Chapter 80: Dukes Up

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ROUND ONE: Kingston goes barrelling through Quinn’s pillow castle.  “It’s the KOOL-AID MAN CRASH folks! Unbelievable! What a punk move!”, I commentate.  ROUND TWO: a sneaky vengeful Quinn steals big brother’s bouncing ball and chucks it into the street.  “Oooh! LORENA BOBBITT! WHATTA SICKO!”, I announce.  Things are tensing up around here at MGM SKINNER and these two young-battling-savages are gambling with my patience.  ROUND THREE: Just when I thought she didn’t have anymore fight in her…Quinn delivers a flurry of vicious toothbrush whackings to Kingston’s blocking arms.  “OMG! The L.A.P.D! ” I call.  ROUND FOUR: A desperate Kingston, hungry for a win…clinches a fist full of her stuffed animals, and fires back with an overzealous face mooching.  “AYE!”, goes the break up.

Enter Chapter 80: Dukes Up

All we do is stand in between them, pull them apart, or talk them into a part-time peace treaty.  As parental referee’s we’ve got to let our siblings hash it out from time to time.  Sit back, drink our java, and watch them figure it out on their own.  Fighting alongside them every step of the way is the reason our crow’s feet need lotion.  Just keep in mind that no one has time for the Emergency Room.  So keep the Jerry Springer-chair-throwing to a minimum. Hush foul language. Hide the butter knives, and break up Eric Garner choke holds. Let the lessons of sibling conflict begin.

I’ve watched enough.  I ate leftovers standing over the trash can for ROUND ONE.  I unsuccessfully tried jumping rope as meditation for ROUND TWO.  ROUND THREE, I was doing laundry.  Annnnnd…during ROUND FOUR…I ran out of orange bitters! They (kids) got on my last nerve. My last straw. My last mixed drink with all the fancy stuff. It was time to stop the madness. “Kingston! Go to your room.  NOW! Quinn!  Downstairs. MOVE!”, I officiated.  They parted ways; sister pouting and brother stomping.  The house turned stiff, tense and smelled like it was “experiment dinner night”.  Homemade French fries, cheese, mashed potatoes, ground turkey with a side of bak choy and kale douced in a raspberry dressing.  “Kingston and Quinn! Come over and eat!”.  He poured her a drink, and she grabbed an extra fork for him.

Chapter Venti New Way Vay

The more I think about the phrase, “Speak english. This is America.“ the louder my spanish music plays. The louder the sound of accordions, synthesizers, trombones, trumpets, and percussions harmonizing together blare past our car windows. The three of us are headed to Kumon for some after school tutoring. It’s perfect out; a cool breeze blows through my balding afro, and a toasty sunshine beams down from the sunroof. We are alive and cruising the speed limit. Loving life because it’s cumbia time!

“NUNCA ES SUFICIENTE PARA ME/ PORQUE QUIERO MAS DE TI..” Natalia Lafourcade’s sweet voice sings. The band Los Angeles Azules backs her up. I’m in a mood almost mimicking the dysfunctional dualism of “America…Love it or Leave it” except its more of a “Join us or roll up your windows” vibe.

Enter Chapter Venti New Way Vay

Travel the world and we’ll hear Americans massacring the local language with the same ease of retelling a comedian’s joke. It’s starts off enthusiastically, then comes “No no that’s not it.”, then we’ll continue to tell the rest of the joke as if we’re walking on hot coals, and as soon as we realize our version of the joke is on a plane flying passed the punchline and kamakazi-ing into a field of crickets…we eject, “Ahhh forget it! Find it on YouTube! It’s so funny.”. Essentially, retelling a joke badly is the same as how Americans hacksaw through a foreign language. There’s no real respect for telling it or pronouncing it corrrectly. We’re linguistically lazy. It’s why guacamole is “gwak”, and Hawaiian street names are mocked as “Kamehalahulahoopa” back on the mainland.

Does our careless attitude with pronunciation of other languages while maintaining our obsession to perfect english hinder our children from respecting other cultures? Subconsciously our kids will remember how we chuckled at “Maria” or “Mohammad” mispronouncing “linoleum”. We’ll ask them to say it again, and again just for the cheap laugh. Meanwhile, without any attempt to speak Portuguese in Brazil or Italian in Italy, we’ll ask “Does anyone speak english?”. Perhaps it stems from our own fears of mispronouncing their language incorrectly because we know how we laugh at foreigner’s attempts to speak english. The key here is to champion linguistic mistakes. Foreigners are more likely to help us and respect us for attempting to take interest in their culture, and our children’s world view will broaden and hopefully inspire them to become multilingual American rarities.

