Welcome to another tickling tidbit of Thrilling Tales of Toddlerdom!
The other day I was sitting with our toddler (me on a stool, her on the potty) and waiting for the punctually scheduled morning bowel movement. After one-two-three little grunts and a squinched up face like a dehydrated lemon, I knew we had another successful fiber deposit.
Suddenly, she peeked down into the toilet bowl and exclaimed with astonishment, “Oh! There’s a mommy poop and a daddy poop and a baby poop—the baby poop goes ‘waahhh!’” A terrific example of transfer and application of knowledge. A truly laugh out loud moment.
No convoluted life metaphor this week. I’m not comparing poo portions to some deeper philosophical thought. Just: it’s good to take time to find and enjoy the funny moments in life. At work, over a meal, in bed, or on the potty; allow yourself a chortle or two. Enjoy the odd and comical and absurd, like warm soup for a sick soul.
Yes, listen indeed, my itty bitty children and you shall hear… As legendarily proclaimed by Paul Revere during his renowned midnight ride to warn citizens of the impending harvest hayrides and incessant fall festivals with their outrageous apple bobbings and gluttonous blue ribbon pie contests. At least, I think that’s how it went.
Steady yourselves and hold fast. Local cafés around the country will display exorbitant lines of leggings-wearing, post-yoga, pre-brunch patrons salivating for that sweet, hot-gourd-infused nectar. Yes, give me some of that black, boiling bean juice stirred with a creamy, chemical-enhanced syrup. What does “other natural flavors” on the ingredients list mean anyways?
Be still my beating heart. Or maybe run away. Pumpkin-colored, pumpkin-flavored everything is near and already here.
For some, today’s reflection will be exhilarating and ingratiating. For others, shear anxiety and terror. Is there a National Pumpkin Day? More like Indulgence Day. A time when we can truly celebrate what America’s all about: consuming copious amounts of calories in celebratory cause.
And if you’re wondering whether pumpkins are a fruit or a vegetable—well then, they’re definitely a pie.
You know the rest. In the books you have read…,
A cry of defiance, and not of fear, A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door, And a word that shall echo forevermore!
Once a week, I sit down at my home desk and contemplate the cosmos. I make odd observations about life, our world, and society. Usually, these musings turn into me just complaining about random nonsense as I shout into the empty, dark void of the Internet. Anyone unfortunate enough to be exposed to my various virtual ventilations has unbeknownst to them become a small part of my self-medicated, self-therapy sessions.
Do you remember how shirts used to have these really annoying and itchy tags in the back of the collar until someone realized that they could just print the same information directly into the fabric? Yeah, those were awful. But do you know what’s worse than having a hideous tag scratching the back of your neck all day? Having an infuriating tag cutting into the side of your abdomen all day.
Seriously, who thinks that these terrible torso tags are any better than the collar tags of lore? At least before, the aggravation was symmetrical. Now my burden to bear is isolated to one side. It makes me think of what the Apostle Paul was referring to when he bemoaned his “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Are these thorns in the side some corporate conspiracy to make consumers constantly anxious and agitated so we’ll waste more money on buying their stuff?
Do you have a prickly, tickly life-tag in your side that just won’t go away? Sometimes we can cut them out without doing any harm. Other times, we just have to carry on and let it make us stronger. Either way, my hope is that we can all find contentment in whatever cotton-picking, irritating circumstances we find ourselves in.
But for real, why do we even need the tags sewn into the shirts? Are they really necessary? A shirt tag, regardless of its size, shape, structure, location, affinity, denomination, etc., would still be a horrible shirt tag. Let’s just get rid of those dreadful things.
For the 2020 presidential election, I’ll be running on the sole campaign platform of abolishing shirt tags. Let the people be free. Let the shirts be tagless! See you at the polls: Finanigans 2020.
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. – Viktor E. Frankl
We took the kids to this natural spring swimming area located in a national park. Overall, it was delightful experience. But there’s a couple of things about these parks that aren’t ideal. Specifically, I’m talking the slick algae and moss growing on all the rocks and steps and ladders. I always feel like I’m gonna slip and bust my head open while trying to get in the water.
But the real kicker is this: the park had installed these railings around the entire swimming area. They looked as if they would function both as safety rails (to prevent people from accidently falling in the water) and as hand rails (to help people safely enter and exit the water).
