And just like that, my teenage girls are getting along. Sitting next to each other on the couch, enjoying each other’s company while they google room decor and play games on their phones.
I’ve honestly never been more suspicious of anything in my life.
I’m driving home from a week long business trip, and I call my wife to see how things are. We talk for a little bit, and she tells me that she brought Jordan to the dentist while I was gone to get a consultation about braces. Jordan has been looking forward to getting them for some time now.
Jenny decided to get Invisalign instead of braces. She explains to me all of the benefits of Invisalign, like they will fix Jordan’s teeth in a year, where braces take longer. She explains to me how Invisalign are created by taking a 3D scan of Jordan’s teeth, because she knows tech is kinda my thing, and I love to find out how things work.
Now, I admit, by the tail end of the long drive home I was tired, and I didn’t bother to ask how much it cost. That’s when Jenny made the fatal mistake, because I’m not only a horrible father, but also a notorious cheap-ass:
“The nice thing Brian, is that even though they are more expensive than braces, they will be more comfortable for her when she’s cheerleading.”
Stop. The. Presses.
“Wait, what? Why can’t we get regular braces if they’re cheaper? Besides, I don’t see how they could be more comfortable during cheerleading, she’s not lifting anybody with her teeth, is she?”
“Brian, she gets knocked in the mouth all the time when she’s at cheerleading. You don’t want that to happen with braces, do you? It will hurt less with the Invisalign”
I begrudgingly agreed.
But I did read on the internet that some dude straightened his teeth by creating his own Invisalign-like teeth straightening system with nothing but a 3D printer and a can-do attitude.
Now, if only I wasn’t too cheap to buy a 3D printer….so it looks like it’s Invisalign for Jordan.
My heroes have always been, in no particular order: Batman, MacGyver, Captain Picard, and Sherlock Holmes. It took years to realize the common thread between all of them: they all were clever. Comic book nerds (like myself) know that Batman is considered the greatest detective that ever lived, and he’s not just a guy who could throw epic beat downs on the villains. Everything I am today is because of those heroes.
My dad was a very clever man, with a particular set of skills that to this day I’m not sure how he acquired. Electronics skills. Combat skills. Deduction skills. You name it. He taught me to be a software developer before I knew I wanted to be a developer. I still don’t know how he learned. He passed away nearly 20 years ago.
He always came up with some unique and clever way to solve a problem. Once, at a construction site, we finished building a cinder block wall, and had to clean up an entire warehouse. He hands me a broom and says “Start sweeping”. I begrudgingly start to sweep the floor and he disappears. After 10 minutes or so, I’ve barely made a dent in this warehouse sized mess when he comes blazing through a dock door, driving a forklift. On the lift is an empty pallet that he converted into a broom with some long rubber strips that he found just lying around. “Wow, dad that’s just like something MacGyver would build”.
He also always knew when I was up to no good. Always. Like Picard he allowed me to make my own choices. On the other hand, like Sherlock, he always knew when I made bad choices and never let me get away with them.
One of my earliest memories of anything was from when I was maybe 4 or 5 years old. Since my dad was a masonry worker, he would frequently have to leave for work early in the morning. Because of that, he would usually go to the local convenience store to fill the tank in his truck the night before, and I would sometimes tag along with him.
One night as he’s filling the tank and I’m playing with some toy in the back seat, he quickly opens the door and says, “Brian, get down and don’t look. If I take too long run inside and get Dale (he was the convenience store owner). I immediately listened to him, until he shut the door and turned around of course. Then I peeked out the car window to see what was going on.
There he is, charging toward a group of people, 3 men and two women. The men here harassing the women, and one of the men was getting violent with one of the women, and she was on the ground. My dad takes the man, turns him around, grabs him by the shirt and slams him against his truck, yelling something. The second man started to charge my dad, threw the first guy into the second guy which knocked him down, decked the first guy and turned toward the third. Jackass #3 wanted no part of this, and kept the truck between him and my dad. The 3 men then took off after that. My dad helped the woman up, talked a little and they left. I hid back down in the back seat and waited for him to get back in the car.
“Did you see any of that?”, my dad asked me, knowing full well I did. I just couldn’t contain myself. “That was so cool, dad! You were just like Batman!”
I used to think everything that I am today is because of those heroes. But that’s not true. Now I think they are my heroes because they are everything that I admire about my dad, and everything I am today is because of him.
Happy Fathers Day, dad. You are missed.
My wife, son and I had to travel to pick up my daughter. It was a short trip, only about an hour or so. On the way, I see a bird on the highway, pecking on a carcass. It is oblivious that we are speeding towards it.
“Move bird. Move BIRD! MOVE!” I yelled as I honked my horn. The bird looked at the car and flew away.
“Did you see that?!? Stupid bird. I just saved his life! He should be more careful, hanging out in the road like that!”
That’s when my son asked “Well, how do you know the bird was a ‘him’?”
I’m proud to tell you that I resisted the urge to say “Because of it’s pecker”. Well, at least not loud enough for him to hear it, anyway. But I got a chuckle out of my wife.
On the trip back, we see the same carcass in the road, with a new one near it.
“Did you see that? It was the bird I saved before! Why didn’t it listen to me? I don’t know why I bother. Poor bird. We should have a moment of silence for that poor, stupid dead bird who wouldn’t listen to what was good for him”
The car fell silent. Probably not out of respect for this bird, but because of my lunatic ranting about it.
That’s when my son breaks the silence by singing, with all the seriousness he can muster because of the absurdity of a moment of silenc for a dead bird.
“Oh say can you see, by the dawn’s early light”
Road trips with your kids are unavoidable. Sometimes you can make it across the country to see family with all of the kid’s stomachs feeling fine. Other times, you can’t make it to Ikea without an “incident”. In either case, the key to any successful road trip is planning ahead.