Kingston and Quinn try to sing along. They’re a bit off key and their rolled R’s sound like a car whose engine wont start. At a red light, two separate drivers glance over at us in our fancy car and roll up their windows. I wondered if they’re the “Speak english. This is America.”, “Love it or Leave it”, or the “It’s too loud for my old ass” ilk. It didn’t matter now, the light has turned green. And listening to my kids attempt to sing in spanish is making me smile. This is the only time I turn the volume down. “Guys repeat after me.”, I tell them. “Mi corazon…(mi coh-rah-son, they repeat)…Estella por…(ess-ta-ya poor, they mimic)…Tu amor (two amour, they say)”. They didn’t know what they just said. “It means, my heart explodes for your love.”, I tell them. They laughed out loud and with that…it was back to cumbia time!

Chapter K9: Woof Meow Hiss

I like two pets. A mild mannered ol’ school black dog named Sherman and a quick-footed-curious tortoise named Olive. Neither are mine, which is how I like my pets. Sherman lives in Florida. Olive in Instagram land. My main dog, Kingston’s and Quinn’s most admired dog, Sherman is the coolest and smoothest canine I’ve known. I’m almost certain he walks on his hind legs, plays dominoes with gators, and has an awesome bartending game when no one is looking. As for my main pet-chick…Olive, she’s my personal favorite. The way she crawls around her chic apartment cage in her shiny-fashionable shell, the way she eats her veggies, and her hermit capabilities alone make me want to leave my life for a Manhattan loft above Whole Foods where I can “veg out” in futuristic furniture.

“Dad! I want a cat.”, Quinn says. “Noo! Red-bellied piranhas!”, Kingston counters. A cat. A fish. They’re nothing like Sherman and Olive. Firstly, they’d be in the house. In close proximity of me. They wouldn’t be pets at all. They’d be a responsibility. And secondly, I’m not trying to clean cat bones out from a fish tank.

Chapter K9: Woof Meow Hiss

Dogs are toddlers that eventually grow up to be responsible babysitting teenagers whom ultimately raid our liquor cabinet when we’re out on dinner dates. And let’s not get started on cats…those “teenagers” have sex on our beds, leave the condom wrapper, and look us dead into our eye and say “It wasn’t meeeeeow!”. Bottom line is pets are a lot of work. They’re very much like children. And for some of us, a family isn’t complete until their poop is in our hands. If having a pet is about teaching our children about life and death, by all means…own one. And if they’re not, but life and death is still a thing we want to teach our tikes…squash a snail, smash a spider, or pull over and examine road kill. However we decide, pets or not, animals can teach our kids a lot about life. So learn why our kids want them and do as you seem fit.

The three of us are walking to our community pool. We live in a pet friendly neighborhood and as always, despite the many plastic bag dispensers, there’s a pile of fresh-hot-squishy-poop on the sidewalk. “Hey guys, (pulling out a plastic bag from a dispenser)…pick this doo-doo-brown up!”, I test their aspiration for pets. “Eeeeewwwww!, Noooo!”, they scream, laugh and run away in disgust. “Ha!”, I win. No pets in my house. Long live Sherman and Olive.

Chapter 45 and a Shovel

Watch how a school boy’s dating life starts with these eight colorful triangles. His fingers tucked beneath an origami fortune teller. They open and close. Horizontally then vertically to the rhythm of “One, two, three, four…”. And behind each triangle…a girl’s name. I can see it now. He lifts the triangle open to read the name of his very first crush. His friends, a pack of hormonal puberty-stricken boys, eagerly bump heads and huddle together ear to ear to catch a glimpse of what the origami gods have written. With red hearts surrounding her name, it reads “Quinn”. “Ooooooh!”, they sing in excitement. The school boy’s face blushes as his buddies tease him with head locks and noogies. He doesn’t have any idea what it all means, but he thinks he’s won something.

