Navigating the minefield that is kindergarten.

Hey, if you think this will be anything other than a post of me bragging about my kid, turn back now.

So after much trepidation and some accidental stringing along of the local Catholic School, we decided to send Frank to kindergarten. I was pretty confident we could help him through whatever troubles he might encounter. Well so far the boy is flourishing. He loves going to school, loves his teacher, and has made a lot of new friends.

As it turns out I am the one who may have not been ready for kindergarten. Pre-school was so nice. First and foremost, it started at 9am. Rule of thumb was get there no later than 9:15. Since both of our kids were sleeping till 8 – 8:30, that was awesome. Honestly neither Tracy nor I knew what it was like to be out of bed before 8am until Frank started kindergarten. Plus drop off and pick up was so friendly. People were glad to see you. I mean, one of the kids used to announce me when I rolled up to the yard to pick Frank up from Pre-school; “Frank, your dad is here!” I miss hearing that. There was just a general happy valley lets all learn together vibe about pre-school.

Now I have to get up at 6:30 every morning without fail. There is no slip factor in that. He has to be at school by 7:30. I know most of you are flipping me off right now, but bear in mind I go to bed around 12:30 – 1am. Of course I’ve adjusted that back to 10:30pm but it was nice having such a wide margin for error.

Then of course drop off and pick up is so different. And by different I mean bad. It’s bad. Very rigid, very unforgiving. Make one honest misstep and blows rain down upon you by people not fit to be in charge. No happy 4yr old yelling out to Frank that his dad is here, just Darla Drill Sargent checking my ID and pole-vaulting over her authority, chastising me to the point she put her own life in danger. Honey, bottom line, it’s just elementary school pick up not the Manhattan Project. With 700 kids I get it, there are morons in the pick up lane and I may have been one of them. Still doesn’t excuse your behavior. No matter, I talked Frank into riding the bus home. Problem solved. The drop off lane is a much smoother, calmer operation.

Those bumps aside it’s a great school. The principal is awesome and Frank’s teacher is the perfect match for him. I didn’t think he’d be excited about any teacher again after the two wonderful pre-school teachers he had for his final year there. But he took to his kindergarten teacher pretty quick. Always has a big smile on his face when anyone asks who his teacher is.

Very thankful for Beth and Leigh Ann

Very thankful for job Beth and Leigh Ann did.

Very thankful for the job Mrs Givens is doing.

Very thankful for the job Mrs Givens is doing.











Believe it or not we are 8 weeks deep into this kindergarten experience. And it has been an experience. Just 2 months in and I’ve been to 868 events. Maybe not that many, but it’s been a lot. One huge thing this school does is condense all that fundraising stuff into one night.

They don’t do wrapping paper, popcorn tins, car washes, etc… On one night they hold a “Great Harvest” fund raising dinner and auction. Adults only. This is the third or fourth year. This year’s take was approx $110,000 american dollars. I’m pretty sure they’ve busted the six digit mark all four years. The only fund raiser they do outside of that is the coupon book sales. That’s a blog post all it’s own, coming to your favorite blog very soon.

Great Harvest is pretty slick. Fun night out for the parents, gobs of money for the school, and no door to door crap for parents and kids a like. The ultimate definition of a win win scenario.

This is a good idea.

This is a good idea.

You know what else is slick, making their first day an ice cream social that only lasts about 3 hours. It’s held in the cafeteria so the kids even get the feel of what it’ll be like when they start full time. How slick is it you ask, well we all got tagged with a color depending on which of the six kindergarten classes our kid is in. It was then easy to find his teacher, classmates, and other parents of the kids in his particular class. Smart. I like smart.

The place is big on involving parents as I’m sure most elementary schools are. They even got me to run a race, a charity race where they throw paint or something at you and you end up all colorful at the end. Tons of fun. The University of Tennessee Track Team came to workout and run with the students. Frank got to work out and run with the women’s team. I trailed behind, ya know, didn’t want to cramp his style.

Rocky Hill Rampage 2014

Rocky Hill Rampage 2014

That’s us pre-race, hair still in perfect working order. Frank is styling the Rocky Hill Rampage official t-shirt and sunglasses. I, on the other hand, am rocking the official Property of Frank’s Place limited edition t-shirt.

The good folks of the PTO say I ordered a large. I replied, “Lady, I haven’t ordered a large since my junior year of high-school.” Unlike Frank, I am not making friends at kindergarten. Either way, my size large Rocky Hill Rampage shirt was in the van, leaving me to some shameless advertising of Frank’s Place.


Working out with the women of UT Track & Field

Working out with the women of UT Track & Field

Here is the lady killer showing out for the UT Women. Standing right next to his new college aged friend. Frank was in rare form. This might be a problem down the road.

It was funny and almost sad to see the big smile on his face as he ran with perfect form along side two of the girls who took a shine to the kid with the best hair in the school. I mean, if you’ve seen him run around the Sac… he’s not Jesse Owens is all I’m saying. Unless of course a couple of cute college kids are running with him, then he becomes the embodiment of Roger Bannister. (four minute mile, look it up)

Regardless of all the fun pictures, he’s actually engaged in some school work. The first week was learning to write his name. Well, he already knew how to do that thanks to pre-school. After the third day of this he took some liberties.

