The Wall

They don't want to listen to me.  They want to run and in general cause the type of destruction usually reserved for sci-fi movies involving large monsters and robots.  The older two are inching toward the next exhibit but I am refusing to allow them to leave by using my "THIS IS IMPORTANT" stare.  It held more power when they were younger.  At 8 and 6, I feel like perhaps they have become immune to this.  The baby doesn't want to listen to me either but that's no surprise, he never listens.  He wants to see if he can cause more damage than his older siblings.  There is a priceless object just within reach and if he can just get out of my hands, he can cause the family to go bankrupt before he reaches the age of 2, quite the accomplishment.

But I'm not letting any of them go until I've said my piece.  As a Dad, we have to do certain things.  We have to be strong, we have to offer that sense of safety and security that they won't have as adults.  We have to provide discipline and rules and the flexibility for them to challenge them as they get older.  And sometimes by God we have to give lectures about important shit because one day they will appreciate this and if they don't then I've screwed up. 

To them, this is just a wall with a few grafitti marks on it.  One has a spray painted shark, the other has some weird looking words that they don't understand.  If I wouldn't ahve made them stop in their blinding race down the exhibit hall, they wouldn't even have noticed it.  Maybe that's a good thing, to not notice oppression.  Maybe it's bad because how will they know it?

To me and many others, these two sections of wall are symbols of a very scary time.  It's the symbol of a divided city, surely, but much more.  The pieces of the Berlin Wall that I am staring at are symbols of a cold war that is hopefully gone forever.  They are the symbol of nuclear destruction, of a red army that none of us really knew how big it was.  It's the symbol of two superpowers playing other nations like pawns as we squared off on each other for pretty much world domination. 

My kids don't care.  To the them, the spray painted shark is not good, not good at all.  They have declared that it is something that they could do easily, Jackson Pollock was a pussy.  Little Hoss wants some spray paint so she can show the artist what a really awesome shark looks like.  Bubba Hoss is just turning in circles, he's not even listening.

This is when I lose my shit.  I like to think that I don't often lose it but I would know that's probably a lie. 

I grab some necks and knell down beside them.  We look at the wall.  I try to compress the history of the last 50 years that the wall represents into under a minute.  Their attention spans are that of gophers.  If I put some ice cream on the wall, perhaps they would pay attention.  I can feel my son squirming.  "This is important!" I tell them.

I tell them about the red scare, of the weapons pointed at our very country.  I tell them of geopolitics and of unwitting nations used as chess pieces.  I tell them of a culture of fear and from that fear, greed that came with it.  I get tripped up on myself.  I'm not really sure how to convey the cold war in such small terms, in a way that they will understand. 

The baby is now trying to pull down my pants.  He's got a thing right now for my pants, I have no idea why.  Maybe they offend his tiny sensibilities in some way.  Maybe he thinks denim isn't the right fashion choice for a man of my stature.  I'm not sure really.  He's just yanking really hard on my waist as I am kneeling talking to the other two. 

Then he drops a cheerio down my butt crack.  It gets lodged in there. 

I think it's about time for my lecture to come to an end.  I tell them to turn around more time and look at the pieces of the Berlin Wall that are displayed.  I pick up Bacon and point him at the wall too.  He'll have no memory of this but at least I will.  I tell my kids that they won't know why until much later in life but what they are seeing is actually very important. 

No, it doesn't move.  No, It's never been in space.  Yes, it's just a wall.  An ordinary wall and that right now, that's pretty much the point.  It's just an ordinary wall. 


Duck It

On a whim, and by this I mean that I didn't think it all the way through, I decided to take the kids on a 4 hour road trip.  By myself.   All three of them.  Bacon is only a year old. 

I feel that sometimes I overestemate my abilities as a parent. 

When my end comes, I'm pretty sure that the words "over confident" will be mentioned in some accident report somewhere. 

But we went mostly on the urging of Hossmom.  She talked me into it.  Although in hindsight, I think that I was manipulated into giving her a free night of wine drinking and watching sappy movies.  I suppose there is only so much Spy Kids a person can take and she gladly encouraged me to take the kids to the space museum in the middle of no where Kansas.