Enter Chapter 45 and a Shovel

“You’re going to have your hands full with this one!”, “Man, she’s soo pretty. I feel sorry for you.”, and “Do you own a gun? Because you’re going to need it!”. These are the type of phrases that’ll come spewing out of our ignorant and misogynistic minds. Because apparently, boys/men are going to come knocking at our door by the droves seeking our daughter’s attention, and because our society has deemed our girls as incapable of making good choices as to whom they’re going to date…its been left to dear old Dad to ward off their suitors. We’ve threatened to drown them with our collection of cement shoes. We’ve fed them the twelve gauge. Some of us have ripped testicles right off; one samurai-sword-fist-full-tug. All for the sake of a daughter’s unblemished heart.

But now is the era in which this over-protective dad culture has got to change. All of our threats could possibly lead to prison. So unless you’ve got plans to hold a gangster’s pant pocket, and eat Flamin’ Hot Cheeto flavored Cup O’ Noodles for the rest of your life….Stop it! Let our daughters live with their choices. The best we fathers can do is tell her who’s out here playin’ in boyfriend land.

Although she’s only five now, Quinn will soon be at the age where boys will matter. I can see it now. The young school boy, nervous and tentative, walking toward my Quinny’s gaze. Peer pressure leads his steps. He doesn’t know what to say. And just before he mutters a shaky “Hi”….”AYE! WHAT’S GOING ON HERE!!?”, I shout as I Jack-In-The-Box pop my way out from her backpack. The boy goes running in the other direction. Quinn is mortified and embarrassed of me. I can see it now. Especially because it’ll never happen that way. So instead, from time to time…we have a talk. A talk led by the beats and lyrics of BlowFly and Too $hort. She’s too young to understand my explanation of the relationship game, so I figure, on very rare occasions, let her subliminal ear take in these chauvinistic verses in the same way she does Disney’s romantic songs. When the time comes, I want her to have a full spectrum of what kind of men might come knocking at her/my door. From the low down dirty dog to the gentlemen. Because after all things are said, it’s her heart, her body, her right…her choice.

Chapter 88: Mos Deaf

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Is that all that’s left of me?  My ultra light Birkenstocks and emoji filled text messages tucked underneath the Ice Plant growing over the sand?  I must have died a bodysurfing drowning.  I’m a ghost.  And not the good type of Ghost, but the Whoopi-less kind.  Floating around the house with no sexy pottery to be had. Kingston and Quinn are oblivious to my calls. “Guys! Hey!?”, I bellow to no avail.  Lost in what looks like a game of slap-your-neck-tag.  The two of them are deafer than an atheist’s tombstone. “Helllooo!”.

Enter Chapter 88: Mos Deaf

Look at their confused little faces.  It’s the first time our kids have heard us speak a different language.  We’ll say, “Don’t let your mouth write checks your ass can’t cash.”.  And not only that, but “You lookin’ for water under the outhouse.”.  To their innocent ears, it’s as foreign as “Balki” teaching English to a room full of Martians; perfect strangers.  But said with the right conviction, these types of parental idioms can shock a kid straight into an alertness. An alertness that says, “Holy wet poop! These old people (parents) actually know stuff! Listen to them!”. Consequently, our authoritative attention will return to our parenting ways. Allowing us (although, we might not know what these idioms mean.) to control our children’s decisions as we see fit. So, because “Fish rots from the head down”, and because “If you have cheese, you have choice.” will forever be a part of our backward parental slang….long live parental idioms!

“Kingston…AND…Quinn!”. The sound of mischievous scampering echoes across the hard wood floor. Their beds are still unmade. And their trash can is overflowing. “Guys! I said ‘do your chores.'”. They’ve been ignoring me all week, especially Quinn. I know she heard me because she’s giving me her “whatcha’ gunna do about it” blinkless stare. Kingston, on the other hand…wise to my wrath…frantically pretends to act busy as the sound of my voice nears. His hands are full with a pile of books that I had already put away.

