Chapter 273 part 5: Quieten the Fightin’

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I’m writing this on the lam.  From the back seat of my car at a secret location only a freckled fox would know.  The kids are safe, and my windows are rolled up tight.  I got the engine and the A/C running because I can get three weeks per gallon on this hog.  I was suppose to go for a quick walk.  Instead I darted for the car.

Enter Chapter 273 part 5: Quieten the Fightin’

We know who’s annoyingly clomping up the stairs.  And we know who’s irritatingly hopping down them.  We know who’s agitatedly sprinting down the hall.  And we know who’s aggravatingly fighting in them.  We know EVERYTHING about EVERYONE under our roof.  From the way they lick their CornNut-looking tooth, to the way they burp when they watch scary movies.  During a quarantine lockdown, our loved one’s idiosyncrasies may drive us mad; domestic abuse madSo before we turn our relationships into a series of Tom & Jerry fights…put the arsenic away, unplug the blow dryer, and drain the bath.  And while we’re at it, let’s give the serial killing, forensic file, and episodes of How (Not) To Kill Your Husband documentaries a binge-eating-break.  Don’t let their intolerable mannerisms lead us from locked down to locked up.  Leave, breathe and change your focus.

It was “Daad!”, “Daaddy!”, “Caarl!” this.  And “Daad!”, “Daaddy!”, “Caarl!” that.  Hearing it was making me cringe.  It was the fourth calling in mere minutes.  A fly couldn’t land on a piece of doo-doo with this much interruption.  I was trying to finish the highly intriguing case of “Furious over Furniture” on The People’s Court. But with all the distractions, all I did was curse our mixed socks (family).  My grimace grew into a permanent scowl.  “Imtiredofthisfrickenstayinthehouseshit”, became my mumbling mantra.  The tension of the outstretched kitchen towel between my fist told me it was time to go before I become known as “The Kitchenside Strangler”.  “I’m leaving!!  Be back in five minutes!”, I announced.  I grabbed my phone, charger, iPad, keys and a thermos full of cider.  Those five minutes turned to thirty which then turned to an hour which eventually took more than two.  It was a peaceful escape.  I’m on my way home.  Back to the lockdown, a calmer and more patient man.

Chapter PeePee7-5309: Clean Pee

There’s a line. At the sink. In the Men’s Room. A sight so rare that it causes men to stutter-step out of their urinals. “Wash my hands!? Naaah! It’s filthy in here.”, I’m thinking. I just kick-flushed a john that could be an installation at LACMA; A Toilet Called Shithole it’d be called. There’d be long lines to catch a glimpse. Had we spent any more time in this Men’s room…not only could we have heightened our chances of catching Corona, but also Dos Equis, Tecate, and Caguama fever. Basically, we’d exit with more bacteria on us than when we first entered.

Enter Chapter PeePee7-5309: Clean Pee

The No Look Splash.  The Split.  The Fake Shake.  The Dry Dash.  These aren’t names of slam dunks.  Nor are they kama sutra maneuvers.  These are ancient ways to exit a men’s restroom without washing our hands.  Because dirt meant tough.  And The Tough…didn’t play with bubbles and blow dryers.  Because “What does not kill us, makes us stronger.”.  Until we actually start to die.  Perish by the thousands.  Putting us in a life-and-death situation; another game we don’t like to play.  So let’s adapt to thrive…and carry your hand sprays, gels and all kinds of Purells to survive.

I weaved around a couple guys and made for the glowing exit sign.  Quinn on my right, and in my clutches.  Tightly.  Because the idea of her slipping in here would mean amputation.  Kingston trailed behind.  His eyes and instincts fixated on the sensor automated faucets.  “Daddy!  Wash your hands!”, her piercing voice told me.  Almost immediately, the scent of urine hit the back of my throat.  I made an embarrassed and hesitant V-cut back toward the end of the line. We washed our hands.  I had extra extra soap.  We finally exited.  I finally exhaled.  No Corona. No lime (grime).

