Couple Things

Couple things I’ve noticed recently. First, when do shoes become a central and defining element of a girl’s life? Because the Saturday before last we stop at Marshalls and Mom finds some $5 replacement boots for Bailey. And she’s jacked. I mean pumped. She looked like Brett Favre after that first touchdown pass to Andre Rison in Super Bowl XXXI.

She also finds some Converse knockoffs for Bails and Kinsey. Black hightops with peace signs all over them for Kinz and black low tops for Bails with some peace signs on the outside. Now don’t get me wrong. I disapproved right off the bat. I don’t want my kids running around with freaking peace symbols on their shoes. Steelers logos – yes, little Gadsden flags – yes, but peace symbols? Negatory good buddy. Although you gotta admit its really, really funny that corporate America has totally grabbed the peace symbol and marketed it into oblivion. So much so that any meaning it has for left over hippies from the late 60’s and early 70’s has been completely corrupted.

We get home from Marshalls and we each go about our business. Except for Riley. She’s up in her room. Sulking. Whimpering. She looked like Harry Reid watching Scott Brown’s victory speech.

“Rye what the heck are you crying about?”

“I’m upset.”

“Why?”

“Just because.”

“Wait, is this because the other girls got shoes and you didn’t?”

“No. I don’t care that they got shoes. I care because Kinsey got my dream shoes.”

Holy. Crap. Dream. Freaking. Shoes. She’s. Ten.

I really had no idea what might qualify as the appropriate response. So I just went with my gut.

“Rye, suck it up. Get off your bed and stop whining. There are far greater tragedies in the world. Like the ‘blarge’ call in the 2000 Midwest Regional Final between Iowa State and Michigan State. Or Juliet, instead of Kate, being written out of LOST.”

I’m never going to really understand this. I mean I really, really like my LL Bean field boots. If I could wear them with a suit, I’d do it. They are the most comfortable shoes ever constructed on this planet. But I don’t think I have or ever will put “dream” directly before “shoes” in a sentence.

Anyway, here’s the other thing. My girls think toots are hilarious. I’m fully aware that most kids and all dudes think they are funny. But my kids think they are extraordinarily humorous. Like they hold some magical ridiculousness that only they understand. Like when you go to work and you’re trying to tell someone who doesn’t have kids that The Penguins of Madagascar are freaking awesome and they look at you they way Richard looked at Tommy.

Coming home from dance one time Rye cracks one off in the car. And we’re trapped. It’s the dutch oven. It was zero degrees outside so you can’t really roll down the windows. Plus my car is old and when it gets cold, sometimes the windows don’t go back up. My nose hairs are burning, eyes are watering and I hear laughing behind me.

I take a quick peek and Bails has completely turtled herself. Pulled both her arms and her head into her coat.

“Guys, guys, do this. You can’t smell the toot from in here.”

For the last few days, just as we’re getting in the car to go to school, one of them bombs the garage or the backseat. Sometimes they apologize but other days they take credit. Bailey rips one the other day and goes, “oh yeah baby, that was me.”

So I’ve had to go over tooting etiquette with them. First rule – they are girls. And girls don’t toot. Ever. Maybe in front of their friends. And when I’m around because I think its funny.

Second rule – don’t toot in the car. Ever. Unless you’re alone and there is absolute metaphysical certitude that nobody will be getting in the car with you until you’ve had a chance to cycle some outside air into the vehicle.

There are more rules but they aren’t going to remember any of this anyway. Plus, I learned later that the morning tootfest only happens when I’m driving them to school. They don’t do it in Mom’s car.

But I’m the Dad. And somewhere in the Dad bylaws written in the Dad Scrolls and repeated throughout Dad folklore, Dads think toots are pretty freaking funny. And who am I to mess with tradition?

