What Happens When You Turn Your Back On A Toddler

Notice How He Even Got In Between The Fingers
I've done fucked up and I know it.  I'm better than that.  I'm not some sort of a rookie, a noob that doesn't understand what can happen when you don't pay attention to your toddler.  I make fun of guys all the time that say "I only turned my back for a second."  And what did I do?  I turned my back for only a second.

I was talking to my sister on the phone.  It was a call that required all my attention.  My boy and I were having a great day, a day filled with the park and coloring.  He was happy, I was happy.  I thought that I could be on the phone for just a couple of minutes and nothing would happen.  Jesus, I'm better than that!

I walked into my kitchen and even did some dishes while I talked to my sister.  I had her on my headphones so I could set the phone down while I talked to her.  I was multi-tasking, a skill that I thought I had perfected!  I need new multi-tasking lessons.  My son is about to give me a free one.

I looked up.

"Shit.  I have to let you go, sis.  Ollie has gone and put on blackface."

Not full on blackface, thank the lord for small miracles.  But his hands and much of his wrists are covered in black marker.  He decided sometime over the "I only turned my back..." that he was done coloring in his special coloring book.  Coloring hands are way more fun.  So that's what he did.  I'm sure he was laughing all the way too but I couldn't hear him with my earbuds in.

And he had to choose black marker because that makes it way more fun and way more difficult to get off.  He has to go to preschool tomorrow and I know exactly what is going to happen.  I'll practically give him a bath in rubbing alcohol trying to get the marks off his hands and wrists.  But I won't get it all because I pick up the marker pack we were coloring with and nowhere on the package does it say "washable."  Another rookie mistake.

I've been in the game for 9 years, 9 years of caring for children and I'm still making these mistakes.

"What happened, buddy?" I ask him.

"Daddy!  Daddy!  Look!  I colored." he tells me.

Yes, son, you colored.  Now you have to wear gloves to school tomorrow and I have to tell the teacher it's because we are afraid of germs.  Great, you are Howard Hughes now.  Have fun with that.

He then points to the table showing me his little black smudged handprints.  They are also on his chair, his clothes, and probably some on my computer which I left near him.  Suddenly my lazy afternoon has been filled up.  The rest of our day's schedule is full thanks to a toddler and the parenting cliche "I only turned my back for a second."  


Kids Chess in the Thunderdome

"Move over, I'm going to beat this kid."

When I heard my daughter say this, I spun around and my shoulder caught the bookshelf that I was standing next to.  Several books fell to the ground and I thought that I was going to have to get my daughter out of a fight and repair the library all in the same day.  This would be a new record of destruction for us.

But what I saw was not my daughter whooping some poor kid.  I saw Little Hoss moving her little brother out of the chair in front of the white pieces of the chess board that they keep at the library.  I walked over and asked my son what was going on.

"She's going to play this kid.  He thinks he can beat her."

Oh shit yeah.  It's on now.  As my son explained it, this young blond hair boy was explaining how to play chess to my children.  He didn't like being corrected by my kids.  Now Little Hoss has decided that a game is the only way to settle this epic battle.  I wanted to hug her, not only for accepting a chess challenge but for not being me at that age.  I got into a lot of fights that usually required some explaining to my parents afterward.

But as the parent in this situation, I would require no explanation.  My girl is going to the Thunderdome of chess skewers and forks, have at it!

My daughter can play chess.  I taught her.  She plays me on occasion.  She's no Bobby Fischer, but she knows what she is doing.  She can skewer a piece and castle and it's become second nature to her.

Now, I'm no chess genius either.  But I have found that if you learn some basic strategy and combine that with some tactics, you can beat 90% of the public at a friendly game.  Most have a passing knowledge of chess and we have taken it a bit further.  I've tried to get the kids to watch chess tournaments with me at times but they fade after the first 5 minutes.  Baby steps, baby steps.  Let that first step be wrecking the random stranger that appears to be talking down to my daughter.

Part of me wants to stick around and be the cheerleader.  I want to get some sports stands around the board and my giant half-gallon of soda.  Perhaps I'll start a little tailgating party in the parking lot, get some beers out and turn on my radio for some analysis.

