Month: November 2017

The Twelve-Year Streak Lives On….


The streak remains intact.  Clean and unbroken. Impossibly consistent. My kids haven’t missed a yellow schoolbus ride to their school in 12 years.  I swear it.  This award-worthy achievement came under scrutiny this morning, however, as my 6th grader evidently cannot wrap his little mind around the scope of this beacon of pure perfection. He peppered me with, “Are you sure we’ve never missed the bus, ever? Like, never? You sure? Hmmm.”  

The interrogation’s intensity — calling into question my punctuality and credibility — nearly broke me.  My breathing grew shallow. My face froze in a familiar “There’s-no-credit-card-in-my-back-pocket-to-pay-for-all-these-bagged-groceries-and-Oh-God-look-at-that-huge-line-of-exasperated-shoppers-behind-me” expression.

Is it possible that I am mistaken? Have I overstated my case?

A ninety-percent bus stop success rate is admirable. Likely something Everett’s Head of School would point out in front of a couple hundred super-impressed parents at an upcoming All-School Assembly. Eighty-five percent probably means inclusion in a congratulatory remark in the next school newsletter.

Why did I feel the need to throw down the gauntlet and lay claim to supremacy? To risk snatching defeat from the jaws of easy victory?

Is it because I can’t bear the thought of losing yet another argument to my 11 year-old? Or because I resist any further chipping away at my eggshell-thin patina of parental invincibility? Or because, honestly and objectively, I fear I have achieved so little in my life that this feels like, well, a major achievement? All of these are true, at least in part, to be sure.  

But mostly, my tight fists and their white knuckles clutch at the end of a rope; a fading connection between father and sons. 

After all these years of harried, stressed, often argumentative sprints to the bus stop just around the corner, I realize now that our morning ritual will not last. I’ve begun the migration from numbly going through the motions of the daily schlep to recognizing the feeling of yet another schlep falling through my spread fingers.  Looking down at my hand, holding far fewer schleps than those piled in the seemingly bottomless mound at my feet the day when my now 16 year-old scrambled up the kindergarten bus steps for the first time. So many years ago, suddenly.   

There will come a time when 7:43am no longer jolts the adrenals, slowly receding back among all the other unremarkable minutes in a day. When no Beadling boy climbs those three black, rubberized steps that had seemed to shrink in size from one school year to the next.   When no Beadling parent strains to glimpse through tinted windows a familiar, hat-wearing silhouette shuffling back through the rows in a southerly direction.  When I look down to see that my hand is empty. When I am left only with my own, increasingly fleeting recollections, and a handful of iPhone photos hastily taken along the way.  


But for now, the streak lives on.

Thanks for reading.  

iPhone for Flu Shot: Quid pro Quo


Everett Baker Beadling is in for a big surprise. He won’t know what hit him.  Couldn’t possibly have seen it coming.  Simply not a sufficient number of neural connections in his developing brain as of yet to compete at this lofty level.  My brain and his mother’s brain combined boast 200 trillion synapses; Everett’s a paltry 100 trillion.  Pfft, this is gonna be like taking candy from a baby.  That is a terrible analogy, actually, since my own instinct for self-preservation overrides anything so reckless and suicidal as taking Everett’s bag of remnant Halloween candy.  

But we are not above deploying blatant, ugly bribery with Everett from time-to-time in order to achieve what we believe to be ends sitting squarely in Everett’s own self-interest. When I say “we,” in this particular case I mean “I.” Hilary must maintain plausible deniability on this one, just in case our sophisticated plot — I mean my sophisticated plot — falls flat, requiring a separate battle plan to be drawn up and executed by a separate commander. 

Most parents set lofty life goals for their children, imagining a “sky-is-the-limit” future. Hilary and I simply want our 6th grader to steer clear of type 2 diabetes and stay properly inoculated.  Is this too much to hope for? 

Apparently so, as Everett has proclaimed a standing prohibition on shots of any kind for any purpose, whether the shots purport to be painful or painless.  We don’t even utter the word “shot” around the house, for fear of triggering a fainting spell or Grand Mal seizure on Everett’s part. It’s like the one person in the hypnotist’s audience who is hooked, dropping to the ground like a rag doll upon the invocation of the secret word.  Saying aloud “shot,” or anything that rhymes with “shot,” and you will hear Everett crumple to the carpet with a “flummpf” in another room. This poses a real problem this time of year, in particular, since Hilary keeps trying to add “Get Everett a flu shot” to my to-do list. 

Then there is exercise. Well, any physical movement, really.  Anything requiring more metabolic processes and involving a higher caloric burn rate than those associated with binge watching “The Flash,” or “Stranger Things,” or pretty much any things, whilst sitting dead still on the living room couch.  Add in the seasonal, bulging, orange pillowcase of Milky Ways and Nerds and Gobstoppers surgically attached to Everett’s wrist, and you can start to appreciate our concern for his spiked insulin levels.  We wouldn’t dare flush his Halloween treats, but we would love for him to move his arms and limbs on occasion in order to stave off Gangrene.

Alas, my timid suggestion the other night that Ev play in a winter soccer league was not well-received. Sitting at a restaurant’s dinner table on Chestnut street, he reacted as though I told him he arrived on our doorstep from outer space and then farted on his pizza. Shock and disgust.  He nearly bolted out of the restaurant and sprinted off into the night, maybe to our house, maybe to who knows where. 

