Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Dead Soon

Elijah and Luca are not very good fighters. When I was young, my older Brother Dave used to mop the floor with me. And Steve and I used to have epic, furious wrestling matches and occasional fist fights.

Eli and Luca are just so sweet, they aren’t built for true brother on brother action. Mostly, they’ll engage in emotional warfare. Lots of “I hate you” and pitting Diana and I against the enemy with a well placed tattle or a frame job.

And very rarely, they’ll actually strike each other with actual physical violence. But it mostly means the occasional pinch or steamroller.

Last Saturday, Eli walloped Luca for real and there tears and sent to your room punishment.

As I was stewing, I remembered an old boss of mine used to say her mom would remind her all she had in life was family in similar situations. So I decided to give the same wisdom to Eli. With a little embellishment so it wouldn’t be total plagiarism.

I peeked into his room and approached the slumped over boy in his bed.

“You know, Eli. Luca is the only person in the world you can count on in this life. Mommy and I aren’t going to live forever. I mean, we’ll be dead at some point. So Luca is all you’ll have.”

I intended the message to be “Love you brother.” But what Eli heard was “Your mommy is going to die soon. Probably today.”

Understandably, Eli burst into tears.

I spent the rest of the day trying to explain that it would be a very long time before mommy or I died (begins to dig hole).  I mean, you can never tell for certain when someone will die (digs larger hole). Heck, you could get hit by a bus tomorrow (leaps into hole and covers self with dirt).

I finally just took him to Chipotle, the solution to all of life’s big problems.

The good news is Eli was a lot nicer to Luca the rest of the weekend.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Time’s Up

The company gave us time off between Christmas and New Year’s, plus a little on each end, to spend with our loved ones. I went into the week or so with every intention to spend every waking moment teaching Elijah and Luca how to throw a spiral, reading them the great works, making them luxurious and healthful meals, and holding them close to my heart.

On the morning of January 2nd, I realized I had not only done none of those things, I had actively avoided my sons to play video games and eat fourteen gallons of Chex Mix.

Like a tenth grader hoping to learn a semester’s worth of Geometry the night before the final, I jumped into action.

I knew I could at least buy their love, so I drove them to Target to buy a toy of their choice. I stamped down the reminder that they had just received a million presents on Christmas. But these toys would be different. They were random toys.

They boys hemmed and hawed and couldn’t make up their minds on what to get. Because of the million toys littering their floors, but they managed to squeeze out a few purchases.

We drove home, but not before visiting McDonalds! That’s right, I stamped down that little nagging though that they had, in fact, not eaten a vegetable in double digit days. Two cheeseburgers? Sure! A large orange drink? Sure! Why not get a shake while you are at it!

At home, I followed them around suggesting things we could do as a family. Why don’t we put together some Legos! Ohh! Coloring. Would someone like to do a coloring book? Let’s play pretend! My delivery was of a jilted loser attempting to win back his ex girlfriend.

Despite their attempts to shake me (“Dad, don’t you want to go play Xbox”), I was on them like white on rice. And I think they had fun. Or at least they said they did when quizzed throughout the day.

For dinner, I made their favorite spaghetti and we went upstairs for baths, content in the knowledge that I was a competent father figure.

The boys began fighting in the tub and splashing water everywhere. I shouted at them and took away their screens and said they would get no “be withs” at bedtime.

Well, maybe next year.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year’s Eve 2016

As I lay in bed last night, I thought about just how lucky I am. I have a wonderful wife, two amazing kids, a microwave and a dog who will live forever. All was right and perfect and…

Damnit! I forgot to write my New Year’s Eve post!

Oh man. It’s been so many hours since NYE, I’ll have to piece this together somehow. Our neighbors took pity on us and hosted the party this year. The official kid count down was 10pm, but there was a rumor circulating that a rebel band of kids would be allowed to stay up until midnight. Diana and I quashed that right quick.

Within five minutes, neighbor Chris handed me a drink called “Four Things” that was as advertised. Shortly afterwards, I found myself in a heated conversation with a five year old about which Star Wars movie was the greatest. Luca discovered the unlimited supply of orange juice that tasted “Like an airplane” so we were all feeling great.

After another couple Four Things, I found myself watching a performance of “Hamilton” by a crew of 10 year old girls. At the time, I considered it the greatest theatre in the world and I was prepared to bankroll their production.

Suddenly, Lexa called out ten seconds until Midnight. Midnight? Where did the time go? I had a deep melancholy “Where did the time go” moment and rushed to hug my sons and tell them I loved them, which was exactly what they wanted in front of their friends. I may have also told their friends I loved them too.