“Guys! (I cornered them.) This is the last time I say this, ‘Make your beds and take out the trash!'”. Their final warning, “There better be two clean rooms!”.  I’m tired of raising my voice, and feeling disrespected. I head back downstairs to wash a few dishes, and listen to what sounds like two busy kids doing what I had asked. “Finally. I’m being heard.”, I thought. Maybe I’m not a ghost after all. Some minutes pass, and it was time to check on their progress. Surely, my darling little angels are righteous enough to stop the monkey business and help me clean. But as I reached the top of the stairs, “OH! HELL! NO!”. Kingston and Quinn ignored me again. Their beds STILL unmade. The trash STILL overflowing. And they are STILL horsing around. I was angry. No, livid! No, Enraged! Sooo infuriated…a two headed rabid pit bull could’ve torn out of my chest. But instead, out of my mouth, in the worst Jamaican-patois-accent, “If yuh(you) cyaah (can’t) hear, yuh (you) muss (must) feel!”.  And with that…KICK!…SMASH!  Barbie’s ambulance goes crashing into the wall.  Rrrip!  Tearrr!  A stack of Pokémon card gets torn into two.  I’m Incredible Hulking these little fools.  Immediate tears and “Nooo! Daaad!” ensues.  They were feeling the devastation.  “If yuh cyaah hear, yuh muss feel.”.  The two of them are scared stiff into attention now.  They’ve become my soldiers of chores; ready to take orders.  “Make both beds, Kingston.”.  I watched him tidy up lickity split.  He was cartoon fast.   “Quinn! Get the trash now.”.  She sprinted to empty it.  Sobbing the entire way.   The following morning, the house was organized and almost meditative.  “If they only listened….”, I thought. Peace be unto us.

Chapter 151 part 97: The Proof is Real

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Heads up!  We’re out here on the driveway.  All responsibilities have concluded.  And once again, a tennis ball soars over my head.  We’re playing “Butts Up”.  The ball gets caught with two hands by the seven year old rookie straight out of South Orange County.  He winds up and throws it in; low off the garage door for a quick hopping gopher killer.  I’m in perfect position to scoop it up and make the throw.  Except…I’m two short tumblers into my Dad-duty-wind-down (bourbon whiskeys).  The tennis ball hits my fingertips and passes by me for a slow-bleeding-driveway-dribbler.  I turn and hustle for the garage door.  I have two outs.  The Rook makes a one handed grab and throws a weird looking sidearm slinger.  The ball hits the garage door before I can tag it.  “Yeah! That’s three outs! Butt’s! Up! Dad!”, he celebrates.  He beat me.  Fair and square.  I’m dying of laughter.  I never let him win; I love this game too much to curve my effort.  And not only that, but after a week’s worth of Kingston’s sucky attitudes, back talk, and my unpredictable dictator-ish demands…chucking tennis balls at each other is wickedly rewarding.  But now, it’s my turn to face the music.  Face my glass, and take a swig.  Jim Beam Black deliciously saturates my tastebuds.  Gulp!  I’m ready to face the “Butt’s Up” punishment.  The palms of my hands now rest against the garage door.  I spread my legs apart like it were a nightmarish prison movie.  I could hear revenge in Kingston’s laughter.  I love it.  We’re in stitches with our cackling.  Kingston gets three throws from fifteen feet away to hit any part of my body.  I’m ready for a good ol’ bean ball.  Shhhoo! BAANG!, roared the garage.  Kingston wasn’t wasting any time.  His first throw was a wild fastball thrown out of spite; way off target.  Which is fine by me, but it almost hit my head.  “Head hunting now!  Okay.”.  The little rookie smirked.  “Watch.  Just wait!”, I threatened.  He winded up again. Shhhoo! THUD!  A nasty beanball straight into my kidneys.  If I wasn’t born with phenomenal balance…it would’ve been “Down goes Frazier!”.  He threw a heater; a deliberate and vengeful fastball right at my back.  I rubbed it off, and took it like a Dad.  Sip. Gulp.  He has one more throw.  “Freakin’ kid.  He’s pitching too close for his age.”, I thought.  Again, Shhhoo! BAANG!, vibrated the garage door; a poorly thrown ball misses me.  The game ended. “Good win, little man.”.  We went inside. 

Enter Chapter 151 part 97: The Proof is Real

A mimosa here.  A glass of pinot there.  Another liquid lunch at the kale and roasted cashew restaurant.  Playdates are poppin’ off and going down the hatch.  Our friends-in-parenting, Tonic Tiffany and Minibar Matt are terrific people.  They know the working hours of every local liquor store, and know exactly how many mini bottles of vodka fit under a hat and beard.  Not only that, but as Tiffany and Matt…they are outstandingly responsible.  Never have the kids gone missing, gone hungry, or showed up late to an event.  Their accountability as parents is iconic.  And so to are their “happy hours”. When all is said and done, bathed bodies and brushed teeth, and with no need to drive among these streets…it’s bottoms up when it’s time to put the kids to sleep.  Let it all haaang out.  Let loose.  Drink Responsibly!    

