Saturday, May 31, 2008

How Do You Keep Your Dog Off Drugs?

Big fright this week with the Lab. I got home and found him stumbling, twitching and tipping over. My first thought was he was having a stroke/ I pictured him paralyzed and being fed pudding for his remaining years. The kids kept asking why he was tripping over his feet and tipping to one side as he was sitting; his feet slowing sliding out from under him. I kept telling them I didn't know. I may be in my 40's but haven't yet experienced the thrill of a heart attack.

I made an emergency run to the vet, told her what I found and my concern, and stood there wringing my hands while she did a cursory examination. She took off the stethoscope and asked, "Has he gotten into any mushrooms?"

Are you kidding me? My dog is high?

Turns out he got into some type of psychedelic fungus in the compost pile.

Now I'm worried I'm going to come home and find he's moved a crappy trailer into the back yard and he's got some mold lab going. All my ziploc bags have disappeared and there are shakey looking dogs hanging around at all times.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Facial Hair Time Machine

After three days of my not shaving, the 12 year old suggested I leave the Soul Patch when I shaved before work. I immediately dismissed the suggestion since I am not a beatnik (an expression completely lost on her) or a 23 year old relief pitcher. She then suggested I grow a goatee (she meant a Vandyke, but nobody gets that right anymore).

There was no problem getting on board with this idea, since I always wanted one. My Ex was never keen on it, or facial hair of any kind. Back in college, I sported a moustache. It was a great moustache; not one of those reedy, thin 20-something cookie dusters, but a thick, full rusty curtain that swept across my upper lip with authority. I was never ID’d again at clubs or the liquor store.

One evening after graduation, I shaved it off for a change, met my wife shortly after that and was never able to grow it back. Women know you only with facial hair or without and it is difficult to make the transition from one state to the other within the same relationship. But now I was not in that relationship, even though I have not moved on to anything else, So I was free to do whatever I wanted with my face.

I only shaved the neck and cheeks, and it was good I liked the look, People noticed immediately and the reaction was positive. The Ex even said it was sexy!. It made me feel a little dangerous; it suggested I was someone with wicked thoughts who was not to be harassed.

But nothing lasts. After a week, the grey was pretty noticeable and it was becoming 'beardy'. Someone suggested how much I look like my Dad. He looks like Santa.

I shaved it off.

Why is it the things we do in our youth to look older, like facial hair (or dramatic eye shadow for girls), once we become older only make us look elderly?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ol' Fashioned Rat Killin'

We have so much activity going on with Kids and Dogs, I barely have time to hold down a job as it is. I was at the Ex's house helping with yard work and decided to cook up some burgers on the BBQ. I opened the lid, turned on the gas, hit the ignition switch and... wait for it... a big brown rat popped up from below the grill!

(Bet you thought I was going to say the trapped gas burned off all my arm hair. That's another story).

As I always have the dogs around my legs, especially when any food preparation is underway, both were there to hear the scrabbling as the rat dashed back and forth across the grill. After 10 seconds, the rat decided his environment was not going to get any cooler. He launched himself from the BBQ, landed square on the rump of the Lab, dashed up his spine and leaped from the Lab's head into the bushes.

While the Lab stood there stunned at being the site for a rodent touch-and-go, the Retriever took off after the escaping rat. The Lab joined a second later, and within seconds, they had cornered it. The Lab did not hesitate to grab it, shake it, and drop it as soon as it stopped moving.

I, of course, gave a whoop like I was watching a big NHL bodycheck or quarterback sack. The 12 year old was not so thrilled (nor was the Ex, but let's not got there). The 14 year old was pretty jazzed, but then he's fueled by testosterone and jaded from playing GTA at neighbors' houses.

Needless to say, the rat wasn't actually dead, so I needed to finish it off with the spade. This was even more horrifying to the 12 year old. Through choaking sobs she blamed me for sending the dogs after the rat and wondered why we couldn't just let it live. I tried to explain that rats were not healthy to have around and they posed a risk to the house etc. Logic didn't help my case and I began to get frustrated with her.

But I figure any 12 year old girl that was not horrified and heartbroken over the sadistic mauling and decapitation of a fuzzy creature, was probably not a 12 year old girl I'd like to meet.

The worst part was later in the evening, when everybody was asleep. I recalled my glee at seeing the dogs hunt and attack. I guess I'm only one grilled rat away from expressing my Inner White Trash.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Temperature Sensitivity in Adolescents

I think I’ll apply for a federal grant to study 'Why The Hell My Kids are Always Hot When it’s Cold, and Cold When it’s Hot'. More specifically, they make no effort to dress to suit the environmental conditions, the way a sane person would. Now it’s warm at night, and the 14 year old wants the fan on right next to his bed. He won’t open the window, take down the curtain he has draped over his bunk or even switch to non-flannel pajamas. “But Dad, I can’t sleep without the quilt. I feels weird!” So he lies there all night, sweating and stinking up the room.

This is the same kid who has refused to wear pants since we had one moderately mild day back in March.

The girl, on the other hand, wanted me to put on the heat in the car yesterday. I agreed to roll up the windows (it was over 80 degrees at 3PM), but that wasn’t enough. She pulled my fleece pullover from behind the seat to keep her warm. Seems reasonable, if a little high maintenance. But, like her brother, the 12 year old never does anything the way the adult world does. She put her legs through the sleeves and pulled it up over her waist, like malformed, fuzzy hip waders.

