Dead Crab Walkin’

coenobitaclypeata2

It’s true, I don’t love animals.  I’d like to.  I try.  And then some dog ends up humping my leg, and I land right back where I was before – one who does not love animals.

They’re cute to look at – sort of like someone else’s baby.

“Oooo.  He’s so frickin’ cuuute!”

Then he poops.  And he’s not as cute.  And he smells like my grandfather after dinner at El Rodeo.

But as much as I am not an animal fanatic, I wish them no harm.  If someone else is feeding them and brushing them and paying their vet bills, I’m good.  I am perfectly happy to sit by dogs at the outside cafe tables at my local pub.  Who doesn’t like to have their crotch sniffed while they eat dinner?  Count me in!

That being said, I think I killed our Hermit crab.

I have tried to blame someone else in the family, but I am the responsible adult.  I must admit my error.

He, I’d call him by name but I don’t think he had one, was 13 months old.  As I washed out his dookie filled aquarium, I have wished him dead.  I actually let him crawl around the kitchen counter in the hopes that he would fall to his death.  He didn’t.  He just sat and watched me scrub.

We left him without food and water when we went to the beach in June.  He’s upstairs – out of site, out of mind.  He survived that 7 day fast. Two weeks later we left again.  But this time, I thought of him.  I filled a bowl with H2O and planted his sponge right in the middle.  When we returned, I think he’d gained weight.

But the next two weeks were busy.  Kids were out of town.  Michelle went to camp.  I seldom went upstairs – there was no reason.

When I returned from dropping Stephanie at overnight camp today, I took some of her excess stuff back up to her room.  When I walked into the bathroom, I spotted him.  He was hanging out of his shell.  He had crawled up to the sponge.  It was dryer than the Atacama Desert.  His little claw was perched, open, pointing toward his usual water source.

I haven’t called for an autopsy, but I feel certain the cause of death was dehydration.

I can’t blame DJ.  It wasn’t her crab, and she’s been at camp all summer.  I emailed Stephanie tonight – I called her a crab murderer.  She’s been living upstairs.  I know he belonged to Michelle, but for goodness sake.  If you walked by a starving Hermit crab, wouldn’t you respond?  Wouldn’t you take the time to soak the sponge?

She can’t be blamed.  She got her braces off this week.  He lived in the bathroom, and the times she was in there she was looking in the mirror, enamored with her beautiful new mouth.

And Michelle?  Yes, she should have reminded meto water him in her absence.  But who can think of crabs when there are decisions to make about what to wear to the camp dance?

So, that leaves me.  I am the one.  I killed him.

I feel so guilty.

 

 

Sunday Post 173: Becoming a Real Father

The second week of DJ’s life, I defined my role as a father.

I came home from work at around 6 pm. The house seemed empty but I knew Lisa was home. Her car was there, and she really hadn’t been out much since the birth.

I made my way to the second floor of the house and found my wife vigorously rocking the new kid. DJ was tightly bound in the blanket we’d received from the hospital. She was crying with all of her itty bitty might.

“Why’s she crying?” It was an innocent question.

“I don’t know,” my wife snarled. She’s been like this since you left at 7:30 AM. She stressed the AM.

I thought I knew how to respond, “I’ll take over. I’ll put her to bed.”

That wasn’t what she was looking for.

As both bodies swayed back and forth, a deep voice boomed from my wife’s body, “I am her mother. I will make her sleep.”

Her look frightened me. The thought, she might kill our child tonight, ran through my brain.

Another thought quickly followed, she might also kill me.

Some dads might take charge in a moment like this, demanding that his spouse take a break explaining that perhaps she’d had enough. I, however, slowly backed out of the room, my eyes on her – ready to run if need be.

I went downstairs and put the phone in my hand. I put my thumb on the 9 in the event I needed help.

I then grabbed some peanuts and a beer and turned on the Nightly News.

Sure, I cared. We’d worked too hard over the past ten months not to have the opportunity to try to raise this new addition to our family. Plus, deep down I didn’t really think Lisa would hurt our child.  It was at this point, however, that I decided my wife knew more than I did in the parenting department and that she should be the one to lead in this arena.

I would support as directed, and mow the lawn.

It wasn’t until Lisa died that I found out what I had been missing. Instead of just hanging with my kids, I was thrust into full care provider. And that responsibility changed my life.

