Bubba Hoss

My son got into trouble at school and to be honest, I didn't really know how to handle it.  

I'm not talking about my youngest son.  Bacon Hoss is 2 and 1/2 and pretty much lives in time out.  He is there so much he has a nice little yard, pretty cool neighbors and little a desk area where he can write me death threats on his toddler stationary.  He's pretty much a major butthole most of the time.  

No, my older son, Bubba Hoss.  He got into trouble.  

Normally when I have meetings with teachers he is described as "angelic" and "greatest gift from your good loins my dear sir, the world is honored."  I bask in the glory of having the "good son" and as soon as the conference is over I immediately go to the internet to judge people who don't parent as well as me.  Turns out I'm a major butthole as well.

This time however, when I asked my usual question of How's the boy doing, I did not get the answer that I expected.  I was told that he "could be doing better."  I had to cancel my post meeting internet judging.  

Bubba Hoss has always been a good kid, eager to please.  His biggest fear in life is disappointing me.  On a side note, that's a heavy burden on both of us.  I get it, I'm dad and he looks up to me.  It breaks his heart when he thinks he has done something that would displease me, unlike my wife who makes it a habit (easy joke, couldn't help myself.)  But as it turns out, with all that admiration coming my way it has the affect of me being afraid of disappointing him.  Father/Son relationships aren't supposed to be the complicated until he is at least 16 and he wants to join the band on a road tour.  

But it turns out that my son has gotten a bit talky in class, enough so that the teacher feels the need to bring it up during the conference.  He apparently has his best friend in his class and they like to do things like talk, get out of their seats and interrupt each other and the teacher while the other is talking.  

Honestly, I'm a bit shocked.  I shouldn't be, not really.  The boy has literately never been a problem.  He was so easy as a toddler that he only through a fit when he was ubber tired.  And he never wanted someone else to cut his hair.  I have no idea why but from ages 3 through 5, he had a buzz cut courtesy of me.  

He was so good that I just assumed that all boy toddlers where that good so when Bacon Hoss came along, I wasn't prepared for the shit storm that is my younger son.  Yesterday Bacon Hoss through a full on screaming fit because he couldn't chew on an extension cord.  Maybe the cat is raising him, that would make more sense because our cat is pretty much an asshole too.  

So now comes the fatherly part that on the surface seems simple, but underneath is one of the hardest parts of fatherhood.  What should I do?  Simple question, hard decision.  If I come down on him like a mountain, do I kill any confidence and break his fragile spirit.  To easy, and he doesn't learn any respect for authority and good behavior.  Is this infraction big enough for me to take issue with it at home?  Or do I just have a quick discussion with him now in the classroom.  

See, when doing things like this, it looks like a quick decision from the outside.  But in my head, I'm debating with myself the best course of action and honestly, I'm never sure if I make the right decision in the end.  In fact, I know I screw up a lot.  I'm just trying not to screw up enough to make him need therepy at 30 because he can't have a relationship with his father and has become an axe murderer.  If I'm to hard, will he never take risks?  That's not good.  That sucks.  If I'm to easy, will he decide that life is better lived by smoking crack and fighting rats at the local carney.  

It's a very difficult balance and one that I find very hard to maintain.  

"Stop talking during class boy."

That was my decision.  I think I made the right one.  Short and to the point, I like it.  Time to go on the internet parenting sites.



Age 9

At age 9, I have discovered, is the age your daughter has decided that you are probably not fit to be a parent and that every request that you make should include some sort of bribe.

"Go clean your room" I'll tell Little Hoss.  "Do I get an Ipod if I do?"

I just stood there, not sure if I heard what I think I heard.  Did I miss some sort of Dad class somewhere that explained that 9 year old girls need an Ipod or concert tickets, or a new bike for every chore they are supposed to do?  You do it because you live here and you live here only because no other building can stand up to your destruction.

"Brush your hair before you go to school"

"I know DAAAADDDDDDDDD"  This is usually followed by a sigh.  Then she can't find her brush, even though she has 12 that I buy her every week because she can't find her brush.  Then she stomps off.  Somedays I grab a pair of scissors and follow her around to let her know that if she chooses not to brush her hair, I'm going to give her a military cut that The Duke would be proud of.  My favorite part is how she draws out the last syllable to emphasize how god damn stupid I am.

"You can't wear that to school."

"WHY!  WHY, why can't I wear this to school!!  It's fine.  I look fine!  I want to wear this to school."

"Because it's 10 degrees outside and I'm pretty sure your arms will freeze off.  At which point it will be harder for you to clean up your room and brush your hair."  I don't think my daughter thinks I'm funny anymore.

"I'm not cold!" She will say.

Yes you are, I know you are.  Your mother knows you are.  The dog knows you are.  But at this point you are just being stubborn to prove a point.  What point is fucking beyond me but I'm sure it's in there somewhere.

"I'll wear a jacket!" she will say right before she storms out.

But no she won't.  She won't because Dad stashed it and I won't give it to here until we are waiting outside for the bus and I'm watching her squirm.  See, Dad can be passive aggressive too!  I've had 20 years training from your mother, I am immune to this.  Now take your jacket and PUT IT ON AND NOT IN YOUR BACKPACK!

"Do you like any boys in school?" I'll ask her.

She won't even respond to this.  Look, I know that talking about boys and stuff can be awkward and weird for young girls but so help me god we won't avoid a conversation because of awkward.  I live in the world awkward, I have embraced it and I refuse to have a child ignorant because it's "weird".  At 40 years old and with 3 kids that seem to live to embarrass me in public over the last 9 years, I have absolutely no problem with awkward.

