And then there is this.

B-29 Superfortress "Enola Gay"
MAIRANAS ISLAND — Boeing B-29 Superfortress “Enola Gay” landing after the atomic bombing mission on Hiroshima, Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo)
By Js Kendrick

I’m in Okoboji Iowa today for a wedding. Very nice place, a little gem nestled away in the northwestern part of Iowa. 

The wedding will be the second I’ve been to this year. A busy year for me and my family. Two weddings, two family reunions, and three funerals. 

My brother-in-law lost both his parents this year. In the space of two months. Incredibly heartbreaking for him and his side of the family. Three months before my sister-in-law joined our family, her mother passed. Her mother would have missed her daughter’s wedding if not for my sister-in-law’s foresight to have a private ceremony beforehand. 

But today, we are at a wedding. A celebration of two young people who are about to commit to each other for the rest of their lives. Today, while it may be a little chilly, a tad overcast, and some rain, will all be forgotten or looked upon with silly nostalgia years from now. Today, will be a great day. October 21st, 2017. They will not forget this day.

And then there is this. I have not forgotten this day for the last 20 years. Today, 20 years ago, my father died. This is a grand day for some, as it should be. Yet it is a bitter day for me and my siblings.

Often I am asked, does it get better? Doesn’t…as the adage goes… time heal all wounds? No, it does not. Time puts things in perspective. It takes you from a fresh cut, to a scar that you always remember where it came from, and when you got it. A constant reminder of the pain you once endured.

As I had written in an earlier blog ‘Everything’s, my older brother Jay and I discussed everything one Saturday night. One of those topics was our Father. In what was probably not the nicest critique of our Father we were at least honest, and forthcoming in our thoughts. I do believe we would have told these observations to our Fathers face. Yet it was nice not to hear the “what do you know?” part. And in truth, he probably would have had a good point.

I knew my father, so did my brothers and sister. Yet in that classic statement, do we really know anyone? No, not really. Try as we might each of us are, in reality, our own little universe. Like scientist who constantly push the boundries we look at someone from the outside, only catching glimpses of who they really are. To say that parts of my father’s life are still an enigma to me is an understatement. 

If I could go back in time, I would ask him a million questions, things I would hope he would answer. Why, for the love of God, could he not hold a job? Three years, I think it was three years was the longest job he had ever held when I was growing up. He stayed in the same field, was good at his work, very knowledgeable. Yet still, the politics of business vexed him. It made growing up hard. 

He had a love of country like no other. The picture I chose for this blog was not some random picture. My father was on the island of Tinian, he saw the Enola Gay in person. That time of his life was very formative. It would shape a young man who grew up during the depression, who had very few skills and turn him into a mechanical engineer. He would be able to provide for his wife and four children. Rising in his career to become a Vice President of a company. Yet I believe that time also taught him a disdain for authority.

He believed firmly in classes of people. Not on racial lines but on social-economic lines. He felt people never rose above their classes, even though he himself rose above his. A point that he dismissed when I noted it to him. 

My father a man that valued his intelligence, yet looked down upon those who were ignorant on certain subjects. Had less tolerance for those who stubbornly believed they were correct even though the facts differed. I believe my brother Jay and I inherited that quality. 

After 20 years I still question things about my father. Questions I will most likely never get answers to. Yet, with this scar that is so clearly visible today, I do have perspective. He wasn’t a perfect person, maybe not a perfect father. Yet to me he was. To me, he was the best damn father a boy could ask for. And while I try to be like him in some respects, better than him in others, I wonder most, especially after that talk with my brother Jay, what will my children say of me? 

Being a father is not about perfection, but doing the best with what you have. The try is worth it’s weight in gold.

 

 

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Monsters Under The Bed.

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One way to defeat the Monsters under the Bed is to sleep on the couch with some good friends and a book. / Photos by KidZond.

