Stick Figure Family

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Who needs Dennis the Menace?

Dennis the Menace has never been one of my favorite comic strips. His outlandish deeds were always too unbelievable for me. Besides, I have my own version right here at home. His deeds are just as unbelievable, but I’ve witnessed them all for myself. For instance, when our little menace was a tyke, he stepped on a hot burner while raiding the kitchen cupboards. He has the ring-shaped scars to prove it. He’s gotten his head caught in the railings of our living room. He lost Dad’s new fishing pole while using it to retrieve his hat that blew into the river. And he’s blown up our microwave oven. Once he and a friend rolled around the family trampoline with roller blades to practice their jumps, tearing it to smithereens. (I made them sew it up as punishment!)

Cankers are something that have always plagued our poor boy. Once he self-administered canker sore medication, only to realize too late it was Wart-B-Gone. That’s why we started locking the medicine cabinet. He’s always had trouble with his ears, too, getting outer ear infections which often end up sealing shut his ear canal. We’ve made many trips to the emergency room over the years when he’s been in terrible pain with this malady – always after midnight. At nineteen years of age, though, you’d think that he’d had enough of the ER. But no, he stuck a pencil – eraser side first – into his ear and the eraser broke off inside. That little tidbit cost $500 to have it removed! He must really like that ER. He’s been there so often. Once the ambulance took him when he took his brother’s bike and tried to jump it over a tall pile of rocks, landing instead on his neck.

He was actually quite decent in music. Mrs. B told us that he ought to continue it in high school. He played the cello in elementary school. He wasn’t quite gentle enough with it, though, as he once broke two cello strings within 24 hours. They cost $35 each to replace and you know that’s the parent’s – not the school’s – responsibility. He broke a clarinet that we bought for him in middle school and we finally had to have him quit band at the end of the year after he broke an Alto Sax. “I just leaned it up against the music stand, Mom, and it fell over.” (Almost $200 for that mistake.) It was just too expensive to keep up with him.

He’s usually pretty coordinated, except for the time he was walking along the top of the bike rack in middle school and slipped, straddling that pole on his crotch. And while he’s a crack shot, he once tried to convince his brother to be his moving target. He swore up and down that it didn’t hurt to be shot with an air soft gun. And to prove it, he shot his own leg! That was the end of THAT conversation.

We discovered how athletic he is when he was 9 months old. He was fussing in church and we gave him a ball to occupy him and keep him quiet. Nothing doing! He got rid of that by throwing it clear across the entire chapel. It landed up with the Deacons waiting to pass the sacrament. He often got bored during the real game of baseball. He’d lie down in outfield and wait for the ball to show up. The chewing out he got from his coach didn’t deter him, however. He was always practicing throwing that ball. He loved to throw hard and fast. In fact, while he waited for Mom and Dad to get their wills signed and sealed by a notary public, he decided to get in some more practice. He threw his pitches against the side of the brick wall – until he eventually missed and shattered the business’s large plate glass window. Thank goodness for homeowner’s insurance! Don’t know how a menace’s folks could survive without it.

Monday, July 14, 2008

You're in the Army Now

Our 19-year-old has joined the army - army national guard to be precise. He's wanted to do this for years. He quit all his medications cold turkey last January and did surprisingly well for the next few months. (You can't be on medications if you plan to join the military.) He went on several weekend warrior excursions while waiting for his boot camp and thought they were a blast!

Back when he signed up, his recruiter came to the house to administer the "test" (kinda like a college-placement test) and answered lots of our questions: "Yes. We train them and give them a skill that will make them productive citizens in the community." "Yes. When he attends college, we will give him a small stipend. He MIGHT be able to live on his own with that." "When he gets out of boot camp he'd have to wait six months before he can be part of the regular army." "He will be gone to boot camp for 13 weeks, 3 days." "No. He can't decide to quit...." "So, do you all... sounds like you WANT him to leave..." Didn't take him too long to catch on.

Our big boy made himself "ready" to leave months before June 23rd. The last weeks were pure torture. He called his grandparents names. Left giant messes. Broke family rules. Broke God's rules.... We banned him from the house one week. (He slept in a tent outside.) Refused to participate in his going-away dinner... We were so ready to say, "Goodbye."

The wait at the airport wasn't too long. He had some friends come along. Security told him that he had to leave those big bottles of mouthwash, etc. with us. Off he flew in a prop jet to Oregon. Then on to Ft. Benning, Georgia via Texas. Met some guys there. Excited to finally be fulling his dreams!

We got phone calls. He was there. Got his uniform. He'd make it, even though it was hard.
It was hot.
The food was gross. (Grandpa refused to tell him, "Told you so!" even when I begged.)
The schedule was insane.
He was homesick. Send letters. Send money. "Promise me you'll come to my graduation!"

Letters along this same theme arrived. Finally, we got an address for him after 2 1/2 weeks.

Another letter came Saturday. Apparently, he panicked during the gas chamber training. Ran out of the building. Was ushered back in. Ran out a second time. Beat up the 6 guys assigned to haul him back in. (You know how athletic he is!) Finally finished the training when threatened with police involvement. Has an Article 15. Gets to mow the grounds with a push lawn mower. Gets to do guard duty. Gets to do all those army kinds of things....

We're just enjoying the quiet around here. While it lasts (Oct 10th will come too soon, I'm sure.)

Thursday, July 10, 2008


My oldest feels left out not getting to be featured in any of my kid blogs. She's had her moments though. No denying it. When she was just a little squirt, she was acting up at the dinner table. We had her go to her room and wait there until we were finished eating. That was her grand punishment; staying in her room.

Dad and I sat eating our dinner in relative quiet until we heard some yelling. It sounded like it was outside, but maybe not. Maybe it was from our dear daughter's room. I left the table and walked up the stairs of our tri-level home, opened the last door on the left - hers - and saw her tiny two-year-old body standing in the open windowsill hollering to the top of her lungs, "Save me. Someone, save me!" Wonder what the neighbor's thought we were doing to her...

About this same time, she was being potty trained. It didn't take her long to get the basics figured out, but almost daily she'd soil her panties. I'd mutter under my breath every time, "Dang It All..." I hated cleaning up poop! One day I had a change of attitude. Maybe I had been to a mother's workshop. I don't know. But, I decided that I wouldn't mutter anything under my breath. I would be polite and understanding. When the inevitable poopy pants arrived, I replied in a honey-sweet voice, "That's okay, Dear." "No it's not!" She replied, "It's Dang It, Mommy, Dang It!" So glad that's as much as we curse in our family!

I've been a fine example for her to follow, so it's just expected that she turn out great with the few above exceptions. Well, there was the time when she begged for me to leave baby Stephen in her room while I ran downstairs to grab some item. When I came back up, she was sitting pretty as a picture on some pillows on her bed. Baby Stephen was no where to be found! I asked her where he was and this lovely 2-year-old pointed proudly underneath her pillows. She was sitting on him! (Maybe she knew something we didn't.)

I guess we all have our moments. Like when she took the car each weekend the spring of her senior year telling us she was working Saturdays and Sundays at Costco handing out samples. I stopped by one Saturday in May and she wasn't there. I combed the store asking each sample lady if they knew where she was. Turns out that she had never had a job at Costco. It was all a charade. She called that afternoon to tell me she was on her break, though. ha ha Definitely wearing someone else's genes on that occasion.