Caring for Sick Kids when a Parent gets Sick

Sometimes people get sick. When this happens to me, I need to put my big-boy pants on and deal with it. If one of my children, however, fall ill, I need to attend to them and make sure they are comfortable on their way to recovery.

Sick Child

My services (and my bed) were needed when The Oppressed fell ill one day. I got that phone call from the school that parents dread. Your child isn’t feeling well. They have a slight fever. We need you to pick them up.

I went to the school to pick up my daughter. The nurse spoke to me. The Oppressed had a slight fever and couldn’t stop coughing. I stopped at the store to buy some lemon drops and Life Savers, hoping sucking on some hard candy would help the cough and the throat.

I brought her home. She went straight to my bedroom where Wife checked her forehead to confirm a fever. We checked her temperature. She had a fever. The nurse told us she couldn’t come to school the next day no matter how she felt. The Oppressed was devastated to hear this news.

My daughter was on my side of the bed for the whole night. I camped out in The Boy’s room. The Boy was happy about it. The Oppressed was happy to be with Wife.

The next morning, I gave The Oppressed a couple of sips of coffee to help out the coughing and wheezing. We’ll give a nebulizer later in the day in case this isn’t just her body waking up. I then went to the supermarket. I bought tea, juice, fruit. The things I buy, consume, and promote to my children whenever I or someone else in the house gets sick. I made sure she had plenty of fluids, especially tea with honey. We did what we could to get the fever under control. School said The Oppressed needs to be fever-free without medicine for 24 hours before she returns.

Sick Children

The Gaggle approached me the day after The Oppressed came home. They told me they were getting sick. They asked if I could procure some bone broth for them. They swear by it when they’re feeling ill.

Nasty, but effective.

So, I’m off to the store again. Before I go, I check in with The Oppressed. I mention something to her about when I got sick when I was around her age. My grandfather gave me something when was sick. I had a bad cold. I had never heard of it before, but he gave me something called “Fisherman’s Friend”. This was one of the absolute nastiest things I had ever tasted (right up there with Robitussin DM), but it works. I’ll never forget the taste of it. I explained to The Oppressed how nasty Fisherman’s Friend tastes but also tell her how effective it is. She wasn’t keen on trying it at first, but she appears to be coming around since her symptoms of coughing and a sore throat aren’t going away.

Fisherman’s Friend is one of the absolute nastiest things I had ever tasted, right up there with Robitussin DM.

I went to the store for bone broth, more juice, more fruit. I also find a small package of Fisherman’s Friend. This one, however is not like the one I took in the days of my youth. This particular kind has a mint exterior. I take this one and explain to the oppressed that this could potentially be a better one than the original one I take. She agrees to try it. I leave her with the medicine and return downstairs to put the other things away and to inform The Gaggle I have returned with their bone broth. The Gaggle comes to the kitchen to prepare it. After the latest round of groceries are put away, and I go back upstairs to check on The Oppressed to see how she is doing. She’s doing alright. I am with her reading while she watches YouTube. Moments pass, and I hear my youngest daughter make a weird sound. I turn to look, and she looks like she drank straight lemon juice. She is fanning herself with her fingers and in a gurgling voice says, “barrel”. I give her a wastebasket and she spits the Fisherman’s Friend tablet into it. I’m guessing the mint exterior had melted away and she was tasting the actual medicine itself.

Robitussin DM. The bane of my childhood.

“That stuff is nasty,” she tells me. “How do you eat that?”

“It’s nasty, but it works,” I tell her. “You just suck it up and deal with the nasty taste and feel better.”

Watch closely. The hands are quicker than the eye.

Forget the suck it up and deal with it. The Oppressed is done with this nasty-tasting medicine, and she would much rather drink fluids and flush it out. A round of Harry Potter movies should go rather well with the fluids to help the convalescence. One day, I take her to the beach. This is another remedy I learned from my grandfather. Fresh salt air for the lungs. The Oppressed and I sit down on the bench and watch the ocean come in. She puts on a little magic show for me with the change I have in my pocket. On the way home, she tells me how much better she feels from the beach. The coughing stopped for a little while.

Sick Parent

The week was coming to a close. Everyone was looking forward to two days off from work and school. I was looking forward to watching The Boy play baseball. There was a rib fest happening on the Lexington Green and we had no set plans as of yet. My nose was running a little on Friday, but that’s to be expected in spring with allergies and pollen working together to wreak a little havoc on a delicate creature like me. Saturday came and I took The Boy to his game. He did a rain dance in the driveway before getting into the car and after getting out of the car at the field. It didn’t work and the baseball gods allowed me to watch a baseball game.

One of my favorite things to watch.

