Parenting Tips

This Is Not the Dad You’re Looking For….

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Another parenting milestone today.  One I absolutely saw coming.  Utterly predictable. Should have accepted it with grace.  Better yet, I could have avoided it altogether. Alas, I attempted one more “spandex-suited school lunch” with my second born than the universe would allow. And when I say “universe,” I mean my newly-minted 12 year-old’s sense of propriety. 

This is a tradition I have enjoyed for approximately a dozen years, give or take, since my elder son was a kindergartner.  Saddle up and ride my bike from our home in San Francisco out to my sons’ school in Marin. Slide into the cafeteria line, and enjoy a little lunch with one of my boys.  When Max or Everett measured up merely to my navel, these unannounced journeys would be met with genuine “My Dad is here! My Dad is here!” over-the-top enthusiasm.  They might even jump into my arms at a full sprint, causing my slick cycling shoes to lose purchase with the pavement. I don’t think this magic ever wore off for Max, even as he grew taller, older, and graduated out.  

Everett, on the other hand, is officially over it. After today, I suspect he would avert his eyes, disclaim my paternity, possibly take a vow of silence as it relates to me, should I tempt fate with a lunchtime bike ride ever again. 

Back to today. I arrived at school with a few minutes to spare before the appointed lunch hour of 12:05pm, using it to clean up in the adult restroom, so as not to appear a sweaty mess with a mohawk-esque hairdo.  As I duck-walked towards the bathroom, I saw a strangely familiar face head off in the other direction — at least I thought I saw a familiar face.  I dismissed the notion almost immediately, as I was already wasting precious time and had to focus on stepping daintily in the name of safety with cycling shoes that aren’t made for stepping on anything. Plus, why in the world would George Lucas be hanging around my kids’ school? 

So I cleaned up.  Cleaned up nice, even. Made my way (carefully, again) back to the usual rendezvous point at which I’ve met my sons dozens of times over a dozen years.  I saw Everett come running at a full sprint with the rest of his buddies, as if none had eaten in weeks.  I felt the familiar feeling of expectation and anticipation as he approached. Our eyes met, he stopped short, and I knew — immediately — that I had made a terrible mistake.  I was not the Dad he was looking for, “Star Wars” aficionados might have said.  I suspect he didn’t want to see any Dad. Certainly not his dad, at least not while his dad was decked out in spandex.  

To Everett’s credit, he was polite. (His parents have evidently taught him some manners.) We sat across from each other at the lunch table, my legs cramping due to a seat too close to the floor, and ate.  Unlike every other lunch like this over the years, he and I were an island unto ourselves.  His school chums did not sit with us.  No high-fives with anyone — though I have coached many of them on baseball and basketball teams over the years. Ev suffered through 15 minutes of relative ostracism. Gamely — if monosyllabically — answering my vanilla questions that fell flat at striking up a meaningful conversation.  Thankfully, the kiddie rumor mill confirmed that George Lucas had apparently visited campus that morning.  My “sighting” of him sparked a few seconds of novelty and appreciation in my 6th grader’s eyes, saving me from an otherwise disastrous lunch. 

Everett and I became separated in the chaotic recycling/composting/garbage line that immediately follows lunch.  I scanned the room and playground.  But he wasn’t there.  For a moment or two more, I hung around out of force of habit. I am conditioned to his needing to see me, and his feeling abandoned if I disappear unannounced without saying goodbye. The moment passed.  And that period of his life where he needed to see me and say goodbye has passed, too, I realized, standing there in my spandex and slippery cycling shoes.  

Yet another instance where I grudgingly acknowledge that I am slowly working myself out of the best job I have ever had: Being Dad. 

I geared up for the long ride home, without exchanging goodbyes with my son.  A bit of an empty feeling in my stomach, despite the full plate of cafeteria food gurgling away in there.  The trek back to San Francisco was more challenging than it should have been, most likely because I had taken a bit of an emotional hit.  I arrived back home on fumes — physically and emotionally running on empty.  This was the fatigued and depleted state in which I lingered, in a bit of a funk, while absent-mindedly pulling on sneakers to take the dog for a quick afternoon jaunt around the block. 

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Fortunately, I caught my error shortly before Everett arrived back home on the school bus.  Disaster (narrowly) averted.  I had barely endured the morning’s “Last Spandex Lunch” experience. I surely would not have survived the disgusted look on Ev’s face had he spied his old man shuffling around the house with two different sneakers on. And this time, George Lucas could not save me. 

Thanks for reading.  

Santa Claus Is (Not) Coming to Town

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This longstanding letter-writing tradition will not be repeated in the Beadling Household this year. For the first time in 16 years, there will be no Santa Claus on Beach Street. This sudden, stunning development hardly lacks for explanation.  

