Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Nursery School Darwinism

"Daddy, I can't have jelly sandwiches because of an allergy."

This is what my 3 year old informed me when I picked her up today from nursery school. Obviously I'm out of my gourd to think that it would be acceptable to send my kid into school with a jelly sandwich. Jelly?? OK. The peanut thing was far enough but now we've gone beyond the pale. It's bad enough that I've never been able to send my 7 year old son into school with a good ole American PB&J but now we've gone crazy. At the risk of offending everyone, I would say that if you're kid's immune system is so weak that an airborne sniff of raspberry jelly from another kids sandwich is enough to send them into anaphylactic shock, maybe there are other issues - like maybe if this were "The Wild" your progeny would have been a carcass years ago. It's called thinning the heard. Do you think the "Greatest Generation" ever had a peanut table in elementary school? I don't think so. If they did a bunch of blond haired, blue eyed Germans might occupy all of Western Europe today.

However I think there's something else afoot here. I blame the parents. We don't allow our kids to be kids anymore. They have to be little adults from the age of three. Well you know what? Kids are supposed to get dirty and play and make fart noises and wipe snot on their sleeve and drop food on the floor and eat it. You know why? BECAUSE THEY'RE KIDS!! Instead what do we do as parents? We Purell the crap out of them from the womb, expose them to nothing and basically raise them like bubble boys and girls. Then we send them out into the petri dish that is nursery school - with the snot and the mucus and such and we're shocked when Johnny has issues? Of course he does - just like his parents. Can we let our kids live life people? Putting their fingers in their mouths after squishing an ant won't kill them - we just think so.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Fingers Grasp Success

I think I'm going to start investing in 3M. I swear my son can do just about anything with a pair of scissors and a load of Scotch tape. He's a mini MacGyver. His latest creation is pictured above. What is it? The lead guitar player from The Fingers rock band of course. They're all brothers (Fingers is their family name). You haven't heard of them yet? Allow me to introduce them. They're a 5 piece band (obviously).
Lead Guitar - Index Finger
Bass - Ring Finger
Lead Singer - Middle Finger
Drums - Thumb Finger
Cowbell/Tambourine/Backing Vocals - Pinky Finger

Their success in the music biz is at hand. All they need is a fair shake. They have a great grasp of the business. They're poised to be the next big thing so move over Lady Gaga.

Who needs store bought toys when you have an active imagination, right?. Good thing he has one since we lost most of his toys in the flood! The funny thing is, since he lost his toys he's hardly noticed. It's just like he never really had them. Now he just creates stuff and goes outside and actually does stuff.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice...Not so Much.

What are little boys made of?
What are little boys made of?
Frogs and snails
And puppy-dogs' tails,
That's what little boys are made of.
What are little girls made of?
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice
And all that's nice,
That's what little girls are made of.

What an idiot. Did the author of this drivel ever have a little girl? I think not. Don't let this angelic picture of my daughter fool you. She'll cut you. Literally. She actually threw a pair of razor sharp scissors at her brother this afternoon. I kid you not. Luckily he was agile enough to get out of the way so Daddy didn't have to deal with a gaping chest wound to start the week. 

In addition to her penchant for cutlery she also screams...a lot...for no reason. Oh, and she lies.

A typical exchange in our house:

"Daddy, Joey hit me."

"Joey did you hit your sister?"

"No way Daddy. She's lying, I swear. She always lies."

Bingo J-Man. She always lies. Even when I catch her in the act of beating the dog or purposely smashing one of her brother's amazing Lego creations she denies it. And she's not even four yet. At least now I can pick her up and restrain her or take her blankie away when she does something egregious. What is her future husband going to do with her? I think he may spend a lot of time weeping softly to himself. All I have to say to the lucky man is...don't blame me. She was born this way - and  I swear her mother didn't drink or do drugs while she was pregnant. To quote the great philosopher B.A. Baracus: "I pity the fool."

Friday, April 16, 2010

The 8 Year Old Within

There are a few things on God's green earth that makes me instantly revert to my juvenile self -The theme to "The Dukes of Hazzard",  hearing Phil Rizzuto's voice on old Yankee broadcasts and seeing an exact replica of the Trans Am from "Smokey and the Bandit." When I saw this delightful vehicle today I instantly wanted a CB mounted on the dash of my Toyota. Stupid cell phones killed off that form of communication. Texting my wife that I would be home soon because I was "gonna put the hammer down" didn't seem as satisfying as barking it into a CB and screaming "HEEEHAWWW."

