Thursday, December 11, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
As I drove to work today, I saw a man walking his dog. This reminded me of you. Specifically, it reminded me of the day earlier this week when you were walking your dog or dogs past my house. You let your dog or dogs take a dump on my front lawn, and then you didn’t clean it up.
I didn’t know this, of course, when I took the trash out to the curb that evening in the dark. In fact, I still didn’t know this as I walked back into my house, through the living room, through the dining room, through the kitchen and into my laundry room. You might find this amusing, but I still didn’t know that you let your dog take a crap on my lawn and then left that steaming pile of canine doo on the grass as I began stomping on aluminum cans in my laundry room.
“Hmm,” I thought to myself. “That smells a lot like a dirty diaper.” This didn’t immediately surprise me, because there is a six-week old baby living in my house. But then, I realized that my granddaughter does not yet emit solid poop, and so the smell could not be coming from her.
Musty dishrags? No. The scent was far too powerful for that. What could it be? I leaned down toward the floor because that is where the smell seemed to be the strongest. And there it was—lovely dog crap all over the bottom of one shoe and, because I had been stomping cans, on the sides of my shoes and around the bottoms of my pant legs.
Then I looked back into the kitchen where I saw gooey poo marks on the floor everywhere my right foot had come down. The same was true of the dining room and on my living room carpet. Needless to say, I didn’t finish smashing those cans because I spent the next 45 minutes down on my hands and knees with a can of Lysol and a roll of paper towels. Then, I cleaned the front steps and driveway.
Do you know why I had the fun of cleaning up dog shit that night? It was due exclusively to the fact that you let your dog defecate on my lawn, and then you made a conscious choice not to clean it up. Let me be the first to congratulate you on your wise decision making abilities. Your momma taught you well.
I don’t know if you habitually act like an industrial-strength douche bag* or if this was a rare incident where you acted in a way that makes me want to smash you in the side of your fat head with my shovel. Either way, you are an industrial-strength douche bag. You are definitely off my Christmas card list this year.
Instead, I may keep a close eye on those who pass by my house with their dogs. I may choose to notice exactly which person or persons allow their dog or dogs to take a dump on my lawn and then leave the evidence. Then, I may decide to carefully follow that individual or individuals to their home. At that point, I may choose to line the underside of the car door handles with copious amounts of dog crap, or perhaps I’ll leave lots of the stuff in a place where it can be smelled it for several days, but not easily discovered.
No matter what I decide to do, you deserve everything you get, you industrial-strength douche bag.
*Many thanks to John Oliver for this new addition to my verbal repertoire.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
But there are also the little things:
The daughter has learned the value of motherhood. She is beginning to realize that being a "mom" is a lot more than a title ... it is a HUGE responsibility. She is beginning to value every moment that I am home from work, and she is beginning to realize that when I say "I'm tired" - it doesn't mean that I want to lie down and go to sleep ... I just want to lie down!
Our drama queen is learning the value of an education. It has taken almost 10 years of schooling, but she has finally "learned" that school is not the place where she goes to meet her friends, but it is the place where she goes to learn! Sure, we still get the daily phone calls ... "This is SPHS calling to inform you that your child was late/absent from one or more periods today ..." but it is a GREAT feeling to know that the absence is for a legite reason ~ she was with her Drama Team ~ performing in front of her classmates!
Xboy ... the apple of my eye ... The Straight "A" student - the Trumpeteer and the Third Baseman for his Little League Team! Honestly, if the only thing that I can complain about is too much video games and occasional glare; I think I'm pretty damn lucky! Hey, at least he's not out there running the streets, smoking, drinking or getting some naive girl pregnant!
... and then there is the Curmudgeon - Cranky Ol' Gramps: Yes, he is a perfectionist - he can NEVER be wrong, he ALWAYS has to win and all the beer really knows how to stink up a room; He is a Great Husband, a Loving Father and a Silly~Goofy Singing Grandpa! We may not always see eye to eye or agree about anything, but I know that his love for me and my family is real! I truly love this man!
This Thanksgiving, I have so very much to be thankful for ... I have three beautiful/wonderful Children, an adorable Grandaughter and a doting Husband. I have a great job, decent health, a safe and pleasant community in which to live
... and whether you are Black or White, Rich or Poor, Gay or Straight ... I am Thankful that I Live in a Country Where I am Free to Express My Frustrations, Opinions and Gratitude to a bunch of online strangers who can remind me to find the humor in my "troubles".
For you, I am Thankful!
