Taking Your Children to King Richard’s Faire

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The Oppressed wanted to go to King Richard’s Faire earlier this season. I’ve heard of it, but I had never been there.

Other than being parked at the fair, this has nothing to do with the fair but I thought daddies and mommies would appreciate the van.

She was very excited to go. Wife even got her a Rennaissance-style dress to wear for the day. I’m not sure what she was most excited about. Going to the fair or having a dress to wear to the fair.

Arriving at the Fair

The big day arrived. It was me and four of the children. Wife and Lovie weren’t able to make it due to an unforeseen circumstance. We got out of the car and saw that The Oppressed was certainly within her element.

The Oppressed graciously accepting her award.

She was not the only one to dress up for this day. There were many people who took the opportunity to dress up for this grand day at the fair. Some were dressed up in Rennaissance clothes. Some were dressed in Harry Potter costumes. A lot of people were dressed up in some type of period or specifically themed garb.

I was dressed in regular, 21st century clothing. That’s right. I was dressed in modern clothes. Wife can’t say anything about how I was dressed on this day. (She tends to think my dress is old-fashioned sometimes.)

We joined the throngs who had assembled outside the gates. Lords, Ladies, and commoners alike waited their turn. There was no privilege granted to anyone. Everyone had to wait their turn until the gates opened.

When they did open, we walked into a completely different world. There were games that tested one’s strength and skill. There were stands that sold handmade items. Some vendors sold food. Some sold mugs, journals, or some other type of trinket. Everything was handmade and nothing was cheap. Children got trinkets and souvenirs.

The slogan for King Richar’s Fair should be, “Enter a lord, exit a pauper.”

Rides and Games

A manually operated ride.

There were plenty of rides to go on. All of the rides were powered manually. The people charged with operating the rides certainly earned their money. I had no idea they made rides like that.

In addition to the rides, we also saw games that tested your strength and skill. The Oppressed went for the skill games. Slugger went for the strength games. The Oppressed showed her determination and was rewarded with a royal proclamation that recognized her efforts and achievements. She graciously accepted her award.

Fun and games were briefly paused for food and drink. We got in another line to buy our fare and refreshments and I handed over another small fortune. The slogan for King Richard’s Fair should be, “Enter a lord, exit a pauper.”

We left for home that afternoon. Wife and Lovie were happy to see us after our day at the fair. The children were excited to show off everything they got at the fair. The Oppressed was happy showing Wife what she got and what she wore while getting it.

What Happens when the Parent gets Sick

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Sometimes people get sick. When the parent gets sick, specifically 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. The child asked if I could procure some bone broth for them. It’s something 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.

Parents Feeling sort of Better

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.

The Rest of the Weekend

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. The gods are 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?

Daddy Passes Another Cori Check, Fingerprinting

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He can chaperone 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, renowned for humorous parenting stories, has passed his fourth CORI and second fingerprinting, according to local sources.

Local school staff reported the results. As a result, the parenting pundit can accompany his children on field trips and participate in other school activities. Brave Daddy’s wife also passed CORI and fingerprinting, allowing her to chaperone.

The need for background checks was deemed necessary given the desire to chaperone previously mentioned field trips. He has previously undergone two checks for sports and one for foster parenting.

“I’m very happy with this latest check,” Brave Daddy said during a break from cutting grass.

Pivetta is on the mound for Sox against Texas, Dunning.

Brave Daddy’s lawyer, Dewey Cheatum, said he was glad but not surprised with the results. He hoped his client would no longer need to prove his merits to the community.

“My client has met and overcome a crucible of tribulations. This should certainly provide an example and inspire parents everywhere,” Cheatum said. “His Herculean efforts are extraordinary.”

Another piece of the acquitting evidence

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

What Lies Ahead

In addition to being 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 hope I find some barbecue or ice cream,” he said hopefully.

The elation of the news does not stop at Brave Daddy. His youngest daughter, The Oppressed, voiced her approval of the results and is looking forward to a full list of activities as the school year enters the homestretch. Brave Daddy’s youngest son, The Boy, wants to go to a friend’s house and could not comment. Older children Slick, Slugger, and Lovie are campaigning to have final exams cancelled and could not be reached for comment. Finally, The Gaggle is sleeping.

Celtics are hoping to stay alive in Milwaukee.

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

When Your Child Loses a Stuffed Animal

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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 attend to the mountains upon mountains of dirty clothes.

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.

Missing Duck

Well, as she brought 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 “Missing” Poster

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.

The Picture

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. My daughter took a picture of SDL just in case the drawing of Quackers isn’t enough for people to go on. Also, the child has directed everyone’s attention to the refrigerator where the drawing and photo are. We hope 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.

