So, I’ve failed to mention that I have a third child, daughter to be exact, of the four legged variety.  G is a fun loving, sweet, happy yellow lab.  She’s also a touch crazy, and obnoxious to boot.   Even so, she actually learned her obedience and tricks pretty well.  All except one… a pretty important one… some might say the most important one to teach a dog-to come.  She will not, and I dare say cannot, come to me when called, at least not when she doesn’t want to.  I have spent more hours of my life chasing that G D mutt around the yard, the kitchen table, parking lots, even a convenience store during a long road trip, that it’s surprising she’s not stuffed.  Fortunately, or maddeningly depending on your perspective, she never runs away, just far enough so I can’t catch the cute little B. So what does this have to do with being a disgruntled dad?  A few days ago, when I was loading up my pickup with S for the dump, my daughterSs colluded to seriously F-up my day.

It was around 15 degrees, the snow was about mid shin level, and as usual, we kept G in the house  to be warm.  Unfortunately, the door from the garage to the house leads to the main living area where we keep G when she’s in the house.  I asked my 3 year old to please not open the door and let G out, and that was my first mistake.  Experience should have told me that I could not trust my daughter  to do what I ask and make my life easier when its SO much more fun to F with me.  

As I’m walking back into the garage, I hear the unmistakable sound of my daughter’s giggling, and saw the unpreventable yellow blur streak past me into the freedom of the front yard.  I could have ended my daughter right there, but of course she’s only 3, and it hadn’t been so long just yet.  Thus began the hour or so of numb fingers and toes, a humiliating display of ineptitude on the grand neighborhood stage, sweat, worthless dog treats and pieces of steak, and of course, the awesome rage welling up from places unknown.  I did finally catch her by out thinking her into cornering herself (ya, it took over an hour to out smart my G-D dog) and it ended in a snowy, wet, furry, inter-species UFC match.  Yes, I won.  Of course my 3 year old was across the street in the neighbor’s garage because shockingly she didn’t follow my directions to GO IN THE F-ING HOUSE!!! (I promise I only cursed in my head- I think- and then not until the 15th time)

I did finally get to the dump, but because God has such a wonderfully vindictive sense of humor, the F-ing dump doesn’t take plastic, and I had no cash.  (as an aside I ask, What self-respecting dude actually carries checks anymore?  F-ing dump!!!)  How I stopped myself from dumping all my F-ing S right at the M F-ing gate and setting it all on fireo, I have no F-ing clue, but D if I don’t give my self credit.

I love my kids… I love my kids…I love my kids…I love my kids…

Good luck to all the frustrated dads out there, may your dogs be slow!!









Paradise Lost?

The wife and I live in Alaska right now, so there was really nothing like the promise of Hawai’i to lift our spirits above the cold snowy darkness that prevails here in the dead of winter.  So when the day finally came to board the plane and head to paradise, I should have felt relieved, relaxed, and ready to fully embrace a lazy existence in paradise.  But, of course I couldn’t relax; I was boarding a plane with two ticking time bombs (my kids!!).  I know you are not supposed to joke about bombs and planes, (I apologize to anyone I may be offending) but the analogy is just too perfect.  Both can go off at any time without warning, both are loud and potentially explosive, both are quite capable of inflicting physical and emotional pain, both strike fear and loathing in the hearts of the passengers sitting nearby, and, most importantly, both have the awesome potential to ruin the day of EVERYONE on the flight.  So no, I wasn’t relaxed even a little bit,  experience is just too good a teacher.  Oddly enough, thanks to a portable DVD player and a case full of Disney princess movies, plenty of snacks, coloring books and crayons, a less than full flight (no S winning lottery ticket), and a little bit of mother’s milk on ascent and descent, the flight was shockingly uneventful.  I made the horrible mistake of interpreting that as a good omen for the rest of the trip; however, much like the Royals starting out the season red hot, it was not the indicator of future easiness for which I hoped.

