Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Voice

There’s a great bit in the latest Louis CK stand up where he encourages his daughters to quit soccer and tap dancing because he doesn’t want to go. I had a similer feeling about Elijah’s sudden (and expected) rejection of guitar lessons. But I was happy he wanted to quit because I’m cheap and didn’t want to shell out the dough every week.

However, instead of letting him quitting outright like I wanted, Diana suggested he try another musical instrument: his voice.

He does have a beautiful singing voice, which he inherited from his mother. Thank goodness he did not inherit my Kermit-The-Frog-Being-Strangled pipes. And he actually enjoys singing, especially while sitting on the toilet.

The idea of him being a singer filled me with dread. Of course, I leapt immediately to him being a world famous singer instead of simply enjoying singing. The only outcome of voice lessons was Eli would stand in front of 100,000 people and that disturbed me.

Because I couldn’t think of any cool lead singers. Bono? Ugh. Those house fly sunglasses. And Jim Morrison? Come on. Do I really want to be the dad who says, “Oh yeah. That drunken bastard with no shirt and leather pants? That’s my boy!” And don’t get me started on Justin Beiber. Or is it Bieber? I don’t know. I just hate him.

But then, as I was about to resign myself to a life defending the air brushing of my son’s underwear ads, I remembered Freddie Mercury! Yes! The lead singer of Queen! My hero! That giant mustachioed stud! Eli could be Freddie Mercury.  

I walked into our house humming “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and our new babysitter Schuyler, a singer herself, told me a little story about Eli’s last lesson.

Schuyler and Luca were in the waiting room and Eli’s teacher came out to chat with the school’s manager. Not knowing Schuyler was there for Eli, the teacher began gushing about how amazing his voice was. She went on and on about how advanced he was.

I’m going to get him fitted for some leather pants.

Monday, January 26, 2015


 When Diana selected our Florida hotel, she wanted to make sure it was kid-friendly, had a menu that focused on chicken fingers, was just far enough from the airport to drive Elijah and Luca nuts, and was fully stocked with dolphins.

Apparently this wasn’t too hard to find, because by day two we were elbows deep in playful aquatic mammals.  

There was a little pond behind the hotel where the dolphins lived and where they hosted their “dolphin experiences.” Luca, a Hamann through and through, wanted to wait in line a full 45 minutes early. Which was fine by me.

I spent that 45 minutes explaining to the boys how it’s been my lifelong dream to punch a dolphin in the face. “I just want to wipe those grins right off their dumb faces.”

Diana had to explain to the boys that their father had a sick sense of humor. She also told me to shut up.

Eventually, we lined up on a dock and a dolphin trainer took their charges through their paces. Each dolphin had the expression of a dinner theatre actor who was on their 1,000th of performance of “H.M.S. Pinafore.” Kinda bored, but happy for the regular gig.

The boys gleefully dropped fish and ice cubes and cubes of gelatin into the mouth of Lucky, the resident 42 year old male. I was immediately overcome with a sense of kindred spirit. I couldn’t bring myself to punch him in the face. And he couldn’t bring himself to biting my arm off.

We all came away from it a little changed. The message of conservation got the boys on a kick of throwing away the daiquiri-filled plastic cups left on every surface of the hot tub. And they almost made the choice of giving up any and all toys for the rest of the year to afford another dolphin experience. Almost.

Diana also declared her desire to give up the wine store and go back to school to become a sea animal trainer. The time and expense of such an endeavor made perfect sense to all of us, especially when it meant we could all live at the hotel permanently.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Late Night Hand Holding

We just got back from a long weekend in Florida. Florida is that perfect mix of sun, sand and absolutely bonkers white trashness.

Our hotel was nice and kid friendly and by 8pm each night, the boys were flat out exhausted from getting yelled at for running by the pool, getting yelled at for feeding seagulls French fries and getting yelled at for punching dolphins. So we had zero problems getting them into bed.

Diana and I knew there was zero chance we’d actually get to sleep with each other as husband and wife. So we jockeyed for who got stuck sleeping with Luca. As you recall, Luca is a black belt in Sleep Karate. His scissor kick to the face would make Jean Claude Van Damme blush.

