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!

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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.

Chapter 12 pt. 6: Straight Drippin’

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“I have to peeeeeee!”, says this little piece of four-year-old-bad-timing-girl.  “Why now!?”, I ask as I’m standing over a trash can stuffing my face with their leftover take-out.  In nine minutes we’ll be officially late.  “Go find a bush!”, I wanted say.  That always worked with Kingston, but with Quinn it’s a whole different experience.  Each and every time.

I’ve forced her to GO in an empty Gatorade bottle.  That was the day I learned IT wasn’t so much a stream, but more like a soccer field sprinkler…all over my suede shoes.  Another one of Quinn’s “emergen-pees” had Kingston and I piling three sacrificial beach towels together in the shape of a toilet throne.  That’s when we discovered that little girls can urinate just as much as boys can.

“Dad!  I need to peeee!”, Quinn’s dance said.  Her quick pumping legs could’ve churned milk into butter or even Walter Payton’d herself out of a dogpile.  Quinn needed a restroom and fast! Double time fast.  Before she TOUCHDOWN fast!

Enter Chapter 12 part 6: Straight Drippin’

Look out folks!  Here he comes!  Slip sliding passed the urinals!  Unbuckling with his left.  Straight-arming kids with his right.  He’s going for the toilet folks!  The man is on a mission!  3…2…1…Let it raaaain!  It’s a golden shower ladies and gentlemen!  All!Over!  The!  Toilet!  Seat!  And on the floor!  And on the walls!  And on the ceiling!  Even on the tiny coat hook installed behind the stall door!  Every inch of the restroom is dripping wet.  Yet, this guy will leave the men’s room high and dry without any care for the next man.  Gentlemen! This is going to stop.  No longer shall we let each other make a mess, and walk away from the crime scene unscathed like some type of serial urinating “Jack the Pee’er”.  Because now, upon entering a stall that resembles the aftermath of four Saint Bernards shaking off their wet fur…in the name of shame, embarrassment, and humiliation…let our disgust (curse words included) bellow throughout the men’s restroom.  Voice our disdain for the unflushed bowl, the dangling loogies, and all things that resemble oatmeal splattered on the floor.  Let it be known that such filth will no longer be tolerated, and shall be called out upon.

Okay!  Here we go.  “Up up, and away!  Hold on Quinny.”.  She was stretched across my arms.  Superman-ing over my speed walk.  This was no time for empty bottles or “beach blanket pee-go”.  Quinn deserved a proper toilet, and I’m leading her to one.  “We’re almost there Quinn!  Keep holding it!”, the restroom echoed.  Men parted as I bum-rushed an open stall.  “Aww! Come on!  Fuckin’ gross man!  Goddamn pigs!”.  The john and the floor were completely wet.  “Quinn.  Don’t touch anything!”.  I put a toilet seat cover down over the mess.  It soaked through.  Then I laid a second and a third toilet seat cover.  It still managed to soak them too.  “Fuckin animals!”.  Quinn is doing the pee-pee dance, and now for the second time today I’m going to wipe strange men’s urine from off the seat just so my girl could pee in peace.  I’m disgusted and livid.  Quinn sits down.  “Go pee baby.”.  Within seconds, the deed was done.  We washed our hands.  “Piss IN the bowl!” I yelled and made our way out.

Chapter 28: System of a Down

Look at us.  Eyes squinted.  Driving through the Santa Ana winds.  Speeding past the limit.  Haulin’ FJ Cruiser ass.  Goodie Mob’s, “They Don’t Dance No More” thumps passed our rolled down windows.  Earworming itself into adjacent cars.  “Dad!  Look!  Look! At that kid in the car!, giggles Kingston.  “What’s wrong with him!?  He looks weird.”, he says.

Enter Chapter 28: System of a Down

“See how her eyes slant upward?  And she talks like her tongue is heavy.  She’s ‘special’.  You know, like “She’s ‘touched’ (by God).”.  A ‘Whisperer’ callously whispers.  “Aw! I’m so sorry about your baby.”, a ‘Pitier’ pities with a misguided vernacular that quite obviously deserves a roundhouse kick to the cranium.  Because it’s always “retarded”, “handicapped”, or “physically challenged”, before it’s ever Cody, Trevor, or Ben first.  We monsters continue to exclude “The Wheelchair kid” from a trampoline birthday party invite because, “He won’t be able to fully enjoy himself.”.  When in fact, the child would love nothing more but to have the chance to bounce themselves into a jovial frenzy.  So, in the name of our frontline parents whom battle the whispering, and the pitying…send them love, respect, and invites!  Because after all is said and done, Trevor, Ben, and Cody are just like the rest of us and want to party, have cake and be treated equally too!

