Thursday, April 14, 2011

Oh hell

In some countries, by the calendar, I am considered an "Adult"
In a few more days or so I think I can safely say that I have lived more of my life than I have left.
Neither of which is a very comforting thought.
I am a Father.
I have two children that I refer too variously as 1 and 2, and "the NUMBERS' and I realize that I should be mindful of this and act appropriately.
Bull pucky says I.
If I feel the need to Juggle fruit in the grocery store, have a skipping or spitting contest or impromptu wrestle or sword-fight in the toy store.
I will.
By age only.
Cultural definitions be dammed straight to Sheol.
That being said I had a very uncomfortable deep thought today.
Trust me, it was not on purpose.
#1, who is 13 and in middle school said Something to the Wife today.
"You and Dad may have crappy Jobs and think they are stressful, but you should really try middle school. Its MUCH worse"
My first reaction, on hearing this was to scoff, what does she know about bills and jobs and kids and car payments and children and spouses and all the other innumerable bullshit that is part and parcel of being a "Grown up".
Pshaw said I.
Then I had one of those highly damming spells of realization.
And memory.
I remembered middle school.
Really remembered it.
The fears and Pain and Heartache and Puberty and not being invited to the party and not quite knowing what to do and having a girlfriend and best-friends and fighting and My Grandpa dying and my Uncle Ron dying and Jamin dying and grades and math and wood-shop and ..........
All of it.
I sat still and remembered all of it.
Then I had another realization.
This one was far more painful.
All of those stresses I deal with?
Now, as an Adult.
So do 1 and 2.
As children.
They are not deaf and Dumb, nor are they Blind or obtuse.
They know whats going on.
They hear the fights and see the anger. They feel the sadness and the pain of Adult life by watching the two they love the most go through it all.
They not only have all of their stresses, they have all of ours too.
My typical response?
"I dealt with it, so can they"
Why? I asked myself today. Is this some sort of bizarre hazing ritual that we all consciously and unconsciously practice?
I had to do it, so should they?
Maybe some of it is unavoidable.
People are shit for the most part.
But as a parent of a wee human should not my Job be to see that they have it better and easier than I?
So that they can grow up to be a better and more complete person than I?

I hope so.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Apple Tree

It started simply. The very best stories always do.
I wanted money.
When you are twelve and want money your options are pretty limited.
I already worked for my dad, Mowing lawns and pulling weeds and cutting fence slats with a hacksaw, but I wanted a desk job.
So I checked out a book from the library "101 ways to make money"
That book was FULL of useful information.
Rolling your own fire logs, selling them door to door. Window cleaning, Puppy poop pickup, sawdust collection, resale candy bought in bulk.
That book was full of something all right.
It did teach me a valuable lesson. If you want to make a lot of money, write a book on how to do something, Like.........
"How to make a lot of money!!!"
What a pile of steaming green road apples.
So I looked about, to find a less physically demanding job and I came across a sign "Bart’s Big Worms" . He sold them to fishermen who were too lazy to catch their own.
So back to the library I went.
How to grow earthworms at home for fun and profit.
Just what I needed.
I read the book, and in a frenzy of activity made my earthworm habitat and breeding ground, I knew when I buried that five gallon bucket and filled it with a mixture of dirt and sphagnum moss that I was on my way to trump-like millions.
I spent a long and muddy night catching as many crawlers as I could. At the end of which I released all 8 of them into their brand new custom made climate controlled delicious tasting guaranteed to breed worms of prodigious even by Australian standards earthworm habitat.
I watched them all burrow into their new home and imagined I could hear the sound of contented sod busters chewing themselves into a food induced breeding frenzy.
AND THEN......
I forgot all about it.
For a couple of months.
Work was too much of a drain on my time.
That and Basketball, Baseball and Thinking of new ways to torment Justin and or his sisters.
This took more time than you would think. He had A LOT of sisters.
My Mom brought it to my attention.
It stank. Badly.
Just as advertised the decomposing moss and lose dirt had degraded into a vitamin rich mulch like substance and settled into the bottom foot of the Five gallon bucket, Unlike the poster however my prime wriggly habitat had collected a foot or so of scummy brownish water.
It stank.
So I bent closer to see if perhaps it was just as bad up close.
It was. It was also alive with little tiny wiggly things.
Sea Monkeys?
Nope. (the water tasted different.)
So my budding young mad scientist mind did the only thing possible. I looked them up in my Mutual of Omaha wild kingdom guide to insects placed on individually printed glossy color photographic note cards and discovered two things.
1) That they were Mosquito larvae
2) That they possibly carried diseases and should be eradicated.
After a visit to the dictionary and an encyclopedia I discovered that I was supposed to kill them, and that the best way was to pour a petroleum Product on top of the water.
Gasoline is a petroleum Product.
I topped off the bucket with the can from the garage, and since the encyclopedia had been a little vague as to how the petroleum was supposed to actually KILL the little malaria carries I hove-to about twenty feet and started chucking lit matches at it. (I was not completely stupid!)
 (OK, maybe I was)
Did you know that when 2 gallons of gas (2 1/2 or so) sitting in a bucket 1/2 full of water and decomposing moss, 3 billion mosquito larvae, and a handful of soggy matches, encounters a flaming match the AIR above it.......
It explodes.
I felt Like Moses.
There was a 20 foot high pillar of freaking fire.
Running about, bumping into trees and tripping over bushes and howling a little bit, come to think of it, I bet Moses did EXACTLY the same thing.
He probably even peed a little.
Salt did not put it out (out of baking soda) and when I threw a shovelful of dirt on it, flaming blobs of stickier than boogers and  1/2 rotted flaming moss splashed unto the apple tree, and the fence.
This Bush Burned.
And it was consumed.
So was the fence.
Luckily for me Uncle Buck (His Real name) lived next door, seeing flames leaping grandly into the air he heroically stuck his head over the fence "HOLY SHIT TOMMY" was followed by a mighty leap and a quick dousing of the conflagration.
I told my mom and dad the whole story.
Beginning to end.
George Washington and his lame cherry tree has got nothing on me.
Besides, I had to tell them before Uncle Wally (That’s Buck) did, then I would have been in deep shit.