By Js Kendrick

 

When I wrote my tagline for my blog I  had a very specific incident in mind. Chasing monsters from under the bed since 1991 has meaning to me. For one, I became a father for the first time in 1991. When that happened, monsters came with the duties of being a parent.

The first monsters were mine, those that every new parent has, am I good enough? Do I know what in the heck I am doing. What if I break her? What if she stops…

Yeah, there are a lot of fears when you become a parent. You quickly learn that you have very little control over most of your fears. Dealing with those fears becomes your priority. You learn to manage those you have some semblance of control over, and to let those you don’t have any control over, to wander the recesses of the back of your mind. Hoping they stay there.

As children get older, they develop their own fears. Some are practical fears. Like those of strangers, going to the doctor, the first day of school. Then of course there are the unfounded fears. Like the time Werewolves and Vampires began lurking around my eldest two daughters bedroom.

I’m not to sure how werewolves and vampires got into our house. Could have been from a friend, or one of their older cousins. Yet they arrived and I was asked repeatedly about them. Telling my children, one 6 the other 4, that werewolves and vampires do not exist and that people created those legends for entertainment… those facts did not work. So thus began the Summer of the Monsters. What a great movie title that would make.

One night, around 11 p.m., the light came on in their room. I heard the noise of soft crying and got up to see what was the matter. Both girls were hugging their knees, blankets pulled up tight in their respective twin beds, staring at the bedroom window in fear.

I suddenly became afraid myself. Did someone try to get in? Was there some intruder lurking outside waiting for a opportunity to enter their window? My fear seized me. One of my fears hidden in the recess of my mind had found a door and ran up front to give me a scare. Then rationality came back. The intruder would either have to have a nice step-ladder or be 8 feet tall. Yet I peeked out the window. The backdoor porch light, which was always on, showed me that no one was around. I took a deep breath and looked at my frighten daughters faces.

“What’s going on?” I asked. They pointed to the window. My fear jumped up and down waving a red flag.

“What if a werewolf comes through the window?” I was asked. My fear dropped his flag and with his head hung low, walked back to the recess of my mind.

“It’s not their season, they’re down south this time of year.” I said. I had tried the ‘they don’t exist’ shtick for a good month or so, tried to use logic, explain myths, everything I could think of. Now moved on to ‘kid logic’ that I hoped would work. So far it had.

“Vampires?” was the next inquiry. I gave the same answer. Then tucked them back into bed and turned the light off. Making sure the nightlight was working. They settled down and I, to help my own fear, went out back for a walk around to make sure there wasn’t any vampires lurking about. The moon wasn’t full so I figured I was safe with werewolves. I also didn’t find any signs that anyone passed through our yard either.

Then I was awaken again, the light on again, now sobbing. I was a tad irate. Okay, actually I was mad to be awaken again by monsters. So I walked in and saw them now sitting on their beds sobbing.

“What now?” I said in a terse tone.

What followed was a sobbing mess of a tale about vampires and werewolves in their bedroom, hiding in the closet. Possibly playing with their toys, not sure. I was torn between laughing and yelling at them. I opted for some bizarre story to end this.

“There aren’t any vampires and werewolves in your bedroom, it’s your imagination.” I hesitated on ‘they don’t exist’ because that had failed miserably before, so I improvised.

“Listen, the werewolves are dead. They all got rabies and died, the vampires were so upset they staked themselves. So there are not in your room or outside the window, they are all dead, happened many years ago.” I said looking at them.

They stopped crying immediately and looked at me. Two sets of bright blue tear filled eyes, staring at their father. They had calmed down immediately, their seriously little faces now staring at me. They had totally believed my story.

Crap.

“Really? They’re dead? All of them?” I was asked. Well, in for a penny, in for a pound.

“Yeah, I’m sorry, should have told you before. Happened a few years back. So you have nothing to fear.” I said doing my best to hold this tale together.

“Oh, um, can you leave the light on?” I was asked.

