Monday, September 28, 2009

Questions About the Weather

Q: It's been cooler up there in Ohio for the past few days, hasn't it?
A: This weekend was the first time I really felt fall in the air. And it's not just colder, we're getting copious amounts of rain to boot!

Q: Wow, how does that impact outdoor activities, like soccer, mowing the lawn, and going to the bus stop?
A: One topic at a time, please.

Q: Sorry. How does that impact soccer?
A: We have two kids in soccer, a second-grader who loves it and gives it his all, and a kindergartner who seems to lose interest at a rate that is directly proportional to the positive interest of another family member. That is, the more we care about his games, the less he does. Weird.

So when it rained all day Saturday, and it was still coming down hard when it was time to leave for the young one's game, we stayed warm and dry at home. There was no reason to compound the misery. Although I spent the time finishing a crown molding project in the dining room, which is more unpleasant than standing in the cold rain. I am a glutton for punishment.

Q: OK, so how about mowing the lawn?
A: The weather impacts not mowing the lawn more than it impacts mowing the lawn. Right now I have a very moist jungle growing out back. I hope to be able to mow it this evening. If all goes well the mulching blade will do its job and I won't have to rake the lawn when I'm done. Because even if I need to rake it, it is very likely that I won't bother.

Q: Last but not least: the bus stop.
A: That's not a question.

Q: Humor me?
A: If you insist. We have been fortunate that all bus stop trips have been dry so far. Today was very windy and chilly, though. It was worse in the afternoon than the morning. My younger son was quite put off by the cold and the wind, and insisted I carry him. Since the walk is only five driveways, I declined, but I did carry his lunchbox for him.

Every few steps he complained about the cold and pleaded for me to carry him. It's not like we're summiting Mt. Everest or anything like that, so I decided that a character-building walk was not beyond his means.

When I got to the garage I knew he had been trailing a few paces behind me. I turned to check his progress, and instead set sight on this fabulous piece of melodrama, prone in my driveway, at which time I finally gave in and carried him:

Monday, September 21, 2009

I Have an Agent!

Cooler words have ne'er been spoken. Or writ, or typed, as it may be.

What does that mean?

Why revisions, of course. And more writing. The manuscript is not quite ready to submit to publishers, but it will be.

The work in question is RUDY TOOT-TOOT. My other two works-in-progress will have a shift to the back burner while I expand Rudy's story. It was 500-words at first, now it's 4,000, and will grow significantly in the very near future. My agent (wow it's awesome to type that) has an excellent background for editorial advice, having worked as a children's book editor for many years. I'm looking forward to working with her and introducing Rudy Toot-Toot to the world at large.

I've said it before and I'll say it again:

I'll find success if it doesn't find me first.

Preach Like a Pirate

September 19th was annual Talk Like a Pirate Day. Evil Editor had a writing contest involving pirate speak ("The task was to write a scene in which you take over for a preacher who just dropped dead, and deliver his sermon . . . on International Talk Like a Pirate Day" 300 words max), and since I haven't had time to put together an original post here I figured I may as well share my entry for yonder competition:

I hobbled up to the front of the room and whirled around. Peg legs offer a convenient pivot point. The parrot on my shoulder dug its talons into my tattered waistcoat as I gripped the sides of the podium.

“Arrgh vey,” I said. I told you I was going to use that line. “It seems me matey Rabbi Cohenbergenstein has walked ye proverbial plank. Now he’s gettin stuffed into Davy Jones’s locker like a wee landlubber on his first day o’ learnin. So now it’s up to me to complete this bris.”

The parrot on my shoulder whistled and squawked, “Polly want a foreskin.”

“At least the bilge rat was kind enough to swab the dick with a wee bit o’ grog,” I said as I drew my cutlass. “It should be as clean as the bung hole on me best barrel o’ rum.”

As I raised the blade and prepared to make the cut, a voice called out for me to stop.

“Avast ye scurvy dog, ‘fore I gets me cat o’ nine tails out. I got work to do,” I scowled, for scowling is an important aspect of pirate-speak. “Aye, well sink me, this little hornpipe ain’t got enough meat to cut.”

“That’s what I was trying to tell you. It’s a girl. This is a baptism, you fool.”

“Well shiver me timbers! This wee one squats on the head to pee. Not even me mateys up in the crow’s nest could ‘ave seen that one comin.”


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Simple Comprehension

As a follow up to my last post:

My wife and I were discussing the kindergarten Curriculum Night we attended yesterday evening. My son had told her about some of the books they were reading and other activities they are doing. He came into the room and climbed on my lap.