The Boy’s team won, and as of now they are tied for first place. I went home and said I wasn’t feeling great, so I thought I would lie down for a bit. I woke up congested with a cough and a runny nose. This is unacceptable. There is a rib fest happening at the Lexington Green. Wife took the kids to the movies on Saturday night. I remain home with The Oppressed. We watch “Hook” while everyone else watches the latest Dr. Strange movie. I pop a Nyquil, retire to bed, and sleep until 9:30. Me sleeping that late is unheard of in this house. I’m not feeling great. I take a Dayquil and wife brings me coffee. This is Day 2 of the rib fest and I’m not feeling like leaving the house on a glorious spring day. I am furious at the gods for mocking me in this fashion. I sit in my chair, sipping coffee and share my plight with the world. I might have to take a Fisherman’s Friend.

Monday morning has arrived. I sleep until after 7:00. I’m usually the first one out of bed to wake the teens for the bus. Wife took care of that for me. Today, it looks like I’ll be coaching from the sidelines but that’s alright. My kids are motivated and self-starters, right?

Brave Daddy Passes Fourth Cori, Second Fingerprinting

Results clear way to chaperone
children’s field trips

Brave Daddy stops his yardwork long enough to address adoring public upon
hearing news of his latest successful CORI check. (Photo: Brave Daddy)

Brave Daddy, the parent renowned for his humorous stories on parenting, youth sports, and homework, has passed his fourth CORI and second round of fingerprinting, local sources have reported.

Results were reported by local school staff. The latest passed check clears the way for the parenting pundit to accompany his children on various field trips and participate in other school-sanctioned activities. Brave Daddy’s wife has also passed her CORI and fingerprinting, also allowing her to chaperone.

The need for yet another round of background checks arose from the desire to chaperone previously mentioned field trips his children are going on. Previous checks were done for baseball, flag football, and foster parenting.

“I’m very happy with the results of this latest check,” Brave Daddy said taking a break from mowing his yard.

Pivetta on the mound for Sox against Texas, Dunning.

Brave Daddy’s lawyer, Dewey Cheatum, was glad but not surprised upon hearing the results, and expressed hope his client would no longer need to prove his merit to the community.

“The crucible of tribulations my client has met and overcome should provide example and inspiration to daddies and mommies everywhere,” Cheatum said. “His Herculean efforts to get to where he is now are extraordinary.”

Another piece of the acquitting evidence

An unnamed source called the needed fourth check, “a clerical error on an unknown bureaucratic level.”

While he is excited to see new things with his family, Brave Daddy also expressed interest in investigating the offerings of snack bars and food trucks in the vicinity of the field trip sites.

“I’m hoping to find some barbecue or ice cream,” he said hopefully.

The elation of the news is not just contained to Brave Daddy. Brave Daddy’s youngest daughter, The Oppressed, has voiced her approval of the results and is looking forward to a full docket of activities as the school year enters the homestretch. Brave Daddy’s youngest son, The Boy, wants to go to a friend’s house to play. Older children Slick, Slugger, and Lovie are campaigning to have final exams cancelled and could not be reached for comment. The Gaggle is currently asleep.

Celtics hope to stay alive in Milwaukee.

Brave Daddy’s wife declined comment on the matter, citing, “the ridiculousness of the story and subject matter.

Mother’s Day Weekend

Our weekend was a busy one. It usually is. This one just happened to be Mother’s Day Weekend, so there was a little more excitement packed into our short respite.

Friday

Friday began with me taking The Boy and The Oppressed to school. In the midst of me making sure they had everything they needed for their day, I was trying to figure out what to get my mother for Mother’s Day. It’s a special occasion, my mom is a special lady, and Mother’s Day comes only once a year, so I wanted to do something nice for her.

I talked to my dad, who suggested Mom might enjoy a nice historical novel. One of the nice things about being a writer is that you know other writers and your familiar with many books to choose from. This familiarity with such nice people comes in handy in a situation like this. After dropping the cherubs off at school, I check my phone for a local bookstore that carries a historical fiction book that just happened to carry Brave Daddy’s Seal of Approval. I’m willing to go anywhere for this book. It’s a gift and time is running out. Alas, after looking and searching bookstores from Pittsfield to Provincetown, from Falmouth, Massachusetts to Falmouth, Maine, there is not one that carries this book, and I am forced to resort to buying online. A win for the Wife and children, who remind me this is where things are going. Defeated, I make my online purchase.

The evening brought us Lovie and Slick’s Senior Prom. This was the end of weeks of running around and making sure everything was in order for Lovie, Slick, and The Gaggle, who was Lovie’s +1 for the evening. Wife was an absolute champ helping the ladies with dresses, nails, hair, and nerves that come with the big night. I looked for a limousine and was able to find a 7-seater Suburban for five teenagers for the night.

Prom, of course, coincided with the many other things that need to be done every day. To help lessen the burden on Slick, I went to the store to pick up his suit for the evening. Slick and Wife picked out the suit at a shop nearby. It’s a great place. I should know, I picked out a suit there last summer for a wedding. While I was there waiting for them to bring out the suit, I found a sharp-looking vest that I thought would come in handy sometime in the future. I walked out with Slick’s suit and my new vest. I was very proud.

