Check Please

Ok, just one thing before I get started. Mom and the girls are watching the Grammys. Why does Keith Urban wear eye liner? And Giuliana Rancic is desperate need of a cheeseburger.

SteelersBengals1976So, unless you are self-serving douche like Wendy Davis, being a parent doesn’t give you the option of bailing. When they give you the baby to hold in the hospital, it doesn’t come with an ejection handle. Unless, again, you’re a douchebag. But for the rest of us, that option doesn’t exist. In fact, I’d argue the only real option you have is the opposite. You have to dig in. You’re like the 101st at Bastogne. You’re like the ’76 Steelers after the 1-4 start. You’re like John McClane in the Nakatomi Building.

You can’t surrender. Retreat does not exist as an alternative. You don’t really get reinforcements. Except for Mom I guess. But she’s already here. Maybe your folks and Mom’s folks. And parenthood doesn’t care. It just keeps coming. Like blitzes from the ’85 Bears. Then, just when you’ve deluded yourself into believing you actually figured this whole Dadhood thing out, life hits you like Hulk Hogan bodyslamming The Iron Sheik in the ’84 WWF championship.

Each parenting challenge, if you boil it down, gives you three options.

1) You can ignore the challenge. Depending on the severity of the situation, sometimes this is warranted. For example your 11 year-old may be constantly telling you she is bored. The challenge isn’t to find them something to do, the challenge is to maintain your composure and not unleash the fury and thunder their whining rightfully deserves.
2) You can fight a delaying action. Like Buford’s cavalry holding Seminary Ridge on the first day of Gettysburg. Or the rebels during the Battle of Hoth in Empire Strikes Back. You’re objective is to delay the ultimate decision. Not because you’re using strategy #1 but simply because you don’t want to be bothered with being a parent at that particular point in time. This often happens to me during Steeler or Cyclone games. Also during The Walking Dead. Sometimes a delaying action results in you never having to make a decision. Or in layman’s terms, never having to be a parent. The problem resolves itself. Like turning on Chumbawumba when no one is on the dance floor. Truth be told, this is magical experience and is often described in dramatically hushed tones when parents talk amongst themselves. Like finding $100 in your pants. No, wait its better than that. Its like finding $100 in your pants that also happen to be time machine that you take back to 1981 and go all Biff Tannen in Vegas and bet it on the 49ers to beat the Bengals in the Super Bowl. Then you multiply your winnings several times, jump to 1987 and bring Def Leppard back with you and invite all your friends over.
3) You can attack. Well, maybe attack is strong word. Its not a blitzkrieg. You can engage. You can choose to charge. But make sure you know what you’re charging into or you could end up like Custer at Little Big Horn. You can flank. Schwarzkopf did it in the Gulf War and you can do it too. You can use a diversion. If Valentine and Winthorpe can outsmart Beeks to get the new crop report, you should be able to pull it off. You could try and execute a classic pincers movement in honor of Hannibal Smith. You can even launch a surprise attack like Washington at Trenton, Jackson at Chancellorsville, Belichick in Super Bowl 36. Whatever avenue of attack you choose, this means you have to be strong.

In the end though, you’re going to have to be a parent. Turns out there is no truth to the rumor that your offsprings’ vision is based on movement so staying completely still doesn’t work.

But every now and then I’d like to eject. Bail. Check the @#% out.

Why? Because there are times when I’m tired of answering questions and making decisions. I just want to shut down more of my neuro-functions and watch reruns of Saturday Night Live. But I can’t. Instead I’m faced with question after freaking question. Can I have a sleep over? Can I get an iPad? What is for dinner? Can I go to the mall? Can I go to the basketball game with friends? Can you drive and pick us up? Can I be a mime?

Yes, an effing mime.

This is a question that has never been asked of me. I have never posed this question myself. I’ve never been privy to a conversation in which this question has been asked. I’ve never even seen movie that joked about this question or the people proposing it. I’ve been in very few situations in which mimes or mime-like activities were a topic of discussion.

Therefore, I do not have an answer. I am unable to access my menu of parental clichés to answer this. In fact, I’m unable to retrieve any of the smart ass one-liners I’ve acquired through years of movie study and useless knowledge procurement.