The condo we rented for the week was fantastic.  It was luxurious, immaculate, and had plenty of space for my little family.  Though we certainly planned on some activities that would be fun for the whole family, my wife and I were very excited to get the kiddos down for bed in order to have a little time for ourselves.  Don’t get excited, this is not that kind of blog.  We’re parents of small children.  When I say “time for ourselves,” I mean vegging out on the couch with something on the tube, maybe a little alcohol to sip on, but mostly just the peace and quiet of a whining-crying-question-general obnoxiousness-free environment.  My son, J, had other ideas.  My daughter is a great sleeper (once she’s asleep).  A howitzer could go off next to her bed, and all she’d do is open her eyes a little, frown, then turn over and go back to sleep.  My son on the other hand, not so much.  He sleeps through the night (here in Alaska), but getting him down can be a real pain in the A.  For whatever reason, this problem was greatly exacerbated in the land of palm trees.  My wife would nurse him, I’d get him in his little sleep sack and head into the bathroom (that’s where we parked his pack-n- play) counting the seconds until I could pretend I was childless.  I have him literally snoring in my arms, rocking him back and forth, as I’m getting into position for the lay down ditch.  As I lean over and just start to extend my arms, I hear the “a’heh, a’heh, a’heh” whines that I’m pretty damn sure make up the opening bars of Beethoven’s Prelude to an F-ing Meltdown.  I swear to God he was like a machine—passed out in my arms and then wailing as soon as he felt any variance in the rock to altitude ratio.  So there I was cussing under my breath, with steam coming out of my ears I’m sure, bouncing up and down, breaking out in a sweat from the damn work out I was getting, back just burning in pain (this isn’t helping the inferno of anger welling up from deep in my gut), wondering how the F long I can keep this up and whether or not I have the endurance to make it all night. Finally, after about 8 maddening attempts, I figure out that if I get my hand under his head and keep swinging him as I’m bent over at a 45 degree angle lowering him into his pack-n-play all the while shushing to the point of cheek pain, I can successfully extricate my hands without angering the beast.  At that point I felt both triumphant and incredibly pissed off all at the same time.  I walk back into the living room and of course my wife is looking at me as the child conquering hero that I clearly am, and perhaps just a touch of guilt that she didn’t have to go through that hell, but at this point any chance of me being “in the mood,” is about as good as our Political Parties caring about anything other than their status of power in relation to the other—not going to happen, at least not anytime soon.  As far as I was concerned, on that night, it was paradise lost.  Sorry sweetie.  Needless to say that persisted for most of the week, but I tried as hard as I could not to let it completely ruin my vacation—after all, I really needed it.

Honestly, looking back, except for her epic meltdown at the nice outdoor restaurant that drew the ire of every single patron there and then lasted for the entire 25 minute walk back to the condo during which she begged for her last chance between the horror movie style screams, a few other scattered tantrums, insisting on beibg carried up hill on a hike even though I had her brother on my chest in the Baby Bjorn, and her throwing a boogie board that wasn’t ours off the balcony of our lanai, my daughter was actually pretty good.  That said, she was still the single largest contributor by far to my near total lack of rest and relaxation for which I so desperately yearned.

Even now, my visions of Hawai’i include, almost exclusively, water, lying down, general laziness, some reading, tropical rum drinks, and general relaxation.  There was definitely water… uhhhh… the other stuff, not so much, at least not by me.  The general laziness, reading, tropical rum drinks, and general relaxation were enjoyed by all the other bastards there (some of whom also had kids), but when I was near the water, I was either in it playing with my daughter, or walking around it with the stroller trying to get my son to zonk out while simultaneously fostering my pie in the sky hopes that if I could get him to sleep, quickly, I may actually get a few minutes to relax while my wife was catching my daughter’s annoyingly constant jumps from the pool deck into a pair of waiting arms.  I measured my success like a big league hitter, if I could capture that “time” 3 out of 10 times, I would have won the motivated-with-a-not-too-subtle-ulterior-motive-to-be-lazy-father-of-the-year award.  There were definitely a few occasions where I had the good fortune to find myself with a beer/ Mai Tai in one hand, my Tom Clancy novel in the other, the sun on my pasty Alaska white skin, and the closest kid to me mercifully asleep.  Problem was, for being in paradise, those orgasmically blissful moments were just too few.

