“Hey buddy, you excited for pre-school on Tuesday?!”
“No.”

Shit.

“It’s gonna be fun. Are you gonna make lots of friends?”
“No.”
“What about Miss Michelle? You liked her, right?”
“No.”

Shit. Shit. Shit.

“Leanne went there and she loved it.”

I’m dead serious, his response was:

“Can we stop talking about school?”

We have our share of issues with Leanne. The child will randomly start chewing her hair or mindlessly bite her blanket while watching TV, but asking her to use the same fork for both chicken and potatoes in a single meal sends her off the deep end and shaves another few minutes off of my life expectancy.

However, we did get lucky when it came to school. Meg and I walked her to her classroom, she kissed us goodbye, and that was that. No tears. Er, scratch that. No tears by Leanne. Meg and I bawled the entire drive home.

Austin, on the other hand, spent the entire pre-school open house latched onto Meg like a damn lemur. He’s still in the phase where he’ll lose his shit when the doorbell rings if you’re not carrying him, much less leaving him in a room full of strangers.

This has left Meg and I dreading dropping him off for the first time on Tuesday. For the past week or so, we’ve been strategizing about the best way to pull this off. It’s not going well.

  • Run in, literally drop him in the classroom, and run to the car, apologizing to the teachers profusely on the way out.
  • Drug the boy and leave him there asleep.
  • Blindfold him and say we’re going to Disney World, leaving it to his teacher to explain what the hell is going on when the blindfold is removed.

Perhaps “not going well” is a bit of an understatement.

On top of everything else, it’s also putting a strain on our marriage. We can’t come to an agreement on if it’s better to pack tequila or vodka in his backpack as a preemptive apology to his teacher.

Working from home full time, I’m constantly aware of the ebb and flow of the mood of the house. Today is one of the more interesting days.

Leanne is bored. I know this because despite noise canceling headphones, brain-rattling dubstep, and a locked door, I can hear her recurring announcement to the entire house of her boredom. Her sighs are deep enough to cause a pressure differential in the house and make my ears pop.

To be fair, this is largely a victory. This is the first time all summer she’s complained about being bored. Sure, she’s complaining enough to make it feel as if it’s been going on for weeks, but she made it until the last day of summer vacation before I entertained locking her out of the house.

Meg, on other hand, is literally dancing in the kitchen. I haven’t seen her this happy since… well, probably last year around this time. She’s not explicitly attributing it to school starting, but at the same time, she totally looks like a Staples “back to school” commercial right now. Meg’s elation is further annoying Leanne in her boredom, which in turn makes Meg happier that she’ll be in school tomorrow.

This spiral of misery is complicated by the back to school outfit discussion that took place earlier.

“I don’t have any clothes.”

That was from my 8 year ol– hang on, not yet.

“I need new clothes for school.”

Ok, now I can finish that thought. My “8 year old going on 15”.

I raised the volume in my headphones, but still heard a few choice nuggets.

“You can’t just wear flip flops, you need sneakers on gym days” (suffice it to say, that one was Meg)
“I don’t like my sneakers.” (that one should be pretty obvious)

Meanwhile, Austin is running around the house — I shit you not — yelling “I’M NAKED.” I went downstairs to get coffee. Upon opening my office door, his streaking, little white butt cheeks flew by.

Meg and I cleaned our cars today.

To normal people, that likely means throwing away a dozen coffee cups and some gas receipts. Perhaps using glass cleaner to remove months of uncovered sneeze residue from the backside of your windshield (I won’t name names on who that refers to, but she knows who she is).

To parents, there is an entirely different level of cleaning a car: removing the car seats. You could feed a small country for a week on the sheer amount of cheddar goldfish and pretzels alone. A cluster of Cheerios fused together using melted chocolate and cinnamon sugar run off from Auntie Anne’s pretzels and has achieved sentience. I’m not sure if I should call the CDC for quarantine or the UN to negotiate with it. What I do know is that my shower doesn’t get hot enough to make me feel clean after this.

I had an MRI this morning to try once again to figure out this pancreas business. The CT and ultrasound I had a few weeks ago didn’t show anything, so at this point my doctor’s basic mentality is “Screw it, you have insurance, let’s try more tests and see what happens.” If this doesn’t show anything, the next steps are to jam a camera down my throat and then call the psychic hotline to see if they have a guess.

