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.

My Child’s Version of the Day they were Born

With all of the debate at my house, my child wanted to set the record straight about the day they were born.

My child saw what I had written about the day they were born and they felt the need to straighten some things out when it came to that day. I didn’t think that was necessary, but they insisted on lending their opinion on the events of that magical day.

So, first I already know my dad is lying because I know I was born the day after Thanksgiving and my mom was in labor for 50 hours, so they would have been in the hospital since 1 a.m. that morning and MY MOM seems to have a different story and they don’t go to my aunt and uncles for Thanksgiving.

Brave Daddy here. We did go to my brother’s and his wife’s for Thanksgiving until they moved.

Plus, I have relatives to back my story up and I have asked my dad if am adopted and he says no.

My children seem to think I can be a little different when it comes to things I say and do. I don’t know where they get this. Seems unfounded to me. Anyways, there always seems to be some different recollections when it comes to that magical Thanksgiving and for some reason, they always seem to come up around Thanksgiving.

He was in the room, so he knows I wasn’t adopted. Well I disagree. (Being adopted is not a bad thing)

My child didn’t want any of their adopted siblings to thing Wife and I loved them any less because they were adopted, so they put that last part in there.

The point is, some people in this house seem to remember the day differently. Whatever happened, and we all know who told the REAL version here, Wife and I were happy to be parents. In fact, you could say we were thankful (see what I did there?) What ever you’re thankful for, enjoy it. Happy Thanksgiving.

Adoption

Our children posing with the judge.

It was a very exciting week for us. It usually is, but this exciting week was a special one for Wife and me. Last week, we officially became parents of The Gaggle. It was a long process. It usually is when you’re dealing with the state, but in all honesty, the wait wasn’t as long as it could have been.

So, what changes? Not much, really. The children have been with us for a long time now. They’ve been with us for over a year and we’ve got our routines down. In addition to school, we also have sports practice, doctor’s appointments, and visits with friends.

We’re going to trip over dirty clothes and find dirty dishes in random places. We’re going to stare in disbelief at the answers we receive to what we thought were simple questions.

We’re still going to have our vacations and our day trips. There will still be our weekend trips to Cape Cod. We’re going to trip over dirty clothes and find dirty dishes in random places. We’re going to stare in disbelief at the answers we receive to what we thought were simple questions. We’re going to shake our heads and facepalm when we see things that happen in our house.

We will continue to team children up when it comes to the chores around the house. We will continue to walk from room to room and wonder why things don’t get done around the house. We’ll hear about school and practice being, “great.” We’ll continue to deal with the challenges faced by us and other parents around the globe.

Children banging the gavel to make the adoption official.

We arrived at court on the day of the festivities. We met with the judge before the proceedings officially began to get the rundown. We then went to the courtroom where things were officially declared. The judge officially named us parents to the Gaggle, now officially known as Slick, Slugger, and Lovie, and children were given a gavel to pound and declare our parenthood official.

One of the children, who had turned 18 before the adoption could become official, was not “adopted” in an official sense. The Oppressed realizing this, promptly drew up a decree of adoption and had Wife and I sign it. It hangs in our kitchen.

A homemade adoption certificate.

From there, we went to lunch to celebrate the day and our accomplishment. We then went home to rest from the excitement.

Friends came by over the weekend for dinner to celebrate and congratulated us on the good news. Our social media has been flooded with likes and comments congratulating us and wishing us the best as we continue our adventures in parenting. It’s always going to be exciting, maybe more exciting than we’d like. There’s going to be a problem, a practice to go to, a game to attend. There will be the hiccups that accompany the days in the life, but that’s okay. We love our children.

brave-daddy

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Protecting your Treats from Nosy Children

Quickly eating before being caught.

You read stories of American colonists hiding stores of ammunition ahead of the British army coming to seize it. Pirates hid treasure. People would secretly make then hide booze. People did whatever it took to make sure someone else didn’t take what was theirs.

photo: gotrum.com

I’m seriously considering these practices in my house. As you know, I’m usually the one who does the grocery shopping. Sometimes I need to go to the wholesale store. This is necessary when you have five children, three of them are in athletics (if you count cheerleading).

I get this. I played sports. I rode a bike. You sweat. You need to hydrate. It happens. I understand this. What I don’t understand is why one of the Gaggle needs to pack four sports drinks in the morning. He needs to stay hydrated. Do the water fountains not work in the school?

The Boy is one of the children in sports. He needs to hydrate. That would be fine if he actually finished his hydration. He doesn’t and he’s not the only one. Wife and I are constantly finding half-full (or half-empty) bottles around the house. They belong to nobody, of course. All of the children are perfect and they finish and properly dispose of everything they consume.