To be sure, for example, Everett has stretched — and arguably burst like a popped balloon — the boundaries between “naughty” and “nice.”

Last night, he deployed some trademark foot-dragging on the way to his piano lesson. He emphasized his displeasure with this weekly task, and tamped down any minuscule notion in my head of future rock stardom, by sarcastically promising to pay me $100 should he “ever have a career in the music business.” This is a piece of U.S. Currency he has absolutely zero intention of slapping into my hand. Later, Ev maligned his obligation to participate in that evening’s Midweeklies Holiday Dance, and wore in protest the exact same jacket and tie outfit he has worn for this event for the past two months, like a prison jumpsuit. At the celebratory event’s conclusion, Ev expressed major aggravation, bordering on outrage, that his parents arrived to pick him up at 8:02 pm rather than the appointed hour of 8:00 pm: “See?! This is why I need an iPhone!” 

Just this morning, I attempted to “healthy up” some leftover macaroni and cheese by tossing in a handful of spinach leaves. Surveying the breakfast offering warily without breaking stride, Everett announced, “Nice try, Dad,” and speed-walked right out of the kitchen.  Eventually, he took up his place at the table, spending 15 minutes pushing differently-colored items to and from different corners of his plate.  Though he appeared to be earnestly absorbing our informative lectures about nutrition and “the most important meal of the day,” Everett, we later realized, had wisely run out the clock.  No more time for eating this mushy spinach, you see, since the school bus would be leaving the school bus stop in about two minutes hence.

Everett’s obstinance continued unabated in our garage, as he filled those two minutes by grumpily untying and retying his fairly new sneakers with quintuple knots. Somehow those quintuple knots are directly attributable to something my wife did or did not do.  “Ask mom!” he snapped when I asked why he hadn’t let me simply cut and burn the laces’ ends.  He then came as close as he ever has to breaking my pristine, 12-year streak of bus stop perfection. The bus pulled away from the curb, then came to an abrupt halt, as my little ingrate sprinted toward it with a frown. I managed an apologetic wave to our friend the bus driver, and then tried to convey a disapproving scowl through tinted windows at the general area where my son usually sits.

So yes, this insolent behavior might be off-putting to Santa. 

But Santa’s conspicuous absence this year could also be explained by some arguably rough treatment in the past.  Like the time our dog chewed him to bits. Leaving poor Santa in our backyard, disheveled and fearing for his life —

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Or the time we (allegedly) ran Santa over —

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For what it’s worth, this particular traffic mishap cannot be blamed on me.  As my wife will tell you, I haven’t managed to parallel park our Prius (or anybody’s else’s Prius) this close to the curb in years. 

Could it be, then, because we are blithely breaking with tradition, embarking on a family trip to warmer climes this year, rather than staying home and awaiting our hung stockings to be filled? I suspect Santa will forgive our attempt to make some new memories in this, the first Holiday season since my wife’s mom passed away.  Under the circumstances, even Everett sees the merit of sacrificing his usual gaggle of gifts under the Christmas tree for airplane tickets. 

In fact, none of this explains why there’ll be no milk and cookies and carrot sticks left on our fireplace’s mantel this year.

The real reason is that 2017 marks the first Christmas Season in which Everett knows Santa doesn’t exist. I can hardly fathom how we kept the dream alive for as long as we did. But indeed, it is the end of the road for St. Nick in these parts. Rough stuff for our second-born (and for his parents).  And I think he’s having a hard time with it: Letting go of Santa Claus.

The other night at dinner, Everett concocted an elaborate fib about a bright crimson, recently-bloody scratch that had mysteriously appeared on his neck during the school day. Ev claimed he had merely stumbled and fallen in a bush.  Later, under intense questioning from his mother,  he admitted that a friend of his had scratched him in anger, right after Everett had chucked a football at said friend’s head. Also in anger. Ev assured us, however, that he and his friend had ultimately “worked it out.” Nevertheless, given our past experiences with both of our children, we remain conditioned to anxiously await a call or email from school.  The call never came. The email never sent.

Maybe the “Football Scratch Incident” was truly not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things, we figured. Then again, maybe Santa had one final gift up his sleeve, even if Everett and his family probably didn’t deserve it.  

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Thanks for reading. And Happy Holidays. 

The Twelve-Year Streak Lives On….

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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.  

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But for now, the streak lives on.

Thanks for reading.  

iPhone for Flu Shot: Quid pro Quo

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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!

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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. 