I leave them though because this is a challenge between kids and I don't want to see the other kiddo cry.  That wouldn't be very fatherly, would it?  It's all about the competition, about fair play, right?  But there is the other dad side of me that thinks "You gonna let that boy talk down to you like that?  Kick his ass, honey."  I don't know which guy to listen to so I leave them at it.

I head back to the children's section to watch my youngest son destroy the toys they have back there.  Occasionally he'll hit a truck with a book and I consider that a win.  He plays chess too sometimes with me although at 4 years old that usually means that he is going to stick a piece in his mouth for a little bit.  That's ok, know your pieces on an intimate level and the rest will follow.

Little Hoss and her brother come join me about 5 minutes later.  I lift my head up from the book that I really wasn't reading.

"How did it go?" I asked her.

"Easy.  I castled early and then it was pretty much over.  I just got his pieces one at a time."

"That's great," I say.

But what I mean is:  That's my girl.  Don't ever let a boy tell you what you can and cannot do.  Now go over there and punch him in the balls for good measure.   It's important that I don't let this Dad out to much, he doesn't play well with others.  He's still needed but he's kind of a jerk.

"Can we go get some ice cream, Dad?"

"You're god damn right we can."


The Toddler Proofing Company

I have decided to launch a new company.  Hossman’s Toddler Proofing.  It’s going to make me a million dollars and when I get all that sweet money I will make sure that I forget all you lowly peasants.  But first, buy my products.

The first product in my genius plan will be the Crazy Shake Timer.  It will look exactly like an egg timer, an old fashioned one.  That means it’s vintage and bitches go crazy for vintage.  You set it for 5-minute increments right when you need to clean or do something important like eating all the crumbs in the chip bag before you throw it out.  You paid good money for those chips, get everything out of it that you can.  When the timer goes off, you stand up and do the crazy shakes.  I’m assuming that every parent that stops by to read this knows exactly what crazy shakes are.

But for those that don’t, the crazy shakes are from the cartoon Team Umizoomi.  Bot, the robot, of course, will say at the end of every episode that it’s time for crazy shakes.  My 4-year-old demands that we do it and when a 4-year-old demands that you shake him, god damnit you do it.  Not a baby though, don’t shake the babies.  I find that my productivity drops way off when my toddler is around.  So the crazy shake timer is really just finding a way to automate the constant interruptions.  After the crazy shakes set the timer again and then go find that bag of chocolate chip cookies because I bet there is a least one more in there you fat bastard.

Our next product is revolutionary and will probably get a lot of hot supermodels wanting to endorse it.  It’s called the Bathroom Muffler.  It’s basically just a shit ton of styrofoam, thick stuff that can be duck taped to the bathroom door. Once installed by one of our supermodel installation ladies, it will successfully block all sounds from outside the bathroom door-- like a screaming toddler.  It will also cancel out any loud banging coming from outside the door.  So when the 4-year-old is screaming “Dad!  Daaaadddd!  What are you doing?” you don’t have to reply “I’m taking a dump, what do you think I’m doing!”

Now, you may be thinking why not just use sound proof egg crate foam?  Listen, Mr. Moneybags, we are trying to make these things affordable for the American family.  We cannot afford official high-end shit, kids suck up money like Bill Oreilly soaks up harassment lawsuits. (hahahahahaha, that made me laugh.) Our styrofoam can be found for almost next to nothing if you go down to the docks on the lake after the 4th of July weekend.  Just pick up all the old cheap coolers that I guarantee will litter the shore.  The beer smell will remind you of college.  Bring your toddler and the crazy shake timer.

