What Not to Do!

Much like Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Echo, my children are always listening to my conversations and only responding half the time when their names are called. One afternoon I made the mistake of passively mentioned that I really, really, really hated something. Clearly, the boys heard me. From that day forward, Justin and Garrett have chosen to torture me with that knowledge.

I hate the song “Bohemian Rhapsody.” HATE IT!! The moment I hear the opening notes, I have a Pavlovian response that immediately pisses me off and has me reaching for whatever device it’s on so that I can turn it off (or smash it.) I hate that song. Why?

In 1992, during the height of “Wayne’s World”, I was working at a camp radio station. That song was requested EVERY SINGLE HOUR. Imagine listening to any song, 12 times a day, 7 days a week, for three straight months. Now imagine listening to that song (all 6 minutes and 7 seconds of it) over and over and over and over and over again. I would have gladly accepted water-boarding over listening to that song one more time. And for 25 years, I have not had to listen to that song…until Justin and Garret discovered my true hatred for it.

It began with Justin walking up behind me while singing, “Is this the real life?” I did my best “stop it” dead-eye-stare at him, but he just happily walked off. Garrett picked up on what was going on and he too would slowly creep up to me with a mischievous smile as he began to sing, “Is this the real life?” I learned to walk away. They requested it in the car (which I won’t play) and Justin tried to play it for me on iTunes. Angrily, I thwarted their attempts at making me listen.

GWE took a picture of the sheer joy on the faces of Justin and Garrett and they sang “Bohemian Rhapsody” to me in the middle of the LA Auto Show. The lady behind them thought it was funny. I did not.

 

So, now you know my weakness…my Kryptonite. I absolutely, unquestioningly, categorically, and conclusively HATE “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

To Queen, I say: “Let me go….let me go…..let me go ooh ooh ooh!!”

barf2Honestly, I’m a little behind with this blog. It’s not that I don’t have enough to write about. It’s that there’s too much to write about and the stories are getting backed up. So – let’s re-start slowly…

Last week, GWE took Justin to Six Flags on an afternoon when there was an early dismissal from school. While I worked, they had fun riding roller-coasters, eating junk food, and then sending me selfies of themselves riding roller-coasters and eating junk food. (Did I mention that I was working??) When I got home that evening, I expected to find Justin passed out in bed. To my surprise, he was awake…and oddly excited about something.

“Daddy!! I bought you some jelly beans! I know how much you love jelly beans,” Justin exclaimed. I could see that he was trying to contain his laughter, so I assumed he was up to something.

“No thanks. I’ll pass,” I replied – knowing that it would drive him a little nuts.

“Daddy! These are the best jelly beans! I bought them just for you!!!!!!!!” The giddiness was causing him to vibrate.

With cautious optimism, I took one jelly bean from his hand and popped it into my mouth. I did not chew. I just waited for him to respond. After a few seconds, I gave up and decided to eat the jelly bean. At first, it tasted like popcorn. And then…….this disgusting flavor and odor of dead fish invaded my mouth and nose. It was awful! Justin rolled on the floor laughing about how he got me as I scrambled to get the taste out of my mouth! While I gulped half a container of milk, Justin explained that I had eaten something called “Bean Boozled.” They are purposely awful jelly beans.

barf

Justin thought I was over-reacting to how bad the beans were, so he decided to show me that he could eat any of them and it wouldn’t affect him at all. I told him that I would chose the bean and he would have to eat which ever I chose.

I chose “Barf.”

Justin took the bean and ate it with the same bravado you see from a drunk college student who is dared to drink an entire bottle of hot sauce. He smiled as he took the first two bites. All of a sudden, his expression changed. He coughed twice…..and then threw up all over the kitchen sink. The bravado on his face vanished and was replaced with confusion, fear, and tears. He was not expecting that as an outcome. After a few more dry-heaves and a glass of water, I tucked him into bed.

While tucking Garrett into bed, I heard Justin run down the hallway…then some banging….and then the sound of him running back to his room. When I went back into his room I asked him what happened. He responded, “Daddy. I threw out the jelly beans. I don’t want you to trick me with those beans ever again!”

Oh how the trickster becomes the tricked!

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!


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…….

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!

vigonormalGarrett and Justin wanted to see “Ghostbusters.” I knew they were too young to see the new one, so I rented the original. They loved it. LOVED IT! They kept running around the house for days pretending to ‘bust’ ghosts. Whenever we got into my car (once referred to as “The Hotmobile,” now referred to as “Ecto-1”) they would request the “Ghostbusters” theme music on repeat and sing it as loud as they could over and over and over as Garrett made the siren sounds with his voice.

That all changed when the DVD of “Ghostbusters 2” arrived at the house. What started with excitement and anticipation ended in tears and a fear of going to the bathroom alone.

While the boys loved “Slimer” and “The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man” in the first movie, they were a lot less jovial after seeing “Vigo the Carpathian.” Garrett didn’t seem scared. I would describe his reaction as ‘reserved.’ Justin was clearly bothered by the character and covered his face a couple of times.

I should have been a little more observant and understanding of Justin’s fear, but I wasn’t thinking. All I saw was a way to have fun scaring the kid who’d spent all week trying to scare me.

While the boys continued to watch the movie, I went to my computer, printed out a picture of Vigo the Carpathian, taped it to the inside of Justin’s toilet seat, and then quietly closed the lid. My trap had been set. I just needed Justin’s bladder to set this prank in motion.

Potty3

When it was time for dinner, Justin asked for us to pause the movie…and he never returned to it. Hours later, it was time for bed and I asked Justin to get ready. He put on his pajamas, brushed his teeth, and then climbed into bed. Knowing that the trap had not yet been sprung, I asked Justin to go potty. He told me that he didn’t have to.

“Justin – go potty before you go to bed.” I said.

“I don’t have to,” he replied.

“Justin – you’re going to have to go in the middle of the night. You might as well go now,” I reasoned.

“I don’t have to,” he said, again.

“C’mon, Justin. Just go!” I said in my deepened dad-voice as a ‘do-it-or-else.’

Begrudgingly, he got up, walked into the bathroom, turned the light on and then turned the light off and got back into bed.

“Justin! There is no way you went potty. At least lift the lid this time!” And then I waited………

Once again, he got up, walked into the bathroom, turned on the light, flipped the lid…..and then he SCREAMED a scream I had never heard before. At first, I was very pleased with myself. I got him and I got him good! I was expecting him to come out of the bathroom smiling with an “Oh dad. You got me so good” look on his face. That was not the look I saw when he came of the bathroom.

What actually happened was that he raced out of the bathroom and into his bedroom with tears streaming down his face and he was white as a ghost. He collapsed on the floor where I was standing and he began to shake while screaming, “HOW COULD YOU DO THAT TO ME????” My prank had blown up in my face and now my son was a crying blob on the floor who refused to go into the bathroom by himself for any reason.

Thankfully, Garrett was the one who saved the day!

As I got Justin into bed and tried to calm him down by telling him that everything would be ok, there was a moment of silence as we both heard Garrett walk into the same bathroom. I thought, “oh shit, it’s gonna happen again.” In silence, Justin and I stared at each other as we heard Garrett pull down his pants, then lift the lid…….and then, we heard him quietly laugh to himself……and finally, we heard the sound of him peeing. As if nothing was amiss, Garrett pulled up his pants, closed the toilet lid, flushed, and walked out.

Justin and I could not contain ourselves. We erupted in laughter. The thing that almost scared the (literal) crap out of Justin actually made Garrett laugh as he went potty!!

So, now we know, a Carpathian in the crapper isn’t for everyone!