Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Magic Of the Air Vent

Daughter: Your beard grew even more so now you have a million pricks on your face!

My wife goes out of town in two days. I'm not shaving. Sounds like work. Obviously I think I look like Sebastien Chabal (or an imaginary anemic brother at least) and not like every police drawing of people caught sniffing milk in the local Nice and Easy at 2am in the morning. Obviously I'm not as beefy as Chabal. And yes I'm quite aware that he's much taller, bigger, broader, Frencher and more nationalist than I'll ever be. But I have started a decent weight program to chunk up a touch. I've shedded weight to such a huge degree that someone I know felt the need to ask, are you alright?" I've hit that point anyway where I've run off every ounce of fat and can't actually kick on to the next distance level (10-15 miles regularly as opposed to mostly under 10 with the odd long one thrown in) without bulking up a bit. So instead of eating ten pounds back on I'll pack it on with weights instead. At least that way I can triple my chocolate intake and claim it's part of the exercise. Wont do too much of that though. There's such a fine line between taking care of yourself in that manner and being hideously vain. Thankfully my wife recoils at the sight of men who clearly spend hours a day growing muscles. She even went so far once to ask why a man would want his entire body to feel like a deformed erection. And even now as I transition from running to doing weights (you couldn't run in the snow and it being that cold even if you wanted to)I know she feels the same after seeing a shirtless bloke on TV with his strangely protruding abdomen-muscles and agreeing that he looked like an oddly sweaty snake that had swallowed a carton of eggs.

Anyhoo - I've spent my entire marriage wondering why on earth couples fight about things like beards. Yes - I did just wrote that. But it has baffled me that a bloke will stubbornly grow a beard when his other half is very much against it. Why suffer the grief? But here we are over a decade later and I just can't be arsed to shave. And the wife is never here anyway so any complaints seem silly and not really infused with enough commitment for either of us to really care. So instead I've convinced the two of us that I'll give it until the middle of October and - if I still don't look like a homeless man shunned from society for violating a pig then I may actually grow a winter beard. But chances are I wont be able to pull it off. Add my daughter suggesting my face is covered in cocks isn't lending my case any weight.

I was upstairs getting dressed this morning when I heard my daughter's familiar cry of, "DADDY!!! I NEED HELP WIPING!!!"While I was thinking whether there was anything specifically dodgy about taping her yelling that to put in a birthday card when she turns sixteen she yelled it again. As I was stood next to the heating vent I instinctively yelled down it that I'd be down in a second. At which point my daughter sounded a little surprised and said, "Hey! It sounds like you're in here!" For some reason I then made a ghostly "Woooo!!! It's magic!!!" noise before telling her I'd be right down again. When I appeared in front of her I instantly said, "So what did you think of that magic then honey?" Apparently she'd entirely forgotten our conversation because she then exclaimed, "I know!! It's a HUGE one! It felt like it came out sideways!!"

In completely unrelated circumstances - how do you explain to two naked children - one of whom is holding  plastic cake - that literally playing kiss-chase is all seven kinds of wrong? Because that's what they were innocently doing whilst waiting for the bath to fill up yesterday evening. I had popped downstairs to let the dog in when I heard an enormous amount of happy screaming. As I made my way up I observed my daughter - still with her underwear on so as not to violate Rule 59 - running shrieking toward my bedroom holding a small plastic cake. Clattering behind her was my son - entirely naked - running on all fours like these genuine weirdos do with his tongue stuck out as far as he could. By the time I got upstairs my daughter was trying to hide under my duvet. But her brother had grabbed her leg and was trying to kiss it. They both thought it was just funny. I asked them with as much innocence in my voice (although I bet Tim Roth in Lie To Me/Deceiver would easily have noticed that I was oozing awkwardness) what they were doing. My daughter then said, "what you told us to do!" Okay. Obviously I ran a quick mental check to see If I'd guzzled a whole bottle of Olanzapine by mistake. I was pretty sure that ws the case although frankly if you had chugged that you might not be the best person to check with. But I was confident that because there weren't flying purple dolphins flying through the sky or a massive Christopher Biggins (most appropriate photo link EVER) in gold paint shitting out musical turds yelling in the accents of the Reverend Ian Paisley and Margaret Thatcher that it wasn't the case. So I asked her what she was on about. And she reminded me that I had moderated a fight between them downstairs earlier and told them that instead of always saying they would hit the other one why not say they'd hug them? Or tickle or kiss them? I assured them that would be much funnier and wouldn't result in crying, annoyance or Timeouts. To be honest though I'd just witnessed my son wolf-running after his sister with his tongue stuck out. Frankly the "I was gonna kiss her instead of punching her" excuse was in the Rob Lowe "she was trying to suck the poison out honey - honestly!" echelon of excuses.

I'm off to do dishes, straighten up some stuff and try and watch football. So while I'm doing that you can enjoy this -:

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Man With A Prick On His Face

Daughter: Daddy you should shave.
Me: Why honey?
Daughter: Because your face has a prick on it.

My son has evidently been observing his sister's discovery of manipulative spite. Because now when I give him something - like a drink of water - he looks at it like I've just shit in a cup and says, "this won't make me happy." And to ram his point home he'll then get specific and add, "Juice daddy. Juice will make me happy" before making that sulking face like he's trying to inhale his upper lip.
Hopefully he hasn't been observing her too closely though. Because apart from telling me there's a prick on my face (if that photo shows up I'll be deeply disappointed) she also boldly decided that she isn't going to do her chores any more. Basically in an effort to teach her about money she had a bank account opened on her birthday. Now when she does a few chores a week - which are putting her dirty dishes on the counter/in the dishwasher, and helping with the laundry - she gets some money. Most of which goes in the bank account. The rest of it she can spend on anything she feels like. But after initially being deeply enthused by the whole thing she's gone three weeks without being very helpful at all. In fact any reminder to do her chores is met with a ridiculously melodramatic response that is supposed to convey that what has been asked of her is extremely annoying, but only outweighed by how boring a point it is. So in an attempt to paint a bigger picture for her I reminded her that I don't want to do it either. Obviously I then mentioned that her mother doesn't want to go to work (although she does despite the stresses and commitment of it) and that her brother doesn't want to wear pants all the time (he doesn't believe he should conform to society here at all). To which my daughter - like Archimedes himself - offered the revelation, "well just don't do it then" - but without any negativity or wankery at all. She genuinely meant it as helpful advice that would make us all happy. Something must be done about the slovenly drive that she has.

The boy though has regressed in his own politeness. He used to be all smiles and appreciation all the time. Nary a quarter-hour went by when he didn't ask for something with a please, or thank you for getting it for him. And with no-one else home he's trying to fill his loneliness with food. So all day long he berates me to get him food. Except instead of the old, "please can I have something to eat?" question he just grumpily says, "I want." I've made the repeated point to him that I have no idea what that refers to, and that it's rude. But he doubled-down like a determined bastard and started only demanding apple sauce. Which would be fine but - as you'd expect - he pretty much only wants apple sauce one time out of the fifty requests a day that he makes. Which drove me nuts for the three days when he became more incensed that I demanded politeness and wouldn't go get him random stuff. Which it would be because after he would bluntly mumble, "I want apple sauce" I initially would go get him something to eat. Then like the worst kind of boss he'd angrily reprimand you by stating that he didn't want apple sauce and rant, "I want a drink."

