Archive for July, 2011

It’s probably not news to Wife, but when I bought a new car about a year and a half ago, sure, gas prices were high and a big reason I chose a small car was great mileage. But another reason was — and here’s the part that wouldn’t surprise Wife — I LIKE having my own ride with my own junk in it.
After years of driving VWs (’68 bug, ’81 Rabbit Diesel, ’89 Jetta, ’98 Jetta), I was tired of having to reassemble them after various parts flew off, so I focused on Hondas. It was either a Civic or an Accord. Aside from the fact that the Accord would get way worse gas mileage, I picked the Civic because it seemed to have a small enough backseat to be uncomfortable enough so that it would never get repurposed for the family car.
I failed to factor in this: Sometimes, only one or two kids need to go somewhere, and when that is the case, the Civic backseat is just fine.
Which brings us to the exploded cache of kid junk that I had to clean out of my car on Friday before going out of town. For any Mom who has to drive the family car, it is not an impressive amount of junk. The impressive thing is that it accumulated during only two round trips.
A cardboard car giveaway from a restaurant, two purple ballet slippers, two sparkly pencils, two drawings created in transit. And my favorite: a four-inch plastic shark.
Sure, it doesn’t compare to the milk container we once found in the SUV after it had turned into cottage cheese. It doesn’t hold a candle to the piece of fruit, probably an orange shriveled to the size of a grape, that we once found under the passenger seat. It does not hold up to finding sticks brought on board as part of Fontaine’s on-going, three-year Smithsonian Anthropological Stick Collection.
But still, a pretty craptastic collection considering the short turnaround time.
Anyone know if those Mercedes/Swatch Smart cars have a back seat?

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When I was a kid, my brother and I loved watching the movie “Tora, Tora, Tora,” but of course, at the time, I never thought I would use a lesson from a movie about the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor as a guidepost for raising children.
But so it is: So many daughters; so many war metaphors.
When Fontaine was little — by which I mean, from Day 1 until Year Eight — she awoke hellish early. No matter what time she went to bed, up at 6 a.m. Or earlier. When it was time to turn back the clock, 6 a.m. became 5 a.m. When it was time to turn forward the clocks, 6 a.m. remained 6 a.m.
One time, we were out front with the neighbors, and I was telling the other dad about this early wake-up call, and he asked her why she got up so early.
“I’m afraid I’ll miss out on something fun,” she said.
I swore then that no matter what happened, once she started sleeping in, even if it was when she was a teenager, I was going to get up at 6 a.m. and run the leaf blower outside of her window.
Yeah, I am one of those “revenge is a dish best served cold,” and I don’t mind waiting five, 10, 20 years to serve it up.
Now, something miraculous has happened. Fontaine recently turned nine, and she’s started to sleep in (by which I mean, 8:30). She comes downstairs some mornings grumbling about having been awakened too early by her sisters.
Oh, yeah, it’s time. Anyone got a Diesel-powered 300 horsepower leaf blower with a hole in the muffler?
But, so far, I have chickened out. That child is grumpier than I am without a full night’s sleep, and for some reason, I have held off.
I think it is the lesson “Tora, Tora, Tora.”
Pearl Harbor was in flames, ships sunk, people killed. I don’t have to lay it out for you. You remember the 2001 movie by the same name, the one in which they ripped off “Tora, Tora, Tora” and made a love story out of it.
Anyway, at very end of “Tora, Tora, Tora,” the Japanese Admiral assesses the situation with regret, and a powerful quote lingers on the screen:
“I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”
And that’s why I haven’t yet fired up the leaf blower outside of my nine-year-old’s bedroom window.

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