I came to this relization as I was sitting on the floor of the hotel bathroom, the cold hard floor.  It was the only moment I could get a thought to myself, a little time away from the constant questions and the 1 year old baby/toddler that has decided that sleep sucks, hotels suck, dad sucks, let's scream when I put you down and scream even louder when I pick you up. 

The trip down was great.  With a whole hour to plan this trip we were on the road right at Bacon's nap time.  He slept almost the entire way.  I through red box movies at Little Hoss and Bubba Hoss.  I listened to old 60 minute shows on my phone.  The trip down was freaking awesome.  I am super dad, I need no planning. 

But I do need diapers.  Had to make a stop for those.  Rookie mistake but we power on. 

We get to the hotel.  It looks nice on the outside, it looks awesome in fact.  I got a deal on it, I prepaid.  I can adventure like no one's business.  In my wife's words, in convincing me to go when I brought up the idea several hours ago, "It's what you do Hoss.  Take them.  Go."  She's wiley and played right into my ego there. 

The reason I picked this particular hotel was because of the awesome pool.  It was huge, it was indoors, it had a space theme.  On line it looked perfect.  Any seasoned Dad adventurer knows that you always pick a hotel that has a pool and I picked the one with the freaking awesome pool.  Majesticically awesome is how I would describe myself. 

Then we went in and discovered that the pool was closed for two more months but we were free to look at how awesome it would have been from the locked glass doors that my children are currently drooling on.  The check in lady, no fault of hers I'm sure, says that she is sorry that the pool is closed and she agrees that I should have been told this when I made the reservation and paid.  I ask her for suggestions for kid activities that I can do after 5pm, the current time.  She has none.  She should get out more. 

We get our room and I ask for a luggage cart.  They don't have one.  Well, they have one but they can't find it.  They have maintence men looking for it though so I'm sure they will find it soon.  I'm not quite sure how I'm going to move all the baby gear plus our own luggage in without it, but it's ok.  Super dad. 

We go to our room while they look for a cart.  The key card doesn't work.  We try it again.  And again.  And again.  On the tenth time and about when I'm going to give up, it finally works.  This does not bode well.  The room is nice enough but it does have a distinctive dead stripper smell.  But hey, you get what you already paid for.  3 seconds in the room though and I know that this isn't going to work. I'm not spending the night with three car tired kids in a room watching bad cable for the next 5 hours. 

I google nearby hotels.  I call.  The first one that has a room and a pool that is open gets our vote.  I tell them we'll be there in ten minutes.  The front desk at our current hotel is understanding when I tell them that we can't stay.  I explain that I promised my kids a pool and that if I had known, I wouldn't have made the reservation.  She understands and checks me out.  She promises that my money will be refunded on my card.  In a week or two.  Fuck it, good enough.  On our way out, the luggage cart magically appears because of course it does. 

We get to our other hotel and they indeed have a pool.  It's quite small, about the size of a good living room.  And the water appears a little yellowish.  No problem, I can work with yellow water.  And they have a working luggage cart.  I put all three kids on the luggage cart and our baby gear.  I'm just happy we are checked in with a pool.  I had to make two trips, 3 kids take up a lot of luggage space but that's ok, they thought it was part of the adventure not Dad trying to find a way to cope. 

Dinner is next.  I pick a buffet thinking it will have something for everyone.  It does but again, my lack of planning and reasoning is where I mess up.  Have you ever tried plating food from a buffet with one hand?  Let me tell you, it's not simple.  You get burned alot as you try to magically flip a piece of pizza on a poorly balanced plate that you have put on a non-exsistant counter.  I couldn't put Bacon down, he would start screaming.  I don't want to cause a scene.  But what I do want to do is put on a show.  So with the plate wedged against my fat roll and metal bar holding up the sneeze guard, I plate what ever is infront of me.   Bacon and I are having some sort of chicken, some pasta thingy and I was able to grab the last two slices of pizza.  Suck it world. 

Bubba Hoss is doing well and is taking very slow steps with his food that his sister helped him get.  He has a knack for dropping everything so he doesn't want to do it here, he's a good boy.  It takes him 15 minutes to get to our table.  I go back to get drinks and realize that I have forgotten a sippy cup.  It's time to teach Bacon how to drink out of a straw.  He's 1, can't stay a baby forever. 

