Homicide or Honey Mustard: Life choices at the chik-fil-a.

You know, sometimes there are things you should just not write about. This may be one of those things. Not sure, so I’ll judge by your reaction as to whether or not I’ve erred here.

Frank decides he wants to go out for lunch. He rarely makes that request. In fact he’s never made that request, so we go. It’s just me and him. He’s very decisive about where he wants to eat too. You know, that place with the cows and the funny words…

He knows the name, he’s just being a pain because he thinks he’s asked for chicken too many times. Plus the chik-fil-a he wants to go to is the one with the playground in it and he thinks I won’t want to take him there. So I give him two quick life lessons.

Lesson 1: I can eat my body weight in chick-fil-a chicken, and I can do that every night; twice a day if necessary. There is never a time I can’t be talked into chicken and waffle fries.

Lesson 2: I have no issue with the playground joint. It’s fenced in, the only way in is through the restaurant. Our southern border should be so secure. Plus he’s six now, I don’t have to watch him. He can go out there on his own and I can sit in chick-fil-a air conditioning, necking down a box golden fried chicken like objects with alarming efficiency.

But like I always say no selfish deed ever goes unpunished. Well I never say that really but it’s still true. As I’m relaxing in relative quiet, muckling what I’m sure was once a chicken, I look up as Frank is coming back in from the playground. Two things happen. I realize he’s coming in to finish his lunch. That would be the lunch I am currently eating. Whoops.

The other thing? I see out of the corner of my eye a very tall snot nosed 14 year old making for the same door as Frank but going in the opposite direction and moving much faster, fueled by whatever life altering angst he’s currently carrying. The kid slams the door open, sending my 6 year old flying backward off his feet, onto his back.

I am three steps to the snot nose kid before Frank can get up. I can’t decide what I’m going to do when I get there, but I resign myself to the fact it won’t be pleasant for anyone involved but me. As I get through the door and move toward the now pouting teen and what appears to be his parents, Frank is up and jabbering on about something.

It occurs to me Frank is trying to tell me something in a very excited almost hyper fashion. Great, his friggen brains are all scrambled, probably has a concussion. No golf for me tomorrow. It’s my only four hours out of the house. I can’t be missing my tee time cause I’m in trouble for breaking Frank. Now I’m really gonna make Tommy Troubled Teen pay.

But I can’t because my now brain damaged son is jabbering and grabbing my pants. So it hits me, why isn’t he crying? When his sister hits him half as hard he’s inconsolable for an hour. Frank just got catapulted across the playground and he’s extremely excited about something.

I finally heard it and my heart sank. Stopped me dead in my tracks. My anger all but dissolved. I can’t see Snot Nosed Ultra-angst Teen anymore. I can only see the next 15+ years of my 6 year old’s life. I was hoping this would come much later. Hoping I’d have him hooked on golf for life so he would have a safe haven after the first one broke his heart.

Daddy she’s here. She’s here!

Oh son, you have no idea how much I want to protect you from the pain coming your way at some point or another for the next several years, maybe more. I’m not a gambling man but unless this girl is the one you’ll grow old with, I’m betting there’s a few more heartbreaks in your future.

I’m happy you’re happy but I already ache for the ache coming your way. There is no way around it, over it, or past it. You just have to live through it until you finally find your one.

And yeah, will Frank break a heart or two, of course. But right now, the look in his eye, and knowing how his heart works, some girl is gonna crush him. It’s life but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with, for son or father.

I didn’t even know who he was talking about, but I assumed it was someone from his kindergarten class, kids he hasn’t seen since school let out a month ago. I know who she is now and obviously won’t name her. She’s 6 as well so no doubt she can read the drivel I write but I’m guessing she’s not a Frank’s Place follower. No matter, he was so excited she was there he was unfazed by Too Tall Teen knocking him off his feet.

Turns out Frank wasn’t coming to eat, just to tell me; Daddy she’s here! 

A boy and his chicken... and the playground of life

A boy and his chicken… and the playground of life

As he finishes telling me about her he decides he does want some of his chicken after all. Unfortunately heartache came sooner than later. He looks at the empty box and then looks at me. Sorry dude, it’s in my belly. Saying that with the fat man’s Irish accent from Austin Powers movies doesn’t assuage his disappointment.

He was crest fallen. But that was an ache I could fix, and fix fast. A quick trip to the counter and he was eating again in no time. And by no time I mean he plowed through that chicken, keeping one eye on her the whole time. When she ran back out to the playground, off he went. Never even looked back.