 

Time-Hopping

I have become an unabashed devotee of a relatively new iPhone app known as TimeHop. I don’t really get the T-Rex with swim goggles and heart-print boxer shorts brand logo. In fact, I experience mild annoyance with a touch of embarrassment when I daily interact with the app each morning, painfully aware of the TimeHop T-Rex’s resemblance to Barney. I avoided Barney like the plague when my sons fell in his target age demographic. Snobbishly opting for “Mozart for Babies” over the thick-tongued and goofy purple brontosaurus. Well the chicken (pterodactyl?) has come home to roost: My kids despise classical music, and I endure begrudging eye contact with a cartoon dinosaur and his useless swim goggles. In his damned underpants. Every day.

Because I genuinely enjoy perusing the digital images scraped by the app from among the various repositories where my memories lie. At least those memories within the past 10 years. Dutifully date-stamped by the dinosaur, reminding me of this family wedding in New York City during a September 11 weekend, that walk on the beach with my dog whilst chewing through a tricky work situation, or my younger son’s first official soccer practice in which he finally deigned to actually participate, or my elder son’s greenstick-fractured wrist bone from an ill-advised and unsupervised jaunt on the treadmill in our garage.

The images that tickle my belly or leave me staring in awe, I “share” those immediately via text message. I am well aware that my wife is beholden to the almighty billable hour and that she cannot bill “looking at a TimeHop photo my husband sent to me of my son Everett grotesquely twisting one of his front teeth” to any of her clients. So by definition, my “Do You Remember” iMessages are interfering with my wife’s job.

And I have read every word of my older son’s new school’s Parent Handbook. I am fairly certain my TimeHop text messages this morning pinged the iPhone in his pants pocket smack in the middle of Precalculus. This sort of thing likely explains why parents are generally forbidden from communicating with their children in this manner, save for elusively narrow windows of the day that I have yet to figure out. Rationally, this policy makes complete sense to me. It does. But when I get emotionally overwhelmed by a parking lot shot of Max’s first of many travel baseball games after our first of many 5am drives to Stockton, I just can’t help myself. And part of me wants to believe that Max’s Precalculus teacher, upon discovering a pic of my fresh-faced cherub in his new uniform when Max is supposed to be sketching some Euclidean vectors, would smile knowingly and cut Max a break. He might even invite Max to deliver a moving PowerPoint presentation to the entire class regarding my first born’s obviously perfect childhood and father. This is the stuff of which valedictory speeches are made!

Anyhow, today’s trip down memory lane has reached its dead end, as it always does. Marked by the sneering T-Rex, Barney’s cousin, who knows that I will be back again tomorrow. Perhaps by then, at long last, he will have found his pants.

Thanks for reading.

You and Me Against the World.

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I clearly have a lot to learn when it comes to parenting.  Well, a lot to learn when it comes to just about everything. But let’s focus on parenting for now.  Bite-sized pieces.  

When I was a boy, my mom and I adopted a poignant Helen Reddy song as our theme song.  It was called, “You and Me Against the World.”  The song was released in 1975, so I must’ve been about 8 or 9.  That would make my mom something on the order of 29 or 30.  I had a pretty pleasant childhood.  No complaints.  Certainly didn’t harbor any notions of the world being against me, or against me and my mom.  Nor did my mom harbor any such notions, I don’t think.  Instead, our affinity for the song probably had more to do with a short-hand way of affirming our bond.  Of her assuring me that she would always be there for me. No matter what.  By the time our pushbutton car radio gave currency to “You and Me,” my mother had only been a mother for 8 or 9 years.  That is roughly half the amount of time that I have now been a father to my own children.  And I started the parenting thing later in life, so in theory, I should have a pretty decent idea of what’s what.       

But this morning’s walk to the school bus stop revealed yet another parenting failure on my part: No theme song.  As a direct result, my children have been completely deprived of the “I’ve-got-your-back-no-matter-what” sense of security that my mom lyrically guaranteed me as a child.  To my emotionally-neglected sons, the entire world is against them.  As am I, apparently.  

I lump myself in with the rest of the world in opposition to my kids because my 11 year-old told me so.  This morning, maybe in a tiny bit of a rush out of our flat and up the street to the schoolbus (blinking its lights impatiently), Everett absentmindedly neglected to close our garage door.  He pushed the proper keypad buttons in the proper sequence, mind you.  And the garage door, in fact, obligingly started down its path to 100% city living security.  But just as Ev bounded out into the driveway, already onto the next thing, the door bounced right back up again. Leaving our little home completely vulnerable to the sharp-clawed raccoons I read about on the NextDoor app, and to the elderly ladies who crunch recyclable cans underfoot curbside on garbage day.  I can’t have any raccoons pilfering our dog’s gourmet treats we keep in a plastic container on the garage’s workbench.  Not to mention the horrors that would befall my household if the can-crunching lady began crunching cans in my garage.  What would be next? Locusts? Horsemen?    