"Do you like kindergarten?" I asked.

"Uh-huh," he said, in a very nonchalant tone.

"Do you know what I just asked you?" I asked.


Apparently not.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I Must Confess...

I’m going to come clean about something I do as a parent and I bet I’m not alone in this. It’s something I do almost every day, although I should not do it at all. I should know better. But I do it anyway. And there’s a good chance you do it too.

By now you’re probably dying to know what it is, so I’ll let the suspense build while I provide some background information. You’ll thank me, this will totally be worth it.

My sons are eight and five. They are bright boys, and they are well behaved (for the most part). And they are completely different. It’s not just that one likes trains and the other likes jigsaw puzzles. A lot of the difference is their age coming through. They are at a very formative stage, and each year they surprise me as they grow.

As I see them get bigger I interact with them differently, giving them more responsibility, harder tasks. And herein lies my problem: I dole out instructions like I’m talking to adults. But they aren’t. They are kids. And I talk to the eight-year-old like he’s an adult and I talk to the five-year-old like he’s an eight-year-old.

Then - this is the kicker - I get frustrated when they don’t do things right, or they do them too slow. And even though they are close in years, the eight-year-old has no concept of what it was like to be five, when he was still learning and wasn’t as coordinated. He gets frustrated over menial things, like how his brother plays Lego Batman on the Wii.

Kids don’t think like we do. They may be able to carry out a short list of simple tasks, but they can’t remember long lists of complex tasks. Especially my five-year-old, who is free-spirited on top of being five. Here’s an example:

I can’t say “Get ready for school” when he gets out of bed and expect him to make it all the way to the bus stop without further instruction (not counting assistance provided, like toasting the waffles, pouring the cereal, and crossing the street). Here’s what all is required of him in order to “get ready for school” -

- Get dressed
- Brush your teeth
- Comb your hair
- Go downstairs
- Take your allergy medicine
- Eat breakfast
- Use the bathroom
- Wash your hands
- Now dry them off
- Turn the light off
- You turned the fan on. Turn the light off
- Now turn the fan off, too
- Leave the dog alone.
- Come over here
- Now
- One
- Two
- Thank you. Now pick those shoes up and put them on…

Eventually we do make it to the bus stop. But you see, there is so much that falls under “Get Ready for school” that they can’t remember it all. I have to break it down into its smaller components and micro-manage the shit out of each child, or they will manage themselves. For kids at ages where they still miss important details, like “wear underpants,” they just aren’t ready for self-management. I will find that they inserted a 20-minute session of “Play with Darth Tater” between “Brush your teeth” and “Comb your hair.”

It gets worse when I use big words. These are usually reserved for the Great Parenting Lectures where I go on for ten minutes, knowing I lost them nine minutes and forty-five seconds ago but continuing to extol virtue after virtue nonetheless because I feel bad when I spank them.

I tell them about the consequences of their choices and taking responsibility for their decisions and owning up to their actions and being a leader, not a follower. And they look at me and say, “If you hold you face like this too long,” (pinches his cheeks and purses his lips like a fish) “will it stay like that forever?”

On the other hand, if I say let’s go to the park they will vanish and reappear a split-second later with shoes on, thrusting my car keys into my hand and urging ME along, telling me that I made a wrong turn when I wasn’t going to the park he was thinking of. Now he’s got a built-in GPS for crying out loud…

Friday, September 4, 2009

Are We F#$@ing Crazy?

I just read a news report that there is some kind of national frenzy over a planned speech by President Obama to our nation's schoolchildren next week.

Apparently there is fear that he will indoctrinate the children of this great country to his socialist agenda. Someone must have found a copy of the speech, and it must go something like this:

"Good morning children. I am your President, but you can call me Supreme Leader. Starting immediately I want you, the children of the nation, to start a communal sharing of all of your worldly goods. At lunch time, you will be asked to place your lunchbox in the center of the cafeteria and government workers will distribute the food equally among you all. You will be checked each day for money, and any cash found on your person will be confiscated, taxed, and the redistributed to the whole student body. Then we will give you all abortions and kill your grandparents in death panels. Go put on your new Red school uniforms and remember that disobedience means death in a labor camp."

This is especially dangerous in public schools, which are effectively socialist institutions already (socialized education), so the last thing those children need is self-realization of this fact, because then they will be able to skip school every day out of basic patriotic duty.

On the other hand, he might just encourage them to study hard. That in and of itself may be OK, but I'm not risking the chance that he'll turn our kids into little fetus-killing socialists in 20 minutes flat. That is his goal, you know.