As a side note, this whole production has me realizing it’s a good thing I’m a software engineer and not a doctor. I’ve been in a tech lead position enough to know how to bullshit my way out of a bug report. There comes a point where you mark it as “cannot reproduce” long enough that you finally just flag it as “will fix in the next version” and hope the bug reporter has given up caring or I’ve moved on to another team. The medical equivalent of this would be for me to die and the doctor to hope my kids don’t have any issues or, if they do, that he’s moved on to another specialty by then.

Back to the MRI itself. I’m laying there on a cold slab of metal with my nuts hanging out of the bottom of my hospital gown when the nurse walks over and unceremoniously jams a needle into my arm.

“Ow, what the hell?”
“It’s for an IV.”
“Ya, I got that part. Why do I need one for an MRI?”
“The scan was ordered with contrast.”

It took her entirely too long to realize my blank stare indicated that I didn’t have a clue what that meant.

“The easiest way to explain it is that we’re going to inject some metal–”
“HOLY SHIT, LIKE WOLVERINE?”

Spoiler alert: It’s not like Wolverine. After 45 minutes of sitting in a tube looking like I was ready to be shot out into space, I basically just came home and shit out an iron ingot. I’m the lamest X-Man since Cypher.

One of the drawbacks of my recent issues with pancreatitis is that I can’t drink alcohol.

That normally wouldn’t bother me. I’m not a big drinker these days as it is. But a side effect is that it removes a fallback excuse for when I do something really stupid.

*ahem*

It is 10:20pm. I am about to go outside and pour a combination of ammonia and water onto three separate nests that house the largest mutant wasps I’ve ever seen. Because, apparently, that’s how you get rid of them.

This has bad fucking idea written all over it.

Summer Vacation, Day 1:

The kids are already fighting. It’s not even 9:30 yet.

This time it was about who gets to do what when going to get the mail. Credit to Meg for already devising a way to get them to willingly walk away from her. Summer vacation is a series of those small wins. Three minutes down, 100,797 left until school starts.

But the implementation left something to be desired. She outlined it to them as having three tasks:

  • Get the delivered mail
  • Put the outgoing mail in the mailbox
  • Raise the mailbox flag

That’s some basic math shit right there that she failed. 3 tasks do not divide evenly over 2 children. And so, our first fight.

Meanwhile, Leanne has already downloaded an iPad app that is supposed to give ideas of what to do when she’s bored. The first one told her to have a snack, confirming that the app is either a giant commercial in disguise or written by a sadistic, disgruntled programmer who found a creative new way to fuck with people.

I’m officially a father.

This isn’t a new revelation in the biological sense. That part I knew. Anytime someone compliments one of the kids, I silently pat myself on the back and think “I made that with my balls.”

I’m talking about the fatherhood mentality. I realized I started saying the kind of shit my father would repeat that made him sound like he was slowly going insane.

“How does someone so small sound like a herd of elephants coming down the stairs?”
“Why the hell is there so much toothpaste in the sink?”
“… no, just… don’t do that– god damnit, where is your mother?”

What prompted this epiphany was me going downstairs to grab coffee before a meeting. No one is home. The car is still in the garage, but Meg and Austin aren’t here. The shovel is still in the garage too, so I can largely rule out that she finally snapped and is trying to hide the boy’s body.

The lights were on. Everywhere. Both sets of lights in the kitchen, the family room, and even the damn powder room. The TV was on. Hell, even one of Austin’s light up trucks was on. It’s like there was an alien abduction in broad daylight.

And my first reaction was “What the hell, don’t they realize electricity costs money?”.

That sort of thought is basically one step away from black socks and flip flops while mowing the lawn.

9pm and Austin is still resisting going to sleep. In the two times I’ve been up to his room, he’s claimed his nose, his mouth, and his feet hurt. While I suspect all of that is bullshit, it’s very real that *my* head now hurts.

I finally decided to fill a small medicine measuring cup with water and a tiny bit of Mio grape flavoring. I gave it to him saying it was “medicine”.

He’s out cold.

I’m sure in some way I should feel guilty about this, but realistically, I’m entirely too proud of myself to care that I just lied right to his little face.

Earlier…

8:30 and the girl is also still awake. Yesterday, she fell in school and smacked the right side of her head into a chair. She was fine while we played, watched Gravity Falls, and watched Star Wars Rebels. When it came time to put her to bed, suddenly, we had a catastrophe.

She has a sound machine on the right side of her bed. It plays music and lights up with a little jungle scene. Allegedly, she can’t fall asleep unless she’s looking at it. But she can’t look at it because then she has to lay on the right side of her face that hurts.

So the first time she came downstairs, I had her put the Boo Boo Sheep on her face for a bit. I was hoping it would numb her face, or at least, shut her up long enough to get tired. After a few minutes, I sent her upstairs.

