Monday, May 30, 2011

Parenting Mistake 102: Conflict Resolution


This mistake ended with Luke sliding down the wall. He was semi-conscious and confused. When he regained his composure (and his consciousness), I couldn't help but wonder just how dead I was gonna get when Susan got home.

I considered bribing the kids to keep quiet, but I knew they'd let me down. They always do. Here's an example from the week prior. After a little drive I told them,

"No need to tell your Mom about that little blast off back there!"

And here's what they heard,

"Please tell Mom immediately upon entering our home that our maniac of father almost killed us!"

They elaborated further by adding,

"We're just lucky a Police Officer didn't see – he'd have been arrested for sure!" And "I'm sure we hit 1000 miles per hour!"

To make matters worse, they always lead me into temptation. Using puppy dog eyes and Jedi mind tricks likely learned from their Mother, they plead me to go "blast off". I know what you're thinking and I agree 100%. The blastoff was so absolutely not my fault… After all, who could fault me from doing an itsy bitsy blastoff under those conditions? I have a good mind to tell my kids that there are Amish Children out there who will never experience the thrill of a 0-60 dash in 6 liter V8 muscle car!

You know, thinking more on this, I'm wondering if it's a trap set by Susan? Maybe Susan asks the kids to ask me to blastoff in hopes that I'll give in and willingly let myself be led into temptation? You know, like those P.I's that are hired to look like Jessica Alba? Those P.I's are paid to tempt a loving husband away from his wife for a night of other-worldly coitus-maximus with the hottest piece of crumpet on planet Earth. I just have no idea how so many loving husbands take the bait. Animals!

Anyway, back to Luke… Just like many of my other mistakes - this one wasn't really my fault either. Susan left me and the boys together while she went out on the town. She knew I was grumpy. She knew the kids were being little hellions. She knew that I'd had a long hard day of watching TV and eating chips. Yet she still left us! All things considered, it could have been much worse. Nobody had to visit urgent care this time around.

Before I get to what happened to Luke, I need to tell you about my Dad. He was the youngest of 4 brothers. Growing up he told me legendary stories of heroic battles on the lawn – battles between good and evil (him and another brother). He told me that my Granddad settled conflict the only way he knew how – pushing the kids outside and letting them duke it out.

I bet you can see where this is going. All day Jake and Luke were fighting like cats and dogs. All day I had mediated between tears and fists – tears usually won. At 7:40pm I had enough. I screamed at them in a voice that caught me off guard. It wasn't the booming Dadda voice. It could have been the voice of that "maniac father that almost killed his kids". I shouted at them to stop fighting like little girls and get serious. After all,

"If you really want to fight each other then at least do it properly!"

At that I grabbed Jakes sparring bag and divided up 1 set of sparring gear between the two of them. Luke got the head protection, left foot pad and right glove. He was 5 and likes snuggles, riding his bike and telling jokes. The left glove and the right foot pad went to Jake. Jake was 7. He likes a lot of the same stuff as Luke but is also a red belt at Taekwondo.

They squared off. I screamed "FIGHT!". Jake shook his head and pleaded with me not to make them fight. I screamed "FIGHT!" for the second time and Luke stepped forward with his right hand drawn so far back that he was clearly ready to put his brother in orbit. The next bit happened in slow motion. Jake stepped to Luke's left and delivered a picture perfect round kick. Jake's right foot hit Luke's left jaw in an upward motion just as Luke was stepping forward… And then the fight was over.

! PARENTING FAIL!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Lost in Translation


Sunday is the day that separates Christians from Jewish, Muslim and Hindu. Today is the day of the week that a great many of us dedicate to our faith. Some of us will be taught goodwill to all men, others will be taught non-tolerance. Today is a day full of magic. It's is the day that many of us are told that our faith is right and that others are wrong. For many, today is the day when faith becomes fact.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not anti-Christian or any other faith. It just bothers me that we spend so much time concentrating on the things that make us different – when we should be concentrating on the things that we have in common.

Let's start first with the Zoroastrian faith. It introduces us to Mithra - "the pagan Christ". Mithra was born on the 25th of December, performed miracles, was known as "Messiah", died and resurrected on the 3rd day.

Over in Hinduism we find that Krishna was a carpenter. He was an Earthly manifestation of God, was born of a virgin and baptized in a River.

From the Egyptian Book of Dead (1280 BC), we are told that Horus was the son of God. He was baptized in a river, born of a virgin, had 12 disciples, healed the sick, walked on water, was crucified and later resurrected. 

More than the similarities in the stories are the similarities in the message. Almost all popular religion today spread the same message of goodwill to all men, treat others as you wish to be treated and tell us that stuff like murder, rape and incest are bad (lets just ignore Lot's daughters today, ok?).

Christianity and Islam believe in the supreme God – maybe even the same God? There are differences in the scripture, sure, but the messages are pretty much the same. And, really, is it any wonder that there are so many interpretations of the same teachings? We've been playing Chinese Whispers since the Bronze Age.

