I Have A Dream – Stepdad Adventures

spongebobI had a dream last night. A happy, wonderful dream. I dreamed that the boys listened to every word I said like I was Moses preaching from Mt Sinai. Or Spongebob talking about poop.

“Joe, Tell us, again, how WW2 started and don’t leave out any details.”

“Well boys, it all began…”

Four hours later. “Wow, that was the most interesting thing I’ve ever heard, Joe. Tell us more. Tell us everything you know about history, girls and Game of Thrones.”

Sadly real life is not at all like that. It is, perhaps, the greatest tragedy in a parent-child relationship. You know sh*t about some sh*t but they don’t want to hear anything you have to say.

Sigh.

Me: “If you hold the weed whacker like this, then …”

crop circlesI know, I know.” Then they proceed to ignore everything you just said and weedwhack a small crop circle into the lawn.

Or Me:“Don’t eat all that candy or you’ll throw up.”

2 hours later, they’re throwing up.

Me: “Ok, so the best way to type is…”

“I know how to type and besides, I’m not going to need to do that ever in my life.”

Or Me:“Get your raincoat, it’s gonna rain. You dunna wanna catcha cold.” (Sometime I believe they’ll listen if I use a Scottish accent.)

After school, he runs to the car in the rain and I say, “You’re soaking. Where’s your coat? And why do you only have one shoe?” The next day, he has a cold.

I get that sometimes they need to fail to understand or learn. I get that they don’t like to listen to their parents because, you know, they’re parents. I even get that sometimes we don’t know what we’re talking about.

Me: “So, ok, it wasn’t such a great idea to try using crazy glue on your puzzle so let’s go to the hospital and see if they can unstick your finger from your forehead.”

The weird thing, though, is that they do listen to some people. Teachers, oddly enough rank pretty high on that list. Coaches, sometimes. But anyone on the internet, anyone with a Youtube channel, well now, there’s where the real knowledge is.

world war 2Don’t worry, Joe, I found out how World War 2 started. It was the Illuminati.”

Or worse, “Hey, where’s the skateboard? I just saw this awesome video on how you can skate off your roof and into a pool.”

Oh, if they’d only listen to us, I lament.

We have knowledge. Wisdom. Experience. And if they’d only listen, wouldn’t their lives be better, safer, far more efficient?

Am I wrong?

Oh, if they would only listen.

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Stepdad Adventures – Destroy it and they will come

Yes, it's brown.

Yes, it’s brown.

Getting the boys away from their video games and You Tube movies is like yanking a fly off of flypaper after it’s been embedded in amber. So it was, very much to my surprise, that something odd happened on the weekend.

I had to take apart a BBQ. A nasty, greasy, smelly job. Not as bad as cleaning out a medieval poop shoot, but pretty close. Most of the bolts were rusted. The trap was filled with years of melted fat. And a lot of the metal was more flakes than solid steel.

I have to confess, I wasn’t looking forward to it. But since we’d bought a new BBQ, I needed the room and needed to get rid of the old one.

So I began. I brought out my tools, found a full can of WD-40, and put on my painting clothes.

The boys looked away from their games for a moment.

I started off by spraying all the bolts. WD-40 is a miracle compound. It can loosen any bolt, cut through most grease and, I think, cure the common cold if I snorted it up my nose (I may have to try it).

bbqBy the time I’d finished lubing the BBQ up, the Youngest had left FIFA 2014 to come see what was happening. That’s a pretty big step. First of all, it meant he actually has to peel his butt off the chair. Then he managed to avoid being drawn back into the game by bright lights and cheering crowds.

He wanted to know what I was doing. Then, after I told him, he asked if he could help.

I gave him the drill with a Philips bit. He took to taking out those bolts like a man on a religious mission or a hobbit on a quest.

Soon his brother came out to see what was happening. I put him in charge of the greatest tool ever invented. The vice grips. While his brother worked the drill, he held the bolt in place.

bbq2I won’t lie. It took far longer to get it done with their help, but it made the job a lot of fun. We took it apart piece by piece.

When something was stuck, the Youngest would run to get the WD-40 and apply it like he was painting a masterpiece. While he’d do that, the Oldest worked out exactly what bolts had to be taken down to get rid of specific parts.

All in all, a great collaboration.

It took about 2 hours, but after the greasy dust had settled, that horrible old BBQ lay in pieces. Covered in grime, the boys looked like triumphant miners returning from a cave-in.

