That one time I ALMOST got my tit in a wringer for ‘drugs’.

I have long been of the opinion that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree when it comes to the intellect of the children of some parents. This is an old story. Hope you enjoy the insight into the monumental stupidity that I brought upon myself when I was a kid. Thank god I was marginally smarter than this when my first child was conceived. 

Thanks for reading,

Matt

This is the story of how I almost got kicked out of high school for supposedly possessing drugs.

It is also a cautionary tale of:

  1. Me, being a dumbass.
  2. Why you should always research your drug choices.
  3. My extremely good luck in times of crises.

In high school, I was the drummer in a band called Argyle (yes, retrospect has shown me that there are better names that could have been chosen). When junior year rolled around, we (the band & I) were having some communication problems with one of our guitar players. This guitar player also went to the same school as I did (a Catholic, all boys school). This guitar player was also a firm believer in Christianity, so much so, that he would go on the “religious retreats” that the school would offer from time to time.

So, we were having problems with this said religious guitar player and it so happens that one of these retreats was coming up and he was going to be a leader of said retreat. Naturally, I get the bright idea that I should go on this retreat in an effort to find out what’s been bugging this guitar player.

My other band mates supported this marvelous idea of mine.

Any normal person would have went up to Guitar Player and said “What the fuck is your problem?”

Not me.

The first two days were not that bad.

The only thing I truly disliked was that they confiscated all of our time pieces. The exact reason why is completely out of my head. But I was definitely struck by how maddening it was not to know what time it was. The effect was almost suffocating.

After that, we were bombarded with the usual retreat-y type God stuff that you’d expect. Our group leaders (of which Guitar Player was a part of) all had to get up in front of us and talk about what God meant to them and possibly relate it to a tough time in their life that they were able to work through because of his “love”.

This always resulted in, being on the verge of, or drowning in their own tears.

The skeptic in me then (as well as now) has always been of the opinion that the only one who can get you through those tough times is you. No one else, just you.

Just when we were getting ready to turn in towards the end of the second night, I was bouncing-off-the-walls bored. It didn’t look like my original goal (of having a “sit-down” with the guitar player) was going to happen any time soon. Then I remembered something that someone had told me during the 7th grade:

I had heard somewhere that smoking tea could get you high.

As in the stuff that the British have coursing through their veins.

I told this to my roommate. He looked at me like How I’m sure you’re looking at this now, like I’m a moron.

It’s ok. I know I am a moron.

I sneak off to the kitchen area and procure a coffee filter and some Earl Grey. If there was one thing I remember from this whole fiasco it was the look on my roommate’s face while I was “working”. It was a good blend of “God you’re stupid” and “Man, I hope this works because I would like to get high, too.”

The next day, it was more of the same God Shenanigans.

Right before dinner time, my roommate, his brother and myself all duck out for a quick smoke. Stupidly, we all lit up on the main path that connected the chapel to where we were all “living”. Of course I thought that this would have been as good a time as any to see if my little experiment held water. When I lit up, it smelled exactly like weed. It was uncanny. While this may be exciting for a junior in high school who was testing an urban myth to sate his boredom, you can obviously see what kind of goober I really was.

After about five minutes, one of the teachers came trudging down the path.

We were fucked.

They pulled us out of the evening happenings and said they found what “appeared to be” a joint.

I told them that it was all my idea and that the two brothers had nothing to do with it. I went out to tell them that I ran out of cigarettes and I made the “joint” as a substitute (which wasn’t completely bullshit, by the way) and I completely reassured them that it wasn’t drugs.

They told me that was all well and good but what they found still needed to be “analyzed”.

I asked them what was going to happen to us. Without missing a beat, they said that they spoke to the dean and he said that they were to send us home and we were to be suspended.

I was completely fucked. My life, as I knew it, was over. My parents were on their way to get me.

I had never seen my father so angry at me. No band, no nothing. That’s what my parents told me.

Normally I would have taken that without saying a word. However, we had a major show coming up it didn’t make sense to punish people who didn’t have anything to do with me fucking up. I managed to convince my parents to let me play the show and then suspend my band privileges.