The Parent Control Volume Remote will be our next big seller, after the success of the Bathroom Muffler.  This specially programmed remote will have only 3 settings.  Setting 1 will be called “Nap Time” and immediately mute the T.V. and it cannot be canceled for at least 2 hours.  This prevents the fat god damn dog from accidently stepping on the remote and jacking the volume up to 50 and ruining nap time for everyone. Seriously, screw you dog.  You owe me.  Setting 2 on the remote is labeled “Sexy Porn Time.”  It sets the volume of the T.V. to a very low whisper, only audible over heavy breathing.  Use only around 3 am when the whole house is asleep and you really don’t want to wake anyone up but need just a little bit of sound to achieve lift off.  Finally, setting 3 on the remote will be called “When the older kids have friends over.”  This setting will automatically turn every speaker in your house to the loudest volume.  You will still be confused as for why you can’t hear anything other than preteens tearing your house apart but at least you are making an effort.

The last product in our revolutionary new Toddler Proofing company will be called the “Picky Eater Food Dispenser” and is the flagship of our product line.  This white box contraption easily fits on your dining room table.  It will have huge compartment space for all the lunches and dinners that your toddler has decided not to eat.  After they take one bite of their peanut butter and jelly sandwich the machine will automatically open and take the sandwich away, storing it for later because your toddler will declare he’s “done.”  Every 5 minutes, when your toddler tells you he’s hungry, even though you just had lunch, the white box will open and again deposit the sandwich on the table.  Your toddler will scream, take one bite and again declare he is done.  The cycle will continue for 45 minutes until finally it just spits out a cup full of cheerios on the floor and flings the sandwich towards the wall.  This action allows you to add to your collection of food stains on the wall without the hassle of your toddler doing it.  There is also a handy paper shredder built right in so you can just open up your wallet and destroy your money rather than wasting trips to the grocery store.

I believe in these products and have no doubt that they will revolutionize the way we take care of our families.  Why go through the bother and the fights that you know you are coming anyway?  My super awesome, super handy Toddler Proofing program will….

Wait, the crazy shake timer just went off.  Back in a bit.


Another Piece of Reddit Fiction

This little story did pretty well too on Reddit.  It story made me laugh.

The Writing Prompt was:  "Here is your sword, that purges all evil.  Here is your shield, to protect all you hold dear.  And here is an infinite mug of coffee, arguably the most dangerous of the three."