“Okay, but you need to go to sleep, no playing, okay?” I said. And the miracle happened. The monsters under the bed, those in the closet, or outside the window, were gone. Dad and vanquished them with a fantastic fable. Yet it eased their minds.

Was this the best way to handle it? I am sure there are therapists and psychologist that would tell you no, never lie to your children. Just make them understand that such creatures do not exist. So probably not. Yet the vampires remained staked, the werewolves without rabies shots, paid the ultimate price. And two little girls went to sleep and never worried about those monsters again. Psychology be damned.

They of course would find other monsters. But then again, don’t we all?

 

 

 

 

Remember the Magic words, Please and Thank You…unless you’re Autistic.

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Alexis and BenBen / Photo by KidZond.

By Js Kendrick

 

I had a little eye opener yesterday at my daughter’s therapy session. We were discussing her habit of not saying ‘Please’ or ‘Thank You’. I found it rather odd that she seems to refuse to say these common niceties. The reason behind her refusal has always eluded me.

I was raised saying Please and Thank You, my Mother had always demanded courtesy from us, and it would even go so far as to not pass a dish at the dinner table because I didn’t say ‘please’. This was how I was raised, and of course, this is how I raise my children. Even my eldest daughter has carried on this courtesy with her children. I wouldn’t say our family is obsessive about it, but good manners usually opens doors in life. People appreciate being treated politely.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise at my consternation when my youngest daughter would refuse to say those words. She has had this habit for as long as I can remember. When she was younger, I didn’t put much thought into it. Four year olds tend to forget, so you remind them. However it was around seven that I noticed she refused to say Thank You. Please would only come out on rare occasions. I worked with her, withholding items till she said the magic words, but she only did it begrudgingly.

It was last year, when she was eight, that the problem became more than learning, more than some sort of joke to her. She wouldn’t say it for the life of her. Alexis seemed more upset that I wanted her to say Please and Thank You, than I was she didn’t.

“Alexis, if you want me to get you a glass of milk, say the magic word.” I would say. Then one day she looked at me and said the magic word.

“Abracadabra.” She said. I laughed, probably shouldn’t have, but it was funny. That became her ‘Please’. She started to use the magic word every time.

I still worked on Please, even discussed with her that while Abracadabra is the ‘magic’ word it wasn’t what I meant by magic word. But to Alexis, Abracadabra is the factual magic word. 

The term “Magic Words” came from my mother. When my sister Karen was going to Kindergarten there was a sign above the classroom door.

“Remember the Magic Words: Please and Thank You!” 

My mother, always into manners, remembered that phrase and quoted it often. My mother was no Miss Manners, but she did believe in being polite. Until she was mad, then it was best to run. politeness took a backseat for a bit.

I’m not sure how my mother would have handled Alexis’ refusal to say Please and Thank You. Probably would have driven my mother mad I’m sure. I know Alexis drives her sister Jenelle mad by refusing to say those magic words. My grandson BenBen says Please and Thank You, as with other niceties, even as he is being a holy terror. Yet as he holds a bag of potato chips, that he had just dumped on her floor, he will say “I’m sorry”. Jenelle and BenBen are still working on those connections with being polite and acting polite.

Yet while in therapy, when Alexis refused to say Thank You when offered a page from a coloring book, I mentioned this peculiar habit to the therapist.

“Well it’s not literal. If you stop and think about it, why do we say Please and Thank You? It’s an emotional response, a social niceties, but it has no practical value.”

The therapist then went on to ask me if she says Please for specific items. Alexis will say Please for wanting specific things. Yet those are more built into our language. She knows to say Please if she wants us to buy her a toy, or to go to restaurant. However Thank You is harder. Because why do we have to say “Thank You”? What value is that phrase?