I returned home with the suit and proudly showed off my new vest to Wife, who was helping the ladies with everything necessary for a night of dancing. Slick’s girlfriend hadn’t shown up yet, and everyone was looking at the clock. It was getting close to “Go” time. Slick put on his suit. He just needed a little help with his tie. He sure looked different wearing something besides sweatpants and Crocs.

The Suburban arrived, Slick’s girlfriend had not. Everyone was checking the time. Wife and I were quickly formulating a Plan B. It was getting close to the beginning of prom. We decided to snap some pictures without her. It was looking like Slick and his date would have to be driven to the prom separately. We decided to take some pictures without his girlfriend in case she never makes it. After pictures are taken, Slick gets a phone call. His date is two minutes away. Relieved sighs are exhaled. She arrives and more pictures are snapped. Slick, his GF, Lovie, The Gaggle, and a friend of Lovie’s load into the Suburban and are whisked away to a magical night of music and dancing. Wife and I see them off with visions and memories of our own proms still fresh in our minds.

The Oppressed and I get into our own car and drive for the mall. We still need to make final preparations for Mother’s Day. She has her present picked out, and there’s a nice little project that said gift is a part of. I would like to get something for Wife to mark the occasion. My youngest daughter is glad to help out with this mission. We arrive at the mall and look around at the stores to see what the perfect gift for a mother of six would be. We find a store and, with her help, find a great gift that would help celebrate the day to celebrate mothers. The Oppressed feels we need to celebrate our shopping success with pretzels and a cold drink, but first, it’s off to Newbury Comics for a Taylor Swift CD. We arrive home with everything we need for Wife and Mother’s Day, a Taylor Swift CD, warm pretzels and a cold drink. I just need to find something for my own mother. I knew exactly what to get. My father mentioned getting a historical fiction novel. I can grab that in the middle of the madness on Saturday.

Saturday

I was up and ready to go on a beautiful, glorious Saturday morning. The Boy had his baseball game. From there, we were on our way to the North Shore for my nephew’s first communion. To save time, The Oppressed went with me to watch The Boy’s game. It’s a little chilly on this glorious morning, and I suggest to my youngest daughter that she may need a jacket. She insists she’s fine. We get into the car and make our way to the baseball field, my refuge from deaf teenagers who are too busy for their chores. The land of peanuts and Cracker Jacks1.

The Oppressed and I take our seats while the young players warm up for the game. I was ready to go with Cracker Jacks in hand. Two innings into the game, The Oppressed tells me she’s cold. My mind immediately went to the conversation we had before the game regarding the weather and the potential need for a jacket. I give her my jacket and unlock the car for her. The wind is a little too much for her to handle, and she needs shelter.

“I’m fine.”

Every child who has been told to bring a coat with them
Postgame slushie

The game ends. The Boy’s team is victorious. The three of us continue on to the next part of our day. A glorious celebration of my nephew making his First Communion. We arrive at the house and see friends and family; aunts, uncles, cousins. We congratulate “B” on the day. I see my mother and give her a card. I won’t see her on Sunday, but inform her a nice little something will be arriving at her house on Mother’s Day. She has strict instructions to not do anything with the package until she calls me. Mother agrees to comply.

At the end of the day, the three of us head home. We’ll stop for food on the way and Wife has asked us to pick up some butter and chocolate chips on the way home (Lovie must want to bake again) … and ice cream… and milk… Just a few things we need.

After buying “a few things”.

I have ideas for a great place to eat. It has all of the things on the menu that meets the requirements of my two youngest children. Of course, no drive through the North Shore is complete without me stopping somewhere for beer. When I stop, the cherubs see a pizza place and my well-laid plans for dinner are suddenly torpedoed.

Beer purchased. Food procured. We’re back on the road. We make a little more time and progress before stopping at a grocery store for the “few things” we needed to pick up. We’re finally ready to go and finish our ride home. We get home. I talk to Wife, who was home with the children who slept in after prom, then retire for the evening.

Sunday

Mother’s Day had arrived! Wife received cards, flowers, and gifts. After that, there was no time to relax. We needed to be at my in-laws for a Mother’s Day brunch.

“Muskets and Minuets”
by Lindsey Fera

After the brunch, The Oppressed was excited to get home and help Wife with her gift. Wife had received a home spa kit from her youngest daughter and The Oppressed couldn’t get home fast enough to give her mother an evening of pampering. I received a phone call from my mother. An Amazon package had arrived, and she wanted to open it in front of me. She did, and she was excited when she saw a copy of “Muskets and Minuets”, a book that followed a girl living in colonial Massachusetts on the eve of the American Revolution. When the spa session had ended, The Oppressed joined me and The Boy, who were in the backyard sitting in front of a fire. The children made s’mores, and I poured a beer I bought the previous day. The fire was nice. It would be a few short hours before I had to get out of bed and get the children ready for school.

“Muskets and Minuets” is available for sale at your local bookstore and multiple websites, such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Reference

There were no Cracker Jacks at the concession stand. I had to bring my own. I let the nice people working the concession stand know how displeased I was about this.

