365°

It’s blissful when the kids are playing with siblings, relatives, or friends. “Go down in the basement, you guys!” we often say. Magically, they sometimes follow this order, and the adults can stay upstairs to talk about their favorite cheeses and how much patios cost.

But it gets wild down there, so we’re always listening for sounds of a potential disaster. Listed here are just a few of the phrases that should spring any parent into action (or at least turn down the music to hear how everything pans out).

  1. “Wow, look guys. This door is usually locked but now it isn’t.”
  2. “Use my hair as a rope!”
  3. “Look at this.
  4. Continue…

The letter from my elementary school came with our address hand-written. Even in the third grade, I knew that meant it was personal. I also had an inkling of what it might be about, but was aghast that any of my fellow 9 year-olds would tattle on me. I wasn’t aware that any of them took offense to my popular gag of peeing in the sink instead of the urinal, but maybe I was too focused on the semicircle of kids gathered around me laughing, rather than the little narc off in the corner taking notes.

I imagine it was a difficult letter for Mrs. Continue…

We have a Karaoke machine now. I’m sorry, but the winters are long here in Minneapolis. This one’s colder than normal and we’re barely halfway through it. We have good heat, a gas fireplace and shopping nearby, so there’s little work needed to sustain life during these times. No chopping of wood is necessary. No hunting of muskrats or tanning of pelts—none of the rituals that kept our ancestors busy and active.

We’ve exhausted nearly all of the modern conveniences. I’m anticipating a message from Netflix, saying, “ALL PROGRAMMING HAS BEEN VIEWED.” Each room in our house has already been transformed into a fort at some point. Continue…

I’m 41. I know that’s not old, but my age has given me some perspective on the mistakes I made as a younger man. So, to all of you still in your 20′s, here’s some advice. Take it or leave it.

  1. Get to work late, leave early and take all your sick days. Success at work only results in more work.
  2. If you want kids, have them now.
  3. Make love to a woman in her late 30s or 40′s.
  4. That’s not the worst hangover you’ll ever have.
  5. Nothing is serious unless it’s a mole that changes shape.
  6. Floss.
  7. Spend a lot less time doing the “have to’s” and a lot more time doing the “want to’s.”
  8. Mushrooms are better than LSD.
  9. Continue…

“Arlo, where are the batteries?”

“Arlo, where are Mommy’s scarves? How about the Apple TV remote?”

“Arlo, did you put the fingernail clippers somewhere?”

“Daddy, do you know where my legos are?”

“No, Silas… ask your brother, he probably packed them somewhere.”

You should know that Arlo is not our freelance organization expert. He’s four years-old, and has recently taken a shine to wandering the house, collecting items (sometimes very important) and placing them in containers: grocery bags, boxes, suitcases, random drawers and cabinets, the subwoofer. If he were an adult with money and the freewill to purchase items, one might consider this youngster a hoarder, but I believe such status entails acquiring new stuff, not simply aggregating stuff one already has. Continue…

Emotions came and went quickly. Some were pleasant. Others felt like the electricity of panic. My hands were clammy; neck whipping from side to side in concert with shifty eyes. Everything was so new, and there was so much of it—above me, below me, to my right, to my left, behind me. Behind me! Dear god, what could I have missed behind me?

“Daddy?” a voice peeped.

Right, my son. Unable to allocate much focus on him, I trusted that he’d follow me as I scattered about.

“What, bud?” I respond, not turning.

“What’s this?” he asks. I know, without a doubt, that this is a fantastic question. Continue…

Every Sunday we have dinner with Lindsay’s mom, sister and her husband, their two kids, and our two kids. I suspect someone drops off some extra kids too, and possibly a raccoon. It’s mayhem, and a tradition that’s a vestige of a bygone century when children were quiet when asked; sat down when told; ate at “dinner time;” and hardly ever drew on each other’s faces. But those days are behind us, packed-up in a time capsule with joysticks, televisions with knobs, and cars without seat belts.

We rotate hosting duties, and each Sunday the nine of us cram into a home where the adults attempt to converse amidst the cacophony of pillow fort building and arguments over the propriety of a left-footed rollerblade. Continue…

If you’d like to see human frustration in its most natural state, simply say “no” to a three-year-old. You can also adjust a “wall” of the “grocery store” he made out of Magna Tiles. Another option might be to move one of his Calico Critters 1/32nd of an inch in any direction. These are his dearest items, but merely being in the vicinity of his stuff will elicit Arlo’s primal yell.

We could deal with the crying and occasional tantrum. But this new “angry monkey defending his territory” yelling—a rich dessert to the main course hissy fit—causes us to close the windows in September for fear that our neighborhood might think we’re operating a tattoo parlor for children, or branding chickens. Continue…

Silas (6) is a Power Rangers junkie. I’d like to send out my hearty thanks to Netflix for providing him and the rest of my family with the opportunity to watch all 1,000,000 episodes spanning three decades. The modern Power Rangers (the “Samurais”) live in a Zen loft with a Sensei. They tease each other and experience various angsty teen things like zits and existentialism. It’s 90210 if Brenda and the gang used huge Lego weapons and acrobatics to defeat saggy-skinned rubber monsters called “Nighlocks.”

Marigomori

This fella’s name is Marigomori and he’s equal parts snake, eagle, armadillo, trash can, bungee cord, olive tree and auto parts warehouse. Continue…

A week after moving into our new house, the milk didn’t seem very cold. Then the popsicles turned to plastic bags of colorful liquid—drinkable, though hardly the treat they once were. But the tragedy here was that the icepacks we put in Silas’ lunch wouldn’t freeze. This sent Lindsay into a mild panic. I mentioned that I never once as a kid had an icepack in my lunchbox, but there was no reasoning with her. WHAT IF THE CHEESE IN HIS HAM ROLLS MELTS? THAT HAPPENED AT HIS SCHOOL LAST YEAR. Ham rolls, by the way are just ham and cheese rolled up into a roll. Continue…