I was proud of them. Heck, they were proud of what they’d done. They were proud they could help. And, I think, they even enjoyed their time away from their games.

What was even better was that I didn’t have to yell at them. I didn’t bribe them or threaten loss of electronic time. I just started destroying things and they came.

How cool is that?

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Adventures in Step-daddying – Cutting It Short

lawnmowingThere are rites of passage we all must go through. First walk to school alone. First dance. First job. But somewhere in-between them all is first garden chore.

Back in my day, I had a briggs and stratton gas mower, old-fashioned manual clippers and a rake. I didn’t get paid for it, it was part of my allowance.

Now in our house, the boys don’t get an allowance. They do, however, get paid for the chores they do. The Oldest, wanting a treadmill, needed a way to earn more money.

Oh, I nearly jumped out of my chair when I heard those words. “I want to earn more money.” The boys have learned as soon as they say they’re bored, they don’t have anything to do or they need money, I leap into action and find something for them to do. So, yeah, they usually don’t say those things.

This time, however, he couldn’t help himself. The Oldest needed more money. Simple as that. So I turned to an old favourite. Mowing.

We went and checked out all the mowers. Weighed the pros and cons. Pushed them around in the stores. Talked to the sales people.

Then he made his choice.

Gas was too loud. He’d heard the neighbours run their machines and hated that he’d wake people up or bother them. Electric had a cord he didn’t want to lug around, but it was lighter and much, much more quiet. That left the cordless electric. A little less power, not too expensive and only good on mostly dry lawns. That meant he’d have to mow a little more often.

mowerHe accepted the challenge and we bought one. A cobolt blue Kobalt mower. Vrrooom!

When it came time to assemble it, I asked him, do you want to do it the Joe way where you basically yank it out of the box and toss all the stuff on the ground and assemble it by sheer intellectual willpower? Or do you want to read the instructions.

He read the instructions.

It was put together without a single piece left over.

I was proud.

bowserThen he took it for a spin. I know he was nervous. I know he wasn’t sure what to do. I know he would have rather been inside smacking Mario’s arch enemy, Bowser, but today, today he mowed!

It took a few runs to get used to how the blades cut, how the wheels could be used to help line up the next cut, and how to set the height of the mower. But after a few minutes, he was a pro. He marched up and down our front lawn, scything the grass to the correct height.

He didn’t want to say anything, but I think he was proud of himself.

He’d completed another right of passage. One of many this year.

And so many more to go.

I know with each one, he’ll become more and more confident in his ability to handle the world, but you know what, that’s a little sad, too. The more time we spend making sure he’s going to be ok, the more we’re giving him his own space. One day, he won’t need his parent, he’ll be his own man.

I can already see the signs.

In some ways, I wish he’d never grow up. In other ways, I can’t wait for the next rite of passage.

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Derpy Sus – Part 2 – Aka wtf?

facepalmIn on-going effort to keep current, to be able to understand what The Oldest is saying (or by saying it myself, totally take away the cool factor), I looked into this whole You Tube video phenomenon.

It’s not like You Tube is new or anything. It’s not like I didn’t know about You Tube. But it’s so expansive, so pervasive, that I had to look deeper.

First of all, anyone can pretty much post any video they want, right? That means you can watch other people play video games. Or you can see your favourite animal do your favourite animal things. Or you can see all kinds of parodies, even parodies of parodies.

Or watch someone’s altered, weird video of something normal.

And that’s where the kids are these days. Watching vids of loud people shouting at the screen while playing video games, looking at cats steal dogs’ bed,  or watching an altered version of a commercial, a speech, well, hell, pretty much anything.

Honestly, there’s so much on there that it’s impossible to list it all. But it’s from those videos that The Oldest began to take a turn to the dark side. He’d watch a funny video where they’d say intellllllllllll’ligent, like a computer had glitched the sound, so now when he’s in the mood, he’ll stretch out all his sounds like he’s having a stroke.

Strooooooke.

sarah connorIf I ever sound like that, it means call 911. Or I’ve been turned into a robot, in which case, call Sarah Connor.

But it’s something I just don’t get why it’s so funny. I hope my sense of humor has not withered like an old man baking in the sun, but when I watch one of those videos and The Oldest is laughing so hard there’s tears in his eyes, I can only stare at it and shake my head. I just don’t get it.

