Chapter 25: Cool It


“Carl! You’re such a liar.”, rang the sound of another bickering battle.  The Queen’s quick witted jabs, fact checking hooks, and sometimes ego busting low blows is why she reigns over my bullshit.  With a record of 1,300 – 1 over a 13 year span…(her one loss came from the time when I convinced her that I am the closest Kobe Bryant-like athlete she has ever known)…it’s safe for me to call her The Champion of Verbal Jiu-Jitsu.  “What are you talking about?  I’m not lying.  I didn’t eat your damn cookies!”, but of course, I did.

Earlier…while she was hard at work, the kids and I came home from a busy afternoon of activities.  And because they both carried on with the same energy as the “Cameron Crazies” of Duke University…I forced them to play in the backyard.  I was a little tired, and slightly annoyed of talking AT Kingston and chasing Quinn.  With the two of them outside, the house turned quiet.  “Enjoy it while it last, they say.”, I thought as I stretched across the floor cluttered with Connect Four pieces, cars, a sock, dolls, and a paper plate with the crust of a half-eaten sandwich.  It was time to relax and let the mess morph into a white sandy beach in Jamaica.  All I needed was a rum punch to sip, but instead I made for the box of Girl Scout cookies.  They weren’t my favorite nor the most delicious, but the idea of selfishly devouring them without being interrupted or having to share with my little-begging-puppy-children was fantastic.  Me, cookies, and milk.  It was a part time paradise.

“Oh my god!  Carl!  If you could see your lying face right now…”, the Queen snapped back.  “Why are you buggin’ out over some cookies!?  I’ll get you more right now!”, I shot off.  The Queen had come home from work, and had planned to do her own relaxing as well.  “It’s not about that Ca-rl!  Just tell the truth!”.  She was mightily upset.  Although I knew apologizing was a better idea, I figured I could fight my way out this one and get my second petty “win” in the MSL (Marital Spat League).  Plus, there was no way she knew that I ate all those toothpaste-minty-tasting cookies.  “First, don’t ever say my name like that.  And how do you know I ate ALL the cookies!?”, I retorted.  This was my wildcard.  My haymaker; desperately thrown to K.O this small stupid argument.  By this time, both Kingston and Quinn were inside blissfully jumping on top of one another with the couch pillows.  They were within earshot from it all.  “Kingston, come over…”, I called. “Noo. Don’t get them involved…”, the Queen said.   She knew where I was going next.

Enter Chapter 25: Cool It

She’s mean, and has a fantastic arm for slinging dishes and insults.  He on the other hand, cusses more than Doc Holiday drinks booze, and can punch through drywall the way a three year old smashes through screen doors.  Together, their short tempers and abrasive tone of voice send their children cowering underneath dinner tables waiting for the next earthquake of physical, and/or verbal abuse.  They’re the hallmark of disfunction.  Growing up under these circumstances, kids tend to learn the same conflict resolution that’ll make their parents WorldStar.com famous.  So lets leave the buck wild fights and hair pulling to the ridiculous world of reality tv because as parents…we can do better.  For starters, we can have constructive arguments by maintaining a calm tone of voice.  This way our kids learn to deal with their differences of opinion like sane adults and not like a Hulk Hogan versus Macho Man ringside conversation.  Not only that, but as husband and wife…let’s remember that maintaining the love and attaining a mutual understanding is the goal.  Take turns (not) talking over each other, stick to the issue, split a beer and share a slice of Costco pizza.

“What do you mean don’t get him involved!  He’s my number one witness.  Kingston will set it straight once and for all.”.  I was gambling now.  The kid is unpredictable.  But if I cornered him with a question that only had a “no” answer…I’d finally “win”!  Somehow I turned into Johnny Cochran and proceeded.  “Kingston, my dearest boy, the king of kings…”, I started with my hand on his head.  His innocent eyes looked up at me; his little smile shined bright.  That’s when I knew I couldn’t go on with the questioning.  This was a lose-lose situation.  If he were to answer the way I needed him to, the Queen would be disappointed that I used him as a pawn in my bullshit.  And had Kingston ratted me out, and exposed me as a liar…this argument could have possibly blown up into something much larger.  “…get out of here Boy, go play with Quinn.”, I ended.  It was then the Queen gloated in her victory, “See!  I knew you did!  You can’t fool me.  I’m not stupid!”.  The jig was up.  An apology and explanation had to come next.  “Yeah, I lied.  I ate the cookies.  I’m sorry.”, I confessed.  “I lied because I don’t like that you feel the need to address the fact that cookies are gone.  If sweets go missing, just know I ate them.”, I explained.  Together, we talked it over.  It was made clear my lying needed to stop, and that sometimes I could be a mean-childish asshole.  The bickering came to an end calmly and respectfully.  It was hard to tell if the kids took notice of how we handled the situation, but at least they weren’t hiding from screaming adults.  When all was said and done, one thing still ate at me.  I couldn’t help but wonder how Kingston would’ve answered my questioning.  So when we were alone, I whispered…”Kingston did you see me eat a box of cookies today?”.  To which he replied, “Yeah, I saw you.”.  The Queen’s record grows to 1,301 wins.