Could it be that Christians, Buddhists, Muslims and Hindu's and just about everyone else actually believes the same thing? Perhaps we're just lost in translation here? Even the Hindu's with their seemingly endless list of Gods believe that they're all just facets of the one Supreme God (Brahma). Is this that different to Christians believing Jesus to be the Earthy manifestation of God? Consider for a moment the 100's of different translations of these texts. I contend that by getting all literal with these texts that we're missing something. I fear that what we're all missing is the one thing that we need to find in this day and age – common ground, respect and understanding.


 

The more loving one by W. H Auden
Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.

 
How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

 
Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.

 
Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.

 


 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Yellow snow

This tent offers no shelter from the cold

Snot freezes on nights like these -

And the damn toilet block is as far away as the morning sun

Who cares if yellow snow marks the places where I've been?


 

I remember writing this poem back in '03. The camping trip from hell. Who the hell goes camping when there's snow on the ground? I did.

Scratch made biscuits

O' Betty from Bojangles

You created this biscuit from scratch

You're the one who milled nothingness

to bring all of this

to a head in this 99c Sausage biscuit.


 


 

Just found this lil poem… Makes me miss Bojangles. Those Sausage biscuits were the bomb.

Parenting mistake 101: Bedtime reading


It's a difficult job being a parent. There's no instruction manual, every model is different and there's no place for the batteries to go. It seems to me that parenting mistakes are a given. I started making them the day the first baby popped out. I haven't been able to stop myself since.

I think the first 100 of these should be free. This post marks mistake 101 - bedtime reading.

Jake (7) is a veracious reader. I think it's because we've always sent the kids to bed early to read. This is also best for the continued health of our boys. After 8pm and they turn into monsters. I'm not talking monsters like cutesy Animal from the Muppets. I'm talking crazed, emotional, fire-breathing monsters. They fight. They scream. They cry. 'Nuff said.

Anyway… Recently Jake has taken an interest in my graphic novel (comic book) collection. Pretty early on, he identified his favorite style (Manga) and author (Tezuka). I dedicated a shelf to appropriate Tezuka books for a kid his age. I did this in a very methodical and systematic way. First I looked at the picture on the front scanning it for inappropriate content like swear words or boobies. Next I flipped through the book looking for more of the same. Much to my joy, I discovered that my whole Osamu Tezuka collection was appropriate.

I'm a Buddhist in denial and secretly I want my kids to be as well. So I was thrilled when Jake picked up Buddha vol.1 to be his first read. In around 2 weeks he finished all 8 volumes and picked up "Swallowing the Earth" to read next.

A few days passed before I asked him about it. At 9pm I went in to check on him and found him glued to the book. I asked him how the book was. This is what he said,

"Its pretty good. It's a story about a pretty woman that kisses men and stuff then kills them…"

I was in a state of utter disbelief, frantically trying to recall the details of a book that I read a few months ago… Jake continued,

"She tried to kill Seki but couldn't because he gets his strength from drinking the alcohol. He's just like you Dad!"

! PARENTING FAIL!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Compassion TV

Yesterday they were probably sitting just like me
Legs draped over the arm of an easy chair
Wondering where the hell the remote was
Bathed in mind-numbing mindlessness
And whitewashed in fatigue

Not even boredom sits still anymore

Today a million glazed eyes are steadfast upon hypocrisy -
Who can tell the difference between good and bad?
Morality is a personal concept


Watch the true face of war stain the streets red
Don't avert our eyes to the play of the righteous
The compassion of carnage starts on channel 24
 
How there's any blood left for hearts to bleed peace
God only knows
God only knows
The 5000 people who died today


(...from my '03 vault of poetry... just seemed fitting)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Shakespearean Pokemon


Susan took the boys to a Martial Arts tournament this weekend. Baby Peach and I were homebound and sick. Yacketty-yack, woof-cough and snot-splosion. There was no way we could leave the house for longer than 30 minutes. Aquarium out. Zoo out. Museums out. Mall out. Everything cool was out. Bummer! We had to entertain ourselves.

From Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon we were abandoned and alone; fighting for survival in a land of chaos and destruction (you should have seen the mess the boys left). We didn't let boredom faze us. We were strong. We committed to not let frozen meals and the obligations of absolutely nothing distract us from the U-Verse (AT&T's cable service). We started with PBS Kids and gradually moved on to more adult-themed shows on Teen Nick and beyond.

It seems to me that Kids TV shows are getting more and more advanced all the time. I predict that 10 years from now, the adults will be watching shows like SpongeBob and the kids will be watching post-apocalyptic, cyber-punk versions of Hamlet and The Tempest. Of course, the kids will also be simultaneously recreating Escher paintings out of Lego, texting "LMAO" and fragging their parents in Halo - all at the same time… But that kind of goes without saying, right?

Still don't believe me? Take the following speech from a Final Fantasy show,
"… That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again; and then in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked
I cried to dream again."

 
Sound familiar? Rich, complex and seemingly nonsensical? Bad translation?  It could be all of the above… and I for one wouldn't be surprised to hear that uttered from one of the wide-eyed misfits from the Final Fantasy franchise. It wasn't though. I lied to you. The quote actually came from Caliban in the Tempest by Shakespeare.