But from those videos, he’ll also pick up words like sus, which could be a video technique used to make the sssss all stretched out, or something cool that someone does, or something suspicious, or it can be a verb sometimes, or an adjective sometimes, or sometimes, a description. Honestly, I don’t quite get it, but I can get the context.

Sometimes.

I tried to get him to explain it to me. “What sus?”

“Sus!” he said, as if that explained everything.

“No, really what is it?”

“It’s sus, ok, sus,” he rolls his eyed and sighed as heavily as if he was talking to a 2 year old. “Sus!!!!” Then he did a very slow face-palm and walked away.

Not that enlightening, eh?

ellenAnd that was about as much as he was willing to explain. However, I suspect if I chained him to a chair and threatened to make him watch 100 episodes of Ellen while bees crawled over his body, he’d still give me the same answer.

Why? Because I don’t think anyone really knows what it means. It’s just a word to be used when you want to use it. Or have a good giggle.

So, ok, fine. It’s the same for joj. That’s sus speak for someone’s name beginning with J. Or not. Or, oh who knows…

It’s all very confusing and very, very complex. Hell, try looking us sus herehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGMEWaTKP1M

rickrollerBut at least sus is a word. Like derpy, I kind of like it. We’ve stolen that one, too. And ‘Rickrolling” which is a bait and switch term, you know, like when you look at a site that says, ‘Sandra Bullock nude, again,” and you totally, completely accidentally click on it and it takes you to a site that rants about global warming or tries to sell you a monkey-semen-smoothie as an aphrodisiac.

I know keeping current is going to be a challenge. A huge one. But as a parent, you really have to make the effort. There’s some crap online. There’s some bad, bad stuff. And there’s a new language evolving. Best to be aware of it.

For a look at the internet and your child, check out these sites.

Parents Ultimate Guild to Youtube

Doc Brown – You think our netslang is bad? Check out English slang

 

 

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Derpy Sus – Part 1

wtf is palimpsest?

wtf is palimpsest?

Ok, I confess.

It took me a while to figure what that meant. I can usually get an idea of what something means by the context, like when really smart people use big words because they have a tendency towards sesquipedalian loquaciousness.

But this generation beats us all. Well, maybe not all. I mean poor Shakespeare started out by writing,

shakespeare“Nay, and I tell you that, Ill ne’er look you in the face again: but those that understood him smiled at one another and shook their heads; but, for mine own part, it was Greek to me.

And it became – “I dunno what he said.”

I think somewhere Shakespeare cry-eth.

So when The Oldest first starting saying things like jsssh, sus, or derpy, I thought he’d fallen on his head really hard-like. That he would break out into uncontrollable giggles after saying ‘Billy Mays’, well, that just confirmed it. He must have a concussion. Or a brain tumor.

However, his marks remained great, he could still pack the dishwasher with machine-like precision and he could still quote every funny phrase spoken in Adventure Time, so something else was going on.

That something turned out to the, (big F..ing surprise), the internet.

Ayyyyy

Ayyyyy

In my times, it would have been TV. I think I went through a Fonz phase. Aaaay!!!

I even remember using such words as grody, rad and awesome (ok, I still totally use that last word a lot,) so maybe I shouldn’t be that surprised that a whole new vocabulary has been vomited from our media.

I mean, hey, I now use OMG, LOL and WFT all the time. It’s part of my lexicon.

So I kinda thought I was still hip (though even by using the word ‘hip’, it kinda shows how exactly un-hip I am.) I thought I could keep up on the new slang, the new abbreviations, and the new phrases. I thought if I watched Hunger Games, played Minecraft and listened to Nicki Minaj, I would be ok.

Turns out, I needed to be watching more You Tube. Like other people playing video games. Or squirrels hiding nuts in a dog’s fur. Or babies doing cute baby things.

Yes, it's brown.

Yes, it’s brown.

But that’s only the surface. If you really want to know what’s going on, you need to watch You Tube Poop.  (More on that in the next blog),. It’s where he gets most of the new words come from. (Like meme). It’s where old words are perverted or subverted. (Like Sus or Joj.) It’s where technology is transforming our language. (Like dragging out the sounds in a word – Intellllllllllligent.)

