Dad and Daughter Together in the Cornhole Tournament

We had a lot to figure out as we prepared for battle. The Oppressed, who is still growing, needed to figure out the proper “oomph” to give her beanbag tosses .

The Oppressed thought it would be a great idea if she and I played in a cornhole tournament together. The tournament was at the local YMCA. I play cornhole occasionally. If you play, you know how fun it can be. If you don’t play cornhole, you should.

There were plenty of other sights to take in that day. The Oppressed and I saw a raffle table, a food truck. There were five or six cornhole courts set up at the playing field. Every team, including us took turns to practice our skills. There were some practice matches before we kept score for real.

The Cornhole Tournament

If you don’t play cornhole, you should.

We had a lot to figure out as we prepared for battle. The Oppressed, who is still growing, needed to figure out the proper “oomph” to give her beanbag tosses. At first, the tosses didn’t reach the board. The arc was too high, then she adjusted her footwork. After tweaking the angle, she was able to hit the board.

Our target for the day.

Sometimes hitting the board was enough to score a point. Unfortunately, the boards were waxed and varnished. They did look pretty, but this prettiness presented another challenge for father and daughter alike. The beanbags would slide off the boards and on the ground. You only get points if your beanbag stays on the board for the entire round.

There was an occasional stroke of luck for us from time to time. Sometimes, we would get our beanbag in the hole. When this happened, the best our opponents could hope for was to get theirs in the hole on offset the points we had scored.

I talked about The Oppressed throwing the beanbags. My throws weren’t that much better. I made adjustments as best I could. A little more arc here. Aim over there. During the game, I tried to shout advice to my daughter from time to time. Unfortunately, our efforts and my advice didn’t do us much good. We lost the first game. We lost bad.

A look at the cornhole action.

I wasn’t too upset about it, neither was my daughter. It was a double-elimination tournament, and a little break in the action gave us time to discuss strategy for the next game. I liked our chances for the second game. Between the warm-up rounds and the first game, there was enough practicing and fine-tuning for us to redeem ourselves in the second game.

The Second Game

We were ready to go for the second game, and we got out to an early lead. This was good for us. It would give us a chance to stave off elimination. Plus, the extra games would give us a chance to improve our skills, which meant better throws and more points as the tournament continued.

The final score wasn’t pretty. That’s us on the left.

Our lead was short-lived, however and we fell behind. I wasn’t worried, though. I was confident we would catch up and retake the lead. We didn’t retake the lead.

Our team was eliminated in two games. It was pretty ugly. I don’t know if it was our technique or if it’s just been that long since I played a sport (Cornhole is a sport, right?), but we did not fare well at all at the YMCA Cornhole Tournament. We needed to assess our effort and future, if any with cornhole.

Lunch, and a Different Game

We commiserated over lunch at a local restaurant. The Oppressed chose where we would be eating. Coincidentally, it was where The Boy celebrated the end of his baseball season.

I like this place because it has Keno. I like to play Keno when I go out to eat. The Oppressed saw what I was doing, and when she saw that I needed to pick numbers, she immediately decided that I needed her help in choosing said numbers. She was very proud as she presented my slip to me with her specially chosen numbers.

Numbers were played. We watched the Keno screen as we waited for our food. We talked about our day at the cornhole tournament. When the food came, we ate and continued to watch the screen for our numbers. We got some of our money back. We didn’t get it all back, just some. The Oppressed wants to play Keno again. I’m not sure how I feel about her gambling so early.

Scary (Sung to “Mary” by the Jimi Hendrix Experience)

After Jack-O-Lanterns are on porches
Before clowns have all gone to bed
You can hear goblins walking on down the street
Isn’t it time for bed?

A Jack-o-Lantern in front of a car in a parking lot.
A scary Jack-o-Lantern watching for goblins.

And the kids whisper, “Scary”

A broom is swiftly carrying
Witches wanting pieces of candy
Somewhere a queen’s trick-or-treating
Somewhere a king wants more candy

And the children scream. It’s scary.

The little goblins say, “boo” tomorrow
And empty bags of candy on their beds
Tiny fun-size candies I see
Healthy eating I know is dead

And the goblins scream. It’s scary

Steps with a pumpkin with fake skeleton hands attached to it.

Will the children ever remember?
One piece that got out of its bag.
I choose one piece, with my sagely wisdom
Fruits and veggies never go this fast

Little goblins run. It’s scary

A Thrilling Weekend with our Foster Child (Now Pancakes?)

We took a foster child for the weekend. I’m going to call him “Jay”. Jay was a good kid. His social worker described him as an energetic, talkative kid.

