Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Baby’s First Groupie

On Sunday, Elijah had his first School of Rock recital. Or is it a gig? I think it’s a gig. He and I had similar dispositions of “Do we HAVE to do this?” But unlike Eli, I pretended to be excited about watching a group of 8-10 year olds mash electric instruments.

When we arrived at the venue, Luca raced to destroy the snack table and Eli admitted having butterflies in his stomach. I tried to tell a story about how Keith Richards throws up before every show but it morphed into Bill Russell and then I just told him it would all be over in a half hour.

Eli got over his stage fright the moment he hit the stage. He ordered everyone around and did some nice crowd work. “Hellooooo Evanston! I was driving down Dempster avenue (pause for cheers)…”

He and his little band mates blasted through 5 songs. I didn’t recognize any of them. Not because they played poorly, but because I’m old. My earlier negativity evaporated the minute Eli started singing and I cheered louder than anyone.

After his set, Eli came and sat down in my lap while we planned our escape before the next group hit the stage.

I spotted a cute little curly haired girl in the doorway. She was batting her eyes in my direction and made a little heart shape with her hands. While I was flattered, I couldn’t help but feel bad for her. I mean, I was old enough to be her father. I then realized she was mooning at the boy in my lap.

Just then, the keyboard player from his band came racing up and breathlessly explained the curly haired girl’s name was London wanted to marry him very badly. Eli went out to investigate his potential life mate, but she hid under the snack table.

On the way to a celebratory dinner that was originally supposed to be whatever restaurant Eli wanted but ended up being chosen by the driver, I asked Eli what he thought about London being in love with him.

“I don’t know. I don’t like it.”

“What? That is the whole point of being in a band, man. Girls. You’ve just figured out the secret.”

Eli later announced he wanted to quit School of Rock and go back into Karate.

I told him he could do whatever he wanted, but the groupies would be a lot harder to come by.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


The other night I met the family at our local Mexican restaurant. I did that thing where I stared creepily through the window until I catch one of the boys’ eyes and they ruin everyone’s dinner by screaming.

I ran into the restaurant and got a great hug from Elijah. I noticed he had a shiny new haircut. Which was basically his usual surfer ‘do, but combed for the only time in the haircut’s existence.

Luca came running up and, whoa. I would not call what he had a haircut so much as a Medieval style punishment. I tried to hide my horror at what happened to him. Was his barber blind? Did he only have access to a Scythe? Was he in a Cubism phase of artistic development?

I locked eyes with Diana and whispered, “What did you do to him?”

Apparently Diana’s instructions to the barber got lost in translation. She asked for a nice, high and tight with a little longer on the top and he heard her say, "Make him look exactly like Lloyd from “Dumb and Dumber.”

But before Diana could tell him to shave Luca’s head as a do over, the barber spun Luca around to face the mirror. Luca’s face lit up and he said, “I LOVE it.”

Three quarters of looking good is owning your appearance. And Luca owns his bowl cut. He preens and checks himself out in the mirror and struts a sexy strut.  Well, maybe not sexy. But something.

Diana says all the kids in Luca’s class have been complementing him on his haircut and remarking how good he looks.

On Friday, Luca brought home a little stapled book where each member of his class drew a picture of him. So I now have 20 or so interpretations of Luca’s new haircut. But most look like “The Incredible Hulk” if you drew it with your foot. Luca was wearing green that day.

This morning as I left for work, Luca snuck up and gave me a hug, sleepy headed and flushed. I told him he was beautiful.

He said, “You too.” 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


I got home last night and Elijah asked if he could play with his tablet if he stayed home sick from school. We have a rule against screens during the week and I figured he was trying to find a loophole.

Thinking he was a big fat faker, I reminded him that screens are a no no and if he was so sick he should just go to bed. I even made a big deal out of carrying him up to his room and tucking him in. He laughed and gave me the impression he busted and suppressed a smile.

I commenced playing with a Star Wars sticker book with Luca and declaring it the best time I’ve ever had with him.

A little later, I heard Diana call for me. She was in our office, furiously typing on the computer. When I asked what was up, she pointed to a pile of pill wrappers on the ground.

“I think Eli took a bunch of Claritin and I need to see if we have to take him to the hospital.”

I looked down at the tinfoil pile and thought, “Wait a minute. This isn’t how Eli dies. He dies in his mansion surrounded by supermodels at the ripe old age of 155.”

I ran into his room and woke him up, demanding way too angrily that he tell us how many pills he had taken. Scared out of his head, he said zero. Those pill wrappers were not his.

I then tried to take the panic out of my voice while Diana talked to our doctor.

“You are not in trouble. I just need to know how many of these you took. We have to decide if you have to go to the hospital to pump your stomach.”

That was dumb. Eli had a full on freak out. He may have taken 4. Or 1 or seventy billion. His brain was chock full of images of doctors hooking him up to a rusty metal water pump like the one we saw on that farm in Brown County Indiana.

Diana hung up with poison control. They said he would be fine. She then sat Eli down and explained that he was never, ever to take another pill without an adult there. Ever. Never. Ever never ever.