Here’s where the story gets better.

The day before I had to go back to school, we had band practice.

Bass Player and his girlfriend at the time were the first to show up.

I explained everything to them, the stupidity of my actions, the fallout from the school and my parents and what was going to happen after our big show.

The girlfriend said something to the effect of:

“I know what would make you feel better”.

“What’s that?”

“Smoking a big bag of weed.”

From her purse she whips out a bowl and a big bag of weed.

Band practice was at the very least, fun. I went to bed that night without a care in the world.

The next day was my first day back since getting suspended. During one of my morning classes, I was pulled out of class to speak with the Dean.

Basically, he wanted to give me a pep talk and to hear what happened from my own mouth. He concluded the whole conversation by telling me that the results of the testing on the “evidence” were inconclusive and that I needed to submit to psychological analysis and drug testing.

Drug. Testing.

I was doomed! I was sure of it! I had smoked up just the other day.

I was freaking out! I couldn’t go back to the Dean and ask him what kind of test it would be. That would be way too suspicious.

After school, I immediately started to drink water. I figured that if I drank enough of it, I could even the chances of flushing out my system. I then called Bass Player and explained to him the escalation of the situation. He was remarkably helpful. I learned that it was either going to be a blood test or a urine test.

Regardless of the type of test, I could go to any “head” shop and select from a wide array of products that would mask the presence of cannabis in my system. Thankfully, this all pre-dated hair sampling.

Bass Player also suggested that I drink Pectin, a preservative commonly used in canning foods.

At this point I had all ready been drinking enough water to hydrate a third world country so the pectin wouldn’t hurt. It wasn’t that bad. Had a bit of a sweet taste to it.

As an added measure I called the local NORML office to find out how long pot had stayed in your body. He told me that the length of time varies depending on your level of usage. Thankfully, I wasn’t a habitual smoker so I had about three days to clear out my system.

Relief very adequately describes how I felt after that conversation. I still drank water like a motherfucker, though. 

So the day finally came for me to face the music.

I was so nervous you couldn’t get a needle up my ass with a jack hammer. I was a relatively “good” kid. Getting in this kind of trouble was a new experience for me.

The psychoanalysis was completely unremarkable. No new emotional ground had been broken. No revelations were had. It was just an old, white man asking me questions that people have been asking me since I got suspended.

Peeing in a cup was fun. I really had to pee.

7 days later.

The dean of my school comes up to me wanting to know what was going on. Of course, I had no fucking idea what he was talking about. Apparently the clinic that I had gone to, did not inform the people of the school about my pee pee results.

The Dean told me that I needed to call them to find out what the story was.

So I call the clinic and I was informed that its standard operating procedure to not inform the drug testee if there is an absence of drugs in their urine.

An. Absence.

My pee was clean.

In a matter of three days I had managed to ingest enough water piss out all of the THC that was in my system.

Lessons learned:

  1. If you have a problem with someone, quit fucking around and address the situation.
  2. Smoking Tea will never, ever get you high.
  3. If you’re going to do drugs, make sure that there isn’t a possible drug test looming.
  4. As smart as you think you are, old age will always show you how stupid you really were.

Getting kids to do things: putting away clothes

Any parent, let alone a stay-at-home Dad, needs to be a good communicator. You need to know what to say and when to say it.

Let me set the stage for you: 3 years ago one of the things that I have struggled with up until a couple of months ago, was getting my oldest daughter (who was 7 going on 40 at the time) to put away her clothes properly. This had been something that was a sore point for both me and my wife since we started having our daughter put away her clothes. (She was 5 when we started this agonizing process.)

Both together and on our own, my wife and I had taken the time to point out what article of clothing should be put away ‘where’ and what should be hung up on a hanger as opposed to what we were ok with being folded and put away in a drawer.

Our daughter speaks English. She’s not blind. There’s nothing holding her back from doing all of the normal, physical things that 7-year-old children do. She just chose not to put away her clothes the right way most of the time.

