Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Kids Are Alright....

After reading hilarious Irish reporter Eoin Butler's hysterical (& hopefully at least 1/2 fictional) write-up on raising 2 small children at "Tripping Along the Ledge" (, it occurs 2 me that I am WAY overdue 2 write something Mbarrassing about my kids.
(But 1st: How can a guy who reportedly just barely has a girlfriend -- & who apparently has trouble dressing & feeding himself -- possibly have 2 small children? ((On the other hand, look at me....)) Could he B making it all up? 4 his theoretical kids' sake, I almost hope so....)
NEway, children. I have 2 of them -- son Andy, 21; daughter Alicia, 18. My son created my old website 4 me & troubleshot it & worked-out the glitches 4 awhile -- he instructed me 2 write my ass off & get rich & famous. Am still working on that. (At least the getting-rich part. The writing-my-ass-off part is pretty-much handled.)
He's currently driving semi-trucks back&forth across the country (something I always thot it would B cool 2 do, I've always loved road-trips), from Cleveland 2 Compton & back, & recently got stuck in a snowstorm in his hometown, Cheyenne, Wyo.
My daughter is currently in her 1st yr at college, apparently keeping very busy & loving it, & I trust she still reads omnivorously -- possibly including this blog from time 2 time. (Hi, Leesh!)
My X & I had both kids while I was in the Air Force, & as a result they cost me a total of about $30 4 the 2 of them -- a pretty good deal. (Thanx, AF!) But the AF made up 4 it by sending me 2 some fairly Ghodawful places -- & not just Cheyenne, where Andy was born. Alicia was born at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, & as a result she has dual citizenship -- which means if she ever goes back 2 Turkey (Ghod knows why she would) she'll B immediately dragged in2 the Turkish Army. Probly a fate worse than death....
Butler writes about how the smallest things little kids do can scare U 2 death. There's 2 much truth 2 this. Right after Andy finally learned how 2 walk, we hadta start packing up 4 our move 2 Turkey. The day the movers came, when they took a break 4 lunch they left wide-open the front door of the mobile-home we were living in. B4 we could grab him, Andy RAN 4 that open door & took a dive off the front porch & landed face-1st on the concrete slab at the foot of the stairs, about a 3-foot drop.
I SCREAMED. Luckily, so did Andy. Cyndi my X told me 2 pull myself 2gether: "It's OK," she said. "He's CRYING. If he wasn't crying, THEN U could start freaking out."
She was right. Andy was OK. He had a coupla black eyes 4 awhile & a good-sized gash on his 4head, but he was OK. In fact, he was up & moving around again the next day. & a coupla days later while playing w/ the neighbor kids next door, he fell head-1st in2 a hole.... (These repeated blows 2 the head perhaps Xplain some of his Bhavior in later yrs....)
He spent mosta the next 2 yrs inside R apartment in Turkey cos there really wasn't NEwhere 2 play immediately outside R building. Instead, he spent his time getting potty-trained & learning how 2 talk.
(I don't know how 2 Xplain this w/o it sounding weird, so whatthehell: My X was a pretty good photographer ((even tho I was the guy GETTING PAID 2 take pictures)), & took some -- I PROMISE I'm not making this up -- AWARD-WINNING b&w photos of Andy On The Pot when he was around 2 yrs old. The strategic shadows & grainy photography perfectly evoke the griminess of Turkish life. & then there's Andy's Xpression, which probly won the award: Him staring straight in2 the camera & clearly saying: "Stop pointing that thing at me...." This Xperience probly scarred him 4 life. & I'm probly doing it again by writing about it here, cos I know he reads this stuff. ...He went thru a phase later on when he had 2 investigate the bathrooms everywhere we went: "Dad, do they have a potty here...?" Hi, Andy!)
It took Andy awhile 2 start talking. Intrestingly, in Turkey the lite switches R placed at a diffrent height on the wall than they R in America, & when I picked Andy up he was at Xactly the right height 2 turn the lite switches on&off. Which he liked 2 do 4 HRS. I guess he liked the sounds I made when he turned the lights off: "Off!" "On" didn't intrest him so much, but he loved "Off!" I think it was the 1st real word he ever said after "Dad" & "Mom."
