The Ballad Of Pirate Squidbones

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If you’ll indulge me, I have one of those “look what my kid did stories” that I don’t want my blog to become…but this bears retelling.

Little Man likes a report each morning of the various things I saw on my way home the night before. Items of interest include, but are not limited to: police cars, taxi cabs, ambulances, fire trucks, trains (of course), buses of unusual color, and animals.

The other night I spotted two furtive forms duck into a convenient shrubbery. It was dark and too far away to make out details, but if I were to guess, I’d lean towards cats or racoons.

I related this all to himself the following morning. Interest was piqued.It was suggested that we go try to find them and see what they were. The impracticalities of this plan, when laid out, eventually defeated the motion. Then ideas were spitballed as to the genus and species of the mysterious creatures.

Dogs, maybe?

Racoons? Cats, perhaps?

Not a dinosaur.

Maybe they were racoons?

Snakes?

Maybe racoons?

They were snakes?

Racoons?

Six snakes! They were six snakes!

Sure.

At this point, in one short, entirely unprompted monologue it became imperative that we find the six snakes and go to their hideout. That we must go on a ship and use our binoculars to find them. Then it was decided that Pirate Squidbones would take us in his ship. We must go find Pirate Squidbones! This would, eventually, be accomplished at the lake.

Superhero capes were donned, binoculars packed, and tracks were made. After a brief 3-block sprint, and a long flight of stairs, we spent 10 minutes having a snack on the bench and searching the horizon (of Lake Calhoun) for a Jolly Roger.

None were spotted.

So we played on the playground equipment.

This story is 100% free of any embellishment.

 

Post Script: Captain Squidbones is a minor character is the Charlie and Lola book series. Of which we are fans.

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Urgency Emergency!

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So yesterday, in an incident involving a see-saw, the details of which I’m unclear on, Little Man took a hit on the head. We had to take him to the ER. He’s fine now – nothing worse than a little Frankenstein on the forehead. But I find myself unable to write a coherent account of the afternoon

Instead, I’m going to live-tweet 36 hours after the fact.

Ahem.

There really should be signs to the Children’s Hospital from Lake Calhoun down 28th St to Chicago Ave. I’m disappointed in the city of Minneapolis for failing to plan for my personal emergency.

The staff at Children’s Hospital are excellent, and seem, to a person, to possess a hairstyle aesthetic both fashionable yet understated.

Do they have hair briefings here? Somewhere there’s a corporate management guru emphasizing the importance of organizational hair brand synergy.

I want Iron Man scrubs. Or Batman. Do they have Batman? I’d be cool with either.

Next time I’m totally gonna have Little Man pee on me, then I can walk out with some Iron Man scrubs.

The ethics of ownership on loaner scrubs in these circumstances has to be blurry at best.

It takes a week of discussion, propoganda, and play doh bribes to get him to stand on a scale to get weighed with only moderate wrestling. If he does have to get stitches here, it’s gonna be ugly.

People who work with kids in hospitals or other situations not conducive to well mannered kinder – these people always think they have a varied and effective toolbox of techniques to win over the most screamiest of screamers. Then they meet my little man and they no longer labor under such delusions.

Whoever put TV’s in all the rooms at Children’s Hospital gets empanadas on my tab. All the empanadas they can comer.

From an afternoon’s viewing, I’ve come to the conclusion that the programming on NickJr. Is a dozen different flavors of the same dingus. Their timing, though, in terms of distracting toddlers with head wounds, makes up for a lot.

Blood doesn’t bother me much. Gaping head wounds, however…

Any squeamishness I had regarding gaping wounds, needles, etc. can apparently be overcome by the soul-wrenching guilt of holding my son down while he screams for help.

I hope to the depths of all the hells I don’t believe in that I never have to listen to my son screaming and crying to go home through a gas mask while I hold him down. Given what a terrible patient he is, this is not likely.

Even with nitrous it took three of us to hold him down to get 9 stitches in his forehead. Is it wrong to be a little proud of this?

I feel that if your child gets nitrous for an operation, then once the whole thing’s over the parents should get a couple pulls off the mask too.

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You’ll Understand When You’re Older

When I was a kid, my parents were fans of Emmylou Harris. You may remember her from such hits as “Queen of the Silver Dollar.”

I probably haven’t heard it in 25 years. But I could recite the lyrics from memory.

“She’s the queen of the silver dollar/She rules a smokey kingdom,

Her scepter is a wine glass/ And a bar stool is her throne,

And the jesters flock around her/Trying to win her favor,

To see which one will take the queen of the Silver Dollar home.”

I don’t think I was even ten before I knew all the words to a song about an alcoholic in a dive bar waiting to see which guy would pick her up.