Don’t get me wrong, she’s been able to do it right the first time every so often but for the most part, she would do everything in her power to do it the wrong way. I would find dresses balled up behind her desk, underwear stashed underneath the bathroom sink… My personal favorites were the multiple times when she would cram everything that needed to be folded into one bin.

We’ve taken stuff away. We’ve threatened with grounding. We’ve made her do it over and over and over again. Then we thought we were doing something wrong. So we (my wife and I) and reevaluated our daughters clothing arrangements and made it ‘idiot proof’. Nothing was working. We had gotten to the point where we thought what might be considered effective, might not be appropriate.

It was after the last ‘idiot-proofing’ (what you see in the following picture) that my wife and I had our last straw. It was more of the same thing. Clothes stashed, knickers hidden, dresses barely on the hanger in the first place.

While my wife was ripping apart our daughters closet again, I calmly and severely reminded our child of the last room that she occupied. Prior to living where we are now, our daughter had to share a room with her younger brother (he’s 4 now) and her younger sister (she’s 2 now). It was a small room, taken up mainly by a bunk bed and crib that she, our eldest daughter, was in charge of keeping neat and tidy. It was something that she was able to do with great ease as the 3 of them only had a handful of personal belongings in it.

I told her quite plainly that it would be the same situation. Only now, it would be the 3 of them all in one room, with 3 separate beds, and all of their possessions. And she would be in charge of cleaning all of it. Regardless of ‘who’ made ‘what’ mess.

She understood me quite clearly and has long been aware of the fact that I never bluff. Her closet along with her room has never been a problem since.

A Question of Ethics.

One.

I thought we were fucked for sure.

It was the weekend and we were on our way home from grocery shopping. I was driving; my son and my youngest daughter were in the backseats. We went to the grocery store the same way every time and we came home from the grocery store the same way every time.

The path we took was by way of a main road that had a speed limit of 35 miles per hour. It traversed a relatively residential area that was perforated here and there with schools, an office park, and wooded areas.

The wooded areas weren’t substantial. They always struck me as aesthetic choices made by the developers to give the people in the neighborhood something better to look at other than the house next to them.

As I was driving, I saw this “thing” burst out of a line of bushes by the office park. These bushes were roughly 60 feet ahead of me and lined “the slow lane”.

I was driving in the “slow lane”.

I have had this type of thing happen to me before: I get behind the wheel and I’ll see something familiar happen outside of the car or I’ll pass by something familiar but it takes my brain a couple of seconds to catch up. I blame the hypnotic nature of driving. The wheels rolling on the road, the sound of traffic outside of the car, the chatter from your passengers or the radio: It’s a perfect recipe for letting your mind wander.

“What the hell is that?” I said.

Initially, I thought it was a dog. Someone’s dog had made a jailbreak, found it’s way to the office park and then got spooked. As we got progressively closer, I see that it’s too big to be a dog and it’s moving way too fast.

Our car is still cruising at 35 MPH. Two seconds later my brain finally catches up with my eyes. It’s a deer. It’s coming straight for us and I know that this is going to be a bad car accident.

(At this point in time I was 33 years old. I have been a licensed driver since I was 17. At no point have I been in a car accident where I was behind the wheel. Not to mention, I wouldn’t know what in the hell to do if that was the case).

I blink really hard just to make sure that I wasn’t seeing things. It didn’t do any good: there’s still a deer on the same trajectory, muscles rippling, flying at us in full gallop.

I had a car next to me, a car behind me and a car behind the car that was next to me. There’s no way out of this.

Two.

Our responsibilities as humans to other species are hopelessly bogged down in what you believe ethically.

Case in point: it has been common practice in Afghanistan to have surgeons train on pigs. These aren’t the fetal pigs that we all had to deal with in Biology 101. These are live pigs. After intentionally wounding the pig, the pig is brought to the surgeon and the surgeon patches it up. The reasoning is that if the surgeon is able to stabilize the pig’s condition and patch it up successfully, then soldiers as well as the Afghan people will benefit (Rosenthal, 2007).

