Friday, June 8, 2012

Tie Him Down, Cut It Off

 "Too much goat blowing Daddy..."

I have a lot of plans to get things done. Generally I don't get very much done. Partly because I am an equal mix of lazy (if it involves following plans) and unskilled at most things. But I'd argue mostly because my children don't let me do things that I could be doing. And in a way I don't mind. After all - I'm not at home to keep a preoccupied eye over them while I get my own stuff done. I'm actually home to focus more on them than the other stuff. It's one of the reasons that a lot of homes you go to with a stay-at-home parent aren't absolutely spotless. Some are and some stay-at-home parents are excellent at doing that. But if I spend more than the 30-45 minutes a day on it then my kids let me know that they've been ignored long enough. And not a chance I'll get past 30 minutes doing anything continuously. Not a chance they'll let me. And if I did try I'd find them doing something they very much shouldn't be doing at all - presumably figuring that I wasn't coming back so balls to it - let's pour sugar down the heating vents.

That lack of continuous time seems to be happening more lately so that even writing - which used to take probably a little bit longer to write than for you to read - is done in stages. This particular one has been on and off since 5.45 this morning. On mornings I don't run I bash out a massive chunk (stop it you dirty beasts) in a haze of coffee and pretty much just tidy it up an hour or so later before hitting Publish. But if both my kids are home - and even in the afternoon if my son doesn't nap - it's short bursts of stuff while I ask them to give me a second.

The point is you just can't get anything done that matters. Writing feels nice to me. So it's mentally constructive in my opinion - but it's not yard work, cleaning or fixing up the house. That often is just not going to be happening. My kids love doing lots of fun things. Digging up the back yard and finding things the crazy neighbors buried is fun for them. Watching me mow or use a chainsaw isn't. Today I got nothing done. My son needed more attention because he has quite a feisty cold. Which means he didn't sleep well so feels a little tender already. It's one of those colds that has snot just pouring out of his nose seemingly endlessly. So he just needed me to sit near him while he leaked on things. My daughter didn't want to go outside in the morning. When asked she just kept saying, "I just feel really tired." Which is how her Day Of Sadness went as well. I don't think a four year old can have depression - but I'm sure an American doctor believes it firmly enough to prescribe pills for it. I tried to cheer her up by singing songs incorrectly - usually a winner. So I sang, 'Blow, Blow, Blow Your Goat, Blow Off All His Hair..."and she feebly told me, "no..that's too much goat blowing Daddy..." Always true.

So all my morning yard-work plans were scuppered with a clingy boy and a sad girl. We did manage the thrift store (nothing) and the bank. Want to know how in the middle of nowhere I live? My bank chain is celebrating Dairy Month - and if you go inside you can get some free cheese and a glass of milk from a local farm.  Bet you can't do that at your bank. After that I got nothing done. But I had a plan - once the girl leaves I can get stuff done - but only if I can take care of the boy. Which I did. Once my daughter got on the school bus I strapped my son into the car - chucked on some very loud Portishead and drove five minutes away from the house. He fell asleep and I went home. Usually his afternoon naps stop me getting outside stuff done - but today I just left him in the car seat with the door open while I got to work. Genius. He should manage at least 30 minutes which is exactly the amount one portion of the yard takes to do.

It's this sort of cunning and guile that can lead to serious mischief. The total lack of free time to do anything alone is so stifling. Before they had any idea what i was up to I could sneak munchies. I could tell them to play while I got small jobs done. I could sit them on my lap and watch entire football matches on my lap top. And if I wanted to take a cheeky peak at someone with less clothes on than is decent I could. Not now. If I'm trying to do anything they crash the party. If I go to the toilet they show up - often with food or musical equipment. Which is entirely wrong. If I take a bath or a shower they show up right beforehand and get in. If I try and eat something they not only want some but want me to know that you aren't supposed to eat M&Ms at 6.45 in the morning (admittedly it's been a good while since I've done that). They'll even tell their mother that I did that - but make sure they definitely got their hush-money portion to keep quiet first - then they immediately blab about it when their mother gets home. Most nights both of them end up kicking me out of my own bed. Then when I get up sick and tired of being poked and kicked my son wanders downstairs after me asking for me to sit with him because he's tired but up early. All parents know that engaging in any hanky panky requires one of you to keep an ear open for the sound of a running child so that you can hide your wobbly bits before they show up. Heaven forfend you plan knocking out a cheeky one. Even if you plan it - ensuring they're preoccupied, that you lock yourself in a room and barricade the door the guilt alone prevents the magic from happening.

All of which I think helps explain somewhat why you'll see stories on your local news about blokes being caught masturbating behind a Dollar General at 2.30 in the afternoon - their child fast asleep in their car seat three feet away. That's still completely mental - but you can at least understand that this guy has likely tried to have an innocent shuffle at home a few times and been interrupted continuously. He probably thinks it was a good plan. No one goes behind a Dollar General. It's usually just acres of waste ground. The kid won't see anything. No one will get hurt. But it isn't a good plan. It's a terrible plan. Because everyone knows the only people parked behind a Dollar General are weirdos masturbating. Go on - get in your car right now and go look. You'll find someone there. But if you don't just leave. Don't get any ideas. At the very least I just hope this passage may stop one of the freaks that Google saw fit to send here incorrectly to not make a poor decision.

Anyhoo - one of my wife's employees gave her a lawnmower. For nothing. I know - that doesn't seem nefarious at all. And even though this is farmer-country that isn't the same as giving someone you have the hots for a present. Here you'd probably give someone a ferret or a bucket of silage. Anyway, you may recall the riveting lengthy monologues I've penned about buying a lawnmower. As luck would have it one of my wife's employees volunteered to give her one (calm down). So after getting someone else to show me where the oil-hole (that's probably not it's name - but it is the sort of name ladies you'd do well to avoid have for their naughty bits) is I wandered the yard ensuring the dog hadn't littered the lawn with rocks and booby traps. After clearing all the pathetically laid traps I got to work. My son ran off to grab his toy lawnmower and prepared himself to follow behind me in my grassy wake.

Obviously I'm not an idiot. I put on dirty-job clothes. I told him to stand well away while I started it for the first time. Which was an excellent choice, because after I started the lawnmower it seemed to start raining very quickly. But not normal rain. No - a slimy, oily rain. From what I could tell at least one cup of oil - possibly two - was spat out in a fountain all over the lawnmower and then almost funnel-like all over me, as if designed to do that. There was so much oil that I when I checked my arms to see how bad it was I couldn't tell what time it was on my watch. Then the lawnmower started to smoke. Almost conveniently, one might say. It was almost like the perfect assassination attempt. Obviously I laugh in the face of danger (and yes - I too tweak the nipples of fear) and gave it another go. I got that 40 minute section of the lawn done before I checked on my fidgety son. He wanted to go indoors. I persuaded him to follow me about a bit while I got more done but then he just burst into tears. At first I worried he was terrified of the lawnmower - but he thought I was just rejecting him. He got so mad so fast that when I picked him up he peed all over the two of us. Which was the very moment that my neighbor came over to ask why my wife had brought so much cardboard home (to be fair she brought home a massive amount - if I saw the neighbor bring it home and leave out in the rain I'd wonder too). So I stood there, covered in my son's urine, tears and snot - lacquered with small-engine oil and man-sweat - and told my neighbor that my wife is planning to bury it all over the front yard. Which I think sounds demented but he didn't think was weird at all.

And why shouldn't he - he buried an entire engine-block out there.

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