Posts Tagged Children

In His Defense, the Success Rate is Still 100%

Arnold set his hat by the door and nearly tripped over a pair of black leather size 10s.  “Why are there–Whose shoes are these?

“They ain’t mine,” Cannibal Sherman said, his voice resounding from the kitchen.  “Ask Brett.”  Brett Krinkins had been the one to send out the invitations–it was his house, but he was nowhere to be found.

Arnold untied his laces.  Judging by the state of the shoes in front of him, he imagined he was the only one around who still did so.  The backs were broken down and the only set whose knotted bows weren’t still intact was the glossy black pair by his foot.

“Sorry, hon, nobody’s really that helpful around here.  Let me grab your jacket.”  Britt was the older sibling of the Krinkins pair.  “You might as well be talking to the walls.

Whose shoes are these!” she bellowed from the well-lit foyer.  She wasn’t asking a question anymore; she had turned it into a demand for an answer.

Arnold stepped back slightly.

“Quit yelling,” Brett called down the hallway.  “If we don’t know whose they are, we can just cut them both in half.”

Britt’s face wrinkled in a mixture of confusion and exasperation as her brother clomped down the wooden corridor.  “You do know that’s not how that works, right?  It only works if people are fighting over the item.  You don’t just hack stuff in half and expect to solve the problem.”

“I do,” Brett said, stepping into the entryway, his arms full of cheese wedges and a colorful mix of soda cans.  “And it does.”  He handed the cans to his sister.  “It got people to stop leaving their crap at my house.  Take these into the kitchen please,” he said to her, picking up the shoes.

She took the soda reluctantly, somehow managing to hang onto all of the cans and Arnold’s coat.  “Why on earth do we let you host?  You can’t just misapply one solution to everything you see and expect it to fix the issue!”

“I haven’t been finding tacky bakeware in my kitchen anymore,” Brett said.  “As far as I’m concerned, the problem was solved.”

“That’s the problem with you; you get one tool and you use it on the world!  When all you have is Solomon’s logic, suddenly everything looks like a baby.”

“The better to avoid kid-sitting duties, my dear.”  As he turned the shoes over in his hands, he felt a palm on his shoulder; he spun around to see Abrams’ somewhat irate visage inches from his face.

“They’re mine, thanks.”

Britt shook her head and strode off toward the kitchen.

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An Entirely Factual Recounting

Over the past few years I’ve been asked to house and animal-sit for a few families from church.  After one of them left me a note properly explaining the extent of my duties, I took it upon myself to properly explain what happened for the duration of my stay.

This is the result.  Names (both real and made-up) of actual people have been changed to “Doug Jefferson” and “Steve” to protect privacy or something.  I guess if your name is Doug Jefferson this change is probably messing with your privacy.  I’m sorry.

————

Howdy, hope the trip went well; everything important should be on the countertop next to the large and entirely factual documentation of the events of the last week.

Important notes:

On Wednesday I was arrested at a county fair, but because of my dedication I was able to post bail and successfully made it out here to feed all six horses. (Two have since flown off and one took to calling me ‘That dirty criminal’ whilst I fed him, so I sold him to a Canadian zebra farm under the pretense that he had been reupholstered.)

I still insist the arrest was illegitimate. For the last five years I’ve been bringing my own strawberry-vanilla pie with blueberry-cream topping and a homemade graham-cracker crust to the County Winter Fair bake-off. Because my pie is that good, I’ve won every year, and because of that, last year I was told to either submit a new pie or to not bother showing up. Being the excellent listener that I am, I made two pies for this year’s contest. Sure enough, when I arrived at the table to submit my pies, I was placed in handcuffs and taken down to the station, where they charged me with two counts of baking and entering. I made the mistake of trying to contest the charges just after midnight and saw the addition of one count of resisting a rest.

On Thursday there was a small incident with the cats that was quickly sorted out, though it required turning every computer within a four mile radius off and then on again. At some point at least one of them may have violated Tunisian airspace, but the details are as fuzzy as the cats themselves and I can neither confirm nor deny the culpability of anyone, really. Certainly not myself. Both cats have seemingly adjusted to the change in time zones, though neither will ever regain the ability to swim properly.

