Tuesday, November 28, 2006

On raising children

Let the children play. And if it's not too much to ask, get out of the way

Me: Just Now

Move on if you beat your kids or condone it. It's one of those days.

You've been warned.

I was in the right aisle now, looking for the smallest and cheapest bottle of dish soap. The kids found a box of ice scrapers and pulled out one apiece. The store was practically empty; but a frumpy, graying woman browsed the same aisle, clearly annoyed that the kids ran back and forth between me and the scraper box.

Jackson's scraper knocked on the ground, so the lady turned to him and practically spat, "Those aren't hockey sticks!"

I turned to her and boomed, "Thank you!"

We stared at each other for a spell, me with raised eyebrows. She scrutinized my face for intent, but I wore the mask of amusement.

"My kids are all grown up," she told me, "and moved away."

I'll bet they wasted no time. I didn't reply. I turned to the kids. "Put the hockey sticks away; it's time to go."

"It's the hardest job in the world, raising children," she said to my retreating back.

I turned and looked at her. "Actually, I think it's a lot of fun."

Now, I know the waitresses of the world are spitting coffee at the computer monitor, thinking of all the little shits that have run under their feet, and all the youngsters and crusty curmudgeons are reliving every flight they've taken with a screaming kid a seat away.

Frankly Miss Scarlett, I don't give a damn.

I won't argue with you. You can hate kids, or live in that gray shadowland in between and call it what you will.

I'm not raising my kids to make you happy. I'm raising them to be happy.

Want to tell me that I'm not raising them right, that someday they'll land in jail because they haven't been prepared for the realities of the world? Go ahead. Check with me in twenty years and we'll compare notes. I'll take my chances.

I'm a product of "spare the rod" parenting, and I turned out just fine. But I'll never be happy. Not really. I'll come as close as one can come to being happy without really being happy, because deep inside I'll always be that kid whose mother left, whose step-mother beat, whose life was uprooted on a whim, who came in second, third, fourth and last in all things, always seen and not heard, the poster child for the strict discipline to which America so pines to return.

I won't debate it. I know what you think. It used to make me sad. I used to think I could make you see. But I realize that it doesn't matter any more. But don't step in my way anymore because I am tired of straddling the fence. Try to impress me with your morals anymore, and I will impress upon you back.

But it's not your fault, and I have to remember that.

How long until we figure out that love is the answer, and not a leather strap, a swiss cheese paddle, the back side of a hand, an open slap, a balled fist, or biting words of derision to a three year old child who doesn't know the meaning of the word share?

Answer: never. We are delusional and damn smug about it.

I see New England moms yelling at kids, shaming them for answering the call of their mercurial spirit. Don't worry parents. You will win the fight. You always do. That little spirit is large, but then so is a mountain. Tell that to the river and it will tell you that time is on its side. Your kids will grow up just like you, whether they like it or not. And that is why they will hate themselves and never fit in.

And you will be proud because they will hide it, never confront you, and even console you when you cry out in a fit of momentary clarity.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Mark It Down

It's been one hell of a weekend.

In a good way.

This isn't a football post, but every Thanksgiving I am lucky to watch my favorite team since the days of Stauback and Dorsett play the great game of football. And let me be a tremendous Homer and say that this is the beginning of a new Cowboy's era.

Mark that down. 2006: the start of a new era.

And write this down: Tony Romo will eclipse Troy Aikman as the next and possibly greatest of Cowboy's quarterbacks. And despite your team affiliation, I will be so bold as to say, that means being the greatest of any quarterback period. The position of quarterback on the Dallas Cowboys is the marquis position in all of sports.

Want to be there when it all began? Tune in this Sunday in the Meadowlands and watch the rise of a legend.

Tony Romo.

Mark that down.

Oh, to hell with it. This is a football post. I'll tell you about my weekend later. But it's been a good one.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Perils of Laying Brick

I found this in my travels.

The following letter was mailed to the Liberty Mutual Insurance Company.

