My Son The Calvin

In the amended words of Braveheart: “I give homage to Bill Watterson.” Anyone who has read Calvin and Hobbes and watched Braveheart will understand these references.

My son is Calvin. In the actual words of Braveheart’s girlfriend “He declares it to me, I swear it.” My son plays in the backyard. He comes inside with grass stained knees. He manipulates me to maximize his time outdoors. He has a vivid imagination. His hair sticks up at odd angles. He even has a Calvin-esque face.

My son is Calvin.

Just today we were outside digging a hole because we had nothing better to do. It began to thunder and my daughter said, “We should prolly go in ’cause thunder is scary.”

I said, “Yeah. Let’s go in.”

My son said, “Can I do one more dig?”

I said, “OK.”

My daughter and I headed for the house while my son scooped his last shovelful of earth. As is his adorable/frustrating custom, he then scooped and second, third and fourth shovelful. We were close to the back door when the most ridiculously close thunder strike I’ve ever borne witness to struck our general vicinity. My Calvin ran from his dig spot, eyes tightly shut, toward the house.  He was on a collision course for the door frame. I grabbed him and, with fatherly concern for his safety, yanked him backward.

When we got in the house he was screaming and sobbing all at once. “You left me!”  He screamed.

“No.” I asserted. “You had your eyes closed! I didn’t leave you. You kept digging even though I told you not to. I was here. You almost ran into the house with your eyes closed!”

“OK.” he said, sobbing heartbreakingly.

I held him close in what I hope was a reassuringly fatherly hug.

He agreed that I had not left him; rather I had helped him. He hugged me tightly and soaked my shoulder with his needless tears. My heart broke.

He was so scared I could barely contain my shame. At the same time I blamed him for not listening.

I do my utmost to insure his safety. He is the sweetest disobedient boy that anyone could ever dream. His cheeks are consistently darkened with dirt. His knees remain green. He always has a cut, bug bite or friction burn somewhere on his little body.

He is my Calvin.

He scares me to death, but I love him to death. He is the world’s greatest, most cliché little boy.

Calvin and Hobbes may be a reminisce from the past, but my son is a continuation of the classic little boy spirit.

I love him, and my two daughters, with a love that rivals the love of chosen Deity for the creation of faithful subjects.

Calvin and Hobbes is a deep, heartfelt and spiritual classic and my son is a continuation of this beautiful legacy.

He is my Calvin.

He is a consistently filthy, imaginative and tiny creation of the Great Architect.

I thank the Creator for this tiny, vulnerable and OK with who he is miracle  of the Milky Way cliché on a daily basis.

I  bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…enjoy your children for who they are.

A don’t…judge them for their foibles. They are doing the best they can in a broken and confusing world.

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My Moon Rock

I used to have a moon rock. I found it when I was a kid. It was sitting on the side of a dirt road in New Mexico, approximately 30 miles from the Mexican border. Of course I took it home, bragged about it constantly and placed it in a prominent spot on a shelf in the living room. I loved my moon rock. It disappeared shortly after I discovered it and perhaps no event in my pre-pubescence has been so influential on my adult emotional status.

The previous paragraph likely left you asking a few questions. I imagine you may be wondering things like: “Where did it go when it disappeared?”, or “How do you know it was a moon rock?”, or “Why am I still reading this?”

I’ll answer all three of these in no particular order. Leave any additional questions in the comments and I’ll answer those too.

How did I know it was a moon rock? I know it was a moon rock because it looked just like a butt. It had two well-rounded cheeks with a crack between them and two little nubs that resembled the beginnings of stubby legs. It looked perfectly able to wear a small pair of pants, which I was in the process of making when I discovered the rock’s disappearance. My master plan had been to put the pants on it and then carry it around and “moon” people with it. Certainly the greatest plan I ever devised as a child; likely the crowning point of my life’s achievements to date had I been successful. Still, having the idea has to count for something.