“Oh, I gotta go, I gotta go, I gotta go, I gotta go,” said Chet the Magnificent. The dragon stopped in mid roar, about to blast this twig of a man, because Chet was now running around in circles. This made no sense to the dragon who had eaten plenty of newcomers before. “Have some decency man,” the dragon thought. Chet couldn’t hear him, of course, and if he could it wouldn’t matter because all Chet was thinking at this moment was to find the nearest bush.
Chet was the chosen one, destroyer of evil and conqueror of the minions of hell. With his sword he sworded with his shield he shielded. Monsters wrote dirty limericks with his name on bathroom stalls and put his real address in Craigslist personal ads. They cursed the very air he breathed and as each of them fell Chet’s fame grew.
With boundless energy, Chet never failed to meet a demon head-on. This enterprising hero never seemed to grow tired and the dark rings under his eyes only worked to entice the ladies even more. Most times he almost seemed nervous, electric like, a combination of a boxer puppy crossed with methed out cat. But his quirks only served to remind his foes that he was unpredictable, like the mage who had given him his weapons had predicted.
Ollie the Wise and Opulent first gave Chet the sword and said: “Go forth and sword things. It’s good for you.” Then Ollie gave Chet the shield and said: “This thing is heavy, I don’t want it anymore.” And finally, Ollie gave Chet the last of the hero’s treasures and said: “Take this bottomless coffee mug from 7/11 and find the will to destroy all. Also, to much coffee may make you poop, so watch your intake and check your blood pressure from time to time.”
Today Chet had too much of the bottomless coffee and it did what coffee does: jack you up and make you miss your first-morning meeting because you’ve got to run to the bathroom. Normally, Chet would have taken care of business earlier, perhaps on the secret bathroom stall of the 4th floor. But the dragon roared from his cave and Chet momentarily forgot about Ollie the Wise’s advice.
Chet the Magnificent raced to the cave and stood to face the beast. The dragon roared, Chet roared, and then Chet’s stomach rumbled. A loud gurgling base came from Chet’s midsection and then a small squeak came from his backside. The dragon, not sure what kind of game weirdo Chet was playing, decided to roar louder. Chet stood straighter, his face turning red from embarrassment and not from the heat coming off the dragon, raised his sword.
He had gotten the sword up about halfway when the lower half of this manchild’s body decided nope, it was time to poop instead.
And so we find our hero desperately running around in his plate mail armor, looking for perhaps a large rock while the confused dragon looks on.
Sadly, Chet could hold it no more and a torrent of filth came rushing out of his nether regions like a mudslide over the Niagra. Clump, squoosh, clump, squoosh, squirt--the sounds of a man losing all his dignity and finding it slowly piling up in his boots.
The dragon stepped back immediately like he had been slapped. Understanding came to the dragon as the smell of Chet’s shame came to his nostrils. “Holy crap,” the dragon thought. “This guy pooped his Cussies, (the correct term for leg armor, go ahead, look it up. Don’t look it up)”
Chet though was named the Magnificent for a reason and knew there was only one thing to do in this dire situation. He quickly threw his sword to the floor and turned to face the dragon. The dragon let out a minor roar, not sure what was happening or what weird fetish this guy had. Chet let mother nature take it’s course, all the while making direct eye contact with the dragon. The dragon tried to avert his gaze but Chet held him by sheer force of will. “Look at me! Look at me! I can’t finish unless you look at me!” Chet let loose with a torrent that sounded like an oboe being played by a 4th grader.
The dragon, overwhelmed by the situation finally broke eye contact and jerked his head hard to the right. His skull smashed into the cave wall, sending a spiderweb of cracks up through the ceiling. The cave came crashing down on the dragon ending his reign forever. Chet was spared as at least today he had found some luck.
Squishingly, Chet bent over and retrieved his sword and his shield that lay at his feet, wiping the little brown specks from them as he secured them back onto his armor. He turned gingerly and walked out of the cave. Chet the Magnificent, destroyer of destroyers, scourge of evil and drinker of bottomless coffee. Oh, Chet, may your name and your legend live on. And may you always carry some handy tissues and reading material in your saddlebags.


For those wanting to read the comments on the original story on Reddit,
click here and enjoy!


Whose Is Bigger

You don't have to pull your pants all the way down to your ankles in order to take a leak.  Well, if you're a female you probably do.  But men don't unless we have a peeing distance contest going on and in that case, you do whatever you need to do God Damnit.

I was trying to explain this to my youngest, Bacon, while in the bathroom of Culver's.  Culver's is an ice cream and burger joint.  Tonight we were there because of a school function.  Something about raising money for the school or to show community spirit.  I don't know, it starts to get all wrapped together like a burrito towards the end of the school year.  I spend 50% of my day running around in my van going to one kid thing or another.  It's to the point where I'm happy if I just show up with the right kid.

Bacon had to pee so into the bathroom we went.  Pretty normal but he is 4 now and it's time that we got some man lessons in him.  "Son," I said.  "This is the urinal.  You are going to use this now."  Later I will show him how to shoot guns at stuff.  That's going to be tough as I don't know really how to shoot guns at stuff.  But I do know how to pee at urinals.  One small baby pee step at a time, we can get to the guns later.

He starts to drop the pants when I stop him.  "No, son.  Do it like Daddy."  I unbutton my pants and step up the urinal.  "See, we don't pull our pants all the way down.  That keeps our butt warm.  Pretty cool right?"  I start to pee hoping to show him how this is supposed to work.

Bacon screams "You have a big penis!"  Then he starts laughing and pointing.

Kids make things weird and awkward all the time.  It's part of their job description.  I'm pretty sure somewhere they have a toddler union and that they have to reach a weirdness quota.  I appreciate the compliment but now that he is pointing and laughing I'm not sure it was a genuine compliment.  Like Mighty Mouse being a small mouse.  

"No, son.  We are not talking about penis right now.  We are learning to pee in the urinal.  Now open your pants and pull your penis out."

"Daddy, I have a small penis!" he yells.

That's when I hear the guy in the stall start laughing.  Nothing is better than getting in a dick size competition in front of an audience.