No longer is work my number one priority. It’s important to me, very important to me; but my girls come first. Period.  I now know what they’re doing, and I’m driving them all over town. I didn’t know that chauffeuring was the primary key to garnering information. Toss ‘em in the back seat, and they chirp like little birds.

Oh what I was missing. Oh what I have gained. The depth of my connection with my girls is so much more significant than it ever was before. I wonder how many other parents are missing out because they’re consciously choosing to take a back seat.

Take it from me, the front seat is better.

Purchase Danny’s Book Laughter, Tears and Braids: Amazon or Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh

If you have read the book and are willing to write a short review, it would be helpful: Click here. And thanks

What are these things all over my house?

insert

The first two years after Lisa died, I had no idea what these things were. I found them everywhere, especially in the summertime. Different shapes and sizes. Various colors.  In the laundry, on the bedroom floor, occasionally one precariously perched on a basement step.

I pondered their use.

Maybe one of the girls is dating a nice Jewish boy.

insert yamaka

Nah.  They would have told me.  None can hold a secret.

I remembered I once had a scratched retina.  Could it be a white eyepatch.

insert eyepatch

Arrrgh.

Maybe a broken earmuff –

insert earmuff

But why were they more prevalent in the summer?

I got some peanuts and sat down with my iPad to research.

insert peanuts

When DJ entered the house, she looked at me strangely.

“Why are you using a bra pad to store your nuts?”

Ahhh – it was all beginning to make sense.

My next questions were more difficult to answer:  Why aren’t they in the bra or the bathing suit?  Why are they scattered about our home?

What I found is that there are two kinds of chest inserts.  One is trapped – it can’t come out.  The second is gently nestled inside the outer cover but there is an opening on the side, like the fly on a man’s boxers.  But apparently this pad does not enjoy being cooped up.

The problem with both is that the insert is not sewn in.  It is loose.  So, if there isn’t an opening, the dang thing gets waded up and it looks like you’ve got a Beanie Baby shoved in your bosom.  If it does have a hole and it falls out, you can see full, unhampered boobage.

Neither is a good option.

Why don’t they secure this insert?  You wouldn’t toss some elastic around the waistline of your boxers and not sew it in!  No, you stabilize it with needle and thread so that there is no question that your underwear finish the day in the same place they started.

Who invents these things?

It should be me.

Purchase Danny’s Book Laughter, Tears and Braids: Amazon or Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh

If you have read the book and are willing to write a short review, it would be helpful: Click here. And thanks!

 

 

Just Michelle and Me

T.

Since the other two girls have been at camp for what feels like 8 months, Michelle and I have had a great deal of one-on-one time together.  Tonight I said, “Your sisters come home next week.  I can’t wait!”  She responded, “I don’t want them to come home.  Don’t you like just our time together?”

I’ll have to admit that although I can’t wait to see DJ and Stephanie, spending time with Michelle is nothing but fun!

Last weekend we were in the car together for hours.  These were some of the topics we covered:

Clouds:  “Dad, at Science Camp today we learned about clouds.”

“Oh.  What did you learn?”

“Well, water evaporates and goes up into the sky and makes clouds.  They get bigger and bigger and then when they get really, really full, they pee.”

“Excuse me.”

“Yeah.  They pee.”

“Your teacher said they pee?”

“No.  That’s just what I call it.”

“So when I’m outside and it’s raining, I’m really getting peed on?”

“Yea.  By a really full cloud.”

Chic Fil A:  “Dad, if you were gay, would you work at Chic Fil A?”

“Why do you ask?”

“I saw on the news that the owner doesn’t much like gay people.”

“Hmmm.  I guess I wouldn’t.  But I sure like their chicken.”

Jokes:  “Dad, know what rhymes with spoon?”

“Moon?”

“No.  Spoon.”

Music:  We played a little Selena Gomez, we played a little Prince.  We like each other’s music.

When one album cover popped up on the iPhone, I heard, “These guys look sketch.”

“Who is it?” I inquired.

“These Doobie Brothers.”

She was right, they did look sketchy.

Bathroom habits:  “Dad, boys have it easy.”

“Why do you say that?”

“They just have to stand to go to the bathroom.  Did you know that Mae (her grandmother) wraps toilet paper around the seat AND hovers?”

“She hovers?”

“Yea.  All girls hover in a public bathroom, but Mae uses toilet paper too.”

“Why won’t you just put your bottom on the seat?”

“That’s gross!”

“You touch door handles after other people have touched them.  It’s all just skin.”

“It’s your BUTT skin dad.”

