Thursday, February 27, 2020

How Not to Dad: Episode 16: Icicles and Spidey Senses

Some of the fondest memories from my childhood involved the colder months of the year.  There was Christmas, of course.  Even better, though, were the snow days that got us out of school and allowed us to head out to a solid white landscape, smothered in fifteen layers of clothes, to throw snowballs and make snow cream and all the other fun stuff we do as kids.

We'd search for the largest icicles.  They were usually hanging from the eaves of the house, and if they weren't long enough to grab with a hop off the ground, then it would take a precision-thrown baseball to knock them down.  We used to eat them like Popsicles.  (Side note: I had no idea Popsicle was a brand name and not the general name for any bar of ice on a stick. I got that red squiggly line under the word after I typed it, and I was like "Oh hell no, I did not misspell popsicle.  Fight me, computer!"  Turns out I didn't capitalize the word.  That's why my computer judged me.  Apparently the generic name I was looking for is "ice pops."  I like Popsicle better, so that's what you're getting.  Just like every carbonated beverage is a Coke, right?)

The past couple of years have not brought much snow.  They have, on occasion, brought a type of cold that can cut straight through your jeans and turn your dangly bits to ice pops.  It has the ability to glue your car doors shut, and will create stalactites of ice on the bumpers of your vehicles.

About a week ago one such cold snap swept through our neighborhood overnight and left a few icicles in its wake.  It was a weekday and we had gone through our morning routine.  The conclusion to that routine occurs when Nikki carries Abby to her SUV, and Logan walks along with them.  I watch from the door's window until they're in the car.  This morning my eyes found a large, dripping icicle hanging from the side of my car just as my family were heading down the steps.  That's cool, I thought.  Logan will see that and he'll think it's neat.  He may pick it from the car.  Maybe he'll drop it on the concrete and watch it shatter, or want to save it in the freezer, or taste it like I would have done (though that one's probably a little unsanitary).  All acceptable responses.

That, however, was not Logan's response.  As if on cue he saw the ice and made a dash for it.  Nikki and Abby were ahead of him, heading toward the back seat to strap Abby into her car seat.

I'm not sure if it's a parent thing or just a human nature thing, but there are times when things go into slow motion, times when your mind has worked something out and is desperately trying to clue you into the fact that it knows some event is about to happen.  Kind of like spidey-senses.  Say, when your kid is about to fall off the couch or when a ball comes flying at your head, and you react first before you even really know what's going on.  Your mind has slowed it down for you, to give you time to process it.

Logan stood up from beside my car, and without even seeing his face (he was smirking, I could tell that from the back of his head.  Weird, huh?) I knew what he was about to do.  His elbow cocked back and his free hand went forward as if he were a pitcher about to deliver a fastball. Spidey senses tingling, I was still behind a closed door.

All I could do was watch as he launched the icicle towards Nikki and Abby.  It shattered on the concrete at Nikki's feet, causing her to jolt.  She turned and admonished him, and Logan quickly apologized.

I think kids have a sort of anti-spidey-sense.  If mine slows down to let me know something's wrong, Logan's seems to speed up.  Don't worry about consequences, just throw the damn thing! his brain tells him.  Get it done before you can think about it!  He had no intentions of hurting anyone, of that I'm sure, but he didn't allow himself time to understand that he was throwing a pointy projectile at his mother and infant sister.

In the end, it really wasn't a big deal.  Even if the icicle had hit them, the likelihood of an injury was maybe 0.01%.  If there's any concern, it's that I need to work with him on his pitching arm if he ever wants to play baseball.

That throw needed work.

Monday, February 10, 2020

How Not To Dad: Episode 15 - I'm Getting Old, Doo Doo Doodoo Doodoo...

   I'm Getting Old Doo Doo Doodoo Doodoo 

Did you know that cool has an expiration date?  I remember a time when I didn't know that...

When I got my first car, an '86 Honda Civic with a New Mexico tag and luxurious green carpet interior - and an alarm system for those who might want to steal that hunk of raw, four cylinder power - I thought I was the bees knees.

(Quick tangent: The "bees knees" phrase is thought to have derived from the word "business," as a slang word that meant something like the epitome of excellence.  Other adjectives that popped up in this period of the 1920's are "the cat's pajamas," the "eel's ankles," and the "elephant's instep." Around the same time, the British came up with their own animal/anatomical part combo: the "dog's bollocks."  Henceforth, since the word "bollocks" doesn't get used in the U.S. enough, I will be using that term whenever I can possibly fit it in.)

So back to what I was saying, I thought I was the dog's bollocks.  I could go where I wanted.  I had a sound system with a cassette player and a cassette-to-portable-CD-player converter that allowed you to play CD's through your car's tape deck.  It was a sweet setup as long as you didn't hit any bumps in the road.  Portable players were only meant to sit on a flat, level surface with no movement whatsoever, basically rendering them anything but portable.

I drove to school with the music screaming out of that little car.  I rocked out to Sublime, The Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails, The Deftones, maybe a little 2Pac or Dr. Dre thrown in.  I drove with the windows down (I'm fairly sure the A/C was broken).  I wanted to feel the music running through me, so it needed to be played at as close to max volume as my little speakers could handle.  When they rattled, it was time to turn it down half a notch.  Best not test the factory speakers.

I don't think I was too obnoxious with my music, but then again does an obnoxious person know they're being obnoxious?  In my experience that answer is no.  No they don't.  I do remember a high school friend telling me they could hear my music from about three cars behind at a stoplight on the way to school, and that sounds pretty obnoxious to me.  But the world was big and I was young and it was a time for excess.  Strain those eardrums.  Let the music course through you.  In that day and age, your music was what made you cool!  At least that's what I thought then.

A couple of months ago my baby daughter and I were in town together and she had a little meltdown.  The drive home that day brought me to the realization that I had met the expiration date for being cool.  I drove with music blaring from my car, oh yes.  I got looks from people at stoplights and drew attention to myself like I had done twenty years ago.  This time, though, I wasn't singing along to Rage Against The Machine's "Killing in the Name" or "March of the Pigs" by Nine Inch Nails.  My phone was connected to my car, and through that phone the Youtube app played a little ditty called "Baby Shark."  For those of you that know it, I'm sorry for bringing it up.  For those that don't, I'm sorry for bringing it up.  I hate that friggin' video.

Also, I love that video.  Some angel had seen fit to post a one-hour-long version of that song on constant repeat.  Abby rode the rest of the way home in relative silence, enjoying the absolutely insane monotony of that song as it repeated over and over and over and over and over and over again.

So my level of badassery has diminished over the years.  I am no longer the dog's bollocks.  The streets of Cullman are more likely to hear "doo doo doodoo doodoo" wafting through the air around my car than any hard rock, metal, or industrial band.  Instead of feeling electrified by teenage angst I'm singing along with a family of cartoon sharks as they playfully try to eat two children.

Come to think of it that sounds pretty horrific.

Moral of the Story:  Embrace the baby shark.  By a narrow margin, it's better to hear this song on repeat than the screaming and crying of your child.

How Not To Dad: Episode 2 - Speedbag

How Not To Dad: Episode 2 - The Speed bag       There are two problems I have with furniture at my home right now.  Two things that have ...