Published in: on February 22, 2010 at 10:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Killin’ It

It’s taken about 7 years but I think I’m finally getting handle on a Kinsey. Her mood can turn on a dime with some positive reinforcement. And success goes a long way with her. I’m figuring it out a little bit. Not all the way mind you, but I’m making progress. As Hank Stram would say, I’m matriculating the ball down the field. Now, Kinz is to drama what the Vikings are to losing Super Bowls. They just go together. And I have a low tolerance for drama. Which, come to think of it, means that I am literally on the Highway to Hell as the girls approach the teens.

Anyway, last night was gymnastics night. I’m on my second of three trips to the gym. Rye at 6:30, Kinz at 7:30, pick them both up at 8:30. As we walk out the door, Kinz informs me through tears and quivering lips that she doesn’t think she can go to gymnastics. Her stomach doesn’t feel good and her head is starting to hurt. Holy crap. Seriously. Sick? C’mon, man! Wait, this is Kinsey. Immediately, I feel her forehead to see if she has a fever. Not warm. Must be drama.

“What’s the problem Kinz? You’re not sick, so what’s going on?”

“Well Josh makes us do some really hard things and I’m just not very good at them.”

Josh is Kinsey’s gymnastics coach. And he’s evidently pretty tough on the girls. Rye had him last year and she’d come home limping, dragging a leg, holding her shoulder. She’d come out of the gym looking like Rocky after his first fight with Clubber Lang.

“Kinz you’re getting yourself all worked up over nothing.”

“No I’m not Dad. My tummy really does feel bad. And so does my head. I’m just not at my best. I might get hurt.”

Ahh…there it is…right to the guilt/sympathy card. Now her coach just bumped her from advanced beginner up to intermediate. So this is like the libs telling Cheney how to fight the terrorists. It doesn’t matter how many times or how loud they said it, Dick’s not listening.

“Kinz, you are doing great. That’s why you’re moving up to the next level.”

“But Josh makes us do hard things. And if I move up, it will only get harder.”

“Practice takes care of that kiddo. Back when I was in grade school I was on the basketball team and I wasn’t that good when I started. But I practiced the things I wasn’t very good at and in a couple years I could fill it up like Larry Bird.”

“What?”

“I could rain 30 footers out of the sky. I was like Chris Mullin. Had the cool feathered hair and everything.”

Why are you talking about birds and feathers?”

“Forget it. Point is you just need to be tough and try hard. You’re already good at gymnastics Kinz. Everyday you practice you’re getting better.”

I don’t think any of this worked because she gives me a kiss and slides over to the door with tears in her eyes.

So an hour later I pick them up. Kinz and Rye hop into the car. Well Riley hobbled into the car.

“Dad I was trying to do an aerial and I hurt myself. It feels like there is something between my bones right here.”

“Really? Between your bones. I think you’re fine. Kinz, how’d it go.”

“Well, there are only three girls in the class because two girls were sick and another switched to another coach because Josh is too hard.”

“And you’re still there Kinz. Remember how Mom and I always say you need to be tougher?”

“Yeah?”

“Well, you just got tougher. You were kinda scared about going tonight because Josh makes you work so hard. Well another girl gave up and you didn’t. You stayed with the hard coach because you’re tough.”

“I am? Really?”

“That’s right.”

Then she showed me her progress report which details which skills she’s mastered, which ones need more consistency and which need better form. I’m reading through the skills and there is something called a “round off dismount.”

“Kinz this says you’ve mastered the round off dismount from the balance beam.”

“Yeah, Josh said I was just killin’ it.”

Cool. My daughter is not only tough but she was just killin’ it.

Published in: on February 18, 2010 at 8:42 pm  Comments (1)  
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Valentine’s Day and Softball

I don’t like Valentine’s Day. Never have.

When you are in 3rd grade and a girl gives you a candy heart that says, “sweetie” or “be mine” it always results in ridicule. But then it gets worse. You get to 6th grade or so and girls aren’t gross anymore. And Valentine’s Day looms. When you’re 11 or 12 and you’re whole frame of reference for what to give a girl on Valentine’s Day is Tom and Jerry cartoons, it makes you nervous.

