Heaven is boring

On Friday morning, I got to get up and go to work. Doesn’t sound like much of a treat, does it?

It was a delight.

It wasn’t so pleasant because of what it was; it was pleasant for what it wasn’t.

It’s wasn’t getting three kids ready for school. Only Big Brother actually goes to school, but since society might frown on my leaving Buster and New Baby home alone, they all have to get ready to roll.

This is how my morning went, Monday through Thursday:

  • Drag Big Brother out of bed by his ankles while he complains about being too tired.
  • Two fresh diapers and one “Put on some pants or you’re going to school in your underwear.”
  • Distinguish big baby clothes from small toddler clothes.
  • Find pairs of nearly matching socks for three boys of different sizes from our box of random floating socks.
  • Make the boys breakfast while New Baby attempts to climb up my leg.
  • Yell, “Leave him alone and eat your breakfast!”
  • Yell, “Leave him alone and eat your breakfast!” another dozen times.
  • Be caught off guard because it’s Bring [Specific Object] to School Day and we don’t have [Specific Object].
  • Find as many hats and winter coats as children, or as close to it as possible.
winter socks

“I can’t find my boots.”

  • “Put your shoes on.”
  • “Well, where are they?”
  • “Then go get them and put them on!”
  • Back the car out of the garage so door will open wide enough for New Baby’s carrier.
  • Come back inside for New Baby. Leave muddy tracks in kitchen. Look at clock. Shrug. Make mental note to prepare for after-work slovenliness scolding.
Put the shoe on the other foot

Getting ready, one wrong foot at a time.

  • Field ridiculously detailed questions about German army helmets on drive to school. “I don’t know,” is not an acceptable answer.
  • Carry Big Brother’s school bag into school for him because his hands are cold.
  • Ask him where his gloves are.
  • Be informed that his gloves are at the bottom of the bag you are carrying for him.
  • Take three children into school; leave one there; take two back to car.
  • Drive to Mommy’s work. Drop children off. Debate confessing about muddy kitchen floor. Decide silence is golden.
  • Drive to work. Find last parking spot on roof of structure or move on to more distant ramp with long, cold walk.
  • Rush to catch up on work.
  • Stay late to compensate for late arrival.

On Friday, my morning went like this:

  • Wake up, get dressed, go to work.
  • Park in usual, convenient spot. Have a hot bowl of oatmeal at desk and ease into workload.

A little slice of Heaven, Friday morning.

It makes me appreciate my boring routine. I think I like boring.

It makes me appreciate my wife. This week was an aberration. She dances this Morning Tango with the boys most days. She does it better, and she doesn’t get the floor dirty. I might not notice if she did, but I know she doesn’t. It’s not her style. It’s gold to me that she takes such tumult in stride, so her husband can stay happily boring.

"Dont play ball in the house!"

It we’re not running too late, we like to fit in a “Don’t play ball in the house!” before school.


So you want to build a Mega Bloks helicopter with your kids: FAQ

Q. What are Mega Bloks Call of Duty sets?

A. Mega Bloks, if you are not steeped in the world of expensive plastic squares, are a competitor to LEGO. Call of Duty is the paramilitary wing of Mega Bloks.

Q. What’s the difference between Mega Bloks and LEGOs?

A. Mega Bloks are cheaper than LEGOs in proportion to how much harder their instructions are to follow.

Q. Is there anything else people should know about Mega Bloks?

A. Yes. Although the pieces are segregated into about a dozen different plastic bags, in order to complete Step 1 of construction, you will need exactly one piece from each of the dozen bags, necessitating that you dump all 324,943 pieces out into one omnibus pile.

Q. What is the best time to build a Mega Bloks Call of Duty helicopter?

A. When Daddy is home alone with a six-year-old, a two-year-old, and an eight-month old. Preferably late afternoon of a frigid day when you have been cooped up in the house for hours together already.

Q. Where is the best place to build your set?

A. The dining room table. No other surface will hold the 324,943 pieces.

Q. Isn’t it too close to dinner to spread that all out over the dining room table?

A. Work fast or eat on the floor.

chopper from hell

As with all of our greatest family accomplishments, this one was built on the placemat of US Presidents.

Q. Why can’t Big Brother (6) build this set by himself?

A. He could have, if Daddy had been smart enough to shell out the extra cash for LEGOs, with their at least partially-discernable instructions.

Q. What did Big Brother do to help?

A. Big Brother snapped together pieces at random so that whenever Daddy looked for a specific piece it was sure to be cleverly disguised within some abstract sculpture.

Q. What did Buster (2) do to help?

A. Buster loaded some crucial pieces into the back of his toy truck and quietly drove them to a different room.

Q. What did New Baby (<1) do to help?

A. New Baby crawled around the perimeter of the table, patrolling for any fallen pieces that might look good to eat. He also sneaked away at one point to the kitchen where he pulled a used bag of microwave popcorn from the garbage, spilling unpopped kernels all over the floor. These also looked good to eat, which provided Daddy with a nice break from his work as he sprinted from the dining room to the kitchen. You shouldn’t sit in one place for too long.

Q. Did the children do anything else helpful?

A. Lots. Big Brother and Buster got into a fight every 10 minutes over the helicopter pilots and their tiny guns and equipment so that Daddy could have something to break up the monotony of searching for missing pieces.