Fast Food:  “Dad, if you could pick a fast food Dream Team, what would it be?  And you can only choose one item from each restaurant.”

“Let’s see… I think Wendy’s burgers, McDonald’s fries, and a Chic Fil A milkshake.”

Now that’s a worthy conversation!

Sunday Post 122: Fun-sucking Father

I think part of being a great father is really trying to put yourself in your kids’ shoes, trying to get into their psyches, working hard, hard to understand.  Too often, I miss that mark.

We were at the beach this past week with my extended family.  Each year, mid-week, we head to Calabash for seafood.  There are about six restaurants down there, I think they all serve the same food.  We go to the one my grandfather took us to when we were young.  It didn’t matter which beach we went to in North or South Carolina, he’d toss us all into his Lincoln Continental, which was equivalent in size to a 15 passenger van, and trek us down to Captain Jacks.

“It’s the best seafood on the east coast and cheaper,” he’d point out.

“But it takes three hours and two tanks of gas to get there and back,” we’d complain.

“It’s worth it.”

When Granddaddy Tanner made up his mind to do anything, there was no reasoning.  You just jumped in the back of the car and cracked the window so as not to choke on the smoke from an always lit cigarette.

After our family works ourselves into a gaseous fried food trance, we head to the year-round Christmas shop right up the road.  This year it started before we could get back to the car, Michelle turned on the full, annual, sales pitch.

“Dad, can I get a Hermit crab?”

Anticipating her move, I was ready for battle.  “Absolutely not,” I barked.  “It’s a ridiculous waste of money.  Don’t even start with me.  The answer is no!”

This year I would be firm from the get go.  We had three empty cages in the attic back home from conch pets of years’ past – nameless memories of nothing.  The little boogers don’t do a thing except sit, eat and poop.  You can’t pet them.  You can sleep with them.  You can’t take them for a walk.  We should release them all back into the wild, not paint their shells embarrassing colors with the Christmas shop’s owner’s fingernail polish.

“But daaaad.  I really, really want one.  I’ll take care of it this time.  I’ll feed him.  I’ll play with him.  I promise.”

“NO!” my voice got louder, “YOU CAN’T PLAY WITH A HERMIT CRAB!  Get a pet rock.”

It’s my brother’s fault, I thought.  He let his kids buy these damn varmints every single year.  My kids now think it’s the norm.  He such a pushover!

I looked at DJ hoping for an ally.  “You went through this stage.  What is it that compels every Tanner child to have this insatiable desire to own an oceanic crustacean?”

“Dad.  You won’t let us have any animals.  Maybe if we had a dog or a cat or even a bird, your kids wouldn’t be obsessed with getting a crab.  It’s all we can shoot for!”

“I guess you’re right.  We all need something to take care of.”

“Yeah.  And as a ten-year old, it feels really good to be able to purchase something alive that’s within your price range.  You can buy it, set it’s house up and care for it – all on your own.”

“Hum.”

I thought for a minute and the light bulb went on.

“Michelle, come here.”  She drooped over anticipating my next harsh words.

“Honey, I’m sorry.  I shouldn’t have reacted so negatively to your crab request.  It was wrong of me.  If you want to buy one with your money, I’ll support you.  You have to take care of him, but it’s your decision.”

“You don’t really want me to get one, do you?”

“It’s okay.  It’s your decision.”

You would have thought that I told her she could have a pet giraffe.  She was so excited.

Maybe I was a pushover.  Or maybe, after a ridiculously knee-jerk reaction to a simple request, I got my wits about me.

I do that all too often.  My kids call me the fun-sucker.  That’s not who I want to be.  I want to add fun, not remove it.

How do we, as adults, so often forget what it was like to be a kid?  Our kids just want to be loved and to give love.  They want our time – a dad who hates cold water to be in the pool with them.  Or an animal that they can shower with affection and care for on their own.

And yet, so many times we rob them of the opportunity.  What was I thinking?

My Strategic Savings Plan

The very first blog post I wrote over two years ago was about learning to braid hair.  It took Stephanie and me thirty minutes to pull off one small strand on the side of Michelle’s head.

I was so proud!

But now, now I’ve learned to French braid!  And not only  regular French braid, but reverse French braid.  I call it Hcnerf (Huk – nurf).

Two weeks ago, Stephanie walked in the kitchen with a head of wet hair.  “Dad, can you do the Katniss braid?”

“The cat nip braid?  What are you talking about?”

“No.  Katniss from The Hunger Games.  It’s a reverse French braid.”