Friday the girls had their Valentine’s Day parties. I assume this is still allowed because the public school system doesn’t know that the Pope made it a Christian holiday back in 498 A.D. Anyway, the girls had to get their Valentines ready for their classmates and get a box ready to collect all the Valentine’s they received. I got home from work late Thursday night and Mom didnt feel good. So the Valentines had the distinct feel of a school project that would have to be finished by Dad. But I walk into the kitchen and Riley has automated the entire process by desgining an assembly line system. They write their names on the cards, tape a sucker to the card, and drop it into a bag. Bailey added a step by taping a High School Musical tattoo to hers.

It was really impressive. They looked like Rosie the Riveter building B-17’s back in the 40’s. All I had to do was make sure everything was ready to go. And I failed at this. There is simply too much stuff. Backpacks, snow bags and now you add Valentines? Seriously, we need an inventory manager this time of year just to call out all the crap that has to go to school with the girls. Snow pants, boots, hats, mittens – then you have to make sure you filled out the field trip forms, refilled their lunch accounts, signed up for parent-teacher conferences and then put all that stuff back in the correct backpack. Now add another bag filled with Valentine’s Day cards with suckers and tattoos taped to them. And remember, I already don’t like Valentine’s Day.

Friday morning we’re trying to get out the door and despite my repeated instructions to move faster and despite the work the girls put into their Valentines, all they cared about were the gigantic Hershey’s Kisses my Mom sent them the night before. These things are huge. If you put a normal sized Kiss next to these Kisses it would like a before and after shot of Barry Bonds’ head. Skinny Barry vs. melon-headed Barry.

So now we have some Valentine candy to dump into the bag currently filled with Christmas candy and Halloween candy. It will never be eaten. It just takes up space. Like Joe Biden.

Saturday was a much better day. Rye and Kinz had basketball in the morning and then Rye had a “tryout” for softball. We’re down in the basement Saturday morning practicing dribbling, defense, proper placement of your hand while shooting. Kinz caught the ball with her nose once and didn’t react well. I’m pretty sure that if Kinz decides she likes basketball and wants to continue to play, I’m going to have to explain that drama isn’t really an acceptable defensive strategy.

But the real story is Rye and softball. I pitched a few to her in the driveway. First time I’ve ever done that with 6 foot drifts of snow on either side of the driveway by the way. Good thing the ball is yellow. I threw fly balls and some grounders to her. And she just snaps the ball back to me. We have to work on her accuracy a little but man, she’s got a gun. She’s the Polish Rifle.

At the tryout they line up about 25 girls. Rye is third. They take grounders first. She slides her feet, gets in front of the ball, fields them cleanly and SNAP, she fires it back to the coach. Then they shag some flies. Or at least they simulate it the best they can in the high school gym. She catches them all. You can tell she’s pretty impressed with herself because she was a little worried about this. Then she gets to take three cuts at the softball on a tee. She swings her new pink bat meekly three times. I’m thinking, “Well, seriously, how do you swing a pink bat hard? It’s pink. If it was black with flames and a skull, then her bat speed would probably increase.”

She comes out and asks if I saw swing.

“Yeah, good job. When it gets warmer, we’ll practice.”

“I didn’t really hit it very good.”

“I saw that. But you connected each time. Some of girls missed the ball altogether and hit the tee.”

“I could have swung harder but I was worried that I’d hit the coach who was sitting next to the tee with the bat. I didn’t think that would be good.”

Then on our way out they tried to recruit me to be a coach. Turns out their numbers are up and they are three coaches short. So I signed up Mom…

If I had a $100

What were you doing at 2:30 Tuesday morning?

Sleeping? Watching F Troop on TV Land? Bet you weren’t awakened by your second grader whining about your kindergartener launching.

“Dad, Bailey is throwing up and she got some on my bed.”

And I’m up.

There are only a few things that could get me out of bed faster than that sentence. Homemade poppyseed roll is one and Nancy Pelosi handing the gavel to Mike Pence next January might be another.