Chapter 26 pt. 2: NincomNoob

 

lounging.jpgSpoiled.  Spoiled.  Spoiled.  Bouncing off the walls spoiled.  Stop the ice cream truck spoiled; saladitos con chile and gumball-eyed-PacMan-popsicles spoiled.  The day continues on like this.  Before that it was In-N-Out double doubles for him, and a Penga lychee boba drink for her.  Without a single “Thank you” spoiled.  I know how to reel it all back into good manners.  But for now, Quinn’s sassy eye rolls and Kingston’s sharp back talk are getting met with my purest form of communication, “Uh huh” and “Nah huh”.  That’s it.  No more.  No less.  I’m a caveman dad.  Also…I’m tired of being Mean Dad; the strict one.  I want to be cool.  Like I used to be.  A long time ago.  Before anyone can remember.

Next stop…GameStop!  Every kid loves a store filled with video games.  I could get one for them, and continue my day of grunts and a “Hip! Hip! Hurray!” for Dad feeling.

“Dad. Can we get this game!?”.  I wanted to knock him over the head with it.  How dare he say ‘we’ as if my sweet Quinn was in on the deal.  The title read, “Call of Duty: Black Ops”.  It’s front cover was a gun-toting-tenacious soldier screaming and charging toward deadly bullets that whizzed past.  I know this game is heavy duty, but how cool would I be if I okayed it!?  So of course, “Uh huh”, I approved.  We drove home.  Sunroof open.  High on cool.

Enter Chapter 26 pt. 2: NincomNoob

It’s been a long day at school.  At tutoring.  At karate class.  A Shut The Heck Up Anti-Bully group.  And a stage diving tournament.  Once they get home, they finish their homework and chores towards freedom.  Freedom to take a load off.  Freedom to kick back and escape reality.  Watch them plop down into their gaming chairs and grab a controller.  Unlimited Gatorade and Doritos; we’re at their service.  Because on our watch, there’s no cigarettes.  No liquor.  No marijuana.  No cocaine.  No fentanyl.  Just pure unadulterated video game intoxications.  By the boatload.  “Just Say No” all we want, but out here on these parental streets we’re constantly making digital deals with our kids.  “Mom/Dad, if I do this and that…can I play FortNite?” and “Mom/Dad, I’ll do tomorrow’s chores today for 30 minutes (hit) of Nintendo.”.  We’re nothing but our babies’s Pusher.  No needles.  No pipes.  No scent.  The addiction is real, and we parental kingpins gain all the profit…time.  TIME to cook in a nice and quiet kitchen, TIME to fold a gigantic mound of clothes and listen to an obscene podcast.  Video games can earn us time.  As well as waste our time.  So, for our gaming children’s sake…let’s mind our ESRB(s) and our dosages.

Respawn.  Shotgun to the face.  I’m dead.  Respawn.  Knifed.  I’m dead.  Respawn.  Sniped.  I died again.  “This freakin’ kid!  Maaan!  Somebody log him off for a couple hours.  He’s too young to be this good.”, I tell the tv.  The kid’s screen name is impossible to read; he moves through the jungle at a menacing speed.  He’s a blur.  Firing loads of ammunition; a killing spree king is what he is.  And not only that, but he has a mouth no fouler than some of Mike Tyson’s old press conferences.

“If I could just kill him once…”, I thought.  Then I saw him!  Hiding behind a shed-like building and he had yet to see me.  It was an easy kill.  But before I could pull the trigger.  The kid was bum rushing towards me.  Hopping from side to side like a kangaroo killer firing off shots in mid-air, and getting closer with every reload.  My aiming skills were Grey Goose’d.  BOOM!  BOOM!  I was dead.  The murderous kid had struck again.  Only this time, before I could respawn…I watched him squat over my head.  Up and down.  Up and down.  Up and down.  The kid ‘teabagged’ my digitally dead face.  To which he said, “WHOADAD! You suck!”.

The following morning Kingston woke up.  “Dad, Can we play Call of Duty?”. “NO!! Never!”, I answered.

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.