Posts Tagged Life
See that? It’s a muffin. More importantly, it’s my muffin. The Puddinette made it. For me. I mean, mostly for me. Or, well, kind of for me, in the sense that they’re really for the Puddinpop, who turned 10 years old today at some ungodly stupid hour of the morning. I think it was like 2 AM and change, but I can never remember. After 19 hours in the hospital that day, I’m pretty sure that I was knee-deep in some kind of hallucinatory spirit walk when he was born.
The first of my children reaching double-digits in age is, undoubtedly, a (capital-S) Special (capital-O) Occasion. And say what you will about who the muffins are really intended for (yes, there were dozen; I wouldn’t take my oldest son’s only Birthday Muffin…jeez), I’m going to argue that seeing as today marks a full decade that I’ve been a parent and that the casualties thus far have been kept to minimum, the Puddinette and I deserve some sweet brown-sugary muffin action.
Of course, normally on Days Like This ™ , I’d conjure up a thousand semi-sentimental yet moderately comedic words out of thin air like Mickey going all Sorcerer’s Apprentice in Fantasia. Unfortunately, as you undoubtedly realize by now, NaNoWriMo is a harsh mistress. If I have a thousand words to give to anything today, it’ll be her. Err, it.
Instead, then, I thought I might take this opportunity to direct your attention to the Puddinpop’s previous birthday posts. Because, really, who doesn’t love a stroll down memory lane?
[Warning: some of the posts linked below could potentially lead to getting something in your eyes. Or, at least, my eyes.]
It all started here, with the story of the Puddinpop’s actual birth, which is, ironically, one of the very first blog posts I ever wrote (way back in the Wild, Wild West Days of 2002, when there was no WordPress, and you wrote your own website code, and that’s how it was, and you liked it that way).
And then, just as I was nearly enveloped by the soft, pillowy arms of a deep morning slumber, my lovely, long suffering wife calmly said just four short words, “My water just broke”.
In one single instant, those soft pillowy arms of deep morning slumber shattered into a million flying shards of brittle, sharp material and dove straight into my eyes. In the movies, you always see these highly dramatic shots of a second hand seemingly stuck just before reaching 12. I had always assumed that shit like that didn’t really happen, it was just in the movie for effect, for crissakes. Well, I’ve come to find otherwise. She said those 4 simple words, and time simply stopped. The words eventually found their way into my brain, where they were introduced into some Rube Goldberg-ian machine that took them, ran them down a ramp and plopped them on a see-saw thing that flung two pieces of bread into a toaster causing a match to light and ultimately resulted in a complete breakfast, including a fried egg, 3 strips of bacon and the realization that SWEET HOLY MOTHER SHE’S GOING TO HAVE THE BABY RIGHT FRIGGIN NOW OH SHIT OH SHIT OH SHIT I’M NOT READY TO BE A FATHER YET AND WHAT AM I GOING TO SAY WHEN THE KID FINDS MY STASH OF SKIN MAGS AND OH GOD HOW DOES ONE CHANGE A DIAPER AND CHRIST ALMIGHTY WHAT AM I GOING TO DO? Well, that’s kind of the gist, although I don’t think I could possible put into words the sheer terror I felt in that one single moment when the obstinate second hand couldn’t quite reach it’s goal and time seemed to stand still for at least 3 days
Years later, when I decided to be a writer Fer Reelz and returned to Puddintopia like The Prodigal Writer, I wrote this post for his 8th birthday, which is still kind of one of my favorites.
So eight years later, I’ve had a lot more time to consider life with a new child. I’ve experienced the joy, the wonder, and the awe, as well as plenty of sheer terror and more than a few helpings of frustration. Watching that helpless infant grow into an actual person has been everything they said it would be plus a lot of things no one ever mentioned.
The first few years were the most predictable, when everything had to be done for him. Every day was a juggling act of bottles, baths, diaper changes, exhausted 3 AM feedings, and spoon-fed pureed vegetables that went down his front more than into his mouth. I sometimes wonder how I managed to get through it without diapering him upside down.
And, of course, I couldn’t let last year slip by without wishing him a happy birthday while simultaneously realizing I was getting old. Here’s what I had to say about the boy turning 9.
Believe it or not, today is the Puddinpop’s 9th birthday. Nine. One less than 10. Which means that this time next year, he’ll be in double digits and I’ll have been a parent for a decade.
I’ve haven’t held the same job, driven the same car, or lived in the same house for 10 consecutive years.
