ˈdic-TIo-ˌna-ry

I try to help out children whenever I can. However, there are times when I feel it is necessary for one to put on their big boy/girl pants from time to time and figure things out for themselves. I can point them in the right direction but ultimately they need to do the work themselves.

One such incident occurred rather inconspicuously when one of the Gaggle was tasked with a job. This child set off to tackle their responsibility and promptly returned to me with the finished result. I stopped what I was doing to see what was being shown. I don’t exactly remember what it was but I remember being impressed at the work and I said, “Stellar.”

The Gaggle was confused. “What?” they asked.

I repeated, “Stellar.”

“What does that mean?”

“Look it up,” I replied.

Let me stop here to give you a little backstory. When I was in elementary school and we didn’t know what something meant or how you spell it, we would ask our teacher. Our teacher would direct us to the numerous dictionaries thoughtfully stacked along the side and back of the room. There were plenty of dictionaries to go around so no problem if one or more of the students were trying to spell or define something. I have since become a better speller, reader, and writer for this and thought I was just helping someone be a better student.

I <em>thought</em>.

They looked at me with a slight expression of fear in their face.

“What?”

“Look it up,” I repeated.

“In a dictionary?” they asked me.

“Yeah,” I nodded. “In a dictionary.

“Where’s that?”

I led the Gaggle to a bookcase and introduced them to the numerous dictionaries that have accumulated over time. I don’t know how we came to have so many but there they were, ready and waiting for whoever needed help. I selected one for them. “Here you go,” I said. “Let me know when you find it.”

I gave the Gaggle a few minutes before checking on them.

“Did you find it?” I asked.

“No.”

“Where are you?”

“Page 116,” they answered

I tried again. “What letter are you on?”

“B.”

“You’re a little ways off,” I told them. Try further in the dictionary.

I heard sniffling. I heard whimpering. I returned to the room where the Gaggle was enduring their torture. “What’s wrong?” I asked them.

The Gaggle cried, “I don’t know how to use this. You just give me this and I’m supposed to figure it out.” The gaggle continued to cry and I waited for them to stop and catch their breath. I wanted to make sure they heard me.

“What letter are you on again?”

“B,” they answered.

“What does ‘stellar’ start with?” I asked.

“S.”

“Okay,” I replied. “I’ll give you a hint: the alphabet hasn’t changed in about 1100 years.”

I saw a light go on in the Gaggle’s head. He looked up for a second then back down at the dictionary. He flipped through the pages, found the letter, found the word, and gave me (and himself) the definition. I gave him a hug for surviving such an ordeal.

Where are my clothes?!

I have an unspoken understanding with the little Miracles of Christ (The Oppressed, The Boy, and The Gaggle. I call them “Miracles of Christ” because it’s a miracle they’re alive with all they’ve endured). I take their dirty clothes out of their room. I wash the clothes, dry them, fold them and take the clothes to their respective room and leave them on their bed. They take their clothes and put them away.

To you and me, this would seem like a fair deal or better than fair. they leave their clothes in their room and, when they come back, there are clean clothes waiting for them. All they have to do is find the drawer the clothes belong in and put them in that drawer. The Oppressed is furious to find her clothes on her bed as opposed to properly put away and refuses to do so. The clothes will either pile up on her bed or be crammed into a drawer. I don’t mean clothes separated and put into a drawer. I mean shirts, pants, underwear, everything folded and stacked will be put into the same drawer. the Oppressed is busy; too busy to be bothered with the tedious chore of separating clothes and putting them into the proper drawer. That is my job. The stress of her life doesn’t allow for such minutiae.

Sometimes I will find folded clothes at the bottom of hampers and baskets. The children swear they have no idea how this happens and proceed to blame the cat. Incidentally, the cat is the same one who turns on the lights after a child dutifully turns the lights off upon exiting a bedroom or bathroom.

The servitude forced upon the children is compounded by the atrocities committed upon them in the morning. When time to get dressed for school, The Oppressed will announce to the entire house that she has nothing to wear. She has looked everywhere, including the mountain of clean clothes on her bed and the random stash of clothes in any drawer. This interferes with her morning, with her entire day and my dereliction of duty will only make her day that much more difficult. If I would just put her clothes in the proper place, she would be able to go about her day.

“I can’t find anything to wear!”

“Where are your clothes supposed to go?” I ask.

Still waiting for an answer.

The Boy can’t be bothered to put his clothes where they need to go, either. He has a loft bed (translation: a bed fort) and his clothes will end up on the loft, that is, if Kitty hasn’t taken his clothes and stashed them in his laundry bucket. It will be time to get ready for school and he doesn’t have a thing to wear. He needs clean clothes.

I need to be kidnapped by Joe Perry.

The Afterschool Death March

From the start of first grade until the end of eighth grade I walked to school. It wasn’t uphill and I wasn’t barefoot (my feet are delicate) but it was nice. Crossing guards helped me negotiate intersections and I would run into friends along the way. It was a good time.

My own children are in school now and they are dropped off and picked up instead of walking. One factor in this is that my town, like other communities on Massachusetts’ South Shore hasn’t embraced sidewalks. Once you get away from downtown there’s the road and nothing else.

The Oppressed had early dismissal one glorious day and I thought it would be a great idea if I met her at school and we walked home together. As long as she stays with me and stays on the inside, we will be fine. She will be safe and we will get a little time to talk about school and how everything has been.

I left The Boy with a neighbor. I didn’t think he could make the trek. I walked to school and waited for the bell to ring. The Oppressed saw me and we started to walk through the schoolyard.

“Where did you park?” she asked me.

“I didn’t. I walked.”

“WHAT?!”

“We’re going to walk. It’s nice out and I want to get some exercise.”