I watched him through the glass, another plus of this joint, it was like having your own little kid zoo without the gorilla feces toss. As I watched him follow her around I thought, his little whatever this is may have kept me out of jail. I really wanted to go do violence to the kid, but I had just opened a fresh honey mustard and a chik-fil-a sauce, and Frank left some chicken on his plate, so…

I don’t generally feel one bit of my 48 years. However moments like that, watching my son getting happy over a girl while I eat all his honey mustard chicken is actually better than doing murder. The mind was willing, but the body weak. Apparently I must be getting old.

Jerk weed and his parents leave the place and Frank waves me out to the playground. He is up in the big climbing maze like thing they have and going full tilt. But he stops long enough to ask me if I saw her. Oh Frank.

She went back inside with her family and after ten minutes in the sweltering heat I decide it’s time to go. Just as Frank starts to climb down she comes back out and actually speaks to him. I feel this won’t end well for me.

She says “Come on Frank.” I absent mindedly say at almost the same time, “Hey man let’s make tracks, chop chop.” And this moment will be forever etched in my mind. Surely it’s a memory that will follow me even beyond the grave into the ether.

My 6 year old son looks down at me from this giant kid hive and gives me a look. The look. Then he has to do it again cause I have no idea what he’s trying to say. I resist channeling my mother by yelling at the top of my lungs, “What did you say!” Thus outing any covert messaging he might be trying to convey.

As I bear down to concentrate I realize he’s looking at me, then nodding his head toward you know who, and then back at me. Without using words, and now that I’m paying attention, two bros have just communicated about 8 paragraphs worth of information in two nods.

Basically he was saying pop don’t jam me up here. Can we hang for a few more. She’s right there and talking to me. Wait right over there with the grandparents, I’ll be down in like 10. Attempting to process what just happened I walk to the old people area and sit down. I was conflicted.

Obviously I don’t want to wreck whatever game the kid is running. On the other hand do I really want to be complicit in letting the kid run game? That answer is pretty easy actually. He’s going to fall for who ever he’s gonna fall for, with my input or not. I take solace in the fact he involved me, ever so slightly, in this part of his life.

Playing golf as much as I do invariably I’ll run into people from the other side of the tracks; the rich side that is. Some 30 year old will be running his yapper about some business deal or about being on the precipice of becoming a half millionaire or whatever and I’ll make a joke about my bad life choices. You don’t join the military for the money. That statement gets truer and more apparent after a 22 year hitch.

But as corny as it must sound, even though I’m almost 48 and he’s only 6, seeing my Frank get goofy over a girl restores my faith in my life choices.

Well except for eating about 10lbs of fried chicken like pieces. I paid dearly for that life choice later on.

 

 

 

Naked and Afraid: Two hours in the mall without my phone.

This was a completely new experience for me. Caught so off guard, I had no idea how to act. Where do I go? What do I do? What the hell do I do with my hands? Am I allowed to make eye contact with people? What’s the protocol? So many questions and so few answers. One thing was vividly clear. I would have to find a way to survive almost two hours in the mall without my phone. I was…. Naked and Afraid!

Unlike the marginally popular cable TV series, I was not really naked. Good chance the title would have gone from Afraid to Alone had I been naked. No the nakedness was emotional, dare I say spiritual.

Before moving on let me just say this is not a treatise on the current smart phone culture. This will not be a plea for people to get their faces out of their smart phones and reconnect with humanity. Quite the contrary. I love my phone. I enjoy my phone. I’m not ashamed of my phone.

My phone gets me.

My phone gets me.

My phone can guide me to new places and play my music over the speakers of the Frankerprise (our mini-van). It allows me to walk through crowded, busy, places without engaging people. No way to even calculate the value of that.

More importantly, my phone tells me how far I am from any given pin on and given green on any given golf course. My phone knows how far I hit my 7 iron. It tracks how many fairways I hit. It just… gets me.

So no, this is not me smugly telling you that the people of earth have become too obsessed with their phones and have lost the ability to engage in the most basic human contact. This is me saying it sucks when said phone is taken away and you’re stuck at the mall forcing you to engage in the most basic human contact. It’s a very discombobulating feeling.

I kind of knew I was in trouble when I dropped my phone on the hardwood floor. Of course I dropped it face down so as to eliminate any protection from the phone cover and provide maximum damage potential. Mission accomplished. Complete shattering of the touch screen. I knew in my heart what that meant. I would have to journey to the Genius Bar at the Apple Store in the mall. God those people love to talk to you and make you feel like one of them with all their customer servicey behavior. I hate that.

But my burden would be compounded. The joint was covered up. I mean at 10:05 in the a.m. it was packed. Every other store in the mall was like a mausoleum. This place, barely had room to walk. Genius 1 spots me and moves in.