When I was a young lad I swore that when I was old enough to drive I would have Bandit's car. It was a fait accompli. I would have the t-top with the gold eagle on the hood. I would also have Burt Reynolds stash, the cowboy hat and a need for speed. In my vision I also had cute-as-a-button Sally Field, but that's another story for another day. I'll just say that it's unfortunate that she's doing bone density commercials these days. Makes me feel a tad over the hill.

I never did get that Trans Am. I also couldn't grow an impressive stash at 17. My first car was actually about as far away from my dream as you can get - an '86 Chevy Sprint that I had to push down hill and pop the clutch in order to start. Once it was started I think it topped out at about 58 mph. Zero to 58 in about nine minutes. Any faster than 58 and the doors started to get awful fluttery like they were about to get ripped off. Not exactly a vehicle you could outrun Sheriff Buford T. Justice in. These days I'm straightenin' the curves and  flattenin' the hills in a pretty sweet Highlander with Cheez-It crumbs and Legos smooshed into the upholstery. Someday the mountain might get me but the law never will.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Clam Pie, How Do I Love Thee?

I realize I'm late to the party since they have been around since 1925 but I ate at Pepe's Pizza in New Haven for the first time today. I have to say, it didn't disappoint. Sometimes you go to an over-hyped place and it falls flat because your expectations are so high. This place exceeded mine. I ordered a clam pie because I had heard that it was a must have if you found yourself at Pepe's. Well, it was a life changing event. I'm not one for hyperbole but it was the best pizza I have ever had and I consider myself an aficionado. It was a perfect balance of garlic, fresh clams and charred crust. Perfection on a plate. We will be back.

What made the experience even better was the neighborhood. Anytime you can have great pizza and take a stroll up the block afterward to Mary Magdelene Corner and come across the scene pictured above, it's a good day. Love the fact that the Mary Magdalene sculpture is encased in plexiglass. Funny, but when I was in Florence at the Galleria dell'Accademia I don't recall Michelangelo's David encased in a plastic box.  I have to imagine that Mike's sculpture might be worth a tad more than this rendering near an on-ramp to I-91 in New Haven. I'm not an art historian but I think I can state that with some level of certainty. I guess it's very valuable to someone and that's the point.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

We're a Disaster

It's never a good sign when two officials with clipboards knock on your door and ask if they can asses your damage. What damage were they talking about? Emotional, physical, mental? Before I could ask I saw their ID - Ah, they were from FEMA and talking about our flood damage and not the damage I'm causing as a parent. Whew! I wasn't in trouble. Better yet, it looked like the government was gonna write me a check. Why should I be the only one left out, right? They'll just print more anyway. So what if my kids futures are compromised because of the crushing debt our country is heaping onto their backs. But I digress.

The FEMA guys seemed downright disappointed that I didn't have even more damage. They kept dreaming up disaster scenarios that could have happened.

"You got a bathroom down here? No? Well that's good because you mighta had a sewage back up and then you woulda had real problems."

Yeah, free flowing sewage in my new basement would have been a major bummer.

"You're boiler functionin' awright? The water didn't get up that high did it?," FEMA Guy #1 asked hopefully.

No FEMA guy. I think it's fine. What I don't think is fine is that you're the first non-family members we've had over the house. Want to stay for lunch? By the way, did you meet any of our neighbors? Are they nice?

What I actually said was, "No, the boiler's fine. I just had to get rid of the floor, some insulation and the sheetrock."

"Well, that's a lot of work right there."

Why yes it is master of the obvious. Does my labor count toward the final tab? If that's the case, I slaved for days on end.

Did they want me to overstate my losses? I guess I'm naive but I just told them what had to be tossed out. I got the impression that if I told them I lost an antique Persian rug worth tens of thousands of dollars they would have bought it. The whole thing seemed ripe for corruption but I'm sure people are always on the up and up when they're in my position.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture
Originally uploaded by Steve Gilchrist
Is this guy handsome or what? How'd you like to run into one in your backyard? How about two? I took my dog out this morning for his constitutional when I spotted 2 of these sexy beasts up in the trees 20 yards from my house. They unfurled their wings (approx. 7 feet in diameter) and flapped off. I breathed a sigh of relief when they didn't attempt to carry my Labrador off for a light snack. Needless to say, I didn't encounter many of these in my old neighborhood where the houses sat on 1/4 acre lots. Maybe if I'm lucky I'll run into a giant python when I dump the garbage later.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I Blame the NBA

At the risk of sounding like a completely out of touch Dad, what's up with all the tattoos? I saw a Chanel ad in Vanity Fair the other day that pictured an attractive girl with a neck tattoo (I think it's Rhianna but I'm not cool enough to be sure). The last time I checked the only people allowed to have neck tattoos were gang members, Hells Angels and anyone incarcerated. Now it's spread to musicians, Starbucks baristas and every player in the NBA.

