Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Science Fair 2

It’s that time of year again. Science Fair! It’s the clearest way to divide parents into overachievers and us.

As you’ll recall, last year we gave Elijah zero parental help, which resulted in a delightful mess. But we were a little embarrassed next to the fully sentient robots and volcanoes with real lava imported from Hawaii.

This year Diana decided to be 5% more involved in the project. In so much as she handed Eli his science experiment on a silver platter. There’s a thing she does at the wine store where you plug your nose while eating a jellybean to prove how valuable your sense of smell is to taste.

When she described the experiment to Eli, all he heard was “jellybean” and he was in. Poster board, box of jellybeans and a tiny bit of showmanship and he was done.

The night of the actual Science Fair, I felt like I was a guinea pig in a giant experiment titled, “How Long Can Two Hours Surrounded By Screaming Grade Schoolers Feel Like?” The hypothesis was it would feel like 18 hours.

After eating twelve jellybeans and making two rotations past the exhibits (3 volcanoes, 2 potato radios), I was done. After checking my watch and realizing it had been four minutes I needed to plan my escape.

I needed a diversion. And that diversion appeared in light up Spiderman shoes. 

“I’m hungry,” Luca said.

“Oh man. There’s no food here. Actually, there is pizza. But you can’t have any. That’s for the bigger kids. The bigger kids who secretly hate you and your Spiderman shoes. Life sucks, huh?”

At this point Luca melted to the ground. Parents clucked their tongues as they stepped over him. Luca lolled around, collecting dust and baking soda on his jacket.

I spotted Diana, who had taken over Eli’s experiment. I gestured to the prone Luca and pantomimed needing to get out of here asap.

Diana gave me the ok to leave and I scooped up Luca. We skipped through the gym and danced out the front door.

As I unlocked the car door, I noticed Eli and Diana hurrying through the parking lot as if pursued by attackers. The Experiment “How Long Can The Hamanns Stand The Science Fair” had officially concluded.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dad Luca Day

Cousin Finn had a birthday party slash sleep over last Saturday night. When we got the invitation, Elijah knelt down in supplication to the Minecraft Gods. “Please don’t let Luca go please don’t let Luca go please don’t let Luca go,” he prayed.

My brother reluctantly told me that Luca wasn’t invited to the sleep over part of the party because he worried the addition of a five year old to the already bursting crop of screaming nerds would cause him to get into his car and never return.

I attempted to head off Luca’s disappointment at the pass.

“Well that’s ok because Luca and I are going to have the greatest Dad Luca day in the history of the world. We’re going to go to whatever restaurant Luca wants. Anywhere. And then we’re going to watch whatever movie Luca wants. And stay up so late we’re going to throw up. It’s up to Luca. Whatever you want to do.”

“Can we play Xbox the whole night?”

I put my hands on Luca’s shoulders. “Well, see, here’s the thing. You can play Xbox anytime. This is your chance to do something really special with me. Like, we can go to the movies together way past your bedtime. Or go to a really fancy restaurant. Something goofy.”

“But I want to play Xbox. The whole night.”

I punted on the decision until after the party. It was the perfect ten year old soiree. There was pizza and flag football and one nerd who refused to take off his rollerblades and one cute neighbor girl who was still a couple years away from never talking to those boys again.

Luca had an absolute blast. He ran and screamed and generally annoyed the bigger kids. Eli kept subtly suggesting we leave by saying things like, “Isn’t it time for you to go?”

I finally got the hint and said, “Okay Luca! Decision time. What do you want to do tonight? The world is our oyster. Name it!”

45 minutes later I was asleep on our couch while Luca played Xbox.

The next morning, we did go out to a nice Dad Luca breakfast and spent a couple hours playing at the YMCA. But the Xbox was still piping hot when we left.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


I think in the long run Elijah and Luca will turn out ok without instruction on how to throw a split-seamed fastball or how to whittle. But I would rather not be reminded of my unmanliness constantly.

In an effort to remind me of my unmanliness, we decided to go visit Diana’s dad, Don.

Don’s garage is a shrine to do-it-yourselfness. Or a brutal dungeon from the “Saw” movie series. There are rusted yard implements or ironically dismembering a secondary character implements everywhere. There’s a stick attached to a couple boards he uses to push snow down his driveway (Because why would someone want to purchase a shovel?).

There’s even a u-shaped wooden contraption that sits on top of his fence that presumably was constructed for the sole purpose of allowing someone to lean against the fence without getting poked by the fence.

Our real purpose for visiting was to make some bricks for our back porch. Why wouldn’t Don know how to make bricks? His patented method is called “Doncrete.”