The thing Diana had going for her is Eli loves her more than he loves me. That’s a fact. So my false accusations that mommy farts in bed fell on deaf ears.

On the first night, I bedded down next to Luca and positioned a pillow in front of my vulnerable genitals. I begged him not to kick or punch me in his sleep. Luca whispered, “I’m scared, Daddy.”

I said, “Oh. Do you want to hold my hand?”


I discovered something amazing: As long as I held his hand, Luca remained stationary and didn’t punch me in the throat. The minute I let go of his hand, he’d flop around violently.

So his hand I held. Holding the exact same position was tougher than I thought. Occasionally, I’d wake up with my arm bent painfully under my back or threaded pretzel-like through my legs.

At one point, I had to pound my arm to stimulate circulation and I thought, “Screw it. I’ll take the kick to the face. I need my arm back.”

Luca rolled over and said, “I love you.”

Who needs two arms anyway?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Who Wants To Die?

For a brief and glorious moment, Elijah and Luca loved The Simpsons. It was during the marathon a few months ago and, well, it was the only thing I allowed us to have on TV. But they did get into it.

However, unlike their usual TV viewing, FXX showed more than just commercials for Legos and Child Life Insurance (which Eli really, really wants to purchase). When FXX decided to run ads for the horror movie “Annabelle” they didn’t imagine the affect it would have on a seven year old and a five year old in Evanston, IL.

I flat our refuse to watch horror movies. Why would you want to purposely subject yourself to an unpleasant experience? It’s my same beef with eating sour candy.

From what I could gather from the commercials, “Annabelle” is about a family who is terrorized by a baby doll in a white baby gown. There are fast cuts and spooky music too. I think. I usually ran screaming from the room whenever it came on.

Elijah and Luca love her. She represents everything gleefully scary in the world. They spook each other out every night by claiming to see her in the room. They both have perfected dead-eyed Annabelle expressions. A quick note, I tried to take photos of them doing their Annabelle faces, but they couldn’t resist mugging for the camera. These aren’t good representations.

They also dragged their cousins into the act. They created a gamed called “Who Wants To Die?” It involves one cousin being Annabelle and wandering around the house singing, “Who…wants…to…die?” in the tune of “Ring Around The Rosie.” Then you kill your cousins or something. To be honest, when they play it Steve and I sneak downstairs to play Xbox and we just hear them singing and screaming.

Occasionally, the terror gets too much and Luca will start crying. And that’s when I have to come upstairs and yell, “No more Annabelle! Dad’s trying to play Xbox!”

A quick postscript:

Grandma Connie has a kid toy closet upstairs. Inside is a ventriloquist dummy based on the 1970’s duo “Willie Tyler and Lester.” Lester is, um, black. And for some reason, the kids all think Lester is Annabelle and they completely freak out whenever they go over to Connie’s.

There are at least four things wrong with that.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Punch In The Nose

Last night, we were eating delicious pizza at our friend Kitty’s house when Diana offhandedly mentioned Elijah’s bully was back at it. This time, Eli was reading a story about fairies in the library and said bully announced to the world that Eli was a girl because only girls are physically able to read stories about fairies.

She said Eli didn’t seem to mind and was pretty ok with it. 

I was not pretty ok with it.

Later that night, as I was tucking Eli into bed I said, “Hey. Next time (name redacted) makes fun of you, you have my permission to punch him in the nose.”

“But. I’ll get in trouble. I’ll get a yellow slip.”

“I don’t care. Tell your teacher I said you can punch (name redacted) in the nose.”

“What if I just trip him? I don’t want to punch anyone in the nose.”

“No. It has to be a punch in the nose. Tripping will just make him mad.”

“But. Mom says (name redacted) is really just sad because he has trouble at home. And he wants other kids to be sad so he’ll feel better. And I should feel sorry for him.”

“Oh yeah. That’s good. Next time he does something to you, say, ‘I feel sorry for you.’ But do it in a way that you look like you don’t feel sorry for him.”

“But isn’t that mean?”

“Yeah, that is kind of dark. Let’s go back to the punching.”

“No. I’m not going to punch him. I’m just going to say ‘Whatever’ when he makes fun of me and ignore him.”

I stood up and realized just how much better of a person my son is than me. I then went downstairs and played an online video game where I get to punch people in the face.