I Want Full Custody!

Family Circle 052614 0462

Sometimes my little angels, well, aren’t.  The problem is, I seldom know when these sweet little people I am raising are going to turn on me.

Yesterday when I asked, “How was your day?,” I was taken down an elaborate journey through the halls of St. Timothy’s School.  It was beautiful.  I learned about friendships, the lunch menu, assignments and teacher personalities.

Today I asked the same question.  I was cut off at the pass in a very terse tone, “I don’t want to talk about it!”

“Is everything OK?”


What happened?  I thought we were friends.  I thought you were daddy’s girl!

Last week I was asked to help with homework.  We laughed while we worked on the memorization for the history quiz, making up nutty phrases to cue her mind:  “Bangladesh” – “I can’t remember Bangladesh.”  We ran to the kitchen and pull out a plastic plate, slamming it on the counter, “Bang The Dish!  Bangladesh!”

Tonight I walk in, the computer is open, the tears are flowing.

“What’s wrong?  I thought you didn’t have much homework.”


“Your teacher said as long as you attempted to do the math homework you’d get credit.  Just try.”


Go away?  I’m just trying to be helpful!

What makes these beautiful little beings, often dressed in pink, transform from Snow White to Jafar?  How is it that the same simple question on Monday can elicit such a polar opposite answer on Tuesday?

Sometimes I feel like I have three sets of twins.  There’s a good one and a ornery one.  They look identical, and yet they pop in and out of my house interchangeably without me knowing.

Is there another family with three girls that might be keeping my children’s twins?  Are you in on this?  Are you gas lighting me?  Stop it!  I want the good twins back – and not just 75% of the time.  I want full custody!


End of Year Assembly


Last year at the school’s end of year Award’s Ceremony, I sat in the balcony.  I got there late, and the chapel at the kids’ school is small.  There are about 20 chairs upstairs by the organ.  The thing I like about not being in the main sanctuary is I can day-dream, check my phone or doze off when things get slow, and no one up there notices cause they’re all asleep too.  It’s reserved for the working parents who were on a conference call and had to act like thier cell phone was losing reception when they pulled in to the school parking lot.  Incedentally, there were no spots left so we all had to park a two mile walk from the school.

This year was better than last.  The former Spanish teacher gave awards to every 3rd, 4th or 5th grader who could say “uno.”  It took foooorever.

I like it when the person up front calls the kids’ names quickly and in alphabetical order.  Some say the child’s name and then wait for them to shimmy out of their pew, walk down the long aisle, get their hand securely on their certificate and go stand on one of the long risers to pose for their mug shot.  Once they are fully in place, they call the next child’s name.  The process then begins again.  It also takes foooorever.

Nah, I want them to call them out rapid fire.  Perhaps have another adult poised to pass out the white pieces of paper with the school emblem emblazoned on the top for a quick smile and handshake.

Even better, yell out the name and toss the certificate on the floor in front of the altar.  The kids could dive for them which might make the assembly a little more interesting.

I absolutely hate it when they have a long list of kids to recognize and they don’t call them out in alphabetical order.  Then you have no idea how many more are left before you can escape.

For example, I know that 6th, 7th and 8th grades each will have a list for A/B Honor Role and for A Honor Role.  That’s 26 letters of the alphabet times six lists for a total of 156 potential first letters of last names to be called before I can scoot down the steps, congratulate my kid and head to the nearby Starbucks for the coffee I missed cause I had to be at school so early.

“Jane Abernathy…Jerry Adams…Bonnie Blalock…”

Only 155 more letters possible.

At the end of the sixth grade A/B recognition, I only have to sit through 130 more letters.  And boy, when they skip from Harris to Smith with no other kids in between, I’ve knocked out ten letters within less than a second.  I feel so much progress!

At one of these annual ceremonies, the Daughter’s of the American Revolution give out an award for the best essay.  Shouldn’t they now be called the great-great-great-granddaughters of the Revolution?  Who is still in this group?  What do you write an essay on, the corset?

I was surprised to Google and find out that there are 170,000 DsAR in our country.  That is many more than I originally estimated – which was 3.

I don’t think middle school kids in the band should receive an award.  I think it should go to their parents.

Oh, and don’t believe all the hype about overweight, out of shape kids.  Virtually every child at our school passed the Presidential Physical Fitness test, including Michelle.  Come to think of it, maybe the standards have waned a bit.  When I was a kid, you had to bench press your mother, run in to double dutch and high jump across the jungle gym to pass.  I don’t know what the criteria is now, but if my kids got it, I’m guessing it’s not the same.

When we got home and told DJ of Michelle’s award, she said, “That’s unusual.  A Tanner has never been recognized in P.E.  Neeever.”

I am proud to announce that Stephanie was one of only 5 kids in the 7th grade to get straight As!  Seeing her up there was worth weeding through the other 123 letters of the alphabet that preceded her announcement.

Actually Michelle had them too, but they don’t call them out in assembly until middle school.  Oh well, maybe next year.



Dong Dong Dong (to the tune of NBC’s Peacock chimes)

So on Wednesday, you might see the Tanner Family on the Today Show!  Pretty big deal huh?

About two months ago, the doctor who put together my men’s grief group called me.

“Danny, you know we’ve been working to help more men who are in your situation.”


“Well, I think the Today Show has decided to do a segment on our program, and they’d like for the Tanners to be the featured family.”

I thought maybe we’d get an all expense paid trip to New York – maybe tickets to Letterman, The Book of Morman.  No luck.  Instead, a really cool producer, Stacey, and her camera and sound guy came to town.  They interviewed the doctor and took some footage of the group’s February meeting and the next day, they spent with us.

At 7 AM I opened the front door.  They were already here taping footage of the house and the partially melted snowman we’d built the previous day.  Their goal was to follow us from 7 AM to 7 PM to get a real taste of life with a half witted dude raising three kids on his own.

