I’m going to try something new this summer. Greatest Hits- Saturday nights, when I’m probably at the lake anyway, dear readers will be treated to blog from the past. Over the years there’s been some good ones. Tonight, a post from June 2007.
Our annual Mid-Summer breakdown occurred just about right on schedule again this year. For those of you who have children and get to experience summer vacation I’m sure you also reach that point in the summer where you grow weary of seeing your kids laying around turning to mush.
Now this year, with the jocks broken foot and all, he sort of has an excuse for not being out and about, doing sports, sports camps and generally being out of doors all summer. How ever he has overplayed the sympathy card in our house, significantly. He did in fact become the catalyst open and honest communication, communication we experienced last night.
Coming home from work at the usual time I was met with the usual scene, Red and Jock, sitting on the couch watching yet MORE Discovery channel, feet hanging over the side of the sofa, trash on the floor, X-Box smoking, crap everywhere. Also, to set the stage, an un-mowed lawn and a garbage pail still in the driveway where I had left it when I went to work at 6:00am this morning, “How many times did you pass it today?” Ever occur to you to bring it in? Weeds not plucked, as instructed, and a dog attempting to push a chair into the mud room so he could jump on it and reach the shelf where his food is.. he hadn’t been fed. In other words a house plagued with summer in-inertia. Ug.
“Hey’, whats up with lawn? Red, since your brother has a broken foot, can you mow?” The reaction was a look of panic and huge sigh, like he’d just passed a kidney stone. Awwwwwwww. “Dad, I don’t know how.” Not exactly rocket science, but you will have to get off your arse.
Red, hows the speech.
Next week, and I haven’t blogged about this much, is a HUGE deal in the family, Red’s Bar Mitzvah.. Big Day. He’s been studying for it for the last 4 years, he’s all set in the Hebrew department, he’s got the prayers ready, he’s practiced and polished, got a new suit, a hair cut (big deal for him) ready to go. Except one small detail… the speech. He’s way way behind on the speech. Like one paragraph into it. He’s supposed to give a sermon on his part, the first couple chapters of Devarim (Deuteronomy to my Christian friends). The speech Moshe gives at the end of life recapping the days in the dessert. Unfortunately there aint much there to wax profound on.. I’m the first to admit, it’s a toughie. He’s got one paragraph down. He needs enough material to make a 15 minute talk, I’m guessing he’s about 14 short.
Me:-“Hows the speech coming?”
Me:“How much more have you done”
Red:“What do you mean?” Well, that’s a warning shot across my bow. “You haven’t done anything have you?” “I’m waiting on the Rabbi.” Well, we’re past waiting now.. Try to cutback on the TV would ya?
Matter of fact., looking around, seeing the state of affairs I issued an edict, as I’m prone to do. This time, the LC wasn’t there to serve as the loyal opposition and argue my edict with me..
“From this day forward, TV is limited to 2 hours of preselected programming. Figure out what you want to watch, watch it, then the box is OFF!” GAASSSSP Oh and that’s collective hours not each..” DANG IT
“From this day forward X-Box is limited to 2 hours—Computer game time does apply against X-Box time” Double GAAASPP “NOOO you Tyrant”
“Children, that’s 4 hours of media entertainment per day, evenings included. Take notice and govern yourselves accordingly. That is all..”
Red- “But Father, what are we to do?” Well, you could do some work around here, my list is getting longer everyday and NOTHING is happening.
Jock- “Perhaps Father you didn’t know that I broke my foot, as much as I would like to help out.. I will be unable to mow, paint, do the dishes or clean the garage until I have medical clearance. I’m sorry Father, TV and video games are all that’s left to me in my convalescence. You wouldn’t want to take that away..”
Red, Jock, Read some books.
The utterance of “read” was like the scene at the end of Dracula where the curtains are opened in the castle allowing sunlight to stream in and causing Dracula to recoil in horror. I got the exact same expression from my kids.. AHAAAA.. flesh smoking,, tears coming. NO NOT READING NOT READING, NO NO NO NO THAT IS GAY…. ???
Well, Red has been assigned to 1) Bar Mitzvah 2) he must complete the reading of the “Foundation Trilogy” by Issac Asimov by the end of Summer or his DS is mine. Jock is required to complete the Leon Uris book “Mila 18”, Robert Heinleins “Stranger in a Strange Land” and one other title of his choosing, cleared by me. Manga and Star Wars paperbacks need not be submitted.
This was met with a rousing chorus of Summer Sucks.. and I, went to the kitchen.
I really didn’t want to engage in this stuff, but when a fellow walks into a house like that, after a brutal day fending off the dragons and demons of corporate America, he likes to be greeted with a hearty “hello Dad”. Or “How’s things Pop”. Find things in order and all in all good spirits and an a sense of harmony and industriousness.
