Monday, June 30, 2014

Diarrhea Song

Every once and a while, Elijah will come home with a newly acquired joke from school or camp.  This weekend he dropped this nugget on Diana:

“Hey mom.  Boys go to college to get more knowledge.  Girls go to Jupiter to get more stupider.”

She responded from over her wine glass, “If boys were so smart, they wouldn’t use the term ‘stupider.’”

Whenever he brings home a new joke, especially the classics, I always ask him how he found out about it. I’m intrigued by the passing of jokes from generation to generation.  How does “Orange you glad I didn’t say ‘banana’” or “I ate the sandbox” stay alive over the decades? 

There does seem to be a universal agreement among uncles to teach nephews and nieces swear words when they are at the repeating stage of verbal development.  I also think it’s this agreement that enables most jokes to keep living.

Take the Diarrhea Song. 

When we were driving to Central Illinois last weekend to attend my mom’s funeral, Eli and Luca were bored and began arguing over some useless piece of plastic. 

Rather than scream at them, I announced that if they behaved on this trip, uncle Steve would teach them the Diarrhea Song.

What?  There is a song dedicated to their favorite subject?  An actual tune with lyrics about pooping? Needless to say, they were incredibly well behaved for the next 24 hours. 

On the drive back, they begged to hear the song.  Steve looked at me blankly.  It had been 35 years since he sang it.

I opened my mouth and words just came pouring out.  Diarrhea, cha cha.  Diarrhea, cha cha.  It was uncontrollable.  It was urgent.  It was voluminous.  I won’t give you all the messy details, but I think I remembered every lyric, even the obscure regional differences.

The boys howled in laughter.  I was a hero.  When we arrived home, the boys raced to their mom and filled her ears with their newfound cha chas.

She was not amused.  But couldn’t yell at me because I had just gotten back from a funeral.  Thanks mom!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Sword

A few years ago, my dad sat me down and said, “You know, it’s ok to make a mistake now and then.” 

I had no idea what he was talking about until last Sunday. 

We were at my favorite street fair in the world, Evanston’s own “Custer’s Last Stand.”  This nod to the slain cavalry commander features everything I love in a fair: E Coli, warm beer, mildly criminal street performers and lots of overpriced junk.

Before we entered the fair, I explained to Elijah and Luca that their late grandma Jane would be purchasing one overpriced junky toy for each of them.  I instructed them to walk through the entire grounds before they choose and…no, Eli you can’t buy that toy yet.  Didn’t I just say to wait?  No.  Eli.  Be patient. 

Anyway, I dragged the boys around the mustard lined streets and we stumbled across the “Ye Olde Wooden Sword” stand.  It called to Luca like the Siren’s song. His eyes widened at row after row of $20 painted scrap wood. 

Diana has a rule against the purchase of toy firearms.  But there is nothing in the Hamann Charter about wooden blades.  So sure.  Go nuts.  Pick anyone you want.  No.  I meant pick any non-five-foot-tall-broad-swords.  Sheesh.  We negotiated down a Luca sized sword and I bent down to Luca-level.

“Okay.  Here’s the deal.  A sword is a privilege, not a right.  This place is crowded.  You can’t swing this thing around all willy nilly.  The first time you smack someone’s kneecaps, I’m going to have to take it from you.  We both don’t want that, right?”


He kept the sword jammed down the back of his shirt, ninja style.  But every once and a while he’d get too excited and unsheathe it in all it’s splintery glory.  I’d bend down and whisper, “Watch out.  We don’t want to lose it, right?”


We ended up in front of Diana’s wine store to score a plastic cup full of pinot noir.  While I sipped, I saw out of the corner of my eye Luca swinging his sword around wildly. 

He narrowly missed a lady who made a dramatic act of looking perturbed.  I ran over and bent down.

“Buddy.  Please don’t make me take your sword.  Please.  I don’t want to take it from you.”

Luca threw his sword to the ground in tears. 

“I don’t want it anymore.  I hate it.  I hate that sword.”

I could tell he was mad at himself for losing control.  I channeled my dad and tried to smooth it over.

“I’m not mad, buddy.  Not one percent.  You are not in trouble.  You are totally cool.  It’s okay you forgot about swinging it.  Totally okay.  Not mad.  See?  Not mad.”

But I couldn’t get him to pick it up.  He was mad at himself and the world and his stupid sword.

Do I sheathed the sword in my own t-shirt and we walked over to buy Eli a toy laser gun.  Because the Hamann Charter says nothing about toy laser guns.

Thursday, June 19, 2014


This summer, we’ve undergone some home renovations.  We put in a new screen door and an impossibly beautiful deck.  Diana also suggested we put in a swing set. 

No, I said.  This time I have to put my foot down.  We live a half block from a park.  They’re a huge pain in the butt to put together.  I don’t think our kids will play on it.  It’s a waste of money.  So no.  I’ve been pretty good about stuff like this.  So no.  Nope.  Foot is down.

The swing set arrived two Saturdays ago.

As you recall, in 2009 Diana’s Dad and I put together the swing set at our old house, the Adventure Playsets Trail Blazer Wooden Swing Set (APTBWSS).  Or as I liked to call it, my arch nemesis.

This time, I had the help of Diana’s Dad, Our neighbor Chris and my Brother to build the APTBWSS 2.  I was determined not to fall into any dad clich├ęs.  I was determined not to smash it in anger.  Determined not to end up with a pile of unused nuts and bolts and parts.   Determined not to get drunk before it was done.