Sometimes I see something I think Wife will really like when I’m shopping so I grab it. Something nice to give her while she overworks at her job. I make sure to give it to her while the little pillagers are at school. If they’re home, I’ll tuck it under something in a bag, then retrieve it and, with great stealth, slip it under some papers or behind a book so she can enjoy it without having it poached by one of the Miracles of Christ.

Wife has seen what’s going on as we find depleted supplies of tonic and juice and assorted treats. She has resorted to taking some of these rations and storing them in special hiding places so she can enjoy a little something when she feels like it instead of gobbling up something for the sake of getting something she’d like before the children conduct their raid and it’s gonna forever.

Interestingly enough, my store of fruits and vegetables hasn’t been pilfered 🤔. It’s a fascinating thing that occurs at my house, but I haven’t had the need to hide apples, oranges, peaches, plums, or carrots. It’s a phenomenal situation, but this is one of the reasons they’re called the Miracles of Christ.

The colonists hid guns in woodpiles, bullets in sacks and barrels. Bruce Wayne has secret passages at Wayne Manor. Heroes have ways to hide and store necessary supplies for when they need it. Wife has taken to these tactics before the locusts – I mean, children – descend upon the spoils of a shopping trip. If we’re lucky, they’re absorbed in a screen that provides some mind-numbing experience for them. This allows us to find a place to hide something being saved for a special occasion or something that’s planned for a meal. Either way, we have our system. It may not be as elaborate of a system used to warn of British coming into Boston Harbor, but it does allow me and wife to preserve our stores and hold off the grocery shopping for another hour.

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Larry’s last days

Trees at dusk.
Trees living their best life.

I’m sure you are aware of the loss we all experienced last year when we needed to have a tree removed from our property. If you are not aware of Larry the Tree and the memories he provided the entire family (The Oppressed), allow me to once again share the story of our beloved tree and the day he was taken away from us in a cruel and heartless decision made by Wife and me. Here is the story that honors his memory. Larry the Tree – Drink your juice (and Other Crimes Against Humanity) (brave-daddy.com)

The Oppressed continues to remind me of what happened to Larry and how he is in a better place, no thanks to her parents. I thought it would be nice if you got it straight from the fingers of my daughter. Here it is, the life and times of Larry in her own words.

My father thought I should write a story on his blog (I am The Oppressed). I decided I will write about the famous Larry The Tree (from the perspective of The Oppressed). Now to begin:

One day I was doing schoolwork and I heard my parents were hiring someone to kill my good friend Larry the tree. They told me he was dead but he was still standing and dead things can’t stand; not to mention they killed him on this birthday, Earth Day. They also said they’ve never heard of the tree being named “Larry”. Well, if they took the time to pay attention, they would know his name. It was brutal. I mean, watching your friend die is 100% not ideal. Not to mention the same day Larry was killed, a Barbie doll (named “Tom”) was buried after suffering injuries from a head ripping. Larry’s funeral was small. I put up a grave, put flowers down, and prayed. Only me and two of my friends were there. I wore a black dress.

This is the true story of Larry.

A potted tree.
R.I.P. Larry

Larry the tree

April 7, 1966 – April 22, 2020

Last words: “I don’t want to die.”

(The birthdate and final words are accurate according to The Oppressed)

It’s Time for Coffee

Children are learning things every day. Sometimes they learn on their own and sometimes Wife or I need to teach them.

We had one such teachable moment with one of The Gaggle. They wanted to get a coffee. I stopped at a drive-thru so they could get one. The order was a little difficult as they kept changing their mind as to what it was they wanted. God bless the poor person taking the order. They never lost their temper or raised their voice once. Upon receiving the coffee, I drove away. I could see the look of disappointment in The Gaggle’s face as we made our way home.

“This is black,” they said.

“Yes. You wanted a black coffee,” I reminded them.

“They don’t put cream in a black coffee?”

I put my hand on the child’s shoulder and said no, they don’t put cream in a black coffee. That’s why they call it a “black coffee”. If the child had wanted cream, they should have said, “coffee with cream.”

“That’s dumb,” they said. “I should sue Starbuck’s”

I tell the child to go ahead and try, but Starbuck’s doesn’t care what just happened where we were.

“I mean McDonald’s.”

“Again,” I say, “Knock yourself out, but it’s not McDonald’s fault.”

“Wait,” they say as they look behind them, hoping to catch a glimpse of where we were. “Where were we?”

“I don’t know,” I say. “I’m driving. I need to look forward so I can see where we’re going.”

“Well, wherever we were,” they say as they turn back and get settled. “We should sue them. They screwed up my coffee.”

