Wednesday, August 28, 2019

How not to Dad: Episode 6 - The Blueto Ultimatum

    My son has a lot of toys. My son is also very particular about his toys. He was given a large stuffed puppy dog about two years ago by a family friend, and he's kept this stuffed dog in his room - usually on his bed - ever since.
    One weekend we were all sort of lounging around in the master bedroom, hanging out and goofing off and doing a whole lot of nothing. Logan darted in and out of the room wielding various toys like his Minecraft sword or the bolt-action Nerf rifle he'd gotten a couple of birthdays ago, and he laughed and played and was as loud and rowdy as he could be. I think he is constantly testing our limits. He wants to see how loud or hyper he can get before one of us blows a gasket and sends him to his room.
    The truth is I probably handle his hyperactivity better than Nikki. This is not a good thing. I'm not proud of it. See, I like playing with Logan, and I often stoop to the same six-year-old level that he's on. I'll argue with him. I'll egg him on. This tends to get me in the adult version of time-out on a semiregular basis.
    So there we were sitting on the bed playing with Abby, when Logan bursts through the door. "His name is Pluto!" he proclaims, and holds the blue puppy up for everyone to see.
    Now, I wasn't trying to start a situation here. I still maintain that. I was flexing the dad-joke section of my brain when I answered him: "You should call him Blueto instead, since he's blue."
    A harmless statement. Not even a joke, really, just a mildly humorous suggestion that I thought might draw a smile from the kid. I figured he'd have found it way funnier than I did.
    Not so. He thought for a brief moment and then reached his conclusion. "No, it's Pluto."
    "Are you sure?" I pressed, for some reason. "It should be Blueto since he's blue. See?" I motion toward the dog to illustrate my obvious point.
    "No, I want it to be Pluto." Logan said. And that should've been the end of it.
    Spoiler Alert: it wasn't.
    "I'm gonna call him Blueto." I said.
    His eyebrows descended like storm clouds over his eyes. He lowered his head and exhaled. He was a bull about to charge. "His name is Pluto!" He said through gritted teeth.
    I raised my hands in surrender. "Okay okay, Blueto it is."
    He roared and charged. I let him knock me backwards onto the bed, and we wrestled for a few minutes. We argued back and forth, until finally he roared again in frustration and left the room.
    "Logan," I called to him, "Don't be mad that the dog's name is Blueto." Logan returned wielding a foam Minecraft sword. I say foam, but this thing is no pool noodle. The ridges are 8-bit jagged, and the thing is stiff enough to cause some pain if the swing is properly placed.
    "What's his name?" Logan calls again and again as he delivers a barrage of sword strikes on my backside.
    "Blueto!" I call from beneath the comforter (an object which is not holding up to its definition, I might add). "His name is Blueto!"
    Logan growls and pummels me with the sword. I take a few good strikes to the buttocks before he tires. He walks back to the bedroom door and stands there glaring at me.
    "Okay, y'all are getting a little too rough. We're going to the living room," my wife says and picks our daughter up. They exit the battle zone.
    By this point I have committed. I can't physically bring myself to say "Pluto." To me, every time I answer with "Blueto" it seems funnier and funnier. And so, I press on.
    "Okay okay, Logan. You want me to say it?" I ask.
    "Yes." He answers. I can see a glimmer of hope in his eyes.
    "Logan, he's not gonna say it," Nikki calls from the living room.
    "Say it." Logan demands anyway.
    I start to smile and I see the faintest of grins dance on the corner of his mouth before he snaps it tight again. "Say his name is Pluto."
    “I’m telling you Logan, he’s not gonna say it.” Nikki calls.
    "The dog's name," I say slowly, drawing out the suspense, "is…" Silence. Logan's eyes burn holes through me. "Blueto."
    "Aaaaahhh!" Logan shouts and throws his hands up. He walks back to his room fuming. I chuckle to myself for a moment. Have I taken it too far? Probably. It's off the rails now, though. The train of sensibility has not only left the station, it has careened down the tracks at suicide speeds, its brake lever broken, its massive weight charging it forward at an unstoppable pace. I simply can not say Pluto. It would violate some inner code in me that I shouldn't even have. I felt like a kid again pestering my sister and it being harder to stop the more I knew it was annoying her. In all honesty I probably deserved a good kick in the nuts. Then and now.
    So I was sitting there at the edge of the bed reminiscing about how much of an asshole I am when Logan walked back into the room, turned, and closed the door behind him, effectively sealing us off from the rest of the house. He turned back to me and that's when I noticed the Nerf gun. He slipped a foam bullet into the chamber, shoved the bolt-action lever forward, snapped it back and folded it down in a few swift motions. I half smiled as I watched him do this. He smiled too. Then he lifted the gun and a barrel of yellow plastic was staring at me from only two feet away. Logan's eyes locked on me in a dead stare. His smile fell. So did my own.
    I was a sitting duck.
    Logan’s eyebrows raised. "What's his name?" He asked, his finger twitching on the trigger...
    I'm a lot of things, but I ain't no coward. Only the slightest nervous gulp escaped my lips as I gave my answer.
The freakin’ dog’s name is Blueto.
 Moral Of The Story: Maybe don't be an asshole to your kids, or you just may take a bullet to the chest, like I did.

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