"Dude, just go pee," I tell him.  I have decided that urinal lessons can wait.  He pulls his pants all the way down to the floor, gleeful in his exposed butt and his exposed junk.   Next time I teach him we are going to make sure that the little guy and I are alone in the bathroom.

Wait, that doesn't sound very good either.  Fuck it, we are going back to diapers.


A Reddit Story

For a writing warm-up, occasionally I go to Reddit.  There is a subreddit there called Writing Prompts.  I pick one and just go with it.  I give it very little thought and just roll, letting the story just develop.  I find that it helps my mind get to the right place to work on other projects, namely The Book, that ever present project that sits in the back of my head.

One night, around midnight, I decided to pop out a story.  I hadn't written that day so I wanted to get one out.  I found a prompt and just let go.  It's a stupid story, one that doesn't make any sense.  But it made me laugh so I posted it.

Somehow, and I have no idea how, it became my most popular story.  Throughout the next day, I was hit with so many comments that I couldn't keep up.  I've decided to post that story here.  Maybe you guys can figure out what made this one work better than the others.


After too many ridiculous and lengthy lawsuits dominate the world's courts, the world's leaders decided to pass a law to remove all warning labels.  The Darwin Act has just been passed...

Here is my take on that prompt.  I'm currently sitting at 3,000 upvotes.  Who knows why.


Sarah Miller, exhausted from a double shift, put her green blouse into the washing machine. She poured her Clorox Bleach in and washed the garment. 30 minutes later she mindlessly threw the blouse into the dryer and set it for 50 minutes. Sarah promptly fell asleep, looking forward to her job interview for the next day. When she awoke 9 hours later, she was frantic as she knew she was going to be late for her job interview at the High Powered Business Person’s Business. She grabbed the blouse, the faint light barely spilling in from her cracked apartment windows and began to iron. The shirt exploded, engulfing her in flames. The flames quickly spread to the rest of her apartment building. 45 innocents perished because the tag that read “Do Not Bleach, Do not Machine Dry, Do Not Iron” was not on her brand new blouse.

Jonathan Sqiggles had just laid down in his bed, ready to enjoy his brand new mattress. He had gotten the mattress from Steve’s Wholesale Bedding just down the street only today. But what he didn’t know, because the label was removed, was that Steve’s Wholesale Bedding had gotten the mattress from a factory in Columbus, Ohio that had used other dirty recycled mattress to make this new mattress. The bedbug attack was so fierce and unexpected that within 20 minutes only a skeleton remained of Mr. Sqiggles.

Muldoon looked in his side view mirror and saw the T rex’s jaws gaping. However, the view in the mirror showed the dinosaur much further behind him than he had thought. He knew that they were safe, despite the screaming of Dr. Malcolm. No one listened to Malcolm and his chaos theory because he was an insufferable bore and know it all. Muldoon breathed a sigh of relief and slowed the jeep down. It wasn’t until Ellie was snatched from the passenger seat of the jeep that he realized objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear. The T-rex soon ate them all. Dr. Grant, upon learning of Ellie’s death but not caring about Malcolm's, became despondent and allowed himself to be eaten as well. The dinosaurs escaped the island and invaded the mainland. No one was prepared because no one even knew that dinosaurs existed once again. New York became a dinosaur buffet.

Tommy Jenkins leaned his back against the wall at the chemical plant. He removed his hard hat and began to think of Linda waiting for him back home. He was lost in his thoughts when he brought his lighter to his mouth, getting ready to inhale that first cigarette after a long shift. He did, then the plant exploded, releasing benzene over half of Dallas County. Half a million people either died or suffered permanent damage due to the chemical cloud. The act was incorrectly labeled a terrorist attack perpetrated by North Korea and international tensions rose.