When Your Child Loses a Stuffed Animal

We’re still trying to get back into the swing of things after our Washington D.C. trip. Laundry and dishes have piled back up. The children have moved on from days of walking and sightseeing to days of reading, writing and ‘rithmetic. I’ve moved back to my regimens of reading and writing.

Eight people returning from vacation means a lot of laundry. Lovie and The Oppressed are doing everything they can to stay on top of things and make sure the mountains upon mountains of dirty clothes are being attended to.

The children brought their luggage and souvenirs back to their respective rooms and all of us, including me, are still going through what we brought home with us and making sure it’s in their proper places. This brings me to the crisis at hand. You see, The Oppressed is the very proud owner of two stuffed ducks, Sir Ducks-a-Lot and Quackers. As she was bringing her stuff back to her room and getting re-adjusted with her life at home and school, my youngest daughter noticed that one of the ducks was missing. The one that was missing just so happened to be the smallest of the two.

Sir Duck-sa-Lot

This bothered The Oppressed, who was immediately concerned for Quackers’ welfare. I explained to her that things would be alright. We’ll find Quackers. This is also an excellent opportunity to square things away in her room. I told her I was certain that Quackers would turn up as we put things away and tidied up her bedroom.

Quackers

She was upset with me. I didn’t understand the gravity of the situation. I certainly didn’t understand what needed to be done. Time was of the essence, and we can’t waste it moving things around her bedroom (like she was supposed to do before Quackers went missing, anyway). The Oppressed immediately went around the house asking all siblings if anyone has seen Quackers. Alas, no one has seen her precious duck. I wish to point out that Quackers is one of the newest additions to the bedroom of The Oppressed, so not only is Quackers new and not totally acclimated with the room or the rest of the house, Quackers is also small and scared, as mentioned before.

The Oppressed wasted no time in getting to work, not on picking up her room, of course, but in getting to work. She immediately made a poster to make everyone fully aware of the situation at hand, including a hand-drawn portrait of Quackers. She took a picture of Sir Ducks-a-Lot. More on that later. She put the poster up on the refrigerator and pointed out the drawing of the duck to remind people what Quackers looked like, as well as the reward being offered for finding Quackers. That reward, originally $5, has since been raised to $5.50 and two snacks from her very own Easter basket. Again, if you are not aware of the gravity of the situation, my daughter will enlighten you.

“Missing” poster of Quackers. Note the increased reward and reminders of how scared and hungry he is.

Back to the picture of Sir Ducks-a-Lot. Quackers is just a smaller version of SDL (I’m getting tired). The Oppressed has used this to her advantage. She took a picture of SDL just in case the drawing of Quackers isn’t enough for people to go on. She has directed everyone’s attention to the refrigerator where the drawing and photo are. She hopes everyone will study the drawing, the picture. She hopes everyone will take their own pictures and share them with friends, with neighbors. She hopes anyone who can help will join in her mission to bring a scared, lost duck home.

There is also a chance The Oppressed will be making a guest appearance on this website, as she is not confident that I can fully convey the magnitude and immediacy of this dire situation. Stay tuned for her message and for further developments on this story.

If you need help finding your child’s lost toy, or a replacement, visit lostmylovey.com to see if anyone has found it, or where you can purchase a new one. You can also visit multiple pages on Facebook for help with a lost friend.

School Vacation (and Easter) in Washington D.C.

School vacation and Easter converged upon us this year. The Oppressed has long-expressed a desire to visit Washington D.C. I, of course, could never argue against this interesting proposition.

My youngest daughter and I went to work putting together a loose itinerary for the family. Wife, with a million things to take care of at work, was happy to have someone else deal with the details of the trip. I, with mountains of dishes and laundry to climb, was happy to have the diversion.

We decided to break the journey up into two days. We stopped at a hotel on Friday to eat and rest. On Saturday, we resumed the drive and arrived at what would become our base of operations for the next five days. We arrived at night and took an elevator that kept making weird noises. The elevator door opened and we were able to keep our eyes open long enough to make it to our rooms before collapsing on the bed.

Wait for it…

Easter Sunday was spent at the National Basilica. For some reason, I tend to spend Easter away from home. Washington D.C. joins a list of places I’ve celebrated Easter Sunday that includes Tampa and the Netherlands.

Slick, The Oppressed, and I took in the Easter Sunday mass at the National Basillica. I thought there would be a problem getting into such a place on such a day. Luckily, we had no such problems.

We did run into a tiny snafu at the mass. Then again, it wouldn’t be a holiday or a vacation if we didn’t. The Oppressed suffered a minor injury when she accidentally scratched her thumb. It was one of those small cuts that irritate you and don’t stop irritating. We needed to find a restroom and do something about this cut. While we left the service and go downstairs to find a restroom to clean it, I was trying to convince The Oppressed to be brave and strong. I was also hoping for a little Easter miracle where my daughter would be healed.

We find a restroom and my youngest daughter is able to clean her wound. She emerges from the ladies’ room with a wet paper towel pressed against her thumb. We return to the service stealthily as if we had never left. The rest of the mass goes off without a hitch for us.

