The Father to His Calvin



Not long ago Landon came running into the bathroom as I dried my hair.

“Mom!” he yelled over the noise. “Where are toofbrushes made?”

“What?” I yelled back.

Where do the toofbrush makers make the toofbrushes?

“Why don’t you ask Dad, buddy,” I called back. “I’m busy.”

He spun on his heel and rushed into the bedroom where Lee was changing. I couldn’t hear the conversation over the hairdryer, but seconds later Landon came tearing back into the bathroom.


And then he disappeared as Lee collapsed in hysterical laughter. Score one for Dad.


Not long after that, I stood in the kitchen preparing dinner as Lee and the kids sat on the back porch.

“Daddy?” Tia asked, her voice all sugary and sweet. “How did you learn to pop your pecs?”

It could have been worse. She could have asked him how he learned to “wiggle his nipples,” which is what she and Landon said for a long time before we finally put a stop to it. It’s cute and funny in the comfort of your own home.  Crying out “Wiggle your nipples, Dad,” in the cereal aisle of the grocery store, however, is embarrassing and slightly inappropriate…

One of Lee’s better parenting tactics does indeed involve popping his pecs when things get tense or dicey around here. If arguments break out, he does a little pop here and there and suddenly everyone is laughing hysterically. Brilliant…

So they sat on the back porch and Tia wanted to know how he did it because for her life, she cannot make her pecs pop.

“Well, baby,” Lee answered, “I actually went to a special college to learn. It’s not something you should ever try unless you’ve been properly trained. There’s a special technique that you have to learn and it could be quite dangerous to try without being taught. That’s why I made sure I got a degree from the Pec Popping Institute of America.


Never a dull moment…


Do the dads in your life give brilliant, if slightly skewed, explanations for some of the workings of life?

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The Tapestry of Now

Life’s adventure rarely leaves time for long enough pause to question.  How did I come to this and what brought me here?  It’s only upon stepping back from the tapestry and observing that we’re able to truly see the Artist’s flair.

What looked to be a tangled web of yellow thread was really a sunbeam.

The woven blue lines folding in and out grew into a vast ocean when stepping back.

Did you know that sometimes you can step back and look at even the most recent past and see beauty?  Did you know that if you take just a minute to breathe, you might be amazed at what’s developing right before your eyes?  Did you know that sometimes the present feels tangled and knotted but upon closer examination, it’s really shaping up to be something…grand?

I’m there.  Right now.

I didn’t want to “provide my children with a home education program” as the State of Florida asked me to word it in my letter to the Superintendent.  But somehow I knew I was supposed to.  And it scared me.  It still scares me.

But here we are.  Two weeks in and dare I say we’re having fun?  And if I step back for a few minutes and let the weight of this responsibility slide off my shoulders, I am able to see something beautiful being pieced together.


The root word + the suffix =

My kids and I are enjoying one another.  Naturally there are moments of frustration.  There are certain children who are to remain unnamed who, apparently, are so easily distracted that the simplest of tasks can turn into the most painful.  There are whiny moments and at least once a day I have to stop myself from tossing my hands in the air in exasperation.

But, more than anything else – we’re laughing together.


Russian lessons

We’re living life together and learning as a whole.  Similes, compound sentences, geography…who knew learning could be such fun?  They can label every state on the map and, as an added bonus, so can I.  Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, eh?


Tia loves to do "hard math."

And suddenly, without even knowing really when or how it happened, I became that mom.  The mom who schools her children in the home…and likes it.  I still don’t know if this is a permanent situation for us.  I honestly don’t know.  But for right now, I’m enjoying this bumpy little ride.


Taking a compound sentence from Sloan’s journal and pointing out the conjunction. He was also required to use one simile. My poor kids…stuck with a mom who finds a freakish amount of glee in similes and compound sentences.  You should feel sorry for them.

As I look back at the tapestry being woven these past few weeks, I’m in awe of the beauty and the masterful way it’s all slowly coming together.