Friday also went well. After playing a few uncharacteristically sedate games of extreme checkers with myself (best two out of three) I was visited by two people who have not once been convicted of treason or deliberate arson. One goes by an alias–Joug Defferson, and the other holds the title of High Commander of International and Domestic Capitalist Operations but in the interest of protecting the innocent possibly guilty we’ll give him one of those goofy protective names and just call him “Steve.”

Anyway, █ ██████ █████ ██ roughly .28 █ ████ ██████ ████ ███ █████████ ██████ ███ ███ ██ █ ████ fifteen minutes or so, but ████ ███ █████ ███ ████ █████ ███ █ █████. ████ ███ could work, ████ █████ ███ █ █████ ██ █ ████ █████ ████ ██ ███ ██ ███ █████probably best left to Ms. Frizzle and the rest of the cast of the Magic School ██.

After we put out the fire we realized the situation was probably not quite as bad as it could have been; most of the walls were still in place and the basement had been left largely untouched thanks to the six-inch layer of soot. During the time spent removing the more concentrated radioactive masses, I was also able to interview a passing motorist who had witnessed the entire incident. He said: “But don’t quote me on that.” Fortunately he did allow me to quote him on his decision to not allow me to quote his earlier statement, so all was not lost. As an aside, it’s unlikely (continued on next page) you’ll ever have to worry about insects again, at least not anything that looks like the ones you’re used to seeing around here.

Being well-versed in the art of making the most out of the probably awful, we set to work repairing the damage (after contacting the Canadian embassy). Since the horses out back hadn’t really made any sort of effort to stop the situation from developing in the first place, they were enlisted to help fix it, and were assigned the titles of Task Horse Alpha, Task Horse Bartholomew (I have completely forgotten the phonetic code for the letter Bravo) and Task Horse Three. Task Horses Alpha and Bartholomew performed acceptably, but Three proved to be completely unhelpful, and was relegated to Standing Around Looking Completely Unhelpful Patrol.

Using Steve “Steve’s” engineering ability, Joug’s gator-wrestling-augmented strength, and my powers of seduction sedition standing around looking busy, we were able to repair the house. Joug and “Steve” did most of the repairs; I took the heavy responsibility of giving mildly threatening glares to passing truckers in order to procure lumber and other construction-type goods. This approach failed, but fortunately we were able to raise money through the sale of homemade pies. (Life Tip: Threatening glares are best used sparingly, away from vehicles traveling at interstate speeds.) The house has been restored to Nearly Mint condition; a careful inspection may uncover some flaws, such as heavy water in the plumbing (we were forced to use deuterium instead of hydrogen–you never know when you might need it), the aforementioned changes to insects and arachnids (Don’t talk to the spiders, even if they sound friendly or offer you competitive interest rates), and an intermittent magnetic anomaly in the basement that causes compasses to point left.

I had intended to recount Saturday’s highlights in poetic form (Iambic Pentameter), but I am forbidden from doing so for the next twenty years or until the dissolution of the British Parliament, whichever comes first. I do have the period from 17:15-18:27 in limerick form, however.

Three men on a cruise sang a song,
With a chorus fifteen minutes long.
To the passengers’ glee,
They were thrown in the sea;
Now they sing with the fish near Hong ███.

I explained the risks to the three of them when they told me of their intent to use tubas, a washboard, and a jug band on a cruise ship, but they would hear none of it.

If anyone superficially resembling one or more of your children visits your house during the next three weeks, it is completely possible said being is actually one of your offspring. It is also possible that the batteries on the impostors have not yet worn down completely. If you are uncertain, test said visitor using either a series of relevant questions (In what state were you programmed? How many feelings have you registered today?) If these questions prove insufficient, applying a spray of water to the ear canal will cause the bionic charlatans to enter circuit protection mode.