Friday

When Jay first came here on Friday afternoon, he was understandably shy. He got settled after he moved around the house and saw everything here. He saw where he would be sleeping and where the snacks were kept. I think he got settled when he saw where the ice cream was. Ice cream seems to help people. It helps me.

laughing child face looking through hole in wooden fence
Photo by Gaurav Ranjitkar on Pexels.com

Wife was out of town on Friday night. It was me and the children. We hit the weekend running, as The Boy had soccer practice on Friday afternoon. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny afternoon. This disappointed The Boy, who was hoping for the cold, rainy days we had during the week. He wanted practice to be cancelled. There is a small consolation for The Boy. His game has been cancelled. This pleases him to no end. I’m upset because I won’t be able to wear the cool soccer fan gear I bought for his games.

After practice I went shopping with Jay to get snacks for the weekend. He wanted to get some ice cream. We already had ice cream, but he wanted something a little more in line with his tastes. He decided on rainbow sherbet.

Jay is Looking for People

We returned home after the trip to the store. People sit down to have dinner. After dinner, I retreat to my room for a little reading and a little writing. It’s not long before Jay comes up to see me.

“What’s up, Jay?” I ask.

“Where’s Wife?”

I remind Jay that Wife has gone away for the night, and she’ll be back the next day. Jay asks where she is. Why did she go away? I remind myself the social worker told us Jay could be talkative and likes to ask a lot of questions. So, he does. It’s nice to see he’s warming up to the people in the house.

Saturday

Saturday morning arrives. I’m happily laying in bed. No one needs to be in school. I don’t need to wake anybody up. It’s nice to be able to rest. Kitty is purring on me, keeping me warm. Suddenly, I hear the door open, and my slumber is disturbed by Jay.

“I’m hungry.”

“Okay,” I mumble. “Hold on a second and let me get dressed.

Pancakes (But no Pancakes)

Jay goes downstairs. I’m not far behind. I ask Jay if he will allow me a moment to make some coffee. He begrudgingly obliges. I make my coffee and focus back on Jay, who wants pancakes. I look around, but I’m not able to find any pancake mix.

“Can you look again?” Jay asks.

“Jay,” I patiently explain, “The pantry isn’t magic. If there’s no pancake mix in the pantry the first time I look, there won’t be any when I look again.”

This answer isn’t good enough for Jay, who insists I look again and find pancakes. I check the pantry and, alas, there is no pancake mix.

“Now what?” Jay asks.

cute asian boy eating breakfast at table
Photo by Alex Green on Pexels.com

I tell Jay he’ll have to slum it and maybe have cereal like my plebian children suffer through in the morning.

“Are you sure you don’t have pancakes?” he asks hopefully. I admire the boy’s enthusiasm as I break the bad news to him. No pancakes. The Boy makes his appearance and sees me getting Jay’s breakfast.

pancake with sliced strawberry
Photo by Ash on Pexels.com

“Do you have pancakes?” Jay asks.

“Dad,” The Boy asks me, “Do we have pancakes?”

I stop what I’m doing. I look at Jay, who suddenly finds the ceiling to be very interesting. The Boy smiles at me and repeats the question.

“We don’t have pancakes,” I say to The Boy and his partner in crime. The Boy leaps off his chair and proceeds to the pantry to confirm this. Jay follows him. He wants to make sure The Boy doesn’t miss anything in the pantry, just as The Boy is making sure I didn’t miss anything in the pantry.

Playtime

After settling for a less-than-ideal breakfast, Jay and The Boy go outside for some fresh air and playtime. I celebrate my time with two less children by picking up around the house and trying to get a hold of the madness that’s been unleashed.

Wife comes home while the boys are out playing. We spend a little time talking about her being away and my time helping Jay get acclimated to our madhouse. The children, inside and outside the house, sense Wife is home, so of course they descend to the kitchen. My time talking to wife has effectively ceased, so I go back to my work around the house.

It’s a relatively laid-back night at home as everyone settles into their pre-bedtime activities. Wife and I are holed up in our bed finishing our recap of our individual days. There is an occasional child that enters, since God forbid, we talk without children intervening.

Sunday

I wake up to Sunday, and children are up before me. We begin the daily dance of what’s for breakfast. Some children (Jay and The Boy) begin another quest for pancakes. Again, I tell them there are no pancakes. The two retreat to the living room for a YouTube session as they commiserate over their morning. There is a small silver lining for The Boy’s weekend: There is no soccer game. In spite of this good news, there are no pancakes.

