Wednesday, August 31, 2011

He's no Dick Butkus



“Word on the street is you play with Barbies.”

My six-year-old son’s super sweet smile quickly turned into a violent sneer. He sprang from a three-point stance - arms up - and rammed his entire body into my chest, knocked me over on my keister and landed on top of me in a pile of arms, legs, fists and fury.

“Atta boy!” I patted his rear in universal football speak for “good job” since a handshake or high five just doesn’t seem to convey the same amount of awesomeness as a good smack on the ass does.

Men. That Y chromosome really messed them up.

I pushed my son off my chest, crawled over to the couch and carefully pulled myself up onto the cushions. Training the young one for his first season of flag football was more important than - say - maintaining a healthy kidney or two. So I sucked it up and pointed a finger at the little guy.

“That was great blocking,” I marveled. His face beamed with pride and he answered, “Let’s do that again!”

And that’s when my better half wandered into the room. “What are you two doing? Sounds like bulls are running around loose in here,” he said.

“No, that’s on Tuesday.” I pointed at our son and added, “We’re running blocking drills.”

“And the part about the Barbies?....” my husband’s voice tapered off into questioning silence.
I shrugged, “We were having trouble channeling his inner rage.”

My husband snorted, “His ‘inner rage’? He’s 6. His ‘inner rage’ only pops up when he misses an episode of ‘SpongeBob SquarePants.’”

“Exactly!” I answered. “So I added a little trash talking to provide the appropriate level of motivation.” I paused, “Apparently Barbies was the trigger. Who knew?”

Unfortunately, my little guy has a short memory, and he’d quickly forgotten everything I’d taught him by the time we arrived at practice.

A team of 5-, 6- and 7-year-old boys high on life and a large amount of sugar isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I’ve seen more organization and lawfulness in a flash mob.

The coaches really had their work cut out for them. And - more than likely - a 12-pack waiting in the car.

They were like drill sergeants, though, and quickly got things under control, beginning with the basics of the three-point stance. I smiled, confident that my son would remember everything I’d taught him, that he’d be so awesome, so fantastic, so unbelievably amazing that he’d be the poster child for three-point stances everywhere.

I looked over to see all the boys bend down and put their little knuckles on the ground.

That is, except my son. He stood over to the side, staring up into the sky, watching a bird.

Oh, for the love of God.

“HEY!” I yelled at him from the sideline, “Pay attention.”

Annnnnnd....nothing. He just stood there. Staring. At a friggin’ bird.

Fortunately, a coach realized he was one player short - in more ways than one. He reached over and got my son’s attention, instructing him to take a stance.

I watched my son bend down, put his hand on the ground....and promptly lose his balance and fall over.

How he avoided knocking over the rest of his teammates in a line of human dominoes will forever be one of life’s greatest mysteries.

I snorted, looked around at the other parents on the sidelines and jokingly asked, “OK, who does that one belong to?”

And it went downhill from there.

When the coach said half the team could strip to their waists to play skins, you’d have thought he’d said, “Chuck E. Cheese is on me! Let’s go!”

In a blur of activity, shirts were being whipped over heads and thrown over to the sidelines. Then they began running around like frat boys on a Friday night.

You know, AFTER the keg had arrived.

And then there was my son.

“Uh, problem there, son?” I heard a coach say. I looked over to see my little linebacker-to-be with his shirt around his neck and both arms plastered to one side of his body. The coach chuckled, looked over at me and said, “He’s got both arms in one sleeve. How did he manage that?”

I nodded and sadly answered, “He’s no Dick Butkus.” I then added, “But at least he doesn’t play with Barbies.”

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Pinky swear

An interesting development occurred at Gabe's annual eye check up yesterday.

Important to note: Gabe's eye doctor has been with our family for generations. Literally. His patients include Gabe's grandma, grandpa, dad and me. In fact, he has been my husband's eye doctor since my better half was almost Gabe's age.

At the appointment. Dr. Eye Doctor asked Gabe if he had a girlfriend. He answered as any self-respecting first grader would by shaking his head violently, shuddering with great distaste and belting out, "No way!"

Dr. Eye Doctor chuckled and asked, "So how old do you have to be before you have a girlfriend?"

Gabe smiled and said, "College."

Next thing I know, Dr. Eye Doctor rushes from the room, quickly returns with pen and paper and begins writing a note. After he finished, he handed it to Gabe and read aloud, " 'I will not have a girlfriend until I am in college.' " He then told Gabe to sign and date it, which he did.



