The Final Days

Many days are cause for celebration. NFL kickoff Sunday for example. Admittedly diluted by Goodell and his Thursday night double header to start the season. July 4th always has a certain magical anticipation throughout the day. Also any day that I’m planning on getting nachos at Rock Bottom. And the last day of school. Which was Wednesday. The girls are excited. But their excitement pales, PALES in comparison to my own excitement. There no longer is homework to check, slips to sign, emails to read or logistics to manage. Okay, that last part is a huge load of crap. Transportation and logistics are still going to suck. Despite my inner voice telling me I should let the girls laze around the house all summer, Mom and I ignored that voice and signed them up for a boatload of stuff. Still doesn’t take away from our joy regarding the last day. I mean yes, we still have to go to work instead of sitting around until 10:00 watching Battle of the Planets and Tom & Jerry eating Cheerios. Which I didn’t mind doing when I was 10. But in the name of all that is holy, this last two weeks of school was absolutely killing us. Beating us down mentally and physically. Like the ’89 Pistons. End of the year projects for Kinz and Bails came at us like Mahorn defending the rim. Softball and dance plowed into us like Rodman patrolling the boards.

What is the freaking deal with projects being due the last seven days of school? C’mon man. The kids are already checked out. You hit that weekend after Mother’s Day and that’s it. You can’t really expect their best effort after that. Kinda like if you dropped by your neighbor’s house and he offered you a Schlitz. C’mon man, yes, it’s the beer that made Milwaukee famous but nobody still believes that when you’re your out of Schlitz you’re out of beer and seriously, nobody ever really went for the gusto when they grabbed a Schiltz. They probably went for the bathroom and grabbed the toilet with both hands. Which raises a question. How in the hell does Pabst Brewing stay in business? When you produce Schlitz, Old Style, Old Milwaukee, Olympia, Strohs and PBR aren’t you really just asking to have bankruptcy attorneys on staff? Geez, why don’t you just go ahead and revive Dubuque Star and Red, White & Blue?

Regardless, we had to supervise, cajole and sometimes threaten the girls into completing:

1-A project for Bails on Career Day. Project #1 involved Career Day. She came with me to work. And it really cannot be overstated how excited she was. Which is was cool but also a bit perplexing. I’ve been going to work for about 22 years and I’ve never been this excited. Part of the excitement likely had something to do with us stopping to get donuts and cookies for the office. And that fact that she was allowed to bring Mom’s Kindle with her. Also that I have a TV in my office and I told her that she’d probably get to watch some TV during the day. Here’s a pic of her walking up a really big staircase.

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But her project was to bring back at least four “artifacts” from her visit along with several pictures adorned with captions describing said pictures. She also conducted an interview with me. The artifacts and pictures were to be placed on a gigantic poster board which eventually required me asking my neighbor to use his Tahoe Suburban to drive her to school with Kinz and his own kids. Not kidding. But she spent most of her Memorial Day weekend muscling her way through this. It took about 5 or 6 hours to complete mostly due to her inability to stay still. For some reason Bails decided to complete this project along with project #2 concurrently. So she’d move from the kitchen table after working on Project #2 to the family room floor and attach some pictures and write some captions on her gigantic poster for Career Day. And maybe this happens in your house too but what the hell is the deal with kids doing projects in an area of the house limits your mobility to walk from room to room? At one point I could not get to the couch in the family because of the poster, construction paper and sharpies all over the floor.

2-A one page letter Bails had to write pretending she was a character in a book she recently read. The objective was to write a letter as that character and send it to another character in the book. Not totally sure of the objective. Likely something to irritate parents. Or possibly something about putting yourself into somebody else’s shoes and seeing things from their perspective. Or I just made that up because getting Bails to write it was like getting Princess Leia to admit she had feelings for Han while they were stationed on the ice planet of Hoth.

3-A State’s Fair project for Bails. Every year the 4th graders hold a State’s Fair. They make…wait for it…gigantic posters detailing important facts and information about the state of their choosing. Four years ago Rye chose Missouri and renamed it “The Awesome State.” Not sure if that ever went to popular referendum. Two years ago Kinz chose California and I made sure a picture of Ronald Reagan made it onto the poster. Bails chose Idaho. She wanted Pennslyvania since I lived there back in the 70’s but the kid right before her picked it so she went with Idaho. Not sure why. We’ve never been there. When I inquired as to her reasoning she let me know that Idaho has a weird shape so she went with it. Good enough. But neither her nor I knew anything about Idaho other than they grow a lot of potatoes and Sun Valley is evidently a popular resort. Turns out fishing is a big deal up there, huckleberries are native to the mountainous areas of northern Idaho and it was the 43rd state. She also decided she wanted to bring a snack of Idaho food to people to try. Naturally her choice was french fries. Excellent decision. Except for the fact we had no way to keep them warm. Which also meant we had no way to prevent them from becoming cold and soggy. So, since huckleberries are native to the mountainous areas of northern Idaho, she went with that.

