The Pancake Breakfast



She doesn't want me to sit with her. In her words, I should sit "over there." This is kid speak for "As far away from me as possible." This is what I hear.

This is what I also hear: You suck. I have seen pigs that slop in their own filth that are cleaner than you are. Your stink brings tears to my eyes. I can't believe you ever got laid in the first place, are you sure you are my father?

Little Hoss points indicating that she wants me to sit on the other side of the gym, far far away from her. She wants me and her brother to eat our pancakes in the gym version of Siberia. She is Stalin, and I have been exiled.

I didn't even want to come to the school's pancake breakfast. My wife wasn't able to go, an early meeting with a client. I had to rock this as a single parent, but sometimes that's what you do when your daughter begs and pleads for you to go. She wants you there. You ask her if you can meet her friends. She says yes, gets excited. She offers to do her chores. She offers you "money" that she has found on the floor. If only Daddy would go.

Of course I went. I didn't think I was in the habit of disappointing my daughter, not until I got there at least and I was told that the pleasure of my company was not required.

It started off smooth. I got to the door with the family, looking very good if I do say so myself. No one can pull off 4 year old clothes quite like me. I'm wearing some of my "important" clothes as my daughter calls them. I am trying to blend in with the rest of the working parents. Look, I'm wearing a collared shirt, I am important and well put together. However, all of my "important" clothes are my old work clothes. Seeing as I haven't had a job in 4 years, except for raising my kids, my wardrobe is slightly out of style I think.

But no matter, I was there and I was showered. It was 7:30 in the morning and I have arrived with my kids to eat pancakes that will benefit the school in yet another fundraiser that I have no idea where the money is going. Sometimes I wish the school would just ask for 200 bucks up front at the beginning of the school year and quit trying to get me to buy stacking cups or shoelaces 25 times a month. I would pay it just for the lack of hassle.

Getting our pancakes was no trouble. We were in line and Little Hoss was pointing out her friends. Cindy, Julie, and that other kid that always gets in trouble. I say hi to there parents and introduce myself, flex a little bit so they can see the show, and move on down the line. Everyone gets their plate and their pancakes and we go to find a seat.

I was a bit distracted because I was afraid that Bubba Hoss would take his pancakes and wing them at someone's head. He likes to throw the food and I find myself constantly on the defensive when he has something shaped like a Frisbee. His accuracy is uncanny. We follow my daughter around the gym until she comes to a table.

She sits down and waves to a little boy that is sitting with his Dad, they look very peaceful and happy together. I go to sit with her when she says no. That's how she broke her fathers heart and when she reads this years later, as a young adult, I hope she comes and begs for my forgiveness for crushing the soul of an old man that just wanted to eat breakfast with his daughter.

She wants me no where near her and perhaps it's because of the little boy at the table. Maybe she "likes" him. She is about to turn 6, perhaps these things happen now. Maybe she "likes" boys and doesn't want dad to mess it up. And I would as soon as I got the hint that perhaps this boy "liked" my daughter back. I would crush his kindergarten spirit for trying to lead my daughter astray. I can't help it, it's what fathers do when they have daughters. I make no apologies.

As she indicates by her pointing finger, she wants me to sit absolutely no where near her. She wants me banished to the swamp land of principles and teachers. Not near the normal parents.

But I have dignity and I have class therefore I will not fall to my knees and cry. I will not make a scene. I will calmly turn my back and, with dignity, walk to just the next table over. I will not turn back, I will not turn back.

We sit and I turn back. Just to keep an eye on my daughter.

"Daddy." she says over the noise.

"Yes?" I say, a bit desperately.

"Will you cut my pancakes?"

That's right honey, little girls will always need Daddies.

Bubba Hoss throws a pancake at some kids head.


The Table

It's sitting right there, a calmness in a sea of violence. A throng of people move in, out and around somehow missing the tranquility that is right in the middle, right at the eye of the storm. I must have that table, I have to have that table. There are no other tables.

I didn't want to come to this at first. I tried to decline, make polite excuses like my herpes is acting up. I would love to go to my daughter's school function, honestly I would, but it turns out that tonight is the night that I have my blood feud and so I must decline. Sincerely.

