Wednesday, February 23, 2011

OJ Simpson was a terrific running back, turns out

I completely lack the DNA that others possess that allows them to throw out old things.  There, I said it.  I'm not ashamed.

I'm not a hoarder, mind you.  I don't save empty Happy Meal boxes or plastic wrap, and I'm not secretly raising a family of possums in the garden shed or have engineless cars parked in my yard or anything that would make me a star on The Learning Channel or A&E.   But I've proven, mostly to myself because no one else cares, that things have value way past their expiration dates.  I'm not talking about the hamburger in the bottom drawer of the fridge - that has an expiration date for a very good hospital avoiding reason.  I'm talking about the 1978 World Book Encyclopedia set that I've kept from childhood.  Going against my better judgment, I almost threw all 26 volumes out when we reorganized some book shelves a few weeks ago.  So glad I didn't. 

Boxed up and awaiting disposal in the garage, the Boy discovered them, and once again they are worth their weight in gold embossed page edges.  In the last 3 days, while recovering from the final stages of his strep-throat induced penicillin regiment, he has spent hours perusing S, P, and T.  Some favorites include Skeleton, Skull, Texas, Platypus, Snail, Turtle, Snake and Turbine.  The grainy 1970s black-and-white photography doesn't faze him one bit. 

For me, reading over his shoulder as he flips pages one by one has been excellent fun as well - catching excerpts about the latest technologies in Television (a total of 68 channels are available for TV broadcasting!) and the commentary about the edgy new show All in the Family, and how Television technology is just now starting to spread into developing places like Asia.  Another glimpse reminded me that OJ Simpson was a revered athlete and not just a Saturday Night Live spoof.   And the article called Satellite is about moons.  Heh. 

My favorite article has to be the one about the "personal snow plow" that "homeowners use to keep their driveways clear of snow in industrial regions within northern climates like Canada".  The picture (which has a really groovy mid-70s Olds Toronado parked in the background) is nearly identical to the Personal Snow Plow (apparently they weren't called snowblowers yet) that I once again have fully functioning thanks to a benevolent and mechanically apt friend.  After this weekend's cloud vomit, I'm glad I didn't throw that out either.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's day? Meh.

I'm confident in my conspiratorial mind that Valentine's Day was made up by someone in Minnesota to coax hugs from their friends just to stay warm and/or feel better about themselves while staring at snowbanks that refuse to melt.  Or by Hallmark, to get them through until Mother's Day without having to layoff cardmakers. 

When I was a kid, I hated it. (scared of girls)  When I was a teenager, I dreaded it. (acne, and still a little bit scared of girls)  When I was finally courageous enough to be dating, I tolerated it, and now that I'm married, I completely ignore it and/or make fun of it every year.  Thankfully, I married the perfect woman and I'm keeping her forever, because she also happens to find this particular holiday to be overly commercialized tripe. (Right, honey?  Honey?) 

Ah, silent agreement, my old friend.

This year, my Valentine's Day - or as I like to call it, February 14th - will be spent trying desperately not to catch Strep from my home-from-school-until-Wednesday, penicillin avoidant Boy.  We have lots of stimulating activities planned, the majority of them involving the remote.  

And, because his current Phineas and Ferb episode is only 25 minutes long, I'll keep this short. 


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Because I said so

The Boy had his annual vision and hearing screening last week. 

Not surprisingly, he passed his vision test.  Surprisingly, he also passed his hearing test.  I say surprisingly because I could've sworn he was having hearing problems.  Perhaps it's only for certain words and phrases, like "O, it's time for bed" or "O, you need to clean up the Legos".  In fact, I'd like them to redo the hearing test, but instead of fun little chirping bird noises,  I want to record a few sentences of my own voice and play those in his ears.  Do they make hearing aids that only amplify parental instructions?

Basically, the conversation many evenings goes something like this:

O, you need to clean up the Legos.



O?  You need to clean up the Legos.

O?  You need to clean up the Legos.  O?  Hello?  HELLLOOOO!!!

I heard you Dad.

You heard me?


What did I say?


Yes.  What.  What did I say?

I heard you.

I heard you say you heard me.  But what did I ask you?

(Long pause) 

I dunno.

I said you need to clean up the Legos......O?  O?  (he has returned to Legos)


What dad?

You need to clean up the Legos.


Legos.  Clean them.  Up.

I'm playing with them.

I. Know. That. But. You. Need. To. Clean. Them.        Up.

Dad, why is your face red?  And why is that funny vein sticking out of your forehead?   Oh my, is it pulsating?  Are you having chest constrictions?  Maybe you should go lie down for a while, Dad.  I'll stay out of your way and just clean up my Legos quietly.  Do you want me to make you some tea?  It has ginseng.  I'm concerned about your stress level, Dad; is there anything I can do to help your evening go smoother?

Okay, so he doesn't say that.  If only.  What he actually says, without looking up, is the most dreaded question of all: 


Fingernails, chalkboard.  Chalkboard, fingernails.  Ah, apologies - I see you've already met.