Three minutes later, I hear little feet stamping into my room.

“Are you on fire?”
“No.”
“Then go back to bed.”

That didn’t work. But I had another idea. I walked her upstairs, put her pillow at the foot of her bed, and laid her down on the left side of her body, in full view of her sound machine.

I’m on a damn roll tonight.

“Are you busy?”

With the last remnants of my holiday break dwindling away, the last thing I wanted to do was whatever task Meg was about to set before me.

“Um–”

… I also realized it was futile to attempt to get out of it.

“Good. I need help with something for the Daisy troop.”

I thought back to last year’s Snowball Beer Pong game for Leanne’s class and braced myself.

“I need you to print something like this out for the girls.”

I’ll pause here while you scroll down and look at the picture attached to this post. I’m sure I’ll regret posting this when 2015’s “Year In Review” app comes about and highlights all of your pictures of the year and this is the first thing I’m greeted with. Last year was a severed Barbie arm, this year is the calling card for a child murderer (then again, it’s only January 4th, so there’s plenty of time for things to get worse).

“Jesus Christ, what the shit is that?”
“It’s for the girls to sign.”
“In what, blood?”
“The one online has 6 to a sheet. I need 9 copies.”

I debated for a minute whether or not I wanted to know more about this. Against my better judgement, I kept going with this line of questioning.

“What are these for?”
“For the girls to hand out.”
“To whom, the victim’s families?”
“It’s for doing… things. For a badge.”
“Like what?”
“I don’t know, like helping fold the laundry.”

Folding laundry was on page 7 of the list of things I thought would prompt this sort of message. But then again, the first 3 pages of ideas I had all involved the word “serial killer”.

“Don’t you think they’re, I dunno, a little fucking horrifying?”
“… maybe.”

Thankfully, I was able to convince her to let me re-create them without the bloody child hand print watermark. So to all parents of daisies in Meg’s troop, you’re welcome for saving you finding these placed in random locations around your house.

daisy

“Um… daddy?”

Ah shit.

A few months ago, I mentioned that certain child phrases have common outcomes (with a few exceptions, such as the severed Barbie arm incident I’m referring to). “Um… daddy?” is almost never good. The result is typically one of two outcomes:

  • The child is asking a question to which she already knows the answer will be negative, but incorrectly assumes laying on the sweetness will change my already made up mind.
  • The child is about to say something that is going to put me in a less than favorable mood.

Sighing audibly, I reluctantly looked up from my iPad to see what was about to ruin my New Year’s Eve. In an almost refreshing turn of events, Leanne didn’t actually say anything. She just pointed.

Emerging from the bathroom was my son. He was riding his 4 wheeler. For a fleeting moment, I was almost impressed he managed to fit it in the powder room with him. Before I could work out the Tetris behind it, I realized what prompted the “Um… daddy?” introduction.

Austin was riding his 4 wheeler into the family room. Butt. Ass. Naked.

“So… um, Austin? What happened to your PJs?”
“Where?”

24 hours later, I still can’t figure out just what in the hell kind of shit-ass answer that was. At 3 years old, I’m fully aware that sometimes a neuron will misfire and the child will seem as if he’s on an entirely different plane of existence. Still, I needed to get to the bottom of this.

“Ya, that’s what I’m getting at, bud. Why aren’t you still wearing your PJs?”
“They’re wet.”

I ran through all possible explanations. None were good. Resolving myself to the fact that the next order of business would be figuring out how I can make Meg deal with that situation instead of me, I continued.

“Ok, is it just your underwear or are your PJs wet too?”
“Ya.”

Sweet merciful crap kid, pre-school can’t come soon enough. When it’s bedtime, I get a soliloquy on how Paw Patrol saved Christmas, but when I actually want information, it’s like shaking a friggin’ Magic 8 Ball.

“How did they get wet?”
“I don’t know.”

In 1983, Bill Cosby did a stand up routine simply called Bill Cosby: Himself. If you are a parent and haven’t seen it yet, seriously, you need to drop everything and go watch it. I firmly believe that a copy of it should be handed out at the hospital when you have your first child.

I couldn’t possibly do the routine justice so I won’t bother repeating the bit about all children having brain damage. I only mention it because those of you who have seen it will appreciate the situation I was in.

Try as I might, I can’t find a clever way to incorporate the massive, ass-clapping fart he ripped as he rode into the family room. I will say that he’s a Dobies, so the fact that he started laughing should come as no surprise.

And so that was how I spent the last hours of 2014: chasing my only son as he ran around the living room completely naked.