In reality, Please and Thank You have little value. Unless you look at it in the terms of socialization. We say these phrases, along with a host of others, to be nice to each other. Many of those phrases aren’t even practical. When you ask someone ‘How’s your day going?’ Rarely do you wish to know how their actual day is going. It’s just a common phrase we use as a greeting. You may exchange a few words, but a detail accounting of their day’s events isn’t expected as an answer.

If you have ever dealt with persons to whom English is a second language, even worse, American Slang as second (practically third) language. You have just had a taste of what it is like to talk to someone with autism.

Alexis isn’t being rude, it’s not like she doesn’t “Know Any Better”, it is simply that she finds such phrases and niceties absurd. Why? Why do we say Please? What is the value of Thank You?

For me, it may be a consternation. Raised with a mother who valued manners, who valued the Magic Words, and now with a daughter that finds such words absurd.

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Apples from a friend.

 

Take these apples in the picture above. As I was writing this blog, Alexis came in to show me them. The young neighbor girl brought over apples from their backyard tree. These two are for my son and grandson. As Alexis handed them to me, being very specific as to tell me which apple was for whom, I said…

“Did you tell her Thank You? Because that would be nice.” Alexis smiled at me like I was a half-wit. I could see her thinking ‘Why should I say Thank You? She gave them to me, I give her things too, we’re friends, that’s what we do.’ She just looked at me and walked off. I went outside to tell her friend ‘Thank You’ to which she replied ‘You’re Welcome’. Alexis looked on disinterested in this little exchange.

The Magic Words, as with many of our social niceties, open doors in life. They let people know you care, that you have empathy for them. From, “I’m sorry for your loss” to “Congratulations!” we use these phrases to let other know we care. Alexis cares, but finds our language to be a ‘bit much’.

So, I continue to look for the Rabbit Hole, hoping to find it. If for nothing more than to have her say those Magic Words.

How to lose sarcasm in 7 days or less.

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The sarcastic Cheshire Cat. Illustration by John Tenniel / Illustration from Wikipedia Commons.

 

By Js Kendrick.

 

A week ago today I was asked to do something I thought was impossible. Stop being sarcastic. Now, very few people can ask this of me and actually get me to even think of doing that. My daughter Alexis’ therapist is one of those people.

Alexis, my 9-year-old daughter, is a high functioning Autistic. Most people wouldn’t even notice what I have been learning to notice. They would pass it off as bad behavior or that maybe she was tired, hungry or just having a bad day. Yet people do catch that Alexis is sarcastic.

Yeah, that ones on me.

To say I speak to others sarcastically is putting it mildly. Usually it is in good fun, to keep thing from getting tense, or just because that is my nature. My conversations drip with sarcasm. If you call me a ‘Sarcastic Bastard’ I will just profusely thank you for the compliment. Sometimes I get so bad I have to say, “No, actually I’m being serious”. Just so people know I am. Even then I might have to convince them.

Yet Alexis, who has a father who jokes, says the wildest things, and teases (nicely) all the time, well, she doesn’t see the difference. She thinks speaking sarcastically is normal. You know? because that’s how daddy talks.

 

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Alexis and I ‘smiling’. She started to ‘look mad’ for smiling about a month ago. 

 

So, I’ve had to stop being sarcastic. Okay, around her. Let’s be real, if you are a sarcastic person, stopping is nearly impossible.

However I know when to stop. I don’t tell a Police Officers who pull me over for a broken tail light that,  “I am surprised you guys finally found me”. Or tell my boss when he asks me to come in early that “Sorry, I’m still on the North side of Mt. Everest, can I come in at my normal time?”. I do know when and where sarcasm is acceptable. Alexis can’t filter that.

Here is an example of how her mind works. The other day we watched ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’. It’s a good little movie set in the Harry Potter Universe, by author J.K. Rowling. If you know anything of the Harry Potter Universe you know they have all sorts of creatures. Which of course is part of the movie’s plot line. When I asked my kids if they wanted to watch it again, having to call it the “movie with all the magical creatures in it”, she said to me:

“Yeah! But they’re not real creatures are they? Because they don’t exist. It’s just made up right?” She asked. Her brother Nick, who is 6, said to her they were just ‘made on a computer’.