The trip definitely ended on an appropriate note.  On a redeye flight back into Anchorage, we again had the good fortune to get an extra seat for my son which meant he got to be in his car seat which meant my wife got to sleep.  My daughter was with me.  To start she and I had the middle and aisle seats next to what turned out to be a very nice and understanding grandma type.  When we first got to the row, I asked her if she would mind taking the aisle so my daughter could sleep in the corner.  She said she preferred the window because it was the only place she could sleep.  I then took a deep breath, fought the fear deep in my soul and told my daughter she couldn’t sit by the window.  Total meltdown, Chernobyl style.  As embarrassed as I was though, it actually worked out because the grandma type quickly reversed herself and agreed to take the aisle.  I can’t be mad at my daughter because she slept the entire flight, and that is a miracle from a higher power.  The problem was that she was on my leg and so I couldn’t move.  I can’t sleep on a plane anyway, but given the straight up and down position I was in, the fact that I couldn’t recline due to the fact that I was right in front of the exit row, and the growing discomfort in my back and hamstrings, sleep wasn’t even a consideration, let alone the bathroom.  When my last few downloaded episodes of the “The League” ran out, I had two hours left of excruciating back pain, the onset of what would turn out to be a week and a half long cold, and the constant fear of waking up my daughter and drawing the heat rounds of everyone else on the plane.  Well, that was the end of what on the whole was a pretty good trip.  At least I had the next day to relax… oh wait, no I didn’t, I had to go in early off of leave to prepare for a preliminary hearing the next day.

Like I always say, it’s a mantra… I love my kids, I love my kids, I love my kids, I love my kids….

Until next time, good luck to all the disgruntled dads out there, hang in there, it’s only another (double digit number) years until you’re once again free.

R&R, what else is the weekend for?

Aaahhhhh Saturdays, or Sundays for that matter.  The time when a man gets to stop working for the man and do what he wants to do.  It’s the time for self fulfilment, relaxation, or just plan ol’ leave-me-the-hell-alone “me” time.  On the Seventh day (or sixth, I swear to God I’m not choosy), he rested….

Ya, sure!  That’s all fine and good if you’re single, or perhaps married to an independent woman who understands the sentiment above and appreciates a balance between couple time and individual time, and the critical need for both–yes, both!.  Regardless, you’ve got to be childless.  If you’ve got (a) kid(s), you might as well just forget about ANY “me” time.  Don’t pine for it, don’t think about it, don’t hint at it (that will just cause a fight), accept it, it’s gone.  It’s a distant memory of youth to be fondly remembered like watching a wet T-shirt contest on spring break, playing X-Box all night, beer pong, or sleeping in past 0600.  Thinking about it will only make you feel worse.  I have to think it’s something like joining the priesthood (better analogy than you think).  I.e. you better not look or even think about the forbidden fruit that is a female’s anatomy because you’ll drive yourself into a crazy deep depression.

I used to play hockey, I have a workshop in my garage, I just got a new X-Box game for X-mas…  Do I have any time for any of that?  Not even a little bit.  I did just make a batch of home-brew, but I’m still at a loss as to how I was able to do that.  I did of course have a few boil overs, and F-ed a few things up, because right in the middle of it at a critical juncture, I hear, “John” (long drawn out, upward inflection) repeated several times.  I answer, “what?,” but I know that’s not going to do it.  For the uninitiated, when you are a dad, and you hear your name called, you might as well add-on the implied, “come!” as if you were a dog.  After all, the pre-child portion of your marriage before you have kids is basically obedience school.  Once you have proven your propensity and eagerness to obey, you are clearly ready.  So, I run upstairs (it truly is a wonder I’m not in waaaay better shape), sit, smile, and wait for my next command.  And then the question comes, “Would you like to (put him down), (go see what she wants), (talk about our plan for next few weeks), (etc…)?”  I give my wife all the credit for trying to be sweet about it, but the overwhelmingly obvious answer is no.  Actually, it’s F no, I don’t want to.  As marriage communication is at least 60% implied tasks, and I have learned that such questions are really orders (see obedience school above), I forget about MY enjoyable endeavor and get back to work like a good boy.  That’s the least I can do for her, after all she’s slaved away over the kids all week, while I’ve had the week “off” while at work.