Did you know that huckleberry products are not widely available in supermarkets?

Eventually we found huckleberry fruit curd at Whole Foods. Bails said it tasted like sweet and sour sauce. I took her word for it.

4-A World’s Fair project for Kinz. She chose Poland. Everybody in the house, except for Mom, is Polish. I’m half Polish. The girls are a quarter Polish. I detailed my feelings about this before back in May 2012. We think Polish is the largest nationality, by percentage, they possess. I say “think” because Mom has no real idea what her nationalities really are. We’re fairly certain she’s German. She also suspects she has a bit of English heritage. Maybe Scottish, not really sure. Two years ago Rye chose England and we made some English cookies or some such crap. This year Kinz insisted on bringing something Polish. Mom and I in turn insisted we were not going to cook, bake or make anything. So if you’re not going to grill some kielbasa or make some pierogi’s, what the hell is left? Lucky for us poppy seed cakes and rolls are a traditional Polish dessert. We bought some poppy seed muffins, cut them into bite sized pieces and called it good. Polish-American ingenuity.

5-An inordinate and totally inappropriate, at least in Rye’s eyes, amount of homework regarding the Civil War and its causes.

Truth be told, I was kinda excited about Rye having Civil War homework. You know how many people I can talk about the Civil War in our house? Zero. Or some number less than that. Let’s also remember that this is homework Rye believes is completely unacceptable due to its timing during the school year. But more infuriating is the absolute indifference she shows towards the Civil War era of our nation’s history.

“Dad do you know anything about the Compromise of 1850?”

“Yes.”

“Awesome how did the Compromise of 1850, Bleeding Kansas and the Dred Scott decision help the common man?”

“What? That’s the question you have to answer?”

She said something in response at this point but all I was able to make out was a long sustained whining noise. Finally I couldn’t take it.

“Good Lord Rye, literally right behind you on that table is The Patriot’s History of the United States. Contained within its pages are historical facts. At the back is this thing called the index.”

But I couldn’t take it and looked it up the stuff myself. Yes, I should have had her do it. But I reached that place where parents find themselves at various points during their parenting days. That place is found at the intersection of Just Go Away Drive and Please Stop Whining Street.

But she finished. As did the school year. They have two days of summer vacation in the books so far. And yes, they are already bored…

Summer’s Here

Last day of school was last last Friday. Doesn’t matter how old I get, “last day of school” is still magic. Like “Christmas Eve” or “Super Bowl XIII” or even “Escape from New York”…maybe that’s just me. Anyway, while I’ve been preaching about how excited I am for summer to get here, Kinsey’s excitement levels have exceeded the capacity of our regular containment systems. Kinsey had her 10th birthday party – a sleepover for 6 of her friends last Friday too. Birthday party sleepover coupled with the last day of school? There hasn’t been a combination this anticipated since Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall teamed up for “Coming to America.” Plus our neighbor came over for most of the evening too. And Mom thought it was a good idea for Rye to have a friend stay over. And then, strangely, another of Rye’s friends just happened to walk over to the house. And don’t forget that Bails lives here too. So, if you’ve been keeping track, that’s 11 girls in the house. I guess you could throw in Mom too. That means I was outnumbered 12-1. Not unlike the 101st Airborne at Bastogne. I’m a Dad with three girls…I’m supposed to be surrounded.

So here’s a somewhat brief summary of the party. The FAA had to institute a temporary No Fly Zone over our house because the decibel levels reached by the girls during Ghost in the Graveyard were creating dangerous in-flight turbulence for planes in the approach patterns.

You can’t really anticipate with any kind accuracy what these girls can consume. They didn’t really lay into the ice cream like we expected and we had enough pizza left over for us to feed ourselves on Saturday. But they just killed the chips, popcorn, pretzels, M&M’s, etc. we purchased. Gone. Like Chad Ochocinco’s relevancy. They even ate those puffy Cheetos that stain your teeth so horribly they make you look like you’ve been smoking for 34 years.

I went down and vacuumed the basement where they all slept about 10 minutes after the last girl was picked up Saturday morning. It sounded like I was walking across broken glass and gravel. And I have this freaking sweet new vacuum. Dyson with Cyclone technology. And yeah, it’s awesome. What can I say? I like clean floors. Anyway, the container for the dust and crap the vacuum sucks up was, and I’m not really joking here, half M&M’s and potato chips. It was like they decided to eat without their hands. And remember that when it comes eating, actually getting the food into their mouths isn’t always the primary objective for 4th graders. I ended up vacuuming twice, then giving the carpet a spot shampoo, scrubbing the stains out of it, then vacuuming again. Took awhile but nobody wants legions of ants in phalanx formations marching across their basement floors.

