Tag Archives: growing up

64 fl. oz. Miracle Bubbles

The weather in Michigan this weekend was spectacular, warm but not too hot, cool but not too cold. I spent as much time outside as I could, doing manly things that involved an array of outdoor tools; shovels and rakes and brooms and axes, all the while sporting several days of unshaven stubble, old dirty jeans and a t-shirt, broken down leather work boots and gloves. A heavy flannel shirt was added in the evenings when the newly found Spring temperatures gave way to pleasant cool air that felt more like Fall. The peepers and other critters in the swamp behind our property sang spiritedly the whole weekend.

Part of Saturday’s workload, was cleaning out one of my barns, the one filled mostly with lawn equipment and outdoor tools and a diverse assortment of everything else you could imagine that needs a place to be stored. It was dirty work and over the recent long, cold Michigan winter, it had become a disorganized mess of shit piled everywhere that I could barely walk through without risking a certain trip to the emergency room.

It felt good to clean it out, to make space, to put tools back where they belonged, to throw stuff away. That’s probably the closest place I have to a man-cave, although there’s no television, no couch, no sports memorabilia, no cooler full of beer. But it is a place where I can go and tinker around and have a little solitude. The extent of the decorations dressing up the few rustic timbers that aren’t covered with tools hanging from rusty, bent nails; a dirty, old, yet still proud American flag that once flew from our house, a wall of our old Michigan and Massachusetts license plates, a stop sign that I picked up some time ago, and a KIMBERLY TERRACE street sign that my wife was given back when she was a teenager… acquired, I’m sure legally, of course!

I worked through the clutter, throwing away old spark plug packages, empty oil containers, cans of dried paint, pieces and parts of stuff that I didn’t recognize and figured if I have no idea what it is or where it came from, it must not be that important. Tools were sorted into tool boxes, screws and nails and bolts and nuts and washers were relegated to a recycled coffee can to be reused at another time. I learned long ago to never toss away a perfectly good fastener. The floor was swept of dirt and grime and oil and hay. I pulled a couple of old mowers out, stripped of their parts like abandoned cars on an urban freeway, and dragged them to the road along with a FREE FOR PARTS OR SCRAP sign, handwritten in black marker on a scrap piece of board.

Then I came across this:

bubblesIt was dirty and covered in spider webs and had been sitting in this same spot for who knows how many years. I picked the jug up secretly hoping it was empty so I could quickly toss it into the ever-growing trash bag. It felt full and I unscrewed the cap and looked inside to see about 2/3 of the container was still filled with the soapy bubble mixture that has given kids endless delight for decades. Without giving it a second thought, I started carrying the jug to the far back part of our property where I could dump out its contents, then dispose of the packaging in the trash.

But as I walked, I felt this profound pang of a loss of innocence… and frankly, more than a little sadness. Shovels and axes and several days of unshaven stubble and old dirty jeans and a t-shirt and broken down leather work boots and gloves… had been instantly trumped by a container of dish soap disguised as MIRACLE BUBBLES!

I thought of my two kids, surely who we had purchased this giant 64 fl. oz. jug of MIRACLE BUBBLES for many years ago. Neither of whom, I surmised, now grown up, knew or cared that it existed anymore. My daughter will be a senior in high school next year, and my son a freshman, the first time since elementary school that they’ll be in the same school again. I stopped for a minute, unscrewed the cap again, pulled out the MIRACLE WAND and watched as the warm spring breeze sent oily, rainbow tinted bubbles flying through the air. I dipped the wand three of four more times and watched as more bubbles soared through the air only to disappear in the blink of an eye the moment they landed on the grass or a log pile or the branch of a tree.

I questioned my decision to dump out the container.

Then it occurred to me that experts often recommend using dish soap if you are trying to get a new tire to seal to a rim while filling it with air. I dropped the wand back into the container, screwed the cap back on and turned around and headed back towards the barn where I set the jug back down where I had found it, still covered in dirt and grime and spider webs.

Because I learned long ago to always be prepared and who knows the next time I’ll need to seal a new tire to the rim of my mower or lawn tractor.

That’s why I kept the bubbles…

Really…

Okay, maybe not…

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The End of an Era and the Tooth Fairy

I’m concerned that we’re running out of cool things that we can lie to our kids about.  There used to be all kinds of things we could lie to our kids about.

For example:

“The stork delivered you… in a sheet… that he carries in his mouth.”

“Daddy and Mommy were just wrestling… on the bed… naked.”  Just kidding, I’ve thankfully never had to pull that from the repertoire.

And of course the MOTHER OF ALL LIES…

“Santa Claus brought you all that stuff… in a giant sack… that he carries in a sleigh… with flying reindeer.”

This all came crashing down the other night when my son lost a tooth. Now, granted we had already put on the “life schedule” that this would be the year that we tell the 11 year old son that there really aren’t any fat people in red suits or giant rabbits or leprechauns or fairies or anything of the sort that break into your house and leave you stuff in the middle of the night. In fact, we wanted to be perfectly clear that any people coming into the house in the middle of the night, whether that be through a chimney or a broken window or a busted down door, were likely sordid characters that were much more apt to be taking stuff from the house rather than leaving anything of value.