Admittedly, the last decade hasn’t been all sunshine, rainbows, unicorns and lollipops. But that’s kind of how it goes when you’re making shit up as you go…and don’t let anyone lie to you, making it up as we go is what all of us as parents are doing. In that time, there have been tremendous ups and inconceivable downs. Everything about this stage of life is factors of n harder than that smug, assholey teen version of yourself thought it would be when he finally got to be a grown-up. But what that jerk didn’t really understand is that the “ups” aren’t always going to come from you. Many times, often times, in fact, the highest highs will come from your kids, as they show you Life in ways you’ve never thought to see it before.
For the past decade, the Puddinpop has been helping us see new things through his eyes. So, today, on his 10th birthday, I’m pretty damned happy to be having muffins.
But I’m even more damned happy to have him.
It typically happens three, four times a year, maybe. It’s not frequent. But sometimes, just every so often, I unintentionally cover myself in such a dark, grumpy, curmudgeonly cloud that Ebenezer Scrooge himself would raise an (excessively bushy) eyebrow at me and say, “Damn, who dropped the fire ants down his skirt?”
The Puddinette and I refer to it as simply “a mood,” and I’ve referred to it in the past. Most recently, it seems I’ve been the surly mayor of Whineyton most of the later half of this week.
At least, I was. Thankfully, the part of me that demands I live my Life while doing something awesome with it looked my inner grump up and down, smacked him square in the face a few times, strapped him to an Acme rocket Wile E. Coyote-style, and lit the fuse.
I’m thankful that the “Live your damn Life” side of me doesn’t go quiet for long.
The thing is, the Mood was one of my own making. See, I’d convinced myself that Wednesday’s post was, like, The. Awesomest. Thing. Ever. And you know, it did greatly amuse me and the Puddinette*, but as for burning up the internet with various shares, links, and retweets? Um, yeah, so, it brought in a slight uptick of traffic, roughly equivalent, you know, Wednesday with a sprinkling of utter random chance. Largely, though, the webs went, “Eh,” and returned to looking for kitten pictures. Meanwhile, I set to bashing my head against my keyboard so as to avoid all the irritatingly loud cricket-chirping in my immediate vicinity.
I’m not trying
It’s funny how we set ourselves up for our own disappointments, isn’t it?
Anyway, the Dark Brooding Grumble-Grumble Fiend wasn’t content with just making me grumpy, so my bad mood quickly spiraled into a nasty, goo-filled pustule of self-doubt the size of Rush Limbaugh’s ego, which is about the worst that you can let grow in your head when you’re a writer. Well, except for maybe those creepy ear-crayfish from Star Trek II.
The good news is that in the midst of all my, well, MMRRRRRRGRRGGHH, I had a light bulb moment related to the aforementioned doubt, realized I was being a whiny guttersloth, and then heard a Rage Against the Machine song that made it impossible to continue my MEH.
Which brings me to tonight’s point: as much as I’d like to wave my shiny happy wand and implore everyone to never let a case of the crabs, er, crabbiness encroach into your life, the simple fact is that occasionally, everybody gets blue like an Eskimo during a midnight fire drill. What I will say, however, is that you gotta cut that shizznit shorter than an Oompa Loompa with a compressed spine and a three pack-a-day habit. In other words, find your light bulb as quickly as you can, and roll with it. Pick yourself up, set yourself aflame**, Phoenix-like and get back to kick ass.
Which is exactly what I’m going to do now.
Oh, hey, and as an added bonus of all the mopey ruminatin’ from the past couple of days, I did actually think of a couple of things worth discussing. In fact, one of them will factor prominently in tomorrow’s weekend debate.
So, you know, good luck trying to sleep knowing that’s coming up!
*Mental note: Dumbass, try to remember that that’s really what’s important here, and if you accidentally manage to entertain anyone else it’s gravy.
**Don’t do this. Really, it’s a bad idea. Seriously. I’m not kidding.
The kids came home from school today, finally released from another agonizing year of boredom, stupid rules, assorted nonsense, and cafeteria gruel.
At least, I’m sure that’s what it seemed like to them.
To the Puddinette and I, though, it seems that we blinked and somehow lost 9 months of time.
On August 18th, 2011, I wrote this to go with several pictures of the first day of school, such as this one:
And then, much too suddenly, it was this morning, when we took this picture for the last day of school:
Yeah, ok, so school’s out. Do I have a point, other than the standard parental whining along the lines of, Oh, Time, where hast thought gone?!
Why, yes, yes, I do.
See, today I realized that while most every morning for the past 9 months has looked something like this:
The next three months are going to look a whole lot more like this:
It’s Just. Not. Fair. I tell you. Not fair at all.