What I hate being greeted with is “Ohh, what’s for dinner?”. Truth be told I wasn’t in the mood for dinner so I stooped so low so as to suggest Taco Bell. Once a year or so I get a craving for Taco Hell as we call it. Everyone agreed and off to the restaurant I went. I picked up the deal with the 5 tacos and 5 burritos. As I would always I do I got 5 hard shell tacos and 5 bean burritos. Easy.
Arriving home I passed out the feast and was immediately jumped on by the Jock,…
“WHAT.. NO SOFT TACOS? NO ONE LIKE HARD TACOS”.
He says this as his mother and I are scarfing down a couple right then..
Me: “Sorry dude, I don’t like soft tacos. A soft taco is a burrito isn’t it? Eat one of those!”
Jock: “Jeez what were you thinking Dad? This sucks..”
Me I’m in a bit shock, mid-bite… time frozen staring at the Kid, my mind working on appropriate responses… The look on the boys face was priceless. He had the look you get where you just wish words would float out in front of you for minute so you grab them from mid-air and stuff them back in your mouth before anyone hears them.
Jock “I’ sorry Dad. I just hate these hard ones and I can’t believe that you buy them..”
Me “I get it, sorry., next time I’ll get soft.”
Jock “well no kid likes these, why wouldn’t get some soft tacos?”
Me “I get it, I won’t get ya these again. I’ve learned oK.
Jock “there awful. Don’t buy softtacos. I know you like them but there gross.
Me “Message received.. Won’t do it again”.
Jock “Eric doesn’t like these either, do you Eric?”
Red, being much more street wise then Jock is trying his best to be as inconspicuous as he can. He knows exactly where this is headed.
Jock “Eric, you don’t like soft tacos do you?” Red is looking down, trying not to make eye contact with anyone…
Red looks around, pissed that he’s been called to attention by his brother.. says, and I’m so proud of him in retrospect, he’s the smart one.. “Um, can I be excused, I’m full Dad.”
Jock Puzzled.. “What ever.. Dad, these aren’t even good when you take them out of the shell.
Me slamming my hand on the table, and in a measured tone “Do you want me to go get you something e l s e?”
Jock “no just these are nasty.”
Me- “ OK, Message received drop it.”
At that point he got up and walked out.. My bride and I exchanged glances, shook our heads in disbelief and continued eating.
About a minute later, re-enter the jock. From the kitchen doorway, “You know Dad, what you should do is buy half soft and half hard because you’re the only one who likes these. The rest of hate soft tacos…”
That did it. That was the catalyst that allowed our family to move into a more dynamic and open style of communication. I turned and looked at him with “the Look”. Now, no man can do the look as well as a woman can. Mrs S can set hair on fire at 50 feet with her version of the look. My version resulted in the following chain of events all in like 3 seconds.
The dog, sitting under the table looked at me and crawled into the den, tail between his legs as if to say, uh oh. Red, looking up from the sofa in the den arched his left eyebrow and made himself as small as he possibly could. Mrs. S’s jaw dropped as she slowly turned to face the kid. The Jock, had an expression of sheer terror. His eyes were the size of saucers, his 10 years of playing goalie for the local ice hockey team gave him the cat like reflexes he needed because coming at his head, at about the speed of a well hit slap shot was…
One, delicious, crispy golden Taco Bell hard shell taco, trailing lettuce and meat behind it as it spun through space in what looked like slow motion to me. Yes, I’m embarrassed to say, I launched it.. and it went. Missing the kids head it hit the door jam behind it, leaving a meat and shell spot on the wall, as the innerds slipped down the floor.
The LC looked at me, with a look of amazement and if I could be so bold, a bit of new respect, and a dash of fear. I am after all, the LAST guy to lose his temper around the house. Red be #1, she being close behind.
for like an hour. Actually 10 seconds or so.
Jock “Holy cow Dad, you don’ have to go psycho…”
This was one of those rare times when Mrs S and just happened to be on the same page.
Like a carousal that has to start slowly and build up speed, she began. ‘Oh yes he does. Because nothing else is getting through to you kids. We ask and we ask and we tell and this summer NOTHING IS……” Faster and faster till she got to full speed. She delivered full on, fully detailed with plenty of examples, a 15 minute classic family speech where she laid into the brothers Sank in way that I could only stand back an applaud. And when she was done, the Jock started “But…” His brother, Bless the boy, perhaps there is hope for him… looked at him and said “Nate, would you just SHUT UP”.
Mrs. S concluded with a look at me a nice nod and then “Oh, and I’m not cleaning that up”.
Well, this is where dogs come in handy. Giggs had it about done in a few minutes, and the family moved on. Will anything change? I’ll know tonight.