So with this parade of horribles in mind, I said to Everett, “Hey, careful bud, you didn’t quite close the garage door there.  Your backpack or your heel must have triggered the sensor.  Kind of important to make sure the door closes, you know?” Pretty sure this is exactly what I said to him.  Pretty sure I said it, too, in an intentionally calm, measured tone.  I didn’t want to indicate to Everett the true enormity of this event. The unimaginable catastrophes that would surely transpire due to an open garage door.  

But alas, we have no theme song.  So Everett’s immediate response? “Dad, why are you always against me on everything?!” And then he stormed off up the sidewalk towards the waiting bus.  I follow behind him, more or less speed-walking to keep up.  The thought crossed my mind of humming a few bars of “I Am a Gummy Bear” — perhaps the one song that Everett might associate with his father from my playing it for him once or twice many many years ago.  But there is no real message in there, I quickly concluded, at least not one that would fit this moment. So instead, still walking at a brisk clip on my son’s heels, I try logic.  I even manage to turn the thing totally around, a little impressed with myself, such quick thinking on the spot and on my feet: “Ev, I’m actually not against you on anything. I’m trying to help you out.  This is called ‘parenting.'” My explanation — perfectly rational, probably 100% factually accurate, too — was a remarkably poor substitute for Helen Reddy. No doubt Everett climbed the school bus steps feeling totally alone.  Abandoned.  Theme song-less. 

So now I will spend the next several hours scouring the Internet for an age-appropriate, non-explicit, secular, non-mysogynistic, non-materialistic, not-about-gummy bears song that I can use to make my son believe that I am a good father.  I do have his back, of course. I just don’t have a theme song.  Yet. 

Thanks for reading. 

 

And then there were three….

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We’re down to three sentient beings under our roof on a regular, expected basis.  Well, four, if you count the dog.  So let’s go with four.  Our fifth (fourth, if you for some reason don’t count the dog), now resides 2,584 miles away from our roof.  As a seeker of the bright side and maker of soothing lists, I have, predictably, begun to compile a number of consequences of this attrition that slot into the “positive” column —

Example: Our younger son, Everett, now picks up the slack in the household chores department.  And he does so happily.  No he doesn’t.  Actually, he disappears into some unknown hiding spots in our home when he rightly senses that a handed-down task is coming his way.  Fortunately for us, the Santa Claus jig is up with respect to Everett, or else he certainly would have found our top-secret Christmas presents hiding spots whilst burrowing under the turf in our backyard.  Or wherever the hell he is hiding instead of setting the dinner table.  And by “setting,” I mean putting forks and knives on either side of the place settings, set roughly 7 steps away from the kitchen’s silverware drawer.  And now he has just 3 settings to set, what with our 4th lying idle. 

Another example: Last night, my wife Hilary gave Ev “a lesson” in how to roll our bins curbside for the morning Recology visit. I realize now that the way I worded that last sentence may conjure up images of hickory switches and welts on butts.  Not the case.  Rather, young Everett was supposedly indoctrinated into the business of Green, Black and Blue Bins 101. And the truth is, the bins did somehow magically end up neatly aligned out front, ready for pickup. But I’m not as confident that our elder son’s least favorite aspect of this particular chore was wholly handed over to his younger brother.  The part where you have to scamper all over the house, collecting yucky stuff from an endless array of little trash cans, sticky little recycling bins or wet paper bags.  Or nightmare-inducing compost bags threatening to burst at any moment.  Who am I kidding on this last point; I alone shoulder the bomb squad outfit for the compost transfer.  My children are not ready for that horror. But Ev is certainly capable, apparently, of lining up the bins on a Monday night.  The militaristic set up out there last night, though, with all 3 bins so perfect.  I’m not buying it.  I’d bet everything currently stuffed into our kitchen compost can that Hilary “taught” Everett how to line up the bins outside.  And Everett merely “learned.”  I.e., she did the dirty work, and he watched.  How very Tom Sawyer of him.  

Another example: The standing requirement that one of sentient beings number 1-4 must occasionally walk sentient being number 5.  When Max bore this responsibility, the dog, miraculously, never seemed to do anything.  This defeated the purpose, with the predictable result of unreasonably early bedside whimpering (Wailea, not Max) the following morning.  I suspect that Max’s habit of effectively sprinting around our block leash-in-hand proved an insurmountable hurdle for a dog interested in peeing.  It remains to be seen whether Everett will have the patience for a sniff of every bush, and the mental fortitude required when Lea takes care of business in the middle of the street while a MUNI bus rapidly approaches.  For now, it appears that I am pretty much the only Beadling family member managing the bushes and buses in the afternoons.  You might say I’m “teaching” Everett the ropes here. 

So you see, there are so many positives flowing from sending your child off to boarding school.  Why didn’t we think of this sooner? Well, I’ve gotta run now. I have a number of Everett’s chores to attend to.

Thanks for reading.