And now is the time for me to blubber to my family in written form.

Dear Eli,

You are now officially a great kid. There is no arguing your sweetness, your humor, your incredible little soul. I can barely carry you anymore. And despite how crushing that is, I’m so lucky to see you grow into your own person. I am in love with how amazing your brain is. I hope you continue to use it for good.

Dear Luca,

I’m so proud of your bravery. You broke my heart so many times as you faced your fears. I think you may have finally discovered how great you actually are. I am in love with your creativity and humor. Not a day goes by that you don’t make me laugh.

Dear Diana,

You are, and will always be, the one who keeps this thing together. As long as we have you, nothing can beat us. Eli, Luca and I are the luckiest people on the planet to have your passion, your talent and your giant heart to keep us safe.

Dear Grover,

Don’t die.


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Purge

Christmas morning went off without a hitch. Unbeknownst to the participants, however, it almost didn’t happen at all. Santa woke up in a panic at 2am, head pounding from Christmas Eve wine, and stumbled outside in the freezing cold to his Mazda brand sleigh to gather his goodies.

For a few days afterwards, it looked like a Christmas themed grenade exploded in our living room. Slowly but surely it dawned on us that we would need to clean our house or turn it into a wrapping paper cardboard museum.

I took one for the team and attended an animated singing animal movie with the boys while Diana tackled the house. Oh, I pretended I got the raw end of the deal. Boo hoo, my popcorn is too salty. It’s so crowded with all the other dads escaping housework.

Then I learned the full details of the deal.

“I need you to purge all the toys the boys don’t play with anymore to make room for the new toys.”

Well played, Diana. Well played.

I set the tone for our purge with a speech. “Boys. Somewhere, not too far from here. There are kids who got nothing for Christmas. Not a single Lego or Star Wars guy. Because they are not as lucky as we are. Don’t you think it would be nice for us to give them some of the toys you no longer play with?”

The boys launched into a barrage of questions. Where are these kids? What are their names? How will we get them the toys? Can we go see them?

In answer, I shoved them into their rooms with instructions to make three piles: Keep. Donate. Pitch.

Elijah’s strategy was to read Calvin and Hobbs until I entered his room to yell at him. He would then rapidly (and randomly) toss things into the three piles until I left, at which point he would go back to Calvin and Hobbs.

Luca too his task very seriously. He studied every single item thoughtfully. Did he need this tiny, chewed up blob of plastic that was once part of a toy that no longer exists? Maybe. Maybe not. While he did this, I would hurl hundreds of toys into the donation box behind his back.

By the way, if you are missing a single Lego stud, we have it. Along with a billion other single Lego studs.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Sled Thief

After the first big snowfall of the season, the boys and I decided to visit Mount Trashmore for some good old fashioned sledding. Imagine my surprise when one billion other Evanston families had the exact same idea. This didn’t bother me because it enhanced my favorite snow pastime: watching little kids get t-boned by sleds.

A Twentysomething girl brought her dog to the hill and attempted to get it to ride a sled. Steve and I started an all-hill chant of “Sled dog!” We also wrote and performed an 80’s teen movie called “Sled Dog.” The only way to save the ski resort from bankruptcy was to beat the rich kids in the big race and Sled Dog was just the animal to do it. The Twentysomething girl left because we embarrassed her.

Around the time we wrote our follow up to “Sled Dog” called “Sled Old Lady,” Eli noticed our extra blue sled was missing. I had chucked it into a bush since no one was using it, but now it was gone. There were hundreds of identical sleds on the hill, so I said, “It’s gone forever.”

But Eli and Luca did some detective work and determined a tiny little cute girl had stolen it. She did look shifty in her pink hat and gloves and joyous face. The rotten blue sled suddenly became Luca’s favorite possession and he begged me to confront her father.

This did not seem like a very Rick thing to do. Because I am a wimp. But I also didn’t want to look like a wimp in front of my sons, so I told Elijah he should go ask them if they were borrowing our sled. Eli balked. He was the son of a wimp, after all. I explained that he had a far less chance of getting punched since he was a kid and nice and cute. I gave him the script “Hi I’m Eli. We are missing a blue sled just like this. Have you seen it?” I even have him the extra motivation of shoving his sled towards the family.

Amazingly, Eli talked to the dad who admitted to borrowing (stealing) the sled. The dad gave the sled back and even gave Eli $2 as a rental fee. I was proud of him and even let him keep the $2.

When we got home I realized we had forgotten to put the sleds in the car.

Actually, I found the sleds later but I want to keep this ending as is. It’s far more HamannEggs to lose the sleds. It’s now Family Cannon.