The school puts on functions from time to time. Come to our gym, give money for new shoelaces, book sale! To my credit, I do most of these. But the idea of going to a pretty small local restaurant and eating dinner really isn't doing it for me. The idea is simple: 10% of that night's earnings will go to the school. Sounds like a great deal. But here is what I knew also to be true: that it would be packed as a constipated pregnant lady. By the way, sorry for the crude joke but it was the only thing I could think of at the moment. It's a bit funny, for those ladies who have been 9 months pregnant and constipated, the term "packed" is appropriate.

Everyone from the school would come, grades K through 5. Their parents would come, their siblings would come, some would invite hobos from the street. They would all sit down and eat their roast beast and bang on their flew-flewbers and blow on their tah-tinkers. Noise, noise, noise! I can relate to the Grinch.

However my daughter rejected my excuses, as she should have. I was being a pussy and she was calling me out on it. Suck it up Pops, it's for the school and the community. So we went the whole time my wife giving me a disapproving look for being against family fun and community.

When we arrived, I was right, it was packed. I sighed and then put some antlers on a dog. I didn't say "I told you so" but I should have, just for the satisfaction. It would have fit my current mood.

But looking through the window, I saw the table, the lone refuge amongst the chaos. Clean and seating four, it was the most beautiful table I had ever seen. Magnificent, pristine, free. I knew in my heart, which was now growing, that there would be no stains on this table. There would be no hidden smudges of mustard on the chairs or ketchup grim on the edges. Looking at it, I could almost see the heavenly light that showed me the way while hiding it from all others.

Now I was excited and quickly rushed my family inside. They have seen that the spirit of school functions have finally touched me although they have no idea that it's in the form of a free table. We get to the counter and I tell Hossmom to just order. She asks me where I am going and I briefly hesitate to tell her about my mistress: the table. So I yell "table!" through the crowd. She asks me what I want. "I don't care, something!" I say and I am off down the snow covered mountains that is the packed counter space.

At this point, the table is more important than the food. Besides, chances are one of my kids will chunk whatever I get on the floor while they refuse to sit still. I know the drill and I know what matters. Sitting down to dinner is much better than standing in a corner looking aimlessly over a packed dinning room. The awkwardness of such situations is brutal, like saying that somehow you don't belong in that particular dining room. It's the grown up equivalent of "seat taken" on the Forrest Gump bus.

I get to the table, it's still there. I was prepared to eject any 10 year old that might be saving it for his own family but it wasn't necessary. I am not proud and I'm sure I will have to answer one day for these impure thoughts.

But no one is there, everyone bypasses it for some reason. I have no idea why, I don't care. So I do my table move, the one we all do. The move that says I desperately want this table but don't want to appear to want this space because that would make me a dick to push people out of the way. I look around, am I looking for someone? No, it's just part of the act. I check the four corners, why? No reason, just the routine. Then bam, I'm down and the table has been claimed. The only table in the entire place and it is mine. It's space is mine, it's very essence of it is mine. I feel like I need a smoke.

The family comes soon after with loads of food that it takes to feed my family. Perhaps 40% of this will be consumed as is also our habit. Buy high, trash high. Good old dad does his best to clear all the plates but there is only so much to come around.

"Dad, you found a table!" my family roars, basking in my victory. I share it with them although deep down I know that it belongs only to me. Everyone sits down and tears into food that they will soon all reject because they know that when they are "done" that ice cream will soon follow. I'm to tired from my efforts to argue this today. Today is about the table and me.

We will sit, we will talk and laugh. We will say hi to my daughters school friends and their Grinch fathers. We will clean up our space, wipe up any spills and leave the table for the next one that has the calling. We will walk out the door and I will look back into the window, saying goodbye as I watch the table floating calmly through the sea of chaos we are leaving behind.


The Car Salesman

I don't feel bad for the Car Salesman, I don't feel bad at all. This was his choice and now he must stick with it. I didn't ask him to come with us on the test drive. I didn't ask for him to try and attempt mindless chatter while my wife and I discuss the pros and cons of this particular car. I didn't ask him to entertain the kids but he is soon learning that my kids will not be ignored, Dan.

The minivan we are currently test driving is our fourth of the day. Hossmom and I believe in good research before we make a final decision so we are driving everything. Also, Hossmom loves to test drive, taking it as a chance to live the life of someone else because there is no way I'm getting a car seat in the 350Z that she has her eye on. Although that Mustang looks doable, at least to me. How old do kids have to be before they can ride in the front seat?

