Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Call me Columbo

“What the heck are you wearing?”

In front of me stood our 6-year-old son.

At least I think it was our son.

Hard to make sure considering his head was covered with a white Clone Wars trooper helmet from the “Star Wars” series.

Which wouldn’t be that big of a deal if we were, say, at a Halloween party, Skywalker Ranch or a frat house on a Wednesday.

Not a college football game on a sunny, Saturday afternoon.

I looked again.

He was wearing a green football jersey with the number 1 on the front.

OK. That’s right.

Black shorts?

OK. Two for 2.

He even had on tennis shoes and dirty socks.

Yep, all was OK...except for the large, white Clone Wars helmet - the symbol of galactic imperial resistance everywhere - covering his head and half his shoulders.

He had left to check out the concession stand with his grandma and returned with a Clone Wars helmet.

Man, George Lucas is EVERYWHERE.

I rapped my knuckles on the top of the helmet and said, “Uh, whatcha got there, kiddo?”

He waved his hands in excitement and yelled, “Mblullml wrswar voiuds ajd!”

I cocked my head and said, “Say what?”

He pointed to his head and tried again, “Mfjkvjda wawek brabrrrk!”

OK. This could go on all afternoon.

I grabbed the helmet by the sides and pulled it off his head. I held it up and looked to his grandma for the explanation I knew was coming.

She could do nothing but laugh.

Which wasn’t too surprising considering the entire section of fans surrounding us was doing the exact same thing.

I pointed to the field and hollered, “There’s nothing to see up here! Watch the game, you weirdos.”

My son jumped in excitement, “I saw a college kid wearing this and when I said, ‘Oh, wow, I’ve always wanted one of those helmets,’ he just gave it to me. I couldn’t believe it, Mom. This. Is. The. Best. Day. Ever!”

So there was a college kid walking across campus wearing a Clone Wars helmet? 

Well, it was Homecoming.

He’d either been drinking, into some kinky kinda role-playing game or had been dressed up for the parade.

I choose to believe he was in the parade.

This is my column, and that’s just the way it’s gonna be.

In any case, he made a young boy’s day.

And that’s A-OK in my book.


“My friend got a cuckoo bird stuck in his sock,” our son said at the dinner table that evening.
Silence greeted his little revelation.

And then I snorted, and water flew outta my mouth. Not sexy, I admit. “Uh, what?” I eloquently responded.

“Yeah,” he said with excitement. “We were walking outside, and he got a cuckoo bird stuck right there in his sock.”

I looked at my husband who did nothing but shrug his shoulders and snort. Must run in the family.

I turned away from my son and whispered to my husband, “Did you give him expired NyQuil again?”

He smiled and said, “Hey, that was funny stuff. Too bad we didn’t record that for YouTube.” He paused then added, “That would have rocked on YouTube.”

For the love of God...I turned back to my son, “Are you sure it was a cuckoo bird?”

He nodded with much wisdom and answered, “Oh, yes, Mom. It had spikes and everything.”
Spikes? OK. So what kind of mutant, cuckoo-clock-from-hell kinda bird are we talking about here? Something that escaped from the lab? Was it radioactive?

Gasp! Did it bite my son?

Would he turn into the next Spider-Man? Because, you know, that would be awesome! But I digress....

“Spikes, huh? Well, that’s...uh...unusual.” And then I began to put together the clues.

Sock....Stuck....Spikes....What the ...? And then I had it.

“Cocklebur!” I yelled. “He got a cocklebur stuck in his sock!”

Anyone who’s taken a stroll through a Midwestern prairie in early fall knows just what I’m talking about. That nasty little weed is - literally - a thorn in everyone’s side.

I sat back in my chair and basked in the glory of my super deductive reasoning skills. I am like friggin’ Columbo!

I looked at my son, smiled and said in my most condescending Mom-voice, “It’s not a cuckoo bird, kiddo. It’s called a cocklebur.”

He shrugged and said, “Well, they both start with ‘C,’ right?”

And...that’s what we get for teaching the kid how to spell. We’ll never make that mistake again.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tailgate team

Alumnus Jamaica Rector (Left) Class of 2004, visited with Vinnie Vaccaro, Class of 1973 (Center) and other tailgaters. Rector is saying hello to Jon Baldwin, Class of 1988, (Right) and his son Gabe, 6, on Saturday. Rector was inducted into Northwest’s Hall of Fame on Friday night. Photo courtesy of Maryville Daily Forum.