He starts his assault on my disdain for people. By that I mean he used every cliche greeting short of the Ned Flanders from the Simpsons classic, “Hi-dilly Ho-dilly Neighbor!” But beyond that he was all bad news. A three hour wait meant an appointment two days from now. Yeah I had to go back. Twice in a week is just about my lifetime limit.

Well thank the Apple gods I had an appointment. Two days later the place was jammed again. Sullen but judgmental Ned Flanders greets me this time. When he finds I have an appointment he perks up, judgment abated. Another 3 hour wait for the non-appointees, he tells me. But not me, I go straight to the genius bar. I don’t drink but that’s OK cause I  think the genius tag is an honorary thing, so it’s a push.

Fix-it Ned says he can change the glass in ten minutes. OK now they’re speaking my language. Hold the phone Fix-it Ned says, (haha see what I did there), glass change is ten minutes, but another hour or so, 90 minutes most likely, for the touch screen and all its glorious-ness to calibrate. An hour or what? Ned says, “When you come back you’ll have your phone all fixed or a brand new phone.” When I come back? I have to leave?! A new phone, that’s awesome, but that doesn’t help me for the next hour and a half Ned.

So out I go. Into the dark cruel world of the mall. When I crossed the threshold of the Apple Store into the mall I felt cold, naked even. The dark side of the force is strong here. I wasn’t even sure which way to turn. What do I do with my hands? I have nothing to hold, nothing to pretend to be so engrossed in allowing me to ignore all those around me. I need to move. My feet need to move in some direction.

Pretzels, I smell pretzels! I’ll go get a pretzel. That should take at least an hour right? I have no idea. Sadly it took much longer than it really should have. Old girl Annie, of Annie’s Pretzel fame, was gettin the 411 from a friend standing at her counter. Apparently there was some dust up with Gina and Mark at a rather raucous social engagement the night before. Mark was all like being a butt-hole and Gina was having none of that drama. Gina, as it turns out, doesn’t suffer butt-holes.

Good for you Gina. Raise the bar girl. Mark is a chooch, you know you can do better. OK so the mall may more fun than I thought. So the town crier finished her appointed rounds of gossip and toddled off to parts unknown, American Eagle Outfitters I would imagine. Or whatever place the kids gather these days. Never the less I had my pretzel and diet coke in short order and wandered off myself, contemplating the fate of Mark and Gina. Maybe those crazy kids can make it after all.

Well I had food, so that means I must need to report to the food court. A bold move considering I was without my shield. Nothing in my hands but a pretzel and a 20oz mall cup full of the nectar of the gods. Eye balls are everywhere. People looking, wanting to engage in some fashion. It was a mine field for sure. Navigated safely, I found a table. Harking to my Italian roots, my back is as close as can be to a wall. No whacking for this weary mall traveler.

Even after I sit down the issue of my hands keeps cropping up. I’m running out of pretzel. What the hell do I do when I have no more butter drenched twisted dough to jam in  my face? It was a quandary.

People watching is good. I’ll people watch. Yeah the was a bad move. Doing that caused me to weep for humanity. I’ll just leave the food court experience like this. If Whitney Houston was right and children are our future, mall children in-particular, take the gas pipe now my friends we are doomed!

It occurred to me I had no way of knowing what time it was. I didn’t have my phone. I don’t wear a watch. No way to see the sky, although I’m not sure what that would get me. I dropped the phone off Wednesday afternoon, it could be Thursday already for all I knew. So I walked out to the Frankerprise and used the on-board computer (dashboard clock) to calculate my time and season. What felt like a millennia, was only 55 minutes.

OK I can meander through Sears Hardware for a good 15 minutes and then arrive at Apple 5 minutes later making me 10 minutes early. If the gods are happy and my nectar, (diet coke) holds out I should get to the Apple Store to find my phone ready to go. And that’s what happened.

Phone in hand, watching Star Wars Rebels, as God intended.

Phone in hand, watching Star Wars Rebels, as God intended.

A little anti-climactic really. But I had my phone.

My emotional clothes are back on. The world will keep turning for another day.

And now, thanks to Fix-it Ned, I won’t have to engage anyone in it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Potty Training: Paul Revere and The 1000 yard stare

Aye matey, I be needin a change down there if ye know what i'm a sayin. Arrgh!

Aye matey, I be needin a change down there if ye know what I’m a sayin. Arrgh!

Never in my life would I have imagined so much about my Air Force career and raising my two kids would intersect. In a million years I never would have seen the connection between Air Force test pilots and potty training.

So the obvious and tired lesson is: never say never.