Happy Thanksgiving 2008.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Followed by, and again, I quote:
"I would be perfectly happy if my wife and I were the only two people on earth. She could putter around Asia during the day while I tinkered in Africa. Then, we could meet back in South America in the evenings to watch baseball on the couch. I could go for that."
Somewhere between these words, I am to find a self described crotchity old curmudgeon ... aka... my husband who insists to the world that "He Loves Me Most!" The man that I married seven years ago; somehow has disappeared ~ who knows where he went to, but perhaps he too has been swallowed by The Old Woman who Swallowed the Fly.
(a song that HE sings to our adorable granddaughter almost every night.)
Friday, November 14, 2008
Xboy stays with his mother during the week, but comes to us on the weekends and for a good portion of the summer. While he is with us, he thinks it is his God-given right to spend 98-percent of his time playing Xbox. The other 2-percent is to be spent leaving clothes and dishes around the house. He believes it is an act of child abuse if we do not allow this.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I should say here that I enjoy the Xbox as much as anyone. If I had a job that required me to play video games all day, I would willingly work overtime. Therefore, it is easy for me to allow Xboy to burn images of animated carnage onto his retinas for hours on end.
Yet, as much as I hate the idea, I do have to think like an adult sometimes. The rational part of my brain recognizes that there are important things like homework, chores, exercise, showers and the dreaded “family time.” (From our kids’ reactions, you would think that spending time with their family was the equivalent of throwing them into an arena full of lions.)
So, nearly every weekend, the following conversation inevitably occurs:
Gramps: Xboy, your mom is coming to get you at 6. You need to be ready to go by 5.
Xboy: (eyes not looking up from screen) Okay.
Gramps: Also, Granny asked you to clean the bathroom this morning. You haven’t done it yet. You need to do that immediately.
Gramps: Are you listening to me?
Gramps: The house is on fire. You’ll die if you don’t leap up and run out the back door right this second.
Gramps: (physically turning Xboy’s head so he is looking at me) Clean the bathroom now.
At this point, the situation begins to deteriorate. There is a great stomping of feet and numerous mutterings of outrage over the injustice of life in such a fascist home. I know that if I am not actually physically present to oversee the cleaning of the bathroom, it will not get done. That means I have the privilege of spending quality time with a hostile teenager who is working very hard to do the least amount of work possible.
It is likely that Granny, knowing my own fondness for the Xbox, will protest. She would tell you that I almost never forcibly pull Xboy away from his video games, and am in fact, an accomplice of his. Granny hates the Xbox. She would prefer that the console were stuffed into the garbage disposal (and she has a fondness for putting odd things in the garbage disposal, but that’s another story). So I don’t think she is an impartial witness.
But the truth is that my biggest struggles with Xboy are about his failure to do what he needs to do properly because he would rather play. There are weekends that I would like to take that boy, the child of my loins, and pound him into pudding with a potato masher. So far, I haven’t. I’ve heard they don’t give you beer in prison.
So, now, it is time for me to wrap this up so I can go home for lunch and play the...I mean, so I can fold laundry.
Monday, November 10, 2008
But within the past 2-3 weeks, I have seen just that. My husband has become a blubbering fool. Take this weekend for example. Saturday morning, Gramps decided that he wanted to surprise our little mommy with an outfit for the Granddaughter. Now, please understand - Gramps HATES the mall - HATES anything to do with spending money. But, would you believe that Gramps spent money?!? (Granted, it was my money) but HE spent at least two hours walking in and out of stores trying to find the perfect outfit for his lil' peanut.
And then, there was Saturday night: In order to give Mommy a rest, The Granddaughter is sometimes sleeping with Granny and Gramps. During a middle of the night diaper changing - with baby wailing and legs in the air; The Granddaughter lets one rip - we are not talking urine here, folks. What does Gramps do? Nothing! He thinks it is cute! Cute? How is feces on a bedspread cute?
This is not my husband! He sings cutsie songs! He talks in baby talk! He forgets all about me - and it is all about the baby! (I'm not complaining on that last point, I'm just saying ...)
What it boils down to is this: Gramps is a softie! This lil' girl has come into our homes and turned him into a big blob of mush! Again, Pay No Attention to That Man Behind the Curtain ... He is not what he appears to be!
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
For those of you who have yet to discover this feeling; It is the best! To hold this lil' bundle of sweetness, to cover her with kisses, to smell the freshness of a clean diaper and yes, even to hear her cry. Grandma loves it - I love it ALL!!
She has the tiniest little button nose. The perfect little lips and man, oh man does she love to snuggle. I like to believe that she knows my voice already. She does open her eyes when I talk to her.