We went from the Basilica to a local donut shop, where we procured freshly baked donuts for the rest of the family. We enjoy a simple Easter brunch at our hotel room and proceed to our nation’s capital, where we take in the sites that are not closed for the holiday. This includes the Lincoln Memorial. It was imperative to The Oppressed that we visit the particular monument. She learned about Martin Luther King, Jr. and his “I Have a Dream” speech. She wanted to see where it happened.

The Oppressed is ecstatic about visiting the Lincoln Memorial and insists we call my father. Not call, FaceTime. My father is an avid Civil War fan and has probably read every book written about Abraham Lincoln. We call him and wish him (and my mother) Happy Easter. The Oppressed is excited to be able to share this moment with her grandfather.

We see the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument. It’s time for dinner. Obviously, we can’t just walk into a restaurant on Easter Sunday. We have enough problems with that with a party of eight on a regular day, let alone a holiday. Lucky for us, there happen to be food trucks on this day. Everyone finds a food truck they like and orders something. We enjoy our non-traditional Easter dinner on the grass. It’s not too cold. The food is good and some of us even get ice cream from one of the trucks after dinner.

Easter Dinner

Follow me on Twitter @bravedaddy

Visiting Colleges

It’s always an exciting weekend with our family, but you know that already. Days are always filled with plans and obligations that take us somewhere for a family event, a game, or some other type of outing.

Wife and I found ourselves doing something we had never done before on one particular weekend. We visited a college. Lovie got into college some time ago and we got to see the campus she’ll be calling home when she finishes high school.

Back to College

It’s been a while since Wife and I have been to a college. We both graduated some time ago. It was interesting to go back to a campus and see what college is like in the days of Wi-fi and Uber Eats delivery. Some things have changed. Some things haven’t changed so much.

College campus. We looked around on our own before starting the activities.

We arrived on campus on a beautiful spring afternoon. We negotiated our way through campus to an available parking lot and continued to find our way through the campus to where the activities were. I looked around the campus and tried to take it all in. Wife and I explained to her what college was like for us when we were students. We didn’t live on campus, but we felt our time in college, no matter how long ago, could help her as she spoke to different students and faculty members. We asked questions to get more information for her about life on campus and how they could help her prepare for that big, scary place they call the real world. If you have teenagers, you know what I’m talking about.

I told Wife how I wished I was wearing a tweed jacket. Nothing too flashy, just a little something with nice arm patches. Something that said “Academia” while we leisurely walked around campus. Wife just gave me that weird look she always gives when I have a great idea. I love her, but sometimes she has a difficult time understanding my vision. I think it’s a common problem visionaries share.

Lovie is undeclared for now. We spent some time in the hall where the different majors offered by the college were set up to discuss their major and the benefits they offer to the incoming freshmen and transfer students.

Prize Wheel and a nice Surprise

While we walk around seeing what fields of study are available, I notice a prize wheel on the table of the Communications Studies Department. I stop to take a picture to send to a friend of mine, who was my boss at a radio station I worked at in my days before I became a daddy. I take a picture and send it to my friend. A lady who is working behind the table sees me and we begin a conversation about the communications industry. I explain to her about my brief stint in radio promotions and how I had forgotten about our gargantuan prize wheel until just now.

While we are speaking, I mention my daughter and how she is looking for an academic home during her time in college. She is excited to hear this and would love the chance to speak to Lovie about the things her department can offer her. I am also introduced to two gentlemen who are professors in the department. It was a nice little homecoming for me. I was able to talk shop with people who work in the field. It was nice to discuss things I had studied in school and methods employed in writing serious news stories before the days of the Homework Wars and serving meals you were sure would be a hit, only to find out it was no good and you should have resorted to chicken nuggets and mac n cheese. Sometimes you don’t realize how much you miss something until you just happen to run into someone with the same interests.

I thank “J” and “Y” for their time and reconnect with Wife and Lovie. We listen to a talk put on by staff and current students. From there, we go to the dining area where we sample some of the delicious fare Lovie will enjoy as she studies and prepares to make the world a better place. We get in line for me the buffet. I have to say everything looks good except for the cheeseburger pizza.

Cheeseburger pizza. The only blemish on the day.

Wife and I continue to talk about our time in college as we ask Lovie for her thoughts on the school. I talk about the nice people I met during my venturing alone. We get into the car and head home. There is a house full of children waiting for us, and we need to make sure everything, and everyone, is still intact and standing.

If you would like help with the college admissions process, including college essays and financial aid, visit endeavoradvising.com.

Road Trip, Music, and Dinner

The Oppressed spent a weekend at my parents one time. It was originally meant as a girls’ weekend with a cousin who was close to her age. Unfortunately, the cousin wasn’t feeling well; so, it was just The Oppressed with her grandparents. It was a great time for her because she was getting the chance to spend time with her grandparents. My parents liked it for the same reason. Wife and I said to each other, “One down, five more to go.”