So no flu shot, no futsal. 

But now everything has changed.  Due to the sudden serendipity of some new mobile phone program at my wife’s work, we have ourselves a bargaining chip: A near-obsolete-but-brand-new-to-you iPhone, just waiting for a new owner who is just about to turn 12 years old.  Most parents would bestow such a big moment gift with pomp and circumstance. Proud smiles. High-minded speeches.

Not us.  

Our birthday gift presentation will go down more like a hand-to-hand narcotics transaction in a dangerous neighborhood —  

“Psst. Hey kid, you want this iPhone? You do? Sure, sure, it’s all yours. But first, you gotta have this flu shot.  And then, you gotta go into that gym and play some indoor soccer.  And you gotta act like you like it — the flu shot and the futsal.  Then and only then, you’ll find the iPhone in a brown paper bag over there behind the dumpster in the parking lot. You got it, kid? Yeah, you better.”

Quid pro quo

At least this is the plan. Wish me luck.  

Thanks for reading. 

Rise and Shine

Just about a year ago. Seems like yesterday. Still working on all this stuff, it ain’t easy.

The Lemonade Chronicles

I woke up crying, and for a moment or two, couldn’t figure out why.

The last time I woke up choking back tears was the morning after my grandmother died in a small Upstate New York hospital bed surrounded by family. Years ago, now. How strange to experience profound sadness as the first emotion of the day. And these are not two isolated, unconnected incidents. Because my grandmother — my inspiration for starting this little blog — taught me how to make lemonade from lemons. Hence, “The Lemonade Chronicles.” So, good people, it’s time to make some lemonade. Here, squeeze this lemon, stir it up, and maybe even drink some along with me….

It would be easier to lash out. Point fingers. Assign blame. Cry foul. Demean and malign. I admit to giving expression to those base instincts in the last 24 hours. I am angry, for sure. But I…

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Attention Shoppers, Daylight Savings in the Bubbling and Boiling Beneath Department!


All this writing is getting in the way of my writing. I have been revising the living daylights (pun intended, sort of) out of my “Lemonade Chronicles” book manuscript for the past few weeks. That process is pretty much all-consuming, it turns out. And it does little to soothe the savage beast when it comes to actually churning out new content and releasing the pressure valve on what bubbles and boils beneath.

People like me experience great difficulty in keeping their ideas to themselves.  I know — we know — that our ideas are, objectively speaking, highly unlikely to hold more merit than those of anyone else. Moreover, we are downright mystified by normal people’s ability to contain their own ideas, never uttering a peep, not poised to burst at the seams, completely uninterested in unleashing their thoughts on the world the moment those thoughts take an even vaguely coherent form.  Shoot, I rarely even have the patience for the coherence stage; let ‘er rip! The start of this blog post is a fantastic case in point….

The more I write, the more I must come to grips with the fact that I have little else other than words. For example, I have a need, an apparently compulsive need, to scratch them nightly into my too-small journal until my hand muscles cramp.  Actually, I push beyond the cramps, which may explain the illegible handwriting.  On the plus side, no need for a secure padlock on one’s Daily Journal, if one’s Daily Journal bears chicken scratch incapable of being deciphered or decoded by anyone. I even get pissed at myself, muttering curse words surrounding by my first and/or last name, when I revisit some now thoroughly unclear thought crampedly-scrawled only last week. What the hell is the point of all this writing, if even the writer can’t read it?

And yet, I write. 

Except when I don’t. 

I realize this book “revising” process is an absolutely necessary stone along the path to getting one’s book published. So I’m hopscotching on the mossy thing with the best of them. River-dancing on top, even. Big smile forced across my face.  Look at me! I’m writing a book!

Except that it feels like I’m not writing

So I’ve resolved to pull my attention from the two overflowing shoeboxes holding book drafts 1A and 1B and, when inspired, crank out a little something new here and there. Again, I remind you that this drivel is drivel.  No better than your drivel.  But I can’t function, it seems, without driveling on a regular basis. Like the mushy jack-o-lantern on my neighbor’s railed front porch, I gotta be free!

And so, with that, I have some bad news: We’ve been saying it all wrong. To our mates, to our children, to our co-workers, and to our neighbors. Some of you have even involved your postal carriers in this, I know.  It’s “Daylight Saving,” not “Daylight Savings.” My wife dropped this bomb on me Sunday morning, crushing my fragile position as our household’s Commander of Words. So you can thank my wife for setting me — and thus all of you — on the righteous path of straightness and narrowness.  Sitting here now, I’m reasonably certain that neither “straightness” nor “narrowness” are proper words.  But I am so out of actual writing shape, I don’t care.  I was up at 3am working on my godforsaken book.  So I haven’t the energy nor the patience, nor any of the other necessary ingredients, to tidy this up.  And to add insult to injury, not only have I now been officially dethroned as Resident Wordsmith by my missus, I have also come to the painful realization that I have actually achieved no daylight “savings” of any kind. Ever. Nothing. 

But at least I feel a little bit better now regarding the Bubbling and Boiling Beneath Department. 

Thanks for reading.