Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Boats


Our Mexican hotel butted up against a lovely beach the locals described as, “No longer where we dumb our sewage” and, “Rumors of sewage are exaggerated!” The boys and I loved it. They would tumble around the waves and I would warn them about the vicious butt biting Mexican Carp. And then pinch their butts.

One morning at breakfast, we met a very nice American couple, who described walking around Chicago dressed as Klingons when they heard where we were from. I made a mental note to avoid them.

The man, Jim, suggested we take the boys out on the hotel provided kayaks later that day. “You don’t gotta sign them out or anything. We’ll each take a boy and paddle out to the big rocks. It will be great!” Elijah and Luca burned holes into my brain with their eyes.

There was no way that was going to happen. But I was interested in a solo kayak mission with the boys. For no other reason than to prove to them I was willing to put my sons in danger like Jim.

I convinced Luca to go with me first. Eli was a little more hesitant because boating would cut into his Youtube time. We dragged the plastic kayak out to the waves and I plopped Luca on top. It suddenly dawned on me that I had never actually been on a kayak before. And had zero idea how to: a) get on it. And b) pilot the vessel. I looked out at the waves crashing on the rocks and thought, “This isn’t how you die, Hamann. You are meant for a heart attack.”

After capsizing our ship so many times it became more interesting to the beach vendors than selling their grains of rice with your name on it, we managed to put out to sea. I demanded total stillness on Luca’s part, so I could have complete concentration. But after a while we hit calmer waters and both fell in love with our tiny blue boat.

We then talked about our lives. I told Luca I was kind of scared about my new job and he described in detail this terrible video game he was obsessed with called Robloks.

I would press him for more details about his life. “Tell me one secret you’ve never told anyone, Luca. I promise not to reveal it to anyone.”

“Well, this one time on Roblocks…”

This became our daily ritual. I would paddle out into the ocean and beg Luca to tell me about his life and he would regale me of stories about this one time on Roblocks.

Finally, after days of cajoling, I managed to get Luca to tell me one non-Roblocks secret he had told no one else. It was so lovely and silly and the epitome of what a seven-year-old would consider a secret I simply can’t reveal it to you.

I did get Eli out on the kayak one time, where he told me the secrets of this funny Youtube video he saw one time.


Monday, January 30, 2017

Protest Protest


A little over a week ago, Diana and I took a bus to Washington D.C. to take part in the largest single day protest in our nation’s history. The bus ride itself is worthy of its own blog. Look for “This is what democracy smells like” coming soon to Blogspot.

We didn’t bring Elijah and Luca because we were just ever so slightly concerned about their safety. Mostly because this current administration has yet to prove itself to be measured in their response to literally anything. Plus, I knew they would last exactly 45 steps in the march before turning into 16 month olds, raising their little hands in the air shouting, “Uppie!”

Last weekend, our nation received an utterly baffling Presidential Muslim travel ban and friends of ours protested at O’Hare. I sat the boys down and tried to explain what our friend Hassan was doing, stopping to give a civics lesson about the now trampled Constitution and our duty as citizens and what mommy and I believe in. Eli nodded solemnly and said, “Dad, did you see the Bad Lip Reading video with Hilary Clinton?”

On Sunday morning, Diana became the eye of social media mom anger. We could have fried an egg on her phone. But we would never eat it because phones are dis-gus-ting.

Luca and I were on our way out of the house to run an errand when Diana said, “Be sure to be home by 1:30. We’re going to go march in Morton Grove.” Luca and I backed slowly out of the house.

We came home later to observe the aftermath of Diana delivering the same plan to Eli. He was frantically trying to hatch a way to get out of it. “I’m sick! No! Luca is too young. No! I have plans. Wait, I have to go dig a hole in the yard and bury myself in it.”

Around this time, my pal Patrick texted me his son was also currently holding a march not to attend the march.

I sat Eli down and said, “Look at your mother. See that look in her eye? None of us is getting out of this march. I suggest you put on some warm clothes and deal.” He flopped down on our bed and considered throwing a fit. But then saw the look in his mother’s eye.

After much bitching and moaning and a bribe of chips to eat in the car, we arrived at the Muslim center. It was already too crowded for us to hear any of the speeches, but we didn’t have to wait long until the scheduled “walk.” The organizers were careful not to call it a “march.”

Shortly after it began, Eli’s frigid demeanor about the whole thing softened. He enjoyed the comradery and loved the chanting. He especially liked it when I dad-ly messed the chants up. “Build bridges, not walls” turned to “Build bridges plus narwhals.” Patrick’s son also added his own chant, “Forgetaboutit!” which felt perfect.

Luca went nuts when he saw actual news cameras there to record our march. He couldn’t believe our protest would be on the actual TV. We spent a good portion of the evening checking the local broadcasts for our faces. But the local feed was a “Two and a Half Men” rerun.

I told him that “Two and a Half Men” was a special kind of protest.


Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Mission


Hey gang! I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a little while. I decided to leave America’s Finest News source to take a job back in advertising. For a whole host of reasons that include me just being good at it. When I told Luca, he burst into tears. When I told Elijah, he asked how much I would make.

I promise to post more often than the zero I’ve done over the last couple weeks. But I do have an excuse for last week’s lack of writing: The family and I went to Mexico! I didn’t have a computer, but I did manage to write down a couple notes for potential blog posts that include “boat” and “food.” Look out for those soon.

Our trip to Zuihaten…Zoojatanhe….Mexico overlapped with Diana’s birthday. In the days leading up to our trip, I asked her what she wanted. The response was, “Nothing. Just this trip.” I know better than to fall for a trap like that.

So, I hatched a plan with the boys.

We would select smallish gifts from Diana’s favorite knickknack store and I would smuggle said gifts in my backpack and we would surprise her with them at a dinner on our last night. The boys were totally down for it.

But in the days leading up to the trip, Luca became obsessed with the plan. What are the exact details? What are we going to do every step of the way? What are the contingencies? Do we have cyanide pills in case we’re caught?

I sat him down (it’s important to note Eli could care less about the plan) and outlined the whole thing. We would hide the gifts in our pockets at the hotel. Then walk to a cab. Enter a cab. Ride in the cab to the restaurant. Exit the cab. Walk 12 feet to the restaurant.  You get the idea. Luca wanted deets.

Occasionally, while we were lounging at the pool, Luca would loudly announce, “Dad! Can we go over the plan?” Thankfully, Diana had perfected the art of ignoring all poolside cries from her children that don’t include “Help. I am drowning.”

On the night of the mission, the boys crammed their presents into their pockets and Eli got the idea to throw Diana off his trail by loudly announcing, “Mom! I am going to bring an Uno deck to dinner. That’s why I have a box shape in my shorts.” Perfect.

We arrived at dinner and ordered drinks, which was the big signal. I announced that I had to go pee and asked the boys to join me. They both outrageously winked and theatrically said, “Yes father.”

We caught up with our waiter and explained that we would like her to place three gifts on a plate and bring them to the lady at our table. Our waiter looked at us with complete and utter confusion. You want me to what? When? Are these gifts for me?

The boys and I backed away from the waiter, confident that our plan was completely busted. Luckily, Eli did actually bring that Uno deck.


But suddenly the waiter arrived with the gifts on a nicely decorated plate. Diana was surprised and touched and we all told her the things we loved about her. Number one on our list was her ability to fall for poorly planned surprises.