Inside. Our dear little Quinn plays.  She had periodically come running in and out of the house as we played “Butt’s Up”.  “Go wash your hands and face, Kingston.”, I said as we entered the house. The living room had went through a Barbie/My Little Pony/L.O.L doll makeover. Quinn’s world was spread across the floor. “Hi Dad!”, she shrieked with excitement.  “Dad, play with me!”.  She sat in the middle of an elaborate setup of tables, houses, horses, and food.  “Play, Dad.”, she said.  I was well into my glass.  Two sheets into the wind; one more generous pour and I’ll be set sailing with the Santa Maria in the Sea of Doofus Daddy.  “Okay, give me a sec.”, I mumbled.  “How can I say no?”, I thought as I poured myself a sliver of golden brown liquor.  Preheated the oven for a homemade cheese pizza, and entered Quinn’s world.  “Hi!  May I have some tea?”, I said in my best high pitched pony voice.  Quinn laughed, and played along.  We had a good time playing make believe.  Soon, the pizza was cut and served.  I had two busy eaters.  I might have lost at “Butt’s Up”, but at this very moment….I’m winning at parenting.  Gulp! Cheers!

Chapter 747 part 2: Up, Up, and Holiday

We’re in a village in Bali. Our temporary castle stands strong amid a lush forest. Insects hum a piercing one note song. Unseen birds chirp and squawk. Wall walking lizards stare down at us like nanny cams would a teenage babysitter. “Is this our new house?”, the kids asked as they explore and peek around every room. There’s no need to answer them. Dawn approaches, and a pinkish sky exposes a fog entangled in dark green vegetation. “Dad! A river! A river! I wonder if there’s wells catfish down there!”, Kingston says pointing over the deck. I chuckle, “Not here little man. They live in Europe. This is South East Asia.”.

Enter Chapter 747 part 2: Up, Up, and Holiday

Ready, get set, and take off! We’re parents high above the clouds in economy, premium economy, business, and/or first class seating. However we fly, we’re jet-setters; a privileged group of humans who share farts and pretzels. Wrinkled clothes, mini screens, and half-a-sip drinks. Truth be told, there isn’t much glamor to be found in traveling. And until the beam-me-up-Scotty-StarTrek-traveling-technology becomes as ordinary as babies wearing tattered jeans and Jordans…we’re just parents shlepping luggage in unisex yoga pants; bulldozing our fellow passengers for convenient overhead compartment space. The allure of air-busing only exist with our priority boarding pass pictures we share on Facebook, or the I’m-currently-reading-a-book-by-my-window-seat photo shoot posted on Instagram. After that, it’s sixteen hours of open-mouthed comatose commuters looking like venus fly traps, stories about turbulence, and flight delays. But, despite fighting for elbow room and rotating sore butt cheeks to sit on, the sweet sound of the plane’s landing gear will eventually hum. And beneath us will be paradise. A land to get away from our everyday stresses. A vacation that’ll have our kids learning about different cultures, and broaden their idea of what is normal. So go parents! Book a flight! Hustle to baggage claim and travel the world for your kid’s sake!

“What kind of fish are in there Dad?”, Kingston asks. “I’m not sure. I bet Grandpa would know. We’ll go down and explore it later. We’ll find out for ourselves.”, I promise to his excitement. The Queen and I get settled in; unpacking and sharing “Holy shit! This place is amazing.” eye contact. Dawn becomes midday. The warm sun plays peek-a-boo behind grayish clouds, and the smell of moisture is in the air. The girls share poolside snacks. Kingston and I head out to see what we can find beyond our villa. “Dad, do you know where to go? Are we going to get lost? Did you bring your phone?”, asked my California kid. There’s no need to answer him. “Watch and learn.”, I wanted to say but I kept mum. As we walked, village dogs without leashes and collars followed behind us. A local man with a sickle and a pile of grass on his head waved hello. I made a hand gesture for fishing (casting and reeling), and he pointed us toward burning garbage. As we got close we saw a small foot path. Kingston, and medium-sized white dog (Blondie) followed me into the jungle. The ground was muddy. Ferns brushed our sandaled feet, and coconuts trees swayed above us into a clearing. We’ve arrived. A slow flowing part of the river was up ahead. “Dad! There it is!”, Kingston shouted. Blondie jogged ahead. “That man is showering?”, he asked. “Yup. That’s how he does it.”, I responded as we walked past a soapy naked man. Blondie took the lead. The trail snaked around the edge of the water and led us to a small waterfall where a squatted woman scrubbed clothes on a rock. Together, Kingston and I took it all in. We spotted itty-bitty fish, and soon we were on our way back home. “How was that little adventure my man?”, I asked. “That was cool! I thought we were going to get lost. We can’t fish there Dad because that’s where people wash their clothes and shower.”. My little man learned a lot, and I didn’t have to use so many words. Mission accomplished.