Air Force test pilot and breaker of the sound barrier Chuck Yeager was once asked if he was ever frightened testing so many new aircraft. His response, “I figure an airplane won’t swap ends without letting me know it.” Meaning Yeager felt the plane wouldn’t just break apart or crash without the giving him some type of warning, allowing him to take action.

Air Force test pilots in the late 40s early 50s also had a saying that there was no such thing as an accident, only a series of events leading up to a crash.

What does any of that have to do with potty training? Well funny you should ask.

I’ve learned some things as a parent believe it or not. That may come as a shock to a few people who know me from my Air Force days. We may need to let them catch their breath…     Ok everyone back with us? Great.

Let’s tell some truths shall we. Kids don’t have accidents. From my experience with the potty predicaments kids know what they’re doing. It’s not an accident. It’s a series of events or more closer to the point, a series of decisions, leading up to a mess. A mess they have no burden to clean.

Too many times have my kids stood there looking right at me saying/yelling/crying they had to potty. But instead of moving to the bathroom, they just stand there going potty! Had they been hysterical for 10 seconds instead of 15, they would have made it to the bathroom. They may not have hit the potty, but the clean up is so much easier on the linoleum bathroom floor than it is on the carpet, on the hardwood, or in the tub.

Happier times, before the incident.

Barnacles in happier times, before the incident. We’ll miss him.

Now Frank was a bit of a slow starter but rarely a sneak attacker. He got me once when he was six months or so. Took his diaper off and he hosed me. But that’s about it.

He did whack the tub twice. And I mean whack it, like a Haz Mat Level 5 whacking. But some of that was my fault. Captain Barnacles never had a chance. My first burial at sea. Full Naval honors too. I’ll never watch Octonauts the same again.

Still for the most part Frank would give some good indicators of a pending evacuation. He did the traditional red face, and then the shock face. But he could go quiet as well.

If he abruptly stopped doing or playing and headed for a door jamb or coffee table or ottoman to lean on, I knew he was pooping. When he held on with two hands and then added the red face, I got an extra pack of wipes.

Once he could speak with any consistency we would get the Paul Revere treatment. “I have to poop daddy! Mommy I have to poop!” One day he just went on his own, long before he was potty trained, and dropped a two right in his Lightning McQueen potty. He walks out into the kitchen, bare assed, pants at his ankles, and yells with much attitude, “Can I get some wipes!” I almost fell into the pot of ravioli.

After Frank started on the road to potty independence he would shut the door. He went from public poop proclamations to discrete defecator pretty quickly.

His sister on the other hand is still in the pronouncement mode. She’s almost fully trained and I’m still getting the Paul Revere. She’ll even run past the bathroom to my office to tell me she has to potty. She won’t move till I say “Ok Anne Marie, go potty.” Then it’s off to the races to the potty only to reemerge 5 minutes later: “Daddy I went potty!”  She is a proud pottier.

Throwin the deuce.

Throwin the deuce.

Anne Marie did the red face too. But she developed another signal that a #2 was eminent. She grew out of the red face and went to a very spooky 1000 yard stare.

She would just all of a sudden look off into the distance as if she was contemplating her place in the universe. It took me once or twice to get the signal down. If she goes quiet and stares like she sees dead people, she’s going to poop. If she stares a hole in the wall as if she can see another dimension, she’s going to poop.

However, much like the golf pro who can take his practice routine to the course, Anne Marie has taken her game to the potty. The 1000 yard stare that was the harbinger of diaper doom has reappeared on the big people potty. It’s now the sign of intense concentration.

Unlike her brother, the bathroom door stays open when she’s in there. That’s a two birds with one stone situation. First and foremost if the door is closed and she’s in there, she’s up to no good. More than likely she’s trying to fill the room with water from the sink so she can go swimming. So the door is open for safety’s sake; my safety.

It also stays open because Anne Marie is still in the throws of potty training and still needs help from time to time. With the door open I can hear her calling for me. Because the door stays open, I noticed the 1000 yard stare is still in effect.

Walking past the bathroom I saw my youngest doing her business. At first glance I thought she looked at me. On second glance, her eyes were facing me but she was looking through me, not at me. I’m not entirely sure she even saw me. It was spooky, not gonna lie.

When she didn’t respond after my second try I decided to treat her like a sleepwalker. We’re still not waking sleepwalkers right? Anyway, I figured she was finding her place in the universe while concentrating on making poo. Plus she is almost to full potty independence. I’m not gonna break her routine.

Hey a little concentrated poo making never hurt anyone.

I don’t think.

