I’d like to thank all the little people

I’m not good at this.

Blogging Award Nominations are odd creatures. They aren’t given out by some panel of blogging experts, but by individual bloggers as a show of appreciation and support for other bloggers. They are  touching gestures and a means of community-building within the blogosphere.

As a Virgo of German heritage, I’m not practiced at touching gestures. As a Level 1 Introvert, I’m not the best architect of community.

Even so, I am resolved to do my best.

Syracuse-based blogger Mark Bialzcak recently nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Thank you, Mark. I first started reading Mark’s blog because he lives about 90 minutes up the Thruway from where I grew up. I continue to read his blog because he is a great blogger. Being a fine writer can make you a good blogger, but it takes more than that to be a great blogger. Great blogs have a charisma that draws and keeps readers. Mark has a gift for celebrating humanity which makes his blog like a never-ending Super Bowl party. I admire that.

It’s a great honor to be nominated, and I would still be basking in that honor, except that it always comes with homework. This is where the edges of honor become tinged with my laziness. There have been times when award nominations have caught me pressed for time and lacking the inspiration to respond publicly. It’s never been because I didn’t appreciate the honor. I’m trying to do better.

VIBA

The easy part of the homework is displaying the award badge. Done.

As part of the homework, I am supposed to list 7 facts about myself. Let’s see how this works out.

  1. There have been times in my life when I could have vanished from Earth for months without anyone knowing. Now, if I’m five minutes late home from work: Amber Alert.
  2. I am getting close to publishing a new novel, A Housefly in Autumn. This will be my third book of the modern era. I define the modern era as the time after I got my first clue about what it takes to publish decent books.

    Housefly

    It’s my award and I’ll use it to pimp my new book if I want to.

  3. I have one pre-modern era book that I am tempted to take out of print, but my wife claims reading it made her fall in love with me. Maybe I should just take my personality out of print.
  4. I have four unpublished novels, all written B.C. (Before Children). You haven’t made it in the literary world until your “lost” material is published after your death. I’m counting on the posthumous material to put me over the top (so to speak).
  5. I have another blog about reading and writing. It’s tone is generally more serious than this one. So if you think this one isn’t funny at all, you could head over there and not laugh on purpose.
  6. I used to be an avid reader, cross-country skier, and home brewer; now I have three kids and no hobbies.
  7. I’d like to thank all the little people (ages 6, 2, and nearly 1) who made this award happen. And my wife, who while petite in stature, must stand tall in character as the only female in a family of five. Despite the whining you might read from me here, I am thankful every day for my kids and my wife. They have saved me from a life where I could ski off the edge of the world with a book in one hand and a beer in the other, without anyone noticing.

    My Little People.

    My Little People.

For the last bit of homework, I’m supposed to nominate 15 other bloggers. I’m going to fudge this part. I’d like readers to check out these blogs, but it’s hard to visit 15 new blogs in one sitting. So I’m cutting it down to three. These are three of my go-to blogs – the ones I try not to miss. They are smart and funny and heartfelt, but see for yourself.

Also, because they’ve all already posted similar acceptances for other awards, I’m not holding them to the homework part. They are all Very Inspiring Bloggers, and I happily nominate them for this award, but they are welcome to view this as a simple appreciation of their work from another blogger and leave it at that.

Naptimethoughts – A parade of embarrassing moments and a festival of descriptive euphemisms for human body parts.

Ah Dad – English isn’t his first language. From the words he finds to describe the frightening sights he sees at the gym, you’d never know it.

South of the Strait – How does a funny, insightful writer deal with a family health crisis? By tickling your funny bone and tugging at your heart strings all at once.

I’m going to ignore the fact that I cheated and call the homework done now. Sorry I broke the rules, Mark, but as I may have mentioned, I’m not very good at this.

 

The hunter becomes the hunted

A couple years ago, I wrote about how Buster (then a baby) vexed Big Brother (then a four-year-old) by crawling among his play sets and tearing up all his railroad tracks.

And now you may be thinking: “Two years ago? This blog has been around that long? Wow, this guy doesn’t know when to give up!”

I don’t.

Anyway, Buster and Big Brother still fight over toys sometimes. But there are many other times when they play together, and (dare I say it?) co-operate to build things. There are even times when Buster accepts instruction from Big Brother in order to accomplish his playtime goals.

fine art

Working together to create a masterpiece of sibling co-operation.

Buster has no recollection of the havoc he caused to his brother’s play sets, nor of the gnashing of teeth resulting from his destructive ways. As far as he recollects, all of his frictions with his older brother have been honest disagreements between different engineering visions.

This lack of recall must make it especially hard on him that payback is a bitch.

There’s a New Baby in town, and his devotion to wanton destruction burns just as brightly as Buster’s ever did. The sock is on the other foot. Of course, the second sock has been pulled off and discarded, in the tradition of babies everywhere.

Now, Buster is the gnasher of teeth, shouting, “No, Baby, no!” using the same frantic urgency with which it was once directed at him. New Baby does him credit by living up to the very standard of disregard for admonition that he himself established all those forgotten times ago. Lack of recognition, coupled with an uncoupled train, makes it a hollow honor.

sacrifices had to be made

“I’m willing to let you chew on the plastic tunnel if it will save my train.”

