Three nice things about the giant oak in the front yard (besides dropping sap and prickly leaves in the least annoying way possible, having the wisdom to locate itself perfectly to one side): real beauty, plenty of shade, and, now, thanks to a friend’s generosity in giving it away and Papa’s ingenuity in hanging it up, support for a rope swing.
At the Morgan Hill pumpkin patch, two trains run around identical tracks at the same snail’s pace, a red old-style steam engine and a blue more modern bullet-looking train. Papa and Daddy sell the kids on the blue one (because it is next up) by answering that “yes, it is the fast train” (implying that yes, it is the “faster train”).
At bedtime that night, when asked what his favorite part of the day is, Fisher responds, “When we rode on the fast train, Daddy. I was a little bit scared because that train was just so, eh, er, uh…” (Daddy thinking, say, “next,” say, “just so next”!) “…just so fast.” Hook, line, and sinker, apparently.
C (before entering the house): Uh oh, Daddy.
C: The dogs aren’t barking.
D: Oh, that is a bad sign, Cory. You’re right.
F (entering first, voice coming from out of the house but not quite baritone enough yet): You bad dogs! That is not gonna do! You bad dogs!
For some reason, when the dogs knock over the trash can, they drag the “good stuff” that they pull from the pile to eat on the kids’ room carpet. You know, anything that touched meat, apple cores, diapers. Every time. Papa tried to repurpose plastic latches for the trash can, but one was too complicated to affix, the other too flimsy to defeat the dogs.
“Necessity” being the mother of invention, the solution – putting the trash can out of reach – had left the dogs no choice but to go after the basket on the kitchen counter, which contains entire apples, packaged snack bars, bags of bread, jerky, etc. As Daddy begins cleaning up the mess in the kitchen, Fisher’s clean gene kicks in…
F: Daddy, can I have a bag for the, er, uh, um, stuff that the doggies ate in our room?
D (getting a bag): Yes, thanks, Fisher.
Fisher comes out with the grocery bag full of trash. He marches to the garage and wrestles a vacuum larger than he is to their room. After getting everything in place, he stands there with the cord pulled out, “Daddy, can you please plug this in for me? You should plug this in for me because, er, eh, um, sockets are very dangerous.” Daddy plugs it in for him. Ten minutes later the house, short a few apples, a loaf of bread, two bags of tortilla chips, and ten bags of spicy turkey jerky, is back in order.
At 6:30 the next morning, the twins pile onto Daddy in a chair at a window looking out into the backyard. The morning snuggle is interrupted by Boston’s and Quincy’s repeated need to visit the “dog run” (i.e., toilet) at the very back of the yard and by a constant need to pinch nostrils to avoid asphyxiation by nearby Kohl. The dogs’ constitutions might be able to handle raw chicken bones, but spicy turkey jerky is apparently a bridge too far.
Daddy stares out at the increasingly nasty-looking dog run, which will have to be cleaned up this weekend. The day when Fisher’s clean gene is ready for expression in newer and even more helpful ways can’t get here soon enough…
A post about a dog video, in the form of nearly every legal brief…
The attached video should be watched for at least five reasons. First, Fisher is clearly not afraid of dogs, that nasty Doberman bite notwithstanding. Second, it is utterly unclear where Fisher came up with “that is not available” as a canine admonition. (Thoughts?) Third, a little dog holds his own against a very big dog, and that is always amusing for a dog lover. Fourth, no cats were harmed in the making of this video, which is always satisfying to a cat lover. Fifth, any other objection to watching it is meritless.
Forty-five will certainly not go down among the best or worst birthdays. It will be tucked somewhere right around middling, fitting the age, I suppose, not because I didn’t appreciate the warm wishes. (I did.) Papa was away. That’s not fun. The kids made “cute” cards, stickers plastered on cardstock with some glitter glue globs all around, the thought counting, of course. They hid them in the shed overnight, where they stumbled on some New Years’ garb, which they then insisted that we wear on the big day. That day started a new year, according to my clock, true, but, it ended in some seriously whack-parenting. After crack-a-lacking tennis balls Sharapova/Rafa-style on the driveway for 45 minutes, Daddy feeds them a homemade sundae (the cream, the caramel, the chocolate, the cookie dough, yep, all of it)…and pretends that a half hour is enough for any body, much less a 45-pound body, to process that mess.
A truncated bedtime routine, with hurried “I love you’s” and blah, blah, blah later, Daddy settles in for…maybe “Orange Is the New Black” (people, the “is” gets capitalized, don’t know what’s wrong with everyone these days, it’s a verb, for god’s sake)…maybe “Homeland” (because who doesn’t want to walk hurriedly around the office the next day, eyes wide, ready to call in a hit by cell phone, definitely by cell phone, the voices in the head saying things so much more interesting than what anyone else coughs up)…who knows. But, the kids, remarkably unable to digest a bucket of refined sugar, keep talking in their room. Daddy bursts in, to find Cory standing in the middle of the room, lights ablaze, holding up a picture book, apparently teaching some sort of class to…an ADHD-acting kid, not at all helped by the earlier overload, rolling around in her bed and babbling about a frog hogging some book at the library…
D: Guys! Listen, this is not gonna do. (Trying to soften the tone, realizing that the tone and the words are the ones used on the dogs when they’ve knocked the trash can over again.) I know it was fun today to celebrate my birthday, but it’s time to go to bed. Seriously. You are going to be soooo tired tomorrow. Go to bed, now. If I come in here again and…
A half hour later…
D: Guys! Listen, this is your last warning…
A half hour later…
D: That’s it! (Grabbing their two giant, squishy stuffed dogs, the ones that have been either watching over them or sleeping in their beds since birth.) No more Cho-Cho. (Her dog.) No more Bing-Bing. (His.) You lost the privilege. I’ve told you so many times tonight. It is time to go to bed.
Daddy storms out, with the dogs, turning out all lights and closing the door. It takes three seconds for the wailing to begin. “No, Daddy, no! I can’t sleep without Cho-Cho!” “No, my Bing-Bing! Daddy, my Bing-Bing!” Daddy waits three minutes before coming back in to return the watchdogs…and in a pitch black house, to tell them that although they have their dogs back, if Daddy has to come back in one more time, well…Daddy turns around in the dark and cackles once like the Wicked Witch of the West. He cackles twice. They immediately gasp and plead, “No, Daddy, no!” They know, based on past story-telling, that the powerful spell that keeps the witches out of our house, even at night, can only be broken by Daddy cackling like a witch three times in a row.
Daddy tells them that if they aren’t asleep in ten minutes, the third cackle is coming.
Ten minutes later, when Daddy checks on them, they are out. Hard. Each set of arms wrapped around a watchdog. Daddy snuggles and kisses each. No homeland, orange or black; just more whack parenting.
(A therapist or two, probably born about ten or fifteen years ago, has a lot to thank Daddy for…)