TV or not TV!

We don’t let the boys watch much television.  Like everything else, we feel it is ok in moderation.  Of course, the boys don’t quite get that.  They would like to watch tv a lot more.  Their tastes have changed through the years, too.

Yes, they just turned seven, but their tastes in programs have changed.  When they were very small, like 6 months, they were really into true life crime shows.  Maybe it was a little early for those types of shows and some people would respectfully assert that the boys were way too young, but SMM (Sergeant Major Mommy) and I thought those shows would not only help prepare them for real life, but also (added benefit) develop their logic and deduction skills.  Too bad they cried at lot at those shows, but, as we told them, it was for their own good.  The irony is that they would cry if they did not watch them.  On the other hand, they did cry a lot anyway in the early months.

Archibald (not his real name) and Mortimer (not his real name, either) watched a lot of the kiddie dinosaurs, small mammal characters and huggable aliens, as well as the fairy tale royalty, sea animals with human voices, and big people who dressed like little people.  The boys found them all interesting for a while, until they got older or friends told them about other shows.

SMM and I always kept their tv viewing to a regulated amount.   Ok, so maybe I was a little more lenient with their tv watching.   Mommy was more strict, is more strict.  Nevertheless, I DO NOT use the tv equipment as a babysitter.  That is, UNLESS the Yankees are on and, more specifically, winning.  Or, one of their really, really favorite shows is on.  Or, Daddy (when did I start referring to myself in the third person?) has to get some laundry done, or washing dishes, or monitoring his Twitter account.  I mean, those are important things, are they not?  Daddy (oops, me) needs to take care of his social media platforms not only to manage his transition to a new job and career, but ultimately to enhance his/my sense of well-being which can only be done through social media since, interestingly enough, my real life social contacts have dwindled since having kids.

I met a fellow online Daddy a few weeks ago.  He is a real-life Daddy, too, but I “met” him on Twitter, of all places.  Coincidentally, he lives only a few miles away and we decided to meet up for lunch one day.  We shared Daddy stories as well as a mutual understanding of what it means to be a Daddy today vs. 20, 30, or 40 years ago.  It was very enlightening and comforting that what seems like just a personal experience of being a Daddy with all its struggles and triumphs, is shared by other Dads.

Plus, daddies are “networking” with other daddies to enhance their own individual parenting (daddying?) styles, i.e., what works, what doesn’t, how to do this or that, etc.  What people would think of guys getting together and talking sports, women or cars, is usurped by guys/daddies sharing and communicating what is, for most, a totally rewarding, but also totally new, act of being a daddy.

Oops, I would like to go on, but the little buggers just got home and Alien-Dinosaur-Machine-Animals is on and they were hoping to see it and I have to send out some Tweets….

The Toy

Having twins isn’t easy.  Swimming the English Channel isn’t easy either, but it’s doable, with some practice and training.  I haven’t found any training for raising kids.  Sure there are books, though one has to wonder if all the books on the market actually work.  Don’t believe me, just look at the newest generation.  I rest my case.

Of course I can’t place all of the blame on the parents.  The kids are involved in the “raising kids” process, too, aren’t they?  Maybe if the little buggers actually LISTENED to their parents, a great many problems could be avoided, like injuries, hurt feelings and most importantly, parental stress.   But then again, maybe problems shouldn’t be avoided altogether.  Kids might actually learn something from falling down literally or metaphorically. And then, they’d listen!  Or maybe not.  Did you listen to your parents regardless of how many thousands of times they told you they knew better?  And you, and me, turned out relatively ok, didn’t we?  Well, I did.  Who knows about you?

So I’m driving little Archibald (not his real name) and Mortimer (not his real name, either) on their way to their new summer camp yesterday.  Their previous camp ended last week unceremoniously.  They had a talent show on the next-to-last day, which Sergeant Major Mommy (SMM) taped on her cell phone and kept viewing for three days to the detriment of the kids (and daddy) when she literally stayed in bed and watched the video and then kept saying “Awwww” every three seconds.  (Note: imagine hearing THAT for three days in a row!)  Nevertheless, the camp ended and everyone said Good bye, See you at school or see you next summer or see you on (any one of the thousands of) social media sites (where people don’t actually see each other anyway).

When we leave the house, little Archie decides to take one of the birthday toys they had received the preceding week.  Mortie chose not to take anything.   So, we’re off.  Not three minutes into the drive does little Mortie decide that “the toy” actually “belonged” to him and that little Archie should share it.

Archie respectfully disagreed with Mortie’s assessment and counter-offered that he would share “when he was good and ready.”  Now, keep in mind, that Mortie is a consummate (or will be someday) attorney.  He replied, “Now, see here, Archie.  That particular toy was given to me and even though it was given under the pretense that we would co-own “the toy”, it does rightfully and dutifully belong to me and the only reason you have it is that I have given my consent for you to play with it.  However, at this time, I am revoking that consent and thus, you are legally and responsibly bound to return said item to me, it’s rightful owner.”

Archie said NO! and the fight ensued.

The only thing that saved them (and daddy) is that they were both buckled into child seats.  Otherwise, well, who knows what kind of devastation would have occurred?

