You’ve Got To Learn To Be The Ball

Being a parent presents you with some interesting dilemma’s.  Do you buy your kid a car when they turn 16?  They’ve obviously done nothing to deserve it.  But it will also simplify your life significantly if they can drive themselves to school and pick up your other two kids from school, practices and activities.  Do you, through steady but almost undetectable daily pressure indoctrinate your kid into being an Iowa State fan even though their Mom went to Iowa? Naturally some are more important than others but almost all can be approached with some wisdom from 80’s movies.  Don’t leave your wingman, never get involved in a land war in Asia, screws fall out all the time, the world is an imperfect place.  But if parenting and the 80’s have taught me anything, its you’ve got to learn to be the ball.

For example most parents preach good decision-making to their kids so they are armed with enough sound judgement that can make tough decisions in the course of their day.  So…parental dilemmas, be the ball, good decision-making…

A couple Friday afternoons ago, I’m driving home from work listening to Lita Ford’s underappreciated early 90’s hit “Shot of Poison.”  If you’re wondering what 1991 sounded like wait till the 2:13 mark of the song and that’s exactly what it sounded like.  1991 was the year I turned 21.  So the song reminds of beers…and Friday afternoons…and beers on a Friday afternoon.

Which led me to think about my old neighbors.  A thought which they’ll appreciate.  One of them is a huge Duke basketball fan and Duke tipped at 6:20.  But it was only about 4:30.  Hmm…

A quick phone call, a quick stop at the gas station with the walk-in beer cooler and I’m sitting in my neighbor’s garage just as the SMU-USC game ends.  We have a few beers, talk college basketball and…have a few beers.  This is literally my favorite thing to do.  That isn’t hyperbole or a superfluous use of the word “literally.”  It combines several things which I – and you if your’re being honest with yourself – enjoy.  That’s not to say I don’t enjoy them all independently.  I do.  But I really enjoy them all together.  Kinda like nachos.  Chips, cheese, meat, salsa, etc.  All good on their own but really good together.  Let me further explain.  I like beers.  So I stopped and picked up a six-pack of Miller Lite tallboys even though I was fully aware that my old neighbors had close to a full case of Miller Lite in their fridge…mostly for me when I drop by unexpectedly.  And probably when I do it expectedly.  Regardless, the Miller Lite is for me.  In addition to beers, I like Friday afternoon right after work.  It’s my favorite time of the week.  The whole weekend is ahead of you and it’s the only time I totally and completely feel free to unplug from the my responsibilities as an adult.  In addition to beers and Friday afternoon after work, I love that first weekend of the NCAA tournament.  32 games (of which I picked 30 correctly this year) and games nearly around the clock.  In addition to beers, Friday afternoon after work and the first weekend of the NCAA tourney, I like hanging with my old neighbors in their garage.  We named it the DT – short for Downing Tap – a few years ago.  Best neighbor bar I’ve ever been too.  Plenty parking, the bathroom is clean, Miller Lites are cold, there’s a TV in the garage and if you forget to bring your own chair they almost always have an extra.  Plus, if you’re lucky, you show up on a day they’re serving food.  This particular Friday was such a day.

Let’s review – beers, Friday afternoon after work, first weekend of the NCAA tourney, the DT.  Naturally I stayed until about 10:30.

What?  All I did was essentially FAC.  It was okay in college and its okay now.  But here’s the cool thing.  Mom took all the girls down to Kansas City on Thursday morning.  It was like my own mini-version of the National Day Without Women.  Or whatever that was supposed to be.  I can’t keep track of all the awareness outragery that I’m supposed to care about.  Here’s the thing, Mom said they get home about 7:00 Friday evening.  I’m no math wiz but I figured they’d home in plenty of time in case I needed somebody to come pick me up.

Which I of course did.  Anything would have been surprise.  I texted Mom and told her I needed a ride home at some point and she might want to send Rye and Kinz over to pick me up.  Rye’s had her license for over a year and Kinz has her learner’s permit.  And I needed somebody to drive my truck home.  So Rye drops off Kinz, I give her the keys and she drives us both home.