Of course they did.

Child on the Go

“You know I can’t stand still.” – AC/DC

The chair is only in the room for decoration.

One of the complaints about baseball is that it takes too long to play. In Major League Baseball, steps have been taken to help speed things along. There were some people who didn’t like the batter stepping out of the box after each pitch. The pitcher would walk around the mound, blow on his hands, wipe sweat off his forehead, grab the resin bag, motion for the hot dog vendor to bring him something to eat, run to the bullpen to see if anyone wanted something. There were little things that were taking time away from the game itself.

I think of this as I tell you about my son, The Boy, who can take the simplest task and turn it into a union project that makes the Big Dig look like a quick run through a fast-food drive-thru. For my friends who do not live in Massachusetts, look up The Big Dig.

We’re still not sure what it is exactly that ails The Boy. It could be Ants in the Pants, hyperactivity, boredom. Pick something. We’re open to suggestions so we can identify it and treat it.

One of the Gaggle first noticed it about the boy. When the family sits down to dinner, it will be a matter of seconds before he is out of his seat, running around the table, playing with the cat. It has now reached the point where The Gaggle will watch the clock and let everyone know how long he was able to sit still.

This constant need for movement and inability to stay in one place is not just limited to the dinner table. One of the underlying issues of The Homework Wars involves Boy Genius’ stroll around the bedroom after writing one word. After two words, he needs a snack. Three merits a bathroom break. Four? He’s tired and he needs to lie down on his bed.

Math involves the same. He does one problem and he needs the bathroom. Wait. I haven’t dressed yet. I need breakfast. (I made it for him two hours ago.) He wants to check on Kitty. He wants to see if Doggie is okay. He just needs to lie down on the floor because David had five apples and gave two to Omar. The mental stress of that calculation may have wiped him out. He needs a nap and maybe a snack. Maybe he just needs to use the bathroom. His room is upstairs. He needs the bathroom in the basement, of course.

As I patiently await him to complete the four-word sentence he merely needs to copy, he laments over his unfair lot in life. He throws himself on the bed and wails to anyone in the house who will hear. He slaves everyday on his work. He works so hard but his father doesn’t know it. He wishes he had a nice dad. Other dads don’t make their sons do this. I remind him every kid in his class has the same assignment as him. Of course, that doesn’t matter. His classmates have nice parents.

Time for another nap. Not in his bed, though. This time, he needs to go downstairs and lay down on the couch. One of the Gaggle, done with their work, is watching TV. The Boy thinks he’s no one will notice him under a blanket. He is found and he runs back upstairs. Hopefully is hiding in his room… At his table… in front of his work with a pencil in his hand. We all have our dreams.

Prince of the Road

Being a foster parent gives you numerous challenges everyday. There are things to deal with for school. There are doctor and dentist visits. Meetings with social workers. Another wrinkle being a foster parent can bring is a change in the order of milestones.

Our children range in ages from 17 to six. We will be celebrating a driver’s license before we will celebrate graduation from elementary school. We will help prepping for a high school final exam before dealing with middle school orientation. Things like these are perfectly normal for a family that doesn’t exactly do “normal”.

One of the Gaggle has their learner’s permit. This person has made Wife and I proud. They have shown initiative in their life and work. They looked for and got a job. They sought out how to get their permit and they are looking into driver’s ed.

The child and I have been out on the road getting practice and experience whenever we can. They do well most of the time. Then again, there was this one time…

I fancy myself an amateur craft beer and bourbon critic. One time nearly became a “Four-finger Night” as a neighbor likes to say. We were driving around town. The Gaggle had a few rounds behind the wheel under their belt and kept improving. We were making our way home. On our right was one of those glaring-red stop signs. Painfully obvious to me right away. Somehow, the Gaggle didn’t see it until we nearly passed it. Being the diligent person and stickler for rules, they slammed on the breaks as soon as they recognized their folly. I exclaimed an expletive and put my hands up to shield myself from the dashboard in case the seat belt didn’t work.

The Gaggle apologized. I reminded them to keep their eyes open when driving. They promised to do so and thanked me for the advice. As we continued our way, the route called for a left-hand turn. Unfortunately for our driving novice, this was one of those clearly visible streets that somehow remained hidden until you were halfway by it. Most people would continue on and make the next turn and make their way back to it. Not the Gaggle. Our driving dynamo saw the nearly passed street, slams on the brakes, and cuts the wheel for a hairpin turn that would make Vin Diesel proud. If they ever start casting for “The Fast and the Furious 17”, I think I’m signing the Gaggle up for it. Wait. They haven’t made part 17 yet. Have they?

