Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Joys of Parenthood

There is absolutely no way that one can prepare for being a parent. You can read a 100 books or go to seminars. You can ask others that have boldly gone on before you and still you will have no clue. You have all these fabulous ideas when you are first married about how you will do things. You spend an incredible amount of time mentally raising other peoples kids. You even talk about it with your new spouse. You say things like "If that was my child I would send him straight to his room." " If she was my daughter I would make her sit right there until she behaved." Oh it could go on and on, and when the time finally arrives and you are in that position you are lost. Nothing works the way  you thought it would. Nothing goes as planned. You are truly scrambling from the get go. You are making it up on the fly and yet you must press on. It's not like you get a do-over.

 I remember the day that Tyler was born, after the intense joy wore off and reality started to set in, I had this overwhelming thought that they are just going to let me walk out of here with this baby. Nobody is going to stop me, they will just open the front doors and make sure that I have car seat ( it's the law) and send me, my sore wife and this little tiny fragile baby home. No instructions came with it. If you buy a toaster it comes with ten pages of instructions in five different languages. Is there anyone who does not know how to make toast? A new baby though, no pages of instructions, none. Yikes!
 So it begins this knew thing called parenthood. It's rough, but don't get me wrong, there are many more joys than sorrows, but here comes the true insanity of the whole deal. Right when you think you got it going on and you decide that you are so good at this parenting thing that you aught to have another one, you realize that all of your notes and all of your experiences mean nothing because nothing goes the same from the pregnancy to the birth  to the baby itself. So you start all over again making it up as you go. 
I'm not complaining mind you. I love being a dad, it is my favorite thing, it's just that there is no planning for the things that come your way. 
The point of my post tonight though is that parenting is all about perspective. As hard as I might think I have it and much trouble as my kids have gotten into, all I have to do is reflect on my own experiences growing up and what we did as kids to my parents.
 My father passed away 25 years ago this May and I'm not sure me and my three brothers were not the direct cause. My mother has remarried, but she can't even talk about the " Early Years ". My kids have not even come close to the things we did, a quick point, my kids have not broke a window in our house ( knock on wood ), we broke every window in the house we grew up in, many of them more than once. My kids have never caught anything more than a candle on fire. We had fires that involved gasoline and one, that I will save for a later date, included a gallon jug of highly flammable gun powder. 
I could go on and on, but I will save those stories for other times, but I have one I need to tell because it is what caused me to write this post. 
Every morning I wake up between 3:30-4:00, I don't know why, I'm sleeping fine and then it's like someone shakes me and I'm up. I can't go back to sleep for nothing, I've tried everything from counting sheep to taking drugs, nothing works so I go down to the TV room and start watching Sports Center on ESPN.
 It plays through the high lights from the day before which I already saw last night and then it repeats them every hour on the hour all morning long. I will watch it as if I don't already know what's going to happen ( I have a sickness ) , but I have decided to broaden my senses and start watching other shows in the morning, now don't laugh, but I have started to watch Bloomberg TV which shows all that is going on in the world of finance. I don't know what it all means, but I do know that if the red line is moving up it is good, down is bad. 
So it is very important that I have the remote control so I can go back and forth between ESPN and Bloomberg and to be able to rapidly skip over the Girls Gone Wild info commercial. Well I can't find the remote anywhere, I've looked under every cushion, in every crevice and I can't find it. Where have those kids put the remote and it gets me thinking of how unbelievably lazy I am that I will not watch TV if I am going to have to get up and walk six feet to change channels. This got me to thinking  about a TV that we had while we were growing up. I remember the day like it was yesterday, how excited my dad was when he brought home that gigunta Magnavox consul TV.
 It was awesome, it was made of solid wood ( plastic had not been invented, no lie ) and it was huge. You did everything from the top, it had these doors on top and you slid them open and there were all the controls. On the other end was the record player, now for all of you born after 1985 that was how we listened to music back then,  they were these flat black disc that would drop down and a needle would swing over on to it and music would come out, way cool. The front had doors that would slide over the TV screen so that you could fool everyone that you just had a big square piece of furniture there, but not a TV. 