Chapter 14 part 2: She is Him

RW-01565

Quinn aka Quinny aka Quinn Marie aka I-want-you-to-mistakenly-hear-my-name-as “Queen” is surrounded by 3rd grade girls.  They come to check out her dolls, her outfits, and chase her around campus trying to feel her hair.  As for Kingston, he goes unnoticed at the moment; he’s a page number at the bottom of an Amelia Bedelia adventure book.  Unless of course, his neck tie coordinates with Quinn’s leggings.  Meanwhile, back at the girls club..

“NO! IT’S MINE! GIMME IT!”, Quinn scolds one of the girls.  The 3rd grader immediately returns the scooter-riding-optometrist Barbie back to us.  “You should tell her not to yell at us.”, one of them tells me.  “Yeah, tell her to be nice.”, another one chimed in.

Enter Chapter 14 part 2: She is Him 

When can our angelic princesses of cuddles and kisses unleash their finger-snapping-hair-flipping “boss chick”?  And when can they start tossing their juice boxes at their impolite lunch date the way a Love & Hip Hop “Queen Bee” would her wine?  Of course it’s not lady-like, but if our boys are praised and raised to be tough-leading-sometimes-gentle-men-with-a-slight-mean-streak…then why must we continually tell our girls to “play nice”, “be careful”, and/or force them to “smile” in pictures?  Let’s free our girls from this submissive culture, and Stepford training.  Let’s liberate her from feeling the need to finish her MBA, have a career, children, a husband, a home, and attend three Beyonce concerts before finally considering herself a “boss bitch”.  From an early age, she ought to understand that she can be an independent-unapologetic-take-charge young lady who’ll ride a tricycle with a diamond encrusted license plate that reads: BOSSLDY.  And not only that, but if she wants to run the world, and reject her potential suitor’s Valentine’s Day advancements…let her!  Let her be assertive.  Let her define what the word “inappropriate” means to her.  Let her laugh with Wanda Sykes, Sandra Bernhard, Amy Schumer, and Sommore.  In other words….enable, empower, and make way for her womanhood.

“Okay, little girls…kick back.  You’re all cute, but your getting annoying telling me how to raise my kid.  You need to raise awareness to those ashy knees or raise some Girl Scout cookie money.  Better yet, go raise some bean sprouts before you tell me what to do.”, I joked.  Quinn gave the girls a long stare with her lowered brows.  Kingston and I laughed it off.  We know our Quinny, and this one is the mean one.  “Well, it’s okay if she yells.  She’s just making sure you girls hear what she wants.”, I tell the 3rd graders.  “Thank you for returning the Barbie tho’.  That was super cool of you girls!”, I mentioned.  Soon after the second bell had rung.  It was time for Kingston to hug me goodbye as class was about to start.  “Bye Quinn!”, the older girls shouted as they too went to their classes.  “Bye girls! Have a good day.”,  Quinn and I waved.

Chapter 12 part 2: No Man Go Cry

 

 

It’s September 19th, 1976. Cars are the size of cruise ships, people are blow drying their hair into unisex shags, and my childless-freespirited mother is out riding motorcycles around Los Angeles like the badass that she is. Not only that, the Philadelphia Eagles are hosting their home opener versus the New York Giants at Veteran’s stadium. And because I wasn’t born yet, Hollywood’s magic has captivated Kingston and I as we relive an era of football that isn’t about pink cleats and pass interference calls. We’re watching the same era of American football that allowed for the offensive line to whack their opponent’s head, neck and face. A time when bad intentioned tackles turned men into living legends. All of this from watching the movie, Invincible. “Aye, Mark Wahlberg.  Doing his thing right now.”, I told the tv screen. Kingston (from my lap) glanced up at me as if I said something profound. “He’s Vince Papale, son. Watch this guy. He’s super tough.”, I admired as we watched the movie .