They say that parenthood is bliss - let me tell you, being a Grandma ~ this is Heaven!
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
There is a baby in the house!
She is beautiful and perfect, and I am much happier about this development than I expected to be. Sure, I thought I would be pleased to see my granddaughter. I just didn’t know how intensely happy I would be. I remember crying in the middle of the night and dirty diapers and the constant need for attention even after a long, exhausting day at work.
I forgot about the magic of a tiny, perfect little life in my arms. I forgot about the tiny yawns and the soft breath and the absolute peace of an infant’s slumber. And I never before knew what it was to be a grandparent. It is a different feeling, knowing the joy without the stress and fear of the ultimate responsibility.
It was a wonderful thing to wake up this morning with Granny bringing that girl into our room for some snuggling before I had to get ready for work. It is a wonderful thing knowing I’ll go home later today to watch her sleep on her mother’s chest.
I think I like this.
I should add, with perfect objectivity, that my granddaughter is the most beautiful baby alive. I told my daughter after the long, hard labor, that I was glad she didn’t get one of those ugly babies. She did well. Despite my fears and frustrations, despite the poor choices that got her into this, she did well.
Unexpectedly, the baby’s father was at the delivery. We didn’t expect him to show, but he did. And he passed out! That’s my favorite part of the story. The guy passed out, and they had to revive him with smelling salts. I want someone to tell that story at my funeral.
My second favorite story was from yesterday. Instead of cigars, I’m passing out bottles of beer in celebration. I made pink labels with the baby’s name, date of birth and weight. When I was in the store yesterday buying the beer to celebrate my granddaughter’s birth, the checker asked for my ID!
I’m a happy man.
Friday, October 10, 2008
You already know something about The Daughter, who is soon to give us The Granddaughter. She is Granny’s oldest. Granny’s other bundle of joy is a high school sophomore we’ll call The Drama Queen, for reasons that will soon become obvious.
Our lovely Drama Queen--like her mother and sister, she is lovely--has only two settings: Totally Drama and Comatose. The Totally Drama setting is on whenever she is awake. At this setting, everything is critically important, and everything is an emergency.
Let’s say, for example, that Gramps eats her two-day-old half-eaten hamburger out of the refrigerator. Her response, in a loud, high pitched voice that wakes up the neighbor’s cat three blocks away, will include the following significant facts:
- I was going to eat that.
- You knew I was going to eat that.
- Now there is nothing to eat in the entire house and I will die of starvation.
- Everybody else always eats my food and I never get to eat what I want.
- I was going to eat that.
- My life is completely unfair.
- I was going to eat that.
Listen in to this representative conversation between Drama Queen and Granny-to-be:
DQ: Can you pick my friends and me up from the movies on Thursday?
G: Thursday? You mean Thanksgiving Day?
DQ: Yeah, I guess.
G: That is a family day. You’re not going out with your friends.
DQ: Oh my God, Mom! I have plans!
G: It’s Thanksgiving Day, for heaven’s sake. We have plans on Thanksgiving Day every year. Didn’t you think of that?
DQ: But Mom, you know I wanted to do this for a long time.
G: You’re staying home with us.
DQ: That’s not fair!
G: Nevertheless, that’s what’s happening.
DQ: You never let me do what I want. This is so not fair. I’m so mad my whole body is shaking. I want to scream.
G: Yes, dear, that’s nice.
DQ: Ooooh, I’m so mad. That’s not fair. (Stomps off down the hall.)
And that’s our middle child in a nutshell. Her entire world crashes down around her every day, but somehow she just manages to keep it together until the next big crisis, such as when her trollish parents won’t give her a birthday party worthy of MTV’s My Super Sweet 16.
NEXT TIME: Meet the final member of the cast, my son, who believes that life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and eight hours a day of uninterrupted Xbox time are all natural human rights. Let’s call him Xboy.
Friday, October 3, 2008
I’m not ready for this. Granny, who has apparently forgotten what it is like to have a screaming, pooping, needy infant in the house, can’t wait. Our daughter can’t wait. Her sister can’t wait. Am I the only sane one in the house?
I will admit that I have had some pleasant moments daydreaming about teaching my young granddaughter about the infield fly rule, reading to her, taking walks with her and watching birds in our backyard together. (Do you think she has to learn how to walk before she can learn to chase cats?) Nevertheless, her arrival will mark the beginning of an extremely stressful transition. That is the nature of things, even in the best of circumstances.
In the last couple of weeks, we are getting not-so-subtle hints that this may not be the best of circumstances. Start with a healthy dose of teenage drama, stir in a hormonal girl with a baby on the way, add a dash of young man with the common sense of earwax, broil over a half dozen angry late-night telephone conversations, and you have a potent stew that will make your stomach turn.