Car Salesmen are a particular breed of men. They need to be able to tell you a perfect combination of truth and bullshit, often in the same breath. It can be nerve racking to deal with as a consumer. However, years ago, back when I was working, Hossmom made a suggestion for me. "Treat them like a perp" she told me. Suddenly, things clicked for me. I would treat the car salesman like he just beat up his grandma. This, it turns out, is the perfect approach to a car salesman.

I'll ask questions during the showroom talks that I know will get a bullshit response. What I'm really doing is testing his honesty, give me the good and the bad. Chances are, I already know the answer to what I am asking, I just want to see how you will respond. I used to do this to perpetrators all the time and then turn the answers back on them so that they could see the bullshit. Makes for some very uncomfortable situations. I once had a guy tell me that his crack, needle and cooking station was insulin for diabetes. I picked up his spoon that he cooked with and couldn't help but laughing. My partner and I gave him credit for being original.

So when I ask about the reliability of the car, maintenance and what not, I probably have already discovered this online. My personal favorites of the day:
1: Oh it's great, great. Best in the class (it was the worst). We own the minivan market.
I thought this was pretty good bullshit, especially when I pointed out two of his high-end competitors that actually do better. He quickly changed his answer to mean "Of American-made cars, I mean." Sure you do. Here's your spoon. Chances are I won't do business with this guy.

2. Our van ranks #1 with children. Yup, they love this minivan more than any other.
Really? There was a study that asked 6 year olds which minivan they liked best? Was it a focus group kind of thing? Did you put toys in there and little child sized questionnaires? Draw a smiley face if you like this van, a frowny face if you don't.

But again, I will give them both credit for the original.

This current guy though seems to be doing pretty well though in the bullshit department. I think it comes from knowing that he is selling one of the best and can rely on it's good reputation when answering questions. Sure, gas mileage could be better but it does compare well to competitors and the reliability question is easy for him. Things were going well for this guy until the test drive.

All of the other salesman quickly bowed out of joining any of us for the test drive when we dug out the car seats and installed them for the test drive. They realized that they would have to climb between them to the third row seat and then holler from the back to be heard. Smart move. I thought that this is how this one would go.

We got the keys and loaded in, started the car and prepared to depart. The salesman, doing his job, popped the back and actually climbed over the third rear seat to get in. I wasn't sure what to do at that point so I reminded him to buckle his seat belt because we don't move until everyone buckles their seat belt, family rule. And at this point, he is pretty much a part of the family. He's like that weird distant relative that you wish you could ditch but can't because your aunt will tell your mother and then you are going to get into trouble. So you tell him not to eat his boogers and just be quiet.

This wasn't his mistake though. He thought he was going to answer questions for us, point out features. Mr. Car Salesman, meet my children. They will run interference for me for the next 15 minutes.

He points out the engine on the car, noting the liters that it has. He is talking Greek to us. Hossmom and I are not engine people, we have no idea what this means, We'll discover it's power when I jump on the highway and floor it.

This is also the only piece of information that he will be able to tell us for the next 15 minutes.

Little Hoss starts immediately and is relentless.

"I like pink! We want a pink car!" God I love her so much sometimes.

He doesn't know what to say to this but it doesn't matter, he gets the first word out before she starts with her second statement.

"Where do colors come from? How do they make colors?"

The great nonsense question. There will be many more. He will say a factory where they blend different colors but then she will hit him with "How do they make factories?" and it will just get better from there. And it does. He is inexperienced with kids. He should have just said "magic" and moved on.

Hossmom and I are comparing notes on how well the van corners when my son joins the conversation.

"Toilet Underpants!" he screams. He needs no introduction. His sister and him tell "jokes" and this is always his punchline. He doesn't even bother telling the lead up to it anymore, he just screams the punchline. I look at the guy in the conveniently located conversation mirror, a nice feature, and can tell that the guy has no idea what to do with this one. I start laughing and so does Hossmom. This is more enjoyable than the actual test drive.

The car salesman gets a look of confusion on his face and is trying to decide what to say. I could bail him out but I don't, because after all, he's a perp.

"Where's the movie? Turn on the movie!" Little Hoss says. Most of the vans we have driven today have had DVD players installed, this one doesn't and now he is paying the price with my daughter.