 

 

 

Tales from the pitch: Hallway Beach-ball Soccer

One of the great things about little kids is they can make a game out of anything. Especially if that game involves kicking a ball inside the house. So during the ice and snowmegeddon of this latest Knoxville winter, Hallway Beach-ball Soccer (HBS) was born. In truth Frank and I have played this since he was but a wee lad. But the game finally took official form this winter.

A simple game really. There are a few small scoring intricacies that must be mastered, but all in all anyone can be taught to play HBS in short order. Becoming an All-Star or achieving immortality by being enshrined in the HBS Hall of Fame, well that’s another story all together. While college scholarships abound, only .01 of 1% ever turn pro.

The Pele of Hallway Futbol

The Pele of Hallway Futbol? Maybe

The HBS rules are basic and few. Like all international futbol, no hands, ever. In HBS there is no out of bounds. Walls, kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms, garage – all in play. This makes the first rule more daunting. No hands ever means just what it says.

If we’re on Frank’s home field, the upstairs hallway, and the ball finds its way down the staircase, oh well. No hands, ever – got to kick it up the stairs. If the ball somehow ends up in the tub, no hands. Gotta use the dogs (feet) to extricate the ball.

If we’re on my home field, downstairs hall between the front and back doors, and the ball gets stuck under the kitchen table, not my problem. No hands, ever.

It’s really not that bad, for me. Sucks for the kid but hey it was all his idea. I’m just enforcing the rules already in place. Now the scoring can get a little squirrely. The rules for scoring vary from pitch to pitch.

Took one in the beak.

Took one in the beak while on camera duty.

Upstairs for instance, Frank scores a goal by kicking it past me into my bedroom. And none of this stupid NFL nonsense of breaking the plane of the goal line. No. Like hockey, tennis, and The Premier League, the entire ball must cross the entirety of the doorway.

Now for me to score the ball must be kicked past Frank and it must strike the wall at the end of the hallway. If some dirty laundry happens to be laying there, as it serves for my staging area on wash day, and the ball strikes the laundry against the wall – no goal. The surface of the ball must make contact with the surface of the wall.

I’m thinking of installing a pressure sensitive device in the wall that would be connected to the hallway lights. Yes I believe the little chooch is cheating me.

Downstairs is a completely different story, a slightly easier story. Since both doors have welcome mats inside the door the scoring system is the same for both of us. An HBS goal is scored when the entirety of the ball crosses the mat. The ball can enter the mat from any direction and the mat extends from the floor to the ceiling. In other words if the ball flies in the air across the mat in it’s entirety a goal is deemed to have been scored. The game ends when a HBS player scores 10 goals.

Hey man Hallway Beachball Soccer ain’t for the faint of heart. You gotta want it. I’ve lost 2-3 pounds during some games and gone dehydrated more than once. Games can go on forever, like a cricket match.

As I said this is a game Frank and I have played from the time he could kick a ball. And yet he seems no better at it. And you’d think by now he would be used to it when I yell GOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL! every time I score. Nope. He still gets mad. Ah well the learning curve is long with this one. The other kid however…

One on the way!

One on the way!

Anne Marie has taken to HBS like a fish to water. Kicking a ball inside, screaming, running up and down the hall, kicking daddy in the leg, what’s not to love? And she can kick it.

Plus she isn’t as sensitive as the other one. She can take me gloating and my commentary as the game rolls on. However she’s not nearly as coordinated as her brother. So every once in a while she follows through too much and kicks a door jam.

But the kid is tough. Of course she has that whole “can’t feel pain in her outer extremities” thing going for her but still she will literally shake it off. I have to sing what’s her name’s Shake It Off song, but the trade off is worth it. AM shakes her foot and the game resumes.

Hey, it’s just one of the elements that separates the HBS men from the HBS boys, or girls in this case. Can you kick a wooden structure full force, shake it off, and get back in the game? Those that can weave a legacy in the annals of Hallway Beach-ball Soccer. Those that can’t end up on the trash heap of HBS history.

Taunting me after a goal. She learns quick.

Taunting me after a goal. She learns quick.

We haven’t figured how to incorporate an audience yet. When we do, season ticket sales will be coming to a Stub Hub near you. Of course our merchandising hasn’t quite got the traction we were hoping for. Beach balls aren’t as popular as they used to be. Go figure.

I think we need a logo. Anyone who knows anything about the NBA knows that Hall of Famer and L.A. Lakers great Jerry West is the figure in the NBA logo. And that’s one of the best in the business.

I think HBS could go that way. The pic to the left is my 3 year old taunting me by yelling GOOAAALLL! after scoring on her old man. That’s logo quality right there.

HBS Action! Shake It Off Baby!

Droppin like it’s hot!