Bails is in the top bunk in her room and she didn’t make it to the bathroom. Completely understandable. But you really don’t have an appreciation for how much content a stomach can hold until you see it spread out on some bunk beds, the bunk bed ladder, the railing on the top bunk, the bathroom floor, the bathroom sink, the lid to the toilet and pajamas of your 6 year old. You also can’t leave out the nearly perfect arc shaped trail from bunk bed ladder to the toilet.

Mom and I spring into action. After 10 years of parenting I think you sort of develop unspoken action plans for certain events. You never have that pink barf sawdust when you need it however. I cleaned up the bathroom floor, sink, toilet and countertop first. Why? Because cleaning throw up off the carpet is an awful, awful job. And because you physically could not walk in the bathroom until the room had been cleared. Plus Bails was in the bathroom too. Wearing her barfy jammies. So Mom removed the pajamas and just put her in the shower. Sometimes a good hose down is your only option. Removing a puke soaked shirt without getting puke on yourself or the child really is a skill unto itself. And one that Mom has mastered.

Removing puke soaked bedspreads and sheets from a top bunk while trying not to fall off the recently disinfected and currently slippery ladder steps is not one I have mastered. There’s really no way to avoid contact with the enemy. Unless you own your own hazmat suit. All I had were some old winter gloves. So there I am in my barefeet, boxers and a tee shirt wearing my winter gloves. It looked like I had Mickey Mouse hands.

Just as I’m getting the sheets into a laundry basket I hear Bails heaving again. What is less fun than throwing up? Throwing up again while you’re in the shower.

So that was pretty gross.

I know I’m complaining about this and its really not that big of deal. Its not like the quarterback of my favorite team threw an interception to lose the Super Bowl. Oh wait, that actually happened to me back in January of ’96. Nice pass O’Donnell. Anyway, cleaning up some recycled waffles at 2:30 in the morning isn’t really that bad. Paying 21% on your home mortgage loan back during the recession in ’75 is bad. Seriously, how the hell did we even have Christmas in the 70’s with people paying that much?

Anyway, the bug has cycled through all of us now except Mom. And she’s not feeling the best as I write this. But everybody is back at school. In fact, Bails brought home a little project yesterday. They pasted a play $100 bill on a sheet and wrote three things that they would buy if they really had $100. What did Bails write?

“I would buy an ipod.” She even spelled ipod correctly. What the hell does a 6 year old put on an ipod?

“I would buy a cat.” No chance of this happening. I already have three children. I don’t need anything else to take care of. Especially something that craps in your living room if its pissed off at you.

“I would buy an octopus.”

This struck Mom as odd so she asked Bails why she wanted to buy an octopus.

“Because I like octopuses. And if anyone was mean to me, I’d have the octopus ink them.”

Not what I would have picked but you can’t fault her logic.

Published in: on February 11, 2010 at 11:09 pm  Comments (2)  
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Selling the Buick and Joe Dumars

There’s a lot of things I wonder about. Like does anybody else think Rick Springfield’s Souls and Bob Seger’s Hollywood Nights are essentially the same song? Would the Super Steelers had been able to grab that fifth Super Bowl win had Bradshaw just tucked it and ran for the first down instead of throwing that game changing pick against San Diego in the ’82 playoffs? And what is the success rate for Dads to avoid getting sick when 66% of your kids throw up over a three day period?

Rye produced a gale force burp Friday night. Good news was that she was smart and agile enough to grab an empty garbage can. Bad news is that after she threw up she thought it would be a good idea to get in my bed and lay down on my pillows.

So not only did I have to sleep in puke fumes, I had to empty the aforementioned garbage can. You know how when you empty one container of liquid into a bigger container of liquid there is a splash? I miscalculated the height the splash could attain.

Despite my best attempts at decontamination, I woke up Sunday morning and felt like there was something amiss in my stomach. You know that feeling. You don’t feel sick but you know something isn’t right. Like Tom Cruise in Valkyrie.