A Father and Daughter Take a Little Day Trip

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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.

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.

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? 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.

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.

Ready to eat dinner.

Dinner is finished, and we both need to use the restroom before leaving. 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.”

The Oppressed said, “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.

Back Home

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. I’m reminded of another time I had with The Oppressed and The Boy. On that day, the meal happened to be the highlight. You can read about that day here.

“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.

Boys Throwing a ball, and Boys Catching a Ball.

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“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.

Boys Playing Catch

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.

It’s Catch. Who Needs Advice?

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.

Exciting Times, Interesting Finds at Costco and Target

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.

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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, and it’s been easier post-Coronapalooza. 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.

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.

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.

Stickers from our visit at Target. I was smiling, Spot was smiling. The Gaggle wasn’t smiling.

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We were Ready for my son’s Birthday Party Until…

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Life is a special occasion, right? There is always something to remember and celebrate. At our house, with six children, there is usually a milestone to celebrate. We had a little celebration recently for The Boy’s birthday. I was in charge of putting together a special celebration to mark the latest spin around the sun.

It took The Boy a little while to actually make up his mind. He kept going back and forth between rock-climbing and jumping on trampolines. Trampolines won out. I went to the indoor trampoline park to book the party. After the venue was secured, we informed friends of the The Boy and their parents of the celebration. I implored fathers to attend the party so I would have friends to talk to.

Before the party, I needed to make return trips to order more pizza and make sure the guest count was accurate. The Oppressed and I went to the store to buy decorations and party favors. Pokémon was the theme of the party, and we travelled to the store to collect the appropriate favors. The Boy did not join us. He was too busy attending to the social demands of his schedule.

I need to recognize the efforts of The Oppressed here. Her vision regarding the party led to one of the signature items of the day. We had found some goodie bags to store the favors when my youngest daughter spotted plastic containers that resembled Pokémon balls. The balls were the perfect size to hold the favors and resembled the very item handled by characters in the Pokémon cartoon. Favors were prepared. Pizza ordered. Everything in place… Or so I thought.

A Birthday Cake

I had a birthday cake ordered for the party. The nice people in charge of the cake kindly requested 24 hours’ notice for the order. They got 72 hours. My kindness and benevolence are known throughout the area.

I asked to pick up the cake two hours before the party was scheduled to begin. Everything needed to be in place for the party. Alas, there was no cake to be picked up when I arrived and no humans around to answer my questions.

I look around. There is no one to rectify the situation. Time is running out and I need to find the cake. It’s getting desperate. Luckily, I recently read a wartime spy novel and was able to glean some basic skills. I just need to subdue an employee, secure their credentials, and make my way behind the bakery to find my son’s birthday cake. It seems a little involved, but I love my child and it is his birthday party.

I make my way around the store to find the necessary items to subdue the employee and secure their credentials. An employee with everything I need is in sight. They approach me and catch me off-guard as I am ready to jump into action.

“May I help you?” they ask.

“Why, yes,” I reply.” I ordered a cake and I’m here to pick it up.”

The nice person retreats to the back of the bakery and retrieves my cake. I bring the birthday cake to the front and pay for it. I discard the items I thought I would need to subdue an employee and continue on with my mission.

Party Balloons

It is now time to pick up the balloons for the party. We had ordered large, gigantic red, yellow and white balloons in keeping with the Pokémon theme. The party is scheduled to begin at 5:15. The balloon store is conveniently across the street from the venue and balloons are scheduled to be delivered at 5:00… Or so I thought.

I arrive at the venue with the cake and receive grateful cheers and adulations from parents and children alike. The cake is placed on the table in the rented room. I look around and admire the decoration and placement of the procured favors. I can’t help but notice a lack of balloons. A lack of large, Pokémon color-themed balloons. I ask Wife if she has seen the beautiful balloons. She hasn’t. I ask the nice people behind the counter if they have seen any beautiful Pokémon color-themed balloons. They have not. Something seems amiss. I call the nice people at the party goods store. Apparently, there was some miscommunication.

When they said the balloons would be delivered at 5:00, I didn’t know 5:00 actually meant the beginning of a two-hour window when we could expect the balloons. Considering we have the room for about an hour, this obviously doesn’t work with our schedule. I get in my car and drive across the street (it’s a fairly busy street and I don’t want to get hit by a car since I haven’t had pizza yet) to the store to get the balloons.