Went out on a limb with the title there. That’s about as street as I get. But how else to describe a moment in time I never imagined could happen. Something I wrote has been published in a book. Yep, past tense there. No longer a thing to come at a future time, it is now reality.

I'm in this thing!

I’m in this thing!

The book, Dads Behaving Dadly II is now available for pre-order at Amazon. The book itself will be released June 5th. I’m hoping to have them available here at some point as well.

The book is just like what you read at Frank’s Place. A bunch of dads telling their stories. Turns out a lot of dads are writing about their experiences. I guess you could say this book and the first, cleverly titled Dads Behaving Dadly, is the modern dad’s answer to the stereotype that we’re all just knuckle dragging morons who can’t change diapers.

I don’t like people for the most part so I usually don’t give a flying squirrels ass what they think of me. That holds true for this issue as well. But a lot of dudes and dads are concerned and this book represents their statement or deceleration if you will. It’s well done and well written. I’m sure you’ll learn a lot about modern fathers you may not have known before.

That’s the frightening part for me. This is a serious book written by serious people. It’s hard to explain the feeling. I write like a mug from Jersey, which is what I am of course. But it’s not just the fact something I wrote is in a real book. It’s the caliber of other contributors that makes me proud and terrified at the same time.

These dudes can bang the keys. I think I mentioned before I felt like I’ve sneaked in the club from a window in the back alley. So good are the other writers in this book, I sit here waiting for someone to realize I don’t belong and toss me to the curb. But, too late now. The ink is on the page. I’m in baby!

The moment got even more surreal when Mrs Frank’s Place and I were talking about the upcoming release date at dinner. Frank, my five year old, asked what we were saying and when she told him I wrote some stories in a book Frank turned to me and asked, “Daddy, you’re an author?”

Answering his question has been the most sobering moment of this whole deal.

I could gush on and on about this, patting myself on the back and basking in the glow. I’ll spare you. Suffice to say while I may only make enough money to cover a few rounds of golf, I’m pretty stoked about the book.

I hope you are too. You all made this happen. So thanks to all of you for clicking and reading and commenting and sharing.

Now stop reading and clicking and sharing and go buy the book. You’ll be glad you did and I’ll think of you the very next time I play golf.

Dads Behaving Dadly II at an Amazon.com near you.

I'm in this thing!

I’m in this thing!

 

 

 

 

Discovering a Galaxy far far away…

Editors Note: In honor of International Star Wars Day, (it’s May the Fourth Be With You day if you were not aware,) Here is the story of when my kids discovered the greatest movie franchise in the known galaxy. Enjoy. 

Discovering a galaxy far far away…

Honestly we have been actively keeping this from him. Obviously we’ve not done a very good job at shielding him from it. Kids are maturing so quickly these days. He’ll only be five in May so how soon is too soon? How early is innocence lost these days? When is the right time to tell him about it, to have THE talk?

He’s seen it by accident on TV so apparently the moment has come and the time is now.

Time for THE talk.

Time to tell him about Star Wars.

Some random dude on Twitter mentioned how no matter how many times it’s on he always gets sucked in by the Star Wars marathon on Spike. Mrs Franks Place replied to his tweet by saying she knows someone who does the exact same thing.

Two things she fails to realize is I follow her on Twitter so I saw that tweet. Second, I watch a lot of Star Wars and because of that have developed Jedi mind power which means I know she was talking about me, and in a non-complimentary way. The dark side always reveals itself sooner or later.

She’s not wrong. No matter how many times it plays I can watch the Star Wars. Like The Godfather, the Star Wars movies transcend time. They hold up. They’re great movies and always will be.

A Jedi's power flows through the binker.

A Jedi’s power flows through the binker.

I’m dying for Frank to get hooked. The light-saber battles alone will be epic. But the movies are too dark in theme for a little kid in my opinion so I’ve not let him watch. Kids in his class have though. Frank has been to a Star Wars themed birthday party and has had imaginary light-sabre duels in the school yard with his buds. We have actual duels on the Wii. But that’s me against him using just characters from the movies. No plots or darkness involved. Still I didn’t think the movies would be a good idea for him. There are parts of Henry Huggle Monster that cause him to run from the room.

It just so happened there was a Star Wars marathon a few weeks ago. Spike TV was playing all six movies in numerical order. If I was single I would have never changed from my PJ’s and eaten nothing but popcorn for the entire Saturday. Married with no kids: I would have still lived on Diet Coke and popcorn all day, but I would have done it standing at the ironing board folding all the laundry in the house. That would have got me through three and a half of the six moivies. Would have been sitting on my ass for the last two.