The process for Doncrete is secret, so I can’t divulge the details in this blog 20 people read on a regular basis. But it allowed Eli and Luca to touch sand, get filthy, and handle liquids that would kill them instantly. They loved it.

My role in Doncrete was to engage in an internal battle not to warn my sons when they are in danger. I didn’t want to nag them constantly when they were clearly having fun. But mostly I didn’t want to look like a sissy in front of Don.

So I’d just warn them of impending injury in my head. “Please don’t put your face on the sander. Don’t put that dye in your mouth. That will take your eye out. Stop swinging that sharpened, rusty blade over your head…”

Like all things not Minecraft related, Eli and Luca got bored and abandoned the Doncrete project in favor of nailing down the exact details of the snacks Diana would be buying them on the way home.

That left me and Don to finish the project. Which we did without incident. I can accomplish manly things thank you very much. But I did fret about getting my new boots dirty.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Season 2

I received an email on Friday afternoon that made my blood run cold. Its title was enough to made me vomit in panic.

“Play a little baseball?”

I read it with trembling hands. Each word another log on my panic attack fire.

“A few of us are getting together tomorrow at Washington's baseball diamond at 1:00pm to play a little baseball.  The more the merrier.  Please bring whatever bats and supplies you've got.  I have a bat, some bases and a dozen balls.

Younger kids are welcome.  I know there are some smaller siblings who are starting baseball this year.  Hope to see lots of familiar faces.”

It was a two paragraph reminder that I had not thrown a ball, base or otherwise, to Elijah since last season ended.  I promised both of us that we’d practice the fundamentals, dabble in a little strength training and hit the pavement a few times a week so we’d be ready when the season starts.

I wondered if anyone on The Cubs had the same panic attack when they got the heard Pitchers and Catchers were reporting in Florida the following week.

On Saturday morning, I asked Elijah if he wanted to participate in this unofficial baseball practice. I tried to dance that line of being enthusiastic about baseball, but ready to pounce on any hint of not wanting to go.

“Yay! Baseball!” That answered that.

We stuffed Eli’s feet into last year’s cleats, and dragged Luca to the park. I asked Luca if he wanted to play this year and he shouted, “No way!” That answered that.

Eli ran to the pack of boys who were in a massive pile, beating each other senseless. The coach bellowed an enthusiastic, “Hi Eli!” Sensing my extreme discomfort, the coach volunteered Eli to bat first so we could just go ahead and get my heart attack out of the way.

My son grabbed a bat and stood facing the coach/pitcher. I mean facing him face to face.  The coach gently reminded Eli that it was far easier to hit if he stood parallel to the plate.  If there were a way I could commit suicide and still be able to drive everyone home after practice I would have done it.

Like every time Eli stands in the batter’s box, I pretended to really need to get a tough knot undone from my lace less Vans.

I looked up just as Eli’s bat connected with the ball. The coach’s pitch was the most hittable meatball in the history of the world. But he still hit it. I wanted to kiss that coach right then and there.

Day One out of the way. I just have to make it through the next every Saturday until August.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Forced Hugging

If this blog has taught me anything, it’s that not every day is going to be perfect. There’s gonna be a day when a five year old pees in your bed. Or you’ll discover pee on the toilet seat at the most inopportune time. What I’m trying to say is pee ruins days, people.

No, I was having a kind of crappy day recently. My planets or Xi was all out of whack. I couldn’t seem to find a way to climb out of my funk, even when the boys were at their cutest: resisting bedtime.

I found myself flat on my back, staring at the ceiling. Elijah and Luca were bouncing on the bed, gleefully oblivious to their dad’s mood. In fact, an immobile dad made a nice obstacle to bounce over and around.

I decided one surefire way to get out of a funk was some forced hugging. I grabbed Luca’s leg as he leapt over me and pulled him hard down on top of me. I started kissing his beautiful little face and he screamed in horror. I immediately felt better. Like real better.

And like all addictive personalities, I wanted more more more. Luckily I had another hand and another bouncing child. I smashed Eli down on top of Luca and started kissing him as well.

Eli reacted in a normal fashion, like a cat thrust into boiling water. He ran shrieking from me, in an attempt to hide in his room. But I am both faster and stronger than he. I took hold of his PJs and covered him with scratchy, stinky dad kisses.

Luca thought I was distracted enough to escape. He was wrong. I found myself completely removed from my funk and laughing hysterically alongside my victims.

We all went to sleep shortly after and at some point in the middle of the night, Luca came into bed with Diana me. He waited until I had left for work to pee all over.

It was a much better day.