Jin Soo, a South Korean badass, finished welding the surplus jet engine onto the top of his used Volkswagen Beetle. He downed his beer, a Natural Light that a Texan sent him, and got into his car. When he was ready, he smiled at the small gathering of friends around him and uttered the last words anyone would ever hear him say: “Let’s light this candle!” His friends were standing too close behind the jet engine and quickly caught fire. The little car took off and soon found itself airborne without any way to control it. North Korea, mistaking the car for a missile attack, fired its own missiles. However, the guidance systems were so bad, probably made at a mattress company in Columbus, Ohio, that they quickly veered off course. The dear leader was right, they had been able to make missiles that could reach any continent in the world. 45 nuclear missiles landed in Antarctica and the polar ice cap was obliterated. Within a year there was no more land for people to live on. In the beginning, billions had died holding onto children’s inflatable beach balls not realizing that they were not flotation devices.

A new society would eventually arise, leading watery nomadic lives. They would have many years of trials and tribulations until a brave man by the name of Kevin Costner grew gills and saved the last of humanity by leading them to the only land left on the planet.

Thanks for reading.  Here is the story on Reddit so you can enjoy the comments as much as I did.


The Castle

Bring Me Your Maidens!
I’m writing in a castle.  How awesome is that?  I have the computer on top of a parapet, the gray tower is next to me and I’m writing.  So I suppose I’m not writing so much in a castle as I’m writing on a castle.  I’m basically a feudal lord now.  I should tax the peasants and get me some maidens.

This is not a castle in the traditional sense.  If I was going to be very technical, and very unimaginative, I would say that where I’m writing is a house with a castle exterior on the front.  The inside has rooms with carpet, chairs, tables, desks and no signs of dragons.  I don’t even think there are any suits of armors or long swords here.  And it is doubtful that I will find Edward Longshanks sitting in a throne room.  Mainly because he is dead and there is no throne room.

The place I am at is called the Writer’s Place.  It is a home, roughly 100 years old, and sits in the middle of an old neighborhood.  There are apartments behind it, normal houses on either side and the street is like any street in America.  There is also no drawbridge but give me some time and wood and I can probably fix that.

I am here because I am now a member of the Writers Place.  I have paid membership dues and have kept the receipt to deduct from my taxes.  Now it’s truly official, I am a writer.  I’m not sure of the history of the home other than that someone very rich, very long ago, decided that he wanted his home to have a tower and be covered in limestone blocks rather than wood and brick.  This is a home builder that I can relate to.  This person eventually died and his descendants decided to make it a place for writers to come work.  Thus, the Writers Place became a non-profit and so here I sit, typing away while looking for invaders.

It is run by a lady named Natasha, a very literary name much in the same vein of Tolstoy.  When I first met her she had on 24 scarfs, all of different colors, black square glasses, and blazing red hair.  I asked if she was perhaps Professor Trelawny.  I tend to make awkward jokes although that was not one of them, that was funny.

Quickly ditching my preconceived ideas of a castle and that I should go find a troll in the basement (there isn’t), I have now set up shop at the Writer’s Place to work on my book.

Wait, what’s that?  A book?  Is this whole post really just a vehicle to self-publicize that Hossman is writing a book?

No, this is a post about Hossman sitting on top of a fucking castle!

And yes, I’m finally writing a book about the misadventures of me and the children.  It’s a book that will have heroes and villains, stunning defeats and great victories.  And sometimes my wife will freak out when I take the kids on a bridge that is technically “not safe for crossings.”  Pshtt, what do engineers know?   We are still here, aren’t we!

I find it difficult to write at home with all the screaming and victory going on.  To truly get the words down on paper, to craft the story that will make you laugh and want to get into my pants at the same time. It’s a skill and I need someplace epic to do it.

So here we are, epically on top of a castle.  Well, not anymore.  I’m in the library because castles do not have power outlets on the towers.  Now I’m in the castle and as it’s getting close to lunch time I am expecting a roast boar to be brought to my table.  Perhaps I will get to meet the court jester and later I will go for a hunt.

The work on the Hossman book continues.   I don’t know how long it will take me to finish and I suppose it will depend on the number of disputes I have to rule on between the peasants.  That may delay me.  I will be a fair lord though, one that only boot stomps only the lowest.  I’ll post updates here and there on the book as I get to them.  The process of writing it is full of ups and downs, victories and defeats.