Yes, for about the sixth time since my daughter became pregnant, she and the father of the child have broken off all contact. This has been the most angry and bitter of the breakups to date. There is a possibility that they will never attempt to patch things up. But the odds are also good that within a few weeks, my daughter will be convinced she can never live without the boy.
One of the issues is child support. He doesn’t think he should be saddled with the indignity of being forced by the state to pay. My daughter should trust him to do the right thing, he says. I’d be more convinced if he were already doing the right thing by his first child. He has a track record, all right, and he’s dropped the baton every time.
Due to his anger (perhaps fear?) over the possibility of being forced to pay his fair share as well as the results of a few other games that high school kids know how to play so well, venom is being sprayed liberally in both directions. I really hope that by the time my granddaughter is old enough to understand what is going on in the world, my daughter and the father will have at least learned to be civil. No child should ever witness that sort of hatred between parents. It makes me sad to think that my granddaughter might be so abused.
In one conversation, the boy first said that if he had to pay child support, he wouldn’t ever have anything to do with the child. Then, in the next breath, he said he’d go to court to get custody of her. You can imagine that shook up my daughter more than a little bit. At this point, she doesn’t want him to have anything to do with the child. And all this with less than a month to go.
My belief is that someday these two kids will settle down and mature enough to figure out that doing right by their daughter is their first responsibility. I just hope they learn that lesson before they do too much damage to this little girl who doesn’t deserve any of it.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Let’s go with that second thing.
Since I live in a house with three women (and a teenage boy on the weekends), then it goes without saying that things are a little nuts even in the best of times. Add a pregnant daughter, a wife who is starting a new job, a heart attack for my father-in-law and a rapidly diminishing stock of beer on hand, and you can imagine why I am wondering if Armageddon is just around the corner.
Today, let’s discuss the pregnancy. The good news is that mother and baby are both healthy, and there are only about five weeks until the due date. Now for the craziness. My daughter has been in the hospital three different times to calm early contractions. Until the most recent checkup, the baby was breech. And, what could have been the coup de grace to my sanity, the baby shower.
Ah, yes, the baby shower. It seems harmless enough, doesn’t it? Even the words that make up the phrase “baby shower” seem gentle and relaxing. After all, who doesn’t like a cuddly baby or a refreshing summer rain shower? When someone mentions a baby shower, don’t you immediately think of images of women in hats and gloves, with doilies and teapots nearby?
A baby shower is anything but harmless, especially if my wife is planning it. “But dear,” she will say, “It was very successful.” Yes, it was an incredibly successful event, but for someone of my personality, it was a torture so horrendous that the only people who should ever be subjected to it in the bowels of hell are Hitler, and players and fans of the San Francisco Giants.
One thing you should know about my curmudgeonly self is that I believe that no person should, under any circumstances, ever, ever, ever, ever spend money. This baby shower had to be spectacular. This baby shower had to be perfect. And it was. Unfortunately, we had to sell our house to pay for it. (On the positive side, we did receive some roomy cardboard boxes that will serve very well until the first winter rains.)
The baby shower also involved people. Despite the fact that my job requires me to interact with people intensely on a daily basis, I am not a people person. In fact, I would be perfectly happy if my wife and I were the only two people on earth. She could putter around Asia during the day while I tinkered in Africa. Then, we could meet back in South America in the evenings to watch baseball on the couch. I could go for that.
But at the baby shower, I actually had to talk to people and act like a congenial host. I think I did a pretty good job. Only once did I shove somebody’s face into the cake (which my daughter decorated, by the way). I may have even smiled a couple of times.
Thankfully, that’s all over and done. The new clothes and toys are put away. My daughter’s room is ready to receive the baby, and we’re all relaxing a little and waiting for the granddaughter to arrive. The next 18 years should be smooth as glass. Right?
Sunday, May 11, 2008
An important reason is that she is such a wonderful mother. She loves her children; she aches for them; she fights hard for their best interest in a world that is often cruel. Before I came to love this woman, she was something of a hero to me. As a single mother, she worked hard to build a life for her girls. She often took the more difficult, riskier road because it held the potential for a better future. She grabbed hold of opportunities I would have been afraid to pursue.
This woman is more than just a mother to her daughters. She became a mother to my son. In fact, she is a mother to every child. She could never turn her back on any one of the world’s children. Our home is filled with kids because she encourages them and loves them and welcomes them. (I think, on the other hand, that all kids should be shipped to an island in the middle of the Pacific until they turn at least 25.) If I want to find my wife in a crowded room, I look for the kids.
