Second Guessing My Life Choices: Kids’ Room Edition

hazardous-wasteI took the last two days off from work, just to get on top of the house. Since the end of August, when we went to the Colorado mountains, the house has gotten away from us. School began. Kristine had her tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy/deviated septum/sinus polyp removal/uvula removal/etc. surgery, where she was out for two weeks. But mostly, my kids are allergic (epi pen-esque) to cleaning, with very few exceptions, mostly due to the phases of the moon on a weekend where the temperature difference between the inside of the house and the outside is directly proportional to the number of coherent sentences published in the current edition of The Hill vs. the number of omitted co-authors of the latest academic paper from the chemistry department of USC, due to their lack of Photoshop experience, botching the smoothing of the edges of their microscope images.

In other words, only my eldest really cleans on a consistent basis, and even she is beginning to see the fairness ratio in this equation. I’m sure, if the rest of the kids read this, they would be furious, pointing out all of their hard work. But they lack an understanding of the Sisyphus nature of cleaning. They think, “Once I’ve done enough, I am done for life.” It doesn’t work that way.

Which finds me walking down the hallway to the laundry room, this morning. I pass by the boys bedroom and smell a sour and rotten stench coming from it. We had worked into the night, last night, uncovering the floor and had been very successful in that endeavor. There was probably a day’s worth of work left to do and I wrote the smell off as having uncovered an old sock that had been soaked in waffle grease and laid lovingly on top of a banana peel.

I walked past again. And again. Then once more. I couldn’t take it anymore. I rushed downstairs, grabbed a pile of cleaners, a garbage bag, and a roll of paper towels, and ran back up to the room. Entering, I was met with a cloud of fruit flies. It was dark in there. I had to adjust my eyes to the lighting and use my nose as the chief sense to find the rotten cup of pudding on top of their dresser.

Only, it wasn’t just a pudding cup. It seemed to have boiled over, liquefying all over the flat top, gluing down coins, legos, Nerf bullets, baseball, Pokemon, and Valentine’s Day cards, and had permanently affixed a lava lamp to the surface. I lifted up the pudding cup. Sticky strings came with it. There was a mound of something else that looked like a pile of tiny maggots. I picked that up with my fingers. It came off in one piece, didn’t crumble, and is now in the garbage outside, along with everything else. Sure, they lost a few toys but, whatever.

It’s all clean now, but I’m wondering how on earth humans can exist in such filth. I’ve figured out a final solution to this problem – I’m banning pudding and only allowing Jello.

My Son Wants to be a Cop

goodcopbadcopIt was July 4th, in Lakeville, Minnesota. We had just been witness to the worst fireworks show since Christopher Columbus arrived on our fair shores, the natives celebrating with their Gattling guns, shooting glittered cherry pits into the air, peppering the smelly white folk with scented ash (hey…if David Barton can embellish history, I can too!).

We had a long walk back to the car. Two blocks, that is. Long Lakeville blocks. Traffic was everyone, everyone trying at once to get back home, faster than the next person. At 10:30PM on a Monday night, who wouldn’t want to be home faster than everyone else?

Police whistles cut the air and hurt your ears, the closer you came to an intersection. As we waited at the corner, Fred (11) watched with pure happiness on his face, as the officers waved their lighted wands, directing traffic against the lights. Then, they let us go, whistling unnecessarily, somewhat irritable.

Stepping off the curb onto the street, Fred stumbled over the feet of the crowd, making sure to continually catch a glimpse of the officers with every step he took. Pure joy was on his face.

“Daddy, I’m going to be a cop when I grow up, so I can do that.”

I bristled. A cop? You mean that police force that feels as if they’re on the clock when they encounter someone with a mental health condition? You mean the officers that treat me like a criminal during a simple traffic stop? You mean those men in blue that spout racist comments on social media, even encouraging people to run over protesters and activists calling for equal justice and actual due process, as afforded by our Constitution? You mean the men and women who sit on top of defenseless human being, citizens with every right to exist, and shoot them in the back? You mean those?