“Kingston!  Don’t call people (a kid with his face pressed into his back window catches my eye.)…weird.”. With no chance of taking myself seriously hilarity ensued. The mom driving the neighboring Toyota had no idea her son was dancing on beat to our music, and making himself look like a bug on a kamikaze mission for a windshield. “There’s nothing wrong with him. He’s just having fun.”, I explained to Kingston. We laughed and joined along with the boy; car seat groovin’. The light turned green, and once again we were off on our different paths. Their blue-and-yellow-ribboned-bumper-stickered car in front of ours. Goodbye we waved.

Chapter 30: Chivalry Me Timbers

 

Three open-handed-little-girl pimp slaps land across my face..  Smack!  Smack! and Smack!…  “Daad!  Listen to me!”, Quinn demands.  She’s getting ignored.  Smack!…on my neck.  Earlier today, she had the brilliant idea to slide my gym ID and a $30 Barnes & Noble gift card down my car window and into the door panel.  Smack!…on my back.  And so with that, I was through prostituting myself for her every beck and call.  Block.  Bob.  Weave.  Quinn continues to swing for my head.   “Aye!  Stop!  It’s not funny.”, I tell her.  “Dad! I’m hungry!”, the brat shouts; landing another perfect slap on my thighs.

Enter Chapter 30:  Chivalry Me Timbers

Chivalry Chivalry Chivalry. Where are you?  Is there a headstone erect somewhere on the lawns of a White Castle restaurant?  Or perhaps your ashes have fallen over a Medieval Times fortress?  Oh Chivalry!  Are you dead or alive?  We’ve been asking this for a very long time.  But worry not dear parents!  We hold a truth, and we’re here to tell you that our dear old chivalrous friend…Chivalry Chivalry Chivalry…has been reincarnated; coexisting with the times.  Instead of the traffic, Chivalry now shields our girls from direct sunlight.  Not only for brownie points, but for a thousand selfie likes.  Some call it a sacrifice.  Chivalry goes Dutch on meals with boys.  Gets and holds the door for everyone.  From “Don’t kiss on the first date.” to “Don’t send nudes.”…chivalry is alive and well; blending in with the new while maintaining it’s core.  As parents, let’s allow for Chivalry Chivalry Chivalry to grow and flourish so long as we give it shape.

Block.  Bob.  Weave.  “What is wrong with this child?”, I wondered as I surfed YouTube videos for FJ Cruiser How-To’s.  I needed to be on a mission called, “Ikea Toolbox: Get The ID And Gift Card.”, but Quinn like my YouTube surfing is out of control.  Block.  Bob.  Weave. “Dad!  Listen to me!”.  She slapped me on the arm.  And with that…I went surfing into darker YouTube waters of young boys beating up furious little girls.  “Quinn! Stop!”, I catch her swinging arm.  A video of a boy uppercutting a girl plays on.  It’s got millions of views.  Thousands of comments, and countless responses of “Good hit!” and “She deserved it”.  “What is going on?  This is so wrong.”, I thought.  We can’t hit girls.  Block.  Bob.  Weave.  Quinn continues to mightily swing.  “Never hit a girl.  Right?  Kingston.”.  He nods in agreement.  Smack!  Again on the arm.  “Quinn! Stop hitting!”, I yell.  “Don’t hit boys! Little girl!”, shouted my mouth; fending her away.

Visions of a future Quinn eating a man’s knuckle sandwich came racing through my head.  “Wooorldstar!”, onlookers chant over her unconscious body.  “She got what she deserved.”, because she swung at him first.  Now Quinn lays across the floor where instead of hands, people’s smartphones come fully extended as help.  All of this has become the chivalrous thing to do.