And I don’t even remember my parents or aunts or uncles giving any sign that this might be even slightly inappropriate for me or my brothers. I mean, I understood that the words weren’t describing anything in literal reality. But I had in my head a sort of Gaiman-esque surreality, where things were whimsical or romanticized, but still had a reality to them. It never occurred to me until I was into adulthood that the entire song was just a clever description of drunk hook ups at bar close.

It’s odd. Usually, I find kids – especially my kid – to be much sharper than anyone gives them credit for. But then you come across things like this song that go totally over their heads. Or mine at least.

All this is really in service of my wondering whether or not I could watch Game of Thrones in front of the Little Man.

Hmm.

I’ll probably still wait till after his bedtime.

Game-of-Thrones-Worlds-Cutest-Baby

 

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Throwback Father’s Day

A friend of mine just had a baby. A little baby girl, 3 days old as I write this.

He’s a great guy with a glorious mustache, and will be a legendary father. I’m a little jealous of the kid, actually.

My own Little Man was born during the run of a show here, where I work, with some of the same people around. So it’s been a bit of walk down memory lane

I remember the crazy, joyful pandemonium of those first few days, when you know you can’t live the life you used to, but haven’t figured out what the new one’s going to look like yet.

I remember the freedom, after nine months of worrying if you’re ready, if you’ll be good enough, if you’ll be able to handle this – the freedom of no longer having the time nor the energy to worry about anything. Except how you’re going change this dirty diaper without getting peed on. Again. The freedom that comes from, to borrow from Jesse The Mind, not having time to bleed.

I remember how disorienting it was to leave for work that first time after he was born. The alien nature of a world not centered around the Little Dude.

I remember leaving for a long day at work, and coming home to find him noticeably bigger. Hours could be measured in inches back then.

And of course, there’s weeping. No reminiscing about fatherhood is complete without weeping. I mean, I wouldn’t be mistaken for Vulcan in even the most heartless of my adolescent years, but I might as well be chopping onions and watching Game of Thrones for all the feels I got. Calling my parents to tell them they had a grandson? Took me three tries to get that out. Somebody comments on my announcement on facebook? Pass the tissue. Country Roads comes on Pandora? Excuse me, there’s something…something in my eye.

These days I get a little verklempt when I run out of espresso beans.

The hours are long and the years are short. It seems like a lifetime ago when this whole drooley, sleepless affair began. It was a lifetime ago, really. My son’s lifetime.

Happy Father’s Day. What a privilege to be a father, what an honor. Where’s my coffee?

awesome snow

 

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You Can’t Say “Putin” without “Poo”

I’d like to say I don’t believe in evil. I mean true evil. I believe in fear, and weakness, in shame and a lack of empathy, and all the various behavior cocktails into which these ingredients can be mixed.

But evil? True evil? Emperor Palpatine-level evil? I’m not so sure. At a certain level it’s just semantics. Does a person destroy a planet because they have a crippling fear of loss and no sense of connection to anyone or anything? Or because they’re evil? Whatever you label it, Alderaan still ends up space gravel.

Taken out of context, a lot of behavior of your average two-year-old could merit a large shaded area in the Venn Diagram of evil. Unreasonable, irrational demands, frivolous desires, any of which, if not met quickly can ignite violent, indiscriminate rages. And they’ll steal any toy they can pry out a smaller kid’s chubby hands.

There was an episode of This American Life where a psychologist who specializes in young children says, and I paraphrase, that there is no one in the world more frightening than a two year old who never grows up.

Take Vladimir Putin.

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No, really, take Vladimir Putin. He’s yours. Don’t bring him back.

He constantly needs affirmation. He reacts violently to any criticism or questioning. He takes things because he can – be they superbowl rings or parts of sovereign nations. I’m not only describing the Czar For Life over there, but also that one kid at the playground nobody can do anything about but everybody’s wishing falls off a slide.

You can pretty much apply this to any dictator. They’re really just toddlers with a secret police force.

You get a slight variation with your religious extremist dictator. They’re more like the older kid who claims that Mom left them in charge and so when they take your dump truck they make like mom didn’t want you to have it in the first place.

My own personal arrested emotional development I peg around Junior High. But that’s like, 12 or 13 – these guys didn’t make it past 3.  I’ve got all those evil-doers in emotional maturity by at least a decade.

In your face, Kim Jong Un! In your pillowy, supple face!

It doesn’t help much, practically speaking, to consider the places of need from which the world’s most powerful sociopaths’ misbehavior arises. Ukraine’s still a mess, Venezuela’s in chaos, and Syria is the geographic embodiment of all the misery of which humans are capable. The fact that Bashar Al Assad makes the same emotional choices as my 3 year old when he hasn’t pooped all day doesn’t help any refugees.

But I have to admit, the though of Putin having his screen time limited and being forced to think about his feelings does make the headlines a little easier to stomach.

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Yes All Women

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I’m not even outraged. My heart isn’t broken. Which breaks my heart.