Don't ask me why.  I don't need to give you a reason why.  I've asked you to do it, and you need to do it.

But why do I need to?

Because I said so. 

As soon as these particular 4 words escaped my lips, I knew with absolute certainty that history repeats itself, that all parents hate to be asked WHY, and that all instances of WHY will ultimately, eventually, end with those 4 words.  I don't know how or when we decided universally as parents that kids should do something for no other reason other than because we said they should.  But we have.  Sometimes we have good reasons not to give reasons, I suppose, like "why do you and mommy sleep in the same bed?" for example.  Even so, to a 5 year old, these 4 words make no sense.  Especially for a very literal 5 year old, like the Boy, who actually had a logical and frank, albeit grammatically incorrect, response:

Yes, dad.  I know you SAID it.  But WHY did you said it?

I didn't have a response.  Because it's bedtime.  Because I'm tired of stepping on them.  Because the house is on fire.  Because if you don't I'll go crazy with hysterical and exhausted laughter and the asylum workers won't be able to snap me out of it until your college graduation ceremony.  Because because because.  It wouldn't matter what I said next, because he would simply reply with "why" again.  And so I stare, dumbly.

And, of course, throughout the entire exchange, he hasn't looked up from his Legos.  He has successfully added 4-5 minutes to his playtime.  Mission complete, and sensing that he's probably gotten away with as much as he can for one night,  he starts to clean with the drama level of someone who's been asked to amputate his own leg.

Parenting tip:  Remind yourself constantly that your children are not evil and they will eventually do what you ask them to do.  Tell yourself that they are freight trains; they take time to slow to a stop and more time to get going the other direction.  Not evil.  Just freight trains.  Doing this should keep you out of the psyche ward.  Because I said so.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Things in the Ceiling

One of the Boy's frequent, and perhaps most unusual, stalling techniques at bedtime is to request that we look at things in the ceiling.  The first time he made this request, I almost made him an appointment with a neurologist.  Or an eye doctor.  Or an exorcist.  It went something like this:

Dad, can we look at things in the ceiling?

Um, what?

Can we look at things in the ceiling.

What does that mean?

It means you lay down next to me and we'll see funny things.

Okay?  (proceed to lay down on my back next to him in a stargazing pose)

What do you see, Dad?

Well, I see the ceiling fan. 

No, no, no.  You're doing it wrong.  That's just something that's here already, what do you SEE?

I don't get it.  What do YOU see?

I see a fire engine.


Right there. (points at a random spot on the dimly lit ceiling)

Right there?  Right there is a fire engine? 

Yes.  And next to it is a rainbow.  And a robot that's eating chickenuggets. (he says this very matter-of-factly, not a hint of chuckle in his voice)

You see all that?

Yes!  Don't you see it? (asks incredulously)

Um.  Sure.  Yes.  I see it.  Right there next to the pink dinosaur blowing bubbles.

There isn't a pink dinosaur.

There isn't?

No, dad.  I don't see that.  No bubbles either. 

So, let me make sure I have this right.  You see a fire engine, a rainbow and a chicken-eating robot, but I don't see a dinosaur blowing bubbles?

Not a chicken eating a robot, Dad, a robot eating chickenuggets!  (he laughs.  I don't have the language or patience to explain to him hyphenated-adjective usage.  Or gerunds.)

I don't think I'm playing this right, Bud.


Nothing.  What else do you see?


Sparkles?  What kind of sparkles?

Those kind over there (points again at a different blank white location)

Oh.  Those kind.  What else?


You see eyes?  What kind of eyes?

Tree frog eyes.  Look, they're red.  And they're glowing like flashlights.

Wait, what?  You see glowing red eyes in the ceiling? 


That's disturbing.

What's destervent?



Nevermind.  Is there a tree frog, or just the eyes?

Just the eyes. 

Honey, that's creepy.  I don't want to see glowing red eyes in this or any other ceiling.  What else do you see?

(He stares at the blank canvas for another 10 or 15 seconds) That's it. 

Well, okay then.  That was, um, fun.  Good night?

Good night, Dad.

We've played this game, off and on, for the last year or so, and it has become my favorite (he'll only play it if he thinks of it, not if I request it).  As his language develops, the images in his ceiling-world are getting much more elaborate (And he hasn't seen any more glowing eyes.  In fact, he rarely repeats objects)   Last night, over by the heat vent,  he saw a dentist wearing yellow pants and holding a stethoscope.  He was talking to a police officer that was wearing glasses and eating chocolate yogurt.  The gray Lego castle (over by the closet door) was perilously close to collapsing because of the giant butterfly that was sitting on it and Mars was spinning backwards because it got bumped by Mercury. 

Parenting Tip:  A 5-year old's brain doesn't contain logic or consequence, only imagination and adventure.  Assuming the environment is safe, just go with it!  It's a trip worth taking.