Chapter 1 part 1: Hardy Har Har

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“Whatta’ dummy.”.  This is me.  All day today.  The only thing I got right is getting out of the shower wet.  I put the kid’s bruise ointment on my toothbrush, and “I don’t know. Ask Alexa.” keeps flying out of my mouth.  “What is wrong with me today?”, I’m denser than a London fog, and I’m thinking with my high beams on.

Enter Chapter 1 part 1: Hardy Har Har

Looking in the mirror, our fingers iron out the stress that hammocks beneath our tired eyes. We brush the hairs over our yamaka-landing-pad looking bald spots, and realize life has sucked all the fun out of us. As parents, we must remember that laughter is our fountain of youth. Let’s not take ourselves too seriously no matter how high the bills stack, or how deep our wrinkles crease. Embrace in the silly, and take pride in your foolish antics at the store, park, or at home. For laughter is ageless, and will forever remain the language of our souls.

Kingston and Quinn’s chins hang over my left and right shoulder.  Together, we’re creating a fictional story that’s being penned on the back of our Queen’s mail.  We’re three envelopes passed “Once upon a time…”, when one of them farted out of excitement.  “Gross guys!”, and continue to write on.  Turning their imaginations into sentences with my cursive jottings.  They watch in awe.  Their eyes say, “Look at Dad go!  Usually he doesn’t know anything.”, but at this moment…I’m spilling ink the way a Chevy Chevelle leaves donut skid marks on a backstreet; I’m a genius. A wordsmith. A poet. “S…C…C…I…S…E…R…S.”.  No that’s not it.  “S…C…I…S…S…E…R…S”.  No, that doesn’t look right.  I’m struggling here.  My kids are hanging on my spelling here.  “Why is Dad scratching out his words, and writing it again, and scratching it out again?”.  I can hear their facial expressions talking through my confusion.  “How the hell do I spell ‘scissors’!?”.  It’s their hero’s weapon of choice, and here I am feeling embarrassed and ashamed because my dumb ass can’t spell the word correctly.  “Oh! You know what…I have to go check the…”, I stalled.  I tried a sort of brainless scarecrow jive up and out of the room to avoid my incompetence.  To which, Kingston…with a callous face shouted, “BUFFOONERY!”.  Immediate cackling ensued.  I was on the floor rolling with laughter.  “That’s what grandpa says.”, he told me.  “I knoooow!!”, I explained as I giggled my way back to pen.  “S…C…I…S…S…O…R…S”.  The story ended awkwardly, but the hilarity continued throughout the day.

Chapter 13 part 2: Bet on a Vet (revisited)

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“WEIRDO WARNING! WEIRDO WARNING!”, alarmed my inner RoboDad.  Scanning the park, I spotted an ancient looking man with a Gargamel-like posture approaching a four year old Kingston sword fighting with a stick.  His snowy white hair looked Easter Bunny welcoming against his rich brown skin. SWIPE!  And again, SWIPE!  The guy’s boney fingers reached for Kingston, but missed.  I snickered, and a “Run boy!”, came out from underneath my breath.  In a moment’s notice the old man felt my presence.  “புட் தெ ஸ்டிக்க் டொவ்ன்!”, he said pointing at Kingston.

Enter Chapter 13 part 2: Bet on a Vet

They’ve earned every merit badge parenthood has to offer.   They did road trips without iPads, iPhones, and Kindles.  Their first 3 children were known as “just getting started”.  They mastered restaurant outings with only 4 Crayola crayons.  They used “time outs” to catch their breath while they made good on their threats.  They didn’t fuss over registering the bunch for extra circular activities because their kids had extra circular chores.  They are the forgotten veterans of child-rearing.  Although, their rigid, straight-forward, practices have long been replaced with yuppie psycho-babble; respect their achievements and experiences.  Their raw tactics…raised children whom rather headhunt classmates with dodge balls than with bullets.  