Which means I have to actually do some parenting. Well, not really. Its really just a yes or no question and then the transportation hassle. Because mimes evidently can only practice in middle of the freaking night. I’m exaggerating. But I do have to leave the house at 6:15 to get Rye to mime practice. Or whatever it is mimes do. But I’m having a lot of trouble getting past the fact that there’s a mime club. When did mimes become a mainstream activity. I know its been 30 years since I was in 8th grade. And a lot of things have changed. There are actual adults walking around who have never seen Star Wars. Don’t remember when Hair Metal ruled the world. But mimes?

Mimes?

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Losing Things

There are many things that annoy me. Most of them probably annoy you too. You have your run of mill annoyances like fans who walk in late to games and act all ticked off that they have to climb over everybody in their row to get to their seats. Or people who walk up next to you, ask what you’re doing and proceed to read right over your shoulder. Or pretty much everything about KU basketball fans. Then you have your more serious annoyances like ABC pulling The Assets after two airings. Hmmm, let’s see, it’s about Cold War espionage, the fact that regular folks fought and won the Cold War and the freaking 80’s. Turns out I’m the only person who cares about counter-intelligence dramas based on true events. But then again President Obama and America’s drunk Uncle Joe have this whole intelligence/international espionage thing completely under control so I can see the indifference. And then there are the Code Red, Defcon 1, sh*tting in your pants annoyances like zombies, Ron Paul and the possibility that the 49ers might win the Super Bowl and therefore have as many rings as the Steelers.

Anyway, we have had an epidemic of lost stuff in our house. First, I pick up Rye from dance on Monday night. As I’m standing there waiting for her to pack up her dance gear she realizes she only has one ballet shoe. She does a cursory scan of the room before she grabs her dance bag, looks into it, grabs her sweatpants with one hand and moves them roughly a half inch and then turns to me and says with complete confidence, “I can’t find my other ballet shoe.”

“Really? Because you looked you for it about as hard as the Heisman voters worked when they voted for Danny Wuerffel back in in’96. You haven’t even tried…unless trying means the same thing as what George Lucas did in The Phantom Menace. Look under the chairs, look back in the dance room, ask the other girls if they’ve seen it or mistakenly picked it up. But, at the very least, do something other than look forlorn.”

Her response?

“Well…what do you what me to do? It’s not here.”

One of my favorite things is when 14 year-olds state things with the confidence and self-assuredness that usually only comes from experience, hard –earned knowledge and gritty determination. Like Jack Ryan in most of the Clancy novels. 14 year-olds have none of these things. Okay, maybe, MAYBE, back in the 1830’s when they were shooting their own food, making their own clothes and fighting off Indian raiding parties on the Great Plains they had these things. But not now. And certainly not the one who I’m responsible for.

“Dad, it’s gone. I don’t know where it is.”

So you have to make a decision as a parent in these kinds of situations. You do have options:
1- You can help her look. But this will eventually result in her self-reliance being as effective as French military strategy in 1940.
2- You can step in and ask the other parents and girls if they’ve seen the shoe or if they would look through their bags to see if they have it. Which is pretty much the same thing as Democratic political strategy since FDR.
3- Or you can stand there and tell her to find it. That’s what John McClane would do.

Regardless, the logical outcome of this situation is that I’m paying for new ballet shoes. Why is this the logical outcome? Because all of these situations end up with me paying for something that I’ve already purchased. Multiple times. Thankfully one of the dance Moms notices Rye’s forlornness, her extremely lethargic searching and asks if she’s missing something.

“Um, yeah, I’m missing a ballet shoe.”

Dance mom responds loudly with, “Everybody stop, check your bags, Riley is missing a ballet shoe.”

Awesome, thanks dance mom. But there is a built-in weakness with her chosen mode of helpfulness. She’s asked a room of 14-16 year-olds girls to look for something that isn’t theirs and isn’t a phone. This means instead of Rye slothfully looking for her ballet shoe, you have a roomful of teen girls slothfully looking for a ballet shoe. And listen, unless it sparkles and is called an iShoe, they ain’t finding it.