Married with two kids: still doing laundry but with remote set to the Star Wars and Disney Junior so I can flip to Octonauts in case the two midgets wander in. They wander in all the time so I was seeing a lot of Octonauts and not much Jedi. But one particularly quiet moment when midget 2 was down for her nap, midget 1 wandered in to my laundry station undetected while I was watching A New Hope, the first Star Wars movie released, (1977) but fourth in the series. Also least darkest in my opinion. Although Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen were sent to their eternal dirt naps in a less than glorious fashion by the storm troopers.

Anyway, once I realized he was standing by the door I switched it to Disney. Too late. The questions start.

What was that movie? Why were they shooting that man? What happened to that ship? And on and on.

It was time. No way around it now.

You see son a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away…

Ah the explanations won’t do any good. I just let him watch it. In five minutes he saw a light-saber fight and thought they were playing the game we play on the Wii. When Obi Wan is killed by Darth Vader Frank asked, “Where are they gonna play next.” In the game after you win a duel it restarts and you can pick which planet or scene you want to duel in next. Not so in the movie. Obi Wan was sent to the eternal ether. This stark reality caused Frank to deem it a daddy movie and he promptly ran out.

That same day, three baskets of laundry later, midget 2, up from her nap wonders in while I’m watching the third movie in the series and the latest one released, Revenge of the Sith. It’s by far the darkest of the six movies in my opinion. The particular scene she saw takes place on Chewbacca’s home planet, loaded with Wookies in a bloody battle with the droid armies.

Wookies/Sheep - Anne Marie speaks their language.

Wookies/Sheep – Anne Marie speaks their language.

Anne Marie’s response? Pointed at the TV and yelled “Sheep! Sheep! Baaa”. Yeah so I guess they do look like sheep, if sheep could stand on two feet, fire a laser crossbow, and you know, be self governing so as to run an entire planet. But I took her point. That kid is a pistol.

So Frank appears to be unfazed. He got a light-saber from the birthday party he went to one Saturday, (not a real one, I would have kept that for myself) and he still wants to have duels on the Wii. He just doesn’t want to watch the movies.

That’s ok I guess. Seems a bit unnatural to get sucked in by the merchandizing without seeing the actual movies, but ok.

Maybe the force is not strong with him after all.

His sister on the other hand…

Jedi or Sith? We report, you decide!

Jedi or Sith? We report, you decide!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OK maybe not.

 

Throwback Thursday: Well it looks like mud!

Editor’s note: In honor of Frank’s first school field trip to the zoo today, here’s a little Throwback Thursday for you of our first trip to the zoo with Frank. This post is about 5 years old and written when Frank’s Place was just starting out. Enjoy!

Well it looks like mud!

...before the dark times. Before... the Mud Incident of 2009.

…before the dark times. Before… the Mud Incident of 2009.

So we decide to go on our first real family outing.  I think it was our first.  It was a weekday so that means Tracy took the day off.  It must have been a special occasion of some type, but currently it escapes me.  Stop the presses, my dutiful wife just reminded me it was Frank’s first birthday.  Yeah, seems like I should have remembered that.  Anyway we decide to make a weekend of the whole thing starting off with a trip to the zoo.

Whoa, whoa, whoa,  hold the phone a second.  My diluted memory is coming back, thanks to a photo album I did of the event on Facebook.   Frank was actually only 19 weeks old, so it would have been the end of September, not his first birthday which is in May.  It was the weekend I retired and Tracy went back to work from maternity leave.  Yeah seems like ol` mommy should have remembered that.  Well we’ll just keep that between us, no need to gloat to Tracy that I remembered and she did not.

No matter, we press on.  Our “garb” makes more sense now.  No way I would have been wearing a long sleeve sweatshirt in May; end of September, early October probably.  But its East Tennessee and the weather gets “ah mite bit squirrely” as they say round these parts.  That would account for the garb Frank had on.  And before I describe it let me just say Frank followed the runners code of dress ten degrees lighter than the temperature.  In other words if it’s 30 out, dress like it’s 40 because you’ll eventually heat up.  The problem in this case is Frank was not going to be doing any running and we dressed him like it was 60 and it was probably closer to 48 in the early morning hours at the zoo.

It's percolating under there!

It’s percolating under there!

Well too late to do anything about that now.  I covered him with my sweatshirt I think. Not too bad a mess up for first timers until we run into a group of friends in front of the bear cave.  Seems they have this little zoo get together club one a week I believe.

Now we feel like dopes and we can taste the judgement raining down upon us. They weren’t judging us in the slightest but we felt stupid and frankly probably deserved a little judgment at that point.  I mean for all we knew Frank was going to have hypothermia before we made it to the monkey cage.  That would have been a real downer too because the highlight of any zoo trip for me is always the Olympic style feces tossing that goes on in the monkey cage.

