Art Depreciation

I carried the equipment back to the van hoping my last half-ounce of sanity would hold out for the ride home so I could hide somewhere until the next crisis presented itself. Unfortunately, the next crisis presented itself before the bag was dropped in the van.

I was the proud coach of not one, but two baseball teams last year. I coached The Oppressed and one of The Gaggle on one team, The Boy on the other. Both teams presented their own unique challenges. No matter what team had the practice or the game, I had more of The Gaggle sitting on the bench presenting an additional set of challenges to my parenting strategies and my overall sanity.

There was one particular afternoon where I had to remind myself I love my children and the work I was doing on the baseball field. It had been a challenging afternoon with the budding stars of the diamond that day. I had the usual two children telling my why one should be playing first base and not the other one. Another child was mesmerized by the blades of grass surrounding them, the occasional dandelion in the grass, and anything else not relating to baseball. I found that to be rather odd since baseball was the reason we were all gathered there on that particular day.

The game that particular afternoon mercifully came to an end. I carried the equipment back to the van hoping my last half-ounce of sanity would hold out for the ride home so I could hide somewhere and recharge until the next crisis presented itself. Unfortunately, the next crisis presented itself before the bag was dropped in the van.

I couldn’t help but notice the back of a seat had been touched up a bit by an artists touch. Now, the van at that point had been seven or eight years old but I didn’t recall artwork being included in the list of options when we bought it.

Art exhibits ‘A’ and ‘B’

I took a deep breath and calmly called the children to the back of the van. They dutifully assembled and saw the work of art that wasn’t there that morning. I asked them if anyone wanted to take credit for the new work gracing the back of the seat. There were no takers. We get home. Everyone sits at the table. The first thing I do is demand that anyone with “Stupid Pills” hand them over to me that very instant. There is obviously some mental damage here and I need to curb it.

Next, I inform all of the Miracles of Christ that everyone will be punished until the Real Rembrandt steps up and lays claim to the work. They hear me. They understand but they all tell me, swear to me that no one sitting at the table did it.

We begin the days-long interrogation process. Extra chores. No screens. Early bedtimes. The Oppressed is mad at whoever the culprit is. She, as well as the rest of the innocent parties are missing out on screens: the vital staple of any child’s development and well-being. One of The Gaggle offers to take the heat for everyone for the sake of getting it all over and done with. The rest of the Miracles of Christ will owe them down the road.

My wife and I play a guessing game every night. Whodunnit? We have our guesses and theories supporting those guesses. All of the guesses are good and the theories are intriguing. We don’t act on any of these, of course. We still wait for the guilty party(ies) to take it upon themselves to tell us what they’ve done. We have ruled out one of the children because of a “Tell” they have when they do something wrong. The “Tell” is not there. We figure they’re not involved this time.

Wife and I continue to wait for a confession. The children are put to work in the backyard. All of them, including the one we think is clean. There’s a lot of land to be mowed and tended to. We also have trees with falling branches that make it difficult to cut the grass. The Miracles of Christ are charged with removing the sticks from the grass and moved to the patio. This was happening on one particular day when the social worker of The Gaggle came to visit. She saw the children at work and felt this was a little excessive, even if our vehicle was vandalized. I thank the nice lady for bringing her opinion to my attention.

Time passes and someone cracks. They cave. They did it. Was there anyone else. No. They acted alone. Wife and I have the confession we have been waiting for. The rest of the children are off the hook and we discuss the proper punishment for the individual. But wait… There’s more! The guilty party had an accomplice. Said accomplice was sitting back letting the other take the heat. Brilliant child. A budding mastermind. Somewhere on the other side, Al Capone probably did a facepalm.

Punishments are handed down. I assess the situation and determine the retribution to be exacted. Wife thought the punishments were excessive and feels we should tone them down. I agree under protest. We hand down the sentences and wait for the next crisis to befall us.

Small (Very Tiny) Talk

I started a new job recently. It’s not great. Not glamourous. It is physical but that’s okay. Most of the work I’ve done is physical/manual labor and those types of jobs love me and like to keep me so I guess this is nice and convenient.

We have since moved on from home-schooling to vacation time and I am proud to tell you all of our children have passed and have been promoted to the next grade. The Oppressed. The Boy. The Gaggle. Everyone made it. I’m making another drink.

The Oppressed and The Boy are in camp. It’s a great place. It’s nearby and many of the parents I talk to would like to know if there is a program for grown-ups. This is a camp located within acres on acres of woods. There’s a pond, a pool. You can do archery. you can paddle a canoe. You get there in the morning, swim, play kickball, and eat lunch. After lunch you can go out in the canoe, do a little more swimming, hang out with your friends, maybe have a snack. You play another game and then you can go home. Sounds like a pretty good way to spend a summer day. Right?

My children seem to think so… I guess. I can’t get them to tell me anything about it. I get home. I have dinner. I ask the kids how camp was. “Okay,” they tell me. What did they do? “Stuff.” Care to elaborate? They don’t.

I finished dinner one night. The Oppressed has commandeered Wife’s phone. The Boy is watching YouTube videos. I ask both if they would like to take a walk and talk about their day at camp. The Oppressed runs away. The Boy is too tired.

I guess I’ll just pour a drink and do some writing.

Rightfully Mine

I find myself losing more and more to a certain child in my home.

One of “The Gaggle” has been with us for a few months and this child has since infringed on things, animals, and people that I hold dear. This person is a nice person: Helps when we need it, asks for help when they need it. They even ask when they need or want to use something. But sometimes…

Kitty and I have taken a liking to each other. I had always been a “Dog Person” until Kitty came to us. With The Wife at work and the Miracles of Christ at school, it was just me and her. We hung out. She kept me company while I folded clothes, washed dishes or cooked. I would wake up with her on or next to me. A couple of confirmed kills in the Mouse Department have cemented her standing as a beloved member of our household.

The Gaggle will run into the house, sometimes body-checking me out of the way. She will yell, “Kitty!” and find her and pick her up. She will cuddle Kitty and make sure I see them in a moment of tender cuddling. The Gaggle smiles. Kitty and I are not amused.

Exhibit A

I once got a Nintendo Switch for my birthday. I use it when I can. The Miracles of Christ have a new found interest in video games. God forbid The Boy plays Pac-Man or Space Invaders with me. (He’s still learning and I try to keep it simple for him.) Everyone, including The Gaggle wants my Switch and “The Legend of Zelda”. It was nice when I wanted to kill a few minutes with the game. I constantly hear a knock on the door. “Do you have ‘Zelda’?” “Can I use it?” “Can I use it now?” “Are you done, yet?” Now, I can barely get my hands on it. It got so bad, Wife bought me another Switch and is considering buying another copy of “Zelda”. I would rather defend what’s rightfully mine. It’s gone so well thus far.

Exhibit B

My cat. My Switch. My wife… Yeah. My wife, too. At the end of the day, The Gaggle and Wife will sit down to some insipid, mind-numbing television show that has since been cancelled (big surprise). I used to get some time alone at the end of the day with Wife. Now, she has decided to kill brain cells with The Gaggle while The Boy and The Oppressed explain to me why they need to sleep in my bed.

Thank You for Reading. Here’s what’s Inside.

“Welcome to the show.” – KISS Band

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

The Cast of Characters

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

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

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

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

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

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