Daddy is driving and trying to remain cool, calm and collected while quietly chastising their behavior and keeping the car on the road while navigating the twenty-five hundred traffic lights and hundreds of blind drivers in the three-mile drive.   Nevertheless, daddy, rather uncharacteristically, says in a borderline loud voice “Stop it.  If I have to stop this car, “the toy” will become an ex-toy and it will magically transform in a reverse kind of metamorphosis into “car food”. The term we had for that kind of condition in Ohio was road kill.”

The two Vikings suddenly realize the severity of the situation and the urgency in daddy’s voice and they lowered their bazookas and quickly ceased all hostilities.

We arrive at the camp, the little buggers, daddy and “the toy” in perfect condition.  When I asked them later in the day if they learned anything from “the toy” incident, they replied, Yeah, keep all toys out of Ohio if you don’t want them to become road kill.

One Hour

5:00pm.  Actually, the time clock read 17:00:36.  That’s 5:00 and 36 seconds for non-military, normal people.

I have one hour, sixty minutes, to leave work, pick up the boys, take them home, go get something to eat and get back to work.  I’ve done it before.  This time will be like all the other times, I think to myself.

Tick tock, tick tock.

I clock out and then on my way out the door, I am stopped by a customer at the front door asking if they can return something they bought four (4!) years ago, a little blender.  They claim… at this point, I stop listening and point at the front desk and say, in as nice a tone as possible, ova their.   I smile courteously and shake my head like I am really sympathetic to their predicament when in reality I cannot imagine what could possibly go through someone’s head to return something after four years!!! Even if it wasn’t open, which they alluded to it hadn’t, but still, why return it?  Why not give it away to your darling little niece or nephew in their Christmas stocking?  That would be an awesome gift for any eight-year-old.   But, I digress.

Time is of the essence.  Tick tock, tick tock.

I start the car and start toward the camp, which as the crow flys, is about two miles away AT MOST!  But, I’m not flying and I live in Rockland County, NY, where not only is there a traffic light every 50 feet, whether one is needed or not, the roads were designed by an old farmer with a blind cow.  Straight is definitely overrated here.  Plus, let’s not forget, it is now 5:08pm, which means everybody else in Rockland County except me, actually GOT OFF WORK at 5pm.  Needless to say, the lights, the roads, the just-got-off-work drivers, the Tuesday let’s-just-get-in-the-car-and-drive drivers are all slowing me down, for lack of a better word.

Oh, and then there’s the “person” behind me who decides to speed past me at the light just so they can get two cars in front of me in the line waiting for the next traffic light to turn green.

But, that’s ok.  I’m a mature, down-to-earth, easy going man who doesn’t let these really trivial things take emotional or stressful roots in my psyche.  I’m on a mission to get my boys.

Tick tock, tick tock.  5:18.

I arrive at the school where the summer camp is.  I can sense something is not right here.  Parents are definitely pulling up front and parking and even walking inside, but no one is walking out.  Where are the boys?

I park, not in one of my favorite places, but a little further than I would like because an older woman has decided to park her car at a place on the curb where no car can park in front of or behind her.   That’s ok, I can handle it.  I walk past her car as she gets out and smile and nod and she smiles and nods and I can see that the lights are on, but no one is really home there.   Hey, I’m the absolute last one to prejudge somebody on their age, but when she gets out of the car and then reaches in to get her walker, I have to think that maybe…. well, she should have a good talk with her lazy daughter and no-account son-in-law, just saying.

But, I digress.  I’m on a mission.

I walk into the auditorium and it is empty.  Uh oh.  I look around and look in the gym, boys not there.  I turn and see the boys walking down the hall toward me.  That’s ok.   They see me and say, Daddy can we have some money?  Now, I know that that is not a good sign for six-year-olds.  When they get to be 12 or 16, I can expect to hear that, not at six.  They say they want a snack, even though Mortimer is holding a half-drunk (or half-empty, I assume he drank it) bottle of lemonade.  I say, as politely as if I’m talking to the Queen, you can have something at home.  Let’s get your stuff and go, daddy has to go back to work.

We walk into the auditorium to retrieve their bags.  Morty is juggling his lemonade and Archibald walks to his table and begins walking around it as if looking for something.  I naively ask, what are you looking for, Archie?  He replies, my drawings.  There were clearly no drawings on the table.  Somehow we spend the next five minutes (tick tock, tick tock) walking around the table again and again looking for the missing drawings. When I am able to convince Archie that he can pick them up tomorrow, he reluctantly follows Morty and me out to the car.


We drive toward home, arrive, get out and head inside.  Now, tonight is Grandma’s night to feed them.  She was told, by my lovely and talented wife and mother to the two incredibles, that she would be needed.  Nevertheless, when we get home, she is nowhere to be found.  I run upstairs calling for her.  She appears out of the kitchen and quietly says, what?  I say the boys are home and…. She looks somewhat stunned, but responds, I’ll be right down.