“The backward French braid?  Oh, you mean the Hcnerf?”

Blank stare.

“Anyway, no.  I can’t do a forward French braid, much less a reverse French braid.”

“Will you try?  I can tell you how.”

I’ve found that braiding hair is sort of like juggling:  two hands, three clumps of hair.  It’s more difficult than riding a unicycle while tossing bone china in the air.

For those who want to learn, here’s how you do it:

Step 1:  Grab three independent clumps of hair from the front of the head.

Step 2:  Hold two clumps in one hand but keep them separate, they CANNOT intermingle.  Hold the third clump in the other hand.

Step 3:  Take the clump furthest to the left and tuck it under the middle clump.

Step 4:  Look for some random hair on the right side of the head.  Just a little.  Pick it up.  Incorporate it into the original right clump while still independently maintaining full control  of the middle and left clumps.  Then tuck the new right clump (original plus the small random piece) under the new middle piece (which used to be the left piece).

Step 5:  Repeat Step 4 on the left side of the head.

Step 6:  Continue doing Steps 4 and 5, adding little bits of hair each time.

When you get to  the top of the neck, or when two hours have passed, whichever comes first, combine all clumps of hair into one mumbo clump.  Pray to the good lord above that you remembered to grab a rubber band and that it is within arm’s reach.

Now for the hard part.  Hold the clump in one hand while you twist the rubber band around the bottom of the braid.    Do this until your child screams in pain.

Take a quick picture before your kid moves her head, and the entire thing falls out.

Hcnerf on Stephanie, by Danny

Hcnerf on Stephanie, by Danny

My dad used to give my mom a permanent in our kitchen.  He did this because we were poor.  I don’t know why they call it a permanent because it isn’t.  It should be called a temporary.  Right after the procedure, my mom’s hair would be tight as a tick, boofed up like John Travolta’s doo in the movie Hairspray.  Four weeks later she’d look like Squeaky Fromme.

When my dad gave my mom this treatment, our house smelled like a combination of formaldehyde and a nuclear reactor leak.  If I took a deep breath, it would burn the hair out of my nostrils and my lungs would sting deep down inside.  And when it was over, my mom would feed us in the same room.  Meatloaf with a chemical aftertaste, mmmm.

It’s a wonder I don’t have seven toes.

Lisa would not let me do her hair.  “Chris” did it.  I never met him but given the choice of me or him moving from Raleigh, I’m not sure which she would have chosen.  I don’t know how much it cost to dye her hair, but I know it was well over $100, and it seemed like she went once a week.  I tried to convince her that gray hair was sexy.  She disagreed.  If I would have taken over Chris’ responsibilities, like my dad did, we could have purchased a beach house with the savings.

Fortunately, I’m building trust with my daughters.  I have a plan.  It starts with braiding.  Before you know it, I’ll be giving them a wash and set, maybe even highlights right in the kitchen.  With the money I’ll save, I’ll send them to college.  Thank goodness permanents are not in style.

Tampons + Chocolate = ???

tamponhershey

I was recently scolded by my oldest daughter for not having chocolate in the house.

“It’s my period!  You’re supposed to have chocolate!  They go together!”

“I didn’t know.  I didn’t know.  I don’t have that on my Outlook calendar.”

“You should have learned that by now dad!  All women need chocolate at that time of the month!”

“Then why don’t they come in the same box?  You could package it together.  One side 20 tampons, the other 20 Hershey bars.  You could call it Tampocolates.”

DJ paused and thought for a moment, “That’s actually not a bad idea.  You may have something there.”

Three growing girls and me stuck in this house for a decade might solve some of the most pressing issues in the world today.

More Questions for Dad

This Christmas season has brought about more questions than answers.  One would think that with time I’d be more up to speed on girls, teens, and young ladies.  But the longer I live without a woman as my guide, the more I just do not understand.

Help!

*Why do you need regular bras and sports bras?  Is it not like boxers or briefs?  Make up your mind and stick to it girls!  They don’t even play sports –

*And what’s up with the ones that just stick to your bosom?  It’s peel and stick – like a “To/From” tag on your Christmas present.  What good does that do?  How can that help?  Why do we need those?

*Any why do they wear out so quickly?  I was told recently that two bras in this house “died.”  Should we have a service?  Are they just pulling my strings?  I have boxers I’ve worn for twenty years.  They may sag a bit, but who cares?  That just makes them more comfortable.  No one sees them but me.  A nd that’d better be the case for them too!