The rudeness of which was so thick and abrupt that I stopped being cooperative and either got him nothing until he was polite, or constantly brought him the entire jar of apple sauce. And just to be a bastard I'd sit cheerily with a spoon and offer to go well above and beyond and feed it into his moaning little gob. After that I assumed he temper down a little. But instead he went for the more stubborn and irritating demand of, " sauce...." Again - he could be asking for anything. It could be a drink, to take his shoes off, to wipe something off his delicate little hands, or to build a train track - absolutely anything. And not getting it was distressing for him. But he was not going to be nice about it. So I went for the more cunning Arsehole Dad by using my please and thank-yous in completely the wrong manner. If he demanded something I'd tell him "thank you" and hand him something random and gush happily, " you're welcome!" That drove him absolutely mental for about an hour. Pretty soon after that he tried to sit me down to tell me the correct ways to use all those niceties. This morning he's been as good as gold about it as well. Even going so far as to over-smile when he says, "please!"

Right now though he wants to look through Halloween decorations online. We were at the store earlier and I naively told him that my daughter's school wants stay-at-home do-nothing layabouts like me to get deeply involved with things like the upcoming Halloween party. And being a cheap bastard I might seeing as they are asking parents to chip in $10 for it. Quite why the teachers need $360 for a school party during class is beyond me. And being the US anything planned for the kiddies has to be approved by the class committee (at least according to some of the other parents in the hallway, anyway). So I won't be showing up with this particular culinary delight.

 Right - time to go buy some pants that fit. I suppose I could shave first seeing as my kids and wife have been moaning about my prick-face. But my wife is essentially out of town for two weeks come Sunday so I don't think I have to until at least mid-October if I don't before then.

The Friday Folly

There are lots of reasons I wasn't going to post this. Apart from the ill-fitting clothes I'm wearing, or the horrendous dancing at the beginning there's the fact the sound is poor. But how could I not post a video wherein my daughter's only dance moves are based around headbutting?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sepulsleep Remix

Almost a year to the day (actually that's bollocks - its 50 weeks and 1 day but that's close enough)...

The Unshakeables

Me: Wait! So you want to hurt my feelings but with good reason? This is great news!

Some people shouldn't have kids. That's a given. When you learn of someone being downright horrible to their kids it usually triggers that feeling. Genuine evil or stupidity is the usual cause. Evil is so prevalent that I tend to overlook that one and focus my own ire on stupidity. When you see or hear a parent do something dumb it reminds me that when the revolution comes that I should definitely install some sort of qualification for parenting. Obviously I'll outlaw people saying things like "aww did you get a boo-boo?" People who keep that up will be put to the sword. And in my zero-tolerance utopia anyone who so much as thinks of saying to a child, "do you need to go potty?" when the words toilet or bathroom (a deliberately vague geographical term used to at least place a sense of mystery over what abominable atrocity will be committed on the toilet) are perfectly valid that there's no need for a cutesy word at all. And for pure unfiltered stupidity there won't even be a test. Those people come running headlong towards the rest of us eager to display their idiocy.

But as I say - evil and callousness is ignored because dealing with that sort of thing is painful. Add it demands that society as a whole instill a sliding scale of what is absolutely not allowed. In such a place spanking, intimidation, yelling and punishments like locking a kid in a room would be outlawed for being similar to much worse transgressions. But it would also spill over to create a creepy judgment-based analysis of all parenthood. So things that are normal or banal would be viewed through a lens of determining how nefarious something is - so that everything therefore is somewhat nefarious. Which is a bit like how I felt yesterday. Because my daughter screamed like a wailing banshee for an hour after school. For one random part of it she insisted on doing it while I went out to check the mail. So brought her tantrum out onto the front doorstep and her collateral damage splashed out onto an older couple walking their dog down the road. But after I told her to go back inside I got the glance from this couple that surely I must have done something awful to have made this little girl behave this way. And if it wasn't immediate then it has to be that I'm just a shit dad. But no - my daughter was just "on one".

On the scale of things that isn't actually all that odd. There are umpteen moments in her life so far when she exposes her own Jekyll and Hyde multiple-personality disorder and spews forth the ranting, growling nutcase within seemingly without any provocation at all. What was odd about it was - after we'd got home and she'd selected another random moment to shriek about - she threatened me with, "YOU AREN'T ALLOWED TO PUT ME TO BED ANYMORE - EVEN THOUGH I WANT YOU TO!!" Because it was actually so odd to hear her use that level of negotiation tactic I was actually quite pleased. Therefore I couldn't help but smile at her achievement and say, "okay!" in a cheery way in response. Which made her even more demented, causing her to perform a complete reversal and state emphatically that I would be putting her to bed every single night whether I wanted to or not.

Of course I still wanted to talk about how she had stumbled into cause and effect, bargaining and all that stuff. But mostly - spite. That's a pretty high-level emotion right there. To exhibit something like spite takes control and planning. It's feeling the powerful swell of other emotions - certainly more than one - and tempering them into a plan. Not necessarily a good plan. But it still harnesses the power of one set of emotions into a focused direction to get something. If that can be channeled effectively then all kinds of wonderful/diabolical things can happen.

Which raises the specter of The Unshakeable Principles. In a young child's life there are a few things in life that are unshakeable scientific principles. They are as absolute and binding as fundamentalists believe the Laws of Moses or Sharia are. They are the Pillars of Life. Now I'm not saying that because I've identified some of these pillars that I am some sort of God (that is for other people to say...). But what I am saying is that there are some things in a child's life that are so definite and fundamental to existence that - unlike the religions based around the Laws of Moses and Sharia - that they are completely unquestionable.

The first is the unshakeable principles is Truth. No matter what my kids have done or are thinking they are completely unable to actually lie about it. The power of the Truth will always spill out. It's an amazing thing to witness my daughter attempting to do conceal doing something only to then just flatly ask her what she's up to and see the complete lack of ability she has to hold the truth in and lie about it. It's like an unstoppable waterfall. Which doesn't adequately describe it because there is absolutely no resistance at all. Once asked my daughter doesn't even know that you can lie or conceal the truth - but instead knows emphatically that the obvious, given next-step is to explain in detail the truth of what is going on. Which is exactly why you can't tell her a secret or have her help buy a Christmas for someone without expecting her revealing it almost immediately upon seeing the person it refers to.

The second unshakeable principle are Rules. There are just some things that must follow a certain set of principles or order that to alter them would bring the sky tumbling down. I'm not referring to gravity or the speed of light here either. In simple language it's just how things have been done since my kids can remember - so messing with that causes emotional anguish and may destroy the world as we know. Being kids my children aren't able to understand that most of these things are social constructs at the very low level. Therefore they are as sacrosanct as knowing the Sun comes up during the day - and if it doesn't then something is deeply wrong. A prime example of the lowest level would be giving them Cheerios for breakfast. There's an order (cereal, milk and then honey) that cannot be messed with. The primal terror that is caused when they're mother refuses to adhere to this simple set or rules and order is phenomenal. Slightly higher than that are things like using my computer when I'm out of the room or standing on the stone hearth at Grandma's house. You just don't do that.

But the third unshakeable principle is to Like something. It's often extremely difficult to stop my kids doing something purely based on the simple fact that they like doing it. They know the rules (and they know it isn't one of the really important ones too because they don't not-remember that rule), and they claim to understand the consequences. And yet they cannot shake the allure of doing whatever it is due to the fact that they know they'll like it. And afterwards I'll try and determine what possible excuse they have for doing whatever it was and my daughter will introduce the fact that she liked it as if that were a legitimate reason to excuse her behavior somewhat.