There seems to be two schools of thought with regards to the ethical responsibilities of animals: human centered ethics and life centered ethics.

With human centered ethics it’s really a case of ‘what’s good for the goose is good for the gander’. Hence, intentionally wounding Ms. Piggy. Additionally, human centered ethics bolsters it’s way of thinking by proposing that it’s our responsibility to care for the world (even through ambiguous means) so that our preservation is galvanized.

Conversely, life centered ethics proposes that everything (yes, everything) has a right to life. Even bugs (Environmental Ethics, 2008). While this may seem a bit odd and silly, it should be taken into consideration that it is a part of human nature to dominate our environment. Even if it is in a small way, consciously or unconsciously.

As it can be seen, not only do our ethical responsibilities rely on what we believe; they also rely on where we draw the line.

Three.

I slowed down as much as I could. Just when impact seemed imminent, the deer broke hard to it’s right and crashed head first into the car that was next to me. The pin-wheeling mass of flesh landed directly in front of my car in a twitching heap.

The worst thing about the whole situation wasn’t having to explain to my kids that they don’t save deer in this situation; it was the awkward sixty-seconds that passed before I realized that the person with whom the deer collided was only going to drive off.

I was agog.

A deer crashes into your car and you’re just going to drive off?

I’m sure that it is a hell of a thing to have happen to someone. Maybe this person didn’t have their cell phone on them. Maybe they didn’t have the faintest idea of what to do when you hit a deer. Their departure from the scene of the accident is understandable to a degree.

The people in the other car were headed the same way my children and I were headed. I knew that I couldn’t sit there and hold up traffic. Something had to be done.

After getting their license plate number, I pulled into the first parking lot that I could find to gather my wits.

Animals get hit by cars all of the time. It’s intense to see a living thing get taken out by a man made object and have it slowly die in front of you.

I knew I needed to be responsible. How would I feel 30 years from now when my son is my age and he brings this up as one of his earliest memories and I didn’t do anything? 

(For the record, he brought it up a month ago).

I called the cops. I told them what had happened. I told them where it had happened and I told them, in essence who was responsible for it.

Don’t get the wrong idea: I’m not the “deer police” nor am I an animal rights activist. I am a man that saw something happen that most people won’t see nor will they have happen to them. As a responsible adult and a responsible father I needed to draw the line and show my kids the difference between humans and animals.

Sources Consulted

Rosenthal, Susan. (2007). Animal Rights or Human Responsibilities. Retrieved from http://susanrosenthal.com/articles/animal-rights-or-human-responsibilities

Environmental Ethics. (2008). Retrieved from http://www.itstheplanet.co.uk/environmental_ethics.html

In which, you learn about Mr Did (or, ‘a little about me’).

One day, while I was going about my morning routine, I spied, my little bitty eye this fine fellow hanging out on the curtain in the room where I keep my computer.

katydid? katyDONE!

Naturally, I was taken a little aback by this given the fact that the room where I keep my computer is my bedroom and the curtain that he was camped out on was the curtain by the bed that I share with my wife. As a general rule, I don’t fuck with bugs. It’s not some convoluted religious philosophy, I just generally accept the fact that everything on this planet has it’s job. Everything. If the bug is keeping me from getting something done, or else is just generally being a nuisance, well, that’s a different story.

Given that I have never seen a bug like this before, I was filled with a mild consternation. And given that we are living in a digital age, I posted that shit to the internet.

Less than five minutes go by and one of my Facebook friends informs me that this is indeed a Katydid, it’s edible, and that I should establish dominance by eating it.

Alas, this was a minute too late!

I replied: 

“… it’s not really edible anymore. After having a long conversation with it, I learned that: 1. It’s voice is deeper than Barry White’s 2. It hailed from the Greater Ohio Katydid Orphanage 3. It truly enjoyed watching my wife sleep and it was plotting my untimely demise by attacking me repeatedly (after my wife had gone to bed, forcing me to read by the use of my book-light). I must admit that it was relatively successful because I had thought that it was the grasshopper that had gotten trapped in our room a few days ago. Yes, this is not the first time that an exotic bug has gotten trapped in our room. (Seriously, I don’t know how these little shits do it: Our house is two-stories and our bedroom is on the second floor!). After concluding my conversation with Mr. Did, He found out exactly how heavy my dictionary was. Repeatedly. The lesson? I value the weight of words.”