Now you might think, as I had in the past, she was just confirming that there are no such monsters like that in the Real World. But that isn’t what she was doing. It wasn’t out of fear, but out of the need to reaffirm that there is a difference. Differences trouble Alexis. It’s the simply social cues that we take for grant that she struggles with.

As her brother Nick knew right off the bat, those creatures do not exist. Alexis knew, but wanted a confirmation that they were fake. She does this often. Confirming if something is funny, or scary, or dangerous, or true. Truth is important to her, along with facts. She often tells me why I am incorrect, because the facts don’t support my statement.

Thus the problem with sarcasm. Sarcasm is literally speaking the opposite of what is the truth.

“Wow, you just hit your thumb with a hammer, did that hurt?” I may be asked. To which I would respond sarcastically. “Oh no, I do this once a week just for fun”. Obviously a contradictory statement to the facts.

Usually when I hit my thumb with a hammer it involves very Bad Words and sarcasm. As in “Well that blanking felt lovely”.

So discerning the difference is hard on Alexis. So she has learned to be sarcastic. As you might have guessed, this isn’t a quality you want in your 9-year-old. Especially with school right around the corner.

My project for myself this past week has been dropping my sarcasm as much as possible around her. Try to be more Black and White in my speech so she picks up that and not the reverse snarky speech of sarcasm.

It has been a helluva a week for me.

No, serious.

This may Bug you.

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Just a toad looking for a princess, in vain. / Photos by KidZond.

By Js Kendrick

 

I hope you like nature. As in bugs. This post has bugs, and toads, and a frog for fun. Creepy, icky, things, and children’s love of them, is what this post is about today. If you have children, or are thinking of having children. You might want to take notes.

Case in point, Mr. Toad (No not the one above) was a perennial visitor to our porch when my older daughters were younger. One night I stepped out and saw Mr. Toad just sitting there. I figured, hey! What a great learning experience! So I called out to my daughter Jenelle. She was about 4 at the time.

“Hey Jenelle, come see whose on the porch!” Being cutesy about it all.

Jenelle comes out, I point to Mr. Toad. Eyes grow wide, slight shake of the knees. Points inside the house. 

“I’m going inside now.” She announces in terror. Never to come out for the rest of the night.

She of course learned to love toads, frogs…well there was that poison dart frog she killed, but it was just a case of mistaken identity…and other creepy things when she was younger. Her sister Kayla too.

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Not a poison dart frog. And this lucky fellow lived. Jenelle didn’t stomp on him like she did his predecessor.

 

Kids generally do like the creepiest of things. Depending, certain creatures have to be explained. Like Harvest Mites, which look like a spider but aren’t. They’re pretty harmless unless your believe everything Abraham Lincoln posts on Facebook.

Over the years I’ve had the good luck to find critters and give my children a quick explanation on what they were and how they fit into our ecosystem. The migration of Monarch Butterflies is always an interesting tale for children. Also the story of the Viceroy Butterfly who mimics the Monarch is just as fascination. It’s a good lesson in deception that will help them later in life when they date.

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He was friendly. Toxic little sucker! Yes, Milkweed is very toxic.

 

One thing about my four children I did not expect was the boy. Now while each of his sisters didn’t mind bugs and other critters growing up, at 6 years of age, Nick is obsessed with them. He hunts them out and captures them only to ask me to identify them. I’m not an entomologist, nor am I a zoologist. So I have to give him some rules to follow.

1.) Don’t pick up anything you haven’t picked up before without my approval. Some may bite, sting, or suck your blood.

2.) Never pick up a wild animal. The key word is Wild and it will go bad quickly. Squirrels are not ‘pets’. If you see one hurt, get an adult.