"Well, we have some that have the DVD player and it really isn't much more..............."

"Toilet Underpants!"

"expensive than this one. In fact we could....................."

"How do they make movies?"




I'm almost crying at this point. I'm sure that this guy is going to be having nightmares about this one but I would bet dollars to donuts that he doesn't go on a test drive with children again.

This is the routine for the rest of the test drive while Hossmom and I sat in the front seat and compared notes on what we thought of the van. When we got back, I felt a little bit of pity for this guy. It was brutal but entertaining. I felt so bad that I actually opened the back hatch of the van so he could climb out again. I'm surprised he didn't run away screaming and I respected him for standing his ground. I noticed the sweat stains on his shirt even though it was 40 degrees outside. It would appear that my children did a proper job of grilling the perp.


The Dishwasher

"I am not starting the dishwasher with only two dishes in it!" my wife declares as she comes into bed. She is very adamant about it, saying with the inflection that also seems to dictate that I am an idiot or perhaps just not that smart. Turning on the dishwasher with only 2 plates in it indeed! She is practically accusing me of purposefully destroying the environment just because I have my silly rules. This one of course being: Hossmom turns on the dishwasher before coming to bed because I never remember because I am being too badass.

She seems to forget about this rule often and most times I let is slide. Of course I could just turn on the dishwasher myself and we could be done with this little marital discord. But if I did that I would be turning on the dishwasher AND taking out the trash. How fair is that?? That trash just isn't going to take out itself. It's not going to grow little trash legs and walk itself to the curb. And because it is my family, we produce a metric ton of trash per day. Most of the refuse is broken pieces of my life that my daughter has gotten a hold of and decided to see how far she could bend it before it breaks. Turns out, pretty far. She is curious, I just keep telling myself that.

So in reality, I'm the only one who is strong enough to take out the trash. My years of obtaining massively manly muscles is now culminating into their true purpose, lifting trash.

After lifting this trash, I am physically and emotionally drained. So much so that there is no way I can actually find the strength to push the button to start the dishwasher. Asking me to do it is like asking a boxer who just went 12 rounds if they want to go run a couple of miles for a cool down. It's a matter of health that I not start the dishwasher.

And after I take out that trash, and I see another one of my possessions that has been "curiousized" by my Little Hoss, and well, I just need some alone time. Just for a bit to say a quick goodbye to my favorite pen, my writing notebook, my wallet, my cellphone or my Xbox controller. Although in all fairness, it was my son who destroyed my Xbox controller. He wanted to see if it could survive going into the dishwasher, I recognize the irony here. And for the record, no, it did not. It turns out that plastic melts. Amazing. I think he is going to be a scientist one day.

The other morning I got up to get the kids ready for school and I was making them breakfast. I reached to get a couple of cups for the kids only to find that there were none in the cabinet. So I went to the dishwasher, which I had assumed were clean. They were not and not wanting to give my children the trots, I gave them the only clean glasses we had. Mommy and Daddy glasses, as I refer to them. I try very hard not to do this and I think the reason should be obvious.

20 minutes after I gave Little Hoss the glass she promptly knocked it off the table with her backpack thus shattering another one of my belongings. I called a priest for last rites and slowly transferred it to the trashcan, my responsibility. As you can also imagine, I gave Hossmom a decent earful about turning on the dishwasher at night.

Which brings us full circle to my wife coming to bed and practically calling me a butthole for wanting the dishwasher turned on with only two plates inside it. She is smug and is looking down on me. I repent of all my harmful ways and agree that the dishwasher shouldn't be turned on with only two dishes inside. May the lord have mercy on my non-environmental soul.

I get up the next morning and head downstairs. I stop in the kitchen and look around. I open the dishwasher to confirm what I am seeing.

Yes, there are only two dishes in the dishwasher and it shouldn't have been turned on. I will concede that point of argument to my wife.

However, the 30 dishes on the counter probably would have made a full load. She took the time to rinse them off and stack them neatly next to the dishwasher. She did not think that she should have put them actually in the dishwasher.

Woman are spiteful. I am just not sure if the world is aware of that fact. I will go take out the trash now.