In short, if I am reading, do not bug me.

In which, I tell you what this is all about.

So, what’s this site all about? Who’s running this show? How do I navigate all of this flotsam? I didn’t realize that I was signed up for this… wasn’t this a blog of a different color?

Greetings and salutations! My name is Matt and I am a stay at home parent who currently resides in NW Florida. It is my sincere hope that “The Rank Spoon” becomes a repository for all of the information that a man needs to navigate dad-dom. Shit, even if you aren’t a family man, hell even if you aren’t a man, there should be something of interest to you: I do go on about things.

As I cover more topics, I will be updating the category list regularly. Currently, I posts lined up for:

  • Food
  • Dad know-how
  • (Occasional) Admin  (such as news, rants, what I’m doing elsewhere)
  • Man-health
  • Sex
  • Your Significant other

And yes, this blog used to be a lot different. I came to the conclusion that while I was enjoying what I was writing about, it just wasn’t for me.

For the record, I’d like to point out that when I did buckle down and tell people that I was a stay at home parent, everyone told me that I should write about it. This was over 5 years ago.

I didn’t know shit then.

I still don’t think I know shit.

But I do know that if current “me” were in a room with the “me of 5 years ago” I’d totally whoop the “me of 5 years ago” like the little bitch that he was.

Thanks for reading this,

Matt

The Horrors of Potty Training (Part 1 of 3).

Throughout the early years of my children’s stay on this Earth, I have ably concluded that there is absolutely no good way to teach a tea-cup human (read: child) to shit in a hole (read: bucket, toilet, box, hole, etc.). Read as many books as you want on the subject. Listen to your mother’s advice. Listen to the advice of your friends who have gone through it with their own kids. Get up on that internet and get your google-fu working.

I guaran-fucking-tee that whatever plan you settle on, your wiggle worm will shit all over it and make you feel stupid in the process. 

I humbly submit to you part one of my three regarding how children learned to use the toilet. Caveat Emptor: what follows is the general idea of what happened. I may get a detail or two confused given that:

  1. I was a member of the workforce during the times that the first two children were potty trained.
  2. Dealing with other people’s shit (even if you made that person) is fucking disgusting.

From what I can remember, Eldest Child had a lot of encouragement when it came to the potty training. Mom had read books on the subject and is the type of person that can be counted on when it came to due diligence on a given subject. Potty chairs and potty seats were utilized as well.

Additionally, at any given time, Eldest Child had myself and her mother (no, Eldest Child biologically isn’t my child, I’ll write about that eventually), her daycare provider (both her mother and I were working full time) she had her father’s family, my family, and my wife’s mother (Eldest Child’s grandmother) all telling her the wonders of pooping on the potty.

For the most part, Eldest Child was pretty good about it. From what I can remember, peeing was a breeze for her. Pooping, on the other hand, was a bit of a challenge. I guess it had to do with the fact that she was a girl and girls have a natural aversion to smelly things coming out of their backside. Youngest child was the same way to some extent.

Hell, maybe she thought it was concentrated evil coming out of there. Kids have tiny brains, it’s plausible. 

The last full blown accident I remember Eldest Child having occurred right before we moved out of our first apartment.

Her mother and I were retail employees. Given the volatility of that line of work, having a set schedule was near to impossible. However, I had just started a job that did have a set schedule (for the time being) so that allowed me to be the person who was home when it was time for the daycare provider to drop off Eldest Child.

The routine was: I would be the first one home. I’d then receive Eldest Child, give her about 20 minutes to get used to being at home, then I would put her down for her afternoon nap so I could unwind after a day of work.

One day, Eldest Child was a tad more persnickety than usual. I didn’t think too much of it as I was dead on my feet from training. I knew that she would be outgrowing the nap phase soon, I just didn’t want it to be that day. As such, I put on some Strawberry Shortcake in her bedroom and closed the door behind me.

