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Jul 27 2012

Killing One Surfboard With Two Stones

Summary: Sometimes Redirection Makes a Bad Situation Worse.

Relay race at Capitola Beach. My daughter's in the blue shirt with the red rash guard and the boys red swim trunks of course..

So I’m at Capitola Beach picking up my daughter after Junior Guards because it’s Wednesday, which is laundry day. This means I take over daughter scheduling duties because, as the name implies, my partner is doing laundry instead. Because it’s Wednesday. Which is laundry day.

But it’s such a beautiful day that me and a couple of others dads I know decide to hang out afterwards and let the kinds play some more.

And as is typical of Capitola in the summertime, and especial after Junior Guards lets out, the beach is packed.

I’m heading to the water on the left side of the jetty when I spot a little girl, perhaps two years old at best, and she’s grinding a rock into the bottom of a surfboard that’s attached to a bike.

I watch for about thirty seconds and don’t see any parents around. So I walk over.

“Excuse me. You shouldn’t hit a surfboard with a rock. It hurts it. Here’s another rock, bang these two together.”

She takes the rock in her free hand, looks at me for a few seconds, and then starts clacking the two together. There, mission accomplished! What a smart, proactive, and responsible parent I am!

I tell my buddies the story and when I look back to point out the girl, she’s now grinding both rocks into the bottom of the surfboard. Oops.

I watch for a while and still no parent. However, another good Samaritan tries to run interference. She likewise has no success in stopping her.

Poor surfboard.

 File Under: Unintentionally Making a Bad Situation Worse.

Jul 25 2011

Dojo With Mojo – The Day Our Pet Dojo Took A Walk On The Wild Side

Summary: No matter how bizarre and unlikely, you should take your child seriously when they insist the “impossible” is possible.

dojo aquarium fish weather loach

Dojos are very friendly but have very poor eye sight so they use their whiskers to find food.

This story happens during our very recent and very long wet spring.

In you live in the bay area our spring was unusually wet. It seemed to rain at least once per week. Besides annoying it also destroyed about six weeks’ worth of strawberries at my favorite pick your self farm.

One weekend my buddy and his daughter we joining us for a trip over the hill. It was the usual “do something fun for the kids, get something to eat, then run errands at Fry’s and 99 Ranch Market” Saturday routine.

As usual, it was raining hard and my dojos were especially active. What’s a dojo? A dojo, also known as a weather loach, is a very cool eel like fish. They are exceptionally good natured and friendly. They’ll readily eat right out your hand. They also have the unusual ability to breathe air like a land animal. They don’t actually inhale and exhale. They take in breaths and then hold it in their intestines and slowly dissolve the oxygen. They get the name, weather loach, because of their erratic behavior with approaching storms.  It seems they are especially sensitive to barometric pressure. In their native Asia they are used to dealing with their homes drying out and then becoming flooded again. I suspect they evolved this weather sensitivity as biological marker to induce them to get ready for rain and possibly look for a new home.

dojo aquarium fish weather loach

For a supposed bottom feeder, dojos are very active and use the entire tank.

They are always active, and for a supposed bottom feeder, they spend more time at the top than any other fish I’ve owned. They are also expert jumpers. If there is an inch of open space at the top of the aquarium they will find it and eventually get out. Every dojo I’ve owned, since I was twelve years old, has escaped. Most of the time you find them on the floor hours later, dried up and covered in lint. However, just pick them up and throw them back in. They almost always recover and live long healthy lives.

So back to the beginning.

My buddy shows up and of course his daughter runs into our house and the two start playing. Even though we’ve told them we are leaving in two minutes, they still will squeeze in as much play time as possible.

After a few minutes, we break it up and pile into the car. We’re gone for five hours and it rains the whole time.

This where my daughter found our dojo.

We arrive back at our house and the girls jump out and start playing in the water puddles. They’re having a blast when suddenly my buddy’s daughter yells out.

“Look, it’s a salamander!”

She’s points at a puddle right in front of our house. My daughter leans in close.

“That’s not a salamander, that’s a dojo!’

“No it’s salamander!”

“No, it’s a dojo, see the whiskers?”

“That can’t be a dojo.” I say.

“Yes it is. It’s a dojo!”

“That’s impossible.”

“No, I’m telling you it’s a dojo! Come look.”

So I go over to the puddle expecting to see a salamander.

