That’s not Funny.

It seems to me, that when entering the world of having children, we are expected to leave our sense of humor by the door. Joking is permitted in nearly all aspects of our lives, with the exception of infants and children.

Shortly after the birth of my first daughter, Hannah, my mother-in-law arrived at our house and asked where the new baby was. I simply answered, “I put her in the dryer because she was making too much noise.”

She did not find it to be the least bit funny and in fact, you would have thought that I had just committed a murder right in front of her. I started to explain that I was just only joking, but then my razor sharp wit took over and I added, “The dryer only amplifies sound. If I was going to stick her in an appliance, it would have been the dish washer.”

This sent her into a rage, “YOU DON’T EVEN JOKE ABOUT SUCH THINGS!”

It would seem to me, that when it comes to joking about sticking infants into appliances, the general consensus is that if I joke about it, then I have to actually do it.

A few years later, I was left alone with my two daughters and four of their cousins while all the mothers went shopping. One young niece started singing, “The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round.”

Before long, all of the other kids had joined in, and after ten minutes of the same phrase being repeatedly sung by six loud children, my sanity began to wear thin. To make the concert more bearable, I decided to compose a second verse to the song, and have them perform it when the mothers arrived home from shopping.

The second verse went like this, “The cheeks on my butt make lots of sound, lots of sound.”

The six of them performing this new verse in front of their mothers, did not go over any better than the daughter in the dryer joke. You would have thought I had taught them all to swear like sailors. In fact, one of my sister-in-laws still won’t let me watch her children alone any more.

Perhaps my brand of humor is a bit much when talking about something as precious as our little children, but I think everybody could lighten up a little bit too . . . because if you don’t, I will come to your house, and glue your children’s feet to the ceiling and wrap them in Christmas tree lights . . .  That is a joke, I would never glue their feet to the ceiling because the blood rushing to their heads would make them pass out. I would only glue children’s feet to the floor.

 

If you enjoyed this story, there is a whole book full of them waiting for you at Amazon:

Single Family Asylum

The Way it should BE.

As I walked in the door after my long day at work, I was met by my two daughters.

“How was your day, dad?” they both asked as they gave me a big hug.

“It wasn’t too bad” I replied, “What smells so good?”

“Oh, Natalie and I made nachos, tacos and burritos for dinner . . . after we finished cleaning our rooms and doing our homework.”

“That’s wonderful girls!” I said, giving each a big hug.

After a quick shower, I returned to the dining room where we all sat down to one of the best meals I had eaten in quite some time. In fact, it was so good, that after eating each delicious taco, I would get up and hug my wife and daughters and they would hug me back, telling me how wonderful my taco breath smelled.

Upon finishing the excellent dinner, the girls cleared the table and washed the dishes, and then the four of us retired to the living room to relax and watch a little TV. My wife brought out a heavenly double chocolate cake that had been made for desert.

“What should we watch?” I asked.

“How about something with rocket launchers and zombies!” replied my daughter, Hannah.

“Yes!” added Natalie, “and with fast cars and explosions!”

“Are you sure?” I asked, “Don’t you girls want to watch your stupid teenage drama shows?”

“No father, you have worked hard all day, we want to watch your show.”

“That sounds wonderful” I said as I hugged and kissed both girls.”

As I turned on the TV, my wife brought me a huge piece of the chocolate cake and my slippers.

“Thank you my lov- . . .”

Before I could finish my sentence, I was interrupted by a loud crash and a sharp pain in my nose. I winced in agony.

When I opened my eyes, my wife was gone . . .  and there was no sign of the chocolate cake she was about to hand me before the loud noise and the pain. Instead, I was lying on the couch with my daughter Natalie sitting on my chest. My daughter Hannah was standing at the end of the couch near my head, violently swatting at her sister with a tennis racket. Natalie was kicking back at her with her feet, in an attempt to ward off the blows. And with every second or third kick, her leg would come down with a thump on my face. Hannah’s racket aim left much to be desired as well, in that every other swat would crack me on the nose with the follow through. There was also a half-eaten piece of pizza lying face down on my forehead.

“WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON?!!!!” I demanded.

“Hannah stole the last piece of pizza!”