Who are these people?!

And they fight putting on sun block because they claim they don’t have sensitive skin. But God forbid you try to get them to put on sweater. “IT’S TOO ITCHY!!”

Monday, May 26, 2008

Teenage Boys are Perverts

Of course, having been a teenage boy a long, long time ago, I was not at all shocked to hear that my 14 year old had engaged with the other boys on the team in ribald discussions of what they would like to do with girls they knew if they every had the chance. I knew this was all talk. I had been through this with his older brother and he turned out fine. These braggards, if faced with the opportunity to even kiss a girl, would awkwardly kick at the ground before lunging forward to miss her mouth completely and give her backpack a good smooch as she walked away.

But I was not prepared to learn that his 12 year old little sister had been one of the young ladies mentioned and that he himself had been encouraging it. Rather than be her champion and bloody a few noses for his sister's honor, my sweet little boy had been instrumental in getting a nasty rumor going.

Needless to say, Friday was spent meting out discipline and damage control: The Biathlon of the Father of Teenagers.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Dogs Don't Goal Set

I have added a photo of the dogs I'm trying to spend more time with. You can hardly blame me for wanting to pack it in and hang out with them. So now I need to generate enough revenue to replace my income, plus erase the debts accumulated in the past 15 years. And do it all after the kids have gone to sleep.

Piece of cake.

Must have a plan. I like Jimmy Buffet's: sail around the Carribean, pull into port, put on a concert, sail away. And he can wear jeans and flip-flops whenever he wants. Hard to have labs on a sailboat, but I'll burn that bridge when I get there.

Tonight I helped the 14 year old to study geometry for a test tomorrow. I covered "Perimeter and Area" on a legal pad for 20 minutes. He said, "Wow, that took us three weeks".

Jeez, how did you know the government runs the schools?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Puking's Second Wind

Technology is amazing. Even when you think the school system has taken responsibility for your child for a few hours, the on-line network can reach out and pull you back in.

The 12 year old called me on her cell from the school bus this morning saying her tummy hurt. Her seatmate also got on to tell me how bad it was. Then came the text message asking if she could come home.

Before I sound like a negligent, pit-bull-raising, deadbeat dad, understand the "trick tummy" that has accounted for numerous days off school and corresponding (but not unwelcome) missed days at work. Often her remedy of choice once at home are Slurpee's, ice cream and cookies. The real miracle is not that she feels fine within 20 minutes of school starting, but that she is not the size of a house.

Since I was driving to the office at the time of Camille's death-bed pleas, I told her if I came to get her we'd have to go to the hospital and she'd need to make up the missed class work tonight.


Long story short, she called again from school 10 minutes later saying she had thrown up (her friend again confirmed the nature of the vomit). She felt fine and was now off to class.

I had many nights in my twenties where puking my guts out was all that was needed to push in till dawn. I wonder if this is hereditary?

Channeling Carson

I was talking to the kids today about why Mommy and Daddy were not living together anymore. They told me to cut out the "Mommy and Daddy" kid-stuff because they were old enough to receive text messages about which 13 year old was pregnant at their school. After making a mental note to increase the frequency of my abstinence lecture to twice a week, we discussed the odds of a family reconciliation.

They are not great.

That was not really a surprise to the kids. Despite their frustration over the apparent ridiculousness of the situation, they are aware that their mother and I have been apart for a year now. In fact it's been more than a year since she asked me to physically get my own place, and at least two and a half years since she decided it was over and time to move on. She just didn't tell me for about 18 months.

Separation and divorce are so common among the kids' friends' families, it is not as big a taboo as when I was a boy. My mom would describe the mother of one of my friends as being a "Dee-vor-say" in only a whisper, like she was passing on Soviet missile launch codes.

Trying to assure the kids that it was not too big a deal, and nothing to be ashamed of, I said that more than one third of marriages now end in divorce. With only a beat my daughter asked, "What do the others end in?"

There's never a rimshot around when you need one.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Identity Crisis

In setting up this blog minutes ago, I had to decide on a name: a label for all future posts. While I could have picked something eponymous or a moniker that described my current state (e.g SadDad, LonelyPapa ugh), both would have defined my writing by my life right now. However, the purpose of this blog is to get me to where I want to be, not reminisce about where I've been.

Got to stop living in "The Was" Baby!

So if the goal of self-improvement is to imagine the life you want then make it happen, I'll start by naming the blog after my future desired state. I always figured a good job was one where I could wear jeans and bring my dogs. Since those jobs don’t appear to be hiring, I’m just going to have to make one myself.

I may bitch about the office, my ex, her stalkers and why it is my kids get so much pleasure from tormenting each other over whether it is worse to poke a girl in the boob or a boy in the 'nads. But behind these rants is a man dreaming of sitting behind a desk wearing my most comfortable blue jeans with a sleeping Labrador at my feet.

Of course, the dog my be farting, but at least it won't be poking it's sister in her boob.

June 2010 Update: Still the same job with no dogs allowed at work. Must write more. At least the kids have stopped poking each other and have moved onto sarcasm and mental cruelty.