Enter Chapter 12 part 2: No Man Go Cry

Shhh…listen closely.  Hear that?  There it is again! Beneath the grunting, chest thumping, trash talking alpha males, and underneath the braggadocio of inadequate men…a father sobs; hiding himself from the public’s sight.  Watch as he takes deep breathes, widens his eyes, and tries not to blink.  All because he knows as soon as those tears come running down his face…Team Man Up…can hop into the ring of his subconscious, and pummel his ego with phrases like “fuckin wimp”, “cry baby”, “what a bitch”.  It’s not dear old dad’s fault that he hides his wet face.  Our society for generations has trained men to be resilient emotionless (with the exception of anger) people whom in turn become Easter Island mo’ai statues.  For our father’s sake, lets allow them to express themselves freely the way we allow our mothers to do.  In other words, add some seasoning to the macho culture.  Because let’s face it, internalizing sadness, pain, love and so forth can lead to a dad thinking or making “Hole-y fuckin’ drywall.”.

Soon enough we’re listening to Coach Dick Vermeil (played by Greg Kinnear) give a pep talk before a must-win game.  “A team with character will find a way to beat a team with better talent…I believe that.”, Coach says.  Even as a Chicago Bears fan, I want to suit up as a Philadelphia Eagle at the moment.  Kingston’s hands are chowder clammy.  “Are you nervous for Vince bud?”, I asked him to which he replied, “Are they going to win, Dad?”.  I didn’t answer, but at this point I really hope they do.  Papale’s life needs a win.

The Eagles break out of the huddle and take to the field.  The game is a rock em’-sock em’ slow motion delight thanks to Hollywood.  The movie and game are near the end. The Eagles come up short just inches away from a crucial first down and ready themselves for a punt.  Kingston and I are invested in the outcome of this movie.  Not even Quinn and her “’Tington’, play with me.  Dad, I hungry.” cries can distract us.  Vince Papale is in on the punt play, and to the shock of the entire team he calls an audible and changes the play.  The ball gets hiked. Vince slips past his block.  “And Papale has a tremendous break on the ball…”, says the play-by-play announcer.  “Oh! Marky Mark! All alone! Open field.”, I shouted excitedly.  Vince Papale can tackle his ass off.  This is it!  An orchestra of emotional harps and charged trumpets plays over the scene.  And then, BOOM!  With goosebumps all over my arms I’m watching a beautiful tackle turn into a…“FUMBLE!”, I egged on.  Kingston watched in awe.  I rarely (almost never) cry, but as Vince recovered the ball and made for a slow motioned dash toward the end zone my eyes began to water.  The scenes of his childhood friends jubilantly losing their minds for him in the stands, his father with the glossy proud eyes watching from the local bar, and all of Philadelphia inside the stadium screaming like only winners can for the neighborhood kid Vince Papale…made me shed a few tears.  “Dad, you’re crying, but they won.”, Kingston said.  I hadn’t noticed he was looking at me before I could wipe my face.  “Yeah I know, it’s okay.  I’m happy for him.  He worked so so hard.  And now he’s a hero.”

Chapter 18 part 3: Château sans Gémissement


To my five star love, you wrinkleless beauty…you’ve been away for so so long.  Nobody knows how I’ve missed your embrace of luxe slippers and bamboo terry robes.  The truth is…I’m crazy about you.  Do you understand!?  Allow me to open your blinds; Hawaii, Miami, New York, and Mexico or every other place we go….Do Not Disturb is the language.  So hide the key, Baby.  Because tonight there’s going to be an ice bucket challenge.  Melting.  Down.  Your sides.  It’s hot and you’re dripping wet.  This is room service, and tomorrow…we’ll need extra towels.  No doubt.  I’m going all out.  Because “Yes” is the only answer.  We can take it slow, peek into your cabinets.  Let my appetite do the talking through your expensive fabric.  Knock.  Knock.  Knock.  “Already!?”.  Knock.  Knock.  Knock.  “Damnit.  Did they sprint up here or what?”.  Knock.  Knock.  “Okay.  I’m coming!”.   