3.) Baby birds are best left in their nests (He asked for me to take one down once) and if you find one on the ground. Leave it be. Especially if it is a BlueJay’s fledgling. Mom and Dad have very sharp beaks. I know this from personal experience.

4.) Definitely leave the black and white kitty with the bushy tail alone when you see them. You will regret it, and I do not stock that much tomato juice in the house.

5.) Sticks that move on their own are a type of insect. Walking Sticks. Branches that move on their own are called Snakes. Back away, don’t touch, tell a grown-up.

6.) Leave little bunnies alone. They aren’t abandoned, their mommies leave them in a safe place while they eat. They’re fine, exactly where they are at.

7.) That is not a loose dog, that is a coyote. He’s fine, keep your distance.

8.) No, you can not pet the wild turkeys.

9.) And finally, if you don’t know what it is, leave it be. Ask an adult.

10.) Oh! I’m not sure why there aren’t any cicadas in our yard this year, they go in cycles.

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Think Cicadas are bad? You should see the 3 inch long wasps that prey on them.

 

Explaining nature to kids is a fun thing to do. Yes, bugs can be creepy, slimy, icky, and yeah…nasty. But they open up a child’s mind to a bigger world. They learn that this planet is pretty big and we humans share it with a host of other critters. Some are nice, like our pet cats and dog. Others like bees and wasps have to be given their distance. Respect them and they will respect you. Except Honey Badgers, they don’t respect anything. Please note, Honey Badgers are not indigenous to the Americas, Europe or Australia. Be thankful for that. My sincerest best wishes never to meet one for the rest of the world.

The trick of course is cute does not equal safe. Black Bears are very cute looking. But they are still a bear. Many people get tricked by that every year. YouTube is full of videos that show what happens when you assume cute is safe.

Look but don’t touch has been my motto over the years with my kids. Some critters are okay, as in having a butterfly or moth land on you. Yet others, such as Tussock moth caterpillar, are not to be touched. Kids are of course curious, so their hands work faster than their little brains sometimes. Yet as I help them explore nature ( often with the help of google) I hope they learn to appreciate it more. And eventually, pass this knowledge onto their children in time.

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As cool as this Tussock Moth Caterpillar looks, it gives you a nasty sting if you touch one. Think of him as a fuzzy bee.

 

Why is there never anything to eat in my house?

[Or why my kids never find anything Good to eat.]

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Fat chance I would ever get any my kids to eat this. / Photos by KidZond

 

I’m kind of getting tired of hearing this question. I’ve heard it for the last 20 some odd years. I have heard this question when I have had to slam the cupboard closed just so the box of Cheez-it’s wouldn’t fall out. Darn shame they were white cheddar and not cheddar. Because if you haven’t noticed…white cheddar does not look like cheddar, which is orange. Which of course, is a very important difference in the minds of a 6 and 9-year-old.

Is there anything good to eat? Is the question at hand.

This is of course the never-ending battle parents have with their children. There is never anything to eat. Well, never anything Good to eat.

I’m pretty sure you have something in your house that can be consumed. I know I do. We have fruits, vegetables, meats, breads, and various snacks. Some of these are healthy snacks, others are just snacks. But we have food. I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume you do too.

But…it’s just not the right food. Like marshmallows. Or maybe just a box of sugar cubes would suffice. If I suggest eating something like, say…a sandwich, I have just asked my child to eat roasted grasshoppers cooked on stick over an open fire in their little sugar addicted minds.

“I’m hungry, can I have something to eat?” thus wails, the poor starving child.

“Want me to make you a sandwich? Or a bowl of cereal?” I suggest.

“No, I want something good. That sounds yucky.” the child leans against the cupboard for the full effect.

“What do you want then? An apple? Oh, how about peaches? I can open a can.” Working on my Parent of the year award.

“Don’t we have anything good?” is the famished child asks.

 

I do my best not to lose it. I count to 10 and think…in less than 10 years, feeding themselves will be their own problem.