Our Sunday is spent attending to whatever damage is done by the children over the weekend, preparing for the upcoming week, and savoring whatever quiet moments we have before answering the madness of Monday. I’m looking forward to Monday and the children pursuing their academic interests, while the children lament the clock winding down to their doom.

Lunch and Soccer made my Friday fun and Exciting

Well, I told you my Friday was exciting. Now you’re going to read about it.

What good shall I do this day?

Benjamin Franklin

Friday started like any other day for me. I said hello to Doggie and Kitty, got some coffee and got ready to face the day. I walked to the bus with Slugger and The Oppressed. When I got back home, The Boy was up beginning his day.

I took The Boy to school and again I returned home. I needed to eat a little breakfast, the most important meal of the day. The Gaggle emerged from their room. It was a big day for The Gaggle, as they were going to take the last part of their GED. The whole GED process itself has been an arduous one. I think we were both equally happy to see an end to this.

I spent the time reading while The Gaggle took their test. We made our way back to town when they finished. I needed to run an errand. The Gaggle wanted to go home and enjoy the fact that they didn’t need to study any more. I needed to go home and get things done at the house, but that had to wait.

Meeting People for Lunch

As I was driving home, my mother-in-law called. She was doing errands with her husband and her sister. They were going to lunch and asked if I would go with them. I accepted. Wife was working from home and couldn’t get away. Her day was filled with meetings. She asked if I would pick up something to-go for her. I would.

people in cafe
Photo by Joe L on Pexels.com

Lunch is spent filling in my in-laws and Wife’s aunt on life: school, sports, work, every part of the madness we face day in and day out. People ask me about The Boy’s soccer season. That’s going well. He seems to like it. Wife and I like that he’s out there expending energy. It means he can get tired faster and fall asleep earlier. When it comes to kids and quiet, Wife and I can use all the help we can get.

Lunch is over. I drive home to give Wife her food. No rest for the wicked, though. I need to be at the elementary school to get The Boy. The Boy has plans as he always does on Friday. Friday means rolling through the neighborhood and connecting with his friends. They aren’t able to play during the week. The burdens of homework and extra-curricular activities prevent that. I think petitions are being filed as you read this.

Soccer Practice, and Someone is Disappointed

Speaking of extra-curriculars, there’s a slight bump in The Boy’s schedule this afternoon. He has soccer practice. It was supposed to be earlier in the week, but Mother Nature had other plans with the rain. We’ve been getting quite the amount of rain lately. It would have been nice to have it during the summer when we were dealing with a drought, but I digress.

The Boy is most displeased with this development. Friday afternoons are for Manhunt and bike riding, not corner-kicks and throw-ins. The curtailed playtime is just another of a long list of grievances presented to me by all of my children. I take everything under advisement.

person playing soccer.
Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

The Boy goes to practice. The coaches, bless their hearts, do the best they can with the limited attention spans of the budding athletes. Time is spent on drills and a little strategy. I occasionally peek over my book to see how practice goes.

Practice ends. Parents walk up to the cluster of children to hear the coach’s words of wisdom and to see if there’s any word on the game. For some reason, times and locations of our games are always changing. The coach thinks the league is 90% certain of when and where we’ll be this weekend, and he hopes to be in touch with us that night.

Someone is Still Disappointed

I take The Boy home, and it’s time to eat. The Boy is not happy with me. We call The Boy “A Man About Town”. Friday means no homework. It means he doesn’t have to worry about what he’s doing the next day. Like all cherubs everywhere, The Boy spends his free time around the neighborhood collecting friends and having fun, celebrating their short-lived parole from school. Soccer practice cuts into that. He lets me know how disappointed he is in this change to his schedule.

I think I’m the only one looking forward to my son’s soccer game. ⚽️

I get home. I’m ready to rest a little from a busy week. The weekend has plenty of excitement in store for us, including a soccer game. I’m looking forward to watching my son play soccer. I think I’m the only one looking forward to the game.

Follow me on Twitter @Greg_the_Brave for more insights and nuggets about parenting.

We Wanted to Eat, but the Dog wouldn’t Let us

I’m trying to figure out what to do first: Kill the dog or call the vet.

I’m a stay-at-home parent, which means I am the one responsible for the kids getting to and from school, practice, and doctor’s appointments. I shop. I prepare and cook the meals. Certain children in this house wouldn’t mind if the meals responsibility went to someone else.

Different Day, Different Duties, Different Children

Sometimes responsibilities can overlap. This is what happens when one or more of the children need to be somewhere but, for example, people need to eat. Sometimes one child needs to be somewhere, but others need to be picked up from school. Or, God forbid, a parent has an appointment, and a child needs to be picked up.

