We’re not sure how birds or bees fit into the story

Buster has developed quite a curiosity these days. Formerly, the pinnacle of his curiosity was wanting to know where I had hidden the Tootsie Rolls. Now, he has blossomed into a regular preschool philosopher, wondering things like: “How do clouds get up in the sky?”

Wondering about clouds is, of course, a slippery slope leading ultimately to a quagmire of curiosities about human conception. Being the high thinker he is, Buster would never ask such a crude question as “Where do babies come from?” No, Buster has feelings for the old man, and would not just conk him on the head with that one. He demonstrates a certain finesse in softening it to “How do people get to be real?”

If only we could all handle the topic of sexual reproduction in such a mature manner.

Is it a tree or a shrub? My Sex Ed classes left me with more questions than answers?

For the record, I don’t ever recall Big Brother asking about the origin of babies. I suspect he stumbled upon the notion that it had something to do with getting married, which means liking a certain girl, and worse, having everybody in the world know you like her. You might even have to hold hands. It’s just one big downward spiral. After all that, I think he doesn’t want to know where babies come from. If you tried to tell him, he’d probably cover his ears and hum as loud as he could.

Buster wants to know. And since he is preparing to venture into the big world of kindergarten, I figured I better just hunker down and tell him the truth. That truth, of course, is that babies grow on trees. To be clinically correct about it, it may actually be large, woody-stemmed shrubs they grow on. I’m not completely sure of the proper classification.

Babies get big and stinky if you let them hang on the tree too long.

I realize the miracle of birth is hard for a young child to wrap his head around, so if he has reason to doubt my explanation I will show him my visual evidence. He can see for himself the big, ripe children, ready to be picked from the Baby Tree/Baby Woody-stemmed Shrub. Unfortunately, I have no photos of the fresh babies – only the overripe ones. It’s gotten to be late in the harvest season around our parts.

Maybe you think I should tell him the other story of where babies come from, but that’s even harder to believe and I don’t have any pictures to support that theory. We’re dealing with conception one baby step at a time. We’ll stick with the tree hypothesis, at least until the two of us can figure out how clouds get in the sky.

Misinformed tree brings thorns to chainsaw fight

We have this annoying tree near the corner of our house. I think it might be a Hawthorn Tree, but I don’t know for sure. What I do know is this tree is trying to take over the world, or at least our back yard, which is a good part of the world to us.

This tree is evil. It runs its woody little finger along the boys’ bedroom window at night to convince them Freddy Krueger is coming for them in the dark. If you attempt to prune it, it will pull a knife on you. Its thorns are three inches long and they are expert at locating any human flesh within reach.

The tree thrives in wet, dry, cold, hot, seasonable, and unseasonable weather. It has been laid on its side by ice and bounced back without a groan. Three other trees in our yard have been killed by disease or insects in recent years. This tree hasn’t so much as sneezed. It laughs at the weakness of the other trees.

Laid on its side by ice, but the ice couldn’t finish the job.

Some believe Hawthorn branches were selected to make Christ’s crown of thorns. I don’t buy this. I think the branches volunteered. Folklore says it’s berries can treat high blood pressure, which is exactly what the rest of the tree will give you when you try to mow around it.

Last Fall, as the tree made its final attempt of the year to mug me, I vowed I would give it a respectable haircut in the spring, before it could conceal its armaments behind a canopy of leaves. Last week, I made good my promise.

With chainsaw, loppers, ladder, and my best helper (Big Man, a.k.a. “I can help you!”), I took the offensive. The tree put up a stiff fight. As I hacked away at the big branch touching the house, there was some question as to which of us would lose a limb to the saw, but the human skill of running from danger prevailed. The fruits of my victory were a lawn full of dismembered, prickly branches and a thorn tip lodged in my thigh.

My best helper sizes up the opponent.

It rained for several days after, and I was still limping a bit, so it took a week for me to get back to the lawn full of downed branches. My best helper was napping at the time, so that probably saved me a good half hour of extra work. The thorns were many, and sharp, even in death. About two hours after the cleanup was done, I pulled the final fragment out of my heel – the last desperate thrust from a defeated foe.

By June I will be kicking myself for not cutting more.

I hope this miscreant tree has been chastised enough to learn its lesson about running amok. It should be mindful that next spring is just one short year away, and next time I might not stop at taking a few limbs, now that I have a taste for blood.