Dear Sirs:

I am writing in response to your request for additional information in Block 3 of the Accident Report Form. I put "poor planning" as the cause of my accident. You said in your letter that I should explain more fully, and I trust that the following details will be sufficient.

I am a bricklayer by trade. On the day of the accident, I was working alone on the roof of my new six-story building; when I completed my work, I discovered I had about 500 pounds of bricks left over. Rather than carry the bricks down by hand, I decided to lower them in a barrel by using a pulley which fortunately, was attached to the side of the building at the sixth floor.

Securing the rope at ground level, I went up to the roof, swung the barrel out and loaded the bricks into it. Then I went back to the ground and untied the rope, holding it tightly to insure a slow descent of the 500 pounds of bricks. You will note in Block 11 of the Accident Report Form, that my weight is 175 pounds.

Due to my surprise at being jerked off the ground suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope. Needless to say, I proceeded at a rather rapid rate up the side of the building. In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel which was now proceeding in a downward direction at an equally impressive rate of speed. This explains the fractured skull, minor abrasions, and the broken collarbone, as listed in Section III of the Accident Report Form.

Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were two knuckles deep into the pulley which I mentioned in Paragraph 2 of this correspondence.

Fortunately, by this time, I had regained my presence of mind and was able to hold tightly to the rope, in spite of the excruciating pain I was now beginning to experience. At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of bricks hit the ground and the bottom fell out of the barrel. Devoid of the weight of the bricks, the barrel now weighed approximately 50 pounds.

I refer again to my weight in Block 11. As you might imagine, I began a rapid descent down the side of the building. In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel coming up. This accounts for the two fractured ankles, broken tooth, and the severe lacerations on my legs and lower body.

Here my luck began to change slightly. The encounter with the barrel seemed to slow me enough to lessen my injuries when I fell into the pile of bricks and, fortunately, only three vertebrae were cracked.

I am sorry to report, however, that as I lay there on the pile of bricks in pain, unable to move and watching the empty barrel six stories above me, I again lost my composure and presence of mind and let go of the rope!

Sincerely yours,

Name withheld


I found an AP story on the internet quoting the government's frustration that we are all getting just a little too fat. I'm sure that most of you don't want to post your BMI, especially the ladies--and it is rude of me to ask. 25 is considered the cutoff, beyond which means too many donuts. Mine is 27.77, not nearly what I thought it would be. Geez, with a little bit of exercise...

Here is how you figure yours:

First, multiply your weight in pounds by .45 to get kilograms. Next, convert your height to inches. Multiply this number by .0254 to get meters. Multiply that number by itself. Then divide this into your weight in kilograms.

According to the government, you are likely to land in the 20s or low 30s.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Love is but a dung hill

Thanks for dropping in on me while I've been away. Yes, I am working daily on my novel. It's a lot of work, but I am making steady progress. How long did it take the river to carve out the Grand Canyon?

As for my friend Jeff...

Sadly, I think it is not working out with his new love. I am reminded of an old relationship I had. I'll update later with links, but she was hardly worth the trouble when it was all said and done. She had me turned around backwards and inside out. I was so busy playing defense that I never had the time to wonder if she was really right for me. Towards the end, in an effort to let me down easy, she asked for a thirty day break, to see if she actually missed me when it was over. I was such a schlep that I went along with it, and it was her that couldn't take it after a week and a half. And when I agreed to see her, it went right back to where it was before, only worse.

Jeff's new love is a Republican, and told him flatly that she could never marry a Democrat.

She neglected to tell some of her guy friends that she has a new boyfriend.

She asked for a thirty day cessation of sex.

Is that a magic number?

I'm sorry old buddy, but you have to walk away. If you want to leave the light on, go right ahead. But if she cared about you the way you care about her, her friends and her friend's friends would be sick and tired of hearing about you. Whatever you do, don't ever change who you are to please somebody else. If she can't take a difference of opinion, then that might explain why she is still single in her August years.

And as for a thirty day break, say that you'll see her thirty and raise her a lifetime.