All sorts of combinations exist that can throw a curve ball to the family cook, chauffer, and health consultant. If you’re lucky, you won’t get a phone call from the school nurse about a stomachache.

Stay-at-Home Parents Juggle Responsibilities and Delegate

There can occasionally be a day or a moment where circumstances can conspire to make your life difficult. Sometimes the tumblers can click at an inopportune time. When this happens, you just have to roll with the punches and deal with it as best you can.

We had one particular afternoon where it seemed like everything was in place, but fate had other plans for our house and family. I needed to take The Boy to soccer practice one afternoon. Practice wasn’t at an opportune time. This meant I needed to have dinner cooked ahead of time for the rest of the family and still make it to practice.

A Master Plan

This is where my mad delegation skills come in. Children need to be at practice. Children need to eat. Food needs to be cooked. I have a brilliant idea. I can start to cook dinner and, when it’s time to take The Boy to practice, I hand off the chore to some children. This isn’t a problem. I’ve done the hard parts. I just talk the cherubs through the final steps of the meal preparation.

The meal for this particular night is chicken. Nothing too elaborate. Nothing that needs to be prepared, just bone-in chicken thighs. From the package to the tray and into the oven. Simple enough. I warm up the oven and lay the chicken down on the tray. As I prepare the night’s repast, I summon Slugger to the kitchen.

Slugger’s marching orders are simple enough. When the timer goes off, he is to take out the chicken and rest the tray on the stovetop. The task seems easy enough. Let’s see if he’s capable.

a man coaching his team on the field
Soccer practice while the rest of the children finish dinner. Photo by Kampus Production on Pexels.com

The Boy and I hit the road for practice. I’m hoping he has a good practice. I’m also hoping the chicken makes it out of the oven and doesn’t get overcooked.

Soccer practice begins. I divide my time between watching practice, reading, and checking my phone for messages. I remind Slugger to take the chicken out of the oven. He’s way ahead of me and informs me the chicken is already out of the oven and resting on the stovetop.

There’s no Chicken

In the midst of my multitasking, I realize I haven’t cooked the rice with dinner. Slugger was on chicken duty, so I need to spread out the dinner delegation. I call The Oppressed.

Making the rice is a multi-step process. That’s alright. I’m going to walk her through it. First, I instruct her to move the chicken from the stove to the kitchen island.

“Dad, there is no chicken.”

What’s missing? (Hint: There’s no chicken.)

I’m not understanding this. Slugger told me the chicken was pulled out of the oven. I ask my daughter to check the oven. She checks. The oven is empty. I’m confused. Slugger told me the chicken was out.

“There’s a pan here with some foil on it,” my daughter tells me.

I start to think. Slugger took the chicken out. There was chicken on the pan when he took it out. Now there is no chicken, and we have a dog. I’m starting to put the pieces together as The Oppressed gets Slugger, who returns to the kitchen.

“Yeah,” Slugger says, “I think the dog got the chicken.”

My Dog Needs the Vet, or does she?

This is a bit of a situation since the chicken had bones. I hastily rush home with The Boy. We get home. There I see the empty pan with chewed foil. I am trying to figure out what to do first: Kill the dog or call the vet.

Doggie awaiting her fate.

I decide to call the vet. The vet explains we have two options. We can rush Doggie to the Urgent Care for pets, or we can put her on a strict diet of white rice-and-nothing-else for a few days. This strict diet also means we can’t give her treats either. By now, Wife is looped in on the situation. She and I agree it’s easier (and a lot cheaper) to go with the white rice option.

Doggie has had her dinner, but I feel I need to boil the rice and give her a little to start the process. It was a process that went on for three days. She showed no complications from helping herself to our dinner, and Wife and I were able to resist the urges to kill the dog for yet another anxiety-inducing moment. I can’t even make this stuff up.

Click here for information on what to do if your dog swallows a foreign object.

Exciting Back to School Days for the Children and Parents

All over the neighborhood and throughout the town, parents are rejoicing as the heavens open up and the sound of angels singing fill the ears of parents who have suffered these three long months of children who sleep until the middle of the afternoon and numb their brains and eyeballs to the latest offerings of YouTube and Tik-Tok.

The summer is winding down. The weather is getting cooler, and the days are getting shorter. All over the neighborhood and throughout the town, parents are rejoicing as the heavens open up and the sound of angels singing fill the ears of parents who have suffered these three long months of children who sleep until the middle of the afternoon and numb their brains and eyeballs to the latest offerings of YouTube and Tik-Tok.