We met each other halfway between my house and my parents’ house. We had an early dinner together and then parted ways. The Oppressed kept in touch with me and Wife during the weekend, letting me know what they were doing. We were also making plans for picking her up on Sunday and bringing her home. The Oppressed had been wanting to go to Newbury Comics for a long time, but we hadn’t been able to fit it into our schedule. Sunday seemed like the perfect day to go. We were taking a long drive, anyway. It would allow us to get something to eat, hit Newbury Comics, and talk about the weekend she had at her grandparents’. A road trip seemed like the perfect way to cover all of these things. As usual, things did not turn out as we planned.

Newbury Comics

We left my parents’ house in the middle of the afternoon. It was a Sunday, meaning that stores were going to close early. Needless to say, time was of the essence.

I haven’t lived in the area in a long time, but I still have a good idea of where things are. Still, we were on a schedule, and I didn’t want to waste any time and take the chance of taking too long and getting there after they closed. On top of that, getting to Newbury Comics sooner meant getting something to eat sooner, which meant we could take our time and not worry about having to rush things.

Exterior shot of a strip mall on a cloudy day with cars driving by.
No Newbury Comics.

I used my phone to find the closest store to us. It wasn’t too far from us, which meant my plan was unfolding in grand fashion. I plug the address into my GPS and we begin our first leg of our journey home. During the road trip, we talked about what her mom, her siblings, and I did during the weekend. We talked about the things she did during the weekend. It was a great weekend for her and a great ride for the both of us. While we ride and drive, I tell her to keep an eye open for a place she might like to stop at for dinner.

We see a ray of light shining down upon us as the interior is filled with heavenly sounds of a choir of angels.

The GPS leads us to the parking lot of a strip mall. I must say, I am a little disheartened at what I see, or I should say what I don’t see. There is no Newbury Comics. The Oppressed and I look at each other. It looks like we made this short drive for nothing. I do notice a storefront that may have been a former home to Newbury Comics. I suggest we stop inside and see what’s there.

Inside a store with shelves of books. Vinyl records are on the floor.
Books and music as far as the eye can see. That’s the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper” to the left.

We open the doors and what do we see? We see a ray of light shining down upon us as the interior is filled with heavenly sounds of a choir of angels. We see shelves upon shelves of books against the wall. Not far from the books are DVDs. In the middle of the floor are racks of CDs. It was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.

The Oppressed and I walk around the music section of the store. She is interested in finding something from Queen and something from the Beatles (bless her heart). There are plenty of things to look at, not just in the music section. However, we have other things to do, like find something to eat and get back home where Wife is trapped with five other children. I ask The Oppressed where she would like to eat on this particular afternoon. She and I both noticed we passed a certain place not far from where we ended up purchasing our CDs. I’m not going to tell you the name of the place. You’ll find out why as we go along.

What’s for Dinner

The Oppressed and I agree to check out this particular place. I remind her that there are other places nearby for dining out, and we can even continue our road trip home and continue to look for another place to eat. This nice place appears to pass inspection with her, and we decide to enter and dine.

A tween girl looking back at a mounted flatscreen showing an NHL hockey game.
Dinner and hockey. The day keeps getting better.

There is a nice man who greets us upon entering. I’m going to call him “Rick”. Rick pulls two menus and leads us to our table. Upon sitting, we order drinks. Rick leaves to get our drinks. The Oppressed and I continue to talk about the weekend. There are plenty of things on the menu that look good and we’re both hungry. We start with an appetizer and continue to look at the entrées. A little more chatting. Soon, Rick returns with our appetizer, and we place our orders for dinner.

A tween girl posing with her wrap and french fries.
Ready to eat dinner.

Dinner is finished. We both need to use the restroom. We’re both in the restroom for a long time. We’re discussing this as we walk back to the car.

“Good Lord,” I said. “What did I eat?”

“I don’t know,” The Oppressed answers, “But I had the same thing happen to me.”

“I was not well.”

“I think they gave us food poisoning.”

And now you see why I didn’t want to tell you the specific name of where we ate. I assure my daughter we didn’t have food poisoning. We slide one of the new CDs into the stereo (Queen) and begin the final leg of our road trip home. Due to the detour to the store and the restaurant, we are taking a different route home then we usually take from my parents’ house. That’s alright, though. I don’t mind it, and neither does she.

We get home just in time. Our tummies are hurting again. We go inside, say a quick, “hello” to Wife and the children, and race against time and our stomachs to the bathroom again. We both emerge from our respective bathrooms (I am continually thankful for having more than one bathroom in our home, and I don’t know how families survive in houses with just one bathroom.) and see Wife, who is in our room. She asks us about our day together. We tell her about everything we did. We tell her about the road trip, about my parents and how they are, and we tell her about our shopping excursion, Queen, the Beatles, and dinner. Wife asks about dinner, considering we ran in different directions looking for a bathroom as soon as we walked in the house.

“Dad and I have food poisoning from the restaurant,” The Oppressed tells her.

