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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Perfection Mis-Realized

Human tendency seems to be to meddle with perfection. We find something great and we immediately begin to formulate plans to make it better. Take, for instance, my back yard. When we first moved in, it was perfect. My house sits on 3/4 of an acre, which isn’t massive, but it is fairly huge. The house is on a small hill that slopes away to a beautiful flat meadow of lush, green grass. A large pecan tree stands to the northwest of this, shading a bit of less lush grass which gives way to a stand of bamboo in the far corner. To the north of the meadow is a raised pond planted with waterlilies. Below this, at ground level, sits another pond with waterlilies and lotus flowers. It was beautiful.

And then I decided we should drain one and fill it with sand to make a dig pit for my son. We threw up a swing set and a trampoline for good measure and I cleared off some beautiful grass for a garden. The garden is now a weed patch with a fence around it and it somehow sprouted a few vegetables. It looks like crap.

We mess with perfection. We find something nice and think “Hey, I can spruce this up a little bit.” And it ends up being crap. Either we are too ambitious and do so much stuff that the result is a cluttered mess of half-completed projects or we have no idea what we are doing and we end up turning something beautiful into an eyesore. This is the case with me, at least.

And this is the case with a certain shall-remain-unnamed chocolate sandwich cookie with mysterious white creamesque filling. These cookies have been perfect ever since I ate my first one at some tender young age I cannot quite fully recall. But I remember the cookies. And now they’ve changed. They’ve been changing and I hadn’t even realized it because I discovered the single positive change this particular cookie has made, the one which has been stuffed twice as full of the mysterious creamesque filling. I was buying some of those the other day and my laser focus was distracted for a moment by an equally addicted child asking if it would be acceptable to open the package in the car. I turned to assure him excitedly that we would most definitely be exploring the benefits of his amazing idea when I spotted the absurd abomination.

The white creamesque mystery ambrosia wonderful what-not pictured on the package adjacent to the one I wanted was a garish orange color and proclaimed to be candy corn flavored.

Why?

We have candy corn for candy corn flavor. Remaining unnamed chocolate sandwich cookies with mysterious white creamesque filling are perfect. We buy those when that is what we want. When we want candy corn flavor, we buy candy corn.

There are other abominations in the cookie world, but I am too disgusted to talk about them. The cookies were perfect. Why mess with them?

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…enjoy what you enjoy, even if it is an abomination.

A don’t…mess with something perfect. It cannot be made better and alterations take away from the original. It would be like cookie flavored pickles. We have two separate food items to fulfill both of those cravings. Eat the one you want. Exceptions are made for pregnant women or the severely depressed.

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.

Mad Science Father’s Day: A Realization of True Gifts

First of all, happy Father’s Day to any other dad who may read this.

Secondly, please note that the attached photo has nothing to do with the mad science. A portion of the mad science can be viewed at Facebook.com/williamennisauthor. The video is very short, but the result is satisfyingly hypnotic. I am too technologically inept to add videos to my blog. Of course, this admission may cause you to question whether or not I should be conducting mad science, especially with kids around.

My wife and I thought ourselves silly trying to decide on a family activity for today. We’ve gone fishing nearly every weekend so far this summer, so we wanted something other than that. Then we thought about some sort of family craft, but for some reason this idea fell through; although there are many good ideas for that sort of thing out there. Then suddenly last night, my wife epiphaned (or whatever the past tense of epiphany is, I believe it’s: had an epiphany, but where’s the fun in that?). She searched some science demonstrations (the website’s term. They were very careful to point out that it is only an experiment if you alter the parameters based on “What if?” type questions). We did several experiments, and the kids loved every minute, as did I and my wife.

We then went on to have a water balloon fight, the ammunition for which I made most of, and I grilled some burgers for everyone.

I remember thinking at one point how much fun I was having doing most of the grunt work for our activities. I’ve been a grunt before, so I’m used to that part. The payoff was seeing the wonder, pure joy and satisfaction in the faces of my children, but this wasn’t the best part. The charming hand made gifts weren’t even the best part.

The best part of Father’s Day 2018 was when my oldest daughter, soon to turn ten, said “Daddy, I bet I know what your favorite activity was today.” Discussing our favorite activity of any fun-filled day is something we do often. “What was my favorite?” I asked. She smiled and said “Spending time with your family for Father’s Day.”

My daughter was absolutely right. As cheesy as it sounds, all the sweat, mad science related sticky hands and the burned thumb from grilling lunch were totally worth it. I don’t want to relax on Father’s Day. I want to family.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…wear gloves if you plan to do mad science.  Some “demonstrations” will leave a sticky on your hands that is hard to un-sticky.

A don’t…let the hard work and sweat dissuade you from family fun. The hardships are worth happy little faces.