Enter Chapter 18 part 3: Château sans Gémissement

Remember the glory days of your hotel visits with your kid-free lover?  The two of you disrespecting the entire suite with your passionate baby making skills.  Knocking over lamps, ripping down the curtains, and laying your naked bodies across the kitchen counters.  Or that one time you spent part of the night pressed against the wall making slow song beats, and your room neighbors kept asking, “Hey!  Is everything okay over there!?” from their side of the partition door.  Well parents, we’re sorry to tell you, that despite how these kid-friendly resorts accommodate for you…those days are long gone!  Staying indoors for 3 days at a time like some sort of sexual vampires is a figment of your imagination.  First of all, the only erecting Dad will be doing is setting up his newborn’s playpen; it’ll take over all the space of your foreplay dance floor.  And secondly, the only people Mom will be servicing are her older kids with cold cut sandwiches; watching her slice salami for lunch will be an erotic fantasy killer.  So, although it’s a hard pill to swallow, what we recommend to do at your next hotel visit is take advantage of the comfortable bed and sleep in it!  Use the couch not as a prop in your sexcapades, but to sit in and watch a movie peacefully as your baby naps or your expert-swimming kids go for a splash down at the resort’s waterpark.  Also don’t waste the expensive mini fridge water to cool your lover’s body down, but instead use it to drink because at the rate that you’ll be shedding tears over your sexual-hotel-lifestyle of yesteryear…your eyes and body will thank you.  Now go!  And enjoy your stay at Château sans Gémissement. 

As soon as I answered the door, “Jesus Carl!  What’s the rush?  You left us down in the lobby with our bags.”, spoke the Queen.  “I was just…just…forget it.  I’ll get the bags.”, I told her.  Both Kingston and Quinn came running in.  One with their iPad blaring and the other wet-faced and sobbing.  And with that, my private moment with our room met reality.  Now, the hotel suite and I were once again as distant as a retired NBA player’s athletic ability and his youthful highlight reel.  So I headed down to the lobby.  Lugged our bags up, and did the only thing left to do…grab a cold beer, sit out on the balcony, and come to terms with reality.  That while traveling with the kids my backboard-breaking-power-dribbling-slam-dunking-trash-talking Shaquille O’Neal sex game is done for. And with the kiddos around, I’m more of the Nickelodeon-Kids-Choice-Award-breakdancing Shaquille.  And somehow I’ve got to learn to be okay with that.

Chapter 22 part 7: Pardon The Oink

I could speak and understand Spanish, Chicano, Ebonics, Ignoranics (all things completely stupid), Beach City English, Corporate English, Valleygirl, and just enough Hipster to order a Korean infused torta from a handlebar-mustachioed-Asian-lunchtruck-chef.  But…at this parent meeting where I’m the only dad, the moms are speaking in a twang that I barely understand, and yet somehow they know everything I’m not saying.  “Maybe if you uncross your arms…take the sunglasses off…blend in or maybe..talk!”, my inner public relations manager encouraged.  Just then, like the first glass of a California Zinfandel after a kid’s birthday party…clarity!  All the stressful information given about deadlines and registration fees left my brain with one simple sentence, “So before we get started, we’re going to need a team mom.”.

Enter Chapter 22 part 7: Pardon The Oink

Oh, what a fascinating era in which to be a stay-at-home father.  Men have seen and supported women as they’ve earned the right to call themselves commanders of state police, coal miners, coaches of a men’s sports teams, CEOs, marines, and almost president of the United States.  They’ve even entertained the idea that Ronda Rousey could ‘mop up’ Floyd Mayweather!  It all has been very progressive.  Yet, despite all the advancements in gender equality, there are still stay-at-home mothers that continue to ask their counterparts, “Do you dress them and comb their hair every morning too?”.  Or even worse assume it’s a “no-rules-fun-day” outing with dad.  THIS…combined with the continuous compliment of “You’re doing such a great job!” for performing minuscule parenting tasks makes a stay-at-home father cringe.  It’s irritating having to explain that not only do they dress and comb, but they cook, clean, iron, and run a tight ship.  And they don’t need compliments for any of it.  But because sexism is alive and well, these types of comments will spew from men and even some of the most liberal women out there.  So, to our dear stay-at-home dads, we apologize and also thank you for your patience as you deal with the prejudices.  And if ever you might feel tired of bearing and/or battling the weight of socially prescribed gender roles…let it go!  Yes, let it fall by the wayside in the name of rest and recuperation.  When terms like “team mom”, “room mom”, “mommy and me”, or playing the role of a “momager” are asked of fathers…feel free to kindly decline or avoid participating all together.  There are more battles to come for at-home dads to face in this world of sexism so don’t feel compelled to fight each and every one.

