Monday, February 22, 2010

Tiger! Tiger!

The wildest suggestion I heard this week was gotten from the closed captioning on the bigscreen at my sandwich shop.  I was waiting for the guy to finish up my Elvis special and some talking head on ESPN tells John Buccigross that the Tiger Woods Infideli-gate thing was a fantastic opportunity for parenting.  You know, to talk to your kids about trust.  About promises.

Uh huh.  I'm sure that sounded brilliant to Connie in Makeup, but I dunno if the age intersection works.  Like at all.  Let's see, the old "Trust" and "Keeping Promises" lessons coincide with what, Little League?  And the "When You're A Married, World Famous Athlete, You Shouldn't Sleep With Every Cocktail Waitress In Vegas" lesson is, ah... is when, exactly?

You know, they really ought to whiteboard these arguments before they're rolled out to the general public.  Anyway, if you actually needed this prompt (from either the ESPN wag or the wayward golf star, take your pick) to spur you on to greater parenting heights, it be already too late, mon.

I think the world of Deuteronomy 11:9.  I do.  And I think we should be inventive of ways to bring lessons to our children (and each other) about God, using the world around us.  We should talk about everyday life in terms of God.
And ye shall teach [these words to] your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
But maybe the scandal du jour might not be the way to go about it.  Just my $0.02.

Speaking of Tigers, I am reading one of the most entertaining little volumes I've run across:  The Jungle Books.  That Rudyard Kipling cat was a certifiable genius.  If you're like me, and all your knowledge of these stories comes from the 1967 Disney movie (with which the Captain is unnaturally obsessed), you need to take a look at the 19th Century originals.

But be warned, there's a lot less catchy music.  

A sample:
Yes, I too was born among men.  I had never seen the jungle.  They fed me behind bars from an iron pan till one night I felt that I was Bagheera, the Panther, and no man's plaything, and I broke the silly lock with one blow of my paw, and came away; and because I had learned the ways of men, I became more terrible in the jungle than Shere Khan.  Is it not so?  --Bagheera, in Mowgli's Brothers
And yeah, the animals all talk in Elizabethan English.  Which is awesome on so many levels.  I'm reticent to promise a real-deal book report, but don't be shocked if you hear more talk of Kipling's jungle in the future.

Not sure what to tell this week about Jack-san.  He's got a two-week long streak going for sitting through the entirety of church.  I mean, his stay is punctuated with "UH OH!" and "NO!" providing some pretty good laughs for those around us, but it's tolerable.

His latest funny talent is being able to participate in reading books and praying.  So for Goodnight, Moon, he'll finish out the lines for you, like so:

"Goodnight comb, Goodnight [BUH!], Goodnight nobody, Goodnight [MUH!], And goodnight to the old lady whispering, '[SHHHHHHHHHHHH!]'"

That last part has him mashing his nose down completely flat with his index finger.

He even prays pretty well:

"Dear [GAH], Thank you for [DADA] and thank you for [MAMA] and thank you for [BUH!] and thank you for [PAPA] and thank you for [BUH!] and thank you for [MMM], right, for Grammy, and thank you for [DADA] and thank you for Granddaddy, and thank you for [BAHBAH], that's right, Beebee, and thank you for [MAMA] and thank you for [BUH!] and I love and thank you for Jesus [ZHUHZHS], and I pray in His name, [AMUH!]"

Amuh.  I think that's the Aramaic.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Rifle? Check. Spandex? Check.

Nature in her genius had imitated art.
-Ovid, The Metamorphoses, Book III
 [Jack's] Phrase of the week:  "Uh oh."  So simple, and so eminently useful in life.
[Jack's] Weird behavior of the week:  Taking his favorite food, broccoli, and dipping it in cherry juice, his next-to-favorite food.  Hey, it ain't ketchup or hoisin sauce, but who am I to judge?

I spent yesterday enduring the shoddy coverage of a half-melted event:  the Winter Olympics.  And I mean, there were some real turkeys in there, like the 7-0 shellacking of the Chinese women's hockey team by our own gals.  It probably ended 17-1, but I couldn't fight through it.  But the true gem, and I'm being completely serious, was the nearly-weirdest idea* for a sport ever, the winter biathlon.  Because nothing goes with cross-country skiing better than... firearms.  The sport was born in the 1920s out of something called Military Patrol, and originally included small teams scaling cliffs with heavy packs along with the skiing and shooting.  I know, I know, the next event was chasing Roger Moore down a mountain past a chalet.

OK, so the idea in biathlon is to bust your hump as hard as you can, skiing till your heart is ready to explode.  Then you stop.  And you target shoot as your hammering pulse does everything it can to shake your aim.  So it's a bit like a bungee jump followed by performing a coronary bypass.  In tights.  For time.

I'm completely fascinated by this sport, just on principal.  Relentlessly pushing yourself, only to have to come to a dead stop, and do something totally unrelated, using finesse alone.  That's darn interesting, because it's at the core of what being a dad, or a mom, or heck, a person is all about.  Charging yourself at flank speed through a day full of broken glass and jerks and layoffs and concertina wire and budget shortfalls to get to your daughter's tea party.  Or to watch your son for an hour or two while mom goes out.  Art... er, sport, imitates life.