20 minutes had gone by before I had started to hear movement again.

The tossing and turning of bed coverings. The thumpty-thump of little feet trying to ninja despite the fact that they didn’t really know what a ninja was. The rustle of paper. 

That’s what I heard for 10 minutes. Then she tried to open the door. 

She tried really hard to open the door for a solid three minutes. I was on the other side of that door and down the hall trying to figure out what in the fuck was going on in there.

Then she knocked. 

I might come off as a dick in my writings but I was polite enough to come down the hall and open the door for her.

Oh, what a sight spread out before me!

There was shit everywhere. 

On the bed. On most of the floor. All over her (for the most part). Remember when I said she had trouble opening the doors? Yeah, that’s because her hands were covered with shit and the doorknob kept slipping.

I don’t recall what was said between the two of us. However, Eldest Child was like a new kid. That persnickety-ness she came home with? Apparently it was concentrated evil that needed to be exorcised.

I spent the rest of my afternoon cleaning the beshatted child and bedroom. After that incident it was relatively smooth sailing of the sea of the potty trained for Eldest Child.

As you can see, no amount of training, encouragement, or book learning can prepare you for the day your child will Jackson Pollack their underoo’s on a Hiroshima level. 

Come back tomorrow for how potty training went with Middle Child (aka The Boy).

Randomness about babies.

The only foreseeable downside about starting this blog when I did is the fact that my kids aren’t babies anymore. They are growing children hurtling towards adulthood. Because of that, I tend to focus more on the now of parenting instead of the how it was.

Be that as it may, a bunch of people in my life have had babies of their own over the past four months. In honor of those occasions, I present to thee a really random list of baby related knowledge that I have gleaned over the years.

