Easter (it will never be the same again).

One Easter a while back, I decided that I was going to create the Easter egg hunt of all Easter egg hunts for my three- and five-year-old daughters. I spent nearly the entire day before, purchasing and stuffing plastic eggs with candy, money, and small trinkets. With the aid of a crudely drawn map of our two-acre yard, I meticulously plotted and hid each little treasure. I could hardly wait to see the girls’ excitement as they searched for their Easter eggs.

The next morning, my wife and I led the girls out into the yard and gave each one a huge empty basket. I explained to my wide-eyed daughters that the Easter bunny had hidden Easter eggs all over the yard for them to find.

“What’s an Eeeter egg?” my younger daughter asked.

“You know, like an egg that a bird lays…only the Easter bunny brings it!” I answered, amazed that she didn’t know what an Easter egg was. “You’ll know when you find one.”

So, with a mixture and excitement and a touch of confusion, off they went in search of their Easter treasures.

After about ten minutes, my wife and I walked over to check on the girls’ progress. As I approached my younger daughter, Natalie, I asked, “How many Easter eggs have you found, baby girl?”

“A whooooole bunch,” she said, holding up her Easter basket.

Looking inside the basket, I was surprised to see that there was not a single egg in her basket. Instead, there were several round rocks, a bottle cap, and what looked like the pelvis and legs of an apparently long-dead rodent of some kind.

“Oh, no, baby girl, those aren’t…”

Just then, a blood-curdling scream came from the other side of the yard. My other daughter, Hannah, came wailing and running full speed from behind the shed, still clutching her Easter basket, which contained what looked like a football-size, egg-shaped hornet nest. My wife, who had gone to check on her, was fleeing in the opposite direction, swatting the air frantically.

Like a flash, I took off on a dead run toward Hannah, who was screaming in horror and from the pain of being stung. Snatching the hornet basket from her hand, I veered away from her and threw it like a grenade over the hedge that framed our property.

But there was no time to stop and check on poor Hannah. Instead, my next concern was my wife, who was very allergic to bees.

It took a few seconds of sprinting to catch up to her in the front yard. She was screaming and swatting with all her might at a single bee that was swirling around her head. Not knowing what else to do, I began following behind her, swatting as well and smacking her on the head every time the hornet made an attempt to land.

In her flailing panic, she fell to the ground and began to flounder like a fish stranded on the shore. I feared that her being a stationary target would make her more vulnerable to the attacking insect, so I began to drag her by her shirt collar, which ripped.

“I think it’s gone,” she managed to say between panting and sobbing, but I didn’t have time to even think about her words when a police car came sliding into the driveway, and two officers jumped out with guns drawn. I could only assume my neighbor across the street had noticed the commotion and called them…the very neighbor that had been less than friendly to me ever since my “trees are easier to burn standing, than after you cut them down” incident.

So there I was, red-faced and panting, standing over my sobbing wife, who had collapsed on the ground with a ripped shirt, and my hand raised high in the air ready to smack her on the head if the devilish hornet returned. Hannah, the one who had found the Easter hornet nest, was standing not far away, crying loudly. Her lip and the area around her left eye were swollen surprisingly large from what I could only assume were hornet stings. I had no idea where Natalie had gone to.

“Get away from her, you sick bastard!” one of the officers yelled with a great amount of contempt in his voice.

“No, no, Officer! It’s not what it looks like!” I said, realizing how bad the situation must appear.

“Did you do that, too?” the other officer asked, nodding toward Hannah, whose eye was almost swollen shut and her lip nearly as big.

“NO, I was just trying—”

“Hey!” the second officer interrupted. “Aren’t you the idiot who decided to burn his trees down last summer?”

But before I could even begin to explain the logic in the tree burning, Natalie trotted out from around the corner of the house and over to the two gun-holding officers. Smiling, she looked up and said, “My daddy says we can find Eeeter eggs,” and with that, she pulled a piece of hardened dog poop out of her basket and held it up as if to offer it to the officer. His gaze of contempt grew even more intense.

