Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

When in Rome

Tussle
Muss
Disarrange
Mess with
Whatever you want to call it
I do it a lot and
Why wouldn’t I
His head is right there
I barely have to move my arm
His hair is right there
Accessible even
Short even
And
Not a curl
Or
Tangle
In sight
Not a scream
Grunt
Or
Other form of protest
In sight
In fact
Sometimes he seems to almost want it
Lingering longer than any two year old would or should
Leaning against my leg and holding on and waiting
So that
All I really
Have to do
Is
Tussle
Muss
Disarrange
Mess with

Monday, September 26, 2011

Is it too late?

It is late
The kids are asleep and I should be
But I like to linger at this moment
This intersection of
Accomplishment and
Anticipation and
Quiet
I like to reflect on the day
While I listen to the crackle of the baby monitors
I like to choose the moment of my collapse into bed and
Not have exhaustion choose it for me
I like to fill up every minute
With something
Of my own choosing
I’d also like to be an eighteenth century fur trader
Tracking deer through the woods
Hopeful of seeing something for the very first time
The problem is that all too often
It’s not just late
It’s too late

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Find Me a Bus

I don’t know what is more shocking
That I’d die for my daughter
That I’d kill for her
Or that I’d knowingly become the most obnoxious parent in the universe
Maybe it’s that I was tempted to do two of the three during kindergarten orientation
There were no speeding busses to throw myself in front of
So
I was left with the need to strangle
The guy with the ‘100% white meat and proud of it’ tattoo
Standing contentedly in front of a black woman and
Behind an family of South Asian descent and
The teacher who told me that soon
My daughter might be able to read a book to the class
My daughter
Who reads twenty books a day
All by herself
You mutant witch
I wanted to strangle her
While my daughter read a book to her
Then maybe we’d decorate that classroom so it looked more like a kindergarten and
Less like an unusually colorful bureaucrat’s office
It all washed over me in waves
Coming from I have no idea where
My daughter loves school
Is having a great time and
Knows how to read and
Likes her teacher and
That should be all that matters
Should be
Because I know teachers and
Have heard them talk about parents like me
But what if she is sharing grapes with ‘white meat’s son and becomes a bigot
What if her reading goes unrecognized and
She stops and
The waves crash over me again and
I wish there was a bus I could jump in front of

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dad Come Quick

“Dad … come quick
Wyeth is standing in the bathtub and he’s taking off his clothes”

It’s more than a call to duty
It’s a call to responsibility and
It’s a reminder of the consequences of slacking

Do the dishes
Put the food away
Go upstairs
If you stop off at the computer to check e-mail
Or ESPN.com
Or just to breathe alone in silence
Or use the bathroom

Your son will be running around with a shirt on
And nothing else
His little penis jiggling about
Free to do its business anywhere

And if you didn’t catch on when he asked you
During lunch
If tonight was bath night

Then you should be relieved
That he only wants to have a new diaper put on

That he doesn’t leave a stain or stench anywhere

That he is giggling

That all it took was a strip tease to bring you up
While you still had an opportunity
To play the time machine game before nap

Missing out on Paul Revere
Mastodon barbecues
Sleigh rides with Santa
Weightless walks on the moon and Saturn’s rings
And thrilling swims with megalodon

That’s a stiff price to pay for
The latest NFL injury reports
Or even peace and quiet

Missing out on discovering your son standing in the bathtub
Bare bottomed after tearing off his own diaper
Pretending he’s about to head to bed for the night
At half past noon

Well that’s just out of the question

So the lesson is …
Pull away for the not so important stuff
That you have to get done and
Fingers and toes crossed
Dally just long enough
To get the call from up above
A fun time
And hopefully a good story
That you can tell
Later
When the day really is coming to an end

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

It's not fall yet

I don’t have to look at the calendar to know that fall has arrived
I saw my daughter this morning
In her purple shirt with the big zebra on it
Complete with hearts and other assorted visual frou-frou
And long sleeves
And a size 5 T sticker
That we peeled off

We left the long sleeves
The girl with the sniffles and hint of a fever
Needed them

I left the sandals
They matched
And cold or no cold
I’m not ready for fall
I’ve still got vegetables coming up in the garden
And a goodbye or two to say to the local water park

Besides
The start of kindergarten was enough
I have been reminded of the tireless march of time
I don’t need long sleeve shirts
And woolen socks
It’s bad enough that Christmas trees are already up at Lowes
It’s bad enough that she is wearing long sleeve shirts
And long pants
To school
Every day of the week

I need a few more weeks of late summer
I need them
But I’m not going to get them
So I will let my daughter’s toes freeze
And mine my son’s too

I don’t have to look at the calendar to know that fall has arrived
So I’m not going to
At least not yet

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Return

I returned from a weekend away
To an afternoon and evening of spontaneous hugs
It’s the best reason I can think of
To want to leave on my own again