  1. When it comes to naming the kid, think about how they will respond to the name you’ve christened them with when they are 60. If you name your daughter Talulah Belle and she makes it to 60, there’s a strong possibility that she’s going to be a complete fruitcake from all of the shit that she’s caught over the years because you thought her moniker sounded pretty.
  2. Guys, when your wife (or baby-mama) is pregnant you need to treat her like the fate of the world relies on her having an easy 9 months. Because in reality, the fate of your world really does rely on that. If she’s not one to be fussed over, don’t sweat it. Just do what you can. If you’re one of those guys that doesn’t want to accept that having a kid is going to change everything, consider this: how you act now (at the gestation stage of your spawn) is going to cast a very long shadow over the rest of your natural life. Long story short? If mom has an easy nine months because you’ve been her point person, everything else ought to fall into line.
  3. Also, guys, in the event of an unplanned pregnancy, what the woman decides is law. If she wants to have it without you, you need to be an adult and tell her how that makes you feel. If she wants to start a family with you, and you aren’t ready, you need to be up front with her. If she doesn’t want the baby at all and is planning on aborting, you need to be the bridge that gets her to the other side of that. What you believe in doesn’t matter: it’s her fucking body.
  4. Before the child is born, YOU MUST COORDINATE ACCORDINGLY (read: be prepared). Make a plan with your significant other about how the 2am feedings should be handled. Figure out where the crib is going to be. If it’s your first kid (and her second) you still are entitled to have a baby shower. Baby showers (while weird because it’s a bunch of women and the father) are fucking fantastic because you’ll be around family members you haven’t seen in years and they’ll be handing you shit you’re going to need the day the stork arrives. In the months leading up to my son being born, I made a point of buying one thing a week that we might need. Toys, books, clothes, whatever. It adds up. When we brought him home, he was ‘comfortable’.
  5. Get it in your head now: YOU’RE LIVING FOR SOMEONE ELSE NOW, NOT YOURSELF. Everything you do, even if it is taking care of yourself, is now a means to (hopefully) a happy and healthy life for your child(ren). I’m of the opinion that families fail when one or both of the parents can’t accept this.
  6. Kids thrive when there is a routine in place. The day starts at the same time every day and ends at the same time everyday. Meals are served as close to the same time as you can get them (shit happens we all know that, so don’t sweat it if the meal times are going to be off every now and again). Nap time happens at the same time everyday. And yes, they need to be cleaned every fucking day. Wiggle worms telegraph like a punch drunk boxer. You can tell what kind of day you’re going to have by breakfast if you are fairly decent at reading people. If you’re not, you need to fix that shit. Don’t know how? Talk less and listen more. That’s all you have to do.
  7. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DON’T BE A PARENT WHO ENCOURAGES BABY TALK!  Firstly, you look and sound like an asshole when you do it. Secondly, this is the number one reason why kids have trouble when it comes to language acquisition. When you encourage improper grammar and pronunciation, the kid thinks its proper. It’s that simple. Lastly, the more you talk to the kid (regardless of their age), the easier it will be for them to communicate. Also, if you keep talking to them, they’ll keep talking to you when it matters (teenager-dom and onward).
  8. Additionally, kids, regardless of age need to feel like their opinion matters. That’s right: you need to listen to the little shits too. Yes, even babies. You might think that all they are doing is making noise because they can but I have always been of the opinion the noises mean something. Yes, you will feel stupid. However if you approach it like a rational conversation, it will pay off. I have prided myself on having one on one time with all three of my kids where I just let them ramble and it has always paid off. They are always secure in the fact that they can say anything to me even if it is fucked up. Granted if it is fucked up, or if it has to do with a larger problem, you need to let their mother know.
  9. Playtime and interaction with the child at ‘the baby stage’ is crucial. Everything that happens to them those first couple of months, is new and exciting for them. I’m sure you’re thinking “Thanks: I’ll file that under No Shit Sherlock. What most people don’t really express is that playtime tires the little motherfuckers out. Want junior to hit nap time/bedtime like they were running a marathon? Then you need to make it happen. Case in point: A million years ago, it was just me and my eldest child at the house. She was about two years old and she was being a little fucker for most of the morning because of who knows why. Her nap time came right after lunch (because everyone, EVERYONE wants to nap after having a big, delicious-ish meal. NUDGE NUDGE WINK WINK new parents). So I figured if I keep her going with the playtime up until lunch and then after lunch we go for a walk around the neighborhood, nap time ought to be a cinch. Everything proceeds according to plan. When we go for the walk, she’s whining almost immediately. I pay her no mind and we keep walking. At that age, she was a runner. Naturally, I made a point of holding hands so she doesn’t get any ideas. We make it down to the end of our streets and she shuts up. We get to the next block, parallel with our house and I feel my entire arm move like a whip crack. I look at my shoulder and follow the trail of my arm down to my hand that’s holding the hand of my eldest and I see that she’s looking down. Naturally, I’m thinking she’s tripped on a loose shoelace. I go in for a closer look, she’s snoring. Little shit must of been walking whilst asleep.

DID I NEGLECT SOMETHING? SALLY FORTH IN THE COMMENTS AND I’LL ADD IT TO THE LIST!

Don’t be a dick. At least not all of the time.

When’s the last time you were nice to someone you didn’t know for no good reason?

Seriously. As in, you had absolutely nothing to gain from being nice, you were just feeling it at the moment?

Before you get a nose bleed from thinking about it too hard, let me just say that you shouldn’t misconstrue my question. I am not a touchy feely type of person. I don’t talk about my feelings willingly. I don’t give out hugs. My name is not Moonbeam and I most certainly do not believe in ‘paying it forward’.

But I do believe in being nice. Just not all the time. Who’d want to be nice all the time? I don’t have the energy for that type of commitment. Do you?

Let’s face it: being a dick is just necessary sometimes.

Your child or children not listening to you? You need to be a dick. Neighbor’s kids came in your yard and took one of your kid’s balls? You need to be a dick. Significant other constantly leaving gobs of hair in the bath tub drain? Time to be a dick.

As you can see being a dick is justified depending on the circumstances.

A million years ago, I’m trying to get two of my kids out of the house when I get a knock at the door. It was two little old ladies who wanted to talk religion with me.

