The Dentist and The Kid (and The Other Kid)

garrett-dentisSometimes, it’s not what happens to us that compels us to make a change, but it’s the things that we witness happening to other people that make us reassess our own choices in life. Case in point: Garrett recently experienced something, but it had a bigger impact on Justin.

While on a routine dental visit, the dentist discovered that Garrett had a small cavity. Even though the cavity was tiny, we knew that the task of getting it fixed was going to be monumental. Garrett is not a good patient. He does not like having dental equipment in his mouth, does not like the sounds that the equipment makes, and he has zero patience for sitting in a dental chair. GWE and I knew that he certainly wasn’t going to tolerate getting a shot of Novocain AND having his tooth drilled. I spoke with the dentist and he agreed that Garrett was a “hostile patient.” We decided that the only course of action would be to use nitrous oxide to keep him calm.

As the day of his cavity removal approached, GWE and I kept telling him (excitedly) about the “Firefighter’s Mask” the dentist was going to put on him on his next visit. Garrett was intrigued by the prospect of wearing a mask meant for firefighters in a dental office. As soon as he arrived at the dentist’s office, he asked to see the mask. He looked at it quizzically. It wasn’t like the ones he had seen at the fire station Skeptically, he got into the chair and put the mask on. Slowly, the dentist began to administer the gas. After a few minutes, Garrett was supposed to begin feeling the effects, so the dentist administered a shot of Novocain. Garrett felt it, realized what was going on, and began to fight back. Clearly, the gas had no effect on him.

In the meantime, GWE and Justin were in the waiting area and they could clearly hear what was going on. Garrett was screaming, shoving the dentist and hygienist away, and trying to escape while the we tried to keep him calm. I looked over to the lobby and saw GWE cringing. Justin appeared calm, yet slightly panicked as the blood drained from his face. After 30 minutes, I told the dentist that this wasn’t working and that we’d have to try again at a later date.

Knowing that his defiance had been successful, Garrett angrily hopped out of the chair and was at the front door in less than a minute. When we got in the car, Garrett was back to normal. What we didn’t know was that Justin was the one who was affected the most!

Later that afternoon, we had a normal lunch. Afterwards, Justin excused himself from the table and went to brush his teeth.

toothbrush

After dinner, Justin excused himself from the table and went to brush his teeth.

After breakfast the following morning, Justin excused himself from the table and went to brush his teeth…again.

That night, after dinner, Justin excused himself from the table and went to brush his teeth…again.

The following morning, we ended up running 15 minutes late. Everyone was in the car, except for Justin….who was still brushing his teeth…again!

Thanks to Garrett’s “Cavity Calamity,” Justin has brushed his teeth more times over the past 6 weeks than he has in his entire life!

What do you think of Daddy? A Questionnaire

picThere is a Japanese proverb that says we all have Three Faces:

The first face, you show to the world.
The second face, you show to your close friends, and your family.
The third face, you never show anyone.
It is the truest reflection of who you are. 

In this social media world filled with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, we are a society that works very hard to cultivate public personas that (we think) match who we think we are…or are trying to be.  And, no matter how hard we try to project one type of image, we can’t escape how others really see us.

I believe that younger children see us the clearest. They see the good, bad, and everything in between and process it without judgement or ego.  That is why I decided to ask my kids the following questions. Some of the answers I expected. Some, I didn’t!

Garrett’s Questions and Answers:

1. What is something I say a lot? Bad words
2. What makes me happy? When I’m playing with you.
3. What makes me sad? When I’m not listening.
4. How tall am I? So big, very big
5. How old am I? 12
6. What’s my favorite thing to do? Golf
7. What makes me proud of you? When I listen
8. What is my favorite food? Broccoli
9. Do I have a favorite child? Yes, me!
10. If I could go anywhere, where would I go? To the golf range
11. Do you think you could live without me? Yes.
12. What’s my favorite song? Ghostbusters
13. How do you annoy me? Bothering you when you’re working
14. What is my favorite movie? I don’t know
15. Who do I have a crush on? Me
16. Where was I born? Atlanta
17. What’s my favorite show to watch? Doctor Who
18. Who’s my best friend? Aldis
19. What scares me? I don’t know.
20. How do you describe me to your friends? By showing you to my friends.

 

Justin’s Questions and Answers:

1. What is something I say a lot? “Have a good day at school”
2. What makes me happy? Me getting good grades
3. What makes me sad? Me getting in trouble
4. How tall am I? I don’t know
5. How old am I? 45 (I’m 41)
6. What’s my favorite thing to do? Play golf, watch Doctor Who
7. What makes me proud of you? Beating you in golf
8. What is my favorite food? Pie (Didn’t specify Apple or Pizza)
9. Do I have a favorite child? Yes, me!
10. If I could go anywhere, where would I go? You would go somewhere to golf with me
11. Do you think you could live without me? NO!
12. What’s my favorite song? The “Hot Day” song (Uptown Funk)
13. How do you annoy me? A lot of things. Saying “daddy, can I please have this? daddy, can I please have this? daddy, can I please have this?”
14. What is my favorite movie? You like tons of movies. You like “Back to the Future.”
15. Who do I have a crush on? Mommy
16. Where was I born? Atlanta, GA
17. What’s my favorite show to watch? Doctor Who
18. Who’s my best friend? Your clients
19. What scares me? Me getting bad grades
20. How do you describe me to your friends? The best dad in the world. The best dad no one can have. But that he yells at me a lot.