Till my 23-year-old visits and looks in my fridge.

“Have anything good to eat?” I hear her ask.

“Yes.” I respond.

“Like what? I don’t see anything in the fridge, what is this? You’re cheese is moldy.” I hear.

” That’s Blue Cheese. It’s supposed to look like that. Hey I have an idea!” I said in a lilt of a voice.

“Oh yeah? what?” She answers back in anticipation of some delectable treat.

“Check your own fridge.” I say.

*Crickets* Fridge door closes slowly.

 

That’s the crux of the matter. It really doesn’t matter what age your children are, they still think that your fridge is theirs. And once again, you have nothing good to eat.

It’s really hard to blame them. When I was younger I was the same way. My mother, being raised in the Depression, always had something in our house to eat. In fact, when I came over to visit after I had left the nest, she would feed me. Insist on it actually. I rarely said ‘No’.

But there was a time I was a tad ‘picky’. Like at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners when they served Candy Yams, or also know as, sweet potatoes. I was not into that. Here was this orange gooey mess that looked like aged mashed potatoes that had been pushed back into the far recesses of the fridge since 1963 and I was supposed to eat it. I didn’t, never did as a child. Refused.

Then my father didn’t finish a certain piece of succulent turkey that I had my eye on. He looked at me, asked me if I wanted it. I wiped the drool off my face and nodded. But it had some of that icky candy yams on it. Unfortunately, I had to eat it, to eat he piece of turkey.

“Hey, these are sweet!” I exclaimed in shock. My mother, such a sweet woman, gave me a look with her head cocked to one side and a smirk of a smile.

“Yes they are, why do you think we call them candy yams?” She berated me. I ate two helpings. I was 20 years old when I first tried them. Now, I make them every year for holiday meals. (The brown sugar is the key.)

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See that cheese stick? Mine!

It’s really hard to keep ones cool when you hear that your full cupboards are worthless. That no matter what you buy at the store, it isn’t worthy of little palates. I try to remember that my son eat’s broccoli, and loves it. That my daughter is a very good eater. And that my older two have their own fridge.

I have to remember, not only my own youth, but that sometimes, even after going to the store and buying food, I find myself not wanting anything I have bought. Of course what I do want usually requires me to cook it, and I hear the whines of…

“I’m not eating that!” or “Could I have a cookie first?” to “Didn’t we get anything good?” That I take a deep breath and look at my wife in the most loving way and say.

“Wanna order a Pizza?”

No! We are not [Mental Expletive] there yet!

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Probably wondering where the nearest bathroom is. / All photo’s by Alexis at KidZond

By Js Kendrick

 

The point was driven home to me tonight in the most maddening way. Children should ride in the trunk.

Okay, so that may be a little drastic. I’m pretty sure it’s illegal in all 50 States, probably in all 196 countries in the world, well hopefully so, but, oh… sometimes…it’s a nice thought.

Tonight wasn’t horrible, it was just 75 miles. About an hour and some change drive from my house to my daughter Jenelle’s place. You see, every other weekend, my grandson BenBen comes to visit us. It’s fun, psychotic, and very loud at my house that weekend. He’s 4 years old, my daughter 9, my son 6. So, yeah, you can imagine. I dread rainy weekends more than the three of them do. Yet for all the craziness of the weekend, it’s the drive back that usually sticks out in my mind.

There is the usual comments from the three of them. He did this, she won’t give me that, can we stop at McDonald’s? No? Can we repeatedly pester you until you give in? You just passed McDonald’s, you know that don’t you? Could we turn back and … Oops! BenBen took a sip out of someones drink and holy bejesus! The world, in all its majestic glory, just ended.