“It’s not what it looks like!” I pleaded, not even sure where to start. “We’re going to an Easter church service!” (I’m not even sure why I thought that would help, but I was desperate.)

Finally, my wife had calmed down enough to begin explaining the situation herself, and a questioning of my daughter Hannah eventually revealed that a hornet had assaulted her. I’m not sure they believed that I had actually hidden Easter eggs, since neither girl had anything in her basket other than rocks, a dead animal, a hornet nest, and dog poop, but I could live with that.

In the years following, Easter baskets were sitting next to the girls’ beds, already filled, when they woke up in the morning. The girls didn’t like talking about the Easter bunny any longer. They had reasoned that he was a bit like Santa, and if you had been naughty in the previous year, you would not find Easter eggs. Instead, you would be attacked by bees, and the police would come and point their guns at you.

 

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

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

 

 

They Don’t Understand.

Sometimes I wish that other things could hear and understand my frustration.

I tell the dog to stop shedding and slobbering all over the place. She wags her tail as if I just told her that Star Trek is on . . . . That is to say that she doesn’t understand.

I tell toilet to stop clogging because it grosses me out to plunge a poopy toilet, but it doesn’t listen. It clogs even more.

I tell the toaster to stop burning my toast, but it doesn’t understand.

I tell the ants to stop coming into my house uninvited, but they don’t understand.

I tell my daughters to clean up after themselves, but they don’t understandsta- . . . . Wait a minute. . . . . Yes they do. It just seems like they don’t. Sometimes I forget that they actually understand English.

The Path of Least Resistance.

I remember being so excited when I found out I was going to be a dad. My wife and I could hardly stand waiting the nine months it took for my first daughter to arrive.

But now when I think about it, it’s almost as is if that that after your children are born, you spend the rest of their lives trying to make it seem as if they didn’t exist.

If they cry, you stuff a pacifier in their mouth to silence them. If they are running around screaming and breaking things like idiots, you try to find some quieter, calmer activity that will occupy them. Or even send them to a “time out”, which not only quiets them but makes them disappear as well.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my children to death, but I can’t deny that I tend to react to them in whichever way I determine will make them quietly disappear the fastest. 

As they get a little older, this reaction is often what I call “the path of least resistance”. Sometimes I will try to disguise the path of least resistance by calling it “letting them learn from the consequences of their decisions”. At least then I can assign a methodology to my not wanting to engage in an arguments with my kids.

When a child wants something that might not be the best for them, I have to consider if the bad result of letting them have what they want is so awful that I want to endure the tantrum involved with telling them they can’t have it? Sometimes the answer is no.

I try hard not to give in to complete apathy as a parent. . . . . but I don’t always succeed. 

Six year old Hannah: “Can I have a gallon of gasoline?”

Me: “Wellllll, I guess. But take it to your room and play with it.”

A lot of times it is my wife who alerts me to just how far down the path of least resistance I have travelled.

Annoyed wife: “Why on earth would you give a gallon of gasoline to a six year old?”

Me, second guessing my decision as I answer: “Ugh. . . because she asked for one?”

Even more annoyed wife: “Well if she asked for a basket of hand grenades would you let her have that too?”

Me trying to sound logical: “No. Hand grenades are expensive and much louder than the whining I will get when I tell her no. 

Sometimes I will give them what they want to quiet them, but I will add “but just this once” to make myself feel like caving in isn’t a regular occurrance. 

Six year old Hannah: “can I have a gallon of gasoline?”

Me: “I guess, but just this once.”

Other times I will give in to the path of least resistance, but only with a compromise to their request. This way I feel like I still have some control.

Six year old Hannah: “Can I have a gallon gasoline?”

Me in control: “Hmmmmm, no but  you can have a quart of gasoline. A gallon would be just too dangerous.

What it means to be a Dad.