As the sun went down hours later, I laid alone in the APTBWSS 2’s fort, surrounded by literally hundreds of mismatched screws and bolts.  And many many PBR cans. 

The fort swayed in the breeze and I began randomly inserting screws into the wood to stabilize it.  The slide sat unattached on the ground, mocking me.  I ran out of patience and went inside to announce no one could play on the thing meant to be played on until dad could fix it.

All week, I would look into the yard and it would speak to me in a ghost voice, “Youuuuu are ineeeeeept.  Youuuuuuu barely qualify as a maaaaaaan. Youuuuu are a tiny little giiiiiirrrrrl.”

Last Saturday, I was determined to fulfill my duty as a father and complete it.  My brother came over and divine intervention hit us both and we finished the swing set in under an hour. 

We then put together a table for the deck and some other outside furniture.

You’ll be happy to know the basketball hoop is still safely in its box.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Jane Carwell

We lost my Mom this week.  She hasn’t been a huge fixture of the HamannEggs storyline, as her health has been in slow decline for years now.  But it doesn’t mask the pain we feel at her passing, which was sudden and tragic.

Here’s the Jane I like to remember. 

I remember her playing 70’s tunes on the piano, begging us to join in her in singing John Denver’s “Some Days Are Diamonds.” 

I remember her shoplifting Star Wars toys for Christmas because we were too poor to afford them.

I remember her flirting her way out of countless speeding tickets on route 80, sometimes blaming her speed on the three boys rolling around in the back of her station wagon.

I remember her driving us to grade school in her nightgown.  Much to the delight of every crossing guard on the route.

I remember her panicked pleas for us to stop playing Dungeons and Dragons after she watched the Tom Hanks movie, “Mazes and Monsters.”

I remember her rock hard meatloaf and taco pie. 

I remember her tears whenever we left for a weekend visit to my Dad’s house.

I remember her makeshift birthday party in second grade.  Where she made us sit in a circle and play hot potato with a real potato.

I remember her trying to make escargot in the microwave, resulting in a stinky explosion.

I asked the boys to say something nice they remember about their Grandma Jane. 

Luca said, “She gave me a snack when I was hungry.”

Elijah said, “She was nice and had a little video game we got to play.”

I remember that for all her problems, all her demons, she loved us with her whole heart.  I will miss her.

Goodbye Jane.  You were loved.

Monday, June 9, 2014


I was going to launch into a big diatribe about how Luca needs to carry his blanket everywhere.  But then I realized I’ve been carrying around a laminated four leaf clover (thanks Dave) for twenty years now.  So when it comes to security items, my glass house is particularly fragile.

That said, Luca’s blanket is getting pretty rotten.  Its ends are saturated with whatever is on the floor of the Target bathroom, and caked with little league baseball grime.

And we can’t wash it, because there is a chance it will get lost in the washing machine.  Yes, it’s the same chance that I’ll get hit by lightening while riding a rhino on top of a surfboard.  But a chance is a chance.

I’m a little concerned that the abuse Blankie is taking of late will ultimately destroy it.  When I see him dragging it across the Jewel parking lot, I fear it will burst into flames.

So I’m trying to gently encourage him to leave it at home.  This is met with screams of, “No!” 

I also try to get him to leave it in the car when we visit places with germy or muddy grounds.  This is also met with screams of no or outright ignoring.

But the secret reason I’m doing this is I usually end up having to hold Blankie when Luca needs both hands to eat a popsicle or swing on monkey bars or fend off the increasing number of toddler girls who are in love with him at the baseball field.

As I hold the rotten thing out at arm’s length, I imagine an army of germs walking single file up my arm and into my mouth.

At which point I rub my four-leaf clover vigorously.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


Luca is going through a stage where he’s trying to figure out his temper.  Unlike his father, who prefers to hide his anger in little compartments in his heart for a future cardiac arrest, Luca unleashes his fury in majestic, eardrum piercing ways.

I feel sorry for our upstairs neighbors, who have a tiny newborn.  A newborn who must believe there are banshees living below her crib. 

Luca’s been steered away from physical manifestations of anger.  Because nothing will remove your Xbox privileges faster than an ineffectual tap on the bicep from a four year old.

Luca has now entered the world of swearing at the top of his lungs.  But to Luca, the greatest swear in the world is “Freakin’ frack!”  Oh how I love when he scream, “Freakin’ frack” when he’s frustrated with his brother or when we demand he actually eat one calorie for dinner.

I try to remain sober about his faux swear.  I want him to know swearing, even when it isn’t technically a swear, isn’t tolerated in our house.  But I know he’s caught Diana and I stifle our laughs when he freaks and fracks.

However, the other day Diana was wrestling Luca into his bed for a nap and he shouted, “God freaking damn it!”

Uh oh.  A real swear.

I ran into his room and put the hammer down.  We do NOT use those words in this house, mister.

I could tell that Luca felt his greatest offense was the “freaking.”  But I tried to explain what blasphemy was.  Which was tough to understand for a kid who has been in a church once since his Christening. 

It’s made him slightly more interested in God and Heaven, but mostly how the mechanics of getting anything you want to eat in Heaven actually work (magic) and if you die in Heaven (you don’t) and what Rescue Bots they have up there (all of them).

I gotta get that kid to church.