We did in fact make it to the monkey cage.  Too cold for the feces toss.  Can’t have the gorillas pull a hammy or blow an achilles while they’re tossing their excrement. Crap!

Although I will risk a fire bombing by PETA to say that seeing a gorilla blow a hammy in the middle of a feces heave might have been too funny for words.   Oh well.  It finally warmed up and we ran into the group of friends, all moms by the way, near the little zoo eatery.  We were pleased to show them that not only was Frank still alive, but the same color he was when they saw him 15 degrees ago.

On a side note I thought it was odd to put a hamburger/hotdog/BBQ joint right along the path of the animal cages.  I mean the cheetah habitat was to the right of this joint, the zebras a little further down.  You would think the animals wouldn’t take kindly to the smell of burning animal flesh all day.  Apparently they didn’t care so we sat down and muckeled some burgers.  I guess cows are not respected by the animals of the Serengeti.

All in all it was a lovely day.  Frank survived and we headed for the gate.  We stopped for the obligatory bathroom break for Tracy.  As I was sitting on the bench fixated on Frank I noticed some mud on his shoe.  That was really odd because at 19 weeks he couldn’t have walked or even stood up, not to mention the fact that we never took him out of the stroller.  The real odd part was the mud was on the top of his shoe near his sock, not on the bottom where you would expect to find mud, that is if he could have walked in the first place.  So no, the bell is not ringing for me yet.

Tracy walks up and I asked her where could he have gotten mud from.  She say’s what mud?  I said the mud on his shoe and as I point I can now see the mud on the side of his leg and in the stroller seat.  I’m like, dammit where is all this mud coming from? Tracy looks at me with that penetrating look that says, your smart enough to fix military airplanes for ten years and you can’t see that our son has just emptied his bowels all over the stroller!?!?

Yeah, alright now I see it’s not mud, but it looked like mud.  Even the “mud” that got on my hands still looked like mud to me.  It wasn’t until the smell overtook us that it became clear there was not one drop of mud anywhere.  It was all Frank.  Funny thing among a host of funny things, Frank was not the least bit concerned.  He had not a care in the world.  So we hotfoot it back to the car.  Yes the car.  This was October of 09.

We didn’t get the mini-van/shuttle Frankerprise until April the following year.  We’re going into hazmat mode in the back seat of my Grand Prix.  In case you were wondering, it ain’t built for that.  Plus we were woefully under-prepared.

I have no idea what were were thinking, but we only had 3 diapers and a small amount of wipes.  The diapers became an issue because the back seat was quickly becoming contaminated and Tracy threw me some diapers.  Wrong answer, diapers 1 and 2 now contaminated beyond usage.  I mean it was like this stuff was just multiplying.  “Mud” was everywhere and the wipes inventory was reaching a critical state.  Just as I wiped some up, there was twice as much as before.  I had to make a command decision.  The back seat was becoming uninhabitable.  We were about to lose the whole shooting match if we didn’t do an emergency egress.

I picked up Frank, stuffed the clean diaper in my pocket and moved to the trunk lid of my car.  We were in full view of the public in the zoo parking lot but at least I could breath and see the sky; two things I was almost positive I would never be able to do again.   Frank, the kid is a trooper.  He was quiet for the most part, probably dumbfounded by what he was witnessing.  At one point it seemed like he laughed a little bit.  Not a jolly, 19 week old type laugh.  It was more of a subtle, sarcastic, “God why do you hate me?” laugh.  Now I have to set up a potty triage on the trunk of my car.

The little mat that you put down on a public restroom changing table, yeah that was annihilated inside of 3 seconds.  But a quick lesson for the young kids – the reusable shopping bags all the tree huggers use at the grocery store – they double nicely as a diaper changing station and, when torn in small pieces are surprisingly absorbent.  So we might have to max out on the diaper rash ointment to save Frank’s bottom, but those shopping bags really cleaned up the area.

It was a shame though.  The 4 grocery bags that bit the dust were actually a gift from Tracy.  When she realized I was using those at The Kroger she got me 4 bags with the Philadelphia Eagles and Phillies logos on them.  Good soldiers all. I’ll miss them.

Somehow we managed to finally get cleaned up.  We did have a onsie that survived the avalanche.  So Frank rode home in style.  We tightened up his diaper bag after that little adventure.  I also put a few packs of wipes in the car as well, just in case.

We learned some valuable lessons that day.  Not the least of which was, if your kid can’t walk, then that can’t be mud.