Archive for September, 2008

Random Acts of Toughness…

September 12, 2008


Knock off that Jibber Jabber, I pity the fool who stings me repeatedly...

Knock off that Jibber Jabber, I pity the fool who stings me repeatedly...


Both of my boys are extremely “boy-like” meaning that they both exhibit a degree of ruggedness that is characteristic of our gender.  They like to be dirty, they don’t necessarily enjoy having their nails trimmed, and they prefer the back of their hand to a tissue any day of the week.  However, having observed them their entire lives, I have identified one of them to be tougher than the other and it is not who you may think.


Cayden, my 32lb, bone muscle waif is harder than a woodpecker’s lips.  If the kid was a substance, he would be tungsten; if a movie star, Vin Diesel; if a food, the salmon filet Connie made for dinner two nights ago.  Simply put: the kid is a machine.


So, what I decided to do was start a series of posts aimed at highlighting some of Cayden’s more notable displays of “bad-assedness”.  I decided to name this series “Random acts of Toughness”, sort of like “Random acts of Kindness”, only more gladiator-esque.  This is my first installment.


The Jelly….


So the family and I are out on Connie’s new obsession, a.k.a. the boat with no name, for a relaxing cruise out on the bay.  It’s a pretty hot day so we decide to forego fishing and jump in for a leisurely swim (“leisurely swim” is defined as “boys propelling themselves off the back of the boat as many times as possible until Connie or I succumb to uncontrollable fits of rage”).  Leisurely swim has nothing to do with the act of swimming, it has everything to do with jumping from the boat and climbing back in- compulsive behavior which tends to unhinge any grownup within eyesight of the leaping children.  


The kids are on about their 7,000th jump when a sudden commotion interrupts their obsessive-compulsive behavior.  Our friend, Scott, quickly pulls a bewildered Cayden from the murky depths and sets him on the back deck of the “USS Can’t-Afford-To-Retire-This Year” (one of my potential boat name recommendations).  I give Cayden the once over- (4) limbs, (2) eyes, no gushing internal fluid, but wait what is that gelatinous glob stuck to his life jacket?


The gelatinous glob was the “Queen Mother” of all Maryland jelly fish and it had affixed itself squarely to the center of my youngest son.  The tentacles on this beastly abomination were pencil thick and long enough to reach under his arms and between his bone white thighs.  The apex (not sure the right term for the center of a jelly fish) was as large as a cantaloupe, possibly a honeydew.  The creature was simply grotesque.


Cayden looked at me defiantly; he was unmoved and unafraid.  I, on the other hand, had no desire to touch the thing, it reminded of a scene from Alien when the space monster grabbed hold of the dude’s face and sucked out his brain. Friggin’ nasty.  But I am “Dad”, responsible for setting the right example and rescuing my children from mutant aquatic creatures, so I quickly started to pull the giant sea booger from my boy’s torso. 


Once I had the major chunks removed, I washed him down with bottled water and rinsed out his life jacket in the bay.  Cayden did not make a peep during the entire de-jellification.  However, when he was all cleaned off, he did move off to the side of the “USS Maintenance-Intensive” (also my suggestion), flexed his bone muscles, gritted his teeth, and hulked out a bit.  Note: not a single tear rolled down his cheek.  For Cayden, pain is weakness leaving the body and there was no way he was going to show weakness in front of his foe.  To be honest, I think he was more upset with the fact that the jelly had beaten him to the punch and taken the offensive.  If Cayden had known that there were sea creatures in his area of operation that he was allowed to openly attack, he would have done so with extreme prejudice (I think he may be a Republican like his old man).   


Later that night, in the tub, I examined all of his jelly fish stings (which were many). Cayden was pretty nonchalant about the whole ordeal, it was as if he wrestled pumpkin-sized jellyfish for a living and did not want to be bothered with it at home.  Ten years from now, he’ll probably walk in the house and spit out, “Hey Dad, today I beat down a Kodiak bear. Do we have any marshmallow rice crispy treats. I’m starving.”   It’s hard to say what the future holds for him. All I know is I have a new found respect for my youngest son; he is a certifiable Bad-Ass.


8:00 pm- I have just successfully completed the teeth brushing regimen that I must proxy every evening.  It includes several minutes of brushing the teeth utilizing the correct side-to-side, swirly, whoopty-do motion that every person has been taught at the dentist office but never uses once they leave that dreadful chamber of horrors. I’ve got news for you- we actually use that method. In our home, we believe that by utilizing proper brushing techniques we can reduce the chances of our children resorting to a life of crime. It may seem irrational, but it makes as much sense as any other parenting advice that I’ve read.  After several minutes of brushing, I move on to flossing. 