I’m just sad. And tired.

Some guy in America shoots and kills a bunch of random, innocent people. And he’s white, so it’s not terrorism.

And why? And why? And why?

There’s no “why” anymore. If your child, if your parent, if your brother or sister were one of a dozen shot & killed by some spoiled boy in a BMW there’s no f***ing why. He’ll never answer the question, no matter how long his manifesto is. His psychiatrists will never answer the question. The internet, the media, the NRA and any politician will only be too happy to answer the question and even be so kind as to give you someone to blame. Which is worse than not answering.

I can’t bring myself to even wonder why anymore. I can’t search for reason or meaning in this. Newtown did for me.

But I am glad other people are, in this particular case. Because when they ask why this happened, eventually the conversation comes around to how women are treated, how they’re viewed, and how they’re abused in this country.

Granted, if you’re reading this, you’re probably thoroughly aware of all this, already. But in case you’re not, go to Twitter and search #YesAllWomen. The idea, as I understand it, is that every woman in the US has been subjected to abuse by men. At best, sexual harassment, at worst, something out of a Scandinavian murder mystery. Every woman. Every. Single. Woman.

Reading some of the accounts in this movement on social media, it’s difficult for me to fit them into my frame of reference. I don’t experience the world like this. I’ve never been sexually harassed. Some guy tried to preach to me at a public urinal once. That was awkward on a number of counts.

But as a hetero guy, I’ve tried to find an analogy that will put this in real terms I can understand. And I think I’ve found it.

Prison. Federal Maximum Security Prison with all the rape and violence Hollywood can conjure.

So you’re in prison. Not every guy in there is going to rape you. Some of them are great guys who would never even think of such a thing. There are even some, probably, that you could form a close, serious relationship with. But however much the statistics are in your favor, would you really pick up the soap?

Think about your day-to-day in prison: How conscious you’d have to be as you move through life among gangs and mafiosos and the most violent men the justice department can prosecute. How aware you’d have to be of your surroundings, of your own body language. How much eye contact is safe? How much is a challenge? Which remarks, which looks do you acknowledge? Which do you ignore? What combination of posture, courtesy, and hardness is going to keep you from being stabbed, beaten, or worse?

It’s not a perfect analogy, but once I started thinking about it I was pretty sickened by how close it matched what I was reading. I was comparing life in maximum security prison to being a woman in the US, and it was matching up.

It also served to make me wonder at the resilience of women. To wade through all this demeaning bullshit, and still function in the world, still take joy in things. If I was the primary market for cleverly designed tote bags and I had to cope with this kind of idiocy on a daily basis? Well, I would not recommend investing in cleverly designed tote bags in this scenario.

Blogging by it’s nature is pedagogic. It lends itself to going full South Park and ranting about the world’s ills and then telling the internet how to solve them. But I think on this issue, mine is not the gender that should be talking. I think, in this circumstance, I’ll just listen.

Everybody with a penis, let’s all just shut up and listen for a while.

 

 

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No Pictures, Please

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There’s a memory I have, faded and foggy. It’s just a whisper, really, so ancient and ethereal it could almost belong to someone else, seeped into my id from the collective subconscious, or an episode of Barney Miller.

There was a gathering, but not a holiday. Just people getting to gether, talking, laughing. Like some sort of…what’s the word? Party?

Yes, Party. And I wasn’t tired. And I remembered names. And I wasn’t worried about getting enough sleep – I remember the idea of being awoken up at 6am by a 35-pound body slam would seem utterly alien to this strange, forgotten me.

A social life after baby drop is kind of like that lady who had a bunch of spider eggs hatch in her hair. Everybody knows somebody who knows somebody it happened to, but there is very little first-hand evidence.

It’s possible, sure, and arguably necessary for a mama and a papa to get out once in a while. But it’s not the same thing it was. Not nearly.

But it would be wrong to say having a kid cuts you off. It sounds odd at first, but being a father turned me into a celebrity. Well, maybe that guy who’s always taking a celebrity places. In a moby wrap.

In those early days, Little Man and myself would go for a walk at least twice a day. I’d tuck him into 9 feet of fabric wrapped around my torso and away we’d go. The Gentleman’s Constitutional, we called it.

Well, I called it that. I took his silence as assent.

But we’d walk around the lake, to the coffee shop, to the grocery store, if it was above 20 degrees we’d go anywhere within a 2 mile radius. The baristas would fuss over him, the ladies at the checkout would fuss over him, we’d run into other parents and trade sleepy greetings.

Once we went into a restaurant in the neighborhood and the maitre’d recognized us.

No we can’t go anywhere. “Where’s the Little Man?” “How’s that little man doing?” He’s even got his own nicknames in some places. It’s like I don’t even exist to these people except in terms of my son.

Well. At least we’re all on the same page.

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