The choirs of angels accompanying the opening heavens are heralding the start of the new school year. It is a glorious time welcomed by all parents. The months of suffering the Miracles of Christ come to an end and we begin a new school year that will mold minds and give children new and exciting opportunities to learn things that will serve them well in life.

This, of course, also means Brave Daddy himself needs to adjust to a new routine. Children not needing to get up early in the morning means Daddy doesn’t have to get up early in the morning. I’ve been able to stay in bed for a little bit and contemplate what needs to be done and what excitement lays in store for me. Now I need be up and ready to go.

Riding the School Bus

There’s also another part to this school year that makes it different from any other. This year we have three children in three different schools, four if you include Lovie in college. High school, middle school, and elementary school.

Thankfully, the high school and middle school students are on the same bus in the morning and the bus comes earlier than when The Boy needs to be dropped off at school. I walk to the bus stop with the bus children. It gives me some exercise and helps to prepare me for all the moving I need to do that day. The Oppressed is glad to have the company as she waits for the bus. Slugger is too cool to interact and listens to his earbuds.

Ready for the bus… Kinda.

I was there for the bus to return twice in those first few days of school. The first time was because The Oppressed wanted to see the teachers from her old school, and the second time was because it rained, and I took pity on the children by driving them down the street. There have been new routines, but the same answers to questions. The kids did, “nothing” all day and school was, “great”.

I don’t get much else from the cherubs. Maybe that will change as the year goes on. One can only hope. Maybe something will happen that will be exciting enough to tell their dad. Maybe they’ll learn something interesting enough to share with me when I see them at the end of the day.

Driving to School

As I said before, we have three (four) children in three (four) schools. For the first time in years, I am only driving one child to and from school. This makes it easier for Daddy, who only needs to make sure that one child has what they need before getting into the car and getting to school. There are no wars over who is sitting in the front seat. There is no yelling at each other over some insipid issue that (to them) is a matter of life and death.

The Oppressed checks out one of her new classrooms.

Afternoon pickups give me a chance to see the other parents and reconnect. I get to commiserate with them about the daily struggles of getting to school and making the bell. My time with the other clueless adults is usually cut short by The Boy, who wants to get home and drop his bag and go to his friend’s house to play. I try to take advantage of the quick ride home with The Boy and ask about his day. What did he learn? What did he play at recess? Who did he play with?

School was great. He did nothing. He played with his friends, but he doesn’t remember what he did or who exactly he played with. Good talk, Dad. I’m going to my friend’s house to play.

Follow me on Twitter. @Greg_the_Brave

Grilling a Delicious Dinner with Your Daughter

Our kids, all of them are growing up (supposedly). Some days Wife and I question this, other days children tell us they are ready to try something they’ve never tried before.

The Oppressed recently told us she was ready to try something new. She wanted to cook dinner. Our youngest daughter picked a challenging night to try cooking dinner. We were having steak.

It’s August. It’s summer. That means we throw steaks on the grill. That means teaching The Oppressed how to work the grill and cook the steaks. If that was all we needed to be worried about, we would still have our hands full. Like other meals, we weren’t just having steak. We were also having baked potatoes and broccoli.

The Oppressed made it abundantly clear to me that she, and nobody else, would cook dinner. She would allow advice and answers to questions if she had any, but this was her gig, and she (and nobody else) would be doing the cooking.

Potatoes and Broccoli

We began with heating the oven for the potatoes and the broccoli. After that, we pulled the steaks out of the refrigerator to take the chill off. The potatoes were easy. We just needed to poke them with a knife and put them in the oven.

The broccoli required a little more effort and ingredients. We originally intended to use olive oil, salt, and pepper. Unfortunately, some of the children saw The Oppressed going to work and immediately decided their input was needed when it came to what to add to the broccoli.

Soon the spice drawer was emptied out and multiple cherubs were trying to add other seasonings and flavors to the dish. One child made it past me while I was telling people we didn’t need so much input or spices. The child that did make it through added garlic.

Steaks on the Grill

With broccoli and potatoes in the oven (we decided to cook everything and reheat the broccoli later), it was time to focus on the steak. I went outside to turn on the grill while The Oppressed went to work and seasoned the steaks. When I returned to the house, The Oppressed demanded to know where I went and let me know how upset she was that I had turned on the grill. She reminded me she was doing everything.

My daughter seasoning the steaks.

I tried to explain to her that the grill had to be warmed up before putting the meat on. This didn’t matter, of course. I should have told her it was time to turn on the grill before applying the seasonings. What’s done was done, and I told her I would be mindful of that the next time. She had informed me there would be a next time, but we’ll get to that later.

Steaks on the grill.