With the rusty pump still in his head, he nodded and went back to bed. I slept crappily, with images of those snake poison stickers we used to have in the 1980’s running through my head.

I awoke and poked my head into both boys’ rooms to watch them sleep. I was assured they’d each get a massive lecture about pill popping later that morning.

Friday, September 11, 2015

You Got Papped!

This may be a post our more sensitive readers will want to skip. Because it involves female genitalia. And while barfing and pooping and peeing are fair game for the blog, woobies, hoohas and cha chas don’t usually find their way into Elijah and Luca’s antics. Yet.

Garth and Sara’s wedding we attended last weekend was in Kent Ohio, home of Kent state. Kent state was where something happened that necessitated a memorial, but it was too hot to walk all the way over there.

Our hotel was right off campus and man do I love being off campus. Kent, like all campus towns, is basically just a collection of places for students to drink beer interspersed with traps for moms and dads during Parent’s Weekend. The only bummer is I am far more likely to be mistaken for a mom or dad than a student.

On a walk around the block, Diana pointed to a sign on the second floor of a building. It was a huge sign, with jaunty letters that read “Paps!”

Completely forgetting the fact that we were holding hands with an 8 year old and a 5 year old, Diana and I launched into a routine where we envisioned the owner of “Paps” to be an aggressive, in your face gynecologist. After each pap smear examination, this doctor would shout, “You got papped!” We then expanded this fictional doctor’s routine to shouting his catch phrase whenever something outrageous happened. Like Ashton Kutcher in his “Punked” show. “You got papped! You got papped!”

It was stupid and silly and a lot funnier if you were there. Like Eli and Luca.

They immediately demanded answers from us. Well, a gynecologist is a female doctor. No a doctor of female parts, not a doctor who is a women. A pap smear is a vagina examination. Yes, it does sound gross. No, there isn’t a pap smear for boys. No, the doctor doesn’t really say “You got papped.”

We regretted the juvenile jokes. We regretted them even more after Luca and Eli started using the catch phrase over and over again. “You got papped!” they shouted from the car window.  “You got papped!” they shouted at Garth and Sara’s wedding. “You got papped” they shouted at the woman leaving the gynecologist (not really).

On our way out of town, Luca forgot the actual catch phrase and shouted, “Vagina examination” at a passerby.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Wedding Bed

Over the long holiday weekend, we attended the wedding of our friends Garth and Sara. Not only did their incredibly beautiful and joyous wedding allow children, they seemed to make all their choices based on what Elijah and Luca would enjoy.

Set in a sprawling apple orchard, the boys danced to bluegrass music in an old barn loft. They chased tiny toads that were clearly shipped in for the purpose. And They drank unlimited pink lemonade and ate platefuls of four different kinds of BBQ meat.

By the end of the night, Luca’s face was bright red from a combination of sauce and chasing the other young guests who may or may not have been child actors hired to ensure he had a great time.

We all collapsed into our room and the nightly debate about who slept with who began. Diana reminded the boys that she would like to sleep in the same bed as her husband sometime in the year 2015. Eli told her flatly that wasn’t going to happen.

Luca loudly claimed me as his bedmate. And I’ll admit, I secretly liked being picked first. I know I’ll never knock Diana off her position as number one in their hearts, but a dark little part of me relishes those little victories.

About two hours later, I awoke to Luca in the middle of a coughing fit and he cried out a bit. I then felt the telltale splash of a barf. I sprang up and saw Luca had slumped back into his pillow and there was a stinky puddle between us. It wasn’t a huge puddle, but it was barf. In hindsight, unlimited pink lemonade and meat may not have been a good combination.

For far longer than a normal human being should, I debated just going back to sleep and pretending it never happened. I could just lie very still and not roll over…

In answer to that hideous train of thought, Luca bolted upright and heaved all over my side of the bed again. I leapt up and swiped at Diana, sleeping soundly in the other bed, and shouted, “Barf! Barf! Luca barf!”

Rather than have a philosophical debate about the merits of sleeping in your child’s vomit, Diana sprang into action. She placed a garbage can under Luca and mopped up all the bed goo, ordered new towels from the front desk and comforted the boy in one motion.

Everyone calmed down and Luca slept the sleep of someone who would soon vomit again. I looked at Diana and Eli’s bed. For two small people, they managed to occupy every inch. I debated shoving my way in, but I worried that Luca may need more help in the middle of the night. Help I would immediately delegate to Diana.

I decided to find some real estate on the bed that wasn’t wet or used by the sick kid. I found a small patch at the bottom. If I lay across the width, I could just about manage. Plus, I could envision what Shaquille O’Neal feels like when he has to sleep in a regular person’s bed.

I was doing my best Shaq impersonation to myself when Luca sat up in bed and heaved all over again.

The next morning, we drove along the Ohio countryside to the cabin Diana rented for the rest of the weekend. I really should’ve showered before we left, but I was too tired and used my stink as a kind of punishment to everyone.

Luca begged me to stop at McDonald’s and I suggested we switch up sleeping arrangements that night.