This is the part that I hate the most.  First of all, my hands are really large. I somehow managed to inherit my father’s bratwurst-sized fingers; they’re extremely attractive and make it oh-so-simple to floss the teeth of young children. Luckily, Cayden has the mouth of a Jim Henson Muppet and can flop his “pie-hole” open wide enough for me to use both of my hands if needed. Mack, on the other hand, can only open his mouth about a 1/4 inch when flossing operations are in progress. I find this strange because, like Cayden, I know he is capable of unhinging his lower jaw and swallowing prey nearly twice his size. But when I come at him with a thin piece of twine, his gapping maw transforms into a hole the size of the key slot on your kid sister’s diary. By the way, when flossing your kids, have a towel handy as dental floss triggers their saliva glands. By the end of the evolution, I am soaking wet to the elbows and, believe me, I love my kids, but nothing is more disgusting than a saliva trail from your kid’s mouth down the length of your arm.

Flossing operations are complete once all of the evening’s meal is dislodged from between their teeth. This is a prime opportunity to explain to your kids how important it is to chew your food a minimum of 9 zillion times before swallowing (sort of like the dentist endorsed brushing technique- we know it’s the right thing to do but no one does it). When explaining this important facet of responsible consumption, hold up one of the domino-sized nuggets that you pried from between your kid’s bicuspids- this is an awesome media aid when talking proper chewing technique. If they roll their eyes at you, threaten to put it in their lunchbox for school the next day. That always gets my kid’s attention.

So you would think that the routine is over, but not even close, in our home you take care of your damn teeth. On to the next phase: “The Swish”. After flossing is complete I break out a giant-sized bottle of cinnamon flavored PLAX. Quick question- why would a reputable company dedicated to the cause of good dental hygiene engineer a fluoride rinse that tastes like the sugary goodness that sends kids to the dentist in the first place? Why would a father with a fully functioning brain purchase said item and make his kids rinse with it every night?  Some questions in the universe are better left unanswered.  The swish normally goes pretty smoothly. Believe it or not, my kids will swish for a solid 60 seconds. The only down side to dental rinse is that they have not mastered the ability to spit the swish back into the sink in a gentlemanly manner. Both of my kids feel the need to power wash the sink basin with their cinnamon flavored PLAX.  Normally this means that the PLAX leaves their pursed lips with the equivalent pressure of a fully functioning fire hose.

Almost there…

Quick recap: I have brushed their teeth (American Dental Association approved stroking technique), I have flossed, and I have rinsed their mouths with a fluoride rinse.  We are so close to completion, just one more step.  We have a well so the water is less than stellar and does not contain fluoride like public water. As a substitute, we give our children delicious-tasting fluoride pills.  You mustn’t forget this step. This is the indicator that you’re almost home, the end zone victory dance that signals another successful day of parenting.  My kids like the pills so this step is easy, and sometimes easy is extremely rewarding, so take it when you can. 







We all have bad days on occasion and sometimes we even have a couple of bad days strung together in succession. Well, this is my story of a couple of bad days.

“Hey Honey, there’s a storm a-brewin’!”

We recently bought a boat- a beautiful 2005, 21ft, center-console fishing boat. Before my male readers start congratulating me for “Being the Man!” and asking me questions such as “How did you get your wife to agree to such a financially irresponsible purchase?”, let me admit that it wasn’t my idea. The boat idea was 100% Connie; I was nothing more than a reluctant accomplice. Like every good husband, I kept my mouth shut, most of the time, and helped my spouse navigate through the painful boat research protocol that commandeered every free moment of our lives for a period of no less than three months. I was less than excited about being a boat owner, but damn it, we’re a family and if one of us wants to invest in a giant money-sucking hole in the water, then we will all march into financial ruin together.

So we bought a boat, had it for a week,  and got it out on the water four times. Right now, it’s Saturday morning and we are prepping for the first of a series of hurricanes/tropical storms/tsunamis all aimed at destroying our quiet little corner of Maryland. I’m not sure if you know this, but boats don’t do well in severe storms. In fact, they have a tendency to fill up with water and sink or, even better, get picked up by monstrous waves and thrown against other high value items such as homes, cars, bigger boats and an occasional unsuspecting pedestrian. Where was all this happy news in the “Maryland Boater” propaganda magazine that the dealer gave us?Even doctors have the decency to warn you that the routine surgery you’re about to undergo could kill you, but not boat dealers, hell no, they’ll send you right to your death (physical or financial) without even batting an eye.

