42. Non-Walking

Ask a boy to do a backwards one-and-a-half somersault full twist reverse pike dive off the screen porch roof, onto the trampoline, catapult to the top of the slide on the bounce and zip headfirst right into the pool without losing momentum, and he’ll figure out a way to get it done.

Ask a boy to walk in a straight line in a crowded hallway…impossible.  I have tried every method imaginable to instill this virtue upon boys, with zero positive results.  We’re like a moving health hazard in public areas.  Airports, malls, churches, you name it.  My boys are determined to take somebody out.

“Can we all just walk in a straight line like normal human people?” I plead.

Instead I get twirling, hopping, bounding, rolling, lunging.  Pretending the blue stripes on the carpet are “dragon rivers” which require humongous two-footed leaps to safety with giant thud landings that every brother is required to immediately replicate.

Tonight at church Nicholas was swinging his canvas bag in wild circles around and around himself until he created an orbit which continually spun off crayons, random snack crackers, and half-colored pages of Daniel in the lion’s den.

While walking backwards.

Keep in mind there are like 3 thousand people at our church.  I think at least 2,400 of them were forced to dodge sideways at some point to avoid one of my boys.

Why is this so difficult?  You know, just walking normally, remaining calmly aware of other pedestrians in your vicinity and avoiding inflicting major physical trauma upon them?  I suppose it’s all just too mundane for boys.  Lord knows I’ve tried every method to convince them that skipping backwards poses a significant menace to innocent civilians…

Not interested.  Proceed to careen sideways into the path of someone collecting social security.

I warn them in my somewhat alarming tone of voice about that one kid who flew around a corner when I was in third grade and broke somebody’s grandma’s hip…

Unfazed.  Attempt sliding down stairway handrails.

Really the only thing I’ve found that creates slow-walking boys that stay pleasantly close to my side and do not threaten others is to restrain them by their ear.  This produces excellent results.

If this works so well then, why do I still have problems, you ask?

Well because I have three boys.  And only two hands.

But I’m working on solutions, believe me.  We will learn to walk.  We may be 24 years old, but we will master it.

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41. Drink Gross Stuff

So we arrive at the final installment of our “gross” series, following up Eat Gross Stuff and Touch Gross Stuff

Actually, who am I kidding?  There is zero chance that my boys will not create an entire new category of gross interaction within the next twelve to twenty-four months, at which point I’ll be forced to document it.  But for now, we’ll end with the drinking of the gross stuff.  And it doesn’t matter – if it’s nasty, no problem.  Boys will still chug it like a dehydrated man handed a cold Gatorade in the middle of the desert.

Strangely, however, watching boys drink gross stuff is not the worst problem we face here. The worst problem is that boys are fearlessly willing to contaminate anyone else’s drink by slamming a sip of it whenever they wander by.  Usually this means YOUR drink.  Boys have no boundaries.  One moment your perfectly chilled sweet tea is resting safely on the end table, delicately squeezed lemon slice floating in a sublime blend…then you turn back to find your glass half empty, sweaty, greasy lip marks smeared across the rim, and gritty sand residue stuck all over the outside.

Somewhere in the back yard, a boy is sucking on a lemon wedge.  See how that works? Basically, any beverage within reach is considered fair game by boys.

The problem occurs when you allow yourself to ponder all the gross stuff that runs through the boy’s mouth, and the very likely scenario that some of it ran through there right before he violated your tea.  Here are just a few of the classic gross drinks from my boys:

Bathtub water.  Really, is this surprising to anyone?  Grossest thing ever, yet I have so far failed in every effort to convince boys of this fact.  Recent failures include me yelling at chipmunk-cheeked boy who just emerged from underwater scuba tub adventure: “DO YOU REALIZE WHAT IS IN YOUR MOUTH??? THAT WATER IN YOUR MOUTH JUST FLOATED RIGHT BY YOUR BROTHER’S HINEY BEFORE YOU DRANK IT.  YOU ARE DRINKING HINEY WATER!!!”  No response.  Boy spits stream at brother and goes back under to hunt for sunken dinosaur sponges.

Randomly discarded sports drinks.  One day Nathan wandered through the house drinking a red Gatorade.  “Where did you get that?” I said.  “In the yard.”  Oh perfect. Someone’s drive-by discard of the last 20% of their beverage near our shrubs last night results in Nathan’s best morning ever.  “Heeeeeyyyy!  It’s my lucky day!”

Neighborhood wastewater.  It was all fun and games one day when we did the “let the boys play in the rain” thing in the front yard.  Until I looked out the window to find all three of them on hands and knees, lapping up a cool drink from the inch-deep river rushing down the storm gutter next to our curb.  Outstanding.  Every fertilizer, bird poop, dog pee, and pesticide within a four block radius…  Refreshing!

And now back to your tea…  Yeah.  Toss that junk out.