“Well Natalie keeps changing the channel from my show!” Hannah answered.

“I thought you girls wanted me to watch my zombie movie . . .” I said, somewhat confused.

Both girls looked at each other as if I had just spoken to them in Latin.

“Where did you get pizza? Aren’t you both full from the dinner you made me after you cleaned your rooms?” I asked.

Again they looked at each other and then both broke out in loud maniacal laughter.

“Made dinner? Cleaned our rooms? HAHAHAHAHAHA!”

I was more confused.

“Remember? You said I had worked hard today, so I could watch my show, and you guys made tacos and nachos and burritos for dinner, and we were hugging, and you said how wonderful my taco breath smelled . . .” I sputtered.

I stopped talking as my brain began to piece together the facts.

The girls started in with their wild laughter again, “HAHAHAHAHA! You’ve been a dead lump on the couch since you got home! HAHAHAHAH, he said his breath smelled good! HAHAHAHA!”

As the girls walked off, laughing hysterically, I began to realize that it had all been a dream. There was no taco dinner, or hugging or even chocolate cake.

My wife sat across the room with an amused smile on her face. I tried telling her about my dream, but had to stop when she began laughing as hard as the girls had been.

Being disappointed about not actually having a taco dinner or hugging, I decided that I wasn’t going to miss out on the chocolate cake. I rose from the couch and went to the little diner down the road from us, where I ordered a large piece of double chocolate cake . . .  a man can only handle so much disappointment in one evening.

The Art of the Selfie.

When you mention the word selfie, most people automatically think of a teenage girl sitting in her room, or in the bathroom mirror, taking a picture of themselves while making a face that looks like a duck. Or you might think of a teenage boy, bare chested, making pseudo-gang-rapper signs and trying to look tough. But it is not likely that the term selfie would conjure up images of a middle aged semi-bald, pot bellied male . . . . Unless you live in my house.

I discovered my love for the selfie almost immediately after learning of their existence from my teenage daughter, and I now consider it my medium . . . My art form. 

It’s not so much out of vanity that I choose to selfie, it’s more out of self-amusement . . . Or at least that is how I justify my being a middle aged selfie taker. I just love pulling off a great selfie.

Now believe it or not, selfie taking is a skill that, like many things, takes practice. There is a learning curve. The first step is learning how to properly operate your phone’ camera . . . So you don’t end up accidentally taking a selfie of yourself trying to figure out how to take a selfie:

  
One needs to consider things like . . . What’s in the background:

  
And . . . Is the cat as excited about being in a selfie as I am? (This selfie cost me a rather nasty scratch to the nose):

  
But once one has ironed out some of the typical beginner selfie taker difficulties, there is a whole world of selfie taking that opens up. 

You can selfie yourself at work (which is a little more interesting if you happen to be a tree trimmer . . . And currently in a tree):

  
Or you can take one at work while other people are working and you are just standing there taking a selfie:

  
You can selfie on the morning your favorite socks show up in the laundry basket:

  
You can selfie your special alone time reading classic literature:

  
You can selfie while fighting for space in front of the heat register:

  
You can hijack a selfie:

  
You can have your own selfie hijacked: 

 
As your selfie skills progress, you can start stepping up your game with the use of photo editing apps:

  
  
  
 
But no matter how much fun you have getting creative with your selfies, the best ones are still the ones you take that have meaning . . . Like one with two beautiful daughters . . . Even if they aren’t willing participants 🙂

  

Video can be a Horrible Shock to your Self Esteem . . .

My girls were watching a video from a family get-together that we had at our house last summer and laughing hysterically.

“What’s so funny?” I asked, as I walked into the living room.

Both girls stopped laughing and acted as if they hadn’t heard my question.

“What’s so funny?”

There was still no response, so I turned my attention to the video. The camera that was recording the video had obviously been set on a table or chair and left to record the goings-on, the center of which was a volleyball game that had gone on for most of the day.

As I stood and watched for a few minutes, it became obvious that the girls had been laughing at one of the players in the volleyball game. His lack of coordination and overdramatic reactions to his pathetic attempts at diving for the ball made him a comical center of attention. Other players on the volleyball court chuckled behind his back on the video.

“Who’s the bald idiot?” I asked, still laughing at the poor player’s lack of skill.