Two mothers slide their sunglasses back on, another starts digging through her purse.  One walks away, and a couple more play with their phones.  Things are getting awkward between the girls.  “Who’s going to volunteer?”, I wonder.  Watching them avoid the responsibility is riveting.  The lead lioness continues on with the meeting, and then sings out, “So if anyone would like to hhhellllp…we need a team mommm.”.  None of the ladies look at me.  It would be a noble thing for me to do, but they’re asking for a team mom not a team dad nor a team parent.  So I’m out!  “Let them figure it out.  I ain’t no mommy.”, I proclaimed.  Soon someone, as always, decided to step up.

I love a team mom.  They’re always patient, upbeat, and willing to answer my questions no matter how many times I ask.  On Monday it’s, “Hey ‘Lindsay’, when did you say we need league fees?”.  For Wednesday it’s, “Did you say to meet at the park?”.  And on Friday I’ll ask, “What color jerseys are we wearing?”.  I dare anyone to try that for two weeks straight with someone who isn’t a team mom; blood will flow from rolled back eyeballs as they shout, “I’ve told you that already!”.  Believe me, I’m the type to turn poltergeist on someone such as myself.  This, including holding the title that clearly calls for a woman, are reasons enough for me to always turn down the responsibility.  Plus, nobody wants to deal with a dad (me) for a team mom whose answer to every question would be slices of oranges.  So girls, have at it…because it’s all yours.

Chapter 777 part 2: Dr. HopeFateLuckGod

itchy

Sometimes I just want to jump down their throats.  Be the liquid Benadryl.  Soothing every inch of their insides like an after-hour neat vodka.  Why can’t it all be so simple?  Slap my hands together, and “Mr. Miyagi” their pain away.  Band-Aide it all with a forehead kiss.  I need these powers.  Especially right now, when a bumpy red rash continues to grow on Kingston.  “Dad, if you were in my body you would itch so so bad!”.  My little gila monster of a son, scratches at his skin so tough he could start a campfire on his arm.

Enter Chapter 777 part 2: Dr. HopeFateLuckGod

“I should’ve done this.”, “Maybe I could’ve tried that.”, and “They told me it’d be 4 to 6 days and it’d be all gone.”.  Oh!  How the doubt creeps, and how the guilt seeps when all we’re left with is the doctor’s prognosis.  And although we’ve medicated our tykes, all we can do now is cross our fingers on the tightrope of health; simmer in the fustration of helplessness, and hope fate brings us a little luck.  In other words, we as parents, have got to sit back and watch the consequences of our care taking play out.  But…in doing so, let’s us also evoke the power of prayer.  Because the practice will always be there for “…those who seek.  And those that do, will find their answers.” as told in Chapter 777 part 1: Holy Higgs Boson.

“Don’t scratch it Kingston!”, I beg.  I’m irrationally irritated that the doctor’s prescribed medicines aren’t working at a much needed superhero speed.  “What more can I do?”, I ponder.  I don’t want to overmedicate him, and end up in an orange jumpsuit; crying on national news like one of those buffoon fathers who leaves his kids to die in a hot car.  I could see it now, “It was an accident! Sob sniff.  Sniff sob.  I was just trying to heal him.  Waaa!”, balling my eyes out as I get ushered to prison to meet my cell-raping-daddies.  And then, as if the fear of being anally raped conjures up brilliant ideas, I remembered!  “Yes!  We have calamine!”.  An itch reliever that we had bought a year ago for some forgotten reason.  “Kingston, stop scratching and get over here!  I’ve got it!”, I called.  Now, if only I knew how many of these 6 fluid ounce bottles of Calamine Plus would it take to fill the tub…I could just have him soak in it!  I was on a roll.  And with that I began my prayer.  Hymning my own remixed rendition of Labelle’s “Lady Marmalade”…“Itchy, Itchy, No More, Dada!” as I slathered calamine all over Kingston’s bumpy red rash.  Within a day and a half, I saw his beautiful buttery brown skin heal itself.  Hallelujah!

