To all of the readers who follow this blog, thank you! As some of you know, a Noisetopia article “Jailbreak” was published on parent.com and I couldn’t be more excited. Thanks to everybody for your support and encouragement. I look forward to bringing you many more awkward stories and completely fabricated wisdom.
Here’s the link to the article. Feel free to check it out and share it with your friends. Thanks again!
I damn near kicked the front door of our two-bedroom apartment in when we got home from the store. That son of a bitch was going down. I was sick of being second best. My roommate had been rubbing it in my face and I was done. That night was the night I would do it. That night I was going to break his record for largest water balloon launched from our apartment balcony.
My wife had gotten used to spending our nights like this. Hell, most of the time, she was the one that was reloading the water balloons into our launcher. Upon entering our apartment, I walked straight to the bathroom and ripped open the 50-pack of large, red birthday balloons. I had found, during my extensive research into the elasticity of different balloons in relation to their colors, that red seemed to tolerate not only the expansion from filling, but also the rapid acceleration experienced during launch. As I stretched the neck of the first balloon over the faucet, my beautiful bride sat down on the toilet next to me.
Our current situation was mostly my fault. I had taken an unreasonably long time to select the balloons at the store. Long enough that my wife developed the urge to go. During the ride back to our apartment she repeatedly expressed how badly she needed to pee which caused me to continuously tap the brakes and try to hit every bump I could. Because that’s what couples do.
So, I wasn’t surprised when she followed me into the bathroom and plopped down on the toilet next to me. Because I’m a gentleman, I averted my eyes and focused on the task at hand. This means I missed the part where she casually reached under the sink and retrieved a pregnancy test. She took said pregnancy test. Said pregnancy test….said she was pregnant. She got my attention when she said “uhhh….honey” as she held the pregnancy test in front of her face. I had just tied the neck of the biggest water balloon in the history of our apartment and was cradling it like a fat, squishy baby as I contorted my neck to read the small, blue lines on the pregnancy test, not yet comprehending what I was seeing.
That’s right, folks. I was holding a giant, red water balloon when I found out I was going to be a dad. I don’t think there’s a better example of just how unready someone could be for fatherhood.
Kid logic. Not for the faint of heart. Whereas adults will go from cause to effect, kids will often go from cause to shiny object to barbie playhouse to thirteen questions about dinosaurs to effect. I was recently interrogated by a very skeptical four-year-old. We spent a week at a lake house last summer and while there, each of the girls collected seashells from the lakeside to take home with them. My four-year-old, Aimee, collected a full quart-size ziploc bag of what she deemed to be the best and most beautiful of the lakeside shells. A couple weeks after we came home, the bag of seashells ended up as a prop in what I can only assume was a Shakespearean production the girls performed in our driveway. I guess the props department that was working that particular day decided to quit, because all of the seashells were left strewn about, intermingled with sidewalk chalk pieces and barbie dolls.
Fast forward approximately one month. Like most souvenirs we get for the girls during our family vacations, the seashells have been all but forgotten. They stayed in the driveway, casually blending in with the worn cement and slowly becoming just another unnoticed object the girls had to walk over to get to the car. These beautiful seashells, the ones the girls HAD to have, the ones we specifically brought quart-size ziploc bags to the beach for, were forgotten.
Until one day when we told the girls to go play outside. They were outside for about 5 minutes until Aimee swat-style kicked the back door open and ran to where I was sitting in the living room. She approached, accusatory look on her face, clutching one of the forgotten seashells in her raised and outstretched hand. As she held the seashell awkwardly close to my face she asked, “Daddy. Why didn’t you tell me we lived at the beach?”
Now, I can normally tell when my kids (especially Aimee) are being sarcastic. I’ll give you a hint– it’s A LOT. That’s what I presumed was happening here. For the faintest of moments I wanted to believe that my Dad joke abilities were rubbing off on Aimee and she would carry on my legacy of awkward puns and terrible punch lines. It makes sense, right? She brings in a seashell and a serious look, asks why I never told her we live at the beach, then her face changes and she begins to laugh, and then we all laugh, and then we watch a Disney movie and live happily ever after.
Problem is, the serious look never went away. Where there was supposed to be a punch line instead was suspicion and confusion (on the part of all parties). She continued to stare at me, holding the seashell near my face, one eyebrow slightly raised, patiently waiting for me to explain myself. I did the only thing I could. I lied to a four-year-old. Don’t judge me. You don’t know how intimidating a four-year-old can be. So I offered the the first explanation I could think of. I told her that her mother and I wanted it to be a surprise and we were waiting for her birthday.
That’s right folks. Ain’t no shame in my game. Here’s the best part– apparently my explanation was sufficient. She now held the seashell closer to her and examined it, all the while thinking about what I just said. After a moment’s hesitation she looked up, smiled, and said “I’m so excited! I’m going to tell all my friends we live at the beach!”
And I’m not going to stop her. Because sometimes you’ve just got to pretend you’re living beach side.