But I didn’t say that. I looked at my son and saw a generation of rebirth. One cog in the wheel of changing the system that my generation is attempting to start for him. He would have the opportunity to be a foot soldier in a new era of policing. One with recognition of rights and equality. One with empathy, sense of community, restraint, trustworthiness, yes, even love.

“Which kind? A good cop or a bad cop?”

With a look of utter disdain, side-eyeballing me with deep suspicion, wondering why the hell I have the audacity to question his character, he muttered under his breath, “You know the one, of course.”

I tousled his hair as we stepped up on the curb on the other side of the street, hoping the system won’t get to him before he brings hell to them.

Is Repeating Kindergarten a Good Idea?

IMG_3021My Freak, aka, Analisse, who turns 6-years-old at the end of this month, is struggling a bit in school. She is the last of our six, my favorite (“favourite” for my Canuck readers…looking at you, Erin, Rebecca, Gloria, Joel, Chantelle, etc) by a long shot, and is the only one of my squirts who attended a full year of pre-school.

As a wild child, she had a hard time learning to focus on her own work in the classroom, at the beginning of the school year. Her teacher, who is the best teacher I have ever met, this side of the sun, took a liking to her, which is impossible to avoid, and worked her rear end off, to get her to hone those skills.

But she struggled with Kindergarten subject matter. In fact, at Spring Parent/Teacher conferences, her teacher had a packet all prepared to show us how worried she was about The Freak, and was going to recommend that she repeat Kindergarten. Her argument was, “If she’s going to repeat a grade, Kindergarten is the grade to repeat.”

But, in true Freak fashion, that was the week that Analisse decided to take off with her studies. All her teachers said the same thing:

I have no idea what is happening, but things just….clicked this week.

So her teacher softened her recommendation, still vying for a repeat, but in a more ‘wait-and-see’ mode. The school put together a team of six specialists to assess her and to find her a path with special education, if necessary. We are also putting her in Summer School, which she’ll love.

So, my question:

Would you have your daughter repeat Kindergarten, especially when there is the chance she won’t really need to, even if she may struggle a bit in the years ahead?

Today is National Grilled Cheese Day

tomato-soup-grilled-cheese-sandwich-large-51094I know what I’m making for supper tonight. Only problem, as any parent knows, the minute you have a great idea for a meal, it is imperative to entertain the reality of that situation – that you’re the only one excited about it currently and forever.

You’ll slave away, making the perfect grilled cheese from Bongards sandwich cheese and Kwik Trip white bread. You’ve perfectly popped open a few tomato soup cans,  heated the contents on the stove, lovingly stirring in whole milk, a little bit at a time, so as not to curdle the stuff.

Then, once everything is ready, the piping hot sammiches and soup hit the table, meeting the turned up noses of your kids. Sure, they’re grateful little wretches when you half-ass a meal, but the moment you put time into it, they have this weird little radar, causing them to conspire with their siblings to make Dad feel like shit.

But I do it anyway on that happenstance day where they inhale a meal and then, with mouth full of food, look at me with shining eyes and declare, “Daddy! This is the best meal ever! Your the best dad in the world!” (Being young yet, I assume they butcher “you’re” in speech, as well as written text).

And then I go run for President and tell everyone, “I know foods. I have the best foods!

Bananas and Condoms

The bananas were rotting in the fruit basket.

The kids used to eat them like candy, especially when I was trying to get my blood pressure down a few years ago. The blood pressure is fine now, but now nobody eats bananas. I keep buying them, though, just to offer a science lesson on how long it takes the things to rot, depending on atmospheric pressure, presence of fruit flies, how long a light bulb is on in the room, and most importantly, how often the kids clean their rooms.

I do also make a killer loaf of banana bread, but lately, I haven’t the time.

