Hurricane Season

Hurricane Harvey jacked up Texas. Irma pummeled Florida. Jose might smash New York. Yellowstone has earthquake swarms rolling around getting people all worried about a super volcano. Montana is burning to the ground. The sun just launched some solar flares and a G3 magnetic storm. A ship just passed through the Arctic without the help of an ice breaking vessel. HBO still hasn’t offered to bring back Dexter. I got served pulling into my driveway. My kid crop dusted me in Walmart. Plus kids in school are expensive, how do private school families make it work? Selling organs?

Let’s start with Walmart. We had a normal bi-annual lapse in judgement and took all four kids shopping. They reminded us why anxiety medications exist. The highlight was when Prima farted in the snack aisle and I thought she crapped her pants. The smell crept up and slapped me in the face. I was tired and annoyed by that point in our trip and I exclaimed out loud, with very little forethought, “Jesus, who just shit their pants?” I caught side-eye from a passing family and an arm punch from my wife. They were judging me but they didn’t have to bear the smell. I was there. It was straight toxic fumes off a hot turd nugget. Poo particles lingered in my nose. Offensive. I can’t believe the kids were still picking snacks off the shelf and talking about which ones tasted better. I was trying to maintain my balance and avoid vomiting. Those kids should work in the medical field or the sanitation industry.

Whats next? Oh yeah.

I realized that we need to move. I’m driving home the other day and there are several kids playing basketball in the street in front of my house. Not unusually because we live on a cove. As my car approached this one kid turns to face me and starts making weird symbols with his hands. I had the benefit of a high class public education so I know some gang signs when I see them. I believe the term when I was in school was “stacking”. I also remember that kids who learned about throwing gang signs would play around with it and try to act cool in front of their friends. I am certain that this kid was doing the same thing – just trying to be cool for his friends. The sad part is that he was maybe ten years old. After I pulled into my driveway I asked him if he was making gang signs with his hands. He told me he just felt like holding them that way. His friends giggled and didn’t make eye contact. Maybe I was wrong and he really did have awkward hand positions. I hate assuming the worst but being a parent makes me a cautious cynic.

A couple of days after my encounter with unconventional sign language we decided to go out and ride bikes as a family. Prima, who has no sense of how she is perceived, was racing in circles on her pink bike while wearing a bright unicorn helmet. Two of the neighborhood boys were playing basketball and she kept riding through the middle of their game. Each pass she would try to strike up a conversation. Only it didn’t sound like that was her goal. She never meets a stranger and says exactly what she is thinking. She doesn’t adjust her tone for anyone and often sounds like an asshole. One of the boys had removed his sandals and left them laying in the road.

She told the boys, “Whose shoes are in the road? You better move them before they get run over.” She stared directly at them with wide eyes and an emotionless face. She might as well have been Pennywise the Clown asking if they wanted to play a game. It sounded like, “Move your shoes asshole before I move them for you.” Playful in that aggressive kind of style. I would say that she will catch a punch one day but she is so much taller than kids her age that I bet she gets away with it for a while. Until middle school anyway.

Speaking of school, I don’t know if she will make it to middle school in the public system. We may have to home school. The totally free public school is expensive. I have tried to make a mental note of all the things we buy or assist with or fund-raise for. I understand the causes on an individual level but collectively, with four children, it all gets to be a lot. Below are the extra-curricular things and my notes on them:


T-Shirts – Raising money for the playground. Always the playground.

Jackets – I like the jackets. No negativity with this one. They have monogrammed names on the back.

Smart Cards -I always pay and never remember to use the damn thing. Mine is an idiot card.

Uniform Charity Extortion – This one is interesting. If the students donate to a specific charity then they are allowed to deviate from system-wide uniform standards on Fridays. Lesson => Money creates different rules. I’m not sure how I feel because it is a real-life lesson that holds true. I bribe them with money all the time. And soda. I’m the worst.

Charity Snacks – Carrying snacks to a nearby school that is also public but somehow has a high ratio of lower income bracket students?

Book Club – Fully support this one. They need a book writing club. Story club.

Book Fair – On the fence about this one. It is a sale of books inside of the library. They are selling books in a huge room dedicated to free books. Anyone? No one? Carry on.

Shoe Box Dioramas – We always get reminded of these projects the night before and spend fifty dollars at Walmart for them to make something that looks like we spent fifty cents. I refuse to do projects because I have enough projects of my own.

Ice Cream Money – Why not? We can’t send cupcakes or sugary snacks for birthday celebrations. Damn healthy rules. Thanks Mrs. Obama.

Math-A-Thons – Money for solving math problems. Again, this mirrors life so probably is fine.

Dance-A-Thons – Money for physical exertion. I need someone to pay me to move around more.

Yearbooks – They don’t even make them hardbacked anymore. The last set that came home looked like the recipe books that church ladies put together to sell at the bazaar. And do kids even sign each other’s yearbooks anymore? I remember all the fun things that I used to write. Stay cool.   I signed your crack.    I’ve waited all year to disclose my undying love and here we are at the edge of summer so maybe we will be in the same class next year and I can continue to choke down these feelings.)

Butterbraids — Fund raiser where parents have to figure out the logistics of delivering frozen treats.

Picture Day – Two to three times in a year; Uniforms, Casual Clothes, Class Photos. I enjoy seeing how the children will find new ways to ruin the world’s easiest photo shoot.

Bake Sales – I love cake. These are easy because you can buy some cookies at Walmart, throw them on a paper plate, and wrap them with Saran Wrap. Boom. Good to go.

Spirit Night – I felt misled. This was not about whiskey as I had hoped.

Baseball Nights – Joining the great American pastime. If only my kids cared about Baseball. They have dollar beer sometimes which could be problematic.