My guys made the front page of our local newspaper today for an article about football tailgating at our local university.

Between stuff like this and my bi-monthly column, it's quite possible that Gabe is the most-featured kid in town. And also due to my column...Jon the most pitied spouse.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Well, they both start with 'C'

"My friend got caught by a cuckoo bird."

OK. Not something you hear every day. Not even from my 6-year-old son.

"Uh...what?" was my eloquent response.

"Yeah!" he answered excitedly. "Right in his sock. A cuckoo bird!"

And....that's when it dawned on me. Anyone who has spent time in the grassy prairies of the Midwest this time of year knows what I mean.


Not cuckoo bird:

 (photo courtesy of Wikipedia, GFDL)

I cannot make this stuff up. God bless 6-year-olds and their inspirational moments.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Darth Bearcat

Only my son can go to a football game and come home with a Star Wars Clone Troopers helmet.

The team we visited yesterday was celebrating its homecoming. During a break in the game, Gabe noticed a student walking around with this helmet (one must assume it wasn't part of his usual attire; probably part of a homecoming parade entry/costume). In any case, Gabe told the guy he'd always wanted one.

The student - who undoubtedly earned his gold star for the day - just handed it over to Gabe. What a nice guy for making a little kid's day....even if it had the opposing team's mascot painted on the side. But a quick trip to the restroom - with soap and water - took care of that quickly.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Confession is good for the soul, but only if you're 6

My 6-year-old son leaned in close and whispered in my ear, “Don’t tell Dad I hit his new car with my scooter.”

He shrugged his shoulders in a “golly gee whiz/what’s a kid to do?” kinda way, grabbed the handle bars to his scooter, hopped on and pushed off, leaving with a clear conscience, a smile...and the chocolate chip cookie he stole right outta my hand.

Little stinker.

Now before we all get upset - in his defense - he didn’t really hit the car.

I was there. I saw it.

It was more like he stopped a little too late and stumbled the last few inches, grazing the bumper with less ferocity than a butterfly floating gently on the wind...or some such poetic nonsense we all slept through in high school composition class.

In any case, according to the manufacturer, said bumper is supposed to protect us from a nuclear attack, an armored tank frontal assault, highjacking Somali pirates or any combination of the three.

So I wasn’t too worried.

About the car.

The cookie?

Oh, yeah. He and I are gonna have words over that one. No one steals chocolate from me and lives to see the age of 7.

Just sayin.’


“I will not go in my house because it is haunted.”

I peeked over my son’s shoulder, reading the sentence he’d just written for his homework assignment and mentally calculated the estimated amount of time between turning it in and getting a call from the school with a “We have to talk” summons.

Two hours.

Maybe three.

Four if he turns it in before recess.

Oh, who are we kidding? I might as well call and make the appointment now.

I reached over and pointed at the paper, “So...something you want to tell me?”

My son looked up, sharpened pencil clutched tightly in his hand, and promptly said, “Nope.”

Nope, he says.


I had visions of that creepy kid in “The Sixth Sense.” I looked down at my son’s Star Wars t-shirt, ratty shorts and dirty socks.

I snorted.

At least the creepy kid was better dressed.



I looked at my son, tapped the word “haunted” on the page and attempted to go all Dr. Phil on him, “Did you see or hear something that scared you?”

My son looked at me like I’d sprouted a third eye in the middle of my forehead.

You know that look. The one that says, “Are you mental or just being weird? Great. Mom’s crazy, now my friends can’t come over any more.”

He carefully asked, “Is this about your chocolate chip cookie?”

OK. So much for Dr. Phil.

I smiled and tried again, “You think the house is haunted?”

I paused, on edge waiting for his answer. Wondering...how much does therapy cost out of pocket? Would they make him stop watching SpongeBob? Did that mean I would have to stop watching SpongeBob?!

Oh, tartar sauce.

His laughter brought me out of my SpongeBob-induced trance. “You’re so silly, Mom.” He then explained that “not” was one of his spelling words, and he was supposed to use it in a story. Now that Halloween is fast approaching, he decided he’d create a tale about our house being haunted.

Oh, my little Edgar Allan Poe.

Literacy - 1
Mom’s mental state - 0.