The task was to write their names down one side of the page and then again on the other side. Frank stayed true on the left side of the page, but on the right side…. Yeah he wrote his name in the reverse, mirror image all the way down the right side of the page so when folded in half, both sides lined up and it looked like one row of names instead of two. So Frank on the left became knarF on the right with the letters facing the other direction. Obviously I can’t do that part here, but you get the gist.

He struggled where we thought he would, letter sounds and reading. After some yeomen type work from him, his teacher and us, he’s writing sentences, reading his books, and has the alphabet down pat. Still lagging behind a bit, but gaining ground.

When they hit the first math segment he shot way a head of his class mates. Hell, the kid has been keeping his own score on the golf course since he was two, can add and subtract in his head, and solved this equation I wrote down for him: 2-x=1. It’s as basic as basic can get, but I was curious if he was guessing at numbers or actually thinking about them. When I asked him how he did that he said, “I just took away the x and the two lines (equal sign).” Welcome to Algebra I Frank.

After talking to his teacher we are finding out his mind may work a little differently when it comes to numbers and patterns. Asked to line up flat rectangle chips in a stair pattern starting with 1 and going up to 10, Frank took a different stair way to mathlete heaven.

Instead of laying his chips flat like the picture showed, he stacked his starting with one, ascending to 10. He made an actual stairway. I didn’t think anything of that until the teacher said she would have never done it that way and her mind would have never seen it that way. So guess what, learning to read is now more important than ever. Math is nothing but words and sentences laid out in numbers and formulas. I’m ecstatic he’s doing so well with math, but it sounds like a lot more work for me and Mrs Frank’s Place to get him reading on par with his class.

Another area where he is woefully behind and is another sign he might be a budding mathlete: art class. The Linardo side of the family tree has never been and will never be full of Michelangelos. My parents, seven brothers and sisters, and I didn’t have too many of our pieces hanging in the gallery that is the front of the refrigerator. Frank is following in those footsteps. I give you his first work in kindergarten:

Red in a sea of white.

Red in a sea of white.

Asked to fill the page with a drawing of his family, this was Frank’s effort. And make no mistake this is his 100% effort. I tag this as his early minimalist/cubist period. That’s him and his little sister if you couldn’t ascertain that from the work itself.

His art is coming along and he is meeting expectations in art class. This makes me curious about the expectations in art class, but not enough to look into it. He loves it so I’m good.

So while love may be a battlefield, kindergarten is a minefield. We’re 1/4 of the way in and we’ve lost our map of the mines.

Map or no map, Frank is running full speed ahead.

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Sometimes reality makes no sense.

It’s a rare day when parenting and election politics intersect so clearly. My friends we are in rare days. The governor’s race in Texas just waded uterus deep into the discussion over when life begins, when it’s ok to end it, and baby clothes.

Yeah that’s right, baby clothes. I could try and describe it to you but a picture in this case is worth well over a thousand words.

The face of absolute evil ladies and gentleman.

The face of absolute evil ladies and gentleman.














If you’re still a little unsure of what you’re looking at and why it’s important and at the same time evil and moronic, let me help.

^^^^ Smuggy McSmuggerpants there is Texas State Senator Wendy Davis. She is the Democratic nominee for Governor of Texas. Governor Rick Perry is term limited so the seat is open. Thank god she does have a challenger, Republican Greg Abbott, a wheel chair bound paraplegic. He has a sizable lead on Ms Davis.

Wendy became infamous for staging an 11 hour filibuster in the Texas Senate in an attempt to block Texas Senate Bill 5. The bill would, among other things, limit the murdering of unborn babies to less than 20 weeks, and force doctors who perform abortions to actually be doctors and have admitting rights at the closest hospital. That last part was an attempt to stop situations like what happened to innocent babies at the hands of the Philadelphia murderer Kermit Gosnell, who was found guilty of murdering over 20 babies 24 weeks or older by cutting their spinal cords in the neck in his Philadelphia abortion mill. Let that sink in, 24 weeks or older. My daughter was born at 25 weeks, 1lb 12oz, and survived.

Gosnell was killing live babies by any standard. Here’s the link but I caution you, it’s graphic and nightmarish. House of Horrors  So ghoulish was the trial, the assistant prosecutor cried openly when the jury found Gosnell guilty on all counts. Texas Bill 5 sought to prevent horror shows like Gosnell from happening in Texas. Wendy Davis took to the Senate floor in her now famous pink Nikes to block that bill, adamant that the women of Texas have the freedom to abort babies after 20 weeks in the womb. The main thrust of her argument, those fetuses can’t feel pain.

Right so because they might not feel pain, which is a load of crap anyway, the babies should be candidates for murder like any other person unable to feel pain. Uh….. Say Wendy…. your opponent in this here governor’s race, isn’t he unable to feel pain from the neck down? Is that how you are going to erase that 14pt lead he has on you? But lets leave that irony for another day. There’s a bigger irony filling the windshield at the moment.