Dinner is finally done and I leave a genrous tip for whoever as I'm sure they will survey the amount of food on the floor and begin crying.  Look, Bacon likes to chunk food when he's tired and right now, he's a bit tired.  5 bucks says I'm sorry, 10 says I'm really sorry and 15 bucks says please don't look at me when I quickly leave. 

Back at the hotel, swimming goes well.   No one gets hurt, no one pukes or craps in the pool and Dad is everyone's favorite pool toy.  I think we have rebounded well to our early misfortune.  Super dad. 

And then at bed time, it all goes to shit.  Little and Bubba are in their PJ's.  They are playing and it's getting late now, around 10.  Bacon however decides that he doesn't want to sleep.  He doesn't want to play either.  Nor does he want to lay on me, or the bed or in his pack and play that I brought.  What he wants to do is to break my will.  He's doing a pretty good job of it.  For over an hour I fight this. 

I know that he is tired, that he is in fact overtired and that is why he is being such a butthole.  We hash it out with me saying "duck it" (that's parent code for Fuck it.)  I put him in his pack and play and head to the bathroom to sit on the floor and finally cal Hossmom and congratualte her on a well played manipulation. 

Eventually everyone does go to sleep.  I come out of the bathroom and greatfully head towards the bed.  In an hour, Bacon wakes up. He screams.  I pick him up.  I soothe him.  I put him back down.  This continues every hour until 4:30 and again I say duck it. 

I wheel his pack and play into the bathroom and shut the door.  I figure that the acustics in there will at least entertain him for a while.  He immediatly falls asleep knowing that he has triumphed over me.  I am not super dad, or majestic dad.  I am over confident dad and he pays a price. 

That price of course is paying for one hotel room that I don't use and for 3 all day passes to the space museum because it was the best deal.  After I buy the tickets they inform me that the two special shows we want to see begin at 2 and 4 pm only.  It's currently 9am.  We need to leave by 1. 

Over confident Dad, I like that guy, he gets shit done. 

Duck it, let's have fun while we are here. 


Beard VS. No Beard

My beard.  It is gone.  It has been cut off.  My bushy display of peacock maniless has been shorn, it's feathers gathering at the bottom of my sink.   A full beard that looked like it should be in a window of Macy's.  4 and 1/2 months of growth detailing the winter season, telling the story of the darkness and cold in which we all lived.  I shaved it off.  I thought it was time. 

Hossmom looked at me after I have finished shaving.  She had a disappointed look, a look that tells me something is wrong but she is not going to tell me what it is.  She doesn't want to tell me, she wants me to figure it out.  I want Denise Richards from the movie Wild Things.  She looks into the sink and then looks back up at me. 

Dear God what have I done?

With a beard:  Women mistook me for the "bad boy".  The rebel that surely has some sort of motorcycle around the corner.  It's not street legal of course because fuck you that's why.  Yeah, I'm a bad ass. 

Without a beard:  Hi!  I'm Mr. Suburban Dad!  I like to wear brown things and eat green things.  I drive a sensible minivan and I would like fries with that. 

With a beard:  Black is the color of my soul and my t-shirts.  The blackness hides my pain, my deep scars.  I'm complicated, I struggle with feelings in a world not designed to handle them.  Feel my muscles.

Without a beard:  Black is icky and so depressing.  I like sunshine yellow and rule following!

With a beard:  No, you can't come into the bouncy house.  The PTA lady said you have a wrist band, you have no wrist band.  But you do have a problem and that problem is the bearded man in a black t-shirt guarding the bouncy house doors.  How you want to handle this problem?  Feel my muscles. 

Without a beard:  Hey kid, come back here!  You have no wrist band, you can't go in!  Don't ignore me kid!  I'm going to tell your mom!  Kid!  Kid!  Screw it, where's my words with friends so I can spell the word muscles. 

With a beard:  I'm going to sit on this park bench watching my children play.  What am I thinking?  Deep thoughts, thoughts that ordinary individuals can't handle, they are to deep. The Depth of these  thoughts are deep.  You know that they are deep thoughts because I am stroking my beard. 

Without a beard:  I'm going to sit on this park bench watching my children play.  What am I thinking?  About my next kidney stone.  Also, I have to poop. 