I explain to Wife that we don’t have food poisoning. The Oppressed respectfully disagrees. We didn’t have any incidents after that evening, but my daughter has still reminded me that we got food poisoning from that restaurant. I have tried to explain otherwise, but have you ever tried to explain something to your kid?

Buy my book, “A Collection of Short Stories”, on Apple Books.

Throw a ball. Catch a Ball.

“Better teach this kid some control before he kills somebody.”

Major League

Trees are budding. The snow has melted. The calendar has turned another page. It is now April, and that means it’s time for baseball season.

I have made the transition from player to coach, and, in my humble, unsolicited opinion, I think I’ve made a rather successful transition from student to teacher. There are a number of players who have been under my tutelage, and I would like to think they have honed their skills, developed new ones, and found a new appreciation for the game I love. Of course, none of these children who have found a new love for the game are living in the same house as me, but there are children out there who appreciate my efforts.

Slugger has found an appreciation for our National Pastime. He played a year for his school, and he likes watching baseball games on television. The family has gone to a couple of Red Sox games. He told us at the very beginning he is a New York Yankees fan, but we still love him.

Both Slugger and Slick can be found in the backyard playing catch in the spring and summer. It does my heart good to see the boys out there during the day. Of course, they’re teenage boys, and they really don’t have much regard for form or easing into things. Baseball novices and sages alike know that when you get ready for a game or practice, you loosen up like you do in all sports. My last baseball manager, Coach Donahue, called it, “Loosening up the soup bones”.

For these boys, showing their strength and superiority is more important than getting loose and avoiding an injury. Instead of easing into a friendly game of long-toss, Dizzy and Daffy would rather pump their arms, rear back, and see how hard they can throw and how fast the ball can reach the other. This usually results in a bit of “Olé” on the part of the boy who is supposed to catch the ball.

I haven’t played baseball in a while. Actually, it’s been decades since I last played organized baseball. However, I do know a few things about the game, things I knew even before I started coaching kids. These are things that are considered to be basic and fundamental, like not needing to throw a ball as hard as you can if the person is only a few feet away from you. Or keeping your glove in front of you to protect you from the oncoming throw. Things you learn in the backyard when you start playing catch, let alone play an actual game of baseball.

But, hey! What do I know? Not much, obviously. Jackie Bradley, Jr. and J.D. Martinez have everything figured out and they don’t need any advice on what they’re doing or should be doing. The boys continue to throw as hard as they can. One of the baseball brainiacs throws the ball and the other gets out of the way.

Olé!

The baseball hits the fence and takes out a piece of the panel. They look at each other, then one leaves the yard and goes next door to retrieve the ball that ended up on the other side of the fence. He returns to the yard, and they continue their game of catch. I refrain from any further advice and let the boys proceed as they were.

The result of an errant throw.

Dogs and Destructive Chewing

We have two animals in our house. If you saw what are house looked like sometimes, you’d think we have more than that.

Six children. Four teenagers. You can just imagine what the kitchen, bathrooms, and bedrooms look like. It’s fun. We also have a dog that likes to go from room to room and see what she can play (chew up into little pieces and walk away) with.

A carpet with chewed up plastic containers and paper, and a large bone.
Remnants of Doggie’s chewing. The blue is the inside of a chew toy she pulled apart.

We’ve learned to keep things away from the edge of the table. Doggie likes to take whatever she can find and chew and tear it beyond recognition. There was this one incident last year when I had been commissioned to write a newsletter for a college’s pharmacy school. It was a long process that involved hours of telephone calls and video conferencing. Because I’m old school, I took notes on paper for these interviews. I was looking everything over, including my finished stories when another emergency required my attention. I left my notes on the dining room table to tend to said emergency. When I had returned, I found that Doggie had somehow made her way onto the table and chewed on my notes. Lucky for me, my stories had been written and I was just waiting for final confirmation and approval from the school. The point is, Doggie had violated my personal space and my work that day.

There are plenty of exciting things in your wastebasket for a dog to discover and play with.

There are a lot of violations Doggie likes to commit on a daily basis. If you have a dog, you know exactly what I’m talking about. We have learned to keep the bathroom door closed all day every day. You would never think there could be so many things for a dog to play with. Humans see trash as something to get rid of. For dogs, however, trash can be a meal, an appetizer, or even maybe more chew toys. Yes, there are plenty of exciting things for a dog to discover and play with in your wastebasket. The real fun, though, is when you get to clean up after Doggie is done playing. It’s amazing to see what one small creature is capable of.

Doggie has her own chair in the house. It’s chewed on. She has chew toys. They are chewed to the point of the toys being opened up and the insides pulled out and chewed on. Furniture? Chewed. Books? Chewed. I have notebooks I like to keep with me while working. She got one and chewed it.

A black notebook missing the top right corner. It's been chewed.
My notebooks are now in protective custody.

Doggie has a mat next to her chair. She hasn’t chewed on that… yet, but she does like to take things with her to the mat and chew away. We’re always finding remnants of things all around the house. Wife and I don’t need many guesses when we hear one of our children yelling, “No!” or, “Bad dog!”