“Oh, he’s not speaking english. Okay.”, I registered.  Immediately, my RoboDad threat meter dropped one Wierdo Warning level.  “புட் தெ ஸ்டிக்க் டொவ்ன்!”, he said again.  And this time…he snatched Kingston’s stick right out of his hands, and tossed it into the trashcan.  I could’ve been insulted as a parent, but his swift judgement and abrupt behavior started to make sense.  What sounded like “Kuccikalai iyakka ventam” in his language meant “don’t play with sticks” in mine.  And because this man looked like he could tell a legendary fable about the outcome of a running boy and a tree branch…his blip on my Weirdo radar vanished.  “Don’t run with sticks, Kingston.”, I explained to him.

Chapter 26 part 1: I Tab You

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“Holy mother of Nanny!”.  She’s gorgeous. Outstanding.  Devine.  She’s the Medusa of Love; instead of stone, one gaze into her beauty and I’m a heart-eyed emoji.  I don’t stand a chance.  She’s everywhere I go.  Her simplicity is so chic…it’s sexy.  “Quinn, let go of…”, I peel her away.  She’s good with my lil queen too.  “How did this happen so quickly!?”, I thought.  I tried my hardest to avoid it, but her charge gives me life.  We’ve gone weeks apart, and I couldn’t wait for the punishment to be over.  To see her glow.  To see her respond to my every move.  She’s nothing short of celestial.

Enter Chapter 26 part 1:  I Tab You

The kids have read every book in the house twenty times over.  Their paintings hang from every wall.  They’ve directed and performed living room musicals.   They are full of life and curiosity that they just can’t keep quiet about it.  Our sons are telling us facts about the moon in order to set a later bed time.  Our daughters are reciting Jessica Care Moore’s lyrics to rebel against the pasta dinner.  Basically, they’re smarter than us now, and it’s only the first grade.  We went the ‘low media’ route of raising our kids, and now there’s no escaping these tiny geniuses when all we’re trying to do is have a private moment in the bathroom.  So we can meditate from the madness that is “I’m hungry again.”.  So we can answer a phone call just to swear outloud again.  Or first and foremost, handle our number 1 or 2 business…without passing homework back and forth from underneath the door like we’re in a parental prison cell.  Listen, because we need a break at some point…give them screen time!  Yes!  Our friends and research would say otherwise, but flooding their ‘low media’ eyes with a half episode of Teen Titans, Bill Nye, or anything Disney will give us that time-out we needed.  Just remember to be quick about our deeds, and promptly regain control of the parental reins.   

She became my Love Supreme and I was John Coltrane playing saxophone from her home row keys.  I am completely obsessed with an iPad named Tabitha.  “Quinn!  Don’t run with it!”.  She fled from me like a wolf-raised-girl-cub searching for a wi-fi hot spot.  Quinn, with her clumsy messy hands, is just as enthralled with the tablet as I am.  Which is why now the two of us are playing a game of cat and mouse.  This was all my fault to begin with.

Earlier, I was in the kitchen.  “Bobby Flay’in’ and Slayin'” (aka tending to a rib roast and doing push-ups).  Quinn had been calling on me like I was her very own Daddy Jeeves.  “Dad.  I need more food.  Dad.  Can you turn on the light?  Dad.  Open this.  Dad.  Carry me!  Dad.  Dad.  Dad.”.  She was interrupting my vibe; I was chopping instead of mincing, plopping down when I was pushing-up, and I couldn’t hear my music playing.  It was annoying, so I gave Quinn my sweet and precious Tabitha to play games with.  Screen time for three minutes…four minutes…five then ten.  The house and I were at ease.  Peace and the roast’s aroma wafted through every room.  That was my time out.

Time in.  “Please Quinn!  Give it to me now!”.  Screen time is over, and if this iPad crazed little girl keeps running away and giggling. My beautiful Tabitha will come flying out from her careless grip.  Leaving me no choice but to shoot lava and killer bees from my swearing mouth.  I’d be so angry!  So to prevent all that from happening I corraled Quinn and her rambunctiousness to a corner of the couch.  “Okay Quinny.  It’s.  Time.  To.  Hand it…SNATCH!“.  And with one lunge Tabitha was mine again.  Reunited.  I put her on the charger.  Quinn and I cut paper and shared colored markers.