40. Postpone Potty Breaks

When boys are fighting battles, building space forts, or hurling various balls at themselves and others in their latest version of the “throw balls at ourselves until someone cries” game, one truth always remains:

All bodily functions shall be ignored.

When it comes to boys, nature’s call is falling on deaf ears.  Most of the time, in fact, nature is probably yelling her lungs out, to no avail.  Boys march on.

On to the top of the playhouse, where they can drop “water balloons” they manufactured out of ziplock bags stolen from mom’s kitchen.  On to race the neighbor kid who has one of those new “waveboard” skateboards with only two wheels that you zig-zag wiggle to make it go.  (Seriously, why don’t they just go ahead and call this thing the “ER Blaster” and include a coupon for a discounted hospital copay.)  On to drawing up the driveway with enough chalk to line every SEC football field on a Saturday in October.

Possibly stopping to pee on the fence behind the air conditioner (only if certain death from bladder rupture is imminent).  But definitely not wasting time to visit the potty.  Boys are marching on. Continue reading

39. YELLING! So. Much. Yelling.

To get their point across, boys resort to yelling.  To communicate with siblings, yelling. Making rules for the backyard game of “wrestling match of trampoline doom?”  You guessed it.  Yelling.

This is possibly the number one battle around our house – the rule that gets broken the most.  With three boys ages 8, 6 and 6, we got a whole lot of yelling going on.  Boys yelling in the backyard.  Boys yelling in the front.  Boys in the back yard yelling to boys in the front.  I’m fairly certain our neighbors hate us.  As in, telling all their friends “We have the most UNBELIEVABLY LOUD set of kids next door who routinely ruin our evenings and frighten our pets” hatred of us.  Perhaps this would not be such a problem if we lived in the country.  Perhaps boys on isolated farms are allowed to yell all day, every day.  Who knows.  But in normal neighborhoods like ours with homes a normal distance apart, boys are probably appreciated about as much as neighbors with hobbies like roosters.  Or tinkering with jet engines. Continue reading

38. The Household Item Hijack

Earlier this week I found myself kicking aside a cork hot pot trivet dealio in order to pull the front door open and head for work.  I walked toward the car thinking, “The stuff that just seems normal in my life at this point…”

Not really normal, I’m afraid.

Why is there a cork hot pot trivet thingie propped against my front door at 7 a.m.?  Why not?  The more appropriate question is actually why is this the first time I ever remember this happening?  Parents of boys certainly are used to collecting every other household item imaginable from wherever boys have dragged and dropped it.

If you find yourself asking these questions, I have composed a list of probable answers.  Based entirely on years of painful experience, of course:

  • Where is the laundry basket?  It’s in the boy’s bedroom, under the covers.  It is command central of forts used to war against ninja invaders.
  • Where is the all the silverware?  In the yard.  It’s always in the yard.
  • Has anyone seen my earphones?  They are wound endlessly around the cabinet doors where puzzles are kept, forming a chain of death that no sister could ever breech.
  • What happened to the new blue spatula?  It is in the bottom of the toy box.  There is no reasonable explanation for this.  Ever.

A couple of years ago we purchased new silverware to replace our “newlywed” set from like 1996.   Continue reading

37. Excessive Greetings

Many of my posts here include rundowns of conversations I’ve had with the boys, mainly originating from the back seat of the vehicle I happen to be driving.  I’ve learned that drive time means talk time for boys.  Question time.  Discovery time.  Ridiculous news update from school time.  It also means time for boys to make sure you are still inside the car, even if you were sitting right there 64 seconds earlier.

Connor: “Hey dad.”

Me: “Yeah buddy?”

Connor: “Did you know that we had races all the way out to that big tree that those kids spray painted the words on and we ran around it four times then all the way back to the monkey bars and I was the winner?”

Me: “Really?  Wow.  You win like all the races at recess.  You must be the fastest kid in second grade.”

Connor:  “Yeah, I am.  Me and Valentino.  Only I am faster than Valentino in a straight line but Valentino can be as fast as me when the girls are chasing us cause he can turn fast.”

Me: “Sweet.”

Connor:  “Hey Dad.”

Me:  “Yeah buddy?”

Connor: “If a cheetah raced a motorcycle do you think a cheetah could win?”

Do you see what’s happening here?  Every time a new thought process begins, the actual, physical presence of myself in the front seat of the vehicle is required to be reconfirmed. Continue reading

36. Random Detours

Boys ask a million questions, and they demand straight answers.  Be advised, however, that the entire time you are delivering the straight answers, boys are most likely tuning you out and running rabbit trails inside their heads.

I know this because I myself have fallen victim to the random mental detours of boys on several occasions, after delivering what I personally felt was quite an excellent exhibit of fatherly wisdom and/or advice.  Boys don’t care.  They aren’t listening anymore.  They just ask the question then let you ramble on and on while they think about turtles.  Or Kit Kat bars.  Whatever.

Once Nathan asked me “Dad, was I boring when I was in Mommy’s tummy?” Continue reading