What I Hear

They are both sitting in bed, little smiles on their faces. So innocent, nothing but good behavior. No dad, their little charming faces seem to be saying, we weren't doing anything. In fact, we were just about to go to bed. My son even puts his head on the pillow like with a sigh like the only reason that he is still awake is because I'm up here bothering him.

My children think I am an idiot.

My kids are not the quietest kids and they are not subtle. When they are in the house you know it's either them or there are a stampeding heard of water buffalo going through the living room. Sometimes I do wish that it was the water buffalo because it would be easier to clean up after.

For the past 45 minutes we have heard the jarring crashes from upstairs. My son came out of his room about 10 minutes after we put him down for the night. He doesn't seem to realize that sound travels so when he tells his sister, ever so sneaky, "Let's Play!", I hear that. I hear his sister's response too; "Hell yeah!" Not in those exact words but the sentiment is the same.

I heard when they decided to taking leaps of fearless jumps off the bed. I heard when Barbie was having domestic issues with my son's dragon rider. I heard the house's floors grown when the toys were trampled under little tiny secretive feet. I heard the argument of who gets to tell the story now.

I heard it all like it was happening just in the next room, because you know, it was happening in the next room, right above my head. I believe that for a career path, I will steer my children away from "indiscreet undercover operative" and more toward a job that would play to their strengths, such as demolition derby contestant.

I should have busted them sooner but truth be told, I was enjoying what I was hearing. Sometimes you learn the most when they don't know you are listening. I got to hear the stories they were thinking up, I got to hear how they resolved their disputes without me around. I am very proud that this time no one got punched. It was fun, just sitting here listening to them and talking to Hossmom about it.

But eventually, bedtime does have to come, it does have to happen. However, since everyone is in a good mood, I decided that I wasn't going to come down on them to hard. I would let them hear me and that should put an end to this. We have school tomorrow and a sleepy kid is a cranky kid.

I walked up stairs, taking care to put a little extra oomph behind each step. As you can imagine, I'm not the most stealthy guy anyway as I'm sure Hossmom would be happy to tell you. I also slowed my steps down to give them time to set the scene for me. I still want to be entertained. I did everything but scream out "Fe Fi Fo Fum!"

I hear their little feet scamper by the time I'm on the third step. I hear blankets being ruffled by the 5th step. I hear toys being thrown off the bed by the last step. When I make it to the top, I hear nothing. I turn the corner to see them sweetly laying in bed together, small smiles on their faces. Not making a sound.


Nut Shot

I was minding my own business on the couch. I was laying down, enjoying a little down time after a very active day. My eyes were closed because I just couldn't take the adventures of the Octonauts anymore. Seriously, I am starting to despise that show. My son loves it so when I need some quiet, boom, I turn it on and recharge my batteries.

I was trying to work out the rest of the week in my head. Where I had to be, what I had to do, would Hossmom be coming home late from work and of course, the zombie drill. This is where I debate which room in the house would be safest if the zombie hoard descends on us. A brilliant idea hit, the roof, that is where we must go. But I would have to have plenty of ammunition on the roof at all times. I have to put that in budget. Zombies don't climb. I've seen them swim but they are notoriously bad climbers.

This is what I was doing, with my eyes closed, possibly napping, when a 4 year old toddler flew off the top rope of the couch and landed with both knees straight on my crotch. I sensed something was wrong with the Force midway through his jump and my slow reflexes didn't let me respond in time. I was lucky this time, he mostly got the top half and not the very vulnerable lower half. However, it was enough to make me jump up with an "oomph" and ask him very politely--"What the hell, little man?"

I told this story to Hossmom. She didn't believe me. She says that I tell her that I get hit in the balls a lot and that she never gets hit in that region. I explain to her the nature of ball gravity. An object in flight will always change trajectory and aim for balls if at all feasible. Hasn't she watched any soccer matches? Seriously, this is grade school stuff. She still didn't believe me. I said she would if she wasn't a woman. That brought on all kinds of "hear me roar, I am woman" stuff.

A few days pass. I have not been hit in the junk in that time so I'm getting a little jumpy from the impending doom that I know is coming.

I'm in the kitchen cooking dinner for the family. I time it so that dinner is on the table when Hossmom gets home. It's one of those things that I do that insures her that I am the best husband anywhere and that she will never do any better than me and if she did, he probably wouldn't have an awesome zombie plan like I do. So her very survival depends on her staying married to me.