I get it, I'm not the "cool" parent.  I don't want to be the "cool" parent.  Here's a little knowledge for my daughter:  All the other parents hate the cool parent.  He's a dick, an irresponsible jack hole that shouldn't have kids in the first place.  He's the guy that is going to give his kids beer when they are 13 and tell them to drink it in the basement "so they are safe".

You know why I meet the parents of your friends?  To make sure they aren't the cool parent, that's why.

"Go to bed."
"I'm not tired."
"Set the table"
"I'm not hungry"
"Don't break that"
"Break what?" Snap.

All.  The.  Time.

That's alright, I'm sure the teen years will be much much easier and I'll be able to reason with her and use logic to convince her of my sound advice.


Our Dog Dobby

First I heard my daughter screaming.  Then I heard the dog barking.  Those two things are all that is required for dad brain to kick in.  "Hey, hey you.  You sleeping oaf.  Something's going on.  Your daughter isn't happy, your dog sounds like it's going nuts and you are Dad.  So get up dad and do your dad thing."

Sometimes I don't want to do my dad thing.  Sometimes I just want to sit and watch football which is code for "I want to take a nap while pretending to watch football."  I can almost make it through the 3rd quarter of a game now a days.  But not today, today it was halftime and the screams of my daughter and the barking of my dog were getting fainter.

I know what happened.  Everyone who has kids and a dog knows what's happened.  The dog has gotten out.  The dog has bolted, flown the coup, made tracks to adventure.  And my daughter is chasing him.  I bet she doesn't have shoes on.

We got a new puppy.  An 8 month old mix of lab and boxer.  It was a shelter dog.  The kids were begging for weeks and weeks and weeks to get a new dog.  I finally said ok because I'm not a heartless bastard.  Every kid deserves a dog, a dog that belongs to them.  A dog that they will remember when they are old and I'll resent every time it craps in the house.  It's natures way of reminding us that no matter how much in charge we think we are, there is always someone's shit we have to clean up.  And with 3 kids, 2 dogs (now) and a cat, there is  alot of shit to clean up.

The puppy does what puppy's do.  It jumps, chews on anything, pee's when it needs to, eats whatever I say it can't and it runs.  It runs very fast.  It's a puppy, that's what they do.  I made a deal with the kids.  If they got a new puppy, they would be responsible for taking care of it, cleaning up after it, going to the vet with him and training him.  And to my constant amazement, they have held up this end of the bargain.  But there are times when it's a little to much, like now and Dad has to step in.

Little Hoss was taking the dog out in the backyard to put him on the leash, give him some quality poop time outside instead of right outside my door.  The dog saw our family squirrel.  The dog bolted.  The leash snapped because fuck it, why not.  Didn't even slow Dobby down.  That's his name by the way.  Dobby, like from Harry Potter.  We got him at the pound and after seeing him it seemed very fitting.  It also seems fitting now after he is refusing to listen to us and has bolted to do his own thing.

Of course he couldn't catch the squirrel.  Jeff, our squirrel, has been ditching our pets for years.  I'm pretty sure that it's not the same Jeff as when we moved in 7 years ago but I don't tell the kids that.  One squirrel moves out, another one moves in, they are all named Jeff.  I'm good with this.  He lives in our walnut trees and if he can dodge the dogs, can live like a king.

I make it outside and see my daughter in near hysterics by the edge of our little forest.  She's got no shoes on and is yelling "Dobby!  Please come back!  Dobby!  Please!"  What works on me obviously doesn't work on the new dog.  We will have a talk about that later.  The dog isn't coming back and has gone into a thicket.  My daughter has stopped just at the edge of it yelling.

I get to the edge and calm her down, letting her know that it's going to be ok that he hasn't gone far.  She's crying a bit, she really loves her dog.  Little Hoss won't go into the thicket because it freaks her out a bit.  There are bugs in there and where there are bugs there are monsters and homework that has to be done.  She's terrified of thickets but she begins to walk forward, no shoes on at all, to find her dog.

My heart breaks because I'm a wimp.  I'm so proud that my daughter has put her fears aside and is going in barefoot for her dog.  This should be in a book somewhere.  And in this book the hero shows up.  Me.  I'm the hero.  I'm the hero because I'm dad and dads do what they need to so that their little girls will stop crying.  Besides, dad knows a secret.

"It's ok sweety." I tell her.  "He's still right there."

I know this because I know that just beyound the thicket is a 6 foot tall wire mesh fence.  I'm guessing that our new puppy hasn't figured out how to climb it yet.  So I head into the thicket, making sure that I squash any bugs, monsters and homework that I find.  Sure enough, the dog has it's nose against the mesh 10 feet beyond the underbrush.  I grab him and throw him over my shoulder (he's a big pup) and head back to my daughter.  She see's me come out and runs up to me.

This is the image that I want my daughter to have of me.  A dog over my shoulder as I emerge from the woods.  This is what a hero should look like.  Except he should have more hair and some sort of sword.  I'm working on that.

She hugs me and begins to scold the dog.  Dobby doesn't understand any of this of course, he's a fucking dog.  But he's happy that he got to create some drama.  Perhaps dogs keep our life interesting and that's a noble cause, isn't it?

He licks my daughter, licks me and eyes where the squirrel has gone.  I'm sure that it's supposed to be menacing to the squirrel and I'm also sure that Jeff flips him the finger.