“What the hell is that? Holy shit, that’s a dojo!”

It’s just swimming in the puddle with half its back sticking out. I scoop him up and go up the stairs, into the house an throw him back in the aquarium.

“That is unbelievable. Did you leave the house today?” I ask my partner.

“Nope. Been cleaning the house.”

“That means that this dojo had escaped in the morning, flip flopped through the house to the front door, and in the few minute while we were loading the car, managed to get outside, across the welcome mat, down the stairs and into the street where it found a puddle and decided to stay . Unfucking believable!”

I told you it was a dojo! But you wouldn’t believe me!”

“I’m sorry about that. Next time you insist that something is true, I’ll take you seriously even if it what you’re saying seems impossible.”


dojo aquarium fish weather loach

Still happy and healthy. Dojos are very social and should kept in groups.

File Under: Trusting Your Child When They Insist Something is True Even if it Seems Impossible

Jul 23 2011

These Boots Were Made For Walking – A Child’s First 97 Steps

Summary: A Toddlers Transcendent Stair Climbing Experience leads to Bedtime Nirvana

My daughter’s always been a powerhouse of gross motor skills. The very first time she picked up a spoon she held it like an adult. Same with a pencil. No gorilla grips for her. So when she started walking I was not that surprised that she did stairs foot over foot – going both up and down. This was unusual as most first walkers do one step up, then they bring the other foot up, then they go to the next step. On the way down most first walkers shuffle on their butt until they get confident they won’t fall to their death. However, my daughter would just blast down foot over foot. Sensing she needed some extended walking time, I took her to Blue Ball park. She’s probably one years old.

childs first 97 steps

Connecting the lower park to the upper part is a set of stairs. After some playtime by the slides we end up at the base. She sees the stair case and just charges them like it’s a carnival ride. I’m serious, she was on a mission.

Foot over foot she goes. The distance is so wide she can barely reach the next step – so I give her my hand for balance. She’s not having it and shakes it off. She insists on using the top railing, which is quite a stretch for her, but she’s made her intentions clear – no assistance,  I’m going solo daddy.

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven,…she starts knocking them out.

Twenty-eight, twenty-nine, thirty…still going strong.

Fifty, fifty-one, fifty-two, fifty-three…impressive!

Seventy-four, seventy-five…seventy-six….seventy-seven……a bit slower now.

As she gets into the nineties she’s seriously dragging but still determined.

She get’s to step ninety-seven and just stops. She has a glazed look in her eyes and she’s looking a bit wobbly.

“So this is what a toddler looks like when they hit the wall?” I think to myself. It’s something you rarely see.

“More?” I ask.

She shakes her head.

Curious, I count the remaining steps. One hundred and twelve total. Just fifteen steps short.

What a puss.

Just kidding.

I chickened out there. I should had just left it as “what a puss”. Much funnier.

But I suspect if she had any concept of numbers and one-to-one correspondence, she would have knocked out those last three and made it an even hundred.

Anyway, we get home and I tell my partner about our daughter’s amazing feat (feet).

That night she fell asleep early, slept in late, and didn’t get up once. She slept like the proverbial baby even though I’ve never seen anyone’s baby actually sleep like one.

The next morning she hobbles into the kitchen.

“Fuck my legs hurt. That was way to many steps to do for a first try. Next time I better ease into a new training routine that intense.”

Not really, she couldn’t speak yet. But the look in her eyes told me everything.

That’s it for now.

File Under: Baby’s First Steps – Toddlers Gross Motor Skills Development – A Toddler Pushes Her Physical Limits and Goes for the Burn

Jan 6 2011

The Little Arcade Game That Could, and Did, But Shouldn’t Have

Summary. The sociopolitical implications of miniature golf and a broken arcade game redistributes the wealth.

neptunes kindom miniature golf santa cruz beach boardwalk

Neptune's Kingdom miniature golf at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is off the hook. Two levels, a cave course with black lights and full size cannons that shoot off continuously above your head and fill the room with smoke. Oh yeah!

It’s two weeks before the new year and we’re burning through our coupon book for the Santa Cruz beach boardwalk. You see, every year we get a year pass, and with that pass comes a coupon book.  Unfortunately most of the book is 2 for 1 offers for hot dogs, soda, and various forms of deep-fried death on a stick, but mixed in the bunch are gems like 2 for 1 miniature golf and laser tag. My daughter doesn’t like to play laser tag but she’s into miniature golf. And, lucky us, December is also 2 for 1 tokens. For every $20.00 in tokens you buy, they give you $20 more for free. So I buy sixty bucks in tokens. She needed to break open a money bag with a security lock on it to fulfill such a large request. They hand me twelve ten-dollar rolls. Four hundred and eighty tokens in total.