Of course, then, I’ve been telling the puddinlings that Life isn’t generally fair for years now.
I just thought, it’s just, you know, supposed to be not fair in my favor.
I appear to have been mistaken.
*kicks at the dirt*
Rule One was to just breathe normally.
Rule Two was to remember to have fun.
For something as complicated as S.C.U.B.A*, with all the hoses and gauges and that big, heavy tank, you’d expect maybe a few more rules than that. Like an entire rulebook that reads like stereo instructions or at least one of those fancy armbands that NFL quarterbacks wear.
I’ve been on cruises and Caribbean vacations, but somehow I’d never been snorkeling or scuba diving. I think that mostly stems from my desire to spend as much time as possible on vacation either a) napping, b) consuming vacation beverages, c) lounging on a beach with a book, or d) all of the above. You’ll note that nowhere does "spend potentially significant amounts of money pretending to be something other than terrestrial species" appear on that list.
The ocean water is very pretty, of course, and lots of people enjoy it, but I’m quite content with a book and a drink with a paper parasol, thank you.
It’s coincidentally amusing, then, that something else not typically me ended up getting me into a pool of water with a scuba tank attached to my back in the middle of land-locked Northern Kentucky. Which is exactly where I found myself Saturday, on an excursion with the older boys’ Cub Scout troop.
That’s not to say I dislike the Cub Scouts or anything. But as I’ve noted before, it’s just not me. It wasn’t me as a kid (I was never a Scout), and it still isn’t me now. When it comes to the Pinewood Derby, I’d perform better if they had maybe a video game version where you decked out your cars and raced digitally. And I’ve always thought camping out is great fun, as long as it includes a 27 foot-long RV with electrical and plumbing hookups.
Sleeping on the ground is fine for bugs and four-legged animals, but I bought a perfectly good bed a few years back; seems silly not to use it.
Which is all to say, of course, that when the zombie apocalypse comes and society crumbles, I’m probably screwed as a survivor. But I think I can live with that.
Anyway, so I went to the scuba dive center with my two older sons on Saturday, and we jumped in the pool and donned the well-known equipment. We learned underwater hand signals, to squeeze your nose and blow to pop your ears as the pressure changes, and how to make the tank/vest more or less buoyant. Then they turned us loose in 12 feet of water, and not one of us surfaced until the instructors shepherded us back to the World Above.
What struck me almost immediately was how insane the whole thing seemed. Before going under the first time, with the regulator mouthpiece firmly clenched between my teeth like a horse’s bit, a distant cloud of panic exploded in some far off corner in the back of my head.
"This is ridiculous. People don’t breathe under water. There’s no air. In 2 minutes you’re going to be blue like Papa Smurf and your eyes will be bulging out of their sockets!"
But then I remembered Rule One: Breathe normally.
So I did just that.
And then I dropped my face in the water and kept on doing it. Oxygen miraculously filled my lungs. When I exhaled, carbon dioxide bubbled away in a sheet just in front of my face, giving the whole thing a kind of fairy tale transitional feel (you know, like when Ariel realizes she’s in trouble and then bubbles cut to a scene with the mean Sea Witch).
After a few minutes of getting used to it, you forget all about the equipment and just do what want to do, hardly even aware you’re underwater. Every now and then, though, it would occur to me where we were and what we were doing, and an angry bees’ hive-like buzzing sense of panic would bloom again in that dark recess in my mind.
Then again I’d remember Rule One, and the distant hint of panic would go away.
Which would allow me to get back to Rule Two, the having fun.
After some pre-measured amount of time known only to our scuba instructors — it could have been ten minutes or ten hours, really, because time didn’t seem to work underwater — we were directed back to the surface to dry off and return to our previous lives as terrestrial mammals.
Which is fine, really, because I needed to get home to make dinner. Eating doesn’t work so well with a scuba regulator in your mouth.
Much later that night, I grasped the more fundamental lesson at work here.
Most of your life, you’re probably going to be underwater in one sense or another. If you want to make the most of it anyway, you only have to follow two simple rules:
Rule One: Remember to breathe.
Rule Two: Have fun.
Because if you can’t follow those two rules, you’re going to embrace the panic instead and end up floundering, Smurf-blue and bug-eyed.
The boys and I had a great time learning to scuba dive, and I’m thankful the Cub Scouts gave us the opportunity (although I’m sticking to my camping-is-better-in-an-RV assertion).
Even more, though, I’m thankful of the reminder about how to win at Life, above or below water.
Those are two rules everyone should remember.
*The word "scuba" is based on an acronym (Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus), so you know the word geek in me had to present it that way at least once.