Now here is the coolest part, it had remote controls. They were the first ever and they were boss. They were these big boxes about the size of a shoe and they had two buttons on top. When you pushed the one on the right it would make this noise like SHSHSHSH and the TV would hear this somehow and click one channel ahead, you could not go back just forward. Now I know you younger folks are thinking holy crap you mean you would have to go forward through all 100 + channels? Oh no, not to worry, we had 5 channels, it wasn't very far around the horn. If you pushed the button on the left it would go CHCHCHCH ( very similar, but not the same as SHSHSHSH ) and the TV would go up in volume 1 click, you could not go down only up and after 5 clicks it would start over at low volume. How cool was that. 
Now needless to say we had "the" coolest TV on the block and it was my dad's pride and joy. We really weren't supposed to mess with it. 
The story begins. There are many things that go wrong in this story, they all end in a disaster. First mistake, we were not supposed to eat in the living room. I had prepared a huge bowl of cheerios and as my bothers can attest it had way too much sugar loaded on it to be healthy and heart conscious. I am supposed to eat this in the kitchen, but I throw caution to the wind and head into the living room. I stop at the "super TV " and set my bowl on the edge and slide open that top slider door and get ready to fire it up. Then things kind of go into slow motion. My oldest brother Rik ( the torturer ) is coming across the living room and will have to pass by me to get into the kitchen. I am trying to become invisible so that it might walk passed and not smack me. So I am tucked in tight to the wall and the TV and not making eye contact. Well when he gets right next to me I must have become visible because he punched me. I smack up against the TV and my monster bowl of cheerios goes upside down into the TV. I am shaking while I am typing this the memory is so vivid. The " torturer " continues into the kitchen and says over his shoulder " You are so dead. " 
I go into full panic, I am running in little circles and losing my breath. I run into the kitchen and grab towels and back to the TV, I am sopping up milk, cheerios and way too much sugar. After much effort the top of the TV is spotless. It is as if I was never there. I dust off the rest of my finger prints and head to my room to throw up. 
My dad gets home from work in an hour, I stare at the clock in my room and watch the minutes go by and listen to my brothers walk passed my room and remind me of my eminent death. I hear my dad pull into the driveway and notice that my brothers have scattered to avoid any chance of guilty by association. 
I decide to attack this head on. I will tell him when he comes in, I chicken out. I will tell him when he sets in his big TV watching chair, I chicken out. I will tell him when he says " Mooch, turn on my only-one-on-the-block TV " Surely I will tell him now, I do not, I have lost all form of reason.
 I push the on button that was covered in cheerios an hour go and gasp in amazement as the back of the TV flashes and pops and sends a mushroom cloud to the ceiling. My dad flies out of his chair yelling " Shut it off ! Shut it off !" I obey for the first time that day. My dad barks " What could have happen? " I go into full kiss butt " Father, I have no idea, all I did was turn it on and I love you. " 
My legs are wobbly, I am mentally praying that there is no evidence of my crime. He pulls the TV out and I glance down, nothing there, so far so good. He gets his tool box and takes the back off, I'm feeling confident because  my mess was on top not down here. I'm 11 years old, gravity has not crossed my mind. As he pulls it away there is milk, cheerios and way, way too much sugar everywhere. I black out. 
I don't remember much after that, I know there was yelling and spankings ( they used to be called beatings ) . 
You know you are in trouble as a kid when your mom walks past your room and says with tears in her eyes " I can't save you this time. " 
Those were some dark days. Right when he seemed to be getting over it he would see it again. Heck it was in the middle of the living room. That TV never worked again ever and it just stayed in the living room for years a constant reminder of my sin, I wanted to burn it. 
So reflecting on that I have great kids. It is an absolute wonder my dad made it to 48. 
More stories to follow.
Stay tuned


Kelli Huntsman said...

I have heard that story a million times but it still makes me laugh. I don't know about you, but blogging has been very therapeutic for me. I hope you are finding the same to be true for you. I have heard all the stories of your childhood, and you could use some therapy. Keep them coming though because they are great. I love you.

Kathy's Boys said...

OK Mooch, now I know where Tyloy
gets his "talent for those letters
he writes to us! They are full of
fun and andventure, even if he's telling some conversion story! And
it all runnnnnnnnnnns together with
no paragraphs. At least you use periods!! Just kidding of course, but you are a great story teller.
It is fun, like Kelli said, and somewhat theraputic-this blogging


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