparent's house. I think I might have to actually Skype them to prove it.

In unrelated events - my wife and I were watching TV (actually the TV was just on as background noise while we ate chips and dip and looked at Food Gawker) last night and there was a scene in a show where a kid was awarded a high school hall pass as a prize. This prompted me to ask what the point of a Hall Monitor is in US schools. My wife looked at me as if I'd just asked if I am the only person who sits facing the tank when they sit down to poo. So I repeated it - asking why a school would need to employ people to police the corridors in case of.....? Actually I couldn't come up with what it was. She then mentioned it was so that nobody would be in the halls who shouldn't be. And that those people that are encountered by the hall monitor have to produce a hall pass and therefore chaos is avoided and thus harmony is maintained. I pointed out that they don't have them in other places. Because it's insane. At my main high-school in the UK it wasn't just one enormous building (like the ultra-prison monstrosities over here) but a collection of large old buildings that kids had to travel between to go to different classes. And if you didn't show up for class without a good reason then you'd get into trouble. It would take about 90 seconds for the teacher to notice you weren't there and another 15 seconds for someone to reveal where you might be. If you ever thought you could get away with this silliness you'd get in some sort of trouble and then just not do it again. And yet here in North America they've created this strange Gestapo system where children have to show their papers to explain why they are wantonly meandering up a school corridor. So I asked my wife why this happened. All she could muster was, "so that people aren't in the halls that shouldn't be...."

I can't get my head around that. Why would there be people there who shouldn't be? I ended up quickly checking Wikipedia (I apolgize for the laziness of that - but this isn't all that important to get better sourcing) to see what they define one as and they use phrases like, "charged with maintaining order," and madness like, "monitors may also be posted to a school's doors in order to prevent unauthorized entry." What!? Children are trying to get into classes that they aren't supposed to be in!?? That can't be happening? Most hilarious though is the claim in that Wikipedia write-up that in the UK, "some secondary schools create prefects from the older students who may carry out some of the same duties." Not at any comprehensive school I've ever heard of. Boarding school maybe - and whatever freak show Harry Potter went to. But at every other school I know kids finished one class and went to another without being tempted to make a run for it past the guards, gun turrets and alligator pit that's been dug to keep kids from chancing it. So in other words - you don't need people parading the halls to, "maintain order" because - well - you just don't need to. And clearly it isn't a prevention thing because (after asking a few Americans and one Canadian) kids did arse about and wander the halls at their schools to stay out of class. I did find a few links to schools that hire security personnel or have taser-wielding monitors - but that doesn't really warrant mentioning in the same way because I looked for it - and the truth of the Internets is, "if you look for it you will find it."

Still - I'm somewhat uncomfortable with this new element of schooling for my kids that I hadn't considered before. It just seems to breed an element of mistrust and heavy-handedness that isn't needed in the first place. Mind you considering the ridiculous quantity of CCTV cameras spattered across the UK a syphilitic-camera ridden Oceania - which also have no intent to prevent anything either - perhaps I'm being unduly over-sensitive here.

Great - my son has now declared that his sister is likely just hiding upstairs and I need to go help look. Time to nip this in the bud.

Fish Nipple Dies In The Snow

"Yeah - well you're a unicorn's bum-cheek."

My daughter called me Cheese Muff for much of yesterday morning. Serves me right. She likes playing a game where I combine two words that have no relationship and tell her she is one of them. It's extremely juvenile and bound to land her in trouble at some point. Basically we have a back and forth where I'll loudly mock her with, "Yeah!? Well - you're a horse-sandwich" and she'll come back with, "and you're a fish nipple." In the end she landed on cheese muff and though it was so amusing that she started singing/taunting me at the grocery store.