So this sucker is going in the bank box for safe-keeping












Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sweet addictions



I opened the door and said, “The first step is admitting you have a problem.”

Standing in the garage, guiltily holding three grocery sacks of freshly picked sweet corn in his arms, my husband immediately threw up his Dutch dander.

He lowered his shoulder and muscled his way past me, through the doorway and into the kitchen. He dropped the bags on the counter and snarked, “I do not have a problem.”

“Uh, I beg to differ,” I said, trying to mentally calculate how many ears of corn he’d brought home in just the last week.

Add 36. Carry the 2. Divide by 12....Oh, for the love of God. Math sucks.

I grabbed my cell phone, thinking there’s gotta be a sweet corn calculator app out there somewhere because a girl needs to save her brainpower for much more important endeavors like eating chocolate and shopping for shoes.

Meanwhile, my husband began unloading his bounty from the bags and presented his defense.

“You know once I freeze these, we can have fresh sweet corn all winter long,” he waxed poetic. “We can eat corn chowder, creamed corn, corn bread, corn salad, corn fritters ---.”

Annnnd that’s the point he noticed my hysterical laughter and stopped speaking. He shrugged his shoulders, frustratedly threw his hands in the air and yelled, “What?!”

I pointed and answered, “Listen to you. You’re like Bubba from ‘Forrest Gump.’ But instead of lecturing me on the wonders of shrimp, you’re doing it with corn.” I paused then added, “Come on. Do it again. But this time, stick out your bottom lip and use a Southern accent.” 

And that’s when Mr. Sensitive put on his huffy hat and went to town.

“Who’s the one who bought three dozen ears last week?” he said, looking around the kitchen like a crazy man until finally settling on my blue eyes. He pointed and said, “YOU! That’s who.”

Crossing my arms, I defended, “Because YOU asked me too. You were out of town. Called me like six times to remind me about the Farmer’s Market and not to forget to pick up more corn for you. The house could have burned down and the dog run away but you didn’t even ask. It was all about the corn.” I paused. “Freak.”

He snorted and said, “But you bought it anyway. So that makes you an enabler. Hah!”
Dammit. He had me there. My shoulders slumped and I quietly said, “So tell me more about those fritters.”

***

Five seconds.

That’s all it took.

Just five seconds to create mayhem and destruction.

But - surprisingly - the 6 year old behaved himself while I painted a set of bookcases in our family room.

Apparently the 47 year old had a problem, however.

“What did you do?!” I hollered at my husband while pointing to the unholy mess at his feet.

Paint.

Was.

Everywhere.

He grimaced and replied, “Just trying to help. You missed a spot.” He pointed to a place about halfway up the side of the bookcase. “Right there. And I was trying to cover it up.”

A spot, he said. On the bookshelf I’d just spent three hours covering with a coat of primer. I had moved over to its twin and was blissfully unaware my husband had tried to “help” while my back was turned.

He’d had the brush in his hand for five seconds.

FIVE seconds. Five SECONDS.

And then he dropped it.

Onto the brick fireplace, splattering flecks of white paint over the masonry, the carpet and - I looked over my shoulder - how in the hell did it get on the couch way over there?!

I quickly put down my own brush and hurried over to the sink. Grabbing a roll of paper towels, I threw them at his head and ordered, “Well, don’t just stand there! Do something!”

He hurriedly began swabbing at paint and muttered, “Stupid spot.”

“OK, Lady Macbeth,” I said. “I know you have this weird tunnel vision about things being perfect...but sometimes you just have to let it go.”

He scowled in response, but I continued with a smile, “Sometimes you have to admit you have a problem.”

And that’s when I ducked to avoid the paint-covered towel aimed at my head and ran for the hills.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The surly bonds of earth

Four years ago a piece of my heart was snatched away in an instant.

I love you, Dad. And I miss you. You were a gentle giant with the heart of a warrior. Unfortunately, that heart wasn't strong enough to keep you here with us.

Someday. Someday we'll meet again among the angels. Until then, my memories give me comfort and my heart brings me joy each time I look at my beautiful son. My dad is gone yet a small part of him remains. Life doesn't always turn out as we planned, as we hoped, as we dreamed.

Yet, perhaps that's what makes it worth living. To have each day mapped out like a book, each year or generation penned as a chapter in black and white, unable to be edited...what's the point? It's the unexpected that keeps us coming back for more.

A piece from the column I wrote after my dad died....the feelings I held that day remain with me still....

"I stood before those who had come to pay their respects. I glanced down at the casket in front, draped in the bold colors of the American flag.