Again.  Block.  Bob.  Weave.  “Jesus, Quinn.  Stop!”.  I don’t have time for a ‘time out’.  “No. Never.”, she yelled back.  Smack!…across my knees.  “Quinn!  If you hit someone…they can hit you back.  Even if it’s a boy.”, I warned her Chucky-like smirk.  Kingston’s little head peaked from around the corner; he once starred and lost in this drama.  He knows what’s coming next.  It was time to draw the line.  Quinn was taking a breather to which I offered a peace treaty.  “Quinn, I’ll listen to you if you stop hitting.  Don’t hit people.”.  She flopped around and angrily whined then mustered up her pride.  And sure enough, she was on the attack.  Block.  Bob.  I grabbed a pinch of her curly bangs and gave them one quick tiny tight tug.  Immediate shock.  Immediate tears.  She came in for a hug.  “I’m saw’rry Daddy.”, she sniffled in my arms.  “Yeah, me too.  I’m sorry too, my Quinny.”.  I’m sorry that I have to show her, “It’s not safe to assume every boy follows your brother’s declaration to never hit a girl.”.  And because chivalry, boys, and parenting are forever changing, so to is Quinn’s quest toward a chivalrous gentlewoman-hood.  So I inscribe the walls of her journey with, “Never hit people.  Especially the boys.”, I said.  To which her slanted puppy eyes replied, “Okay Dad.”.  We snuggled and snacks came next.

Chapter 6 part 4: No Holmes!

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“Man! This dude.”.  It’s suppose to be empty here.  Just me and my girl.  Like the title to a Lifetime movie based on a father’s journal.  Yet, here he his.  Looking like an American Ninja (playground edition) in his tight rash guard shirt, and FiveFinger-shoes.  “Err-Err!”, as in (Oh! Oh!), I dubbed him.  He’s the stay-at-home fathERR who’s a parental know-it-all-ERR.  A royal pain-in-the-ass-ERR, and the type of person who says “hatchtag-humble-brag”-ERR.  “What we do…in our house…is reward them for reading through chapters.  It’ll work for your kids.  Trust me.”, he said.  “You mean, like the way you trust a mirror?”, I muttered about his attire.  His go-to outfit had to be engraved into the insides of his eyelids.  Which meant he closed his eyes to get dressed.  Not only that, but it was his third piece of parental advice within ten minutes.  Err-Err was on a roll.  Convertible cruising down LetMeShareMyDadHacks Boulevard.  And if I didn’t put a stop to it, I might as well be riding shotgun.

Enter Chapter 6 part 4: No Holmes!

To the stay-at-home fathers, stay-and-learn fathers, stay-and-represent fathers, we recognize all the tea parties attended, and the steadfast missions fought behind a sheet fort.  We could propose a toast for every shared dad experience, and be Kahlua-latte buzzed by mid-morning.  Our kids are the same age, and share the same interest in pink ponies and thunder farts.  Coworkers of Fatherhood Incorporated are we.  Yet somehow, like Jermaine Dupree and Janet Jackson as a couple…we just don’t match!  And although there aren’t many of us out here, and despite the fact that we share so much in common…we’ll never do lunch, schedule playdates, nor have beers together.  And that’s okay!  Dads don’t have to be friends.

I’m holding Quinn’s half eaten apple, and pieces of a smushed string cheese.  It’s nothing new to me.  Err-Err’s mouth is on cruise control yapping away.  “Bro!  Like…hashtag-humble-brag…my kids put their leftover snacks in the extra sandwich bags I bring.  You should do that too so you’re not holding icky stuff!”, he tells me.  This was the last straw.  Err-Err didn’t know anything about my dad style, and I’d be damned if I let him think he was influencing it in any way.  “Extra what?  Sandwich bags?  Ha!”, I said to him as I stuffed the entire apple core into my mouth; grinding on the seeds and stems.  Err-Err and I locked eyes.  He watched me chew, and then chase the floral-nutty flavor down with the left over gooey string cheese.  Err-Err’s face went from fake smile to a prostate exam face; anxious and concerned.  It was then that I sensed he thought I was a real wierdo, a real Hannibal Lecter of dads who didn’t give a shit about what he has to say, and whose sole purpose was to study him so that I can eat him.  That’s also when I knew I successfully ended Err-Err’s relationship with me.  And that the next time we’d meet again he’d be covered with lime and Tapatio.

Chapter 23: Break It

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“Quinn, what do you want for breakfast?”.  She’s an easy fix.  “Cereal with tawberries.”, she orders.  Bam!  Plop the bowl down.  Slide it toward her; milk spills over the edge.  “There you go.  Eat.  What about you Kingston…what do you want?”.  This kid (judging by the way he’s scanning the ceiling) is about to ask for the equivalent to a venti-grande-frappuccino-macchiato-with-two-and-a-half-percent-soy-bambi-milk-topped-with-organic-whipped-cream-shaken-not-stirred.  I know what’s coming.  “Uhh..eggs.  Runny kind, Dad.  Aaand…bacon.  Crispy bacon.  Aaand uhh…toasted (King’s) Hawaiian bread.”, he orders.  “Pfff!  Hijo de su madre.  Would you like some Grey Poupon with that?”, I mumble to myself as I fetch the frying pan.