But deliberately doing something she won't like just to be spiteful? That's a cause for celebration! Spite is the twisted cousin of altruism, sacrifice and selflessness. But on it's own spite is a stunningly complex and powerful thing to purposefully use. And here she was telling me that even though she loves nothing more than me putting her to bed (it must have been every night for nearly a month now) she was going to take it away from me on the off chance that I feel even one-tenth as happy about it as she does. Once she's mastered that she can reverse the whole thing and dabble with being unscrupulous, cleverly dishonest and all those other Machiavellian things.

So I asked her about the whole thing. Which obviously made her incensed as now she was trapped between the power of spite and the rule of liking something. Which made her double-down even more adamantly and to actually declare "even when I'm married you will put me to bed Daddy."

I'm sure that won't freak her husband or wife out at all. Actually let me rephrase that - it better bloody freak them out.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Curious George Gave Me Mange

My daughter thinks her mother is a witch.

Not a doing-magic-and-spells one either. For some strange reason she's just not pleased with her today. From the moment I went upstairs to drag them both out of bed she's been griping and making overly-dramatic I'm-Not-Happy-With-You faces at her mother. And as is typical she became entirely confused about the timeline of events and blamed the whole affair on something that occurred 30 minutes after waking up as the catalyst for the whole thing. That being choosing a background for Picture Day at school. Even an hour later whilst waiting for the bus she repeated that, "I was just mad that she wouldn't let me chose a background from a different row." I think she really decided a few days ago when she flat-out called her mother a witch. Sensing there may be soem double meaning behind it she clarified by cheerily adding, "I mean a Fall witch Mommy!" At which point I helpfully added that a lot of people at work had been yelling, "fall, witch..." at Mommy as well, so maybe it's true.

Recently my daughter was watching Curious George and exclaimed that she found it (and I quote) "ridiculous" that nobody thought it was odd that a man kept showing up all over the place with a monkey. Nary a blink or sense of dread from anyone recalling that awful chimp-mauls-woman story from awhile back. Well - yesterday even my son joined in on not being able to suspend belief enough for that show to work for him. This seems to have been prompted by reading more and more of the original stories and him witnessing me not being able to hold on how absurd it is that George breaks into a chocolate factory and literally nobody so much as flinches at the fact there's a monkey dicking about and instantly employ him to pack chocolates with his feet. I still find it difficult not to add the proviso for my son that - when George starts grabbing unwrapped chocolates with all his hands and feet - that he's probably caked in his own feces and now half of New York is about to contract some mutant Yellow Monkey Fever/AIDS/Ebola virus that will make the rapid death toll in 28 Days Later look hopeful.  Although thinking about that it would explain the source for the original recipe for Hershey's Kisses. In spite of the horrifying risk of spreading viruses, biting strangers or just the ridiculousness of no New Yorker turning George into a kebab my son still likes to pick out the books at the library. Mind you when consider what some of the Recommended selections are when we visit it might be a good idea to stick to Curious George.

Anyhoo - as is typical on the show the man in the yellow hat loses his monkey again. He really is extraordinarily careless. It's a good job he hasn't managed to nob that woman at work because he'd be atrocious with children. True to form he plans to head out with his monkey so just tells him that they need to take a train all the way across New York City to the museum. Moments later his monkey wanders off to take a train. But, as is bafflingly unexplained on this show, nobody screams in horror at the sight of George. Nobody reveals a concealed handgun and shoots him. Nobody even tries to touch him inappropriately. Which - being New York City - is quite likely to happen. Granted this is the New York City subway. The rule of which is don't look anyone in the eye - because even the ones not dressed like an escaped mental patient  may take your direct gaze as permission for them to abduct you, keep you in a well and make a neglige out of your skin. Anyone reading this in the UK has had an unpleasant moment trapped on public transport with a rabble of drunkards on their way to/from a sporting event. Or just with a strange tramp or unruly twat on board. My wife likes to tell a story about being on a train to Manchester when a bunch of people realized they were trapped around a table seat with a tramp. Who then proceeded to open up The Sun newspaper to page three and make guttural primal sex-beast noises before pulling out a large bottle of cider and pouring it all over the black-and-white tits on the page in front of him. For my own sins I recall being stuck on a the late bus in the deep-dark valleys of South Wales with a very very drunk and rowdy fat Welshman who claimed to be Elvis Costello. He made he audacious claim that he was in a disguise (a very convincing one, I can tell you) but could prove it by singing Welcome To The Working Week. Except without any of the correct words, with a breeze-block thick Treorchy-accent (surely part of his disguise that the Witness Protection Program would be envious of) and ending in him trying to jump me. I wasn't sure if he was trying to molest me or fight me, but the bus driver quickly pulled him off (steady on...) and - in true Welsh style - "gave him a slap" and told me he wouldn't bother me again.

Anyhoo - that sort of guff goes on constantly on UK transport but is nothing at all compared to the NYC subway system. Anyone, and I mean anyone can be on that thing. Still - Curious George is a freaking monkey. One of the people on the train would have at least tried to eat him surely? But no. Literally two minutes after the man in the yellow hat decides that his pet monkey can make it's own way across town the train driver finds him - doesn't shit herself - and then immediately says, "hey would you like to drive the train?" To which my son very loudly yelled, "No!!!!" at the television. And not in a warning kind of way either. But more in a "you expect me to believe this shit!?" kind of way. In that last exclamation mark you could hear my son evoke, "Twilight is more believable than this amateurish nonsense....."

Right - time to do laundry. Lets see if I actually put shirts on hangars or whether I convince myself that draping them in a massive pile on the ironing bird is somehow different than leaving them in the basket.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Small Boy And The Massive Carrot

My son is a small boy.

He says so. I don't know how he came up with that evaluation but that's what he says most of the time. Randomly ask him throughout the day if he's a baby and he'll snort at you at how absurd that statement s and respond, "No! I'm a small boy!" But of course his sense of the size of things is still being developed. I fine example being that he hasn't stopped going on about playing with a Thomas the Tank Engine toy at his sister's dancing class. To get some idea of what kind of toy it was I asked if it was big or small. He said small. Then I asked if it was the same as various sized ones that he owns - starting with one about the size of his mother's purse. But no matter what size I offered him he said, "yeah - that size." Initially I thought he wasn't understanding but then I realized he was employing the same sort of logic as Australian aborigines when they count. I don;t know how true it is but I recall learning on a nature show that some aborigines have numbers up to about three, and then after that it's all known as "more than three." So my son was essentially saying that compared to a house that yeah - it is about that size.

Speaking of size look at this behemoth. It's one of my daughter's carrots that we'd pretty much left after they'd been piffling small again this year. Yes it really is almost as big as her entire head. 

Last night in the bath my daughter continued the current hilarious word-humor. This time going the obvious but still-funny route of telling her brother that shampoo doesn't actually have any poo in it. He looked very amused but still couldn't hide the fact that he has only just realized that the word poo is definitely hidden right there in the word - therefore it must have poo in it. I in no way helped him out here. He looked at me and shrugged with his hands turned up - physically asking a blunt, "what..?" for me to explain. So to comfort him I told him shampoo is so named because the magical cleaning ingredients in it are tears from Shamu the whale, and carefully sieved turds curled out by the Sham-wow guy - brewed with only the finest German cabbage (and you know the Germans always make good stuff). After learning that he's regularly watched the rest of his family wash their hair with a fistful off Vince Offer's "William Riker" he was somewhat reluctant to let me wash his hair . But I let his sister wash my head and that gave me the opportunity to get him clean as well in the melee. Oddly my daughter claimed her shampoo was made with vinegar and "Billy" - although quote what part of Billy went into my shampoo was never explained. Although she did worry shortly after by immediately recounting how she had milked a wooden goat at the state fair.