Sunday was warm, with a high approaching 275°K. Most of the parasitic gopher horde had moved on, following the bears west after I chased them off. If you do happen to see any gopher stragglers, the most helpful tips I can think of are –

#1: Never let them see you panic, and
#2: It is not possible to fire too many shots.

Also, any bags you find in the garage marked “coffee” or “non-reactive materials” should probably be burned away from animals and people, if possible.

I do not want to talk about Monday.

Tuesday can only be described as a “Hearty mixture of each of the preceding days.” If either NASA or the Latvian government shows up outside your house, deny my existence and under no circumstances permit them to go near the barn.
DO NOT burn the bags marked “non-reactive materials.” Also:

#3: Wear heavy boots, and don’t be afraid to use them.

Task Horse Three was able to make up for earlier shortcomings at this point, and any indentations (excluding the craters) in your lawn can be attributed to Three’s outstanding performance against the gopher scourge.

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If It Makes You Feel Any Better, You’re My Favorite Child.

Telling them that only works until the second one rolls around.  At that point you develop problems.
(No, I don’t have kids.  Or kid.)

I’ve been fortunate enough to land a few Lego sets over the last couple years, having received them from a friend, my brother, and my sister-in-law.  Each one has been unwrapped with the mental equivalent of “Legos?  I love Legos!  I used to have so many of…” as the realization sets in.

And then I understand why I am never allowing a 14-year-old to make major decisions for me again.
I’m sure there are lots of reasonable 14-year-olds out there.  I was not one of them.  (14 year-old me sold them all.)

So a couple of months ago I house/horse sat for a family from church, one whose house just happened to have a whole pile of fresh plastic pieces ripe for construction.  “Have at them!” she (the mom of the household) said.  “The grandkids will love it if you put the sets together!” she said.  It’s possible.

So out of the goodness of our hearts, a very good friend (who was over to help) and I threw together a collection of starships, bases, armored vehicles and a strange assortment of boats.  Naturally we both instantly bonded to our creations.  Sadly, unlike 14-year-old me, the people I was sitting for are not the type to do such irrational things as sell their Legos.  Curses, foiled again.  Such are life’s torments.  Oh well.

Anyway, all of this started the gears whirring in my head again.  What will happen if I have children and inevitably buy them the same items I was stupid enough to sell?

If these kids are anything like me, they’ll build a lot.  And they’ll want to use the cool-looking pieces to make their creations the best they can possibly be.  Colorful lasery bits, maybe some missiles, sleek black angular wings.  Sure, you can build a spaceship using random handfuls of yellow and black and white and red and grey and blue and the like, but color soup is hardly aesthetically pleasing.  And you certainly won’t win space battles without weapons.
So if they’re anything like me, the good pieces will disappear.  And if these kids are anything like your average four-year-old, the results of their efforts will be less than spectacular.

And there we find the problem.  What kind of fiend would cannibalize the pieces off of his kids’ stuff?

Answer: Probably not me.  But I would have a very hard time not muttering out “not really” when they jump onto the chair in front of me and say “Daddy, wookat the ship I made!  Isn’t it pretty!” because I have lost my ability to lie convincingly.   Moreso when I wanted those missiles.

“Whatever that is looks like a walrus with landing struts.”  “If you tried to fly it, the crew would die a quick death because you haven’t given it walls,” are things that I most likely would not say.  “I still love you, but you should probably stick to terrorizing  your mother and I with inane children’s songs.”

I don’t understand how parents can keep a straight face while commending their kids for a drawing of a sausage with lazy eye.  That right there is the definition of grading on a curve.  (The others being graded on said curve are too young to understand anyway)  It’s relativism at its most insidious, folks.

But at the same time, if I were to follow my less-than-socially-acceptable instincts, and inform the little people that ugly blob ships and sausages with ocular defects are not in high demand, the kids would go through life (wrongly) convinced that they have no skill.  (Unless they started out as some kind of toy or art savants.  That would be cool, and I would shower them with compliments.)

My stock answer will always be: “Keep at it, one day you’ll be really good.”

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