Being a dad means vomit on the front of your shirt, poop on your hands, and magic marker on the walls. It means late night fevers, tools found rusting on the lawn, throw and catch lessons with future major leaguers, tea parties with princesses, science projects that are beyond Einstein’s capabilities, wicked arguments, pride beyond what words can express, anger that’s hard to contain, countless worries, and love beyond measure.

Being a dad means I would do anything to help you become the best you that you can be, even if you don’t like me for making you strive to be that better person.

Being a dad means hoping that when all the battles of strong wills pass, I will still get a hug and an “I love you, Dad.”

Happy Father’s Day!!!

The Behaviorizer.

What if I told you that there was a device that you could purchase, that when plugged in and turned on, it would emit and energy field that caused children to calm down. Not just calm down, but actually sit silently and trouble free for as long as you want.

Right now, many of you battle-weary parents are thinking, “That would be WONDERFUL!! If only there was such a device!!!”

Well, there is . . . . . . it’s called a television, I call it the BEHAVIORIZER!

Now I know that as parents, we are not supposed to let our children watch too much TV. Some of you may not even let your kids watch it at all.

Before my wife and I had our own children, we would make lofty decrees that our children would not be boob-tube zombies. Our children would entertain themselves playing outdoors, creating art, and doing things together as sisters.

I have since learned that playing outdoors, creating art, and doing things together as sisters involves large amounts of messes, destruction, arguing, fighting, and effort on the part of the parents to exercise some form of order and control.

This is where the Behaviorizer comes into play. It involves none of those things. It’s so effective that it’s hard not to take advantage of its bluish, hypnotic glow.  HOURS! . . .  They will sit for hours, maybe days, and not move a muscle . . . I’m not even sure if they blink. I always keep a spray bottle of water in the living room in case their little eyeballs dry out, and I have to give them a squirt to keep them from squeaking when they move.

I’ve read and heard all the bad things that television can do to children. I’ve even heard it said that TV can destroy parts of their developing brain. But sometimes I think that if it’s destroying the part of their brain that makes them run around like savages destroying everything in their path . . .  maybe that was a part of the brain that needed to be destroyed in the first place. I mean, I’m sure they never would have performed lobotomies on people if they didn’t have a positive outcome. . . . . Right?

There are many other positive sides to television as well. It has made me aware of several products that I need to buy. Some of these products I didn’t even know existed until TV showed them to me, and I realized that I couldn’t live without them.

And you can’t deny the benefit of being able to watch history unfold before your eyes either. In my life, I have been able to see live, in color, many landmark moments in time, such as Evil Knieviel jump over a couple dozen buses, the mysterious transformation of “Bewitched” husband Darren Stevens from one person to a completely different person with no explanation, and David Letterman drive around in a convertible with a back seat full of tacos.

And without TV, children couldn’t spend hours developing hand-eye coordination by playing video games or learn about the cruelty of video war, or alien invasions.

I know as a parent, that I should limit my children’s TV watching and video gaming, but once you’ve experienced the calm and quiet that it can produce as it slowly turns your child’s brain into oatmeal, it’s hard to go back. It’s like I’m Luke being lured over to the Dark Side.

The Dark Side has control.

The Dark Side has POWER!

Little Punches on the Nose from Life.

You realize halfway through your bowl of cereal and cup of coffee that the dishwasher you had gotten the bowl and cup from hadn’t been run yet. 

 The remote is unfindable. 

 You discover only after you have laced and tied your work boot that there is something picky in your sock. 

 Right in the middle of a yelling session about members of the house cleaning up after themselves, your daughter smugly points to your dirty nachos plate that you left sitting on the coffee table from the night before. 

 After a five minute smell search, it is discovered that you, not the other people in the car, were the one who stepped in dog poop.

You go to a party at a friend’s house and discover too late that there is no toilet paper on the holder so you do that funny waddle all around the bathroom in search of a roll, but can’t find any and you are too embarrassed to yell, “will somebody get me a roll of toilet paper!” So you do the best you can with a bag of cotton balls that you found under the sink which takes much longer and is not nearly as effective as toilet paper.