I mean for starters, what would any of her constituents do with a onesie? Those are for babies that actually are, ya know, allowed to live. How could she expect to raise a generation of Wendy Davis Democrats when she wants the freedom to murder the next generation? Who approved that sale item on her page? Is some intern not paying attention? Has she been hacked? I asked Frank what he thought must have happened:

No clue bro.

No clue bro.

Thanks a ton Frank.

Yeah that’s it, her web site was hacked. Has to be. How else could she explain selling a onesie after she became famous for advocating the murder of unborn babies in the third trimester? Yeah folks, Wendy is ok with killing babies after 24 weeks. She would call it late term abortion. And she wants to sell you this onesie to commemorate the event

Anyone with a .1% brain function knows a baby who makes it to 24 weeks is alive. There is no argument there. Know why? There are neonatale intensive care units across the counrty full of living babies born at 24 weeks or later. In fact those NICUs proabably have several babies born weeks earlier than that; babies who will survive and live normal lives.

How do I know that? I spent 5 months in the NICU at the University of Tennessee and saw it for myself. Oh and one other reason, well maybe two:

"I got your late term abortion right here Wendy!" BOOM!

“I got your late term abortion right here Wendy!” BOOM!

Thank you Lord that Wendy Davis is not my State Senator!

Thank you Lord that Wendy Davis is not my State Senator!











Anne Marie Linardo 25 weeks, 1 pound 12 ounces. L to R: Flipping off Wendy Davis from her hospital room at what should have been 35 weeks in the womb and starting pre-school, or as she calls it spree school, this year at the ripe old age of two.

Wendy Davis onsies…Sometimes humanity just makes me cry.




The post that started it all: The Kroger Lady Strikes Back!

Editor’s Note: We’ve been picking up new followers fast and furious around here so it occurred to me a trip back to where it all began might be in order. A little, “In the beginning…” if you will. To that end I give you the post that launched a thousand posts from November 2011. We’ve come a long way since then. 

One issue that really needs to be cleared up is the name of the blog. Frank’s Place is named after my son Frank. He was the inspiration behind it all. My name is Francis. In Italian tradition the first male child is named after his grandfather, so Frank is named after my father. While all three of us bear the official name of Francis, I’m the only one who still goes by that name. I am named after no one. There are eight kids in my family and my parents just ran out of options.

Francis John and Francis Allen. Two Franks 80yrs apart.

Francis John and Francis Allen, Seaville NJ 2010. Two Franks – 81yrs apart.

Francis John Linardo - Philadelphia 1930

Francis John Linardo – Philadelphia 1930











As you can see from those two shots, my dad and my son are Franks through and through. In an effort to simplify things all three of us have different middle names: my father is Francis John, I am Francis Michael, and my son is Francis Allen. That way there would be no juniors, or IIs, IIIs, etc….

Well, that was only half as confusing as I thought it might be.


The Kroger Lady Strikes Back

November 2011 - Frank's Place goes public. Frank was 2 1/2.

November 2011 – Frank’s Place goes public. Frank was 2 1/2 yrs old with a great mop.

“You get to spend all day with daddy today?” It was an innocent question, especially since it was aimed at a 20-month-old boy who couldn’t and didn’t care to reply. A bagger at the local Kroger supermarket was just trying to be nice to Frank. My reply, “he spends every day with his daddy.” That might have been a little quick and a little biting in tone and attitude. It probably sounded worse to me in continual mental replay than it did to her at the moment. It was mixed with a little pride but mostly frustrated amusement. There was no reason for it, the frustration that is. Well, plenty of reasons just not any good ones. The lady at The Kroger, that’s how it’s said down here in Knoxville – The Kroger, had absolutely no idea who she was engaging or that her simple, polite question to an amazingly cute kid would spark an entire day of grinding wheels in my head.

A quick The Kroger aside here. The first contact I had with indigenous personnel at my new duty station in The South revolved around The Kroger and went like this. “What cha know?” Now imagine that with a heavy southern accent and you might understand why my first reply was, “I’m sorry?” He repeated it again and then again. The third time I looked at my sponsor, (the loser of the short straw drawing who helps you in-process when you get to a new base), with a look that screamed “c’mon bro you wanna help me out here, I can’t understand a thing coming out of that man’s mouth.” My sponsor just stared back at me. Then the other guy says, “you need to get yursef down to The Kroger and get cha one uh dem Southern to English translators.” No I am not making this up. I spell em as I hear em. Now I did recognize a word in that sentence. Okay two words; The Kroger.

I knew The Kroger, as I had to stop at one on my way into town for an emergency Diet Coke; awesome grocery store and gas station. Now I drive past a family owned grocery joint to shop The Kroger. Don’t judge me. My inquisitor didn’t think I understood his advice and leaned in enough to make the close–talker from Seinfeld jealous and reiterated, “you understand THE KROOOGER?”