The Legend of Zombie Kitty


zkTo compensate for my inability to decorate our house for Christmas (since I’m Jewish,) I found another way to satisfy my urge for holiday ornamentation. I decorate for Halloween! I’m not fulfilled unless the front of our house is covered in fake webbing, skeleton and spider lights, carved pumpkins, and all sorts of creepy critters. Each Halloween, I venture to the Halloween shop to pick up a few new odds and ends. Last year, Zombie Kitty and 2 Zombie rats were added to the mix.

Last Saturday, Garrett and I decided to pull out all the Halloween decorations while Justin and GWE were away. As we made our way through the bag, I re-discovered Zombie Kitty. Garrett and I chased each other around the yard scaring each other with him. And then, we had an idea! We decided to place Zombie Kitty in Justin’s bed….and not tell him.

When Justin came home, he commented on how much he liked the decorations. But, he quickly asked, “Where’s Zombie Kitty?” With a blank expression on my face, I replied, “I don’t know. I didn’t see him in the bag.”

Garrett was less vague. “JUSTIN!!!!! You need to go to sleep right now!” he screamed. (It was 1:30 in the afternoon.) Ten seconds later, he decided to take a different approach. “You’re in trouble. Go to your room!!” It would have been a little more convincing if he wasn’t laughing and vibrating with anticipation.

kitty3

Justin marched to his room and found Zombie Kitty waiting for him. He yanked it out of bed and for the rest of the day, it became a game of “Where’s Zombie Kitty?”

Justin hid him in my home office. Then, Garrett hid him on the chair GWE uses to do her make-up in the bathroom. Then, it ended up in Garrett’s bed. Somehow, just as the kids were going to bed, it ended up under the covers on GWE’s side of the bed.

While I appreciated Justin and Garrett’s attempts to scare me with Zombie Kitty, I don’t think they appreciated my true talent of scaring the shit out of children under the age of 10.

After Justin went to bed, I snuck into his room and placed Zombie Kitty under the front of his bed. The following morning, he screamed as he returned from the bathroom and found Zombie Kitty waiting for him in the dark.

Zombie Kitty reappeared again last night under the dinner table in Justin’s seat. It had been hours since anyone thought about Zombie Kitty. Once he turned the corner and looked down, he jumped again at the sight of Zombie Kitty.

Once the boys went to sleep last night, I placed Zombie Kitty in Justin’s school backpack and zipped it up. He woke up this morning demanding to know where Zombie Kitty was because he didn’t want to be surprised anymore. I told him I didn’t know and ignored the topic while I rushed around getting the kids ready for school. As he was running out of the door, I asked him to put his lunch into his lunchbox. Once he unzipped his bag, he screamed again at the sight of Zombie Kitty staring back at him from inside his bag.

kitty2

And finally, this evening, I placed Zombie Kitty in the dresser drawer he uses for school clothes. It’s been in there for hours and I don’t expect him to open the drawer until tomorrow morning. I can’t wait to hear his reaction!!

kitty1

The Legend of Zombie Kitty continues…….

The Tooth Fairy Does Not Take Requests

gg68286266Justin is at an amazing age where he wants to joyfully believe in things that require great imagination like spooky ghosts, super heroes, and time-traveling DeLoreans. But, he’s starting to question whether or not he believes in those things. He knows there is no Santa Claus and he knows there is no Easter Bunny. However, he’s still uncertain if The Tooth Fairy exists.

Since he was a little boy, The Tooth Fairy had been sneaking into his room at night to collect his loose teeth in exchange for money and a personalized note. The amount of money that was owed fluctuated due to unexpected demand on The Tooth Fairy Reserves without any given notice. (Basically, I gave him whatever few dollars I had left in my wallet at the end of the night.)

In the beginning, he was excited to get these notes! “Read it to me, daddy!! Read it!” he would squeal. Pretending like I had never seen the note before, I would read him what The Tooth Fairy said. Each note was different, but it was generally a gracious note thanking him for the tooth and leaving him a “gift” in exchange.

Several “teeth” ago, I crept into his room in the middle of the night only to discover that Justin had booby-trapped his room in an attempt to catch The Tooth Fairy in the act. I was able to quietly make my way to his pillow without falling onto the bed or twisting an ankle on the obstacle course of Legos, Skylanders, and random shoes Justin left on the floor. I think he continued to believe in The Tooth Fairy beyond that point because….who else could have navigated those obstructions without waking him up???