Endless Preface

readering

Summer break is here, and this kindergarten-bound kid will soon learn that Daddy isn’t the brightest crayon in the box.  Kingston’s fall curriculum of reading, writing, and math will scramble my brain…with cheese.  My homeschooling skills are impatiently weak.  But, on the other hand, my chore giving tactics, slap boxing combos, and tea party manners with Barbie, Quinn and I are all life lessons these kids seem to take up quite well.  Of course, Kingston knows his alphabet, and how to count to annoying heights.  But in my mind, he’s a crossword puzzle or two behind.  Which concerns me because I’m certain that somewhere out there is a newborn reading “Goodnight Moon“, and using it’s umbilical cord as a bookmark.  So for now, a LeapReader pen robotically reads to Kingston.  “Casey”, the pen pronounces as he touches the word from the page. “Casey”, my studious little man replies. It goes on like this throughout the book, “Casey the Cat has a hat”.

“Is he really learning?”, I wondered.  “Kingston, what are you reading?”, I asked.  “Casey the Cat has a hat.”, he responded with the confidence of a literate person.  “What’s this word?”, I asked pointing at “Cat”.  “Cat”, he said.  “No way.  I mean, Yes!  You’re right!”.  I couldn’t believe it was working so well in such a short period of time.  Kingston kept on with the LeapReader; dinner’s aroma wafted throughout the house.  Minutes had passed, and I figured it was time for another test.  “Kingston.  What’s this word?”, I asked to which he answered, “Casey”.  Right again.  “What about this one?  What word is this?”, I questioned pointing at ‘the’.  “Uhhh, I don’t know.”, he said.  I borrowed the LeapReader.  “The”, it read back as I touched the word.  “Okay, now you know.  So what’s this word again?”, I quizzed.  “Uhhh, I don’t know.”, he said with a mischievous grin.  I knew where this was headed; Kingston was playing a dangerous mind game with my impatient-inner-city-substitute-teacher.  “Kingston (rubbing my temples) I know that you know this word.  So tell me.  You’re a smart kid.  Just tell me.  What.  This.  Word.  Is.”, I asked of him as the LeapReader continuously read “the”.  Now, there was a classic western standoff; we traded stares (cue a dramatic trumpet solo from “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”.).  “Uhhhhhh…I don’t know!”, Kingston fired off.  SLAP!, I retaliated; smacking “Casey the Cat has a hat” and it’s pages out of his hands.  The book crashed into the blinds, and Black Hawk Down’d into the kitchen sink.  Shocked and scared he cried.  “Go to your room!  You’re done here.”, I shouted.

Enter Endless Preface:

Hello there parents!  Welcome to (as we are so commonly known) The Most Challenging Job In The World Incorporated.  There aren’t any company breaks here.  No beignets nor Keurigs will be found in the lunchroom.  Simply because there isn’t a lunchroom.  Sick days are to be used for children and spouses only; catching a cold or a flu shall not hinder an employee.  Furthermore, the only 401k available is the daily 40.1k that we accrue pushing strollers, chasing skateboards, and extinguishing fights, tantrums, and floods throughout the house.  If one dares to bat an eye he/she can lose their job, and/or a life.  Understand that the pressure to produce good quality humans is a heavy one.  And nothing short of excellence will be tolerated.  Upon doing so, employees are expected to feel elated, proud, confident, nervous, insecure, confused, inadequate, horrified, suspicious, worthless, forgiving, and loving all before noon.  Also, here at The Most Challenging Job In The World Incorporated, keeping our cool is the mandatory code of conduct.  Exercising self-control is key to having magnificent company picnics (aka Mother’s and Father’s Day).  And although we understand that problematic issues can have us lashing out like silverbacked gorillas in the bush…the corporation will not condone losing one’s temper.  Now, with all this being said and with whatever “me” time you think you’re having…it’s time to turn off Judge Judy, change out of your house robe, stuff your face with cold tater tot leftovers, and get to work! 