Ah yes, the universal language of slow and loud. For those unaware, even the ancient language spoken by the first civilization at Sumer can be understood by anyone if said slowly and loudly enough. Another side note; the Senior Master Sergeant who asked me the question and recommended the KROOOGER became and remains a good friend and revealed to me later that my sponsor put him up to that. I told him it was OK. We in the northeast take that stuff in good fun, seeing as how we won the war and all. Back to The Kroger Lady.

When I replied that Frank got to spend everyday with his daddy I got a completely different look all together. It went from this must be his Tuesday to have his son, as if it was negotiated in a divorce settlement, to aww poor guy must have lost his job. The lost his job look was loud and clear and I intercepted with “I’m retired”. She attacked with a “he’s retired, he can’t be more than late 40’s” quizzical glare. I quickly parried with a look that said I’m in my early 40’s in case you were wondering. She dodged and out-flanked me with a few quick glances down to my ring finger. Well played The Kroger Lady, well played.

This happens more than you would think. When people hear I’m retired at such a young age and not working another paying job they think I’m wealthy. If they know I retired from the military the thought goes from wealthy to maybe I was wounded. In this case The Kroger Lady must have felt I was the wealthy type and was checking my availability by eyeballing my ring finger. Yeah, egotistical I know, don’t judge me. As much as I was enjoying the conversation, I left her to figure it all out. The Scandinavian Masters was on the Golf Channel so me and Frank had to get home. Frank loves him some European golf. Plus the ice cream was melting.

I was relaying this story to a friend and he said “man you should write this stuff down, write a book”. I said Ok. So I’m writing a book. I’m retired, what else do I have to do? So this whole exchange is really the impetus for the book or what may turn out to be just a series of blog entries.

The Kroger Lady has no idea what she started.


We hope you enjoyed the look back to where and how it all started. We’ll return to our regularly schedule broadcast this week with Frank’s march through the minefield of Kindergarten. 



Hurricane AM hits pre-school. God help us all.

Title credit to Maria Hartsell.

Hard to believe we’re already into the third month of school. Growing up in South Jersey starting school before Labor Day and the Jerry Lewis MDS Telethon would have seemed crazy. Now that I live in the south, welcome to the crazy. Both Frank and Anne Marie started school in the month of August. Down here Labor Day is just a three-day weekend for school kids and I don’t think anyone ever heard of Jerry Lewis.

The silver lining, we already have a plethora of subjects to write about. To get started we’ll do a picture review of the past six, yeah six, weeks of school. Picture commentary added by me. Enjoy!

The pre-event event. We could make this stuff up, but it wouldn’t be half as funny or tragic.



So what you’re seeing here is an entire jar of aquafor spread evenly over the body of a two-year old. How’d she get it you ask? Well that’s simple. She built a less than super structure next to her changing table, climbed up a height of six feet, retrieved aforementioned jar, climbed down and proceeded to anoint her self. All while supposedly taking a nap.

The important part of this picture, it’s one day before her first day at pre-school. Auquafor is basically the kid version of vaseline. Getting it out requires several baths over several days with cornstarch and dawn dish soap. Yeah.



Only this kid would enjoy this. Only this kid...

Only this kid would enjoy this. Only this kid…

Here is a look at the procedure. Bear in mind while it looks like that first treatment of cornstarch or baking soda gives the appearance of drying out the hair, once you rinse it out you still have a Valdez like grease slick on your kid’s rug.

The following two pictures I offer as proof of… well I don’t know what. But it damn sure seems like it’s proof of something, maybe evolution, maybe just proof that wild beasts like hot baths. I leave it to you to figure out.

For you younger folk, the pic on the right is what we did before the internet. We read magazines, newspapers, and periodicals. Primitive I know, but sometimes they gave us cool pictures.



Anne Marie, hair rinsing procedure #8, August 2014 and the Snow Monkey of Japan, Life Magazine, January 1970. Which is which? I can’t tell.

Sure she's enjoying it. daddy didn't. The tub drain didn't either.

Sure she’s enjoying it. daddy didn’t. The tub drain didn’t either.

Tell me they're not related.

Tell me they’re not related.











The Moment of Truth

Greasy hair not withstanding, day one came as scheduled. The happy event recorded for posterity, accompanied by the cliché first day mug shot.

Mommy dressed me.

Mommy dressed me.

Hey look, it's oil slick Annie!

Hey look, it’s oil slick Annie!

Clearly Mrs Frank’s Place and I differ on the definition of conservative dress, so AM could ease into her first day.

Note the big comb by her foot, now necessary to deal with her “new” hairdo. Nothing else could penetrate the protective shield of grease.

The biggest surprise came at drop off. This kid has been Velcroed to me since we brought her home from the hospital in July of 2012. When we dropped Frank off at the age of two he never looked back. No way we get that lucky twice.


Enamored with her new backpack, she walked right into the class room carrying both the backpack and her lunch pack. But once she saw the play-dough on the table she dropped those things like hot rocks and never looked back. She also forgot I existed. What did I do? Ha! I signed that freaking sign-in sheet and high-tailed it out of there.

Those pre-school people know what they’re doing. That play-dough was no coincidence. It’s science man. So I don’t mess with the formula. I love people who have a plan of attack, are confident in their plan, and get about executing it. AM’s pre-school teachers are exactly that way. I am a more than willing follower of their lead.