I'm also trying to get to grips with my daughter going in the fridge. I've been almost entirely in charge of what she puts in her gob for years - but now she's old enough to just open the fridge up and grab stuff. To prepare for this we'd made up plastic tubs of carrot and celery sticks, divided up grapes and packaged crackers into snack-size bags. But with full-access to the delights of the fridge I've wandered in the kitchen to find her eating the rest of a jar of maraschino cherries or suspiciously old pickles. She's not gorging on them - but evidently the shelf they are on are at eye-level because she's been clearing all the stuff like that. She's also quite happy with the idea she can get her own drinks. The only proviso I gave her was that if the gallon bottle of milk isn't half empty to please not try pouring it out. So far she hasn't spilled any. But she's had to take matters into her own hands with cups because she reach them - so I keep finding her with an almost-full disposable cup with more milk in it than a rice pudding. To be honest on the one hand I'm quite pleased that I'll no longer have to listen to her desperate, clearly-nonsensical, pleading to get something to eat after she's eaten five different things already. The oh-God-I'm-starving trembling that she affects when she does it is beyond irritating. Especially as she is fussy about what she gets during those moments and can never ever offer a single idea as to what she would like to eat. So it's nice that she enjoys going in the fridge and getting a sensible amount of fruit and veg, or crackers to nosh on. But it suddenly feels weird - not threatening but like a strange invasion of privacy - to go in the fridge and find that something I'd been leaving to eat till later on has been eaten already. I suddenly have the feeling that someone is eating my food. I should make it like university and write my name on all my stuff.

Although if this is going to be like university at some point I'm going to end up being asked by campus security if I know anything about the very-dead jellyfish in the bathroom upstairs.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Making Plans For Nova Scotia

Son: In your brain!!!!

My daughter gets a word or thing stuck in her mind sometimes. For a long while it was banana. If she was caught doing something wrong and you'd ask her she'd quickly blurt, "Erm....banana." Ask her where she's going, what she was doing or anything at all and a banana would be involved somehow. It's sort of the same with my son's current proclivity for the word "cheese." Or his odd response lately when we play hide and seek that - no matter what monster we come up with that we're hiding from - that it is "in your brain Daddy!" Not a clue where he got that from. Right now though my daughter is getting particularly good use out of the word cucumber. Her oatmeal this morning was apparently cucumber and cream flavored. She was unshakeable in her assertion last night that er brother's choice of bedtime toy (he's currently obsessed with sleeping with one of his toy trains) was a cucumber. And at school when I picked her up I mentioned that she needed a good bath to get the ink off her hands and food off her face. So stood amongst the sea of mothers I tried to promote such an idea by asking "and what are we going to put in the bath?" The answer is obviously "bubbles Daddy - bubbles are great." But no - she excitedly yelled, "cucumbers!!" and we quickly left.

On the way home in the car she actually was energized about school enough to actually respond when I asked her what she did. She normally is sunny and happy, but clearly it's over now so let's all emotionally move on to playing, snacks at home and none of this school guff anymore. But when I asked if she had a good day she very brightly enthused, "there are some awesome boys in my class Daddy!" Obviously I then made the mental note to start planning our laborious move to the more rural parts of Nova Scotia. "Most of them sit near me!" she also chipped in. "There used to be another girl there - but we moved her." I got the suitcases out when we got home. 

Actually pretty much everything out her mouth has been like that lately. What follows are a list of some of her more choice proclamations. For example - whilst lying in bed yesterday morning while everyone (except me, obviously) fought the truth that they had to get up - she declared, "I have the pointiest nipples in the house." Obviously I wanted to just let that go but I could see her mother - always focused on everyone around them telling the truth based on empirical evidence - struggling not to point out that she had a long way to go before besting my skalpel-like nipples. 

At dinner last night she poked the chicken around her plate, refused to touch the oven-roasted veggies and then asked why on earth anyone would put sesame seeds on bread. Sensing that - once again - that her complete obliteration of every aspect of dinner might be slightly upsetting for me (what with me spending time to make what she'd asked for and all) she then helpfully added, "Don't worry Daddy. I'm sure a Tasmanian devil would eat your rotten dinner." After I thanked her for the kind words she realized she needed to offer a few more There-There pats on my back so she chucked in, "I only eat food sandwiches Daddy..." and pushed her plate as far away from her as possible.

Needless to say we did have a bath last night. No cucumbers though, thank goodness. After the usual exercise of me sitting with the bathtub faucet rammed into my spine while the kids tried to gyrate as much water out of the tubas possible they did a very strange thing. They both got out and left me to it. That never happens. Of course my son spent every moment of bath time pouring jug after jug after jug of water into my ear/directly over my head/demanding I let him pour it in my mouth - but he still got out as well. My daughter is now allowed to use the hair-dryer by herself so she tries to bathe extra quickly just to get to that part. But my son just wanted to race back and forth naked on the landing. So he got out - barely dried - and then rocketed to and fro asking that we all pay particular attention to the fact that his tally-whacker is wiggling about in the wide open air. So I lay in the bath and made the most of it. I knew the wife likely would get home closer to 10pm anyway so that would be my only non-child time of the entire day. I had my ears under the water and opened my eyes to see my daughter holding the jug of water over me. After I got the water out of my ears she seemed to get her tenses and phrasing wrong 9one dearly hopes) and cheerily said, "Don't worry if its the last thing you ever do Daddy" and then poured into my eyes.

Thank goodness it wasn't a jug of cucumbers or I'd have been blinded.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Contractor Blues

Son: When's the man coming Daddy?

One of the first rules of hiring a contractor is Don't Hire Anyone Banned From Doing Something Because They Were Drunk. I'm all about forgiveness and tolerance in a lot of situations. I've worked in an office with people who had been in jail for some very unsavory crimes and got on with it all. And people make mistakes. But when you hire a contractor you tend not to bother with asking if he can drive to your home with his tools and whatnot. It's sort of a given. But there was something iffy about it before he started working. But he'd given us a couple of references and the one my wife had called had given him the thumbs up. It was sort of fuzzy - and after he was dropped off with the minimum of tools and his girlfriend drove off he began to vaguely explain that he has been banned from driving for some time already. But not to worry - he'll get his license back in a few months. But he got to work on the dot at 8.30 in the morning and plugged away at ripping out the floorboards, the rotten sub-floor and anything else down there that was in danger of collapsing. 