With a beard:  Hey man, love your beard!  Looks good brah!  Cool t-shirt with the beard, buddy.  Here, have some money and some honeys. 

Without a beard:  You have a baby face, lose some weight.  No, you can't have any money. 

With a beard:  I didn't even know that you are bald, I was to distracted by the awesome face hair.  Who needs head hair, you obviously don't.  Can I touch it?  Can I clip off a bit, put it in a scrap book and show it to my grandchildren one day? 

Without a beard:  Fuck all you're bald man, look into some Rogaine and for god sakes don't polish that thing, we are going blind over here. 

With a beard:  I will shovel the driveway in -10 degree weather.  It will not effect me, I am immune to the wind.  My beard freezes showing my determination to my family, to my minions.  I squint in the blowing snow.  Bring it mother nature, I own you. 

Without a beard:  AHHAHAHAHHAHAHHHHAHAHAAAAAAA, screw this it's cold.  Good luck getting out of the house honey.  Make me a sandwhich.  Honey?  Sweetpea? 

With a beard:  There is always something to stroke. 

Without a beard:  There is nothing to stroke, NOTHING.  Nothing gets stroked.  Not even a little bit.  Honey?  Sweetpea? 

I know who I am.  I'm Mr. Suburban dad.  I am the rule follower, I do not speed.  I coach kids teams, I help when the PTA lady asks me.  I drive a minivan and make peanut butter and jelly sandwhiches.  I sell girl scout cookies and plan safe family vacations.   I like to wear brown pants and eat green things.  But sometimes I get to be the rebel but only when it's cold, like his heart. 

That and the beard is freaking hot in the summer. 


Care Bears

Tonight is the night.  Yup, I'm going to get some action tonight.  I am going to go upstairs and employ my greatest moves, the move that have been honed through 20 years of practice with the same woman.  I'm going to creep up there. I'm going to nudge her on the shoulder and whisper "You awake?"  60% of the time, it works every time.

I meant to go up sooner but I was enjoying my free time and watching an X-Files marathon.  Scully does it for me, don't know why, but she does.  I'll admit that I often stay up later than I probably should.  But that's ok, sometimes I just need to be alone.  And sometimes, like tonight, I don't need to be.  Wink wink.

I take off my boots when the first kid comes down stairs.  Ok, cool.  I got this, my mojo is still good and I've still got my moves.  Bubba Hoss wants a drink of water.  Fine, I get him a drink of water.  11 pm and the kid has a dying thirst.  So does his father.  I get his drink of water.  But apparently he wants a little chit chat with his beverage.  My wife says that I could talk to anyone at anytime and about anything.  I chit chat.  It would appear that my second-born takes after his old  man.  He wants to remind me about the promise I made to play Skylanders tomorrow.  I tell him that I remember.  He then feels the need to tell me the Skylanders story again.  I nod and say yes as I usher him upstairs.  He wants to be tucked in again, I do that to.  When I get to the door he stops me and asks another question.  He asks me what are ghosts.  Dammit, this is going to take a bit longer conversation than my libido planned.  Can't let the kid go to bed thinking about ghosts, though.  I tell him that there are no such things as ghosts because the Power Rangers got them all.  Boom. No more ghosts.  Let's think about Care Bears instead, little guy.  I tuck him in and make it to the door.  I'm about to take off my shirt, it's almost game time.

I hear my daughter crying in her room.  Yup, have to check this out.

She says that she just had a nightmare about the books and series Goosebumps.  She's been reading and watching that for a while.  She likes the scary nature of it.  It's like X-Files for kids.  I've let her and have read and watched with her, too.  It was a bit father/daughter time.  She likes to scare herself a bit sometimes.  She can normally be ok.  Either that or I'm raising some sadistic killer.  If that's the case, then I'll introduce her to the series Dexter.  Not now though, she's only 8.  I'll give it a couple of years.

It's backfiring me now though.  She had a nightmare and needs her dad.  This always gets me, probably gets all of us.  "Needs her Daddy."  When your little girl says that, yup, we all melt and not even a comet of death would make me turn away.  Your god damn right Daddy can stop all the bad things in the world.  It's what we all say because sometimes we even believe it ourselves and we need them to believe that more than anything.