Q. Is Daddy supposed to yell so much when playing with the kids?

A. Everyone has a different method of family fun.

Q. Will this become a regular activity?

A. Only after Daddy has died and gone to Hell.

Einstein didn’t have to poop on the potty!

Buster is adept at many skills for a two-year-old. He holds a pencil like a pro and draws abstract art as if preparing for his gallery opening. He makes up his own songs to serenade his Mommy at bedtime. He knows his way around an iPad better than I do and makes that little guy leap over the stampeding bulls in his favorite game with dexterity to make my head spin.

Helping with the baby

Teaching Daddy how to manage those tricky snaps on the baby’s Onesie.

Yet there are some toddler skills that Buster is not ahead of the curve on. It would be one thing if he didn’t have the capacity to do certain things, but he does. It’s more of a defiance issue, although even that doesn’t truly capture the spirit of it. It’s defiance mixed with indifference.

Buster thinks he’s pretty smart. I don’t know if he styles himself a genius, but his affinity for playing jokes can only lead to the conclusion that he believes he’s pretty clever. And a clever boy shouldn’t be asked to learn things he sees little use for in the rest of his life.

Just as an older child might ask about the long-term utility of Algebra, I hear, in Buster’s spirited remonstrations, the philosophical query: “When will I ever use big boy underpants in real life?” Such garments hold no candle to the convenience of the diaper.

“Einstein didn’t have to poop on the potty!” He doesn’t know anything about Einstein, and he doesn’t say this literally, but I can see in his eyes the formation of an idealized, toddler image of genius. His aggravated eyes tell me that the child genius would never waste his time on something so trivial.

Theory of potty relativity

“Everything is relative, my dear. Poop wherever you like!”

“Galileo didn’t pronounce K, F, or S sounds!” I bet he did, though this is not really about Galileo. It’s about a toddler whose opinion of his own world view dismisses the need to do inconvenient things.

Pope Urban's bad boy

Galileo Galilei: also too clever for his own good. The inquisition was not amused by his jokes.

It’s easy to replace the unnecessary consonants in words with the ever useful D and T. Mommy and Daddy understand the words formed by these substitutions, and since they are the only people he will ever need ask for a bowl of Lipton Noodle Doup, there’s no point in wasting effort on the unnecessary.

Buster can make the S sound. I know, because I’ve hounded him into doing it. He just doesn’t see the need. It is, after all, marginally more difficult for his tongue than making the D sound, so why bother?

Because Daddy is a trouble maker. One day, daddy wouldn’t make him any doup until he made the S sound.

“If you want soup, say ssssssss,” Daddy demanded.

Buster held out as long as he could, but he really wanted that soup.

Finally, he relented. “Sssssss,” he said.

“Now, say sssssoup,” the heartless Daddy persisted.

Buster sighed. “Ssssss . . . doup.”

That was close enough. Buster got his soup. And the last laugh.

Clever boy.

Christmas advice for boys

An open letter to the boys who inhabit my house as Christmas draws near.

Christmas Day brings with it a lot of excitement. This excitement can make boys forget themselves and step outside of the bounds of acceptable decorum. When this happens, it creates a situation known as Too Much Christmas or TMC. TMC can result in a boy having to spend valuable Christmas minutes alone in his room, composing himself so he can resume his place in a civilized family before the Holiday gets away from him.

In order to minimize the risks of TMC, allow me to reiterate some general guidelines of behavior for boys of various ages.

Six-year-old boys

It is expected that you will wait until the entire family has opened all of their presents before you start tearing into the boxes containing your new toys and dumping the contents onto the floor. It would be wise for you to attempt to assemble only one new play set at a time, but if you insist on indiscriminately mixing sets, you should refrain from pouting when a crucial piece gets lost in the chaos.

In fact, you should refrain from pouting for any reason. This is your favorite day of the year. Don’t ruin it with a self-induced case of TMC.

Two-year-old boys

Santa brought you some very nice toys. Play with them. We understand that you want to help Big Brother build his kit, or tear it apart, as the case may be, but he doesn’t need your help. Yes, it’s sweet that you love playing with him, but today he has enough trouble keeping his parts organized, without your little hands moving things around.

Let him lose the first few pieces on his own so we don’t have to hear about how you ruined all his toys.

Eight-month-old boys

Don’t put that in your mouth! There are all kinds of little treasures scattered on the carpet today. Most of them are not food. If we don’t give it to you, it probably wasn’t meant to be swallowed. We don’t look forward to spending Christmas digging stuff out of your mouth, but we will if we have to. That’s not going to be fun for any of us, remember that.

Also, that’s probably Big Brother’s missing, crucial piece, so now I’ll have to hear about how you ruined his toys.

Forty-seven-year-old boys

Take a deep breath. You are the only one who would happily go up to your room and sit by yourself, but you are the only one not allowed to do it. It will be a madhouse, but you’ll get through it. You already had Too Much Christmas at about 7 a.m., but you’ve gotten your second wind. Yes, there will be whining and complaining – they will forget how happy they are at various points, but they will remember these moments fondly.  That’s the important thing.

Or maybe the important thing is when they’ve gone to bed and you can sit down with a tumbler of scotch. See? There’s always something to look forward to on Christmas.

Christmas cooperation

Nothing beats Christmas when all the little boys play together nicely (and then go to bed early).