Both girls looked at each other for a silent moment.

“Ummm, that’s you, Dad,” my daughter Hannah finally answered.

“Ha-ha, very funny,” I replied, but neither girl was laughing.

I narrowed my gaze at the video playing on the television. I recognized the Star Trek T-shirt that the “bald idiot” was wearing as my own.

“Hey, why is that guy wearing one of my…”

My face suddenly got hot with embarrassment, as I realized that the spectacle, the train wreck, the elephant on the court…was me.

I stood in shock. I knew my hairline had receded a bit, and the back of my head was getting a little thin, but I had no idea it had become bare; bare like the grassless spot on my lawn that commemorates the great hornet/gasoline battle of ’04.

My posture was slouched like a man who had been beaten down by years of climbing trees for a living and accented by a potbelly that was much larger than the one I see when I look down.

My playing skills were terrible…terrible to the point of being amazingly terrible. I had never been a volleyball wizard, but I could, at the very least, hold my own in a game when I was younger. But time after time, I watched myself on the video hit the ball out of bounds, into the net, off my face, or miss it altogether. Worse yet, with each failed bump, set, or spike, I would fall to the ground in an overly dramatic fashion that would best any cowboy movie showdown death. Then I would lie there, flailing like a turtle stuck on its back, until someone finally came over and gave me a hand getting up, followed by two or three minutes of “walking off” my injuries, while I made loud “walking off” my injuries noises.

The video was much too painful to watch. I could still hear myself encouraging other players to “COME ON, GET IN THE GAME!” And my exaggerated grunts and bemoanings coming from the TV as I walked out of the living room. The girls resumed their laughing at me when they thought I was out of earshot.

The video had been a rude awakening to my current state of degradation and lack of coordination. Ever since watching it, I have begun to see myself in an unflattering new light.

More recently, a video of myself dancing at a wedding reception enlightened me to my dreadful loss of rhythm and fashion sense. Mothers in the video are seen rushing to shield their children from my thrashing, dancing appendages. A young couple sitting a table near the dance floor are pointing and laughing at my twenty-year-old dress shoes that I occasionally revitalize with a fresh coat of black magic marker.

My dancing very closely resembled someone who was making fun of someone dancing…in his grandpa’s shoes. Once again, I was mortified to my core.

I now avoid being in a video at all costs. And in the event I end up getting caught on camera, I steadfastly refuse to watch the footage. The volleyball and wedding reception incidents have damaged my self-esteem so horribly that I don’t think I would survive another video episode.

Our Family Justice System.

 

In our household, there exists a justice system that parallels the system here in the United States in some ways but also has many differences.

Our Family Justice System:

In our house you are not guaranteed a trial by a jury of your peers. In fact, any peers in the house will be instructed to go home before the trial begins.

There are two judges, a primary or day judge and a secondary or evening judge.

You may be held without bail until a judge and trial are made available. (“You can sit in your room until your father gets home.”)

You may be tried and convicted more than once for the same crime, especially if the primary judge has found you guilty and handed down a sentence but feels that you still do not seem repentant enough. She can then order a second trial when the evening judge gets home from work, after which, a second sentence may be added on to the first.

Or, if you are found not guilty by one of the judges, you still could be found guilty by the other judge based on new evidence, or simply due to the fact that the second judge had a bad day at work and wishes to take it out on the defendants.

You WILL testify against yourself when instructed to do so by one of the judges.

Sometimes being a witness (tattler) can get you into worse trouble than being the one who committed the crime.

Sometimes, the primary judge has had enough, which she will indicate by loudly stating, “I have had enough!” She may then postpone a trial until the secondary judge gets home from work, but when the secondary judge gets home from work and is met at the door by two sobbing defendants and a primary judge who has had enough, he isn’t sure what the primary judge is expecting of him, so he will then repeat in an authoritative voice, the words that the primary judge is silently mouthing from behind the two sobbing defendants.

And finally, your punishment WILL be cruel and unusual (a week without TV, iPad, etc.).

The Supposed Brain Softening Powers of the Happy Light.

