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Thought for the Morning

This morning, for the first time in my life, I had to explain to a child that it was not necessary to flush the portapotty. After 20 years of raising kids, Boo finally found something new.

There is no justice this side of the grave

Today, one of those things happened near here that reminds me of how stupid people can be and how unfair life can be.

“An infant is dead and two teens are left with life-threatening injuries after a 17-year-old wrecked a vehicle in an alcohol related crash in Carroll County.”

The driver was a 17-year-old who had been drinking and wrecked his car.  He was the only one wearing a seatbelt and wasn’t hurt.  The mother of the child and another man were injured and were flown to the local trauma center with serious injuries.  A baby, who wasn’t in the car seat that the law and common sense mandate, was dead on arrival at the hospital.

The guy who got behind the wheel is alive and whole, sitting in a cell, while a baby is in the morgue and two adults are in the hospital.

Look, if you’re an adult and choose to not use basic safety equipment, so long as you don’t make it my problem by demanding that I pay to fix you when Mr. Murphy inevitably catches up with you, then I have nothing to say about it.  Your body, your choice, your problem.  But to risk the life of your child because you can’t be bothered is downright stupid, and my libertarian-leaning self has no problem with Johnny Law coming down on you in hob-nailed boots over it.

As for why you would let a drunk 17-year-old drive you and your baby around is something I can’t comment on because I try to keep this place PG-13.

I hope the driver lives a long time in a very bad place and suffers for what he’s done. I know the mother who didn’t strap her child in before she let a drunk teenager drive them around will.

Overheard in the Living Room

Girlie Bear and Boo are fighting with lightsabers in the living room.  Boo has the white blue light up light saber and Girlie Bear is wearing a Darth Vader mask and fighting with the red lightsaber.

Girlie Bear – Come to the dark side.  I am your father

Smack, smack, buzz smack

Boo – Fatha, take off that mask! I want to see your face!

buzz smack smack buzz

Sound of mask coming off.

Boo – Hey, you’re not my fatha!  You’re a girl!

Excitement at the Park

The Scene – A suburban park, complete with playgrounds, running trails, creeks, several soccer fields, and a large parking lot.

Activity – The DaddyBear family is enjoying a picnic dinner along with the rest of BooBoo’s pre-school.   The 50 or so kids in the school have taken over the playground, are kicking sand at each other in the volleyball pit, and are enjoying hot dogs grilled up by the school director at the pavilion.  It’s a nice school picnic.

We were sitting on our beach towel, enjoying our dinner.  Boo scarfed down his hot dog and strawberries, then ran off with another young boy to play.  I kept half an eye on him while talking to the other boys grandmother.  After a few minutes of talking, Girlie Bear nudged me.

“Dad, where’s Boo?”

“He’s over in the sand pit with his friend.”

“I can see the other little boy, but I can’t see Boo”

Hmmm, well, might as well check.  I walk over to the sandy area and yep, there’s no Boo.  None of the other children can tell me if he was with them (Hey, they’re four years old, and I’m a big scary Dad).  I send Girlie Bear to circle the pavilion and I circle around the playground.  No luck.  Girlie Bear starts to look worried, and I’m starting to feel that cold feeling in my gut.  I ran into Boo’s teacher.

“You haven’t seen Boo, have you?”

“Not for a while.  Is he gone?”

“We can’t seem to find him.  If you see him, could you let me know?”

“What was he wearing?  I think his mom changed his clothes since school.”

“He’s wearing a bright blue pair of shorts and a blue Spiderman tee-shirt.”

“OK.”

She went one way and I went another.  Unbeknownst to me, she went directly to the school director and secretary, and they all went in opposite directions.

By this time, Irish Woman had noticed that I hadn’t returned with Boo, and she had started searching herself.  When we made eye contact, I guess she could tell I was concerned, because she immediately turned towards the soccer fields and headed out under full steam.  I started quartering the area and having several internal discussions.

BooBoo!

Scan left, scan right, scan up, scan down

Stay calm

Must move faster

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.  Blessed art thou amongst women…

BooBoo!

You have to stay calm.  If he hears you sound angry or upset, he might not come to you or yell back

Must move faster. Left right left right left right

Scan up, scan down, scan left, scan right

And blessed is the fruit of they womb, Jesus.

BOOBOO!

Calm down!  You’re going to scare him away!

Faster, faster, left left left left

scan, scan, scan, scan

Holy Mary, mother of God…

BOOBOO ALOUISIUS BEAR!

OK, OK, do you have a picture of him in your phone?  How long has it been since you saw him?  20 minutes?  Almost time to call the police.

Pick it up, faster faster faster

scan scan scan scan scan scan scan scan scan

Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, amen.  Hail Mary, full of grace…..

BOOOOOBOOOOOO!

After rounding the third turn in my quarter and starting my way back to the playground, I ran into a group of dads playing tee ball with their kids.  None of them had seen Boo, but three of them peeled off from their group to help me in my search.  It occurred to me later that I didn’t know any of them, but they left their families to help me.  We saw a police cruiser parked near the soccer fields, so we headed that way.  By now it was going on 30 minutes since I’d last seen Boo, and it was time to call the cavalry.