And no I was not upset that AM appeared to abandon me for a dime store jar of play-dough. I was ecstatic. I may have a shed a tear or two when I got to the golf course 15 minutes later, but it was more likely a tear of joy for my new-found, albeit short freedom. Plus it was really windy so it’s hard to tell what caused it.

Oh, and how enamored is she with her backpack and lunch pack? Take a look.

The ride to school. Refuses to let go.

The ride to school. Refuses to let go.

After school. Refuses to let go.

After school. Refuses to let go.










She’s digging school, and I’m digging that she’s digging it. She likes it so much we’ve bumped her up from just two days a week to three. She’s even enjoying the after school program from time to time.

The weird thing is her teachers say she’s one of the most behaved kids. Obviously that can’t be true, but they are standing by their assessment.

I mean this is the kid who stopped up the sink in the upstairs bathroom and flooded the room, the hall way and the garage. This is the kid who opened four different cans of paint that were hidden in the hall linen closet and painted the carpet and herself with a few different shades of blue and red. This is the kid who lay in wait for her brother to fall asleep on the couch before sneaking up behind the arm of the couch, reached up, grabbed his long hair and lifted her feet off the ground, placing all of her body weight on his hair.

Most behaved? Okay, if you say so.

Anyway, here’s a few of her during the school day. Yeah she looks behaved, but these are still shots.

Taken day one by the teacher to let us know she's fine.

Taken day one by the teacher to let us know she’s fine.

Putting those carpet painting skills to good use.

Putting those carpet painting skills to good use.












Clearly plotting on the next unsuspecting victim.

Clearly plotting on the next unsuspecting victim.

Scouting escape routes.

Scouting escape routes.










An added benefit of pre-school – unassisted nap taking. On the he days she’s in school getting her to nap is as simple as leaving her be when we get home. She’ll find a place, make a nest, or crawl under a blanket and nod off for a few hours.

It’s as awesome as it looks and sounds.

Pre-school daze

Pre-school daze

Sleeping in her own ottoman empire.

Sleeping in her own ottoman empire.


Her teachers have been lulled into a false sense of security I think. Pray for them.

Next up! Frank conquers kindergarten one coupon book at a time.







Observations from the Quarry: Playing blocks with my kid.

Not sure when this happened.

I mean I’ve not played blocks in a while, but when did we graduate from making tall towers? When did it become this elaborate? When did playing blocks come with so many rules?

You have to build a house daddy! You need a place for your race car. It has to be high like this daddy.

Damn, the unions in Atlantic City didn’t have that many restrictions or building codes putting up a casino. But if you’re in Frank’s building union you do as Frank says or you are out. Plain and simple. He does not suffer people who don’t go along with the plan.

I’ll say this for the kid, his buildings have become more elaborate. In the “old” days it was all about height. He just wanted to make a singular tower as high as possible. Legos, the building material of choice then, allowed him to make towers higher than him.

At first he was able to build in relative safety in the living room. He had the joint all to himself. What he constructed after dinner would still be standing after breakfast the next day. In 2012 that ceased to be the case. That was the start of the dark times, the coming of the destroyer.

"I got your building right here bro!"

“I got your building right here bro!”

After she arrived and then went bipedal, nothing was safe. No building could withstand her. She knew no mercy, she gave no quarter, she practiced no subtlety. In fact at times she would wait until Frank was looking before she would Godzilla one of his high rise towers. Then she would belly laugh. It was really the only time she would laugh. Any other time something struck her funny she would just say, “That’s funny!” A tower hitting the deck always brought on the belly laugh though.

It was too easy for her. It’s not like he put deep foundations on these things. Plus he would admonish her as he was leaving the construction site for dinner, potty break or one of seven union authorized smoke breaks. All that did was encourage her to schedule a demolition event. It was like waving the red blanket in front of a bull.

He tried posting a guard a few times but they, me and his mother, were very unreliable. We would either fall asleep or worse, summon the beast just to see what would happen. Hey, a parent has to find some joy, yeah?

Anyway, Frank decided his school house was the only safe place for high-rise construction. There he not only found encouragement and a relatively secure construction site, he was able to hire some assistant builders.

We're gonna need a taller room.

We’re gonna need a taller room.

He continued to build at home and he continued to demand I build with him. But things changed. He went more low rise. Preferring to build more house like structures, materials became an issue too. He switched to blocks instead of legos. Bad move. The shortage was worse there. To combat that issue he stop demanding I play with him, instead inviting me to build after he had finished his.

Needless to say I was on the short end of the supply chain. Where his structures became these intricate three story houses with pools and three car garages I was left with the scraps and barely managed a single tenement that would be an embarrassment in the worst of  the early 1900 NY slums.

Where I was left to cobble together a singular hovel, he built small villages he quickly dubbed Franktown.

An early century Franktown begins to take shape.

An early century Franktown begins to take shape.

Don’t get me wrong, the kid has a heart for people and family. The cornerstone of every Franktown is a large house with all kinds of rooms. He always includes separate rooms for me, his mother and his sister.

