The Question I Answered in 62 Miles

I’d been thinking about it the entire hike. My son’s question, that is. Daddy, why do you walk up and down the mountains? There it was, day four, and I still wasn’t sure what the answer was.

I think it was mile 15 on that day when I started to get a bit loopy. Fatigue’ll do that to you. I stared at the leaf-covered trail and wondered which of those leaves would be carried away by the tips of my trekking poles and which would stay put.

[read more at Babble Voices]

35 Pounds

By now, I’ve got it down to a science.  An odd science. A contradictory one, even ­­– relying upon so little to accommodate so much.

Parenting is kinda like that. At least, that’s what I’ve always thought. Many of the lessons I try to teach my kids are all-encompassing ones. Yet I have to be as concise as possible or my little ones will lose the lesson in all the verbiage. Brief but thorough is the best way to get the point across. Maybe the only way, even.

So, yeah, 35 pounds. On the one hand, I suppose, quite a lot. But on the other, not much at all. Unless you’re a four-year-old. They think it’s a ton. And, believe me; they’ve given it plenty of thought, obsessing over it almost as much as I have.

[Read more at BabbleVoices]

Image: Loimere via Creative Commons

Bird Shit, Locker Nazis and an Untimely Sweating Issue and the YMCA

This bird flat-out had his way with my mirror. He's about to take off and bang into it repeatedly. Note the preposterous amounts of bird shit he's left in his wake.

I had a weird day, y’all. It started with this itty bitty little bird who had a strange preoccupation with my car. I watched from the kitchen window as he set up shop on the tiny ledge where the passenger window meets the passenger door. Cute, right? I suppose, until he started in on the passenger-side mirror. He’d give it the eye for a bit as if getting up the courage to approach, before suddenly taking off like a bat out of hell straight toward it. And though it’s a pretty short flight (let’s call it four inches), he got up some serious speed and crashed into the mirror time and time again.

I watched this spectacle in utter disbelief for like five entire minute before finally going outside to get a closer look, which prompted the little son of a bitch to fly away. That’s when I noticed the copious amounts of bird shit that adorned that tiny little window ledge of the passenger-side door.

[Read more…]

The Trail to Fatherhood

It's good to get your bearings.

Pssst — please google connect with me. Surely there are more than 8 of you out here. I’m gonna have to take that damn thing down unless a few more of your help a brother out.

Just because I spent the first weekend of October away from my family doesn’t mean that they weren’t on my mind. For I was on my annual Appalachian Trail trip. And whenever I’m backpacking, my thoughts are frequently with them.

In many ways, my time on “the Trail” serves as an excellent parenting metaphor. After all, it’s difficult. It takes lots of preparation. There are many ups and downs. It can often be thankless. Yet it’s also impossibly rewarding. And, at times, it seems never-ending.

On Sunday, as we inched closer to our awaiting car, I finally acknowledged what I hadn’t dared to in the previous two days — our trip was an utter success. Never before had one gone so smoothly. I think it had to do with our preparation. We were more organized than ever.

Take, for example, my “bag” system. There were five of them. The green one was my “utility” bag — rope, batteries, GPS, Flip video, fire-starters, lighter, duct tape, cell phone, and head lamp. The blue one was my “water bag” — water purification tablets, toothpaste, toothbrush, camping soap, aspirin, wipes, hand sanitizer, vaseline, aspirin, and first aid kit. I stuffed both of those bags inside a larger gray bag which also contained a towel, a backpack cover, and an ankle brace (just in case).

This important gray bag was at the very top of my pack which allowed me to access it in an instant’s notice. Beneath it lay my two other bags. Well, one of them was not a bag at all, but rather all of my clothing which was bundled up neatly by my light-weight Arcteryx wind/water shell. The other bag contained my food as well as my camping stove and fuel. Aside from my 20 degree Mountain Hardware sleeping bag (housed in the lower compartment of my backpack) and tent (strapped to the outside of my backpack), those highly compartmentalized bags were all I needed.

A mile or so from the car, it dawned on me. If only I could organize the tools I need as a parent as well as I had organized my backpacking tools, surely parenting would go smoother than ever before, too. This thought filled me with great hope, if not pride, as I imagined a day in the not-so-distant future when temper tantrums would cease to exist.

Why? Because I’d simply take off my backpack of fatherhood and pull out the gray bag. Inside it, my blue bag would be readily available. And inside it would lay reason, empathy and compassion. I’d pull out equal amounts of all three and intercept the would-be tantrum by communicating with my child like never before. He or she would look at me with a perfect mixture of awe and love before happily skipping off toward a pocket of unparalleled and serene happiness made possible only by my sage-like wisdom. Well, that and my sick-ass parent-tool organization, I suppose.

On the drive back home, I smiled from ear to ear as I envisioned the reception I was sure to receive. Lovie, Pookie, and the triplets would welcome home their virile Viking — the one who had summoned up the preposterous amounts of fortitude needed to brave the elements and conquer the wild — the one who had returned home not only in tact, but also armed with indispensable parenting knowledge he was astute enough to glean along the rugged way.

Honestly? I was half expecting a trophy.

And I got one. For as soon as I broke the threshold Lovie handed me a vertical figurine.

My trophy.

“What the hell is this?” I asked loudly to compete with the meltdown my arrival had interrupted

“A plunger,” answered Lovie equally as loud. “The triplets’ toilet is clogged. I need you to unclog it.”

None too pleased, I made my way up yet another incline — the stairs — my right hand ahold of the trophy. (If only it were my hiking stick.) Hey, not a problem, I thought. I’ll just open the gray bag, and then pull out the green one. For in it, I’m sure to find the patience I’ll need to get through this.

As ripe as I was from having been in the woods for three days, I was no match for the deplorable situation that awaited. The water in the bowl of the toilet was littered with an epic amount of toilet paper and was, for lack of a better description, a light shade of soupy brown. I would later find out that it had been, um, incubating for two days.

After 30 seconds of what can best be described as extreme plunging, I.. dry heaved (literally). But that was all I had accomplished. The clog remained. By this time, Monster had scurried up and was overseeing my plunging efforts. Unbeknownst to me, he must have engaged in one of his favorite pastimes — flushing. Or so I gathered when he ran out of the bathroom giggling just as the soupy brown mess began to rise.

Lucky for me, I pulled out some quick thinking (I keep it in the blue bag — which, after all, is my water bag) and immediately reached down to turn off the toilet’s water source so it wouldn’t overflow.

The handle broke off in my hand.

Undeterred, I lifted up the porcelain lid to the back of the commode and jimmied the ball upright so as to trick the tank into thinking it was full, thus stopping the flow of water. (See? Quick thinking.) But it was too late. For by then, the bathroom was covered in a quarter inch of the foulest of water that not even a year’s supply of my purification tablets could remedy.

It was at this time when Monster decided to come check on me again, heading my way via his signature hobbly, bouncy-hop, running deal, his eyes wide with excitement, his mouth slightly agape. “Monster, No!” I yelled as he drew closer, but it was to no avail. Into the bathroom he came, and as he did, he lost his footing on the slimy sludge and quickly resembled a cartoon character after a banana-peel-encounter — his body slipping out from under him, at one point a full twelve inches above the ground, perfectly parallel, mind you, before descending and ultimately landing with a splat on his back in the murky fecal water.

Sadly, my friends, I have nothing inside any of my parenting bags for such a scenario. And what’s more, no amount of organization could ever change that.

The next day, the plumber found the original cause of the problem. The triplets had flushed a pair of Peanut’s shorts down the toilet. They were pink.

We think.

Related Posts with Thumbnails