Now depending on your level of judgmental smuggery and/or condescending moral superiority, you’re assessing my fitness as a parent.  While some of you, if you subscribe to the same child-raising handbook as me, are smiling and nodding to yourself thinking, “yeah, that’s just smart parenting.”

How is that those of you in living the land of Smuggington contemptuously ask.  Simple.

You’ve got to learn to be the ball.  I combined beers, Friday afternoon after work, the first weekend of the NCAA tourney and the DT into a real life lesson on what to do after you’ve had one (four) beer(s) too many.  You know what that makes me?  The best Dad on the planet.


It is a superpower…

I know where stuff is. At least within the confines of my house. Nothing is lost. You give me enough time and I find stuff. None of my kids have inherited this. Its infuriating. But maybe that’s a superpower that develops with age. Mom’s superpower is a bit more nebulous. But here is an example. Riley’s room is painted some shade of purple. On one wall is a small design that Mom painted back when Rye was little. It says “Dream” and it has some flowers. She wants it painted over now. No problem. Just need to find the paint can in the basement and hope it hasn’t dried up or worse. All we can find in our old paint cans is a color called Lilac Glacier. If the Titanic had hit a lilac glacier it would probably still be floating. Anyway, we open the can and it appears to be same the color. At least to me. Mom isn’t so sure. So we stir it up and she takes a sample upstairs.

Lilac Glacier, as it turns out, is not the predominant wall color. It’s too dark.

So she sends me downstairs to find the right color. Because I can find anything. After a thorough search reveals nothing, it is decided that we either used all the paint of that color or we threw away the can that revealed the correct color.

So we don’t know what the name of the correct paint color is. But we know it isn’t Lilac Glacier.


She spends a few seconds looking at the small sample that she painted with Lilac Glacier and quickly decides that while Lilac Glacier is in fact the wrong color, the right color is within the same family.

“What you mean like a cousin or a younger sibling?”

We originally bought the paint at Lowe’s and since we have to drop off Kinz and Bails at softball camp, we figured we’d drop by the store. Because Mom is pretty sure about this. So sure that she makes the bold statement that the correct color is two shades lighter than Lilac Glacier which means we just need to find the appropriate color swatch and buy the color two shades lighter.

What. Ever.

Nobody looks at two similar colors on a wall, conducts a scientific color analysis in their brain and correctly comes to the conclusion that the shade is two colors lighter. You need some kind of hypo-electric color analyzer to get that kind of accuracy.

Anyway we head to Lowe’s, Mom gives the paint guy the current wall color and he goes on a quest to find it.

Turns out the Lilac Glacier is discontinued but if we want it, he can mix it. Mom says no thanks BUT what we need is the color that is two shades lighter than Lilac Glacier. He pulls out the color swatch and the color that is exactly two shades lighter than Lilac Glacier is Ice Crystal. He says no problem he’ll mix it up. Mom asks for a sample in case she’s wrong.

“If you’re right about the color I will be seriously impressed. Like Dolphins-Chargers ’81 playoffs impressed when Don Strock came off the bench to throw for like 5 touchdowns and bring the fish back from a 24-0 deficit.”

“You know what, just give me a whole pint, it’s the right color.”

Who is that confident about eyeballing a paint color? Not this guy. You want to know who was in the ’86 Final Four, I can tell you.

Duke, Louisville, LSU and Kansas. Dad’s useless NCAA Tourney knowledge go boom.

But you want me to pick the correct color of the paint on my daughter’s bedroom wall by looking at it, taking a mental picture and then go to the store and match that mental photograph to a color swatch surrounded by a thousand other color swatches? No, I sincerely apologize, but I am unable to complete that task.

We pay for the pint of Ice Crystal and head home. Mom pops open the can, dips a paper towel in it and covers a small spot on the wall.


That, in case you don’t have a Mom translator, is the word she uses when she’s pleased with herself. She grabs a brush and covers the rest of the area she wanted to paint.

“Who is awesome?”

Again, for those of you without the translator, this is the question she asks when she expects, “you are” as the answer.

Seriously, there is no reasonable explanation for her ability to do this. It’s spooky. And weird. But it sure solves a lot of problems.