I’ve been sitting at this computer and trying to type up a new post for Noisetopia since 3 pm. In the three and a half hours that have elapsed, I’ve probably only been present in this seat for about 14 minutes. I begin to write, then have to press the pause button to go be a parent. My wife is doing what she can. She did just push a tiny human out of her lady parts a few days ago. So I can’t really fault her for not being able to administer swift justice or provide expert medical care for whatever event seems to be going on upstairs.
In the three and a half hours I’ve been sitting/not sitting here, I’ve come to the realization that what we have in this house is an inner city style gang neighborhood, albeit a much more condensed version. Bear with me on this one. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.
Just about everything I know about gangs comes from TV and/or my Facebook feed. So you can rest assured my gangland knowledge is both extensive and reliable. Everybody knows that if it’s on TV, it has to be true. I assume the same rule applies to Facebook.
Moving on. The first similarity I noticed was that, much like a Gangland neighborhood, the wife and I are pretty much immune to most screams and crashes. Our concern level has more than diminished over the course of raising four kids. Our first child had it pretty bad. If she let out a grunt or whimper from straining too hard trying to poop, the wife and I made an appointment just to make sure she didn’t have Necrotizing Butt-itis or something. If she fell down, we were the helicopter parents that would immediately scoop her up and kiss her boo boos and tell her she’s so awesome at falling. By our second child we had developed a better sense of what to expect. If she developed the ugly-face-farts we didn’t immediately suspect Ass Cancer-itis. When she fell down we still rushed over to help while only mildly giggling to ourselves. So far, our third and fourth child are getting the full benefit of our parenting experience. They pretty much need to be bleeding from multiple orifices and/or have bones on the outside of their body that aren’t normally there for us to get excited. The caveat to that statement is that my wife is a registered nurse and I’m a firefighter/EMT. It takes a little convincing for us to hand our child off to an ER doctor when we have most of what we need to handle minor scrapes and bumps here at the house. Our fourth child is in for a real treat. After she finishes her upcoming boot camp, we’ve got her enrolled in a free summer internship with a coal mining company. Kidding. Point is, after four kids you begin to develop instincts that enable you to gauge a child’s pain level based on tone, cadence, and volume of cry. As cruel as it sounds, sometimes the best course of action is to ignore the screams/crashes/cries and let your kid figure out their own shit. They might develop into a more independent adult because of it.
The second one is pretty easy to recognize if you’ve ever seen a gangster movie. It’s the concept of “don’t talk to The Man.” If the wife and I hear a scream or crash from upstairs that sounds especially concerning/interesting, then we rock/paper/scissors to see who is going to investigate. It’s almost a certainty that when the loser gets upstairs to check out what happened they will confront three stone-faced, tight-lipped little girls. “Crash? What Crash? Screams? Nobody screaming up here. Probably the dog. Or maybe check with the neighbors.” Tell me that doesn’t remind you of every episode of Cops you’ve ever seen. Didn’t see nothing. Didn’t hear nothing. Ain’t saying nothing.
Anybody ever heard “snitches get stitches?” It basically means that if you talk to the authorities, you’re going to get hurt or worse. Same rules apply at our house. Some time after our second child discovered the delightful Art of Combat with her older sister, we began to walk upstairs to investigate crashes/screams and heard faint whispers of “please, don’t tell Mom” or “I’m sorry I’m sorry please tell Dad you fell” or “I’ll cut you if you tell on me.” Okay, maybe not that last one. But it never fails that I’ll walk upstairs to investigate what I am certain was a death match involving medieval weaponry and/or armor only to find a tranquil tea party whose attendants all appear to be enjoying each others company. I’m not sure what kind of back-alley dealings are going on that’s keeping one party from ratting on the other but — whatever the agreement– it seems to work for all parties involved.
Uh oh. Sounds like someone just delivered a 300-style Spartan kick to somebody else’s chest upstairs. Time to gear up and head out. Probably won’t find anything when I get there. After all, nobody talks to the Fuzz. Not in this neighborhood.
Where did we leave off? Oh, right. I was set up in the entryway to the storage shed. I had positioned myself just above the depression that led underneath the shed. I suspected it had been created by a raccoon.
When you go fishing, you want to try to match your bait to what the local fish are accustomed to eating. I suspected the same was true for trying to lure small, furry animals. So, before taking position in what I considered to be the perfect vantage point, I retrieved some food scraps from the garbage. Don’t judge me. I was trying to catch a raccoon.
I also made sure to bring along an assortment of different-sized diapers. I’ve never personally measured a raccoon’s hiney parts. I suspected the average raccoon was a 4T-5T, but I was prepared with sizes ranging from newborn to 6x. Let me clarify for some of the parents out there that the assortment I brought included diapers (smaller sizes ) AND pull-ups (larger). You can never be too prepared.
I figured the best time to arrive at my stalking position was just before dark, as I’m well aware of the fact that raccoons are simply nocturnal trash pandas. My plan was to arrive before dark while the furry garbage bandits were still asleep and to catch them when they ventured out for their first meal. The opening to the shed is oriented just slightly enough towards the west so that the light from the setting sun turned my perch into something that looked like an inspirational-as-shit ninja movie. I stood in the shed, mentally preparing myself for what lie ahead, repeating my internal mantra to myself… “I’m about to try to put a diaper on a raccoon…. I’m about…to put a diaper…on a freaking raccoon…. LET’S DO THIS!!!!!”……….