Where did it go when it disappeared? I am honestly unsure. It is possible that it was an actual rock from the moon, or was a living creature from the moon, and the Mooners rescued it. This scenario is fairly doubtful. I’ve known only one out-of-the-closet Mooner, and it was no alien from the moon. It was my brother who climbed upon our trailer one day, mooned all the other trailer park kids and subsequently got us kicked out of our home. A more likely scenario is that my easily-offended-by-references-to-normally-pants-covered-body-parts father found it offensive and chucked it into the yard somewhere. Now its probably either slowly eroding in the New Mexico desert again or is in the pocket of some other ingenious kid who thinks its the funniest thing he or she ever found.

Why are you still reading this? This one is really on you, but I’m guessing you’re still reading because we are near the end, you’ve stuck it out this far already and you figure you might as well let morbid curiosity carry you through to the end. Spoiler alert: There are really no further revelations forthcoming. It was just a rock that looked like a butt and I’m still sad because I don’t know where it is.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…enjoy the irony of nature. I love it when nature mimics humanity and vice versa. Ad nauseum.

A don’t…be too proud of moon rocks. The Good Book says Pride goeth before a fall, or, amended and paraphrased to fit this case, pride preventeth the fall of tiny pants which would have revealed a charming geological derriere.

 

Lazy Survivalist or Urban Genius: You Be The Judge

I call myself an urban survivalist. This means that I read survival books, daydream of survival situations (knowing that I certainly would not flourish) and try (unsuccessfully) to start my fire pit without matches.

I have a bamboo patch in a corner of my backyard. I have been fascinated by it since we moved in, but it is not suitable for heavy duty use; tables, chairs, various what-have-yous, but this afternoon I decided it might make good little-weight-bearing clubhouse walls. I’ve been promising my kids a clubhouse since we moved in. Today I decided to begin making good.

I grabbed my hatchet, pocket knife and roll of twine and set to work. I crafted one wall frame, complete with cross braces and sharpened support posts that could be driven into the ground. It took nearly an hour and I lost heart because twisting twine around the various pieces and tying nearly thirty knots and blistered two of my fingers.

My daughter and I began to toss a frisbee around and during a short lull, I had an epiphany. I looked at my daughter and said, “Why am I doing all this work? I have zip ties!!!” Apparently the look on my face implied that I, in my own opinion, am rather stupid for just realizing this. My daughter cracked up and continued to reenact my facial expression all through dinner.

I grabbed the ties and produced another wall frame in less than half the time, pain free.

Either I’m a slow-burning genius or just a lazy aspiring survivalist. Either way, zip ties are going into my bug-out bag.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…make use of what you have around you.

A don’t…think inside that “gotta do it the traditional way” box. Some modern technologies will survive an apocalypse and survival is about surviving. Stepping away from tradition isn’t shameful if it produces results.

Fishing Philosophy

The picture above is the best picture of my son in existence. It is arguably the best fishing picture in existence. Perhaps you have one you like better. I like this one, not only because it is personally valuable to my reminisces, but because it reflects my own philosophy on fishing.

When I am at a lake, pond, river or puddle casting out a line in hopes of a bite, I sometimes strike up conversations with fellow fishermen. It occasionally happens that someone will notice what I am using as bait or how my lure is attached to my line or my methods of letting the bait sit or reeling it in. On most such occasions, I’m given advice on “The Right Way” to fish. Or “The Right Bait”. Or “The Best Spot”. On one occasion in particular, I met a co-worker/friend/apocalypse-survival-strategy-co-planner at the very lake my son is pictured near above. We were just approaching the lake as he was retreating toward his vehicle and we stopped to chat. A few minutes into our conversation he pointed at my pole and asked what I was doing with “that rig”. I did as I always do when confronted by someone who feels my fishing is sub-par. Which, by the way, is a valid argument because I rarely catch anything. I shrugged my shoulders and said, “I’m just messing around.”