My hand clenched tightly around the Marine Crops ID dog tag I held in my fist and began to recite 'High Flight' one more time....

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;

Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth  
Of sun-split clouds...and done a hundred things

You have not dreamed of...wheeled and soared and swung

High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,  
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung 
My eager craft through footless halls of air.

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue  
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace 
Where never lark, or even eagle flew.

And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod  
The high untrespassed sanctity of space 
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

I paused. Then quietly added, "Then God called him home."

I walked down from the lectern, placed a single white rose upon the casket, held fingertips to my lips and gently placed a kiss upon the flag. Then whispered, 'Goodbye, Daddy. I love you.'" 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Perfect perspective

(Copyright - Angry Birds/Rio Mobile)


Life is usually just a matter of perspective.

But things really start going downhill when the 6-year-old boy and the parent have two totally different views of the same situation.

All bets are off, and it’s quite possible someone’s head will explode.

***

It was a massacre, and only the dog was happy about it.

I heard the shouting from three rooms away and immediately ran to assess the situation. I skidded to a stop in the kitchen, where my eyes spotted the fuzzy back end of a golden retriever sticking out from beneath the table.

Scattered about her paws and among the table legs was a feast consisting of no fewer then 537 cheesy-flavored potato chips.

Yes, exactly that many. I’m like Rain Man when it comes to spills.

If only I could use that power for good - like winning the lottery.

Meanwhile, our son sat forlornly on his chair, forgotten peanut butter sandwich clutched in his little fist, an empty chip canister teetered on the edge of the table and big crocodile tears spilled down his face.

My husband’s tirade continued, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING WASTING FOOD?!?” He quickly ran to the counter and began unrolling half a tube of paper towels.

Seriously. Half a tube. You know what paper towels cost these days? That’s - like - $4 he’s ripping off there.

One would think our son had spilled the Exxon Valdez equivalent in milk rather than a few dry potato chips. Gimme a break. Besides, the dog had everything under control.

I walked over to the little guy, patted him on the back and soothingly said, “It’s OK. Accidents happen.”
I looked over my shoulder, glared at my husband and added, “And it’s not ‘wasting food’ when you spill something, Mr. Never Spilled Anything In His Life.”

Mr. Never Spilled Anything In His Life glared back and immediately popped open his mouth to reply.

I quickly held up my hand - the universal sign for Stuff it. Considering I used my entire hand and not just one explanatory finger showed great restraint on my part.

I’m practically a saint.

He shut his mouth, looked at our son and muttered something to the effect of “sorry.” Or maybe it was “Studebaker.” Kinda hard to tell as the wall of shame had descended and he was hiding behind a big wad of paper towels at the time.

Ah, perspective - life’s big equalizer. Ain’t it grand?

***

“When can I get a phone?”

The words, uttered from the back seat of the car, were completely out of the blue.

I turned and looked at the dog sitting behind me. “Did you just ask for a phone?” I asked in mock surprise. She cocked her head and flopped her tongue out of the side of her mouth in the way that makes it appear her IQ drops about 50 points. What a cutie!

I looked at my husband in the driver’s seat and excitedly said, “Honey, the dog can talk! We are soooooo gonna be rich!”

Our son, who apparently has yet to understand the subtle nuances of sarcasm, piped up, “No, Mom! That was me!”

I looked over my shoulder and answered, “Well, that’s just silly. You’re 6. Makes more sense for the dog to have a phone. In doggy years, she’s like 20.”

He looked at the dog sitting next to him and shot laser beams from his eyes, “That’s not fair.”

I snorted. A 6 year old. Wanting a phone.

He’d have better luck getting his hands on a nuclear warhead or one of the retired space shuttles.

It pays to dream big.

I shrugged, “You can have a phone when you get a job and pay for it.”

His jaw dropped at the injustice of it all. “But how will I play Angry Birds?”

Oh. This wasn’t about calling his buddies or texting 436 times a day. It was the phone-based video game that was crack for kids that had tripped his Gimme Trigger.

But before I could open my mouth to dash his fragile hopes even further, my husband piped up, “Oh, that’s a cool game!” I looked at him in stunned silence as he added, “I’m on level 23.”

Perspective.

Everyone has one. But why is mine the only one that’s perfect?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Dewing the N Paw


Yep. You can definitely tell the natives are restless and ready for Northwest Missouri State University Bearcat football to start. Nothing like making the logo out of stacked Mountain Dew packs to get the heart pumping for the season to start.

This pic courtesy of my good friend, Jody Strauch, who snapped this at our local Hy-Vee store.