There’s a Take Your Child to Work Day that has nothing to do with the babysitter not showing up

According to the posters on the walls at work, April 27 is Take Your Child to Work Day. I guess it’s nice there’s an official day for this, but I celebrate my own Take Your Child/Children to Work Days. This is what it’s called when both parents need to be at work and there is no babysitter to be had. Fortunately, I work in a child-safe environment and have supervisors who don’t care how many members of my family it takes to do my job so long as it gets done.

Per the fliers, our official Take Your Child to Work Day festivities are intended for children aged eight and up. This year I finally have a child who is old enough to celebrate the official holiday. Even so, I think we will be celebrating Leave Your Kid in School Day on April 27.

He’s much better off in school. He might learn something useful there and he will be allowed to hold on to a childlike optimism for the future.

Once upon a time, every day was Take Your Child to Work Day. The excitement of working without safety regulations was too much for the children, so they limited it to one day a year.

I infer from the guidelines that the organizers of Take Your Child to Work Day have studied the situation carefully and determined age eight is the time when children can really begin to understand the nature of grown-up work. This is a good piece of science to know; it tells me I should never bring any of my children who have reached this threshold to work with me again.

My under-eight children are still okay to bring, unofficially, of course, because they don’t have the capacity to understand just how unexciting my work is. They still believe whatever Daddy does on his keyboard in his little cubicle sets events in motion to save the world. Small children are delusional like that. It’s cute.

My eight-year-old son is now at the point where he can detect the pedestrian nature of paperwork and feel the repetitiveness of financial reports. Many jobs have a certain amount of repetitiveness in them and I’m not saying mine is worse than any other. I’m just not sure it’s the best end result to show a 3rd grader if you want to inspire him to reach for the stars in school.

I’ve tried to think of how I could make my job seem exciting to a kid. So far, the most enticing fact I could come up with is it brings home the money that buys the Cool Ranch Doritos. I’m still working on it.

The fruit of my toil.

All around my building are buildings filled with scientists. I’m holding out hope somebody will come up with Send Your Child to Work with a Nearby Scientist Day. Then the boy could maybe see how it feels to be a scientist discovering new isotopes. The only thing I can think of that might be more inspiring to him is knowing how it feels to be a scientist who discovers new video games.

Basketball preempted by Japanese animation and one fast German lady

A few Christmases ago, my wife got me a wide-screen TV on which to watch sports. On a Sunday in early March, this should have been perfect for college basketball, except Big Brother was hogging my TV to binge watch Pokémon cartoons.

I’ll admit, there are many cartoons I enjoy, even at my advanced age, but Pokémon is not among them. I like some humor in cartoons, even if it’s just a little bit around the fringes. Pokémon contains almost as much humor as a Volkswagen repair manual.

There is one thing Pokémon does well. Unfortunately, that one thing is to encourage kids to spend their money on those annoying trading cards. In the ‘70s, Major League Baseball got me to throw my allowance at Topps trading cards, so I guess watching a new generation of waste is payback.

You wanna card battle, 21st century children? 1977 Willie Stargell would crush this young puppy.

Tiring of the Pokémon marathon, I got my iPad to see if I could find a basketball game to live stream. Browsing the sports listings, I noticed one of the channels I didn’t realize existed was broadcasting a biathlon race. I forgot about basketball and tapped to watch this.

I’ve previously made references to my secret childhood dreams of becoming an Olympic Nordic (cross-country) skier. In case you’re wondering, those dreams did not come to fruition. I was close though. The only thing I lacked was years of sacrifice and training. And perhaps athletic ability.

Nordic skiing is a great sport on its own, but then some nameless hero came along and made it into the absolutely awesome sport of biathlon by putting rifles into the skiers’ hands. Who wouldn’t want to ski and shoot? The only way it could possibly be better is if there were also a knife-throwing component.

Buster climbed onto my lap and watched the race with me. He is not as keen on skiing as I am, but he does like to see a good firearm in action.

The race was almost over. We watched all the Europeans sweat it out for the tops spots, with the traditional 8th place Canadian cracking the top 10 on behalf of North America, and only wild rumors of a United States representative far back among the workers packing up the beginning of the course.

At the end, the German racer broke away. “The German’s gonna win!” I exclaimed.

Buster pointed at the screen. “That guy’s German?”

“That lady’s German,” I corrected as she slid across the finish. “All the people in this race are ladies.”

The other racers came to the line. It was a tight finish for second among four racers.

“Wasn’t that great? Wouldn’t you love to win a race like that?” I asked Buster.

“No!” he said with disdain. “I don’t wanna be a German lady.”

I wonder how many other American boys have rejected the sport for the very same reason.

The B Team. A real German lady never takes her skis off to shoot.