Children are made in a Convenient Size.

When God was at his drafting table deciding how the universe would work, it was pretty clever of him to make children start out small and grow up to be larger. I can only imagine the challenges to a parent if children were born huge and then grew down to be small.

I mean, can you imagine trying to change an NFL lineman’s diaper if he didn’t want it changed? Or better yet, trying to enforce a “time out” on him? You’d be lucky to escape with all your limbs intact. And I imagine if that same NFL lineman wanted you to play dolls with him? You would not have much choice in the matter. Either play with dolls or have your shoulders dislocated and your ears ripped off.

And if children were big and we were small, it would be us adults who needed to be strapped into a car seat, and have to sit on a stack of telephone books during the family Christmas dinner, not the child.

But fortunately for us, children come in a small, convenient size, which makes them easier to manage. So when you tell a child “come here . . . come here . . . come here . . . come here . . . come here,” you can then provide them with some assistance in “coming here,” when words don’t seem to be working.

Due to their miniature size, a parent can assist children with lots of things like, “come here,” “stay there,” “sit down,” “stand up,” “stop hitting grandma with a wiffle ball bat,” and many other simple tasks that we need them to perform.

You can even assist them in cleaning their entire messy room by employing what I call “the chop stick method.” This method is where (after repeatedly telling them to clean their room, and the child repeatedly refusing) you grasp them by their little arms, and use them like chop sticks to pick up objects and put them away. I’m not sure that this method actually helps the child become any more obedient, but it seems to give the parent some satisfaction.

However, if you choose to use “the chop stick method,” you need to be careful that older siblings don’t see, and end up performing a perversion of it known as “Why are you hitting yourself? Stop hitting yourself.”

I guess if I had any complaints about the whole kids being small thing, it would be that I think they should remain small until they move out. My daughter Hannah is 17 now, and seems to be getting stronger and stronger. The age of 17 is a time in the raising of some children where it would be nice if they were still small . . . . really small . . . . . I’m talking ‘put them in a coffee can with holes poked in the lid’ small.

The Overtime Season

It is now officially the overtime season in the world of tree trimmers. You may have noticed a slowing down in my posting. As a middle aged tree trimmer, it is hard to stay awake for very long after plunking my butt down on the couch after a long day of climbing trees. I sometimes wake up the next morning still sitting in the same spot where I sat down after returning home from work the night before. Sometimes, I even have the partially chewed remnants of the previous night’s dinner still in my mouth.

But rest assured, I am thinking about all of you out there in the blogosphere constantly. I even dream about you all. . . . . . We’ll ok, that might be a slight exaggeration, but never the less, I do miss having the time and energy to post my nonsense for the world to read. 

I will squeeze out a post whenever I can!

Situational Ownership Between Father and Daughter.

It’s my daughter’s cat until it’s time to change the litter box.

It’s my car when it needs gas.

It’s her pizza until the leftovers need to need to be put into the refrigerator.

It’s her laptop up until it needs a new hard drive.

It’s her phone charger ….. In fact, they are all her phone chargers, and mine is always the one that is lost, even though I have never actually unplugged and moved it from outlet nearest to my spot on the couch.

Absent minded parenting.

It is no secret amongst people who know me that I can tend to be a bit absent minded. I’m not sure if it’s a matter of just being forgetful, or more a matter of my mind wandering causing me to forget to remember things in the first place. Or more than likely, it’s a combination of the both. Being an absent-minded dad has its advantages and disadvantages.

One advantage is I tend to forget things that I probably should worry about. So I often deal with a lot less stress than some other parents. It is not uncommon for people I come into contact with to say something like, “So how is that situation with Natalie going? I know it has had the both of you pretty worried.”

This usually is followed by me simultaneously answering “Ummm, it’s going ok . . .” All the while searching my brain frantically for what it is about Natalie that I should be concerned about.

Later, when I ask my wife what it is about Natalie that I am supposed to be concerned about, I would get an answer something like, “Did you forget that she claims to be a Wildebeest and has bitten four kids in her class . . . . and the teacher?”