Another scarring Xperience 4 him right after we arrived in Turkey was when a brass Turkish lamp we bought short-circuited & caught fire in the apartment -- there was no damage, but it scared the heck outta me, & Andy was just stunned. 4 awhile, everytime he saw a table lamp he'd point at it & his eyes'd get huge & he'd say "Bzzzzztttt!"
Later Xperiences were not quite so scarring -- emotionally. After we moved back 2 the U.S., Andy fell off his tricycle & hit his head (again) & it took 3 stitches 2 sew him up -- but B4 that the blood POURED out of his 4head. It looked WAY worse than it really was -- even really minor head wounds bleed A LOT.
Slightly later, Andy started spiking 104-degree fevers 4 no known reason, completely outta the blue. During 1 trip 2 the Emergency Room 4 1 of these flash-fevers, the docs Dcided the only way 2 bring his temperature down was 2 immerse him in a tub full of crushed ice.... His screams were INCREDIBLE; they woulda tore yr heart out. Thankfully, I've 4gotten most of that....
These R about all the major crises I remember, tho there were some other, way-minor crises: 4 some reason Andy later developed an aversion 2 chicken.... Right after we moved back 2 Wyoming, 1 nite when my X was cooking spaghetti 4 dinner, Andy came in2 the kitchen & was attracted by the cooking smells, peeked at the boiling noodles & the bubbling spaghetti sauce, squinched-up his nose & said: "Is there chicken in this?"
1 time when some1 came 2 visit, he got very friendly, got very close 2 her on the couch & said: "I like you. You're nice. ... Do you eat chicken at your house?"
...Later he developed an aversion 2 spaghetti sauce -- it made him throw up. Violently. But it turned out 2 B the BRAND of spaghetti sauce that turned his stomach. Long as we didn't use that brand, it was all good....
There have bn a few other crises along the way: Andy ran away/disappeared 1nce 4 awhile, something about stealing trading-cards at school -- he hung-out at the library 4 a few hrs B4 coming home, a trick his father pulled yrs earlier. That didn't keep me from panicking about it.
Parents will tell U that 1nce U've panicked about EVERYTHING w/ the 1st child, 1nce the 2nd child comes along, U tend 2 blow a lotta stuff off. & there's a lotta truth 2 this. By the time we had Alicia, stuff that woulda made us freak-out w/ Andy we sorta took in stride. Leesh 1nce fell off the couch & whacked the back of her head on the coffee table & it took 3 stitches 2 sew up her head, but it was just a normal day at home.
I 1nce saw my X drag Alicia in2 the shower after Leesh got furious about something & wouldn't stop screaming -- & the X ran cold water on her until she calmed down. Which didn't take long.
Since then, there's bn a running joke about how cool my daughter can act while she's seething underneath. She & her brother haven't always liked each other much. He has stomped on her toes & she has punched him in the eye -- & thankfully I wasn't around 4 NE of that. In my darker moments I think no guy better ever cross my daughter -- cos she will slit his throat. & she'll have a pulse of about 6 while she's doing it....
Dspite the crises outlined here, I think I was a pretty good father -- when I was around. I useta walk the kids 2&from school every day, & when we moved 2 Washington & their school was right outside our back door I'd usher the kids out the door & then watch from the 2nd floor of the house as they walked across the school's parking lot & in the school's side door.
Call me paranoid or over-protective if U want. I don't care. I figure my watchfulness mayB made up 4 all the times I was gone on nites & wknds Bcos of my job. There's nothing I wouldn't give 2 have those many nites & wknds back. Take my advice: If yr job is taking away time w/ yr kids -- find a new job.
My divorce took my kids away from me 4 the best part of 10 yrs. I knew they were in good hands, but that doesn't help me feel better about all the things I missed, all the times I wasn't there 4.
I'm proud of my children. I know they're good people, smart, friendly, compassionate, & not as distanced & guarded as I've Bcome in my Old Age. All things considered, they've turned out way better than I Dserve....

1 comment:

Eoin said...

Hey Tad,

Love the piece.

You'll be relieved to learn that my post was entirely a work of fiction - a parody of a well-meaning, liberal, middle-class stay at home father who has a well-read column in an Irish newspaper.

Glad you like Television Personalities CD. Stick with it, its worth persevering with. Dan Treacy sounds like almost no one else I can think of.

Enjoy what remains of the Thanksgiving weekend!