He started working over two weeks ago approximately the same time as my daughter started school. So for my son a life without his sister (something he's never known) seemed to involve a surrogate replacement. Except of instead of a sweet, explosively-excitable little girl in return he got an overweight, chain-smoking, cocky, ultra-proud Tea Party advocate who cannot name you one member of the Republican Party without having to dig deep. We had hired him for a semi-reasonable rate to completely tear-out and rebuild a floor. It had such a steep incline that the doors at either end of the room really should have been fitted with one of these -:

After a few days he'd re-framed the room so that it was actually level, put the sub-floor down and had started laying the new floor to match the living room. Id' already encountered many of his interesting lessons in life - usually about minorities and how people who tell him what to do get the shit kicked out of them - by this point. Add he was so patently transparent about things he wasn't good at or didn't understand well - but would try to hide it by being excessively cocky about his ability in that area lest you notice. But he'd been generally polite about not spouting off in front of my son. But the longer he was in my home the more comfortable he began to feel about his own opinions on anything and everything. I pride myself on being able to get people to open up tell me things. It's not a two-faced thing at all - I'm just good at that. And he started puking it out and was seemingly unable to cork it up. He told me about how on prior jobs he had fucked up so badly that he'd been fired. Then he would veer into telling me how on the other job he'd given us a reference for he'd been let go without finishing it because it had taken him almost double the quoted length of time to build a porch. His portrayal of this story was that it was completely unreasonable and that could be proven by cockily remarking that he had been hired by, "two gay guys from Jersey." That was his entire explanation. He then gave an expression that he would give seemingly every time I spoke to him after that. One which said, "need I say anymore about how everyone else other than me is an idiot."

But whatever. I'm not the thought police. Believe whatever you want. And he seemed to be plugging along nicely on schedule. Add my father-in-law had dropped by to give a protective cursory glance at the work and gave his approval. Oddly the contractor had invested such buddy-buddy trust in me by this point that after the old-man left he started going on about how he hates hack-carpenters who think they know what they're doing. And then proudly displayed his cocky, familiar expression. A little rude and odd - but again I don't really care. Do the job and nobody cares.

Oddly his ridiculously transparent cockiness completely disappeared whenever he answered the phone to his girlfriend. Like a lot of people I know when speaking on the phone he seems to believe hes been transported to a completely private, sound-proof world where people within audible range of his voice can't hear what he's talking about. So he would spill his insecurities about the job, and relay his astonishment at how he managed to do something he wasn't sure of by just copying what was there before. But every time he got off the phone it was if he'd just gloated about something and he would strut about the house like a rooster. He was so impressed with himself. And combine that with the other method that he used to praise his own work - which was to denigrate any other work that had been done in the home regardless of who did it (meaning me, my wife, my father-in-law or the contractor we had help us when we were rebuilding).

But then he started doing it wrong. He couldn't figure out the threshold. He screwed up painting some of the trim and had to do a few too many spackle-jobs after laying the floor that he pretty much begged to paint the walls to cover up the dinks. His cockiness and openness flowed so freely that his misogyny practically bled out of him. He would make remarks about how my wife was probably unable to see how fucking amazing his work was. Not in a personal manner. But because - being female - she not only doesn't understand Big Boy Work but is notoriously hard to please. You know women - always fucking moaning and never happy. Add he relayed that he felt my wife had been condescending by asking him if he can hang a door. He stated with bravado that nobody can hang a door like he can. Add no contractor worth his salt should set foot on a job site without knowing how to do that blindfolded.

But he was plugging along and in my mind my being in the living room would have been negative. So I'd take my son out as long and often as possible to playgrounds, bike paths and various places just to let the contractor get on with it. But when I'd get home a few hours later I'd find that little had been done. There was always a reason. Sometimes they were pragmatic reasons. But sometimes they'd be ridiculous - like not being able to go on because he'd run out of finish nails. Then I'd point at the windowsill at the two boxes of finish nails. Then he'd do something that infuriates managers of people all across the world. He'd spend the last two hours of his day working solidly, quickly and efficiently to make up for the slack, laziness of the day. Then he'd gloat about how he'd done that - unable to see that from a managers perspective you'd done the least amount you could all day long and just about salvaged it by getting your head down and doing what you were supposed to for a bit.

The next day he came he almost confirmed that he was - at best - a chancer. To make it all interesting though he didn't come for two days because he said his girlfriend had appendicitis. Which - with his proclivity for absurd exaggeration ended up being a story where they went to urgent care, nearly had a severe car accident with what he believed was a a getaway car (how he would know this, I'm not sure), then going to two hospitals before someone could perform the very special kind of appendectomy that was needed. Which apparently involved three separate incisions. But he did show up driving her car without a license which lent some credence to the story. But then he would call her at her work - having made a miraculous recovery from the unique surgery she'd been through barely 48 hours before. After some ridiculous story about how he learned everything he needed to know about carpentry from a heroin addict on a painting crew painting skyscrapers in Memphis (none of which involves carpentry at all - which might have been his point) he got to the new basement door he had to hang. Before getting cracking he puffed out his rooster-chest and called me in for a lesson. Reminding me of the insult my wife had naively lactated at him he then vaguely and without any actual detail of any kind blathered on about the super-duper secret of hanging a door. Which pretty much added up to him saying "I hang it and keep changing it until it's more or less level." Genius. And with his level of expertise it takes ten minutes. After a cigarette obviously.

A few hours later he'd hung the door. He'd apparently used a lot of swearing and whining as shims, because a lot of them farted out of him while he did it. His protestations about how there was obviously something funny about the door/door handle/store they came from were pretty grating so my son and I buggered off out. When we came back he'd only managed to trim about another ten feet of wall and was painting the casing around the door he'd hung. He then claimed he'd cut off the tip of his finger and may have to leave for the day, "if it starts bleeding." That's right - he's so fucking hard and such a good contractor that he doesn't bleed when he's on a job because that's unprofessional. He warned me the door wasn't finished and he might have to rip it out. Which was confusing as he was currently painting around it. We went out again for some stuff he said he needed and to get my daughter from school.

A few hours later he'd pretty much just applied some tape to the wall so he could paint a little more. He then got to work on the other door - making an overly-exaggerated point that doing so was heroic considering he was going to be taking off soon so starting a new project was risky. Which evidently it was because he couldn't do it. It didn't hang quite right and the trim was hideously banged up. He'd also painted over the hinges in a hurry to make it look like he'd done steady work all day long, as opposed to just spunking out a quick, sloppy blast at the end of the day. When the paint dried on the first door it stuck. And somehow he nobbed-up the handle so that it only turned one way. Add he still hadn't actually finished a room yet so now three entire rooms were unusable. So I made a comment about the next day and he said he was right on schedule give or take a few days and went home. That night the wife and I agreed that I could - if it so tickled my pickle - tell him to get fecked the next morning. 

Next morning I told him I'd like him to finish up. The stuff he'd done the day before was poor quality so I pretty much gave him the chance to to redeem it. At which point he nervously said that he'd easily finish everything - which included framing and hanging a closet door, laying the floor in the mud room, hanging the bathroom door, trim and completing all the other jobs by lunchtime the next day easily. He wasn't arrogant or cocky. He was worried and silly. After a day of back and forth to the store (bought doors with parts missing) and then realizing that the matching doors didn't match I got annoyed. Partly becuase the store had cocked up (twice). Partly because my son had thrown up. And partly because he'd clearly done a shittier job than before by rushing to get stuff done. On reflection some of it is worse than I would have done if I'm honest. Almost every drop of puffed-roosterism vanished then. I told him to forget the door and the floor and just finish whatever he could. When I came back from getting my daughter he had all his gear outside and was banging on apologetically about how he'll call us about the floor the following week. He hadn't finished the trim or even painting the tiny bits he had left in the first room. Instead he'd been sweeping up with a broom for about an hour and making a grand show of moving off-cuts of wood from one pile to another one 5 foot away.

Ten minutes later he left after I took his ladder out to his car and one of his bags. I think that got the point across. I paid him for the work he had done. But annoyingly all day long today my son has been asking, "when is the man coming?" I told him that he isn't and my son asked if his sister was home today. She'd been at school for 4 hours at that point. He's somewhat expectant - possibly waiting for the next surrogate to show up. Which was slightly irritating when a guy showed up to sell seafood and steaks out of the back of a car (maybe the third time someone has done that around here).