We had them turn out the lights about 11 in the hope that it would slow them down. It kinda worked as the noise died down about midnight while the last of them conked out about 1 a.m. That’s a win. The next morning, Mom gets up about 7:00 and heads downstairs because one of the girls needed to up and ready before 8:00 for her soccer game. When she gets to the kitchen another of Kinsey’s friends is already up there.

Mom, somewhat surprised to see any of them awake, says, “Hey, are any of the other girls awake down there?”

“Yeah, everybody is.”

Which, upon reflection, isn’t really a surprise. I mean as powerful as the Sandman is when you’re 10 years old and up past midnight, even he can’t overcome the power of sugary caffeinated beverages. Which we allowed because it was Kinsey’s birthday. Although we kinda cheated them a bit and only had regular Root Beer (sugar but no caffeine) and several choices of sugarfree/caffeine free pops.

Otherwise, it was really good weekend. Mom took me to Earl’s Tires and we picked new freaking wheels for my truck. And they are sweet. I’m pretty sure the brand name for the the color I picked is Bad Ass Black. Now I’m not a car guy. Not really even close. But I do like to be cool. And its pretty tough to be anything other than cool with these wheels. Bad Ass Cool. Here’s a pic:

I know right. You want some too now. Bad Assery is contagious.

I also finished 11/23/63 on Saturday. That is an 864 page book in six days. I devoured half of it on Memorial Day. For some of you, this feat is merely shrug-worthy. You knock out 800 page books a couple times a month. For me, this is the equivalent of writing the book myself, except better than Stephen King. Not being a King fan, I was a bit wary of reading starting it. But you convince a great storyteller to write a book about time travel and 20th century American history and you’ve got yourself a damn good book. Except my guy would go back through the rabbit hole into October of ’92 and he’d mug Francisco Cabrera on his way into Fulton County Stadium thereby changing the outcome of Game 7 of the NLCS. But that’s just me…

It’s summertime

“School’s out and the night’s roll in
Man, just like a long lost friend
You ain’t seen in a while
You can’t help but smile”

Last day of school was yesterday. That means it is officially summertime. Although, to me, summer starts every year on June 1. Just like fall starts September 1, winter starts December 1 and spring starts March 1. Just like Bruce Hornsby said, that’s just the way it is. You know it, I know it and the American people know it.

For some reason whenever I think of the last days of school, a memory of riding the bus to school in June of 1980 with “You May be Right” on the radio comes to mind. Come to think of it, that song, Empire Strikes Back and the Cubs road blue uni’s all just scream summer 1980. Or maybe that’s just me. I was ten. Anyway, in honor of the beginning of summer, here are some of Chronicles of Dad’s favorite summer songs.

Magic – The Cars.
Cliché? Yes. But c’mon man, who doesn’t remember the summer of ’84 whenever they hear this song? Plus summer is, when you’re a kid, magic. Suddenly the normal rules don’t apply. Bedtimes? Backpacks? Nope. Kids look at summer the way liberals look at bailout cash…

Summertime – DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince
“School is out and it’s a sort of a buzz
An’ back then I didn’t really know what it was
but now I see what have of this
the way that people respond to summer madness”

Will Smith nailed it way back in the summer of ’91. You can’t really appreciate summer until you’re a grown up. With kids. Kinda the way you really can’t appreciate being a parent until you’ve parented a teenager. Until you’ve made it through those years, teen veteran parents treat you the way Easy Company treated Webster when he got back from England. Sure he parachuted into Normandy and took part in Market Garden, but he wasn’t at Bastogne…

Summertime – Kenny Chesney
A lot of people like summer. But nobody likes summer like Kenny Chesney. He likes summer the way Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof like leaving questions unanswered.

And then there’s this.

Yeah, well nothing says summer like a ’69 Charger and a couple of Yee Ha’s

You Know What Today Is?

You know what today is?

It’s the 65th anniversary of the fall of Rome in 1944. It’s an important but forgotten piece of history. Like the move to dump Abraham Lincoln as the Republican nominee for president in the summer of 1864. Or that the Steelers won a coin flip with the Bears in 1970 to determine who was awarded the first pick in that year’s NFL draft. The Steelers won and took Terry Bradshaw. The Bears lost and traded the pick to the Packers who took some defensive tackle from Notre Dame named Mike McCoy. I’m sure Mike McCoy is a good dude. Even if he was sentenced to play for the Packers in the 70’s.