One tooth ago, I made the tooth-to-note-and-cash transfer without any difficulty. What I didn’t know was that Justin was prepared for The Tooth Fairy and left a note that The Tooth Fairy didn’t see. The following morning he showed GWE the note he left and wondered why The Tooth Fairy didn’t take the note or follow its instructions. (Cash was nice, but Yo-Kai Medals were better!) The note is below:

tooth-fairy

Last night, another tooth was lost and (once again) The Tooth Fairy did his/her job. Based on what happened the last time, I thought there might be another note. I was right. Here is note #2:

tooth

The following morning, Justin pulled GWE aside and asked if The Tooth Fairy was real. She inquired, “Why do you ask?” He responded that his friends at school were telling him that The Tooth Fairy wasn’t real. Without directly answering the question, GWE was able to “answer” the question in a way that allowed him to continue to believe and look forward to watching his younger brother get visited by The Tooth Fairy someday as well.

And, for the record, The Tooth Fairy is a traditionalist. He/she is prepared to pay for teeth with cash, not plastic!

Justin’s First Real Rock Concert – Huey Lewis and the News

img_5862Ever since Justin saw “Back to the Future,” he’d become obsessed with Huey Lewis and the News. He’s been listening to the “Sports” and “Greatest Hits” albums non-stop for months. It’s funny to hear him doing his homework with his headphones on while humming along to “Hip to Be Square” and (his favorite) “Workin for a Livin.” Because he’s wearing headphones (that cost the same as my car – thank you Grandpa Bob!) he doesn’t know that we all can hear him singing. It’s pretty funny to hear a 9 year old sing, “…at least until I die, dammed if you do, dammed if you don’t, I’m supposed to get a raise week, you know damn well I won’t.”

One evening, GWE ‘bounced’ into the bedroom and shook me excitedly while announcing that Huey Lewis and the News would be performing at Humphrey’s Concerts by the Bay in San Diego. GWE decided that I would be taking Justin to see his favorite band perform live. Before I could ask “If this is It,” GWE had ordered the tickets, booked the hotel room, and we planned on taking a “Couple Days Off.”

This is one of the few bands I’ve loved consistently over the years. While I was very happy to be seeing the show, I was more honored to know that I would be accompanying Justin to his first real concert! That made it that much better!

GWE and I had seen Huey Lewis and the News play about 15 years ago at the Universal Amphitheater and it was a great show. By pure coincidence, a few years ago, I was having drinks with a client at the Four Season Hotel in Beverly Hills on the front patio when some rowdy guys behind us got a little too loud. I brushed it off thinking: “DRUNKS!” But, when they began to harmonize and start singing, I turned around to discover that it was Huey Lewis and the News! I was shocked! It was the best private show anyone could have asked for!

It wasn’t until the week before the show that we finally told Justin what our plans were. He could not believe it! (As excited as Justin was to see the show, I think he was more excited knowing that we would have to pull him out of school early in order to get to the show!) For Justin, the next few days were just a blur of counting down the days to the concert and asking which songs they’d be playing at the show.

When the day finally came, we jumped in the car, picked up the kids from school and we were “Cruisin’.” We all listened to (and sang along with) “Alive at 25” as we headed down to San Diego. Justin and I had just enough time to drop off our bags at the hotel and race over to the venue. To tell you that we had fun wouldn’t accurately describe it. It was a blast!

Here are some pictures (and a short video):

Justin

IMG_5977

More Justin

Justin’s Spanish Comic Book

During Justin’s final weeks of third grade, one of his homework assignments was to create a comic strip using the Spanish vocabulary words he had been assigned throughout the quarter. He was very excited about creating the comic strip. But, he was not thrilled at the prospect of trying to use his Spanish words to create a story. His plan was simple: create the comic strip first and then try to ‘massage’ the Spanish vocabulary words so that they fit the images.

His comic panels were great. But, as time went on, he struggled to find the right words to use. It was at this point that he made his biggest mistake: he asked for my help.

I do not speak Spanish. After five years of Spanish lessons, I can order a Chalupa at Taco Bell and ask for directions to a library. But, that’s about it. As I’ve confessed before, had I not been sitting behind Tammy Parks or Greta Jackson all throughout high school, I would have failed Spanish. Thanks to their unprotected classwork and my keen eyesight, I cheated my way to graduation. (Hey – “If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying!”)

With my limited high school Spanish and a lot of help with Google Translate, I “helped” Justin with his assignment. Here are two examples of our collaboration:

Comic 1

In the first panel, a fight broke out. However, “punching” was not a vocabulary word. We decided to go with “Estoy tocando la cara con el puno,” which roughly translates to “I am touching your face with my fist.”

Comic 2

 

And finally, one character is laughing as the other one screams, “No me gusta bola de fuego!” This translates to “I do not like it when my balls are on fire!”  (I was sure someone would notice how inappropriate this was, but no one said anything! No note from the teacher….no call from the school.)

Somehow, Justin passed Spanish. I still owe a debt of gratitude to Tammy and Greta and I probably owe an apology to whoever read Justin’s comic book.

Lo siento!