I’m a sucker for little old ladies. You don’t usually have to do anything for them except listen to what they have to say. They really appreciate it.

So that’s what I did. I listened to them while I had my youngest daughter pinned underneath one arm, her hair soaked from getting sprayed down with a spray bottle full of water. I listened to them while my daughter tried to wriggle free like the Burmese python that she is capable of being sometimes. I continued to listen to them while my son was trying to talk over them, competing for my attention. The little old ladies continued to talk and they read certain bible passages, asking me questions (of which, I answered honestly and diplomatically). Given the circumstances, I think I did a pretty good job.

As they finished their spiel, they handed me their book that they passed out to the people who listened (my wife confirmed for me later that they were Jehovah’s Witnesses) and went on to the next house, leaving me to finish getting the kids dressed and out the door.

While I’m getting the kids in the car, I notice that I have to put air in one of the car tires. This was an ongoing problem with the car that I was driving at the time. I had been going to a Shell station a block away from my house but this time I decided to go to the Marathon station at the end of my street. I had a habit of avoiding this station because it was always hopping with activity and their air pump was a pain in the ass to get to because they had it right in between two of their mechanic bays.

I pull in the lot, taking great care to get as close to the air pump as possible. I take off all of the caps from the tires and as I’m taking off the last one, I see this thing dangling close to my eye. Scared the hell out of me. I follow the dangling thing up to the mechanic at the other end of it.

“Need air?” he said.

“Yes, please!”

I filled up the tires and the kids and I went on about our day.

Being nice to strangers pays off every so often.

Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett

I am a Terry Pratchett fan. This is not uncommon knowledge. How can you not be a fan of an author who kicked out two novels a year AND had motherfucking Alzheimer’s disease? That alone ought to peek your interest.

A brief word on Sir Terry: Pratchett is typically referred to as a science fiction writer. That is a bit of a misnomer. Way back in the day, Sir Terry got the idea to create Discworld (this is where the sci-fi piece comes in)  a flat planet that exists on the backs of some elephants that are in turn, on the back of a turtle. It’s heady, I know. But it’s one of those things that pay off when you hang in there.

Discworld is the main “setting” of the majority of his novels. There, vampires, werewolves, humans, trolls, dwarves, golems… They all exist amongst each other. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but given the caliber of Pratchett’s writing as well as the scope of his stories, there is something for everybody.

The story begins with a couple of murders that have happened in Discworld’s capital city, Ankh-Morpork. Given the normal operating state of Discworld, this really isn’t news. That is, until its discovered that the murders are at the hand of a golem. A golem who was created to be the King of the Golems. From there, Pratchett very ably shows us that things are much more tangled than that.

As with all of Pratchett’s work, there’s so much more waiting for you beneath the surface. Do yourself a favor and pick Feet of Clay up!pic courtesy of: https://civilservant.files.wordpress.com/2008/02/feet-of-clay-cover.jpg

Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett.

Admittedly, and I’m not ashamed of throwing this out there, the only reason I picked up Reaper Man was due to the fact that it was blurbed on the front cover by The Cleveland Plain Dealer (I am from Cleveland). At any rate, I had reached a literary impasse between two books and I needed something that would initiate a tie breaker and that was it.

In Reaper Man, the Grim Reaper finally gets a little time in the spotlight.

In this story, Death is essentially retired by the Auditors of Reality because he was beginning to develop a personality. However, since Death’s “untimely” dismissal from his superiors, Death realizes that he finally gets a chance to enjoy the thing that he has taken people away from for long: that’s right Death enjoy’s life.

There’s a problem though, the Auditors completely lack imagination and as such, they are unable to replace Death with a “new death”. Only the given species can do that. So while humankind drags it’s heels creating a new death, the collected spirits of the recently deceased build up because they don’t have anyone to usher them to the great beyond.

Nonetheless, this like any other book by Pratchett, is well worth the read.

 pic courtesy of: http://s836.photobucket.com/user/NoCoolUserName/media/LookoutMountainBookstore/ReaperManUSPbk.jpg.html