Just as we came up to the car I heard the school secretary calling my name.

“Mr. Bear!  We found him!”

Oh thank you Lord.

In the time it took for us to notice he was gone, and start quartering out to find him, Boo had gone almost a quarter of a mile.  The school secretary had found him heading west along one of the running trails.  Luckily, he didn’t run from her and came back willingly.  Of course, he was singing KISS songs the entire walk back, which the secretary found funny.  I’ve since been told I need to modify my morning music routine.

After a rather emotional reunion with Dad, he got held onto until Irish Woman got back to the playground. She promptly sat down with him and burst into tears.  For his part, he tried to get away with just a quick hug before attempting to wriggle his way free and head back over to the jungle gym.  Mom would have none of that, and only relinquished him when I said I was taking him to the car.

We said our thanks to everyone as we packed up.  Half of the parents in the group had headed out to beat the bushes for our wayward lad, with the other half watching the kids to make sure we didn’t have multiple disappearances.  The center director and one of the school counselors sat and talked with Irish Woman for a while as Girlie Bear and I got everything, including Boo, into the car.  Irish Woman eventually made her way back to the parking lot.  She looked upset but had stopped crying.

The shakes started for me after I had Boo strapped into his booster seat.  I sat down on the tailgate of the van and waited for them to pass.  I hate that feeling, especially the tiredness I get once they subside.  Once they were gone, I got in the car, found some quiet music on the radio, and headed home.

On the way home, I stopped and picked up some food at one of the local burger joints.  The half a hotdog and some pretzels I’d had before Boo went on his walkabout were completely gone.  A burger and a coke sounded really good.  Boo got my french fries, and Girlie Bear and Irish Woman each got a milkshake.  I drank about 1/3 of my coke on the way home, then topped it off with bourbon.  Yeah, I know, self-medication isn’t a good idea, but it’s helping my hands to stop shaking.

This isn’t my first rodeo when it comes to having kids.  I’ve been raising kids in one form or another pretty much non-stop since I was 12 or 13.  I’ve dealt with kids who liked to run off, and I know better than to take my eyes off Boo in a crowd.  He loves to play “chase me”, he’s fast, and he has absolutely no fear.  After we found him, I found that I had exactly zero recent pictures of him in my phone and that I had remembered the color of his shorts (they were black, not blue).  So much for being the experienced, self-reliant parent.  Tomorrow, I start keeping recent pictures of him in every phone in the family.

All’s well that ends well, I guess.  He’s OK, and we’re shaken but OK.  I owe the school secretary a big thank you tomorrow.  I’m going to finish my bourbon and coke and get some sleep.  For some reason, I don’t have much energy left.

Overheard in the Living Room

Boo, handing me a ball from his pneumatic tennis ball launcher:  Dad, here!
Me, taking it from him:  Why is the ball wet?
Boo:  It fell!
Me:  Where did it fall?
Boo: It fell in the potty!
Me:  OK, off to wash hands!
Boo:  I want my ball!

Ah, the joys of parenthood.

Solato Wildlife Center Trip

Irish Woman and Girlie Bear are off to the opening rites of the Annual Kentucky Period of Madness, so it’s just Boo and I today.

Rather than either hang around the house all day or go to the zoo, I took him away from Louisville and went to the Solato Wildlife Center. This is an educational center run by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, and it’s almost tailor made for kids.  There is an indoor area with displays of small animals, fish, turtles, and static displays about wildlife conservation and an outdoor walk that has examples of Kentucky wildlife, such as a very well-fed black bear, a bald eagle, elk, buffalo, turkey, and deer.

As we got there, we noticed a lot of people in medieval garb, and lo and behold, someone was having a wedding with most of the wedding party dressed in renn-faire garb.  Boo was very excited to see “Robin Hood!”.  Luckily, we were able to get through the wildlife walk without disturbing the wedding.

One note on taking a 4 year old to a wildlife center – Don’t be disappointed when he’s more interested in the prolific squirrels and chipmunks than he is in the large mammals and birds.

Lucky Ducks got to sleep in

Boo and the elk.

Totonka

Elk. Next time, I need a longer lens

Buffalo and baby buffalo

Hey baby, gobble, gobble

The smart gobbler stays up in the tree where it’s safe

Taken from 10 feet away through a fence.  
I guess they’re used to people

Also taken from 10 feet away.
These birds are so beautiful

For my daughter and her daughters

Over the past few years, ladies have begun to take their rightful place alongside men on the firing line.  Whether it be for self-defense, shooting sports, hunting, or just having fun, the ‘boys club’ has opened up.  Through efforts of women in the blogosphere and shooting sports, young girls have more opportunities to learn to enjoy shooting for all of these reasons and more.