And there is no better place to plan your battles than within the safe confines of a castle.  I’ve got time here.

But first, I’m going to need to dig a moat.  All good castles have a moat around them.

We Need To Build A Moat


Missed Opportunities

My wife takes off her pants and I watch, sitting in my chair enjoying the view.  She stops and looks at me, notices my staring.  Or more appropriately, my glaring.  I have been with this woman for 22 years, I have earned the unashamed glare.

"What?" she asks.

"What do you mean what?"

"Why are you staring?"

I do not feel the need to explain my actions.  It should be self-evident.  My wife has no pants on.  I like it when my wife doesn't wear pants.  It's awesome and the fulfillment a dream of 16 year old me.  "What?" she asks again.

"I like it when you don't wear pants."

"Oh, yea?" She says, a smirk now on her face.  "It's been over 20 years, sure it's not getting old?"

"Nope," I say.  I like where this is headed.

Bacon Hoss runs into the room like he is being chased by a carnie with a pitchfork.  He misjudges the turn and smacks the bed, falls down but quickly gets back up.  His little feet start moving again, taking the time to give a kick to the bed because fuck you bed, that's why.  He jumps into my lap, I wince to avoid certain areas, and look at him.

He grabs my chin tightly, his vice-like fingers surprisingly strong for a 4-year-old and looks me in the eye.

"I have a donut on my forehead."

"What?" I ask.

He jumps off and is gone.  There was no donut on his forehead.  Bubba Hoss comes in as if getting the go-ahead from the stage manager that he was missing his cue.

"Dad," he says.  "I lost my school book and need to find it for tomorrow.  Also, did you know that Hans Solo uses a DL-44 to shoot Guido?"

This is what it's like with my son.  The first statement is about something he lost.  The second statement is a star wars fact.  That's where we are at with him at the moment.  I tell him to check under his bed for the book, that I didn't know the exact model of the gun and that it's time to go brush his teeth.  We are doing early bedtime tonight for, um, reasons.

Little Hoss comes in.  I imagine this is how clown cars work.  Just have more people show up until the driver can't fit anymore.  She says that she needs her girl scout shirt and she can't find her girl scout shirt, why can't she find her shirt, the boys must have taken it.  Stomp, stomp, stomp.  I don't even say anything to her.  She just stomps out.

My wife is at the sink now, getting ready for bed, still pantsless.  I can salvage this.

All three kids come in for the curtain call.  If they take bows and I'm going to be knocking some heads.  I shut them down before they can even tell me who hit who, I don't care if you're bleeding, and can we all just stop talking for a bit?  I tell them to zip it and everyone go brush their teeth and get ready for bed.

My eyes go back to my wife.  I find her evening ritual slightly alluring.  I don't know why but I always have.  22 years I've watched her do it and it never gets old.  Mentally, I high five the teenager still inside me.  We are living the dream buddy, we are living the dream.

Screams can be heard from the kid's bathroom.  There are shouts and yells, accusations and a 4-year old that is just crying.  His voice rises above the rest, but my daughter's whine is giving it a run for its money.  Bubba Hoss is in the middle of defending himself, demanding that slanderous and libelous statements be retracted.  I consider ignoring it until a sentence catches my ear.

"You broke my toothbrush."  The absurdity of this snaps my eyes off my wife's legs.  How the hell do you break a toothbrush?  Jesus Christ, are you kids serious?  A toothbrush?  Was someone making a prison shank?  I don't think I could break a toothbrush if I tried.   I would have to get tools out to break a toothbrush.  God Damnit, seriously?

They did indeed break a toothbrush, I didn't care to find out whose.  For some reason, I keep a lot of extra toothbrushes because you never know when one is going to end up in the toilet or apparently be sharpened on concrete to make a point.  The kids are given a new toothbrush and I make a mental note to put them all up for adoption tomorrow.

My wife walks by, headed downstairs.  She has pajama pants on now.

I have missed my opportunity and I realize that I have more in common now with that 16-year-old teenager in me than I thought.