Our First Dog

As bad as things can get, it’s not as bad as the first dog wife and I owned. We had talked about getting a dog for a while and we did it before we had children. He was a puppy, just four months old when we got him. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, but we knew that when we got him because this was our first dog. No matter. We were ready for whatever this dog was going to bring us.

A man posing with a dog.
Me, with our first dog. Note the blue floor between us and the gray surface with pee stains behind us.

What he brought us was months of chewing on every piece of furniture in the house. We tried to buy a spray that was supposed to make furniture taste so bad, dogs wouldn’t want to chew on it. It didn’t work. We tried a “trainer” who only seemed interested in getting our money and that didn’t work. Between behavioral issues and Wife getting pregnant, we couldn’t chance it with the dog and a baby. We finally gave up the dog. The day we went to the shelter, the room reserved for families who were surrendering their pooch was closed for repairs. Wife and I had a meltdown in the middle of the property as we said good-bye to our dog.

We got Another Dog

We thought we were done with dogs after that. We tried. We did our best to keep our house together despite pools of pee in various rooms and floors pulled up and chewed up. I honestly considered renting him out to demolition crews. He was efficient with that. Then one day, one of our children wanted a dog and did their due diligence online. They found a nearby shelter that had a dog that said child thought would be just perfect for our family. We agreed to go to the shelter to LOOK.

A dog laying down on a mat.  Chewed plastic behind her.
Doggie is tired after chewing… Or she knows she’s in trouble.

That was then. This is now. Now we know to leave things in the middle of the table. Now we know to make sure Doggie has a chew toy with her if we need to leave the room or house. Now we know not to leave valuable possessions (like notes for work) within her reach. Now I know to work upstairs where my work and I are safe from the canine’s canines. It’s fun. If you need any documents shredded, I can introduce you to our dog.

Lucky for me, Wife, and the rest of our children, things haven’t been that bad with this pooch. We have our challenges. Doggie can be a little over-aggressive at times. A lot of this comes from her still being a puppy. The younger children at our house, including the visitors, need to get away from her sometimes. Kitty needs to get away more often than that.

A dog sitting on a rug.
Good dog. Just ignore the paper and plastic pieces.

Follow me on Instagram.

Costco, Target, and Doritos

Target doesn’t have all of the things we need. This displeases The Gaggle and they let me know of their disappointment when we are at checkout.

I had a productive day with The Gaggle recently. They needed some things to decorate their room and I needed to drive them to the store. The list requires two stops. For me, this was nothing. I often need to go to one or two, sometimes three stores for groceries, prescriptions, or some other necessity. This was just another day for me. For the gaggle, however, the experiences they endured that day were unlike any other.

Costco

Our first stop of the day was Costco. We needed things for The Gaggle’s room and Wife asked if I could pick up some things from the grocery section. We went into the store.

Exterior photo of Costco
Preparing to enter Costco.

“Oh my god!” the gaggle exclaimed. “This place is so big! And why do they have all this stuff?”

“It’s a warehouse,” I explain to them.

I ask if I can offer them some Doritos during this trying time. They are not amused.

We walk around the store seeking and finding what we need. It doesn’t take long. I’ve been shopping at Costco long enough to know my way around. The Gaggle is amazed at the size of the store, the bulk of the merchandise, and the crowd of people there in the middle of the day. The crowd annoys The Gaggle. They take up space and they’re in the way. I see someone giving out samples of Doritos. I ask if I can offer The Gaggle Doritos during this trying time. They just look at me. They are not amused.

A bag of Doritos.
I offered The Gaggle Doritos. They declined.

Target

Our next stop is Target. The Gaggle finds Target (or “Tarjay”, as I like to call it when I’m with them) to be bougie (or boujee. I have no idea which word to use). I use the word “Tarjay” just to get an extra rise out of them.

The trip to Target is a little less productive than we had hoped for. They don’t have everything we need. We are able to find some of the things, but not all. This displeases The Gaggle and they let me know of their disappointment when we are at checkout.

A Bed skirt. One of our finds at “Tar-jay”.

Overall, I would say we had a relatively productive day. The Gaggle doesn’t share my opinion of our efforts and accomplishments, but I would put this in the “Win” column. We went to two stores. We got some of what we needed. Not all, but some things for The Gaggle to set up their room. To show my appreciation, I got some stickers from the nice lady at checkout. I present them to The Gaggle when we get out of Target. She just looks at me. It’s not a happy face most children have when they get stickers. It’s a kind of annoyed face. I remind them of what we got done and the fun we had being together. Their face never changed, and I don’t think the stickers left my car.

Target stickers depicting "Spot", Target's mascot.
Stickers from our visit at Target. I was smiling, Spot was smiling. The Gaggle wasn’t smiling.

Follow me on social media.
Twitter: @Greg_the_Brave
Instagram: greg_the_brave
Facebook: Drink Your Juice