Sounds riveting, huh?  They taped me cooking ground beef and tying my bow tie.  I bet their ratings spike this week.

I was told a lot of people watch the show and that if women saw me tie the bow, I might get a few marriage proposals.  Apparently a lot of women in prison watch Today, and they like sharp dressed men.  Might have a conjugal visit in my future.  Never done that before.

It was pretty uncomfortable having a camera follow your every move.  At one point, I had the mic attached to my shirt and headed to tinkle.  As I was peeing, it dawned on me that the sound guy could probably hear exactly what was going on.  It didn’t bother me that much that he heard me, but I wanted to make sure he knew that I knew that he might be listening.

“Yea – I’m peeing.  I know you can hear me.  I’m older, it takes a while.”

DJ drove to school with the camera guy in the back seat.  I tried to sing and dance like most days, but felt a little self conscientious when Taylor Swift came on.  Usually I’d be cranking out some “22”, a little front seat dancing, moving my bootie to the beat.

“Dad, look at my phone.  Text Kimmy and tell her we’re five minutes away.”


“My friends are meeting me at the car.  They want to be on TV.”

“Oh.  That’s normal.  All four of your best friends always happen to get to school at the same exact time and wait on the sidewalk for your arrival.”

I asked the cameraman to at least pretend like he was taping them.  He did and threw in, “This looks so natural ladies, just act like I’m not here.”

Yea right.

My friends at work had given me hell about their visit.  Our office manager insisted she would run right in my office with my morning cup of coffee.

I told her to have a cigarette ready and to spin around when I nodded my  head – sort of like Mad Men.

That afternoon they interviewed me and then taped me folding clothes.  Now that’s good TV.  Thank goodness it wasn’t fitted sheet day.

I actually pulled out the dark clothes and found one of Michelle’s white shirts in the mix.  It is now pink.  How embarrassing.

It was sort of like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo – without the forklift toe and marannaise (maybe they’ll want to start a Tanner Family reality TV show – I bet Jesse would move back for that.)

We loved the three Today peeps who hung with us, but by the end of the day, I just couldn’t think of anything else interesting to do.  They really wanted to tape me putting Michelle to bed, so when we finished dinner I sent her up to put on her PJs.

“But dad, it’s 6:45,” she protested.

“It’s your bedtime Michelle!  Tonight is a special night.  Etgay ouryay uttbay otay edbay!”

“Can I get up after they leave?”

“It depends on how well you ‘fall’ asleep.  Now go!”

Although they took a days worth of footage, you never know how the story might pan out.  There could be several minutes with the Tanners or you might get a glimpse of the back of our heads for two, three seconds.

It’s tentatively scheduled to air on Wednesday, March 27, perhaps the 8 – 9 AM hour.  But if a cruise ship gets stuck in the Gulf, we could very well get bumped.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Oh, and by the way, if you know of any widowed dads out there, ship them our way:  Single Fathers Due to Cancer

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.


*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.

Tree Traditions

For the past decade, our family has gone to the mountains Thanksgiving weekend to cut down our Christmas tree.  It’s a pretty big deal.

We get two, and I’m sort of picky.  Most years Lisa and the girls would end up in the car as I meticulously combed through each tree on the lot.  I mean seriously, how can you choose one until you’ve reviewed them all?  You gotta browse, test drive, measure, envision – it’s a very important decision.

I’ve been known to lay on the ground in front of the tree to ensure that it is wide enough for the space in our den – six feet works well.  We have A LOT of ornaments, plus I like big stuff.  I  don’t want a petite tree.  I want a hunkin’ manly one – I want to yell TTTTiiiiimmmber as it falls to the ground.  You don’t get to say that often.

One year I overshot the height, and we had to cut off about a third of the tree.  It looked odd.  But it was big.

Since Lisa died, I sort of count the day at the tree farm as a passage – I ‘m a little bit further down the road.

The first year after she died, Uncle Jesse went with us to cut down the tree.  It was really nice to have him there although the two country men running the farm determined that we were a gay couple.  They were snickering behind the barn as we coerced another hand to take our family Christmas card photo.  It sort of ticked me off – I thought maybe we were beyond giggling about that.  Plus, if I was gay, I wouldn’t pick him!  He’s just not that good-looking, and he really isn’t very good around the house.

Before we left, I introduced them to my brother-in-law and let them know my wife had recently died of colon cancer – the giggles dissipated.

Last year we stayed in a sort of seedy motel.  The kids thought the television was a microwave –

“Where’s the door dad?”

“The door to what?”

“The door to the microwave.”

“That’s not a microwave, it’s a TV!”

“But it has brown paneling.”

My kids are so dang privileged.

We went to a nearly empty restaurant with a one man band.  The girls and I danced under the mirror ball.

I thought this year was going to go off like a charm.  I was quicker than usual and actually managed to choose two trees from the $5 off lot.  Both were small enough to load onto the top of Uncle Matt’s car.  But after I’d made my choices and gotten the kids’ approval, they disappeared.  When I finally found them, they had planted themselves around a tiny tree that had been lost among the tall ones.

“Dad, we want this tree.”

“Look Charlie Brown, we have two, don’t need another, let’s go.”

And clearly in a rehearsed voice, all three said, “We’re not leaving without him!”

Yes, much like the Hostess employees, they had a minivan walkout.  The union had spoken, and there was no room for negotiation.

When I discovered it too was on the $5 off lot and would cost me a mere Lincoln, I was swayed.  Some things just aren’t worth the trouble.

When Lisa died one of her “House Rules” was:  Gang up on dad when he won’t do something that you know I’d approve of.

These chickens are taking her at her word.  It’s a hard argument for a tired old man.


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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