This woman is a spectacularly wonderful mother, despite her doubts. She will make an excellent grandmother. That’s why I love her.
Happy Mother’s Day, Granny!
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Through the years, she saw me for who I really was - a struggling single mom, who made (and continues to make) her share of mistakes. A parent herself who is afraid to let her children make their own mistakes and is constantly "trying to fix things", a mom who desperately wants to be a friend .. and now I am no longer her hero, but the one person that she spits angry, hurtful words at whenever things do not go her way.
This 17 year old girl has had to pay for my mistakes. Money has been tight. I can't always buy her the $100 shoes that she must have or buy her fast food for dinner every night. I am not always there when she needs me; the last minute ride to the mall nor do I always say yes when she asks if she can stay out til 3am with a group of friends that I barely know.
How is she paying?
She will be having a child of her own in 5 months. And while I do know that she is fortunate enough to have me as a parent who will do what I can to help her graduate from high school, pursue her nursing career; I also hope that I am around long enough to say those famous words that all grandmothers were born to say ...
"I told you so!"
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Though I don't use a cane yet, the hunched-over posture comes from the heavy weight of realizing that I will soon be 40 and a grandfather. Granny thinks some of the poor posture comes from all the beer in my gut dragging me down, but what does she know? She's old, too.
The most telling part of the image is the hand resting on the painful lower back. I have actually suffered from an on again, off again back injury for about 8 years. In recent times, however, the pain has been much more on than off. My basketball buddies are beginning to wonder if I have become a homebody. The people with whom I work have suggested every remedy in the book, from chiropractors and pills, to acupuncture and voodoo.
You can't see my eyes in that image. I have had near perfect vision to this stage in my life. Now I am old. I have a hard time reading the scores at the bottom of the screen during SportsCenter, which makes life almost unbearable. I am sure that glasses are not far off the horizon for me.
Oh yes, you'll surely tell me. My home hasn't been destroyed by cyclone. I still have all my limbs. Only one of my teenaged children is pregnant. I should be thankful, you say.
I say, bite me. I'm old, and I'm getting crotchetier by the minute.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
The loser brother (not the character I identify with, of course) was curled up in a ball on a bed because his second wife had thrown him out and had taken everything he owned. The son came in and said, "You've been sleeping all weekend."
"I'm old now," said the dad. "That's what old people do. It's a dry run for death."
And don't even get me started about the episode featuring the bad back and painful testicles.
Monday, April 28, 2008
9. I don’t know the words to “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”
8. If it walks on all fours, it should live in a doghouse in the backyard.
7. I am a world-class curmudgeon.
6. I believe children should be shipped to India, not heard.
5. I hate to share my beer.
4. The sight of Oscar the Grouch causes me to weep uncontrollably.
3. I prefer to sleep through the entire night.
2. I have, on at least one occasion, dropped a baby.
1. I play “Chutes and Ladders” to win.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Maybe it was my fault for spending too much time playing Xbox. Maybe it was my wife’s fault for refusing to feed me meatloaf while I played Halo. Maybe it was my daughter’s fault for turning down birth control even though we told her we’d help her get it.
In any case, she is now about two months pregnant, and that is that. Try as we might, we cannot turn back the clock. (And I have tried, believe me.) The only way forward is to try to make her pregnancy as positive and healthy as we can for her and the baby. My wife has also told me that it is bad form—and possibly illegal—for me to castrate the father of this child. Where’s Shari’a law when you need it?
I’ve also got to get used to the idea that just months after I turn 40-years-old, I will become a grandfather. Isn’t it bad enough that while I’m contemplating the unfairness of a life that would give me only four short decades before I become 40, that I am also now forced to cope with being a grandfather, too? Come on, Life, throw me a bone here.
Sure, like any man with children, I want to be a grandfather someday. I want to be able to look with pride at my own adult (and “adult” is the key word) kids in the eyes and say, “See, I told you so.” I want to play catch with my grandchildren. I want to take them to the zoo. To read to them. To give them their first taste of beer.
In the natural order of things, however, that should wait until my own kids are married and have a place of their own. It should wait until they have the maturity level to understand that “I’m not hungry” or “I don’t like needles” are not important considerations when you’ve got a little one growing in your womb. It should wait until they can pay for their own room and board, not to mention their child’s. It should wait until they have learned how to drive, for heaven’s sake.
See what I’m saying? This is chaos. Somehow, though, our family will have to learn to make the chaos a life-giving, learning experience for all of us—especially for the little one who never asked for any of this.