Ads for the Yearbook – Show how much you love your child by buying a second picture with a personalized message. If the printing is sponsored by ad sales, can we at least have hardback editions? This plastic spiral bound this is bothering me.

Christmas Toy Boxes – One year we shipped these toy boxes over seas. I had real distress over what would be appropriate to put in the box. I didn’t want to make assumptions. Do they need batteries and flashlights or hand sanitizer? Or candy? Or C vitamins to prevent blindness like that Sally Struthers commercial? It is a lot or pressure trying to be the light of the free world. Do you put too much stuff and then another kid with a shitty box feels cheated by the inconsistencies of America?

We have parent-teacher conference tomorrow and those are always fun. They give us unrealistic suggestions like setting aside quiet study areas and practicing spelling words. That is some only-child advice. Reality at our house is different. There are six of us trying to watch Henry Danger in the living room over a plate of spaghetti in our laps while we keep the dog away from our garlic bread. Quiet isn’t going to happen. We do practice spelling words though -when they actually bring the list home. Children are terrible students sometimes.

I don’t know if any of this was coherent or worth reading but I feel better. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Beam Me Up Already

For those of you who read these to make yourself fee better about parenting by enjoying my fails, I present my official Parenting Win of the Week. My P-WOW!

I get a call from Supermom informing me that Don Threeto had a breakdown at school. She had a panic attack of sorts. It was bad enough that her oldest sister, Jane, had to be called out of class to come and calm her down.

My kindergartener freaked out and the principal of the entire school had to summon a fourth grader sister to talk her down.

Part of me is extremely proud to have such a sisterly bond between my children. It does my heart good to know they watch out for one another. However, the reason for the breakdown concerns me.

When I first heard, I thought to myself “I wonder if she got scared of some ants?” That would be reasonable since she is allergic. I also considered that maybe bees had snuck in through a crack in the window. I am afraid of bees, maybe I passed that on. What on earth could elicit such a reaction?

I did a top five list in my head:

  • Rabid wild animal was lurking outside. Peeking
  • Someone brought one of those blue star tattoos that were being passed around schools a few decades ago and was laced with a hallucinogenic substance and she was being chased by talking floor tiles.
  • Another student had threatened her and she was scared. (This one was not plausible since she doesn’t fear other people.)
  • She realized that all the lunches are now free and therefore there was no money to steal from the weaker kids.
  • She learned to read and figured out that Russia and the United States were on the brink of thermonuclear war through a combination of angry Facebook posts and Wikileaks.

Most of those would have been better than the truth. #2 and #4 are questionable alternatives. Anyway, here you go…

Supermom had done some detective work and figured out the root of the trouble. Turns out… a sudden high-pitched metallic noise from somewhere in the ceiling convinced my five year old child that aliens were coming to abduct her. She was convinced that she would be swept away into the space ship and never see her family again.


She told the teacher and principal that exact story.

We are now “those” parents. Awesome. We were probably already those parents so whatevs.

If you have children who share insane conspiracies and their teachers judge you from afar, this post is for you. You’re welcome. There is nothing you can do. Smile and wave boys, smile and wave.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Skipping School

Did you ever skip school? Play hookey? Have a day when the whole world went on as normal but you were given a free day off?

I did. Not often but some.

I remember the excitement most of all. I remember the surreal feeling of pure freedom and possibility. ANYTHING was possible. There was also an element of danger. A fear that some adult may stop you and question why you aren’t at school.

“Aren’t you a little young for morning coffee at Waffle House?”
“Nope. This is totally normal.”

I found myself suddenly paranoid. Every other driver on the road became a spy that would turn me in for truancy. How could I make myself look older? Sit up straight and furrow my brow maybe? Within thirty minutes I was convinced that all law enforcement was on the lookout for me. I had to get off the street and move in the shadows. I never skipped without an accomplice so we usually went to a home base to plan our next move.

Planning was just as predictable. What are our objectives? To have fun and make this day epic. What do we need to make that happen? Some sort of outlawed enjoyment; food, booze, women, motorized vehicles, etc. So many options and so little time.

The reality is that school days just aren’t that long and everyone you want to see outside of school is either at work or in school. By the end of the day the opportunity has passed and the hopefulness turns into regret for the time that was wasted. Some many people had epic stories of awesome things they did while skipping school. I had a few fun memories made but it was more from how hilariously normal the day turned out to be instead of the quest that I had planned.

I wonder if we ever grow out of that cycle. Getting tired of a routine and trying to break free.

The kids went to stay with Grandparents for the week and Supermom and I had grand plans. The house would finally be conquered. Parties would go down. Movies would be watched. Road trip adventures. I might choose to not wear pants with reckless abandon. Why not?

We were free and itching for a chance to have an epic time.

Day One: Went to Wal-Mart and realized we are the most boring people on the entire planet. I almost bought juice before I realized that the kids were gone and I didn’t need juice. Supermom and I laughed about that for an embarrassing amount of time.
Day Two: Went to a movie and allowed popcorn to double as dinner. Jurassic World was awesome, exactly what I wanted. Blood and dinosaurs with minimal story or character development.
Day Three: Did an escape room challenge and almost solved it this time. Literally had the key in our hands when the timer went off. Probably shouldn’t have whiskey before a puzzle challenge.
Day Four: Slept late. Ate Lunch. Napped again. Went to Old Navy to exchange a pair of shorts. Watched a terrible movie on Vudu rental. Ate Lipton Sides package of rice, chicken flavor.

Going to get the kids tomorrow and we miss them all so much. What is it about children that wears you out and makes you want to play hookey to parenting knowing that life is zero percent more awesome without them around. We accomplished nothing so I guess they are off the hook as scapegoats. Onward to reality.

If you are a procrastinating daydreamer, this post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.