I would, of course, then remember my daughter’s specie identity crisis and the biting incidents, and realize that I had not worried about it as much as I maybe should have (probably because none of the victims had reported needing stitches).

So things such as my darling youngest child biting students and teachers tend to cause a lot less stress for me than perhaps the average parent.

But then I’m always reminded of the disadvantages as well.

A few days ago, I had to drop off a book that my older daughter, Hannah, had forgotten to take to school. Feeling like a responsible, caring parent, I proudly marched into the school’s office and asked the secretary if she could make sure the book would get to my daughter.

“What grade is she in?” she asked.

“Ummm . . . I’m not sure,” I said a little embarrassed.

“Well, how old is she?”

I was even more embarrassed that I couldn’t remember how old my daughter was.

“Well . . . . Uhhh . . . she’s about this tall,” I sheepishly answered, holding up my hand.

The secretary gazed at me with a look of bewilderment.

I was, however, able to provide her with my daughter’s first and last name.

I have the blahs.

I have the blahs today. 

I’m not all that happy . . . . . But I’m not really all that sad either. 

I’m not motivated. 

I’m not excited. 

If I were a scientist, today would not be the day that I found the cure for cancer. 

If I were an artist, today would not be the day to paint the Mona Lisa. 

I’m not 🙂  or 😦  I’m :I 
I’m not sure how I ended up in such a blah condition. Perhaps it’s the greyness of the sky. Maybe it started when my shoelace broke. Maybe the dog didn’t wag her tail and seem happy enough this morning. 

Maybe I have a blah virus.

I tried to remedy my blahness by trying to tickle myself under my arm, but it doesn’t have quite the same effect as someone else tickling under my arm.

I thought that maybe if I set my hair on fire I would feel less blah, but I really don’t have that much hair left to spare.

So I here I sit, feeling blah and writing a blah post. Hopefully none of you catch my blahness. Hopefully I haven’t started a blah pandemic. 

It’s Mother’s Day again already?

I had just woken up, made my coffee, and turned on the TV. I was only half paying attention to the lady on the morning news when I thought she said, “Happy Mother’s Day.”

Why on Earth would she say “Happy Mother’s Day”?

I turned the channel, and again, the person on the other news channel said, “Happy Mother’s Day”.

It’s Mother’s Day? How can it be Mother’s Day? Wasn’t it Mother’s day a few months ago? Or maybe that was Valentine’s Day or Christmas or something.

Nevertheless, it’s We-do-love-and-appreciate-you-but-as-usual-We-forgot-to-buy-you-something-that-proves-it day.

I quietly wake up the girls and we all go into full scramble alert. They know the routine well, as it comes several times a year on Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, my wife’s birthday, and occasionally even on Christmas.

Natalie will rummage through the refrigerator and cupboards to find whatever she can to make up one of her notorious breakfasts in bed for the wife/mom. She had become a master at pulling together a four-star feast from grocery and leftover remnants that happen to be in the refrigerator and cupboards. Past breakfasts in bed have included a bowl of chocolate chips, Flamin’ Hot Doritos, leftover pizza and even old Halloween candy.

With the excuse of needing to run to the store for toilet paper, Hannah and I take the opportunity to make a flying trip to the drug store during said breakfast, to grab some flowers, a card and maybe an item from the crappy cheap gift aisle . . . . . maybe a mug that says “You’re Awesome!” or a shark stuffed animal toy (I will claim to say that I thought sharks were her favorite animal after my wife opens the gift and gives me a strange look).

Quickly we return home to wrap the presents with newspaper or place into a re-gifted gift bag that is adorned with a Hello Kitty design. The added touch of “Mom” and a heart are magic-markered onto the bag or wrapping paper.

Then when all is as ready as we can possibly make it, the three of us will file into our bedroom and present our well planned, spare no expense Mother’s day celebration.

My wife is awesome. Each time the morning panic of a forgotten holiday ravages our house and the banging of cupboards signals that she is about to enjoy one of the most horrible breakfast in bed’s she has ever had, she gracefully pretends to not know what is happening. She will cheerfully eat her Mother’s Day breakfast and act over-whelmed with joy over our gifts . . . . . every time . . . and that is why I love her.