June 9, 2012 will be National Take Your Daughter To The Range Day.  This is a day where the importance of introducing our daughters to our sport is highlighted.  This emphasis is important because when a girl is shown that guns and shooting are a fun pastime, they are more likely to keep at it into adulthood.  More importantly, they learn that the stereotypes of shooters, especially female shooters, are hollow.  Let’s face it, boys are half expected to be interested in guns, and when a girl expresses an interest, she risks being labelled as strange by members of society that still cling to old stereotypes.  As adults raising young women, we owe it to them to teach them that being responsible for themselves and enjoying a fun hobby is as normal for them as it is for their brother.


A girl can and and should be encouraged to shoot as well as or better than her brothers, and the first step is to get her to the range with someone she trusts so that she can get over the initial nervousness and start to enjoy herself.


But teaching your daughter to shoot and helping her to enjoy her time at the range has an even more important objective.  I can sum it up by quoting from William Ross Wallace:

For the hand that rocks the cradle 

Is the hand that rules the world. 

Our daughters are going to be mothers someday, and they will have an extraordinary amount of influence on the generations that will follow them.  If mom is a shooter, or is at least comfortable with guns, then her kids and grandkids are more likely to be exposed to the shooting sports.  If she believes that guns are dangerous and to be avoided, then the chances of her children learning how to safely use them and continue the tradition of gun ownership that our country enjoys are greatly reduced.


We’ve made a lot of progress in the past few years when it comes to gun rights, but the pendulum will eventually swing back the other way.  Only by laying a foundation of young men and women who enjoy and understand the fun and responsibility of gun ownership can we hope to slow down and stop the inevitable shift away from our current success.  Even with all of the progress we’ve made in integrating women into the sport, society still accepts little boys playing with toy guns while pigeon-holing little girls into the playroom with the dollhouse.  My goal as a father is to teach my daughter that she can be feminine and still shoot out the X ring.  This day gives us an opportunity to take our daughter to the range and continue that work.


I will be taking Girlie Bear shooting on June 9, and I encourage all of you to take your daughters, granddaughters, nieces, or whatever young girl is special in your life to the range.  It will be good for her, and it will help to preserve our rights in the future.  

I’m raising a nerd

It’s unseasonably warm here in IndiUcky, so we decided to have dinner in the back yard tonight as a picnic.  Boo enjoyed being able to play outside a little later than usual, and of course, he brought along the lightsaber Irish Woman bought him when she went on the road last month.

Here is the budding padwan, complete with his trusty sidearm:

Keeping the back yard safe for picnics and sand boxes

 And of course, no time with Boo would be complete without being told to hush so that he could talk.

Hush Dad.  I can’t hear you over how awesome I am anyway.

He spent the evening trying to bat the lazy bumblebees that were buzzing around the blossoms on the cherry and peach trees with the lightsaber, but thankfully, he never connected.  He’s currently tucked safely in bed with his sword, Hasenpfeffer the Rabbit, and a book.

Update – Upon closer examination of these pictures, it appears that we never wash the young man’s face.  Fear not, for that is just the residue from a grape popsicle he enjoyed after dinner.

Rules for Dating Girlie Bear

OK, I know it’s a worn out meme, and others have done it before and probably better than I can. But Girlie Bear has another dance at school Monday night, and I’m almost certain there will be boys there.  So I thought I’d codify the rules for being my daughter’s date so that there can be no confusion:

  1. My name is Sir or Mr. Bear.  You will not call me by my first name, my last name without the Mr., or any other way of addressing me.  I’m also not a pronoun.  You may, on occasion, when speaking to my daughter, use the term “your father” to reference me.
  2. Age rule:  One year older than Girlie Bear, one year younger than Girlie Bear.  If you’re too young, I’ll call your mother.  If you’re too old, I’ll call your father.  If you’re way too old, I’ll call the police to come pick your carcass up off the lawn.
  3. My daughter should come home with the same number of tears in her eyes as when she left.  If she ever comes home with a deficit in the amount of eye-water or a gain in the number of bruises, they won’t ever be able to find your body.
  4. She may seem like a nice, quiet, thoughtful girl, and she is.  But she comes from a long, proud line of people with big tempers who fight dirty.  I’ve taught her to punch, kick, bite, scratch, knife, and shoot.  Piss her off at your own risk.
  5. I have veto power on who Girlie Bear goes out with, when she goes, where she goes, and the planned activities. There is no appeal, because there is no higher authority.
  6. If I smell alcohol on either of you at any time, game over.  Same goes for weed or cigarettes. 
  7. Arguing or fighting with me about anything will gain you nothing but a jaw wired shut and your next few meals fed to you through a straw.  I may be old, slow, and fat, but I bet I can take more of a beating than you can, and I know how long it takes to heal.  I will bet money you don’t.
  8. I set a curfew for a reason.  I will be waiting when she gets home.
  9. I know that all teenagers lie on occasion, and I have spent years trying to learn how to tell if someone is lying to me.  So if I suspect that Girlie Bear is lying to me about you, you’re gone.  If she tells me one thing, and you deny it, I’ll know you’re lying because your lips are moving.
  10. I have an evolutionary investment in Girlie Bear, in that I want her to survive to proper reproductive age in order to pass on my genes.  I have no such investment in you, and I see no reason to be rational about anything having to do with you.  Never forget that.

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