Actually my daughter isn't here right now. She's up at the in-laws until Wednesday. Which works out well as she's off school all week, the in-laws leave on their annual southern-pilgrimage in a week, my wife has been working solid 15 hour days for the last three weeks (weekends included), my son needs to catch up on some missed napping over the weekend and I need some sort of reprieve from wall-to-wall single-parenting. My son gets to play games on his own today as well. I'll have to get him to do things that aren't conducive to the possibility of being destroyed by siblings. We'll have to build something and do a little more reading than he normally gets in. Less trains too hopefully.

Speaking of which my son has started referring to Thomas The Tank Engine as, "Tommy." Yesterday morning he came bounding downstairs excitedly calling that name out. He didn't seem surprised when he found me down there before him either - so I know he wasn't coming down looking for a boyfriend with that name.  I told a friend this yesterday and he excitedly suggested that maybe my son is a big The Who fan. I think he's only seen one performance on TV - and that was the embarrassing Superbowl performance from the other year. And I don't think I've played The Who in years to listen too. At the very least I'm hoping my son isn't getting up early in the morning hoping to get some private time online looking up pictures of Pete Townshend as a kid. "For research purposes," obviously.

On Saturday morning I also learned that if I was seriously injured my kids would be of no help to me at all. I know this because whilst chasing my son from the kitchen into the living-room I caught my little and the next-to-little toe on the frame bending them back completely the wrong way. It was one of those injuries where my body actually made an audible noise to announce that it was breaking. Good heavens it hurt. I collapsed onto the living room floor so that I could concentrate on not letting the pain completely wash over me. I didn't do so well and tried growling/muffled screaming through the sharp pain. My son thought I was pretending to be a bear and rode me for a good four or five minutes. My daughter surely must have seen (and definitely heard) that something was wrong - and yet still managed to bend down to make eye contact with me to ask if she could have something to eat. The two minutes that I had originally planned to lie on the ground slowly turned into almost quarter of an hour because it genuinely hurt that much. Obviously my first concern was for my country. I knew that I may have hurt myself to such a degree that I may have to rule myself out of Euro 2012. My second thought was that I needed to remember where my phone was in case I had to call my wife and tell her to come home. Then I vainly attempted to explain to my kids that I had actually hurt myself.

As soon as I had finished explaining myself (and getting absolutely no response from my kids that suggested they understood or were concerned) I watched my son dragging a blanket across the room towards me. You might think that's sweet and a genuine display of affection. It isn't anything of the sort. What he was doing was attempting to cover me up so that he could then run at me from across the room and jump onto me - or "Plaid Mountain" as I'd styled myself once - without me seeing what he was doing. I tried to convince him that now isn't a good time for playing that game. Which he took to mean that he should just beat me with a bean bag and then drive a toy airplane up and down my body. My daughter is perfectly capable of understanding what I meant when I told her I was hurt and she needed to give me a minute. After a minute (which she had timed to hold me to it - but also note that she thinks a minute is the same as counting to five) she started complaining that I hadn't gone to get her the potato chips I'd promised. And then she started asking me why I wasn't helping her play a game. I did answer her - which she ran through some kind of translator which came up with "because Daddy is lazy and selfish and wants you to be sad." She even moaned at one point saying, "Daddy why are you sleeping?" Sleeping! This went on until I finally got up. Twenty minutes later when I was hobbling painfully around my daughter tried to reminisce - with a real sense of melancholic drama - about that time when she wanted potato chips and to play a game, but Daddy lay on the ground like a hippo giving birth and, "talking." All I can say is it's a good job I didn't fall down outside or they'd have buried me in the snow and left me there to freeze. No doubt I would have heard my daughter yelling from the kitchen window - after eventually taking her brother inside when it started to get dark - about how I should get off my fat arse and come inside to make that hot chocolate that I promised her I'd make.

Actually speaking of snow - we finally had a quick burst of the stuff Saturday and there was just enough to make a real-sized snowman. I needed to show my son that they aren't supposed to be 6 inches tall so made a big one. Which he and his sister immediately destroyed. I then realized that he thinks that's what they are for. You build them - and then immediately you must destroy before they anthropomorphize and somehow take on the essence of life. Fortunately I caught the first destruction video.