Little Hoss is home from school and was watching T.V. before she decideds to head into the kitchen and tell her dad how awesome he is. She does this often because I have trained her to think that I am the most awesome person that ever existed. I am sure she will get out of this when she is a teenager so I'm soaking up as much of it as I can.

"Dada is awesome!" she says.

"Yes, I am." I reply. Why deny the truth?

"Dada is stronger than anything!"

"Yup." In her world, I am stronger than anyone because I can pick up the trash. And in my defense, we produce a ton of trash here. I am practically superhero strong.

"Dada is stronger than all the monsters!"

"All the monsters!" I say. I reassure her that dad can indeed eat monsters and poop unicorns. It makes her world safe and happy.

"Nothing can hurt Dada!" she exclaims.

"Nothing baby! Well, except when I get hit in the junk."

You see my mistake there? My over confidence as I bask in my daughter's adulation? I planted the idea, I have doomed myself.

Without hesitation and without missing a beat, she bitch slaps my balls.

I'm not talking about a nice gentle tap, which can still be painful. I'm not talking poor aim, hitting maybe more to the top where at least my gut has an opportunity for protection.

I'm talking about how a pimp backhands his hookers if they are holding out of him. I'm talking about how a person backhands a tennis ball. Right on target to, lower right side. Square contact, perfect follow through, perfect target tracking. She smacked clean square in the right ball. Hard.

I double over immediately. "Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" is the only sound I make. I stumble over to the sink to get some support before I fall over, dropped by my 5 year old daughter.



"dear god...."

I can't even get a sentence out.

She starts cackling like the wicked witch of the west and runs away screaming "I got him! I got him!"

I can't help it, I start laughing, too. I have to appreciate the set-up. I have to admire the entire diabolical plan to get me over confident and distracted. To make me forget that these are my children and not some fairy princess on a white pony that sits with her feet on the floor and always eats her dinner. This is my Little Hoss. Well played young girl, well played.

Sometime later and after some good quality lunges, Hossmom finally gets home.

"What did you guys do today" she asks.

"Yes, Little Hoss, tell mommy what we did today." I respond.

"I hit Daddy in the junk!" she says.

I present you with the prosecution's star witness.



I have a new post up over at Daddyshome. It's a bit of a pissy rant and probably something that I should stay away from. But who doesn't like a good old fashion rant on occasion?

Head on over and take a read while you continue to not do any work that you are supposed to be doing. Then check Facebook.


Fashion Police

"Get your shirt on." I am calm. I am zen. I am the perfect father on the first day back to school.

She doesn't put her shirt on.

Little Hoss sits at the table, eating a bagel. She has decided that she wants to be a grown up and eat grown up things. She asked for coffee, cream no sugar. She demands to be treated as a "big kid" and will eat accordingly. I'm making pot roast tonight, money says she takes one look at it and decides she wants Pop Tarts instead. She makes no move to put her shirt on.

"Seriously, put your shirt on."

Nothing, no movement.

"Your bus will be here in 10 minutes and you have no shirt on. Get it on." I don't even know if she is aware of my presence. She has also decided today to treat me like I don't exist, that the talking she hears is only the fates debating how much she can screw around this morning.

"Move. Don't make me tell you again." This dad cliche is a sign that I am starting to get exasperated. It's a well known sign that is on several country's flags and have been written about by the great poets. Don't make me tell you again.

I tell her again to get her shirt on. In fact, I tell her two more times. 8:00 in the morning and I'm already losing it and am already entering the world of fatherly fails. I clap my hands really loud to get her attention.

Slowly she turns her head and finally looks at me. Is there disgust I see there or is it just annoyance? She has some grown up looks, that's for sure.

I speak slowly. "Move. Your. Butt. Put. Your. Shirt. On. NOW." The last word comes out stern, an octave or two lower than my normal voice. It's the second sign that dad means business and to disobey me at this point will cause you much strife. By which I mean of course there will be no consequences because I don't have time to punish her, do her hair, and get her out front for her bus. By the time she gets home today, she will have totally forgotten about this whole shirt thing thus punishing her for it then just makes me out to be a dick.

She finally puts down her bagel and grabs her shirt. This is a brand new shirt, one that she picked out herself yesterday.

"I don't want to wear this shirt. I don't like it."