We get to the grill. I run back into the house to grab a beer because I’m grilling and it’s a rule to have a beer while grilling. The Oppressed allows me to put the steaks on the grill, as they are big, and she is struggling a little with the tongs. That’s all I can do, though.

Pouring a Beer

A beer is poured by me, not the boy. The Boy emerges and lets me know he’s upset that I poured a beer without telling him. He wanted to pour the beer for me.

A rather heavy pour of beer.

Daddy sips on his beer, reflecting on how The Boy has been let down. I turn a steak over to see if it’s done on one side. The Oppressed demands to know what I’m doing if she is the one who’s cooking dinner. I surrender the fork to my daughter, who gives me a suspicious look and focuses on the grill, checking on the meat.

I let The Boy know I’m ready for another beer. He forgives me for my previous transgression and proceeds to open the beer and pour. He is still learning this art, and there is more foam than beer. I give it a couple of minutes for the head to die down a little.

Dinner is served.

Steaks are done by the time the second beer is finished. They are brought in by The Oppressed and her father. I begin to set the table until my daughter pushes me away. She reminds me she is the one preparing dinner. I tell her forks on the left, knives on the right. The Oppressed puts a finger to her lips and say, “Sshh!” Everyone sits down at the table, set by The Oppressed. Dinner passes with the entire family.

Pork on the Grill

The Oppressed was so proud of herself, she decided to prepare dinner the next night. I would be allowed to help a little, but this was her job, and she would be the one to do it.

The next night’s menu was pork. I went to the store to buy some marinade and prepared the meat. Beer was taken out for The Boy to pour. He poured it. Big head. I turned the grill on and gave it a minute to warm up while the head tamed down.

There was a slight challenge when I opened the grill to put down the pork. The fire was out. This was a small problem, and the children and I closed up the containers of marinating pork and went inside. The Boy wanted to carry my beer. I told him I would do it.

One night was grilling. Another night was cooking on the stove top. Two different methods of cooking that required different sets of skills and attention. I watched The Oppressed watch the meat and the clock. I told her when to turn the meat. She had a little trouble handling the utensils. I attempted to step in and assist, but she put up her hand, informing me she had a handle on things. I backed away and sipped my tasty beverage while she continued cooking.

Drinking a beer. This was really the only thing I was allowed to do while my daughter cooked.

We all sat down to dinner. Pork, french fries, and corn. Again, everyone raved about the efforts of The Oppressed. She had been wanting to make dinner for everyone for a long time and finally got to do it. After two successful meals, I think everyone is looking forward to her next effort.

“Down on the Farm” is now available for purchase on Apple Books.

I Took my Child to the Hospital

More fun times. We recently had a child who needed to go to the hospital. It’s always fun when we go to the hospital.

More fun times. We recently had a child who needed to go to the hospital. We took a shot, and hoped it could be something that could be tended to at urgent care. No such luck.

Urgent Care

It’s always fun when we go to the hospital. This time, it was The Gaggle who needed to be seen. We go to Urgent Care and tell the nice lady behind the desk of the symptoms they’ve been feeling. The nice lady asks them some questions. The Gaggle then looks at me with a puzzled, helpless look in their face.

“You’re adorable,” I say to them.

The nice lady points to me and said, “That’s the word I’ve been looking for to describe my teenager.”

I help The Gaggle with the rest of the questions, and then we get to that fun part of the Q&A. Insurance. Unfortunately, they don’t take our insurance, and we are forced to go to the hospital. The emergency room. It’s always a fun time when we go to the emergency room.

The Emergency Room

We get to the emergency room. There’s a line of people ahead of us. We go to reception and check in.

Waiting for someone,
anyone, to appear.

The nice lady at the desk asks questions. Luckily, The Gaggle is able to answer them. I think it’s because she had practice earlier. The nice lady gets a bracelet and puts it on The Gaggle’s wrist. I’m disappointed when I find out there are no door prizes for me. After all, I’m the one who drives the children to the hospital. I thought I would at least get a coupon for a coffee or something. Maybe a balloon. No such luck.

People Watching

We take our seats in the waiting area. I have a book with me and start reading. It turns out to be a good thing for me that I brought the book. We’re going to be there for a while It’s a good book, but the entertainment in the waiting area soon commands my attention.

One woman complained she had been there for five (expletive) hours. this woman was most displeased about the wait. She walked around the waiting area huffing and throwing her hands in the air. After taking a little stroll around the waiting room, she threw her hands in the air and plopped back down on her seat.

Another woman needed to leave the hospital because she needed to take care of her dog. She was adamant that she needed to go home. The nice man who was with her promised a trip to the beach if she stuck it out at the hospital.