It started out so innocently, this slow wave of tat ubiquity. First it was drunk college chicks on spring break getting a cute little dolphin or shamrock on their ankle. "Tee hee, my Mom is gonna kill me. Jen are you gonna get one too?  I will if you will. OK let's totally do it."

Then came the low rise jeans and the annoying butterfly on the small of the back. The proverbial "tramp stamp". I like that term. I think it may have dissuaded some young ladies from taking the plunge into white trashiness.

Let's not forget the guys. When I was in college every jug head athlete went with the barbed wire around the upper bicep. Nice. That's gonna look great when you're flabby and 50 Ace. Or better yet, the Chinese characters on the calf or the back of the arm. It may make me a bad person but every time I see someone who's obviously not Chinese with these things I pray that their tattoo reads "this guy smells like jerky" rather than "The journey is the reward" like he thinks.

My fear is that this trend will continue and my kids will grow up thinking it's no big deal to get some ink. Even worse, if employers start to accept it. At least now you know that you're limiting your job options and parents can use that as an argument.

"Billy, I'm glad you asked me first. You know son, getting a skull and cross bones on your right cheek is going to whittle down your potential employers. If you want to be a sword swallower at the circus I say go ahead. If you're looking for an IT job at IBM I would advise some restraint."

Unless you've killed someone, can sing like Chris Cornell or can dunk like Jordan you must leave the above the shoulder ink alone. We are a nation of laws people. Let's have some decorum.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Outsourcing

My kids are getting too smart. They're already peppering me with questions that I don't have answers for. So J-Man (7) asks: "Daddy, how does the Easter Bunny make all of the toys?" Oh Jeez. I'm well versed on Santa but The Bunny has always been second rate to me. I never pondered such things. The basket arrived and I asked no questions when I was his age. I went with "Joey, he's magic like Santa." Apparently that didn't satisfy his thirst for knowledge. The note pictured above was taped to the side of the family room couch. What you don't see is the pen he also taped beside it. How thoughtful. I doubt Peter Cottontail carries a pen to respond to inquiries.

Unfortunately for Joey, Peter didn't respond. We pointed out that bunnies have no thumbs and maybe that was why he didn't respond. Wow. How weak. If we're being honest I would have told him that the truth is his father lacks imagination and the ability to think on his feet. However that may have crushed his image of the old man and we weren't looking to do that quite yet. He'll get there on his own soon enough.

Oh, and it wasn't over yet. I have two kids mind you. So my ball-busting 3-year-old follows up with: "How does the bunny make all the stuff?" In my head I said: "He outsources his manufacturing to China like everyone else. America hardly makes anything anymore." But I self-censored and went with the "he's magical" response again. Well, my daughter doesn't let things go so easily so mini Perry Mason follows up with: "So how does he know when we're bad?" At this point I just want to leave the room and curl up in the fetal position. Just take the freakin' candy ok!! What am I going to do with these kids when they actually start asking question about real people and real issues??

Unemployment is Exhausting

If you don't work can you go on vacation? Isn't a vacation from unemployment going to work? And it's not really much different if you bring the kids along (which we will). They don't sleep in, you can't bring them to swanky restaurants, casinos are out of the question and they don't drink wine. If you don't do the 9 to 5 thing a vacation is really just less vacuuming and more sun.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Witty Headline

My wife found out that our town's fire department pumps out basements for people if they require it. That would have been helpful information a couple of days ago. But who knew towns actually did that anymore? Do they rescue cats from trees too? In my old town the fire department was too busy dealing with union squabbling and politics to actually do such things. Where do I live - Mayberry RFD? Does the town drunk hang out in the jail cell and trade quips with the sheriff?  If I meet anyone named Goober or Aunt Bee that will confirm it.

Maybe it's already confirmed because we just attended an ice cream social at my 2nd graders school. Yup. The only thing missing was the soda jerk. It was a lovely gathering but as usual I was too busy observing the event than actually participating actively in it. One of these days I'm going to have to actually talk to some people around here. Maybe tomorrow when I meet the other local husbands to pitch in and clean up the baseball field for the little league kids. Free coffee for all volunteers. No, I'm not kidding. I think I'm going to have to learn to tone down the sarcasm around here.