Snapchat VS. Superman: A Paradigm Shift in the Field of Nerdology

Ever since I developed a more than rudimentary cognitive ability, I’ve hated Superman. The main reason was that his Clark Kent disguise seems laughable. A pair of glasses and a few hairs brushed off of the forehead? Ludicrous. Of course I reference the derisive descriptive term rather than the well-known rap artist.

But perhaps I am wrong. And perhaps the depth of my mistake goes beyond simple derision. Perhaps there is proof that I’ve deceived myself.

My wife recently downloaded snapchat. Ever since I developed a more than rudimentary cognitive ability, I’ve hated snapchat. I had no reason for this other than that it is just one more way to distract oneself from reality. It now seems, however, that using the app with family can be fun and the app can settle, once and for all, an age-old nerd argument.

When I stare into the app with my glasses on, it doesn’t recognize that my face is a face and refrains from placing cutesy wutesy crap over my features. At first we thought the app was malfunctioning, but it turned everyone else into strangely anthropomorphized and overly-cartooney puppies. It took us several minutes to realize that if I removed my glasses, the app would realize it was looking at a human face and perform its prime function; that of adorable disfiguration of human features.

It took me several more minutes to realize I’d just experienced a paradigm shift. The inability of a software application to recognize me with glasses proved without a doubt the simple genius of the previously laughable way in which Superman disguises himself. No vision restricting Batman-esque mask is necessary. A simple pair of glasses is enough to trick an app designed to recognize faces. Add in the alternate hair-comb, and you’ve basically duped an entire species and its high technology, however menially said tech is applied.

Be at peace, members of nerd-kind. This controversial issue has been settled. Now we can move on to more important questions such as: “Why would anyone want a superhero that can only be defeated by alien rocks?” Not only would this present issues of absolute power corrupting absolutely in a real-life scenario, it seems that it should also lead to severely limited story options. Apparently those limitations have somehow been overcome, but still, I prefer a hero that has to work for the “super” qualifier to be placed in front of his/her hero title.

Go Batman.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…continue to like Superman if you must. Let’s not turn weak fiction into strong statements of opinion.

A don’t…forget that Batman is better.

Celebrity Suicides and Self Reflections

I am about to say something that some might perceive as horrible. I myself am even a little perturbed at my own audacity. Before I make a potentially controversial statement, allow me to say that the deaths of Robin Williams, Anthony Bourdain and anyone else, famous or not, who has chosen to end their life by their own hand is devastating and extremely sad. I do not celebrate suicide, nor do I wish that any Human individual would expire, by their own choice or anyone else’s.

Please understand that when I say I am comforted by celebrity suicide, I am not saying that I am in any way overjoyed by their deaths or their choices. When a celebrity commits suicide, although heartbreaking, it goes to show that depression and suicidal tendencies are experienced by those who live in abject poverty as well as those who enjoy riches and fame and anyone in between. I take comfort in this not because lives were lost, but because it proves to me that my own misgivings about life, my own problems and fears, cannot be solved by money or notoriety. There has to be something else that gives life value. There is something deeper in the life of a person that makes it worth living and sometimes these blessings are so overshadowed by the depths of personal struggles that the only option, unfortunately, seems to be the taking of one’s own life. It doesn’t matter that these struggles may seem miniscule to anyone else. To those who suffer from depression and anxiety, the most insignificant of issues can feel like the end of the world.

In my own personal experience, once the issues work themselves out I look back on them and wonder how on earth I got so worked up about them. But as I’m going through whatever it is, I am unable to imagine anything worse than the present dilemma. Just this evening, I became very distressed because I was running late giving the kids their baths and getting them fed before they went back to their mother. In the grand scheme of things, this is no big deal. Will a judge deny me time with my children because I was a few minutes late dropping them off at their mom’s one time? Most likely not. But my mind was consumed with the idea that I’d lose the precious few days a week I have with them. I don’t presume to know what has caused others to resort to suicide, but I do know what simple things have stressed me out to the point that I’ve wondered whether or not life was worth the accompanying stresses.

I remember reading an article after Mr. Williams’ death about a gorilla that mourned his passing. The thought that ran through my head was that you know you’ve been successful at life if even monkeys are sad you are gone. I don’t know his financial status, but I do know that everyone I know recognized his name. I also know that his movies and comedy have brought me much joy and laughter. I don’t know what was going on in his life that he perceived as so terrible that he couldn’t go on living, but I know the feeling he likely felt. Life was just too much.

Fortunately, I’ve been able to convince myself in times of turmoil that life is worth living. This statement is by no means a judgement of those who have not been able to reach the same realization, it is simply a commentary on my own situation. I have fortunately been able to find the value in life despite the darkness and the struggles.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…pay attention to your acquaintances when they are obviously suffering. Although their problems may not seem like much cause for concern, to the depressed mind, the smallest of issues may be of mortal importance.

A don’t…ignore life’s beautiful points. If you suffer from depression or extreme anxiety, these beautiful points may well save your life.

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.