But that contractor isn't coming back. But being the chancer that he is (and with his level of almost autistic reading of body language) I bet he calls asking if we'll be a reference. Tit.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Ugly Duckling

Today someone asked me to vote for their daughter in some local Prettiest Child Evar competition.

I genuinely don't understand beauty contest parents. I know most parents think their kids are beautiful. Some people do at least attach the slight caveat that "they're beautiful to me." Which is the sort of thing - if said about your wife - is an admission that you think they're revolting to some people tually I think I've only ever met one parent who conceded that their little troll was aesthetically challenged. But still - I know my kids are phenomenal specimens. I don't mean in some shallow, wanky America's Next Top Model sense of beautiful either. Because that sort of beauty is ten-a-penny and usual contains within in it an ugliness more rancid than a wound filled with pus. Most kids look like identical to me. Which is lumpy, snotty and oddly pink. In a stretch to say something positive I'll concede their teeth are strangely white and their clothes look much better fitting than most things adults wear. But in general most kids look deformed or somehow like they've grown all wrong to me. Still - the fact remains that even children whose parents think their kids are more beautiful than most others look much like every other generic blob to my eyes. And even though I know in the deepest recesses of my soul that any child stood next to mine looks like the deformed acid-victim from Robocop, I still wouldn't enter my child in a beauty competition. Because it's just wrong.

I've been married for over ten years now. I'm not an ugly man. I'm not Daniel Craig either mind you - but I'm in pretty good shape and don't have any hideous deformities (on the outside, at least). I like to think of myself like a damn good chili. That being while there are some people who go absolutely bat-shit for chili most people would probably chose something else to nosh on first. But stick a chunk of cornbread in me or a dollop of sour cream and I'll definitely warm your cockles (or whatever you call them). Anyhoo the point being that I'm just not the type to overly preen and obsess about how perfect I or other people might look. Sure I'll have the odd day where I'll try on a different shirt. But I wasn't ever really a Metrosexual type because it involves too much effort. And nor am I a proponent of this new Menaissance bollocks because that just sounds a justification for being a twat whilst dressed like Don Draper. I think I extend this attitude to how I look onto my kids as well. Except whereas I'm a grower my kids are immediately beautiful.

Nevertheless allowing your kids to run around all feral and rancid isn't a good thing either. I do not spend massive amounts of time over how my kids look. I'll help them get dressed so that they don't wear anything they shouldn't be. And by that I mean if my daughter is going to school she can't wear stuff that is stained with dried mud or is too manky. She has specific clothes that are expressly for jumping in unidentified brown splodges in the back yard - and none of them are suitable in that sense for school. And obviously stuff the kids put on should be weather appropriate. But as long as it isn't a horrible clash of clothing my daughter can pretty much get away with whatever she chooses. My son is still only two and a half so he gets whatever I pull out of the drawer. And as a helpful guide the school has color days (today is a red day) at the moment so I tend to coordinate with whatever that is. Until he inevitably runs off upstairs to grab a Thomas the Tank Engine shirt that he wants to wear while he's shoving engines around a wooden track (it's the same mentality as football fans going to the game in a replica shirt really).

But signing a Prettiest Child Evar competition thing is weird. And it happens more often than you'd believe too. I know people are proud of their children even though absolutely nothing has been achieved by them. And it's particularly twisted when you consider the backwards nature of what you are being asked to do. That being voting en masse - as friends of someone - that their kid is easily the prettiest child in a collection of other very similar looking kids. The outcome being that the parent then gloats the confirmation back to the same people who were cajoled into voting that their kid is now officially prettier than all the other kids in the area. And along with that they all are at fault for fostering a weird sense of faux-superiority in a child that teaches them everything that is wrong with society. That life is a popularity contest totally devoid of any sense or justice at all. Life might often be grim and grossly unfair, but one thing we can all do as parents is not encourage this awful bollocks about how the only thing that matters above anything else is how other people view the thin false exterior that tells people nothing about who you really are. In short it leads to this sort of evil shit.

So no I can't bring myself to do it because it isn't some innocent thing either. Especially as it isn't the first one I'm aware of that this kid has been ignorantly chucked into. From memory I'm thinking at least 5th or 6th. I don't have a lot of hard and fast morals that I ooze out at other people. I'm pretty much content to let you get on with whatever you judge to be good for you and yours - as long as you are actually judging it. As long as you have ownership of decisions and understand why you're committing them - go nuts. But weirdly this is one of those things where I have to make an effort not to be preachy. Especially, in this instance, as the Mom came back to me (and presumably by the vague, non-specific nature of their message - to all the people they know online but don't actually talk to with any interest outside of this sort of oddness) chiding those of us who haven't joined in the burgeoning destruction of their child's sense of ethics. Along with rudely probing people who'd already voted by pointing out that they could stop working their pathetic little jobs (that clearly aren't worth focusing on at a sensitive time like this) and vote again and again and again. After all a little girl's future is at stake here. It takes a village to do this sort of awfulness apparently. Where will it end? There will be more of these weird things surely? And after photos, then what? Pageants? But what if she stops winning? Or is actually not strikingly attractive when she hits the formative teenage years? She'll then be officially ugly, by these rules. Then she'll stretch out reaching for moments when strangers cheer her purely for the way she looks. So I'll be just like the alarmist twaddle that makes up pretty much every OH GOD WE'RE ALL RUSHING TOWARD DANGER!! newscast and suggest that the implications of this are absolutely revolting when dragged out to their absolutist disgusting conclusion (skip to the 12th minute to see someone who's clearly been told the only thing that will make her life worth living at all is if other people think she's pretty just like everyone else).

Obviously I can tell some people think I'm jumping from an innocent little competition involving a Mom sending a head-shot of a 3 year old girl (totally unaware of the entire thing, after all) in, to a despicable attitude about people that causes them to seek approval from people who insist that they are so disgusting to look at that they simply have to cut themselves up. But even if you slip slightly down the scale it's still the same. And really - if you're going to teach your kids values surely one that we all tell them is the fluffy, boring point that, "it's what's on the inside that counts." That as long as things don't go too wrong in life that - after the teenage years and possibly a period of intense judgement during your early twenties - most people come to realize that the laser-like focus on aesthetics and falseness is appalling.  But really - what is the point of the competition? Nobody being asked believes this kid is the prettiest - whatever that even means. And the people holding the competition aren't judging anything - they're just taking votes and increasing ad revenues. They care not one iota. And the kid involved is none-the-wiser.

Still - I'm not instinctively turned off because I think a three year old is going to get fake tits and fat sucked out of her body in twenty years in a desperate attempt to have someone - anyone - to like them. I'm turned off because even something as little as this perpetuates a strange value system that most adults agree is wrong. So why introduce it into the formative years? If my five year old girl won something like this it would make her feel good. But anyone with kids knows that a child engrossed in anything will start feeling intense emotions about it even though they don't understand it. Which is why lots of parents even go as far as to carefully explain popularity contests like this on television with a judgmental lens - careful to point out that looks, clothes and being judged for them is worth piss all. And lending power to it is the root of bullying. I did the same thing 6 months ago with some gaudy Disney Princess guff that she involved grading dresses and styles. I recall asking a few parents about that sort of thing and getting the same response. That being it's sad that this sort of thing exists and that it's our job as parents to instill those values that will teach them that looks are useful, but generally they're just a tool.. But I still ended up talking about Trinny and Susannah (I brought it up as endemic of this sort of thing and was told it was different somehow) and how some people think it's a fantastic British TV show. But surely it is the exact same thing in principal - once you chip away the toffee-nosed, English veneer - as The Swan and Toddlers and Tiaras. Just with less knives and without grotesquely spoiled children in it. I don;t think I could find anyone who could find anything positive about The Swan or Style By Jury. But apparently it's okay if Trinny and Susannah tell people they're ugly because they're posh and take you shopping.