That is my fishing philosophy. I don’t want to try the newest bait or most sophisticated lure. I want to sit on the bank near my son (or daughters or wife, preferably all of them at once) and mess around. I cast and reel and sit willy-nilly. We laugh, we talk, we find neat things laying around in the dirt. We watch turtles poke their heads up above the surface and express amazement when a fish jumps out of the water. We get bug-bit and sunburned and sweaty and thirsty. I have become an expert at untying ridiculously intricate and confusing knots produced when my son continues to fling his pole around without pushing the release button on the reel. I’ve become adept at determining when a tree’s hold on a bobber is too strong to fight.

I’ve learned that if I go home without a fish, I am not going home empty-handed as so many serious fishermen claim. I almost always go home with a memory such as the one pictured above, as my son reflects my philosophy. His eyes aren’t on the lake. He is obviously entertaining thoughts that are deeper than any lake, made possible by the serenity of fishing.

If he catches a fish, well, that’s just the crispy, golden breading on the filet. Or perhaps it’s the tartar sauce on the side. Whatever it is, it certainly is not the icing on the crab cake. That would be disgusting and goes against my fishing philosophy.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…fish to catch fish if that’s what you like. Just be sure to make time for all the other stuff too. Fishing goes well with just about anything.

A don’t…forget the worms. I mean the Canadian Night Crawlers. No, wait…you need the stink bait. Or some biscuit dough dunked in chicken blood. Whatever the best bait is these days, just don’t forget it.

Fishing Stories III

This is perhaps the best fishing story I have. I went through a phase in my early twenties that resulted in my presence at Lake Eucha every evening after work. My younger brothers would come with me and, although we rarely made it home with an impressive catch, or any catch, I certainly enjoyed the experience.

On one such occasion, my brother became frustrated with our lack of success and defiantly tied a small hook he had found on the ground to his big toe. He sat at the end of a small wooden pier and dangled his foot over the edge. He had just enough line to allow the bare, sinker-free, hook to float on the water’s surface. My other brother and I made jokes about his supreme idiocy and focused on serious fishing. We became entranced by the delicious solitude and our cares floated out to the middle of the lake upon the misty silence where they died a horrible drowning death as befits their station. They sank like a Salem witch and, if they surfaced again, were labeled as such and dismissed with righteous derision. It was great.

The tranquility was soon broken by my idiot brother’s raucous celebratory noises. My sensible brother and I turned quickly to see ol’ dumb-dumb hopping up the pier with one bare foot in the air. Hanging from his big toe was a piddly perch hopelessly hooked on the bare hook the dingus had heretofore been hopelessly dangling in the depths of the lake from the joint of his largest podiatric phalange. His excitement was infectious  and we found ourselves senselessly overcome with an unexplainable euphoria.

We laughed ourselves silly as we unhooked the fish and returned it to its home, cementing in our minds a unique and wonderful memory.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…take fishing for what it is. A time for solitude and brief outbursts of excitement.

A don’t…put too much stock in the fanciest equipment. You can still meet some sort of success with the barest of supplies. Even if the catch isn’t impressive, sometimes simply catching something is impressive enough.

Fishing Stories

Anyone who has ever fished has a story. In most cases these are embellished accounts of the approximated size of the one that got away or exaggerated size specifications regarding the one that didn’t. In a few rare cases, a large fish is landed, photographed, boasted of.

The following stories include none of the aforementioned qualities.

I am a poor fisherman.

My first fishing foray with my children included my two year old son suddenly jumping from the bank into the water and nearly drowning. I entered the water so fast that I was wet before I hit the surface. The only thing caught that day was, surprisingly, a severe case of athletes foot on my part. My son thankfully survived with no ill effect, other than a severely swollen pull-up.

Another occasion in the same location resulted in a much surprising encounter. Have you ever fished with three young children? You have no chance to catch anything. My son was insistent on throwing every bit of equipment and paraphernalia into the water every time I turned my back to help one of the girls unstick a hook from the weeds. On one such foray, I heard a frantic rustling of leaves and assumed it was my son making another beeline toward the bank for a self-drowning experience. Turns out, it was a recently-skin-shed snake. It, in hindsight as scared as I was, slithered its stark white and loathsome body furiously toward the water. I disregarded its escaping from me, focused on the ferocity of said evacuation and scared my children by ascending the steep bank, in the opposite direction taken by the snake, mind you, screaming. My frightened youngsters fled toward the road, arms above their sweet little heads, inspired by my flight of unnecessary fright. I nearly had to tackle my son to keep him safe.