I think the restraining harnesses have a lot to do with it. You know, seatbelts? Yeah, when I was a kid we didn’t use them. Speed limits were optional too. Parents smoked in cars with the windows up and A/C on. You had to crawl over the front seat to sit in mom’s lap to get a drink. And Dad? well he wouldn’t just threaten to pull over. He would gladly pull over to the side of the road.  Just so mom could spank your butt if you did the slightest, yet some how terrible, infraction. Other parents driving by would point this out to keep theirs in line.

It was a different time of course.

Yet it was also a time when you carried your pillow and blanket with you on long trips. A time that you could lie down in the back seat of the car on those long rides knowing all was safe because mom and dad were in the front seat. You trusted them, and that warm fuzzy feeling of safety and security never leaves you, even when you are an old man like myself.

Today we strap our kids in. When they are babies, they could go to space in what we put them in, just add an oxygen mask and they are good to go. As they get older, well those Nascar seats are really cool, cup holders and all. Eventually they will be able to be in the normal seatbelts that adults use. Yet they are still restrained.

Which of course is a great idea. A really good thing when you think of it. If you’ve ever been in an accident, however slight, you know the importance of seatbelts. That and the importance of your mother’s arm flung across your chest when you’re old enough to sit in the front.

But even with the advent of seatbelts, the car seats, and baby seats, and yes, long before adults came to the conclusion that children, and adults, should probably be restrained less they get to practice being superman with very un-super results. There was the ancient dilemma of children.

Are we there yet? Or as mine put it, when are we going to be there? Even more modern. How long does take to get to so and so’s? What does it say on the phone? Sometimes it’s cute to hear them ask about what the phone says, or how many hours now. Then of course, when they ask you that same question 60 times an hour, you know the truth about this question. It becomes the grain of sand in that oyster of a brain of yours.

I am sure that on the first cart ride ever, used by parents to move their children, they too, heard that phrase. Are we there yet?

Along with their children bickering over who gets to read the stone tablet. No doubt the poor exacerbated parents had to look for the nearest tree so little stone age johnny and stone age jenny could go potty.

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Stuffed toys and Snacks helps…unless they fight over them.

 

This year we traveled a lot. My wife’s family reunion was 6 hours away…according to google maps. Not that google maps is horrible, but they really need to add a “I have Children with me” button. Because 8 1/2 hours later we arrived at our destination. I think my wife and I jumped out of the car so fast people wondered if our pet leopard had gotten out of its cage. Close, but not exactly true. Two pet leopards, posing as our children.

The bickering is part of long drives, then the potty request, and of course the meal requests that generally revolved around a clown, or a king, or an old southern gentleman, and anything of a similar vein. Toys help, books to color and books to read. And thankfully in this modern age, electronic devices that can entertain for hours on end…or at least a good 15 minutes. Because in a car, time is an endless entity that can not be satiated by anything, but that most elusive thing … Destination.

Car rides are in a fact, boring. Especially long car rides. Especially car rides where you are strapped into a seat and have to endure your sibling in close proximity and do not have the option of running to your bedroom after you smack them for being taunted.

For me, a person who loves to drive, and actually picked it to be a career, I can not fathom why it is the end of the world. Then again, I’m a grown up. Also a weirdo, but that is truly beside the point. I used to drive a semi-tractor trailer all over. I used to go miles on end without stopping. Not once did my cargo tell me that this box was touching that box. Nor did the boxes complain that the pallets of wood they sat on were too hard. My cargo never talked back. Which I am very thankful for.

Children by nature are always on the move. They love to go about, explore and touch. It’s one of the joys of being a kid. Long car rides are contrary to their nature, so it’s only natural for them to get restless. Many adults get restless in long car rides. The one thing that separates children from adults in long trips is when we get home, take off our shoes after unpacking and have that ‘ah’ moment. We don’t turn to each other and say “Can we go back tomorrow?” Because as boring as the ride may be, as painful as it is to endure, that Destination was so much fun for the children that they want to do it all over again.

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Taking photos on the way back from our family reunion helped Alexis with her boredom. Picking on her brother was just added entertainment.