Now if you don't mind it's Orange Day at school tomorrow and I have to figure out if any of us have something appropriate. I also have to figure out what my son and I can do tomorrow now that we've fired our contractor and no longer have someone in the house retelling Carlos Mencia jokes but with more prejudicial spite.

The ̶F̶r̶i̶d̶a̶y̶ Thursday Fight

Oh I win. And to think I was innocently washing dishes....

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Afternoon/evening. I didnt get around to putting these together of the last few days. But I polished this off today as a good old-fashioned random-stuff post. Go nuts.

- Monday morning I saw an episode of Arthur that deals with an issue that these days is all over kids TV - that being how kids deal with single parents who date. As is popular on this sort of show the kid involved tries to stop his mother splitting up with a man he likes. They hadn't been dating long at all - but he liked him. So he does the old "but you invited me...didn't you?" trick by conning both people to show up at a dinner. At which point it is explained to him (and ergo to any kids at home going through a similar Mom's-humping-the-neighborhood-bachelors situation) that they didn't actually want to be together any more. Fair enough and pretty formulaic stuff. But then for some odd reason the writers of the episode threw in a completely unnecessary and very creep twist that takes a sunny cartoon down a grim, Silent Witness cul-de-sac. That being the man shows up at his school to pick up the boy because "we're friends just like your mother and I are." It all started to feel very much like a cross between The Shack and the movie Saw.

- I hope you all can join with me in congratulating my son on achieving the public status of a Shit Volcano. And well done especially for not only getting it on EVERY item of clothing that we were both wearing, but also in the car. Bravo. Of course I feel I should mention that this happened right as I was getting him out of the car at my daughter's school to pick her up. I'd let the little bugger loose in the car - which is something he enjoys an enormous amount. I just wasn't aware how excited it could get him. Actually he tried to throw himself upside down over a seat and evidently knocked some monkey fudge loose. But being the helpful little sod that he is he'd scooted back over the seat - grabbed the Emergency Spare Clothes - and had already started prying off his soiled pants when I noticed him lying down on the floor of the car behind me. Like an idiot I didn't tell him to hold it - but jumped out of the car to climb in the side door. At which point he'd made a nice shit-smear down the back of his legs and across the carpet almost as wide as the smile on his helpful little face. Lucky for him that not only do I keep a pile of Emergency Spare Clothes, but also some cloths and and a shammy in case we encounter a wet playground (which is now our new euphemism for Shitcident). As it was exactly the moment that I had to go in and get my daughter I had no choice but to quickly clean him up as best as I could, redress him and then nonchalantly walk into a school with shit on the both of us. It's not every day that you realize that you have to walk through a hallway filled with people to a school office to ask 'can my daughter leave early - I'm afraid we're covered in shit so can't wait until home time." But that's what I did. Because I am a hero. So while I lost DILF points that day I did progress to Dad level 17 for dealing with it with such grace and humor.

- I went to a local camping/outdoors store today to see if they had any snow boots on sale for my son. They didn't. I also had to pick up some mink-oil for my own boots to weatherproof them - and wondered if vegetarians (the ethical/moral variety, at least) think that sort of thing is the more evil end of the animal-slaughtering industry. Shrugging that off my son and I wandered through the store looking at the other stuff in there for a while. At some point I saw a pair of denim pants that had a fish image sewn onto them. Which my son thought was phenomenal. He got all giddy and loud and started yelling, "FISH PANTS!" whilst pointing toward them. Unfortunately my son sometimes confuses how to say the word fish. That combined with his aggressive cold made what he was saying sound entirely like something else. Unfortunately for me I had to take the time to explain to a female-employee why my son was screaming, "BITCH PANTS!!!" excitedly in her general direction.

- Speaking of which he also gets me vegetables from the garden. Then he tells me it's snack time. I have to eat an inordinate amount of tiny tomatoes whle he rubs carrots and celery in ranch dressing. He likes to make smiles/frowns with stuff now - like this.

But better than that - he's started eating tomatoes. But carrots will NEVER be swallowed.....

- My son has started doing nice things for his sister. It's weirdly altruistic and generous. Well - to a cynical, slefish tit like me it is anyway. It's a bit like how - once your kids have some competency to make pictures or crafts - they start making millions of them for relatives/teachers/the mailman/people who walk their dogs past the house. He's made a bunch of pictures for his sister. And today he picked a whole bunch of leaves for her. The thing is when he gives them to her he calls them, "happy pictures" or - in this case - "happy leaves." Because he hopes/thinks they will make her happy. Nice work.

- I recently re-encountered an astounding thing - that being the "baby mind reader." I could blather on about how mental this man appears to be and how astounding it is that this lunacy made it to television. Honestly - it's insane. But then I remembered that Charlie Brooker had dealt with how despicable and insane this all is.. Seriously  - watch this (headphones on so no-one else can hear how demented it is) and lament at how astoundingly dangerous some people are.

- Over the weekend I witnessed a man - who very much thought he was probably the coolest man in the area - blasting Gloria Estefan from a Ford F350. And I mean loudly rocking the hell out to it. And as weird as that is I have complete and total respect for how much he didn't give a toss at all about how weird that was. Then this morning at the grocery store I watched a guy struggle with shoving a baby-carrier into a Honda Civic. I was parked next to him in my big, fat Dodge Minivan. And yet despite the vast luxury and room inside it and the clear ease I had in getting my kid, an 8 foot long plank of wood, groceries, a dog and a big pile of stuff to donate to the Salvation Army he still managed to make a wisecrack about how he just could never bring himself to drive a Minivan. "No offense man - but if I ever bought a minivan then I'd be admitting I've given up on life!" He said this without a hint of irony as Taylor Swift blurted out of his car. Seriously - if you have such a weak ego that you can't buy a minivan when you have kids then you need to figure out what is wrong with you. Because that's the sort of attitude that says women should only really use pink tools, and that truly women should be driving side-saddle. A minivan doesn't emasculate you. It doesn't mean anything. It's just a car. One that you can fit 8 people, and a ton of shit into at that. But I didn't joke back about that. Instead I said in a very clear I'm-An-Englishman accent, "Nah mate - we live in central NY. We've already given up on life." Then I got in my old-lady wagon, blurted Virago's jaggedy-screaming song "Je" and watched as he still couldn't quite stretch the seat-belt through the back of his daughter's car-seat. See - the minivan has nothing to do with how fucking ace I am.....

The Elephant Dance

I figured I'd try to shake the snot out of him.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Looks Like The DayQuil Kicked In

As the sky seems to be literally falling the boy goes bonkers.

The Weakling

My son has been oozing around the house today. He's been moody, lethargic and whiny. I have no idea who he gets that all from. But then I'm not sick. His mother is. And his sister is moody - which is her biggest indicator that she's sick. But I don't have that. Just a perpetual, unbreakable, vague headache brought on by a fortnight-long sense of I-can't-be-fucking-bothered. It'll pass.