But if you thought that these rails were for helping people to not slide and tumble while getting in and out of the pool, then you would be so very wrong, and the livid lifeguards perched atop their judgment nests would surely let you know of your transgressions with the blowing of trumpets blasting forth from the clouds and with cups of wrath flooded out onto the earth as fire and brimstone from the grave.
One friendlier lifeguard approached us and said, “Hey guys, you can climb and jump off the rocks all you want, but you’ve got to stay off the rails please.”
And I’m thinking… wait, wait, wait a second here… First of all, there are no signs about staying off the rails. Maybe if there were signs, you wouldn’t have to scare people half to death with your four horses of the apocalypse war cries.
Secondly, maybe there were signs, but I don’t know because I wasn’t paying attention. Who has time to read when you’re too busy trying not to die while algae figure-skating?
But thirdly, seriously? We need to stay away from these securely mounted railings, but those super slippery, goo-covered rocks are fine‽ These rocks are by far the most dangerous thing out here! And what’s the point of all these rails in the first place if not to use them?
Sometimes, life doesn’t quite make sense. Like pineapple on pizza or pickles on peanut butter or hot sauce on mango… it can be difficult to rationalize the sanity of the world. But take heart, and do not lose hope! For to hope is to be human. That we can continue to imagine a better world and believe in a better future is a testament to the divine nature in all of us. At times I start to lose faith in humanity like I’ve lost faith in Sony’s ability to produce good a Spider-Man movie. But then I remember: Hey, chicken and waffles are delicious! What an unexpectedly great idea‽ Perhaps, truly, there is hope after all.
(By the way, if you happen to know why these park rail rules exist, then please don’t bother letting me know why; you can feel free to not email me at MySpace… is that still a thing? Don’t let me know. Not really interested.)
You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty. – Mahatma Gandhi
Some pushy, bossy coxswain ordered me to “Row, row, row your boat! Row it now, but gently down this stream!”
And I was like, “I don’t even have a boat… How am I supposed to row gently and joyfully and peacefully, when you’re barking out orders like I’m training for Brown University’s rowing team? And what stream, you bald mongoose posing as a ship captain?”
I was so confused on so many levels.
And then, merrily,-merrily-merrily, I realized it was all just a dream.
If today you feel life is too demanding—like some inescapably irritating middle-schooler taunting and droning like a broken record-player, “I’m not touching you, I’m not touching you. I know you are but what am I?”—then simply say, “Row your own dirty boat!” When life gives you lemons… take those lemons and squirt that acidic juice right into life’s corneas, and say “Get out of here! No one asked for these disgusting, sour citrus balls! What’s with this sassy, lost child?”
Know your limits. Learn to say no. It’s ok, you don’t have to do everything. Not even Superman can prevent tax season. You can’t throw a life preserver out to someone in the ocean if you’re also out in the water drowning. [Insert other pithy axioms here.]
Also, why would someone row anyways? We’ve got speed boats with engines. Better yet, I’ll just drive across the bridge. No need to risk getting wet. I feel much better now. Sometimes you just need to vent a little bit. What a therapeutic exercise this was!
Everything changed the day she figured out there was exactly enough time for the important things in her life. – Brian Andreas
A frenzied reflection on particular English words with absolutely no regard for history, etymology, or context.
Some health-conscious people recommend eating fruit for dessert to satisfy one’s sweet tooth rather than cake or ice cream. Well, I have news for those people. Fruit is not dessert. And it doesn’t satisfy my voracious sweet tooth.
Sure, fruit can be sweet, and it’s certainly more nutritious than that Twinkie or McFlurry, but let’s not kid ourselves here: it’s not dessert. Being good for you almost defeats the purpose of dessert in my opinion. Dessert is meant to help teach us about the brevity of life—I’m just one fried Oreo away from a heart attack, and that’s what makes life worth living. Life, like dessert, is meant to be savored. I’m not discouraging you from eating fruit. You should do it. Because you know we do need fiber to get rid of all the crap in our lives, both literally and figuratively.
But some fruits are just plain weird. And our names for them are weird. Let’s consider a few select examples.