“Damn it.”, the book spreads across wet dishes.  It didn’t have to get to this point.  Especially because I knew it was coming.  “I should’ve taken a break, or walked away.”, but it was too late for that I thought.  I managed to frighten them both.  Dinner was done, but appetites were ruined.  Now, I was staring at a campaign that could’ve been hashtagged SiblingsAgainstDaddysTyranny.  An apology was needed, and so here goes nothing.  “Kingston!”, I called him back downstairs.  Timidly he came.  “It’s ‘the‘, it’s ‘the’ Dad.”, he pleaded sniffling out the final answer.  “Yeah, you’re right smart guy.  But how about we forget reading for now, because Dad has something to tell you guys (I corralled them in for a group hug)…I’m sorry I lost my patience.”.  Kingston smiled and “I farted!”, shouted Quinn.  Laughter and food proceeded.  We were back on track.

Chapter 6 part 2: Booga T. Wipington

 

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“Damn.  Her ass…”, I’m thinking to myself.  We’ve become 5-minute-friends, and I could tell she’s doing all the parenting she can.  Her chipped black nail polish, fading lipstick, and 90’s tribal tattoo tell of a time when she used to be cool.  Now, she chases after her stampeding wildebeest children with blue gum stuck on her yoga panted butt.

Enter Chapter 6 part 2: Booga T. Wipington

Boogers hang from nose hairs like spinach grins between teeth.  An unzipped fly, and a skirt tucked into knickers reveals what’s underneath.  What kind of friend are we, when another parent is in need?  Do we save them from the embarrassment, or go on like we didn’t see?  As awkward as it seems, lend a baby wipe, a handkerchief, or tell them to “XYZ” their button fly jeans.  eXamine Your Zipper.  Because everyone knows, that with a subtle tip to wipe one’s nose…gratitude will be shown and a friendship could be grown. 

“Should I tell her?  We’ve just met, and already I’m going to mention her ass.  Nah, just ignore it.”, I decide.  Because I don’t remember her name she was “Razzy” (the blue raspberry bubblegum).  She came over and sat on the ground next to Quinn and I. “I’m sorry.  Were you saying something?  My kids are…”, but Razzy was off again; interrupted by her herd.  She didn’t have any time for herself much less a conversation.  “Maybe she knows, but doesn’t care.”, I thought.  Everywhere Razzy went the gum collected samples of the surrounding area.  Sand, grass, dirt, pet hair.  If she sat down on it she was sure to pick it up.  It was hard not to look.  “Man, someone should tell her.  This is getting weird.”, I said to myself staring, and looking away.  Staring, and looking away.  “I’m going to tell her.  And get out of here.”, I planned.  It was going to be a hit and run.  And with one big whoosh Quinn and backpack were in my arms.  “Hey, are you leaving?”, Razzy called out.  “Yeah, we’ve got to run.  But hey listen, I think you sat on somebody’s candy back there.”, I told her.  With a confused face she looked back at it.  Quinn now rested on my shoulders.  We hotfooted away.  “Oh my goodness. Thank you!”, I heard.  We were long gone.

Chapter 27: Pep It Up

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“Aw Dad!”, Kingston whined.  “But my school is doing it!”, he said to my shrugging shoulders.  “It’s.  Pajama.  Day!”, he protested while stomping out his words on our hardwood floors.  “Go.  Change.  NOW!  Before you learn what real stomping is.”, I mockingly threatened.

Earlier in the morning, I made the mistake of allowing him to think he was participating in today’s school festivities.  I was onboard with it at 6am, but now at 8:10am…I realized that his attire was throwing off my rhythm, and making me late for the drop off.  My mind bumbled around like a Three Stooges episode .  “Do I fix his hair?  What shoes does a pajama clad person wear in public?  Surely he has to brush his teeth, but does he stay in the same underwear all in the name of Pajama Day?  No, wait…get him a fresh pair then have him slide back into last night’s PJ’s? Or dress him in clean PJ’s but keep the same underwear? Am I doing this right? What about those goofy looking Spongebob socks? They’re so long, and…”. Now we’re late.

Enter Chapter 27: Pep It Up

Hooray!  It’s that time of the month!  When a motley crew of “Crazy Hair Day” toddlers mohawk their way into class.  And on “Grunge Rock Day”, our nirvanic children recess at a school that tomorrow…will resemble a 1930s municipal orphanage for “Pajama Day”.  Yes!  All of it will be done in the name of school spirit.  So, let’s celebrate their pride.   Go, Little Rascal Elementary!  Go!  But let it also be known, that amidst the hubbub, there will be families whose “Homey, don’t play that.” values will figuratively smack the silliness out of whatever “Day” it is.  Which is perfectly okay!   Just as long as we keep living in color.  Together.  Toward a harmonious graduation.