I’m generally a pretty happy guy. But in the midst of a long grey winter, I can get a little down. To be honest, I can get quite depressed at times. My wife claims that I suffer from that seasonal depression disorder. It apparently has something to do with not getting enough sunlight. My sister in-law recommended a special light that supposedly mimics the sun’s light, so my wife acquired one. It is now referred to, by my wife and kids, as “Dad’s happy light.”

I’m not sure if it helps or not, but my wife seems convinced that it does. In fact, she seems to think it will do more than just help with my seasonal depression.

I have noticed that if we have any sort of disagreement, she will at some point after the argument, switch the light on, and point it at me as if it will change my opinion on our disagreement . . . and I think she believes she’s being subtle about it. I have even noticed that as I sit in the glow of the happy light, she will periodically bring up different points of our argument as if to see if the light had softened up my brain and made me see things her way yet, much like a baker checking a cake in the oven. I think she is over-estimating this light’s ability to fix all my perceived faults.

The other night we were the playing a trivia game that required players to have a vast knowledge of current children’s TV shows. My ignorance on the subject was causing my wife and I to get beaten quite soundly by our two girls. So in the middle of one of our turns, my wife got up, and moved the happy light over in front of me and switched it on. I think she actually believed that the happy light would somehow unlock a cache of forgotten Kid TV facts in my brain, or that it might transfer the question’s answers to me through its bright glow. Now I’m skeptical on whether the Happy light will change my opinion during an argument, but I’m certain it will not transfer trivia answers to my brain.

My daughters are quick to pick up on the concept of the light, as well. If I were to come home from work and find them burning our furniture in the middle our living room, all I would have to say is, “umm, I’m not sure this is the best idea, girls . . .”  and they both would reply in unison, “JEEZE-O-PEETS, SOMEONE NEEDS TO GO SIT INFRONT OF HIS HAPPY LIGHT!!!” It’s as if my not thinking they should set fire to furniture in our home is unreasonable, and that the happy light would make me somehow more agreeable to it.

I’m starting to think this light isn’t even supposed to help with the disorder . . . if  I even have a disorder. I think that maybe it’s just a prop that is used by my family to make me think that depression is the only possible reason that I would ever question their logic and reason.

 

If you enjoyed this ridiculous story, there is a whole book full of them waiting for you at Amazon:

Single Family Asylum

 

 

Being a Cool Dad.

The other day, while driving my daughter’s home from school, the discussion was centered on one of the girls friends, Christiana and how much fun it was to stay at her house.

“What makes it so fun to stay at Christina’s house?” I had to ask.

“They let us watch horror movies,” Natalie answered.

“Christina’s parents are cool, too,” Hannah added.

“Yeah, her parents ARE cool,” agreed Natalie.

The horror movie answer was a bit concerning to me, but had not nearly the sting of the cool parents statement. What made her parents so cool? . . . I had always considered myself to be a cool parent.

I never wore dark socks pulled up to my knees while wearing shorts like my dad had done. And I was always doing fun and entertaining things when my daughters had friends over, like playing my hilarious DVD of Star Trek episodes that had the dialogue dubbed over in German, or performing my famous word-for-word reenactment of Walter Cronkite’s moon landing newscast, using a high falsetto voice. But apparently, it takes something far less substantial to be considered cool to this generation of kids.

In the days that followed the overheard conversation in the car, it would bother me every time I thought about it. I remembered when I was a teenager, and how some of my friend’s parents were so much cooler than others. I couldn’t stand it . . . I had to be a cool dad.

I felt certain that it would not take much to push my stature well into the “cool” dad category. I mean it’s not like I was some socially stunted hermit who was completely out of touch with the youth of today. So for the next few evenings, I plotted the grand unveiling of my coolness.

….

That Friday, I pulled up to the front of the school ready to impress. I knew that some things never change when it comes to the teenage requirements for coolness, so the first thing needed was some loud bumping music.

I would have preferred to have picked out one of my daughters CD’s to blast, but since my 1998 Buick had come equipped with a cassette deck, this was not an option. Luckily, I still had a few tapes in a shoebox in the garage, and luckier yet, some of my sisters old tapes had gotten mixed in with mine . . . teenage girl music is teenage girl music, I figured.