Those fears were confirmed about 1 p.m. Which meant I became the first American to watch all of ESPN’s and the NFL Network’s Super Bowl pre-game coverage. I was only half awake for portions of it but that stuff is awful. Horrible. Criminally horrible. Adam Sandler is a funny guy. But that doesn’t mean I want him breaking down the game.

Anyway, the whole weekend wasn’t lost. In fact, I realized something that I had been missing so far as a Dad. Watching the girls in dance and gymnastics is great. Listening to Rye at her orchestra concert is cool. I’ll get a pic up soon. It was my first orchestra concert ever!

But I don’t have any frame of reference with this stuff. If they blow a step or a move, I don’t really notice. When Rye was in The Nutcracker a couple years ago she came out afterwards and wanted to know if I saw her mess up. I didn’t. At all. I had the same reaction Mom did when Austin Collie turned the wrong way on that wide receiver screen Sunday night just before Peyton Manning threw the pick six.

“Something went wrong? Really?”

But Kinsey made three baskets in a row Saturday morning. Three. Even used the backboard on one. My sixth grade coach would have been beaming. Then they took turns defending each other off the dribble. She was like Joe Dumars out there. The only person having more fun than me was the kid in the camp who, for whatever reason, thought flying karate kicks everytime he turned a corner were a useful addition to basketball. Or the maybe the kid who did the double fist pump pistol shot at all the parents after he made a basket.

Already looking forward to next Saturday. Maybe one of the kids will add the moonwalk…

Published in: on February 9, 2010 at 8:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Timing

Mom flew out today for two days of meetings. So you know what that means?

That’s right a puking second grader.

The timing is simply amazing. Astounding. There is no logical explanation as to why whenever Mom must go out of town, there is something that blows up the daily routine like Scott Brown blows up health care bills.

God evidently didn’t think that Riley’s orchestra concert Thursday evening was enough of a challenge. He needed to add vomit.

Last night, about the time we see the temple during the season premiere of LOST, Kinsey comes downstairs holding her tummy with the whiny look. This does not draw any kind of reaction from Mom or I. Kinsey exhibiting the whiny look is like french fries looking tasty.

So we get her a blanket and have her lay down next to us. Because neither one of us is willing to miss any part of LOST by doing some actual parenting. Plus Kinsey normally falls asleep within minutes of laying down. Its really sort of remarkable how fast she can fall asleep. She’s like the Carl Lewis of narcolepsy.

Except right when you’d expect her to be falling asleep, she breaks out in dead sprint for the bathroom. When kids know they are about to throw up several things happen. First, they panic because they’re kids and they haven’t had enough math to do an accurate and quick estimate on the level of speed needed to be beat the flow of barf. Second, the on set of panic blows their fire control all to hell so rarely do they hit the water when they are talking to Ralph on the big white telephone. Thankfully, however, Kinsey managed to do this.

But then she went upstairs to bed. And not her bed but Riley’s bed. We go upstairs to bed and I notice something.

“Man, it smells like Kinsey honked again…and by that vomit trail on the carpet and the spatter pattern on the toilet, it looks like I’m right.”

So we clean that up. I feel her forehead. No fever. Hmm…maybe its just a quick stomach bug and she’ll be fine in the morning and I won’t have to miss work.

And maybe Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo was a good idea…

We get her a bucket, a sleeping bag and a pillow and Mom puts her on the floor in our room – on my side of the bed. Several rounds of dry heaves later, Kinz finally falls asleep for good.

But I was at home all day today because I’m pretty sure if your kid is throwing up 7 hours before school starts, you’re supposed to keep them home.

So we were vomit free today which means Kinsey is back to school tomorrow. Tomorrow is dance day too. But we have to bug out of dance early to make it to Riley’s concert. A performance of which she is unconcerned. My evidence? This conversation:

Dad: Rye, your first concert is Thursday, you need to practice your violin.

Riley: Why? I already know everything.

Betcha General Custer said something similar when he charged down that hill in Montana…

Published in: on February 3, 2010 at 11:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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