Balloons are Ready. Now it’s a party

I return with the Pokémon color-themed balloons, and I see the pizzas have arrived. After leaving the balloons in the room, I see two fathers who have brought their children to the party. I rejoice at having fellow fathers to commiserate with. We talk until it is time for pizza.

Pizza is about to be served. Note the snazzy Pokémon-themed balloons on the right.

We adjourn to the room where everything is laid out beautifully for our guests. You would never know there was a SNAFU with the cake, or a slight logistical error with the balloons. Children and adults alike sit down to pizza and then cake. I mingle with the other adults who got sucked into another child’s birthday party. After eating, everyone leaves and someone else cleans up the mess. That may have been the best present of all, and it wasn’t even my birthday.

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Pizza Bagels, Video Games, and Batteries

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I needed to drop one of my children at their friend’s house last week. I know the father, so I stayed for a bit and talked over a beer. We were in the living room, where one of his kids was playing video games.

Video Games

I’ve met a lot of kids over the course of parenthood, foster parenting, coaching, school pickup and drop-off, and a variety of other circumstances and duties. I think teens are the funniest, and this encounter with another life expert who is still in high school was no exception. Loyal daddies and mommies are familiar with our friend Wilt. Wilt was a child of another friend who seemed to know everything about life, especially basketball. Check out the link I so generously provided. If you have teenagers, you’ll understand what I’m telling you.

I think teenagers are the funniest, and this encounter with another life expert who is still in high school is no exception.

My child and I arrive at the house and the younger children quickly disappear upstairs. I remain downstairs, where “15” is dealing with one of the many challenges you face when trying to assemble a team on a video game. Dad is also in the living room finishing up work before getting ready to go out for the evening. It’s not an easy time for “15”. He’s playing a soccer game on his console, and he’s trying to assemble a national team. Apparently American soccer players are few and far between, and the good ones are even harder to find. I would like to help him, but I know nothing about who plays soccer, let alone where they hail from.

My friend and I watch “15” scroll through lists of players and their attributes. I offer whatever advice I can, but nothing works. The game works in a certain way, and you can’t just create a player and place him on your team. I literally haven’t played a soccer video game since last century, so I’m pretty much useless.

The Smoke Alarm

It gets harder for “15”. Not only does the field of available players lack what he needs, but the battery in the living room’s smoke alarm died, and there is an annoying “chirp” signaling the need for a new one. Each shrill call for a new battery is grating on the virtual general manager, who is having enough headaches with his lacking roster. He’s finally had enough, and he marches to the smoke detector, pulls it from the wall, and then the real struggle begins.

“15” has the smoke detector in his hands. The battery needs to be replaced, but first the old battery needs to be extracted. The Chinese water torture is getting to be too much for the lad, who can get the compartment open, but can’t get the battery out. Dad is enjoying this and so am I, to be honest with you. Finally, I show mercy to the poor child and take the battery out for them. After said extraction, I hold up the 9-volt nemesis and sing, “Ta-daa!” Now it’s time for a new battery, but there is no 9-volt battery in the house. So, the smoke detector sits on the end table sans battery for the time being.

A New Battery

I return home to take care of some chores and duties while my child is away at her friends. My friend has plans that evening, so I am sure to be there promptly to take my child home. I arrive at the house with a gift for “15”. A brand new 9-volt battery. To this day, I am mad at myself for not putting a bow on it.

Loaded and ready

I proudly present the lad with the gift and the life lesson. He installs the battery and places the smoke detector back in its proper place. Dad and I are proud of the child for doing his part to keep the house and his family safe and secure. Now, it’s back to video games where he has moved on from soccer to basketball. Dad and I are watching him scroll through teams and players. “15” makes some comments about Larry Bird, causing Dad to educate his child about Bird and Bill Russell. Meanwhile, we continue to watch him play.

“Hey, Auerbach,” I say.

“What?”

“I called you ‘Auerbach’.” Dad laughs. The child has no idea what I’m talking about, nor does he understand the reference to his basketball personnel moves.

Pizza Bagels

It’s time for a break in the action. “15” needs food. His dad follows him to the kitchen for a beer. “15” wants to make a pizza bagel. Dad and I watch the child struggle to slice a pre-sliced bagel. We remind the child it’s already pre-sliced, but this doesn’t matter to him because it’s not, “pre-sliced enough”. He gets the bagel sliced and prepares with sauce and toasts it. When it’s done, he has enough grated parmesan cheese for a dozen pizza bagels.

“Hey, Fieri,” I say after a sip of my beer, “Do you want some bagel to go with that cheese?”

One of the beers I received.