Seriously, it took everything I had not to say, “Holy #%^@ing sh*t, take a #%^@ing minute and look through your #%^@ing bags. It’ll take 30 seconds and save me $25. Help a brotha out.”

As expected, nobody finds the shoe. So on our way home, Rye tearfully tells me she also can’t find her glasses. When was the last time you saw them I ask. Her response?

“I think the day before Christmas break.”

My response?

But it’s not over. The next morning I notice Kinz getting ready for school and she’s ready to walk out the door for the bus with some of those cheap knit gloves you buy at Target. And it’s 10 degrees outside.

“Kinz where are those sweet new Burton gloves you got for Christmas?”

“Um, I can’t find them.”

“Since when?”

“Well, I wore them to school on the first day back from Christmas break and now I can’t find them.”

My reaction?

Rye found her other ballet shoe at the bottom of her dance bag when she finally dumped it out to get the stinky clothes out of it. Someone also found her glasses on a hallway floor and turned them into the school office. Kinz found her gloves at the bottom of the giant lost and found bin near the second grade classrooms.

Bails seems to know where her stuff is. For now.

The Ride In

I discovered a new local radio station earlier this week. I realize some of you find this silly. “Local radio station? What in the hell is that? Is that like phone with a cord? Or tackling in the NFL? Sorry but I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m so into Pintrest, Tumblr and Pandora right now. Next time instead of speaking out of your mouth to me just go ahead and Snapchat me.”

That was sarcasm. But I’m still fairly certain its how my 14 year-old will begin talking to me. Soon. This will of course lead to repeated digital punches in face such as, but not limited to, me tweeting at her about making sure she comes home right after school so Mom and I can give her smooches on the cheek and posting Youtube video of her hair as she awakes.

Regardless, I listen to the radio. In my car. Sometimes in my house. And I found a station that plays a crap ton of 80’s and early 90’s stuff during my drive into work. Ironically, it’s a college radio station. Weird. So Wednesday I heard Let’s Go All The Way from Sly Fox. Underappreciated one-hit from 1986. Which, by the way, continues to prove itself as an excellent year for music versus the rest of the 80’s. Sure, Sly Fox didn’t do anything after this song. But neither did the Kansas City Royals or Scritti Politti.

Who still loves Perfect Way? This guy. Disappeared from the charts in February of ’86 but not from the collective hearts of those who still quote Top Gun, crush on Markie Post, and wish Thomas Magnum still patrolled Thursday night. Only thing that could have made the ride in cooler is if Sly Fox would have been followed by Kyrie, Life in a Northern Town and Go For Soda. But traffic was light yesterday so I probably would have missed Kim Mitchell. Mom thinks this Go For Soda sucks. Or stupid. Probably both. Granted the video is astoundingly awful. But the song is awesome. It has good message and it was played on a Miami Vice episode where Crockett meets up with an buddy from ‘Nam. You can watch it free on Hulu.

Anyway, yesterday morning on my way into work I heard this combo: Voices of Babylon by The Outfield and My Girl by Chilliwack. I owned the Voices of Babylon cassette back in ’89. Second best song on the album behind My Paradise. But freaking Chilliwack straight outta 1981?! C’mon man, ain’t nobody was expecting that.

Finally, this morning as I’m backing out of my garage I hit the newly designated preset button for my new favorite morning drivetime radio station. King of Wishful Thinking by Go West, followed by ABC singing Be Near Me followed by I Think We’re Alone Now by Tiffany. That, my friends, is one weird-ass trilogy. At least as weird as the Hannibal Lecter trilogy or when MNF put The Giffer, Broadway Joe and O.J. in the booth for the ’86 season. I mean weird for us not for the local liquor stores. Regardless, the trilogy did get me my first 90’s song. Even though it was featured in Pretty Woman. Which, looking back, just does not have any staying power. In fact it sucks. Sucks worse than I thought it did back in 1990. Other things that sucked in 1990? The New England Patriots. Yes, we all miss 1990.

Anyway, my drive in got a little bit better. So let that be a lesson. The 80’s can fix a lot of stuff.