*When should a girl be allowed to wear mascara?  Stephanie and Michelle put some on when they got dressed in their costumes for the play.  It must have been Maybelline’s “new volume” brand cause they looked like a tarantula had been emblazoned on their eyelids.

*That same night I learned that soap will not remove mascara and that turpentine hurts when it gets in your eyes.  That’s what I use when stuff won’t come off.  Is there a chisel to remove that stuff?

*Why is it that I can’t get the girls to press their clothes and yet they’ll spend hours on end ironing their hair?  Yes!  They iron their hair.  Not with like an ironing board – its with a $100 mechanism that cooks stuff on both sides – sort of like a waffle maker but without the little sqaures.  I’m tempted to use it for grilled cheese sandwiches.

*And the one with the curls desperately wants hers straight.  And the one with the straight hair is looking for curly.  Why didn’t God just give them what they wanted from the get go?  Some cruel joke.

*Someone recently gave me the name of a woman to see if the girls had “skincare” needs.  Their skin looks alright to me, I specifically looked.  I mean, I buy them soap and Target brand lotion – what more is there to the care of their skin?  I guess I could buy cucumbers – I think Mommy Dearest used them on her eyes.  Maybe they need a mud mask.  I have dirt in the storage room…hum.  I fear my inaction is gonna cause wrinkles or those brown spots my grandma had when Mary Kay was washed off.

*They all want their own stuff, why can’t they just share?  Do we really need more than one brush?  I remember Lisa freaked out when I ran out of deodorant and began using hers.  I sort of liked it – thought of her every time I raised my arms.  This must be related.  I think its selfish.

I just don’t want to screw up; I don’t want to do anything wrong.  And sometimes I think they’re just yanking my chain.  There are so many things I just don’t understand.

The Daddy Errand

On my way out the door last night to help a friend clean his father’s house out, I got a call from upstairs, “Dad, I need some femine products.  Can you pick some up at the store on your way home?”

Geeeze.  I hate that.  Why do I have to be the Tampon Taxi?  We were all at Target last weekend, right near that department, and no one mentioned a shortage.  Why weren’t we proactive?  Someone should have mentioned the shortage!

It’s one thing to buy that stuff with a cart full of other items.  But going in just for that?  Man.

That night, I discovered that there are six hundred options on the female aisle.  One of them can even make you fly!  Seriously, it has wings.  I started to buy a pack of those for myself, thought I’d tape them to my back and jump off the porch. I bet that’s what Peter Pan used.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough cash.

There were the “all night longers”, the “breezy while you workers” and I think I saw a “start your day at schooler”.  They came in the shape of a U, an L, a T and a B.  I challenged the woman next to me to a game of Scrabble.  She didn’t take me up on it.  She could probably sense my affinity for words.

There were liners and pads and full on insulation.  I think it’s the same stuff that’s lining the walls of my attic – they call it Tyvek.

A couple had aloe and one had vitamin E.  Who needs a multi-vitamin with those in the house?

I could have started a band:  one clicked, another snapped – there was one with a toot and a pad-da-pat-pat.

Some came in “bold colorful styles” …

Why?

The reason I’m so educated on this subject is because I read each of the names and several of the labels when I phoned home for product clarification. It took three conversations to complete this daddy errand.

At least I’ve passed the point of embarrassment at purchasing these items.  I just tossed them on the counter, asked if they happen to be on sale, and smiled at the lady like all four boxes were for me.

Indeed they were buy one box get the second half price.  Now you’re speaking my language.

(P.S. – I specifically asked my daughters if I could write about this adventure.  The general sentiment seemed to be: We don’t care.  You were the dork walking through the drug store, not us.)

22

This morning when I dropped the kids off at school, we were listening to Taylor Swift’s new album, Red.  The scary thing is that when I picked them up at 3, I was still listening to it.  I realized it when I noticed Stephanie aiming my phone at me as I drove.  At first I thought she was taking a picture – ahh, no.  It was video.

What’s wrong with me?

I used to listen to the Beatles, the Doobie Brothers, Maroon 5, Kiss – a little Earth, Wind and Fire.  Now I not only tolerate Lady Gaga and The Bieber, I’m listening to them when the kids aren’t in the car!  I know the words.  I driver’s seat dance to them.

I like Glee.

I’M BECOMING A TEENAGE GIRL.  Next thing you know I’ll have Tiger Beat posters in my bedroom.

How did this happen???

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