Kingston and Quinn don’t know it, but it’s early.  Roosters are still sleeping, and they couldn’t give a cock-a-doodle-doo.  So whatever they want for breakfast it’s theirs just as long as they’re filling their bellies.  Because the truth is…after last night’s glorious basketball game, I celebrated my ballin’ skills quite heavily and I’m still feelings it’s effect.  But everything is going to be fine and dandy because today’s summer schedule is clear to do whatever we wish.  No tutoring.  No sports.  No play dates.  No errands, and on top of all that the house is cleaner than a nun’s urine.  So right now, all I’m trying to do is sit on the couch, and take advantage of this fading hang over by talking nonsense to a prerecorded episode of Let’s Make A Deal.  “Take the money you big dummy!”, I tell the bumble bee dressed contestant.  But she chooses what’s behind the curtain instead.

Enter Chapter 23:  Break It

Oh look!  We’re just in time.  Our wonderful working-parents are headed out the door for a full day of career.  “See you later.  Have a good day babe.”.  Kiss and wave them goodbye.  The garage door closes, and our stay-at-home parenting “work” immediately begins.  And unlike that of our “bacon bringing” spouses, we don’t have the luxury of warming up to the job by cruising the office building and saying “Good morning!” to everyone like some sort of Hazelnut-Creamed-Keurig-Kings.  Children are jumping out of their beds and onto our own.  The clanging and banging of toys crashing down the stairs means, “Wake the hell up.  You’re late for work.”.  So with crust in our eyes, and aches in our backs we clean, shout, referee, and curse the fact that we told our working spouses to have a good day when it’s almost guaranteed they will.  “Ha! Have a good day, my ass.”, we’ll mutter.  Oh sure!  The way they survive an avalanche of reports, and manage to dig themselves out from endless emails is exceptional.  So too is frying chicken shirtless while picking gum out of a crying kid’s hair, but that doesn’t mean we’ll get to eat grown up food for an hour long lunch break nor have a casual conversation with colleagues.  What we’re trying to say here stay-at-home parents, is take it easy from time to time! Our money making lovers do.  Even if they are hu$tling around the globe making business deals and trying to solve the world’s hunger issues…we can guarantee they know they’re way around airport lounges, hotel pools, and know how to have a good time at business dinners.  So go on, let the kids run amuck for few minutes while you warm up for the long day ahead.  Because after all, you are the boss.

Wa waa waah!, plays the loser’s trombone.  “You got Zonk’d!  That’s what you get, greedy ass bumble bee lady.”.  There’s about twenty minutes left in the show.  And in between bites of their breakfast Kingston and Quinn go running up and down the stairs; giggling like a pack of wild hyenas.  Something mischievous is happening.  I don’t want to move a muscle toward responsibility, so I do the next best thing…shout from the couch.  “AYE!  THE TWO OF YOU! (They stop dead in their tracks with fear in their eyes)…is there a fire up there?”, I ask.  “No.”, they simultaneously respond.  “Okay, go on.”,  I tell them.  By now Let’s Make A Deal is on it’s final segment of the show called “The Big Deal”.  A grandma dressed as a tennis player has to choose between doors number one, two, or three for a chance to win every prize behind each of the doors.  “Pick number one, pick door number one!”, I tell her.  But like everyone else I know…she didn’t listen to me.  “Dad!”, Kingston interrupted.  “Not now!”, I shouted back.  Tennis Grandma chose door number three.  “Dad!”, Quinn called down.  “Wait!”, I yelled up.  If only I could finish this show in peace.  “Daaad!”, they both shouted.  “Godfrickenwhatthehellfrickenayeman…what!? What!?”.  Now, I’m off the couch and headed up the stairs; stomping and mumbling at each step.  “This better be good!”, I warned as I hear Let’s Make A Deal come to an end.  And just as I reach the top of the stairs, I see Kingston running down the hallway, jumping onto a towel and sliding across the hardwood into a pile of laundry where Quinn is trying to catch him.  “Guys!  What is this?  Indoor skimboarding? You’re going to break your necks!  Are those the clean clothes from inside the dryer?”, I pretended to be concerned, but to be completely honest…it looked like epic fun.  I hid my smile from them as they crashed into each other.  Break time is over.  Let the work begin, and the good times roll.