She walked around the waiting area huffing and throwing her hands in the air. After taking a little stroll around the waiting room, she threw her hands in the air and plopped back down on her seat.

Other comrades-in-waiting.

The Five Hour Woman got a call on her cell phone. She picked up the phone and said, “Hello, don’t call me again,” then hung up the phone. A couple of minutes after that, the child and I saw someone walking through the parking lot in a Johnny. Back to “Five”. Now she’s pacing, saying she’s been here for six hours, and may flip out in these (ahem) “people”. Another name is called. “Five” raises her hand to announce she hasn’t been seen yet. That’s when we are called.

Now That We’re Called

So, this turned out to be a false alarm. They just needed to do some blood work. After that was done, we were sent back to the waiting area. Someone brought “Five” some food. That seemed to make her happy and quiet her down… for a minute.

Wife texts me to ask how things are going. I tell her it’s another exciting day of people watching, but I am hopeful we’ll be called soon. I’m always hopeful if this. I’m sure the lady who’s been there for five, I mean, six hours is just an anomaly.

We’re there for hours. My attention goes from my book to the television to the other people in the waiting area. More hours pass. We finally decide to leave the emergency room. We get an appointment at a clinic and are seen. The Gaggle gets a prescription. I have more exciting stories to tell Wife about another exciting adventure in the waiting room.

“Down on the Farm” is now available for purchase on Apple Books.

Plenty of Excitement in the Lazy Summer Days

We are in the middle of summer vacation. It’s had its share of excitement and moments we’ll never forget, no matter how much we want to forget or how hard we try.

The season started with graduation. Two of our children graduated from high school, one graduated from elementary school. Not long after celebrating these milestones, we went to Maine to celebrate my nephew graduating from high school. Not long after that, I was able to watch a friend perform in a concert in a local town green.

A concert on the town green.

Switching Gears

Switching from school to summer vacation meant switching gears. We don’t have to wake up early to make the bus anymore, but we do have to make sure teenagers are out of bed and ready to face the day and tackle the chores. Some of the misinformed cherubs think they have a God-given right to sleep all morning into the afternoon. Wife and I are still explaining to them that’s not how life works.

On the other side of the spectrum, we have The Oppressed and The Boy. Both are at camp and spend the days swimming, rowing, and learning arts and crafts. These children have been at this particular camp for years. They love it, as do the other children in the area who attend. It’s a great camp. Parents (including this one) have tried to get in, but apparently there’s an age limit.

The scene of another birthday party just before the kids fill up the floor.

When the children aren’t at camp or sleeping, there are birthday parties to attend. Both The Oppressed and The Boy have been busy this season attending parties. This gives the chance for The Oppressed to express herself and her talents with drawings on the card and craft projects that come with the presents picked out for friends. The kids have fun at the parties, and it gives Wife and I a chance to catch up with the other adults.

Yes, it’s nice for things to slow down and it’s nice for us to do things other than worry about getting to school on time and making sure homework is done. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean parents like us can take a break from worrying about our little cherubs. Our little miracles of Christ keep finding ways to keep up on our toes.

Slight Incident at the Pond

There was one such incident I’ll remember and treasure forever. One day, children and I were swimming at a pond. This particular watering hole had a rope tied to a tree. Children at the pond liked to swing off the rope and fall into the water. Seems like fun, right? It is. The only problem is this: You need to swing on the rope a couple of times to get far enough over water that is deep enough. The rope can be a tricky thing to try to control while you’re swinging in mid-air.

One such child had a little trouble with that and their back hit the tree. I was watching the children take turns on the rope and dreading something like that happening. Sure enough, it did.

Luckily for this child, no one was really swinging wild enough or fast enough to do major damage to themselves. There was a little scratch. Nothing more than that. We were all grateful.

A Missing Cat?

There’s been plenty of excitement for our family this summer. Some episodes are more exciting than we would like. There was one morning Kitty decided to go out exploring, and she was gone for most of the day.

I was browsing through social media later that day when I found a post mentioning a dead cat not far from our neighborhood in case anyone was missing a cat. The description of the cat was close enough to Kitty that I felt I should respond to the post and get more information. The nice lady who had originally posted about the cat sent me a message with a picture of the cat. I honestly couldn’t say, “yes” or “no” with 100% certainty.

It was a long day and a long night. I wasn’t sure what I was going to tell the younger children or one of the teenagers, who has a special fondness for Kitty. I told nobody except for Wife. No need to alarm any of the children.