The separate room for me and Mrs Frank’s Place is due to my snoring. I’m just not sure if it’s so I can snore in peace or so Mrs Frank’s Place can sleep in “silence.” I mean let’s just be honest, it’s not like she sleeps with the quiet of the dead. She can shake the shingles on occasion too, if you know what I mean.

I get a lot of fun playing with Frank. Mainly because I get to play with toys again. But the things you pick up on when watching your kid play, build, design is remarkable. Watching their wheels turn, seeing what their minds come up with is a unexpected benefit.

Watching the destroyer do her work is a separate unexpected joy all its own.







Wheels on the bus: my big yellow savior.

I recieved more than a few comments or messages that the post about my new Fuller Friction Brush might have been a little overstated. I mean it’s just a fancy broom right? Yeah I guess, if you’re a knuckle dragging clod who can’t appreciate perfection, then it’s just a fancy broom. Well fancy broom folks this post might be a little disappointing as well.

I was rightly called out on my last post as well. My little rant about spanking drew the comment, “Spanking, schmanking. You are disappointing your readers who are anxiously awaiting a “hurricane AM” hits preschool story.” Well ok then. Maria you get your wish, or demand, or whatever. A pre-school update is forthcoming. First you’ll have to sit through a story about my bondage and subsequent deliverance from the chains of the Car Lobby Pick Up Lane.

When I say bondage that’s not hyperbole. If you pick your kid up from school, you are absolutely a slave to the car pick up line. You have to schedule around it, pack some sort of sustenance, plan out some meaningful activity to get you through the hour to hour and a half wait, and you better make sure your vessel is sea worthy.

Can’t go breaking down in the car pick up lane. You sure don’t wan’t to lose cabin cooling during that wait and to that end you for sure don’t want to go empty in the old tank. Scorn and derision will rain down upon you. Help will not be forthcoming mind you but you’ll learn some new epithets from your christian brothers and sisters. Of that you can be assured. For the full experience click here Car Lobby Pick Up Lane.

Breaking free of those chains was not going to easy. Escape has to be planned, orchestrated, and finally executed with precision. You don’t just walk away from the car pick up lane. So we planned. By that I mean I planted the seed of doubt in Frank’s head about the pick up lane at the same time I was talking up how the other kids in the hood love riding the bus. What I found out was this kid of mine is no weak minded fool. It was going to take more than a Jedi swipe of the hand and the power of suggestion to get him to ride the bus home.

To the promise land big Mo, and step on it!

To the promise land big Mo, and step on it!

That’s key to the plan. He only had to ride the bus home. No need to get greedy. The drop off line moves light years faster and taking him to school at 7:10 in the am actually helps me get moving in the morning. A lot of would be master criminals have that one fatal character flaw; the overreach. I just got away with stealing a million dollars, why not go for two… annnnnnnd boom, welcome to the Spring Hill Penitentiary for the criminally moronic and greedy. No, moderation would be the key to this escape. Moderation and hope in a promised deliverer would be the oasis at the end of what was shaping up to be a 40yr march through the desert.

The seeds were planted, now we needed to water them. I mean that literally. The second part of the plan unfolded at the neighborhood pool. The Saturday before the plan was to be executed I took Frank to the pool. At that precise time some of his friends, pre-positioned of course, would ask Frank why he doesn’t ride the bus and then go on to extol the virtues of said bus ride. Several parents joined in. It was like a tidal wave of brainwashing.

Frank jumps into the pool and a parent is waiting when he comes up to ask about riding the bus. Frank swims over to a friend and the kid goes on and on about how much he’ll love the bus. The way the kids spoke in the past tense as if the decision was already made was a master stroke by them. Not part of the plan at all, but it was a great ad lib. I’ll grant you this wasn’t the most subtle thing I’ve ever tried but I felt like it was the most effective option.

However, much like Ramses II (the Pharaoh from Moses time), Frank was obstinate. As time was becoming a problem I skipped the parlor tricks of the seven plagues and went right to the big kahuna. Although the flaming hail storm has its appeal, ain’t nobody got no time for that. I had no choice but to send in the angel of death in the form of “Because I said so!” Thankfully for me Frank had failed to spread the appropriate goat’s blood on the lentil post and it was curtains for him. It went a little something like this:

Daddy I don’t want to ride the bus. I want you to pick me up.

I will be picking you up Frank, at the bus stop.

But I want you to pick me up at the schooooooool. 

No bud, you need to ride the bus home. The line to pick you up is too long for me to wait it. Daddy gots things to do!

But daddyyyyyyyy

NO Frank! You are getting on the bus tomorrow. Sorry bud but you are going in, I can’t stop that now. (That’s a line from a courtroom movie I use on him when Frank has exhausted his appeals about anything I’ve asked him to do.)

Besides Frank, I’ve already talked to your teacher, she’s putting you on the bus.

So shall it be written, so shall it be done!