- The next time you are at a grocery store or Walmart, go to the self-serve donut case. Typically, they’ll have small, wax-lined bags to put your donuts in. Grab a dozen or so bags. Keep them in the pockets on the back of the seats. Your car’s upholstery will thank you later.
- One word: Dramamine
- Pack light. Once on a weekend trip our girls were arguing about sharing one suitcase, and then filled two big suitcases with just their clothes, makeup and hair things. There was very little room left in the car. For a brief moment I considered tying one of them to the cargo rack on the roof. Mostly because they wouldn’t stop bickering with each other, though.
- Count your children before you drive away. Every time. Nothing sucks worse than driving 25 miles from your previous stop and wondering if you are missing a kid because nobody has argued, punched, kicked, bit or called each other stupid in the last half hour.
- Never entrust your children to lock the doors or check that the oven is not on. They won’t do it, won’t remember being asked to do it, and as soon as you hit the highway your wife will make you turn around to double check anyway. Do everyone a favor and check them all yourself before you leave. Bonus points if you check the bathrooms for any curling irons still plugged in.
- Have assigned seating. Ideally, I like to assign one kid to the seat furthest back in the minivan, one kid to a train and the other to a bus.
Let’s face it. Mornings on a school day are stressful. Especially Mondays. And Tuesdays. Well, if I’m being honest, every morning, really.
- Monday Morning: I’ve forgotten that my wife now has early shifts in the morning, which means it’s up to me to get our son ready and out the door for school at 9am. I don’t realize this until 8:35. I wake him up late. “Why did you wake me up so late, Dad? Now I’m going to be late for school!”
- Tuesday Morning: I remembered Jenny now works early, so I wake up and got Logan up too. It was earlier than he was used to. He promised me that he would get up, so I go downstairs grab some coffee and get ready myself. He immediately falls back asleep. I don’t realize this until 8:35. I wake him up late. “Why did you wake me up so late, Dad? Now I’m going to be late for school!”
- Wednesday Morning: Learned my lesson from yesterday. I grab some coffee and get myself ready. Then I go and wake him up. I tryto wake him up with enough time for him to get ready without being rushed. Then he realized that he has homework due. “Why didn’t you wake me up earlier, Dad? Now I don’t have time to get my homework done!” He rushes to get his homework done and gives it to me to check the answers. I receive a call from work and forget to give the homework back before sending him off to school.
- Wednesday Evening: I just had to face it, waking him up in the morning is the equivalent of a rocket sled to Hell. So, I did myself a favor and got him an alarm clock. I consider how to blog about the sheer simplicity and brilliance of the alarm clock. Ellen or Dr. Phil will realize I’m the first person in history to win at fatherhood and invite me on their TV shows. What am I going to wear?
- Thursday Morning: I’ve seriously underestimated my son’s ability to utilize the snooze button. “Why didn’t you wake me up, Dad? Now I’m going to be late for school!” Sorry to disappoint you, Ellen, but I’m not winning fatherhood. I have nothing to wear to your show, anyway.
- Friday Morning: Tired. Irritated. Don’t want to deal with his morning shenanigans anymore. I go into the kitchen for some coffee and he’s already awake, dressed, and ready for school. “Today is Dads and Donuts day! Did you forget? Let’s go Dad, it starts at 8! Get dressed already! It’s 6:35, why didn’t you wake up earlier, I don’t want to be late for school!” He’s happy to bring me to school, so maybe I’m not as far behind in fatherhood as I thought. Or he really likes the donuts. Come to think of it, I don’t remember ever giving him back the homework from Wednesday, either.
I was at my computer when I heard my daughter Jordan calling for help. I ran over to her to see what’s wrong. She was holding the cat, who was playing with her hair and got tangled in it.
“Dad! Come help me! The cat is attacking my hair!”
My daughter Jordan had her heart broken a little, and was moping around the house for a couple of days. I never met this kid, and he didn’t really wrong her from my perspective, he just decided to direct his interests at another girl.
I like to think that my reputation has preceded me and he ran for the hills instead of taking a chance in trying to ask out my little girl.
Normally, I would try to at least fake support the best I could while playing Call of Duty, secretly chalking that up as another win for Team Father and move on with the rest of my day. But this was different. This would have been Jordan’s first “real” boyfriend, if my reputation didn’t scare the kid away. She was hurting and I wanted to make her feel better.
So, she was sitting at the kitchen counter and we started to talk. It’s funny how different Brianna and Jordan are. Brianna is notoriously tight lipped. Jordan isn’t. We had a good talk, and she told me all about it.
“Well Jordan, do you want me to grab my sword and a shovel?”
“No dad, I’ve got this handled. Sassy Jordan has come out and when I’m done he’ll wish that he was dealing with you”
That’s my girl.
As a Horrible Father, I find this funnier than I probably should.
- Calmly express your points. If you can’t do that, expect dads to say no.
- If any of your points include the phrase “but I’m almost N years old”, you’re not old enough. It’s about maturity, not age.
- We don’t care if you say all of your friends are going. Have one of them live stream it on Omegle. It’ll be like you are there. And yes, we know all about Omegle. So get rid of it.
- We don’t care how long you have been looking forward to something, if we are not comfortable with you going, you are not going.
- Sometimes, the reason we say no has nothing to do with you, your company, or the activity. Sometimes it’s the location. See rule #4.
- When you break rule #1, come back and sincerely apologize, but do not expect us to change our mind.
- Dads can tell the difference between sincere apologies and apologies you make to get you closer to what you want. We didn’t invent the bullshit detector, we perfected it.