The Oppressed started to look around. “Can I see if I can get a ride? I can’t walk that far.”

“You’ll be fine,” I assured her.

That wasn’t good enough. She pulled away from me and looked around to see if there was anyone around who would rescue her from her cruel fate. This included shouting out at vehicles that drove by. She said she was being kidnapped. Her father didn’t love her and her life was so hard. Every other kid had parents that loved her. Why didn’t she?

We continued onward. The Oppressed continued to look for someone that would take pity on her condition. A police cruiser drove by, prompting another cry of, “Child Abuse!” The cruiser didn’t even slow down.

She wasn’t having it. No one was hearing her. She stopped and informed me she would not go any further and demanded a taxi or a piggy-back. She wasn’t getting either. She was furious and started jumping down.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“You’re making me walk and I have a broken leg!” she started as she continued to jump on both legs. When that didn’t work, she laid down on the ground and said she would get up only when I picked her up, a taxi came, or her mother came along to drive her home. Neither of those happened and she finally got up and trudged home saying her father doesn’t love her and she can’t enjoy life. We made it home. I got The Boy and we proceeded with the Homework Wars.


When all else fails, you can always lay on the ground until a kind soul is willing to rescue you.

Out of the Old Ball Game

One of my dreams came true when I got to coach my kids’ baseball teams. I have two years of coaching under my belt. Both kids have played baseball for two years and The Oppressed is fine if she never sees another baseball field again.

The players resting after marching across the street.

Youth baseball is a learning experience. The kids learn the basics of the game, like not running to first base with the bat in your hand (everyone had that down by midseason). You also have to remind them of the rules from time to time in a gentle manner, like when your second baseman has a meltdown in the middle of the infield when someone is standing on her base (true story). Again, you have to remind them of the rules from time to time.

The Boy seemed to like baseball. He is asking if he can play again and if I can coach his team. I’m hoping I can. The Oppressed has informed me she hates baseball and everything about it. I think I have the only kid in North America who hates batting. She is never doing it again and she is working to have the act of batting banned for all eternity.

This year, I think I am going to emphasize the concept of taking turns. That way, I won’t have three kids standing on first base wondering what the other two are doing there. I’m also going to teach baserunning and how to do it. Or, more accurately, to run to first base instead of standing in the batter’s box thinking you’re David Ortiz as you admire your majestic pop-fly barely clearing the infield dirt.

I think it’s also important to teach the importance of defense and use the glove your parents gave you. Otherwise, we’ll have another kid want to quit when the ball hits them in the chest while their hands (and said glove) are down at their sides.

One player needed a drink of water every other batter. When that didn’t work, he needed the bathroom. Must have been all that water.

I read a story about Red Sox players doing a shot of whiskey before a game. I wonder if the coaches ever needed it.

The Valley Forge Death March

Wife needed to travel to Pennsylvania during a long weekend. I, being the history buff, was excited to know we would be relatively close to Valley Forge. I had never been and my favorite excuse for visiting somewhere is: “It’s there.”

The cherubs (The Oppressed and The Boy) and I dropped Wife off and continued to a local place for breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and when you’re going to spend your morning walking around, it’s that much more important.

We filled up on the local fare and proceeded on to Valley Forge. I was excited. Not only was I going to a place that had made me curious for years but I was also doing this with my children, one of whom would be learning about the American Revolution soon enough in school.

Breakfast before Valley Forge

The cherubs’ enthusiasm waned before we got to the second cabin on the land. The Oppressed wanted to know when we would be leaving and The Boy wanted to know what time it was. He was fairly certain the hotel pool was open by then and he didn’t want to miss it.

I was hoping to make it to the top of the hill where we would see the house where George Washington stayed while the soldiers build the cabins in the ice and snow. The Oppressed was done. She had gone far enough and she was hungry. She demanded more food. I reminded her there were people who were here with nothing on their feet in the middle of winter. She said I was lying and, if I was telling the truth, they were luckier than she was for not enduring such harsh treatment as her.

The last straw was when she saw a car driving up the hill to the destination I was hoping to reach. She was furious at me for making her walk all this time when we could have driven. She immediately laid down and informed me she wasn’t going anywhere until I agreed to take them back to the hotel so they could swim.

We never made it to the house.

Come on in

“Welcome to the show.” – KISS

My name is Greg. I’m from Massachusetts and have been a househusband for over nine years. I am a parent and a foster parent You’ll learn more about the cast of characters as we go along, especially the little darlings that have since transformed me from a gentle, live-and-let-live individual into a single malt scotch and craft beer connoisseur.

The Cast of Characters

Me. A college-educated, well-read individual who has turned into a hardened veteran of “The Homework Wars”. Hostage negotiator who frequently deals with hunger-strikes as a result of limited menus and a refusal to cook multiple dishes at mealtimes.

Wife. Mother of “The Boy” and “The Oppressed”. Claims to work in Corporate America but I and a few others seem to think she works for a secretly-funded black-ops branch of the federal government due to long stretches of not being reached and impromptu travel.

The Oppressed. My daughter. Believes I am conspiring with her teacher to make her life miserable and blames me for her not, “enjoying life”. Anti-homework crusader and tireless advocate for oppressed children everywhere.

The Boy. My son. Proudly announces he will work 10 jobs when he grows up. These jobs include building houses and playing a role in a local S.W.A.T. unit. Considerately stacks five or six books in front of his bed for me to read every night.

The Gaggle. Any one or more foster child(ren) that enter and leave our home.

Kitty. Our cat. Kitty likes to think I am her personal climbing post and Wife is her own bed. Kitty enjoys running around in circles at random times during the day and stalking/pouncing on anything that moves. Kitty has already used up seven or eight or her nine lives if you ask Wife.