Man, the look that kid was giving me. The rear view mirror almost melted. It was that withering. After assuring him I would be right there waiting for him as he got off the bus he accepted his fate and I felt the chains of bondage begin to lighten. The deliverer was getting closer but we’ve not reached the Well of Median yet (watch the movie). One thing being a parent has taught me is nothing happens until it happens. Another thing I’ve learned is kids have incredibly short memories.

By the morning ride to school Frank had forgotten all about riding the bus home. I decided to wait till precisely the right moment to remind him about his new afternoon chariot. That moment, I decided, was just as Frank was jumping from the Frankerprise to head into the school. Yeah, cowardly I know. Sue me.

I was like a new man. A new free man. The time was mine until the bus would drop him one block from our front door. If this ride went well it would mean the end of lining up at 1:50pm for a 2:45 pick up at school. No more packing food for the wait, no more scrambling to find a babysitter incase Anne Marie was not up from her nap, and no more dealing with a whiny inconsolable child incase Anne Marie was not napping and instead waiting in the van with me.

If you’re scoring at home this is where we are currently:

How did he do that!

How did he do that!

The sea has been parted but we’re not to the other side yet. That wall of water could come crashing down at any moment. Just ask Pharaoh. Well, you could ask him if the water had not crashed down on his whole army and all that. Tough break for him.

Anyway, the moment of truth was fast approaching. I started out a little early. The last thing I want is to scuttle the whole deal because I was not there waiting for him after I said I would be. He’d be able to walk home no problem but it would be hell talking him off the ledge after I broke a promise I made to him. Crazy kid takes that stuff I say seriously.

Of course it was hot as blazes that day and I’m almost 10 minutes early. What to do. Oh yeah, let’s figure out a way to get Frank to walk back to the house by himself. Then I could save this ten minutes standing outside in the sun without a golf club in my hand.

Just as I was formulating some thoughts on that matter I heard a faint but distinct rumble. My savior had appeared. It was freakin beautiful man. All yellow and coming toward me instead of me having to drive to the school. Yeah I might have shed a tear or two. I caution you, experience the pick up lane before judging me.

Is that Moses actually driving the bus?

Is that Moses actually driving the bus?

There were moments of truth inside of moments of truth. He rode the bus. Now lets see what happens when he gets off, or if he gets off. Until I see him, he’s not really there. Read Aristotle. Oh, there he is. Immediately I realize his back pack is 400lbs too heavy for him. But he doesn’t look upset. This might be good.

Something else I noticed, the bus driver looked like he might actually be Moses, or at the very least his idol making brother Aaron. Wow he was old. Moses managed a slight wave. I thought, oh no bro, save your energy for the drive. His bones looked so brittle I thought the arm may drop right off as he lifted it from the wheel. He was able to reaffix his hand to the wheel and off he went. Leaving us in the freedom dust of my yellow savior.

Now the walk. No talking for the first 50 yards. A little awkward but this exchange was going to be critical. Patience was going to be key. Half way home I asked to carry his backpack. He was happy to shed it. And damn, it was heavy. No idea what I put in there to make it so.

He broached the subject first.

Daddy, you know when I said I didn’t want to ride the bus? I really did like riding the bus. But I like the van better.

First of all it’s not the van, it’s the Starship Frankerprise. Secondly, well duh who wouldn’t like riding in the command chair of that beauty. But the bus was pretty cool wasn’t it. 

Yeah, it was.

Woo Hoo! Promise land baby!

Subtlety people. Had I immediately jumped on his statement about how he liked the bus without throwing some sarcastic comment about the van he would have know I was working him, trying to get him to ride the bus all the time. And he would have all of a sudden hated the bus. The dance continues.

A week later he turned the tables on me. Told me it would be better if I didn’t walk home with him from the bus stop. He said it was because I walked too slow. I know it’s because all his buddies walk home by themselves. He’s embarrassed by that I guess. I get it and I’m glad he’s feeling independent. I’m still going to the end of the street to see him get off the bus. I get just close enough to see him without him seeing me and then I haul the mail back to the garage and make it look like I’m working (ha!) or cleaning up. He has yet to ask me why I’m in the garage everyday.

Mrs Frank’s Place and I are having different reactions to all of this, but yeah man. Promise Land!

Free man walking!

Free man walking!

















A promise broken.

I absolutely promised myself I would not weigh in on serious parenting issues. I defiantly swore to myself I would not start writing about social parenting issues just because stuff like that gets more clicks and might get picked up by web sites like Huffington Post or Time. And I confidently declared myself too lazy to wade into issues of that nature because of the research and facts that might be required.

Well, I’m about to break all those promises and declarations in one post. Of course it would have to be as hotly contested an issue as there is among parents. No point in starting with something easy like when should you put your kid in a real bed, or when should you start potty training. No, I’ve decided to jump into the deep end, put my head in the lion’s mouth as it were and talk about spanking.

Let’s set the boundary first. If you think what Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson did to his 4yr old son is in the same universe as spanking, you are a toothless moron. Your opinion has zero validity and is not welcomed here. If you think or have written a statement saying parents who spank are “total scumbags” you are a f*%$#ing idiot and you should cancel your subscription to Frank’s Place immediately, un-follow me on twitter, and de-friend me on facebook.