Anyhoo - after seeming to recover a touch and narrating another amazing train escapade (in ridiculous high-pitched voice, no less) he crawled up onto the couch and did this.

Now if you'll excuse me we're on tornado watch. Which means I have to clean the dishes in case the power goes out.Right now the rain is hammering down. It sounds a bit like someone is firing a nail gun at the house. But then considering we've been peppered with walnuts already I'm fearful a large tree-limb - or even the whole bloody thing - might come down. And it was this time last year the basement flooded so - I should go pick up down there too. Here's the driveway this morning.

Those things hurt like a bastard when they hit you. And they will.

Maybe I'll hunt the house for chocolate.....?

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Unavoidable Looming Calamity

Me: Please don't poke me in the eye
Daughter: I'm not - I'm poking you in the cheek.

My kids ae very word-specific with a few things. I can't reprimand them with "I wouldn't do that if I were you," because both of them genuinely think that's just me commenting that although they would, I personally wouldn't. When I do accidentally say that my daughter - in particular - will respond about how wimpy I am compared to her then, because she definitely would and is doing it right now. Another example would be if I tell them not to do something along the lines of hitting or kicking. So the statement, "please don't hit your sister" actually is interpreted as, "feel free to kick, headbutt, bite, elbow-drop and piss all over your sister as nobody has any problem with you doing that or they would have said so."

The thing is they aren't even trying to be a smart-arse about it either. Neither of them is quite old enough to understand that level of malicious wankishness. And by that I mean those infuriating situations where one sibling doesn't actually touch the other one, but invades their personal space and reminds them, "I'm not actually touching you so technically you can't be annoyed." No - this is all rather a failure of language on my part. Last night in the bath I reminded my son, "please don't pour bubbles on my head." So I only had myself to blame when he started pouring cups of water over my head repeatedly, before then realizing I hadn't mentioned anything at all about feeding bubbles directly into my eyes. And it happens so often I should have learned myself by now to make statements as if I was drafting a patent. So I should be all-inclusive and overly vague so as to cover everything in one fell swoop.

I have no idea why but these past few weeks I've been oddly interested in Public Service Announcements on Youtube. Truth be told I'm a little jazzed about any and all levels of ridiculous warning. Of course when I didn't have children I didn't for one minute think about how a child would view them. But now I have kids some of them are so mental I am too frightened to let them see - even though the subject in hand has no bearing on them in any way. First off though I should mention that my own fascination with this sort of thing really took off shortly after meeting my in-laws. I visited the old family camp in the Adirondacks and there - right on one of the bedrom doors - was a massive poster warning about the danger of rabies. The house it was in is so homely and cozy - and very old fashioned with lots of early 20th century mountain gear adorning the walls - that I was completely thrown off by the gargantuan poster about how sad it would be if your dog got rabies and died. It was almost as if I'd just discovered that one of the family had the same level of insane illogical fan-worship behavior of those nutters do for Twilight or Michael Jackson. Except in this case for rabies. I sort of hoped at least it was for the Stephen King book Cujo so that it wouldn't just be that my new family felt it was important to have this poster up in a child's bedroom. But no. It's not the one below - which is quite friendly and sanitized - but it's a flavor of the sort of thing I mean.

Anyhoo - the point of this is I've been watching a whole bunch of the terrifying old British ones. Mostly I've been trying to figure out if there really was a massive wave of child-related death due to kids playing near electrical substations or powerlines during the late 70s to late 80s. Because there are LOADS of those. then they suddenly cease being made. Either something amazing happened and kids stopped dicking around with powerlines or the authorities decided that the kinds of people licking power generators or climbing pylons don't need saving. The one I remembered most was this one because the notion of one death wasn't enough - they had to have two.

Which in itself was an homage of sorts to this one from the late 70s. Which features that intercom/radio speaker broadcasted English accent that sounds like the faceless Big Brother authoritarian voice in every grim movie about the totalitarian nightmare that people on each wing of the political spectrum believe we are veering towards. More than that though - you'll hear that girl screaming "JIMMY!!!" for weeks now whenever your eyes close.

Seriously though - there are loads of these and they're all the same. Apparently kite flying was the 1980s equivalent of bath salts because there's this one and this one. Not to mention the almost unavoidable death lurking around the corner due to any body of water. Certainly don't go swimming in the river . And what kind of parent leaves their kids wander about so that they go falling in what looks like a tiny puddle (but which is evidently a Puddle Of Death)? Death himself is there giddy at the idea you'll fall in.

In the end I started to get confused because the relentless battering of YOU MIGHT DIE FROM ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING even managed to address careless women who polish the floor thereby creating a "man trap" (again - a Man Trap OF DEATH).

At some point I started wondering what this would mean if a kid saw them. My daughter was somewhat interested in the weirdness that I was watching (mostly because of the endless cacophony of children screaming-whilst-dying) so I sat her down and showed her a couple - careful to watch how she reacted to them. I was not going to show her the truly horrible ones. Like this or this. Those are heart-achingly painful to watch. Obviously i wanted it to be one of the absurd ones - so I picked the horrifying prospect of the entire family being killed in a road accident due to a milk spill. She thought it was silly (although she did freak out last night after knocking a glass of milk over at dinner - presumably expecting a Skoda Octavia to come smashing through wall and killing at least one of us. But when I asked her she was cheery still so I figured I'd show her something else. Obviously at this point I remembered her mother's constant addressing of how an old fridge may look like a box, but it's really a BOX OF DEATH. That might sound sensible if we had ever actually seen a fridge on the side of the road - let alone in our back yard yawning wide-open for the kids to come play inside it. But we never ever have. Bringing it up all the time seems oddly threatening to be honest. Handily there was a video for that too. That had no effect either because as soon as it was over my daughter asked if she could play games on the computer instead.

I told her to go to the bathroom before she could play and started clicking around on some of the newer ones. She walked back in to catch the end of the one below. Which seems like an LSD fueled Halloween nightmare.

So now I've traveled completely out the other side and realized what na idiot I've been. Because if there's anything I dislike about parenting it's unwarranted alarmism. I used to watch the Today show on and off many, many years ago and every other day they'd try and promote a panic about the latest threat to your kids. I've mentioned skittling and how that stuck in my mind. And I can't count the number of times they did bits about how people are probably going to break into your house while you're at work today, or how everyone else on Facebook is actually a 55 year old creep preying on your children.

I hate that crap. It sloshes together with an attitude some parents have that practically everything around a child can be used as an implement OF DEATH. A fine example being this past weekend my wife visited the National Museum of Play in Rochester. NY. At which she witnessed a parent become indignantly incensed that the play kitchens had tiny, blunt plastic cutlery in them. This parent felt the need to ask the parents around her (in that way that it isn't a question at all - but a firm statement that if disagreed with proves what a morally-devoid barbarian you are) how the museum could allow what is effectively torture weaponry around innocent little babies. I wasn't there but having encountered many of these people it's a safe bet that the parent's only memory of that visit was that their kid could have been killed just like that gut-wrenching scene in The Firm with Gary Oldman. And yet here I was like an idiot watching short video after short video of different awful ways your child may be scarred, killed or disturbed during their life. I felt a compelling desire to protect my children from something at that very moment. I had a strong throbbing need to make changes to esnure safety was at its maximum. And while I obviously note the altruism and good-intentions behind those last two PSAs in particular - they are made by people who are experts at scaring the living shit out of people.

Which is why me and the boy put on a coat, a hat (it's cold!) and are off to take the kite out. What can go wrong?