Jack is running around these days like a crazed zoo animal and is particularly interested in climbing.  The only difference from say, a few months ago being that now he's strong enough, and just resourceful enough that he can actually get to pretty substantial elevation.  Just this morning I caught him in mid-flight from an end table, as he flung himself to his death on the hardwood floor below.  The only solution that I can think of is to completely convert the house to bouncy-castle.  I'll be taking bids shortly.

*I'm thinking jai alai is numero uno.  But that's just me.

Monday, February 8, 2010

MVPs and Jerry Springer on Location

Your Dad's a Dentist?  Mine's Superbowl MVP
So the Saints have won Superbowl XXDILIVCVICMIVDXI.* And since yours truly scours the planet to give you the quirky parenting angle of every situation, I did see something of interest last night.

Apart from the game itself, did you watch the end-of-game insanity? It's usually hit or miss, with people acting patently stupid, saying things somewhere between pithy and downright narcissistic. Anyway, last night the camera cut to a lengthy shot of Drew Brees. The 31 year old Superbowl MVP was standing there, crying, with his 1 year old son in his arms. They had these huge earphones stuck on the kid, and Drew is just talking to him, and kissing the little guy over and over. It was a moving and private moment captured right inside the most public of events. It was also darn good television, and the producer knew it. I could almost hear them screaming, "Stay on him! Stay on him!"

I realize that there's great satisfaction to be had, more than most know, from sharing your best moments with family. Sharing even with those too young to know what the heck is going on. From Mr. Brees' unique vantage point, it might be really easy to say, "I did this alone. This is for me." But instead he seemed to be simply a young dad showing his baby off at a football game.

On Location: The Jerry Springer Show
Speaking of being alone, Her Majesty and our illustrious Captain blew town for a week, leaving me and FMB to tend Home Port 2.0 by ourselves.

We stayed up very late, drank too much coffee, made perfect cream gravy (for the world's flattest biscuits), and ate hot dogs and ice cream and pork burritos and pizza and all manner of things that H.M. would just be appalled at. And by Saturday, things got, as they do when there are no civilized folk about, a bit strange.

The backstory on this is that we have this plain vanilla neighbor, that we pretty much never see, on the corner lot behind us. That neighbor has a dog. It's a yippy dog. It's the worst yippy dog in the universe. It barks in the loudest, most painful pitch whenever something eventful happens. Like a leaf falling to the ground. Or some granny walks past. I can hear this dog, loud and clear, inside my house with a pillow around my head. I have dreamed about meth junkies losing control of their Winnebago and driving right through its backyard and over its shanty of a dog house. About meteors falling from the sky, putting a headstone of molten nickel over its final (silent) resting place. Complete strangers stop me in my front yard to say, "I'll sure bet you're sick of that stupid dog behind you." I have despised this dog for two long years.

And Saturday night it was finally too much. I strode out of my backdoor bellowing, "SHUT YOUR DOG UP! SHUT IT UP! THE WHOLE NEIGHBORHOOD HATES THAT DOG! EVERYBODY'S SICK OF IT! SHUT IT UP, NOW!" I think I was just trying to make myself feel better. And y'know, I thought everyone of course was inside, and if they heard, they'd naturally ignore some kook yelling about a dog.

Oooooooooo, I was wrooooooooong.

Two refugees from Jerry Springer ladies, and I use the term charitably, were actually in their driveway, smoking. When I start screaming at the house, they let fly with the most profane, blue streak of X-rated cussing I have ever been on the receiving end of. I haven't been cussed that severely in a late-nite hockey league brawl.  So, just shocked out of my gourd, I wade on out my back gate in my bare feet looking for trouble. I'm not kidding, here - within 30 seconds, I have a cigarette thrown at me and the 4 foot tall one is on the phone with the Po Po telling the dispatcher that a crazy man is threatening her children.

About now, this guero is rapidly reevaluating his strategy.

Lessee... I'm carrying on heated conversations with two irrational women who want me dead. A Cops: Houston camera crew is probably en route. Solution? Start shaking hands and kissing babies as fast as possible.** I ask for the neighbor, who's name I narrowly manage to remember. Is she here? Yes, she is. She comes over. I reintroduce myself, hey remember I mowed your yard last year, I'm a nice guy, remember. We chit chat about how annoying the dog is, how she didn't even want it but can't get rid of it now. How her brother bred it for her teenage daughter***. How I was wrong to scream at them. I didn't know they were out there, it was dark, I say. I'm really sorry about that and that the dog just got my goat tonight, that's perfectly okay she says, it's been a bad week all around for them too, and she'll shut the dog up and she's sorry for it waking my baby up...

Lots of shaking hands and amends-making later, Mr. Chicken drags his battered pride out of WWE land without so much as a cigarette burn or fake fingernail scratch, clutching only a solemn promise that dog will be shut up at 3am.

So Jackbaby and Majesty came back to rescue me from anarchy and barbarism yesterday afternoon. Thank the LORD.

*For my part, I hope Tony Romo has sand in his board shorts on whatever South American beach he's on this week.
** Thank you, Bill Clinton!
***What kind of fool BREEDS a dog to bark incessantly?  I thought breeding was supposed to accentuate GOOD properties of dogs, not bad ones!  Who is this person?!