She says she can't sleep in her room.  She asks if she can go to our room.  Nope, nope nope.  Daddy has plans but I do take her to the couch down stairs.  I put on Care Bears on the TV.  If it's good enough to handle ghosts, Care Bears can handle Goosebumps.  I snuggle with my daughter as she calms down.  She isn't watching the show but she knows that it's on.  The little voices and the nice music soothe her and thus soothes me.  It takes about 30 minutes for her to go back down again.  I try to get up to carry her back upstairs but it's no good.  She somehow wakes up when I move and her claws somehow grab chest hair through a my still-on T-shirt.  It was supposed to be on the floor an hour ago along with the rest of my clothes.  I sit back down and continue to snuggle her.  Another 30 minutes goes by and a second episode of Care Bears finishes.  I pick her up and take her upstairs.

I take a misstep on one of Bacon Hoss's toys and almost stumble.  I almost lose it but regain my balance.  In the process I twerk my back a bit.  A sharp pain, lower right side.  Ouch, I was going to need that muscle tonight.  I'll pop some aspirin and work through it in a couple of minutes.  I realize that I'm much older now and that I should really stretch before any strenuous exercise.  Old man sex stretches, it's very hot.

I put her in bed and start to head to my bedroom.  No stopping me now.  I might even brush my teeth before coming to bed and making some magic.  I hear the baby crying.  God. Dammit.

He does this from time to time, wakes up randomly in the middle of the night.  The best thing to do is to just go ahead and snuggle him down for 20 minutes.  I usually sleep in the rocking chair while I do it.  But I don't want to do it tonight.  Well, I want to do it but the "it" is something else entirely.  I know for me to have any success tonight that the baby cannot be screaming in the background.  Hossmom has this whole "good mother" thing going on and apparently 'screaming baby' is not considered foreplay.

I head into his room and he's in full-on meltdown mode.  He's banging his head on the side of the crib, hard.  I have no earthly idea why he does it.  One day I'm going to let him continue to do it and give himself a concussion.  Teach the boy a lesson.  Not tonight though, I don't have time for an emergency room visit. That would surely kill my mojo because hospitals don't do it for me.

I grab his blankie and take him to the rocking chair.  I pull out my phone and play his bedtime music, a mix of Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson.  I sing to him while I do it.  He farts on me.  If he crapped his pants, I'm going to let him sit in it.  I don't want to be stinky before I go to my bedroom.  He'll just have to take this for his old man, take one for the team.

It does take me about another 20 minutes.  It's a little bit past 1AM now. I have wasted too much time, I'm actually tired myself now and my back aches a bit.  My shoulder has gone numb from where I was holding Bacon.  Ok, I admit to myself that this might not be the adventurous sexy times I had planned.  This will be more of a 'marriage maintenance' time. Enjoyable and needed but perhaps combined with the smell of Icy Hot.

I head into the bedroom and yawn.  I can still do this, I've still got this in me.  I've dealt with kids for about the last 2 hours, I've earned a little treat.  As I arrange the pillows my daughter opens the door.  She doesn't say anything and actually scares me a bit.  The silhouette of a quiet child framed in a door is the stuff of horror movies.  If she asks me if I want to play a game, I'm going to freak.

She runs over to her mom's side and vaults over, landing right in between us.  She snuggles in and in a period of less than 3 seconds is under the covers and snoring.  No more nightmares.

Welp, that does it for me.  I'm done, the magic whisper will in no way work now.  I have been officially blocked from martial relations by my own children.  I lay my head down on my pillow and think that I will probably write about this tomorrow.

Yup, I'll write about it so that it is forever a part of the Hossman story.  And I know full well that my children will one day read my stories, the story of our family and their childhood.  They'll read them when they are in their 20's probably, maybe show them to their significant other.

And they will come to this one, a story about their dad trying to get laid, a story called Care Bears.  What is more safe and comforting than Care Bears?  They will scream, they will be grossed out, they will close their eyes and just try to get that visual out of their head.  But it won't go out of their head because they had to read this, my wonderful little bastards.   The visual will be playing right along to the theme music of caring and sharing.  Care bears will be ruined for them.  Forever. 

And they will be traumatized, a scar will form in their psyche.

My vengeance will be complete.