Just today my son, now six, was insistent that catching a big fish required putting an entire hot dog on his hook. I indulged him, then watched as nibble after nibble garnered no landed fish. One bite, however, was a farce. The bobber dunked furiously under the water, inspiring a mad dash on my part to assist my son in landing a real lunker. Turns out he had somehow gotten the line wrapped around his shoe…who knows how?…and had jerked the bobber trying to reach his tepid Sprite.

One final account includes my wife-type-person catching three fish, which she nobly let the children land, whilst I myself got nary a nibble. My manhood has been suspect since that fateful day. She fails to believe the tales I share, fraught with inalienable truth, that I have, at least once in my life, caught a fish. She has never seen me do it, therefore it never happened. Instead she laughs at me. She shares stories of her dad yanking too hard to set the hook and reeling in naught but a set of fish lips. Would that I could, in her presence, catch a fish. Even if it were lipless.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…fish despite your failures. Catching a fish is fun. Fishing with your children is fulfilling.

A don’t…let a fish emasculate you. Sometimes they are just too dumb to eat soggy hotdogs, plastic or stinky clay.

About A Billion Tadpoles; The Neglectful Nature of Frog Forebears

There are about a billion tadpoles in my decorative pond. Last month, we heard frogs serenade us every night. It was loud. I was worried the neighbors would call us in as a nuisance. Either they didn’t or the cops don’t care if frogs are in your yard. Anyway, we were worried at first because we saw this string in the pond that looked like a strand of carpet. Very crinkly and colorful. I thought the frogs would get tangled in it and suffocate and almost pulled it from the pond before realizing it was a massive strand of eggs.

The neglectful frog parents have since moved on. They abandoned their young as they are apparently wont to do. Now every time we look at the pond, it is literally wriggling and squirming with aquatic life. I don’t know how I feel about this. It certainly makes for some nutritive water for my tomatoes, but some of these things have swum up onto the lily pads and dried and died. I blame their neglectful, abandon-minded amphibian, certain slang for the gluteus maximus parents. How dare you leave your babies to dry to death on my lily pads?

My oldest child is a girl of 10. She says we have to live here for five years to observe the growth of these tadpoles. She says it takes five years for a tadpole to become a frog. I freely admit she is smarter than I am, even though I am currently a college student with a 4.0 gpa, and because of this, I haven’t bothered to fact-check my child. It may take five years. But if it does, those poor tadpoles are doomed. They swim up onto lily pads they can’t get off of and dry to death! I’m more than happy to be some weird frog baby surrogate parent since I didn’t have to incubate them within my body, but I can’t be out at the pond 24/7. I have to parent my actual human young.

Who are these frogs to spray their offspring into my decorations and disappear? If I knew the number to frog 911, I’d have them arrested for neglect and abandonment. Its easy to identify them by their slimy green skin and loud, disrespectful, croaking nature.

Also, these billions of tadpoles will grow into billions of frogs that, without any frog-parent-figure guidance will simply continue the cycle of croaking in a loud, off-key and peace disturbing cacophony and the spraying and abandonment of young into unauthorized water sources. They’ll decimate the tranquility of my back yard with their inconsiderate caterwauling, should they survive to adulthood.

I’ll let them live, though. Despite their irritating qualities, they fascinate my children. I begrudgingly admit that they fascinate myself and my wife as well. Let ’em be, I suppose. If nothing else, they are a part of nature that I’ll simply have to tolerate and can perhaps learn to love.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…appreciate nature for all of its quirks. Nature cannot be helped.

A don’t…take my rant as a sign that I’m anti-frog. Frogs are fine, and cannot be held to human standards. I simply dislike the idea of a billion croaking frogs. I like sleep.