Honestly I don’t get most of it, but derpy, ah, there’s a word I get. In fact, I’m starting to use it. It’s a wonderful word. Awkward, weird, foolish, silly, funny. It’s all of those in one word. I love it. Plus, it sounds like it means. Derpy.

So maybe that’s my defense. I’ll use sus and derpy and drag out the sounds of certain words until it’s no longer something the kids own, we adults have own it, too. And what better way to kill the cool factor of anything than by having your mom or dad say it.

I think I would have thrown up if my dad had said, have a gnarly day at school, dude.

But maybe that’s my best defense against this onslaught of newness.  It’s how the Chinese beat the Mongols. They just absorbed them and made them less cool.

 

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Step-dad Adventures – 10 Things to Bring to Camp

camping

Ah, camping.

Ok, I know I’m going back a bit here, kinda like time traveling, which would be so awesome if I could actually do it, but I needed to finish off something I’ve been thinking about at 3am in the morning.

So, more posts coming about hockey, mowing and understanding Derp-speak, but in the meantime… the last post about camping.

10 Things A Camping Chaperon Needs – That They Won’t Tell You Need.

  • A flashlight. I should have thought of this myself. It does get very dark in the woods, apparently, what with no streetlights and all. So bring a good one. (I hear there’s one that’s 63,500 Lumens. My iphone was 10.) Plus a good is great for temporarily blinding the kids who sneak up on your cabin at 1am. Me, I’d bring a headlamp, not so much cuz I look so cool wearing one, but they free up your hands for when you trip over a root and nearly fall on your face.
  • kleenex

    Go Costco size on this one.

    Kleenex. Everyone, including me, seemed to have a cold or a runny nose. You don’t want your pockets full of wadded toilet paper and you certainly don’t want to see what happens when a 12 year old blows hard on such flimsy paper. I would recommend the pocket packs or be prepared to watch them all wipe snot on their sleeves.

  • If you’re allowed electronics, (or just sneak them in), then ear buds will save your life. Even if you don’t have any electronics to plug them into, just put them in your ears when you’re in the mess cabin and the kids make more noise than a 747.
  • A swiss army knife. You just never know when you’re going to need to cut something, corkscrew something (or someone), or tighten a screw that’s come loose. Personally, I would recommend one with tweezers, a bottle opener and scissors. If they have one with a gun attached, bring that one.
  • A camera. We were told, specifically, not to bring one and I regretted it from day one. If you’re with your own child, take pictures of them, of their adventures and accomplishments. Don’t take pictures of other kids and post them on FB without or insta-chat-snap-gram or whatever, but you’ll hate not capturing that moment when you child finally sets fire to something or staggers in from a 4 hour hike up a mountain
  • A pen. Someone needs to record what’s going on. Like writing about the holocaust while it happens. Sometimes it’s not even you. We had 2 journalers in our little cabin. Plus, in a pinch, it can be used to stab a bear. Oh and bring paper or a book or a diary to write on otherwise you’re just writing on your arm or scraps of toilet paper.
  • Honestly, I don't even know how to read this one.

    Honestly, I don’t even know how to read this one.

    A watch. I know what you’re thinking. Duh. Right? But I am completely dependent on my iphone. It has an alarm, time, and reminds me about things I needed to be reminded about. It’s like having a mom with you all time. So, without one, you’ll need a watch. With a compass. And an alarm

  • First Aid Kit. Oh sure, there’ll be someone there who knows first aid, but try finding them and where they hid the damn kit when everyone’s off having adventures, and you have someone who jabbed a stake through their hand (or, more accurately, a tiny splinter into their finger.)
  • I don't really want to think about what's on the bathroom floors

    I don’t really want to think about what’s on the bathroom floors

    Flip-flops. Ok, because no one wants to walk into some of those communal showers with bare feet. I’m not sure what slime was on the tiles, but it was green and moving, so, yeah, best keep your feet free from any of that (and, hey, flip-flops take up so little space.)

  • Patience. No one will tell you to bring this, but bring a ton. And I’m not talking about a hip flask of ‘patience’, no, save that for when you get home. But maybe bring prayer beads or have an elastic on your wrist you snap whenever you want to shout at someone.

I was thinking you might also want to bring an axe, tarp and rope, but we’re not committing murders, so maybe leave those at home.

However, if you want some AMAZINLGY cool things to bring on a camping trip, check out this site.

Buzzfeed.

Is there anything you’d make sure you brought on a school camping trip?