And that’s the point isn’t it?  I fully understand that my kids (the toddler mostly) is several handfuls (think that used to be such a wonderfully pleasant euphemism), and that my wife’ s job is demanding and exhausting.  But, D it, so is mine, and it’s really really tough to wake up every Saturday and Sunday with the sobering reality that my second job awaits, and I’m the weekend shift.

Yesterday (Saturday) was the perfect example.  I had been TDY (temporary duty–business trip, and by no means a vacation) trying a pretty complicated case which kept me up till 22-2300 each night, and forced me to be at top mental focus for very long periods of time.  I flew home, went to physical training (0600) the next day and finished out the work week.  My daughter, A, woke us up at 0530.  I look over at my wife, but I can just tell from her body language that this one is on me if I’m hoping to have a nice day.  I try to get my daughter back to sleep, but that’s not going to happen, and after getting out of my warm comfortable, firm, inviting, wonderful mattress every 10 minutes for an hour, I just say F it, get the little brat up, and head downstairs.  I turn on the T.V., try to keep my brain turned off while making breakfast, but I see the laundry, dishes, other s lying around, and it’s just so nice when I think of those things on my own. 

After the sun finally came up, we decided to make a day of it running errands (day of it means trying desperately to get home before my daughter, A’s, 1300 nap that there’s a 4 in 5 chance she’s not going to take).  It was actually going to be a nice little Saturday, we planned on going to Costco to see if they had any time-eating, attention-grabbing, self-reading, princess books in an effort to make our impending six-hour flight bearable for everyone else on the plane (won’t be for us no matter what), Babies R Us, and maybe Fred Meyer, but I just didn’t know if there was going to be enough time.

All in all, my daughter told me she didn’t love me, made a huge scene in Costco when I told her she couldn’t have that sample (no I didn’t give in and give it to her), grabbed everything we passed, harassed her brother in his car seat waking him up, and so thoroughly pissed my wife and I off that she and I ended up at each other’s throats for the whole drive home.

We made angry lunches in complete silence, then I put my daughter, A, down while my wife nursed my son, J, and put him down (thank God I don’t lactate, cause that would be just one more weekend job for me).  Finally, I went downstairs, made up with my wife, C, as best I could, and settled in for what I hoped would be a few hours of T.V. watching, web browsing, or whatever my now quite limited imagination could conjure.  That lasted ohhhhhhh, 25 minutes.  My son, J, S’ed himself, and would not go to sleep, A sounded like she was training elephants in her room, and before long, they were both up and once again demanding my time.  (lesson of the day: don’t tell your wife that not having any time to yourself is unacceptable, and the kids will just have to wait–didn’t end well).  My wife, the wonderfully thoughtful person she is (no really, she is) was delivering a homemade meal to another Army wife that had just given birth.  Mercifully, she took my daughter, A, with her leaving me and my son, J, here alone.  It was at that time I wrote the “about” section on this Blog, and that was done trying my best to tune out the constant fussing and whining he was making lying on his blanket right next to me.  I hear Navy Seals are sometimes made to listen to baby cries for hours on end to help train for captivity and build mental tolerance.  If that’s the case, I’m ready for BUDS right now, because I’d ace that evolution.

Anyway, after my wife, C, got home, she hinted at a brownie mix run, and I was all too happy to volunteer as that meant I would be able to replenish my defunct beer supply.  Then she said, “Why don’t you take A with you.”  While I could and can think of at least 99 different answers to that question, I scooped up the whinny little S, buckled her in the old family truckster and headed to Wal-Mart.  On the way there, I had the opportunity to listen to a little 80’s rock, and fired it up.  That was short-lived however, because not a few seconds in to the first refrain of Bon Jovi’s “Cowboy,” she was pestering me for her songs that are conveniently/ unfortunately loaded into the C.D. player.  When I told her to have patience, she explained that she had in fact left them at home.  At that moment I was reminded of the fact that her life expectancy is more than likely directly linked to her cuteness, because while I just wanted to introduce her cheek to the back side of my hand (I have never, would never, could never do such a think, but it’s much like seeing an armored truck with the back end open after you just got done drooling over that $3000 60″ TV you’d never have time to watch, you can’t help but fantasize every now and again), I had to laugh, because in all fairness, it was pretty funny.