Dad’s and Boyfriends

As a rule, dads don’t generally like boyfriends. We love to make threats about what will happen to them if they hurt our daughters, or step out of bounds. These threats often involve shotguns and unmarked graves located in the swamp. We are unmercifully critical of them, and we are unlikely to cut them any slack whatsoever.

This is probably not much different than how parents of boys feel about their potential girlfriends.  And I’m sure there will be parents who are as skeptical of my girls as I am about their boys. But being the father of two girls, I can only write about how I view boyfriends.

One reason for this universal hatred of boyfriends is the thought of these little hormone gremlins doing unimaginable things to our daughters that shouldn’t happen until she is married, which shouldn’t be a day before her sixty-fifth birthday. Unfortunately, every dad was once a hormone gremlin himself. We know how they think. We know how they operate.

And it cannot be overlooked that teenage girls can be encouragers of the hormone gremlins. Teenage girls are quick to learn the power they hold over boys. This makes for a deadly combination, and it is for this reason that we are ever vigilant and suspicious of their every action.

Another reason for us to persecute boyfriends is perhaps to weed out the weaker ones from the pack. I have constant nightmares about her marrying some deadbeat and moving into my basement for ten years while he finishes hip-hop album.

In my mind, there is no boy worthy of my daughter’s hand in marriage. But knowing that her getting married is inevitable, I do my best to make sure our daughter ends up with the best husband possible.

But when I really sit and think about it, there is yet another reason beyond the other obvious ones, that dads hate boyfriends so much. That reason is simply not being willing to give up the monopoly that a dad holds on being their daughter’s hero. A boyfriend is someone who might eventually end up stealing that title.

I mean who is this punk that he thinks he can just come in here and win my daughters heart with nothing more than his cocky sense of humor and his seventy-five dollar pair of baggy jeans?

Where was he when she was a baby? It wasn’t him who cleaned up all those poopy diapers or walked her for countless midnight hours while she screamed at the top of her lungs. Where was he for all those skinned knees, bruises, and hurt feelings that I comforted her through? Where was he when her first hamster died and together we held a backyard funeral service? He wasn’t the one who had protected her and kept her from harm for the last sixteen years. He hadn’t even come close to earning an equal place in my daughter’s heart. It’s not fair for him to even have a chance!

Then I remember that I was once that punk kid showing up at another father’s doorstep . . . hoping to steal the affections of his daughter. I have to stop and tell myself that whichever one of these annoying punks’ ends up winning my daughter as his wife may not have earned the right to be her hero as much as I had, but maybe only because he hadn’t had the chance yet.

So as painful as it may be, I realize that I must grant this Johnny-come-lately temporary permission to be my baby girl’s hero. I will give him a chance to earn the title. I will allow him the opportunity to become my daughter’s protector and comforter. And later still, to become everything I was to my daughter, with his own son or daughter . . . my grandchild.

So whichever one of you my daughter ends up picking, take this temporary permission that I give, and use it wisely. Earn the right to be called my daughter’s hero, and the hero of my grandchildren. Because if you squander this chance, or fail to live up to this title, you will have me to deal with, and the stories involving shotguns and shallow graves in a swamp, may end up not being just stories after all.

Actual project time estimation formula.

After decades of starting innumerable house and yard projects, I have (with the use of experience and advanced mathematics) come up with a way to accurately determine how long a project will actually take.

Here are the steps to the formula. 

1. Come up with an initial time estimate for the project you are considering. So if you are going repair and paint the walls, trim and ceiling in your living room, you might make an initial estimate of three days to complete the task.

2. Double the initial estimate. Three days becomes six.

3. Convert time incremant up one level: minutes would convert up to hours, hours would convert up to days and so on. So our initial estimate of three days, which was then doubled to six days, is then converted from days up to weeks. Six days turns to six weeks.

So a painting project that is initially planned to take three days will actually end up taking six weeks.