As I slowly drove along the student lined sidewalk in front of the school, I put in my sisters tape that I had picked out, a band called Menudo, and let it rip. The music was loud and had a catchy beat, but apparently teeny bopper music in my sister’s day wasn’t any better than what my daughters listen to, because I couldn’t understand a word they were singing. It was almost like they were singing in Spanish or some other language.

I had my hat on sideways, and despite the pain in my back, I was leaned way over into the middle of the car like I had seen other cool young people doing. I tried my best to bob my head in time with the catchy, loud music. I spotted my girls standing in the row of students, and stopped in front of them.

Wanting to fully display my new found coolness, I cranked the poorly vocalized music even louder and got out to escort my daughters over to the car. As I approached the sidewalk, I noticed quite a few students laughing and pointing in my general direction. There was a particularly criminal looking group of teen boys that began yelling things like “turn that crap down, grandpa!” My oldest daughter seemed to be upset, and possibly crying.

My youngest daughter marched up to me and screamed, “DAD! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”

“What?” I said calmly, “Do the rules of coolness not apply to guys over 40?”

“Why are you blasting 60’s Spanish music loud enough for the whole town to hear?” She shrieked.

“It’s not from the 60’s, it’s from th- . . . wait, that really is Spanish?” I mumbled.

“And why in the world would you walk around in public like that?” she demanded, sounding even angrier.

I assumed she was talking about my hat being sideways and my underwear showing a bit, like I had seen every other boy at the school wearing.

“Dads can’t sport a little sag?” I asked while making gang-like hand gestures that teens nowadays seem to use while talking.

“You have your underwear pulled up, not your pants sagged down!” (By now she was yelling.) “And they are white fruit of the looms with the elastic band half ripped off!!!”

Unconvinced that hiking my undergarments up was any different than pulling my pants down, I turned to walk back to the car.

As I stepped off the sidewalk, the pain caused from leaning over in the car seat intensified and my back suddenly went out, causing me to collapse down on to all fours. The violence of the fall tore my underwear band the rest of the way so that the band was now completely detached from the rest of the underwear. And although I couldn’t turn around to look, it felt like there might now be some butt cleavage showing.

Meanwhile, a boy with purple hair from the group of criminals had broken off one of the Buick’s windshield wipers, and was using it to whip me across the buttocks as I helplessly crawled back to the car and into the driver’s seat. Several students lined up along the sidewalk had their phones held up and I could only assume they were videoing the whole event.

With a bit of difficulty, I managed to get the car door closed and then quickly drove away with agonizing back pain, two sobbing daughters and a pair of stinging butt cheeks.

After several video versions of the whole incident had been posted and viewed on YouTube, it was decided by my daughters, my wife and the principal that I would no longer be picking the kids up from school.

My oldest daughter, Hannah, has finally started talking to me again, and hopefully Natalie will follow.

I have decided that my level of coolness is what it is, and like nature, shouldn’t be messed with.

 

*If you enjoyed this story, there is a whole book of them waiting for you at Amazon!

Single Family Asylum

 

Single Family Asylum Paperback World Premiere!

Thousands of anxious readers lined up outside book stores all across the globe in order to be one of the first to get their hands on the long awaited book release of Single Family Asylum. Police in several cities tried desperately to calm the frenzied book buyers by spraying them down with fire hoses and passing out Starbucks gift cards, but the crowds were relentless in their fervor for the new best-seller. . .

Well, maybe it didn’t happen quite like . . . . Ok, that didn’t happen at all. But don’t let that dissuade you from checking out this collection of ridiculous, funny, family-oriented stories for yourself. You are even free to start rioting in front of a book store if you are so inclined. If you would simply like to check out my new paper back online, here is the magical Amazon book link.

Single Family Asylum

Single Family Asylum is a collection of short, humorous stories about the imperfections of family members and family life that have appeared right here on this blog.

Buy the book! Buy 10 books! Tell your friends! Tell them you won’t ever talk to them again unless they buy the book.

Shopping with Children

Even before our children were born, my wife and I had decided that she wouldn’t work until both girls were at least in school. We felt that those first five or six years were very important in a child’s development and didn’t want those years to be spent in a daycare.

During those few years, I often worked long hours to make up for the loss of one income, and as a result, I wasn’t always aware of all the day-to-day details of raising two active young girls.