******

As always, please follow if you want to know more about surviving camping with 12 year olds. Or share on FB. (I’m needy and need to be read by millions.)

Thanks!!!

 

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Step-dad Adventures – The Easter Pig

piggieMost houses have an Easter Bunny. For some reason, we have an Easter Pig. The Easter Bunny is fluffy and cute and puts of lots of chocolates (or Easter eggs) for good little boys and girls.

Our Easter Pig is taller, cute in a kind of a hairy-pig type of way, and makes everyone work for the treats. Our Easter Pig, however, is NOT what Google described at an overweight woman who wears too much makeup. That’s just mean. Our Easter Pig is adorable and lovable and largely make-up-less.

The EP’s rules are simple – If you find all the candies, you get the HUGE Kinder Egg about the size of an elephant’s head. If you came up one short, the Pig gets the big ass Kinder Egg. Or I do. (I was a little hazy on the final details of who got that Kinder Egg.)

Anyway, in our house, the Easter Pig hides the chocolates all over the place. It doesn’t hide chocolates under things, inside of things or buried in things. So no hunting through the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world’s underwear drawer. No digging through my book shelves and mis-aligning books. No crawling under the couch and becoming covered in dust and dog toys. No unrooting half-dead plants in the planters. No breaking into the pantry and filling your pockets with cookies.

All of the treats are put in plain sight. But that’s the genius of the Easter Pig. You’d think they’d all be easy to find, but no, the Easter Pig is cunning.

kissesSo this Easter weekend, the boys woke up to what the Easter Pig had done. They’re used to the Pig, but in a much smaller house. This year, the Easter Pig went crazy, hiding 130 Hershey’s kisses in all sorts of places. On chandeliers. On top of pictures. On doorknobs (the foil the same color as the metal).

Ok, eerr, the Easter Pig actually hid 140 kisses, but someone, who may nor may not have been me, I’m not admitting to anything, ate 10 of them before the boys got up. Whoever ate them, in fairness, found them and thought that they were for him, I mean, him or her, so, yeah, it was a total mistake but completely understandable, right???

Apart from those 10 kissed mysteriously disappearing, I loved the Hunt. It was my first Easter Pig morning.

The boys ran around gathering the low hanging fruit –  the kisses put on pillows, counters and tables. Then, when they were told they were only half done, they raced around, each boy trying to gather more than his brother.

the flashThe Youngest came up with a strategy that involved him simply moving faster than his brother. His brother would see one, and move towards it, but The Youngest moved with Flash-like speed, a blur of blue PJs and blond hair and grab it first. Then make an evil laugh.

I think he’ll make a fine super-villain one day.

The Oldest then countered by going after only the ones up high. No matter how much The Youngest jumped, he couldn’t reach them. So he went low, looking in the planters, on the small cabinets and on window sills. He would not be stopped!

After a short time, they had nearly a 120, but those last 10 were a bugger. One was found dangling from the family easy-erase board. One was found on the handle holding the toilet paper. One was found hidden in a lego display.

That left 7.

kitchen sinkThe Prettiest-girl-in-the-world, being an ally of the Easter Pig, spotted one and gave a hint. “Sounds like ‘Smiling Habinet’.” Then, she saw another and said, “it sounds like ‘litchen Hink’.”

The boys soon found the last ones, and, as promised, they got to open the gigantic planet-sized Kinder Egg.

I have to say, it was so much fun watching the boys hunt around, unlocking Easter Pig secrets (like the Pig loved to hide things on lamps in such a way that made the kisses look like part of the lamp.) I loved that they were good-natured about the competition (I think The Oldest got the most candies, but The Youngest definitely worked the hardest.)

And I loved being a part of it.

As a non-dad for so long, it’s still surprising to me how much I enjoy the little things. That walk in the park with the boys. Christmas morning. Band (or choir) recitals. Even teaching The Oldest to mow the lawn or The Youngest how to vacuum.

Plus, at the end of all the searching, we got to eat the chocolate as well, though The Youngest wanted to know what we’d do for him if he gave us a chocolate.

Next year, though, I think we might name it the Easter Kiss Hunt.

*****

What things do you do for Easter. I had a friend who made a huge adventure for her kids (and I’ll try to get her to write about it.)

As always, please share this on Facebook if you like it, or hit the follow button (which does not, contrary to popular myth, kill a unicorn somewhere.)

 

 

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