I also caught this marvelous piece of sibling rivalry. My daughter calmly formed a nice fat snowball to chuck at me. But then I noticed - so she had to find someone else to pelt with it. Which she did.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

He Must Be Destroyed

What follows here is a photographic account of my son and I yesterday, "doing battle." I put that in quotes because that's what I kept saying to my daughter (as in - "I can't right now - we are doing battle...")during the whole thing when she kept asking me to help her learn something. Like that's important at all. If you're squeamish you may need to have another person present to support you while you read this. And please - try not to swoon.

My son first began our showdown by using his legendary ability to blend into the scenery. Obviously at the time I was just firing off photographs in the vain hope I could find him. Little did I know he was hiding in plain sight...

Suddenly from out of nowhere came his infamous Death Charge. I knew I had to think quickly.

So I scooped him up and attempt to crush the life out of him like a python-bear-mutant-beast crushing it's prey.

Soon we were grappling like two virile adult Congolese silverback gorillas looking to challenge for dominance of the herd (I realize that extrapolating this analogy out to my own family is quite disturbing - but for some reason I did think of the pure, raw animal rage of a gorilla when I saw myself....).

When the Legend will be written they will talk of the Man With The Fire In His Mouth.Although in the Legend the living-room we fought in won't have as many socks and shoes chucked all over the carpet - and I definitely will not have had to take a minute to recover from standing on that tractor.

Somehow he managed to wriggle free. Naturally he again attempted to hide in plain sight whilst I tried to draw him out by twitching like an absolute pillock.Yes - he is hiding behind a small handheld mirror.

After he was flushed out into the open I demonstrated my manliness by running through a pretty decent performance of the Maori war dance - The Haka.

After which I did this. I know what you're thinking - "was there any tearing." No - surprisingly my clothing and my scrotum remain intact. 

Obviously this photo shouldn't be here. It's completely out of sequence. But I put it here simply to ask out loud - what exactly am I doing with my finger? And why is my son casually watching?

From out of nowhere my son pounced. According to this photo he must have been hiding on the top of that bookcase.

But my cat-like reflexes (obviously I'm referring to a big scary cat here - like one of the Thundercats - and not the sad, wimpish, eccentric effete cat we used to own that would bring plums home that it had "caught") allowed me to react like lightning. No sooner had he launched at me that I caught him and quickly tossed him off. I should definitely rewrite that if I want any chance of Google not sending evil freaks this way.

Before he could regain his footing I pounced! You should have seen the surprise on his face....

And he was crushed. After which he was banished to The Phantom Zone like General Zod was in Superman in that weird pentagonal thing that flipped through space. Or - in this case - he hid under the trampoline where he found a bit of dog treat and tried to eat it without me noticing.

Friday, February 17, 2012

View From A Mentalist: February 17, 2012

So I coerced my daughter into more photography. I noticed that she's completely avoiding the television or taking photo-essays of parts of her body traveling around the house. Now she just takes six photos of everything that takes her fancy - and loads of books. I don't even look at the book ones now. Anyhoo - here goes. 

First up - some Bath Bombs. My wife brought home these for the kids when she came home from her out-of-town work last week. You chuck in the bathtub that fizz and turn the water whatever color they are. I put bubble bath in too and then it's this insane cocktail of purple-laced bubbles and indigo-water. And not that I expect my son to sully his fine reputation, but there's no way I'm chucking these in if he hasn't proven he's completely empty. Why? Because there's a brown one of these.

This is also a gift my daughter got from that last trip. It's a pen with a light. It satisfies her once-a-week desire to hide in a cupboard alone for half an hour with a strobe light and pretend to be a doctor. I've peeked - that is what she's doing. She has a doctor's kit in there and will either talk to herself or will "treat" her brother - also attracted to the fluorescence.