Anyway, I was walking through the living room, my bride was on her phone, sitting in a chair, and my 12-year-old daughter was on the couch, just staring off into the distance. I reached into my back pocket and found a condom there. Pulling it out, I looked at Laura,

Know what this is!?

Yeah. That’s a ‘com-dom’.

Right. What’s it for?

To put on the boy’s penis when you’re having sex.

Good! Has your sex ed teacher demonstrated how to put it on?

Nope.

I left the room to get a banana, shoved it in my belt and threw my shirt over it, and walked back into the living room.

Laura looked at Mommy with a frightened look on her face,

Mommy! Is Daddy going to show us how he puts it on?!?!?

Felicity (8) heard the laughing and came bounding down the stairs.

What!!!?

So I pulled out the banana and demonstrated how to use the condom (on the banana), then quickly went through the reasons why it was important, even telling the girls the benefits of an IUD.

Then I went and made a lubricious loaf of banana bread.

#RedMyLips

imageApril is sexual assault and victim blaming awareness month. The #RedMyLips campaign is meant to raise awareness of the blatant and subtle ways victims are blamed, teaching our culture how to spot and eradicate the ways we prop up rape culture.

Our Saturn Blew Up: Engine Down

10965Two years ago, we bought a 2008 Saturn Outlook SUV. We downsized from a large, 12-passenger van, to save on gas mileage. It was important at the time, being we were struggling a bit, financially. Our van got 12 miles per gallon and this promised about 20. In reality, it got about 16.

No matter, we bought it and off we went. The kids were pissed. Now, instead of 2 seats per child to choose from, they had only one. Ever since, they’ve been begging for the van back.

Now they have their chance.

A rod just blew through the pistons in the engine. It’s a $4000 fix, right after we spent $4000 to replace the timing chain, which happened to be the only model that wasn’t on a recall for this particular timing chain, on top of plenty of other repairs over the last 24 months. It’s time for the lemon to go, even though we’re underwater by about $2000, not including any of the repairs.

I hope a junkyard is nice enough to give us a good deal. Oh…and don’t ever buy a Saturn.

Kids Understand What’s Important: A Donald Trump Tale

TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY CARLOS MARIO MARQUEZ Salvadorean illegal immigrants deported from the United States alight from the plane upon their arrival at El Salvador international airport on December 18, 2008. Today, 116 Salvadorean nationals --83 men and 33 women-- were woken up at 4 a.m. at Willacy detention center in Texas and transported in buses under strict surveillance to the airport to be deported to El Salvador.  AFP PHOTO/ Jose CABEZAS (Photo credit should read Jose CABEZAS/AFP/Getty Images)

Jose CABEZAS/AFP/Getty Images

I keep catching myself, as a parent, when I’m “telling my kids like it is,” with respect to politics. I hold strong views and can get very animated, using humor, hand waving, and even a little bit of interpretive dance. But I want my kids to hold their own views. I don’t want them to not vote for Ted Cruz just because “Daddy says he’s a religious loon, desiring to prepare the way for the Lord, via the Presidency.”

Such is why, when a conversation like the following begins in my car, between my kids, I wince a little. But not to worry, I would soon be puffing my chest out with pride, listening to my oldest son explain his reasons for disliking Donald Trump.

“I don’t want Trump to be President,” Felicity, my 8-year-old said.

“Why? Why don’t you like Trump,” I asked?

“Because he’s an idiot! You say he’s an idiot!”

That was Laura (12). She’s really quite good at worming her way into the good graces of anyone she needs to impress, but this was a bit of an overreach. I needed better answers. Frederic (11) piped up from the back seat, noticeably angry, shoving his words forward, not caring who died in the process of his wrath.

“Felicity! Do you have any brown or darker than brown friends!?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I have three or four, and if Donald Trump becomes President, he’s going to come and take my friends away. He’s going to send them away. I hate him.”

That was simple. I think I’m going to hang out with kids a bit more.