I return downstairs to find Archie and Morty sitting on the couch watching TV.  It is at this time that I feel I’ve reached somewhat of a dilemma:  should I leave since the boys seem to be settled for a moment or should I wait until that moment when Gma actually descends the stairs and I know that the boys will be supervised?  I begin mulling this over and Gma appears and says, Ok, you can go. I jump into my car.

5:36pm.  Tick tock, tick tock.

The good news is that the traffic is headed in the other direction now.  Smooth sailing, or so I think until I reach the major intersection.  Traffic is backed up in one lane as drivers contemplate their next move which can either be going forward or turning.  I suppose some people find that to be too much of a strenuous mental test.  The driver immediately in front of me (somehow) decides to let somebody out of the shopping center.  What is really incredible is that she(?) made this monumental decision while the light was GREEN in front of her.

Wouldn’t life be so much easier without the driver in front of you?   The bad news is that the people behind me probably feel the same about me.  Bummer.

So much for being a grounded, mature, thoughtful man.  I beep my horn, fly around her, gun the engine and race through the light.  After all, I’m on a mission.  She follows me and pulls behind me into the grocery store parking lot.

She casually smiles and me and gives me a look that she is looking at someone whose lights are on, but I’m not home.  Funny how things work out sometimes, isn’t it?

Tick tock, tick tock.

Finally, I’m at the food bar picking out my dinner.  I have twenty minutes left to eat and get back to work.  Work is only three lights away, or twenty minutes, whichever comes first.

I shovel my food into my mouth.  I don’t really remember what I picked out but some of it was green, some meat of some type and something else, rice, I think.

I drive back to work and clock in at 18:00:48.  I made it!


My Turn

It is one of those days after one of those nights.

It’s early still, only 7:00am on a Friday, no less.  Last night, daddy couldn’t say or do anything right.

And this morning, it is my turn to get the boys, Archibald and Mortimer (not their real names), ready for summer camp.

I’ve done this before, but today nothing goes right.  The boys cooperate less than any other day ever.  Mortimer goes through the motions, but his heart is really not in it.  For example, I have to physically carry him to the bathroom to brush his teeth.  And then, he brushes his teeth while simultaneously singing Shake it Off by Taylor Swift.  And dancing to it, of course.  Meanwhile, toothpaste goes flying all around the bathroom.

Archibald continues playing in his room while Morty brushes his teeth.  Archie is constructing a dinosaur-big machine-spaceship (very elaborate, I might add, it looks exactly what one would look like if one actually existed).  When Morty finishes and I encourage Archie that it is his turn, he runs away.  He runs upstairs to grandma’s second bedroom and hides.  I immediately ground him for life in as loud a voice as I can muster at 7:30 without waking the neighbors in the next county.  Grandma can’t hear anyway so I know she won’t hear it.

I quickly realize the error of my announced punishment and that it would literally hurt me more than him.  I do try to be as patient as possible with Archie since he was diagnosed with a learning disability and borderline autism.   Nevertheless, I have to carry him, too, to the bathroom.  He actually brushes in pretty good form.

Now, onto the spraying of suntan lotion and dressing.   Morty has since been re-constructing Archie’s ‘spaceship’ into his own superhero-racecar-submarine.   I tell him of the next activity and he stands up.  But, he stays there.  He doesn’t move.  I have to help him start taking his clothes off after repeated threats (not of grounding, I learned my lesson), but of taking toys away.  He decides to sit on my lap and give me a big hug.  Ok, even the hardest guy-football player-construction worker would be brought to tears for such a tender moment.  I collapse with an explosion of emotion so profound and complete, I immediately promise to give him everything in the world.  Somehow, he dresses.

Archie, in the meantime, reconstructs Morty’s sub.  But, in a rather uncharacteristic move, when I mention it is his turn, he stands up and does the whole thing himself, except for the spraying of suntan lotion, which would have happened easily if the can was still full.  Oh no.  Fortunately, in a nano-moment of clarity, daddy realizes that he had bought an extra can for precisely this kind of moment.

Now, getting on shoes and out to the car happens, again somehow, it all seems like a big blur anymore.  But, when Archie gets into the car, he always has to go through the front seat to the back, he touches the control for the windows.  I don’t realize that until I get into the driver’s seat and cannot lower the windows.

Somehow, in the quantum physics of life, the universe has conspired that today be one of those days.  The planets have magically, mysteriously, momentarily moved out of alignment.  I thought, well, all I have to do now is drive the little buggers to camp, without lowering the windows, of course.

It was an easy proposition, but Rockland County, NY is known for having traffic lights every 50 feet whether they are needed or not.  Plus, somehow, the universe alerted every slow driver on the east coast to drive in Rockland this morning.   The boys recited the Declaration of Independence and the Gettysburg Address three times each, in Chinese and English, before we make it to summer camp.

Do you think that was too much, teaching them Chinese, before they can read?

We get to camp and daddy realizes that the trip was so long, he will have to shave again when he gets home.  But, the boys start to run in and then turn around and each grab a hand and pull me inside.  Again, I collapse from emotion which was for them, their way of showing affection.

Ok, this wasn’t so bad.  I could do this again, in about a year or so.