At this point, I feel the first part of my sanity break away and tumble into the void of rational thought. Wow. I don't even know what to say here. She loved it yesterday, swore that this is the shirt she wanted and swore that she wanted to wear this one on her first day back to school.

"Are you kidding me? Go put your shirt on now. The bus is coming and we are going to miss it. Get dressed, kid. Now."

She leaves the table and I feel somewhat comforted that I didn't totally lose my shit. I remained mostly calm, got my minion to do what she was supposed to, and didn't kick any dogs in my frustrated. I chalk this up as a win.

She comes back down from her room with a different shirt on. It's a short sleeved shirt, a summer tank top. I chalk this up as a loss. Another piece of my sanity falls.

"?" I can't even get the question out.

"I want to wear this shirt." She says and heads back to her bagel.

"No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no" now I'm just chanting, hoping that this will center myself and not drive me to the nuthouse. "It's a summer shirt. Go get the shirt your picked out, that your mom picked out, quit dicking around and go put on your shirt. The bus will be here in 5 minutes."

"I don't like that shirt."

"Go put your shirt on."

"I don't want to."


"It's not pretty."

"It is pretty."





I am debating fashion with a 5 year old. I have lost and it's not even 8:04 yet. I realize at this point that I am parenting wrong. Never debate with a child. Listen, understand, then give marching orders. And my orders are clear, GO PUT YOUR GOD DAMN SHIRT ON NOW.

"Turn around and go upstairs. Get your shirt. Put it on. Come back downstairs. Put your jacket on. Go wait for the bus." Slow speech, deliberate and clear instructions. No room for interpretation. Do it. Now. Do it. Now.

She heads back up stairs while I'm telling her to hurry up, we've got about 2 minutes before the bus comes. This time she actually listens to me knowing that the next step after the deliberate instructions I will lose it completely and no one wants to see a grown man cry.

She comes back downstairs. She has the right shirt on. She is pouting but I don't care at this point, we are moving, we are in a forward direction. We don't have time for distractions. She puts her jacket on. I'm feeling good. I was at the brink, looking at the abyss on the other side. It's not a good place for me to go. I'm supposed to realize when I'm getting to that point and then back away. I'm not supposed to parent "emotionally", I'm supposed to be calm and consistent. I learned that at the Dad's convention that I go to every year.

"Ok, let's go." I step through the door to head outside.

"Dad." She says, grabbing her bagel and still waiting for her coffee.


"I don't have my socks on."

I look at her feet. No socks. No shoes. Just hippie feet that can't step out in the 30 degree cold weather.

This is where I believe I had my first ever stroke.


Hossmom's Steak and Marketing Jokes

Hossmom comes home from another wine and dine of a client. Steak place, always a steak place because when you are trying to build a relationship in business, nothing says I love you like a big piece of meat. Hossmom had a steak because at home we don't have steak much, like ever. And when we do, it's on sale and usually we have fend off the minions who crave the sweet taste of meat. They are my children. However, I do not share my steak, I never share my steak; touch my steak and prepare to battle. If you lose a finger, that's pretty much your fault. This is probably why I am never invited to these client wine and dine events. That and I don't work for Hossmom's company and have nothing to do with advertising. I have offered to take her clients to a strip club though if that is ever required. We all do our part for the family.

Hossmom says the steak was good and the conversation was interesting. She goes on for about 10 minutes about the salad though and how she imagined that at such a high end place that the salad would be better. And the wine was ok and at 15 bucks a glass she thought that she would enjoy it more. But the breadsticks were good. "What about the steak I ask her, any good?" She looks at me, trying to gauge my reaction. She is hesitant to say anything because she knows that my dinner probably consisted of mac and cheese and maybe an extra piece of bologna. It's what the kids want when she is gone and we do dinner without her. I don't do a big extravaganza meals when she's not here. What's the point I ask you? Sure I could make a delicious feta stuffed chicken breast smothered in a tomato basil sauce. Will the kids eat it? Nope, but they will still chow down on the dog food from time to time because they are that high class.

Hossmom breaks down, she can't contain herself. The steak was awesome. Each tender piece that entered her mouth was like a kiss from the gods. The juices that ran clear dabbled on her chin while she made cheesy marketing jokes. For the record, I have listened to these marketing jokes for 15 years. They are not funny, outside the marketing world. Sorry, I just don't think they are funny. I'm sure that jokes about focus groups and product demographics are a god damn riot at marketing departments world wide, but outside of that, please, all of you, stop.