This is the only photo that came out of one of the Valentine's cards my kids got this year. This one seems kind of cheeky. My daughter said the bug is hiding in case her brother bites it. Sounds fair.

Oh classy. If you really can't figure this out it's a closeup photo of a twenty-pack of toilet paper. My daughter didn't say anything interesting about this. But every time I see unwrapped toilet paper it reminds me of when I was at college and me and my friends wandered into a Spar store in Swansea in the UK. I can't remember why I was there, but we bumped into another friend of ours who was trying to flirt with the cashier. Except that the only item that he was buying was a single toilet roll. Quite clearly he had been at home and needed poo - realized he had run out of paper - and gone to the store. My friend Marcus then advised him very loudly, "you should probably have the shit first before you try and shag her." Classy.

I didn't even know she'd taken this one. I'd finished brushing my teeth and she was wandering around in the bathroom photographing books.

This would be the book. Obviously it's a pop-up book and this is the climactic end-page. I don't think this book has been read by either of my children without them having just urinated or defecated.

This is the Valentines Mailbox my daughter made at school out of a used tissue box. It's her favorite color. This is what was filled with strangely immoral cards from other kids stating vague romantic feelings, or were just cards that have absolutely no relationship to Valentines Day at all. Such as the 3 cards with a picture of a Power Ranger on them and then the words, "Valentines Day." Not even making an effort to market crap to kids there.

My daughter has neatly captured the absolute mayhem of the Thomas the Tank Engine books right here. Except when I just asked her what' going on she said that Thomas is trying to get that man's lollipop.

Something to remain burned into your cornea all day long. I made a gluten free from this NPR thing about gluten-free baking.They made a nice looking cookie. I made a congealed cookie tray covered in one massive wet slurry of deliciousness. So I emptied it into a bowl and it formed a massive edible ball of gunk that looks like it's already been eaten by a few people a few times. It is freaking delicious though.

See - now you're hungry.


"Maybe when I get a beard I can teach you some things Daddy."

My daughter often surprises me. Lately it's the random stuff that she says that is factually accurate and - I had assumed - was above her capacity to understand. For example after her mother left for work at 6am, and I "hid" in the bedroom by turning the lights off so it was dark, she gloated that my attempts to hide were futile because she'll just use echolocation to find me. Apparently she mentioned it - with details on how bats use it to navigate - to both my wife and her teacher as well. The teacher also mentioned that she burst forth into some diatribe about how one of the other kids thinks something is stink because tiny particles - possibly chemicals - from whatever it was that was stinky (I believe it was one of the other kids..) travel through the air and then land on smell receptors in your nose. And that some animals smell with their tongue - but that it was unlikely the nasally-offended child was using their tongue to smell unless they were secretly a snake.

Randomly over breakfast this morning she also mentioned that the earth is rotating - but it's going too fast for me to feel it - and that the Sun is also rotating hence why it is almost daytime. She then attempted to explain that the Earth also tilts which would explain why it's going to be Spring soon as well. Her brother - desperate not to be outdone - showed me how he can squish his breakfast into his eyebrows. He won't be getting Nutella tomorrow. After I cleaned him up my daughter mentioned that her music teacher was explaining something about a musical instrument that she didn't know. The way she talked about it was as someone who was surprised and thrilled by the completely new avenue of knowledge. She had determined that he knew a lot about music because he had a beard. She's probably been watching too many videos of the band Clutch with me on Youtube. Then she wondered out loud if maybe she might get a beard when she's older than she can teach music stuff to me. I didn't feel like explaining that to her. I need her to go back to school and start saying she is planning on growing a beard.