So I sit here in my kitchen waiting to see if my boat will pass through my front yard. I imagine it will look like “Katrina” footage, boat floating by, most likely capsized, with a family of strangers pushing it along with garden rakes while waving at helicopters in the hopes of being rescued. I know this sounds extreme, but let me explain the rest of my week and maybe you’ll agree that this is a likely scenario.

“Keep your hands to yourself”

Every mechanical thing that I touched this week immediately ceased to function. I got to the office on Tuesday, turned on my computer, and was greeted by the blue screen of death (B-SOD). The B-SOD was nice enough to inform me that all of my physical memory was on its way to the dump and that I should prepare to recreate, from scratch, every item that I had worked on for the past 3 months. Oh happy day, what good news. I immediately picked up the phone to call the Pentagon tech department (resident computer hostage negations team) to see if they could convince the B-SOD to takes its ugly business elsewhere, but alas, the phone decided to join forces with the computer and boycott Shane for the day. I picked up the stapler to bludgeon my phone, but it sprung open and spewed staples across my desk directly into my coffee cup. Feeling as if I was about to lose control (as if beating my phone with a stapler was not evidence enough), I pushed away from the desk and walked away. I decided a brisk walk to the bathroom would help me regain my composure plus afford me the opportunity to relieve my bladder (I’m a multi-tasker). Not going to lie, after the computer, phone and stapler, I wouldn’t have been surprised if my junk fell off the minute I undid my fly, but some risks are necessary so I moved forward as planned. I took my position in front of the self-flushing urinal and the minute I began to relieve myself the urinal sprung into continuous flush mode, quickly overwhelming the urinal basin and flooding the immediate area. I rapidly moved over to the sink to avoid the ankle deep water, waved my hands in front of the faucet sensor, but nothing happened. I stood in front of six sinks before I found one willing to cooperate. I turned to the automatic paper towel dispenser (you’ve got to be friggin’ kidding me), looked at it with disgust and despair, and waved my hands in front of it. I stood there for 5 minutes waving my hands frantically in front of the damn sensor thingy, but it simply would not budge. Eventually the gale force winds created by my flapping arms were enough to dry my hands and the pool of water created by the urinal that I had offended minutes before. I walked away dejected.

I survived the rest of my day by steering clear of anything mechanical. I left as early as I could and jumped on the first extremely crowded train that I could find on that sweltering 90 degree day. My uncanny ability to stop things from functioning must have applied to deodorant as well because I didn’t run into a single person who smelled even remotely human. Well, at least I would have the solitude of the car ride home to decompress before seeing the boys.

Yes, Officer, of course I locked my car…

So I jumped off the train smelling much like the homeless wino who occupied the same square foot of space as me for the 45 minute train ride. I walked over to the parking garage where my Dodge Ram was quietly awaiting my return, trotted up the three flights of stairs to my regular parking space, walked over to row 3B and found nothing but an empty slot? That’s strange, I must have been more tired this morning than I thought. Why don’t I just wander around the parking garage for 30 minutes or so and look on every floor for the car that I am certain I parked right in this spot? My search was in vain. My 2005 Dodge pickup was gone- I had been hood-winked, bamboozled, violated- someone stole my damn pickup! Either that, or my truck heard about my luck with mechanical objects and, in the interest of self-preservation, had decided to drive as far away from me as possible. Along with the pickup, they also got (2) green folding camp chairs, (1) booster seat, all my country music CDs, and Mack’s Tony Hawk skateboard. Whoever did this better hope that Mack never finds him; he is beyond livid. As a side note, Cayden offered to scratch and bite the perpetrators if I could locate them. I guess he was a little upset as well.

The officer I spoke to was very nice. That’s a plus. I told him he should canvas every gas station within a ten mile radius as my truck only gets 3 miles per gallon. At least I had that going for me. Whatever idiot stole my truck just chained himself to a gas pump. Have fun, buddy; next time steal a Prius, moron.

The insurance lady was nice too- so nice, in fact, that even after she told me that I would not be reimbursed for rental car expenses, I still wished her a great weekend. Why not, let it go. I am good; I have a full jug of Mr. Rossi sitting on my counter at home; I got some healthy kids torturing each other in the basement, a hurricane is a-coming, but at least I don’t have to worry about my truck being damaged. Ha! I wonder if the knucklehead who ran off with my truck knows he did me a favor?

Mack’s Giant Feet

September 1, 2008
Crazy Mack

Crazy Mack