“Uh, do you have a bag for these?”

“No. We don’t have anything. Sorry.”

I can’t hold them all, so split them up with my daughter and we take them to the car. I throw an old shirt on top and scatter some trash around to make it as uninviting as possible.

“OK, let’s go play some miniature golf.”


My buddy is also joining us with his six-year-old daughter.

I pay for our golf first. I use my coupon.

“You should use a coupon too. They expire at the end of the month.”

“Shoot, I don’t have my coupon book. Wait let me check the car.”

He comes back two minutes later and hands a coupon to the girl at the counter.

“I’m sorry sir, but this is from 2008? Do you have this years?”

“Shoot, it must be at home. Can you just go with it?”

“No I can’t, sorry.”

“He has the same booklet as me, we buy our passes every year. He just doesn’t have it with him. It’s almost to the end of the year.”

“Sorry, I can’t.”

My buddy takes the coupon and rips the date off the corner and hands it back to her.

“Oh no, what date it is? Ah heck ,who knows?  Might as well just accept it, I’m sure it’s good.”

She chuckles.

“I’m sorry, all the text and colors are different too. We change the look every year. If I accept this I’ll get in trouble. See, here’s the stack of coupons I turn in. Tell you what, I’ll give you both a dollar off.”

“Ok, that’s better than nothing. Thanks.”

There’s something I’ve noticed with miniature gold and that it’s the world’s great equalizer. If you wanted to see a socialist paradise in action, miniature golf would be it.

I’m older than my daughter by thirty-seven years, and a much better player. I plan my shots, have good form, and take my time.

My daughter, with a whole life experience of seven and half years, hardly aims, switches from left to right handed stance at random, has a grip that can best be described as “creative”, and more or less just whacks it.

Still, she makes par from time to time and even occasionally beats me on a hole. No matter how hard I try I can’t shoot under par and most people don’t shoot much over.

The brilliance of the game is that it makes bad players good and good players bad. Since everyone meets in the middle it’s nearly impossible to feel inadequate. So children can play adults and the adults don’t have to hold back because the geometry of the course preordains a roughly equal outcome regardless of skill.

For Ayn Rand and the Republican party, miniature golf is truly a sign of the apocalypse.

We knock out a game of miniature golf and then head over to the arcades.

My daughter goes over to her favorite game and puts in a token.

“Hold on now, we are not going to spend a lot of money on this game. We’re not here to win prizes today. I want to focus on entertainment games like skee ball and air hockey, ok?


The game in question  is mostly a game of chance. There’s a little bit of skill involved in deciding when to drop the ball, but after it drops physics takes over. What hole it ultimately goes in is anybody’s guess.

“It’s not doing anything! I pushed the button and nothing happened!”

“Did you put in a token?”


“Hmmm, it says zero credits. Put in another one.”

“It says one credit now!”

“Great now…huh, that’s weird,  it went back to zero. This game is obviously broken. Stay here while I go get someone to fix it.”

So I walk up to one of the staff people – a wonderfully geeky guy around eighteen years old.

“We have a broken game over here, can you come fix it?”

He comes over and pulls a huge ring of keys out of his pocket. He fiddles with several of them, but none of them fit.

“I’m sorry I don’t have the proper master-key to reset this machine. I’ll have to go get my supervisor.”

I wait for a long time, almost enough time to think we’ve been forgotten, but then a few minutes later the supervisor comes over.

“The machine is frozen. I put in a token but it won’t  give me a credit.”

He puts in a token and it immediately shows one credit. He gives me a quick glance and flashes a subtle but unmistakable  “thanks or wasting my time” look and then beats a hasty retreat and disappears into the darkness.

We start to hit the red button and the credit disappears again so I flag down the original guy.

“Sorry, but it’s still not working.”

He leaves to go get the supervisor once again.

Then all by itself the machine starts running. The conveyor belt starts bringing balls up to the top and dropping them down onto the rotating platform. One drops down, bounces around, and falls into the number eight hole.  Then another one drops, and then another.

The conveyor belt is not running completely smooth and kind of jams and backs up to correct itself over and over again.

“Awesome, the machine’s playing itself. Don’t touch anything.”

Just then the supervisor comes over with a clear “not you two again” look.

“Uh…thanks but it’s all working fine now” I say is I pretend to operate the buttons. Relieved, he quickly leaves to go attend to more pressing matters.

“OK so here’s the deal. Let’s keep some money on top of the machine and you just keep your hand near the red button so it looks like you’re playing. But don’t actually touch the red button because I’m afraid it might stop the machine”

The machine just keeps spitting out tickets. We get a lot of eights, threes, ones and a few twenty fives. We are probably around 150 tickets when the conveyor belt stops. Figuring it just needs a little help, I reach over to the side and give it a few love taps. Sure enough to conveyor belt starts working again.

It isn’t long before we hit the jackpot which is good for an easy 100 tickets.

A few people walk by here and there and notice the huge pile tickets that’s building on the floor. I reach over and act like I’m hitting the button and putting tokens in the machine. Seeing we’re not done yet, they leave.

arcade redemption game winnings santa cruz beach boardwalk

By now our pile’s well over 500 tickets and a young girl and her mom walk over. I been noticing them cruising our isle, and they’ve clearly taken an interest in this game that seems to pay out so much.  I suspect have realized that something is not quite right. Since we’ve won so many tickets, and it’s clear they’re waiting their turn to play, I tell my daughter it’s time to wrap it up and turn the machine over somebody else.

I lean over to the mom.

“So here’s the deal. This machine is playing itself. If it jams up just give it a little tap on the left side to get it moving again. Stay close and pretend like you’re playing. We’ve gotten more than our fair share so enjoy.”

The mother and daughter take over and we leave to go find my buddy and his daughter. He’s just a few games over

See that machine over there? It’s broken and just keeps spitting out balls all by itself. I didn’t know where you were so I turned it over to this other woman and her daughter. After they’ve had it for a while, you should go get it.”

So after about 10 minutes are so my buddy and our kids walk over to the machine. The girl has a huge fistful of tickets and has clearly landed in the big-ticket holes many times.

“Looks like you scored. When you’re done my buddy wants to give it a go with his daughter.”

watching the arcade game play itself

They play for another minute and then turn the machine over. My buddy racks up a good 1000 tickets over the next 15 minutes or so. Then I give it a go again and get another 150.

“So, I think we’re done now” I say to my buddy.

“Yeah, let’s turn these in and get some prizes and then jam. We still got some errands to do.”

By this time on another parent has noticed the game and his little boy is eager to play. The boy’s been watching for a while and I can tell by the puzzled a look on his face that he knows something’s up, but doesn’t know exactly what it is.

I lean over to the dad.

“OK, here’s the deal. The machine is playing itself. When it jams up give it a little tap on the left by the conveyor belt to get working again. Have fun.”

They take over and we head to ticket counting machines.

redemption game ticket machine receipt

"You're Always a Winner When You Play at the Boardwalk" Wow, how prophetic!

We feed our tickets into the counter. I start with my “earned” winnings and it comes to about 310 points. Then we feed the massive pile of “found” tickets and it rings up an impressive 737 for a total of 1047 points.

My buddy spent a lot more playing the other games plus he racked up a huge amount on the broken machine. His total is just shy of 2000. Yippee!

I look over and the dad is still playing the broken machine but his kid is doing something else. I walk over.

“So how’s it going?”

“Good. My kid got bored, but I’m still working it.”

Which I think makes total sense. To a kid, a self playing machine is booooring! To an adult it means less money they have to spend to get some junk for their kid. It’s also a bit like stealing, which is bad, but feels good. Not stealing per say, but getting away with something you shouldn’t. And for an adult with a mortgage, kids, a job and a mountain of other responsibilities that must be tended to, that’s a welcome relief. We’re stickin’ it to the man at the arcade!

prize wall santa cruz boardwalk arcade

I walk over to the counter and start the long and painful process of trying to pick out prizes with a child that can’t compute three figure totals in their head.

“Can I have that blue monkey?”

“Yes. That will leave about 300 points.”

“How much is that bear?”

“That one’s 750.”

“Can I get that one too.”

“No, you only have 300 after the blue monkey.”

“Awww. How about the horse?”

“No, that’s 1500 which is more than we have to spend.”

“What if we put the monkey back?”

“No, we only have 1047, that is less than 1500, which is how much the horse costs.”

” Ummm…then I want the bear.”

“Look, you can have the bear or the monkey. They are both 750 points. You can’t have both of them.”

“Ok, I’ll have the blue monkey.”

“Ok. What else?”

“Can I get the bear too?”

Shoot me now, please. After about ten more minutes of negotiations we get the blue monkey and this crazy bird stuffed animal thing. They both have this angora type looping “fur” and its starts shedding right away.

“Oh boy, mom’s going to love this. She just cleaned the house too.”

We have fifty points left and I don’t want to bring anymore junk home. I see a dad with his little boy who’s maybe three and the boy’s figuring out what he’s going to get with his 12 tickets.

“Want to donate the rest of these?’

“Yeah, let’s give them away.”

I tell the girl behind the counter to roll our remaining points over to the dad.

“I’ve donated my last 50 points to your total. Enjoy.”

“Thanks. Look, they gave us 50 more tickets. Isn’t that great?”

It’s become a tradition. Give way the remaining tickets. We do these redemption games so often that we don’t need any more little trinkets around the house, so after we get a one or two big-ticket items we donate the rest to whomever needs it the most.

One time there were three girls, around nine years old, all trying to figure out what they could get with 150 tickets total. The conclusion was “not much” so we donated our last 250 tickets to them which put them in a bracket where they could a each get something half way decent rather than share one bracelet and a plastic frog between them.

It’s also a good exercise for my daughter. I want to condition her early to view excess as something to share rather than horde. After the point of saturation, having more of the same thing doesn’t do you any good. But to someone who has little, access to your surplus makes a huge difference.

As we’re walking away with our prizes I notice the original mother and daughter team that got a shot at the broken machine after us. The girl has two big stuffed animals.

“Wow, you must be really good at playing these games too.”

They acknowledge our secret with a knowing smile and walk out the door.

Just as predicted, the blue monkey starts dropping fur all the way to the car and the entire next week around the house. I think it’s done finally, but next time we’re only getting the short-haired animals.

File Under: The Politics of Miniature Golf and The Ethics of Accepting Tickets from a Broken Arcade Game That Plays Itself

Dec 22 2010

Boys Gone Wild – It Takes a Village at the Family Fun Center

Summary – Not all boys are destructive, but nearly every destructive person is a boy. That’s not a value judgment it’s just a reality.

sky high sports foam pit

If you want to see why the world is the way it is just go hang out a family entertainment center and watch the action.

In San Jose there’s a killer place called Sky High Sports. It’s a huge industrial space with 30 foot ceilings that’s been converted into a trampoline facility. The main room is the size of a basketball court. The entire floor is made up of a interlocked grid of trampolines. The walls are at 30 degree angles and they too are made of trampolines. So basically you can run, bounce, jump, flip and ricochet to your heart’s content.

There’s another smaller trampoline room with the same configuration that is set up for dodgeball games that they run every ten minutes.

Next to that is the seven and under trampoline room and next to that is the foam pit. And the foam pit is where this story begins and ends.

The foam pit has three lanes. Each lane is clearly marked with a colorful mat  – lane 1, lane 2, and lane 3. Each lane has two trampoline sections. So basically you make two or more big bounces and then launch yourself into the pit. You climb out the same way so everyone must wait for the previous person to get out before they can do their run.

The kids are all lined up, perhaps four or five at each lane. Mostly girls in the four to nine age range.

Suddenly a boy comes running across. He bounces and leaps across all three lanes and then back again and then launches himself in the middle of the pit. His friend soon follows. They’re perhaps nine years old. They climb out of the pit, bounce around again and then launch themselves into the pit a second time.

The girls, who have been patiently waiting their turn, just stand there in silence. However I’m pissed.

“Hey, you two! There is a line here. Everyone takes their turn. Go to the end if you want to jump.”

They seem genuinely surprised. However, I can’t tell if they are surprised to learn that there are three lines of people waiting their turn, or that someone actually held them accountable for their behavior. It’s a tough call.

sky high sports foam pit

Now I’ve been here at least five times and this is one of the most predictable occurrences. Without fail a boy or two, usually age five to nine, will just blast through and jump into the pit – sometimes three times before someone forces them to stop. Now, not every boy does this, this is a small minority – perhaps five or ten percent at most – but it is ALWAYS a boy and NEVER ever a girl.

The girls always take their turn, are in tune with their environment, and generally just “get it’. However a small minority of the boys treat the world as theirs and are completely oblivious to anyone else’s needs.

Compounding the problem is the absence of their parents. Without exception, the boys who just run over the other kids have no adult supervision. I have no idea if these two situations are related, could be complete coincidence as my sample of subjects is so small, but I do know it shifts the parenting responsibilities to others if they aren’t around. That’s assuming they would even notice or say anything if they were present.

Now being the parent of a shy girl I’m especially sensitive to this. If another kid is taking advantage of my daughter she just let’s it happen. She’ll rarely speak up and defend her interests or territory. Someday she will, but at seven years old she’s no match for a rambunctious nine-year old boy who just takes whatever he wants.

Unfortunately, this is the norm for girls. They just suffer in silence. So I say what they don’t have the courage or confidence to say which is “knock it off and get in line”.

So what does this have to do with the state of the world? Everything. Pretty much every problem in the world can be directly linked to an errant boys behavior. If someone’s being shot, stabbed, beaten or raped, good money says it’s a boy (man) doing it. If someone ruining fortunes and swindling investors it’s probably a man who thinks only of themselves. If someone dumping waste in the river or polluting the skies without restraint, it’s probably a man who treats the word as his personal trashcan.

Now granted, men hold the vast majority of positions of authority and power in the world so they have far more opportunities than women to fuck things up, and there are plenty of powerful women who behave like sociopaths, but this dynamic is played out all over the word though every culture and ever ethnic and socioeconomic group. Rich or poor, black or white, it’s the dudes who are messing things up.

If someone shoots their own children and then turns the gun on themselves, it’s a guy doing it. Rampage at the office leaving a dozen coworkers dead or injured, yep it’s a guy. If you’re getting cold cocked, having your leg peed on at a concert, or having your car window smashed with a bat, there’s guy’s appendage attached to the other end.

So what about these rambunctious boys at the trampoline place that just cut in front and pay no attention to social etiquette? Are they tomorrow headlines? Probably not. They’ll most likely get a clue eventually and turn out fine. But behind every male criminal is a boy who at one point was mostly indistinguishable from his peers. He was just a kid. His parents never thought their son would grow up to rob a bank, stab a stranger or deal meth. No one does.

Now male energy is a wonderful thing. It’s what got us out of the caves and across the oceans. It’s what drove most of our modern inventions. It’s a restlessness and confidence that enables men to take great chances, to disregard convention and to be willing to destroy what they have in the attempt to make something new from the pieces. I’m a guy and I get it. It does feel good to shake things up.

Yet, if you line up all the first grade boys at any school in any city in America, it’s absolutely certain than some will end up in prison because they never learned to control their male energy.

This is why I think it’s important for adults to level the playing field, not only with their own children’s abilities, but throughout society as well.

I know my daughter is shy and has trouble asserting herself, so we give that area a little extra attention. Same with her teacher. She’s doesn’t need any help in being shy. She’s got that one down quite well.

Other parents have the opposite dynamic with a bold and fearless child who will take whatever they want. So they’ll need to focus on giving them attention is the areas they are lacking such as empathy, sharing, and observing social cues.

But parents can’t accomplish this on their own. This is where the painfully cheesy, yet accurate “it takes a village” concept comes in. I shouldn’t have to school these kids on etiquette but I will if I have to. We all should. Every parent should be looking out for all the children in their immediate area, not just their own. If a kid’s bullying it’s your job to step in whether it involves your child or not. If a child is putting themselves in harm’s way or acting rude, foolish, or destructive it’s your job to say something.

It’s also a two-way street as I also expect other parents to treat my daughter the same way. If she’s out of line, and I’m not there, then yes, as an adult, it’s your responsibility to say something. Don’t just let her play with broken glass, go into a dangerous crawl space, or tease another child. She’s only seven. Her ability to assess risk and to fully comprehend and predict consequences doesn’t mature until age twenty-five. That’s a long, long, ways away.

So that’s my wish. Let’s all step up a bit and not be afraid to get involved. There are things that all parents agree upon that involve safety, kindness, and fairness. There is nothing wrong with drawing the line on those issues.

And if you don’t like us interfering with your “parenting”, then get your act together and pay attention to what your kid is doing. We all see the consequences when parents shift their responsibilities on to society. It’s not pretty and often ends with the proper authorities.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

File Under: Teaching Young Boys to Control Their Inconsiderate Behavior – It Takes a Village to Raise a Child, Especially When Their Real Parent is Slacking Off

Dec 19 2010

Help, Is There a Smart Ass In the House?

Summary: Everyone needs a smart ass friend who will just tell it like it is.

This story takes place two years ago at Blue Ball Park. Yes, that’s a funny name, and no it isn’t the real name. The real name is Anna Jean Cummings. I know, not much better.

The common name is a slang term for vasocongestion of the testicles due to prolonged and unsatisfied sexual excitement, and the official name sounds like a James Bond girl or perhaps a humorous name to use for a crank call.

Either way, the county was doomed to have a name charged with sexual innuendo.

Blue Ball Park gets its name from the giant eight foot diameter blue concrete balls they installed all over the park. The park has some majestic hills and they scattered them around to make it look like they are moving downward. It’s a cool effect and it’s a signature feature of the park. Hence the name Blue Ball.

Anyway, back to the story.

My daughter loves dogs, but only the concept of dogs. She has a large selection of stuffed dogs and lots of extras including a dog dish, a couple of leashes, some chew toys and a dog bed. She frequently sets up elaborate pet shop scenarios and will dress up like a dog from time to time herself.

When she’s in dog character she’ll walk around on all fours, bark, eat from her bowl, play fetch, and will nuzzle up to you to have her head scratched.

However, she’s afraid of real dogs. Well, not so much afraid as uncomfortable around them. Anxious, you could say.

Now Blue ball park has a lot of dogs – some on leashes, some running free.

One day one comes up to my daughter pretty quickly the way dogs tend to do. She naturally freezes up and I step in to help her relax.

“Oh you don’t have to worry about my dog, she’s very friendly”

“I’m sure she is but my daughter’s nervous around dogs”

“Oh, but my dog is great around children. She would never hurt anyone.”

“That’s probably true, but my daughter doesn’t like dogs coming up to her.”

“It’s ok, you can pet her. She’s very friendly.”

As expected my daughter is still stiff and uncomfortable and in no hurry to pet her dog. I’m also losing my patience with this woman.

“Look, I know your dog is probably great, but my daughter is not comfortable around dogs and every child who’s had their face ripped off by a neighborhood dog has the same story. The dog is always friendly, has never hurt anyone in the past, but for some reason the dog just snapped this time and attacked. I’m not going to force my daughter to pet your dog to prove how safe and wonderful she is.”

At this point the woman takes this as a personal challenge. An affront to her dog’s benign character.

“My dog is the absolute sweetest dog. She’s grown up with all three of my children and I’ve never once worried about their safety. They’ve known her their whole life. They love her and she’s part of the family!”

Just then my surf buddy chimes in.

“So, did the dog breast feed your kids too?”

She stopped dead in her tracks. There was a few seconds of silence and then she walked away with her dog.

Everyone needs a smart ass friend who has the balls to just say the stuff most people only think.

Logic, reason, and politeness were the wrong tools for the job in this situation. She needed a good old fashioned smart ass remark to shut her down. A verbal beat down on the playground.

My buddy provided the honors.

I still smile every time when I think of that day and the image of her dog breast feeding her children.

File Under: Reason and Logic Versus Smart Ass Remarks – Choosing the Right Verbal Tool for The Job – Dealing With Overzealous Dog Owners  Who Can’t Separate Their Egos from Their Dog’s

Oct 29 2010

A Dead Whale of a Tale and Counting to a Billion

Summary: Rotting whale smells far worse than you think and why playing math games with your young child is a real eye opener.

dead whale at bean hollow

If you took a jar of cat urine and then put a dead rat in it, plus a big scoop of fresh dog shit, then sealed the jar and left it the sun for a week, you’d get close to approximating the smell from a bloated, rotting, eighty-foot blue whale on the beach. But just close. The actual smell is beyond description.

On October 6th, 2010, I read an article in our paper about a big blue whale that had died and washed ashore at Bean Hollow, a state park about 35 minutes north of Santa Cruz.

“We should go see the dead whale after school today. The tide will be low at 4pm so it will be perfect. This is a very rare event so this may be the only chance in your life to see this.”

“Yeah, let’s go see the dead whale!” Continue reading