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.

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.