Even if there are a few stray threads still needing to be plucked…

I wrote out a few conjunctions and turned around to talk with Tia for a minute. When I heard snickering I turned back around to find Sloan had edited my writing slightly.  Silly little boys make the tapestry a little more fun and…colorful, wouldn’t you say?


Sick and Twisted or Just Plain Funny?

When I was thirteen, I got a babysitting job for some neighbors that lived down the street.  After hanging up the phone, I checked the calendar and realized that *gasp* I had just agreed to baby-sit on Friday the 13th.


I handled this realization with typical teenage aplomb, dramatically lamenting about how horrible and terrible it would be.  I was all, “Ohmyga, like, it’s gonna be soooooooo scary to baby-sit on, like, Friday the 13th.  Like, what am I gonna do – like…?”


I think my parents responded with an eye roll and snicker.  Heartless. 


Finally, the big day arrived.  I had asked a friend to go with me because I figured there was power in numbers and if any crazed psychopaths came knocking on our door I could sacrifice her and run for my life.


Once we finally settled the baby in his bed, we sat down on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and put in a documentary on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  Why did we choose to watch that?  Hard to say – that’s a part of this memory that baffles me.  All I know is that just as the shot rang out on the grassy knoll, we heard it – a scratching sound on the back porch.


Both of us froze, afraid to even glance at one another.  Then we heard the bang of a chair falling over.  My friend yelped and jumped on top of me.  I pulled a pillow over my face and the bowl of popcorn thudded to the floor. It was like a bad horror movie when everything slowed down.  I could hear nothing but the rapid beating of my heart.


“What should we do?” my friend gasped.


“I’ll run upstairs and grab the baby – you call 911,” I replied, my breathing ragged.


“How about I go get the baby and you stay down here with the killer?” my friend said back.  Clearly, neither one of us was feeling overly self-sacrificial.


At that moment, three short raps rang from the back door.  At this point, my friend is nearly in tears, her face hidden in her hands.  I poked my head out from under the pillow and could see the silhouette of a man standing on the other side of the glass.  I was just about to let loose the blood curdling scream that only a girl of 13 could produce when I heard, “Kelli?  Let me in – it’s cold out here.”


It was my FATHER.  In a sick and twisted moment of cruelty, he thought it would be a good idea to come over and scare us, knowing how dramatic we had been about babysitting that night. 


After opening the door and giving him an earful (Dad, like you are soooooo lame.  We were, like, tooootally gonna call the cops on you, blah, blah, blah) I giggled a little, because, well, it was pretty funny.


My dad was notorious for scaring the ever lovin’ life out of us as kids.  My brother, who was terrified of “basement monsters,” would creep down the stairs only to come tearing back up when my dad would let out a howl from behind him.  My dad found an odd measure of glee in watching us scream in terror.  And the funny part is that even though he genuinely scared us senseless, we always came back for more.  There was something oddly comforting about being so scared, yet deep down knowing we were just fine.


And, I have to admit, now that I’m a parent – it is pretty funny.  Last week, our back door, which hadn’t been closed all the way, blew open in a gust of wind. 


“Maybe it’s a ghost,” I whispered to my kids and I crept slowly to the door.  Gripping the knob, I yanked it all the way open and let out a piercing scream.  Sloan screamed too, his eyes wide with terror.  When he realized I was joking, he broke out in a peal of delighted laughter. 


Tia, however, did not appreciate the twisted humor.  She glared at me for half an hour and refused to sit next to me at lunch.  For some reason this made me laugh even more.  (And I did apologize to her later – I’m not totally heartless.)


I’m not sure what it is, but giving your kids a healthy little scare is just hilarious.  Perhaps it’s a little payback for the sleepless nights?  Or maybe, as in my case, it’s the perpetuating of a cycle that started long ago with my own father.  Whatever it is, to hear their little screams and then listen to them break out in short little bursts of fearful laughter-those are good times.  Or maybe that’s just me… 

After all, I am a little sick and twisted.