As Hossmom talks about the steak it's almost like she quivers and I'm pretty sure that if our state allowed a meat/human marriage, she would jump all over it. She finishes telling me how good the steak is, almost out of breath. She is a bit flushed and her fingers linger over her mouth. Sadly she looks at me, like remembering some past love and is disappointed that she settled for me, a non-steak. She informs me that she couldn't bring any home. Apparently it's considered bad form in the business world to ask for a doggie bag at an expensive steak restaurant. Telling marketing jokes is apparently fine though.

She touches my hand as she reads my expression, she is sad for me, she is trying to be compassionate. It's almost like I told her my grandmother died and she is trying to console me. She leans to give me a kiss.

She has misread my expression, my body language.

It's not sadness in my eyes that she sees, it is not jealousy.

It is pity. Deep pity for Hossmom, you ignorant bastard.

For tonight, while Hossmom is gone yet again showing clients a good time, and not in a illegal prostitution way as that sounds, I did something special.

I introduced the kids to Star Wars.

Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, the Princess chick in a gold bikini. I showed the kids everything. We made a tent on the floor. We gladly ate our mac and cheese, garnished with parsley to add that gourmet feel, under our tent. And then we started the story that happened a long, long time ago in a galaxy far far away.

While she was listening to marketing jokes and assuring future clients that their concerns where her concerns, the kids and I were rocking the popcorn while we screamed when Darth Vader made his entrance. Everything about this was awesome. I got to explain what the Force was and what a Force choke was. I explained what a Wookie was and we all practiced the Wookie yell. We got our light sabers and did epic battles, leaping from the couch to the chair. Making laser sounds that always seemed to ricochet off the intended target and hit a wall instead.

I showed them the bloopers and in depth stuff like when the storm trooper bangs his head walking into the room for R2D2 and C3PO. And yes, we love the robots. We loved everything about the robots. We loved the blue, we loved the gold, we loved the silliness. There were no marketing jokes told here, the Force does not allow marketing jokes to be told in this world.

And my version of steak? The best steak you have ever tasted? The steak that makes other steaks look like pieces of bile left on the floor by the cats, who are on the dark side of the Force by the way. I had to explain that to the kids.

My steak was the moment when Darth Vader tells Luke that he is Luke's father.

I watched my kids during the scene. They were riveted, they were not moving. They hugged their blankies and sat 2 inches from the screen. And boom, Vader is Luke's father.

Littls Hoss's jaw dropped. She didn't say anything. She whipped her head quickly around and looked at me. She wasn't sure she heard that right, how can Vader be Luke's father? That's not right? Is it?

Bubba Hoss's face crinkled as he tried to process the information. "Father? Like my father?" he seemed to think. Surely not!

If you have never been at that moment when this bombshell is revealed to people who don't know it's coming, especially little kids, it's as amazing as it was the first time you heard it. I highly recommend it, it goes good with a Cartier 1945, a little known winery in the south of France. And mac and cheese.

Once the initial shock was over the questions came in a flood that Noah wouldn't know how to navigate. How is that possible? Is he lying? he must be lying since he is the bad guy and the bad guys always lie. Daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy.

This ranks up there as one of my greatest experiences of fatherhood. It took them a full hour to calm down and then jack back up again when they met the Ewoks for the first time. We didn't finish the third movie that night, they fell asleep. It was a big day for their tiny minds to grasp.

That was my steak, that was my moment. And Hossmom missed it as happens when one person has to work a lot.

No Hossmom, it's not sadness you see, it's pity. Pity that your marketing jokes and subpar 20 dollar salad can never compare to Star Wars. Please don't worry about me, I'm right where I want to be, in a blanket tent with mac and cheese and Star Wars.

We went upstairs to go to bed and Hossmom stopped to check in on the kids, who woke up a bit. Hossmom said goodnight to Little Hoss and started to walk away.

"Wait, mom!" Little Hoss said as Hossmom was at the door.

"Yes dear?" Hossmom replied.

"These are not the droids you are looking for." she said as she waved a hand slowly in front of her face. She smiled and put her head back down on her pillow.

The Force is strong with this one.