Ok that’s it. Boundaries set. Let’s move on.

Sadly the issues in that third paragraph have been happening all over social media since the pictures of Peterson’s battered, bruised, and scarred son hit the internet. Mostly coming from the dad blogging community but not exclusively. When a brave soul ventures out to say they spank and believe it has helped in the discipline of their child, that poor bastard is drowned out by all the righteous parents that walk among us unwashed masses.

I’m not sure why or how parents who believe in spanking are being lumped in with the brutality by Peterson but they are. One bright lad went so far as to say if you have to spank a child to get them to obey or alter their bad behavior you should not be allowed to have children.

My response to that is simple. If you are too dense, or more likely too immature, to discern the difference between spanking a child for correction and assaulting a child with a weapon through anger, you are the dangerous parent and you are the person who should probably be held childless.

It was amusing reading what all these moral high-grounders wrote about never even thinking about hitting a defenseless child, not wanting to use superior strength and size to intimidate someone who can’t stick up for themselves. You know because Adrian Peterson whipped his child bloody, anyone who spanks must be as bad, anyone who does that is a neanderthal and a heartless parent of questionable ability. Christ, I can’t even type that without a pain in my side from the laughter. Instead they would much rather reason with them and then deny the child something they covet, like video games or their freedom in order to illicit proper behavior.

It’s laughable and somewhat cute that these perfect parents think mentally and emotionally controlling a child in that way is any less intimidating than spanking. Hey hippies, you think Johnny is not being intimidated when you snatch his X-box from him? How do you explain the relevance of his X-box to his bad behavior? Unless he used a controller to brain his sister or used the power cord to string up the cat, the X-box has zero relevance to the situation. So all you’ve done is substitute the X-box for your open hand on his backside. You think he values your parenting acumen when you imprison him in his room on a sunny day or embarrass him by putting him in a corner? Can he reciprocate by taking your iPhone? Better still, can he stop you from taking his X-box, or grounding him, or shaming him in the corner?

Spoiler – no he can’t. Congratulations you progressive model of non-spankiness, you just mentally and emotionally intimidated your child with your superior force, size, and strength. In fact you’re so skilled at bullying you didn’t even have to spank his bottom to make him mad, have him cuss you under his breath or wonder if you still love him. That’s efficiency.

But the question isn’t about bullying efficiency is it. The question really is what bullying tactic is better or worse. In my opinion it is relative to the situation. Now stand back cause comments like my previous sentence triggers an avalanche of the data people.

Data people is the group of people, parents and non-parents alike, who will flood you with links to surveys and studies and research that basically says your experiences are totally false and you must be a liar.

So it would go down something like this. You see a discussion about how barbaric and heartless and incompetent parents who spank are and you jump in to say your experience was not like anything they are describing. Then the data gang will sing you the song of their people: “THAT’S ANECDOTAL. THAT’S NOT DATA. SHOW ME DATA TO SUPPORT YOUR CLAIM! YOU’RE A SPANKER AND MUST BE STOPPED!” Usually sung to the tune of Happy Days Are Here Again. (Free Frank’s Place T-shirt if you video yourself singing that and post it to the Frank’s Place Face Book page.)

Okay, a lot out of tune with that song. First off, who the f*#k are you that I need to support my claim? Second, it’s not a claim, it’s what happened, told in first person, ya know like personal testimony. Third, and I can’t stress this question enough, yeah it’s anecdotal but so what? This is one of those moments where anecdotal evidence, in other words your personal experience, weighs more than “the data”.

I don’t need some jerkweed in a think tank telling me the data says I’m wrong when I can clearly see from the experience right in front of me that I’m right. Anecdotal is not a synonym for wrong. Data is not a synonym for correct.

Let’s not get in the weeds too much, but the “data” is not exactly accurate either. Dive into any one of the surveys or studies and most of the time you’ll find they don’t differentiate between open hand smack to a child’s kiester and striking a child in any other manner. But that’s a huge distinction. Punching my son in the mouth is a far cry from smacking his bottom.

Lastly on the data, read through the groups of people studied and you’ll see an erie trend toward one race of Americans. No surprise there really. It only proves statistics on any subject can be bent or twisted to fit the answer of the question being asked. Hence the importance of your experience or anecdotal evidence over “the data”.

Now in fairness I saw several meaningful offerings on why guys could never spank their kids. They ranged from not being able to look at their sweet child and raise a hand, to being an abused child themselves. All completely valid and heartfelt, and all completely anecdotal. Are those dads weak-minded fools because they can’t bring themselves to spank their kids. Of course not. They are caring, loving fathers who through their experiences chose to discipline in another fashion that suits their situation. Mind blowing isn’t it; grown men making parenting decisions based on their experience and gut feeling instead of a freaking data sheet created by a grad student at Tunnel Vision University.

Hey man, spank, don’t spank. I advocate neither. You know why? Cause it’s none of my damn business how you discipline and parent your kid. Your opinion on how I do that is as irrelevant as anything I can think of.

I don’t advocate any parenting styles. I just parent my kids.

The rest of you are on your own.