He tells me he has a solution and carefully shakes some cheese from one slice of the bagel onto the other slice. He then proceeds to eat the bagel while standing up, back turned to the counter. Crumbs fall to the floor. I tell him I’m willing to bet Dad has invested in some plates for the house. Dad tells me he needs to constantly remind him to use a plate when eating. I had no idea it was so chronic.

Driving home with my child, I ask how things went for them. I get home and enjoy one of the beers my friend sent home with me. My daughter and I watch some important, informative video on Harry Potter. While sipping my beer, I wonder if parents of teenagers were really meant to survive.

My new book, “A Collection of Short Stories” is now available on Apple Books.

A Busy Day of Celtics Basketball and the RMV

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There was a particularly busy day for the family. Of all days, it was on Wife’s birthday. The day started like any other day. I dropped off The Oppressed and The Boy at school. From there, I was off to the RMV to get an ID for one of my older children who were going to take a trip. There was one small “problem”: We needed the ID fast and the only branch that would give us an appointment when we needed it was on the other side of the state.

That was fine with me. I love driving. A chance to take a ride with one of my kids makes it even better. We made our way across the fair Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I asked our child how they were doing. They responded, “Great.” I told them I was excited to spend the day taking a drive them. I asked if they were excited. They answered, “Oh, yeah. Totally.”

Mass RMV 🚗 🚙

While we were driving, I told our child about a fun, exciting time I had at an RMV a couple of years ago. I needed to conduct business at a local RMV and saw a quasi-altercation between a customer and a nice lady behind the counter. A policeman had to get involved and said customer was escorted from the premises. For a moment, it looked like they were going to be arrested. They weren’t, and everyone continued with their day.

“Who knows?” I said to my child. “We may see some excitement today. Then again, we’ll be in Western Mass. People there tend to be nicer and more laid back, but there’s always a chance.

A policeman had to get involved and said customer was escorted from the premises. For a moment, it looked like they were going to be arrested.

We made good time getting to the RMV. The Boy and The Oppressed were dropped off late enough in the morning, so we didn’t hit traffic on the Mass Pike. We got to the RMV with time to spare. We sat in the car for a couple of minutes, as it was not time for our appointment yet. I decided we should take a shot and go in. Let’s see if someone cancelled and we can be seen early.

We walk in and check with the nice people at the front desk. They look at our paperwork. Everything looks good. We wait for our number to be called. When it’s called, we go to the assigned window. Paperwork checked and stamped. Photo taken. Alas, there were no altercations to witness. We walked out of the RMV with an ID at the time our appointment was scheduled to begin.

Shopping for Gifts

We pull out of the lot. My child asked if we could do some shopping. There are some things they would like to get for a friend. We find a nearby mall on the GPS. My child isn’t sure what they should get their friend. I ask questions to try to help them get some ideas.

We walk around the mall. They find a store. FYE. We walk in. Child walks around looking for something for their friend. I look around the store for a CD. I think I’ve done a good job parenting today and I’m worth it. They walk out with gifts for their friend. I walk out with a new Doors CD. I listen to the CD on the ride back. My child hears nothing but what’s playing through their earbuds. Their loss.

Boston Celtics Basketball

We get home. I drop off the child with their new ID and continue on to school where I get The Boy and The Oppressed. I tell them about my day and the fun I had driving across the state.

There’s plenty to do. I bring the children home and help them with their homework. We need to make sure things are finished earlier than usual. Remember when I told you it was Wife’s birthday? Well, it just so happens that Wife was able to secure tickets for all of us to see the Celtics.

Slugger just happens to love basketball, so we decide to have an early celebration of Slugger’s birthday on Wife’s birthday. We make sure the children are ready to go. Preparations are made. It’s been quite the day for me. I went into Western Mass during the day, and I’ll be in Boston that night. I don’t remember the last time I was at a Celtics game. Rick Pitino may have been the coach the last time I saw the Celtics. I don’t think he’ll be walking through that door tonight.

It’s a close game. The Celtics trailed but were able to pull it off. 108-102 over the Denver Nuggets. It was an exciting game. I think Slugger and I enjoyed it the most, which is the case when we go to sporting events.

After the game we stop at a restaurant for something to eat but before we exit the TD BankNorth Garden, I notice a mural of the Rolling Stones on the wall. I explain to The Oppressed that one night in 1999, my dad and I travelled to the Garden, then known as the FleetCenter to see the Rolling Stones perform. I don’t know if the picture was from that night, but I had her stand in front of the picture and sent it to Dad

From the restaurant, we drive home. It’s been a long day. I collapse into bed. There was a road trip with one of my children. I went to a Celtics game. We celebrated two birthdays. Jealous? You should be.

A long night, but a good one
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