My son actually is almost debilitated by his daintiness. He absolutely cannot continue to eat something if it leaks, drips, crumbles apart or leaves a residue on him or the surfaces around him. It is infuriating to watch him struggle anxiously to figure out what to do and then to always choose to beg me amidst oncoming tears to clean it up. All he has to do is drip a tiny minute droplet of milk (for example) and he's completely wracked with anguish and shame like Bill Murray in What About Bob? Last night I went for the old fashioned British Grandpa Made Dinner and we had some beans, a fried-egg and french fries for dinner. Within a few seconds of him jabbing his fork into the egg he got a little yolk on his finger. I promised myself that I wouldn't support his neurosis at all so tried to ignore him whelping about how he can't eat now until the egg is removed. But he ended up on the verge of tears. The same kind his sister does when I burst her balloon - where they lock their mouths wide-open like a snake trying to swallow a mouse.

I know this and yet like a fool this morning I gave him some chocolate in the car. The three of us had gone out to celebrate some good news about my wife (work stuff) by buying Creme Eggs - amongst some other stuff. I had picked up a tray of those cute tiny ones and handed him an unwrapped one. He bit the tip off it and looked inside at the goo. So I concentrated on rocking out to mix-compilation of cheesy 80s and 90s music I'd uploaded to my MP3 player, (Deee-lite's song, Groove Is In The Heart being the primary offending tune).   Five minutes later I heard the anguished squeals behind me. He was still sat there holding the egg up to look inside it. Some of the goo had leaked onto his finger. Hence he had been paralyzed initially by the realization that some of the eggy-bit was touching him. Now - five minutes later - he was still clenched motionless wracked by the absolute horror and shame of it all. I gently told him to just lick it. This made him cry out, "noooo!" I then frustrated explained to him that he was going to eat it anyway so it was ridiculous for him to be incapacitated like this. He didn't buy it. Then I could see the thing that was distressing him even further. He had now been holding onto the egg for so long that it was now melting and his thumb and finger were stuck together in a chocolate glue. He had trapped himself in a perpetuating crisis that steadily became more troubling by the minutes. His behavior suggested that he actually thought he might not make it home alive. He was stuck in what I would describe (as did the minister who officiated our wedding when explaining what my wife and I had to look forward to) as a, "spiral of death and decay." I ended up having to pull over to deal with it. Annoyingly - as many parents can attest to I'm sure - the packet of wet-wipes I keep in the car had frozen into a useless solid block. I figured I'd sacrifice his spare underpants I keep in there too and wiped his hands with them. Nope - he didn't think they were clean enough. He could presumably feel the filth under his nails. So my only recourse was to take his melted egg and lick his hand clean. Which is slightly icky to me and was even more troubling to the twenty or so people all walking around the gas station parking lot I had quickly pulled into. He better get over this problem because it is driving the pair of us insane.

Anyhoo - I haven't posted this video here from yesterday. My son had been asking to dance in the kitchen and film it. It was a complete ruse for him to play with the camera though. When I confronted him he gave me the evil eye and legged it off around the house. I did chase him though and I can assure you that after I got him I tickled him thoroughly.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Cujo Says Go Away

Daughter: Daddy - whine, whine, moan, whine, complain.

This morning I was lying in bed with my kids after my daughter woke up and they're fighting over who will lie next to me. Which is absurd seeing as they could just lie either side of me. But no - apparently my left side is the preferred place for them both to lie down. Then my daughter - after seeing it was annoying me for them to fight - says, "I know Daddy! We should cut a hole in you and then we could both get inside you!" Sounds like a top notch idea. And is eerily similar to my wife years back trying to express affection for me by saying a very similar thing. Perhaps it's hereditary.

After this confession of wanting to commit serious bodily harm my daughter said she wanted to lie in the window and watch the sun come up. Well - she more likely repeated what I usually say in the mornings when I'm sore from being jumped on. Whilst lying gazing out the window I remarked how the snow was pretty much all gone and that it was raining but still below freezing. I was supposed to just say it was sleet - but came out with that. I could see the wheels whirling in her brain. Then she said, "That's because there's a rain cloud and snow cloud stuck together. They were probably kissing - that's how things get stuck together. Wet snow like that is very sticky." Apparently I've been spending too much time listening to my wife's persistent neuroses about the idea her is just about to shack up with some strange boy. I say this because I was instantly reminded of the Valentine school party we attended - at which my daughter opened a card from the boy next to her. In an attempt to get everyone talking to everyone i mentioned to my daughter that she could show the boy what she had got. She quickly answered, "Yeah! I could show him my room!" Steady on dear.