All motivation gone. Freaking mosquitoes. I’ve lived in Texas long enough to know that if enough mosquitoes group together, they can and will carry you away and offer you up as a sacrifice to The Texas Mosquito King. At first, it was a risk I was willing to take. But, as the mosquitoes became more aggressive, I was certain I would have to abandon my quest and settle for the pureed baby fart reviews. Just as I was preparing to abandon my post, I heard it. The Rotten Refuse Robber sounded as if he (or she?) was following what I assumed was its customary route towards the entrance/exit of its Bandit Cave. This was it. The moment I had mildly prepared for. I readied my Raccoon Acquisition Device (a tinkerbell pillowcase we were going to throw away) and stood in the shed doorway directly over the hole underneath, my cat-like reflexes primed for action.
Time slowed. The first thing that came out of the hole was a cluster of whiskers, then a nose. I pounced. I can’t begin to express how fast my cat-like reflexes are. Dare I say, they are almost mongoose-like. Before even I realized it, I was diving head-first, Tinkerbell pillowcase open, falling towards the fast-approaching ground and my future diaper-wearing raccoon. Then, whilst mid-air, my brain began to catch up with the adrenaline-fueled dumbass that it was supposed to be controlling and started broadcasting alert messages on all frequencies. Raccoons are supposed to have black and gray faces right? Hmmm. The creature I was plummeting towards most definitely did not. Its face was more reminiscent of old-man ass– bald, ashy, angry. I thought I read somewhere that raccoons had furry tails as well. Interesting. This creature seemed to have no hair on its tail. Welp. Too late. I’m committed. Then, from the furthest recesses of my brain I heard “POSSUM!! THAT’S A POSSUM, DUMBASS!! POSSUMS ARE VICIOUS!! YOU ARE ABOUT TO BE VERY, VERY HURT!!”
The acquisition of my aforementioned cat/mongoose reflexes came with a diminished level of hand-eye coordination. I overshot what I now realized was a Possum by about 4 feet. At first I thought this was a lucky mistake and that the slick-tailed anger weasel would freak out and retreat to its dungeon. I had faceplanted in the grass just beyond the possum and, due to my graceful faceplanting abilities, ended up on my stomach in a semi-pushup position face to face with a pissed off mutant rodent.
Anger Weasel Supreme did not retreat. It let out a quick grunting noise and freaking charged. I let out a noise of my own. It was very high-pitched and resembled a scream.
Did you know that possums are fast? If there was a pissed-off rodent olympics, possums would gold-medal the shit out of sprinting. At this point my cat/mongoose reflexes had packed their shit and skipped town. I did the only thing I could do from the semi-pushup position I was in– I rolled away. Talk about awkward. Oh, what’s that you ask? My self-defense mechanism? I prefer the Tuck and Roll Technique. Gets em every time.
Everybody knows about Stop, Drop, and Roll. But, for some of you who may not remember, you’re also supposed cover your face with your hands while you’re stopping and dropping and rolling in order to protect your face and/or airway. I figured maybe this tactic would be effective against Enraged Violence Vermin so that’s what I did. I covered my face with my hands and rolled to safety. You know what would make this tactic even MORE effective? More high-pitched girly screams. I rolled across the yard towards the girls’ swingset, a small citrus tree finally stopping my forward progress. Realizing that I was out of rolling real estate, I sprung to my feet and took off in a full wind-sprint across my back yard. Direction and destination didn’t matter at that point, only survival. I soon realized that the white blur I had just passed was the back door to the house. Finally! Safe harbor!
Then I decided to do that thing that teenage girls in horror movies do (not screaming, I was still doing that). As I reached for the door knob, I looked back to see just how close my pursuer was. I looked at the ground directly behind me, fully expecting to see a rapidly approaching Vengeance Weasel but, to my surprise, it was gone. Still in horror movie mode, I looked up. I actually checked the roofline above me to see if Danger Rodent had magically grown wings and was perched above me, ready to make a meal out of its newfound girlish man-prey. I told you I was in survival mode. Fight or Flight means all logic goes out the window. And, let’s be honest, logic had left a while ago.
Finding no Perching Possum Gargoyles, I turned the knob and went inside. I walked into the living room where my wife was sitting in a recliner, reading something on her phone. She glanced up just long enough to survey the dirty, sweaty mess of a husband before her, let out a subdued giggle, then turned back to her phone. Without glancing up again, she informed me that I was bleeding. At some point during The Great Rolling Thunder Escape of 2017, I had either bumped or rolled into something sharp and cut my leg. I reached in my pocked and retrieved a Pampers 3T that had survived the trip. I ripped the sides open and applied it to my wound.
My review of Pamper’s Dora the Explorer Pull Up Size 3T is as follows–
Very effective for dressing possum-related wounds.
I let the possum keep the Tinkerbell pillowcase.