I can’t explain to Buster that the unprovoked baby attacks he is enduring now are the same as he used to perpetrate. He can’t imagine that he could ever have been so annoying. Even if he could, it would only make him wonder why Daddy insists on bringing up random bits of ancient history that clearly have no relevance to his current suffering.

Daddy needs to be solving problems in the here and now, rather than telling his old-man stories of questionable accuracy.  New Baby needs to be taken away and possibly housed in a cage until Buster is good and done with his trains. Then, New Baby can be let out to tear them apart, so that when Buster is asked to pick them up, he can explain that New Baby was the last to use them. This is the kind of scenario that Daddy should be orchestrating, instead of fabricating some sketchy moral justification of New Baby’s outrages.

So much for compromise

Appeasement never works.

This house needs some law and order against the depredations of little brothers. At least until Big Brother gets home from school. Then we can renegotiate what little brothers are allowed to get away with.

Never let it be said that Buster doesn’t consider both sides of the issue.

Waiting for a bottle of scotch together counts as family time

An extremely generous friend sent me some expensive scotch. I’m not a big boozer, but I do enjoy a taste of good scotch. And far be it from me to look a gift horse in the mouth. That would be rude.

With a delivery of this nature, an adult has to sign for it. UPS notified me that my delivery would arrive on Wednesday.

If you are a regular visitor, you may know that I am a part-time stay-at-home dad and a part-time worker at a full-time job. If this description confuses you, try living it.

My wife works floating shifts. When she works, I use vacation time and mind the boys. It’s not the perfect situation, but it helps make ends meet.

On Wednesday, my wife had an afternoon shift. When I took over childcare, UPS hadn’t come yet. No problem, we’d just stay home.

At 3:30 it was time to get Big Brother from school. We’d only be gone for 20 minutes, since we were leaving early enough to get a good spot in the car line and could be among the first out. There’d be little chance of missing UPS and its precious, precious cargo.

Leaving our neighborhood, I passed the telltale brown truck driving into it. We were still early, so I turned around. The UPS truck stopped at a house on a cross street from ours. I drove home and parked in the driveway.

The truck didn’t come. I drove down the street. It was parked in front of house at the far end of our street now, heading our way. When I turned around again the truck was gone. I was about to give up when I saw it parked in a cul-de-sac off our street. Who knew we live in a neighborhood of mail order fiends? But I suppose they need their booze too, or their blow-up dolls, or whatever. I returned to our driveway. It was getting late, but surely he would come to us next.

At last, the truck came down our street again. There was just enough time to sign, accept the coveted package and rush off to the school.

Two houses down, there’s a cross street. Defying all logic, the UPS truck turned down that street. “No! You were on our street – two houses away!” I pounded my fist on the steering wheel, as I envisioned myself explaining to the principle why I had abandoned my child at school:

“I couldn’t get here; I was waiting in my driveway for a man to give me a bottle of scotch. No, I’m not neglectful. The little boys were right there with me. We were all waiting for scotch together.”

I grunted a little Chewbacca roar as I drove toward the school. We found our place at the end of the fully developed car line and waited. A 20-minute round trip was a forlorn dream now.

There was a sticky note from the meandering driver waiting on our door. It promised two more delivery attempts. But what if he comes at the same time each day? I have terrible visions of that bottle retreating, unloved, to Scotland. Terrible visions.

Just the right age

UPDATE: The delivery came at 6 p.m. on Thursday. I am happy to report we were able to save this little beauty from the stigma of rejection.

Big Brother and [TOP SECRECT – Name Redacted] up in a tree, K. I. S. S. I. N. G.

Young love is fickle. So is the willingness to discuss it with parents.

Our six-year-old has swapped out the girl he liked for a new love interest regularly since the dawn of kindergarten. He’s a young man on the move, and a girl has to stay on her toes to keep his interest for long. Also, she has to not make it obvious that she likes a bunch of other boys better.  That’s a deal breaker. He’s very particular about having a “girlfriend” that likes him back. He has to be, at the very least, the boy she likes second best.

Way back in those callow days of kindergarten, the boy was shy about naming the girl he liked. He must have thought he had one of those mean dads who would tease him about liking girls and warn him that school was a place for learning, not for smooching. Of course, I’m not like that. I would never do that for very long. It stops being fun after a while.

Smooching

This is exactly the type of behavior I’m talking about –  I mean, it would be, if I were one of those dads who teased about smooching.

After some time, he shook off his shyness with talking about girls he liked. Once he discovered that he had a nice dad who wouldn’t tease him very much, it got kind of cool to have somebody with whom to talk about girls – somebody who’s already married and out of elementary school and everything.

Now, the pendulum seems to have swung back the other way again. But now his reticence is not rooted in embarrassment; it’s about his right, as a mature young man, to withhold information from his parents.

It’s been a while since he’s talked about liking any particular girl, but the other day the topic of girls came up in conversation. My wife and I quizzed him about all the girls he used to like. None of them were on top of the list anymore.

Was there a particular girl that he liked now?

“I’m not gonna tell you,” was his reply.

“Why not?” asked his mother.

“Because that’s my Policy Privacy.”

“Do you mean Privacy Policy?” I asked.

“Nope. It’s my Policy Privacy.”

“What’s that mean?” my wife asked him.

“That means I don’t have to talk about it.”

Fair enough. You have the right to clam up about it. But that doesn’t mean we can’t throw girls’ names at you until one of them makes you grin. We have our methods. And you may have Policy Privacy, but you sure as hell don’t have a poker face.