For a large part of today my daughter has been continuing her annoying trend of exaggerating how much her brother is hurting her. As in she will wrestle him to the ground, chase him and knock him over, push him off the couch - all of it playfully. But then she'll be done and he'll be within five feet of her and she'll dive dramatically like Rivaldo at the World Cup.I have had about enough of this now - she just cannot accept that I know she's makign it up. So I tried to explain to her that whatever she is trying to articulate is wrong - because if it hurts then she needs to go to the doctor. Finally she seemed to mellow out after really liking my point that she is helping me keep the rules too - so she is also in charge of making sure her brother doesn't hit, grab and all that stuff he wants to do - but definitely isn't right now you big fat liar. Annoyingly as soon as she signaled that she liked her new role her brother started channeling Cujo - charging at her growling and trying to squash his face into her for some unknown reason. Which led to me having to have another weird patronizing conversation with him about rules, hitting and killing the local sheriff when he comes to the Camber's house.

My son though has been doing something else amusing. Well - to me at least. His sister has started sometimes complaining that she doesn't have privacy when she's in the bathroom. She won't close the door though. And if I'm in there no doubt she'll wander in and try and hug me or something else gross like that. She came in with Nutella smeared all over her face the other day making kissing faces which bothered me greatly. Anyhoo - my son will - probably every third time - wave me to get out of the bathroom so he can get on with business. Obviously I filmed it. No wobbly bit or emissions thankfully though.

The Valentine thing at my daughter's school the other day was cute. Although parents and 4 year olds giving out romantic cards to one another with, "You're a real catch!" on them is still unsettling. I did mention to a few Mom's in the school hallway that Valentines Day in the UK is effectively a means for people to tell other people they want to have sex with them. Hence why when I worked at a paper-shop in the UK years back we sold a Valentines Day Pack that included a chocolate, a card and a four pack of lager. The only thing not included was a condom, a balaclava and a chloroform-soaked handkerchief. You know - romantic. Therefore the whole thing makes me a little queasy.

Anyway - the kids all dressed in red for the day. At school they decorated a tissue box and then they all picked up cards they'd made for each other randomly. They had a party at the school which parents and grandparents could come to. The kids sang a few songs, played a game, shared the Valentines stuff and then ate the most frightening ice cream sundae you can imagine. Don't believe me?

Yeah - M&Ms, love heart candies, marshmallows, jelly beans, pimentos, sprinkles, chocolate chips and all sorts of other crap. And this was before the teacher helpfully drowned it in whipped cream. And at 3pm too so that it can interfere with dinner in the best possible way.

Actually this whole week the kids get to dress up in different theme items each day. Today is a pajama day. I'm not saying the principal wants to see all the female teachers in PJ's - but it is only 6 days since the last time they had a Wear-Your-PJs-To-School-Day. Yesterday was a day where the kids were supposed to dress like someone else. It was termed as Twin Day or some such thing - but the rules were very vague. It wasn't clear if the kids were supposed to dress as each other or as other notable figures. I figured it was best not to risk at and pick something safe. I can only imagine the uncomfortable questions we would all receive if - when asked - my daughter announced, "I'm dressed as John Wilkes Booth!" I actually had no idea who to dress her as - and she kept saying she was going to dress as her brother. And seeing as he's much smaller than her doesn't logistically work. But then fortune would have it that I accidentally picked up a t-shirt that she and he both have. It's an Ohio State t-shirt that the in-laws randomly bought for them both. This is the only photo I could get of them that wasn't blurred by violence -:

Okay - I have to explain once again to my daughter that I can't wear pajamas to school today to pick her up.