We continue. We’re almost home, much to my relief. I think the car’s relieved, too. I instruct the Gaggle to make a turn. Maybe they were thinking about the turn they almost missed. Whatever it was, they make this one a little premature and we’re on the left side of the road, practically on someone’s front lawn. I thought I heard a mailbox scream and a lawn gnome reciting a prayer. I tell the child the laws haven’t changed and we’re still driving on the right side of the road. He apologized and literally rights the situation. We get home. He apologizes again before we get out of the car. We get inside the house. People inside ask how it went. We both say it went great. I poured a bourbon.

Brothers and Sisters

As of right now, we have five children: two elementary-aged children and three teenagers. Wife says she doesn’t have teenagers. She has five small children.

The three teenagers will start their day with some breakfast. One may take some coffee with breakfast. Another will start their day with a body check as they walk by one of their siblings. After delivering the body check, they will run around the kitchen trying to avoid whatever retribution the checked is trying to deliver. This will go on for a couple of minutes with both children who are wearing socks on a hardwood floor. What could possibly go wrong?

After breakfast and the accompanying cardio, it is time to begin the fun adventures of homeschooling. Sometimes, all three children will be in the same room looking over the assignments and offering whatever moral support they can. This usually comes in the form of, “You’re such an idiot!” or “Will you shut up?!” Meanwhile, Wife is downstairs dialed into a meeting with other business professionals making sure her phone is on “Mute”.

After a rigorous morning, it’s time for lunch. The Gaggle will try to fit one more hit to the back or push someone to the bed one more time before running like Hell downstairs to be the first to the kitchen and first dibs on whatever it has to offer. After pushing, shoving, and reminding each other how stupid or “sus” they are, everyone finally finds something to eat and sits down at the table. A meal is shared over how easy the other’s subjects are and if one had the other workload, they would have been done with the day already. This, of course, prompts another to yell, “Liar!” across the table and they could have been done with everything already if they really wanted to make them all look bad.

“Oh my God, Bruh. You’re so sus!”

During lunch, Wife and I will check in on the future of our country. Things are going great for one (pick one). It’s the other two (pick two) that are having trouble. Then again, they wouldn’t have so much trouble if they weren’t so dumb. This is where one will try to climb over the table and assault the other, who is trying to hide under the table from the attack. The third is preventing them from hiding under the table so they may have the proper retribution. Wife and I step in and direct everyone back to their corner – I mean, seat – and instruct them to finish their lunch. They will have another class starting soon.

Lunch ends and they go back upstairs. This is hastened some by someone trying to get one more jab at someone and then run. One or two will run after them. They are usually directed to their own rooms. Two go to one room. One goes to another. More schooling. After the day comes to a merciful close, we are reminded again by all of the Gaggle how smart they are. Each maintains they are the smartest. Each one is reminded by the other of their stupidity. Wife reminds everyone she doesn’t have teenagers. She has small children.

Dinnertime approaches and we sit down to find out about each other’s day. One of the Gaggle talks about his ever-growing list of girlfriends and how it’s so hard to keep track of all of them. Another calls Casanova “Sus” and reminds him of his looks. They tell him the list of girls who are repulsed is longer than his list of “girlfriends”. The first laughs and says how foolish his sibling is for thinking that.

Dinner is over. Some people hang around in the dining room, especially if there’s a fire in the fireplace. One of The Gaggle finds Kitty and spirits her away to the bedroom because Kitty “loves” them the most. I have a drink and unwind from the day and the verbal barbs that accompanied it. Tomorrow is another day sure to be filled with more sibling love and tenderness.

Good Talk

We survived the summer. You did too, I take it. Congratulations!

I love talking to my children, especially when they get back from school or an activity. I like hearing about what they did, who they talked to. I like hearing about everything that happened in between the time they left the house and the time they returned.

My children have a way of downplaying whatever they did and wherever they went. They did nothing. No one spoke to them. They talked to nobody. They sit alone. They eat alone. They go to somewhere and just stand or sit there the entire time until it’s time for them to leave.

The Boy has a friend who has been going to school with him for a couple of years. I would pick them both up and take them home. Walking to the car, I would ask them what they did. The boy’s friend would answer, “Nothing! We did nothing!”

A new school year has descended upon us. I am excited for my kids. I am eager to know about their new rooms. Where they sit. How is the room set up with Coronapalooza? They don’t remember. School was okay. Great. We’ll be back tomorrow, Dad. Relax.

This week, I saw The Boy had a drawing in his hand. What was it? I asked what he had drawn? Was it a picture of something he did during vacation? Was it a drawing of the family?

“It’s just random coloring, Dad,” He said to me.

Good talk.