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Detroit on My Mind

Detroit on my mind
Or at least on my itinerary
Unexpectedly
I'll be in and out
In an hour
As long as my bags come with me
And I won't come back
At least not on this trip
I'm Just passing through
Like everybody else
There are fewer of us now
Or at least there must be
Who leave the airport
Soon it will just be trappers and farmers again
Soon Detroit will be off my mind
And my itinerary

Unique

I'm afraid that
We are unique
In the way that jeans or sweatshirts tend to be
That our individual stories
Are less about words and messages
Big or little
And more about
The wear and tear we take along the way
I'm hopeful though too
After all
I have always preferred an old and well worn sweatshirt
Complete with stains
Holes
and chewed on drawstrings
To a brand new one

Flying

A sea of white clouds below
An endless blue sky above
Blue jeans and grey shirt in the middle

Monday, September 12, 2011

Temporary Solo Parenting

Kindergarten drop off
Kindergarten pick up
Home reorganization
Teaching
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner
Bathtime
Tennis lessons
Boo-boos
Finicky cats
Naptime stories
Bedtime stories
The first homework ever
Cleaning
Looking out at the lawn that needs mowing
The carpets that need vacuuming
The papers that need grading
The toilets that need cleaning
The television that needs watching
And writing poetry
I think that if she stayed gone for more than five days
I’d have to drop the poetry

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Pushing Buttons

Push an imaginary button
Make a few lame sound effects
Get pure and honest hysteria
Cackles, giggles, even a dry barking sound
All from laying an index finger against a wall
And adding to the fingerprints and smudges
And add to them is exactly what any sane person would do
Add to them until that part of wall is no longer yellow
Add to them until the gag shows signs of not working
Then you imitate static
Do a little work on the wall with your thumb and forefinger
And sing a song
That gets you more guffaws
Later on
Pushing buttons will have a different connotation
A different result
Now however
It’s a handoff up the gut that gets you eight yards
Every time you run it
Why would you go away from that
Why wouldn’t you keep pushing those buttons

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Blue Jeans

I’m wearing blue jeans
She is too
A back pack lies on the floor in front of her
Nestled amidst the books and granola bar wrappers
One thing that’s not back there is an umbrella
But that’s OK
It’s not raining in the car
And the physical distance from the car to the school isn’t more than a few feet
Besides she won’t hesitate today
No more looking back for her
It’s a new season
For both of us
At least I still look good in blue jeans

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Day Three Drop Off

She got inside
Out of the rain
Then she paused
It was day three
And all that was there to greet her
Was a third grader wearing a yellow sash
Whose attention was focused elsewhere
I wasn’t there either
Not really
I could see her
But I was in the car
Staying dry with her brother
And being moved along
To make room for the cars behind me
All I could do was silently urge her on
Hope for the best
And drive away
Knowing that I got her as far as I could

Monday, September 05, 2011

Uncaused

The uncaused cause of all being
Is either a name of God
Or the look my son gives me
When I pop in on him to see whatever it is he has called me in to see
Maybe he’s wearing my shoes
Maybe he’s wearing blue high heels and a stethoscope
Along with his favorite princess skirt
Maybe he’s hugging the cat
Whatever he is
Doing
There is just the hint of a smile
The rest of it about to explode onto his face
Across the distance between us
And onto mine
Caused
Uncaused
Undeniably holy

Friday, September 02, 2011

His First Football Game

The visiting team
Clad in white
Was running at will on the home team
Clad in red
The lights had probably been on for a while
But now they were noticeable
In the growing darkness
The band had come to life too
So had the teenage flirting
Halftime was definitely in the air
I couldn’t help but wonder
Where he’d be in twelve or thirteen years
When it was halftime
Would he be playing tuba in the band
Shirtless in the stands with a letter painted on his chest
On the field handing out pain
Then I looked at him
Clutching his purple flowery purse
Watching the ‘blue and white team’ chant and flip
All that was missing was his favorite blue princess shoes
My camera too
He looked up
Smiled
Said it was time to go home
We left
Cutting through the throngs of teenagers
Pausing to take one more look at
Red
White
Blue

Thursday, September 01, 2011

my son ... force of nature

You can watch the water creep up the lawn toward your front door
But what else can you do about it

I suppose you could leave
But no one is going to clean it out when you’re gone

Bemoaning all the things you could have done
Such as have the yard graded differently
Is a heck of a lot of fun
And a great way to exercise underutilized higher brain functions
It might even help during the next storm or with the next house

But right now you might as well jump in for a swim
Which might be an option I suppose
If you like risking death by drowning

If electrocution is more your speed
Drag out the shop vac on your front lawn and get to work

Personally, I’ve found it’s better to sit stil
Or pace
In front of a big pictiure window
It’s hard to fight the urge to do something
But a force of nature is not the same as a problem at work
Or a difficult home improvement project
More effort doesn’t automatically lead to better results

My advice would be to put your effort into preparation and patience
And when you’re done
Pull up a chair and a good book