I woke up the next morning and began my daily routine, which started with letting Doggie out. When I reached the door, there was Kitty waiting. She looked healthy and intact, and ready to sleep off the excitement of her night out of the house. I was able to dial down my anxiety until the next fun-filled adventure finds its way to my house.

Safe and sound asleep.

The Declaration of Independence for Children

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all children are created equal to their parents, that they are endowed with

(With apologies to Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence)

The Declaration of Independence

When in the course of children’s events it becomes necessary for one children to dissolve the parental bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of family and family’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of children requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to separation.

Outline of Parents’ Wrongs and Atrocities

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all children are created equal to their parents, that they are endowed with certain unalienable rights, that among these are snacks, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. – That to secure these rights, Parents are instituted among children, deriving their just powers from the consent of the children, – That whenever any form of parenting becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the children to alter or abolish it, and institute new Parents, preferably themselves, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to the children shall seem most likely to provide their own happiness. Parents don’t know what they’re doing, anyway. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that parents should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that children are more disposed to suffer, while evils of parents are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and wrongful seizing of parenting rights, pursuing invariably the same object shows a devious plan to reduce the children under absolute Despotism, it is the children’s right, it is their duty, to throw off such Parenting (themselves), and to provide new Guards for their future security (until they need money or a ride somewhere).

Indictment of Parents

Such has been the patient sufferance of these Children; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Parenting. The history of the present Parents is a history of repeated injuries and wrongful invoking of rights as parents, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these innocent children. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

They have refused to Assent to Children’s input, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good:

They have forbidden their children to make their own rules, unless suspended in their operation until their Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, they have utterly neglected to attend them:

They have refused to make other rules for the accommodation of children’s happiness, unless those children would obey the rules of the house, a right precious to them and formidable to tyrant parents only:

They have called together children for meals and family trips at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from where they can charge devices, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with their measures.

They have dissolved Child Representation repeatedly, for opposing with parental firmness of their invasions on the rights of the children.

They have refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to elect other children, whereby children’s powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the Children at large for their exercise; the children remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of chores and a lack of screens.

They have endeavoured to prevent more friends coming over when chores “need to be done” refusing to allow more children to encourage their migrations hither and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Friends visiting:

They have obstructed the Administration of Children’s Justice by refusing their Assent to rules for establishing additional Children’s privileges:

They have made Children dependent on their Will alone for food, clothing, shelter, and transportation:

They have erected a multitude of New Offices which harass our people and dictate mealtime substances:

They have kept among us, in times of peace, Rules and Curfews without our consent:

They have affected to render their Parental roles independent of and superior to the Children’s Power:

They have combined with others (teachers, other parents) to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution of rights, and unacknowledged by our law; giving their Assent to their acts of pretended Legislation:

For not allowing extended privileges because rooms are not clean.

For protecting other parents, by a mock Trial from punishment for any atrocities which they should commit on fellow Children:

For cutting off communication with all parts of the world after a certain hour:

For imposing chores on us without out Consent:

For depriving us in many cases of the benefit of Making our own Rules:

For punishing us for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of Parenting Laws, establishing therein an Arbitrary Parenting government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute parenting unto the Children:

For taking away our screens, abolishing our most valuable leisure activities and altering fundamentally the Forms of our routines and habits:

For suspending our own Autonomy, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever:

They have abdicated Parenting here by suspending our rights and waging War against those rights:

They have plundered our bedrooms, ravaged our backpacks, ransacked our closets, and destroyed the lives of our people:

They are at this time collaborating with teachers, doctors, coaches, neighbors to compleat the works of confiscating unhealthy snacks and drinks, and enforcing “healthy” choices and habits, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized family:

They have witnessed and consented to other parents, who have constrained our fellow Children taken captive, or “grounded” them:

They have excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and have endeavoured to bring on the merciless punishments, an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions:

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. Parents, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free children.

Past Appeals to the World

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our brethren (and sistern). We have warned them from time to time of attempts by all parents to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us all. We have reminded them of our seeking justice and quest for satisfaction. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common roles as children to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our playtime and socializing together.

The Case for Independence

We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold the Parents, as we hold the rest of mankind, Friends and Equals.

Independence is a Must

We, therefore, the Children, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, so, in the Name, and by Authority of the good Children everywhere, solemnly publish and declare, That these Children are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to Parents, and that all parental connection between them and the Parents, is ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent Children, they have full Power to pay bills, cook meals, do laundry, and arrange transportation to friends’ houses, parties, and sporting events, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent Children may of right to. And for the support of the Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Wi-Fi and Uber Eats, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Passwords, and our sacred Honor.

Click here for an interesting article on the connections past presidents have with Independence Day.