So our son loses a tooth on Friday evening… and Kim and I are lying in bed and she is doing the usual routine of cutting out a tooth shape from a sheet of paper, signing it in the tooth fairy handwriting (which I have to say looks very similar to the Santa Claus handwriting) and putting it and a couple bucks into a plastic baggie.

ME: And why are we still doing this?

HER: I’ll talk to him this weekend.

I have to say, Mom’s rule the roost when it comes to stuff like this, at least in my family, although I suspect it’s that way in most families. Sometimes I wonder, if I had been a single Dad would my kids have had all the experiences with holidays and birthdays and special events that they’ve had with Mom around doing the vast majority of the work. Or would I have said “look son, I know you’re only three years old, but this whole Santa Claus thing… it’s a ruse, how about you go out and get a job to help pay for all this stuff.”  I guess I probably would have stepped up but it likely wouldn’t have been quite as magical!

Saturday morning arrives and son is a couple bucks richer. Mom pulls him aside… it went something like this.

MOM: Can I talk to you about something?

SON: (probably thinking he’s in trouble): Sure?

MOM: Do you know who the tooth fairy is?

SON: You?

MOM: Yes, do you know who else I am?

SON: Santa Claus… and the Easter Bunny… and the Leprechauns… and…

And that was it. No shock and awe. No tears. No traumatic lifelong psychiatric issues. How long had he really known? When our daughter was told a few years ago at about the same age, there was lots of crying involved… even though, you know what? At a certain age, they know. In the backs of their incredibly intelligent little minds, they know… or at least they suspect. They’re just not ready to doubt anything their parents say… and in the long run, that’s a good trait to have.

As emotional as it can be for parents to move beyond those precious years of childhood innocence, I have to say, we’re ready to take the next step. Actually we’ve already taken the next step… we’re there. Sometimes it feels like taking a step off a cliff, but that’s what a family is all about, finding our way through life’s challenges as a team. I love where my kids are right now, they’re so talented and interesting and independent and funny as they dive deep into adolescence and teenager-hood.  Our daughter will be starting High School in the Fall, our son will be starting Middle School. It’s a big transition year and I am completely confident in their continued ability to stand out and shine.

So, now we’re running out of cool things to lie to our kids about.

My daughter will be learning to drive sometime during the next year or so…

… perhaps I can lie to her about that.

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The Tree of Life

Once upon a time there was a tree.
And it grew in a beautiful place in the country.
The tree was tall and had deep roots and solid branches and green leaves.
And it was a proud tree.

One day a boy began climbing the tree.
And he knew that he wanted to climb until he reached the very top.
So the tree carefully guided him from branch to branch, higher and higher.
And the boy felt safe and loved.

The boy continued climbing the tree, a little higher every day.
And as the boy climbed the tree, the tree provided comfort and protection.
Its leaves gave the boy shelter, its branches gave the boy structure.
And its roots gave the boy a solid foundation to build on.

Then one day the boy finally reached the top of the tree.
He was excited and the tree was very proud of how far he had climbed.
But the tree knew that the time had come.
To let the boy go.

So the tree said to the boy.
“My leaves are changing colors and the wind is starting to blow.”
“Find the biggest leaf you see and climb on it and close your eyes.”
“And the wind will take you wherever you’re supposed to go.”

The boy looked to his right and to his left and up above and down below.
And finally, at the very, very top of the tree on the very highest branch.
The boy saw the most perfect leaf he had ever seen.
And he climbed onto the leaf and closed his eyes just as the tree had told him.

Soon the wind picked up and the boy could feel his leaf trembling.
He grabbed on with all his strength to be sure he wouldn’t fall.
And then he watched as the stem of his leaf began to break free.
From the tree that had nurtured him for so many years.

The boy was excited to be free and on his own.
And as the strong wind carried the leaf high up into the air like a magic carpet,
The boy turned around and waved goodbye to the tree.
And it was a proud tree.

Soon the boy was far enough away that he could no longer see the tree.
So he turned back around to watch where the wind might be taking him.
All around, the boy saw the amazing opportunities the world had to offer.
And he settled in for the ride of his life.

The wind carried the boy to mystical places and magical lands.
On exotic adventures and extraordinary challenges.
Through happiness and sadness and love and hate.
And wins and losses and successes and failures.

As the wind carried the boy he felt exhilaration and freedom.
He began to learn to control the leaf and take it where he wanted it to go.
And he grew and gained knowledge and insight and experience and wisdom.
And felt as if he could fly forever.

But eventually the boy grew weary and wished that his leaf would finally land.
And he remembered what the tree had said when he was first set free.
So he closed his eyes just as the tree had told him.
And the wind began to slow down and change directions.

When the boy opened his eyes, the wind had carried him back to the country.
There was the tree with its deep roots and solid branches and green leaves.
As the boy smiled at the tree, the wind blew one last burst.
And he landed safely right at the base of the trunk.

The boy was happy to finally be on the ground.
He knew that his leaf had fallen right where it was supposed to have fallen.
And when the tree looked down and noticed that the boy had grown into a man.
It was a proud tree.

For my son, who is climbing his own tree and will someday have to be let go.

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