Actually today is the last day of school. So in honor of that, here are the coolest things about the last day of school:

No backpacks. Holy Crap I’m looking forward to three months of never having to remind anyone about getting their backpacks ready for school. I think kids have some type of kill switch that they hit the moment they enter the house after school. Homework? Can’t remember. Gotta bring something into class tomorrow? Can’t remember. Perishable food item in your backpack? Can’t remember. It’s Jason Bourne-like amnesia.

Nobody argues about clothes. Kids love summer. Our kids love it a little more than what would normally be expected. And it’s all because they get to wear tank tops. They love tank tops the way Godzilla loved radiation. The way Montana loved Rice. Like Guns loved Roses. I mean before Axl lost his mind and broke up the band.

Routine. The last day of school means the last day of, “oh, hey Dad, I forgot, I need to bring a sack lunch today and $5 for a field trip and a white shirt for an art project and a rock to decorate and a couple pictures of me when I was a baby.” None of that. Occasionally, we’ll have to remember it’s water day at day care and they need a swimsuit and a towel. That’s it. So that’s a lot memory space I can clear for fantasy football statistics since I drew the 5th pick in our draft this year. Too bad Matt Forte will be gone by #5.

The bus isn’t going anywhere. So I don’t have to hear them whine about how I dropped them off at daycare too late and they only have 15 minutes to get the Polly Pockets out and build their Frank Lloyd Wright inspired split level lake house complete with closets the size of Albania. Speaking of Albania, anybody else still catch themselves singing this?

Anyway, tomorrow I’m staying home with Kinsey and Bailey and we’re going to see Up. No way I’m making the girls go to daycare on the first day of summer vacation. They’d only make you do that in a communist republic, a red regime…

Riley is headed to an all day birthday party at the amusement/water park. Then she’s sleeping over at her friend’s house. I like summer but there’s no way I’m taking a bunch of 3rd grade girls to the amusement park, then bringing them back to my house to have them spend the night. That’s a bullet I’m not willing to take.

Last Day of School

Remember the last day of school? I do. Several in fact. I remember on the last day of 3rd grade my sisters and I had to go hang out at a park for a hour or so while my Mom played tennis. I remember the last day in 4th grade because we had this huge epic water battle in our neigborhood with hoses, buckets, water balloons. The only downside was we were barefoot and our neighbor had a German Shepard named Pepper that left spongy brown mines all over the yard that you had to keep tabs on in addition to dodging water balloon grenades. In 7th grade my buddies Dan and Greg and I went to see Return of the Jedi which is still my favorite Star Wars movie. Admiral Ackbar with the “It’s a trap!” and “We can’t repel fire power of that magnitude!” lines. Freaking awesome.

Anyway today was Riley’s last day of school. She was really excited. She got to pack a sack lunch for a field trip to the zoo. She was jacked. Except it was just pouring down rain all morning. For awhile we had all kinds of rain. Little bity stinging rain, big ol’ fat rain and even sideways rain. Luckily it stopped just as we were getting to school. Then a couple hours later the sun came out.

When I pick the girls up from daycare I have to walk by both of their cubbies and I always notice their backpacks. Except there wasn’t a backpack in Rye’s today. Kinsey’s is right where it always is. Weird.

I round them up on the playground, pay the field trip fee for both of them for the summer, sign this consent form that allows the teachers to apply sunscreen to the girls when they are outside. Yeah, seriously that’s how bad the trial lawyers have screwed it up for everybody. You have to sign a consent form to have sunscreen applied to your kid.

Anyway Kinsey grabs her stuff on the way out and Rye gets hers while I’m talking to one of the teachers. I turn around to see Rye holding a box full of stuff that is usually in her backpack, along with a bunch of other crap that teachers send home on the last day of school. She looked like she just got downsized at some financial services firm.

“Rye where’s your backpack?”

“This is it.”

“What?”

“Austin threw up in the hallway right when we were leaving and my locker was right next to where he was throwing up so when I got my backpack out of my locker and swung it around onto my shoulder some of his throw up got on my backpack and then it dripped onto my shirt and my leg. So then I had to go the office and wipe myself off and my teacher got my stuff out my backpack. Then I missed the bus. Then they had to throw my backpack away because of all the throw up. Then I had to wait for the bus to come all the way back and pick me up. So I was the only the kid at school on the last day of school and everybody else got to go back to daycare and play outside. I will never forget that moment of the throw up.”

“Wow. That’s…um…well…that’s pretty gross. He really threw up on your backpack? And you had to throw it away?”

“YES! And he smelled bad too.”

This is when I uttered one of those “Well other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how’d you like the play?” lines.

“Well other than the throw up, was the zoo fun?”

“Dad, I have dried throw up drops on my leg.”

Right. Hopefully when Rye has these traumatic events happen throughout her life I’ll get better at the conversations.

Published in: on June 6, 2008 at 11:30 pm  Leave a Comment