The new kid on the block says, “Hi, I’m Grapefruit.” Confounded, the kid down the street replies, “No, I’m Grape… and I’m a fruit.” Seriously, who is grapefruit trying to fool? You know it’s not a good sign if you have to put the word fruit in your name. It’s like your overcompensating: “No, seriously, I’m a fruit, I promise! I know I taste like a sour wet rag, but I’m actually really healthy for you. I probably cure cancer or something.” And grape? What part of that nuclear-powered, enlarged, abomination of a citrus fruit communicates grape? Again, this was just grapefruit trying to fool and mislead people into accidently eating it.
Does anyone even like Cantaloupe? It’s like the Smarties of fruit. I have no idea how they stay in business. You know how you know that a fruit is pretty much useless? When a restaurant offers you a complimentary side of fruit salad, and it’s basically 90% cantaloupe. Hey, I wanted mixed fruit; not a bowl of this queasy orange-colored packing foam. The actual fruit rind itself looks hideous. Makes me think of some kind of extra-terrestrial spider egg. Just the worst. Don’t even get me started on that name. It’s gibberish. Sounds like I’m getting a can of antelope meat.
But you know what? Who cares what I think? If you like grapefruit and cantaloupe, then good for you. Don’t let me judge your fruity pebble fancies. Some people even eat fruitcake as if that’s supposed to make any sense. Pretty sure there’s no fruit in there, and it just makes the cake less of a cake. It’s that whole trying-to-convince-people-that-fruit-is-a-dessert thing again. Make dessert great again. But you do you. Be the wild, terrifying frugivore you want to be. Life is short. Make the most of it.
Also, apparently strawberries (no straw?) aren’t really berries (at least in the botanical sense). But watermelons are. Also, also bananas and pineapples don’t grow on trees; they’re more of an herb or grass. And there’s definitely no apple to a pineapple. I should know because I once tried to go bobbing for pineapples… and I’ll just let your imagination fill in the rest of what happened.
Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
I hate belts. If you know me, if you really know me, then you know this about me. I only wear belts if it’s absolutely necessary. Why do we do this to ourselves? In the name of fashion? It’s a noose for your hips; a tourniquet on your waist restricting the blood flow to the lower extremities. When I’m forced to wear a belt, I feel like my body has been sentenced to death by prolonged hanging and strangulation.
On that note, I hate buttons and fasteners and zippers too—anything that makes my pants a fixed, stagnant size. I am, after all, still a growing boy. I may be done growing vertically, but I’m certainly still growing horizontally, especially in parenthood, and so, I need some extra growing room. In fact, there are many days when a pair of pants may fit me in the morning but become too small after the spontaneous buffet luncheon. To my wife’s chagrin, I am often secretly not even wearing my trousers buttoned. I just allow the organic tension and traction of my gut to secure the pants to my bum. And when we’re at home… forget about it, all bets are off—belts are off.
This is why I was so excited when elastic waistbands came back into fashion. Elastic hasn’t been in style since I was about five-years-old. But they’re so much better, literally. The only thing that could be better than elastic waistbands is no waistbands. Bring back long tunics and casual cassocks for the common people. Way more practical and efficient.
Seriously, it doesn’t make any sense. The force of gravity is constantly trying to pull your pants down, and what do we do? We try to unnaturally fabricate a futile denim infrastructure to rebel against the laws of physics. Let’s just design better clothes. If it were socially acceptable, I would simply cut out a head hole in the middle of my bedsheet and wear that as a kind of minimalist poncho. It’s super economical. Plus, I’d be ready to take a nap anywhere. It’s like a Snuggie, but better.
So, I say, if life’s got you in a stranglehold, if you feel like the breath is being choked out of you by seemingly random and arbitrary circumstances and social norms, then I say, release those bonds! Let every chain be broken. Cast off all that hinders, entangles, and ensnares. Like a Greek athlete of antiquity who competed completely butt-naked, lay aside every weight and encumbrance, and run with endurance the race set before you (Hebrew 12:1)!
Well… Maybe keep some clothes on. I’m not a nudist, just prejudice against the pant patriarchy.
No man is an island, Entire of itself. Each is a piece of the continent, A part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less. As well as if a promontory were. As well as if a manor of thine own Or of thine friends’ were. Each man’s death diminishes me, For I am involved in mankind. Therefore, send not to know For whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee.