Posts tagged ‘number one son’

The Perils of Panopticonalism, and Why I Don’t Have It

11 June, 2016 | | 1 Comment

They all start like simple, innocent days, uncomplicated, routine.   And then BAM – your 13-yr-old is discussing her sexuality in the kitchen while you’re cooking, and you have to use your brain.  Parenting:  The most interesting roller coaster you’ll never get off of.  It’s not just the unexpected plunges, drops, and loops that really get you, either – it’s the sarcasm.

As evidence of this point, I present a conversation that took place the other day among The Reigning Queen of Pink, Number One Son, and myself.  It should be noted that at 13 years old, the RQOP does not so much question her sexuality as interrogate it.  I wouldn’t put her past waterboarding.  (It should also be noted that the below is transcribed with her express permission.)

RQOP:  “In gym today I was talking to my friend E_, who really goes by L_ but I already know someone called L_ so I call her E_, and we were all talking about our sexuality and I mentioned that I was probably bisexual but hadn’t really decided yet and E_ is bisexual and she told me that she wished that someone had told her this when she was thinking about her own sexuality and so she would tell me that if I ever wanted someone to talk to about it, I could talk to her, and I thought that was very nice of her so I gave her a hug.”

(Note:  E_ is *also* 13 years old.)

BUMD:  “That’s very nice of her, and it’s great that you can talk about these things with your friends.  While I think you know that you can also always talk about anything like that to me and Mom….”

RQOP, interrupting:  “Oh yes of course, that’s the best thing about you guys is that you don’t care about anything!”

(Note:  It’s possible that this side effect of our admittedly liberal and somewhat laissez faire parenting style was not exactly the impression we were aiming for.)

BUMD:  “Well, it’s not so much that we don’t care, as that however you grow up won’t affect how we love you or treat you or anything like that.”

RQOP:  “Yes, I know that’s what I meant – you don’t care about THAT.”

BUMD:  “Right.  OK, but what I wanted to say is that it while you can always talk to me about that kind of thing, it’s possible that I might lack the some of the perspective your friend might have.  I know it’s hard to believe, but I actually haven’t ever been a Bisexual Teen-aged Woman.  So it’s nice that you might have someone like E_ with whom you can talk things out, or … ”

RQOP, to Number One Son who was standing near:  “HOLY SHIT!  Did you hear that?  Dad just admitted he’s not omniscient!”

NOS:  “Holy shit.  Need to write this down.”

Now as every parent knows, The Assumption of Parental Omniscience (TAPO)™  is as important to successfully parenting kids over the course of 20 or 30 or 80 years as The Assumption of Papal Infallibility is to successfully managing a church for 2000ish years.  I certainly wasn’t going to let go of my TAPO™ without a fight.  The church didn’t forgive Galileo Galilei for thinking outside the box for close to 400 years; I figured there was historical precedent.  Besides, it’s an election year.

BUMD, in my best Richard Nixon voice:  “I said no such thing, I made no such admission!  My omniscience is not to be questioned.  What I lack is a certain perspective.  Being omniscient, I know everything, but I may not always perceive every point of view.  I lack onmi-perspective-ed-ness-ish.  I lack omniperispactity.  I lack…  I lack a word for what I’m saying.  What the hell word means that?”

NOS:  “Omniperspectieieieie….   Yeah.”

RQOP:  “Omperspec…  Yeah.”

We eventually settled on Panopticonalism, which is certainly close enough even if it doesn’t have that omniwonderful prefix that 266 popes and I have found so useful.  Having distracted the children down my lexicographical rabbit hole, I was able to exit the conversation with my TAPO™ intact.  Dinner was served, and my roller coaster flattened back out onto one of the smoother sides of the track for a while.

Perspective, perschmective.  At least I still have my TAPO!™





A Definition of Friendship

19 July, 2014 | | 3 Comments

It took 14 years.  We really didn’t think it would happen.

Number One Son is downstairs, playing video games with his friend, who slept over last night.

When was the first time you had a friend come over and play?  Just swing by, hang out for a few hours?  You were, what?  Five years old?  Maybe you were all of 8 or 9.  I think I was 8, honestly, but I could be off by a bit – I don’t remember the 70’s well, for obvious reasons.  But Number One Son has never had a friend come over to play with him – ever.  Not one.  This past Wednesday, he mentioned to SOBUMD that he was going to step outside for a few minutes.  “OK,” said she, “just come in before it rains.”

This was unusual in and of itself – he doesn’t going outside much, willingly at least.  “Dad, I went outside *last* week – sure, the graphics are amazing, but the gameplay sucks.”  So SOBUMD wasn’t surprised when he came back in 3 minutes later.  She *was* surprised, though, when she heard more voices.  She went to check.

“Hi, I’m Owen,” said the boy we’ll call Owen.  “Number One Son has stayed in touch with me over the summer.”

“Nice to meet you!”  We’d heard about Owen from school; they were friends.  This is the first time Number One Son has ever stayed in touch with anyone.  We just didn’t know he lived in our neighborhood.  “Do your parents know you’re here, or are they out frantically looking for you?”

“Oh, no, they know exactly where I am – after all, Dad dropped me off.”

Whoa.  It turns out, Number One Son had organized this whole thing – he just left out the bit where he told us about it.  The boys communicate for hours, it turns out, over their headsets on the servers that they’re logging into for gaming.  So, fast forward 2 days, and suddenly we’re hosting a sleepover.

Number One Son and I just drove Owen home, pizza, Coke, and a good time having been had by all.  On the way home, I got this question:  “So Dad, is this what friendship is like?  A loss of interest and enjoyment in the things that you used to enjoy, unless your friend is with you?”

I said yes.  The more I thought about it, I told him that that might be one of the best definitions of friendship I’d ever heard.  It took him 14 years, but I’m very glad he’s finally found friends who really get him.  There’s hope for us all!

Take Me Where?

8 July, 2014 | | 2 Comments

Hey, yes, I know, it’s been forever.  Or at least, far too long.  As always, time gets away from me, and things get complicated.  In any event, this was worth sharing.

You might not be surprised to hear this, but I’m the kind of guy who walks around singing a lot.  This is somewhat unfortunate, considering my singing voice, but still.  Considering my advanced age, it probably won’t surprise you that many of the songs that I walk around singing are, shall we say, less than current.   Yesterday, while getting out the door to go shopping for cat food, Coke, and a 16-foot long 2×12 (you should see our dinners), I found myself singing Eddie Money’s “Take Me Home Tonight,” which I must have heard on the radio recently, since I seem to remember some of the words.

“I can feel your heart beat faster / Take me home tonight / I don’t want to let you go ’til we see the light / Take me home tonight…”

Whereupon Number One Son, in all his 14-yr-old glory, looks at me and interjects, “Well, OK, but you could at least buy me dinner first.”

 Fourteen years old and he’s still making me say, “Huh?”

I leave you with Eddie, Ronnie, and the ’80s. But please, buy her dinner first.




I’m not out of touch…

19 April, 2014 | | 3 Comments

I’m just 30 years out of sync.

Number One Son has been asking me to walk to the local park with him for a few days, and this morning seemed like a good time.  I brought my coffee, he brought an apple, and we got there in record time.  This works well for a morning activity, since he gets to swing as long and as high as he likes, and I get to sit quietly and watch him and the birds while I have my coffee – it’s almost like having a deck, except 3 blocks away.

Anyway, after building up a good head of steam swinging, he decided he was done with that, and came over to my bench with his phone.  “Here, you have to listen to this.  Do you know Radioactive?”

“Yes,” said I, “I know the song Radioactive.”

“Cool.”  And he played a parody of the song, set in the Portal videogame world, something about being a non-defective turret.  Or being a defective turret.  Or something.  He kept watching my face for a reaction.

“Sound familiar?”


“Getting anything?”

“Really, no.  I’m not familiar with this.”

Big sigh.  “Daaaaad, that’s why I *asked* you if you knew the song Radioactive!”

“Son, I do know the song Radioactive.  It’s just a different song.”  Since we’re both walking around with phones, I whipped out mine to play it for him – and realized as soon as I searched for it that he’s thinking about a band called Imagine Dragons, while Dinosaur Dad is stuck in 1985 looking for The Firm.  If you’re a little more recently plugged in than I am, you probably already know it’s not a remake.

I played him mine:  “Got to concentrate / Don’t be distractive / Turn me loose tonight / ‘Cause I’m radioactive.”

He played me his:  “I’m waking up, I feel it in my bones / Enough to make my systems blow / Welcome to the new age, to the new age / Welcome to the new age, to the new age / Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I’m radioactive, radioactive.”

Welcome to the new age, indeed.  Not my thing, maybe, but not bad.  Number One Son conceded that 1985 might have rocked as well.  We leave the final analysis to you!

The Old…


And the New!

I am not Lev Levit

22 January, 2013 | | 6 Comments

I do not, as a rule, make flutes.  No one has ever introduced me at a dinner party as, “I’d like you to meet the Big Ugly Man Doll – he makes flutes.”  Doesn’t happen.  I can’t even whistle in key.  This is in stark contrast to my friend Lev, who does, in fact, make flutes.  Damn good ones. 

One of the most distinguishing of the differences between us, which are many, starting with his flutemaking company, is this:  deliberation.  Lev sits down to make a flute in a very deliberate and careful fashion.  He’s not an impulsive or “spur of the moment” or “well, that should fit” kind of guy when he’s making a flute.  Honestly, I expect he’s probably the same way when he’s doing something else, such as, oh, I don’t know, hanging a cabinet. 

Speaking of hanging cabinets, though, while it is also true that no one has ever introduced me at a dinner party as, “I’d like you to meet the Big Ugly Man Doll – he hangs cabinets,” I am more likely to find myself performing that activity than many others, such as, picking two at random, deep-frying whelks or making flutes.  In particular, I found myself just yesterday standing on a step stool, drill in one hand and cabinet in the other, exhorting and extolling Number One Son to continue holding said cabinet up while I screwed it to the wall.  Needless to say, there had been very deliberate and careful preparation beforehand; I do not hang cabinets in an impulsive or “spur of the moment” way.  You know, mostly. 

Having done this before, I knew to mark off the bottom of the cabinets and screw in a “set” bar, on which I could rest the cabinets while screwing them to the wall.  This is important when hanging reasonably heavy cabinets, and even more so when your primary assistant is a highly ADHD 12-year-old who can’t bench press anything heavier than a Nintento.   I also knew to mark – below where the set bar was, so you can see it – a notation about where the studs are.  To do this, I used a studfinder.  If you’re not familiar with this tool, it’s a small device that you hold up to your wall and drag slowly across until it screeches at you that there’s something interesting behind it.  Since safety is our middle name, it will also screech at you if that something interesting happens to be a live electrical current. 

So there I was, set bar in place, studs marked, with two cabinets hung on the wall and screwed to one another, when I realized four things in rapid succession: 

  1. The cabinet door was scraping the ceiling a little.
  2. The action of knocking said door down a little had just pulled both cabinets out of the wall.
  3. They were about to fall on my head.
  4. My highly ADHD assistant was nowhere to be found.

Thinking quickly, I held them up with one hand while groping for more screws with the other, and screwed one of the cabinets more fully into the wall.  I then unscrewed the other and took it down, for further work on the doors.  That’s when I really stepped in it.

Well, that’s not true.  That’s when I stepped in the puddle of water on the floor.  We had had some slight leakage the day before from the washing machine, and I panicked for a moment thinking it was still leaking – very much a problem, since it wasn’t running.  I took a paper towel and puddled up the water, and realized it was continuing to puddle out from the wall – the very wall to which I had just attached the first cabinet.  The very wall with the valve to the outside water supply on it. 

It was at this point that I was graced with the presence of more help, in the royal person of the Reigning Queen of Pink.  I showed her the water, and mentioned that I really hoped I hadn’t just put a screw through a water pipe behind the wall. 

“I really hope you have, Daddy!” says she.
“Why’s that?” I asked.
“Because if you didn’t, then what the hell’s leaking?” says she.

You know, that’s a smart kid.  Without further ado, I removed the first cabinet from the wall and took the keyhole saw to the wall, around the general location of the screw-holes I’d left.  Pulling away the drywall – dry no longer! – we saw the nice little hole I’d put right through the center of the pipe, and the nice little quiet stream of water as it made its wet little way to the floor.   So, when I’d really stepped in it was when I decided that my first screw (which had merely grazed the pipe) didn’t feel like it had sunk into the stud properly, and I’d placed a new screw just a little higher and to the right.  That one felt like it really grabbed something.  Oh, yes it had.

Definition:  Studfinder (noun), little beeping piece of shit very useful for finding water pipes behind drywall.  

My Flutes Are Not Pretty Things

My Flutes Are Not Pretty Things

I do not, as a rule, make flutes.  This is why.  It was exactly as I was taking some plumbers tape to wrap around the hole, just to make it stop flowing water to the ground, that the phone rang. 

The RQoP picked it up, on seeing that it was her mother SOBUMD, and by way of hello shouted, “Guess what?  Daddy really screwed up!”  Then, to me, “Can I tell her?” 

Thanks, kid.  I think you just have. 

SOBUMD had the presence of mind to get me to call neighbor Mike, instead of a plumber, since neighbor Mike can fix anything and usually accepts beer and thanks as currency.  Sure enough, Mike walked over with a sawzall, a blowtorch, and some plumbing stuff, and in a few moments we had a new pipe in the wall – and a new flute in the making.   

Close Up of Entrance and Exit Wounds

Close Up of Entrance and Exit Wounds

Here’s a close up of the through-and-through of my perfidious hole.  I’d grazed the pipe with the two screws in my set bar, and again with the first cabinet screw that I didn’t think had really hit the stud well enough.  For the sake of contrast, here’s what my friend Lev Levit’s flutes look like. 

What a Flute Should Look Like

What a Flute Should Look Like

So, lessons to be learned from this tale:  First, you can’t trust your studfinder.  Just cut a hole in the wall and look.  Second, a good flute will be made deliberately, not by accident.  If you’re in the market for a flute, ask the flutemaker if what they intended to make was, in fact, a flute.  If you find that you’re buying a flute from a guy who was trying to build a violin, or hang a cabinet, or install Windows 8 Pro, and he just happened to end up making a flute, you should probably call my friend Lev. 

He makes flutes on purpose.