My chance to experience many of these daily triumphs and tribulations came one fall day when my wife ended up coming down with a particularly bad virus that left her incapacitated for nearly a week. During her recovery, I decided to take a few days off from work to fill in as the child minder.

In the middle of that week it became necessary to do some grocery shopping, so without a second thought I made up a list and informed my wife that the girls and I would be going shopping.

“You’re taking the girls?” my wife asked in a concerned tone.

“Yeah, that way you can relax without having to worry about them.”

“Are you sure you know what you are signing up for?” she said with an even more worrisome tone.

I began to get a little annoyed at her lack of confidence in my child management skills. I realized that taking a three and five year old pair of girls to the grocery store would require vigilance, but come on, how hard could it be?

“You just relax, I’ve got this,” I said as the girls and I walked out the door.

The short drive to the grocery store was uneventful and further confirmed in my mind that this shopping trip was a cinch.

Upon arrival, I grabbed a shopping cart and put three year old Natalie in the little flip down seat, and let Hannah take a spot riding on the front of the cart. I dug out my shopping list to have in hand as we headed down the first aisle.

Half way down the first aisle, I turned to place an item in the cart, only to find Natalie was holding a bag of navy beans that I hadn’t placed in the cart.

“Where did you get that, baby girl?” I chuckled as I took the bag from her.

Natalie answered with a blood curling scream that actually made me jump a little.

“DAD! She WANTS the beans!” Hannah advocated from the front of the cart.

“Well, we are not buying beans today,” I said in my firm dad voice and put the beans back on the shelf.

As I made the turn from the first aisle to the second, I mentally noted that I should keep the cart centered between the two rows of shelves to prevent my little grocery thief from being able to grab items off of them.

When I got down to the pasta section, I noticed that the brand of lasagna noodles that my wife normally purchased seemed to cost significantly more than a few of the other brands. But it was hard to know exactly how much because the packages contained different amounts of noodles. So I got out my phone and used the calculator on it to try figure out what the exact cost per pound would be of each brand of noodle. After a bit of difficulty remembering just how to set up such a calculation, I finally determined the costs of each.

“HAH!” I exclaimed triumphantly, “This brand is seventeen cents cheaper per pound.”

I grabbed the new bargain brand of lasagna noodles from the shelf and turned back towards the shopping cart. Hannah was now sitting inside the cart digging into a freshly opened box of cereal that I had selected from the first isle. But it didn’t appear that she was actually eating any of the cereal the she was removing from the opened box fistful by fistful . . . I assumed she was attempting to get at the prize in the bottom of the box. Large amounts of cereal were being thrown out of the box and onto the floor through the holes in the bottom of the cart.

“HANNAH! What on earth are . . . WHERE’S NATALIE?” I said in a panic as I realized that my youngest daughter was no longer a passenger on the shopping cart.

“She went to get lunch,” Hannah replied as if it was not a big deal.

“Does mom let her go get lunch when she takes you guys shopping?”

Hannah looked up from her cereal box digging for a moment and replied, “No, mom doesn’t let us out of the cart.”

“Oh crap!” I thought aloud sprinting down the aisle.

When I reached the end, I was able to determine that my daughter had gone to the left by following the trail of navy beans left like breadcrumbs. Up ahead I could see her standing in front of a lady handing out samples of some sort of food she was promoting. The lady had given Natalie what looked like a chicken nugget and Natalie was busy dowsing the nugget with ranch dressing from a bottle that I had no idea how she came to possess.

“NATALIE! I didn’t know where you were!” I said scooping her up, nugget, ranch dressing and all. Natalie screamed once again and stiffened her body in protest of my picking her up.

“She seems quite hungry,” the teen-aged sample girl said with a smile, “she’s eaten five of my samples.”

But I didn’t have time for niceties, I had to get myself and Natalie back to the cart before Hannah disappeared as well. So once again, I began to run back towards the aisle where I had left the cart and my treasure hunting daughter. But my progress was hampered by a child who was not happy about being torn away from her free lunch. I had never realized until that moment, how difficult carrying an unwilling child was compared to carrying one who was a willing participant. It was very awkward, much like running with a large, screaming piece of plywood in my arms.