In a funny way, these "kid shows" draw a parallel with Shakespeare. Here's my highly scientific list of things that Shakespeare has in common with Pokemon and Bakugan:
Silly names *check*
Crazy outfits *check*
Funny language *check* 
Outlandish plots *check*

See? I contend that no fully grown human today can actually understand either. And I just feel stupid watching them. What's interesting about Kid TV these days is that the shows themselves aren't stupid. In fact, quite to the contrary. Stupid I can understand. Archer, Family Guy or American Dad I can understand. They are stupid. But these new kid shows like Bakugan elude me like Shakespeare eludes mortal man.

I asked Luke to explain a Bakugan show the other day, this is more-or-less what he had to say,
"Darkus Alpha cranium 5000 attack Haos with 720G from the sister multiverse. Haos reconfigured to counter-defense with a second deck multiplier".

Luke then shot me a look that I interpreted as sadness/empathy/pity/"man, are you that old?" I was with him right up to the point of counter-defense – I mean, that doesn't even make sense! Sensing an area of vulnerability, I asked him to explain the concept of counter-defense and how it applied to Ju-Jitsu. He couldn't – and I felt much better. So maybe there's hope yet for us Old Gits?


Then again, maybe not.





Saturday, May 7, 2011

What I have in common with a Navy Seal

I left the pre-procedure appointment with serious misgivings about whether I wanted to let Dr. Milsten anywhere near my meat 'n veg. I also left with a booklet that explained the procedure in a very straightforward way. It even had pictures! It amazes me that anyone is crazy enough to sign up for a vasectomy. The pictures alone would force even The Rock into the fetal position, shaking, crying "no, don't let them near my tenders!"… Not me though. I'm tough!

Accompanying the lil book of horrors was a series of instructions. Prep work that the patient was expected to do the morning of the snip. One of the tasks on the list was shaving.

I realize that there are guys out there that routinely shave their tenders. I call these guys names like "crazy" and "masochistic". Imagine for a second shaving the fuzz off a peach with a vegetable peeler… No, that'd be too easy… Shaving ones nuggets is like juggling with chainsaws... No, that doesn't cut it either (no pun intended). The fact of the matter is that there isn't an analogy that works here – and that's because shaving down there is a crime against nature!

Rest a razor blade on your crackers and you can't help but question your mortality. One wrong move; one sneeze, one twitch, one evil spouse "boo" and its end game… Intense concentration times 10 bazillion! This is *exactly* how I imagine those Navy Seals minutes were before they perforated bin Laden's noggin.

Anyway… An hour or so later, I found myself half naked; balls blowing in the wind and feet in stirrups. I was ready for action! The doctor's assistant examined my handy work.

"Nice work here!" he said.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

To snip or not to snip


Less than an hour before the events that transpired in my previous post, I received a call from her.

She asked me if I was sitting down. Then she asked if I'd left for the "snip" appointment yet. I replied that I hadn't. Then she told me that she was pregnant.

I couldn't believe it! I closed my office door, sat back and laughed-out-loud at how brilliant the timing was. If I hadn't have laughed, I'd surely have sat there and cried. What did this mean? My head was swimming. I had to make some decisions.

As I understand it, the stork doesn't take returns - at least not in our house… So the first decision was an easy one to make.

The next decision; whether or not to go through with the snip was more difficult. I was happy that we were going to have another peanut. So did that mean that I wanted a forth peanut? I had to weigh up the pros and cons.

- Poo. From the very first black tar diaper, poo is never too far removed from babies. With the other two, I'd had numerous close encounters of the poo kind. I'd been in the tub when the first brown destroyer floated up from the depths. Evacuate! I'd also been on clean-up duty after I'd decided that Jake was old enough to go potty by himself. *shudder* It was on the walls!

- Sex and sleep. Sex is not that big an issue really. I can live without sex for a day or so… but sleep? Hell no! Sleep in our house is worth more than diamonds, money, sports cars, food and even sex!

- Questions. Very occasionally kids' questions and observations are insightful. More often than not, they sound like the musings of a mad man. Let's take yesterday as an example. Jake asked me "why do frogs like humans that walk on their toes and always roll their eyes?" A day later and I'm still thinking about it. I admit it. He's stumped me! Why didn't he ask why the sky is blue again? I was ready for that one. I'd already Google'd it.

- Paranoia. Kids have a death wish. It's my job to see that their wishes are never granted. The other night I watched a Giraffe being born on TV. It popped out, rolled around for a couple of seconds then got up and walked off. Luke is 5. Five years on and he's still often minutes away from certain death. Riding backwards down the driveway? Death wish. Picking on his brother? Death wish. Clogging the toilet the second time in one day? Death wish. Smack-talking his Mom? Death wish. See?

+ Get-out-of-jail-free card. This "news" meant that I didn't have to go through with it. I could use it as a get-out-of-jail-free card. I can't say that I was thrilled at the thought of getting my balls sliced open with a machete, knife, "scalpel" or whatever you call it… It didn't matter that the incision would be tiny and the actual cutting was on something thinner than spaghetti. It was my nuggets!

In the end I chose to at least go to the first appointment. What could it hurt? How wrong could I be?