Finally, we’re on school grounds.  Quinn’s face (due to her breakfast-on-the-go) is a complete waffle.  Kingston’s?  Long and sullen.   He’s upset with me because I dressed him in summer weight chinos, and bow tie so to selfishly coordinate with a new neck tie of mine.  “Kingston, will you hurry up please!?”, he trudged into the building.  “Dad.  It’s Pajama Day.”, he pleaded at the point of no return.   I dropped to eye level, “Hey, listen.  Mr. Sour Patch Kid.  It’s only Pajama Day for some hours.  I’ve got things to do.   And people to see after school.  Looking like a home-schooled-latchkey-kid ain’t part of the deal.  Get it?”.  He stared at me with a “What the hell does that mean?” face.  “Kingston.  Go to class.  Kiss.  Kiss.  (Messing up his styled hair) See you later.”, was the last thing he heard from me as I signed him in.

Pick up time, on the other hand, was magical and almost opposite of this morning.  “Dad!”, he came rushing out of his classroom wrapping his little spaghetti arms around my legs.  I signed him out and we went on about our day.  Pajama Day was history.  And my little guy was back to his normal cheerful self.

Chapter 5 part 6: Wicked

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Look at the carnage…it’s astonishing!  And they keep coming.  One.  Two.  Three crashing into each other.  Limbs dangle over the twisty slide the way carne asada hangs between a fire grill.  A lone Croc sandal goes flopping away like a Death Valley tumbleweed.  “Go, go, go!”, I egg them on.  Wailing among the pile up, a young toddler shakes with tears.  Kingston is enjoying the chaotic play and Quinn is at my knees begging to be picked up.  This is the highlight of my afternoon, and I want more.  “Get up there kid, hurry! Hurry!”, I point the heavy rascal toward the top of the slide.  More boys charge up it’s winding slope like a swarm of giggling army ants.  My excitement grows with the anticipation of a spectacular collision.  “Kingston get up there. He’s coming down!”, we’re mere seconds away from the proverbial runaway boulder scene in Indiana Jones and The Raiders of The Lost Ark.  All I had to do now was prepare my Oscar winning speech.  Best Independent-Playground-Action-Horror-Director.  But, like Taylor Swift…I got Kanye’d.  “Oh my God!  Axel! There’s no climbing up the slide.  Axel, down!”.

Enter Chapter 5 part 6: Wicked

They love princesses and Spider Man.  You love Maleficent and The Joker.  They like beautiful hues of pinks and blues.  You like Gargamel’s black.  They laugh, and you miss the punchline.  They also cheer for the grand prize while you root for “zonks” and Family Fued failures.  Truth be told, you have a mean streak.  And admist all the positive reinforcements your children are supposed to get, it’s difficult to keep up that plastic smile and jaunty way of life.  Because they’ve been terrorizing your attention span with long winded gibberish, throwing spaghetti, and making you cringe with every, “No! I don’t want to!”. It’s days like these that call for a little mean spirited payback.  So in the name of “That’s what you deserve”…start a bed-jumping-head-whomping-pillow fight or take them to a trampoline park where you can unleash a fury of dodgeballs at their tiny jumping legs.  Whatever game you choose, remember to be relatively safe, and release that mean streak before it comes to a head.

A mother happened to pry her eyes away from her phone, just in time to save her precious kid from my private hilarity.  “Cut!  Cut!  Cut!”, I said to myself as I guided Axel off the slide.  The mother bear’s concern shocked the boys stiff; ruining my scene.  But as soon as the coast was clear, “Action!  Go!”, I called.  The heavy kid slid straight down the chute with the same force of William Perry on the two yard line.  Most of the boys jumped over the side.  “Kingston.  Look out.”, I said halfheartedly as I remembered his ill tempered shenanigans from earlier before.  Crash!  The heavy little kid bowled over Kingston.  “Ahh!”, he shouted.  Kingston looked like a upside turtle.  At the bottom of the slide his little face looked around for a comforting, “Are you okay?”.  But instead he saw me with a sinister smile.  “What? I said look out.”, I told him.   And off he went continuing to play like his wipeout never happened.