When I reached Hannah and my cart, I stuffed the still screaming Natalie back in her seat and pushed on at a faster pace, ignoring the fact that Hannah was still sitting inside the cart. I hoped that picking up the pace was the key to a successful shopping trip with the children by not giving them as much time to get into mischief. However, this didn’t end up helping much at all.

By the time I had finished the second aisle and had gotten only half way down the third, Natalie had escaped another two times from her seat in the cart, helping herself to a box of animal crackers and knocking a jar of pickles off a shelf causing it to shatter across the floor. Hannah had successfully found the prize in the cereal box, which was a whistle, and blew it loudly from her place inside the cart.

And all I had to show for all the chaos was a half-eaten, half spilled box of cereal, a loaf of bread and a bottle of liquid cold and flu medicine. I was beginning to feel light headed from the anxiety . . . but I had to press on. I could do this.

I grabbed Natalie once again and plowed my way down the rest of the third aisle and into the fourth, picking up a store employee with a mop, bucket, and broom who had been assigned to follow us around by the manager.

Progress was slow, and with each stopping of the cart brought a new disaster. I chased girls, put smuggled items back on the shelves and apologized to other customers who had become victims of items thrown or splashed on them. As I turned and looked back down aisle four, it looked like a road map of where my cart had traveled. The path had been clearly marked by a peanut butter wheel track and each stop punctuated by a spill.

I was quickly losing my grip on sanity as we made our way down aisle five. To keep Hannah occupied, I had given into her demand to push the cart. I had restrained Natalie in her seat with the seat belt that I had discovered. The employee with the broom and mop had been joined by a manager who followed along keeping a running tab of items broken. Natalie was like a demon possessed wild cat, screaming and clawing at people who passed by us.

As I walked back to return a customer’s purse that had been swiped from a cart we had parked next to in the canned vegetable section, I was startled to hear the scream of someone other than my two daughters . . . the scream of a lady.

Hannah had pushed the cart full force into the heels of an elderly lady, who now sat on the floor crying. The manager was dividing his time between seeing if she was ok and lecturing me on controlling my children. The employee with the broom was sweeping furiously, trying in vain to keep up with the handfuls of sugar that Natalie was throwing on the floor . . .  that’s when things get fuzzy.

I can remember a period of time with people yelling at me, children screaming and food being thrown, but it was all a blur. My mind had checked out. . . .

 

After an undetermined amount of time in this confusing dream-like state, the spinning of the room began to slow a bit. I gathered my wits about me.

Looking around, I found myself standing inside the shopping cart with the bottle of cold and flu medicine in my hand. The bottle was open, and apparently I had chugged half of its contents while singing “Amazing Grace” in a high falsetto voice. Around me stood the store manager, the still furiously sweeping employee, and the elderly lady who was still crying. Natalie was a short distance away sharing a box of cookies with another customer. Hannah was standing on the front of the cart holding a half-eaten carrot between her fingers like a cigar and moving her eyebrows up and down Groucho Marx style.

“You’re funny Dad,” Hannah giggled.

After quickly writing a check to cover all food items that had been spilled, damaged, and eaten, I grabbed both girls by the hand and exited the store, leaving the cart sitting in the exact same spot where I had just used it as my stage.

Arriving at home, I unloaded the girls from their car seats, and with the Chinese take-out I had picked up, went into the house.

“Where’s the groceries?” my wife asked, “Was there a problem?”

“Nope! Theeee . . . ahhh grocery store was closed, “I managed to fabricate.

“Why didn’t you just go across town to Leonard’s Grocery Store?”

“Uh, well that was closed too. I think it was some sort of grocery store holiday.”

To stop the obnoxious line of questioning, I brought my wife a heaping plate of sweet and sour chicken, and then sat down with my own plate, still reeling from the effects of the cold and flu medicine.

After a few minutes of silent eating, my wife said, “By the way, the manager of the grocery store that was closed called.”

I stopped my eating with the fork of food hovering just outside my opened mouth.

“Oh?” I said sheepishly.

“It seems he failed to charge you for the live lobsters that were apparently killed by somebody dumping some sort of blue liquid into the tank.”

I was busted. “Well . . . that explains where the fabric softener went.”